Your letters to the Advertiser this week include views on Christianity in politics, local decision-making in Argyll and Bute, the Co-op Community Fund in Helensburgh, education and more.

To have your say on any topic of local interest, all you have to do is email your thoughts to or get in touch with us via the Send Us Your News section of this website.

Please try and keep your contributions as brief and to-the-point as you can, and to provide us with 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.

Happy writing!

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IT was revealing to listen to the aspiring national politicians at Helensburgh’s hustings on Monday evening. It was perhaps equally revealing to listen to the responses of the audience.

I had hoped to raise my concerns regarding peace in our country, including Northern Ireland, something sadly lacking ever since Brexit was on the table.

By choice of our government and Parliament, this election has been held as we approach the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. The peace He brings is prosperity on all levels, starting with the family unit.

We must not be surprised that when we ignore Him, there is breakdown at every level in society. We are now an economy, not a family of nations, where compassion for one another is lacking and for which no amount of wealth will compensate.

Man is free to cause mayhem and suffering but will be held to account when this same Prince of Peace returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as we so rightly sing in The Messiah. We will be judged by our loving kindness to others.

On that note I wish to add, as an experienced health professional, that local health services have been proved to be essential for local communities, especially where older people are concerned.

This is a process which has been undone since 1997, as I witnessed first hand. Just this week the importance of the Vale of Leven Hospital, with its dedicated staff, has come once more to the fore.

Saving and expanding these services is of the utmost importance to our health and wellbeing and we should press this principle on those who govern us. In the end it will save money and strengthen the economy too.

As the angels sang two millennia ago, God’s peace is for men of goodwill, or to put it more clearly, good hearts.

In a town with so many churches, hopefully those we vote for will represent us and work for many facets of the health and wellbeing of Argyll and Bute.

Margaret Buchanan-Coles, Helensburgh

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: December 5, 2019

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It was interesting to read in last week’s Advertiser of the disagreement between Councillors Lorna Douglas and George Freeman about gender balance in Argyll and Bute Council’s audit and scrutiny committee.

Can I stir the pot a little further by pointing out the major geographical imbalance in the council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee?

In case your readers are not aware of the functions of this committee, a very important one is to make decisions on the larger and more controversial planning applications that arise in Argyll and Bute Council.

Three major Helensburgh applications on which they have recently decided are the new houses being built by Persimmon Homes at Ardencaple, the new swimming pool at the pierhead, and the nursing home in the former depot at Hermitage Park.

Scottish Government policy is that the decisions which matter most to local people should be taken by local people. So, how “local” are the members of the PPSL committee?

Well, of its 15 members, only five represent the Helensburgh and Lomond area. The rest come from as far away as Islay (two members), as wel as Mull, Bute, Campbeltown, Oban, Lochgilphead and Dunoon – certainly not my understanding of the word “local”. And of course future generations will have to live with their decisions.

In June 2018, Helensburgh Community Council unanimously decided to write to Argyll and Bute Council to request an urgent review of the PPSL committee in the light of Scottish Government policy.

Remarkably, we were, in short, told that the PPSL committee is perfect! And of course we are still waiting for the urgent review.

In your article Councillor Freeman also remarked that some of his colleagues on the audit and scrutiny committee “struggle to deal with and analyse numbers”.

It could also be argued that some of his colleagues on the PPSL committee struggle to apply the criteria in the Local Development Plan when taking their decisions – yet according to the council’s own website, the “Local Development Plan provides the local planning framework for the council area...[and] the general policy context against which planning applications for new development proposals should be assessed.”

Perhaps room for improvement?

Stewart Noble (Treasurer, Helensburgh Community Council)

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: November 28, 2019

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We are delighted that the Garelochhead Station Trust has been chosen to benefit from the Co-op Local Community Fund.

At a time when funds for community groups and charitable organisations are becoming more difficult to access, we’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity to make a real difference in Helensburgh and Lomond.

These funds will contribute towards the provision of an office/drop-in facility to enable veterans and their families to access information and advice at a time convenient to them.

The facility will provide a focal point for ex-serving personnel and their families to meet others in the local community.

This will also develop community capacity by the informal sharing of skills and knowledge between the wider community and those moving into the area.

Having the facility will also encourage and support volunteering in the wider community especially in this area of high deprivation as indicated in the SIMD, and increasing residents’ positive impact on the local community

The funding will also enable the Trust to provide educational opportunities for those who would otherwise be unable to access them. This will include visits to other veterans’ projects to experience ‘good practice’ in delivering services. It will also provide the opportunity for local veterans and their families to share experiences with those about to leave the military and encourage them to become involved in the running of the Trust and the local community.

The funding will also give socially isolated older people the opportunity to experience positive social interaction and develop a support network. This will have a positive impact on their quality of life of those taking part.

Co-op members can choose a cause at We really hope that people will visit the website and choose to support us.

Morevain Martin (Coordinator, Garelochhead Station Trust)

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: November 21, 2019

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Nicola Sturgeon has challenged the people of Scotland to “judge us on education”.

Despite lowering the ‘pass’ mark for Highers to 34 per cent, we now see exposed the mediocre performance of the Curriculum for Excellence.

The latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) figures make abysmal reading for Scotland, when once upon a time we were the envy of the world.

Added to that we have scans for breast, heart and orthopaedic operations being carried out in mobile units in hospital car parks, after more than a decade of SNP government. Hospitals remain closed, wards closed, despite full autonomy over our NHS, each Health Secretary making more excuses than the one before.

We have the worst drugs problem in Europe, while our centralised ‘Poileas’ has a continual stream of resignations by chief constables and chairpersons.

To some, “independence transcends everything”. The rest of Scotland, I hope, will judge them accordingly.

Allan Thompson, Glasgow

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters: November 14, 2019

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While most of us are looking forward to Christmas, for people living with cancer, it can be a very different story.

The physical effects of the illness and side effects of treatment may leave them feeling unwell and fatigued, and unable to join in the festivities as they normally would.

They may be plagued by worries they struggle to explain to their loved ones, such as how the next round of chemotherapy will affect their body, or how their income has dropped since their diagnosis.

For others, they may be distressed they can’t muster the energy to prepare or enjoy Christmas dinner as they normally would.

Macmillan knows cancer doesn’t stop at Christmas. The free Macmillan Support Line (0808 808 0000) will be providing support over the holidays between 8am-5pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and 9am-5pm on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

You can also access the Macmillan Online Community 24/7 at to talk to other people affected by cancer.

Macmillan receives almost no government funding, so without the public’s generous help, we simply can’t be there for those who need us.

A donation of £5 a month in 2020 could help run a small Macmillan information and support centre for two hours, while around £30 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for an hour, giving people living with cancer and their families essential medical, practical and emotional support.

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a supporter this Christmas, please visit

Jan Forrest (Head of fundraising for Scotland, Macmillan Cancer Support)