THE issue of the substandard schools built through the PPP scheme and ably highlighted by Kirsteen Paterson in her article (Unions demand an end to private financing, The National, April 14) raises a number of very disturbing issues.

Poor design, cheap materials and shoddy workmanship cost the life of a child at Liberton High School and now it transpires that in addition to the 17 schools in Edinburgh which were closed last year in order to bring them up to safety standards, “similar problems at 71 other educational establishments in 15 other council areas” are afflicted by this scheme.

It reminds me of the get-rich- quick attitude to building multi-storey housing to solve the problem of slum housing in Glasgow and elsewhere, which resulted in accommodation so inferior that it damaged the physical and mental health of the unfortunate, some might say doomed, families who were forced to live there for decades. No matter how the families demonstrated how unwholesome the buildings were, the various councils did nothing to improve their housing stock.

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Surely the companies which designed the buildings, chose the materials, and selected the construction companies are in breach of contract for producing dangerous properties and should be held liable for their failures.

Never mind national inquiries which will probably take years to come to conclusions while these substandard schools etc continue to be built. Legal action should be taken against them immediately. Whilst absolutely no sum of money will compensate the family of the little girl who died at Liberton school, it is in the interests of justice to see contracts which reward failure challenged in court and, if found to be “engineered”, the signatories made to face the consequences.
Lovina
Roe Perth

I WRITE regarding the letters of Peter Craigie (April 12) and G Foulis (April 13) responding to my letter of April 11 (in itself a response to an earlier article by Cat Boyd).

Peter Craigie takes the view that “bombing people into submission, whether it is in the Middle East or the Balkans”, does not work. I could not agree more. But that is not what the Western Allies are doing. Allied airpower seeks to win military victory or destroy terrorist actors. To give one example, the US is currently aiding Iraqi and Kurdish forces to take the benighted city of Mosul from Isis. The goal is not to destroy the people of Mosul but to kill and eject Isis. Surely Mr Craigie sees this as a worthy goal?

The West has made many mistakes in the Middle East since 1918, but to put all the blame to us is simplistic and naive. As for the Marshall Plan idea, no great investment will take place in circumstances of extreme civil disorder.

I am sympathetic to many of the points made by G Foulis. I quite agree with him that there was no Red Terror in Spain before Franco’s uprising. While Franco naturally tried to exaggerate the Red Terror, it was not certainly not “so-called”. Mr Foulis might wish to consult Hugh Thomas’s The Spanish Civil War for a resume of the victims of White and Red Terror. I have no doubt that the White Terror was far worse in terms of victims. The Red Terror was less a policy of the Republican Government than of elements supporting it such as Communists and Anarchists.

UK and French support for the Spanish Republic in 1936 would have been difficult for a number of reasons. These countries were traumatised by the First World War and still very pacifist. France was unstable. They were also deeply suspicious of communism (with very good reason). Lastly, the uprising on July 18, 1936, kicked off not just rebellion by the Falange but revolution in the Republican zones.

No people gave more than Russia to the victory of 1945. But that enormous sacrifice is tinged in tragedy. Stalin was confirmed in power, not liberal democracy. Despite that, the Allied invasion of France in 1944 ensured that there would be a Western victory over all of western Europe. This great victory under-girds all of the liberties we enjoy today My father was an able seaman who shelled the coast of Normandy from a British destroyer on June 6, 1944. I remain deeply committed to the Western Alliance and all that it represents.
William Ross
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