VIEWS on the future of Helensburgh's pier head and on cuts to rail station ticket office opening hours take centre stage in this week's Advertiser letters page.

To have your say on any topic of local interest, just email your views to or get in touch via the Send Us Your News section of this website.

Please keep your contributions to a maximum of 500 words, and remember to include 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We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published.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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Now that our new leisure centre is almost complete on the waterfront, it is time to decide what will replace the old swimming pool building, which will be demolished once the new facility is open.

Over the past 20 years, there have been a number of attempts to put a supermarket on the pier head site, all of which have failed due to strong local opposition.

Argyll and Bute Council is backing the idea of four retail units on the site, with a combined footprint in excess of 2,500 square metres. This is larger than the new leisure centre. 

The proposed units are likely to be too big and expensive for local retailers to consider, meaning they will only be attractive to big retail chains. 

Thus, profits are unlikely to be reinvested in the town and, as was reported in the Advertiser at the beginning of this year, the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the damage ‘high street’ names will do to our successful, independent, local retailers.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Helensburgh's swimming pool will be demolished when the new waterfront leisure centre next door is complete - and the site earmarked for retail use (Image - Street View)Helensburgh's swimming pool will be demolished when the new waterfront leisure centre next door is complete - and the site earmarked for retail use (Image - Street View)

The council’s proposals for the site are based on an outdated 2012 Masterplan. Coming out of the pandemic, the message is clear: the way we do business has changed. 

We have to encourage local enterprise and entrepreneurs. To ensure we do so properly, it is essential that we now re-visit that masterplan to make sure that it meets the needs of Helensburgh, now and in the future. 

For more than 150 years, what has made Helensburgh so popular with residents and visitors alike is its wide range of independent local shops, cafes, restaurants and other businesses. 

During the Covid lockdowns, many of those independent local businesses enthusiastically embraced online selling, some for the very first time, with several doing their own home deliveries. Efforts to persuade people in Helensburgh to ‘shop local’ have taken root, with new retailers and businesses opening up in the town.

With its Waterfront Vision, architecture+designhelensburgh (a+dh) – the body which advises Helensburgh Community Council on major planning matters in the town – sees the pier head site as a key location for a strategy which promotes Helensburgh’s independent local retail sector, embracing the opportunities distinctive local shops will bring with it. 

We must support innovative start-ups with their new ideas and provide space for expansion for existing businesses to take them to a new level.

An example might be a sheltered arcade of small variable-sized retail units with an active frontage onto an esplanade, extending to the Clock Tower. And in a landmark building with superb views over the Clyde. 

This is carried over to exciting retail opportunities on the Pier itself and the promenade with a+dh’s colourful, low cost ‘Helensburgh Huts’ idea.

What do Advertiser readers think should happen to the pier head site? Well, your chance to have your say on this important matter is at the exciting Visions for Helensburgh event in the Victoria Halls this Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13. 

The exhibition runs from 11am to 6pm on Saturday and from 11am to 4pm on Sunday.

This community-centred event is being hosted by Helensburgh Community Council and will include the architecture+designhelensburgh (a+dh) vision for bringing new life to Helensburgh’s waterfront.

I do hope your readers will come along and have their say.

Nigel Millar, Helensburgh Community Council

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I NOTE the report in last week’s Advertiser of the decision by ScotRail to drastically reduce ticket office opening hours at several stations in our area. 

This comes after a so called public consultation.  

I am one of no doubt many who submitted objections to these proposals. All I received was an automatic response acknowledging receipt. 

There has been no further communication explaining the outcome, which seems merely to confirm the original proposals. 

It is difficult to understand how customer safety and support will be enhanced by closing ticket offices at major stations such as Helensburgh Central, Dumbarton Central and Balloch by early evening. 

Apparently a staff member will be available outside of the reduced hours. Doing what exactly? 

Helensburgh Advertiser: Helensburgh Central station's ticket office opening hours are to be cut backHelensburgh Central station's ticket office opening hours are to be cut back

At Cardross the ticket office will open for a couple of hours in the morning and will not open at all on Saturday.

 There is no ticket machine at Cardross either, and there is minimal shelter once the ticket office closes.  

Not everyone buys tickets online and, in my experience, the helpfulness of the Cardross ticket office staff in finding the best deals and information has been first class.  

ScotRail’s head of customer operations (don’t you love this jargon?) claims that these changes are a result of listening to the feedback provided during the public consultation. 

If that is so, it then seems strange that this consultation basically endorses the original plans submitted by ScotRail at the beginning of this year. How convenient!  

“We will always listen to what our passengers and public say,” says ScotRail. Really?

This is about cutting costs, not enhancing the service to customers.

Chris Moore, Napier Avenue, Cardross