FIXED Odds Betting Terminals are addictive machines that are placed in high street bookmakers, predominantly in areas of deprivation where betting shops cluster together. Each shop is allowed four such machines. There has been fierce controversy about them for a decade and more. Only last week, an SNP MP raised a question about them in Westminster.

The talking and various committees, the working parties, and Glasgow Council’s prevarication over “evidence” has to be stopped, and action taken.

The Smith Commission gave the Scottish Government powers to mediate the availability of these betting machines, devolving decisions to local authorities (a fine model, by the way, of how national government should work in many cases).

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The committees and talking continue. Communities, families and individual are suffering greatly.

Ireland banned these hard gambling machines in 2013. Why cannot Scotland move towards doing the same?
Adrian Bailey



IN his letter of March 23 Piers Doughty-Brown raises a concerning point.

I had assumed, perhaps in my naivety, that Holyrood would determine the franchise criteria. I can see now the danger of Westminster trying to dictate such matters. In the EU referendum they manipulated,whether through stupidity or design, the outcome. By not including 16 to 18-year-olds and some three million EU citizens, the government got the result that perhaps they always wanted!

We must not let them do the same in our indyref2. Many of your readers may be aware that on social media there are anti-independence voices calling for a five-year residence qualification for voting, a tactic to exclude EU citizens. These voices are becoming increasingly strident, as is the level of vitriol and hatred. There is a core of resistance to independence which may never be overcome. I am, therefore, going to suggest something which I know will be controversial but must perhaps be confronted.

It goes against the grain of our inclusive movement, but it may be necessary to play the Unionists at their own dirty tricks: the goal of independence is too important to be squeamish.

In 2014 some 57 per cent of those born outside UK voted No, and this would have included EU citizens. Those born elsewhere in UK, however, voted No by 72 per cent. You do not have to be an Einstein to appreciate the significance of these voting figures given that this latter group outnumbers EU citizens by four or five times.

In terms of our demographic make-up we have a mountain to climb to achieve the goal. As a bargaining measure should we be prepared to consider what has been so far thought to be unacceptable? With apologies to those born elsewhere in UK and who did vote Yes, should we be thinking of a three or five-year residence qualification for those not born in Scotland?

It saddens me deeply to be suggesting such a proposal and I am aware that it may not be too popular! But I want above all independence and I want it next time.
J F Davidson

THE UK is about to sign the declaration formally notifying the EU of termination of our membership of the biggest trading union in the world and it appears that our government lacks the ability to formulate plans for our future outside the EU (EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker blasts Theresa May and David Cameron over Brexit, The National, March 25).

Juncker is correct. By leaving the EU over over the single issue of free movement, which is inextricably linked to trade in the EU, the UK is cutting off its nose to spite its face and is about to leave the EU trade area without a single trade agreement elsewhere on the horizon.

Sacrificing free trade for the UK “to take back control” over healthcare, education, pensions and social security – where the EU has little influence – to gain control over immigration is farcical when most immigration comes from outside the EU and is already under UK control.

We can look forward to a UK Government that has “taken back control” over immigration then, as before, fails to reduce the numbers entering the UK while, due to the adverse effect on trade caused by leaving the EU, substantially reduces the levels of our healthcare, education, pensions and social security.

A very high price to pay for a weak government’s panic reaction to a momentary surge in support for Ukip.
John Jamieson
South Queensferry

THE DWP’s latest estimates of take-up of income-related benefits in 2016 make for an eye-watering read when one considers the right-wing narrative labelling benefit claimants as (inter alia) scroungers, fraudsters and thieves.

Prima facie the tags seem appropriate when one considers that £1.2 billion in benefit payments is lost to fraud and overpayment per annum.

However, the DWP’s figures estimate that £13.1bn per annum goes unclaimed across 4.4 billion folk from pensioners to working folk failing to claim the likes of ESA.

It’s perhaps worth noting the £13.1bn in unclaimed benefits dwarves the £2.8bn across welfare now devolved to Holyrood.

I’d aver the narrative has to change and change fast. The repetition of the ne’er-do-well tags by politicians and mainstream media achieves only one outcome and that’s the continued and sustained poverty among those in most need.

A government that deprives people in need whilst sitting on £13.1bn of unclaimed benefits is not a prudent body but a shameless hoarder!
Piers Doughty-Brown

IT was most reassuring to see the picture of the First Minister signing an agreement with the deputy minister-president of Bavaria. There can be no doubt that Scotland’s future lies with Europe and not with the British state.

My German friends all refer to Scotland as “wie Bayern”, just like Bavaria. I had a friend whose father was a POW on a Bavarian farm and he returned home in 1945 heavier than when he left Scotland in 1943.

It was in Bavaria that the false legend of Scottish military prowess, “die Damen aus der Hölle” – the ladies from hell – was first invented by British military commanders to create a false sense of Scottish national identity.

Today Germany is a highly democratic state and it would be totally impossible for Berlin to drag Bavaria out of the EC against its will.
Alan Clayton
Strachur, Argyll