THIS week's crop of Advertiser letters includes your views on the Covid booster vaccine rollout, a look ahead to next week's Lomond North council by-election, the latest MP sleaze concerns and more.

To have your say on any topic of local interest, just email your views to with your name and address.

We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.

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WITH reference to your coverage of Covid booster vaccination appointments in Helensburgh and Lomond, I was exceptionally concerned about the comment by Fiona Davies, interim chief executive officer of the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership, reported in last week’s Helensburgh Advertiser, that “I am not aware of people being offered appointments for outside the area”.

I can fully support Councillor George Freeman’s claim, reported in the same edition, that distant appointments have regularly been the only ones offered.

I, too, logged on when we were first told we should be booking our boosters, and was only offered distant appointments way up north.

So much so, although I live in Helensburgh the only way I could get an appointment booked was by selecting the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, and getting an Alexandria appointment for this Friday.

It is completely farcical when “the wrong health board” gives the most local appointments by more than 100 miles.

A couple of friends were also trying to book at the same time, and also had exactly the same problems, only being offered “North Highland” appointments, further supporting Councillor Freeman’s claim.

I can forgive there being “teething problems” in IT systems, but having a Chief Officer who isn’t aware of what is happening within her organisation in inexcusable.

Ian Simpson, West Abercromby St, Helensburgh

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With only a week to go until the Argyll and Bute by-election to fill the vacancy for a councillor in my Lomond North ward, it has been interesting to be able to study the publicity material being distributed by the four candidates.

I have always believed that party politics should not be part of local government, and that councillors should always put the interests of their communities that they were elected to represent, before the interests of any political party.

Unfortunately, in my experience, that does not always happen. Over the years that I have been privileged to represent those living in my Lomond North ward as an independent councillor, and having had the opportunity to study how party politics operate within councils, my view on this subject has been reinforced.

It is interesting to see how some party political candidates try to play down the importance of independent candidates. This by-election is no different.

In his literature, the Conservative candidate, states that it is either Conservative or the SNP who can win the by-election. To try and reinforce that statement, a bar chart is produced to show “the results of the last local government elections here in Lomond North”.

Unfortunately it is only a bar chart of the first preference votes at the last full council election in May 2017, and tries to show that the Conservative candidate gained the most with 29 per cent and the SNP on 20 per cent, with independents trailing in third place.

What he does not highlight is that independent candidates secured 39.5 per cent of the first preference votes in that poll, which is over 10 per cent more than the Conservative candidate.

As an independent councillor who puts my communities first, I would always encourage those voting to put the interests of their communities first by voting for the independent candidate who will put the interests of their communities before the interests of any political party.

Councillor George Freeman (Independent, Lomond North)

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It is always sad when an old acquaintance dies, especially a well-remembered fellow pupil.

I have just heard about the death of one of my old classmates at Hermitage School, John McLaren. His good friend, Norman Macleod, also a former pupil of the old Hermitage, wished his death to be known to those who knew John and has passed on the details of his funeral to any ex-pupils who would like to attend.

A service will be held at Newton Mearns Parish Church at 11.30am on Friday, December 10, thereafter to Linn Crematorium.

Those who knew John would consider him a humorous and friendly person who will be missed by many people.

Catriona Malan, via email

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READ MORE: Tributes paid as Lesley loans her last book after 24 years working in Helensburgh and Cardross libraries

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I AM extremely concerned by the MP sleaze scandals of recent weeks. I simply don’t believe these issues exist in a bubble.

When politicians openly and knowingly fail their constituents, this is a symptom of something far more rotten at the heart of our political system.

I’ve been following Best for Britain’s work on the government’s anti-democratic agenda. This has highlighted that several bills are passing through the UK Parliament at the moment which threaten to undermine our democracy.

The Elections Bill, for example, will remove the independence of the Electoral Commission and undermine its ability to monitor elections.

Other pieces of proposed legislation, such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Judicial Review and Courts Bill, will all, if made law in their current form, take power out of the hands of ordinary people and our democratic institutions and concentrate it in the hands of the government.

The fact that this government is so happy to take liberties with public trust is, I fear, a sad sign that this government is already preparing for a future where it cannot be held accountable.

T.G. Caldet, via email

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READ MORE: Tributes to 'a true gentleman' as Helensburgh man and former journalist Findlay dies aged 92

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The charm of the presents under our Christmas tree lies partly in their very different shapes and sizes. Perhaps the same could be said of our own families. None of them look the same.

Take 12-year-old Hawa – she lives with her granny, an aunt and four cousins in Liberia. Often there is not enough food for her family to eat.

Mary’s Meals serves nutritious food at school to children living in some of the world’s poorest countries, attracting them into the classroom where they receive an education that can, in the future, be their ladder out of poverty.

More than two million children receive our life-changing meals every school day – including Hawa.

I am pleased to tell you that, until January 31, 2022, donations made to Mary’s Meals, specifically our Double The Love campaign will be matched, up to £1.6 million, by a generous group of supporters.

Those children receiving Mary’s Meals might not have a pile of presents to unwrap on Christmas morning, but their dreams are alive and well, thanks to those who share our belief that every child should have enough to eat and go to school.

You can learn more about our work and about how to make a donation by visiting

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow (Founder, Mary’s Meals)

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