IN this week's Advertiser letters, readers discuss the closure of Helensburgh pier, the proposals for Flamingo Land at Loch Lomond and the A83 problems.

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THE condition of Helensburgh’s pier has been the subject of a number of articles, letters and tweets in the local press over the last few weeks, culminating in the news reported in the Advertiser last week, that the pier will be closed to vessel traffic until further notice.

Some have questioned why Argyll and Bute Council has done nothing to, literally, stop the rot.

However, despite the commonly held assertion that “the council should do something”, they will not commit money to the pier unless they consider it as having an immediate financial return on the investment or is part of the current local transport infrastructure.

The charity group Helensburgh Seafront Development Project (HSDP) has, however, long been battling to save the pier for the community as they believe that there are wider benefits to be gained in having a safe and operable pier.

HSDP’s report that has been quoted in the press was intended to highlight to the charity’s trustees and members the issues raised by the pier’s current condition and the risks involved in taking it on if it were to be transferred or leased from the council through the Community Empowerment Act.

The council’s decision to close the pier was, in their own words, based on a report undertaken by Arch Henderson LLP.

HSDP has not yet had access to the Arch Henderson report, which would, it is hoped, provide a more complete understanding of the state of the pier and the work involved in restoring it to operation.

However, the charity cannot, by itself, undertake ownership and the work involved until and unless the council commits to ensuring the structural integrity of the pier.

The HSDP plans include repairing the pier, dredging the pier-head to allow the PS Waverley and other craft to be able to berth in all states of the tide, and to install pontoons on the east side of the pier.

These pontoons would attract tenders from the cruise ships berthed across the Clyde at Greenock and other small craft, bringing visitors to the town to enjoy the many award winning restaurants, local shops, bars and other attractions in Helensburgh.

HSDP is committed to restoring the town’s pier – your pier – as a community asset for the town, for use by visiting vessels and small craft, walkers, fitness enthusiasts and to provide a hub for marine traffic and visitors to the area for the benefit of all in the town.

The group is firmly committed to stopping another piece of our heritage from crumbling into the sea, as happened with Craigendoran pier nearly half a century ago.

We would welcome your support and if you wish to find out more then all are welcome at our presentation on Saturday, November 3 at 2pm Helensburgh Parish Church Hall in Colquhoun Square.

David Cantello (on behalf of HSDP Trustees)

Via email

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AFTER many years of what some might consider to be deliberate neglect, Helensburgh Pier has finally been declared to be unsafe and is closed to boats coming alongside.

Your headline - ‘Community holds the key after shock pier closure’ (Advertiser, October 18) leads with a suggestion from Vivien Dance that it should be taken into community ownership, and there is sense in that, as the council will never repair it.

When I heard that it had been closed I walked along the pier and looked at it with a critical eye. The main length is still solid, as it is stone built, but the wooden structure, where boats tie up, is rotten beyond repair.

What, then, can be done, and can the necessary funds be found to deal with it?

There is no way that the existing wooden part of the pier can be replaced in the same form as now. Design and build costs of that type of structure, together with the many organisations that would want to have an input, would probably make it impractical.

When you look about there are however other options. Let me suggest a couple to think about.

Remove the existing wooden pier and dredge the area where it stands to allow the Waverley and other boats to use the existing stone structure with a new landing platform.

Take the existing deck off, drive in an interlinked caisson (shaped metal uprights driven in with a steam hammer) around the structure and fill it with stone and hardcore.

It would need only a fraction of the amount of stone that was used to protect the new council buildings from the waves. The existing landing stage might also be incorporated.

Neither of these actions would be cheap, but they are probably more practical, and less expensive, than the likely outcome of doing nothing until it resembles the wreckage that was Craigendoran pier.

Dougie Blackwood


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I REFER to Chris Lee’s letter (October 18) regarding Alzheimer’s Research UK’s fund-raising at Waitrose in Helensburgh.

Alzheimer’s Research UK contacted Mr Lee prior to the publication of the letter to apologise to him for any upset and confusion caused during his conversation with our fund-raisers.

We were especially sorry to hear they came across as dismissive when discussing the Dementia Resource Centre, which is funded and run by Alzheimer’s Scotland.

We take all complaints about our fund-raising seriously and have shared this feedback with the fund-raisers involved.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to provide clarity about the role of Alzheimer’s Research UK in Scotland, which was not accurately portrayed in the published letter.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is a biomedical research charity, specialising in funding pioneering dementia research across the UK.

It is not in our charitable remit to fund care services and we are a separate charity to Alzheimer’s Society, which provides care and support services to people with dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We are the leading charity supporting dementia research in Scotland and thanks to public donations, we have been able to support 66 research projects in Scotland, providing grants totalling £7.6 million.

We are also a founding funder of the UK Dementia Research Institute, the single biggest initiative in dementia research ever launched in the UK, whose centre in Edinburgh opened in April.

Alzheimer’s and the other forms of dementia are one of society’s biggest medical challenges and there are estimated to be 70,000 people in Scotland with dementia.

Raising awareness of our work and fundraising in Scotland is vital to help our mission to bring about life-changing treatments for people with dementia.

We appreciate any feedback that allows us to improve how we communicate the work that we do and will endeavour to ensure that all fundraisers put clarity, empathy and understanding at the heart of their conversations.

Anyone who would like to find out more about the work we do can visit

Laura Phipps

Head of Communications, Alzheimer’s Research UK

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I FOUND it telling that Andy Miller, Flamingo Land’s spin doctor, did not deny in his recent letter to the Advertiser that profits from the proposed development at the southern end of Loch Lomond will mainly flow into the directors’ own pockets.

Nor did he deny that the Flamingo Land business model is designed to limit visitors’ need to spend money outwith the complex.

Again, we find further proof of this at Flamingo Land Yorkshire, where the caravan area includes a private supermarket for customers’ use only.

The real question is this: why should we be surprised that they are coming to redirect the area’s wealth into the bank accounts of a few millionaires?

That is how these large chain companies operate. More fool us if we fall for their PR spin and let them help themselves to our best assets.

Jonathan Hargreaves


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The recent engineering works carried out by the Scottish Government to try to solve the problems at the Rest and Be Thankful have clearly failed their first test.

Those out working on the hillside in appalling conditions have done their best, as have Western Ferries in helping keep people and vehicles moving.

The problem is that the SNP Government did not invest the cash required to solve the problem.

The SNP chose the cheapest of the options presented to them by consultants. They were warned repeatedly that this would not keep the road open, but they chose to ignore these warnings.

When the Old Military Road was first suggested as the route for an emergency relief road, the SNP was warned that debris would fall down the hillside and block it. They ignored this warning too.

Let’s hope that this time the message actually gets through to the SNP – they must invest the money required to keep the A83 open. If they don’t, the economy of Argyll and Bute will suffer even more.

Councillor Alan Reid

(Liberal Democrat, Cowal)

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IT is with sadness and regret that I have to inform all members and supporters of SITE (Supported Integration, Training and Employment) that the charity is winding up.

The decision to cease operation of SITE as a charity supporting people with sight loss has not been taken lightly.

Our support to the sight loss community over the last 14 years has given us all at SITE immense pleasure given our organisation was managed and delivered, in the majority, by disabled people for disabled people.

It is, however, great to note that our work will carry on through other organisations that shared SITE’s aims and objectives. These include :

Triple Tap Tech (TTT), which provides advice, help, support and training for visually impaired people in Scotland, in particular using technology to enhance people’s lives. Triple Tap Tech has all the latest technology and gadgets at its Glasgow office, and has agreed to continue the monthly ‘Apps Club’ at the Mitchell Library.

For further information contact Fraser Fleming on 07805 353149 or email

Think Feel Look Good, set up by Leanne McAllister, which aims to help people understand and recognise negative thought patterns and beliefs that may be holding them back in their personal, family and work lives. Contact Leanne on

JT Training and Consulting, which offers professional training and consultancy services which support people with sight loss. It also provides specialist consultancy services supporting people with sight loss to become self-employed. Contact John Turley on 0770 236 2105 or email to find out more.

I would like to thank all of SITE’s members and supporters for their backing, and those other organisations that support people with sight loss – particularly given the increase in the demand for our services over the last number of years.

A special thank you goes out to those members who contributed to SITE through attendance at our events, those who contributed articles to our newsletter and website. Your support was invaluable.

Jonathon Miller

Chair of SITE

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