ELLEN Morton, chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee, discusses the dangers posed by attaching labels to people or places in this week's councillor column...


I LOVE living in Helensburgh, and if pushed for reasons, I might refer to the range of small shops, the number and quality of the restaurants and cafes, the walk along the esplanade or the ease of access to both the countryside and the city.

However it would never cross my mind to describe the town as sexy, so I was more than a little surprised to read in a recent edition of the Advertiser that Helensburgh is 12th in the top 20 of Scotland’s ‘sexiest’ towns, and the most sexy one in the whole of the west of Scotland.

This description of Helensburgh seems to me to be misleading, but quite entertaining.

READ MORE: Helensburgh is 'sexiest town in west of Scotland', survey claims

I am not at all sure what the criteria were for making this judgement, but I feel that if the description attracts more people to visit the town, then they might leave feeling a bit disappointed.

However, on a more serious note, I believe that attaching labels, whether to places or people, can be quite damaging.

What made me think about it was the recent spate of graffiti, vandalism and criminal damage across Helensburgh.

In many cases there appeared to have been young people involved in these incidents, but I think we need to be very careful not to appear to ascribe this unacceptable behaviour to young people in general, the vast, vast majority of whom are law abiding, hardworking and actively engaged in helping the community.

There is plenty of evidence of this. For example, a recent education report shows that we are way above the national average for the percentage of young people who leave school for a “positive destination” – that is, an apprenticeship, a job or a place at college or university.

READ MORE: Hermitage Academy has best Higher exam pass rate in Argyll and Bute

Helensburgh is also awash with dance and music classes, sports clubs and activities like Scouts, Guides and Church groups all packed with young members.

Our youngsters also work with the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service, as well as taking part in the Scottish Youth Parliament and working with our community councils helping at things like beach cleans.

Many young people also, through sad family circumstances, act as carers for a parent or a sibling, often at considerable personal sacrifice.

So let’s make sure we don’t appear to blame all our young people for the actions of a few by attaching an undeserved label to those actions – because to do so is both unjust and damaging to relationships between different generations.