The latest crop of readers' letters to the Advertiser includes views on stone skimming in Helensburgh, more thoughts on the town's planned waterfront development, and views on the future of the British Transport Police in Scotland.

To have your say on any local issue, email with 'Letter' in the subject line of your email.

Please include your name and address, and also a daytime phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed. Happy writing!

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In response to your article telling of local man Alex Lewis’s intention of raising support for a stone skimming championship, and Ruth Wishart’s comments in the same issue (Advertiser, August 23), I feel that I should, on Alex’s behalf, set the record straight.

Either by miscommunication or misunderstanding, Maurice Corry MSP stated in the article that the project was intended as a ‘world championship’.

It is not. Everyone in the ‘skimming’ world is very well aware of that competition held, annually, on Easdale Island and there is absolutely no intention of usurping that title.

However, what is needed is a ‘national’ Scottish Open tournament. This second competition, north of the border, would align with England, which has two – the English Open and the British Championship – and Wales, which also has two, in the form of the Welsh Open and the Corinthian Games.

Rather than detract from Easdale, a second event in Scotland would enhance and broaden the profile of what has developed, over the years, to become an international sport.

This new ‘Scottish Open’ would embrace the advances made in formalising the rules of the sport and the adoption of recently developed standardised ‘competition stones’, which are manufactured in a range of sizes to suit all age groups and ability levels.

These stones ensure a level playing field – or fjord, perhaps – where all competitors have an equal opportunity to perform to the best of their ability and not find themselves in a first-come, first-served ‘stone-picking’ contest where the first who arrive get to choose the best stones – as is a feature of some of the older competitions.

Where these stones have been adopted, here in the UK and as far afield as Switzerland, they have not only been welcomed but has also enabled those very competitions to take place. (It is of course quite illegal to remove stones in quantity from beaches and other water-courses for the purpose of competitions.)

Performances by the top exponents of stone-skimming have, in recent years, progressed in leaps and bounds. The new world record, established

earlier this year, now stands in excess of 122 metres (the distance, on East Clyde Street, from the corner of Colquhoun St to the corner of

Sinclair Streer!), and xenophobes need not be concerned - it was achieved by a Scotsman, Dougie Isaacs of Blairgowrie.

The attainment of that kind of performance, a product of power and technique, compares well with the top performances in traditional field sports such as the javelin and discus.

Perhaps, one day as a result, the sport of stone-skimming will be taken into consideration for full recognition by the International Olympic Committee!

With regard to categories, not only will the various age groups, including veterans, compete separately, but the ‘elite’ of the sport – those who have been ‘placed’ in any other competition – will also find themselves in a quite separate category.

On the subject of bounce-count as opposed to distance achieved, the number of bounces (whatever qualifies as a bounce) is probably the most

difficult to determine accurately.

Apart from the fact that such can often be a matter of pure luck, depending on the state of the water surface, it will always be the result of opinion by judges and a matter for contention and dissent by participants.

Distance, on the other hand, is something that can be accurately determined by judges with reference to distance marker buoys, seen and accepted by participants and spectators alike, and a demonstration of the physical prowess and dexterity of a contestant.

Bouncing is a game; distance is a sport.

Of course, older ‘skimmers’ such as myself welcome the idea that parents might throw off the shackles of risk aversion and encourage their children to get their feet wet and hands dirty down at the waterside, indulge in the game of stone skipping and count the bounces.

They will learn that the further the throw, the more the bounces and thereby, from embryo, the next generation of competitors in the sport of stone skimming might be born.

Alternatively we can banish footballs and just kick sheep’s bladders around – just for a bit of fun!

Ron Long (stone skimmer), via email

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Dr Peter Brown’s letter in last week’s Advertiser complains that I have not given evidence that Helensburgh Community Council's survey results are flawed. He also reassures me that HCC's “1,109 respondents came from a broad spectrum of age ranges”.

The reality is that the sample is heavily skewed away from young people (12–30-year olds) and the over sixties, towards the 31 to 60 age group. The HCC survey had a split of 39 per cent-61 per cent between these two groups, whereas the 2011 census shows the split to be 55-45 per cent.

It is impossible to tell what difference this will make but it undermines their claim that this is representative of the views of the whole community. The self-selecting nature of the drop-in survey and on-line survey will always make it difficult to achieve a proper representative sample.

Perhaps, of more importance, is the questionnaire itself. Several of the questions offered only a simple yes or no answer – not allowing the respondent to qualify their answers.

Specifically, the question “Does the proposal for swimming pools, gym, studios, etc., adequately meet your needs?” did not allow people to express support for any elements of the facilities, whilst identifying the need for other facilities.

However, whilst I may criticise the HCC survey for not being statistically robust as a public opinion survey, I do accept that it was a good exercise in public consultation. So, when Dr Brown reminds us that 53 per cent of the respondents answered ‘no’ to the question on the facilities meeting respondents’ needs, I do agree that we need to look seriously at what their reasons were for saying no.

At the same time, the community council needs to recognise that nearly half their respondents answered yes – that the facilities do meet their needs.

Respondents who answered ‘no’ to the question gave a wide range of reasons. The two largest groups of reasons relate to the aspirations of some to have a ‘fun pool’ with flumes, slides and a wave machine; and of others to have a competition pool with spectator seating and diving boards.

This was the issue that HCC’s convener, Norman Muir, raised in an earlier letter to your columns. Within the budgets available it is not possible to satisfy both these competing aspirations. The addition of just the spectator seating was costed at £750,000.

As I set out in my earlier letter, LiveArgyll is committed to working with users and potential users in exploring ways in which we can offer an exciting range of activities for all ages.

To that end, we will be holding user group meetings, next month, to start developing ideas for the full range of activities we will offer when the facility opens.

Dr Brown regards this as a missed opportunity. I see it as living within our means and responding pragmatically, based on our knowledge of the market and our customers’ needs.

Andrew Nisbet (chair, LiveArgyll)

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There are many aspects to the issue of redeveloping Helensburgh's waterfront, but reserving one third of the area for retail development has everyone mystified.

One councillor told me that when the likes of Marks and Spencer want to develop in the town, we have a site for them. I wonder if they know that?

The truth seems to be that an income from the sale of sites of £1-5 million has been taken as a credit in the waterfront budget, making the project seem more attractive.

Perhaps the council can confirm this – and at the same time explain why we need fewer car parking spaces. There must be an explanation for that decision.

John Ashworth, Woodside, Helensburgh

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The Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership isn’t overspending to provide the essential support our elderly, vulnerable and disadvantaged residents need. It is being underfunded by councillors.

James Robb, Helensburgh

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The SNP have been forced to U-turn on their plans to abolish the British Transport Police after senior officers warned they couldn’t safely plan a new date for the merger to go ahead.

After months of pressure from the Scottish Conservatives to devolve without throwing up a border on the railways, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has now finally said that he will "explore further options" of how to devolve railway policing, despite repeatedly defending the original merger plans in Parliament throughout the last year

For months, the SNP refused to listen when they were told this merger would lead to chaos.

It's time for them to end the political games and act in the interests of public safety.

Cllr Alastair Redman (Conservative, Kintyre and the Islands)