A RECENT television item featured late-night bus travellers in Bolton discussing the poor state of the local cities and towns.

Shuttered shops, bookmakers and small tearooms and, of course mobile phone dealers and former banks – now pubs serving food – are what we have in the towns and cities of today.

I wonder if journalists dig deeply enough regarding the quality of life on mainland Europe compared to what is now the norm throughout the UK, the fifth richest country in the world.

I would really like to watch more television programmes or read decent articles devoted to comparing the state of cities and towns in Europe to those in our troubled country.

Brexit is a disaster but not the only reason for the decline in the UK’s cities. It may be a thorny issue that some politicians don’t want to talk about as we have left the European Union – and we are now, of course, our own masters, aren’t we?

A great silence has descended in the UK over how we are in this run-down state compared to mainland Europe. Politicians have to find the answers. However journalists have a lot of power to pressurise politicians to listen to our concerns on the necessity for cities and towns to prosper.

A few years ago I arrived at Buchanan Bus Station after a most enjoyable trip to Belgium and was appalled at the litter everywhere. In discussion with a fellow traveller we both agreed we live in the dirtiest city in Europe. 

As I now live in Argyll I only drive past Glasgow city on the M8 so my home town may be much cleaner nowadays. Let’s hope so.
James Nolan, Strachur.


Germany can learn from Scotland ...
I WOULD like to take this opportunity to thank the great Scottish fans for a wonderful time at the European Championship in Germany. You were just great.

It’s not just the great action in Cologne, where Scottish fans accompanied an elderly man with umbrellas so he could cross the road dry. No, it was the great atmosphere wherever the Tartan Army went. Happy and polite people who know how to celebrate without getting aggressive.

I was in Scotland for the third time at the end of May and I think Germany has a lot to learn. Not just the warmth and friendliness of people like Andy, who drove us to the Orkneys and back in a reliable, friendly and informative manner, or Mike and Ann from Edinburgh, who made us feel at home in their B&B with a wonderful breakfast and their friendliness to “the Berliners”.

It was also the efficient train service, with employees who offer a great service. 
It’s moments like these that bring people together and I look forward to seeing you again.
Stephan Gaede, Berlin.


... but Scotland isn’t perfect ...
WASN’T it just marvellous to see tens of thousands of Scottish people out all day and most of the night having one great big endless party? 

Wasn’t it just great to see John Swinney and his merry band out there too? There was endless drinking in the streets and outside bar areas, there was endless music into the wee sma’ hours. What a hoot!

My old Glasgow colleagues Donald MacLeod and Billy Gold must be wondering why the killjoys and zealots in the SNP seem to think it’s OK in Germany but never in Scotland. No alcohol at football, minimum pricing, draconian licensing laws. No rates relief,  but hooray for the Tartan Army – unless, of course, they try to do this in Scotland.

Truly nauseating double standards from this government who have practically destroyed our on-trade licensed trade businesses. Hang your heads in shame!
John Gilligan, Ayr.


... and we wallow in self-pity
I HAVE to confess having a wee bit of sympathy for Gareth Southgate and his England team. 
Top of their group, qualifying for the knockout stage before their third game, and yet vilified by fans, pundits and media alike.

It could be seen as another example of English arrogance and casual assumptions of success.
Just imagine Scotland in the same position, having scraped through last Sunday. The Tartan Army would have transformed itself into some kind of transcendental being and we would have declared a public holiday

I genuinely expect England to reach at least the semi-finals. They have the ability to “win ugly”, which sadly Scotland does not.

We seem happier to wallow in self-pity and assume the mantle of gallant loser. Of course, it’s not a matter of life or death.
Keith Swinley, Ayr.


Drinks adverts as an election issue
FROM July 1 to 7 people across the country will be taking part in Alcohol Awareness Week. 
It’s a time when all of us can consider the role that alcohol is playing in our lives, and the impact it is having on the world around us.  

Too often, alcohol takes centre stage. It’s heavily promoted by big alcohol companies during sports games, as we travel to work, and during our favourite TV shows. 

There is a growing realisation that it is stealing the spotlight from the things which should matter to us most, like our family, friends, our hobbies and work.  

But there are reasons to feel positive: at Alcohol Change UK we have found that amongst those who drink, the vast majority do feel comfortable talking about their drinking with a partner (90%), friends (87%), family (80%), GP (81%), colleagues (70%), or a faith leader (56%) if applicable. 

Combined with access to free advice and information, this support can make a huge difference to those wanting to change their relationship with alcohol.

Lasting change will be achieved when we have policies which support us all. Some 77% of people want to prevent alcohol marketing from showing up in places where it can be seen by a significant number of children, and 73% want compulsory labels with health messages on alcoholic drinks. 

With the general election upon us, the next government has the power to help end the harms caused by alcohol. To get involved, and for independent advice about your drinking, visit: alcoholchange.org.uk  
Ailar Hashemzadeh, Director,  Alcohol Change UK, London.