Sir, Having just experienced a wonderful week in the Whitehall Theatre with Dundee Operatic Society (DOS), I was surprised to see your front-page headline, New Crisis Threatens Whitehall Theatre.
The two members of the trust who have chosen to resign have undoubtedly both made significantcontributions to the theatre but does their departure really constitute a crisis?
During our show week we found the theatre buzzing with positivity. The Whitehall Trust’s own production of The Sound of Music sent a clear message that the Whitehall was open for business and that carried forward to our own show, Annie, with the public turning out to fill the theatre.
With supportive day-to-day management arrangements through Leisure and Culture Dundee which supports local amateursocieties the theatre’s volunteers and the Dundee public, my perception is the theatre has turned the corner, re-established itself and is again moving forward.
David Smart. 54 Torridon Road, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.
Cut in foreign aid is answer
Sir, The benefit blitz is about to hit Britain with all the zeal of Operation Sea Lion. It is a blitz about which the RAF can do nothing. That there are benefit cheats, there is no doubt, but why penalise all who receive benefits as if they were?
Such suffering is about to fall upon the sick and vulnerable, only to achieve a saving in housing benefits which is but a fraction of what is given away on foreign aid.
The bedroom tax is perhaps the most unfair of all. Surely the saving it makes could be taken from our foreign aidand still leave us as the most generous nation in the world?
Leslie Milligan. 18b Myrtlehall Gardens, Dundee.
Subsidy or poll tax reboot?
Sir, Is it the same Labour Party that wants us to stay within the union now urging the Scottish Government to make a law that would prevent anyone being evicted over the bedroom tax?
Does that mean if you decide to stop paying rent, you are the virtual owner-occupier, as you cannot be evicted?
Is this the poll tax all over again, which saw people in debt and unable to pay the arrears when they were urged not to pay by Labour?
Would the Scottish Government then become liable for the rent that has not been paid? Would they be taken to court by the landlords, both council and private?
Or is this, as I suspect, a case of mischief-making to try to deflect the responsibility away from the House of Commons for this bit of despicable legislation?
The SNP Government has said no SNP council will evict people who fall behind in rent due to the bedroom tax, so will Labour be following suit?
John George Phimister. 63 St Clair Street, Kirkcaldy.
Homing in on taxing question
Sir, Peter Swindon states baldly in Friday’s Courier (Tax causing “confusion”, page 5) that I contradicted Dundee City Council’s policy position at a Scottish parliamentary committee. This is not true. The Labour Party says I contradicted the Dundee policy. Any fair-minded
person who wants to find out what I actually said should read the balanced Courier report published on March 27.
Councillor Jimmy Black. Coldside, Dundee.
Not paying is not an option
Sir, Does shouting down work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith with terms like “ratbag” help advance the case against the welfare reforms (Courier, March 28)? The case against the“bedroom tax” or spare room subsidy is a powerful one. But it will not be helped by persistent displays of bad manners and intolerance. Nor will it be helped by far-fetched campaigns that encourage those affected not to pay rent as a protest against withdrawal of some housing benefit.
Withholding rent will mean that all tenants will suffer because local authorities will have less capacity to carry out maintenance and repairs and take forward a housebuilding programme.
Some argue thatopposition to the “bedroom tax” is similar to the campaign against the community charge (or poll tax) more than 20 years ago. There is a crucial difference. The community charge was not the only source of council income. Non-payment reduced the local authorities’ income but they were still able to provide services.
By contrast, rents are the only source of housing revenue income. If that supply is cut off then it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to carry out a housing programme.
The prudent use of discretionary payments to those worst affected, combined with a fair-but-firm approach towards rent arrears, is the way forward until the measure can be repealed.
Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.
Tenants will be offered help
Sir, In replying to Kenneth Brannan (Consequences for councillors? Courier, March 27), I should clarify to Mr Brannan that we have not asked tenants to refuse to pay. We have set out quite clearly that tenants must try to pay their rent and where they fall into difficulty, we will work with them.
This is not a ploy, it is a genuine attempt to try to mitigate some of the disastrous effects of the Westminster “bedroom tax”. The policies that this SNP administration has introduced will assist those struggling.
We’ve made changes to our allocations policy to assist those under-occupying, introduced a housing incentive scheme to assist those who wish to move, topped up the DHP (Discretionary Housing Payments) funding by £150,000 and removed the threat of eviction where tenants are trying their best to pay their rent.
With regards to the “Liverpool 47” scenario, I can confirm that the previous provisions for surcharge of elected members in Scotland were repealed by the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc (Scotland) Act 2000.
Mr Brannan is not, therefore, correct in his understanding of the legal position in Scotland and elected members here cannot be surcharged. However, again, we are not advising tenants not to pay.
John Alexander. Convener of Housing, City Chambers, Dundee, and Strathmartine councillor.
A road by any other name…
Sir, I wholeheartedly endorse John Dorward’s (Courier, March 28)comments regarding dual-language signs in Scotland. I would point to the momentary confusion that dual-language signs cause todrivers, particularly foreign visitors.
I speak with a little experience, having toured areas of Wales where dual-language signs are common. Dual-language signs, where one of the languages, Gaelic, has no relevance to the geography of the country, can only introduce another element of danger to drivers.
John Macmillan. 40 Ferry Road, Monifieth.
Those in power need to rethink
Sir, When I read in The Courier, and saw on television, all the people left with no power due to the snow, I felt so sorry for them and asked myself why every winter there is the same problem with supplies.
Am I being naive in thinking that other utilities can be put underground so it should be possible for the same to be done with electricity? This, I think, would be preferable to having men climbing pylons in dreadful weather.
When I read about the UK Government stating we are short of money, it beggars belief that they can findmillions of pounds to giveto foreign countries inaid.
Is it not time that they came down from their ivory towers, into the normal world, and looked after the welfare of the people who elected them to do just that?
Mrs June Reid. 12 Findhorn Street, Fintry, Dundee.
Our passport to freedom
Sir, The latest rantings made by North Korea threatening to attack US bases and even mainland America with weapons of mass destruction brings to mind the old comedy The Mouse That Roared with Peter Sellers.
The plot concerned the small European duchy of Grand Fenwick in the Alps, which decides to declare war on the USA, thinking that, after the inevitable defeat, America would bestow lots of free aid and support.
This leads me to thinking of another film, an Ealing comedy called Passport to Pimlico, where the recovery of a charter sees Pimlico strive for independence, breaking away from the United Kingdom. Remind you of anyone?
Perhaps Alex Salmond should give consideration to the first option and declare war on the USA.
The weapons of mass destruction would be no problem: just use the nuclear submarines at Faslane.
George Gavine. The Veldt, Monikie, Angus.
We’re in pursuit of oblivion
Sir, For politicians, energy has come under the heading of “too difficult” for decades. Then, along came the Greens, who established some kind of agenda for the politicians by successfully propagating the myths that nuclear was unsafe and would leave a waste-disposal problem for the next generation and coal was anti-environmental and would speed up the greenhouse effect.
Then, when the greenhouse effect claim didn’t catch on, they started the CO2 global warming/climate change/end-of-the-world scenario, which gave politicians the rationale for leading us down the present wind-powered path to freezing economic oblivion, while being seen to be doing something about energy for environmental purposes.
Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.