Sir, – I refer to the letter, Need for Leven rail reconnection (September 11).
In the letter, Neil Stewart of Buckhaven, while welcoming the prospect of a rail link to St Andrews, claims that the Levenmouth Rail Campaign (LMRC) is much further advanced inasmuch as it has already undergone the requisite Strategic Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) assessment process and is considered to be Fife Council’s top transport priority.
Mr Stewart is entirely justified in commending the Levenmouth Rail Campaign on its excellent achievements but with reference to the St Andrews rail link, Mr Stewart and your other readers may be interested to know that Tata Steel Rail Consultancy undertook a feasibility study, as part of which it devised a new track alignment superseding the route of the original (1852) branch line to Leuchars Junction Station.
The study found that a St Andrews Rail Link would not only be feasible but would most likely prove profitable.
It should be borne in mind that the reinstatement of the Levenmouth and St Andrews lines are not an either/or option and are in no way mutually exclusive.
The factors underpinning the potential Levenmouth reinstatement are primarily related to micro-economic regeneration while those underpinning the St Andrews reinstatement are of a higher order of magnitude, namely, macro-economic generation, nationwide decarbonisation and logistical infrastructural improvement to a globally renowned touristic, academic and sporting destination.
It is interesting to note that in an answer to Claire Baker MSP on April 24, Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that while LMRC was recognised as a project of local and regional importance it could not be said to be a development of national importance and as such did not meet the Scottish Government’s funding prioritisation criteria.
The St Andrews Rail Link on the other hand is a project of evident national importance and as such is a far likelier prospect for implementation in the immediate future.
It is perhaps unfortunate that Fife Council has not properly considered the potential for taking forward the Levenmouth and St Andrews rail reinstatements simultaneously.
Let us hope that we can all look forward to seeing both operational once again in the very near future.
Dita Stanis-Traken. StARLink Campaign, St Andrews.
Libraries moving with the tomes
Sir, – I am convenor of the School Library Association in Scotland and I would like to comment on the article: Teenagers abandoning books for social media (September 15).
The report is quite true; lack of literacy motivation in young people is something we in schools are battling with constantly.
However, your subheading, Tomes lose out to technology, does not do us any favours.
This suggests to me that a book is a dusty, old-fashioned piece of text compared to the busy and vibrant world of social media.
Chambers Concise dictionary (Chambers, Edinburgh, 1991) gives the definition of tome as a big book or volume but it is not a term that is ever used in a positive sense.
I realise the term was used for its alliterative effect but it was really not appropriate in this context.
Could I also add that if any of our libraries looked like the motley collection of books in the picture you published we would be ashamed to call ourselves librarians.
Carol Moug. Librarian,St Paul’s RC Academy, Gillburn Road, Dundee.
Where will refugees live?
Sir, – While I agree we need to do our bit to help the refugees, can someone please tell me where we are going to house them?
Are we by magic going to find some council houses that we did not know about, or are local authorities going to place refugees at the top of a very long ladder ahead of those who have been waiting for a council house while our council wastes money on the waterfront upgrade?
Where are we going to get the extra teachers to teach these new children and the GPs to care for the newcomers? We are already short of both.
Dennis Rintoul. 28c Brook Street, Broughty Ferry.
Do not overlook voluntary sector
Sir, – I warmly welcome the £5.8 million youth employment funding announcement from the Scottish Government as it is a positive step in helping support Scotland’s unemployed youth prepare for the world of work and get jobs.
While it is great to see the government continue to offer assistance in strengthening links among schools, colleges and employers, it is also important to recognise the impact the youth work sector can have on helping young people get ready for employment and the need for additional support in this area.
Formal volunteering opportunities can play an important role in getting young people used to the working world in terms of developing their time management, communication and leadership skills.
The Boys’ Brigade and other similar youth work providers are committed to providing learning experiences for all young people which can provide them with transferable skills they can take into the workplace.
I believe that our engagement with Scotland’s youth works well alongside the support they receive in school or college.
In order to maintain this balance, it is important the voluntary sector receives extra assistance, where possible.
It is my hope that the Scottish Government is able to take into account the role youth organisations can play in the future of Scotland’s employment issues and continues to support the sector accordingly.
Bill Stevenson. Director,The Boys’ Brigade Scotland, Carronvale House, Larbert.
Return park to local control
Sir, – What is the future for South Links caravan park in Montrose?
I note that it has been taken under the control of Angus Council.
I also note that one of our local councillors has already been approached by two individuals/companies who wish to be considered as operators of the site.
Surely this is a dangerous position for any elected member to put himself in, actually discussing transfer of a council asset.
I hope he immediately informed the director of law and administration of this approach because if anything it could be against the code of conduct for councillors.
Yes there will be plenty of “white knights” who will come forward with grandiose plans to tempt councillors to support their bids.
Some will be genuine but the majority will be looking to make a quick buck out of a liquidated company.
The perfect recent example is the situation with Rangers Football Company, which seems to have been successfully asset stripped by these white knights.
There are still many questions to be answered about the original deal with the previous lessee, not least about how the interest-free loan was granted, who authorised it and is it recoverable?
One simple solution would be an immediate and long-term transfer of the lease to the new Angus Leisure Trust, so that at least some control is retained.
Bill Crowe. 80 Castle Street, Montrose.
An essay in intolerance
Sir, – Garry Otton (September 16 ) denies all secularists are necessarily atheists but I can assure readers that most are and some of them quite militant atheists at that, judging by their posts and online comments.
Mr Otton himself has been involved in a controversy regarding comments about former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and his faith.
Mr Otton has also compared religion to fascism and has posted that he hopes Scottish churches are soon sidelined and has referred in a post to “the vile history of Christianity”.
Some observers feel that his particular secular society (he founded it and is its secretary apparently ) and its small membership would do better to distance themselves from such intolerant appearing views.
Gus Logan. 2 York Road, North Berwick.
SNP betrayal on austerity
Sir, -Though not sharing Nicola Sturgeon’s views, I have admired her political skills until now.
Your report on the Survation poll, Referendum plan could lose SNP votes (September 15) shows a third of us are less likely to vote SNP if it promises another independence referendum in its Holyrood manifesto.
Jeremy Corbyn has forced Ms Sturgeon into the open about her separatist ambitions.
SNP core supporters and nationalist MPs are desperate for a second vote. But Ms Sturgeon has been cautious. She doesn’t care about broken once-in-a-generation promises but she does about independence opinion polls against her.
Mr Corbyn’s views resonate strongly with many SNP members. Ms Sturgeon’s failure to deliver on her anti-austerity rhetoric risks her losing core support to Labour.
So she has little choice but to up the ante on a referendum.
But at elections and referenda it is votes that count. The First Minister stood on an emphatically anti-austerity platform at the General Election and won 95% of Scottish Westminster seats.
She insisted implementing devolved powers for Scotland’s good was her focus.
The Survation poll suggests many of us believed her then but now we feel betrayed.
Martin Redfern. 4 Royal Circus, Edinburgh.