From our postbag

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Faint praise for City Council

Sir, – The closing date for objections to the Local Development Plan 2 has now passed. Local opinion seems to be that the Plan will steamroller ahead and Queensferry can say goodbye to what little green space still remains.

However, we should not be downhearted!

I see from the “Journal and Gazette” that in recognition of the fact we are to expand by 2500 houses, we are to receive two more bus stops! Yippee!

Edinburgh Council may be incapable of negotiating tram contracts, and it may do its best to avoid fulfilling its commitments to maintain local footpaths, but it certainly knows how to look after its more outlying communities.

Incidentally, I read in a recent issue of the “Journal and Gazette” that plans are afoot to reduce speed limits to 20mph in parts of the Burgh.

I’m not convinced of the need for that.

In five years’ time, such will be the volume of traffic that the sheer thrill of roaring along Queensferry streets at an exhilarating 20 mph will be but a distant memory.

If you can achieve walking pace on Scotstoun Avenue you will be pushing it. – Yours etc.

David Garner

26 Provost Milne Grove,

South Queensferry.

Important document

Sir, –The Journal and Gazette (October 3) highlighted concerns over the West Lothian development plan but I believe that many people in Linlithgow remain unaware of its proposals which include building 582 houses on “preferred sites” that have been identified by the council in discussion with local landowners.

Of these new houses, 223 seem to be in the upper Linlithgow and Union Canal conservation area, with sites in Clarendon, east of Manse Road and just off the Edinburgh Road.

A further 200 houses are proposed nearby at Wilcoxholm Farm/Pilgrim’s Hill.

The plan gives little general information on infrastructure improvements and no specific proposals regarding traffic congestion, parking or health care impacts.

There is also no clear timeline for the capacity transfer between Linlithgow Academy and the proposed Winchburgh Academy. We deserve a plan that balances housing and infra-structure growth and no “preferred sites” for housing should be confirmed beforehand.

You may disagree with my view but please go to www.westlothian.gov.uk/mir and look at the proposals and maps.

Consider how your area is affected and give the council your feedback before October 17. Don’t let apathy win - this is our town - influence its future. – Yours etc.,

CHRIS THOMAS

Linlithgow

What about other animals?

Sir, – Regarding the letter from Animal Aid in the Friday 3rd October Gazette, as far as I am concerned racehorses have a life where they are cared for, fed, exercised and raced.

If they are not happy racing they are used for breeding or sold on to a good home.

They are lucky that they are well cared for and live a life of luxury and are brought to peak physical performance. Compare this to some poor horse who is left in a field, unbrushed, underfed and not exercised.

Yes, unfortunately some race horses will die,but I tell you this, I hope that when I die it

will be doing something I enjoy and not because I have been neglected and left without food and shelter!

I really think that people should concentrate on the animals who are suffering every day - day after day - and not on statistics in the racing industry.

Janet Thomas

Linlithghow

Keep your cat in and save birds

Sir, –I recently read an article by Steve Backshall, a BBC wildlife presenter, and was horrified to learn that thousands of our favourite birds are slaughtered every year when they migrate here from Africa.

They are shot out of the sky by hunters over Malta and Sicily, where there are no laws to protect the birds.

Reading on, I learned that “hundreds of millions” more are killed by domestic cats.

There are eight million cats in Britain.

Why do the animal rights campaigners and bird charities never highlight this mass slaughter? Are they afraid to upset the cat brigade?

Steve Backshall states that we could half the number of bird fatalities, and importantly save many species, simply by keeping cats in at night.

This would also protect the small mammals that cats “play with” before killing.

What are you waiting for cat lovers? - Yours etc.,

Clark Cross

138 Springfield Road

Linlithgow

Poverty is still an issue

Sir, – An increase to the National Minimum Wage, which came in to effect this week, is certainly a welcome boost for low income workers who are struggling to make ends meet.

With almost three-fifths of low income working households telling us that their financial situation has worsened in the last year, and two in five reporting that their outgoings now outweigh their earnings, this above-inflation rise is a positive step towards easing the immense pressure on household budgets.

However, with over half of the 13 million people in poverty now living in a working household, it is clear that more needs to be done to tackle this issue.

With difficult financial times ahead, we want to make sure that anyone struggling on a low income is aware of all the support available to them. Our free website – www.turn2us.org.uk can help people check their eligibility for welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.

Our Benefits Calculator also includes a ‘better-off’ function to show users how a change in employment hours or wages, or unemployment could affect their benefits entitlements and overall household income.

With the real impact of wage increases and other economic improvements unlikely to be widely felt for some time, we hope more people in need can access financial support that could make all the difference today.

Alison Taylor

Director of Turn2us

200 Shepherds Bush Road, London W6 7NL

Poly bag charge coming soon

Sir, – West Lothian firms need to get ready for bag levy change.

From 20 October, small businesses in West Lothian will have to charge at least 5p for ‘single-use’ bags they give to customers – no matter if the bag is made from paper, plastic or any other material.

Anecdote suggests that some businesses that sell hot food (e.g. chip shops or takeaways) and high street shops (e.g. fashion retailers or hardware stores) aren’t as prepared as they should be for the change.

Until recently, all eyes have been on Scotland’s constitutional future and the FSB are urging those in charge of enforcing the new laws to show some leniency to time-pressed small enterprises.

However, local business owners should get themselves prepared by visiting: http://carrierbagchargescotland.org.u –Yours etc.,

Gordon Henderson

Federation of Small Businesses