THE latest crop of readers' letters to the Advertiser, as published in our January 5 issue, includes more thoughts on Helensburgh's CHORD project, along with a Christmas thank you from a local church and views on why 2016 may not have been the disastrous year many people might think.

We want to hear what you think on all the latest local news - to see your views in print in the next issue of the Advertiser, just email Happy writing!

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ON behalf of Helensburgh United Reformed Church I would like to thank all the groups and organisations that supported our 10th Annual Christmas Tree Festival, our Gift Service and our Christmas Day Lunch.

The Christmas Tree Festival attracted the usual number of trees and due to the generosity of those who visited us we were able to donate £1,100 to each of the charities that we supported this year.

These were Save the Children and Motor Neurone Disease Scotland.

The community’s generosity was also demonstrated in the wide range of gifts donated at our Gift Service.

These were distributed by the local council’s social work department to underprivileged local children.

We are also grateful to our local Waitrose store and the Lions Club for their very generous donations which allowed us to give a free three-course lunch to nearly 40 people who would have otherwise spent Christmas Day on their own.

We are grateful, too, for the time the volunteers gave on Christmas Day to help cook, serve and wash-up on the day.

Stephen Alexander

Secretary, Helensburgh United Reformed Church

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THE CHORD project has been a great success in Helensburgh, apart from the restricted traffic flows at the Sinclair St. junctions with Princes and King Streets.

This problem has been created by shortening the crossing distance for the less mobile of us – a laudable objective. However, it has restricted traffic to a single lane, causing constrictions when motorists turn right at these junctions.

I had been led to believe that the traffic light sequences were to be changed so that traffic would move from only one direction at a time – a longer wait but no constrictions. This has not come to fruition.

The only other solution appears to be a complete ban on all 'right hand turns' at these junctions – a simple low cost solution, which motorists would quickly get used to, re-planning their routes accordingly.

Ian Lamb, Helensburgh

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BY common consent 2016 has been a challenging year - a year of disasters, even.

It is therefore often difficult to remember that we are also living through somewhat of an arc of progress.

We are living in a world that is getting richer, with the number of people living in extreme poverty falling below 10 per cent for the first time. Indeed, since 1990 almost 1.1 billion people have escaped extreme poverty.

World hunger also reached its lowest point for 25 years in 2016.

For the first time ever the death penalty has become illegal in more than half of the world’s countries, and the world got healthier, with a World Health Organisation report showing that since 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60 per cent. Also, since their peak a decade ago, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 per cent, and infant mortality has halved since 1990.

Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage and Tanzania banned child marriage.

For many, 2016 may have been seen as the worst of times, but it has been one of the best of times too, so let’s not be too pessimistic as we enter 2017.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

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NOW that 2016 has drawn to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to your readers and our supporters for helping to make our 150th year a huge success for Barnardo’s Scotland.

Many of your readers have taken part in a host of challenge events and raised funds through, sweat, tears and sheer determination.

Others have supported events as volunteers, and without this army of support we simply wouldn’t be able to function.

By shopping and donating to our Barnardo’s Scotland stores throughout Dunbartonshire and the west of Scotland, your readers have helped our local services, as the profits from retail go directly to support the charity’s work with some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged children and young people.

And finally thanks to you for supporting us by telling your readers about our events, news and campaigns and helping to raise awareness of the work we do throughout Dunbartonshire.

So a big thank you to you and your readers for helping us and we look forward to their continued support in 2017.

Martin Crewe (Director, Barnardo’s Scotland)

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NEW research from Independent Age has found that more than half of British adults (52 per cent) believe that abuse and neglect in care homes for the elderly is common.

Our new report, ‘Shining a light on care: Helping people make better care home choices’, calls for new measures to understand the scale of the problem. We want the government to take responsibility for collecting core information about care homes to give earlier warnings of a home providing poor care.

We also want the Department of Health to commission a social care staff survey asking if staff would recommend the provider they work for and whether they have witnessed neglect or abuse.

We have two free advice guides which may help people affected by these issues.

Anyone who needs more information about how to choose a care home can order the How to find the right care home guide for free at or by calling 0800 319 6789.

Those who need more targeted guidance can call the free Independent Age helpline on 0800 319 6789 to arrange to speak to an expert adviser.

The free Independent Age advice line (0800 319 6789) can offer advice to those who think they are being abused or may be at risk of abuse.

Janet Morrison (Chief Executive, Independent Age)