Argyll and Bute’s MP, Alan Reid, with Helensburgh Councillor Aileen Morton, visited Cumberland Avenue in Helensburgh on Thursday 27th September to inspect what remains a wasteland after last year’s felling of the Cumberland Avenue woods and to listen to the concerns of local people.
The visit was organised through the resourceful Helensburgh Community Woodland Association. It was welcomed by local residents who had the opportunity to express their dismay at how the protected Cumberland Avenue woods were almost entirely felled in May and June 2011 without due process.
The residents briefed Mr Reid and Councillor Morton on their concern that Argyll and Bute Council has yet to take enforcement action on the matter, despite lengthy investigations and warning’s that they were about to take such action.
Residents are particularly critical of the eyesore that has been left behind by the landowner in an established residential neighbourhood – visible in the photograph above at the site; and are anxious about the danger that the site, in this condition, poses to local children, despite being fenced off from the road.
There was also strong support for action to ensure that the Cumberland Avenue woods are replanted.
Mr Reid listened carefully to these concerns and promised to take them up with Argyll and Bute Council.
He was also interested in the latest news about HCWG’s Save Castle Woods campaign, especially as he had written to the council over the summer, drawing their attention to the threat to the protected trees in Castle Woods and asking the Council to declare their intentions to prevent any unlawful felling there.
The visit by Mr Reid and Councillor Morton reflects growing political concern over the continuing degraded state of the Cumberland Avenue site; and over the threat posed to Castle Woods by the still live planning application to build 72 dwellings in its place.
The visit of Alan Reid and Aileen Morton follows a visit to Cumberland Avenue at the end of August by Jackie Baillie MSP (Labour) and Councillor James Robb (SNP).
HCWG has also invited the three Conservative councillors for Helensburgh and Lomond to view the site and meet local people and is now awaiting their response.
This looks like a very savvy community group rightly putting politicians into a competitive situation.
It will be interesting – and telling – to see which gets the result.