Sir, – I was amused to read your article (June 6) in which Police Scotland attempted to portray their re-invention of the wheel as a sparkling initiative.
A senior officer was quoted as saying: “…rural communities are not safe havens for criminals”.
Sorry, but that’s exactly what they are. That’s why the criminals go there.
That they are doing so is the result of years of inaction. Buzzwords like spearhead, collaborative efforts, partners and steering groups are all well and fine for bandying about in newspapers but surely both the senior officers quoted must realise that, ultimately, the only way to deter rural criminals is to catch them.
That involves police officers on patrol, disrupting criminal activity. This is what we used to call routine preventative policing when I was a village police officer.
Living as I do in a rural area, I cannot remember when I last saw a police officer.
I am afraid that rural Scotland is having to pay the price for the misguided and ill-judged move to a single force, which was purely a political tactic to force a distinction between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
There was, and is, a strong argument for amalgamating forces, but a single force? Never. And I’m afraid I have yet to meet a policeman who thinks it is working, or ever can. To say rural crime: “can be perpetrated by opportunists or organised groups of criminals who travel the countryside…” gives us a dazzling insight into the issues. Try catching a few.
To say rural communities contribute significantly to the economy is so patronising as to be almost offensive.
Gerard Watts. Persie Estate, Bridge of Cally, Blairgowrie.
Kennedy legacy will live on
Sir, – It does seem like the whole country has been grieving at the sudden passing of Charles Kennedy, whose funeral takes place this Friday.
As a member of his party, I too was receiving messages of condolence from unexpected sources.
It is not as if I could claim to know Charles Kennedy that well, having only met him at conferences.
But he was so much part of the DNA of the Liberal Democrats that whenever I mentioned him, it was clear he had connected with so many people throughout his long political career.
He was a man of my time, our time, who has now sadly departed aged only 55.
Undoubtedly Charles Kennedy will be greatly missed by many in Scotland, the UK and around the world.
However, like DNA, his influence can be replicated ad infinitum as a tribute to his liberal beliefs.
Galen Milne. Ochiltree, Dunblane.
An unpleasant discovery
Sir, – My wife and I decided to take our eight- year-old grand-daughter from Dublin (who had come to Scotland for a holiday with us) to visit Discovery and the science museum.
I drove to Dundee thinking it would be more convenient than by bus, which, for us would have been free.
I arrived at the Discovery car park after negotiating the roadworks after the Tay Bridge and I parked at the very far end of Discovery car park near an eating establishment.
I noted it was pay-and-display, so, I paid my £1 and stuck the ticket on my windscreen.
Imagine my dismay when I returned to my car to find a fixed-penalty notice place on the windscreen.
I had foolishly parked alongside a large sign which I now read fully, only to discover I had taken a ticket from the wrong machine.
There were no visible boundaries separating the two car parks which to the visitor appeared to be one and the same.
I completed an appeal form that day and submitted it to the council and followed that with an email. I have been driving for 53 years without a blemish, not even a parking ticket.
Surely Dundee could have put more machines at strategic points in their car park?
My appeal, which included dealing with an excited grandchild, was rejected.
I admit my error but greater efforts should be made to supply more machines and clear dividing lines should be drawn between those two parking areas.
Insult was added to injury when I totalled the cost of the visits for two pensioners and a child to the Discovery and the science museum.
Dundee is not a city that I visit often but it will be a long time before I return by car.
Mr A B Jasinski. 4 Morven Park, Glenrothes.
Anglophobic white rose
Sir, – Mr Watson of Scone is incorrect about the wearing of the white rose by Scottish National Party MPs (June 5).
The rose to which he refers is the white rose of York, adopted by Bonnie Prince Charlie and his white cockade and immortalised by spurious romantic tourism and many a shortbread tin.
The rose the SNP wear is in homage to Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978) the poet who penned The Little White Rose of Scotland, commonly known as the Scots or Burnet rose.
In 1928, MacDiarmid along with John MacCormick founded the National Party of Scotland, which was the forerunner of the SNP.
Five years later he was expelled for what MacCormick described as MacDiarmid’s extreme Anglophobia and love of bitter controversy.
How appropriate that the nationalists wear his rose.
Joan McEwen. King James VI Building, Hospital Street, Perth.
Importance of free press
Sir,- During his inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, Judge Leveson suggested police whistleblowers take their concerns to an internal hotline rather than taking them to reporters.
Even by the standards expected from such inquiries this was derisory because we have a right to know about public service failures and a free press is the only mechanism to ensure we do.
Telephone hacking was already a crime and those who engaged in it could be prosecuted, so there was no need for the war of attrition between police and press which led to the Andy Coulson fiasco.
From failing UK institutions such as the NHS and care homes, to international fiefdoms such as Fifa and the IPCC, it is clear that corruption thrives wherever free speech is muzzled.
Rev Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.
Save Royal Mail from sell off
Sir, – It is absolutely essential that we all do whatever we can to prevent the Government selling off the remainder of Royal Mail.
It is bad enough that remote areas north of the Highland Line will inevitably lose their daily deliveries and be surcharged for being remote but we will all suffer from what is an already seriously inferior service from the private companies operating in this country.
I was following the progress of an urgent package destined for my company located in the main industrial estate in Perth, at the tip of the M90 from Edinburgh.
For several days, the website of a major courier company showed the package was at Edinburgh Airport. The website added the comment; “remote location, irregular deliveries.”
I hate to think how many hours we have wasted in the last few weeks alone, chasing up lost, misrouted or otherwise delayed deliveries.
We process every order or inquiry the day it is received but we cannot tell our customers when they will receive their goods because the courier companies are so unreliable.
A colleague handed a package into the local depot of one of these companies for onward delivery. That was the last that was seen of it.
We sent a trial half-dozen consignments by another of the large names, three were never seen again.
Trying to get information through their automated systems is pretty well impossible, and it is totally impossible to get to speak to anyone in authority.
To add insult to injury, any compensation paid has to be hard fought for and is pitiful compared with the value of the loss.
There is no best, just the least worse.
Royal Mail and the Post Office are not perfect but the number of problems caused is infinitesimal compared with any of the private companies.
We know, we have tried most of them.
Jim Clark. 8 Thistle Place, Scone.
Tory view of Scotland
Sir, – At Westminster, former First Minister Alex Salmond was rebuked for calling a woman ‘woman’.
Lucy Frazer, Conservative MP for Cambridgeshire South East declared that Cromwell had the right idea as to how to deal with Scots.
For those not familiar with the Battle of Dunbar, approximately 5,000 Scots were taken captive by Cromwell’s army.
They were marched south to Durham where they were imprisoned.
En route to Durham, many starved or died of disease.
Around another 1,600 died in prison during the winter of 1,650. Only 1,200 survived only to be sold as slaves while some were forced to fight for Cromwell in France.
This comment by Ms Frazer was met with laughter and obvious approval by the assembled Conservative MPs.
Harry Key. 20 Mid Street, Largoward.
Holyrood cuts are peanuts
Sir, – I would expect John Swinney to be outraged by the cut of Westminster funds to Scotland of £179 million, given he has a support base to appeal to.
But not one opposition politician pointed out that, compared with the Scottish Government’s annual spend of £35 billion, this represents a reduction of £1 for every £200. It is the equivalent of £35 per annum out of the £7,000 spent on behalf of every inhabitant every year.
Compared to the £440m Scottish Government underspend last year, or the £50m (£1 for every £10) that Aberdeenshire Council will have to cut from its £500m budget this month, it is peanuts.
Allan Sutherland. 1 Willow Row, Stonehaven.