Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Readers’ letters: The need for peat fires, electric vehicle charging points and the council’s beachfront plans

peat fires

Sir, – This recent cold weather illustrates how dependent we have become on the electricity supply.

Up in the Shetland Isles right now they have no light or power and yet in times past all that was required was to use the peat for heating. I remember a few years ago sitting round a quite modern range which was developed with peat in mind and there was plenty of that available waiting to be used.

Of course, nowadays we can’t use that because it would send the experts into a tizzy – I would bet that right now a warming glow from a peat fire would be welcomed.

Russell Smith. Address supplied.

SNP need to make good on budget funding promise to the NHS

Sir, – The Scottish Budget. There was a lot in it and as Mr Swinney presented it to the assembly I started to get the feeling that it was a budget that was intended not to upset anyone rather than one to address the problems that Scotland is going through.

But one announcement that made me sit up and take notice was the 1p increase in general taxes with the express reason of funding the NHS to the tune of £1 billion. Now, where have I heard that one before – I think it was 30-plus years ago as part of the Liberals’ manifesto for that up-and-coming general election?

Since I am of the belief that a nation’s health is its wealth I greeted this as the first positive step that the SNP have made to the welfare of Scotland. But then common sense took over. We don’t have enough tax revenue generators to achieve an extra billion in one year so exactly when will the NHS receive it? Not next year but do we have an election coming up?

Will we as the public be able to see in black and white the actual figures of where all these pennies are coming from and exactly how is it going to be paid to the health boards?

Knowing the present administration’s screw-up record, it is wrong for them to be giving false hope to those people on those ever-so-long waiting-for-treatment queues.

Finlay G Mackintosh. Forres.

Protection against keyboard warriors

Sir, – Herbert Petrie (December 16) berates the author of a previous letter to your pages for withholding their name and address.

Mr Petrie probably doesn’t receive the anonymous threats, abuse and vitriol from select independence and SNP supporters through his letter box as myself and probably other unionist contributors when having their names published.

Identified by name, town and street but not house number, the local postie innocently helps the recipient by recognising the incomplete details and making the delivery. Rest assured the senders don’t supply any clue as to their own identity and certainly haven’t the courage to reply via the letters page with or without name and address.

Though never a prolific contributor to the P&J letter pages I decided quite some time ago not to do so again, concerned that one day the anonymous words landing on my doormat would become actions. However, sometimes a point has to be made.

Name and address supplied.

SNP obsession with IndyRef2 must stop

Sir, – Nicola Sturgeon is currently so obsessed with independence that she is prepared to use any of a number of harebrained schemes she can invent. We were originally told that the gold standard in “democracy” was followed in 2012 when, recognising the overall majority in 69 SNP seats, a section 30 order was granted by the UK Government to enable the Scottish Parliament to pass the necessary legislation for a legal referendum.

However, the vote failed to win an overall majority for the SNP along with a voter turnout of only 63.2%. In theory, another referendum should have waited for at least “a generation to pass” before it could be requested again, if there was some indication of popular support, but the result remains too close in terms of the popular vote with a turnout that was much lower than the 84.6% referendum turnout.

De facto polls are Mickey Mouse substitutes for a referendum with the current economic situation.

Prior to the 2016 election, Ms Sturgeon indicated that if the SNP won sufficient seats then a new request would be made.

Unfortunately, they only won 64 seats and not the 65 necessary for a clear majority.

The immediate SNP solution was to find another party to form a “coalition of convenience” and the Greens now fitted the bill, having adjusted their constitution.

It seems quite ridiculous considering the differences in voting systems and voter eligibility that may be used creatively by the SNP.

David Philip. Knockhall Way, Newburgh.

Taxing wealthy not good for business

Sir, – With regards to income tax, we hear from the Scottish Government that “those with the broadest shoulders should pay more”. However, after years of SNP rule it would appear those shoulders get thinner by the year.

John Swinney, in his budget for the year ahead, has announced increases in both the high rate and top rate of income tax. From April 2023 a 42% rate of tax on earnings between £43,662 to £125,140 and anything over that will be taxed at 47%. If you add on the national insurance rate of 12% a high-rate taxpayer will now pay a marginal rate of tax of 54%. Scotland was already the highest tax part of the UK and that gap has increased with the justification given that additional funding is required for the NHS.

There is no guarantee that additional funding will solve all the problems in the NHS but if the Scottish Government did need it they had many other options available to them.

They could have put a stop to the numerous universal freebies for all which include baby boxes, childcare, school meals, prescriptions and travel. These are all expensive schemes to run and should perhaps be more targeted to those who need it the most.

They could have also looked for government efficiencies – do we really need all these taxpayer-funded quangos and spin doctors? They could have also pushed back the reform of the national care system as we all know the SNP have a poor track record in delivering large projects.

John Swinney took the easy option in targeting the middle classes with tax rises to raise additional finance but did not think that these rises look like a tax on aspiration and those who work hard and do well are being penalised for doing so.

High taxes make Scotland a less attractive prospect to invest in and also there may be issues in attracting top talent to live and work here which, in turn, may have an impact on economic growth which is so badly needed in Scotland

Mhairi E Rennie. Finlayson Street, Fraserburgh.

No crystal ball over our defence policy

Sir, – I hope you will allow me to respond to Ian Gray (December 13) who makes valid points and asks pertinent questions re a future independent Scotland. However, he seems to think I am versed in the ins and outs of SNP defence policy.

I suggest he contact Richard Lochhead who would, I am sure, be able to provide him with a detailed breakdown of the SNP’s defence plans, or he can wait for the government’s paper on defence to be published.

While he waits, he could check back on Scotland’s Future where the matter is set out in detail and his questions answered (p232-250). On page 245, it says “current and envisaged major army facilities will continue to be needed at Kinloss, Leuchars, Glencorse, Fort George, Dreghorn …” Details on Faslane, which will be the country’s main naval base and the “joint headquarters of the Scottish defence forces” are on p245 & 246. Faslane was not envisaged to be a submarine base – nuclear or otherwise.

There is absolutely no reason why we would not be able to meet the 2% of GDP threshold to join Nato. Mr Gray is obviously a unionist who believes Scotland is subsidised, that we could not live without the benevolence of England.

We live in a resource-rich country. We are energy self-sufficient thanks to investment in renewable energy technologies. We have countless successful businesses – in Moray alone we have two food giants: Baxters and Walkers – in addition to these there are about 30 distilleries in the county and numerous others in the country. This industry makes up 23% of UK exports worth £4.5 billion. Just think how important that money would be to an independent Scottish government.

It can be argued that because Scotland has limited borrowing powers, its only debt is in relation to those limited powers. It is often suggested that the level of UK debt Scotland should take on is a population-based amount. During the indy referendum campaign, the SNP reacted to talk of rUK taking all the assets with the threat of taking on no share of the debt. The truth is the issue will be up for negotiation. So, Mr Gray, we won’t know the level we will accept until after we vote yes and negotiations are completed.

HS2 is paid for by public money. Mr Gray is being a bit disingenuous if he thinks Scottish taxpayers don’t help pay for the project. Less than half of Scottish tax income returns to Scotland, leaving £40 billion that is kept by the UK for reserved matters. An FOI request on HS2 was received from the Treasury (freely available, just do a bit of Googling) stating that the sum returned in Barnett consequentials in 2021-22 was £276 million. How much of our £40 billion in 2021-22 was used in the spend on HS2 – £276 millon perhaps?

Hamish McBain. Green Street, Rothes.

Pavements exist for pedestrians

Electirc vehicles being charged


Sir, – In the P&J (December 15) the article – EV charging firm’s ambitious plans to double workforce – includes the statement “customers use a lance that connects their vehicle to the ‘flat-and-flush’ charging points in the street, keeping pavements clear of clutter and fully accessible to pedestrians”. Rubbish.

When using a long cane along the edge of the pavement someone may trip up over the lance before they encounter the cable.

It is likely that there will be several of these charging points on a particular section of pavement and each will be in use more than once a day. The charging points should be on the edge of the road and no part of the cable should be on the pavement.

To improve our urban areas the clutter on pavements should be reduced not increased – pavements are for pedestrians.

Graham Tuley. Crown Drive, Inverness.

Scare stories about independence false

Sir, – I was surprised to see an anonymous letter full of false anti-independence scare stories in the paper on December 14. Let’s look at these claims.

Well-known unionist economist Ronald Macdonald claimed that Scots could be 20% worse off after indy based on the long-term use of the UK pound. It is more likely that a new Scottish currency will be adopted quickly after independence, as we have seen in other recently independent countries such as Estonia (new currency in less than a year from indy) and Slovakia (new currency within months of indy).

The anonymous letter writer states that Scotland is too poor to be independent. Scotland’s GDP (a measure of all goods & services sold in an economy) was £178.6 billion in 2018, excluding most oil and gas, or £32,800 per person, which is £900 more than the UK’s figure.

Scotland raises revenues in the region of £60 billion a year, and the Scottish Government spends in the region of £43 billion. Westminster allocates additional spending, some of which is irrelevant for an independent Scotland, such as big debt, big military, Trident.

Scots taxpayers pay National Insurance too. In fact, NI raised here more than covers existing pension commitments so it is not correct to say that Holyrood will not pay full pensions.

It would be beneficial if Mr or Ms Anonymous looked at the bigger picture to see how consecutive Westminster governments have squandered our wealth such that UK national debt is now in the region of £2.5 trillion. Or maybe that’s Scotland’s fault too?

Recent evidence shows us that small countries such as ours with massive resources can and will do a much better job at managing our economy than our imperial neighbour. Scotland is most definitely not too poor to be independent.

Willie Dunbar. Aberdeen.

Stadium is not a priority

Sir, – I am tired of reading about Dave McCormack’s beachfront dream.

I’m no master in mathematics or development plans but I do know Aberdeen City Council are struggling to build new housing for families that want to stay in our city.

They are also struggling to repair run-down housing.

Aberdeen city is on a downward spiral and needs a big injection of cash but that will not happen even if the council decide to go with Mr McCormack’s dream and not that of the council taxpayers.

Right now, Aberdeen does need an infrastructure but not through one man’s dream of a new football pitch.

Joe Durno, Cummings park circle, Aberdeen.

Let’s get real

Sir, – After the latest roads catastrophe the council numpties have come up with who would want to shop in Aberdeen?

Certainly not me.


Motorists do matter

Sir, – Having read two of the latest articles in the press about the forthcoming changes at the beachfront and the meddling of the Guild Street area I must confess I cannot see what the council are trying to achieve.

Oh hang I can, the total disregard of the thousands of motorists who also pay council tax and expect to be able to use the roads in the city they stay in.

I thought after the last shambles at the beach in which they still persist in having that ridiculous one-way system at the cafes would have taught them a lesson to leave well alone. Now it looks they are going to muck up the area again for tourists and locals alike.

As regards the city centre, who would want to drive there anyway?

It’s a nightmare with all the one-way systems, barriers, possible fines and now not being able to get to the train station, etc, without going via Stonehaven I think.

I just wish we could get a council who don’t have a green agenda as their top priority.

It’s important I know, but local business and easy access to the shops and the beach for all must come first or our once-proud city will just wither away as business moves to more accommodating towns.

James Glennie.