THIS week's letters to the Advertiser include plenty of reaction to the latest news on the Helensburgh waterfront project, as well as criticism of the Royal Navy over an event date clash, and more.

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We hear all the time about Faslane (HMNB Clyde) wishing to get involved in the local community. I thought I should draw attention the recent “integration” exercise in Shandon where they are based.

The Rhu and Shandon Gala day has been running in some form or other for over a hundred years, and been running consecutively for the last 20 years on the second Saturday in June.

It was somewhat surprising to discover that the powers at be at the base decided to have their family day at Helensburgh Rugby Club on the same day as the gala had theirs at the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club, on Saturday, June 9.

After communicating with the base in 2016 and 2017 to try and seek their involvement, without success, this was an insult to the very people that live on their doorstep and there is a genuine feeling of resentment within the local community.

The Rhu and Shandon Gala Day is organised by a handful of volunteers who put in an enormous effort, outwith their day jobs, to make the day a success.

The gala is totally self-financed and depends on local support by both individuals and companies to keep it going.

Last year we donated £860 towards a defibrillator that is now located in Shandon, however due to weather conditions the gala lost a substantial amount of its funds so we had various fundraisers (Rock ‘n Rhu, Race Night and Quiz Night) over the winter months in the Rhu Hall to keep it going this year.

We receive no financial assistance from Argyll and Bute Council, and whilst we understand that budgets are tight, we contribute towards their finances in terms of hall hire fees, traffic management systems costs, and various licence fees.

We were lucky that we got favourable weather this year and both the gala and the family day were successes.

Bad weather, coupled with a nearby competing event, would have been the death knell of the Rhu and Shandon Gala.

Are these events mutually exclusive? Personally, I believe one larger event (perhaps “The Rhu, Shandon and Faslane Family Gala”) rather than two competing events could be achievable next year. Of course, this depends on whether HMNB Clyde wish to integrate with the local community.

Malcolm Pearson, Rhu and Shandon Gala committee

I continue to be enthused by the will of so many to seek investment into the development of Helensburgh.

We live in a very unique town that could have as a mantra: ‘great place to live, great place to visit and great place to do business’.

The waterfront development proposal has the potential to deliver a further improvement for the three pillars of my mantra, as long as it pays attention to our community and public opinion.

This should include our young people – particularly those aged between 12 and 17. Yes, we have more sports clubs and activities available than most comparable towns, but a very tired swimming pool at its centre is not ideal, so for this improvement to be at the core of the proposal is excellent.

Not mentioned in the proposal is the skate park. As a parent of a 12-year- old boy, I am aware of how important this facility is.

He meets friends there, they get engaged in challenging each other to new skills and tricks, and despite the name, they do this on mountain bikes, BMX bikes, scooters, roller blades and skate boards.

It costs them nothing, they are in the public eye, and they are not on the streets.

The HBSk8park Project event last Saturday was attended by many and viewed by many more. It attracted attention from all over the area with the objectives of showing a vision for its future, of displaying the talent these youngsters possess, and to provide a platform for young people to express their wishes.

Positive support was overwhelming, and despite much discussion about the overall development, it was clear that maintaining a free to use skate park facility has plenty of backing.

The waterfront development is very much needed, but for the sake of preserving the unique qualities of Helensburgh, let’s make our opinion count and at the same time get commitment to preserve and improve a designated recreation space at the skate park where young people can expend energy, not money, and allow their peers, parents and passers-by to marvel at the youth of today.

Does our opinion matter? – It sure does! And so does the opinion of our young people.

John Penniston, Townhead Farm, Helensburgh

Helensburgh Community Council was surprised and delighted to read Councillor Gary Mulvaney’s statement “I would like to add my thanks to everyone who responded to the consultation and to Helensburgh Community Council for their significant efforts in gathering such a large number of responses” in the recent Argyll and Bute Council press release concerning the waterfront development project (published immediately after the Area Committee meeting on June 21).

However, this was a direct contradiction to the speech he gave at the end of the same meeting in which he said “I do wish Helensburgh Community Council would come on board….let’s encourage the community, and indeed the community council that ought to represent them to come on board and support it [the development], because that’s what we deserve”.

It is hard to see why Councillor Mulvaney thinks that that the community council is not “on board”.

We support the replacement of the existing swimming pool on the Pierhead (as is clearly stated in our report).

We have raised awareness. The community council wanted to ensure that the community’s views and needs would guide the design and planning process.

We have got involved. We created a survey, promoted it online and in person, and our members have voluntarily spent many hours collecting and analysing this public opinion.

We have done our best to ensure that the community was fully consulted and that these views were presented to the council.

The survey conducted by the community council had 1,109 respondents (versus the approximate 200 responses that A&BC obtained). Of these, 55 per cent of respondents rejected the council’s current proposals.

We, the community council, accurately represented these views to Argyll and Bute Council and we were dismayed that this was not mentioned at all in the area committee meeting.

To move forward, therefore, we would urge Councillor Mulvaney to “come on board” and work with us to address the concerns of the majority of the community.

Peter Brown (vice-convener, Helensburgh Community Council)

Do you want to have a better new swimming pool and leisure centre – at a lower cost than that currently being proposed?

Only if you do should you read this letter, which I am also sending to members of Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee.

This fresh vision is as follows.

First, the new swimming pool should be built alongside the pier, as close as possible to the existing swimming pool, and not parallel to the sea at the far end of the pier car park.

This site was approved by the public in the 2012 Helensburgh Pierhead Masterplan.

Second, the height of only part of the existing pier car park should be raised, and not the whole car park, as currently proposed in the council’s designs.

In essence, this new proposal was put to the area committee on Thursday by Helensburgh Community Council, largely following its successful consultation of public opinion during the three-month pre-application consultation.

There are several advantages to this proposal.

First, the proposed location would make the new swimming pool less susceptible to storm damage.

The report which was put to the area committee on Thursday considered the individual effects of stormy weather and of climate change.

Crucially what the report did not consider was the combined effect of stormy weather and climate change – together these could leave the new pool much more at risk of storm damage than was suggested.

Second, moving the pool to the new location means that it would be closer to existing services such as water and electricity; this should constitute a cost saving.

Third, the cost of infill would be reduced if only part of the pierhead area were to be raised – and this would also mean fewer lorry movements through the town during construction.

Fourth: having a two-level pierhead car park with a lower level near the sea would reduce the strength of waves during a storm, and hence also reduce the risk of damage to the new swimming pool.

Fifth: if the suggested savings prove to be correct, they could be used to improve the “fun” element of the proposed new pool – something which the public clearly want.

Sixth: Alternatively, the suggested savings might also mean that the proposed shops along the south side of West Clyde Street might no longer be necessary – and the local Chamber of Commerce does not want these.

Finally, the new pool would be closer to the town centre.

It is fair, however, to point out that this proposal brings with it some disadvantages.

Councillor Ellen Morton, in her role as chair of the area committee, stressed that local people tell her that they wish to see the development of the new swimming pool completed sooner rather than later.

I can quite sympathise with this, but consideration of this new proposal might only delay the project by a couple of months.

Is it not more important to have the development carried out correctly, even though that may take a little longer?

Second, the two-level car park would mean that there would be the risk that the lower areas of the car park could be underwater during storms.

However, this is nothing new, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) would have no objection to this.

Lastly, if this proposal would result in the construction of a better swimming pool at a lower cost, might there be a failure of duty on the part of Argyll and Bute Council if they did not investigate it thoroughly?

This is a real legacy project and it should be a positive legacy.

Stewart Noble (treasurer, Helensburgh Community Council)

The petitioners requesting more fun-based facilities for Helensburgh’s new pool should think carefully regarding this demand.

It has been found that the attraction of these facilities is generally short lived.

Also, the upkeep and maintenance is high and possible accident elements increased.

The purpose of the new swimming pool should surely be safety and fitness – all children and adults being taught to swim, and the general fitness of the community being improved through lap swimming, general aquatic exercising and, of course, competition.

There are other pools relatively nearby – in Dumbarton, for example – which provide wave machines, chutes and slides for those who want to participate in those activities.

Bob McGregor MBE, via email

It is no surprise the Liberal Democrats sold us out on the new leisure centre for Helensburgh at the area committee on June 21, but why are the SNP and Conservative councillors going along with it?

James Robb, Helensburgh

Brendan O’Hara advised us in his latest column (Advertiser Comment, June 14) that “amongst those living in Scotland, independence was the most popular option for the future governance of Scotland”.

I suspect that the majority of us didn’t know that, and I can’t wait for the next election for this to be proven.

Mr O’Hara is very diligent in that he recently walked out of his place of work, Westminster, to get Brexit negotiating rights for his constituents.

I wonder if this was necessary – because when Scotland is definitely independent we will remain part of Europe.

John Ashworth, Woodside, Helensburgh