I WAS not surprised to learn that Police Scotland proposes to close 29 police stations in an effort to save money ("Police stations closure a ‘blow’", The Herald, December 15). Since Police Scotland was established in 2013 thanks to the SNP, policing has changed dramatically and not for the better.

Rarely do you see a police officer or police vehicle, both appear to be on the endangered species list. Where I live I haven't seen either for about a month and if you go to the local office you've to use the phone outside to speak to someone in Stirling.

A review has been set up, with local commanders being asked to identify where they would want to best locate their resources to "better meet the demands of 21st century policing". One deputy chief constable suggested service enhancement, visibility and engagement at the heart of the community we serve. He then suggested that presence is not defined by buildings but by officers and staff who work there.

May I suggest to the police boards and our Government, let's see officers engaging with and being visible to the public, not talking about it and with little happening. Let's get back to the day when police officers walked the beat, and were respected members of the community and got to know the people, good and bad, on that beat.

We need more officers and following that theme we need police stations to accommodate them.

It's not rocket science, it's just plain common sense and the people at the top should appreciate it.

Policing should not be done on the cheap if we are to have an effective, visible presence on the street. It is only then that the public at large will again begin to respect our police force, which was one of the most highly-regarded throughout the world.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.

Get Labour to cost its plans

GOVERNING isn’t the easy gig it looks from the outside. The UK, while mired in poverty, is now paying the highest taxes for decades and Scotland is struggling to balance its books.

Sir Keir Starmer states “money will be tight”. But Pauline McNeill for Scottish Labour asserts that Police Scotland suffers “chronic underfunding” from the Scottish Government. This is no stray cannon shot, as Scottish Labour has repeatedly called for more funding, higher staffing ratios and higher wages across every Scottish responsibility. As we are told Scottish Labour will probably form the next Scottish government, isn’t it about time it was asked exactly what money it would spend and where, and how it would pay for it?

Fifteen pounds per hour several years ago promised for care workers, would after a couple of years of high inflation be nearer £20 per hour now. This would morph into the “going rate” and would cost thousands of jobs. Discuss, or better still, ask Anas Sarwar to explain his fiscal choices.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Read more: Police Scotland confirms potential closure of 29 police stations

Lose spads, not public servants

NO-ONE can be surprised that the Scottish Government omitted to tell us for some five years that it already knew the A9 dualling project would not meet its original target of being completed by 2025 (“A9 deadline missed as ministers failed to sort finances”, The Herald, December 15). After all, First Minister Humza Yousaf and his leadership team, along with the massed ranks of their publicly-funded spin doctors, have demonstrated time and again a determination to hide inconvenient facts and to try to focus attention on why others can somehow or other be blamed for this Scottish Government’s failings.

Meanwhile, next week’s Scottish Budget is expected to see Deputy First Minister Shona Robison having to deliver some unpalatable news about taxes and spending cuts, including potentially job losses. Is it too much to ask that no-one should lose a job in any productive role in the public sector while there are still special advisers being paid to mislead the public?

Keith Howell, West Linton.

Dilemma for Robison

THE woes of the SNP know no bounds. Its profligacy is now coming back to haunt it ("Warning over new tax band for higher earners", The Herald, December 15).

Shona Robison really has a big problem as previous tax rises were based upon paying a little bit more in order to help the health service. As this week's First Ministers Questions has forcefully demonstrated, the health service has not seen any effect from the last rises. Ambulance waiting times are still far too long.

The SNP's response is to keep telling us more money is earmarked for these problems but, as we are now all aware, there is no more money spare. Another tax rise would have to be substantial to make any difference but the problems this would bring are evident. There is simply nowhere for Ms Robison to turn.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

If roles were reversed...

THINK of this scenario. A future where the SNP and its allies have managed to wear us all down and break up the UK and are governing a separated Scotland. An international conference, say on phasing out nuclear weapons, is being held in Washington and Scotland is invited.

The First Minister jets off, full of good intentions. When he gets there, he finds the uninvited leader of, say, a regional Scottish council who belongs to another party, and his huge retinue, already there. This leader has been grandstanding, virtually begging for selfies and even holding unminuted meetings with leaders of dodgy regimes.

Imagine how that SNP FM might feel in those circumstances. He would not be pleased, and would be threatening all sorts to the self-absorbed regional leader to make sure there is no repeat. Think about it.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Bring Harry to task over drugs

I THOUGHT we could confidently expect the Metropolitan Police or Thames Valley Police to bring charges against Prince Harry when he turned up on English soil. He was at the High Court in London again today ("Prince Harry awarded damages in phone hacking claim", heraldscotland, December 15).

He has, helpfully, previously outlined, in considerable detail, his use and possession of cocaine, a class A drug, cannabis, a class B drug, and certain hallucinatory drugs.

It is disturbing that, in his livestream chat in the spring with his "trauma counsellor" [sic] he irresponsibly praised the psychedelic drug ayahuasca, which can cause psychosis and death and which, in itself, is Class A and illegal. The active ingredient is DMT and, in the UK, possession can lead to seven years' imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

It is alleged it has led to three deaths in England. Indeed a coroner in Malvern, Worcestershire, has condemned its irresponsibility; yet Prince Harry has promoted it, inadvertently, by telling impressionable young people "it relieved his trauma and pain".

These offences should not be ignored.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.

Read more: Devolution has its flaws, but it was the right choice

COP28 was a cop-out

COP28, despite 80,000 attendees, was a massive failure. There was no definitive "phase down" of fossil fuels or "phase out" of fossil fuels but the text on Wednesday merely called on countries "to contribute to global efforts to transition away from fossil fuels".

Note that no timescale was mentioned, no compulsion and no penalties. Developed countries and oil producers will not be forced to move as fast as the climate scientists say is essential. China and India will continue to use increasing amounts of coal and mouth "renewables" to a gullible green audience. It should be remembered that China has said it will not be net zero until 2060 and India by 2070, long after net zero 2050. Promises, promises; nothing but useless climate promises. This COP28 deal is yet another cop-out.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Stalin does not deserve praise

REGARDING Stalin's role in the defeat of Hitler, of course I accept James Quinn's point (Letters, November 14) and in my submitted letter (December 12) I referred to the "appalling" number of Soviet deaths in the Second World War, but it was poorly worded so was rightly edited out in the published text.

But I consider it wrong to eulogise Stalin in that connection. He and his regime were just as Nazi as Hitler, with whom he jointly raped Poland in 1939, and with his gulag camps, exiles, murders and starvation policies, plus his effective creation of post-war China and North Korea, he caused far more deaths than even Germany.

The Soviets' 20-30 million Second World War deaths were also due (Lord only knows how many) to these deliberate policies, his 1930s Great Terror purges of numerous civil and military expert leaders, his ignoring of warnings of imminent invasion by Churchill and others, his initial panicked inaction when invasion occurred, Russia's harsh winters, and the brutality of its military traditions (still evident) and its NKGB culture of thugs forcing on from behind the ordinary troops to their almost certain death to prevent any retreats or desertions.

John Birkett, St Andrews.

The Herald: Spain's Jon Rahm has signed up with LIV GolfSpain's Jon Rahm has signed up with LIV Golf (Image: PA)

Rahm has sold out his destiny

NO missiles were fired, and no one died but I was very disappointed to read that world no 3 golfer Jon Rahm had yielded to the temptation of Saudi Arabian blood money and decided to join the LIV tour ("LIV’s Rahm raid brings more confusion to men’s pro game", Herald Sport, December 9).

Leaving aside the moral issues and the obscene amount of money involved as well as the sad realisation that golf is now on the slippery slope to joining football, Formula One, the NFL and baseball in the descent into the moneyman’s abyss where players are commoditised and their worth valued not on how many goals they score but on how many shirts they sell (a kind of human price/ earnings ratio) my sadness at his decision was the self-harm he has inflicted on himself as he tries to achieve greatness in his sport.

From the comfort of my armchair, I confidently predicted that Rahm would be one of “the greats” of the game. Perhaps not in the Nicklaus,Woods, Player, Watson league but certainly up there with Seve, Faldo, Els and Trevino.

His legacy in the game will be determined by his majors haul.

Winning majors requires not only talent and hard work but also the ability to absorb pressure and seize the moment to win. There are very few second chances in sport. Hence the players have to pit themselves against the best opposition as often as possible to keep that will to win razor-sharp.

Instead, Rahm has opted to tee it up for 54 holes in good weather against “hasbeens”, "neverweres” and “wannabes” with no cut and a guaranteed cheque at the end of the week. Hardly the crucible of competition I genuinely hope that Rham does not miss his destiny but viewing a young person of seemingly-boundless talent it has been said: “Whom the gods wish to destroy first they call promising”.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.