DOUG Marr is quite correct about the decline in reading from the heady days of boy's and girl's comics onwards ("Pay attention everyone: Reading is a priceless and timeless gift to us all", The Herald, November 1). I well remember my primary teacher however, suggesting that we would be better served by getting our parents to buy us Look and Learn at 10d a copy – near bereft of any sense of comic hilarity – as against the Hotspur and others at fourpence ha'penny, full of its cartoon mischief. I often wonder if there was a commission incentive, as she also tried to get us to hint at our desire to own Osmiroid fountain pens.

Don't be so quick to write off television programmes though, which despite their many faults, can pique interest in other subjects, often leading inquiring minds to reach for the computer to investigate further, especially bearing in mind the raft of nature, bakery/cooking, and travel shows within the UK scheduling currently on offer, possibly boosted by Covid lockdown. All of this would invariably involve reading the resultant findings.

The library service has been in a steady decline over recent years, I think because it has mainly been built and designed as a singular unit, rather than being part of a hub, hosting other popular and essential local services, which would surely in turn bring in more local members of the public. However, in many cases, like ours in Garnock Valley, where our school campus, encapsulating the senior pupils of Beith and Kilbirnie, already hosts a community-accessible gym and swimming pool, travel to and from is not easy unless you are within a reasonable sheltered walking distance "for all ages", have your own car or have a frequent and reliable local public transport infrastructure. A standalone library unfortunately can become an isolated unit, and if the footfall is too low, it will surely follow that local councils will look to cut funding on the service.

I must admit that although being an avid reader, it is mainly done through Kindle and my invaluable digital edition Herald. Could council library services offer a similar service, in low footfall areas, to Kindle, but based on their own, and other councils' shared stock, as they do currently with the hard print books? The site could host input from the council's own librarians to help the public in their book choices, in the same manner as they do in full-time/high footfall branches. We cannot have the situation where poor footfall equals no library service at all, and no library service then accelerates this steady decline in reading.

George Dale, Beith.

* THANK you, Doug Marr, for bringing back memories of the comics I enjoyed as a boy. I agree that the demise of reading is to be lamented, but also understand how "screen time" has eroded it.

However, my daughter and son-in-law read to our grandchildren at bedtime, and so generate an interest over and above tablets and the like.

Incidentally, after being converted from "picture" comics like the Dandy or Beano to predominantly reading material such as The Wizard at 13 years old, I had no interest in going back to the comic strip format of The Eagle. "That was for kids!"

Bert Peattie, Kirkcaldy.

* SIMILAR to Thelma Edwards (Letters, November 2), I am the possessor of some 4,000 books (some more than 100 years old) ranging from annuals, historical, sport, autobiographical and novels. Have I read them all? Not quite, but I find many an excellent source of reference.

As with Mrs Edwards and my friend R Russell Smith (Letters, November 2), I find the touch and presence of my wall-lined educators heartening at a time when everyone is being actively encouraged to recycle everything.

One sad disappointment is that the younger generations seem more inclined to their smartphones and the like rather than reading.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.


IT was disappointing that you had to report difficulties for wheelchair users at the COP conference.

The Government’s July announcement that it will place pedestrians at the top of the transport hierarchy in the new Highway Code was welcome. Every endeavour must be made to include wheelchair users in this.

The new Highway Code will also rightly continue the ban on cycling on pavements unless these are designated as shared paths. This causes much confusion because of the widespread lack of adequate signage, and many pedestrians no longer feel safe when out walking.

We are all rightly encouraged to keep active, but I believe grouping walkers, wheelers and cyclists together under the new term “Active Travel” is not helping either. There needs to be much greater clarity of thinking over the fundamental questions of the safety, access and wellbeing of each of these groups individually.

For example, it would be reasonable to discuss an exception in the Highway Code to allow the training of young cyclists on pavements under adult supervision. Safety is paramount for us all and education and training are a vital part of that. We could do a lot better.

RJ Ardern, Inverness.


A REPORT on the Glasgow bin strike on Monday night’s Reporting Scotland (November 1) showing pictures of rubbish and rats was prefaced with a warning about "upsetting images". The BBC nanny state mentality has clearly reached a level of stupidity.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.


IT was interesting to read about the 61-year-old widow who, in 1971, had chased three young housebreakers from her home and hit two of them with a clothes pole, later being praised for her actions in court ("From our Archives", The Herald, November 2). I suspect in these politically correct times we live in now, she would most likely be charged with assault.

Shaun Murphy, Kilbirnie.