IT'S time for the Scottish Government to put the rebuilding of our wonderful country first and sideline the political point scoring with Westminster – sometimes the latter gets it right.

Let’s look at the High Street, widely reported as having been declining for years. The impact of the pandemic has only made things worse, with people switching to online shopping. For too long our town centres have been dominated by monotonous retail and, in fact, it is just this lack of diversity that has led to its downfall in the first place, as the experience of shopping is increasingly focused on maximising sales.

It is the range of experiences that come with a diverse range of uses that make our town centres places where we want to be – with retail in the form of independent shops, cafes, restaurants and showrooms. It is the range of services on offer which attracts a wider group of potential customers and encourages them to spend more time together in the town centre to look after it and to celebrate it.

So what has England done and Scotland has not? Essentially they have allowed greater flexibility to change of use by ditching the 1987 Use Classes Order as part of the Government's Project Speed with the aim of supporting the High Street revival and allowing flexibility without the need for express planning permission. This will quickly fill empty shops with more diverse occupiers and, more importantly, create jobs.

Come on Scotland, let’s not hide behind historic planning excuses. The High Street as we know it has gone, of that there is no doubt. It’s time to waken up and adapt to a totally different landscape.

Fraser Smith, Glasgow G12.


THE photos showing the men of the Glasgow Fire Brigade with their horse-drawn appliance in the 1901 photo and the later 1928 photo with their Merryweather-Albion fire-engine ("Those were the days: Merryweather fire engines from 1901 and 1928, The Herald, October 14) raised a smile: the appliances polished and gleaming, the men smartly turned-out and Harvey and George, the horses, looking very trig.

It recalled an early 20th century report I had read, about the Lancashire town I knew, where the horse that pulled the fire tender was the same horse that pulled the dustcart and was kept in the council yard. If the fire tender was required to attend a blaze then someone would have to go out and locate the dustcart, hoping that it wasn't miles away and halfway to Liverpool, and fetch in the horse which would be duly harnessed to the fire-tender. As the report said "it was hoped that the poor bloody horse wasn't too knackered with all the pulling it had already done".

There was a bonus, in the days when the deliveries of goods came by horse-drawn vehicles, when the horses left great steaming piles of manure for the gardens and as they meandered along the streets, as the delivery men sold their bread and milk and chatted to the housewives, the horses would nibble their way along the privet hedges, saving clippers having to be used.

All told, horses were a great invention; but thank goodness for modern firefighters and modern fire engines.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


YOUR Those Were the Days article featuring the late, great Sammy Gilmour and the part he played in the famous John Brown work in (The Herald, October 14), took me back some 40-50 years and to our dinner debating club entitled The 258, the name of which came from our first meeting place, The Curlers, at 258 Byres Road.

We later met at many different venues around Glasgow and beyond and welcomed many guest speakers, such as Jack House, Pastor Jack Glass as well as the inimitable Sammy. These were great days indeed, for the club consisted of all colours and stripes of politics and religion and the debating was both incisive and humorous.

When we had a guest, he was always given 10-15 minutes uninterrupted time to state his case, followed by intense questioning and challenging.

Leading up to Sammy’s visit, some members were intent on having a go at him and the work-in, much to their later regret.

Following Sammy’s erudite and brilliant presentation, one of our Establishment-type members, attacked him on the basis of Jimmy Reid’s famous speech which included "There’ll be nae bevvying" on the basis that this represented the public’s view of typical shipyard workers, just like him. "Well," responded Sammy, "you know what I do for a living, so let me ask what you do?" "I’m an accountant," replied my late friend Bert, "why do you ask?" "Oh I just wondered. I suppose you entertain your clients to lunch from time to time?" "But of course I do," replied Bert. "Lunch, then, will include a G and T and a glass or two of fine wine, I suppose?" queried Sammy. "Usually," was the reply. "So you guys go bevvying tae, do you?"

Table collapses in laughter and a great evening is enjoyed by all, so much so that everyone attending, including the detractors, subscribed to a wee kitty towards the work-in.

Ian Cooper, Bearsden.