This week's Advertiser letters include more thoughts on the Helensburgh waterfront, some imaginative ideas to give the town's economy a boost, and a response to a recent article on licences to walk dogs in the Duchess Wood.

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It is with surprise that I read Andrew Nisbet’s concern (Advertiser Comment, August 30) about the cross-section of the community that responded to the Helensburgh Community Council survey on the waterfront development.

The community council received 1,109 responses and 55 per cent of those surveyed rejected the proposed leisure centre.

Argyll and Bute Council have ignored this community view by pressing ahead with the proposals largely unchanged, and the public are now urged to state their views on the planning application that has been submitted.

Mr Nisbet feels that the “survey methods are totally flawed” without giving evidence of this sweeping statement, and he is concerned that we did not consult a random cross section of the population.

I am pleased to reassure him that, as per our survey report to the council’s project team, our 1,109 respondents came from a broad spectrum of age ranges and were uniformly distributed across the town.

One in four came from each of the G84 7, 8 and 9 postcode areas, and the remainder from nearby communities. We could not have received a more complete cross-section of ages and areas – thank you to everyone who responded!

What Mr Nisbet, as the chair of LiveArgyll, operator of the council’s leisure centres, should be concerned about is the feedback that Argyll and Bute Council itself sought.

Almost two-thirds of the council’s own feedback forms from the consultation events in Victoria Halls were from those over 60, which definitely does not properly represent the community.

In addition, the Argyll and Bute ‘focus groups’ in January consisted of only 35 people, of which nine were employees of LiveArgyll.

If Mr Nisbet is uncomfortable that Argyll and Bute Council are proposing to spend £18.4 million on a development that does not have the support of the community, then he is absolutely right to be concerned.

Fifty-three of our respondents said ‘no’ to the question: “Does the proposal for swimming pools, gym, studios, etc, adequately meet your needs?”

People have considered the plans and, despite it being an improvement on what we have at present, do not believe it is as good as it could be. It is a missed opportunity.

The community council urges the community to make its feelings known to the council before this development happens by default.

Please comment on the planning application as soon as possible on the council’s website (search for reference 18/01614/PP), by email to, or via the HCC form at

Dr Peter Brown (vice-convener, Helensburgh Community Council)

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The magic number is three. One job – locally-based or not – supports three in the local economy.

Provided the wage packet finds its way into a local bank account, purse or pocket, that individual will spend money locally for local goods and services.

Local people are earning money, have money to spend on the basics of life and something extra for the weekend or the trip to Ibiza, Turkey or wherever. Depression turns to optimism and the whole community benefits.

We need a ‘Helensburgh is Open for Business’ campaign. We need to use all of our local assets to attract visitors to the town.

Fortnightly street markets bring competition for local shops and the money spent with street vendors doesn’t stay in the town and contribute to the three for one effect. It ticks the ‘twee’ box but little else.

We have unused assets. The humps and bumps on the renovated west esplanade should be turned into an 18-hole crazy golf course.

We need a kids’ skate park in the north side of Colquhoun Square. This would bring the Square back to life.

There should be a giant sand box on the south side of the Square. This would entertain the wee kids while their older brothers and sisters are showing off their skills on a skateboard.

The sea is a forgotten asset of our seaside town.There should be a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) based on the pier offering thrills on the ocean wave.

There were a couple of days last week where there was a decent on-shore breeze. Some local windsurfers took the chance to hone their skills. A windsurfing competition along the water off the West Esplanade would provide free entertainment and draw competitors and spectators to Helensburgh.

Powerboat racing should also be a feature on the annual calendar of events held in the town.

Colquhoun Street is an unlikely asset but it offers a good vertical drop and it could be closed from West Rossdhu Drive to Colquhoun Square without causing grid-lock. This could become the venue for a Scottish round of the Red Bull Soapbox Derby, or an event for local area schools. In the last few years, street racing in electric cars has taken off.

Since the cars use battery power, there is no noise pollution other than the squeal of the tyres and the sound of cars crashing into the barriers or each other.

There is an racing series called Formula E which generates international TV coverage. This is being hosted by major cities, however, with time, lower leagues of Formula cars and saloon cars powered by batteries will develop. Helensburgh as a possible race venue should be investigated.

We have a neglected resource in the skating pond at the top of Sinclair Street. It used to be a very popular attraction for skating but then the powers-that-be decided that it should become a wildlife refuge. Now it is the home of a few ducks and the wildlife isn’t safe because it is neglected and overgrown with vegetation.

Helensburgh is the home of the British stone skimming champion, Alex Lewis. This event has its roots in the disused quarries of Easdale, but Easdale is no longer large enough for competitions. The Helensburgh skating pond could become the venue for major stone-skimming championships.

All of these activities would attract people to the area from far and wide. They would need a place to stay. Helensburgh badly needs a modern hotel and conference centre. There is space in the centre of the town that fits the bill.

We need signs at the entrance to the town listing the car parks and the available spaces. This information is available in Glasgow; why not Helensburgh?

There should be facilities in Colquhoun Square for bus passengers to get off next to the shops, cafes and restaurants, stretch their legs and spend their holiday cash.

We are at the end of a superb railway service. We need advertising posters on these trains to remind passengers that they can take the train on their day off and visit Helensburgh.

In the last century, Harry Lauder, the great Scottish entertainer, had a hit with his song, Roamin’ In The Gloamin’. A simple walk along the West Esplanade on “the bonnie banks of Clyde” is all it takes to go “roamin’ in the gloamin’, with a lassie by your side”.

Helensburgh, the town where yesterday meets today!

John Black, 6 Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

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I HAVE always been grateful for the attention the Advertiser has given to Duchess Wood and the work of the Friends of Duchess Wood, who, with other local groups, have made significant improvements to the Wood over the past 20 years.

In your issue of 23 August you gave a lot of helpful coverage to our report to the council’s Duchess Wood Local Nature Reserve Committee.

Unfortunately in discussing the issue of professional dog walking in the Wood, the headlines, including “Licence call for Burgh’s dog walkers”, misrepresent what our report said.

This has been compounded over the past week by the news bills around the town which proclaim “A licence to walk your dog?”, and by the Advertiser’s Facebook discussion point “Dog walkers could need licence to use Helensburgh Wood”.

The responses on Facebook have been summarised in this week’s edition which repeats the “dog walkers might have to apply for a licence” line, and not surprisingly include comments reacting to this idea.

As the text of your full report makes clear, the matter raised by the Friends was about professional dog walkers taking five or more dogs into the Wood at one time, and sometimes having limited control.

This is a matter which the council has examined in the past, and in the light of complaints made to us, we sought information on whether this was still on the council’s agenda.

We said nothing about ordinary dog walkers needing a licence, and this has never been discussed.

Indeed over the summer, as you reported in an earlier edition, we helped run a “top dog” event in the Wood because we recognise the health and social benefits of dog ownership. I hope this reassures your readers – and their dogs.

Stewart Campbell (Chair, Friends of Duchess Wood)