George Kerevan MP is absolutely right in portraying Frank Tindall as both a visionary and a practical man (July 24).

He understood the importance of the big picture in providing the context and sense of direction for individual actions and decisions.

His vision was not always shared by his political masters following his appointment in 1950 and there are references in his very readable ‘Memoirs and Confessions of a County Planning Officer’, which suggest that at times he was close to being asked to look for a post elsewhere.

He was prepared to pursue a line of action in which he believed when it might have suited the members to keep a lower profile.

From his memoirs, he comes over as creative, energetic and entrepreneurial – and, at times, irascible.

He must, on occasion, have been difficult to work with. Talented people often are.

There is, however, a danger in assuming that a modern day Frank Tindall, if such were to exist, would have the freedom of action which he enjoyed in the 1950s and 1960s. His powerful personality, coupled with a strong sense of purpose, meant that he was able achieve results which involved crossing traditional professional and departmental boundaries and adopting novel, at times risky, approaches. But he achieved lasting results, ranging from dune conservation at Yellowcraig to a new industrial estate at Macmerry.

He recognised, however, that times were changing, as is clear from his memoirs: “Since 1975, planning and development have become fragmented and local government devalued and starved of money. Things have moved on, as those now in my former position keep telling me. Enterprise companies, housing associations, Scottish Natural Heritage, tourist boards and other state quangos have taken over. Town and country planning has taken a more regulatory role and become bogged down on one level by legal processes and on another by vast feasibility studies. However, with the re-establishment of unitary authorities in 1996 and the Labour Party’s undertaking to empower once again local authorities, things may change again and my experience of 1950-75 may be of value.” As things turned out, the Labour Government 2005 White Paper ‘Modernising the Planning System’ made very little reference to local government. This was surprising given the Government’s avowed wish to change the culture of planning. An important element in changing the culture was seen in the White Paper to be “the need to re-energise the profession in order that planners see their work as something which is principally visionary and enabling”.

I think, therefore, that Mr Kerevan, in urging us to recover “that self-confidence and vision” – “we did it once and we can do it again” – underestimates the degree to which the 2006 Planning (Scotland) Act and accompanying measures failed to rise to the occasion. What was referred to as “a once in a lifetime opportunity to implement a major package of modernisation of the planning system” was missed.

I am doubtful that Frank Tindall, who I knew well, would have thrived under the current arrangements – though his abilities are more than ever needed.

Andrew Robinson Station Road Haddington