This week's letters page includes thoughts on the Helensburgh waterfront plans, an appeal for volunteers from a local lunch club, and a plea for family history information.

To add your views to the mix, just email with your thoughts on any local issue, along with your name and address. We also need a daytime phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

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Now that the planning application for Helensburgh's waterfront has been published, we at Helensburgh Community Council felt it would be helpful if the community understood where we stand.

Apart from the inclusion of a cafe instead of vending machines and the introduction of two bus parking places, they show the same overall arrangement, positioning and internal layouts as were displayed during the consultation stage in the three public showings between March to May.

It is now clear that detailed development continued during the pre-application consultation (PAC) phase and therefore the “consultation” was only in name.

The minimal changes will have had no impact on the public feedback to the community council from the Pre-Application Consultation. Fifty-five per cent of local people do not believe that the planning application meets our requirements for a project that “is all about creating a vibrant and attractive waterfront for our town that will benefit local people and, by attracting day visitors, local businesses”.

How can anyone know that to be the case when the proposal doesn’t respond to even present needs – and precisely where is the “future-proofing” of this huge investment?

A total of £1 million has been budgeted for experts and consultants – and what have we got for our money? In our view, we have got a worrying reliance on expert reports without scrutiny or stress-testing.

Neither the flood risk assessment (by KAYA Consultants) nor the town centre car parking review (by AECOM) fully consider the planned lifespan of the site and building investment.

KAYA does not allow for the effect of climate change on waves overtopping the flood defences within the life of the building.

Similarly, AECOM’s review of overall parking provision is based upon a very few, incomplete snapshots of parking occupancy, fails to recognise the implications of a growing population and the aspiration to attract visitors, and thus improve local business.

What did we get? A reduction in car parking of 150 places and two coach parking places instead of six, and no site for the annual bonfire – the busiest night of the year.

Moreover, out of the 265 seafront parking places remaining, only eight EV Fast and Rapid charging points are planned for. No allowance for the fact that electric vehicles (EVs) will gradually become the norm, and from 2040 onwards, many of those visitors from overseas will be driving hired EVs.

Moving on to retail space, around 30 per cent of this key Helensburgh site is reserved for future retail development, and hence is not included in the current planning application.

No evidence has been presented to justify this reservation; after construction of the new pool and demolition of the current pool in 2019, this area is scheduled to be gravelled over until there is some resolution on the retail issue – have any retailers been approached?

However, while the economic viability of the pool may even depend upon income from these units, no Economic Impact Assessment has been completed by the Council and the overriding priority of economic benefit to the town has not been fully examined.

Current indicators are that any retail development here will simply displace an existing store, and hence will undermine the fragile economy of the town.

Retail options are not supported by the Chamber of Commerce or the public at large and much thought has to be given to using this area for recreation and leisure – for the good of the community.

The central proposal in the application is for a ‘community’ pool – a decision that neither meets the needs of families nor ‘serious’ swimmers. Both gave strongly negative feedback to the council.

Families want a ‘fun pool’ in a relaxed environment, competitive swimmers want facilities for training, competition and holding galas.

The present unimaginative provision is unsuitable for either, and both the council and the community council are aware of this feedback. Families will bypass our new pool in favour of other venues – Dumbarton, Clydebank, even Linwood – and lucrative competition galas with up to 200 swimmers and families will need to be held elsewhere.

In addition, the movable floor for the ‘Learner Pool’ remains unfunded for initial purchase and maintenance alike.

On the issue of provision for a permanent skate park, everyone agrees that a permanent skate park should be included on the site, but no location has been set aside for this – much less any budget for its future construction.

Moreover, the stated commitment “to create a safe, comfortable and accessible public space and provide a visible link to and from Colquhoun Square” has simply been deleted from this planning submission.

Councillor Ellen Morton insisted in the Advertiser of August 9 that the plans as now presented are "not a done deal" – but we fear they are somehow far too late in the ‘managed process’ to make the alterations that respond to clients' wishes – in other words to us, the future users.

Although we have waited 10 years for this development, the proposal was only unveiled to the public as recently as the end of March.

Before the council makes further imprudent and costly decisions towards construction, can we just press the 'pause' button and together push this key generational development back on track?

The Community Council wholeheartedly supports the need for a replacement pool and centre with the regeneration of our valuable seafront site, and welcomes any provision that would attract new users and visitors to the Burgh and boost our economy.

The plans so far are not what was expected or advertised and we are concerned that this expensive investment neither meets the requirements of its future users nor represents a sound economic investment for Helensburgh.

Just as it is the responsibility of the council to properly engage with community opinion, it is also the responsibility of the community to make its views known through the formal planning application on the Argyll and Bute Council website.

The closing date for submitting your views as part of the planning application process is September 6. Please do so by making a comment directly on the planning application at the Argyll and Bute planning website, under reference 18/01614/PP.

Norman Muir (Convener, Helensburgh Community Council)

It was good to read Aileen Morton’s praise of Volunteers at the Summer Festival and the Glasgow 2018 European Championships (Advertiser Comment, August 16).

In today’s world there is so much pressure on people’s time that finding volunteers willing and able to give up their time to keep the vital wheels of society turning gets harder and harder.

The average age of volunteers goes steadily up, which is a sign of their good health, but the pressure on them to find younger people who might take over is getting much more difficult.

A society in which octogenarians feel guilty when the time comes to give up their voluntary jobs is surely not healthy.

This downward trend in volunteer availability is causing major worries for those running the Helensburgh Lunch Club.

For the last 38 years the club has provided healthy food and a meeting place for many of Helensburgh’s senior citizens, most of whom live alone. It has been operating four days a week during term-time, but owing to the lack of volunteer cooks, it will, from September 6 (when it reopens after the summer break), only be able to provide a service for three days.

From the beginning of November, when more of the club’s much valued cooks either retire or move away from Helensburgh, the Lunch Club will only be able to open two days a week unless a number of new volunteer cooks are found.

The club urgently needs six new volunteers prepared to give up one morning a week or fortnight during term-time to help cook. It can be hard work but fun in good company, and rewarding.

If you would like to get involved, please contact Marjory Barrington, who runs the club, on 01436 820484.

Chris Packard, Kiloran, Helensburgh

This is an appeal to anyone who may be able to help me find my remaining family members in Scotland.

I have been searching for my two cousins, who live in Helensburgh. My dad, Robert Sinclair Dawson, was one of five children born to Hugh and Sadie Dawson, who lived in Rhu House.

Robert's brothers were named Thomas and Hugh, and his sisters were Ruth and Jessie.

I know that Jessie married Ron Gordon, and together they had three boys – Ronald, Hughie and Brian. I believe Ronald died.

I need to do a family tree for my own two daughters and my grown-up grandchildren as I don’t want them to not know their side of my dad's family.

If anyone can help with any information, I would be so grateful. Not knowing about my dad and his family is very painful, so please – I would love to hear any information you have, no matter how irrelevant you may think it, so that I can begin to piece bits of my family's story together.

Any information can be emailed to me at Thank you so much.

Sheila Dawson (via email)