I SUPPOSE it is possibly reassuring that the Scottish Government has, at last, appointed a National Chef for Scotland (could this really be the end of deep-fried Mars bars or is it an intimation of new culinary delights to come such as the deep fried Tunnock’s tea cake?).

However, this appointment (“TV show winner savours his new role as Scotland’s first National Chef”, The Herald, December 1) is possibly symptomatic of the need of successive Scottish Governments to create a budget for every MSP who holds a ministerial post. After all, if a minister cannot spend then what are they doing and are they really necessary in the first place?

I believe Professor Jim Gallacher has recently been able to demonstrate that if Conservative Government spending priorities had simply been adopted north of the Border in recent years then expenditure on key services per head would be significantly higher than those which have been decided more locally at Holyrood.

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I suppose the attenuation of public finances in Scotland in this way must be down to the need to ensure all ministers are actually able to spend in their area of responsibility and, essentially, to been seen to be "doing things". Consequently many key public services such as health, education and infrastructure investment have subsequently been starved of expenditure for many years.

This was best and graphically demonstrated to me over the weekend.

Whilst driving back from Loch Earn to Glasgow road after road was closed (often with no warning at junctions where an alternative route might have been taken).

The Trossachs A821 was closed at Loch Acharg, causing an unnecessary backtrack of at least 20 miles. Just a little further on, the A81 was closed at Balfron Station, causing another long diversion.

Clearly years of underinvestment has led to the need for major repairs which cause major blockages on key trunk routes.

In the meantime we have what might have been entirely unnecessary capital expenditure on the new Queensferry Crossing and, unbelievably, the need for it to undergo major repairs to its surface less than two months after its opening. These have been referred to by the First Minister as merely "snagging".

As it becomes more clear that the Scottish Government’s competence is increasingly questionable and it is increasingly debatable if they can actually be trusted with the stewardship of key public services maybe it’s time for the Culture Secretary to come up with something tangible to help out Nicola Sturgeon.

Surely now is the very time for Fiona Hyslop to appoint a Scottish National Magician who could pull policy initiatives out of a hat ... preferably at no cost.

Ian Graham,

6 Lachlan Crescent, Erskine.

THERE has been much discussion regarding problems on the new Forth crossing and only time will tell how this eventually pans out.

In my opinion, the First Minister’s choice of analogy of snagging with a new house was ill advised. This normally refers to a bit of paintwork damaged, a door or window stiff to open and so on. If a new house owner was told that they could not use bathroom for five days or part of the house was to be out of bounds for 6 months, they would not call it snagging issues but something more colourful.

The comment that most surprises me however is the "golden milestone" of classifying the bridge as motorway standard with speed raised from 50mph to 70mph. In my opinion, this 40 per cent increase in possible speed with not give a corresponding increase in capacity. Drivers will have to leave longer gaps between cars to avoid shunts. On day one of this new regime, I can predict that the official line will be "drivers getting used to new arrangements".

The main issue I see, however, is that when the bridge become motorway standard and the old bridge is designated for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. Learner drivers, vehicles prohibited from motorways (for example, 50cc scooters) and drivers who do prefer not to use motorways will be faced with the long detour over Kincardine Bridge. Something they have not needed to do since 1964. I will be interested to hear the spin on this.

Stephen McGuigan,

65 Canniesburn Road, Bearsden,