SCOTTISH Labour’s Jackie Baillie, and her new friends in the haulage business, bemoaned the closure of the Forth Road bridge, and demanded the SNP’s Scottish Government reimburse them, and their shareholders, for the inconvenience, of having to go a few miles out their way to their destinations (Drivers given early present, The National, December 23).

Most of these heavy hauled loads destinations will go south to the big cities in England, where many are based. The failure of the bridge was down to a structural weakness, caused by a stress fracture.

Engineers also point out that the bridge was never intended to take the weight of some of these loads that are destined south by these hauliers. Many say the tolls might have saved the problem happening because of the money that would be there to cover such problems, blaming the Scottish Government, for removing them, causing an underfund.

I wonder how many hauliers and shareholders started using the bridge route once the tolls had been removed?

This would have inevitably push weight and stress limits up.

Most of these companies are very capable of taking a “hit” in the pocket every now and then rather than use the public’s money to reimburse them, without flinching.

Scottish Labour and their Lib Dem friends in Government before opposed bridge maintenance funding and the building of a second crossing, are right ones to carp about recent events on the crossing.

The “bittersweet victory” that some newspaper columns mention for an early opening of the bridge to light public and commercial traffic must stick in the craw of the hauliers, and a vengeful Scottish Labour,with Baillie at the helm.

If hauliers were charged for the extra weight they carry over the Forth Road Bridge, they would soon be smarting. Crocodile tears are shed for them on this one I’m afraid.

The price of fuel is now at its lowest for seven years and the route south remains the same for most via the M74 via Kincardine. I do however feel sorry for those whose business has sat on a knife edge due to closure and also the low-waged drivers of the haulage industry.

Bob Harper

ALLAN Sutherland, with the benefit of hindsight, informs us how, in his opinion, the Scottish Government is to blame for neglecting maintenance on the Forth Road Bridge (Letters, December 24).

The maintenance of the bridge only became the responsibility of the Government in June of this year, when it took over from Feta (Forth Estuary Transport Authority) the convenor of which was Lib Dem councillor Tony Martin.

In a concise statement to the Central Fife Times Mr Martin said: “If we thought that we needed to do this work we would have got the money and done it.

I am not an SNP supporter but these critics are just trying to score political points. I think this was unforeseeable but not unexpected in an over-stressed bridge”.

The bridge was built and specified in the 1960s when maximum truck loads were 35 tons.

This is now 45 tons and traffic has increased fourfold. Mr Sutherland also makes a comparison with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, saying that it never closes for maintenance.

However, what he does not mention is the Golden Gate was built to much heavier specifications because it is in an earthquake zone, so the traffic loads are not enough to seriously stress it.

We should be thankful that the SNP took the brave decision to build the new bridge, which was rejected by both Labour and the Conservatives, and was referred to by Labour, before the referendum as “Alex Salmond’s vanity project”.

James Duncan

A HOSPITAL was built in Govan this year (one of the poorest areas in Europe).

It’s called the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in honour of all she’s done for that particular part of the city. After all, she permitted the locals to name many a ship after her – ships usually taking those locals away to find lives elsewhere or to die on foreign fields protecting HRH’s family from the enemies they collected all across the planet.

So naming the hospital after the head of state, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, figurehead for the ruling classes and the Tory party whose enforced austerity measures are partly responsible for many of the current intakes at the new hospital, seems appropriate. #TheSouthern

Francis Lopez

ANDREW Learmonth wrote an interesting article on the subject of mapping flood disadvantage in Scotland (Call for action over 108,000 homes prone to flooding, The National, December 24).

The piece quotes SNP environment minister, Aileen McLeod as saying: “This report highlights that the changing climate is increasing the risk of flooding for a number of Scottish communities.”

Later in the piece, Learmonth quotes Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland as saying: “...climate change means that more existing properties will start to be at risk from flooding.” Banks also suggested flooding would be reduced by cutting emissions. Are these statements correct?

In 2014, the Met Office said: “As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding. This is in part due to the highly variable nature of UK weather and climate.”

Is Learmonth willing to contact McLeod and Banks to seek clarification in light of what the Met Office has said?

Sam McComb

High price of alcoholism is paid by all the family

THERE is much discussion about Scotland’s alcohol problem and the financial cost to society but no mention of the gigantic cost to the families of problem drinkers (The alcohol problem, The National, December 24).

For every one problem drinker there are at least five people affected. I know because I am one of them but now I have rejoined the human race thanks to Al-Anon Family Groups.

Alcoholism is a family disease. Compulsive drinking affects the drinker and it affects the drinker’s relationships. Friendships, employment , childhood, parenthood, love affairs and marriages all suffer from the effects of alcoholism. Those special relationships in which a person is really close to an alcoholic, are affected most. The organisation where I found help to get my life back on track was Al-Anon Family Groups, of which there are over 800 groups in the UK and Eire and approximately 20, 500 groups worldwide.

Perhaps the most severe damage comes in the nagging belief that we are somehow at fault. We may feel it was something we did or did not do,that we were not good enough, to solve this problem of the one we love.We feel guilty.

Name and address withheld

Letters to The National, December 28, Part 2: It’s time for Scotland to shed the imperial honours system