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Worrying standard of public record keeping

Worrying standard of public record keeping

Sir, – I find the inferred differences between the statements made by Councillors Alexander Stewart and Barbara Vaughan in your article about allegations of sloppy record keeping at Perth and Kinross Council really interesting.

Mr Stewart is worried that Audit Scotland cannot give assurances that manipulation of council documents has not occurred, while Ms Vaughan exhorts us to believe it is important for us to believe that there has been no wrongdoing and only the record keeping is at fault.

Here in Scotland we have just witnessed appalling levels of manipulation in the property repairs system in Edinburgh and something must have sparked off the request to Audit Scotland to carry out an investigation of the system in Perth.

That said, those “at risk from the investigation” should something be proved must have breathed a sigh of relief when the results of the investigation were announced.

Tayside Contracts managing director Ian Waddle says the criticism in the Audit Scotland report was aimed at documents kept by the council, while in truth what the report is saying is that such was the chaotic state of the records kept by the council it was not possible to prove or disprove the allegations, which is very different from the picture Mr Waddle would have us believe.

For those of us who follow this sort of thing, the Edinburgh scandal and the recent serious deficiencies exposed in the recruiting process used by Glasgow City Council at the bin lorry trial, followed by this report, would indicate that inefficiency of one sort or another seems to be endemic in the organisation of the administration of council business across Scotland.

It will be interesting to see who is next in the frame.

Anthony Brunton. Bellfield Mill Cottage, Kinross.

Selfishness of cyclists

Sir, – I wonder if I might use the letters page to raise awareness of what might be described as accidents waiting to happen because of the apparent ignorance of a small but significant minority of cyclists who regard the shared space pathways between Broughty Ferry and Grassy Beach and Broughty Ferry and Monifieth as cycle paths for the exclusive use of cyclists.

In both actions and words, these cyclists spoil an amenity for other users pedestrians who may have dogs or children with them, or may just be enjoying a walk are constantly checking over their shoulders for cyclists approaching at speed from behind with no bell to give advance warning of their arrival, and other cyclists, considerate of other users of this shared space who have to bear the brunt of bad feeling generated by their selfish counterparts.

Despite the fact that there are clear signs indicating shared space and urging respect for other users at intervals along the Grassy Beach pathway, there is evidence that some cyclists choose to disregard these and berate any non-cyclist who has the temerity to venture on to this space.

Over the past two months, I have had a cyclist race past me at speed, taking his foot off a pedal to kick at a small dog walking happily beside me.

Another cyclist, when asked why he couldn’t use a bell to warn other users of his approach, shouted: “This is a cycle path.”

While acknowledging that these are rare occurrences, they are still unpleasant to experience and most certainly derive from a lack of knowledge on the part of some cyclists.

Other walkers who use this pathway report similar experiences.

Funding was made available for improvements to the Grassy Beach pathway to promote active travel (which includes cycling and walking) and it is sad that some members of one group of users should consider that they have priority.

(Dr) Susan Pringle. East House Research, Seafield Road, Broughty Ferry.

EU open-border policy failure

Sir, – Are we not currently witnessing the demise of the EU slowly unfolding before our very eyes?

That which started as the idea of a common market has, with political machination, developed into a monster that now seemingly cannot be controlled.

The tinkering with the affairs of other countries with scant regard as to the possible consequences has come back to haunt us.

Add this to the open-border policy, largely promoted and led by Germany, which has opened a floodgate that seems impossible to stem.

Figures indicate that half a million people have claimed asylum in the last year, with some half of these entering the promised land of Angela Merkel’s Germany, and this appears to be only the beginning.

We are currently witnessing horrific scenes in Hungary, Croatia and Serbia that would have been unthinkable some months ago, and the EU doesn’t seem to have a clue as to how to tackle the problem, which can only now get worse.

Our European mandarins will not or cannot amend their open-border policy and admit their mistakes.

Had there been in place some controls and a vetting policy roughly based on the Australian system, there would have been a capacity to resettle genuine refugees and asylum seekers.

Indeed, those who would wish harm on our Western civilisation and standards must be rubbing their hands in glee in anticipation of the consequences of the assault on our borders.

Freedom from the shackles and subjugation of our unelected European leaders is our only hope out of this crisis.

David L Thomson. 24 Laurence Park, Kinglassie.

Jeremy Corbyn’s poor judgment

Sir, – How can Jeremy Corbyn justify the appointment of Lord Watson (September 19) as an education spokesperson?

It is considered fashionable, even practical, in many circles to give convicted offenders a second chance.

If so, he should seriously reconsider because this is a gesture that is not likely to go down well with large sections of the public.

Sheriff Kathryn Mackie said at the time of the peer’s conviction a decade ago that a social work assessment indicated there was a serious chance he might reoffend.

He resigned his Cathcart seat in the Scottish Parliament and his role as a director of Dundee United FC.

Only the arcane and obscure regulations of the House of Lords prevented him from being stripped of his peerage.

As a tourism minister in the early 2000s, Lord Watson was a competent administrator and an eloquent speaker.

Nothing, however, could excuse his attempt to put at risk the lives of so many by wilful fire-raising.

He may well have done his time. There may well be evidence that he is a reformed character and there is no prospect of reoffending.

It is still a move by Mr Corbyn that will cause a lot of offence and cast even more doubt on his judgment.

Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.

Join action on climate change

Sir, – The warnings last week about a renewed phase of global warming may have come as a reminder to us in Scotland at the end of a distinctly cool summer.

However, Southern Europe and many other countries have been experiencing record high temperatures, with devastating flooding in Japan and forest fires in drought-stricken California.

The El Nio Pacific current is expected to add to the warming trend.

This makes it more vital that agreement is reached at the Paris climate change conference to limit carbon emissions.

We should contact our MPs and MSPs to press the UK and Scottish governments to take a lead.

But we can also take action ourselves, and an important event is being held in Dundee on Sunday to explore possibilities such as community energy, divestment from fossil fuel companies and lobbying for renewable energy.

It is part of a festival of events across Scotland next weekend, organised by Stop Climate Chaos and Friends of the Earth Scotland, called, To Paris and Beyond.

It will be held at the West Church, Perth Road, Dundee, from noon to 5.30 pm.

Andrew Llanwarne. Friends of the Earth Tayside, 8 Glasclune Way, Broughty Ferry.

Scrap devolved administrations

Sir, – I note two statements by Nicola Sturgeon. One, that the UK is living on borrowed time and the other that the SNP must persuade more people to vote yes.

A more glaring example of Orwellian doublethink would be hard to find in modern politics.

It has to be accepted that the devolution experiment has failed both in Edinburgh and in Cardiff.

All the current talk of more powers, fewer powers, use of existing powers even federalism will not improve by one jot the ineffectual governance we have been subject to.

The only solution is to disband both assemblies, ridding the public purse at a stroke of a burdensome layer of governance and then to undertake a contemporary form of enosis, where the institutions, customs, laws and practices of the country are aligned into a recognisable, homogenous British identity.

John Gordon. 1 North Street, Glenrothes.

UK needs new Churchill

Sir, – John Cameron (September 21) describes our wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as a propagandist.

If that’s what propagandists achieve, then Britain needs another as soon as possible.

Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.