BRIAN Wilson ("So the book festival has been 'saved'? Aye, right!", The Herald, April 18) hits the nail on the head about the use of public subsidy for events. Aye Write has not been “saved”. A significant award from the Weir Foundation has convinced Glasgow Life to go ahead with a series of one-off talks spread across several weeks which it could have afforded anyway. Mr Wilson is correct when he says the ticket money will more than cover the expenses of the venue and the speakers.

The real question is why there is this assumption that an event cannot take place unless it has public subsidy. I could list dozens of venues and events that take place without subsidy. There is a case for subsidy when the costs are greater than the tickets and sponsorship income, for example orchestras. Subsidy should be awarded because the cultural activity can’t make ends meet and can prove that. Then it is up to Creative Scotland or whoever to decide whether that is worth it. Sometimes not. The Aye Write episode seems to suggest that without subsidy it can’t take place. I agree with Mr Wilson that this is a false argument. Glasgow Life itself is a multi-million-pound organisation subsidised by the council. It’s a question of management.

Mr Wilson also highlights the fracas which is going on surrounding the Fringe. The Fringe Society, of which I used to be the head back in the 1980s, does not require subsidy as it is a membership organisation taking a fee from each participant and a percentage of ticket sales. Its turnover in 2022 according to its accounts was £6 million. The venues and the companies putting on the Fringe shows are the ones taking the risks, and these risks are indeed high these days.

I’m not sure the public is aware of the difference between the Fringe Society and the venues or the theatre companies who make up “the Fringe” and who are the ones most exposed to the horrific accommodation costs and venue rentals. The Fringe is indeed in need of some serious rethinking, but it’s a complex situation. Just chucking money at it will not solve anything.

Michael Dale, Former Director Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Glasgow.

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Poverty poser on alcohol policy

HOW can Christina McKelvie, the Drug and Alcohol Policy Minister, possibly say that the minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol has reduced deaths by 13.4% ("Holyrood backs 30% hike in Scotland’s minimum unit price for alcohol", The Herald, April 18) when official statistics published by the National Records of Scotland published in August 2023 states that the rate of alcohol-related deaths has generally increased since 2012? In the latest year for which figures are available 1,276 related deaths were recorded for 2022, an increase of 2% on 2021. The same statistics point out that mortality rates are 4.3 times higher in the most deprived areas of Scotland when compared with the least deprived areas.

Doesn’t this infer that the policy isn’t having the desired effect of making alcohol too expensive for those living in deprived areas? This would suggest that individuals living in these areas are still managing to find the cash to buy their wines and spirits. Could it be that money that would otherwise have been used for household essentials for the family is being diverted to meet the additional cost arising from MUP?

Would it be too embarrassing for the Scottish Government to undertake research (and publish the results) comparing changes in child poverty levels with increases in alcohol-related deaths in deprived areas?

Alan McGibbon, Paisley.

RBS closures are intolerable

I CAN'T recall ever writing a letter to all of the broadsheet newspapers before, but such is my fury with the Royal Bank of Scotland that I have been driven to do so today.

The decision to shut one-fifth of its branches in Scotland ("Royal Bank of Scotland to close 18 branches ‘in months’", The Herald, April 18 begs the question: is the Royal Bank of Scotland a bank of Scotland any more? (Spoiler alert: it's not as, courtesy of the stupidity of Fred "the Shred" Goodwin and his pals, it is now a subsidiary of the London-based NatWest group.) The proposed cuts would see the two remaining local RBS branches (Bruntsfield and Nicolson Square) in the South side of Edinburgh shut, leaving customers the inconvenience of travelling to the city centre to do any basic banking tasks beyond what can be achieved online.

That is a truly intolerable level of service to offer to the well over 100,000 residents of Edinburgh who stay in the south of the city. I have banked with RBS for close on 50 years but I am certain that I am not the only long-term customer who is now making inquiries regarding switching to another bank that does take its responsibilities to local communities seriously.

And before opening an account with another bank, yes, I will be asking what their policies are regarding servicing local communities.

David Patrick, Edinburgh.

The Herald: Drug and Alcohol Policy Minister Christina McKelvieDrug and Alcohol Policy Minister Christina McKelvie (Image: PA)

Stern reminder

I NOTE your report that former Rangers No 2 Dave Vos might become the manager of the once-mighty Ajax football club ("Ex-Rangers No 2 tipped for Ajax manager amid huge promotion", heraldscotland, April 17).

Ships have on their stern their name above their port of registry. In the 1970s the mighty Blue Funnel Company named all their ships after characters in Greek mythology and "Ajax", registered in Liverpool, was in Amsterdam when Ajax beat Liverpool.

A local wag painted a 1 after Ajax and a 0 after Liverpool at her berth, so that AJAX 1 LIVERPOOL 0 emblazoned the stern.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Fire the BBC schedulers

FOR the last 11 weeks, The Apprentice: You’re Fired has followed the main programme on BBC2.

Even though this week's was the final, why was it suddenly considered important enough to put it on BBC1, delaying the news by half an hour (April 18)?

I could very grudgingly see a delay to the news being necessary for a live sporting event, but to delay for an increasingly dated entertainment show, especially given current world events, simply isn’t good enough.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.