Amanda McMillan in her article “Sky’s the limit for Glasgow Airport” (The Herald, December 24) tries hard to paint a positive picture following the demise of flyglobespan with her forecast of traffic growth at the end of 2010. Passenger numbers at the three central Scotland airports have fallen by 1.5 million in the past 12 months, and continue to fall. The realisation by BAA Edinburgh of that airport’s potential, added to the general economic situation, has hit both Glasgow (down 900,000) and Prestwick (down 600,000). I expect Glasgow’s annual passenger volumes will fall by a further 300,000 to 500,000 in 2010 before any growth is recorded.

Ms McMillan takes a swipe at Prestwick when she says: “Unlike some Scottish airports, Glasgow has a broad mix of UK and international carriers, many of them major players. That gives us strength to withstand setbacks.” The impact of Ryanair setting up a base at Edinburgh was predictable with Prestwick being forced to accept a switch away from city routes and target the holiday routes operated from Glasgow. This change had already forced flyglobespan into cutting its proposed 2010 flying programme by 30%. The rail subsidy from/to Prestwick was initially established to support inbound tourism, but it should not now be used to subsidise outbound tourism.

It is vital that the economics of airlines serving holiday routes from Glasgow -- in particular, easyJet, Thomas Cook and Thomson Airways -- are not further stretched by more night-flying restrictions. In the past few months, MSP Gil Paterson has conducted a noise survey of residents on or close to the runway 23 approach path based on the unrealistic growth projections given in the airport’s October 2006 masterplan.

I do not believe the introduction of Air Passenger Duty has had a significant impact on traffic volumes. Does £11 make or break a proposed trip to Scotland?

I wait with interest to see the “about 12 new routes” being secured for 2010. While my definition of a new route is a destination not currently served from Glasgow Airport, I suspect BAA’s definition will also cover current destinations being served by new carriers.


Alan J Reid,



Graeme Sweenie, chief commercial officer of Prestwick Airport, attempts to justify his airport’s substantial public rail subsidy on the grounds that “Scotland is struggling to attract visitors” and “the last thing we want to do is make it difficult for them to get to their onward destinations” (“Rival airport chief: scrap subsidy for Prestwick”, The Herald, December 24).

We agree with this sentiment and continue to invest heavily -- at our own expense -- in improving surface access to and from Glasgow Airport, including a £1m contribution to the M74 extension and a dedicated fund for new bus routes.

However, as Mr Sweenie knows, many of Prestwick’s most popular inbound destinations -- including Budapest, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Krakow, Rome and Stockholm -- were axed this winter and replaced with flights to outbound holiday destinations that bring few, if any, visitors to Scotland. Crucially, they are all served from one or more of Scotland’s other major airports -- Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness -- without public subsidy.


John McConnell,

Commercial manager, Glasgow Airport.


Choice exists because of competition. The travel subsidy to and from Prestwick encourages thousands of foreign visitors to travel to Glasgow, Edinburgh and other parts. As far as I know the concession is only available on the day of arrival and fills otherwise empty seats on trains.

As for the station, I believe it was built by the airport and was not paid for from the public purse. BAA had decades to do this when it owned the airport but did not.

I feel there is lingering resentment that Prestwick has survived and not gone the way BAA hoped when it sold it.

The winners are the Scottish and European passengers who can fly at reasonable prices to places they would not otherwise visit.

The argument for a rail link to Glasgow Airport is one that will stand or fall on its own merits, as did the tram link to Edinburgh. I have not seen this argument between London’s airports.


Muir Smillie,





Too many teachers see job as soft option


Growing numbers of unemployed, newly-qualified teachers are, of course, an unsatisfactory state of affairs, and I agree wholeheartedly with your editorial comment (December 28) about the “insidious casualisation” of the workforce.

However, other issues abound, not least the calibre of new teachers. We used to pride ourselves upon being a graduate profession, but this is no longer the case. The probation period has been halved: why? And if, as you assert, newly-qualified teachers now have to look elsewhere for work, they could start with areas beyond the central belt.

Then there’s the matter of motivation. I have known many colleagues whom one could categorise as elderly recruits: all too often they seem to regard teaching as a safe and soft alternative to earning a crust in the private sector. Look at the hours. Think of the holidays. We all know how difficult it is, in spite of professional review and development measures, to get rid of incompetent, lazy teachers. Those who see it as an easy option can make it so for themselves -- and, therefore, harder for the rest of us.


Sybil Bertioli,





Red Road towers were the tallest steel-framed structures in Europe and withstood storms


The article by Rebecca McQuillan on tower blocks (“Scots quango in bid to protect our old concrete tower blocks”, The Herald, December 28) suggests that they are all of concrete construction.

This is not the case. The McDonald Street development in Motherwell and, more significantly, the Red Road development in Glasgow are both of steel-framed construction. In the case of the latter, the Red Road tower blocks (30 storeys or more) were, at the time, the tallest steel-framed, multistorey structures in Europe and, as such, were a huge credit to the chartered structural engineers working as designers for the respective, Glasgow-based steel fabricators involved in these projects. Their work on the superstructures was overseen by W A Fairhurst & Partners, consulting engineers to Glasgow Corporation, as it was at that time.

It is probably the case that these

Red Road blocks are still the tallest multistoreys in Scotland, but in view of their social failure, are now earmarked for demolition.

The Red Road development as a whole was completed and occupied just in time to be fully tested by the great gale of January 1968, which caused major damage throughout the country. It must have been a terrifying experience for the tenants as these tall structures would have been swaying significantly, but thankfully their robust design was fit for the task.


Duncan Miller,




Taming the Clyde


I agree with Iain A D Mann (Letters, December 29) that there is something wrong with our costing of major projects in the UK.

However, we seem to have done it again over the suggested storm-proof, power-generating Clyde barrage from Greenock to Ardmore point.

Given that the Scottish Parliament building rose to around £414m and the cancelled Glasgow Airport Rail Link was coming in at £392m, one wonders how it is ever expected to tame and harness the mighty Clyde for only £250m?


Bill Brown,






Posturing politicians should stay out of business and let wealth creators do their jobs


Warnings to politicians from CBI Scotland leader Iain McMillan’s about interference in the running of businesses are timely and apposite as we look towards a new year (“Business chief scolds the SNP”, The Herald, December 29).

Emergence from the current financial crisis will require the goodwill of all stakeholders in the successful outcome, particularly the wealth creators. The difficulty is that politicians and trades unionists have to be seen to be doing something to please electors and members. Political posturing and strikes seldom save jobs, however, and frequently leave a sour taste with those doing their best to be good employers. If anything, they discourage further investment and destroy jobs.

While sympathetic to those in fear for their jobs, nothing stays the same. In this global economy, what has been a success can quickly become unviable. In these circumstances, it is best left to those charged by company law to “act in the way they consider best to promote the success of the company for the benefit of members but also in the interests of other stake­holders, including employees”.

Politicians cannot gripe about that as they created the rules. Sir John Harvey Jones, head of ICI, asked why he had presided over 20,000 redundancies worldwide in the period of his chairmanship, responded: “To prevent making the other 120,000 redundant.”

In North Ayrshire, the company employed at its peak around 15,000 people. The area has been one of the unemployment blackspots since the rundown began in 1979 and is currently the worst in the UK with 14.2% unemployed.

Politicians of all shades in both national and local government have failed in this area to create an environment and infrastructure conducive to reinvestment. Unfortunately, they are perceived as “business knockers” rather than the opposite.

I suppose in a country where a quarter of the employed population is in the public sector, and a substantial part of the economy is in public services, it becomes easy for those involved and their political masters to forget that they exist to serve the rest of us.

Like Iain McMillan, I would like to see politicians in 2010 focusing on creating an environment conducive to the encouragement of business and wealth creation, on which the wellbeing of all of us depends.

To cite but one example, however, the Scottish Government is seeking to persuade us that sustainable energy will be maintained by covering Scotland’s beautiful landscape (vital to tourism) with giant turbines. Possibly the only other large-scale employer in North Ayrshire -- the nuclear facility at Hunterston -- can be dispensed with in a small country, on the fringes of nuclear-powered Europe, a few hundred miles from the Arctic circle.

If that prevails, no sensible large-scale industrial investor will remain, but it won’t really matter because the population will be long extinct from hypothermia.


Findlay Turner,





It is time to set the record straight


Here we go again with getting wrong the end of set periods of time. You are advertising “The Decade”, a picture guide to some of the most memorable events of the past decade. It may cover the past 10 years but it cannot cover the decade unless it is from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2010.

When we are born, we start the first

year of life; when we are celebrating our ninth birthday, we start the 10th year of life and our first decade ends as we start our 11th year.

This all started with treating January 1, 2000, as the start of the 21st century, when the century and the third millennium began on January 1, 2001.

I heard December’s UK Snooker Championship described as “the last title of the decade”, by Hazel Irvine, while in the last This Week of the year, Andrew Neil was talking in the same vein but also compromising himself by referring to those who think otherwise and calling them pedants with the remark, “What do I care?” which could imply that he actually has doubts about this but would rather go along with the crowd.


Richard A McKenzie,






Response to failed attack on US flight will serve only to generate irrational fear among the public



The response to the failed attack on the North West Airlines flight is proof the so-called “war on terror” is no such thing. We have an international response, as Dr Geraint Bevan so succinctly outlined (Letters, December 29), that will be ineffective in promoting national security.

It will be ineffective in everything other than whipping up levels of fear among the public, whose passive consent is necessary for the continuance of active and bloody interventions in parts of the world that present no threat.

Various terrorist attacks of the past few years have provided a smokescreen for some states to try to reshape the acceptable parameters for international conduct. Yet even when the room for manoeuvre is carved out, the players behave with breathtaking incompetence, as even the restrained ongoing Iraq inquiry reveals.

I need only highlight the public dysfunction at the top and the layer just below. It is the stated position of the US commander-in-chief (and, therefore, our own commander-in-chief) on the Afghan timescale that 10 years more is too long. And General Sir Richard Dannatt’s replacement as head of our army, General Sir David Richards, opines that 30 years may not be enough. As for China and Russia’s apparent acceptance of this conduct at the UN, as Napoleon once said: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”


Bill Ramsay,




A modern scourge


Tam Baillie is right to highlight the failure to meet targets to end the scourge of child poverty (The Herald, December 28). In May, the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly demanded the UK government fulfil its commitment to end child poverty. The General Assembly demanded we all put this issue top of our priority list. That we have not done so is to our shame. Our government cannot be in any doubt about the importance of this issue. But as a nation we have not done enough. Let us all ensure that ending child poverty for the next generation is on the top of everyone’s priorities in 2010.


Rev Ian Galloway,

Convener of the Church and Society Council, Church of Scotland,

George Street, Edinburgh.




China exhibits its moral bankruptcy



The execution of Akmal Shaikh by the authorities in China is proof positive that we were all taken in by the Chinese government in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. We were told that by participating in the games, we would have the opportunity to affect the development of human rights in China.

What a lie that was. A nation with quite possibly the worst record of any modern state on human rights executes a man with a bipolar condition and then attempts to tell the world that bilateral relations with China shouldn’t be affected? The judicial murder of Akmal Shaikh shows that China not only has learned nothing but also that it refuses to learn.

If the west’s stance on human rights with its condemnation of pariah states such as Iran is to avoid the accusation of hypocrisy, then surely China must be treated with the same sense of condemnation. If we don’t begin moves to isolate China, then not only is the moral bankruptcy of China evident, but so is our own.


Rev John Nugent,