This week's Advertiser letters page includes your thoughts on the town's retail scene, public rights of access, last week's VE Day commemorations, and concerns over privacy sparked by the government's new coronavirus 'contact tracing' app.

To have your say in the Advertiser on any topic of local interest, just 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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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From reading your recent editions it seems to me that Helensburgh is not only in lockdown but in mourning. Mourning for the loss of the much loved Waitrose.

Different people seem to be at different stages of grief: shock, disbelief, bargaining, anger, even depression.

Some are fearful that long queues may lead to disruption and possible conflict. Why not invite the Chief Constable to assign one of his officers who is part of the police pipe band to take charge? A bit of rousing music is sure to change a boring wait into a healthy and enjoyable experience.

Those of us living on the Peninsula have no such concerns. We have all we need on our door step.

A Kilcreggan store that stocks all you could ask for. An award winning butcher; a post office with a diverse range of goods; a hardworking pharmacy; hairdresser; café; store of pre-loved items; pub; garage; and antiques display.

All this and more with Cove enjoying its local shop.

But there is one aspect of retailing in which Helensburgh leads the world. It surely has the largest number of terrific charity shops per square metre anywhere.

And what does that mean? Buoyant and attractive shopping streets; a generous and caring population; and a massive choice of products.

To run these shops, people volunteer their greatest gift – their time. Proceeds from charity shops make us and the world healthier, stronger, and richer, while improving the environment.

My call to the people, leaders and politicians of Helensburgh is this: make charity shopping your town’s unique selling proposition (USP).

By promoting Helensburgh as the ‘charity shopping capital’ you will attract visitors, shoppers, residents and global recognition: desirable town in which to live, not because of Waitrose but because you are a caring community.

Finlay Craig, Cove

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: May 7, 2020

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I READ with interest Dr Geoff Riddington’s letter (Advertiser Comment, May 7) regarding the locked gates blocking public pedestrian access to a walking route east of Helensburgh.

This gate is located to the east end of the unnamed forestry track that has a junction with Stoneymollan Road, a couple of hundred metres or so north of Killoeter Cottage.

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed therein.

A sign has recently been affixed to the gate in question which, in my view, chooses to ignore the responsibilities the owners of the land have to the general public to enable them to exercise their rights under the Land Reform Act.

Below a large ‘Read This Notice’ instruction, the sign reads: “This gate provides access for management of the forest at Camis Eskan. It is not a public road. A vandal has cut through the chain on this gate three times in two months.”

It also states: “Very large deerhounds are exercised in the private land above this gate. Leaving this gate open is a danger to the public and to road users.”

The sign then asks the public to report anyone seen interfering with the chain to the police.

The thinly veiled threat of “very large deerhounds” exercising on the land is a positively medieval attitude that surely has no place in Scotland in 2020.

Whilst I can understand that vehicular access to the track may have to be controlled for land management reasons there is no reason I can see why an alternative pedestrian access gate cannot be provided to promote access for walkers.

The positioning of these locked gates at the eastern end of the track is all the more puzzling in view of the fact that the western end of the track forms part of a walking route publicised by the Ordnance Survey, and, rightly, has no such obstructions.

In conclusion I agree with Dr Riddington that local people should write to the Argyll and Bute Council’s access officer, Jolyon Gritten (, reporting the blockage and requesting its immediate removal.

It may also be useful for them to write to their local area councillors and community councils seeking further support.

Robert Sills, Colgrain Steading, Cardross

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READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters page: April 30, 2020

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Ruth Wishart will no doubt be criticised for daring to take a different viewpoint (Advertiser, May 7) when commenting on the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The excess of sentimentality and Vera Lynn songs has not been to everybody’s taste and I support her views about “yet another anniversary and another chance to wallow in the Allied victory over the Germans”.

The Luftwaffe’s bombing missions over the UK surely do not justify the fire-bombing of civilians in 1945 (including children) in German cities which were destroyed with terrible loss of life, on the orders of Churchill and Bomber Harris.

The war was all but over when those raids took place, a fact agreed by most historians.

My late husband had to endure anti-German prejudice in this country, with his name being mocked and assumptions made that he was a Nazi. He was not.

He would have been incredulous that, in 2020, end of war anniversaries are still being held with such enthusiasm.

Elizabeth Mueller, East Argyle Street, Helensburgh

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READ MORE: Readers' letters to the Advertiser: April 23, 2020

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I MOVED to Helensburgh in 1986. I have purchased the Advertiser ever since.

I have watched its decline into left wing rhetoric in recent years with dismay. Last week (May 7) on pages 6 and 7 was the last straw.

Wishart is a disgrace. She has been given a platform to spread her left wing views unopposed and has gone further and further until she has reached a point where she obviously thinks she can insult those who don’t share her views with impunity.

The sooner she is no longer a part of the Advertiser the better. There are many who share this view.

John O’Brien, via email

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READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: April 16, 2020

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Watching the news over the last few days, it’s become clear that some people are concerned that installing the Coronavirus Contact Tracing app could compromise their security and/or liberty.

If you have a mobile phone it can already be located whenever it’s turned on. In an urban area the tracking will be sufficiently accurate to tell the authorities where your phone is within a few metres and who owns the other phones close to yours, whether you install the app or not.

Let me explain why I feel the app will not endanger my civil liberties any more than my mobile phone does already.

When you buy a phone you’ll find it has an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. It’s hard wired into the equipment and it can’t be changed. Think of it as your phone’s unique fingerprint.

The first time you put a SIM card in your new phone it’ll be associated with the equipment’s IMEI number. If the authorities want to watch you, they can check the location of the SIM and/or IMEI number.

Move your SIM to another phone and they’ll immediately know your SIM is associated with another IMEI number. Put a different SIM in your existing phone and the authorities will know that your phone’s IMEI is now associated with the new SIM –you can’t hide if your phone is with you and turned on.

Another myth is that GSM phones are encrypted, so can’t be listened into. When you initiate a mobile phone call your signal goes out unencrypted to the phone mast you are connecting to. The phone mast initiates encryption, after which your call is encrypted.

So what if the mast your phone is connecting to isn’t a genuine cellphone mast? There is such a ‘fake mast’ called an IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catcher, available to the police and other security services, that acts as a fake tower to allow them to eavesdrop on a suspect’s phone calls.

In theory they are not available to the general public, but go online and search for ‘IMSI catcher for sale’ and you’ll find anyone could buy one.

OK, it’s illegal to use an IMSI catcher, but for cyber criminals, other criminals, terrorists or those in the media who put themselves above the law, having an illegal IMSI catcher doesn’t worry them.

Putting it simply, if you value your privacy so much that you don’t like the thought of being covertly trackable you really shouldn’t have a mobile phone, so put it in a lead-lined box or a bucket of water!

Installing the Coronavirus Contact Tracing app won’t degrade your civil liberties any more than merely having a mobile phone does already.

We’ve enough to worry about right now without refusing to install the app due to concerns it’ll make you and your phone easier to track. Even if it were used for that (which I think is extremely unlikely) it would just be another tool in an already crowded inventory of surveillance tools.

I’ll be installing the app as soon as it’s available in the hope it’ll speed our exit from this lockdown by removing the need to stay home to protect the NHS and save lives.

Too many people have died already; let’s defeat this common threat however we can.

Geoff Tompson, Helensburgh

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