THIS week's Advertiser letters page features responses to claims that councillors broke lockdown guidelines in the National Park, along with a 'thank you' message on access arrangements for walkers and an update from the Helensburgh branch of Save the Children.

To have your say 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was with disappointment that I read the letter from David McCowan in last week’s Advertiser in which he criticised me and Councillor Iain Paterson for visiting Luss and accused us of ignoring the five-mile Scottish Government guidelines during the current lockdown.

Given the major concerns that have been reported in the local and national media over the past few weeks that my constituents who live within the National Park have faced, I can confirm that I have visited (and continue to visit) Luss, Arrochar and Tarbet to view the problems first hand and to speak with a number of my constituents while maintaining the appropriate social distancing measures.

I can confirm that Police Scotland were made aware of my plans by email in advance and raised no concerns with me.

As an elected councillor, it is my duty, and my job, to represent the concerns of my constituents and that would not possible if I were to ignore these problems and remain at home.

David appears to forget that Government guidelines make it clear that I am entitled to travel to undertake my work that cannot be carried out at home.

Although David McCowan indicates in his letter that he lives at Luss, that is certainly not the case as he lives at Arden. He also fails to highlight that he is a board member with the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

My understanding is that David was annoyed that there appeared to be criticism that he had not bothered to take an interest in the high profile problems that residents at Luss were facing during the lockdown, so he appears to have decided that he would try and criticise those, like myself, who continue to take a significant interest in the communities that I was elected to represent.

I try to avoid criticising others from out with the council who have been elected to represent residents within my ward. As he is one of the five locally elected National Park board members, he is required to “bring to the board the valuable understanding and perspective of the Park’s residents, communities and businesses”.

He is also required to attend meetings of community councils within his National Park ward. Maybe David can tell your readers how many such meetings he has attended over the past five years. I certainly try to attend the meetings of all six community councils in my ward, and cannot remember seeing David at any community council meeting at Luss.

It is difficult to see how David can take any understanding and perspective of the Park’s residents and communities to the board if he fails to attend any community council meetings where the concerns of the communities are discussed.

It is also disappointing that the National Park appears to me to ignore it when locally elected board members disregard the requirement placed on them to attend community council meetings.

The only person who appears to be pontificating on this issue is David McCowan. The saying about “people in glass houses” springs to mind.

Councillor George Freeman (Independent, Lomond North)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: June 11, 2020

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I WRITE in response to the letter in last week’s Advertiser from David McCowan, who states that I recently ‘admitted’ to being outwith the Scottish Government’s five-mile guideline for travel without valid reason.

For awareness, Mr McCowan is a board member of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, representing Ward 5 (West Loch Lomond and Balloch).

Mr McCowan and I both have a duty to the communities we serve, and what is really at issue here is a disagreement that has taken place over the last few weeks between Mr McCowan and myself as to how we best serve our communities.

Sadly, rather than setting out any genuine background to this story which might shed some light on how elected representatives actually work, and why it might be a good idea for them to try to work together for the benefit of their communities, Mr McCowan has instead decided to write a frankly reprehensible letter , effectively accusing Argyll and Bute councillors of callously endangering the lives of their constituents, including Mr McCowan’s parents.

For the record: over the weekend of May 30 and 31, I was contacted by a considerable number of my constituents expressing genuine concerns over parking and litter issues within their communities. I duly addressed those issues via Argyll and Bute Council representatives and an inspector from Police Scotland.

On my way to do my essential weekly shop in Balloch, I passed through Luss to see first-hand the disruption that was being caused by the influx of visitors. I noted the presence of Argyll and Bute wardens and Police Scotland, but no representatives from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

At no time during my brief visit to Luss did I breach Covid-19 regulations; nor was I cautioned for same by the Police Scotland representative I spoke with.

On returning home from my essential shopping trip to Balloch, I tried to contact Mr McCowan to discuss the egregious litter issues that had been reported to me by constituents and which I had witnessed.

It took until June 4 for Mr McCowan to reply to me regarding the concerns I had expressed on behalf of our shared communities. His response was not to offer a solution, but instead to question me as to my opinion on the matter.

My answer was simple: better engagement with the community, including more direct means to contact representatives such as himself, and having National Park rangers’ boots on the ground, where possible, to deal with litter and camping bye law violations.

Mr McCowan’s response was that a physical presence from the National Park was not needed and that litter should be left where it was to deter future visitors. I found this an extraordinary statement from an elected representative, and in my opinion an abject dereliction of duties in the face of his community’s legitimate concerns.

As to Mr McCowan’s claim that councillors “are more than capable of using modern technology to work from home and liaise with the community” might I suggest that if all he is willing to do as an elected representative is to sit behind a computer, perhaps he might seek to better engage with his community by at least using same?

No, Mr McCowan, I did not breach any guidelines or regulations, nor endanger any lives, but I did keep up the pressure on the National Park over a number of days.

I’m now happy to report that it eventually paid off, with the litter issue in Luss and Tarbet finally being addressed.

Councillor Iain Shonny Paterson (SNP, Lomond North)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Helensburgh Advertiser letters page: June 4, 2020

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I WRITE in response to the recent correspondence in the Advertiser from Dr Geoff Riddington and Robert Sills concerning the locked gate at the east end of the forestry track that has a junction with Stoneymollan Road, north of Killoeter Cottage.

Recently, a 'kissing gate' style of pedestrian access has been provided, and I would like to express my appreciation to whoever has been responsible for this provision.

Whoever it was has done a great service to walkers in the area and their efforts are most appreciated.

Idris Scott, Helensburgh

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: May 28, 2020

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is the time of year when the local branch of Save the Children would normally be holding its annual summer afternoon tea.

On June 18 our guest speaker would have been the orchid specialist, David Menzies, who was going to give an illustrated talk on the Chelsea Flower Show.

David has kindly agreed to postpone his talk until the summer of 2021 when we hope events such as this will be able to take place once again.

Our next fund raiser should be a Bridge Drive on Wednesday, September 30 at Helensburgh Bowling Club.

We are very much hoping that will take place, depending of course on the situation at that time.

Very many thanks to all our loyal supporters who enabled us to raise more than £10,800 in the past year. Our fund-raising will resume as soon as life returns to “normal”.

Save the Children is working throughout the world to help children and their families affected by the coronavirus pandemic, focusing its efforts on families in refugee camps, war zones and urban slums who are most vulnerable to the virus.

Here at home, the families of our poorest children are struggling even more than they were before to make ends meet and the charity acted quickly to put in place an emergency grants programme.

The grants will help them purchase basic items and food. These are small grants – but they can make a big difference.

Save the Children is, of course, continuing its other aid programmes, with ongoing appeals to help children affected by wars and crises in numerous countries such as Syria and Yemen.

Its Child Refugee Crisis Appeal has been ongoing for many years, doing whatever it takes to ensure refugee children grow up healthy, educated and safe.

If anyone would like to donate to any of our appeals or to our general fund-raising, please contact me on 01436 675767.

Diana Macintosh (Chair, Helensburgh and District Save the Children Committee)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

READ MORE: Click here for all the latest news headlines from across Helensburgh and Lomond