THIS week's bumper crop of Advertiser letters includes your thoughts on the Helensburgh waterfront planning hearing, marine litter, the Rest and Be Thankful and more.

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

Please try and keep your contributions as concise as you can, and remember to supply tyour name and address. We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

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Dr Peter Brown is to be congratulated on his presentation to the planning committee on Monday last.

I sense that there is a feeling of frustration among those present that Peter threw a spanner in the works of the waterfront project by stating the position on flooding.

There is a cautionary tale to be told.

As a young civil engineer, I specialised in designing marine structures, working for Babtie, Shaw and Morton, now Jacobs.

During my time there, Babtie's were asked by the Clyde Port Authority (CPA) to design a floating breakwater for Rhu Marina. They proposed a substantial steel pontoon structure with a curtain wall hung below.

This was rejected by CPA on the grounds of cost. They chose instead a much lighter concrete structure that was built further up the Clyde and towed into position.

This failed dramatically. In fact it had no effect on the waves at all. The designers had calculated the design on a wave generated over the fetch (distance) from Greenock, which was a wave with a 3.4 second period.

In order to find out what the actual period was, I went out on the marina's pontoons and measured the period. This involved crawling out on all fours, during a storm, and taking the time that each crest took to pass me.

It was so dangerous that I never did it again. The time I got was 4.8 seconds, which is a much bigger wave.

From this, I concluded that waves were travelling all the way up the Clyde estuary and turning the corner, which gave a much longer fetch than that calculated.

That mistake cost millions. The original breakwater was destroyed. Pontoons were damaged. Yachts were damaged.

A new stone breakwater was built. That failed. More pontoons were damaged. More yachts were damaged. The breakwater was rebuilt yet again.

The moral of the story is that the wave design and flood design has to be right, even if it means more delay and more cost.

Design of the seaward side armouring can be used to dissipate wave energy. Designers really should go and look at the site during a really good southerly storm. They should remember that what used to be a hundred year storm is now a 10 year storm.

Couple that with low atmospheric pressure, highest astronomical tide, rise in sea level due to ice melting, and you get a very nasty picture indeed.

Treat the sea with deference and respect, otherwise it will bite. Don't cut costs.

Reay Mackay, Campbell Street, Helensburgh

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Having sat through the seven hour long public hearing on the waterfront plans last Monday, I was relieved that a decision will at least be delayed until after the findings in the 10 yearly SEPA report which is due to be published shortly.

However all through the hearing, the placement of the new swimming pool so that it can be seen from Colquhoun Street seemed to be regarded as highly important.

Perhaps Councillor Kinniburgh could explain why this is a consideration. Why is that more important than coach parking, a skateboard park and the ability to walk up to the proposed site without danger of being blown over or finding the site flooded?

M. McCallum, Keil Court, Hanover Street, Helensburgh

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I felt a profound sense of failure after the meeting to consider plans for a new swimming pool in Helensburgh.

This was one branch of Argyll and Bute Council applying to another branch for consent. It was an open goal, and they missed. Something had gone badly wrong in the process.

No one at the meeting spoke against the idea of a new swimming pool for the town. Location was the problem.

I was a pupil at Hermitage Academy in the 1950s. Our PE classes used the outdoor swimming pool on the site of the current skate park.

When the time came to replace it, Scottish weather and common sense dictated an indoor replacement. That has now reached the end of its useful life.

The replacement has been planned since 2006. The initial idea included housing, retail, a supermarket, increased parking, a boutique hotel and a leisure centre.

Large amounts of public money have been spent as successive consultants have pared the plan down to the current proposal for a leisure centre at the south west corner of the south pierhead car park.

Given the chosen location, almost a quarter of the budget will be for sea defences and raising the level of the surface. This expense means less money available for leisure centre facilities.

If we go back to basics, we need a new swimming pool. There are existing gym, dance and exercise facilities in the town run by private enterprise.

The role of government should be to provide facilities beyond the capability of the private sector. We don't need a mediocre leisure centre, we need an excellent swimming pool. That is absent from the current plans.

Most of the child-friendly features are gone. The spectator area is gone. We are left with a like-for-like replacement that will be too small when it is opened.

A quarter of the budget is money from the Ministry of Defence to give access to Royal Navy personnel. The next few years will see the Navy presence at Faslane increase as all of the British submarine fleet is moved to the Gareloch.

Ellen Renton, who lives in Tower Place, next to the pierhead, spoke passionately about the location problem. She follows the weather daily from her front window. Her view of the location? "An act of sheer folly."

This, Ellen said, would be "a carbuncle at the end of the pier". She also highlighted the lack of joined up thinking.

Which brings us back to the process.

Communication is a problem in any organisation. A council has to have effective communication with the taxpayer who foots the bill. Argyll and Bute's code of corporate governance commits the council to "taking informed and transparent decisions which are subject to effective scrutiny, and managing risk", to "developing the capacity and capability of members and officers to be effective" and to "engaging with local people and other stakeholders to ensure robust public accountability".

It is down in black and white. But words have to lead to action.

Somehow, artistic considerations about sight lines from Colquhoun Square dictated the south-west corner location for this new iconic leisure centre. This council decision caused alarm amongst Helensburgh Community Council.

The first consultation in January of this year was with selected focus groups. The ordinary taxpayer was not included. The building was turned 90 degrees to provide those using the treadmills with a choice view down the Clyde.

Three public consultations in March, April and May led to a battle between the council and the community council over survey numbers. The proposed vending machine was replaced with a cafe with views up the Gareloch.

At Monday's meeting, we had a body of 20 unpaid but elected local representatives – the community council – opposing the work of 10 paid elected local representatives, the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee. The battle was refereed and judged by an Argyll and Bute Council committee..

The result was confusion and stalemate.

We have £20 million to spend on a new swimming pool. If this was built on the existing site or next to it, there would be no need for a large budget item for sea defences, because flood risk would be at the present level. If we agree that gyms, dance studios and cafes are in the private realm, all of the money would go for the best swimming pool money can buy.

In 1964, I moved to Vancouver. I worked across the road from an open air Olympic standard swimming pool which I used at lunch times. This was a legacy of the Commonwealth Games held in the city.

We have a chance to dream and leave a legacy for generations to come. This is a plea to those in charge: don't mess it up!

John Black, Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

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Apart from being British, and of the same generation, I have one further thing in common with Prince Charles: he abhors litter, and taught William and Harry to pick it up.

My own children were brought up to pick up litter too. I, and they, would never dream of throwing cans and plastic trays out of a car window, or of dropping crisp packets on the pavement.

Were I a smoker, I would consider my fag ends as litter, and dispose of them carefully; ditto chewing gum etc.

Today, I walked along the shore, as I do often, and was horrified by the piles of cans, plastics and other rubbish tangled up in the seaweed, and noted similar items discarded and pushed into hedges along the streets of the village.

Why is it that so many people feel that its acceptable to spoil our environment in this way?

We are living in difficult times where we often feel helpless to do anything about the political chaos, and events that have a global reach, but we can reduce and dispose of our litter carefully.

One day in Scotland, at least, with political will, education, deposit schemes et cetera, we will see the back of this scourge.

If deposit schemes were introduced, I could have made myself a tidy sum from the empty cans and plastic bottles I have picked up over the years!

Gwen Irving, Church Avenue, Cardross

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The Argyll economy desperately needs a solution to stop the A83 being closed by landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful. To answer Councillor Paterson’s question (Advertiser Comment, November 22), I have attended many meetings about the A83 over the years, several of them on cold winter days on site at the Rest.

Just as I did at the meeting on November 15, I’ve regularly called on SNP ministers to solve the problems of the A83. Sadly, the SNP have always gone for the cheap option, instead of doing a proper job.

I even remember one meeting at which a senior Transport Scotland official said that using the Old Military Road wouldn’t work, because debris from a landslip would reach that road and block it.

The SNP ignored this advice and chose the Old Military Road for their emergency diversion route. A few weeks ago a landslip blocked the Old Military Road.

Instead of ignoring expert advice, the SNP must start taking the problem seriously and choose one of the recommendations from the Jacobs Report, which will fix the problems at the Rest.

Instead of trying to defend the SNP’s appalling record, Councillor Paterson should join me in calling on the SNP Government to spend the money needed to keep the A83 open.

Cllr Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat, Cowal)

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Please may I use your letters to thank onevery kind person in Helensburgh?

On Sunday, November 18, I got out of my car to post a birthday card to a dear friend.

A gust of wind blew it out of my hand and I could not find it.

But the following Thursday, I got a phone call to tell me the card had arrived.

So, to the very kind person who pick it up and posted it, a very big thank you. We do live in a kind town.

Elizabeth McIntyre, Maclachlan Road, Helensburgh