Sir, – In reply to Mr Ken Reid’s letter (November 9) surely a destination of the stature of St Andrews deserves something better than an “adequate” station nearly six miles away, served by buses which all too often are glimpsed accelerating away up the by-pass by the alighting rail passenger?
We are, after all, talking about Scotland’s Oxbridge, Canterbury and Wimbledon all rolled into one.
Far from being a “one-person fight”, the StARLink campaign has the backing of the Royal Burgh of St Andrews Community Council, among others, as well as nearly 550 Facebook likes, not just from St Andrews but also from much further afield, plus endorsements from the university chancellor, principal and rector and two former presiding officers of the Scottish Parliament.
While the present arrangements may suit Mr Reid, they have clearly failed to get people out of their cars, as is amply demonstrated by the difficulty in finding parking places in St Andrews, the overflowing car park at Leuchars, and the increasing number of cars speeding along the main roads and crawling around the town, greatly to the detriment of the environment.
The much-underestimated patronage of the reopened lines to Alloa and to Tweedbank strongly indicates that rail services to St Andrews would bring about a significant transfer from private to public transport.
Mr Reid may be assuming that the principal justification for a railway is to make travel easier for his fellow citizens going out of St Andrews to elsewhere.
Although this would undoubtedly happen, the main argument for restoring the railway is to enable those who make journeys into the town, so essential for St Andrews to thrive, whether for tourism, education or work, to actually get here more easily.
This would enable the town to create more prosperity throughout Fife and the whole of the south-east of Scotland, if not the entire country.
Jane Ann Liston. Team StARLink, 5 Whitehill Terrace, Largo Road, St Andrews.
Public pay for council payouts
Sir, – While it is no surprise that the TaxPayers’ Alliance has seized on the spectacularly large severance payments paid out by Fife Council, it is not clear that these are contractual payments.
However, it is clear that they were approved of by the current and previous administrations.
On March 24 this year, the council’s executive committee agreed that: “the current level of discretionary benefits…will continue to apply until March 31 2016 and that during this 12-month period, negotiations will commence with the trades unions to review the level of these benefits”.
So it would seem that these payments are discretionary but that council policy, approved by the politicians, instructs council staff to pay them.
The only proviso is that the council must start to show an overall saving within three years.
Indeed, it used to be worse as the payments were miscalculated in previous years and it was only an investigation by the Conservatives that brought this to light and we tried to change it.
Fife Council rightly prides itself on being a good employer. It offers a pension scheme which outstrips anything available to the vast majority of the population and which absorbs approaching half the take from the council tax.
The Conservative Group don’t oppose that on the grounds that terms of service, including pension provision, are inherently contractual and shouldn’t be reneged on.
However, it’s wrong that the most lucrative thing a council employee can do is leave.
And it is doubly wrong when that’s paid for by folk who can never hope to get the same for themselves.
Cllr Dave Dempsey. Leader, Fife CouncilConservatives, 7 Carlingnose Park, North Queensferry.
Cash-rich Fife Council staff
Sir, – You reported (November 10) that Fife Council is presently paying £4.3 million to make 88 people redundant, but three of those will receive £1.1 million of that money between them, leaving the other 85 with a mere £38,000 each on average.
It has also been revealed that 15 Fife Council employees earned over £100,000 in 2013-2014. No wonder the Glenrothes branch of the Lidl supermarket chain, which is next to the offices of Fife Council, is their most successful in Scotland.
Malcolm Parkin. Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.
Secure future for next generation
Sir, -The negativity of Malcolm Parkin’s letter, (November 10), is alarming. He can obviously see no further than his own lifespan.
From the beginning of human time, people have planned for a future that spans further than the generations that were living at their time.
Therefore to write: “energy and the environment are, therefore, logically the problem of the next generation”, denies the ethics that has driven the progress of the human race, to plan for a better future for those who come after you.
Future energy and the environment are our responsibility. The fatalism that we cannot, and even should not attempt to do something about global warming is to betray those who come after us.
Renewable energies are in their infancy and human ingenuity will ensure that they will become more efficient.
With greater investment, we could see a resurgence of engineering in this country and once again be looked up to as a centre of manufacturing excellence.
I am one who is planning for a future I can leave to my children’s grandchildren and my grandchild’s children, a generation I will not see.
That is what it means to be human, working for the betterment of those you will not see.
Walter Attwood. 7 James Street, Whins of Milton, Stirling.
Time for strong leadership
Sir, – The report published by Derek Penman, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Scotland, on police call handling has been published.
It contains nothing new, merely confirming what we all knew.
Following the closure of call centres/control rooms at Glenrothes and Stirling, the call centre at Bilston Glen is unable to cope.
This, in the main, has been due to staff shortages and the use of untrained staff.
It also transpires that calls are regularly re-routed from the Dundee call centre, again, due to staff shortages.
The one positive point to come from the report is that any further call centre closures have been put on hold.
Unfortunately, like it or not, Police Scotland is here to stay.
I, therefore, think this is the time to look forward and make changes.
Sir Stephen House, the incumbent chief constable, took on the unattainable task of creating a national police force with stringent budget constraints.
When he discovered that he could not comply with the Scottish Government’s budget constraints, he merely
buried his head in the sand, instead of standing up for the public and police service.
A new chief constable will be appointed shortly, so this is the time for a new start.
He should be prepared to take a stance for more government funding to restore the credibility of the police.
The credibility of Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has also to be questioned.
He has been conspicuous by his absence in offering any solutions. Rather than agreeing that there are some hard messages for Police Scotland, he should be showing some leadership.
Jack Harley. 9 Mackie Crescent, Markinch.
Tony Blair wrong on Iraq
Sir, – Bob Taylor (November 10) is the only person I have known to support Tony Blair over the Iraq invasion.
Yes he managed to get a majority in Parliament to support him, but only after he misled MPs.
There were no weapons of mass distraction, there was no ability to launch missiles at British targets within 45 minutes. Further, it is now known through emails sent to George W Bush, that Mr Blair agreed a year before the invasion to support the Americans without the support of Parliament.
Not only did Mr Blair along with others cause countless deaths in Iraq, the invasion started unrest among the British Muslim population, leading to terrorist activities, which we never had in this country prior to the invasion.
I would suggest to Mr Taylor to stick to council complaints, as Mr Blair is guilty as charged.
Mev Braid. Kinkell Avenue, Glenrothes.
Injuries caused by rogue cyclists
Sir – Jerry Fuchter (November 10) certainly twists words to suit his pro-cycling agenda when he responds to my cycling letters.
I never mentioned road tax, only that cyclists should have a licence with an identification number.
I never mentioned damage to tarmac.
As for getting money from Europe, the £70 million was all taxpayers’ money.
Even if some came from Europe, the UK pays in far more than it gets back from a corrupt undemocratic organisation which has not had its financial records approved for 21 years by the auditors.
As for rogue cyclists not being as dangerous as rogue motorists, could Mr Fuchter explain that to the pedestrians who have been injured on pavements, shared footpaths and pedestrian crossings?
Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow.