This week's Advertiser letters page includes your thoughts on out-of-hours service cover at the Vale of Leven Hospital, cross-Clyde connections with Helensburgh, Scouting, coronavirus, 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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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Since local residents must be thoroughly confused by the recent mixed messages coming out of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GG&C) press office, we are writing to you in the hope that you can provide the correct information to our local population on the emergency care services offered over 24 hours at our local Vale of Leven Hospital.

We have been extremely concerned for several months about the information coming from GG&C’s press office claiming that the Vale of Leven Hospital’s minor injuries unit (MIU) was not open overnight.

We wish to stress that the MIU is indeed open thanks to the superb GP out of hours overnight service which has been offered at our local Hospital for more than ten years. The service is organised by our local general practitioners.

It is also important for residents to be aware that the same GPs, working with their colleagues, not only maintain the Vale of Leven Hospital’s minor injuries unit, but also its medical assessment unit (MAU), while simultaneously treating and caring for the hospital’s overnight patients.

This has proved a very successful model of care which we think could well incorporate the co-located GP weekend and overnight service currently managed by the health board – which the latter has failed to deliver on an ongoing basis.

In point of fact the Lomond Patients Group has argued for this to be done for some time now, and your readers may recall that this proposal was also fully supported at well attended public meetings in Dumbarton and Helensburgh not that long ago.

It goes without saying that we consider the recent unilateral announcement of ‘temporary’ withdrawal of the GP out of hours service in the evenings on weekdays, and at weekends, to be totally unacceptable.

We very much appreciate the support given to the hospital and its patients by your newspaper over the years, and should you need further information we will be happy to provide it.

Dr Patrick Trust (Vice-convener, Lomond Patients Group)

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Advertiser: March 12, 2020

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The recent progress of the Red Cross Hall community buyout group is clear evidence that if you can avoid the dead hand of Argyll and Bute Council involvement rapid progress can be made.

Clearly, as reported in last week’s Advertiser, this is not the case with the charitable group set up to preserve Helensburgh’s pier where its attempts to engage with the Council have been frustrated by negativity and delay.

Whereas development and maintenance of piers in small island communities and their mainland linkages is essential, Helensburgh obviously does not qualify for this status.

While Kilcreggan has a pier and hourly ferry service, we have none, despite the fact that Google frequently tells me that my nearest supplier is in Greenock or Gourock which are only four or so miles away – and so they are if you could cross the Clyde by water.

By road the distance is 31.7 miles and takes 51 minutes, while going by bus and ferry via Kilcreggan takes two hours and 37 minutes, although it only costs £3-£4.

Daily, throughout the summer, we see large cruise ships alongside at the Ocean Terminal in Greenock. While coronavirus may reduce the number of visitors from the 150,000 in 2019, once this is over they are likely to return.

If only a fraction of these could be landed by ferry or ship’s tender at Helensburgh pier, the cost of its maintenance could easily be covered, and Helensburgh could rebuild its reputation as the Garden City on the Clyde – and as the (geological) Gateway to the Highlands.

Let’s get it done.

Michael Baker (Director, Helensburgh and Lomond Visitor Information Centre)

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters page: March 5, 2020

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We are currently constructing an exhibition on Scouting in Helensburgh and District over the last 110 years and still have a couple of areas of almost complete ignorance; no photographs, trophies or other memorabilia.

The exhibition is due to open at the beginning of the school holiday, April 7, in the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre.

The biggest gap in our knowledge is the 1st Garelochhead Scout Group, which ran for 79 years from 1913 to 1992.

I believe they met in a pavilion in the Park and I know they came to camp with the 1st Craigendoran group in Mull in 1989.

If any of your readers have memories or photographs to add to our limited knowledge, I should be very grateful to hear from them, preferably by email to

Geoff Riddington, via email

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

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It is becoming increasingly obvious that the UK Government cares little for the health and welfare of its older citizens and visitors from the USA.

Its advice on safe distances from others during the current COVID-19 pandemic is quoted only in metric units which do not sit naturally with many of us.

At first reading, 2m to me is two miles, which is impractical for all but the most rural dweller. Even when I get past that , I find it difficult to conceptualise what two metres actually means.

This follows on from this winter’s irresponsible total abandonment of imperial measures by BBC meteorologists even in forecasts of the most serious weather conditions.

I wonder how many deaths could be avoided if both systems of measurement were shown due respect?

John Eoin Douglas, Edinburgh

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser readers' letters: February 20, 2020

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I AM writing to you on behalf of a charity that is close to my heart – the Stroke Association.

Sadly, my family knows all too well the pain that stroke can cause after we lost my mother to this cruel condition.

The thing with stroke is its suddenness; in an instant lives are changed forever.

I’ve since found out that many people who survive a stroke can go on to make remarkable recoveries.

Thanks to organisations like Stroke Association people can, and do, rebuild their life after stroke.

This brilliant charity hosts the Life After Stroke Awards every year.

The awards really are a fantastic event and recognise the incredible and courageous achievements of people who are living with the effects of stroke.

I’m writing to urge you to nominate someone who they know who has gone on to rebuild their life after stroke.

This might be a stroke survivor, their loved ones who care for them or communities and organisations who help people rebuild their lives after stroke.

With your help we can shine a light on some truly inspirational people.

To nominate go to You can also email or call on 01527 903 927.

Kaye Adams (for the Stroke Association)

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

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Age Scotland welcomes the announcement in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget last week of legislation that will mean anyone who needs cash can continue to access it freely.

In many towns and communities across Scotland the last bank branch has already closed and the removal of free-to-use ATMs has left customers, including those on low or fixed incomes, with no choice but to use fee-charging cash machines.

The widespread closure of free-to-use ATMs is effectively cutting many older people off from their hard-earned savings.

We have repeatedly asked banks to consider imaginative alternatives to outright closures, for example shared banking hubs, housed within vacated premises or community centres, where customers could discuss their finances and access cash.

We have asked politicians to step in to protect bank customers and hope this move will support older people’s needs, which have been trampled in the relentless march towards a cashless society.

Brian Sloan (chief executive, Age Scotland)

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

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The Scottish Parliament social security committee’s report on benefit claim rates, published last week, has highlighted the glaring problems that exist in the UK Government’s handling of benefit take-up – including Pension Credit.

The claim rate of Pension Credit has remained stagnant at 60 per cent for nearly a decade. Our Credit Where It’s Due campaign has been calling for the UK Government to take urgent action to lift this unacceptably low rate and keep pensioners out of poverty.

We were shocked to discover that the UK Government has no written strategy to address this longstanding problem, despite two million pensioners currently living in poverty.

We are pleased to see this report acknowledge the need for the UK Government to undertake research into the barriers to claiming, in addition to developing an ongoing strategy to maximise reserved benefit take-up.

The 12-week Pension Credit awareness-raising campaign recently announced by the DWP is welcome, but we agree with the committee that initiatives to improve take-up need to be continuous.

Awareness campaigns are a step in the right direction, but as the committee stated, different barriers affect different populations, so more targeted intervention is needed.

Morgan Vine (Head of policy and influencing, Independent Age)