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I AM writing in response to Councillor George Freeman’s comments in last week’s Advertiser about the disbandment of the Helensburgh Seafront Development Project (HSDP).

I guess that it was inevitable that such a response would be forthcoming from one or more of the councillors. The patronising tone in his comments about our supposed absence from the debate could as well be levelled against him and other councillors.

From his and the council’s indifference to the upkeep and restoration of the pier it could be assumed he had retired years ago.

Perhaps he does not read the papers in order to be able to maintain his ignorance of our existence and events such as the gathering of people on the pier a year ago which highlighted our organisation and the townspeople’s desire to see the pier operational again?

READ MORE: Helensburgh councillor hopes pier project group reconsider decision to disband

Councillors have, in fact, been emailed and informed of our public meetings and events and, whilst we have had Aileen and Ellen Morton and Gary Mulvaney at some earlier meetings, latterly we have had no presence other than Councillor Lorna Douglas. In contrast, MSPs Jackie Baillie and Maurice Corry have provided frequent and continuous support to our endeavours.

We have cooperated with the council in other, more direct, ways.

We agreed and developed a cooperative, as opposed to a combative, approach between ourselves and the Marine Operations Manager (MoM). This approach was mentioned in a meeting we had with Aileen Morton at one point.

In meetings with the MoM and his structural engineer, we discussed options from a full rebuild of the timber structure to a ‘stand-off’ piled berthing structure (thus alleviating structural impact on the old pier). Options also included dredging the west side of the pier (as mentioned by Stewart Noble of Helensburgh Community Council in a letter to the Advertiser two weeks ago) which was dismissed due to the quantity and cost of dredging required, and the unfavourable views of Waverley captains who were asked their opinions.

The MoM appeared convinced of the iconic status of the pier and its necessity to be included in the maintenance plan for Argyll and Bute Council piers and harbours budget - some £40m over 10 years.

However, whilst his options and recommendations presented to the area committee may have been at odds with that stance, in the end it comes down to what the councillors would vote for and, in the end, they voted to do nothing.

They couldn’t have failed to notice that closing the pier on a permanent basis to marine traffic would result in the both the loss of the Waverley and of the pier as a potential hub of marine activity on the north shore of the Clyde, along with its benefit to the town and the people.

Neither could they have mistaken the result of their actions, which would lead to its eventual degradation as a structure as none of the money - believed to be £60-£80k - allocated to the pier was for future maintenance or inspection, even though it is now a listed structure.

The pier’s fate seems to be the same as Craigendoran’s - to be allowed to rot and provide a dismal outlook from the new leisure centre, as well as a demonstration of the council’s indifference to such an iconic structure.

David Cantello

Chairman, HSDP

READ MORE: Saving Helensburgh pier branded a 'hopeless cause' as restoration group disbands

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LIKE others, I am also discombobulated about the short-sighted decision to cancel plans for repairs to the pier (‘Saving Helensburgh pier branded a ‘hopeless cause’ as restoration group disbands’ - Advertiser 15/10/20).

Across the water in Greenock, major works to create a high quality international cruise terminal will be concluded in the not too distant future.

The opportunity to offer cruise companies access for tenders to the pier and town for day excursions would bring much needed business to local shops and sights like the Hill House. It would also possibly bring income in the form of berthing charges for access.

If this could be achieved, the cost of repair and upgrade may well be recouped in a few years. It’s time to look ahead and plan for the future. A rethink is in order before it is too late.

Fiona Fraser


READ MORE: Letters to the Advertiser : October 29, 2020

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MAY I, on behalf of the Helensburgh Community Council (HCC), respond to Mr Urquhart’s letter of last week (Advertiser Comment 29/10/20) in which he raised two unrelated issues?

Firstly an error of fact. The pier and its timber extension is listed by Historic Environment Scotland as a C-category construction, not A-listed as stated.

The future of the timber extension is dictated by the cost of repair and its practical and economic viability. Investigations into both are still ongoing.

On the second issue he alludes to HCC ‘assisting in killing off’ a five-turbine project on Tom nah Airdh above the town.

Our statutory duty as a community council is to ascertain, co-ordinate and express the views of the community. We organised a public meeting at the time (some six or seven years ago) which clearly demonstrated the opposition of the community to the project.

This was also the view of Rhu and Shandon Community Council who undertook a similar exercise.

In the intervening period the massive shift of emphasis to off-shore wind generation seems to provide a guide to the future.

Norman Muir

Convener, Helensburgh Community Council

READ MORE: Letters to the Advertiser : October 22, 2020

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THANK you to our unsung heroes at this pandemic time - the fire officers who came so promptly to fix a faulty smoke alarm last week in our home.

Your efforts to keep us safe give us great confidence during this difficult time.

Helen Colwell and Bryan Fleck

Cairndhu Gardens, Helensburgh

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DESPITE a spooky Hallowe’en trail being in place and Hallowe’en-themed baking lined up for the Friends of Geilston tea and cake stall, the scariest thing in the garden on Saturday was Storm Aiden, with its 60mph gusts and torrential rain.

Sadly, to protect the safety of visitors and staff, the garden had to be closed and all the fun postponed till 2021.

I understand the ghosts, ghouls and witches have rebooked the event in their dreadful diaries and will reappear next year.

READ MORE: Letters to the Advertiser : October 15, 2020

Geilston Garden is now closed until April. Many hundreds of visitors have enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of the garden (except around the Hobbit play area, which is always fun and seldom peaceful!) for exercise and the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment – a real joy for many of us in these restricted times.

Although the garden is closed to visitors there will be much activity going on behind the closed gates as the gardeners and volunteers tidy up, cut back and prepare plants and ground for next year’s growth and displays.

Alana Ingram

Friends of Geilston

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SIMILAR to the rest of Scotland, and indeed the UK, the number of Covid cases in Highland, and in Argyll and Bute, are increasing.

With the number of Covid cases across the whole of NHS Highland having now passed 900 since the start of the pandemic NHS Highland is reminding everyone on the importance of self-isolating for those who have confirmed Covid and those who are identified as close contacts.

Confirmed case numbers are rising across the NHS Highland area and, whilst some localised outbreaks of infection have been seen in some communities, it is mostly individual sporadic Covid cases, or small clusters, such as in families, that we are seeing at the moment.

We are learning and improving our processes for dealing with these cases at every opportunity, but I am also making an appeal to everyone to help us in fighting this virus.

READ MORE: Pupils isolating after more Covid-19 cases at Helensburgh school

The messages from Public Health and the Scottish Government ask that anyone with symptoms should self-isolate and book a test.

If, after testing, you are confirmed as having Covid, you are asked to continue to self-isolate for 10 days as per the national guidance.

Anyone identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of Covid should also self-isolate for a period of 14 days, even if they get tested and it is negative, it is important that they self-isolate for those 14 days.

There is no need to get tested unless you have symptoms, such as new, continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste, or have been advised to by your local health protection team.

We appreciate that there is local anxiety about Covid but we would appeal to everyone to follow the national guidance.

Wear a face covering, avoid crowded areas, clean surfaces, keep a two metre distance and, what I would really like to stress, the importance of self-isolating and booking a test if you have symptoms.

Everyone in Highland, Argyll and Bute has a role to play to keep the number of positive cases as low as possible.

Dr Tim Allison

Director of public health, NHS Highland

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