Gazette Letters 17.7.14

This particularly humourous image taken by Anoif Remah.

This particularly humourous image taken by Anoif Remah.

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Independence cost is over-estimated

What was described by the Treasury as “the most comprehensive piece of work since the decision to stay out of the Euro” has turned out to be a PR disaster of an unprecedented level.

No sooner had the figure of £2.7 billion left that unflinching mouthpiece of the Tory Government, Danny Alexander, than the alarm bells started ringing all the way back to 10 Downing Street.

The Sunday Herald of May 25th had a field day, for as well as easily exposing the falseness of the figures from start to finish, headed its front page “Project Fear Bites The Dust. Treasury Caught Wildly Exaggerating Cost of Independence”.

The Financial Times, which values its international reputation for honesty and integrity above any political expediency, asked Professor Dunleavy of the London School of Economics to analyse the figures.

His findings collaborated those of the Sunday Herald, and that the correct figure, instead of being £2.7 billion would be in the region of £200 million.

Writing in the Financial Times of May 28th, he explained what the Treasury had done was to take the cost of setting up a new U.K. size Whitehall Dept. at the price of £15,000,000 and multiplying it by a strange figure of 180 (this is what the Treasury said Scots would need, giving a figure of £2.7 billion).

Where did this figure of 180 come from, when the U.K. has only 24 such Departments?

Unbelievably, some Treasury official must have spotted a figure of 180 in the Scottish Independence White Paper, this being the number of public bodies that an Independent Scotland would need!

These range from N.H.S. Boards down to minor ones such as Quality Meat Scotland or Cairngorms National Park.

Not surprisingly, the First Minister called for the Treasury to withdraw this “deeply flawed and deeply misleading report”, whilst pondering whether it was “a deliberate and dishonest attempt to deceive”.

There was silence from the Treasury, apart from a murmur that there was a drafting error.

It is little wonder what the highly respected Professor Curtis said on March 26th (The Times, page 4) when a previous scare story bit the dust, that the Better Together/No Campaign “are becoming an irritating background noise to which no one listens to anymore”.

John S. Jappy

Moy Bridge Cottage

Marybank

Muir of Ord IV6 7UL

Out of sight out of mind

Reported claims that in the event of a Yes vote for Scottish independence in September, English yards would be more than capable of building Royal Navy Warships.

It has been suggested that yards such as Appledore, Merseyside, Tyneside and Portsmouth could build such vessels.

For some reason they have omitted to add Birkenhead and Barrow-on-Furness yards to their list where all the nuclear submarines were built.

Is it not a little bit strange that none of these yards south of the border are considered capable of demolishing any of the highly dangerous nuclear submarines which according to the MOD minister Philip Hammond has now been foisted on Rosyth in Scotland.

These reactors, which weigh about 50 tonnes are considered dangerous for thousands of years and will be a major problem for future generations in Scotland.

The MOD plan appears to be ‘out of sight and out of mind’, so long as it is north of the border which is now the most polluted country in Western Europe.

Donald J. Morrison

20 Haig St.

Portknockie

Buckie

AB56 4NT

Mail service

Royal Mail and its postmen and women are proud to provide the Universal Service to all 29 million addresses the length and breadth of the UK.

Recently we have seen companies establish their own mail delivery operations which bypass Royal Mail’s network for collection, sorting and delivery of mail. So far this rival service has been launched in London, Liverpool and Manchester.

But this is set to expand quickly to 42% of UK households, covering 8.5% of the UK’s area by 2017.

The universal service is sustained by the money we make in urban areas. This helps fund the entire national network, including delivery to areas of lower population where our costs are much higher.

Across Royal Mail, we have been working hard to manage the long-term decline in letters volumes by being more efficient, more customer-focused and growing our parcels business.

However, the already challenged universal service is now being further undermined by new entrants in the following ways:

Where: geographic cherry picking:

New entrants to the market deliver only in urban, populous areas whereas Royal Mail must deliver mail to less populous areas of the UK which are costly to serve.

When: service cherry picking: Direct delivery competitors are not bound by the same stringent regulatory requirements as Royal Mail. For example other companies will typically provide an ‘every other day’ service. Royal Mail must collect and deliver letters six days a week.

What: product cherry picking: Direct delivery competitors only deliver bulk business mail, much of which is machine-sequenced. This type of mail is valuable to the universal service provider and helps support the cost of processing items that have to be manually sorted.

As a consequence, we fear that a point could soon be reached where direct delivery competition leads to the universal service being unviable. Were this to happen, it could represent the loss of a vital service upon which thousands of communities up and down the UK rely.

We believe that there is sufficient evidence to support an immediate review of the postal market by Ofcom in order to fulfil its primary duty of protecting the universal service for all.

Deborah Rodger

Royal Mail Delivery Director

Garrison Place

Falkirk FK1 1AA

Loch Ness Marathon

Public entries for this year’s Loch Ness Marathon may have closed BUT it’s not too late to get a place and take part in this fantastic event. CLIC Sargent has guaranteed places in this year’s event that we are offering them to you at a reduced entry fee of just £10!

Every day 10 children are told the shocking news ‘its cancer’ so far we are able to help 1 in 3 of them. Our vision is to see a world where all children and young people with cancer live life to the full and the money raised by taking part in an event like this can help us get closer to that goal.

Go on, take up the challenge! Contact me on 0141 572 5705, email lewis.hay@clicsargent.org.uk or visit our website for more information at www.clicsargent.org.uk/running

Lewis Hay

Running Events Fundraising Manager – Scotland

CLIC Sargent