Here are this week's letters:


It’s time to share this ‘empty’ space

Every time I walk through the Bleachingfield Centre in Dunbar, I can’t understand all that empty space with full lights and central heating on? After all, we are paying for that.
The cafeteria and front desk reception areas have been closed for three years now.
The new year in Dunbar will bring the closure of our third bank, sometime in May. Would it be possible to use this community space in some ways for a bank-sharing service?
All we need is a bit of innovation and common sense, a few partitions, desks and computer access.
Many residents from and around Dunbar do not have easy access our own transport and should not have to go to Haddington to solve a simple banking transaction or, for some elderly people, the risks and difficulties of the internet maze.
The community centre site has plenty of car parking space and provides many services for the library, computer, and some sport and social activities.
In Canada we created an office sharing system; this was 20 years ago, long before the pandemic and people working from home. The reason was to provide an office space for workers with health difficulties to come one or two days a week, feel part of the company and be face-to-face with colleagues and an office environment – probably a lot better than a half-empty building, as we see right now in big cities.
These lovely old bank buildings are not fit for our generation: large, high ceiling, old internal infrastructure = massive running costs and no car parks!
After all, part of the Christmas spirit is to share. . . knowledge and facilities.
John Daeschler


Sparkling street

Our street is a main artery for people arriving in or leaving Musselburgh via the Edinburgh City Bypass A720.
We all live on Monktonhall Terrace, which connects the A720 down towards Musselburgh centre. It is a busy street with a constant line of cars parked the whole length of it and any street cleaning is very limited.
Recently, a few neighbours asked the council street cleaning team to see what they could do. They did not disappoint us.
We received individual notices through our doors (which involved going in and out of the vennels and along to each house above, as well as below). The notice advised us that the team would be cutting the hedge opposite and also cleaning gutters of autumn leaves, if we could move our cars elsewhere for the morning. We all duly did re-parked and our street is now sparkling!
Thank you so much to the East Lothian Council street cleaning team. We really appreciate all your efforts.
Laura Roberts
Monktonhall Terrace


Council survey

Today I received a survey from East Lothian Council seeking opinions from ratepayers on council spending. 
It was the most ill-thought-out survey I have ever seen.
Basically, the questions asked if you either want to cut services or pay more rates. There was no mention of efficiency within the council, nor was there any mention of zero-based budgeting to cut out all the waste and unnecessary spending on projects doomed to failure.
The council job club is more interested in keeping their jobs rather than demonstrating that they can save money. 
The council has a nil redundancy policy so unless they get rid of that ridiculous situation, they will never be effective in saving money.
My experience of late with the council has shown that no one is responsible for anything. Let’s just do nothing and increase the rates.
John Darlington 

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “The consultation document contains a number of references to efficiency within the council in the context of addressing financial challenges. There is a question which asks for views on the importance of delivering services as effectively and efficiently as possible within our limited resources and there is a text box for people to insert any comments they wish on this aspect. There is plenty of scope within the consultation for people to have their say on different aspects of how services are delivered to address the current financial challenge. Our financial strategy highlights the expectation that residents would want us to deliver services as efficiently as possible. The consultation, which is available on our online consultation hub, closes on  January 5 and we would encourage as many people as possible to respond given the scale of the funding gap and the difficult choices faced.”



Courier letters (November 16 and 23) have spotlighted East Lothian Council’s planning committee decision about North Berwick High School in November.
I found the planning meeting a most dispiriting experience, witnessing the convenor making a mockery of the climate emergency strategy he had trumpeted days earlier; witnessing council officials rewriting national planning guidelines on sports pitches; witnessing the education representative struggling for credibility; and witnessing a tranche of councillors managing to miss the point of objections to the tabled plans and failing to recognise the serious concerns so cogently argued in four representations (including North Berwick Community Council’s).
Several councillors took time in their summaries for glowing endorsements of council officers’ work, which was touching, although I know of at least two council employees threatened with disciplinary action for speaking mildly out of turn about this application, so maybe the cosy camaraderie doesn’t stretch far along the corridors of John Muir House and North Berwick High School.
Tellingly, no representations were heard in support and the vote was close, showing how sensitive this application has been.
But here’s the thing. It’s not because anyone thinks the school shouldn’t have top-quality provision of sports pitches, it’s because so much of the detail in the application itself was questionable. For a major development so long in the planning, its shortcomings are disappointing to say the least.
Yet there it is, the council have approved their own application.
Now here’s another thing. That spare land beside the high school could be a fantastic resource for the entire school campus of North Berwick – high, primary and early years. So, once the council have ripped out the mature hedge and converted this portion of field to a playable sports surface, please let’s ensure the portion currently undeveloped for pitches – and in the hands of North Berwick Trust – remains designated for educational use in the next local plan and beyond.
It could be used for other sports (outdoor, or indoor in a much-needed sports hall), or for outdoor education, or simply used as a natural quiet space to help nurture mental health. Other sites exist in the town for housing, or health centre, or car park, or whatever else the general population needs. But once that space has gone it’s gone, and letting it go would be letting down the next generation.

Eddie Clark
St Baldred’s Road
North Berwick


Loss of treebelt

Own up, consenting councillors – you made a mistake on the North Berwick High School treebelt.
The wild cherry (prunus avium) is a bonnie tree with its scented white flowers, followed by green cherries that turn red and purple when ripe – its bark a distinct purplish sheen. It is native to Scotland.
Along with native hawthorn, rowan, guilder rose, ash, pine, and alder, they make up 80 per cent of the treebelt at North Berwick High School threatened by “sightlines” conjured up by the head of education.
The councillors who voted for the destruction of the treebelt in the narrow planning committee decision were misled by their experts, who failed to point out that the wild cherry is native and is one of the major species in the treebelt.  A clue should have been in its old Scots name, the gean.
A check on the Forestry and Land Scotland website would have confirmed that it is indeed a native tree to Scotland. So the committee heard that the treebelt was “non-native” from its experts, a decisive factor in the decision.
There has already been enough destruction on the campus without adding to the trickle crisis in biodiversity. 

Mr A B Walker
Pilgrims Way
North Berwick


Great care home

May I take this opportunity to reply to your recent article about Lammermuir House Care Home [the article reported that the home had been given a rating of ‘weak’ by the Care Inspectorate following an unannounced visit in September].
It is an extremely well run and professionally organised care home with high standards and nursing care is meticulously carried out.
The food served to us is not five-star quality but is of superb quality and quantity, unlike other local care homes I have experienced.
So if any of your readers are thinking of using Lammermuir House Care Home for their loved ones, be rest assured that there is no finer care home in East Lothian.
John Swan (75)

Lammermuir House Care Home