WITH reference to the articles in last week’s Reporter about the young illegal immigrant convicted for ‘running a sophisticated £100,000 cannabis factory in Dumbarton’, surely I am not the only reader to have some sympathy for this young man? According to press reports he was conned into using all his available money to pay people traffickers to bring him to Britain with the hope of a better life.

Smuggled into Britain, speaking no English, more or less imprisoned in a flat for months, and forced to look after an illegal operation, probably with a threat of violence or even death if he did not comply.

Readers may not agree with me, but rather than deport this young man after he has served his sentence for what is admittedly a crime, perhaps a better course of action would be to teach him English, educate him for some useful occupation, and integrate him into a more compassionate community than the one he has clearly been exported from.

Rose Harvie Dumbarton FOLLOWING the food scandals of recent years, people are becoming much more aware of what goes into our food. The last thing we need is lower legal standards, but a deal being negotiated between the EU and the US could result in exactly that.

The EU-US trade deal aims to ‘harmonise’ European and American rules in food safety and many other areas, which in practice may mean slashing European standards to match the much lower US levels.

So, products like hormone-treated beef and pork, and chicken washed in chlorine, sold by US companies but currently banned here, could appear on supermarket shelves in the UK.

Food is just one area in which this deal would give multinational companies much more influence in our lives. Health care and education are among the others. The deal threatens our ability to run our society in the way we choose, and it must be stopped.

Craig Sullivan Dumbarton I HAVE been closely reading the letters from Yes supporters over the past few weeks and it seems that they are ready to promise everyone everything if only we will vote for independence. If their promises are real then why are they too afraid to tell us how they would pay for it? The well-respected and impartial economists of the Institute for Fiscal Studies have warned that an independent Scottish Government would need to introduce much higher taxes or make swingeing spending cuts to pay for the SNP’s wish list.

Their research shows that an independent Scotland would have a deficit of £8 billion. That means cutting the equivalent of 261,000 nurses or 217,500 teachers to balance the books.

A Yes vote would unleash a new era of austerity much harsher than anything the Lib Dems and the Tories have done.

This is the reality of independence and it’s not good enough to brush it aside with the same old accusations of ‘scaremongering’.

The best future for public services is one where the Scottish Parliament makes the decisions but the UK provides the secure financial backing. I’m voting No for more nurses and teachers.

Name and address supplied MANY people are involved in local campaigns to protect the NHS, oppose fracking, or tackle fuel poverty. The EU is secretly negotiating a trade deal with the US which would affect all of these issues and more. If the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is agreed, it will give big business the right to sue the UK government over legislation that they believe might reduce their profits.

This would mean a future UK government could be sued for trying to return the NHS to full public ownership. It would make a freeze on energy prices, proposed by some politicians, difficult if not impossible to achieve. And it would lead to a fracking boom, as more and more ‘fracked’ gas is imported into Britain.

Awareness of the dangers of the deal is growing, and groups like the World Development Movement are coming together to oppose it. I hope readers will share my concerns and join the campaign.

James McArthur Alexandria IN comparing Scotland with America in the 1770s, Charlie Sherry (Reporter 17/06/14) is mistaken on two counts. First, Scotland is not a colony of the UK. Secondly, Scotland pays its taxes and has its MPs representing it in the UK Parliament.

A check on the results of UK general elections since the 1950s will show that in many elections, Scotland voted Labour and got a Labour government.

In other words it got the government it voted for. To “always get the government we voted for”, a one party state would ensure just that.

But we live in a democracy with a variety of parties to choose from. That is what our democratic society is all about. Choice.

As for Mr Sherry’s aspirations, namely, no austerity, no bedroom tax and no welfare cuts, these would have to wait until John Swinney is able to put his finances in order and balance his books.

Mr Swinney would have to take account of Scotland’s budget deficit of £12.3 billion, Scotland’s eventual share of North Sea oil, Scotland’s share of the National Debt and RBS’s debts as well as the undefined costs of setting up an independent state.

Borrowing on a massive scale to fund all of the SNP’s promises would not be sustainable. It’s similar to borrowing on your credit card, at high interest rates, but never clearing the balance.

The amount owed just gets bigger and bigger. A Scotland unable to pay its debts could end up like Greece or Spain or Italy. And if Scotland was unable to get immediate membership of the EU or does not use the Euro, there would be no bail out, no safety net.

By remaining in the UK, Scotland would have the best of both worlds: a Scottish parliament with increased powers, backed up by the security and stability of being part of the larger UK economy.

Risk is shared across the UK and resources are pooled. This ensures that a pension in Clydeside is the same as a pension in Tyneside and benefits in Bishopbriggs are the same as those in Barnsley. That’s guaranteed. Scottish citizens would not be at a disadvantage compared with the rest of the UK. That’s why we are Better Together.

Stuart Smith address supplied FURTHER to recent speculation on social media and the press, the Parent Council of Aitkenbar, want to make our position clear regarding the considerable change to the agreed plans of the new co-located campus in Bellsmyre. We, as Parent Council, are very proud of the links and friendships that have been forged over the years between the two schools and have already held a very successful joint Parent Council meeting with St Peters to discuss the details and proposals for the new campus, and look forward to working together for the mutual benefit of our new schools.

Throughout the consultation period we have been assured that, although the schools will have their own identity and ethos, the children will continue to be encouraged to integrate, with all communal spaces being shared equally, so no child or school should be made to feel inferior.

The final vision and plans, shared at our joint meeting by Mr Terry Lanagan, highlighted a shared public reception space, which would be the central hub of the campus, directing visitors to their respective schools. This was a secure public entrance at the front of the building, and a statement of unity within the Bellsmyre community. Children would enter their respective schools at the rear of the building, lining up at age appropriate entrances to the seven classrooms within each school. We were advised by Mr Lanagan at this point that there was no funding available to alter the plans, as both St Peters and Aitkenbar parent council requested an additional classroom in order to ‘future proof’ both schools.

Following a closed meeting with the Archdiocese of Glasgow, attended by Joyce Whyte and Terry Lanagan, we have since been informed that the single public entrance to the shared space will be altered to accommodate the installation of separate entrances. No minutes of this meeting have been recorded and therefore we are unaware of why such significant changes would be made to the public shared space?

We as the Parent Council of Aitkenbar Primary School strongly object to these changes as we feel multiple public entrances compromise the safety of our children and we believe it to be a backward step in the fight against sectarianism, wholeheartedly supporting Canon Gerry Conroy’s vision of “a community benefiting through the positive influence of people of faith living harmoniously together”.

In our opinion this proposal, would be of no educational benefit to the children of either school and would encourage segregation, rather than integration, between the pupils in shared space areas as this change sends conflicting messages to pupils if they are expected to integrate but adults are to be kept separate.

We do not believe that this image will be a true reflection of the community spirit displayed between both schools and the wider Dumbarton community and have raised objections to these changes at council and Scottish Government level and are currently awaiting a response from both parties. Aitkenbar Primary Parent Council I AM delighted that Mr Cormack, in his letter to you of June 24, agrees with me that the defence of the union and the benefits that it brings are admirable. He goes on to suggest that we ‘should stick to reality and be honest’, I agree. We have to ensure that industries in Scotland keep up with the ever changing technologies and science. Polaroid failed to do so resulting in a horrendous loss of jobs. Our future depends on being cutting edge. Scottish universities achieve an advantageous 13 per cent of the UK research budget. Scotland’s population is approximately 8% of the UK total. If we were independent we would not have direct access to UK research investment.

I’m sure Mr Cormack would not like to see others directly lose their jobs because of separation. That is what the trade unions in the Clyde shipyards claim will happen if they do not get UK contracts to build high tech naval vessels after independence.

The truth is that if Scotland had not been part of the UK the Scottish economy would have collapsed because of the reckless behaviour of our two national banks, RBS and BoS. Indeed, Mr Salmond was cheering ‘Fred the Shred’s’ fight with Barclays Bank for ownership of the Dutch bank UBN AMRO. To our First Minister this was a Scotland versus England competition.

Mr Cormack wants us to be honest. There is nothing more important to all of us than to know which currency we shall be using after independence. Indecision is already impacting negatively on jobs. Will we be using the £, the Euro or some new Scottish currency? Prices will increase daily due to uncertainty. Come on Mr Salmond be honest and at least tell us your plan B.

The YES campaign promotes the misleading suggestion that UK pensions are among the lowest in Europe.

Not true. When one includes tax benefits, free bus travel, heating allowances, supplementary benefits, works’ pensions and private provision then we are fairly well off. On top of all that the NHS is the most economic and efficient way of providing free health care to all citizens, and is the envy of the world.

Of course the biggest deception promulgated by the separatists is that we would have a parliament of the people. In the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election, of the near four million electors in Scotland 3 million did NOT vote for the SNP.

Without the backing of three quarter of the population, Alex Salmond has the arrogance to attempt to discredit UK democracy.

Ursula J Craig