I was amazed to read that we need volunteers to weed the flower beds in the new CHORD-improved Colquhoun Square.

As this is a central focal point within the town, which cost many millions of borrowed money, it would seem to be reasonable to assume that maintenance would have been taken into account.

What is totally unacceptable is to be spending £3.7 million on renovating Hermitage Park. Why not stop that project and spend the money on “weeding Colquhoun Square”? Presumably we will also need volunteers to weed the park.

If it helps the council in this hour of desperate need, I can offer the extra £600 per annum increase in my council tax bill for hiring assistance in the square.

I wonder how carefully the pier renovation project will be designed and costed. We will have to keep a very close watch, because we can’t afford any more mistakes!

John Ashworth,

Upper West Helensburgh

We have all been invited to go to the polls to select councillors who, to achieve a sort of proportional representation, have lost the 1-1 relationship with a ward.

Sadly I can no longer rant at ‘my’ councillor. Blame the Lib Dems for that one.

Whoever is elected, when they get to Lochgilphead they will undoubtedly be faced with an “unexpected financial crisis” requiring all sorts of cuts or increased charges for the services that are so important to our quality of life.

The Tories, Lib Dems and Independents will blame the SNP at Holyrood, the SNP will blame the awful Tory government in London. Nobody, nowadays, seems to blame Europe.

What can we do? I think we can be proud of our local sport and cultural organisations and the efforts of local people to make do with fairly minimal local authority support. Doing it ourselves has become a necessity.

Indeed one critical decision our new councillors will face is the new Leisure Services Trust.

Never heard of it? Well, funding for leisure services is increasingly via funds which cannot be accessed by local authorities. In November, following the example of most councils, it was decided to establish a charitable trust for Argyll and Bute to provide the  leisure services such as swimming pools, halls, museums and libraries currently provided by the council.

All council assets and staff will be transferred to this single new organisation. The report undertaken by consultants Ernst and Young showed clearly the financial benefits of such a move.

However the proposed centralised structure is far from the best. Key decisions about services in Helensburgh will still be taken in Lochgilphead and Dunoon, with one eye on the interests of Campbeltown or Islay and little direct knowledge or commitment to our area.

More importantly this charitable trust will not be able to involve or call upon the enthusiasms of the people of Helensburgh and Lomond to help improve the leisure infrastructure of the area.

An example of what can be achieved is the Atlantis Leisure Centre in Oban. The rare opportunity for important positive devolution is being spurned.

As a start the purpose of this letter is to ask our new councillors to support a revised structure that establishes a Charitable Trust for each of the areas in Argyll and Bute. If you think this to be sensible (and non-political), perhaps you could make your views known to your new councillor.

Dr Geoff Riddington,

Via email

Argyll and Bute Council has this week issued a press release claiming credit for an increase in population within the area of 240.

Analysis elsewhere has wondered if the 15 families of Syrian refugees taken in on Bute may account for most of that number.

I thought about it some more and added in the story from the MoD about the benefits of the new submarines being based in Faslane. There are now three out of a planned seven in service at the base.

The story was that these submarines would bring thousands of new personnel and a great boost to the local economy. Almost half are in service here, and after years of population reductions, we now have an increase of 240 this last year.

Some of these new sailors may have moved home and be counted among the population, but most are more likely in service accommodation inside the base and travelling home to their permanent abode elsewhere.

They should not be counted as a benefit to Argyll and Bute.

In the end, if you look behind the story, trumpeted as good news and as a result of work by the council, the truth is that there is still an on-going and persistent problem of an ageing population. Many indigenous young people have to move and take accommodation elsewhere to find decent employment, which continues the shrinkage of the working age population.

Let’s no longer listen to, or believe, the continually repeated and exaggerated stories about the enormous benefits to Argyll and Bute from the base in Faslane.

The number of locals employed within the base is regularly shrinking; it is now a fraction of what it was 10 or 15 years ago, and the contractors that run it are seeking to reduce the numbers still further. 

The Navy no longer moves large numbers to the area, but prefers to increase the internal accommodation and have the sailors live there Monday to Friday and travel home at weekends.

Dougie Blackwood

Douglas Drive East,


I recently wrote what I thought was a jocular letter on the ever increasing problem of dog poo disposal.

My goodness I certainly underestimated the ire of the human pets!

No messing about from them: they immediately called in the equine heavy team to lay down a barrage of steaming dollops of muck across the front of my property.

What an arsenal – regularly replaced material excrement from the horses, backed up by sharp verbal excrement from the attendant human pets.

Humour obviously fell on deaf ears, so on to Plan B – the Hokey Cokey method.

The poo and dung will be uplifted, packaged and passed on to my neighbour, who in turn will pass it on again until hopefully the mess arrives at the guilty party.

If this solution fails then I suppose it will be ‘human pets 2, human beings nil’ - a score in which Helensburgh will find no pride. 

Tommy Watt,

Via email

Both my great-uncles died fighting for the Allies at Gallipoli.  They would be turning in their graves if they knew of the far-right extremist sentiments expressed by more than a dozen Scottish Conservative council candidates.

Did we gain nothing from all the sacrifice?  Will we stand by while hatred gains power as it did in Germany back then? 

We need to find the strength to stand up for what’s right; however tired we might feel, we must never let it happen again.

Margaret McDonald,


Once the dust has settled on this week’s council election, it might be worth remembering that the administration group which ran the authority until this week voted in 2016 to remove school librarians from Argyll and Bute schools.

This is the list of councillors who voted for the  2016-17 budget which removed school librarians. This list is a matter of public record, taken from the council website:

Councillor R. Colville; Councillor M. Corry; Councillor R. Currie; Councillor M.J. Devon; Councillor D. Kinniburgh; Councillor J. McAlpine; Councillor R. McCuish; Councillor A. MacDougall; Councillor N. MacIntyre; Councillor R.G. MacIntyre; Councillor D. MacMillan; Councillor A. McNaughton; Councillor J. McQueen; Councillor A. Morton; Councillor E. Morton; Councillor G. Mulvaney; Councillor E. Robertson; Councillor L. Scoullar; Councillor D. Walsh.

Argyll and Bute Council has shown itself to be out of touch with forward thinking about education and the central role of school librarians.

At a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions committee in Holyrood on April 20, deputy first minister John Swinney gave a clear signal that it is his intention to formulate a national school library strategy, in recognition of the key role that school libraries have in supporting educational outcomes.

His comments regarding the link between professional library staff and acquisition of information literacy skills made it clear that he had been persuaded by this aspect of the role, and also by the contribution school librarians make to literacy in learning.

He revealed that when the next ‘How Good is our School’ report is released in time for session school session 2017/18, it will include guidance which focuses on the contribution to be made by library staff to cross curricular outcomes. 

“How Good is our School” contains the criteria used to evaluate the quality of education provided. Where will that leave Argyll and Bute’s education service, next time the inspectors call?

Jenny Des Fountain,

Erray Road,


Isle of Mull

John Hein, in his letter published in your April 27 edition, is attempting the new tactic of fake news regarding Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, to deceive your readers.

Tim Farron has publicly stated that he does not feel that sex between consulting adults of the same gender is a sin. He has a proud record of voting with the Lib Dem party over many years on policies to secure a fair and equal place for LGBT people in our society.

He has also clearly stated that he would not countenance a coalition with either Tories or Labour. The Lib Dems have a unique stance on Scotland within the UK and the UK within the EU. They want whatever deal is negotiated with the EU to be put before the British public for approval or rejection. So if you voted Better Together and Remain then vote for your Lib Dem candidate in both the local and general elections.

Ursula Craig,

Via email

On Tuesday, May 9, events will take place across the European Union (EU) to mark Europe Day, an annual celebration of peace and unity across the continent.

Thousands of people will take part in visits, debates, concerts and other events to mark the day and raise awareness of the EU. Celebrations will naturally be more muted here in the UK, as we embark on the process of leaving the EU.

Because the UK is embarking on the Brexit process, however, does not mean we should not celebrate the EU and its achievements, the foundation of which the UK played a key role in.

The day is also known as Schuman Day, commemorating the historical declaration 67 years ago on May 9, 1950 by the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, which marked the first move towards the creation of the European Union.

Its creation has proven to be highly successful in transforming a previously warring continent and laying the foundations of peace, stability and prosperity.

Since the Schuman Declaration, nations across Europe have forged closer links and come together to reach common solutions to common problems.

The EU gives the freedom to live, study, work or retire in 27 other EU countries and many millions from the UK have taken advantage of this.

EU migration to our shores has in turn benefited our economy and society. Being able to trade with our EU partners via a single market of over half a billion consumers, unfettered by tariffs and trade barriers, is also essential to many Scottish businesses.

It does no harm to be reminded of what we have enjoyed – the precious gift of more than 60 years of peace, stability and prosperity.

Alex Orr

Policy Adviser,

European Movement in Scotland