YOUR front-page report on Saturday ("Rural communities 'at risk' in phone network switch", The Herald, April 13) shows the UK Government's approach to telecommunications provision in rural areas, a Westminster responsibility, is in a complete shambles.

People living in rural communities now face losing the ability to use their landlines during power cuts as a result of the changeover to digital technology. Meanwhile they are unable to resort to mobile phones in such circumstances because of large gaps in the network offered by the big four operators, a consequence of market competition.

The UK Government's Shared Rural Network Programme was meant to address these issues. Instead, however, of forcing the mobile operators to share telecommunications masts, the UK Government left it to the big four to decide how to eliminate the hundreds of "partial not spots" around local communities. This has resulted in proposals to erect yet more phone masts around local communities by operators unwilling to co-operate, even in places like national parks where the landscape is supposed to be protected.

Meantime the UK Government decided to pay these same mobile phone operators £500 million to eliminate "total not spots", areas where there is no existing 4G coverage. Most of the total not spots, as Vicky Allan described two months ago ("Highland phone masts will cost millions. Will anyone benefit?", The Herald, February 25), lie within Wild Land Areas. These are valued by rural communities and visitors alike precisely because they lack human infrastructure. For those who need it for safety or other purposes, communication in Wild Land Areas is now readily available and more reliably provided through satellite technology.

The UK Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, Julia Lopez, is responsible both for the transfer of landlines to Voice over Internet Protocol technology and the Shared Rural mobile network. She would be far better using part of the £500 million the UK Government is wasting on eliminating total not spots in creating a reliable telecommunications network for the rural areas where the vast majority of people actually live, travel and work.

Nick Kempe, Glasgow.

Alan Bates deserves honour

EXPRESSIONS of regret and belated apologies being wrung from past and present senior management of the Post Office hardly compensate for the financial and severe distress suffered for years by sub-postmasters and mistresses wrongly accused and, in some cases, convicted, of theft or false accounting.

Alan Bates, who fought with courage and admirable determination against the might of those mismanaging the Post Office and those who failed to act upon evidence of flaws in the Horizon software, has become a national hero figure. How will adequate compensation be calculated for the humiliation, financial hardship and distress for those to whom it is due, and for how long will it take for this to be fully awarded? It must also be asked if the cost of this will be fully, or partly, underwritten by taxpayers who were in no way responsible for this huge miscarriage of justice. It may be expected that there will be a lengthy dispute between Fujitsu and the Post Office to apportioning responsibility for the scandal.

Alan Bates surely qualifies for inclusion (however politically unlikely) in the next Honours list for his tireless pursuit for justice. As to whether he would be prepared to accept any such award, only he can say.

Credit too, must be given to those in ITV for commissioning and producing the documentary television programme which attracted such a wide audience and effectively drew attention to the years of campaigning by victims of the harsh injustice suffered by those directly affected and by members of their families.

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

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LEZ stopping hospital service

PATRICIA Ford (Letters, April 12) is curious why people outwith Glasgow argue against the LEZ.

I live in Argyll and am a member of a transport volunteer group. I have looked at the maps available with their thickly drawn boundary lines and can't work out how to get to Glasgow Royal Infirmary from the motorway, especially as the hospital has various entrances and we are transporting patients of varying fitness and abilities. If the patient has a Blue Badge you have to give several days' notice, which is often not possible if the patient has an urgent appointment (£60 fines for any of these infringements). I no longer bring patients to the Royal.

My wife and I used to attend the Concert Hall and use the adjacent parking. While in Glasgow we would also shop and have a meal.

As the last bus from Glasgow leaves at 6pm we don't bother coming any more.(The demand for late-night transport is relatively low and because of the distances involved would be arriving in the wee small hours, so a late service is out of the question) The really daft thing about the LEZ is that the motorway runs right through the middle of it and with the ongoing road works and peak hour hold-ups, the fumes generated are probably the biggest traffic pollution that Glasgow has.

David Hay, Minard.

Games bonus

FAR from being a “dismal Jimmy” (Letters, April 13), if the Commonwealth Games were to be going ahead in Glasgow, I would be a happy Jimmy because this might lead to the dreadful potholes being repaired and the city centre streets cleared of rubbish. Of course this would only last for a few months before a return to “normality".

A good example of this kid-on clean-up and repairs is the proposed resurfacing of dangerous sections of the A78 near Troon being carried out after numerous complaints. I wonder why? Is it due to the fact that the Open Golf Championship will be held at and near Troon in July this year ?

Malcom Rankin, Seamill.

Millennium Bug was very real

I CAN assure James Kelly (Letters, April 15) that the Millennium Bug was a real threat. The reason disaster did not strike was because I and hundreds of other IT professionals spent over two years examining, amending and testing essential software. I wish climate change was receiving the same attention.

BA Smith, Falkirk.

The Herald: Alan BatesAlan Bates (Image: PA)

Easy when you know how

I MAINLY cycle and use public transport. Today I was asked to drive a van and realised how incredibly easy it is to not cross advanced stop lines and enter the area reserved for waiting cyclists. Who knew?

Perhaps you could publish this letter so that other drivers can try to emulate my astonishing driving skills.

Bob Downie, Glasgow.