THE future of Geilston Garden in Cardross, depopulation in Argyll and Bute and council cuts are all discussed in this week's Letters. Send your views in to to have them featured in the next edition of the paper.


IN commenting on the Friends of Geilston annual general meeting (Advertiser, December 13), the spokesman for the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) claimed that it was untrue that the Trust had been left money to invest in the property.

I’m not aware of what the context was for this reply but it is important that the Friends of Geilston question this statement.

Miss Hendry’s will is quite clear, stating that she left Geilston Estate and ‘the residue of her means’, which amounted to nearly a million pounds.

The National Trust invested this legacy so that by 2016 it had accumulated to almost £2.5 million – which, until then, was held in a separate Geilston account.

The Trust subsequently moved this to its General Income Fund. Moreover, in 2005 the NTS itself stated that “the challenge to the Trust is to ensure that the future running costs of the property can be met within the resources of the E.C. Hendry Fund; the Fund which Miss Hendry donated to the Trust and which the Trust’s council has set aside to fund the Management of Geilston” (Geilston Management Plan 2005).

Furthermore, Miss Hendry was a very generous benefactor to the Trust, giving them money to purchase Ben Lomond. She also gave generously to local causes.

It is slightly disappointing that the spokesman for the NTS mis-represented Miss Hendry’s generous legacy in this way.

Notwithstanding this, we are working with the NTS to try and find a way forward for Geilston which will be acceptable to both the NTS and the Friends of Geilston.

We are hopeful that the economic assessment which is to be commissioned will show the right direction.

Allison Hillis (Chair, Friends of Geilston)

11 Rowmore Quays, Rhu


KING Canute decided that he was more powerful than natural forces. He ordered the tide to stop rising; he got wet feet.

Now Argyll and Bute Council and council leader Aileen Morton have decided to emulate the King (‘Council makes stand against depopulation’, Helensburgh Advertiser, December 13).

The population of the Highlands and Islands has been falling since the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in April 1746. Undaunted by history, the council has allocated £4.5 million of public money to their vision of population growth.

Meanwhile, as reported in the same issue of the Advertiser, essential services, such as school crossing patrols, are facing cuts.

Pouring public money into rural Argyll will not turn the tide of natural forces. Population growth and decline is a complex issue and almost every aspect is outside any influence from Argyll and Bute Council. The council should focus on the issues they can control.

Local councils are charged with the efficient delivery of local services. Fix the roads. Empty the bins. Better phone reception across Argyll. Local banks serving local needs. Adequate ferry services to and from the far-flung corners of Argyll.

If Argyll and Bute provides the infrastructure, entrepreneurs will take care of the economy.

In an overcrowded world, a falling population isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Peace, quiet, solitude set in fantastic scenery are rare commodities in the modern world...

In an earlier attempt to balance the books, the ‘lollipop’ patrols were axed. The redundancy payments cost £80,000, then the patrols were re-hired on new contracts. For the patrollers themselves, it is ‘deja vu’, without the redundancy protection.

What price do you put on the safety of children going to school?

If the axe must fall, get rid of the high earners responsible for bad decisions. Argyll and Bute Council (you and I) owns Oban Airport. The facility was previously in private hands and made a profit. Council ownership has turned profit into loss.

Argyll and Bute’s ownership of the facility has cost £500,000 per year for the past five years to provide flights to Coll (population 164), Colonsay (124) and Tiree (650) – all islands with ferry connections to the outside world.

Uncontrolled growth can have unintended consequences. There are plans for up to 800 new homes in Helensburgh. Where are the children to go to school?

We need better local government in Argyll and Bute; a long term vision where the council provides the infrastructure and essential services then lets nature take its course.

The short term mega-fixes in Dunoon, Helensburgh or Oban have not worked.

John Black

Woodhollow House, Helensburgh


I WAS somewhat perturbed at the news (Advertiser, December 13) that Helensburgh dog walkers may be in fear of a harmless plant.

It seems that two unrelated plants are being confounded: hemlock water dropwort and sea radish.

Hemlock water dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) only grows in wet places, in moist soil, by ditches, streams, marshes and lakes. All parts are poisonous.

This plant is a member of the carrot family but dies down in autumn. Its tiny white flowers form a flat head, and its leaves are very fleshy and lacy-edged. Its roots may be exposed during ditch-digging or by storms.

It seems some people are thinking the ‘hemlock’ part of the name means it’s Conium maculatum – that variety of hemlock is not native here, but does occur along the Ayrshire coast. It has spotted stems.

Sea radish (Raphanus raphanistrum, ssp. maritimum) only occurs at the coast in sand or shingle. It is abundant in Helensburgh above the high water mark, and as well as being our commonest seaside plant, is not poisonous.

It is a member of the cabbage family, with a familiar cabbagey scent, and produces abundant primrose flowers in summer.

Its fat white roots may be exposed after storms, and the leaves are still visible now.

There are some botanical ‘curiosities’ on the internet, including ‘poison parsnip’, which does not exist in the British flora at all.

Reliable descriptions and coloured illustrations can be found in ‘Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland’, by Blamey, Fitter and fitter.

Please don’t uproot sea radish – it’s illegal to do so, and it’s a harmless plant.

Alison Rutherford (Former botanical recorder, The Botanical Society

of Britain and Ireland)

19 South King Street, Helensburgh


ON behalf of the members of Helensburgh Lunch Club I would like to give a big thank you to Captain Craig Mearns from the Faslane naval base and his boys.

The team cooked and served our Christmas lunch on Thursday, December 13 at the United Reformed Church Hall.

We cannot forget Mrs Barrington and her team who look after us throughout the year.

We wish all a Merry Christmas.

Jean C Holland (Ex WW2 Wren)

Helensburgh Lunch Club


A TOTAL of 288 families and individuals - comprising more than 300 adults and 160 children - have been referred to Positive Action in Housing for crisis support following our marathon two day winter surgery on December 19 and 20.

This surgery is in aid of destitute refugee and asylum seeking families and lone individuals.

We will be providing crisis support to vulnerable men, women and children from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and many other refugee producing countries.

You can read stories about some of the people we have helped in our annual impact report, available at our website (

We accept referrals from homelessness and refugee organisations, social workers, health visitors, GPs and others.

To provide this appeal, we must raise a further £10,000 by Christmas Day. So please give if you can. All funds will go directly assisting those in need. Gift Aid from this appeal will go towards our destitution service.

Positive Action in housing’s humanitarian work is funded by charitable trusts and individuals. In 2017/18, we assisted 1,400 destitute refugees, asylum seekers and insecurely housed migrants to seek legal resolution.

You can donate online at Alternatively, you can write a cheque, made payable to ‘Positive Action in Housing’, and post to Positive Action in Housing, 98 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1PJ.

Please mark back of the cheque ‘Winter Appeal’ and ensure you send your name, address and email so we can acknowledge your donation.

Thank you for considering this appeal.

Positive Action in Housing

Via email


THE Scottish Government’s budget plans, published last week, fail to make the investment in public services that our country needs.

The government should have taken advantage of their tax powers to maintain essential public services. Instead they have further cut business tax and maintained the failed small business bonus scheme.

The rise in local government funding is less than both CoSLA and Audit Scotland say is necessary to maintain vital public services.

Public sector pay rose by just 4.4 per cent between 2010 and 2016 while the cost of living rose by 22 per cent. So the public sector pay increase of 3 per cent may monitor inflation but fails to restore massive cuts in earnings since 2010.

Equally the government could have used procurement guidelines to address low pay and the living wage in the voluntary sector.

The announcement of funding for children in their early years appears to recycle previous announcements, and it is questionable whether this funding is enough to meet the Scottish Government’s aspirations for early years education.

There was much to welcome in the welfare package; however, they missed the opportunity to use their powers to lift thousands of children out of poverty.

Mike Kirby

Secretary, UNISON Scotland