This week's Advertiser letters page includes views on the council's end stage report for the Helensburgh waterfront development and a letter shaming the council over the state of Cardross Crematorium.


ARGYLL and Bute Council’s ‘end stage report’ on the Helensburgh waterfront has now been published – understandably late in production, given the volume of information contained.

It can be accessed via the council’s website, and will be discussed at today’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee meeting.

The Helensburgh Community Council has severe reservations on the report, not least that little attention has been given to the public response to our community survey, where the public rejected the proposal by a majority of 55 per cent.

We shall be raising several questions at the meeting and a flavour of our concerns are outlined below.

First: the five aims and objectives stated in the pre-application consultation. These were: (1) to deliver a new leisure facility and swimming pool which meets the needs of the Helensburgh and Lomond community; (2) to encourage new businesses to open up in the town and to provide existing businesses with more opportunities; (3) tto add to what has been achieved through other projects such as CHORD and Hermitage Park, which have created an attractive, vibrant and contemporary town centre that is attracting residents, businesses and visitors to the area; (4) to create a safe, comfortable and, accessible public space to provide a visible link to and from Colquhoun Square, which is the main outdoor event space and the town centre; and (5) to show the town of Helensburgh at its best and encourage additional private sector investment in the waterfront area and town centre

One of these objectives has been silently dropped in the end stage report. Objective 4 is not present in the Executive Summary. How, therefore, can the updated proposal be said to address the aims that were presented to the community for consultation?

There are several elements of the council report with which HCC has concerns.

On page 4 the report states that “on the basis that the principal elements of the design are aligned to the HPMA (Helensburgh Pierhead Masterplan Addendum) 2012 it enables us to start the technical design for core elements such as piling, rock armour, civil and structural engineering etc”.

This is untrue – the leisure centre has been placed in a completely different location and orientation from the masterplan approived by the community, and council, in 2012.

On page 7, paragraph 6.3.3 states: “To counter the flood risk our design proposals are such that the finished floor level (FFL) of any building to be constructed on the site will be set no lower than 5.4m above ordnance datum (AOD), which is some 0.75m higher than the predictions for a 1-in-200year event.”

This only allows for still water level predictions, and takes no account of the waves forecast in years beyond 2018. Also, the floor level of the plant room will be at 4.7m AOD.

Paragraph 6.3.5 on page 8 states: “It is also important to remember that the design life for the new Leisure Building is 40 years and that the climate change impacts, upon which we have based our design, are forecast out to 2080, or some 20 years after the new building would have reached the end of its operational life.”

Climate change doesn’t just happen in 2080. Sea levels are increasing today, and our calculations are that climate change will cause wave overtopping flooding within the next 10 years.

Page 9, paragraph 6.5.2, states: “Our design delivers all of the requirements set out in the HPMA.”

In fact the HPMA included coach or taxi drop-off on West Clyde Street, which would avoid large vehicles going right round the car park.

The same paragraph states: “We have taken on board feedback that has been received through the consultation process in defining the areas for coach/taxi drop-off and coach parking (short to mid-term use).”

A key piece of feedback from the Chamber of Commerce is that coach parking is required, and more than two coach spaces (there were six in the HPMA plan).

The very next paragraph, 6.5.3, states: “A significant element of the feedback which was received through the consultation process was to do with the perceived reduction in car parking spaces i.e. how will traffic be managed when you are going from 550 car parking spaces to 265 spaces. The figure of 550 spaces is in fact misleading and our car parking survey revealed that only 447 spaces are actually marked out.”

That is untrue with respect to the HCC survey. We advised our respondents that there were 504 spaces, which includes the Mariner site. The public were fully informed of the number of existing spaces and still rejected the reduction in parking.

As previously reported in the Advertiser, HCC made a number of recommendations to the council as a result of feedback to our own survey. Argyll and Bute’s reaction to these recommendations can be summarised as follows.

There has been no change to the location, and the affordability statement does not take into account that relocating the leisure centre would significantly reduce the cost of infill and flood defence work.

Only a small mobile slide has been added as a ‘fun’ element. A café has been added.

But there is no additional spectator seating, no change to external appearance, and no additional car parking.

Nor has there been any change to the retail aspect of the design, and, although an area has been earmarked for landscaping/skatepark/playpark, this is included in the £18m budget of this project and depends on future funding from an unknown source.

It is depressing that so little notice has been taken of the community input and leads one to question whether there is any point in any form of public consultation.

Despite having participation in the project under the auspices of the Community Empowerment Act 2015 there was no discussion with the Community Council on the most important decision made by the design team and that was on the position of the leisure centre. This decision should have been widely discussed and challenged.

One can argue flood statistics forever. However, logic alone dictates that an £18m investment should not be built at the extremity of a pier subject to the weather prevalent in Scotland without cast iron reasons.

Norman Muir

Convener, Helensburgh Community Council

I have to name and shame our council for the appalling state of the grounds, especially the lower part at Cardross Crematorium.

Two weeks ago I had to cut 18 inches of grass surrounding my late husband’s gravestone - every grave was the same. I telephoned the council to complain but to date have heard nothing.

Today when I visited weed killer has been applied , the grass cut to a fashion and all the graves outlined in dead grass and weeds, and cut grass lying in piles everywhere.

Is there no respect for the departed in this day and age? It is apparent no care is taken to keep this peaceful burial ground neat and tidy. Looks like we will all have to pack our garden tools and gloves as we visit our loved ones.

Elizabeth Street


Council leader Aileen Morton and Dougie Blackwood (Helensburgh Advertiser, June 14) should be careful what they wish for. Their wishes might come true.

Coucnillor Morton says “the biggest challenge continues to be the combination of having to grow our economy and population.” Mr Blackwood sees the lack of ready access to all parts of Argyll as “maladies”.

They should look south to the Midlands and London. Lots of population. Lots of roads. The roads are clogged with cars. Escape north on the M6, and past Preston, the traffic thins out and you relax. North of the border, you are back in paradise.

In the modern world, isolation and tranquility are valuable commodities. We should treasure what we have not rush headlong to destroy it.

Local government is not about major changes in economic activity or promoting population growth. In the 2017 Argyll and Bute Council budget, there is £4.5 million of public money for the Argyll, Lomond and the Islands Regeneration Initiative. Taxpayer money is being spent to promote Machrihanish Airport as a space port.

Back in the real world, the new Chinese granite pavement on West Clyde Street is filthy. On holiday weekends, bins overflow and the esplanade is strewn with rubbish. A charity was employed to weed the flower beds in Colquhoun Square. East Clyde Street has been closed for over two weeks because of an unsafe building. The bay window in the former police station on Sinclair Street is in danger of collapse. The façade of the old Post Office likewise. Any movement in these buildings could see further street closures.

Argyll and Bute Council needs to focus on the day job.

John Black

6 Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

It’s seems that almost every day I’m contacted by farmers in my constituency with concerns about their future.

This is hardly surprising as farmers are borrowing more and having to pay staff less, according to figures released by the Scottish Government.

According to ‘Agricultural Facts and Figures’ published recently, agricultural borrowing has doubled in the last ten years, capital investment has stayed the same, and agricultural workers are earning £1560 less on average compared to last year.

The figures show that farm borrowing has almost doubled from £1.38 billion to £2.28 billion between 2007 to 2017, while capital investment has stayed the same at £210m.

This demonstrates that farmers are investing much less in their machinery and equipment, while still having to borrow ever-increasing sums to remain viable.

This is on top of the fact that farmers are still struggling with debts they incurred as a result the CAP payment fiasco caused by the SNP Government several years ago.

Time and time again the separatists have shown complete disregard to the plight that our hard pressed farmers are facing. It seems that our agricultural industry is just one more sector that is ignored by the separatists in their relentless push for a second independence referendum.

Cllr Alastair Redman

(Conservative, Kintyre and the Islands)

I was appalled at the wanton disrespect shown by SNP MPs to the Mother of Parliaments in pursuit of their narrow nationalism and at the support shown for this by the so called Scottish Parliament.

Nationalists must realise that Mother Knows Best and that Holyrood always was and always will be subservient to Westminster and the interests of England and the UK as a whole.

Despite recent building programmes, Edinburgh still has a dearth of student flats and tourist accommodation. Perhaps this might be a more suitable use for the Scottish Parliament building than as an adventure playground for revolting Scots?

John Eoin Douglas


The Scottish Law Commission has recently issued a discussion paper, dealing with a number of aspects of the law of leases, and especially the termination of commercial leases.

The Scottish Law Commission deserve more thanks than they often get for the efforts which they put into trying to improve and tidy many aspects of Scots Law.

One of the minor topics in the present discussion paper is that of “phantom leases”. Everybody agrees that you cannot let a shop, for example, to yourself. What happens however when the sitting tenant buys the shop from the owner?

For most people, this takes you back to the situation which you couldn’t have created in the first place, namely, being your own tenant, and therefore the lease must “evaporate” because an owner’s legal title is obviously superior to and more permanent than that of a tenant.

In their discussion paper, the Scottish Law Commission suggest that there are legal authorities and theories why a “phantom” lease might legitimately exist. On analysis however, most of these involve situations where there are third party interests involved, or where some genuine distinction can be drawn between the owner of the land, and the owner of the tenancy.

Different sectors of the legal profession have differing views on the present, counter-intuitive, practice. All those who are interested are encouraged to give their views in to the Commission before the consultation closes on September 14, 2018.

Mike Blair

Partner, Gillespie Macandrew LLP