WE are approaching that time of the year again when fireworks blight the night sky, and yet again the numerous organisations which claim to want a better environment say nothing about it.

Exploding gunpowder in the air affects air quality as well as causing massive noise pollution. Fireworks release particulate matter which is harmful to health. In 2019 a scientific study in the Netherlands compared particulate matter in the air before and after a fireworks display. PM10 particulate concentrations were measured. Before the display these were recorded at 29 micrograms per cubic metre, and in the first hour after at 277 micrograms per cubic metre – an increase of 877%.

Various elements are used to produce the different colours. Red is produced by strontium and lithium; orange, calcium; yellow sodium; blue, copper. Chemicals called perchlorates are also used. These dissolve in water, so rivers and lakes may be contaminated.

There is also the cost to be considered. The New Year's Eve 2018 London fireworks display cost £2.3 million. What a waste. No wonder Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow have cancelled their November 5 displays as the global slump begins to bite. Let's hope this marks the beginning of the end for this medieval practice.
William Loneskie, Lauder

Challenges over care experienced

THIS week marks Care Experienced Week, aiming to celebrate the care experienced community.

Those in this category represent some of the most vulnerable members of our society, experiencing considerably fewer life chances than their peers, with poorer health and educational outcomes. They are however involved with a care system that is complex and fragmented.

Such a system highlights the challenges that still lie ahead in delivering "The Promise", which seeks to improve the lives of children and young people who are care experienced, ensuring that they will feel loved, safe and respected.

Scottish Government actions in this area, including the recently published Implementation Plan, which aims to significantly reduce the number of children in care and move from crisis intervention to early intervention to support them, are to be applauded. However, we still hear of too many young people who are not receiving the appropriate individualised assistance they so desperately need and sadly fall off a cliff edge as they leave care, driven by age criteria.

As a society we need to ensure that momentum is maintained and funding increased, with the Scottish Government, local government, care community and others working together to deliver the necessary transformational change in our care system.
The Scottish Children's Services Coalition: Kenny Graham, Falkland House School; Lynn Bell, LOVE Learning; Stephen McGhee, Spark of Genius; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations, Edinburgh

Take care with digital future

THE outage of some telecommunication services in the Shetlands ("Islanders left without phone or internet link after undersea cable is damaged", The Herald, October 21) is a stark reminder of the dangers of over-reliance on digital communications.

Both government and the private sector either penalise people for opting for non-digital modes of communication and payment, or make it impossible. At the best of times that excludes sections of society entirely from participation, infringes on folks' privacy and creates a vast dataset which could be put to malign as well as positive uses. Even a short outage, as Shetland shows, leads to a significant disruption to folk going about their daily business. A larger disruption could be catastrophic in its consequences.

By all means let's plunge headlong into the digital future. But that ought to be alongside proven and time-trusted methods of performing tasks from communication to payment, not forcibly replacing them.
Christopher Ruane, Lanark

Rein in credit card providers

IT is now time the brakes were applied on the rushed, ill-thought-out transition to a cashless society, and legislative checks and balances and enforcement measures introduced to protect coin of the realm as a legitimate form of payment on our high streets ("We should demand the right to pay in cash", The Herald, October 21, and Letters, October 24). This situation stems from new technology such as phone payment apps and contactless systems. While few doubt its convenience, what are the downsides to a cashless society? Since 2008, banks are no longer held high in public esteem, and hacking scandals show that technology firms care little for our privacy.

Currently, two credit card providers hold the lion’s share of the market, giving them a worrying degree of control over our means of payment. It is not well known that credit card companies have the legal right to refuse anyone a card or to revoke an existing card without giving reasons. Such power needs curtailing by encouraging more providers and other payment avenues. E-payment is data-rich and hence ripe for data-mining – again, the public needs protection. E-payment systems have become indispensable to everyday life, but what happens to some innocent person who becomes cut off from the cashless payment system? Effectively, they become divorced from society. As Donald MacLeod rightly says, legislation is required urgently.
Doug Clark, Currie

Live and sticking

YOUR Past and Present page last Friday section had an item relating to the proposed closure of Merklands Wharf in 1932 and a new livestock shipping facility being constructed (100 years ago, The Herald, October 21).

This must have fallen through, as Merklands Lairage was very active until the early 1970s. I worked in the office "next door" in Meadowside Granary, and knew the Irish and German cattle boats. After that closed, I remember vividly that its last use for animals was to billet the men and horses of the Household Cavalry for the Queen's Jubilee tour in 1977.

Your Past and Present section makes me feel ancient.
Hugh Steele, Cumbernauld

The wonder of Whangie

I NOTE with interest your report on car parks with the most scenic views as recommended by Kevin Beresford ("Car park with best views in UK", The Herald, October 22).

I wonder if he has ever visited the Whangie car park on the road to Drymen? This one is free and has a breathtaking panoramic view across Central Scotland and further north. He should add it to his list.
Ian Turner, Bearsden

• HOW could Kevin Beresford miss “the car park in the sky”, aka Gleniffer Braes Country Park? The views are breathtaking (as is the wind on a breezy day).

It’s on the B775 between Paisley and Lugton. The views over the Clyde to Loch Lomond including Glasgow Airport are stunning.

Perhaps next year’s calendar.
Iain Ferguson, Prestwick


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