This week's crop of Advertiser letters includes more views on Helensburgh's waterfront development plans, thoughts on the Flamingo Land proposal for Loch Lomond, customer-friendly banking (or not) and more.

To have your say on any local issue, all you need to do is email with 'Letter' in the subject line of your message. Please include your name and address with all contributions.

We also need a daytime phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed. Happy writing!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

As chair of LiveArgyll, the organisation that will be responsible for operating the proposed new leisure centre, may I comment on some of the issues raised by Helensburgh Community Council convener Norman Muir in last week’s edition.

He opens his letter by claiming that ”Fifty-five per cent of local people do not believe that the planning application meets our requirements...”

I think what Mr Muir means is that 55 per cent of the people who answered the community council’s survey – 1,109 people – which is not the majority of “local people”.

I must confess to admiring the enthusiasm that the community council has for conducting surveys; my issue is that their survey methods are totally flawed.

Without going into a very detailed statistical debate, unless the survey is a random cross section of the population, you cannot claim that this is even approximately the view of local people.

He also claims, in his letter, that the current proposed provision is suitable neither for family fun nor serious swimmers.

The fact is, that the proposed pools will offer a real improvement on the current facility.

LiveArgyll staff and Argyll and Bute Council are doing a terrific job keeping the building functioning and supporting our existing users – the swimming club; the kayak club; the 823 children currently learning to swim; the 50,000 swimming visits each year.

But anyone who uses the building will know we are running out of time.

And while Mr Muir concentrates on the conflicting aspirations of pool users, he ignores the “dry” side of the proposed facilities.

There will be a dramatic improvement, when compared to the existing gym.

The new gym will be three times the size of the existing one and, the studio spaces offer us the opportunity to expand the number and range of fitness classes (currently held in the Victoria Halls).

What is important is how we use the facilities to meet as many local needs as possible. So we are working on plans to use temporary seating for swimming galas and introducing specific fun sessions in both the main pool and the learner pool.

The new gym will offer a much wider choice of fitness activities as will the studios.

But the studios can also be used for new activities such as children’s gym classes, tea dances, soft play and table tennis.

Our staff are already exploring the opportunities that these new facilities will allow us to offer.

The possibilities are endless and our focus, as the operator for this new facility, is to engage with our users and potential users in exploring the ways in which we can offer an exciting range of activities for all ages.

User group meetings will start in October. What we do not want to do is to press the pause button, as Mr Muir suggests.

Andrew Nisbet (Chair, LiveArgyll)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

As an economist and business studies graduate, I was interested to see just how much money Flamingo Land might bring to the area should their proposed development at Loch Lomond become reality, so I took a look at their annual accounts online.

(You can do this yourself by searching “Flamingo Land accounts 2017” then clicking on “Filing History”.)

The accounts make for interesting reading. Flamingo Land (in Yorkshire) made a profit before tax of £1,335,504 last year.

There are four company directors, three of them with the surname Gibb and one Mrs D.M. Pullins.

Between the four of them, these directors paid themselves “emoluments” (bonuses) of £1,301,255 last year. The highest paid of them personally received £827,779.

A second point stands out: one of Flamingo Land’s three most profitable activities last year was catering.

The standard business model for this kind of development is to encourage visitors to stay inside the complex, spending their money at the company’s own restaurants and shops and maximising their profits. Hence the various restaurants and eateries proposed in the Balloch plan.

Let’s not be naïve; yes, Flamingo Land will make a lot of money. But the Gibb family are not coming here to enrich us or our area; they are coming to redirect a tidy slice of our local business revenue into their own pockets.

Many who would have chosen local hotels and cafés will instead stay inside the theme park; money that would have been spent locally will leave the area entirely.

Jonathan Hargreaves, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A NATIONAL newspaper recently published the headline ‘RBS must take a clean slate and build afresh’, followed by a question: “Is the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) finally on the road to redemption?”

The answer is no. RBS are on the road to perdition.

Gordon Brown as Prime Minister declared that he had saved the world with the active support of Alistair Darling, the Chancellor.

He achieved this miraculous feat by throwing taxpayer money at the banks.

They should have been allowed to fail. There would have been a short sharp financial shock and innovative solutions would have come from the displaced bankers.

Instead none of the money from quantitative easing has reached the high street or small to medium sized businesses (SMEs).

Instead we got a specially formed branch of RBS looting and asset stripping vulnerable SMEs.

In the latest resolution of criminal activity the RBS have agreed to pay the US Justice Department a $4.9bn (£3.6bn) penalty to keep the responsible bankers out of jail.

Last year, Ross McEwan, the CEO of RBS, was paid £3.5 million to oversee bank losses of £9 billion.

Mr McEwan has just closed every RBS branch south of Edinburgh. We own the bank but weren’t consulted.

The advertising department in the Edinburgh headquarters haven’t received the closure memo. RBS are sponsoring the Scottish Borders Excellence in Business awards. They think our money is theirs to squander.

Gordon Brown tried to spin the financial crash of 2008 as an American problem. It was home grown.

In the case of RBS, it was the work of Sir Fred “The Shred” Goodwin. For his alleged crimes, he was stripped of his knighthood but kept his pension.

In the banking world of financial Monopoly, he did not go to jail but did collect his £100.

Since 2008, the cumulative losses of RBS have been three times the annual budget of Scotland. A staggering statistic.

In Helensburgh, there has been some benefit from the misdeeds of bankers.

David Cameron handed £5 million of the money from the bank fines for the LIBOR (foreign exchange manipulaton) scandal to the Helensburgh waterfront project, where it will ensure facilities that can be used by service personnel from the Faslane base.

Local bankers no longer make local decisions. Ask a question in your local branch and it is a computer algorithm nicknamed Percival, in a bomb-proof bunker somewhere offshore, that makes the decision. There is no local override of the system.

There is a simple solution. RBS and HBOS should be split up. RBS becomes the Royal Bank of Scotland, with headquarters in Edinburgh, and RBS, with its toxic assets and global ambitions, is a separate entity in London.

Ditto for the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh and HBOS in London.

John Black

6 Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I am writing to ask people in Helensburgh to join Breast Cancer Now this October and take part in the UK’s biggest and boldest pink fundraiser, Wear It Pink.

Wear it pink takes place on Friday, October 19, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to raise funds for Breast Cancer Now’s vital research.

All you need to do is ditch your everyday colours and dig out your pink glad rags or favourite pink items for one day, and help Breast Cancer Now achieve its aim that by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live – and live well.

Breast Cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK. Around 980 women in Greater Glasgow and Clyde are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and around 210 women in Greater Glasgow and Clyde lose their lives to the disease.

Everyone and anyone can take part in wear it pink, and there are lots of ways the readers in Glasgow can get involved – either at school, at work, with friends or in the local community. You could try a wacky pink outfit competition at work, host a pink party with friends, hold a pink bake sale in the community, or organise a pink themed non-uniform day at school. Visit to sign up and get fun ideas for your fundraising.

Last year 249 fundraisers across the west of Scotland raised an incredible £38,244 for Breast Cancer Now’s cutting-edge breast cancer research. By taking part you are helping us get one step closer to stopping breast cancer taking the lives of those we love.

Lottie Barnden, Breast Cancer Now