This week's letters include thoughts on why a declining population may not always be a bad thing, and thank you messages to those behind Helensburgh's New Year Swim and the people who voted for Hermitage Park in the Waitrose Community Matters vote.

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Contrary to the impression given by your front page headline last week, there are many reasons for welcoming a declining population.

Let me give you just one at the moment.

Earth Overshoot Day is announced every year.

It tells us about the use which is being made of the Earth’s renewable resources, and we are currently using them much faster than they can renew themselves, with the result that Earth Overshoot Day is occurring about the end of August each year and is getting a little earlier each year.

This is true for the whole planet and for the United Kingdom, and there is little reason to suspect that it is any different for Scotland, for Argyll and Bute, and for Helensburgh.

The one big problem which a declining population brings is that of an ageing population, so the aim of policies should be to deal with the ageing population but without increasing the population - and the word “without” has to be emphasised.

The longer we delay taking the correct action, the more difficult it will be to solve the problems.

We are only custodians of the planet and we should be aiming to leave it in a better condition for future generations than it currently is.

In the short term, of course, we have to provide decent homes for all who are here already, but we also have to start thinking much more thoroughly about the long term.

Stewart Noble, Abercromby Street East, Helensburgh

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Following your coverage last week of Helensburgh’s New Year Swim, I feel a number of people deserve to be publicly thanked for their efforts in keeping the annual event alive – and making it such a successful start to the town’s new year.

Although I am no longer involved in the organising of the event, when I retired a number of years ago now I was delighted that the RNLI in Helensburgh took over full responsibility for running it – and I am very pleased to see that it has since gone from strength to strength.

It’s a cold swim for those taking part, but it’s also a safe swim, because members of the lifeboat crew are there in the water, in their wet suits, giving up their New Year’s Day to support the event and look after those taking part.

In particular I would like to publicly thank Colin Gardiner, who retired as the RNLI’s local operations manager on New Year’s Day and whose input over the years has been invaluable. The ladies on the local RNLI committee also deserve a mention for their hard work, arriving early in the morning before the swim each year to prepare hot soup for those taking part.

Special mention, too, must go to Donald Fullarton, Fiona Howard and Graham Barr for their organising work, for their efforts behind the scenes before the event and their work on the day, and to Rhu Marina’s management and staff for hosting the event and allowing the organisers and participants to use their premises.

The generosity of the spectators in donating towards the RNLI’s continued presence in Helensburgh is very much appreciated, and I must of course thank all the swimmers themselves – because without them there would be no show.

I’m so grateful to all those who decided to carry on with the event and who continue to make it such a success. Thank you all.

Billy Petrie, John Street, Helensburgh

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The Friends of Hermitage Park would like to thank Waitrose Community Matters and all local residents who put their green tokens in the collecting box for the park.

The magnificent sum of £600 has been donated to the Friends and is a great boost to our fundraising and a fantastic start to 2018.

The funds will be put towards the many improvements currently taking place in the park, which will be reopening in summer 2018. Thank you to Waitrose and everyone for your support.

Fiona Baker (Chair, Friends of Hermitage Park)