This week's bumper crop of readers' letters to the Advertiser includes more views both for and against the Helensburgh waterfront proposals, thoughts on Helensburgh pier's future and good wishes for the new year from one of the area's MSPs.

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

Please keep your letters as brief and to the point as you can, and remember to supply your 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. Happy writing!

* * * * * * * *

There is a real danger that Helensburgh and Lomond is going to be left with no swimming pool unless local people make their voices heard now.

There are less than two weeks for the people of Helensburgh and Lomond to do what they can to make sure Helensburgh gets a new swimming pool, leisure centre, skate park area, and a massively improved town centre.

Everyone who supports this needs to write or e-mail the planning department of Argyll and Bute Council to register their support or we may face many more years of delay and every delay costs money and increases the risk attached to keeping the current pool operating.

The council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee (PPSL) have held several meetings and the application will be reconsidered on January 23 – when the committee will have the papers they already have, but also any new material, so there is still time for local people to influence their decision.

At their last meeting the PPSL requested further information on whether moving the building back would reduce the flood risk, and to seek further details on the impact of wave overtopping on the building.

This is essentially to address concerns raised by Dr Peter Brown of Helensburgh Community Council.

His alternative proposal, if adopted, would mean a new planning application having to be submitted, which would cause substantial delays to the delivery of a replacement pool.

In my view, this is a very bad proposal anyway which, if it came forward as a planning application, would trigger new objections once people realised that the car park area would be on two levels, with the West Clyde Street end nearly two metres above the seaward end which would remain at its current level.

This means that the seaward end of the car park would flood every winter, continuing to get worse as sea levels rise.

Moreover, Dr Brown has given no detail of how one level would be accessed from the other. Would we have steep flights of stairs or long winding ramps? We simply don’t know.

Dr Brown’s plan would result in the loss of more parking spaces as the sea end could not be used in the winter because of flooding, and the split over two levels would require additional space for access, reversing etc. and further reduce the parking spaces available.

Dr Brown has proffered no evidence of professional experience in designing and delivering major flood defence projects while all the accredited expert advice is very clear that our proposals are safe and appropriate.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s latest advice states: “We offer no objection to the proposed development...we are satisfied that the proposed development should benefit from a flood risk betterment in comparison to the existing developed site where there is a clear coastal flood risk susceptibility.”

The proposed new facilities will be a great improvement on the current facilities – and have been developed with substantial input from those who run and use the existing pool.

So my message to the people of Helensburgh and Lomond is a very simple one – write to the planning department of Argyll and Bute Council at the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre in East Clyde Street, or email to state that you support this application, or face years of delay.

Cllr Ellen Morton (chair, Helensburgh and Lomond area committee)

* * * * * * * *

Many of us were disappointed when, despite an additional £5 million from the Ministry of Defence, the iconic design for a new Helensburgh swimming pool by Gareth Hoskins was abandoned for a much more modest bog standard local pool design.

I felt an opportunity had been missed to make Helensburgh a favoured day trip destination for visitors to the National Park and from the whole of the central belt.

I have not yet met anyone who really understands the logic of the relocation of the pool to the furthest edge of the site with an entrance straight into the prevailing and at times extreme winds, with a potential for flooding.

The suggestion that it might interfere with the view from Colquhoun Square seems at best a little thin.

The search for a real explanation leads inevitably to the other major element of the Master Plan: the area identified as a ‘retail opportunity’.

Again, a little naively, I had been persuaded that these would be a series of small tourist-orientated units, such as art galleries, music stores, coffee shops and so on.

At the very least I thought we might see something like a McDonald’s on this prime tourist site.

But I now fear that what is actually envisaged by the council is a large metallic box housing a supermarket, covering the whole site.

I already know that council officials have in the past written to one supermarket chain stating that the whole site would be available to the highest bidder.

The relocation of the pool can then be explained by the benefits (to a supermarket) of a large number of parking spaces, expensively funded by the public purse, adjacent to the development, maximising the value of any eventual sale by the council.

This may be unduly cynical but my worries would be eased if councillors and planners would categorically state that there will be no supermarket on this site.

Over the last year there has been extensive discussion on the future of the High Street and of supermarkets.

The general view seems to be that the community now wants a ‘people-orientated’ range of labour intensive services such as bookshops, coffee houses, gyms, specialised foods etc.

When in Quebec I was impressed with the vibrant quayside indoor market, common throughout Europe and indeed the world, but strangely absent from western Scotland.

I believe such a market would have a major positive effect on the town.

I also think that such an initiative has to be developed, organised and run locally and believe that the community council, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and Argyll and Bute Council, need to act now to prevent that unwanted supermarket limiting our future.

Dr Geoff Riddington, via email

* * * * * * * *

This Liberal Democrat led council has spent the £5 million given by the UK Government to enhance any new Helensburgh swimming pool facility on other projects in Argyll.

The result is the cheapest replacement facility they think they can foist on the community.

The Liberal Democrat led council is trying to maximise the sale of land at the pier head to property speculators. The resulting money will again vanish into Argyll and the new swimming pool will be squeezed into the most weather exposed location in Helensburgh.

The opposition response is not to oppose this madness but to delay a decision for a report on global warming from the experts at Argyll and Bute Council.

This may be the new kind of politics we were promised, but it certainly isn’t an improvement.

James Robb, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * *

AT the end of your article on the future of Helensburgh’s pier (Advertiser, December 27), Councillor Roddy McCuish is quoted as saying: “The council fully appreciates the economic potential that a fully operational pier could offer Helensburgh.”

If this is the case, why was no funding allocated to Helensburgh Pier in the council’s 10-year funding plan for piers and jetties – similar to the other 50 jetties and piers in Argyll and Bute?

Mrs P. Stewart, Granville Street, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * *

I WALKED along the West Esplanade on New Year’s Day after the swim at Rhu Marina. It was a glorious greeting to the new year with the winter sunshine glistening off the water.

At first, I was surrounded by others leaving the event. Past Kidston Park, they were replaced by folk out for a walk from the town centre. Some of the older generation in wheelchairs, infants being pushed in prams.

Helensburgh and Scotland were closed for the holiday but there were walkers out on the West Esplanade.

There is something about the interface between land and sea that fascinates. Our Victorian forefathers have gifted us a stage for all to enjoy the splendour of life in this special place.

The Clyde estuary has seen the span of Scottish history. Mary Queen of Scots, as a girl, taken by brig from Dumbarton to France to be educated. In recent times, the mighty products of Clydeside have anchored at the Tail of the Bank on sea trials before proclaiming Scottish shipbuilding prowess to the world.

Our cousins in distant lands departed these shores from the Clyde, including John Muir, the father of the environmental movement, now celebrated in Helensburgh with the John Muir Way.

There is much to ponder while walking and looking across the water to Gourock, Greenock and Port Glasgow. The esplanade has been a special place in the hearts of town residents.

I know of no other place with so many memorial benches. Each with a small plaque remembering a loved one. The memorial celebrates a life past and gives the gift of a seat to sit and enjoy the enduring, simple pleasure of being.

One of the challenges of life is to identify what makes a place special. Unique. Answer that question and you have a guiding philosophy.

In my mind, the West Esplanade with the views of the Clyde is the feature that makes Helensburgh.

The town of Helensburgh was a gift from our Victorian ancestors. It was a seaside town, neglected and run down, and in need of sympathetic restoration.

Instead we got CHORD. Gutted for two years while the latest fashion in townscapes was installed. Expensive light standards were thrown on the scrapheap. Not part of the current theme.

£8 million of Chinese granite pavements now choke traffic flow. There are fewer car parking spaces. The ageing Victorian ‘grande dame’ has been made-over as a hip younger model. Grand Victorian ladies should be treasured for what they are, not reinvented as things they are not.

The pierhead car park is widely regarded as an eye-sore; an expedient solution to the problem of parking cars close to the town centre. Now £20 million has been ringfenced to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

The new leisure centre was conceived as part of a larger plan in a consultant’s office in Glasgow in 2009.

Fast forward to 2019 and only the leisure centre remains of the masterplan, which originally featured housing, a supermarket, retail, parking, a hotel and a leisure centre.

The architect decreed that the sight lines from Colquhoun Square, the heart of CHORD, dictate the location of the new leisure centre on the south-west corner of the pierhead car park; exposed to the full brunt of any winter storms.

The ink is barely dry on the latest flood risk assessment. This required a higher sea wall.

Money will buy us a walled citadel in the middle of the Clyde. It will get flooded but there is an evacuation plan!

In my youth, we had an open air swimming pool at the pierhead. It served the needs of the community for the short Scottish summers. The current pool provides year round swimming but is at the end of its useful life.

Modern life demands a “leisure centre”. This is a house of pain. Healthy exercise has to be programmed into life in 2019. ‘Leisure’ it is not. There will be no memorial plaques on this building.

An integrated town plan would put the leisure centre in Hermitage Park. The Glasgow consultants didn’t know the town, and didn’t ask. A different big money solution is under way in the park so that can’t happen.

There are better options for the location of the £20m icon to progress. The proposed location is the worst possible. Don’t spend our money destroying the sea views that make Helensburgh special!

John Black, 6 Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * *

The festive period is a great time of year with both busy, stressful days and relaxed quiet days. It is important to take time to relax and unwind – giving us time to reflect back on our year and look to the forthcoming one.

We as humans are all the same, we have good moments and bad ones, happy ones and sad, sensible and stupid. Throughout the year, we have a tendency to judge others errors, but not so much our own.

Now that we are in a new year, we should reflect on ourselves and learn what we can do differently to better ourselves and in turn help improve society. Instead of judging someone for making a mistake, help those individuals better themselves and together we can create a friendly, inclusive society.

I am a great believer in local communities, which is sometimes difficult in this day and age, with life being fast paced with work pressures and family commitments. It takes all aspects of society to form a community, and this year I have seen communities pull together to achieve things that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.

The fixing last month of Helensburgh’s Christmas tree is a prime example and everyone who helped in whatever way they could deserves great credit.

And still on the festive theme, the Ministry of Defence, and ground staff at Coulport, showed a real partnership with their local community in providing trees for Rosneath, Kilcreggan and Cove. They deserve a massive thank you for their generosity and engagement with the local community.

Finally, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and has a very prosperous New Year.

Maurice Corry MSP (Conservative, West Scotland)