IT is really not at all surprising that people are loath to return to public transport ("Public transport faces post-lockdown hit", The Herald, April 28).

At the beginning of the lockdown we were warned by both governments to only use public transport if it were absolutely necessary. Otherwise we were being irresponsible, endangering not only our own health but that of key workers. We were even urged to use private cars rather than buses or trains, the climate emergency seemingly put on hold. And we complied.

Now, although tourism complete with overnight stays is due to return in the middle of May, and the domestic industry will require all the support it can get, there has been no hint from either Westminster or Holyrood that the edicts against discretionary public transport will be revoked any time soon.

During last summer's false dawn, as it turned out, it was three weeks after tourism reopened before we were given at least an amber light to get back on buses and trains, albeit with faces covered, hands sanitised and keeping well away from other passengers. This time we need a clear rescinding of the previous instructions, stating clearly that the responsible option is to take buses and trains rather than private cars, right from the start of the tourism reawakening.

Of course the transport operators still have the remarkable ability to shoot themselves in both feet, first of all with threats of industrial action and now with LNER insisting upon pre-booked seats by smartphone for any part of its journeys, however quiet and however short, apparently blind to the essential part in the local rail network these long-distance trains play. However, an unequivocal green signal from the powers that be that we should eschew the car for public transport would at least get that show on the road and the rails.

Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews.


CATRIONA Stewart (“Shared parental leave is a failed policy”, The Herald, April 27) is very right in saying that the outdated, gendered parental leave policies in the UK are dreadful in comparison to other countries. She calls upon fathers to take up this cause.

The Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Shared Parenting has called for changes to move us on from the “mothers as carers: fathers as workers” stereotype.

Our members include various organisations supporting fathers as well as a wide range of parenting and children’s organisations.

This group plans to continue in the next parliament to seek the removal of barriers to shared parenting such as poor paternity leave. We also support better involvement of fathers in nursery and school and more men working in childcare.

Ian Maxwell, National Manager, Shared Parenting Scotland, Edinburgh.

* CATRIONA Stewart is absolutely right to call for reform of parental leave. Where it is more evenly distributed between parents, everyone benefits: the fathers who have more meaningful relationships with their children, the mothers who are not pushed into the role of default carer, and the children themselves – not to mention the employers who benefit from a happier, healthier workforce. That's why equality in parenting and care-giving is one of the core policies of the Women's Equality Party: because when caregiving is shared it benefits both the carers and the cared for.

We include same-sex and adoptive parents in our policies because we realise that we need to value everyone involved in the vital work of caring. As for the much wider community of carers, we call on governments of all stripes to recognise that caring infrastructure is essential to a civilised society; that means universal childcare, decent wages and conditions for paid carers, and proper financial and respite support for people who are caring for family members unpaid.

If we want everyone in society to live as full a life as possible, free from want and contributing to society in turn, we need to treat care not as a drain on the state's resources but as the investment in people that it really is. That's not just doing right by our children, old people, disabled people, and those who look after them – it is sound economic sense which will create more jobs and more of a return than ploughing the money into traditional infrastructure projects. What is lacking at present is the political will – and it is parents and caregivers, and those they care for, who are suffering because of it.

Ruth Wilkinson, Scotland Spokesperson, Women's Equality Party, Glasgow.


I HAVE just watched the Scottish evening news (August 27). Most of it was given over to the number of people dying from drug overdoses. The main blame for this was being targeted at our Scottish Government, with suggestions that drug rehabilitation should be offered, with safe houses available where addicts can safely inject themselves. Not once did anyone suggest that we should be going after the actual drug dealers and distributors responsible for these deaths.

On a visit to Singapore, on the flight you are given a embarkation form to fill in. On the front cover of this form is a very simple message: “The penalty for attempting to smuggle drugs into Singapore is mandatory, death by hanging.” With a very large population made up of many races, Singapore is free of of the drug problems we face in Scotland. Maybe it is about time any person caught dealing drugs in our small country should face draconian sentences for their criminal murderous behaviour.

Ed Robertson, Loganswell.


ON reading Russell Smith's letter (April 27) regarding obituaries I was reminded of a Herald obituary where the content declared that the deceased had died “reluctantly”.

Eric Macdonald, Paisley.