IN his article regarding town centres, and book-ended between his weekly SNP-bad rants, Brian Wilson puts forward a really good idea: the restoration of our ailing town centres ("Better to fix our ailing town centres than fixate on Indy2", The Herald, January 12). Once the heart of our communities, they are now an embarrassing blight. What to do?

As a retired chartered architect I have a few ideas of my own and I’m sure there are many others we can tap into. My favourite, though, would be to use them as an exercise for the generations who will have to live with the results, by offering them as projects to the various schools of architecture in Scotland. I saw this idea come to fruition back in the 1960s by architecture students at the Edinburgh College of Art. Sadly, there was no follow-up.

Such an idea has a number of advantages: the brief would be simple, no expensive fees would be involved, merely seed capital and expenses, and co-operation with local authority departments who would provide the necessary background information on properties, records and the like. Indeed, it could involve other disciplines: law students searching titles, leases, rents and more, town planners, economy students, quantity surveyors and landscape architects et al. Proposals would be made available to the public for comments at each traditional stage: outline proposals, scheme design etc and in due course they would decide what was best for them.

Each town centre is different in many ways so there need be no competition as such, rather cross-fertilisation of ideas. A workforce comprising teams of four to six students from each university/college could tackle of lot of town centres. Imagine everyone working for the common good?

David McGill, Edinburgh.


I NOTE your article re changes to the Highway Code ("Motoring expert slams changes to Highway Code due to start in weeks as ‘like a classic episode of Yes, Minister’", The Herald, January 11).

As a driver and pedestrian I would have no objections to the proposals to tighten up the Highway Code to make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, were it not for the fact that my daily observation is that many cyclists pay no heed to anyone and have little respect for their own safety. They hurtle along pavements, cross junctions at red lights and often have pedestrians leap out of the way.

It is about time that cyclists became liable for their actions, be forbidden from riding on pavements except when in a designated cycle lane, be forced to wear hi-viz jackets, have to have lights in hours of darkness, and given “points” for contravening any such matter including going through red lights.

It’s not fair to always blame the driver. Cyclists have to be responsible too.

Lisella Hutton, Glasgow.


I HAVE been following the correspondence on assisted dying (Letters, January 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 & 12) with interest, and am now suffering from feelings of guilt.

My clergyman father, head of our household and next of kin to my very ill mother, was assisting at our church during an interregnum and was out seeing to the needs of of the congregation.

Suspecting that my mother had lapsed into a coma, I called the doctor,who attended very quickly, and it was then left to me to decide whether my mother should die at home or in hospital. As I believe in the sanctity of human life and believing that my mother deserved every chance of life, I decided that she should go to hospital.

This decision should have been my father's to make and I still wonder whether my decision was right. Did I cause my mother to suffer? Had I prolonged her life just by another day?

After some 36 years I still worry that I was the cause of extra suffering and that my decision was wrong.

Margaret MH Lyth, Uddingston.


ONE of my fairly recent forebears, of very humble Islay origin, became Sir Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde, otherwise known as "Victoria’s Scottish Lion" who was responsible for the relief of the Siege of Lucknow and was successful in many other military exploits. It is believed that he treated his soldiers better than many of his contemporaries, but I doubt if he treated the Indian mutineers with any kindness. He was a man of his times and I feel absolutely no responsibility for any actions deemed less than suitable in present times.

As a medical student many years ago, I performed my required deliveries in the Elsie Inglis Hospital in Edinburgh. She was an admirable woman of great courage, and why on earth should her memory be tarnished by comments about her forebears whose lives fall very short of present standards (Letters, January 12)?

Dorothy Dennis, Port Ellen, Islay.


I NOTICED that the story about a major film on Muhammad Ali to be made by Scottish producers ("Scots film-makers to tell of Ali’s rebirth", The Herald, January 12) mentioned Ali’s appearance in 1965 in Paisley, clearly a must visit for anyone coming to Scotland. Ali took part in an exhibition bout (under the name of Cassius Clay) with fellow American Jimmy Ellis at Paisley Ice Rink. Paisley people, ever discriminating, did not greet the fare on display with acclamation and were not "wowed". In fact there was some booing and hissing to record displeasure, which led to Ali being somewhat miffed.

I believe that the fact the Buddies sent the world champion, and someone considered by many to be the greatest boxer ever, home to think again is well worthy of mention in the planned documentary.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


WHY on earth do you need to relate the location of a view to its being somewhere along the 500 miles of the North Coast 500 ("10 of Scotland’s most memorable views", Herald Magazine, January 8)?

Surely the area deserves more than just to be lumped in with the already over-hyped tourist route – has it not done enough damage already?

Peter Fraser, Aberdeen.


TODAY'S piece by Adam Tomkins is headed "Scotland has two choices: Devolution in UK or independence" (The Herald, January 12).

That's one choice; where's the other?

David Miller, Milngavie.