Here are this week's letters...


My recycling centre accident fears

The team of men who run Wallyford recycling centre have been given a ridiculously impossible job to do. Yet even so, they have formed themselves into a self-contained, intelligent, disciplined and tactically structured team.

But, like any combat situation, if left too long under extreme conditions, inevitably there will be casualties. It’s really only a matter of time.

Since the closure of Macmerry depot, these men have been managing uncompromising droves of cars coming into and out of a depot never designed for this level of traffic.

All day, rain, sleet or shine, they are directing vehicles though a minefield of hazards. Additionally, more often than not, vehicles are backed up right out onto and up the main road in both directions.

Unlike Macmerry, you can’t drive in one direction through Wallyford depot: you must park, dispose of your items, then reverse out of your parking space.

The men do their best firstly to halt the traffic flow, then direct reversing drivers safely out, all while people are cutting in and out between the cars with arm-loads of belongings. The men are breathing in car fumes all day long and are relentlessly on high alert looking out for potential danger from the various simultaneous active fronts.

Either Macmerry needs to reopen or Wallyford must be extended and redesigned so that traffic can flow in one direction without requiring heavy traffic management, with a separate exit incorporated further up the road.

East Lothian Council must recognise their revision has failed and immediately halt this collision course before the dreadful accident that is waiting happens.

Lorraine Glass
Bothwell Avenue

Clarify remarks

I would like to clarify my comments on pavement parking at December’s full council meeting, which were reported by the Courier.

Prior to the meeting, I had inquired whether East Lothian Council had any immediate plans to introduce fines for this extremely disruptive and anti-social behaviour. I was told that it would be the end of 2024 before we would be in a position to do so, because of the time it will take to agree on exemptions for the ban. I should have been clearer in my comments that I had been told we had no plans for 2023, rather than no plans at all.

However, I remain very disappointed that East Lothian Council is not ready and willing to take enforcement action sooner, as other authorities, including Edinburgh and the Highlands, are doing.

Pavement parking forces the most vulnerable pavement users onto the carriageway (particularly difficult for those using a wheelchair or with a buggy). Enforcement would change behaviour, as well as bringing in a modest amount of revenue that could then be reinvested for transport improvements.

Given the extreme squeeze on council budgets, heavily reported in these pages, it seems lackadaisical to me to wait a year to introduce this.

There is no need for any exceptions: pavements are for people, not for metal boxes.

Councillor Shona McIntosh


Wrong climate

Pupils returning to North Berwick High School after the Christmas break will have been confronted by a large hole where a flourishing mature hedge and treebelt had stood until East Lothian Council’s planning committee’s decision to cut it down was implemented before the start of term.

Will we see more decisions like this being made by senior officers and councillors during the New Year that fly in the face of the council’s own climate change strategy and their draft tree and woodland strategy, and ignore the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4 that prioritises addressing the nature and climate crises?

Or can we hope that over the holiday they have reflected on what they have done and have made New Year’s resolutions to act in accordance with their recent declaration of a nature emergency and begin to take the urgent action that their resolution called for?

Last year was the hottest on record, so now is the time for the council to show leadership to us all and move beyond declaring emergencies and agreeing excellent policies by implementing the necessary changes.

Jeremy Gass

Links Road

North Berwick


State of roads

Bruce Wilson’s letter in the Courier of December 21 about pothole problems on North Berwick High Street has my support.

I notice that the East Lothian Council response is just a version of the response I received in April 2023 when I asked about this road maintenance. Eight months on and no permanent repairs but this roadway just gets worse. So is this:

a) No money?

b) An inability to plan access? Does not the roads department have many years of experience in planning road repairs in busy thoroughfares?

c) That the roads department failed to request a big enough annual repair budget?

d) Politics? I notice the difference when I visit Haddington.

As one variation from Bruce Wilson’s letter, I would suggest that any cyclist not using a mountain bike would be at real risk of encountering damage or indeed an accident – odd when you consider the council promotion of cycling in general. Where, I wonder, is the joined-up thinking?

Gavin Robertson

Dirleton Avenue

North Berwick


‘We blew it’

East Lothian Foodbank manager Elaine Morrison informed the Courier that blankets were now being issued to help users who can eat or heat but not both.

The Scottish Ambulance Service say they are rescuing people with hypothermia – not from mountain tops but from their living rooms.

These facts make the latest stats from the NRS (National Records of Scotland) easier to process: more people died last winter than in the previous 33.

People are not coping yet mistakenly blaming themselves for their poverty, their distress, debt and inability to pay for life’s essentials.

East Lothian piloted Universal Credit, the harshest UK social security system ever devised. Officers reported advising residents who were hungry or getting into rent arrears for the first time.

In 2018, BBC TV interviewed a quiet, respectable, disabled man in the Highlands about the changes. He softly explained that when he had no money and no food by the fourth week, he drank gallons of water and went to bed to keep warm. Really?

This year, a Glasgow University research team proved the austerity programme of David Cameron caused 335,000 excess deaths across the UK between 2012 and 2019.

The UN called PIP (Personal Independence Payments) to disabled people a violation of human rights, branding them “cruel, inhuman and ideological”. They have yet to comment on Rishi Sunak and his ‘Back to Work’ plan, which cuts benefits for the long-term sick and disabled until they become productive.

Inequality is a political choice. For our weak and ‘undeserving’, the decision is destitution and early death.

Anyone unconvinced of the natural cruelty of these smiling, plutocratic monsters maybe missed the remarks caught by the Covid inquiry: “Just let people die” and “Let the bodies pile up”?

Scotland had the chance to escape their sadism in 2014. Yes posters spelt it out in capital letters: END TORY RULE – FOREVER. We blew it.

Fraser McAllister

Inveresk Road



Speech bubble

The chutzpah of the SNP-led Scottish Government appears to be boundless.

On his visit to East Lothian, the First Minister stated that East Lothian Council faced many difficulties.

What he did not say was that many of these difficulties have arisen because of the mismanagement of his Government and that councils such as East Lothian will have limited funds in the coming years because of his Government’s decisions.

The Courier’s front page photograph could have been enhanced by a speech bubble with the First Minister, surrounded by his Cabinet, quoting the immortal lines from Gerry Rafferty’s Stealers Wheel song: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...”

Dr James Herring



Crises to come

The 100th anniversary of the short-lived first Labour Government takes place in 2024; and, if we are to believe the opinion polls, the inane media talking-heads and the multitude of Tory MPs jumping the Conservative Government ship, we are about to have a Starmer-Blairite New Labour government on that anniversary.

The January to November 1924 Labour Government was one of economic and social crisis: and if Labour wins, the Starmer government will also be one of continual economic and social crises that will put the Conservative Government and party’s fragmentary disintegrations in the shade.

Central to the problems that will face New Labour in office is the recessionary weakness of British capitalism, in reality a 10th-rate economy, against the background of a crisis-ridden global economic and social system.

The economic tapestry is predominant to why there will be no prospect of a Starmer-led government achieving the relative stability of New Labour’s early years under Blair. Ultimately, this is also what lay at the root of the Tories’ numerous political crises and Labour will face a worse situation.

Keir Starmer’s role as leader was to ideologically, organisationally and politically eradicate all vestiges of Left-Corbynism from the party.

The experience of Starmer’s Labour in opposition – refusing to support workers fighting the cost-of-living crisis; Labour councils drastically cutting services to the bone and attacking striking workers; the Starmer-Labour stance over the war in Gaza; and Starmer’s wholesome praise for the neo-liberal Thatcher, who destroyed working-class communities all over Britain – is just a dress rehearsal for what the Starmer government will implement in office.

Capitalism offers no way forward for humanity and the working class will be forced by that reality onto the road of struggle; and mass support for socialist ideas will develop, although that task is still in its early beginnings in Britain.

Jimmy Haddow

Socialist Party Scotland

Carlaverock Avenue



Thanks to all

There was an amazing final total for this year’s Angel Tree appeal, £3,220.

We are very, very grateful for the gift vouchers, presents and donations which we used to support local families.

Our thanks go to the many businesses who displayed our Angel Trees to help promote the appeal. Our thanks to Longniddry Golf Club, Kilspindie Golf Club, Craigielaw Golf Club, Royal Musselburgh Golf Club, Longniddry Community Centre, The Bothy Aberlady, Longniddry Dental Practice, Longniddry Royal British Legion and our local libraries, Prestonpans, Port Seton, and Longniddry, who also acted as collection areas. Also thanks to the shops who displayed posters.

Every penny of this appeal reached children, teenagers and families in our community. Thank you to the wonderful Pennypit Community Trust for being our partners in this appeal.

Derek Easton

Rotary Club of

Longniddry and District

Say cheese!

Can I take this opportunity to thank guests from across East Lothian who supported the Dunbar charity wine events that I hosted during the autumn in aid of the Scottish Refugee Council. You kindly reported the plans for these events back in September.

Each event involved a maximum of nine guests gathered round a table in my home in Dunbar. I am delighted to report that across the four autumn tastings, £1,036 was raised. This has been sent to the charity to support their vital work with asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland.

The support has encouraged me to arrange four more tastings for January-April 2024, on themes including Scotch whisky for wine lovers, wines for romance (at Valentine’s), wines of Germany and Austria, and a special vertical tasting of Bordeaux wines going back 30 years. All are available to book at – there is no set charge but I am suggesting donations from £25.

Each evening ends with some great discussions of the wines over a bread and cheese supper, with the cheeses normally sourced from The Cheese Lady in Haddington.

Dr Gareth Morgan

Kings Court