YOUR final selection of readers' letters this year features views on marine litter, funds for affordable housing and a thank you message from a leading children's charity.

To have your say on any local issue, just email your views to (with 'Letter' in the subject line of your message), with your name and address. We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

Thanks for all your contributions during 2018 – we look forward to reading your views on the news in the new year!

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I write on the state of our beaches. Many present an appalling spectacle, strewn as they are with all manner of man-made rubbish.

There is also of course what we can't see, whether its tiny bits of plastics or dissolved chemicals – just think of the recent news of nursing seals with potentially toxic milk – but the visible stuff is proof enough that we have a mammoth problem on our hands.

So, what to do?

There are individuals and bodies who are doing their level best through beach-cleaning: their praises should be shouted from the rooftops. However, set in context, this usually amounts to a few willing horses, volunteers in the main.

My perception is that no public body seems able or willing to do much to address the problem, which compounds itself relentlessly, year upon year. To me, it's one of the great scandals of our time.

Such is a reactive perspective: but how about a more pro-active one? Does the Law of the Sea need overhaul? Dare anyone take on the might of the plastics and packaging industries? And how might we imbue people with a greater sense of pride?

There's another issue stemming from litter in general. We are often told that tourism is one of our most important industries, and indeed our landscapes and visitor attractions are among the best.

But is it not hypocritical to expect visitors and tourists to come and spend their money here, if we can't offer them a clean environment (while acknowledging that some add to the problem)?

A picture has been painted of gloom and doom, but coming at this season of joy and celebration, is there any scope for humour?

As many readers will be aware, the world of architecture has something called the Carbuncle Awards, dished out to highlight perceived shortcomings in the built environment, and aimed at giving focus to remedial action.

My big idea is to lobby for a Beach Carbuncle Award (BCA), with a similar goal. I know of an excellent candidate to put forward, if someone will second my proposal...

Alistair McIntyre, via email

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The Advertiser recently reported that more than 800 new affordable homes are in the pipeline for construction across Argyll and Bute over the next three years as part of the council's Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP).

Although the council is presenting this as good news, when it was being discussed at the council meeting, I highlighted that I was disappointed at the low level of investment in affordable housing being provided to Argyll and Bute by the Scottish Government compared with 10 or 12 years ago when annual investment in housing was well over £20 million.

As an example, if we look back to 2006, funding was £21.9m. When we compare that with the 2018/19 allocation of £16.1m, it can be seen that this is a massive cut of more than 25 per cent.

Where we would expect the council to be receiving much more for housing from the Scottish Government than it did 10-12 years ago, we see that the next two years are not much better with allocations of only £17.1m and £18.2m, which is well below the levels of funding the council received in the past.

Because of these ongoing cuts in investment for housing from the Scottish Government, the council was informed that it would have to contribute £1.9m each year for the next three years from its the Strategic Housing Fund.

As this fund is council tax payers' money, I informed the council that I believed that it was unacceptable that council tax payers across Argyll and Bute were having to subsidise affordable housing due to the cuts in funding for affordable housing from the Scottish Government which I believe, are totally unacceptable.

The spin that the Scottish Government puts on this is to say that they are now putting funding into building council houses. What they do not say is that they are taking funding from housing associations to do that. Even the council cannot spin this as good news.

Cllr George Freeman (Independent, Lomond North)

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On behalf of Children 1st, I’d like to thank the people of Helensburgh for their continued support for Scotland’s national children’s charity.

We’re overwhelmed by the generosity and fundraising efforts from everyone across Scotland. It’s this kindness that has allowed us to help over 8000 children and their families this year alone.

We’d like to pay special thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery in Helensburgh for 10 years of support through Postcode Children Trust which has enabled us to continue delivering vital support services like our advice network Parentline. In the last year, Parentline supported over 2100 parents thanks to the players, and we look to expand our presence locally in the New Year.

We’ve also been able to prevent and protect children and their families from traumatic experiences, including poverty, loss and abuse thanks to the players, as well as helping them become stronger and more resilient together.

With the support of players of People's Postcode Lottery through Postcode Children Trust, we can help build a brighter future for more children and families in Helensburgh.

Mary Glasgow (Chief executive, Children 1st)