This week's crop of letters to the Advertiser includes your views on Helensburgh pier, WW1 commemorations, Flamingo Land, the Rest and Be Thanksful and more.

To have your say on any local issue, email with 'Letter' in the subject line of your message. Please remember to supply 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 We also need a daytime phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.

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Helensburgh needs a functioning pier.

For most of human history, transport by water has been easier than by land. Think of the Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, the Vikings or our ancestors on the Western Isles. A pier is the essential interface between land and sea.

Henry Bell, the first Provost of Helensburgh, built the world’s first steam-powered ship, the Comet. He used the vessel to bring visitors via the pier to his Bath Hotel (now the Queens Hotel Apartments). By the early 1900s, there were up to 50 paddle steamers plying their trade on the Clyde.

The town fathers decided not to have a railway into the centre of Helensburgh to connect passengers with the paddle steamers. The pier at Craigendoran was built instead, and its remains bear testimony to the lucrative trade. Wealthy businessmen could stay in Rothesay or Dunoon during the summer, get a steamer to Craigendoran, catch a train into Glasgow and do a day’s work before returning home by the same route.

As Scotland became more affluent, the workers could afford to spend their two weeks’ holiday ‘doon the watter’. They became the passengers on the paddle steamers.

This continued until the 1970s when cheap air travel, sun and sangria took the money and the masses south.

I spent three days in Venice at the beginning of the month. On arrival at Marco Polo Airport, the visitor has a choice: walk out of the terminal and get a bus or taxi to the outskirts of Venice, or walk along a new, very expensive mile-long skyway to the water taxi and bus terminal.

Access to the centre of Venice is by foot or water. A water taxi will deliver you to your hotel.

Venice is the textbook example of a city that lives by the sea. Everything has to be transported on the water. There are boats for everything from the traditional gondola to the rubbish barges.

Helensburgh pier has been neglected by Argyll and Bute Council and is now “temporarily closed” to marine traffic. This is a mistake for Helensburgh.

It should be clear in 2018 that travelling by road can be difficult. Alternatives should be on the local and central government agenda.

A high speed catamaran can do 30 knots. This makes a regular service to the centre of Glasgow or down the Clyde a practical proposition.

Just as in Venice, there is scope for mass water transport or smaller water taxis. The port facilities in Greenock are being expanded. Two cruise ships will be able to dock together. The passengers want to visit interesting places and Helensburgh should be at the top of their list.

Nostalgia was evident with every visit of the PS Waverley to Helensburgh pier during the past summer. The esplanade is a natural spectator area for water sports on the east or west bays. A pier is essential for all of these assorted activities.

The expense may not be justified by one individual item. However not to maintain the pier denies the development of any.

There are present and future needs for a working pier in Helensburgh.

John Black, Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

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The unveiling of the memorial to Colonel George Findlay, which happened at Drumfork House on Sunday, should not pass without mention of Kevan O’Neill, the owner of Drumfork House.

Mr O’Neill was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition over a four-year period. His drive and ambition has resulted in a fitting tribute to a very brave man and reflects credit on the town.

The memorial contains the engraved citation of the action which led to the award of the Victoria Cross to Colonel Findlay, seven days before the First World War ended.

The engraving was made possible through the generous donations of local businesses regimental associations and local Helensburgh residents, supplemented by the Findlay family.

This will now become part of the local history of Helensburgh and we owe all those involved our sincere thanks.

Norman Muir (Convener, Helensburgh Community Council)

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I WRITE in response to Jonathan Hargreaves’ letter of October 25 about the Flamingo Land development proposals at Balloch.

Mr Hargreaves refers to me as a ‘spin doctor’, which is unfair and unrepresentative of my role.

I have spent a great deal of time meeting with local residents and community groups to talk to them about the plans and listen to their concerns, which I take seriously.

There was also a full public consultation – the purpose of which was to give people the facts and let them make up their own minds.

Mr Hargreaves says that ‘profits will flow into the directors’ own pockets’.

The reality is that, as in any strong business, profits are reinvested into the business, creating employment and wider opportunities for the community, such as training, education and conservation work in our case.

In reference to the point about limiting visitors’ spending outside the complex, this is not a ‘business model’ as Mr Hargreaves suggests.

We have a supermarket on site at Flamingo Land Yorkshire as the nearest convenience store is around a 10-minute drive away – but people are free to shop where they wish.

Many of our visitors spend time, and money, exploring the local area and its attractions during their stay.

While Mr Hargreaves argues that the project would ‘redirect the area’s wealth’, we believe it would in fact create prosperity in the area.

Flamingo Land is not a ‘chain company’ as he suggests – it is a family-owned business.

In a recent staff survey, 93.7 per cent of employees rated the business as very good or excellent to work for, which I believe speaks for itself.

Andy Miller (Director of Sales, Flamingo Land Resort Yorkshire)

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I NOTE that Councillor Aileen Morton dismisses out of hand (Advertiser, November 1) the proposal within the recent University of Sheffield report to consider setting up “super councils”.

It may well be that the suggestion that Helensburgh and Lomond area become part of a ‘Greater Glasgow’ council takes the concept of creating larger local authorities across Scotland too far. But the need to seriously consider reducing the number of councils from the current 32 is long overdue.

Many of your readers will recall the ‘Here We Go, Here We Go’ Advertiser headline approximately 24 years ago when it was announced that the Helensburgh and Lomond area would leave the then Dumbarton District Council and become part of the new Argyll and Bute Council as part of the 1996 local authority boundary changes. Most of those living within the area could not wait to get away from Dumbarton District Council.

How things have changed. In a survey carried out by the Advertiser in 2014, only 33 per cent of respondents stated that the area was better of as part of Argyll and Bute with a whopping 66% said that the area was no better off.

I do not believe we can justify 32 separate councils across a country the size of Scotland. With 32 chief executives, 32 directors of finance etc etc, the hundreds of senior council officials on massive salaries can no longer be justified, especially when we continue to see the Scottish Government slashing funding for councils year after year resulting in ever increasing cuts to our public services.

It does not take a great deal of thought to see where the number of local authorities can be reduced – by merging the three Ayrshire councils, Aberdeen City with Aberdeenshire, Orkney with Shetland, East Dunbartonshire with West Dunbartonshire and the Helensburgh and Lomond area, with the rest of Argyll and Bute being merged with Highland Council. The list goes on and on.

The difficulty is that there are far too many senior local authority officials and senior elected councillors across Scotland who have a vested interest in keeping things as they are. It is time to bite the bullet. It is time for change.

Cllr George Freeman (Independent, Lomond North)

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I WAS shocked to read SNP councillor Iain Shonny Paterson claim in his letter that the work carried out at the Rest and Be Thankful had been a “success”.

Closing the A83 for a week is a failure, not a success.

Fortunately, no other councillor agrees with Cllr Paterson. At a recent council meeting, which he did not attend, all councillors present voted through the following motion: “That the Scottish Government, without further delay, formally commits to identifying and funding a permanent solution to keep the A83, and Argyll and Bute, open for business.”

Let’s hope the SNP Government act on the council’s motion, and ignore the complacent views of Cllr Paterson.

Cllr Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat, Cowal)