This week's Advertiser letters page includes your thoughts on council cost-cutting, the future of the Blairvadach outdoor centre, how Scotland deals with its prison population, 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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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I wonder if Argyll and Bute Council will use any of the cost cutting/income raising ideas freely submitted to the recent consultation on their 2020/21 budget (Helensburgh Advertiser, February 20)?

Perhaps the council will employ an expensive consultant to sell them the same suggestions before they take them seriously?

Some years ago I suggested the council seek sponsorship for dog waste bins provided throughout the region.

Pet shops, veterinary surgeons, pet insurance companies, pet food suppliers, pet medicine manufacturers, dog walkers, pet sitters and animal welfare charities would all pay to have their names on items used by hundreds of dog owners every day.

This idea was not adopted.

Now we see that the council is yet again threatening to withdraw school crossing patrols to save a few bob, possibly at the priceless cost of a few young lives tragically lost every year.

I have recommended to the council that they invite contraceptive manufacturers to sponsor school crossing patrols.

I am not joking when I say such manufacturers would jump at the chance to spend a fraction of a percentage of their huge advertising budgets to have their name or logo in small letters under a ‘Stop Children’ slogan on crossing patrol lollipop signs.

The publicity generated would be worth a small fortune.

It could be argued that Roman Catholic schools might object, but a few years ago a Catholic church in Dumbarton had no objections to such adverts running on their parish website.

Two months ago, as readers of the Advertiser may recall, Argyll and Bute Council announced the winners of a school competition to name some of their recently purchased gritting lorries.

Making the announcement, executive director Pippa Milne said: “Along with my fellow judge, executive director Douglas Hendry, I was absolutely blown away with all the entries. We had a lot of fun looking through all the names and amazing drawings and we found it really difficult to choose winners.”

I don’t know what it cost to run this competition, but I do know we paid Ms Milne and Mr Hendry basic wages of £54.51 an hour each to have a lot of fun looking at the entries.

In her new post of chief executive Ms Milne is on a basic wage of £68.50 an hour.

Instead of paying for a competition to name council vehicles, I suggest she finds companies who will pay to have their names on council cars, vans and trucks.

Perhaps the AA or RAC would sponsor gritter lorries with the slogan “Proud to help keep motorists moving”?

If Argyll and Bute Council doesn’t have the resources to seek these extra income streams, my company is willing to take on the task on a commission only basis.

John F. Robins, Bainfield Road, Cardross

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters page: February 20, 2020

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Only recently, we saw Ross Greer, Scottish Green Party MSP, publicly announce his support for the residents of Portincaple in their fight against a proposed housing development in their community.

A report on this proposed development and Mr Greer’s opposition to it was recently carried in the national media with Mr Greer being quoted at length. As Mr Greer would be aware, this attracted lots of positive local and national publicity for him and for his Scottish Green Party.

As part of Glasgow City Council’s budget, it has now been announced that the Blairvadach Outdoor Centre in my Lomond North ward is to close with the loss of the equivalent of 16 full time jobs.

Reports on the internet indicate that, although the SNP administration within Glasgow City Council had initially decided to reject this closure, this was a proposal that the Scottish Green Party insisted on in return for the Green Party councillors supporting the SNP budget.

It appears that the SNP administration within Glasgow City Council capitulated and agreed to the Green Party proposals that included the closure of Blairvadach Outdoor Centre, the introduction of bulky uplift charges, a reduction in street sweeping and turning bowling greens across Glasgow into allotments.

The Blairvadach facility provides services to some of the most vulnerable and under privileged young children within the west of Scotland. For some young children, attendance at Blairvadach would be their only opportunity to get out of the city and experience Scotland’s rural environment.

Yet, without a thought, the Green Party appear to have decided that Blairvadach should close and the SNP administration, desperate to get their budget approved, capitulated and put the approval of their budget ahead of the needs of the vulnerable children they are supposed to represent.

The Blairvadach facility is only about four miles from Portincaple as the crow flies, yet do we hear Ross Greer or any of his Green Party colleagues seeking the same publicity for this shameful decision as they sought for their support for the residents of Portincaple? Certainly not.

I asked the Green Party for their comments. Although they acknowledged my email, they have so far failed to provide comment. The Green Party policy appears to be to keep a low profile on this issue.

Ross Greer has stated that last year, the Green Party argued for £1 million to be invested in the Blairvadach facility yet, within 12 months, they are calling for its closure.

Maybe Mr Greer can confirm that he fully supports his Green Party colleagues on Glasgow City Council in calling for the closure of the Blairvadach facility?

Although some local Conservative MSPs appear to be trying to make capital out of this issue, they appear to be two-faced as the indications I have received are that that the Tory budget proposals on Glasgow City Council also included the closure of Blairvadach.

I believe that the Green Party, the SNP and the Tories should all hang their heads in shame when they are happy to take decisions that deprive the most vulnerable under privileged children the use of such a wonderful facility.

Councillor George S. Freeman (Independent, Lomond North)

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Advertiser: February 13, 2020

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One of the recognised methods of learning and obtaining in-depth understanding is to get actively involved and experience the situation and environment.

For example, I know a guest house owner who at least twice a year spends a couple of nights living in each of the bedrooms. “Experiencing what our guests do enables me to refine and enhance the experience for all,” she says.

I attended a residential workshop on ‘Designing buildings for elderly and disabled people’. During the first two days each of the participants experienced living with at least two different forms of disability.

The insights were life changing for most participants. Said one experienced architect, “I cannot believe I have just designed a building which has four steps up to the lift entrance! If only I had spent some time in a wheelchair!”

A recent Scottish parliamentary report says the number of people in prison per head of population in Scotland is one of the highest in Europe. We also learn that Barlinnie prison, the largest in Scotland, has 50 per cent more inmates that it was designed to hold.

This has appalling consequences. Inmates do not receive the guidance, education, and support needed to avoid committing further offences when released.

Locking people up in overcrowded conditions for the majority of 24 hours a day, results in metal health problems, drug abuse and limited family contact.

Perhaps I have the answer. As experience and understanding can bring about radical change, I wish to suggest that Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, be locked up for a number of days in the women’s prison at Cornton Vale. Her deputy, John Swinney, should experience the same at Barlinnie.

In this way, ministers sensing and experiencing these disgraceful situations may bring about change. If not, they will continue to be directly responsible for creating and expanding crime.

Finlay Craig, Cove

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters page: February 6, 2020

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The SNP are failing our police officers. The separatists are putting the public at risk by failing to properly fund Police Scotland.

The force is facing cuts after the SNP budget left it millions of pounds short. Police Scotland is in crisis, with stations crumbling and a lack of funds to properly support officers.

Nicola Sturgeon is putting the public at risk. We would give front-line policemen the resources they need to keep us safe.

To make matters worse the SNP recently passed legislation to give prisoners the right to vote. If someone is convicted of a crime they should be punished and that includes losing the right to vote.

This disgraceful move will see prisoners able to take part in campaigns when they should be facing up to their crimes.

This is nothing but a cynical attempt to appeal to a new set of voters. The SNP should be ashamed of themselves.

The separatists are not only cutting resources to our policemen but are rewarding prisoners with the right to vote.

We in Scotland want the rule of law to be enforced and criminals to face real punishment.

Cllr Alastair Redman (Conservative, Kintyre and the Islands)

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