Numbers do not add up at Caltongate

ALAN RODEN'S succinct report on the Caltongate affair (Objectors defeated as planners push for Caltongate go-ahead, Evening News, January 25) revealed that 2000 letters of objection have been lodged against the form of the proposed development.

In the following Monday's edition it was reported that plans to demolish a former church hall to build a block of flats in Dinmot Drive, had been "unanimously" thrown out by councillors after 180 objections had been received - on the grounds that the "ugly" planned block of flats "would be out of keeping with the area."

Why do 180 objections in one part of the city seem to influence our planners more than 2000 in another, when the principle of the objection is the exactly the same? If anything is out of keeping with an area, then the "Neo-Lubianka" style of architecture proposed for Caltongate in the medieval heart of Edinburgh is.

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I suspect that the real differences between the two applications are Big Money, and a planning department which appears to have been determined from the word go to push the Caltongate through. It could be made of Lego bricks, and will still get the nod.

It is interesting to note that immediately after your January 25 story, someone was very quick to issue a comment that the 2000 letters of objection to Caltongate were actually "only 300", repeated several times over. This might give the impression that the poor planners have been bombarded with unnecessary objections – whereas, of course, this was all their own fault. Their disputed decision to allow the developer, Mountgrange, to split the development into multiple staged applications - instead of one for the whole development – has meant that objectors have had to object to each individual Caltongate plan, or see it rubber-stamped. The fact that this made it particularly difficult for local residents to object is a side effect that I am sure that the council planners, or Mountgrange, did not intend.

There are lies, damned lies and the council's Caltongate statistics - and don't hold your breath waiting for Parliament to call the application in. Events in the north would seem to indicate that that is only likely if the council did the honest thing and, in its current form, turned it down. Bets anyone?

David Fiddimore, Nether Craigwell, Calton Road, Edinburgh

Aim is to build on successes and help

LAWRENCE DINSE highlights that the Edinburgh Waterfront Recruitment Centre may close as a result of changes to Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian (Letters, January 21).

However, the decision was taken by all funding partners, including Edinburgh City Council, Capital City Partnership, and Scottish Enterprise, with agreement from other project partners Job Centre Plus, and Telford College that there was a need to re-examine how these services can be delivered more effectively to local people.

This decision was taken in the knowledge that the local Neighbourhood Partnership had been established which will have an increased budget and decision-making powers which will influence these types of services. In addition Edinburgh was successful in winning City Strategy Pathfinder status in 2007 which provides an opportunity for the city to tackle joblessness in our most disadvantaged communities, including North Edinburgh.

As a group, we want to build on the successes of the centre so far and we remain committed to delivering a joined-up approach to help communities in North Edinburgh access employment opportunities resulting from development around Edinburgh's Waterfront.

Linda McPherson, executive director, Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian

Council is throwing our cash away

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WELL done to our council for a first-class job on slaughtering lovely 80-year-old trees to put new ones in and make Nicolson Square nicer for the drunks, neds and junkies (Rundown square is in line to become 100,000 city oasis, News, January 24). When the police get a spare day they will move them on.

As for the tar laid at St Colme Street (City pledge to bring back hidden cobbles News, January 25), the road has been pot holed for years but the council say it's only short-term. Why not do it right months ago when they knew the trams were coming? More cash wasted.

Pat Raines, Niddrie Street, Edinburgh

Data on bus cards is in safe hands

I WOULD like to correct some inaccuracies in the letter from George Anderson (January 26).

Contrary to Mr Anderson's claims, Stagecoach does not sell any data related to concessionary travel cards to any broker or third party. In addition, we have absolutely no plans to use concessionary entitlement card information for any electronic marketing.

The electronic ticket machines on our buses read the card to verify the validity of the card, to issue a ticket and to meet the requirements of Transport Scotland for accurate reimbursement to bus operators.

Steven Stewart, director of corporate communications, Stagecoach Group

School estate rot is Labour's fault

I READ with astonishment the criticism that Nigel Griffiths MP has for the state of Gracemount Primary ('Danger' school's pupils sent home. News, January 29). Perhaps he has forgotten that it was the previous Labour administration that allowed much of our school estate to rot over the last 20 years, and they put little extra for improving Gracemount in the budget for this year.

If Nigel Griffiths feels that highlighting the failures of the rejected Labour council over the last 20 years is a good way of trying to keep his seat, then I think the same will happen to him.

Dr Conor Snowden, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton