This week's Advertiser letters page includes your thoughts on the Blairvadach outdoor centre, Helensburgh pier, Argyll and Bute Council's budget, the UK's strategy to prevent suicide, 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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 MUST correct a major inaccuracy in George Freeman’s letter (Advertiser Comment, February 27), regarding the Blairvardach outdoor education centre.

Mr Freeman incorrectly stated that Glasgow’s Green councillors proposed and insisted upon this closure, despite the SNP administration having originally rejected it.

The opposite is in fact the case. At no point did Green councillors propose closing Blairvardach; this proposal was made by the SNP administration.

Indeed, last year Green councillors tried to secure an additional £1 million in investment for the centre, which was rejected by the SNP.

When Scottish Green MSPs secured an additional £95m for councils, including £10m for Glasgow, last week, we immediately called on the city council to keep Blairvardach open, and we’re delighted they have listened this week and decided to save the facility.

I am also confused as to why Mr Freeman began his erroneous letter about Blairvadach with a rambling criticism of my support for the residents of Portincaple against the housing development plans for the area.

Supporting my constituents and raising the profile of the challenges they face, including inappropriate housing developments, is my job. Mr Freeman seems to be criticising me for doing this successfully.

I have no interest in any kind of feud with another elected representative, and hope we can move past this, but these incorrect and very odd claims could not go unanswered.

Ross Greer MSP (Scottish Greens, West of Scotland)

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Advertiser: February 27, 2020

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IT is reported that Argyll and Bute Council does not have the £1 million required to repair Helensburgh pier, and are therefore prepared to let it disintegrate.

At the same time they are proposing to rebuild the leisure centre on the flood plain next to the increasingly derelict pier.

It doesn’t seem to make sense.

At least a million pounds would be saved by relocating the leisure centre further up the site and using the savings to repair the pier.

The council needs to explain why it will not do this.

John Ashworth FCA, Woodside, Helensburgh

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

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It was with dismay that I viewed the council’s ruling administration agreeing to increase council tax for everyone across Argyll and Bute by 4.5 per cent at last week’s budget meeting – when the increase could have easily been kept down to just 3 per cent.

It was more disappointing for those living in the Helensburgh and Lomond area that it was Councillor Aileen Morton, as Liberal Democrat leader of the council, and Councillor Gary Mulvaney as the Tory deputy leader, both local Helensburgh councillors, who promoted this increase at the budget meeting.

Also included within their budget proposals was a payment of £750,000 to Rothesay Pavilion, to be paid from council reserves.

This was a payment that I did not support, and had tabled an amendment earlier in the agenda to refuse this funding request.

The council tax increase could have been kept down to only 3 per cent for everyone across Argyll and Bute if the ruling administration had agreed not to give the £750,000 to Rothesay Pavilion.

The decision to increase council tax by 4.5 per cent will cost every band D council tax payer across Argyll and Bute an extra £58.90 a year, with those in higher band properties paying even more, and those in lower band properties seeing an increase of only slightly less.

The decision to give £750,000 to Rothesay Pavilion will cost every band D council tax payer an additional £19.63.

Without agreeing to that payment, the council tax increase for band D properties could have been kept down to £39.27, with other lower-banded properties seeing a proportionately lower increase.

I can now hear the arguments from Councillor Morton and Councillor Mulvaney, trying to justify their decision by saying that the £750,000 is coming from the council’s reserves.

While that is true, instead of giving the £750,000 to Rothesay Pavilion, the £750,000 from reserves could have been used to cover other revenue costs within the budget.

That could have then kept the council tax increase down to just 3 per cent.

I believe that most council tax payers across Argyll and Bute will be dismayed that the Liberal Democrat leader, and the Tory deputy leader, both from Helensburgh, have forced all council tax payers to accept an increase of 50 per cent more on their council tax increase than was necessary, just to support Rothesay Pavilion.

Councillor George Freeman (Independent, Lomond North)

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

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As your readers may be aware, the first Helensburgh Community Council beach clean of the year took place on Saturday morning.

We were joined by a significant number of the community, including two RNLI stalwarts.

Luckily, the turnout numbers allowed us to make significant inroads into the volume of litter washed up on the shore following the winter storms.

None of this would have been possible without the proactive support of Argyll and Bute Council’s amenity services personnel, at the Blackhill depot, who provided a skip, gloves and bags.

We must also sincerely thank the continued voluntary support of David Howie of Drumfork Farm who brought his tractor along for the heavy lifting.

When we arrived on the seafront, it was clear to see that the skatepark had been particularly badly affected by litter. With skilful driving David was able to steer his tractor into the park, allowing the removal of all the litter.

As soon as we finished, four youngsters suddenly appeared and started demonstrating their skills.

It made our collective work that day very worthwhile.

Norman Muir (Convener, Helensburgh Community Council)

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

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We write to express extreme alarm at the way our concerns – expressed over more than a decade to a considerable number of individuals and groups, representing various committees, specialities, institutions and departments in the UK – have been, and are being, apparently quashed in the UK’s national suicide prevention strategy.

Current ‘expert’ advice on suicide prevention, which is now accepted government policy, is that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRI and SNRI drugs – commonly known as ‘anti-depressants’) are prescribed to any patient who indicates they may be feeling suicidal or have suicidal thoughts.

Our concern is that these drugs can themselves cause such suicidal thoughts/impulses - and also a very serious adverse drug reaction called akathisia, the symptoms of which are so unbearable that they can lead people to end their own lives.

This fact is not recognised by governments, the NHS or the public, and is not mentioned in the national Suicide Prevention Strategy, despite our efforts to draw this important issue to the attention of responsible individuals and departments.

Many people are indeed dying avoidable deaths by iatrogenic suicide – when suffering known and/or extreme and unrecognised adverse prescribed drug effects.

Our efforts have been extensive, and most recently resulted in the online publication of a short film compiled by Peter Gordon, retired NHS psychiatrist, with input from several contributors: ‘A Timeline of Missed Opportunities’. This has already been widely shared on social media (

Please watch this short film - and also read the replies/comments section (found at the foot of the above blog post), where further correspondence has been added, including a letter dated February 28, 2020 from the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

We are sharing this open letter as we consider this to be a very serious matter indeed – where the lives of countless people are being knowingly and recklessly put at risk by the national suicide prevention strategy and policy.

The public – and indeed prescribers - are being cruelly misled.

We ask specifically that the known risks of SSRI/SNRI drugs in particular (and indeed other medications which can cause akathisia) be fully recognised now - and action taken by governments, cascaded to educate all prescribers, healthcare professionals and the public on how to avoid or mitigate these risks.

Marion Brown (Helensburgh), Beverley Thorpe Thomson, Peter Gordon, Millie Kieve, Jo Watson, John Read, Peter Gotzsche, Catherine Clarke, Janette Robb, Stevie Lewis, James Moore, Bob Fiddaman, Deirdre Doherty, Kristina Gehrki, Fiona French, and Alyne Duthie

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READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest news headlines from around Helensburgh and Lomond here