THE long letter from Ann Williamson (Letters, The National, August 30) voices all the arguments the red and blue Tories used to strip the little democracy that had pertained in the UK up to the 1970s.

It was the case that a majority of the taxes raised by a council were spent in their council area. Councillors were elected on what they committed to. When they failed, they were booted out.

Their budgets and considerations were focused entirely on the area they had been elected to. This certainly wasn’t perfect but it was streets ahead of what has followed.

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Sold to the public as “Cheaper, therefore better!” the mainstream media supported the Government’s claims of profligate spending needing to be curbed by finding extreme cases then displaying them as commonplace.

The public weren’t asked. The system was changed but were savings made?

The “rates” did not go down and it could be argued that they did not go up as fast as they might have left to the old system. It would be interesting to know what started then was the biggest robbery the world has ever seen, where billions of pounds were passed from public ownership into private back pockets!

Seen nationally it would have been a scandal but most, if not all, only perceived local effects. Take a look at publicly owned swimming pools across the UK. See how many now have private houses or retirement homes on them. It’s remarkable how much they resemble each other.

In your town, councillors had 100 per cent control over the future of your pool but in the new system, they had 10 or maybe 15 per cent.

The income of your new council was now bolstered by that closure, change of use and sale and that extra cash probably delayed any increase in rates. “Friends” would be in there like rats up a drainpipe, buying the land cheaply and making a fortune in the development.

It wasn’t just pools, it was cemeteries, schools, town halls, army land, in fact any property owned by your local council and bought for the benefit of those that lived there was stolen in this way.

Worst of all were the hospital closures and the developments that then took place on their land.

Those hospitals had been funded totally by the community, were owned by the community but creation of the NHS moved them to a new remote body. The changes the 70s and 80s allowed centralised bodies to alter your once owned hospitals, water works, sewage works, etc., and convert them into trousered cash for those in the know.

Well, you could get rid of your councillors at the next election, but it was not them that did the dirty and it made no difference. You had no jurisdiction of the other councillors! The polling numbers at elections were embarrassingly low. What was the point of voting?

Cheaper? No it wasn’t. Chief executives now earn 15 or 20 times what the executive used to earn. Councillors now get paid and there is no effective democratic control. This suits the red, yellow and blue Tories because they simply take turns at running a toothless administration. It’s a club!

The UK has the lowest democratic representation in the West – the multicoloured Tories are proud of that.

So Ann Williamson, it is a simple truth but a fair system does cost more than an unfair one.

I’m for a fair system in a free Scotland.
Christopher Bruce
Taynuilt

FOLLOWING Richard Murphy’s taxation comments (Nothing can better shape a society for the benefit of its people than a fair tax system, The National, August 30), which has been published without balancing criticism, I am concerned that we are constructing too specific a vision for Scotland after indy.

It seems that there is a move to dot all the is and cross all the ts for the next referendum which is going to be too complex to sell to the waverers. Added to this, detail without full explanation can only confuse people and harm the cause as many switch off.

There is an intrinsic right to self-determination that should be the driver here. Shouldn’t we just keep it simple? Westminster has failed us over many years. It and Brexit are a shambles. Scotland can be a better and fairer place to live.

Does it get any more complex than that?
Jim Taylor
Edinburgh