YOUR letters to the Advertiser this week include views on rhododendrons in and around Helensburgh, speeding motorists, nominations for Scotland's Tree of the Year, and more.

To have your say on any topic of interest to Helensburgh and Lomond, just email your views to with 'Letter' in the subject line of your message.

You can also send in your contributions via the 'Send Us Your News' section of this website.

Please remember to include your name and address, and to keep your contributions as brief and to-the-point as you can.

We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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

* * * * * * * * * * *

Argyll and Bute Council recently put some effort into cutting back the rhododendrons around the skating pond in Helensburgh.

Unfortunately this is only one small area where these invasive plants have taken over.

In some parts of Scotland there are organised groups that volunteer to reduce the amount of rhododendron in their area. Unfortunately I know of no such group here around Helensburgh.

My dog takes me for a walk every day and I often take secateurs, loppers or a saw with me. As we go, I have been cutting back some of these plants where they are invading our more neglected public spaces.

I have been doing this over the course of the last year or so.

The scale of the problem is enormous, however, and the little I do is not enough to be anything approaching a solution.

Let me suggest that, if you are willing, have the time and are able, that you do as I do and cut back or snap off some twigs or branches when you pass them.

As the outer branches are cut that exposes the inner and thicker ones, after that the trunk can be cut off and maybe treated with systemic herbicide.

It is surprising how quickly small daily efforts make inroads into quite large bushes.

In the Walkers’ Rest, the brambles and raspberries were being drowned out by rhododendron that had come through from the adjacent private road. These have been reduced but probably more needs to be done.

In the woodland between the skating pond and Hill House it is particularly bad. I have done a little along the path but these wild woodlands are being engulfed by rhododendron. They are also now beginning to colonise the farmland over the fence from the path.

One of the difficulties for an individual doing this sort of thing is that I do not have a machine to chip the residue and there are a few piles of dead branches along the way.

Dougie Blackwood, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: May 16, 2019

* * * * * * * * * * *

Last week’s Advertiser reported that Inspector Roddy MacNeill had told members of the Helensburgh and Lomond community planning group that the area’s speed detection van will only be deployed in “hot spot” areas if crash figures justify it

(click here to read the full story)


As a long standing motorist I don’t remember a hot spot at the Milton or Castlehill areas of Dumbarton, or at Bridge of Orchy. Yet detection vans are there on a regular basis.

Detection vans are in positions to catch easy targets reducing their speeds from 60 miles an hour to 40 or 30.

But I have experienced accidents on the A82 from Arden to Tarbet, and also accidents up to Fort William with roads being closed due to impatient, inconsiderate drivers, and to foreign motorists driving on the wrong side of the road.

Brian Maguire, Clyde Street, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: May 9, 2019

* * * * * * * * * * *

AS a regular online reader of the letters column in the Advertiser, I enjoy the variety of topics brought up by readers on issues relating to Helensburgh and beyond.

However, I surely cannot be the only reader to think that your regular inclusion of the thoughts of Islay Conservative councillor Alastair Redman is becoming somewhat tiresome.

He is, of course, entitled to his opinion, and I’m a bit reluctant to rise to the bait he so obviously dangles on a regular basis in the hope that someone, somewhere, will bite.


his latest contribution (May 16),

in my view, lapses from the provocative into the plain rude.

“Sturgeon is sending back yet another power to the UK government”, he writes. I am no flag bearer for the SNP, but it’s as if he cannot bear to acknowledge that the first minister of Scotland, like the rest of us normal human beings, has a first name.

I’m quite sure that if someone of a different political persuasion were to write in to the Advertiser criticising “May”, “Johnson” and “Gove”, without giving them their Christian name or even the simple courtesy of a title, he would be among the first to rise up in anger.

I note, too, that another of Cllr Redman’s favourite words – “separatists” – appears nowhere in his most recent letter. Perhaps he has realised that the attitude of many in the Conservative party towards the EU makes the use of such a term as a stick with which to beat the SNP a bit rich.

If the SNP is indeed a band of “separatists”, as he is so fond of saying, what does that make those in his party who are so hell-bent on the hardest of hard Brexits, whatever the economic consequences to the UK?

Ah, but that’s not separatism, I can hear him cry; that’s restoring our historic democracy, giving us back our independence, and setting us free from the yoke of a bureaucratic oppressor.

Am I alone in seeing the words pot, kettle and black leap into my mind?

Fiona Mitchell, via email

* * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: May 2, 2019

* * * * * * * * * * *

I THINK it needs pointing out to Ian Blackford MP and the rest of the politicians in the SNP that they only polled 36.9 per cent of the vote at the last general election, which was less than the 38 per cent who voted Leave at the EU referendum in 2016.

So, in percentage terms, if the Scottish electorate didn’t vote to Leave, it didn’t vote for an SNP government either.

Angus Macmillan, Meikle Boturich (near Balloch)

* * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: April 25, 2019

* * * * * * * * * * *

Nominations are now open for Scotland’s Tree of the Year 2019. The competition, organised by Woodland Trust Scotland, celebrates individual trees communities have taken to their heart.

Thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery the winning tree will receive a £1,000 care award, with £500 for two runners-up.

The money can be spent on works to benefit the tree, signage or some kind of community celebration. Last year’s winner, Netty’s Tree on Eriskay, had a ceilidh tune commissioned with part of its award.

Other previous winners include the Suffragette Oak in Glasgow, The ‘Ding Dong’ Tree in Prestonpans and The ‘Big Tree’ on Orkney.

We want to hear about the historic trees, the grand old specimens or just the trees that people have a particular connection with. It is the story as much as the tree itself which catches the public imagination and gets the votes flowing in.

The competition has become a very popular annual fixture and turns up new delights every year. It is a fantastic celebration of the trees that are most special to people and communities.

Any individual or organisation can nominate a tree.

Nominations close on July 19. Judges will choose finalists to go to public online vote later in the year.

The finalists will be honoured at a Scottish Parliament reception and will have portraits taken by nature photographer Niall Benvie.

As well as the £1,000 care award the winning tree receives a unique trophy.

Nominations can be made online at

Is there a tree in Helensburgh that could be this year’s winner?

George Anderson (Woodland Trust Scotland)

* * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: April 18, 2019

* * * * * * * * * * *

The majority of people believe we can all be kinder to each other, according to a survey of the public for the British Red Cross.

Three out of four people surveyed in Scotland admitted they themselves could do more to be kinder to others, with a staggering 98 per cent agreeing that if we all did one kind thing a day, the UK would be a better place.

Alongside the survey, the British Red Cross is launching its One Kind Thing campaign, encouraging everyone in Scotland to do something kind to support its vital work.

From donating money, time or unwanted clothes, to taking part in an event, we are inviting everyone to choose ‘one kind thing’ to ensure our volunteers can keep connecting people in crisis with people’s kindness, across Scotland and the world.

The British Red Cross connects people in crisis with people who want to help. We reach out when people need us most so they know they don’t have to face their challenges alone. These survey results show the Scottish public believe we can all manage to do one kind thing, and it doesn’t have to be grand scale to make a real difference.

Even the simplest acts of kindness can start to remove some of the fear and anxiety we all feel when faced with adversity, however big or small. That’s as true in refugee camps thousands of miles away as it is on a street here in Scotland. It’s heartening to see how strongly people recognise that; now we must mobilise and empower one other to create a kinder nation.

Find out more about the One Kind Thing campaign by searching online for ‘Red Cross One Kind Thing’. You can also get involved on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Linked In, using the hashtag #OneKindThing.

Zoë Abrams (executive director for communications and advocacy, British Red Cross)