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Time to stop Perth being a laughing stock

Time to stop Perth being a laughing stock

Sir, I am amazed that Perth and Kinross Council has again put off a decision over Perth City Hall.

I suppose I can understand its anxiety over the funding and suitability of the only proposal that appears to be on the table, given the mess that was created by it accepting the original idea some 10 years ago by a group which then changed its plans several times before pulling out after five years of attempting to alter the original plan.

It appears that the idea of an indoor market has gained a reluctant acceptance by some of our representatives, especially as permission to raze the hall had been refused by Historic Scotland.

Some on the council seem to show a classic bureaucratic mindset, continuing to cling to this idea in the hope that demolition will be allowed in the end.

I cannot believe that the bid, by the only idea left on the table, has not been fully thought out by the protagonists and that they have come forward without considering fully the financial consequences.

Neither can it be beyond the wit of man, and lawyers, to make sure the plans submitted are adhered to.

It really is time that our representatives get on with the job of making a decision about the future of the city hall and bring an end to the decade-long blight this prevarication has brought to the city centre and its contribution to making the city a laughing stock.

Malcolm Moore. Marshall Place, Perth.

City hall could save city centre

Sir, Your reports on the prospects for the revival of Perth City Hall, a decade after it was closed by council policy, are both encouraging and concerning.

On the one hand the hall, defended by Historic Scotland, now has a good chance of a becoming a new food market, bringing beneficial effects on city footfall in the ailing centre.

On the other hand, there seems to be no enthusiasm for the hall’s revival by some within the council.

The hall is the property of the people of Perth, not a political football for councillors and officials to dispose of.

Its original purpose was as a community centre, with scope for meetings and arts events.

Perth Concert Hall, unsuitable for so many smaller meetings, including smaller plays, dances and recitals, has lost many bookings and much money because of deliberate council policy.

The potential damage from the proposed demolition hardly bears thinking about.

International architectural and cultural opinion and widespread countrywide revivals elsewhere point the way for developing our city hall.

Revived, it would very likely save our near-moribund city centre.

Now its revival is in prospect, let’s press for full realisation of the many benefits for Perth.

Isabel and Charles Wardrop, Viewlands Road West, Perth.

No agenda for secular society

Sir, David Robertson (October 7) says “secular society” denies human rights.

Does he think that non-secular ones, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, respect these?

Secularism means separation of religion and state powers, with neither of these able to control the other.

The Free Church of Scotland was founded by people who disliked the cosy relationship between the Church of Scotland and Government. They were then secularists.

Christians, through most of their history, have been intolerant of those who disagreed with them and deniers of human rights.

The Church of Scotland insisted on the execution of James Aikenhead for saying the Bible is fiction.

David Strauss, whose later book made the same claim, was dismissed from his professorship and not allowed to work again.

The Pilgrim Fathers in the US persecuted Quakers.

Until the 19th Century, British Roman Catholics were prohibited from practising their faith in the UK.

Only 25 years ago the Free Church of Scotland used underhand methods to stop Bahais in Lewis having a meeting place.

In the American Bible Belt, any atheist would be wise not to say so.

Secularists have no common philosophy/agenda.

Many profess religious faith. Those who don’t vary just as much in their ideas as those who do.

The Scottish Secular Society no more represents the views of most secularists, or atheists, than the Free Church of Scotland does of most Christians.

Both are tiny, fringe groups.

Walter Markham. Atholl Road, Pitlochry.

Councillor has to come clean

Sir, In regard to the situation that has arisen in Fife with the change in the chairman of the Glenrothes Area Committee, I believe that a number of issues need to be addressed.

There is a need for legislative changes to allow for the recall of councillors who change the political party affiliation under which they were elected.

It is clear that there is an expectation in the SNP code of conduct, which may also be the case in other political parties, that those who resign from the party should also resign from their position at whichever level of government.

Should they so choose, they are then free to stand for re-election under new affiliation.

That is the honourable course of conduct and one taken during the past year by two former members of the Conservative Party when they changed their allegiance to UKIP.

In the case of Councillor Bill Brown that expectation has not been met.

He has refused to adhere to the vow that he undertook to resign as a councillor when he resigned from the SNP.

His claim that he is now sitting as an “independent” councillor seems hollow given his previous membership of the Labour Party and his public endorsement of the Labour candidate in the by-election.

He has claimed that he was elected in his own name and not as a member of the SNP.

While he may be technically correct, it is the case that, when standing for election, he did so as a member of the SNP a fact that can be borne out by the election literature and polling forms.

He has further claimed that he doesn’t need to say why he left the SNP.

If he chooses to hide those reasons from his former colleagues and local SNP members, that is his choice.

It demonstrates, however, extreme discourtesy to the electorate of the ward in which he was elected as an SNP candidate if he refuses to place those reasons before them.

I further challenge him to make those reasons known so that his act of disloyalty can be put into context.

I’m sure the additional £7,000 that will now line his pockets will cover the cost of writing to all of his constituents with his explanation.

I would challenge him to do the honourable thing and resign his seat so that he may truly stand in his own name.

William Barnes. Annandale Gardens, Glenrothes.

First class treatment

Sir, I had to have an operation on my shoulder and was admitted to the Glen Lethnot ward in the surgical unit at Stracathro Hospital, where I was on September 14 and 15.

During that time the treatment I received was first class.

I could not have had better treatment had I been in a private hospital costing thousands of pounds.

I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the entire team: the surgeon, the anaesthetists, the theatre staff and all the ward staff and doctors. I cannot remember their names but they will know who this is meant for.

Doug Ness. Mountskip Road, Brechin.

Corbyn wrong on Trident

Sir, I do not know very much about Jeremy Corbyn apart from what appears in the press and on television.

He appears to be a man who is unwilling to observe the etiquette of Parliament and showsdisrespect to the monarchy.

These are minor matters of disrespect compared to that shown to the many who have fought and died for our right to lead the lives we choose.

He does so by recklessly thinking that the Trident nuclear deterrent should be abandoned.

However distasteful the thought of nuclear war is, it is possession of Trident that continues to allow us to live as we please.

AA Bullions. Glencairn Crescent, Leven.

No more talk of sleaze please

Sir, – It is a fact that Business for Scotland is now proven to be tied to the SNP and that five of its seven directors put themselves forward for Scottish National Party MP/MSP selection.

This surely means that it has, in fact, been a front for the SNP.

All the protestations made last year that this was a non-political organisation solely concerned with the promotion of business and jobs in Scotland was nothing more than misleading.

So much for the holier-than-thou attitude taken by the Scottish National Party and the promise of probity and transparency in its various electioneering propaganda.

We are now hearing also that recently-elected SNP MPs at Westminster are now busily hiring friends and family members as office assistants to be paid, of course, from public funds.

In view of this and other recent revelations of questionable behaviour by SNP members can we please not have any further SNP criticism of political sleaze being practised by other political parties?

Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstruther.