THE Advertiser recently reported on the problem of dog walkers putting their pets’ mess into poo bags – but then leaving those bags to block up drains.

I noticed in your article that the leader of Argyll and Bute Council stated “it’s time for the authority to show we mean business”.

I remember seeing very much the same headlines around this time in 2018 by another councillor and at the time I challenged them to meet up and I would show them exactly what causes blocked drains in Helensburgh.

So I now make this offer again to the new leader of Argyll and Bute to meet at his convenience and take a walk along the shore – and then I can point out exactly what and where the problem is.

Only in November last year the Advertiser ran a similar article with reference to blocked drains in West Clyde Street. I noticed that after the work was completed Scottish Water made no mention what so ever about dog poo bags; it was all to do with households discarding materials down the toilet.

So I would like to know where the leader of Argyll and Bute Council gets his information from.

READ MORE: Helensburgh dog owners 'blocking drains with full poo bags', councillors told

May I suggest instead of taking the easy option and blaming the dog owners he should take a closer look at what is being done about other rubbish that is discarded throughout Argyll and Bute?

After making a freedom of information request to Argyll and Bute Council it was evident to me that reported dog fouling had fallen in the last two years, from 246 in the year from March 2019 to 2020 to 175 in the year from March 2020 to 2021.

With regards to fly tipping, this too had fallen but nowhere like the numbers for dog fouling – from 355 reports in the year from March 2019 to 2020, to 332 from March 2020 to 2021.

When I asked if there had been any prosecutions I was informed that not one prosecution had been made with regards to fly tipping.

So again I ask what is being done by the council with regards to what seems to be a bigger problem than dog fouling and that is the problem of fly tipping.

Why are we paying an environmental officer if nothing is being done and no prosecutions are being made?

I look forward to taking a walk with the leader; however I won’t hold my breath.

Graham Walker

Via email

READ MORE: Call to do more to tackle dog fouling in Helensburgh

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I WRITE with reference to your article of April 1 on complaints over the non-removal of the town’s Christmas tree.

Instead of cutting down a mature tree every year for our town’s Christmas tree, why don’t we plant a Douglas fir instead?

This would grow and look attractive all year round, and could be decorated every December.

It would be better for the planet, and would stop people complaining about dead Christmas trees being a blight in Colquhoun Square.

Maura McNally

Maitland Street, Helensburgh

READ MORE: Volunteers vow to remove town Christmas tree 'as soon as lockdown rules permit'

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I READ my copy of the Advertiser two weeks ago thoroughly, as I always do, and I was particularly intrigued by the article on page 4 – “There could be gold in them thar rugby fields”.

I very quickly linked the story to the date on which the paper was published, which was of course Thursday, April 1.

However for a very short period, I wondered if there might be some truth to the story.

Let me explain. When I was about nine years old I was playing in a friend’s back garden, tripped, crashed into a metal clothes pole, and broke my two front teeth.

Twenty-seven injections later my dentist – who also was my uncle – had produced gold backings for what was left of my two front teeth.

A couple of years later I was playing rugby at Ardencaple on what was then one of the playing fields for Larchfield School, now Lomond School, and I lost the gold backing for one of my teeth – and I never found it again.

So, when I read the article by “Flora Di Sypalo”, I wondered for a brief moment whether someone had actually found my lost gold tooth – and had reached the conclusion that there might be even more gold there!

Stewart Noble

East Abercromby Street, Helensburgh

READ MORE: Rugby club president amazed at major discovery under Helensburgh field

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TONI Giugliano, the SNP candidate in the Dumbarton constituency at next month’s Scottish Parliament election, keeps describing himself as a mental health worker or professional.

He is being disingenuous with this appellation. He works in PR for the Mental Health Foundation, a third sector organisation; has a degree in French from Edinburgh University, and has resided in Edinburgh for most of his life.

The SNP has had 14 years in government to address issues in health and education but Scotland, once a world leader in these fields, is now falling dramatically in world league tables.

Their record in any business deal is also poor. Witness the two ferries fiasco, Bi-Fab, the steel deal with Gupta, the National Investment Bank and the National Growth scheme, which all have been abject failures and a waste of taxpayers’ money – not to mention the money wasted on the Salmond judicial appeal.

It would appear from the above that the SNP has only overarching ambition, but fail time and time again in the things that matter to people on a daily basis.

I believe this is, in part, due to members of their party believing their own PR, and believing that they have competencies outwith their experience and actual qualifications.

It is this that has led to decline of our country.

Perhaps Mr Giugliano could explain how the SNP would overcome the £8 billion shortfall between income and expenditure without the Barnett formula and support from the UK in an independent Scotland.

Gerry McKelvie

Via email

READ MORE: Dumbarton constituency candidates in Scottish election have their say on health

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As a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists I was very surprised to read Gerry McKelvie’s letter, in which he suggests that only clinicians are worthy of being described as mental health professionals.

This is false. There are non-clinical mental health professionals who do incredible work, from peer support workers to health care assistants to mental health strategists and policy makers.

Non-clinical policy makers, for example, are pivotal in driving forward strategies for improving and modernising mental health services. Without these roles clinicians like myself simply wouldn’t be able to cope with demand.

Mr McKelvie also seems oblivious to the huge role played by the third sector. Toni Giugliano works for a leading mental health charity. He is directly responsible for the creation of a new service for families bereaved by suicide which will be launching in two health board services next month. If it weren’t for Toni’s work in this field, bereaved families would not be getting the proactive trauma-informed support they need.

Toni also successfully worked with the Scottish Government to secure more school-based counsellors and mental health support in our classrooms - now at record levels.

In 2018 he was appointed by Scottish ministers to sit on the newly established Suicide Prevention Leadership Group. In 2019 he won the Scottish Charity Awards Leading Light category for the work he achieved. And later that year he was invited to present his work during Finland’s EU Presidency in Helsinki.

His work should be acknowledged, but Mr McKelvie seems to have rubbished it for party-political purposes, and this must surely be unacceptable.

Dr Gwen Jones-Edwards

Via email
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I am shocked and disgusted at the attitude of Gerry McKelvie, who writes that Toni Giugliano was ‘disingenuous’ to call himself a mental health professional, simply because he does not hold a mental health qualification.

I have collaborated with Toni on many valuable mental health initiatives and he is skilled, knowledgeable and works tirelessly to improve the lives and resources available for people who suffer poor mental health.

By reducing the mental health profession to a select group of ‘qualified’ people with a mental health qualification, or by medicalising mental health, G. McKelvie disregards the enormous skill, experience and valuable work of charities, third sector organisations and those people in research roles in this domain.

On an individual level, it suggests that people such as Toni, who have the expertise to build and lead mental health services, undertake research or do vital administrative roles, are not able to call themselves professionals. 

Perhaps before reducing someone's career to ‘someone who is basically involved in PR’, G. McKelvie should remember that without such individuals and organisations, the pressure on NHS mental health services would increase enormously, potentially impacting upon his own career.

Finally, the Collins English Dictionary (Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins) defines a ‘professional’ as ‘a person who engages in an activity with great competence’,  ‘a person who belongs to or engages in one of the professions’, or ‘a person who engages for his livelihood in some activity also pursued by amateurs’.

Mr Giugliano is all three and has every right to call himself a mental health professional.

Ruth Moss

Via email

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I WAS astounded to discover on reading a recent newspaper article that a poverty-stricken resident of a London street - Downing Street - was appealing to friends to pay for the refurbishment of his inadequate taxpayer-supplied flat.

He and his bidey-in originally asked the Tory Party to pay for the £200,000 makeover, but fortunately the party realised that would be unlikely to go down well with their voters, many of whom have been hard hit by the pandemic.

I remember promises of “levelling up” the country after Covid, but perhaps Boris should consider “levelling down” his expectations and opt for cheaper wallpaper than the £450 per roll designed by Lulu Lytle and chosen by Carrie.

This is the man who thinks that nurses don’t need a higher pay rise, that carers who look after the most vulnerable in our communities do not require adequate recompense for their dedicated work, that schoolchildren should not receive school meals during holiday periods, and that thousands of people in this country require to use food banks to eke out their income.

He squandered £37 billion on a test and trace system which is still not working satisfactorily.

He actually earns as Prime Minister of the UK £158,754 per year. Do you consider him to be value for your taxes?

Margaret Horrell

Via email

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