Sir – I and others welcome Scone resident Mr Ridley’s comments about Atholl Street/Bridgend, Perth, being one of the most polluted areas in Scotland (January 23).
All Perth and Kinross Council’s very well-meaning strategies have failed and it now appears that the only real solution is a bridge across the Tay to the north of the city.
This is at the blueprint stage and the council is reliant on considerable Scottish Government financial assistance to deliver the bridge.
Perhaps some of the A9 dualling money could be diverted?
In the meantime, Mr Ridley writes it is utter folly to keep building houses in Scone until the bridge is built and I believe the vast majority of citizens of Perth and Scone who care about the health and welfare of their Atholl Street and Bridgend neighbours would agree with him.
Perth and Kinross Council has a duty of care for its citizens and it would appear reasonable for the council to now invoke a Scone housing embargo because of the exceptional poisoning pollution in these streets which breaks every UK and EU Directive.
It is certainly an issue which now needs to be debated in the Perthand Kinross Council chamber.
Perth, its environs and hinterland of small towns and villages are to be subject to vast housing expansions approved by Perth and Kinross councillors and I know of only one councillor who did not support thisprinciple at the time when he stated publicly that such vast expansion is neither desirable nor sustainable.
One of his concerns was that such development will happen without the infrastructure in place and thereby diminish the quality of life which the council says we all enjoy and it upholds.
Mr Ridley states that building more houses in Scone might indicate that the pursuit of profit is more important than the health of the people of Perth.
A council embargo would confirm this is not the case and it is to be hoped that Scone and city councillors will soon lay a full embargo motion before the council.
Joan McEwen. King James VIBuilding, Hospital Street, Perth.
Persecution of birds persists
Sir, – As the lead author of the RSPB Scotland report reviewing the illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland between 1994 and 2014, it was disappointing to read Nicolle Hamilton’s response (January 25) to the concerns so eloquently expressed by Jim Crumley in his opinion piece on January 19.
She states that the RSPB report “omits the good news that raptor persecution is in long term decline”.
It would have been good news had this been the case, but, sadly, there is no statistical evidence to support this assertion.
Indeed, with a varying number of incidents found each year, an unknown proportion of offences actually detected, and the majority of victims found purely by chance, it is foolhardy to claim any sort of pattern.
RSPB Scotland recognises that most landowners are law abiding and do not engage in wildlife crime. We have acknowledged that numbers of detected poisoning incidents are lower than they were a few years ago.
Sadly, however, those who wish to do ourprotected birds of prey harm also employ guns and traps to kill these birds, as well asdisturbing and destroying nesting attempts.
Uncomfortable though it is for some, it is a statement of fact that the vast majority of crimes against birds of prey occur in areas where intensive management of land for game bird shooting is the main land use.
The clearest indication that bird of prey persecution is really in decline will be when golden eagles, hen harriers and peregrines are allowed to co-exist alongside sport shooting on our moors.
Ian Thomson. Head of Investigations, RSPB Scotland.
Raise age for free licences
Sir,- What a preposterous idea by the BBC to use celebrities to persuade the over 75s to volunteer to pay for their TV licences (January 26).
It smacks of indecision at the very highestlevel in the corporation but it is also downright patronising.
Surely there are few people who wouldwillingly forfeit more than £145 a year if they could possibly avoid it.
But even if there are some who would pay, it is bound to put pressure on the poorer pensioners to feel that they should stump up too.
In fairness to the broadcaster, it is a dilemma it should not have to face anyway.
There is one mainreason for giving this benefit to the elderly: that is to help mitigate the impact of loneliness.
This is a social problem and one the Government should be concerned with along with local authorities and charities.
It was always wrong to pass the responsibility for this on to the BBC.
It should not have to devote resources to means-testing even if that was an acceptable approach.
The only valid wayforward is either to raise the qualifying age to, say, 80, or to have an increase in the licence fee to help maintain the existingsystem.
Involving people like Dame Helen Mirren and Michael Parkinson to put pressure on sometimes vulnerable seniorcitizens is quite definitely not the way forward.
Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.
High subsidy for cyclists
Sir, – Trevor White is now boiling down his pro-cycling arguments and asking me to propose low-cost solutions to increase cycle use in Dundee especially by “people who can barely afford to live never mind contribute £80 for a licence”.
There is no low-cost solution, only costs that are borne by the council taxpayer and motorists.
As I said previously, £70 million was spent in Scotland on cycling facilities in the last two years with more in the pipeline. I am against pavements being used by cyclists and pedestrians.
Already Dundee City Council has spent a lot of money on cycling facilities such as the shared space pathways between Broughty Ferry and Grassy Beach and Broughty Ferry and Monifieth.
Halfords in Dundee is selling bicycles at aphenomenal rate.
Since Mr White is “an experienced businessman” he could set up a charity specifically to help those who cannot afford a bike, ensure that all cyclists are competent, have third party insurance and obey the Highway Code.
Once he does this I will be happy to make adonation.
Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow.
Should we fund Jedi schools?
Sir, – As ever, David Robertson (January 27) only quotes those partsof the Human Rightslegislation he thinkssupport his arguments for state-fundedsectarian schooling.
Having selectively quoted the legislation, he then elects once more to twist it in his favour.
It is not the functionof the state to fundindoctrination ofchildren in schools by competing faiths.
Mr Robertson’s vision for Scotland is one of increased segregationof its children in theeducation system,discrimination in selection for those schoolsand in employment of teachers, and for children in them to be force-fed anti-scientific, anti-women and anti-gay positions in the name of “diversity”.
Could Mr Robertson tell us if he thinks Muslim parents should receive state funding to educate children in their beliefs as happened in theso-called trojan horse schools in England?
Should we haveScientology schools?
Given that more adults in the last census said they were Jedi than said they were members of the minister’s fundamentalist sect, would hesupport state-funding of Jedi schools?
Alistair McBay. National SecularSociety, 5 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh.