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Readers’ letters: Inverness city centre, Traffic Scotland website and protecting Aberdeen beach from new Dons stadium

Inverness city centre
Academy Street in Inverness is one of the city's most-polluted streets. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Sir, – Regarding closing Academy Street, Church Street, Queensgate and Union Street to cars, I have calculated that from the west of Inverness my journey would be two kilometres longer to shop at Morrisons or Eastgate, avoiding Academy Street going via the Longman.

The other alternative of using the distributor road would put more pressure on the already congested Inshes roundabout so why bother? Most will just go to the Inshes retail park and avoid the city centre.

We have been given another alternative of parking at the multi-storey Rose Street car park but this could prove troublesome as we now have a multitude of new hotels with more on the way, all with next to no parking provided on-site. If 75% of cars are going through Academy Street and not stopping it is because it’s a shorter route – no one would choose to use Academy Street if there was a shorter alternative.

I work in Chapel Street and witnessed the chaos earlier this year when Academy Street was closed due to a fire – it took an hour to get from Chapel Street to Raigmore Hospital. I am also not surprised about the inflated pollution figures for Academy Street when the monitoring cabinet is actually in Queensgate next to the bus stops where they are either idling waiting for passengers or sitting at the traffic lights.

Don’t let anything get in the way of our council’s agenda of wiping out the city centre trade except for bars and restaurants.

Brendan Finlayson. King Brude Terrace, Inverness.

What will be cost of our independence?

Sir, –Keith Brown stated recently that Scotland would be more prosperous under independence.

A recent report by the professor of economics in Glasgow indicates that under independence everyone’s income will be less by up to 20%.

Two years ago John Swinney indicated that the SNP would not be able to pay out the full amount of existing state pensions.

The Office of Fiscal Studies, the London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank have all stated that under independence there will need to be greater austerity and high taxes.

This does not strike me as prosperous.

Name and address supplied

Put the brakes on ‘anti-car brigade’

Sir, – It can be no surprise that an “active travel and accessibility” campaigner such as councillor Knox would support banning cars from Academy Street.

Must those people who really understand the city centre – like BID, the Chamber of Commerce, the manager of Marks & Spencer and numerous other business owners – bow down to the anti-car brigade? No. We must fight to make councillors understand that Academy Street is a main route into and through the city, and if they get away with their underhand option B the city centre will be destroyed.

I know businesses on Academy Street and surrounding roads that rely on people in cars dropping by to collect goods. I know that being unable to drive into the centre would reduce the number of locals and visitors using our city centre. The alternatives of using out-of-town stores, or online shopping would become more attractive if city-centre shopping became less accessible.

The anti-car position of the current Highland Council administration is clear. They seem ignorant of the fact that not all users of the town centre live a walk or bike ride away. People from across the Highlands use, and want to access, city centre businesses.

The proposed ban would be deeply damaging and should never have been put to councillors, as it never formed any part of the already deficient “consultation” process.

Donald M MacKenzie. Crown Drive, Inverness.

Westminster could learn from the SNP

Sir, – Our much-maligned first minister is to be applauded for negotiating a settlement with trade unions for healthcare workers, along with settlements with railway workers and, hopefully, all teachers.

Why is it Tory ministers in Westminster do the usual round of media, hand-wringing and saying it’s up to the companies and unions to resolve? Is it not high time they took a leaf out of the Scottish Government’s book and settled the protracted strikes down south once and for all? They clearly do not look like a government for the people who gave them such a large winning margin.

Calling the military out is disrespectful to their role too. Strikers deserve a satisfactory solution. Hand-clapping workers doesn’t cut the mustard nor does it feed their families.

Ken Reid. Glenlogie House, Inchmarlo.

If it ain’t broke then just leave well alone

A foggy road full of Traffic Scotland
Image: Traffic Scotland

Sir, – Do you use the Traffic Scotland cameras and road information service?

If you do, have you been struggling with their “new and improved” web pages?

For reasons best known to themselves Traffic Scotland have changed their website information pages from a simple system whereby you could easily find information and live pictures, to a wonderful, flashy service with fancy icons and touch screen-type pages.

It appears that the “if it ain’t broke, don’t mend it” rule has been totally ignored. I and, as I understand it, others are toiling with this new service and to compound the problems cameras are frequently out of action.

If you are unhappy with this upgraded, virtually useless new system please complain to your MP, MSP, community council, councillor and anyone who will listen. We in the Highlands need this service, especially in weather such as we are experiencing just now, and if we don’t complain we will be stuck with what someone in their “wisdom” thinks is better.

What we have now is unwieldy and compared to what we did have is far from user-friendly.

Alastair Armitstead. Achiltibuie, Ross-shire.

NHS now a victim of its own success

Sir, – As we prepare to celebrate the birth of a saviour in a stable from Biblical times are we about to witness the death of a saviour of a more modern era – our beloved National Health Service?

Our much-loved granny institution, now old and having been sorely afflicted by a virus, is struggling to meet the demands of so many in distress.

Born on July 5 1948, the culmination of a bold and pioneering plan by Attlee’s post-war government – with health secretary Nye Bevan as its figurehead – it took healthcare from being exclusive to those who could afford to pay to accessible for everyone.

How different now from the time I began my 30-plus years in its service, barely out of its teenage years. What a magic institution to be a part of, as in addition to the well-documented advances in clinical medicine and surgery, it was a period of major development in laboratory-based medicine and associated science.

This branch of patient care, never worth two minutes in the news or a column inch, is essential to the clinician at the bedside providing clarity where there is doubt.

Then in 1980 Aberdeen had a world first when a team led by Professor Jim Hutchison, from Professor John Mallard’s medical physics department, built the first full-body MRI scanner with a patient from Fraserburgh the very first to be scanned.

As the years passed the NHS became a victim of its own success – as more was achieved even greater things were expected and more and more from the nation’s purse was required.

It is sad to see such an institution die, but even those most loved must eventually pass away for our country cannot afford to continue Bevan’s model in its present form and a change to the French-style system based on social health insurance will become a necessity. The NHS is no longer the envy of the world, according to recent data.

Ivan W. Reid. Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Protect promenade from stadium plan

Aberdeen Beach, where the new dons stadium is planned to be built
Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sir, – I am appalled to read of the plans to cut access to the promenade. How many other cities have an easy route to two miles of pristine beach from the town centre?

Generations of Aberdonians and many visitors, have enjoyed this wonderful area and driven, walked and cycled the scenic route from Dee to Don. Is this plan all in preparation for further ruining the area with a massive football-skating development?

No longer can our parents and children sit on the sands listening to the waves lapping, instead the air will be punctuated by roars from the football stadium.

I appeal to all Aberdonians who cherish our heritage, don’t let this happen. Once done, there will be no going back.

D Schofield.

Leave the beach alone

Sir, – Firstly I would agree with Ian Yuill. Leave the beach as it is but do a feasibility study regards putting a rig a short distance offshore with a covered walkway access.

I believe this idea was brought up decades ago and was introduced in England, but we are the oil capital of Europe so please leave the ice rink and fun beach alone for the youngsters.

Frank, Braeside, Aberdeen.