LETTERS: e-mail heaneymedia@btinternet.com

The Masonic Hall in Church Street, Dumbarton. Picture by Bill Heaney
Huge thanks to Mary, Eric and staff at the Masonic Hall Dumbarton for their amazing support throughout November and December, they really went above and beyond for us to support with toys and food and allowing us to use the Masonic Hall to store same until we needed it, we would have been so lost without you all.  lso massive thanks is owed to all the Slimming World club who donated tonnes of food weekly to the Hall which then was passed on to us. You have all been a wonderful support to us and we are beyond grateful. Food For Thought – West Dunbartonshire.
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IT IS MY VIEW THATthat we certainly do not need or want a theme park on or near Loch Lomond.  What do we the rate payers of WDC want?  Do we ,”Save Loch Lomond” Know ? And how do we find out?  I suggest we organise a proper opinion pole Once we establish this with democratic certainty we should then ask the Scottish Government to pass ownership back to WDC.

On whom if everyone uses their democratic right in selection in May 2021 we should have the right people in position to help both administratively and financially to achieve an end result which could provide an area of scenic beauty which supports wildlife in balance with a sustainable community which is what contributes both in opinion effort and finance .  It does our cause no good to criticise and suggest inappropriate behaviour by any Government official without substantiation. We all need to be positive and optimistic in pursuit of our objective. Allan Jones
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Council Leader Jonathan McColl and Cllr Marie McNair with some of the road teams that will try to keep West Dunbartonshire moving this winter.

Stay safe out there. There are reports of people slipping all over the place early morning and night. Margo Sharp, Dumbarton

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Salmond, Sturgeon, Mackaskill and Murrell.

The biggest unanswered question from the Salmond Inquiry is why there have been no resignations.

Or so far, as I’m certain there’ll be casualties and likely far more extensive than if prompt and appropriate action had been taken at the time. Instead contracts were extended, salaries increased and centralised control expanded.

It’s a position that some might well come to regret, as the conflagration widens and more are burned, along with some existing but already tarnished reputations. Time will tell but things ain’t looking good as further evidence sessions are due to begin and some witnesses even face recall.

For the appearance of some participants, so far, has been more redolent of an episode from the TV comedy The Office than the workings of senior ranks of governance in the land.

Meetings so far have seen episode upon episode of forgetfulness, incompetence or even downright deceit. Ricky Gervais couldn’t have written it. Yet this stellar cast has forgotten their lines, required to clarify their evidence, or set the record straight more like.

Even their ever-erudite star law officer has been reduced to mumbling obfuscation. Worse could follow, as it may even be shown that some have either failed to tell the truth or adhere to a court order.

Giving evidence before a committee can be stressful. But when you’re a senior officer or a post holder then it’s expected. It’s part of the job and senior civil servants have done it all before, whether appearing individually or in briefing and supporting ministers. Party officials likewise are used to being held to account, and grilled even, by elected members or other organisations that they account to.

These are also not stupid people, all have abilities that got them there. Some may have been promoted beyond their capabilities or have remained in situ long past their sell-by date. But this farce isn’t coming about because of who they are. Rather, it’s the result of the script they’re trying to remember.

Most witnesses would be warned about prevarication never mind the requirement to tell the truth or face the consequences of not doing so. Similarly, a court order to produce documents isn’t an optional matter that you can pick and choose whether and what you release. Instead no matter how senior you are, you do what it says or it’s contempt of court.

But in this show nothing, no resignations, no one has fallen on their sword, been suspended or even just pushed surreptitiously out of the door. On the contrary, to paraphrase the Permanent Secretary, the battle may have been lost but the war continued. Even that’s now all but over and it’s a complete rout.

After the debacle of the civil case, she could have resigned quietly and much would have been forgotten or not gone much further. Likewise the SNP CEO could have called it quits and allowed others to take over. But no, so now we face many more being drawn into the mire. Hell mend them I say.

Kenny MacAskill is the SNP MP for East Lothian

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CHILDCARE ADVICE FOR EMPLOYEES If you are unable to work due to lack of childcare then your employer can and should be using the Job Retention Scheme to furlough you on at least 80% wages. Neil Findlay MSP, Holyrood.

Neil Findlay MSP, Holyrood, Edinburgh

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Twenty four hours ago the SNP SG told us all that their proposed delay of up to 12 weeks for the second dose was perfectly fine. Nothing to worry about etc. Now the WHO are telling us the Pfizer vaccine MUST be administered as originally intended in a two-stage process with a 3-4 week delay between both.  Where’s Sturgeon, Freeman and Leitch to apologise for talking rubbish once again?   And how do they now intend sorting out this latest cock-up of their own making.  This puts a huge question mark over the efficacy of ANY vaccine to tackle this virus. And our trust in them.  Gerard Keegan, Cambuslang

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Remembering the three Renton brothers who fought in Spain.

I’ve asked for further info from the IBMT in London concerning the commemorative bench on Hampstead Heath to the three Gibbons brothers who fought in Spain. As folk will know, the brothers all had roots in the Vale of Leven, but enlisted from Canada, London and Renton to go to Spain. A fourth brother tried to go but was rejected as too young. The IBMT has been informed by the Ranger service at Hampstead that the bench is beyond repair and will need replaced at an approximate cost of £2.7K. There is a descendant of the family in London who is interested and I’ve said that many in Scotland would be delighted to assist in whatever way we can. I’m awaiting further info (possible fundraising page etc) and will post it here when I get it.  Louise Robertson and Mike Arnott, Balloch

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The Royal Canadian Air Force graves at Dumbarton Cemetery.

This is Peter Hughes – I added a comment on your article about the graves of the four Royal Canadian Air Forcemembers in the cemetery In Dumbarton. Thank you for the reply to that comment. I apologise if the comment seemed a bit brusque. I was trying to provide that information concisely, and not take up too much space. If I’d looked further at the time and found your e-mail address, I’d have done it this way instead.  My sister-in-law was correct –  I did find the article very interesting. I understand the confusion over the first name of the pilot. I can think of several names that can be used for men and women, sometimes even without any change in spelling – Hilary, Lindsay, Vivian etc. But I was fairly sure that there were no women RCAF pilots in WW2. There were certainly quite a few women ‘ferry’ pilots who flew planes on delivery to active squadrons, but they were not in the RCAF, and would not have flown these aircraft with full crews.  I was born in Glasgow and grew up in Gourock, but I’ve lived in Canada for nearly 40 years, so consider myself mostly Canadian now. It affects me to see graves of Canadian servicemen in the UK and Europe, so far from their homes. (I would feel the same seeing UK Servicemens’ graves in somewhere like India.) As you say in that article, these people did not ‘pass’ or ‘fall’ – they died or were killed. We should remember them, and be very grateful to them (and to those who survived) for what they did.  My sister-in-law knows of those graves, she lives close to the cemetery. If we’re ever allowed to travel again, and we get back to Dumbarton, I’ll get her to take me to visit them.  If you are interested, there’s a good book about the RCAF in the UK during WW2, written by a bomber pilot. It’s “Boys, Bombs and Brussels Sprouts” by J. Douglas Harvey – a very personal and honest account.  Regards, Peter Hughes, Canada

Conic Hill near Balmaha and wreckage from the fatal crash involving an RCAF aircraft.

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Although the First Minister announced to Parliament that places of worship must close on Friday, the situation appears to have changed. Late last night the Scottish Government sent the following note to faith communities:  “It is now a legal requirement to stay at home unless it is essential. The Stay at Home guidance is now in regulations and came into force at 0001hrs today and there is no exemption to attend a place of worship between now and Friday. This effectively means that Places of Worship should be closed for both congregational worship and individual prayer with immediate effect. Additionally, given the current position in relation to the pandemic the Scottish Government would also discourage more than 5 (or 6, if an interpreter is required) from attending a marriage in a level 4 area before Friday. All associated guidance is being amended now to reflect what will be the regulatory position from Friday. We apologise for the degree of inconsistency in messaging from government but hope that this clears this anomaly up.”  Peter Kearney, Catholic Media Office Monica Watson, Our Lady of Lourdes, Bishopton

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 NHS guys in you come. Still lots left!  Franco Palombo, Palombo’s of Balloch.

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 We’re Back!  But with a few changes………

To help keep our staff team safe we have switched up our rotas so that only 1 staff member will be in the shop at one time. We also need to ensure that we can stick to our daily cleaning checklist and since there will only be one of us in each day we’ll be closing slightly earlier.

Our temporary hours during this lockdown will be:

Monday – closed

Tuesday – 11am – 4pm

Wednesday – 11am – 2pm

(Click and Collect 2pm – 3pm)

Thursday – 11am – 4pm

Friday – 11am – 4pm

(Neighbourfood Collection 3.30pm – 5.30pm

Click and Deliver and Neighbourfood Deliveries from 3pm)

Saturday – 11am – 4pm

Sunday – Closed

Neighbourfood will open for orders this Thursday for collection on Friday 15th January.

If you know what you need from our usual stock and you can can’t make it out you/would rather do a drive by shop you can message us for a click and collect or delivery. Fingers crossed we will have most things available to order on our website by the weekend too. Bear with us – we’ll get there! Made Guid, 4 Park Street, Newtown, Dumbarton

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Keep in touch with someone,

We can all help each other through this

There is support available if you need it

Karen McGroarty, Balloch 

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Folks we recently learned that Scottish Enterprise (Scot Ent) have signed a 3 year ‘conditional missive’ with Flamingo Land (FL). This is an excerpt taken from an email from Scottish Enterprise. The current arrangement is not an extension of an exclusivity agreement it is instead a conditional missive that will, when finalised, oblige Scottish Enterprise to selling the land to the company upon the successful completion of the planning process.  Scot Ent intend to sell the public land at Balloch to FL for, as yet, an undisclosed sum. Once sold this public land at the Gateway to our National Park will be lost forever and we will no longer have a say in its use. Don’t be mistaken the land is our most valuable asset and should never be sold for private profit.

I have made the following comment on our behalf:  The issue is the sale of public land for private profit and yet again a public funded body the Quango known as Scottish Enterprise announce that they have entered a 3 year contract, a ‘conditional missive’ to sell the land at Balloch, the gateway to the National Park for an undisclosed sum having already spent £173,438 of public money to facilitate project initiation and project development of the site since 2014 which was met with the largest number of objections, over 60,000, ever seen in Scotland. Moreover, this ‘contract’ now excludes the public and any other interested body from putting forward any other alternative visions for the public land for the next 3 years.

With the Scottish Government’s recent updated commitments to climate change and community empowerment is it not time to stop pouring public funds into a private enterprise and sit round the table with Save Loch Lomond to look at a publicly owned, sustainable development for Balloch or as these commitments from Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government nothing but hot air?  Can I ask that you all start emailing your local MSP and the minister who has responsibility for Scottish Enterprise Fiona Hyslop (Fiona.Hyslop.msp@parliament.Scot) Contact details can be found here.  Alannah Maurer, Save Loch Lomond.

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Police arrested more than 20 people and issued more than 300 fines for Covid breaches during the new year period. A total of 326 fixed penalties were handed out between December 28 and January 3, while 21 people were arrested.  All of mainland Scotland was placed into the highest tier of Covid-19 restrictions on Boxing Day, banning indoor visiting and more than six people from two households meeting outdoors.  Police Scotland warned people in advance against Hogmanay gatherings which could potentially spread the virus further, while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots to mark the end of 2020 at home.  Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, pictured right, spoke out to urge Scots to comply with the rules ahead of Hogmanay.  He asked the public to “continue to do the right thing to stop the spread of this virus”.  Covid fines start at £30, doubling to £60 if they are not paid within 28 days. Repeat offenders can face fines of up to £960.  Police Scotland Media Office

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