BRIAN York’s account of mismatch between trains and buses (Letters, the National, March 24) is a common problem. When the ferry from Rosyth travelled between Scotland and Zeebrugge – before DFDS stamped on passenger traffic to keep business for Newcastle/North Shields – the bus from Rosyth to Edinburgh always left before foot passengers had disembarked, leaving visitors stranded.

Scotland needs a country-wide integrated public transport system, with dovetailed timetables and easy-to-access transferable ticket systems – such as Strathclyde had. Friends from England found it impossible to arrange a train journey round Scotland, stopping at various places and had to bring their car. Kinross-shire has no trains and inter-city buses now often bypass Kinross park and ride. But councils like Perth and Kinross have no powers to insist on access to public transport.

Proper regulation of public transport: buses, trams, trains, ferries (and carriage of bicycles, prams etc) so that they all work together for the benefit of all – such as has been retained in London – is an immediate necessity.

Susan FG Forde

ON what would have been Independence Day (March 24), it was rather disappointing but not unexpected to see dire warnings from the Tories of what would have befallen Scotland had we been an independent nation.

In a report they have published our poor pathetic wee nation would have had a £9-billion-a-year deficit, equivalent to about £1,700 a year for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

Putting aside the fact that nearly every nation in the world operates at a deficit, there are a number of assumptions made by the Tories in this report which have little credence and demonstrate a sad lack of economic understanding.

The report is based on the recently produced Government Expenditure and Revenue for Scotland (GERS) figures, figures which are calculated for Scotland within the straitjacket of the current Union.

It is quite simply impossible to use these numbers in reference to the fortunes of an independent Scotland as the whole point of independence is to gain control of all the fiscal levers so that they can stimulate the economy.

We clearly would have implemented bespoke policies and tax rates to stimulate our economy, and would have had a different fiscal starting position than we do at present and on which the Tory report is based.

The figures also relate to UK membership and would reduce on independence. For example, defence spending in 2014/15 was £3bn, and that includes our share of nuclear-weapon spending. A force such as that of Denmark would save £1.2 billion a year. We would also not pay for items such as the House of Commons and House of Lords and civil service costs would fall.

With independence, the Scottish Government could design policies tailored to Scotland’s – not the UK Government’s – circumstances. The Tories have not learned the lessons of the past and see this fundamentally flawed report as a means to talk Scotland down, neglecting that the economic forecasting it is based on is under the current Union.

Alex Orr

YOUR report (Case of polar attraction as keepers hope bears’ first “date” may lead to something more, The National, March 23) fails to address the controversial issue of breeding and keeping polar bears in captivity in Scotland.

Polar bears fare particularly poorly in captivity and are vulnerable to problems such as poor health, repetitive stereotypic behaviour and breeding difficulties. Research carried out as long ago as 2003 found that these problems are linked to constraints imposed on the natural behaviour of these animals in captivity and recommended that the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out.

Given this, it’s hard to see how – even in the top-of-the-range enclosures at Highland Wildlife Park – a life in captivity is a good life for the polar bear involved. RZSS argue that this is a conservation initiative as it will create an “ark” of polar bears to give conservationists future options. But let’s be realistic, are we really going to create a scenario that recolonises natural habitat with Scottish-bred captive polar bears? My guess is no, and that other factors are at play, including the pulling power of bears and most especially cubs.

Harry Huyton
Director, OneKind

REGARDING Kevin McKenna’s recent piece about Police Scotland (It’s time for some real scrutiny of our police, The National, March 21) It is worth noting that the Police Investigations and Review Commission (PIRC), the only body to whom those with a complaint about police behaviour can go, can only investigate the way the police have dealt with the initial complaint. PIRC cannot, for instance, re-investigate the complaint, no matter how bad the police response has been – to do that takes court action that few people can afford. So heads the police win, tails the aggrieved public loses.

Robert F Henderson
Fort William

THE latest “warnings” from the IFS about fiscal black holes in a would-be independent Scotland, and the gloom-and-doom dirges from the UKOK better-together-I-told-you-so-pack, never cease to amaze. The latest fiasco by Cameron, Osborne and Co from caring “pooling and sharing” Westminster, with its current fiscal gap in the budget, the ever-rising deficits and failure to meet its debt reduction targets, shows the relative decline of UK plc. However, the cheerleaders of the UKOK, the mainstream media in Scotland, are gleeful when they can point out that the No vote was a blessing.

But for whom, one may ask? The former UKOK representatives, especially Labour, collapsed over a five-year period from being the dominant party in Scotland to insignificance, with one MP! Unprecedented in Scottish politics!

The Tories still languish at the bottom with one MP and the LibDems are off the radar. The former Yes side are now in the ascendancy.

The No vote was meant, or so they thought, to end the SNP and cement the Union once and for all. Instead, the referendum campaign so energised the country that it now has really begun to throw off its hitherto subservient cottar mentality vis-a-vis the Union.

The signs currently are that UKOK is turning into UKKO.

John Edgar
Blackford, Auchterarder