MICHAEL Fry (Unlike our noble heritage, NTS does not seem worthy of preservation, The National, May 19) makes some solid arguments but the picture he paints is incomplete.

He washes over the effects of the coronavirus in bringing about the trust’s current problems and the tough decisions it has forced us into making. Until the virus struck, NTS membership had been steadily growing over the last five years, as had the number of paying visitors. Even now, after an initial and understandable upsurge in cancellations due to lockdown, membership renewals are returning to more normal levels. Nevertheless, our membership profile has changed considerably, with the balance now represented by younger people with families who have been attracted by the experiences we offer.

It may be true that our built heritage portfolio is not the one you would have chosen if you were simply out to make money. In many cases, NTS was asked by the state, or communities, to rescue this heritage. But this, together with our stewardship of important landscapes and habitats, which Mr Fry sees as a weakness, is what makes us unique. The trust is the only heritage body in Scotland which has the places, collections and stories that reflect on the totality of Scotland’s cultural, social, built and natural heritage over millennia.

So, if there were no National Trust for Scotland, what would replace it? The trust has until now been almost wholly self-supporting thanks to members and generous donors, contributing £300 million to the nation’s economy annually. Further, our purpose is defined by our Act of Parliament – and our charitable work reflects that across Scotland’s heritage for the benefit of everyone.

Scottish Government support is really appreciated, especially in these exceptional times, but would it want to take on all of the costs we bear? The government body, Historic Environment Scotland, receives £38m a year from the Scottish Government to help look after its historic sites. The evidence from Sweden, Bavaria and elsewhere shows National Trust for Scotland-like models being created to take the burden off taxpayers.

Simon Skinner
Chief executive, The National Trust for Scotland

JAMES Dornan’s article demonstrates all too clearly why leading members of the SNP just do not understand why they are coming under criticism. Those of us who are becoming frustrated at the lack of progress towards independence understand perfectly well that no outright campaigning can take place during the present health crisis. We understand that the First Minister has to concentrate on the crisis above all else and that in general she is making a much better job of it than her counterparts in London. It may well be her steadfastness will attract more to the Yes cause but on its own it will not win independence.

The main reason why the polls have not moved further in our favour over the last six years is that the SNP are not using every opportunity to put forward why Scotland could be so much better if we had the powers of an independent country. It is not enough to show that Westminster holds us in contempt. It is naive in the extreme to imagine that Johnson will have to concede a referendum.

READ MORE: James Dornan: Why independence cannot be the SNP's priority for now

I realise that handling the MSM is tricky but the SNP seem terrified to tackle its misrepresentations and sometimes lies. Whatever happened to the rebuttal unit that was supposed to have been set up?

It may be that the SNP are beavering away devising new policies but if so, why are they being kept so secret, not even sharing them with the wider Yes movement? As a result suspicions grow that little or nothing is being done. There are plenty of good ideas coming forward from the Yes movement but are any of them being listened to?

It is true that in 2018 national assemblies were held in different parts of Scotland. The one I am familiar with made some very critical remarks on the Growth Commissions ideas on currency. We were promised a report and action but neither has happened. It is generally accepted that currency was an Achilles heel in 2014 yet the SNP cling on to Andrew Wilson’s advice and just do not seem to understand why we need to control our own currency from day one of independence. Why are we sticking so rigidly to the Section 30 route to a referendum when there are other ways to achieve our aim of independence, as Lorna Campbell and others have often pointed out? Plan B was not even allowed to be considered by the SNP conference.

To avoid a split in the independence movement, which I accept would just delight the Unionists, I’d like to see a person or preferably a small unit of people whose sole purpose would be to promote the positive case for independence at every opportunity and be willing to be combative but not offensive with the media. It should not be headed by the Nicola Sturgeon for the simple reason that as FM she has a responsibility to all of Scotland, not just the independence movement, and it is asking too much of one individual to carry out the duties of “the day job” as well as leading the campaign. The unit must not be confined to the SNP but should include other voices from the independence movement. We are united by our desire to see an independent Scotland which we believe will be a better Scotland but we must work for it at all times and not be content to think it will just happen.

Andrew M Fraser
via email

In 2018, 4600 jobs were cut at Rolls Royce. Now a further 9000 will go because of the pandemic.

CEO Warren East received a £1.6m top up on his salary in 2018 despite £2.9bn of losses in the same year. This takes his annual remuneration to £3.9m. “It is a crisis that we face and must deal with,” he says. His workers will feel the crisis more than others it seems.

I dare say Mr East will do the right thing and take a pay cut in sympathy with all the families who will suffer through no fault of their own.

We watch with interest.

Keith Taylor
via email