Unsung heroes

THE appalling state of Edinburgh's streets after the bin men and women have been on strike for less than a week is testament to the excellent work they normally do, unnoticed and unsung. It took a strike for everyone to notice ("Ministers urged to step in and rectify ‘embarrassment’ of bin-strike rubbish", The Herald, August 23).

And where does culpability lie? Local authorities are responsible for the cleansing service and the original 2% pay offer was a joke, but their budgets have been savagely cut, year on year, by the Holyrood Government so their coffers are pretty empty. The speed with which John Swinney found an extra £140 million in an attempt to help settle the dispute is evidence that he knows the Government is the real guilty party. And contrast that £140m with the £300m-plus the SNP Government chooses to spend each year on running overseas "embassies", the most recent of which was opened last week in Copenhagen.

The Scottish Government's priorities should be to ensure that the services which the people of Scotland rely on are functioning properly, be that trains, education, ferries or the disposal of rubbish. The Scottish Government should stop spending on mythical foreign services and repatriate that money to pay hard-pressed and overworked public workers a decent wage for the excellent work they do.
Judith Gillespie, Edinburgh

Strikers ought to return

LITTER is a national disgrace and defaces our beautiful country. Our roadsides and lay-bys are covered in it, cans, chip paper, and much more. People have no respect for our country, rather than take it home they just dump it. Glasgow has been given the unenviable accolade of being the third-dirtiest city in Europe.

Seeing tourists from all over the world being interviewed in Edinburgh yesterday surrounded by mountains of litter and overflowing bins made me very sad. How can we continue to attract tourists to our historic capital if we let it become a slum?

The refuse collectors may have a just claim, but they are also human and can see for themselves the detritus around them. Surely there are other ways to get the terms they are seeking?

They should return before the rats take over and the tourists leave for good.
Neil Stewart, Balfron

An overflowing litter bin in the capital's Princes Street yesterday

⁠THE Edinburgh City Council administration, formed by a Labour, Tory and LibDem coalition, is clearly responsible for the rubbish on Edinburgh’s streets due to their lack of contingency planning and the measly 3.5 per cent offer it made to the refuse workers.

This dispute has been simmering for months and the outgoing SNP finance convener left a ring-fenced sum of money to cover a rise of 4.5%. The SNP councillors on Cosla proposed a 5% pay deal for council workers on August 12, but were outvoted by Labour and Tory councillors who proposed the 3.5% deal.

It was only on the casting vote of the SNP Cosla leader that a 5% offer plus an uplift to the living wage to £10.50 an hour was agreed last Friday. Despite what the union official claims, this would make the lowest-paid council worker in Scotland better off than their English counterpart under the deal proposed in England.

Those who try to blame the Scottish Government should note that the block grant for this year was fixed by the Treasury in London long before the UK cost of living crisis and that under devolution the Scottish Government is legally obliged to balance its books each year with very limited borrowing powers.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Reinforce the litter message

ANDY Stenton (Letters, August 23) is right to point out that blame for the disgusting state of Edinburgh’s streets lies not with the council, but with those who throw their trash wherever they like. Anent slogans on litter bins, I liked the one I saw in Sydney: “Don’t be a tosser, every piece of litter spoils the environment”.

I’m pleased to see that blunt message is now being used in the UK. And even more pleased to find a warning from Keep Britain Tidy (remember them?) that the registered keeper of a vehicle can now be fined if someone in their car or van throws rubbish out of it. Good; if there’s anything inclined to bring on a bout of road rage, it’s the sight of rubbish being tossed out of the vehicle ahead.
Doug Maughan, Dunblane

Make cyclists show registration

DUE to the dangerous antics of a few, there is an increasing demand for all cyclists to be regulated by registration so that wrongdoers can be identified and held to account ("Should cyclists be forced to have registration plates?", The Herald, August 22). As a motorist rather than a cyclist, may I nevertheless suggest that if registration were introduced it should require proof of insurance, and should require cyclists to wear a high-vis vest displaying the wearer’s unique registration number back and front?

This vest would also have the obvious advantage of making the wearer safer by being much more visible to other road users.
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

Lesson learned, got lost

DAVID Miller's letter (August 22) regarding the use of the word "get" reminds me of Miss McGuigan, a teacher at Bankhead Primary School in Knightswood, Glasgow, who once asked me if I had a pencil.

I replied: "Yes miss, I've got one". "You have one is the proper response, I do not want to hear the word 'got' again".

Seventy years on I still try not to use "get" or "got".
Murray Watt, Port Glasgow


THERE’S not much good news in The Herald these days so, by way of contrast, here’s some. Having kept bees for more than four decades as a hobby, this year my two hives, which turned into three after swarming, have yielded a record crop of honey, 61 kilos in total.

Now that will require quite a lot of toast or yoghurt before it all disappears, which it most assuredly will.
Bob Scott, Drymen

An overflowing litter bin in the capital's Princes Street yesterday
Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.