HAVING been litter picking in the hidden woodlands close to the rowing and angling clubs on Heather Avenue (Alexandria)- as well as close to the fence that borders the only railway line going in and out of Balloch station- I recovered lots of litter.

In particular, I recovered a record 197 cans in one day, at one of the hidden campfires.

It is clear that there is quite a long way to go before the sites are litter free.

Upon inspecting the rest of the woodlands, I saw that two trees were burnt severely as a result of either recent or previous campfires lit over the years.

In case people get bored at the very thought of trees being mentioned, the basic part of how trees work is, like any other plant, they absorb carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen for all of us to breathe in.

So it is very disappointing to find that the trees were treated with such disrespect and I am amazed they have not even fallen down naturally by strong winds.

If the parents of the youths who go camping in these woods at night are reading this paper, I urge them not to ban their offspring's adventures but to greatly educate them on the importance in treating nature with utmost respect which includes the priority of putting their litter in the bin instead of leaving them behind.

On the other hand, if you are convinced your offspring is not being as honest about their camping conduct as you think they are, make them turn up at the woodlands and clean it up themselves.

That way, this will teach them about ethics and respect.

Jonathan Rainey, Dumbarton.

WE are writing to make your readers aware of what we believe will be the moment of truth for the future direction of Scottish Football.

We firmly believe that everybody who loves our national sport should be united in looking to improve the wider game in Scotland.

At Holyrood we launched the first ever benchmarking and evaluation exercise into the Governance of Scottish Football. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/sfsa-benchmark-2017

We propose to do this annually at the end of each season to gather information for benchmarking purposes.

This is not just for fans. Players, former players, referees, managers, coaches and any other interested parties will be able to participate. If you love football, or used to love it, help us change the landscape.

Result evaluation will be supported by a team of highly respected academics who have been working on football analytics in Germany.

Why are we doing this? Because Scottish football currently has no external performance evaluation process and regulation and governance is all conducted internally.

Sadly key stakeholders (eg players, managers, coaches, fans) are all currently excluded from decision making.

In 2017 we don't think this is good enough from FIFA and UEFA all the way down to Hampden Park, football governing bodies have shown little interest in reforming to allow key stakeholders a proper input to, and scrutiny of, the game. We believe, from talking to fans around the country, that trust in Scottish football's current management structures is at an all time low.

Your readers and followers now have the chance to help by sharing the survey details with their contacts and support the initiative on social media by using the hashtag #GiveUsOurBallBack

Results will be revealed at an event in September/October.

SFSA “Road Shows” will go to various towns and cities in Scotland to explain the results and also help fans develop action plans for the way forward for football at all levels.

Paul Goodwin, co-founder SFSA

DOGS Trust is calling on the public to help put an end to illegal puppy smuggling after an undercover investigation revealed shocking and continued abuse of the Pet Travel Scheme.

Puppies as young as four weeks old are still being subjected to horrifying journeys across Central and Eastern Europe and smuggled into Great Britain to be sold to unsuspecting members of the public, many sick and without the right vaccinations.

After working tirelessly to bring the issue of puppy smuggling up the Governments agenda, there remains a reluctance to acknowledge the scale of the problem or to implement any effective change.

Urgent action is needed to help transform the lives of these poor puppies.

Dogs Trust is asking people to show their support by writing to their own MP to ask them to support our campaign by writing to the Minister for Animal Welfare. They can visit www.puppysmuggling.org.uk to find out how to help.

The campaign is backed by television and radio personality, Dermot O’ Leary.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director, Dogs Trust

MILLIONS of people across the UK are unpaid carers, 6.8 million in fact.

When Carers UK’s recent State of Caring report highlighted the plight of unpaid carers, the findings, although astonishing, painted a sadly familiar picture.

In agreement with Carers UK, our own research found that many carers maintain their role for long periods of time with little or no time off.

A third of carers said they had not had any significant time off since they started caring, with 90 per cent not able to access proper holidays away from caring.

With such little access to time away it’s unsurprising that many carers begin to feel the pressure.

In a separate study, 60 per cent of carers we asked admitted that they felt unable to ‘switch off’ from their caring role, with over 6 out of 10 saying that they felt mentally exhausted and over half saying they didn’t know how they would be able to cope if things continued the way they were.

I work for Revitalise – an incredible national charity that provides respite holidays for disabled people and carers.

We see everyday how vitally important respite is in enabling carers to continue coping and caring for their loved ones.

That’s why, we’re showing our support for unpaid carers all across the UK, calling for immediate action and greater statutory support for social care services, particularly respite.

If your readers would like more information about Revitalise, our breaks, or would like to support our vital work, please visit www.revitalise.org.uk or call us on 0303 303 0145.

Stephanie Stone, Revitalise.

WITH the combines appearing in the fields of many areas of Scotland, and as farmers and crofters go about their busy days, it is the perfect recipe for accidents to happen.

And ahead of Farm Safety Week taking place from 24 to 28 July, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick is urging those working in the industry not to cut corners.

In his blog this week, Mr McCornick states that we need to drive home the message that farm safety is a lifestyle, not just a slogan.

And in 2015/16, there were eight deaths in Scotland in the agricultural industry – but as we know even one death is one too many.

The lasting impact on family, friends and the wider community can be devastating and we are determined to work with the industry to lower this statistic.

He says that we need to take action right across the industry to protect ourselves, our families and those visiting our farms and crofts. Implementing the simplest of measures could help to save a life.

Andrew knows all too well the consequences of cutting corners and not taking time to do the job properly, after suffering an accident on his farm earlier this year.

The outcome for him was a fractured and bruised foot after a concrete panel fell on it.

To read Andrew’s full blog visit: https://www.nfus.org.uk/news/blog/presidents-blog-20-july

For more information and to view advice on making your farm or croft a safer place to live and work visit: https://www.nfus.org.uk/policy/campaigns/farm-safety.aspx

Farm Safety Week is supported by various organisations including the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.

Ruth McClean, communications manager, NFU Scotland

IN the height of the season, flooding is often far from people’s minds but it’s a subject which should be on the radar at this time of year.

Some of the most catastrophic incidents have occurred in the summer season – including the Hull floods, which devastated the city in June 2007.

A range of measures can be introduced to reduce the impact of flooding on properties and achieve a successful outcome.

It’s important people are aware of the options and as a country we should be considering this on a national scale, to prevent continued heartache when floods strike.

Flood protection can be improved in a number of ways, either by reducing the impact of future floods through resilience measures, or by keeping water out as far as possible by introducing resistance features.

Flood resilience relates to measures which reduce the time between the point the building is flooded and the point where the occupant can get back to the enjoyment of their property.

There are a range of measures which can be adopted into modern buildings or during the recovery or refurbishment of older buildings to provide degrees of resilience to the effects of flood water.

Examples include replacing standard gypsum plaster with one of the alternative types that do not absorb water (such as a cement render) and using ceramic or stone tiles with waterproof adhesive and grout.

Moving all services, such as boilers and electric sockets high up on the wall, and using kitchens which can be cleaned, dried and reused using materials such as marine ply or steel, can also speed up recovery works.

The fitting of a membrane to walls and floors so any water can run behind it to be collected in a sump/pump unit rather than entering the property, is another effective measure.

Keeping water out as much as possible through flood resistance measures can be achieved in a number of ways too.

This can include fitting a flood protection guard to doors or replacing doors completely with a flood resistant alternative.

Replacing standard airbricks with ‘self-closing’ alternatives, fitting a ‘non-return valve’ to prevent sewage going back into the building and giving consideration to the fitting of a pump to evacuate water coming from beneath the building are other examples of flood resistance measures.

Flood protection offers a common sense approach, but for action to occur we need clear leadership from Government to drive forward the issue.

Action can include allocating the use of any flood damage grants issued by Government to build in future flood protection rather than just a repair and replace process. Insurance repairs can also take the same approach.

And while flood resilience and resistance measures can all make a positive impact, it is important to recognise that there’s no off-the-shelf solution for flood protection.

The introduction of effective measures involves looking at a property as a whole, understanding its needs and bringing together a solution that will work.

It requires a high level of technical ability, so property owners should seek out a professional who can adapt existing technologies and practices to deliver robust and reliable protection for homes and businesses at high risk.

The best way to ensure properties are as protected as they can be is to call in the experts.

Here, members of the PCA’s Flood Protection Group can help. They understand the subject of flooding and can provide expert advice and guidance on how homeowners and businesses can reduce the risk of problems.

An example of how flood resilience measures can be introduced to properties can be viewed in a PCA video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjU902ZbEM0

More information on flood protection and flood resilience can also be found via the PCA website at www.property-care.org/homeowners/flood-protection/

Mary Dhonau OBE, anti flood campaigner.