Pollution menace

Clearly, slowing down traffic in Edinburgh will increase the amount of fumes, both diesel and petrol, in the atmosphere and those walking or cycling will be especially exposed to them. According to the World Health Organisation, diesel pollution is a 'definite carcinogen'. A BBC report cited a figure of '40,000 early deaths every year in the UK' from such fumes. Yet Edinburgh wants to increase them!

Compare the total of 73 road casualties in Edinburgh between 2010 and 2014 and compare that to the potential 308 deaths from diesel alone in Edinburgh in one year that this pollution will lead to. That does not include petrol and other fumes – and the road casualties will still occur.

Is it worth all the extra deaths this (fairly unenforceable) policy will cause through the silent death of diesel pollution? Surely the council should reduce diesel pollution rather than speed on our streets?

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Football focus

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At a time when Scottish football is crying out for investment, and TV income in particular, what has the SPFL been spending its time and money on? Apparently,it is to be a ludicrous revamp of the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Of course, Scottish football fans could see from the outset there is a hidden agenda. It is a Trojan Horse. At a time when Uefa is beginning to relax its stance towards cross-border competition, in come two Welsh and two Northern Irish clubs. Can anyone join the dots and see where this could be leading? Yes, I thought so!

You do not plan a party if no-one is going to come, and, as one who supports my club (Dunfermline) every Saturday, I will not be watching them playing a Challenge Cup fixture with the Hamilton Accies Under-20 side, nor will many others.

What the SPFL should be doing is organising league reconstruction. It does not take the hiring of expensive consultants, or the setting up of a working party to realise that if you add the four clubs which pull in the crowds – ie, Dundee Utd, Hibs, Falkirk and Dunfermline Athletic – to the present Scottish Premiership; you would attract far more TV income, not least because the Edinburgh and Dundee derbies would be back.

These are the matches which attract a TV audience, the ones with the sell-out crowds; with passion, atmosphere and real competition. Sorry, but Hamilton Accies v Ross County on a rainy Tuesday night, watched by a crowd of 1,000 and the proverbial dog, is never going to crack it.

The SPFL really needs to get its priorities right.

John V Lloyd

Keith Place, Inverkeithing

Lack of doctors

The reported lack of doctors in Scotland, and the need to bribe retired doctors back to work (Your report, 15 June), was forseen long ago.

It is the direct result of ­successive incompetent governments on both sides of the Border, and their lack of planning to provide more teaching hospitals.

While Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessors persist in telling us that we are one of the richest countries on Earth – a highly debatable point – they have completely failed to grasp the facts: a) there are not enough teaching hospitals in the country, and b) it takes many years to train a doctor.

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We should not need to import doctors from other countries, as we do at present (meaning a loss for those countries), but plan ahead to produce adequate numbers of our own.

Our lack of doctors is a national disgrace.

Alastair Maxwell-Irving

Blairlogie, Stirling

Climate troubles

It was announced that Scotland had hit its ambitious ­climate-change emission ­targets ahead of schedule (Your report, 15 June).

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham was quick to claim credit for the SNP, and called for even more stringent targets.

For the first time ever I found myself agreeing with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, which said: “This target has been met because of the loss of heavy industry, warmer weather, our changing share of European emission credits and some government policies.”

These environmental gains have come at a heavy price for the economy and jobs, with firms failing and unemployment rising to 150,000.

As The Scotsman editorial pointed out, the closure of heavy industry is largely responsible for the savings.

The pendulum is about to swing as passengers flying from Edinburgh and Glasgow – two million in May – increase when Air Passenger Duty is halved and then abolished.

Will the SNP boast of further emissions savings when the lights go out due to unreliable wind-powered electricity and there is no fossil fuel back-up?

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As your editorial says, “things look good, on paper at least, but behind the headlines there is a different story”.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Animal welfare

We strongly support the Scottish Government’s announcement that it is to ban wild ­animals in travelling circuses (Your report, 11 June).

The British Veterinary Association, as the leading representative body for vets, has long campaigned on this issue. The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus in terms of housing nor being able to express normal behaviour.

While this specific issue may not affect a great number of individual animals in the UK, we nevertheless believe it is emblematic of the way in which we treat all animals under human care.

We are pleased to see the new government not only identifying opportunities to improve animal health and welfare in Scotland, but also taking hold of these opportunities with both hands – and we would urge other UK governments to follow their lead.

Grace Webster

President, BVA Scottish Branch

Protecting CAB

It is reported that some local authorities are planning to cut the budgets to the Citizens Advice Bureau service, a move that will deny many their basic right to information on numerous matters, denying justice to many who do not have the finances or knowledge to source and engage the services of a solicitor or financial adviser.

Local authorities who are proposing such cuts to this very necessary service need to engage in a reality check, asking themselves who are they serving and whose money are they spending.

Local authorities’ spending needs a root-and-branch review, and a good start would be the salaries paid to chief executives and top officials in local government.

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One council already making plans for cuts is North Lanarkshire, a council which paid seven top officials almost £800,000 in 2014-15. My local authority, Falkirk, has just spent £1 million on consultancy fees for a project that has been shelved.

The work of Citizen Advice Bureaux is vital in providing a service to so many and we should all cherish it – 300,000 people in Scotland were assisted by more than 2,000 employee and many volunteers at Citizens Advice last year alone, a clear indication that this vital service must be retained.

Catriona C Clark

Banknock, Falkirk

Prison problems

Our Scottish prison service is under great pressure to achieve any real performance with current overcrowding levels at quite unacceptable levels, making rehabilitation of offenders almost an impossible objective and leading to high re-offending rates.

Alternative to prisons such as community services schemes have a much better success rate but are overstretched. Unless the SNP administration allocates realistic funds to support these schemes, the overcrowding crisis will continue to undermine our prison service.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Bucksburn, Aberdeen