A BUMPER crop of readers' letters this week includes views on the Duchess Wood closure, Helensburgh Library, Brexit, a response to our latest Eye on Millig column, and more.

To have your say on any topic of local interest, just email your views to editorial@helensburghadvertiser.co.uk or get in touch through the Send Us Your News section of this website.

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

We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.

Happy writing!

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Having recently returned to the greater Helensburgh area, I had in the past, and again within the last 72 hours, walked through Duchess Woods with my canine.

I examined both the outer ring path and inner path and found no significant risk to public safety, including trees that have partially fallen in the inner pockets and whose branches and trunks are supported by healthy trees and are in their natural state of forest decay.

The various streams and water courses are free-flowing, and only one was found to be intentionally blocked; however, there is no pathway surface subsidence, nor are any of the water run-offs leading to significant erosion of pathways.

What seems clear is that Argyll and Bute Council took a report by an unqualified tree surgeon company – by which I mean that while they have listed competencies in their profile, they do not have any recognised health and safety competencies at a professional level.

Furthermore, while they can provide assistance in forestry management risk assessments, their report should not persuade the council down the current pathway of wilful violations of public trust and potential violations of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

If you publicly state that an area is unsafe, based on a risk assessment, and you merely put up warning signs and do not ensure access restrictions, any council employee, contractor or member of the public who sustains an injury will be able to hold the council liable.

The “I haven’t seen it or read it” excuse doesn’t work either. Ignorance is not a valid defence under the Act, or regulations made under the Act, and across the United Kingdom there have been successful prosecutions of both private companies and civic organisations.

It might be an idea to work with local groups more closely and provide a risk assessment exercise from all walks of the public, not just the tree surgeons and council technical advisers.

Stephen Sheskey (BSc, Health and Safety Management), via email

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters – August 22, 2019

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May I reply to Michael MacNeil’s letter in last week’s Advertiser, regarding cuts to the library service provision in Helensburgh?

First, I would like to thank Mr MacNeil for using our library service and his positive comments about our staff.

Moving to the main theme raised, whilst it is true the library is no longer open on Monday evenings and Saturday afternoons, since moving to LiveArgyll Helensburgh Library’s opening hours have actually increased to 44 hours per week, an increase of 15 per cent.

These changes to opening hours were a response to an analysis of usage levels and were made in consultation with users and local staff.

The change has enabled us to open every morning, remain open over lunchtime periods, and to continue to offer an evening provision and weekend hours that are aligned to overall demand.

We are very mindful of user requirements, but it is not always possible to cater for all individual’s specific needs.

I believe that the revisions made remove barriers to accessing the local library service.

In addition to our six days per week offering, LiveArgyll recently launched a new library e-book provision which has already seen a significant increase in the number of people accessing books electronically. This service is available to all library users 24/7 and is part of the general improvement that has been made to the library online offer in order to improve access to services.

Helensburgh Library also provides a welcoming and safe environment for several local groups to meet. Macmillan Cancer Support offer a drop-in service and the facility provides space for the local dementia group to meet.

Since the move to the Trust, the library has also benefited considerably from an excellent events programme aimed at adults and young people.

The library is about to launch an exciting innovation hub in partnership with Helensburgh Community Council. The hub will create a flexible working space for local entrepreneurs with the opportunity to access a range of business services and training workshops.

Clearly the move to LiveArgyll has been a positive one for Helensburgh Library, and for libraries throughout Argyll and Bute.

It is our intention to continue to look for innovative ways to expand the services we offer in our libraries, and to improve access to them.

Andrew Nisbet (Chair, LiveArgyll)

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters – August 15, 2019

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Many years ago, while visiting a family who were long standing friends of my mother’s family, I was shown a picture of a yacht that their family had had commissioned.

It looked similar to the one in the painting featured in your Eye on Millig column of August 22.

As it was during the 1960s, I am unable to remember much detail. The outstanding fact which has stuck in mind was a design feature - a foredeck that to be big enough and flat enough to fit in a full eightsome set and the band for dancing.

The yacht in the photo has a very large area of foredeck between the superstructure and the foremast.

From memory the family name was Strutt, who were Midlands textile manufacturers and who owned Kingairloch.

As the picture is of a location far distant from the estate I may have it all very wrong.

While I do not wish to start a wild goose chase, I hope my memories might help conclusively identify the craft.

Michael Wright (Syston, Leicestershire)

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters – August 8, 2019

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Go back five years and would you have imagined the position we are in now?

We have two buffoons as Prime Minister of the UK and President of the USA. We are seriously facing the possibility of one of these buffoons shutting down the Westminster parliament to prevent MPs having a vote on an important issue.

We have arrived here because some very rich people control much of the media and want to take us back to where people of their ilk could do what they like with the rest of us without let or hindrance.

These people are xenophobic and narrow-minded with only one aim: to amass as much wealth as they possibly can, at the expense of those that toil to create their profits for them.

They do not like the restrictions put upon them by legislation from the EU, designed to prevent the self-same exploitation, like encouraging desperate workers to toil long hours on minimum wages to make enough to survive on.

They do not like a body like the European Court of Justice that prevents their representatives in parliament making discriminatory or oppressive laws.

Fake news stories about nasty Johnnie Foreigner stealing our jobs, hordes coming as health tourists, and insisting on us eating only straight bananas were splashed in the tabloid press.

Social media was manipulated and exploited to engage those that were living on the margins and were not registered to vote; they registered and voted for Brexit, led by the propaganda that they were fed.

Now we find that our health service is liable to collapse as foreign workers take the hint and either leave or no longer come.

There was a story in the paper the other day that fishing boats cannot get crews to do the dangerous work for the pay on offer and our fishing industry is suffering. It’s the same story on farms as itinerant workers are not coming and some crops are left to rot in the ground.

Still we press on. The democratic will of the people must be obeyed, and they cannot change their mind, even though it becomes more and more obvious that the Leave vote was gained on a pack of lies.

Dougie Blackwood, Helensburgh

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters – August 1, 2019

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My favourite activity at this time of the year is picking brambles.

I am not saying this is the simplest or even healthiest of activities. All this crouching, hand staining, pricked fingers and even eye strain. And often when you reach for a large black juicy berry it seems to disappear.

It’s like the behaviour of politicians. They offer so much, but when you reach for it, it disappears.

The Scottish government passed a law guaranteeing one would be seen by an appropriate health specialist within a stated limited time. The SNP government daily breaks this law – be it on cancer, accident and emergencies, or mental health.

Or what about the promises made to the people of Arran and the Outer Hebrides on improved ferry services? The Scottish Government is responsible for Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), which owns and manages ferries. MV Glen Sannox was intended to commence service to Arran in 2018 but lies incomplete for all to see in the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow.

Part of the delay is because of disagreement over the fixed-price design and build contract for the two vessels. The SNP seems obsessed with this type of contract, which has adversely affected schools, colleges and community centres.

Worse still, while the SNP ridiculed previous government public private partnerships they have introduced a system clearly no better.

What about the £1.2 million each month we, the taxpayers, have to pay for the unopened Edinburgh sick children’s hospital?

The SNP cabinet secretary for health and social care stepped in so late that she does not know whether this much needed hospital will ever open!

The second part of the bramble experience is the delicious mouthwatering bramble crumble, which gives joy and stimulation. Not like the crumbling state of the SNP government which has a sour taste and clearly disappoints.

Finlay Craig, Cove