Letters to the Editor

Let there be lights

I HAVE been a resident in Gorebridge for the past 12 years.

With Christmas fast approaching, I can only live in hope that this year the village Christmas lights will be something to be proud of, rather than the sparse display of past years. Neighbouring villages have seen new lights added to their display, but it seems we are nothing more than the poor forgotten relation.

Mary Bisacre

Castle Place, Gorebridge

Cladding concerns

I READ with concern that the Local Review Board did not uphold the decision of the planning officers in refusing the use of slate cladding on a building in Dalkeith.

The review board has taken over from the old route of appeal to the DPEA for planning matters at this level.

While this saves time and money, it is imperative that the elected representatives on the board have as much knowledge in planning matters as possible, in order that they can make a balanced decision based on good design.

I wonder if the elected representatives were aware that this building is in an area marked for inclusion as an extension of the Eskbank and Ironmills Conservation area?

I don’t think they can be, because the building is now even more at odds with potential conservation status.

What might our future generation say if the site of the bus station is developed to a high specification (oh please) to find it sits beside a utilitarian building clad with shiny grey slate tiles; lit by blue, red and green fluorescent lights.

The slate cladding should have been judged by the review board for its compliance with the local plan, the setting of the adjacent listed buildings and its impact on the gateway to Dalkeith.

In my opinion, it compromises all of these and perhaps more importantly, offends the good work and funding that is currently being applied to the core of Dalkeith to bring about improvements to Dalkeith town centre.

Susan Goldwyre

Cemetery Road, Eskbank

Who is accountable?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read the responses from Colin Beattie MSP with regard to irregularities within Midlothian Council.

It appears somewhat empty to ask him at all, his “copy and paste” response of blaming the last administration is tiresome to say the least. Furthermore, Councillor Muirhead’s contribution that “this is our opportunity to improve the situation” is, frankly, astounding.

Plainly speaking, it would appear that some staff have been stealing and that weak internal checks have contributed to this. I find it somewhat frustrating that internal staff are not held accountable, and that it becomes the usual political playground fight instead.

Surely there is management that have to be accountable for theft on “their watch”?

Mr Beattie also speaks of these times of financial hardship, I agree with him on this. With this in mind I’d like to ask Councillor Muirhead about the number of council vehicles parked outside houses overnight, are these staff aware of the implications this may have with regard to their income tax, and do the local authority notify the Inland Revenue accordingly?

Finally, I feel that it would be healthy if the council were forthcoming with telling us how many cars are actually provided to staff, either through a pool car system or by a private sector leasing agreement.

In view of the already established haphazard approach to fuel, it may be possible that more money is being mis-spent.

Name and address withheld

No bias here

Once again I find it astonishing that you continue to report only on the Labour councillors who are no longer in charge of Midlothian. I attended the last Newtongrange Community Council meeting, and clearly heard Councillor Cath Johnstone address the meeting and inform the community about the new Newbattle Community High School proposals. I then had to listen to the exact same information be repeated by the Labour councillor.

I cannot believe that you chose to print the now secondhand information given by the Labour councillor in this week’s paper and never even mentioned the first statement by Cath Johnstone.

Surely it would be beneficial to all your readers to hear where the original information came from.

Perhaps a balanced report on politics in Midlothian would be the way forward and show that the Advertiser was representing the people of Midlothian and not just being a Labour news letter.

Hopefully you will print my letter and show that you are not biased in any way.

Name and address withheld

Editor’s note: I can assure readers that the Advertiser has no political affiliations. Impartiality is at the heart of our efforts to bring you fair and balanced reporting.

Turmoil over turbines

WE FIND that our Coalition Government is once again in turmoil, this time regarding the future of (industrial capacity) onshore wind turbines; a hugely controversial issue all over the United Kingdom.

Reputedly the junior partner in the Coalition (Liberals) have furiously demanded that the new Energy Minister John Hayes a member of the senior partner in the Coalition (Conservatives) be stripped of responsibility for renewable energy; all this hostility is reportedly because the Liberal Energy Secretary Ed Davey doesn’t like that Mr Hayes had the temerity to speak for the vast majority of the UK when he noted that “Britain has had enough of turbines peppered across the country. I would say that the majority of the British People thank Mr Hayes for this and reply with “Well said Mr Hayes!”

While the term Liberal is one that would normally be associated with free speech and open discussion; it is illuminating that Mr Davey attempted to ban Mr Hayes from making his remarks public, while his Liberal colleagues reportedly demanded that Mr Hayes be sacked from his renewable energy responsibilities. It would seem that they continue to be neither Liberal, nor even Democratic in practice.

While Mr Cameron has effectively backed his minister by appointing him in the recent reshuffle; Mr Cameron also noted that “We have got a big pipeline of onshore and offshore wind projects coming through. We are committed to those, but frankly all parties are going to have to have a debate about what happens once those targets are met.”

This approach may be confusing to most of us, because what Mr Cameron means is that he has no intention of changing the current policies towards industrial capacity wind turbines for the time being. One may be reasonable in assuming that there is only an intention of creating sufficient discussions in the media to cover this blinkered approach from the Coalition Government; although their policies on wind turbine facilities have been fully supported by all major political parties, with the notable exception of the UK Independence Party (“UKIP”).

The Conservatives may have 150 MPs urging the Government to take a sceptical stance over onshore wind power, with comments stating that it is “extraordinary that turbines had been erected across Britain with little or no regard for the views of local people” and also, “that we can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities.” However, can it really be said that the PM (Con.) with a father in law who makes around £1,000 per day from wind turbines; and a Deputy PM (Lib.) with a wife who earns a salary from a company director position on a wind generation company board; can ever be seen as truly independent on this hugely controversial issue.

One interesting point to come out of the public squabble by the Coalition is that while the Conservatives may be outwardly considering a move to curtail the number of industrial wind generation facilities within our beautiful countryside (after they have installed enough of them of course!); the Liberals remain insistent that it is wrong to say that no more turbines will be constructed once the remaining target is reached.

The disingenuous point being made by both the industrial wind generation industry and also the Labour energy spokesman Caroline Flint should be noted as they repeatedly claim that “Onshore wind is the most developed and cheapest source of clean energy” while they conveniently fail to point out that conventional power stations (coal, gas or nuclear) must be run in parallel with wind turbines to ensure that we have power when it is required and not just when the wind is blowing; hardly a cheap option.

If anyone is in any doubt about why energy bills are going up so much, not only is it to do with the enormous subsidies being paid for this supposedly carbon free generation method; it is because we need to construct two infrastructure systems for when the wind does not blow.

While we are regularly informed of an expectation that many people are likely to die from fuel poverty this winter, one might be forgiven for asking if the world had gone entirely mad and not just those pockets of excellence in the madness that forces us to pay for a dual infrastructure in the Westminster, Edinburgh and Brussels bubbles.

I will be voting for UKIP in future elections to end the madness; bring in common sense policies and most importantly, to place accountability at the heart of our local communities.

Steven McKeane

Ellwyn Terrace, Galashiels

Last Call on SNP

My dear wife, Ephesia, has drawn my attention to a letter in your columns from a Mr Gordon Irvine, which mentioned my name.

It made me so happy to be remembered. However, I am not surprised that nice Mr Black is driven to write such negative things about the separatist SNP administration in Midlothian. All this “Carry On Council” business is just so depressing.

We have just had a helluva time with them. In fact, my organist, Mr Bampot, was just saying the other day it’s like the Hokey Cokey at the Women’s Guild: they put their whole selves in, they put their whole selves out – it’s all in/out and shaking it all about.

But I do not want to disappoint Mr Irvine by signing off on a negative note. I have been quite overcome with ecstatic joy at the increased financial rewards the SNP cabinet members have awarded themselves and then arranging to have less time at work. All that extra money with more time to spend it and enjoy themselves. I can barely contain my excitement.

Yours, with a cheery word to all

IM Jolly (Reverend)

The Manse, Chuckles Street, Penniless, Mirthlothian

(AKA Jim Black

Breck Terrace, Penicuik)