Ruth Wishart comments in her column last week (February 8) that she sees merit in both the Friends of Hermitage Park’s wish to acquire the old roads depot for community use and Argyll and Bute Council’s wish to sell the site for the highest price possible to pay for the new roads depot and "other needs".

The Friends appreciate the council’s financial position but believe the use of the depot as a community hub would actually save the council money in the long run.

Ms Wishart also speculates on how the Friends might raise the money to pay for it. The Friends have a funding plan in place, a detailed business plan and have spoken to all the funding agencies.

We would note that the Friends started work in the park in 2011 with a £200 grant to buy some loppers, rakes and spades. Five years later we had secured £2.33 million for the refurbishment of the park and the project pot is now £3.4m.

The Friends have submitted a 115-page Community Asset Transfer Request to the council that details how the depot would be funded in the short and long term.

We might not have as much money to offer as a developer wanting to build a handful of private houses but, without a shadow of a doubt, the Friends’ bid will be the best value bid the council receives.

The Friends’ bid was prepared with reference to A&B C’s Outcome Improvement Plan (2013-2023) and Corporate Plan (2015-2017) and our proposal would deliver on the six key outcomes the council seeks to achieve. Namely:

· Our economy is diverse and thriving

· We have an infrastructure that supports sustainable growth

· Education skills and training maximise opportunities for all

· Children and young people have the best possible start

· People live active, healthier and independent lives

· People will live in safer and stronger communities

Argyll and Bute Council are committed to a 10-year maintenance plan for Hermitage Park as part of the HLF grant conditions and then what? Considering the ongoing budget cuts it seems unlikely that ABC will have the resources to look after the park and £3.5m is a lot of money to spend with no management and maintenance funding secured for the longer term. The Friends formed to "stop the rot" in Hermitage Park, we don’t want to see it set in again.

The acquisition of the depot by the Friends for use as described in our detailed bid is a win-win situation for everyone – the community, the council and the park.

In the eyes of the Friends and our many supporters, including cross-party support from our MP and MSPs, the development of the depot as a community hub offers the best long term cost savings, the greatest sustainability, capacity building and opportunity and would make the greatest contribution to health and wellbeing.

The Friends would be pleased to continue their excellent working partnership with the council to deliver these benefits.

Fiona Baker,


Friends of Hermitage Park

Ruth Wishart’s interesting article on the suffragettes was accompanied by a photograph of the late Helen Crawfurd.

As a young child in Dunoon I had the privilege of meeting Helen Crawfurd Anderson as she was known. I remember her as an impressive figure with white hair, black hat and cape and carrying a silver topped cane. I was also told that Helen had been imprisoned.

These brave women took on the establishment on our behalf. Injustices prevail if people don’t speak up and that’s not an easy thing to do.

Norma Joy Morrison,


In a previous letter, I raised the issue of ownership of the land now proposed for the £18 million Pierhead Leisure Centre. I have received a Minute of Agreement between Argyll and Bute Council and Luss Estates Company detailing the terms of the sale of the pier and pierhead from Luss Estates to the Council.

Sir James Colquhoun of Luss bought the village of Millig from a Greenock merchant. He renamed the village, Helensburgh, for his wife Helen Sutherland. In 1838 he donated the pier and the pierhead to the Provost Baillie and Councillors of the Barony of Helensburgh. The Instrument of Sasine contained a clause that in the event of any building being erected on the pierhead, the property would revert to Luss Estates. The present Minute of Agreement dated August 2, 2011 contains multiple clauses dealing with potential court challenges. In all such eventualities, if Luss Estates are judged the title owners, they will pass title back to Argyll and Bute Council. So, Argyll and Bute Council now own the pierhead. This is the area north from the shoreline containing the present leisure centre, the pierhead car park and the ground that was formerly Mariners now owned by the Council.

The Minute of Agreement does not deal with a third party challenge based on the Sasine of 1838. Can anyone build on the pierhead?

The Minute of Agreement does not deal with the south car park. This is built on reclaimed land. It is my understanding that in the 1970s, a local contractor had an excess of rubble and suggested to a local Councilor that he was prepared to dump it on the foreshore. He did and the south car park was created. This is on inter-tidal ground. The nominal owner is the Crown Estate. Who owns the south car park?

With public consultation about to begin on the £18 million Pierhead Leisure Centre, ownership of the land and the right to build on it should be resolved as a necessary first step.

John Black,

The Scottish Jacobite Party,


Given that you are an experienced, competent and successful journalist I should like to seek your insights and understanding on the following situation.

How can a six-year-old event where an employer sacked or dispensed with employees who allegedly exceeded the employer’s high moral code-of-conduct be the lead story on national and international media?

Could it be that the employer, Oxfam in this instance, was drawing attention to the vast gulf between the excessively rich and those struggling to survive with dignity in the UK?

By so doing, might they have become a target of the right-wing oligarchs and their media allies?

We already know that the adoption of former Scottish LibDem Michael Moore’s private member bill by the UK to enshrine in law the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of its gross national income on international aid every year upset many people on the far right.

But would they really go to such extreme measures to undermine humanitarian assistance to the world’s most needy?

Am I going too far Editor, in wondering whether the Prime Minister who issued a press statement when the story first broke in The Times, was attempting to distract us from her and her colleague’s appalling mismanagement of Brexit?

Clearly the Charity Commission in England received a report at the time that Oxfam had got rid of staff for misconduct.

The Commission which deals with approximately 168,000 charities in England and Wales is now under pressure.

Over the past few years the UK government has refused to give the Commission the resources it said it required.

One thing is without question. Millions of poor men, women and children throughout the world have and are receiving practical support from British international aid charities. The alleged misconduct of seven people in Haiti seven years ago should not be allowed to reduce this essential support.

As Editor of the Helensburgh Advertiser you may care to devote even more of your fine newspaper’s space to highlight all the good work being done by charities and their committed supporters.

Finlay Craig,


More bad news for Scotland’s infrastructure as road spending has been cut by 20 per cent over the past seven years.

Cosla’s recent Local Government Bench-marking Framework report stated that road maintenance funding had decreased from £691 million in 2010/11 to £554 million last year.

This is nothing to do with Westminster, Brexit or anything else the SNP like to point their finger at, the separatists alone have cut council taxes to the bone.

The SNP government needs to explain why it has decided to do this, and why it thinks motorists don’t deserve to drive on good quality surfaces.

As I have said so many times before we in Scotland deserves better than this SNP government.

Councillor Alastair Redman,

Via email