Sir, – As we emerge, with luck, from lockdown there is understandable pressure for more cycling to be encouraged.

Quite right, but there needs to be clearly understood rules, etiquette and enforceability.

At present anarchy seems to be the ‘rule of the road’ and reckless, or just thoughtless, cycling is widespread.

The fabric of our towns and cities is, by and large, unconducive to cycling – unlike our fortunate neighbours across the North Sea – being old, cramped and built of masonry.

Radical widening and traffic-separation projects are therefore not easily feasible and certainly unaffordable.

This means sharing available space, which is relatively easy – painted lines and clear signage laying down the rules are not expensive.

The other, crucial, side of the coin is enforcement. In built-up areas traffic and park wardens should have the powers to check for a bell, working lights and brakes, and regulate speed.

Offenders would be warned/advised initially, and a ‘ticket’ issued if the offence is repeated.

Fines work fine in concentrating the mind.

All of the above, a helmet and effective high-viz would be mandatory outwith built-up areas.

The number of cyclists on busy roads who are effectively invisible on tree-shaded, winding country roads or in low sun etc is terrifying.

The police are ideally placed to monitor the open road.

After a trial period the rules can be tweaked or beefed-up, whatever seems to be working best and fairest all round.

It’s not difficult. But it is urgent.

David Roche.

Hill House,

Coupar Angus.

 

Less talk and more action

Sir, – Fear not, the illusionary golden halo hovering over the first minister is in fact only the reflection of a brass neck.

One of the sources of the coronavirus outbreak in Scotland was in Edinburgh, and the Scottish Government’s reaction to send a taskforce to deal with the outbreak failed.

In a similar vein the government’s decision to clear bed spaces in hospitals, by releasing patients into care homes without testing, was a big mistake.

More recently the need to carry out virus testing on a vast scale is under consideration.

While the world is mass testing continually, the Scottish Government races to the bottom of the league table.

There are those who believe talk is cheap but here in Scotland we have learned that promises of consideration, learning from mistakes, taskforces and quangos are all about very expensive talk.

Sadly for Scots, the cost of all this talk is being measured in lives lost.

The longer the lockdown lasts the longer it will take for Scotland to recover.

Scotland’s dependence on tourism and the continued requirements to pay overheads and taxes and watching stock deteriorate without any income will finish many businesses.

Still we listen, consider, wait, watch and talk.

Alan Bell.

Roods, Kirriemuir.

 

Give people more freedom

Sir, – At a time when those living alone are among the most vulnerable people in the country, I would implore the first minister to relax the rule of meeting only one other household at a time.

My wife and I have a big garden and would love to invite half a dozen friends, living alone, to drop in for some fellowship.

Some have seen nobody, apart from the postman, for 10 weeks.

That is not good for anyone’s mental health; and there would be miniscule risk to physical health from such a concession.

Robert Ramsay.

Home Farm, Kinblethmont,

Arbroath.

 

What does arm’s-length mean?

Sir, – I am sure that a number of Courier readers will be surprised by your report on AngusAlive staff being in limbo while the furlough appeal is being considered by HMRC.

My understanding is that a number of local councils have set up arm’s-length cultural and leisure trusts to save money by the tax benefits and reduced tax bill that these trusts can claim.

Your report (AngusAlive in limbo over furlough payments, Courier, June 3) informs us that AngusAlive has topped up the furlough payment of 80% of salary to the full 100%.

Without revenue from fees and charges, this top-up and other salary costs are coming from the business support grant and management fees Angus Council pays to the trust for providing the service.

I think it is fair to ask what exactly is an arm’s-length organisation when it is bound so closely to the local council and can benefit from it when times are tough.

Is it fair to the private gyms and leisure facilities in hotels who have not been gifted state-of-the-art council facilities and who pay their full share of taxes and who have to weather the coronavirus storm without the financial backing of their local councils?

Ron J Scrimgeour.

39 Gowan Rig,

Forfar,

Angus.

 

A cultural phenomenon

Sir, – I write in reply to Anya Lawrence’s letter (Theatre refurb wouldn’t cost King’s ransom, Courier, June 1).

The Rep has some first-class performances, the Caird Hall has the RSNO about five or six times a year and the Whitehall does have irregular presentations, but sadly there is no other evening culture in Dundee.

I was brought up in Dundee and well remember going to many wonderful shows in the King’s Theatre – not only amateur but also companies from far afield with opera, ballet, D’Oyly Carte Opera Company etc.

It is so sad to see this wonderful building in the state it is now.

I do wish Dundee City Council would make every effort to get this wonderful building back to its original form.

I agree with Ms Lawrence that tourism does not stop at 6pm and if restaurants and cafés were to open up in that area it would all be first class.

Kay A S Simpson.

Smithy Road,

Balmullo,

Fife.

 

Fighting fires in disunited States

Sir, – St John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, which sits across Lafayette Square from the White House, opened in 1815 and is often called the president’s church.

Before his swearing-in ceremony, president-elect Franklin Roosevelt attended a service at St John’s.

It established a pattern that has been followed by presidents ever since, including current president Donald Trump.

The church was set alight on Sunday by “peaceful demonstrators” protesting the death of George Floyd, a former security guard who died in police hands.

The next day President Trump visited St John’s to pay his respects with Attorney General Barr and National Security Adviser O’Brien.

The Rev Mariann Budde, Washington’s Episcopal bishop, said she was “outraged” by the president’s visit, claiming “it was a flagrant misuse of religion”.

As she offered no adverse criticism of the arson, one can only suppose she would have preferred President Trump to yet again set the historic church alight.

Rev Dr John Cameron.

10 Howard Place,

St Andrews.

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