I write in response to Fraser O’Neill’s letter in the Advertiser of March 2, 2017 regarding the tree felling in Hermitage Park.

I met Fraser on Monday by chance and we had a chat about the trees, which I hope has allayed some of his concerns.

Whilst it is sad to see a tree cut down, it is sometimes necessary. Each tree in the park has been surveyed by a tree surgeon and the trees that are being felled are either diseased, or dying, or have failed to thrive due to being planted too close together, or are in the wrong situation, or are a poor shape, and will never make a good tree.

The tree felling is happening now before the bird nesting season begins. More than twice as many new trees than are being removed will be planted as part of the regeneration of the park.

When Fraser is my age he will enjoy one of the best tree collections in the west of Scotland, but we will need to be patient while the new trees mature.

A wildlife and biodiversity audit was done as part of the master planning for the rejuvenated park and the new planting is designed to increase habitats and biodiversity.

For example, in one of the diseased trees we will be keeping the main trunk and establishing a Wildlife Hotel, with cameras in bird boxes to feed to both the new pavilion and local schools. Still water dipping ponds for amphibians and insects are also being created.

We have tried to provide as much information as possible to local people and schools on what is happening in Hermitage Park, and held a Tree Walk in January when all the trees being felled were labelled and the reason for their removal given.

If you look closely at some of the old trees you can see the rot and fungus in them, and will notice that big limbs have snapped off in the past. In a public park it is important that dangerous trees that might fall on people are removed.

We would like to reassure Fraser, and everyone, that there is a lot more happening in the park than new toilets and an extension to the Victoria Halls car park.

In developing the plans for the refurbished park local school pupils were consulted on what they would like in the new park and we have tried to incorporate the key things people have asked for.

I have given Fraser the contact details for the Friends, and the park manager, Melissa Simpson, would be more than happy to give further talks to local schools to explain what is happening in the park.

Finally, while we are sorry Fraser was so upset he wrote to complain, we are heartened that primary school pupils love Hermitage Park and want the best for it. So do we!

Fiona Baker

Chairman, Friends of Hermitage Park

£1.3bn of naval investment (Helensburgh Advertiser, March 2) may sound to some like a gift horse but I, for one, am going to look it straight in the mouth!

This is most unlikely to involve new money for defence so yet again the bottomless pit of requirements for Trident, and its ancillaries, is going to further strip out Britain's parlous conventional defences.

At what point does our supposed last resort become, effectively, our only resort?

What is required in Scotland is a credible, sea going, conventionally armed surface navy. The northern passages into the Atlantic are set to become ever more important to our real defence needs rather than squandering yet more to give Westminster politicians an over inflated view of their own importance on the world stage.

How much of this 'promised' treasure will be spent behind the wire of 'Fortress Faslane' thus further reducing the already limited interaction of the base with the economy of Helensburgh? A bit of renewal at Churchill, while welcome, and some other construction activity won't won't make our economy "swell" in any lasting way.

Whatever our future, Faslane will always be important as a naval base. We need it to be shaped for our defence; not making us an even more certain nuclear target than it already does.

Alasdair Jamison

West Dhuhill, Helensburgh

I’m afraid that Mr D. Blackwood (Advertiser Comment, March 2) puts his own ‘spin’ on his assertion that the long term investment in Faslane will produce little benefit for Helensburgh.

While there are shops within the base, people want wider choice and variety and will obviously spend time, and hard earned cash, in the town making use of the facilities and the wide variety of restaurants, pubs and supermarkets that the town offers.

The assertion that “a very large majority of naval personnel travel home to other places at the weekend” can only be hearsay, not supported by fact, while the contract outsourcing mentioned offers the opportunity to check value for money, and more, not less, flexible working for local staff.

On balance, your readership should be aware that as an SNP supporter and enthusiastic political leafleteer within his neighbourhood, Mr Blackwood's ‘spin’ is obvious, where the entire raison d’etre dictates the agenda on any topic which is presented via the biased prism of that party’s ultimate and obsessive political agenda.

Let’s offer unbiased, united support to our dedicated naval and armed forces personnel, in what is currently a more uncertain world, and welcome both the additional investment and the new naval personnel and their families to the area.

D. Moore,


Alastair Redman (Advertiser, March 2) tells us that the wife of Angus Robertson says that independence would be a gamble.

Four lines later he changes this to ‘gamble of all gambles’.

My first thought is this: stepping out of bed every day is a gamble. But to be serious, isn’t Brexit a gamble? How about the gamble of a loch full of nuclear reactors on your doorstep?

Moving on to his claim that the SNP is "damaging our economy by constitutional merry go round": how does this compare to the helter skelter of Brexit, the effects of which are already happening?

Pound devalued, valuable EU incomers leaving, serious concerns from our universities about research funding.

Please Mr Redman, you and your like painting everything SNP related baad, and everything Unionist good,is so last year.

Change the record.

Gordon Bickerton,


With reference to your front page of last week: £1.3billion to be spent developing what exactly?

The MoD has already spent several billions constructing a large and self-sufficient township at its naval base in Faslane, and apparently now wishes to suggest that some of the new money will be of benefit to the surrounding communities.

It's difficult to see how, even in their own stated terms.

The dreadful business of the £5 million donated by the MoD to the Helensburgh Pier project turning out instead to be a donation to Argyll and Bute when they promptly reneged on their own contribution - so what's new there?

And a little bit of irony, surely, when the Advertiser, just a few weeks ago, showed pictures of the rather splendid new swimming pool that has been opened at the Faslane base - which together with the current on-site film showings completely dispenses with any need whatsoever to pop into Helensburgh.

And what was the other thing on the MoD wish list? Oh yes, a rail link out to Shandon - make that absolute self-sufficiency. They won't even have to come in to Helensburgh to catch a train!

Ellen Renton

Tower Place, East Clyde Street, Helensburgh

Like many people, I have considerable reservations regarding Donald Trump’s ability to be an effective president of the USA.

Of course we have to respect the decision of the American electorate. However, I strongly support the position of Alistair Carmichael, Scottish Lib Dem MP, who has called on British government ministers to take the lead in condemning the use of torture or waterboarding, and to make it clear to President Trump’s administration that a return to using torture by the USA would lead to a withdrawal of sharing of intelligence with them.

During his election campaign, not only did Donald Trump support the use of torture - but, as he said, something “a hell of a lot worse”.

The UK has always led the world with our opposition to torture. In recent years by cooperating with rendition and the use of torture we stained our own reputation. That now needs to be repaired.

We should remind our MPs, ministers and leaders that there is no occasion where torture is in any way acceptable.

Finlay Craig

Shore Road, Cove