MY wife and I are both state pensioners. Our current main residence is in Glasgow, but a few years ago we bought a small one-bedroom flat within a retirement complex in Largs with a view to retiring there full-time in a couple of years once our daughter, also in Glasgow, will have less need of help from us with our grandsons, the youngest of whom will then be in his teenage years.

We pay 100% council tax on both properties, along with our share of communal charges and a management fee to the factors of the Largs property.

The Largs flat has never been rented out. We visit there only occasionally for upkeep and maintenance purposes, and to get it decorated and furnished in preparation for our pending full-time move.

However, our dream move is now shattered and we will probably have to sell the Largs flat as the Scottish Government has put legislation in place to allow North Ayrshire Council to levy a 100% council tax surcharge, which of course is totally unaffordable.

The First Minister is on record as saying owners of second homes should pay their fair share of council tax. How is 200% fair?

I have written to North Ayrshire Council requesting information on its intentions come the new tax year in April. It claims not to have decided yet, but I feel sure we will be faced with the full 100% levy. It is a vindictive piece of legislation and can only be designed to punish people of our generation who have worked hard, saved, and had the foresight to invest in our own future.

We will now be faced with trying to sell to a very limited market, as a condition of ownership in the retirement complex is being a minimum of 60 years of age.

How can a one-bedroom flat in a retirement complex coming back on to the market alleviate any perceived housing shortage?

I have also written to the leader of the Scottish Labour Party to try to find out what his party's intentions would be if it came to power in Scotland.

The response was absolutely staggering, and an extract is as follows: “Scottish Labour proposals include establishing a 100% council tax surcharge on second homes, establishing a long-term empty homes council tax escalator - increasing the surcharge on empty properties for each year the property is empty - and abolishing Non-Domestic Rates Small Business Bonus Scheme rates relief for self-catering properties."

The only party showing any common sense in this whole matter is the Scottish Conservatives. I have been corresponding with their North Ayrshire councillor, who advises: “We remain steadfastly opposed to the introduction of increasing the council tax on second homes as it will do nothing to free up stock for local people as they have claimed it will and it will unnecessarily punish those who have saved and invested throughout their lives.”

The Scottish Government needs to come up with some fresh ideas instead of trying to tax their way out of the problems it has created through crass mismanagement of the country’s economy.

Colin Halcrow, Glasgow.

Read more: Scotland's bus services must be brought back under public control

Intergrating rail and road

MANY years ago, a certain lady interfered with the operation of public transport in the UK.

Prior to 1984, most bus services and all rail services were under public control. For many areas, particularly in Strathclyde this meant that many bus and rail services and routes were integrated and the number was planned to increase, and in some areas, even with integrated road upgrades undertaken along the same route.

In the early 1980s and with a government against public ownership of bus services as stifling competition and also seen as a local monopoly, the Transport and Road Research Laboratory, an internationally renowned government organisation, was asked to research the effects of introducing direct competition between the bus and rail services. This was tried in Leicester, I believe.

On completion of this small investigation, the analysis indicated that it would not result in the improvement of transport services; in fact, the opposite was the case.

Nevertheless, the Transport Act 1984 was introduced privatising bus operations in the UK excluding London. The interesting result of course is the creation of a few very large near-monopolies in many areas virtually outwith public control. Indeed incredibly, when one bus and train operator offered to bid for local rail services and integrating them with his bus operation the advice given was that was illegal. I know that as an engineer involved in the Johnstone area bus/train integration a copy of the letter sent to Strathclyde PTE was a stop, stating it was now illegal.

Of course another result stemming from this Act was that the local authority was left to subsidise loss-making routes and times where as a public agency there had been cross subsidy from profitable services to others.

Now, we must be one of the very few countries without total integration of our transit systems, from single ticketing to co-ordination.

At least, hopefully, Scotland might yet get a better set-up having started with the railway.

John Taylor, Dunlop.

The Herald: Should free bus travel be extended to all?Should free bus travel be extended to all? (Image: Newsquest)

All buses should be free

IS it not time to treat public transport in Scotland like "free" prescriptions, ie out of general taxation?

At present probably over 50% of the population receive free bus travel: those under 22, over-60s and other concessions.

Those who have no other option but to travel by bus bear the burden, along with some who find it more convenient.

If bus travel were to be free, or subject to a small annual charge for a bus pass, paid by all under 22 and over 60, many more cars would be taken off the road.

I would happily vote for any political party which suggests this.

Niall Mackie, Mauchline.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson Covid handling was night and day

Time to halt Scottish inquiry

AS the UK Covid Inquiry swings into Scotland taking evidence from the great and good, you really have to wonder what is really the point of the separate Scottish Covid Inquiry where lawyers and judges have already withdrawn. It is not at all clear what specific benefits will accrue from the Scottish inquiry which like several other Scottish inquiries (trams anyone?), will report several years hence.

In these straitened financial times surely the vast sums of monies being spent on the legal profession would be better spent elsewhere.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke, Fife.