I WRITE in support of much of Andy Maciver’s views on how to encourage local democracy ("Do you want local democracy? Give us a reason to vote then", The Herald, August 20).

Holyrood has the powers to determine local government structures and taxation.

Effective local democracy needs effective and socially just fund-raising powers.

Common Weal has suggested that Scotland should aim for local authorities to raise at least 50 per cent of their own revenue.

No one method of local taxation is fair and, as Mr Maciver argues, local authorities could be empowered to decide on their own "basket" of taxes.

Short-term steps could include widening the council tax bands and scrapping the cap on local authority council tax levels. A comprehensive revaluation should be set in hand which would give the basis both for a fairer property tax and for a land value tax, both to be introduced within five years. Local authorities should also be permitted a wider range of local taxes, which could include a tourist tax and workplace parking levies. Community councils should be enabled as of right to levy a small precept on the council tax instead of being dependent on local authority handouts. The balance of council income would come from the Scottish Government, which controls income tax levels, and would be at a variable level so that richer areas would receive less per head of population than poorer areas.

This approach, primarily taxing land, property and income, would mean that Scotland could have a fairer and more progressive taxation system even within the constraints laid down by Westminster.

David Mumford, Dunbar.


YOU report on SSE Renewable`s new Viking wind farm near Shetland. As usual, there will be little use of Scottish labour and the turbines themselves will be installed and manufactured by a foreign company, in this case Vestas from Denmark ("SSE Renewables hires Danish turbine maker for £580m Shetland wind farm", Herald Business, August 20). We are, as always, advised that some work will be offered to local labour but by far, the bulk of the turbine installation and manufacture goes to other countries.

Wind turbines are always being promoted as green energy, but no thought has been given to the amount of fossil fuel used in their manufacture nor transport and installation. Another major cost, overlooked on all of their promotion, is the cost of decommissioning after the 20 to 25-year lifespan and the subsequent disposable of currently unrecyclable turbine blades, the bulk being taken to landfill.

George Dale, Beith.


IT seems the force feeding of Gaelic continues apace. South Ayrshire Council staff are to be told to adopt Gaelic email signatures. South Ayrshire is ranked 24th for the number of Gaelic speakers (417). So here is today’s new fun game. Translate the following into English:

a) Tha iad air a ’chuilbheart a chall gu tur

b) An urrainn dhuinn cuidhteas Comhairle Siorrachd Àir a Deas a-nis?

If you are one of the 1.1% minority Gaelic speakers you can blame Google if it’s not quite the way Macdonald of MacDonald might have said it. Non-Gaelic readers can probably recognise council incompetence and misplaced priorities in any language. Slàinte.

John Dunlop, Ayr.