What will be the real cost of the trams?

FOR a number of years, several Edinburgh residents have voiced their concerns about the financial and environmental risks of the Edinburgh Tram projects.

After the election in May, it became clear that the political will of all parties except the SNP to deliver the tram was relentless. Like it or not, Edinburgh residents are having the tram foisted upon them.

Throughout, we have been given to understand that the national funding could not be diverted into anything else; and that this would pay for the tram.

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It now emerges that the council's own Children and Families department, which purports to be in such dire financial straits that it was proposing to shut down 22 schools, must stump up tram developer contributions when it rebuilds Tynecastle High School.

This is clearly unacceptable. Edinburgh receives per capita funding for pupils' education.

It has also recently received capital funding from the Scottish Government for the pre-school sector and for preparing Edinburgh's schools for smaller class sizes in P1 to P3.

Is any of this money being diverted towards the tram? Is it legal to divert funds allocated to children's education to a tram? And even if it is legal, is it not grossly immoral?

This is only the tip of the iceberg. What other public money will be diverted into the tram?

Andrew Holmes, director of city development, is disingenuous to say that there must be a level playing field for all developers and the council must pay its share as a developer.

Andrew Holmes' department wrote the Tram Developer Contributions policy which dictates the conditions.

Exemptions to the policy could have been made and should have been made for construction projects which are deemed to be in the public interest.

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Tina Woolnough, Chair, Parents in Partnership, Craigleith View, Edinburgh

Hovercraft set to sink without trace

STAGECOACH has announced a "clear case" for pumping 3 million of public money into its hovercraft project, based, naturally, on the two-week trial in July (900,000 a year to use hovercraft, Evening News, October 26).

By an amazing coincidence, this trial was carried out during the Fife holiday, when most of Kirkcaldy decided it would be fun to spend the day in Edinburgh.

Most potential serious commuters of my acquaintance were put off by the long wait ensuing, and are sceptical about the attraction and viability of such a service, particularly during winter.

This scheme will ultimately go the way of all alternative Forth crossings over the years, and sink without trace, hopefully with none of my cash aboard.

Mike Wilkinson, Rowanlea, Kirk Wynd, Strathmiglo, Fife

Spend zoo cash on better animal care

ALASTAIR McFARLANE comments on the sad state of animal enclosures at Edinburgh Zoo (Letters, October 26). Shouldn't any spare money that the zoo has be spent on better care for the animals it already holds behind its bars as opposed to making grand plans for expansion and the acquisition of more animals to its "collection"?

What is the young girl in your photograph learning about compassion and respect for animals? Surely in the 21st century there has to be a better way.

Ross Minett, Campaigns Director, Advocates for Animals, Queensferry Street, Edinburgh

An accident or is it a mere coincidence?

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I HAVE just waded through the new Highway Code, all 145 pages to find that, after many years of campaigning, the word Accident has been almost completely replaced with Crash, Collision or Incident.

Accident, with its suggestion of hapless inevitability, only occurs four times where Crash occurs six times, Collision 14 and Incident 15. I know one frustrated commentator who would have liked to replace Accident with Predictable Tragedy to emphasise how 97 per cent of crashes caused by human error could have been prevented by human care.

It is natural to be sympathetic with someone who has "had an accident" but shielding people from the reality that collisions are not inevitable does not promote the care we must all take to reduce Britain's daily road death toll of nine people.

Floral tributes on bends are no substitute for slowing down.

Stanley McWhirter, Balcarres Street, Edinburgh

Well done for that stance on Burma

I WRITE to congratulate the council for supporting Ian Perry's motion to support Edinburgh citizens campaigning for democracy in Burma. The Green amendment about supporting refugees could make a particular difference, as could university scholarships, and disinvestment in companies who fund the regime.

Tim Gee, Dublin Street, Edinburgh

Tidying things up over waste depot

WITH reference to Waste Transfer Site - Portobello. I would like to ask Edinburgh City Council two questions.

1. As the site is adjacent to family homes what has Edinburgh Council Health and Safety Department got to say about the matter?

2. What payment is the council receiving to agree to take the rubbish of East Lothian and Midlothian?

D Tod, Durham Road, Edinburgh

Action needed on affordable homes

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WHEN is the Scottish Parliament going to publicly announce its intentions on affordable houses? They have been silent on this issue which is of national importance.

Trevor Swistchew, The Paddockholm, Edinburgh

Pitch permission load of old boule

RE "New pitches boule over petanque fans (News, October 25). Terrific!

The "posh" folk get their petanque courts in Inverleith without a cheep from the locals or a protracted public inquiry by the council.

The Edinburgh skateboarders have their efforts to open a much-needed skatepark knocked back after a bitter campaign by the "posh" locals.

The article has a quote "not many people play it here" and "the club has 60 members". What was it built for then?

The few get what they want but the thousands of Edinburgh skaters can whistle for their much-needed skatepark.

Mike Borys (a skateboarder's dad), Craigmount Terrace, Edinburgh