Here are this week's letters...

Why can’t we read the comments?

Regarding the article “Anger at £490 charge to view East Fortune family park plan” in last week’s Courier, there is a lack of transparency, as comments on planning applications by the public and consultees are unavailable to view in East Lothian.

Kirsty Towler wrote to the Courier about this in 2023. It was pointed out that other local planning authorities make comments available online once the period for comment is up; once a decision on the application has been made, then comments will no longer be available to read.

The query is why does East Lothian Council not undertake to make comments available (after the expiry date and before a decision is made) in line with the majority of other local authorities?

Last year, this question was met by a resounding silence – and yet most planning professionals and elected representatives would wholeheartedly insist that public consultation and involvement is critical to our democracy. Indeed, they exclaim that they welcome public comment. Public consultation is inbuilt into many stages of the planning system.

A formal reply from East Lothian Council explaining this anomaly and their inaction in redressing this would not go amiss. It would be appreciated by those of us who, through amenity societies or personally, involve ourselves with actions impacting on our built and natural environment, which we care about.

Krystyna Campbell


An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “Planning case officers will sometimes provide a summary of representations to an applicant. Other than this, the representations will be summarised in our report of handling on an application. There is no legislation that requires planning authorities to make representations public, and it is therefore for each planning authority to decide whether or not to do so. East Lothian Council does not make representations public on our planning portal. It is possible to request copies of representations and these are dealt with under the council’s environmental information regulations procedure.”


No free ride

As the days get progressively longer, and hopefully warmer, we are now seeing more and more so-called glampers.

Having lived in Musselburgh most of my life, I can quite see the allure of the county, between the scenery and its history. What I don’t understand is why East Lothian Council fails to capitalise on the boon on its doorstep?

Scotland’s councils’ finances are dire and worsened further this year by an idea of the First Minister to freeze council tax – a laudable ideal, yeah, but council finances reflect grim reality, not the land of make-believe.

This is why the council needs to surcharge these “glampers” for using the services of the council, i.e. toilet and shower facilities. On the continent you would.

Here in East Lothian, the powers that be at John Muir House should look into tourists paying and moving away from the free ride in their caravan.

John James

Bush Street



Vote for peace

With a General Election most likely to be held this year, I genuinely fear for Scotland’s future safety.

Scotland won’t vote Tory, for sure, but some voters in Scotland may consider voting Labour. I pray they don’t, as we are living in dangerous times.

Voters in East Lothian and across Scotland need to remember that there is no substantial difference between the Tories’ foreign policy and Labour’s foreign policy.

It was a Labour government that launched the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, along with the Tories, is well out of step with public opinion, refusing to call for a ceasefire to the dreadful, merciless slaughter of Palestinian people in Gaza. The actions of Israel in Gaza have been disproportionate and excessive, as the International Court of Justice has established.

Dead Palestinians now exceed 25,000, with over 60,000 injured. Killing is random and indiscriminate, as evidenced by the shooting of an unarmed young Palestinian man holding a white flag, and we have the unspeakable horror of children having limbs removed without anaesthetic.

We also see Westminster, both Tory and Labour, supporting our military in secret missions to support Israeli actions in Gaza, providing war zone supplies and now bombing Yemen and surrounding nations, leading to an escalation of the risk of a broader Middle East conflict.

We now have a former Labour MP, Douglas Alexander, standing in Lothian East (East Lothian) in an attempt to gain entry to frontline politics and again have an influence on foreign UK policy and military action.

Mr Alexander was a cabinet minister in Tony Blair’s government and backed the illegal war in Iraq which led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, possibly as many as one million. A parcel of lies to take us into an atrocious war will never be forgiven by an entire generation of Scots.

Along with Douglas Alexander’s warmongering record, our current Labour MSP, Martin Whitfield, is a fully signed-up member of Friends of Israel.

Where will this team lead us? To further involvement in illegal military campaigns in the Middle East, war with Iran or even war with Russia? Israel needs to be stopped, not supported. Voters should vote for parties who believe in peace and justice, and oppose any military involvement in the Middle East.

Morgwn C Davies

Convener, ALBA East Lothian



Tim Jackson (letters, February 15) is correct, the NHS in Scotland “has been managed by the Scottish Government under the SNP for over 16 years”.

However, what he seems to fail to grasp is that NHS funding is effectively controlled by Westminster.

Under devolution, every pound diverted from the NHS in England into private healthcare results in proportionately less money available to the Scottish Government to spend on the NHS in Scotland.

As the Labour Party, as well as the Tories, appear keen to continue, if not accelerate, the privatisation trend, our NHS (still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the Covid pandemic) will come under increasing financial pressure and is in danger of becoming no longer universally “free at the point of use”.

This predicament is further exacerbated by Brexit (unwanted in Scotland), which has not only led to price increases for imported medications but resulted in more staff shortages due to the loss of doctors and nurses from countries within the EU.

As for education, it seems Mr Jackson does not appear to comprehend that, through Curriculum for Excellence, Scotland aims to produce not only academically well-educated students but well-rounded students, unlike England, where education is still focused almost exclusively on exam results. Scotland’s approach has been praised by the OECD, and although in the narrow measure of PISA tests results have slipped, they have also slipped in recent years in both England and Wales, which under Labour has had the poorest PISA results of all the “four nations”.

Latest data indicates that more Scottish students than ever are attaining positive destinations on completing their studies and overall are enjoying greater success in this regard than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

Perhaps it suits Mr Jackson’s political arguments to spread his own “half-truths” in talking down Scotland’s NHS and ambitious education programme, but perhaps he is unwittingly telling people living in this historic part of Scotland that, rather than settling for a dysfunctional devolution arrangement, they should aim higher and vote for Scotland to regain its independence.

Stan Grodynski



Voter warning

On his recent visit to East Lothian, prospective Labour candidate Douglas Alexander said that East Lothian residents need “changes”.

Yet what “changes” will East Lothian get by swapping a carpet-bagging former SNP MP parachuted into the seat from the other side of the country, with a former Labour MP parachuted in from Renfrewshire via the United States of America?

East Lothian has been represented by Labour politicians for decades and in that time local services, including NHS waiting lists, schools and roads, have failed to adequately keep up with the standard expected by residents and the scale of new housing development.

The financial situation at Labour-run East Lothian Council means that it is now within the top three per cent of areas in terms of debt per head in the UK.

Mr Alexander represented the Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency with a 16,614 majority after the 2010 General Election, but he lost the seat by 5,684 votes in 2015 to none other than Mhairi Black.

Perhaps there is a message here and this should be a warning for the residents of East Lothian.

Voters here should bear in mind that his constituents in Paisley and Renfrewshire, who for so long voted for the Labour Party, did not feel sufficiently served as to feel inclined to re-elect him.

Tim Hunt



Nurse degrees

One thing to do to at least try to increase the number of home-grown trainee nurses is to lower the entry qualifications and make the subsequent training less like the boring old-school stuff that many youngsters are only too pleased to escape.

We don’t need so many nurses with degrees, but we do need many more with all the other desirable qualities a good nurse should offer.

Let’s choose them more for these and less for academic success.

In fact, entry qualifications matter far less than exit ones.

A late cousin of mine was responsible for college and university entrance in one of the Canadian provinces.

His research showed that, as judged by the final qualification achieved, it was impossible to tell who had started their degree course with brilliant exam results and who had entered with none.

Judge people on how they end up, not on how they begin!

Tim Flinn

Beech Cottage



Recycling chore

I was delighted to read that Dr Prince (letters, February 15) considers recycling an “opportunity”.

Unfortunately, for those that are not part of the time-rich upper classes, it is very much a burden.

When juggling small children, full-time jobs and commuting, washing our rubbish is just another chore we could do without. And for those of us with small kitchens, there simply isn’t space for multiple bins for different types of rubbish.

Oh for the simple days when we could just quickly and easily throw everything into one bin!

Dominic Biroth

Eskside East