Reclaim the streets for pedestrians

During the pandemic, people have rediscovered the simple act of walking – the oldest, cheapest and greenest transport there is. It has allowed us to stay healthy, happy and connected to those around us.

But lots of us still struggle with narrow, cluttered, uneven pavements; crossings that prioritise cars rather than people; and growing numbers of speeding vehicles.

That’s why I support Living Streets’ Manifesto for Walking, which calls for candidates in our upcoming election to pledge to end pedestrian deaths and injuries on roads, tackle air pollution, make school streets safe and make walking easier by cutting the clutter on our pavements.

It is time we redesigned our streets around people not cars. That way we can all continue to enjoy the benefits of walking and healthier, happier communities.

Fiona McOwan

Focus on day to day issues

The decision taken by the First Minister and her Health Minister to send back to care homes several thousand of very vulnerable old people, many of whom subsequently died, has been described as ‘’catastrophic.’’ That is a fair summation. I have heard the explanations, but I am afraid they ring hollow and the continual expressions of regret have also become so repetitive as to have lost any meaning.

May I suggest that unless the focus of those making decisions is entirely on what they are doing and not instead wondering, even subconsciously, how their every action can help in any way with a bigger and to them infinitely more important cause, a cause they believe supersedes all others, tragedies such as this this will be the inevitable result.

We need our elected politicians to be focused one hundred per cent on the job in hand.

Alexander McKay


Polar bears and climate alarmism

The Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) says that COP26 in Glasgow is the "key moment in the climate fight" and says that "countries must come forward with ambitious climate targets".

Well, after 25 years of COPs only five legally-binding Climate Change Acts have been signed and those, and existing promises, put the world on track for a 3 to 4C rise in world temperatures.

If new statistics emerge before COP26, indicating an average rise in temperature to below 2C, then COP26 should be cancelled.

Climate apostles persist in showing pictures of a polar bear on an ice flow to make us believe that they are endangered. Susan Crockford, a zoologist, puts the polar bear population at about 39,000 which upset the climate alarmists, and those on the climate gravy train.

Clark Cross


SNP and the pandemic

The Scottish National Party seems to have taken its eyes off the ball in this election.

Another independence referendum is only a remote possibility despite all the claims. What is certain is that the incoming government will have a herculean task on its hands to steer Scotland out of the effects of the pandemic.

Assuming the SNP do manage to form the next government, in whatever fashion, should it not be a better test of its capabilities of running an independent Scotland if it can show the way to a successful recovery first before embarking on the far more perilous task of independence.

Right now, the SNP is putting the cart before the horse. Not the most brilliant way to proceed, is it.

Dr Gerald Edwards. Glasgow

Powerful elite out of control

Globally, internationally and domestically we are fire fighting. Covid and climate change are the global fronts where we are having to confront the neglect of the past.

On the international front, Russia is closing the net around the Ukraine while China is strengthening its stranglehold on the South China Sea, leaving the US striving to act as the upholder of the status quo.

Domestically a light regulatory touch helped us to play our part in the economic crisis of 2008 while our disregard for following tried and tested procedures in education has seen universities capitulating to the lack of literacy standards in no longer contemplating marking essays down for deficiencies in that area.

Now we are in the midst of a tsunami of sleaze allegations as the regulations over lobbying are shown to be so porous that you could drive a coach and horses through them.

Abandonment of hard-won rights have stripped workers of the safety net which helps them feel secure and to retain their human dignity, which is what zero hours' contracts represent. And the actions of British Gas underline that profit rather than community spirit and concern for their employees drives that company

Power and profit rule the business and political world to the extent that subservience to the rule of law no longer applies as it should so that every person has confidence in their equality before the law.

Laissez faire and its louche companion, the light regulatory touch, have much to answer for as we can see from what is happening all around us.

Denis Bruce


My theory about Macwhirter

I have developed a theory over the past 12 months that Iain Macwhirter and Alexander McKay are in fact one and the same person. However, The Herald Voices last weekend threw me off course when they both appeared on print in the same edition at the same time.

Was my theory now debunked? I started to admit possible defeat but, as I re-read their pieces, I couldn’t help be drawn to the same language and theme (summarised as could this – anything – be the start of the end for SNP, Independence). It then suddenly dawned on me that this piece of trickery of putting them both in the same print edition was just the editor’s cunning plan to try to throw me of the scent.

Tom Cassells


SNP govern because voters want them to

Denis Bruce laments that "after 14 years in government poll ratings suggest the SNP is untouchable". If the SNP is elected to Holyrood for a fourth consecutive term, that will indeed be a remarkable achievement and one that can only be done by the consent of Scotland's voters.

Mr Bruce is right to point out that it is the SNP's intention that an independent Scotland would re-join the EU, but I am surprised at his complaint that, "we will have to conform to the rules and regulations of that body instead of being subordinate to the Westminster lot".

In the first place, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU at the 2016 referendum and, in the second place, as an independent nation within the EU, Scotland would have the right of veto, something we don't have in the present unequal union with the "Westminster lot".

Ruth Marr


US has betrayed Afghanistan

I refer to David Pratt's report on the US departure from Afghanistan. Once again the world allows the US to get away with invading a country, turning it back to the stone age, then having denied they have any responsibility for the consequences, moving on to invade some other innocent country.

Since the end of the Second World War, the Americans have been responsible for undermining, or overthrowing, democratically elected governments in South America.

On the questionable premise that Afghanistan was responsible for 9/11, they invaded that country, looting their museums, killing an unknown number of civilians. They caused the beginning of Isis when they disbanded the Iraqi army and Iraqi police force, leaving these forces without any income, and any means of feeding their families, and that was why they felt they had to form Isis.

Now having destroyed any kind of normality for Afghanistan, they decide to pull out. They have given no thought to the Afghan people, after 40 years of foreign invasion.

When is the rest of the world going to, in the words of Donald Trump, "build a wall" and confine this warmongering, aggressive, imperialistic state within their own borders. This might give the rest of us a future. The US is a failed state and must be treated as such.

Margaret Forbes


Johnson's dubious appeal

Columnist Michael Settle (18 April) has got the UK Prime Minister a bit wrong. He is no Woosterish toff but a Fleet Street cad. Almost uniquely he has been fired for lying instead of paid for lying.

The dizzy vagueness is a pretence, usually to cover a failure to read his brief. He has limited intellectual capacities and is some linguist.

His appeal is not confined to south-eastern England. He fed north-eastern England the lies they wanted to hear about Brexit. And it worked both in the referendum and the general election.

The punters were not the discerning rich of Buckinghamshire but the sneering foreigner-haters of tough east-coast towns.

Tim Cox


Don't book your holidays yet

The public are no doubt gaining optimism due to the vaccine rollout (“Half of all Scots now vaccinated against Covid”, Herald on Sunday, 18 April). However, on 29 March the UK Government published a University of Warwick study on the covid roadmap. In it they model what may happen following the relaxation of covid restrictions in May and June.

Their default model predicts a new covid wave in the summer, with 84,000 hospitalisations and 18,000 deaths in England alone. They foresee the resurgence “in both hospital admissions and deaths is dominated by those that have already received two doses of the vaccine, comprising around 60% and 70% of the wave respectively. This dominance can be attributed to the high levels of uptake in the most at-risk age groups, such that vaccine failures account for more serious illness than unvaccinated individuals.”

They recommend maintaining tighter control of the public in May and June.

Don't book your summer holiday just yet.

Geoff Moore


We have time to test vaccines now

There have been suggestions that different Covid vaccines are being trialled for mixing; first dose of one brand, followed by one of another.

Granted there was a great need for any vaccines after the pandemic started to run riot, however there has now been some consideration given to the possibility of serious side effects from these same vaccines.

The usual rigorous trial testing periods were dramatically shortened for the new vaccines but, with the pressure easing, should there not be more time taken over this possible scenario?

George Dale