THIS week's Advertiser letters page includes your views on Hermitage Park, electric vehicle charging, bus stop works, the Portincaple development proposals 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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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Dougie Blackwood’s letter in the Helensburgh Advertiser of January 23 is not about Hermitage Park, but his description of it as a ‘vanity project’ undertaken by Argyll and Bute Council cannot go unchallenged.

The regeneration project was instigated by local residents who, eight years ago, formed the Friends of Hermitage Park, and they took the proposal to the council, as owners of the park, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Argyll and Bute Council has contributed approximately 10 per cent of the refurbishment costs. The rest of the £3.5 million has come from external funding sources, the biggest funder being the Heritage Lottery Fund through its ‘Parks for People’ programme, contributing £2.33m.

The park has staff and additional support from the council’s amenity services team, but there is a lot to do.

This is a five year project and the first three years have been taken up with all the major building and landscaping works.

Nobody decorates when the builders are in; we are just getting started on tidying up and replanting, and gardening takes time.

The project aims to create a beautiful, sustainable park that will last another hundred years before it needs its next facelift.

The key to the park being a sustainable asset for everyone to enjoy is community involvement through activities, events and volunteering. It is for the people to take ownership of.

Mr Blackwood’s opinion that improving the greenspace in the middle of our town, a safe place to walk, play, cycle, exercise, meet and garden suitable for all ages and abilities is a ‘vanity project’ is contrary to the well-documented health and wellbeing benefits of parks and greenspace.

It is also offensive to the many volunteers and supporters who are contributing to this project for the benefit of the town.

Fiona Baker (Chair, Friends of Hermitage Park)

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Advertiser: January 23, 2020

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In response to Cllr George Freeman’s column on electric vehicle charging points (Advertiser Comment, January 23), I am slightly bewildered that, as the owner of no fewer than six electric vehicles (EVs), and as a resident of a relatively small southern Hebridean island where the total registered vehicle population is only 50 cars, this is the first I’ve heard of this consultation.

You would think the best people to ask about EV charging would be current owners of EVs.

The DVLA knows who they are but I expect our rather silly bureaucracy makes such on obvious idea unlawful.

(I also run an EV-related business and it really would not have been hard for someone with half a brain to think of doing a web search for EV-related businesses and emailing me, amongst others, for my thoughts!).

Anyway, having been an EV owner/driver for 10 years, in my opinion public money should not be spent on private EV charging facilities – including installing them in homes, new or old.

I have this view because (a) anyone who can afford a new EV, costing £25,000 or more, can also afford to install their own charging point, and (b) with the average UK daily car mileage at barely 21 miles, a full-blown charging point is unnecessary for at least half the EV-owners out there.

Either a good quality 13-amp socket is all that’s needed (along with a portable EVSE - also known as a ‘granny charger’ – capable of replacing those 21 miles in about four hours, that is usually included with the EV), or, at the most, an industrial-style mains socket which can carry much more power but is cheap to install.

Where public money should be being spent is on a recharging infrastructure that helps EV drivers charge when they do not have off-street parking at home, or work, and to support EV drivers on long journeys.

If I had my way, any current petrol station that has four or more pumps should be required by law to have to have at least one – if not two – 50kW DC rapid chargers, with at least some government support for the cost.

Any new filling station should also have to have at least two 50kW rapid chargers and at least one 250kW one – along with a roof-full of photo-voltaic panels and adequate on-site battery storage, to avoid overloading the local grid, as well as to supply renewable energy to charge EVs.

With such ubiquity of charging, one of the principle barriers to EV adoption would immediately evaporate.

Martin Winlow (via

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters page: January 16, 2020

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Last Monday night I attended a meeting in the main hall of Helensburgh Parish Church for the launch of a campaign against the proposed development of a hotel and houses in an area of woodland in Portincaple.

Portincaple is a place of spectacular beauty where, in addition to ancient woodland, there are bats, pine martins, deer, porpoises etc., and a rare little sea squirt with an unpronounceable name, found only in this area.

I no longer own my holiday cottage on the shore of Loch Long, but one day, many years ago, I was enjoying a tranquil cuppa, looking out over the pebbly beach, when I was surprised to see my neighbours from Glasgow approaching me.

The wife of the couple told me that her father had brought her mother here when they were young and in love. As they walked down the rutted path the gorgeous view revealed itself and he went down on one knee and asked her to marry him.

He had, he later told his daughter, wanted to propose in the most beautiful spot in Scotland. Who could disagree with that?

This is why there is such an effort being made to try and put a stop to this inappropriate proposal. How fitting, then, it would be if a little sea squirt could spit in the eye of big developers.

Stephanie Carmichael, Jackson Place, Bearsden

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser readers' letters: January 9, 2020

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Regarding the bus stop improvements works in Helensburgh and Lomond (Advertiser, January 16) - what about Arrochar? We don’t have a bus shelter to upgrade.

Maybe Councillor Currie would like to come and wait on a bus to Glasgow or to Oban in the pouring rain – if one turns up on time.

James Howe (via

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Advertiser: December 19, 2019

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The issue of a referendum on whether the British monarchy should be scrapped was raised earlier this month by Labour MP Clive Lewis, then (though no longer) a candidate to be his party’s next leader.

In my opinion, it is about time that this happen. The system of having laws created and passed by elected officials and then by the unelected gravy train that is the House of Lords, before being finally given royal assent, needs to change to properly reflect the real definition of democracy.

In other countries which have the status of republics, laws are created by the elected representatives in the lower house (congress or parliament), then passed or rejected by the upper house (often called the Senate) and then sent over to be passed or vetoed by the elected Prime Minister or President.

Given that the public pays the royal family £76.1 million (as of December 2017, according to the Sovereign Grant Annual Report) through our taxes, I say it is about time we had a new referendum on how democracy is properly handled in our political system. It is long overdue.

Surely it is time that, instead of pledging their allegiance to the Queen, our MPs and MSPs pledge their allegiance towards “we, the people”, instead of to unaccountable elites?

As much as I also do not want our nation (Scotland especially) to have Brussels be given the final say over our laws (including our budget) passed, it is clear that we need to move with the times.

Jonathan Rainey, Silverton, Dumbarton

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters page: December 12, 2019

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It is clear that Boris Johnson is indeed a ‘One Nation’ Conservative.

With the refusal of consent for the EU Withdrawal Agreement by governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, that one nation, it appears, is England.

Alex Orr, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: December 5, 2019

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Mary’s Meals has launched an urgent appeal to feed chronically hungry children in Turkana, one of the driest and most impoverished parts of Kenya.

We already serve nutritious meals to more than 23,000 children in nurseries in Turkana, but primary-aged pupils have not received meals since a programme run by another organisation stopped around a year ago.

Desperate pupils can often be found watching children at neighbouring nurseries being fed, and we have heard heartbreaking reports of children as young as three saving their food to take home for hungry siblings.

Mary’s Meals already feeds more than 1.5 million children in 18 of the world’s poorest countries every school day. We are determined to continue feeding these children while expanding, as funds allow, to reach primary school children in Turkana.

Readers of the Advertiser can support our appeal by visiting or phoning 0800 698 1212.

Daniel Adams (UK executive director, Mary’s Meals)

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