I read with interest your piece in The Reporter (12th January) about WDCs plans to illuminate Dumbarton Old Bridge. Firstly I have to say that as a local resident I welcome this proposal as it would indeed enhance my evening viewing pleasure.

A couple of years ago the Council replaced the traditional street lights on the bridge with ornamental lights mounted on the balustrades, very pretty, however more often than not one of them isn't working and in fact one of the light fittings at the west end of the bridge has been missing for over a month.

Add to this the fact that all the lights on the north side of the bridge have also not been working for weeks, one can only hope that if this proposal gets the go ahead that the maintenance of the lighting is of a higher standard than what we've been used to.

David Logan

Woodward Road,


Are you ready for the May 2016 Scottish Parliament election?

On Thursday, May 5 voters in West Dunbartonshire will go to the polls for the Scottish Parliament election.

At the Scottish Parliament election residents of West Dunbartonshire will be voting to elect their Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) who are responsible for making laws for Scotland on a range of areas including transport, education, environment, health, police and fire services and local government.

If you’re not registered to vote, you can’t take part and you won’t be able to have your say.

This is why it is vital that readers know how they can exercise their right to vote and make sure that they don’t miss out on having their say on polling day.

Anyone 14 or over living in Scotland can register to vote but you cannot vote in local elections and elections to the Scottish Parliament until you are 16 or elections to the UK and European Parliaments until you are 18.

The deadline to register to vote in the Scottish Parliament election is Monday 18 April 2016.

Whilst there is still time, registering now also means that readers can rest assured that they have secured their vote for the May election and being registered could also improve their credit score in the meantime.

The good news is that you can apply to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote in just a few minutes and I would urge anyone who hasn’t already to do this now.

If readers prefer to apply to register by using a paper form then they can request one from the registration office on 0800 980 0471 and make sure they have sent the completed form back to the registration office by the April 18 deadline.

David Thomson

Electoral Registration Officer

Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute

Much of the debate about the current EU renegotiation by the Prime Minister has focused on restricting access to benefits for those from other European Union countries coming to the UK.

Some perspective is needed on this. What tends to be forgotten is that there are c 2.2 million UK citizens living and working in the rest of the EU with, for example, just over 1 million British people living in Spain and 329,000 in Ireland.

Indeed, unemployed Britons in the EU are drawing much more in benefits and allowances in wealthier EU countries than their nationals are claiming in the UK. For example, four times as many Britons obtain unemployment benefits in Germany as Germans do in the UK, while the number of jobless Britons receiving benefits in Ireland exceeds their Irish counterparts in the UK by a rate of five to one.

Contrary to popular perceptions, the figures for nationals of those 10 east European countries drawing jobseeker’s allowance in the UK remain modest, despite the periodical outcries about “benefits tourism”. There are only about 1,000 Romanians and 500 Bulgarians, for example, drawing jobseeker’s allowance in Britain, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Of those EU migrants living here a mere 1.2 per cent are not economically active, amounting to a miniscule number. According to University College London, between 2001 and 2011 EU migrants made an estimated positive net contribution of £20 billion to the UK economy as they tend to be younger and more economically-active than our own workforce, paying more in taxes and receiving less in benefits.

Those from the EU who have made the UK their home make an overwhelmingly positive contribution economically, socially and culturally, and it is good to sometimes highlight the facts as well as remembering those UK citizens who currently live in other EU countries.

Alex Orr

Policy Adviser

The European Movement in Scotland

Having read the Dumbarton Reporter (12/1/2016) pots and kettles spring to mind.

The word Opportunist I used to condemn councillor Marie McNair was ill chosen in view of the motion put by councillor Kath Ryall to change the rules by which community councils have operated successfully since their inception in 1973.

Their main purpose is to collect and put forward views ,questions and complaints from the public to the proper authority,regardless of politics, the rules regarding elegibility yo serve as a community councillor are very clear although the same trick was tried many years ago and was very firmly stamped upon then as now.

Indeed a neighbouring council have updated their rules to exclude members of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Rhona Young

Old Kilpatrick

A new fad is on the go; the fad of mindfulness.

This follows the fad of happiness, the wellbeing fad, the confidence fad, and the aspiration fad, ad infinitum.

Of course, people have explored the knowledge of mind or the human spirit since time began and we're all philosophers now.

Why that is has to do with inconsistencies or inadequacies that arise in our knowledge from time to time.

That makes us puzzled and conflicts with our contentment. Sometimes we may feel uncomfortable, strange or alienated, as if we don't fit in as we should. So we seek to know the reason why.

Here's an example.

There are two apples on a table. One is a red apple and one is a green apple.

What exists on the table?

If you said that apple and that apple you got it right.

If you included knowledge of any of the particular properties or differences between apples such as their colour or number etc, you got it wrong. They don't exist.

The existence of things or beings is what it is.

They are what they are, not what they may or may not have in terms of particular properties or different attributes.

So true knowledge knows what exists and what does not exist. Words like "apple" are known as universals.

When they crop up they are instantly recognisable on their own account.

They are multi-purpose forms of knowledge that fit into a wide variety of different contexts.

It is important to be mindful and know clearly what exists and what does not exist. Being happy or sad is not going to stop you being what you are or your existence as a human being.

No doubt the different properties, particulars and contexts have value. But what is that sort of information worth when it's disassociated and treated as if it's independent from what exists? Zero.

James Graham,

via email

With reference to Cameron McNeish’s recent article re proposed Your Park camping byelaws.

What a misnomer this is! Yes, the public were invited to vote Yes or No to the questions The Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority (LL&TTNPA) put to them in Your Park Consultation re a camping ban on much of the west shore of Loch Lomond and extensions to the existing bans on the east shore and parts of the Trossachs.

I attended the NPA public meeting where the NPA Board “discussed” the results before recommending that they be passed to Scottish Government.

The results “discussed” by LL&TTNPA were, to say the least, muddied as percentages were given, let’s say , for ‘YES’, whilst numbers were given for ‘NO’ or vice versa.

Your Park Consultation Report published documents show that LL&TTNPA ‘received 336 valid contributions’.

The Report states "Having considered all the points made in each response ..." 165 (49 per cent) were classified as supportive; 167 (50 per cent) objecting; 4 (1 per cent) neutral. Surely yes/no questions are precisely that. How can four responses be ‘neutral’ when three YES/NO questions were asked?

In my experience comments do not count as they are open to whatever interpretation the reader (or in this case the NPA itself ) wishes to put on them. By the same token what constitutes a ‘valid’ response?

The same report states in paragraph 4.1.1 Byelaw Q.1 – "Overall 209 individuals and 54 organisations responded" which if my arithmetic is correct equals 263 responses. We are told only that 112 were YES. Therefore 151 were NO?

However, Paragraph 4.1.2 Byelaw Q.1 states "a total of 137 responses (individuals and organisations) answered NO". These figures just do not equate!

For Byelaw Q.2 (para. 4.2) and Byelaw Q.3 (para.4.3) only the number of responses are stated. YES/NO figures or percentages are not given.

Nonetheless, Scottish Government are being requested to support this Report despite it being fundamentally flawed.

In my humble opinion the title Your Park just does not earn that title as LL&TTNPA want more and more restrictions to be put in place.

Mrs M. Jack,

via email

Research has found that 60 per cent of deprived school children don’t attend schools on the Scottish Government’s target register, meaning thousands are missing out on support to close the attainment gap.

This is yet more evidence that shows a very substantial number of deprived pupils do not attend schools in deprived areas.

The Scottish Government policy in only targeting selected schools and local authorities registering a high deprivation index and this has limitations.

This SNP's approach is failing to target support to all deprived pupils in Scotland who do not attend schools in deprived areas.

They are not doing enough to close the attainment gap or to increase opportunity among our county's least privileged.

There is a significant problem particularly in Argyll and Bute that too many of our disadvantaged young people are not getting the best opportunity to do well and this must change.

Our children deserve the means to better themselves not matter what back ground they come from.

Alastair Redman,


Nicola Sturgeon has said that the UK should only leave the EU if all four countries of the UK vote to leave.

Can someone from the SNP please explain why she won't apply the same logic to her planned second Independence Referendum, which would mean that Scotland would only leave the UK if every Council area in Scotland voted to do so?

Alan Reid,

via email

I was quite bemused by a recent statement from North Ayrshire and Arran MP, Patricia Gibson, that we should “back the SNP to ensure we continue to protect our NHS, keep education free and ensure crime remains low”.

Would that be the same SNP which, after nine years of power in Holyrood, has presided over catastrophic failures in our NHS, education system and policing?

An NHS which is seeing a rise in waiting times for appointments, consistent missed targets in A+E and a new West Scotland super hospital where ambulances are queueing for half an hour just to get into casualty. A real-term reduction in spending on the NHS (compared to an increase in England). A ‘health check for the over 40’s’ policy abandoned.

An education system where college numbers have plummeted to their lowest level since the SNP took power, increased pupil: teacher ratios and a drop in people from poorer backgrounds going to university.

Or perhaps Police Scotland. A doomed obsession with centralisation which has led to call centre disasters, voluntary redundancies to try balance its books and morale at an all-time low.

Let’s not even venture into its Transport failures. We learn this week of an abandonment of a plan to better connect Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Patricia Gibson is entirely correct about one thing. We should think about the SNP when we go to the polls this May. We should think beyond their “only we stand for Scotland” war cries and instead judge them on their record. The political landscape may have changed in 2015, but it is still changing and the Scottish Government should be ready for a credible opposition from me and my future MSP colleagues.

If you think Scotland deserves more than a one party state, intent on breaking up the UK, then you should take a second look at my party and I. You may be surprised to now find a home in the Scottish Conservatives.

Jamie Greene

Conservative candidate for Cunninghame North

With the start of 2016, many people will be making their New Year resolutions and planning to make a difference, either for themselves or for others.

Whatever the reason – be it getting fit, participating in a sporting event, signing-up for a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, like a trek to Everest base camp, or taking up voluntary work, The Children’s Trust would love to hear from you.

The Children’s Trust is the UK’s leading charity for children with brain injury and by taking part in one of our many fundraising events you will be helping to make a difference to some very special children and their families.

The Children’s Trust has lots of fundraising activities to appeal to all – with the ever popular National Doughnut Week in May, the fabulous Supercar Event in July and Humphrey’s Pyjama Week in October – as well as other regional and local activities taking place.

And, if you are planning to take on a new challenge to get fit, we have available places in many famous running events – including full and half marathons - and would love to hear from runners who would like to join-up to The Children’s Trust team for the Virgin Money London Marathon, the Great North Run, Brighton Marathon or the BUPA 10K.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a new venture, perhaps you would like to start a local supporter group to help raise funds. If so, we can offer help and advice to get you started.

For more ideas on how you can support The Children’s Trust, including becoming a volunteer at one of our charity Surrey or Kent charity shops, which I have enjoyed doing myself, please contact us via the website at www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk, email: enquiries@thechildrenstrust.org.uk or phone 01737 365020.

With very best wishes for a happy and fulfilling New Year,

Amanda Burton,


The Children’s Trust

Those of us of a certain age remember the heroic struggle against apartheid with our boycotts and demonstrations.

We all remember the reluctance of the British and American forces of power to support the people. Apartheid sadly still exists and the Boycotts and demonstrations against Israel continue.

Although South Africa is most associated with apartheid and is the context from which the term originates, the crime of apartheid has a far broader definition. ‘Apartheid’ isn’t a term of insult; it is a word with a specific legal meaning.

“The term ‘the crime of apartheid, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to … inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

Article II, International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, UN General Assembly Resolution 3068, 30 November 1973 Injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine.

In the same period the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; … which helped us to bring an end to this ubiquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

Address by President Nelson Mandela at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, 1997.

I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, June 2014.

The following examples of the crime of apartheid specifically mentioned in the Convention are important to highlight in relation to Israel ’s ongoing policies and practices towards the Palestinians:

- Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right of life and liberty of person … by the infliction upon members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

- Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country … [including] the right to leave and return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence …

- Any measures including legislative measures designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups … the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group. [2]

In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted at an international conference. The ICC Statute includes the ‘crime of apartheid’ in a list of ‘crimes against humanity, describing apartheid as:

inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime …

Israel was one of the seven countries (out of 148) to vote against the statute.

B. McKenna,