Readers’ letters

Eleonar McGregor, Carluke'17/1/11'Picture by Lindsay Addison
Eleonar McGregor, Carluke'17/1/11'Picture by Lindsay Addison

Find out what our readers think of the stories making the Gazette headlines

Must be open

Dear Ed, – The developing revelations of a failure of corporate governance at News International and the apparent corrupt practices involving public authorities including the police should serve as a wake-up call to the need to examine the arrangements in preparation for the single Scottish police force.

It took a newspaper report to open up this cesspit of corruption affecting the media and the police, not the authorities – despite the presence of a Home Secretary; Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Constabulary; the Crown Prosecution Service; the Police Complaints Commission; the Press Complaints Commission and the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Across Scotland we have the opportunity now to deliver a proper public scrutiny of the oversight of policing at national level and accountability at the local level.

But the SNP Government seem determined to maintain a service authority arrangement largely chosen by the minister, with a convener and chief constable reporting via civil servants to the Minister. This is not a healthy situation.

A single Scottish police force will be a powerful body to be managed without an open and positive public scrutiny.

That absence of an effective scrutiny was one of the weaknesses properly attributed to the current local police authorities. I see no genuine attempt to examine any radical form of oversight in the current proposals.

What the civil servants have delivered is a model created to control and influence, particularly in relation to budget and policy. In a model maintained by, and on behalf of, government there is little encouragement to challenge wrong thinking or reveal wrong doing!

The Scottish government regularly force feeds public debate late, with the outcome that a proper consideration of the way forward is limited. It spends more time balancing the interests of groups such as Association of Chief Police Officers, COSLA, the Police Federation and civil servants.

We should however be considering how we deliver police operational independence alongside proper accountability and public oversight. This should not be about career development and personal interest.

In the past four years I have had less than two hours of discussions with those concerned with these proposals and now in the few weeks left there is a rush to achieve ‘consensus’.

These proposals are undemocratic, designed for the comfort of the Executive at a cost in terms of parliamentary scrutiny. They are debilitating to genuine accountability.

MSPs from all parties should be concerned about the current proposals as they affect their communities.

I hope the government will find the means to engage positively at this key moment in the history of Scottish policing. Governments constantly talk about ‘learning lessons’, how about learning one now? – Yours etc.,

GRAEME PEARSON,

MSP for South of Scotland

Scottish Parliament,

Edinburgh.

Help these tots

Dear Ed, – It’s our birthday so join us in celebrating 60 years of vital research for sick babies and children.

We’ve been funding medical breakthroughs since we began in 1952, and have spent more than £100 million on research that has helped save thousands of children’s lives and changed many more.

Thanks to people like you more babies have been born healthy and thousands more children have been protected from life-threatening infections. But there is still so much more to do and we can’t do it without you.

Your support will help fund research into preventing brain damage in babies, tackling the urgent need for new vaccines to prevent infections like meningitis and developing cutting-edge therapies for children with rare conditions for which there is no cure. We know that there are children suffering today who could be helped by medical research.

Every step you take/mile you ride/pound you raise will help fund studies that could one day help children like Katie, who was born two months early and needed resuscitating at birth; little Cieran, who was left with deafness, epilepsy and cerebral palsy because of meningitis, and six-year-old Jack who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 14 months old.

With your help we can make 2012 an extra special year and fund even more life-changing research for some of the UK’s sickest babies and children.

Look out for our Paddington Charity Boxes in your shops and stores - every coin is appreciated.

I travel from Biggar to Motherwell, Hamilton, Glasgow, Kirkintilloch etc and empty the Paddington Charity Boxes.

The boxes have had a poor return in the past year so here is a special request for you to put in some of your small change; it is so appreciated.

Lets see if we can make the 60th anniversary of this great charity a special birthday 2012 to remember. – Yours etc.,

ELEANOR MCGREGOR,

Scottish Media Collector,

Action Medical Research.

Veteran skills?

Dear Ed, – I am a member of the West of Scotland Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committee which is one of 15 regional committees across the UK.

The Committees are appointed by the Ministry of Defence. We cover the West of Scotland from Wick to Drummore and across to Gretna Green up to Falkirk.

Our main functions are:

Consultation - Acting as a medium for local consultation by Ministers, MOD and the Veterans Agency on issues affecting war pensioners and war widows/widowers.

Awareness - Rising awareness of the War Pensions Scheme and the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and services provided by the Veterans Welfare Service in their area.

Welfare - Supporting and monitoring the work of the Veterans Agency and liaising with voluntary and statutory sector organisations to deliver the best possible welfare support to war pensioners and their families.

Assistance - Assisting individuals with any problem or complaint they have regarding war pensions or the Veterans Agency and acting on their behalf when appropriate.

The Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committee are currently seeking people to become members.

If any of your readers have skills which could help Veterans and their families please contact Chrissie Lancaster, on 01253 333834 or email spva-dvs-wped@mod.uk. – Yours etc.,

DAVID MCALLISTER,

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency,

Lochaber Road,

Strathaven.

Why so many?

Dear Ed, – May I ask why we have two MSPs in Lanark, one Clydesdale, two South of Scotland?

One of these has an office which seems to be always closed, while the other holds a surgery in Tesco. What do they do for us? – Yours etc.,

BARBARA DEXTER,

Wallace Court,

Lanark.