WHY don't the various governments in the UK address the major educational deficit created by the curse of Covid over the last year?

Currently their solution to this problem seems to centre round piecemeal and patchwork quilt approaches. They are going to offer extra tutoring to repair the gaps left in the education of the various cohorts, all of which have been seriously and adversely affected by the pandemic over the last year. That will be procured through extra funding, lengthening the school day and curtailing the school holidays. Those are the ideas currently circulating as the way to overcome the disadvantages imposed upon the student populations throughout the UK.

Why don't our decision makers just bite the bullet and cut that particular Gordian knot by insisting that all students repeat the year that they have missed out on? That would give them the opportunity to catch up properly on what they have missed as well as allowing them to experience the rites of passage associated with transition from primary to secondary and the celebrations normally associated with exiting high school.

Repetition of a full year would hold the students back but would have no major detrimental impact upon their future prospects, and would improve their academic performances as well as providing the social element so necessary to the development of them as adolescents.

The proposals on the table just now are reminiscent of the way some local authorities plug the gap of potholes with a quick fix, only to find that they have built up a bigger problem for themselves thanks to such short-term and stop-gap measures designed to save money but draining the coffers in the long term.

The simple and straightforward solution is staring them in the face, but do they have the nerve to take it?

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


IN spite of the Tory infighting and chaos in the Cabinet over the Union Unit, it has been reported that Michael Gove is somehow responsible for “Union policy” by dint of his role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. This is an archaic title dating to 14th century England, with no relevance to the Union and should have disappeared when the Union of Parliaments dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments and formed a new Parliament of Great Britain.

The reality is that Scotland lost its parliament, but England retained its, and all the titles, precedents and procedures of Westminster are based on that English parliament. Far from a “Union”, it would appear that Scotland was annexed into a Greater England, a position we must extract ourselves from.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


I FIRST came upon Meghan Markle in Malta in 2018. She appeared on the island for a photo shoot for the glossy magazine Elle UK. She caused bewilderment among the Maltese by wearing the ghonella and faldetta (headdress and hooded cloak) worn by widows until the mid-1960s. She turned up with her full-time US PR team and got useful publicity on the front pages with the ludicrous claim that she was researching her Maltese ancestry.

Now far be it from me to cast aspersions on this claim; other than the fact that she replicated this claim subsequently in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Eire and Switzerland. Meanwhile, once betrothed to Prince Harry, the sycophantic Tory Press had to get her assimilated. The Scottish Daily Express helpfully traced her ancestry back to Robert The Bruce. The Daily Mail found an ancestor was beheaded by Henry VIII. The Daily Telegraph revealed that she and Prince Harry were 17th cousins. A Channel 4 documentary showed her ancestors came from Yorkshire.

Meghan was the ultimate Hollywood self-promoter, using the media and social media to develop her reputation and image.

It is surely ironic that she and Prince Harry have turned on the newspapers which did contortions to support them. If you dare criticise her, her default position is that you are racist or misogynistic.

Meanwhile, while William and Kate are backing the NHS, this narcissistic couple are in celebrit- packed Tinseltown, as was always the plan, blinded by their sense of entitlement. They send "inspirational" messages to the Third World from their £11m mansion and Harry has now slighted the Queen with Prince Philip in hospital. We are well rid.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


DESPITE the fact that there is a worldwide pandemic and SEPA is debilitated by a cyber attack, Viridor has chosen to proceed with a consultation process to erect an incinerator in South Lanarkshire. In addition, South Lanarkshire Council has released its updated Local Plan which would appear, from the changes, to support such facilities against the overwhelming view of residents throughout the local authority area and efforts to reduce climate change emissions.

The Local Plan (Volume 2; Chapter 2) states that the council is seeking to support the introduction of applications for incineration. Further, changes to the plan in comparison with the previous plan support this view. Indeed, South Lanarkshire Council states that there is a “requirement” for an incinerator. This is untrue and is in fact contrary to both South Lanarkshire Council's commitment to reduce greenhouses gases and contrary to the Scottish Government's targets to reduce CO2 greenhouse gas emissions in tackling climate change. We must ask: is South Lanarkshire Council a fair decision-maker on a major planning application by Viridor when it currently has a 10-year multi-million pound contract with Viridor (with the option for a further five years) to process municipal waste?

The real question is: would South Lanarkshire Council be supporting such an application if there was going to be no financial financial return in excess of £1 million in business rates? In addition, would Viridor be erecting an incinerator if there was no profit to be gained from installing incinerators that pollute our air, soil and water ways?

Dovesdale Action Group would argue there is a need for such applications to be dealt with at a national planning level in understanding the broader needs of how we address the issue of waste. If we are to follow South Lanarkshire Council's view that there is a requirement for local authorities to erect incinerators, then the impact on global warming, through climate change would be disastrous for all concerned in Scotland. This is unacceptable.

In fact do we really need incineration at all? We believe there are alternatives, as do other national organisations. There are numerous international studies highlighting the issues and threats incinerators pose globally.

Emissions in the waste sector are currently around 1.9 megatonnes per year. Nationally we have made good progress in reducing this but we can do better. Much better. In fact, we strongly believe a national moratorium of all new applications for incinerators in Scotland should be sought in establishing the impact of an increasing number of such developments on our health and environment as well as impact on climate change contrary to the governments own Zero Waste Strategy.

Alas money does not, in reality make the world go round, the climate does, and if we are going to protect our communities and our planet, the incineration of waste must stop now.

John Young, Dovesdale Action Group, South Lanarkshire.


THE world's tallest onshore wind turbines, 260m high, could be erected in East Ayrshire under plans submitted to the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government, hiding behind a Government reporter, has in 19 cases out of 24 wind farm proposals given approval, ignoring objections from local authorities and the public. Scotland is already saturated with 1,293 turbines so why do we need more?

The developer, Banks Renewables, estimates that £40 million of contracts will go to Scottish contractors but on a £1 billion contract this is not enough. It should also be remembered that the 1,293 turbines in Scotland were manufactured abroad and erected with foreign labour.

Before any planning permission is considered will Banks Renewables sign a legally-binding agreement that they will support local jobs and that Scottish contractors will be given far more than £40 million of work? Banks Renewables must provide audited figures on the amount of harmful emissions this development will create and how many years it will take to cancel out these emissions.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


TOM Cassells (Letters, February 14) was certainly not misled by his parents when they told him that the Auchinleck community centre was one of the major touring venues for bands. Our band in Hamilton, Beat Unlimited, played many venues in the Central Belt and Auchinleck was certainly one of the most popular – and noisiest!

I remember that, in the mid 1960s, many of the top chart bands toured Scotland and some of the venues were quite surprising. We opened the show for the Rolling Stones tour in 1964 at the Chantinghall Hotel in Hamilton and, due to the promoter overselling the tickets, it seemed that half of Hamilton had turned up.

At the end of a riotous night the original five members of the Stones signed the tambourine which they had used on their early recordings and presented it to us.

The Burnbank clique in the band, myself being one of them, convinced the rest of the band that we should raffle the tambourine at the Bathgate Palais the following weekend and we raised about 30 bob, which bought us a couple of drinks at the interval.

I would suggest that anyone from the Bathgate area should check any old boxes in the loft.

Hugh Phillips, Bothwell.