Sir, – Let me see if I understand the recent Forth Road Bridge saga correctly.
Firstly, the Scottish Government removes the bridge tolls, which funded maintenance costs, resulting in the government having to decide and allocate a bridge maintenance budget. This budget was then severely constrained.
Then bridge engineers identified the need for a maintenance programme incorporating the bridge truss-end links but the cost was beyond their allocated budget.
Sorry said the Scottish Government, we cannot afford an increase in the cost of maintenance.
So far, so good but the bridge end trusses didn’t co-operate and resulted in the bridge being closed totally for three weeks and to HGVs for significantly longer.
Now, of course, we must find someone to blame.
Not a comfortable situation but the Scottish Government sprung into action to ensure that a “it wisnae me” outcome was achieved.
What better way than through a parliamentary inquiry where the government and the ruling party inquiry members were in the majority?
Conclusion? It wasn’t the government’s fault. Who could have predicted that outcome?
What happened to the concept of an independent inquiry?
GM Lindsay. Whinfield Gardens. Kinross.
Scotland is now one-party state
Sir,- Nicola Sturgeon was infrastructure secretary when the Forth Road Bridge’s maintenance budget was cut by 60% resulting in the cancellation of repair work that would have replaced the section which forced closure, so a whitewash was inevitable.
The most disturbing feature of this fiasco is that it highlights Donald Dewar’s disastrous decision to create a unicameral parliament where if one party could achieve a majority it could dominate both the government and the committees meant to restrain it.
Too late in the day, David Steel saw the danger and made a powerful case when he was presiding officer for a second revising chamber but his suggestion was dropped after it was met with fierce opposition from Alex Salmond.
Scotland is now effectively a one-party state with the nationalists hustling though controversial and complex legislation even though the last two administrations were manifestly incapable of running even the areas devolved to them.
Wisdom does not reside within Bute House and complex issues need proper consideration and debate but above all Ms Sturgeon should not assume she has a mandate to run Scotland like her personal fiefdom.
Rev Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.
Tolls should have been kept
Sir, – I refer to the penny-pinching on the Forth Road Bridge (March 11) and would suggest that the cut-backs and penny-pinching were simply political moves to cover up the error of removing the toll fee.
If the £1 fee, to which I don’t think many people objected, had been retained there would have been a pot of gold which could have been used to maintain the structure, and, of course, create some jobs.
This would have prevented the costs involved with the traffic diversions and the economy.
The engineers who worked hard to repair the defect have to be commended, but the defect should never have occurred in the first place. No doubt all the reports and meetings will end with the usual phrase: lessons have been learned.
John McDonald. 14 Rosebery Court, Kirkcaldy.
Scone needs Jim’s assistance
Sir, – I note that your esteemed wildlife correspondent Jim Crumley has been at the receiving end of some criticism because of his stance against Perth and Kinross Council and the City Hall.
While I disagree with his views on the hall, I have much respect for some of his views on rural matters.
There are many of us in Scone who would appreciate his support or views in a battle to preserve an area of very old woodland at Spoutwells which is under threat from removal from a designated green belt and subsequent overdevelopment.
This stretch of woodland is home to sparrowhawks, barn owls, tawny owls, bats, greater spotted woodpeckers, buzzards and a huge selection of different songbirds.
Red squirrels have also been seen in the vicinity where some trees have already been felled.
There is much biodiversity: foxes, rabbits and deer also inhabit the area.
The wood itself is made up of many native trees, including Scots pine, aspen, elder and hawthorn.
To fell this area would be an act of vandalism.
May I take the liberty of quoting another respected outdoor man, Ray Mears: “We mustn’t get rid of our green belt land. Our ancestors put that aside with wisdom and greedy short term gain is no reason to destroy such a long-term concept.”
John D. Ridley. Spoutwells Drive, Scone.
Shed politicians before binmen
Sir, – Sometimes things need to be said that some don’t like and the ongoing cash saga at Fife Council needs to be addressed.
It appears that to lose up to 60 litter pickers is acceptable to the council yet we still have 78 elected councillors and each and every one of them is being well paid and has access to expenses and benefits.
Let’s say the average councillor’s pay is £500 a week. To lose 25 councillors would let us keep about 30 litter pickers but turkeys don’t vote for Christmas so we will have to put up with litter-filled streets.
Here in Stenton in Glenrothes we are midway through another wheelie bin trial. These trials have been going on for 10 years, with changing bin colours, bin sizes, collection days, collection times and so on.
After each trial we are usually told the trial was an overwhelming success and it will be rolled out but another trial is usually in operation, so the new, successful trial is deemed obsolete.
It is marvellous how money is found to keep the wheelie bin emptying trial inventors in jobs year after year.
Fife Council’s wheelie bin emptying arrangements are like the mobile phone manufacturers.
One version of the phone is in the shop window while their replacements are sitting on the stock room shelves.
Colin Cookson. Hatton Green, Stenton, Glenrothes.
Nation on road to ruin
Sir, – In my letter about Scotland’s ruinous roads (10 March) I said that the Scottish Government had subsidised electric buses in Inverness to the extent of £500 million, when I, of course, meant £500,000.
However, I was immediately consoled by your report that the Scottish annual deficit had reached £15 billion, due to unforeseen falling oil and gas revenues, upon which the success of independence had been guaranteed.
Obviously, a few noughts on the end of a number don’t really matter either way.
Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.
Tribute to Sir James Caird
Sir, – Iain Luke rightly reminds us (March 9) of the death 100 years ago of Sir James Caird, Dundee jute baron and philanthropist.
To mark this centenary, a concert will be held by the Caird Trust, set up by his sister, Mrs Marryat, which provides travelling scholarships for talented Scottish musicians.
With the help of Dundee Chamber Music the Trust has arranged a concert which will feature the well-known guitarist Sean Shibe as well as Lucy Anderson (soprano) and Claire Haslin (piano).
The concert will be in the Marryat Hall on Tuesday March 29 at 7.30pm.
John Stocks. Secretary, Dundee Chamber Music, 10 Hillside Place, Newport-on-Tay.
Perils of driving in Perthshire
Sir, – Having lived in Kenya for many years, I am frequently asked which side of the road we drove on.
My reply is “the best”. Does this now apply to Perthshire?
Jenny Barnett. The Garden House, Campsie Hill, Guildtown.