Here are the letters from the East Lothian Courier February 15 edition...


Problems when four slices become five

Haddington residents and Courier readers may be surprised at the tone of Andrew Heatlie’s input and advice (letters, February 1) regarding the online petition re planning application 23/01448/P, from Domino’s pizza, for premises on Haddington High Street.

While it is accepted practice that individuals should lodge their own objections directly to councils concerning council business, there would be a ‘we know best’ arrogance if a council chose to completely ignore public opinion purely because it is voiced via a petition.

Mr Heatlie, who is from Duns, may be unaware that East Lothian Council (ELC) has a petitions committee and that petition rules and criteria are found on the council website.

The petition against Domino’s Haddington is well-worded and would be a useful tool for ELC to understand local concerns, but some who signed may have chosen to be anonymous and it would not fit criteria. To state that petitions are invalid is wrong, as both Scottish and Westminster Parliaments accept petitions for matters within their remit.

We know that competition is not accepted as an issue for planners to consider but, if you take a pizza as an example, when four slices become five slices, each slice is smaller, so some small businesses could have a problem. I note that pizza options in Duns have not been mentioned.

If anyone in Haddington wishes to order a Domino’s pizza, then the outlet in Tranent delivers.

Galashiels possibly supports takeaway options. However, the population of Peebles is not dissimilar to that of Haddington but Peebles has kept variety without the need for several pizza options on its High Street.

People who live in East Lothian towns want to see variety from thriving businesses without premises being occupied at any cost.

Helen Fraser

Gateside Avenue Haddington


Keep white line

I saw in the January 25 edition of the Courier that the roads department of East Lothian Council is proposing to remove the central white line on Dirleton Avenue, North Berwick, along with the line on five other roads, as an experiment in reducing traffic speed.

While recognising that this may indeed reduce traffic speed, I am disappointed with this decision for at least two reasons, one in principle, one practical.

My reason of principle is that the white lines are a safety measure. They keep traffic flowing in one direction safe from traffic flowing in the opposite direction. The phrase ‘safety first’ means that such a proved safety measure should be maintained, not removed.

My practical reason is that I live on Fidra Road. When driving to the town centre, I turn out of Fidra Road onto and along Dirleton Avenue, and the white line in the middle of the road is a useful, safe guide in my making my turn into the traffic flow.

Why sacrifice such a useful safety measure for the sake of an experiment? If, as a result of removing this safety measure, there are more accidents, whose fault will that be? I suggest that the experiment should not be made.

Hugh Trevor

North Berwick


Council horror

With rain assaulting the windowpane, my hand reached for the comfort of a warming book. Instead, it returned a bone-chilling story called ‘Debt Devours Council’.

It starts with a council leader screaming we’re all “doomed, DOOMED!” as he hurtles over a financial cliff near Dunbar.

Nodding officials remain, frozen at their posts, with only scissors to defend themselves as the monster approaches. This spectre of economic ruin haunts every page but the actual beast remains hidden.

Everyone feels its presence but nobody knows its shape, form or how it can be killed.

One official suggests recalling all the brown bins and corralling the demon within. Another recommends sacrificing a few unused properties to slake its bloodlust. Token effort and panic fill a policy vacuum.

Then, from the hidden depths of a hoodie, a young voice is heard piercing the dam of defeatism. Could publishing details of all the loans reveal the secret key to breaking our chains of bondage?

And how the wise officials laugh. For fear of the unknown is needed to force through their unpopular cuts. If the beast reveals itself, beyond a headline figure, we might gain confidence and rebel. Ignorance is bliss, spreadsheets are for the birds, they declare.

The hoodie is unconvinced. If money is being stolen from the young, they demand the details. So let’s see this debt in all its gory details. Who borrowed when, for what and what are the terms?

The officials start to look nervous and turn to the full council for cover. Members are asked to deny the spreadsheet and declare an infor- mation emergency. Councillors look at the officials and then at the future, defended by the hoodie. Then finally, they reach an independent decision: time is up for everyone.

Calum Miller

Polwarth Terrace



Wonderful John

Further to Grant Laing and Alex Galloway’s heartfelt tribute to John Fyfe in last week’s Courier, I would like to add my own few words.

John and his wife, Helen, were like second parents to a lot of us who were lucky to play for Haddington Star in the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s, often taking us to away games in their wee orange minivan.

Together with Willie Aitken at Haddington United, they provided a platform for all fitba-daft laddies to play the game they loved; happy days.

Bumping into John throughout the years, he was always interested in how you were and was genuinely delighted if you were doing well personally or professionally.

He would also have a football-related tale to tell about the Star or his beloved Jam Tarts – a wonderful human being.

Rab Denholm

Seggarsdean Court


Parallel politics

On watching the spectacle that has been the UK Covid Inquiry in Scotland, the parallels I could draw between how the Scottish Government is run and the situation with East Lothian Council (ELC) were striking indeed.

This is what happens when the people running any organisation are not properly governed and scrutinised – far too comfortable with one another and no difficult questions asked, as that might offend someone. Give me a break. Anyone who has the audacity not to conform to type and therefore classified as difficult or awkward is duly ostracised, as the cabal’s way is the only way.

I vividly recall one occasion when one proposal put before council was voted down and I was subsequently admonished by the CEO at the time as she advised me: “I don’t put forward proposals to council not to be voted through.”

That was a lightbulb moment for me during my time at ELC. To some people, critical thinking clearly means you must not be critical of them. For me, my best protection from such conduct and thinking was my own spine.

In the case of ELC, until there is a more appropriate organisational culture and distance established between senior management and elected officials, you will get what you now see, with the inevitable consequences on local citizens, by way of increasingly poor service delivered, if indeed at all, at an increasingly higher cost.

Brian Small



Miners’ strike

2024 is not only the 100th anniversary of the first ever Labour government, it is also the 40th anniversary of the biggest class struggle in the 20th century: the 1984-85 miners’ strike.

The miners’ strike was a civil war without guns; a battle between the working class and ruling class.

The strike’s defeat has reverberated down the decades to today; one example is when Labour councillors and Labour councils today carry out Tory austerity cuts to the letter on their local population.

The whole panoply of the state, including non-lethal weapons, cavalry, spies, reduced welfare/benefits and the criminal courts, were used to try and intimidate the miners back to work.

The miners and their families held out for a year in the most determined show of class power, stiffened up by the magnificent solidarity of the working class in Britain and internationally.

At the time, I was working in Ramsgate, Kent, a Militant tendency supporter in the Labour Party and heavily politically involved in the strike as a trade unionist in my factory, on the miners’ picket line collecting funds and so on.

The miners were ultimately defeated; nevertheless, it was not down to their lack of courage or class determination, nor by the lack of support shown to them by the working class.

Thatcher and the ruling class ultimately won but it was the right-wing leaders in the Trades Union Congress and, more specifically, the Neil Kinnock Labour Party leadership who treacherously stabbed the miners in the back.

The betrayal by the right-wing Labour and trades union leaders of the time meant that their jobs, and their children’s jobs, were to disappear forever and their communities turned into industrial wastelands; and Kinnock and company became the gatekeepers of the fundamental change of the Labour Party to an outright capitalist party under Blair, and now Starmer.

Jimmy Haddow

Socialist Party Scotland

Carlaverock Avenue



Many scandals

Horizon/Post Office is not the only scandal. Some scandals arise from neoliberalism. Finance trumps health.

The endless stream of hospital scandals in England – Kent, Stafford, many others – where thousands of deaths arise from making hospitals compete against each other while Government fails to regulate them effectively.

The same approach allowed banks to be too big to fail, while creating the circumstances in which they would fail – no effective regulation.

The authors of this were Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown.

Since 2000, £53 billion from the 10 biggest banks has been paid in compensation for misconduct/mis-selling going back to the 1990s.

Banks should be public utilities, not private vehicles for looting public assets.

Some PFI contracts are soon to end. Some in Scotland (Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary is one) will not see the buildings return to public ownership. They will have to be bought back, costing millions – this despite the fact that the PFI companies may have already received 10 times the original building cost; more looting of public assets.

PFI companies were supposed to maintain PFI buildings. As contracts end, there is likely to be tension between the PFI operators and councils/health bodies over whether this has been done adequately. There may have been more looting of public assets.

Since 2010, billionaires in UK increased in number from 54 to 171. The richest one per cent in the UK have more wealth than 70 per cent of the population combined. They own 36.5 per cent of all financial assets.

No sound economy can exist on such foundations.

Scotland needs independence urgently and political parties that reject neoliberalism.

Sam McComb