PINSTRIPE

Despite what the Government tries to tell us Scotland's infrastructure is in a mess.

The main Glasgow to Edinburgh railway line was recently closed, again, because of a landslip - would a more comprehensive inspection and maintenance programme have prevented that? - very probably.

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On many roads, even major ones, cats eyes are gone, white lines virtually invisible and crunching potholes now an everyday fact of life - it was not always like that.

Don't even get me started on the pathetic response to the endless closures because of rockfalls on the A83. What would the Swiss do? - put a roof over the road. What do we do? - resurface the old single-track road so that we can set up a convoy system when the main road is closed again.

Unfortunately, it is not just infrastructure which is in a sorry state but also the sort of operational public services which are part of the fabric of a decent society. Education and Health actually are - despite what the public thinks - pretty well funded. What about bin collections though? - what used to be once a week is now once a fortnight at best - the rats love it. What about policing? Has your village got a local bobby? - I doubt it. If you suffer a “routine” burglary do you actually expect police resources to be allocated to solve the case? - not any more.

There is a general problem with public services and infrastructure which - instead of bleating about Brexit or plotting the next destabilising referendum - the Scottish Government should address with vigour and make some hard decisions in order to solve real issues.

What should not be done is another raid on everybody's wallets through higher taxation - that cowardly road has proven again and again that in the long run all it does is reduce investment, innovation and economic growth.

Here's some ideas to make public spending go further.

First, end as many freebies as possible. Once you reach 60 you ride in a bus at taxpayers' expense - why? In Scotland people with Blue Badges park for free in public car parks - in England they generally get one hour extra free - the first is nice but is the second fairer? Is it really right that nobody pays for prescriptions ?

Second, tackle the public sector pay and pensions problem. Give all public servants across the board a 10% pay rise now - but in return they must cease accruing further rights under final salary pension schemes and move to money purchase schemes like the private sector.

Third, roll back the health and safety culture a notch - not to create a free-for-all but to remove the paralysing effect on common sense and activity which knowing any incident will be judged by someone with a PhD in hindsight causes . Find people guilty where they have been clearly reckless rather than when they failed to be an effective Nanny. I appreciate the Scottish Government does not have all the powers it needs to do this but it could point the way.

Fourth, review every form which any public servant has to fill in and get rid of it if you can. Wonder why it takes so long to see your doctor? - part of the reason is she's filling in forms. Why won't teachers run activities outside class anymore? - partly it is fear of liability and partly it is endless paperwork. If we accept that every now and again something will go wrong, then we would have a lot more time to do the right things.

I live in hope of action.

Pinstripe is a senior member of Scotland's financial services community.