YOU write today that a report to the Scottish Police Authority states that “the cost of policing the United Nations (COP26) conference, which is expected to attract around 30,000 delegates to the SEC in November, is estimated to be £250m” ("Police voice fears over bill for COP26", The Herald, February 18). Mental arithmetic produced a cost of £8,300 per delegate, a figure I found so unlikely that I had to check it with a calculator. Unfortunately, it’s correct.

The conference is due to last for 11 days. If we assume that all delegates are there throughout, that gives a figure of £750 per delegate per day. Perhaps the plan is for each and every delegate to have individual round-the clock protection, requiring a team of three or four security personnel each, that is, more than 100,000 security personnel in total. Which does seem a bit excessive.

I did a search for Scottish police numbers and found a Police Scotland report that gives the Full Time Equivalent number of police officers in Scotland at December 31, 2019 as 17,258.815. Such unnecessary accuracy, to the third decimal place, is just silly. Let’s assume that 10 per cent of them have to be employed on overtime for the duration of the conference; call that 2,000 officers, in round figures. And let’s assume that costs £500 per day per officer, by the time you add in accommodation costs.

You still get to only £1 million per day for policing; times 11 days plus a day for training and briefing. That makes £12m, a long way short of the report’s £250m. Perhaps the report’s authors misplaced a decimal point and they mean £25m, which would still sound a lot, but getting back into the credible range.

I’d be fascinated to know how the report’s authors arrived at their ludicrous figure. Public bodies do seem to think that money grows on trees; it doesn’t. Mind you, putting up a ridiculous number like that is a sure way of ensuring the out-turn is within the budget.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

Insurance poser

MUCH as I do not envy their situation being caught up in the coronavirus epidemic, will those affected, and who checked the small print on their policy to confirm full protection tailored to their needs, not have a right to claim on their holiday insurance policies, as long as they did not book nor start their holiday after January 20 when public alerts/announcements were made?

Will recompense not also be due to the Government for return flights and associated costs if they wish to pursue them from all the tourists, insured or not, caught up in the epidemic? I know that when booking a holiday that the travel agents will always try to sell insurance cover; however, if you decline, they are not obliged to confirm that suitable cover has been taken from another source. Strangely, some bus tour operators in the UK insist on proof of cover, even on UK tours, and cruise cover can be very difficult to obtain for people with what you would expect to be relatively common medical conditions.

George Dale, Beith.

Rushed failures

I NOTE with interest your article on Burns Cottage ("Best laid plans to save Burns cottage threatened by climate", The Herald, February 17). Climate change may be a factor at work, but it is not the only one

It is universally understood that plants which grow slowly in cold or windy conditions are more robust. For example, Baltic pine is denser than pine grown in the warmer and wetter conditions of the UK.

Thatching materials like straw are grown with artificial fertilisers and are bred shorter against wind damage. In the case of rush, fertiliser run-off into rivers contributes to faster growth, making rush less robust and last less long-lasting. Hence the lifespan of both thatching materials is reduced.

C White, Bearsden.

Enforce smoking ban

HAVING read your article about smoking in hospital grounds ("Doctors back smoking ban", The Herald, February 18) I would like to point out that several hospitals that I have visited recently have big signs in the grounds stating their no smoking policy in and around the hospital but to no avail. Visitors and patients, several in bed clothes, wheelchairs, some even with drips attached, frequently stand or sit outside the doors puffing away.

I have emailed our local hospital several times, but nothing is done about it. Unless the policy is carried out and monitored it is a futile exercise.

Catherine Taylor, Wishaw.