Care homes and Covid, Flamingo Land's Loch Lomond development plans, and the council's post-election priorities are all in the spotlight in this week's Advertiser letters.

To have your say on any topic of local interest just email your views to, with 'Letter' in the subject line, by 12 noon on Monday.

You can also send your views direct to us via the Send Us Your News section of this website.

Please 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 printed.

Happy writing!

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I FEEL very strongly about the article in last week’s Advertiser, ‘Scale of Covid’s care home impact laid bare’. This is why I am sending this email.

There is no mention about the inhumane way in which this was dealt with in the first place.

Yes, I do know exactly what went on during this time, as my husband was a resident in a care home when all the restrictions were put in place.

I know the country was in a state of shock, and I do realise why a lot of these restrictions had to be adhered to. In our case, I didn’t have time to try and talk to my husband about what was about to happen.

We had no physical contact for four months, and only then I was allowed to visit for 20 minutes each week – and only in the garden across a large table.

My husband was so confused and upset by this. We were allowed the occasional WhatsApp video call, and he kept asking me to just come in. Most of the time he couldn’t hear me, as they had forgotten to put his hearing aids in.

Later, I learnt from a senior nurse that he was shut in his room if he didn’t toe the line. This was because of his frustration at loneliness and not having the stimulation he needed.

All he wanted was someone to talk with him, or read to him. He had 40 per cent brain damage through a very serious illness.

No, my husband didn’t get Covid, but I really think the lack of care and understanding shown to him was unforgivable. I am sure there were many more patients and residents in care homes up and down the country in the same position as him.

My husband, eventually, was moved to an NHS establishment, where he had specialist care, and I was then allowed to visit for one hour per week until he died. Of course, all the damage had been done by this time.

I just feel it’s all about statistics, and the quality of life and a person’s dignity does not come into it.

Perhaps you agree with me.

Sue Hume, Helensburgh

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I ALWAYS look forward to reading Ruth Wishart’s pithy and usually well informed Point of View, but disappointingly last week’s offering - National Park wannabees would do well to look before they leap- ran somewhat off the monorails when she seemed to conflate Loch Lomond’s National Park status with planning conflict and “the stushie over wild camping”.

Recycling misinformation is not normally Ruth’s style, but referring to the Flamingo Land planning application as a “bid to install a theme park on the shores of Loch Lomond” shows she knows very little about this company’s efforts to develop the Scottish Enterprise West Riverside area, a contaminated brownfield site formerly used mainly for sand and gravel extraction and railway sidings.

The application was actually for a hotel, leisure pool, lodges and a monorail to better connect “old” Balloch with the new Lomond Shores retail complex – something the authorities have being trying to achieve for decades.

There never was an application for a “theme park”. Planning debates exist all over the country and National Park status never had much relevance for this application.

Similarly the wild camping problem exists beyond National Parks as well as within them. The truth is that one of the main reasons National Parks were created was to provide resources to deal with issues like wild camping.

It is Loch Lomond’s beauty and accessibility that attracts the campers. It isn’t the Loch’s National Park status which is causing the problem. Hopefully it might be part of the solution.

Clearly Ruth couldn’t resist following the old journalistic adage to ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’. The establishment of new National Parks is to be welcomed, but as with both of these particular examples, the issues are complex and deserve a better standard of analysis.

John Urquhart, 64B Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh

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NOW that our newly elected councillors are getting down to work, there are a number of issues that require their immediate attention.

First, and most importantly, the climate/energy/fuel crisis. Local people are facing a cost of living crisis and energy bills that will be sky high.

Argyll and Bute Council has declared a climate emergency, but has yet to take action to address these issues. The council needs to be doing everything it can to help people insulate their homes, reduce their energy demands, encourage people to use alternatives to the private car, and ensure public transport is clean and safe to use.

Currently council buildings have multiple lights burning all night. Hermitage Academy and the Civic Centre have far more lights switched on than are necessary for security; the new leisure centre building is lit up by more than a hundred bulbs. Ardlui House on Charlotte Street has 10 outside lights. Hermitage Park has more than 22, which are on all night, despite the fact that no-one uses the park after midnight. Such waste has to stop.

Second, ScotRail plans to slash the opening hours of booking offices. The council needs to oppose this.

ScotRail fails to recognise that booking office staff do far more than just sell tickets. They regularly provide advice for visitors (we are a tourist town - yet Visit Scotland closed our tourist information centre!), provide access to the public toilet, are a place where one can report incidents (of which there are many), and provide security for travellers.

Many people use concessionary travel cards, and yet it is impossible for them to get a rail ticket from the electronic machines; if one needs a concessionary ticket one has to use the booking office.

Third, Hermitage Park. It regularly suffers from vandalism and graffiti. The council needs to install CCTV as a matter of urgency.

There has been money for this in the budget for more than a year, and had it been installed last month, it might have stopped the Hermitage Primary School annexe being burned down.

Despite millions of pounds being spent, Hermitage Park is far from being a showpiece. Compare it to Levengrove Park, in Dumbarton. Both received similar sums from the Heritage Lottery Fund, yet Dumbarton now has a first class park facility; we do not.

Fourth: maintenance of council buildings. There is a long history of the council failing to maintain its buildings properly, which has led to unnecessary expenditure of millions of pounds during the last 20 years.

The Civic Centre is an example: Row School building was allowed to rot for many years before it was brought back into use. The (now former) Hermitage Primary School annex is another. I suspect that if the building had been properly maintained it is very unlikely it would have been set alight last month.

Blairvadach is yet another example: abandoned by the council, it was allowed to rot to such an extent that the current developer is having to spend enormous sums putting it back to rights. Meanwhile such buildings look terrible and do nothing to enhance our reputation as a beautiful part of the country.

Finally, we need to take action to stop so many motorcyclists getting killed on Argyll’s roads. It is only a few weeks since yet another motorcyclist was killed on the A82, this time just north of Tarbet.

There needs to be an urgent education campaign to inform bikers of the hazards on Argyll’s winding road, and reduce the chance of more fatalities this summer.

There are regular problems on the A82 with speeding drivers, unlicensed drivers, uninsured drivers, drunk drivers or drivers on drugs. The council needs to collaborate with the police and make local roads safe for local residents and tourists.

There are huge opportunities to develop tourism business in this area, and one niche market is the motorcycling fraternity. We have some of the best roads for motorcycling in the world, but we need to ensure that we are inviting visitors to undertake activities in a safe and sustainable manner.

Neil Walden, 5 Victoria Road, Helensburgh