THE UK Government has launched another inquiry into broadband coverage across the UK, this time with a review of what has been done and then how to reach the final few per cent (Broadband service fears prompt committee probe, The National, July 29).

How do the most rural areas gain access to the same fast broadband access as others in society? This has to be addressed. The option not to provide an essential service to our remote communities is not an option.

This is not about the ability to aimlessly surf the web a bit faster, it is about having the ability to lay down infrastructure that has numerous benefits, including health, education, business, entertainment and social cohesion.

For example, school pupils studying with unreliable internet access are at a disadvantage to their counterparts with fast broadband. The same can be said of businesses.These are examples of what spurs on rural communities in their plea for better essential infrastructure and reliable broadband, and all power to them. We have electricity everywhere, we can do this.

The current broadband landscape is exceedingly complex and coming up with solutions is unfortunately not easy. BT will go where commercial considerations and public subsidy will reach. Virgin Media, the only other large infrastructure provider, concentrates on urban areas.

This is all commercially sensible to these organisations but it leaves behind the most expensive to serve locations with limited scale of opportunity.

A number of alternative operators provide pockets of connectivity to try to address these locations but issues of funding and dispersed customers are challenging. The role of Openreach, the BT firm that owns and manages the infrastructure on which most UK broadband is offered, is currently under review by Ofcom with the possibility of it being split completely from BT. If this was to happen, perhaps more investment would come and the shift from old copper to fibre would accelerate, perhaps even into more rural areas.

Or do we bite the bullet and invest public money into extending fast broadband into even our most rural areas so that our businesses and our kids are not disadvantaged?

Dr Andrew Muir

FarrPoint Ltd, Edinburgh

THE House of Lords was founded in the 14th century and abolished in 1649 when England became a republic following the English Civil War and the execution of Charles I. It was declared as “useless” and a threat to the people of England.

After Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 the House was re-instated and the biggest “class divider” in history emerged.

Today, it is appropriately known as the Gravy Train. In 1997, Tony Blair promised to reform it into a modern elected chamber. Instead, he increased its total with unelected cronies loyal to New Labour.

Now we have David Cameron about to flood it even further with unelected Tory axe men in order that his party will have the biggest majority, enabling him to get all of his brutal draconian policies through unchallenged.

Annabel Goldie has now retired from the elected Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in favour of the plush leather-clad luxury of the unelected second chamber in Westminster, which includes top of the range living accommodation paid for by the taxpayer, £300 daily tax free and five-star meals on offer at McDonalds prices.

Goldie was awarded her peerage for her “outstanding contribution” to Scottish politics when in reality everything she achieved could be written on the back of a postage stamp.

The behaviour of Lord Sewel may turn out to be a blessing as it has brought everything out into the open and people can now see for themselves exactly how hard-working taxpayers money is being abused.

Louise McArdle


YOUR editorial Newsflash: we still want independence on July 29 stated: “But that referendum will not take place until the Scottish people vote for it and independence will not become a reality until the Scottish people vote for it.” It does raise the question of how the Scottish people can vote for a referendum on independence if they are not offered that choice at the ballot box.

The two ballot papers in the Holyrood elections allow for a referendum every time. On the constituency ballot some vote along party lines.

Others see it as a chance to support a local candidate who identifies with, and works for their communities. For large numbers of unaffiliated voters or supporters of minority parties, this is a more important consideration than the party label. So the strongest possible local candidate and the “right” party will be a winning combination.

The list vote is a party choice or possibly a choice on whether Scotland should leave the Union.

However, it would be relatively simple for pro-independence political parties to declare that a list vote for them is a vote for independence. A de-facto referendum. How could David Cameron argue that wasn’t legal, fair and properly constituted?

The question of how and when Scotland becomes independent is a matter for the Scottish people to decide, not David Cameron.

Councillor James Robb


ANENT your article Thousands sign petition to bring back rent controls and end unjust evictions on July 30. The report published last month by the Commission on Housing and Wellbeing is a milestone in tackling Scotland’s housing crisis.

One of the striking specific aspects of the report is that the Commission sees a strong role for the private rented sector and the investment it attracts in solving the crisis.

This is something the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) and our letting agent members that form the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) have long known to be the case.

We believe the Commission’s recommendations to increase supply across Scotland will drive down rental costs in hot-spots such as Edinburgh and Aberdeen where rents seem to be increasing far quicker than in other parts of Scotland, where levels are actually dropping.

We also agree with the overall aims of charities such as Shelter and are currently working with them to try and tackle the housing crisis.

SAL and our members are ready to work with a broad range of groups to find a genuine long-term solution which could provide predictability of rent levels Scotland while also ensuring tenants are protected and receive the highest possible standard of service.

However, top-down measures such as rent controls will distort the market. This could prove to be a short-term measure which damages the chances of meeting the long-term objectives so well laid out by the Commission on Housing andWellbeing.

John Blackwood, chief executive

Scottish Association of Landlords

Regarding the story about more private sector involvement in state projects (Leak claims private sector takes larger stake in public projects, The National, July 29). As a former accountant, I find it ironic that the Scottish Government is having to indulge in even more complex creative accounting techniques in order to finance much-needed, and economically stimulating, infrastructure projects.

From what I can gather, it is an improvement on the ruinous private finance initiative (PFI) deals of the past – and present as far as rUK is concerned. But that’s not saying a lot.

While the private sector routinely treats capital investment as an asset and records it as such on its balance sheet, the public sector must record it as current expenditure, thereby increasing its proportion of spending as a percentage of GDP, and incurring the wrath of the Troika. EU members, instead of kow-towing to such asinine rules, should be lobbying for reform.

Archie McArthur


PERSONALLY Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham reminds me of a toy with a string on its back.

If you pull the string you’ll hear some pre-recorded Tory mantra. Is George Osborne still writing speeches? None of the contenders can save the party from its inevitable doom.

Callum Reid