THIS week's crop of your letters to the Advertiser includes views on taxi provision in Helensburgh, Scotland's 'named persons' scheme plans, a second EU referendum and much more.

To have your say on any local issue, just email your opinions – as brief and to-the-point as you can – to, with your name and address, and including 'Letter' in the subject line of your message.

Find out what's appeared in recent issues of the Advertiser by clicking on the links below.

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser – January 17, 2019

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser – January 10, 2019

We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.

Happy writing!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Further to your article of January 10 on the issuing of a taxi licence for Helensburgh to David Haddow of TOA Taxis, there are currently 50 taxi plates issued by Argyll and Bute Council for the Helesburgh and Lomond zone.

Twenty are part of TOA, nine of Neptune, and the remainder work independently.

In cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, black cabs are quite distinct from private hire vehicles. Black cabs are better equipped to take more people with their luggage on short journeys within the city boundaries. Private hire vehicles are more comfortable for longer journeys.

In Helensburgh there is no physical difference between the two categories. Only licensed taxis can work from a taxi rank or pick up on the street. Private hire vehicles respond to a phone call making the hire.

There is no requirement in Scotland for wheelchair accessible vehicles, although any taxi must be prepared to transport someone in a wheelchair.

Mr Haddow's claims of massive unmet demand are self serving. In recent years, the number of care homes in Helensburgh has fallen from 12 to three. Mr Haddow is free to produce the evidence to support his claim.

There is no evidence of unmet taxi demand in Helensburgh and Lomond, yet Argyll and Bute Council have issued two more taxi plates and four private hire operators licenses in the past year. This extra capacity will reduce the income of local drivers by more than 10 per cent. Our local councillors have not volunteered to take a 10 per cent reduction in their salaries!

John Black, 6 Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

An independent panel tasked with establishing a ‘code of practice’ for Named Persons is facing difficulties.

The chair of the panel said it is struggling to create a code to address information sharing concerns that does not make the current situation more ‘complex and confusing’.

In a letter to John Swinney, the panel’s chair also outlined concerns that this complexity could damage support for children and families.

These concerns about data-sharing are not going to go away - they are the same issues which were raised by the Supreme Court and by witnesses who attended Holyrood’s education committee.

The SNP must stop wasting time and public money on a discredited policy which has virtually no public support.

Cllr Alastair Redman (Conservative, Kintyre and the Islands)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was striking to note that according to Downing Street it will take more than a year to organise another EU referendum.

This is of course an attempt to undermine the call by the People’s Vote campaign for such a plebiscite and is total and utter nonsense

It would be perfectly possible to organize a referendum to take place in much shorter order, without trampling on constitutional and practical requirements.

Indeed, the first EU referendum was called in February 2016 and the vote itself took place in June 2016, a mere four months. The referendum to establish the Scottish Parliament was held in September 1997 following the election of the Labour Party in May that year, again four months.

Further afield Greece’s referendum to decide whether that nation should accept the bailout in the government-debt crisis was announced on June 27, 2015, with the referendum taking place on 5th July.

While a week to hold a vote, as was the case with Greece, may be a little overambitious, the idea that another EU referendum would take more than a year to organise is patent drivel.

Alex Orr, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It is absolutely outrageous that people are having to suffer hardship and starvation whilst these rich Tory MPs pussyfoot around, trying to decide how cheaply they can make the Universal Credit system work.

The reason the Tories are doing this is so that they can scrape together enough money to spend billions on nuclear weapons that we don't need.

Surely it would be far better to look after the poor of the nation.

Scotland would be far better off as an independent nation, managing our own financial affairs. Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per head of population, but most of the wealth goes straight to the Treasury in London.

If we were independent, we would retain all of that wealth and be much better able to alleviate poverty.

Susan Swain, Innerwick, Dunbar

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A plotline in 'Coronation Street' this week brought to light the fact that underage girls can have an abortion in the UK without parental involvement, and that parents have no legal right to be informed or consulted about their child’s abortion.

Comments on social media afterwards showed that Coronation Street viewers were confused and concerned at how a vulnerable, 14-year-old schoolgirl would not need parental consent or involvement to get an abortion.

Viewers were rightly shocked at the lack of requirement for any parental involvement which poses many questions in relation to the safety of the girl and the ability to consent.

It highlights the lack of legal protections in place to protect vulnerable girls, under the age of consent.

A ComRes poll, conducted in 2017, showed that 70 per cent of parents agree that parental or guardian consent should be required for girls aged 15 or under to undergo an abortion.

This also highlights the ridiculous scenario here in the UK where a girl aged under 16 needs parental consent to take a paracetamol pill at school but does not need any parental consent for her school nurse to take her off to an abortion clinic to terminate her pregnancy.

Right To Life campaign, via email

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Winter walks with your dog can be a challenging experience. Cold weather, ice and even snow can make a 10-minute walk feel like a marathon. However, by listening to your dog and using the right equipment, a winter walk doesn’t have to be something to fear.

Company of Animals, the leading dog training and behaviour experts, has put together five tips to help you and your dog have safe and fun walks together this winter.

Walking your dog when the sun is out can become almost impossible in winter, so it’s important to be prepared for the dark walking conditions. Both you and your dog should wear reflective gear so that you can be easily seen by drivers or cyclists as you walk along the pavement.

Long walks aren’t always better. Shorter days often result in shorter walks but this doesn’t mean less fun; your dog still needs mental and physical stimulation to keep him happy. Try giving your dog his meals in food dispensing toys to keep his brain busy.

Another good alternative is to use winter-time to teach your dog some new tricks. Clicker training is a great way to teach new habits and tricks and it can easily be carried out indoors! Small dogs and those with thinner coats may feel the cold much more so consider investing in a warm coat for your dog to keep him snug and warm this winter.

Ice can be dangerous when walking by yourself, let alone while walking a dog. Walking in the dark can make this especially treacherous especially as both you and your pup are less likely to see what’s up ahead. Having the correct lead is icy conditions is therefore vital.

Don’t forget about feet. Dogs use their foot pads for traction when it’s icy, so nails need to be kept short. Long nails can cause your dog to slide and fall, as his ability to grip is hindered.

It’s also important to ensure his feet are cleaned and dried on your return to ensure that wet, mud and salt doesn’t cause irritation to his sensitive feet.

Moisturising your dog’s paws with dog-safe moisturiser is a great way to help soothe and protect them for the dry and irritated skin that can arise during the colder months.

Don’t pile on the pounds. Like us, less exercise means less calories burned off. If your dog is getting less exercise than usual then consider reducing his food intake accordingly; switch to a ‘light’ version of his regular meal or reduce the amount you feed him and supplement with some raw fruit and vegetables such as carrot, cucumber, sweet potato and apple slices to keep your dog feeling full.

Ensure that training treats are also taken into consideration when working out your dog’s daily food intake.

With all these tips in mind you’ll be sure to keep both you and your dog happy, safe and healthy this winter; ready for many more outdoor adventures come spring.

Company of Animals, via email