GEOGRAPHICALLY, Dumbarton is anything but an ordinary town.

With a 240ft rock dominating the landscape, and situated at the confluence of two rivers, it can't be denied that it is an attractive location.

Historically, it was a vital strategic site.

Sadly, it has failed to live up to its tourist potential.

The numbers of paying visitors to the castle only number, annually, around 20,000, a fraction of comparable sites such as Stirling.

Yet this is the Ancient Capital of Strathclyde and boasts the oldest fortified settlement in the British Isles.

The lack of a town museum is also something that will have to be addressed: the Denny Tank museum is excellent and gets good reviews but the maritime heritage is only a small part of our town's history.

Let's make the most of what we've got instead of ignoring it.

The hundreds of thousands of tourists that pass by the town drive up to visit Loch Lomond and the West Highlands every year (with this year, in particular, being a bumper year), travel up the troublesome A82, our increasingly congested artery.

And for part of that road, due to our geography, there is no alternative.

If there is an accident on the Milton-Bowling stretch, a not infrequent event (as any local motorist or bus or taxi-driver will testify) the whole area comes to a standstill.

This summer has been particularly bad with numerous bumps and smashes.

The only Glasgow-bound alternative takes an hour or more via Croftamie and Milngavie. Thousands of people's livelihoods depend on this road.

My understanding is that the powers-that-be are now looking at the possibility of a relief road being built for this area.

Let's hope that actions will quickly follow their good intentions.

With the new council headquarters on Church Street due to be up-and-running by early next year; with the new housing development near the Riverside Church starting soon and the new Lidl nearby looking likely then something will have to be done about the coming congestion in the east of the town then the future of our beleaguered town centre is now looking good.

These are all good developments that are 30 years out of date - better late than never.

Nevertheless, the resulting increase in traffic is bound to result in increased congestion. Let's try and improve our transport system that can go hand-in-hand with the positive stuff that's happening.

James Cormack. Chair, Dumbarton East and Central Community Council.

COUNCIL employees will take the news that the Chief Executive has received a pay increase of 8k with disappointment and disbelief, due to the fact that they have had to suffer the pain of austerity for the last six years, and that in real terms has meant in real terms up to 17 per cent reduction in pay, for council staff- as council staff and services have been cut.

This news would seem to be a bitter pill to swallow for hard pushed and stressed council employees.

Charlie McDonald, Unite Convenor.

ONE cannot fail to have been moved by the scenes of violence in Catalonia, as Spanish forces attacked unarmed voters.

Whatever the view on Catalonia’s right to hold such a vote or not, the response by the Spanish national government was brutal and excessive, leading to 844 people being injured.

The sight of people being dragged from polling stations by baton wielding police and the disabled being attacked in wheelchairs has no place in a modern western democracy. One cannot praise highly enough the calmness, humanity and bravery of the Catalan people when faced with such acts of violence.

What is deeply disappointing is the muted response from the international community, which bar a few exceptions such as Angela Merkel, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and Nicola Sturgeon, has been largely silent.

While the European Union may argue that this is a domestic situation, in the past it has been willing to act in such matters.

In 2000, for example, it imposed diplomatic sanctions on Austria when Joerg Haider’s extreme right wing Austrian Freedom Party entered the government.

The Tory Government is so morally bankrupt that little more was to be expected than the pathetic response from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when it referred to Spain as a “close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to us.”

There was no condemnation of the violence, but the UK Government is so weakened due to Brexit that it requires every scrap of support it can gather, even if it means turning a blind eye to such obvious brutality.

One suspects that if there was any doubt previously over Catalonia’s desire for independence, the actions of the Spanish state have pushed it well and truly down this road.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

BRITAIN has long been regarded as a nation of animal lovers.

Our pets are often seen as treasured family members, and many people go to great lengths – and costs – to ensure their companions lead a happy and healthy life.

New research suggests that the average dog owner spends over £18,000 on their furry friend during its lifetime.

It’s wonderful that the welfare of most pets is well looked after in the UK.

But, sadly, it’s a very different situation for many working animals in developing countries.

Worldwide, around 200 million working animals, such as horses, donkeys and camels, make it possible for impoverished families to earn a small income by transporting goods and people.

They play a vital role, but they often endure hard lives without access to the food, water, shelter and essential veterinary treatment they urgently need.

On World Animal Day (4 October), we highlighted the struggle they face on a daily basis and asked everyone to give them the recognition and support they so greatly deserve.

Please visit and help us to ensure that working animals overseas receive the same care and compassion as our own much-loved pets here in Britain.

Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive, SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

AS a doctor myself, I know our National Health Service can only thrive when it has enough staff and money to be able to provide the world class service that the nation deserves.

The Leave Campaign’s infamous promise of an extra £350 million a week for the NHS is left in tatters.

Nurses from the EU are leaving, and fewer are applying to work here. No-one voted for this.

At Open Britain, we believe that membership of the Single Market benefits our economy, which makes more money available for public services.

And we are also campaigning for the immediate guarantee of the rights of EU citizens here in Britain, which will help protect our NHS.

On Saturday October 14, pro-Europeans will be joining forces again to campaign to protect our NHS and other public services from a hard, destructive Brexit. Open Britain, European Movement and Britain for Europe will be taking to the streets and we need your support to spread the message across the country.

There are three ways you can join in with the National Action Day:

Host a campaign event in your community;

Deliver leaflets in your local area;

Sign the pledge to protect our NHS from a hard, destructive Brexit and share on social media.

Go to the following link to take action today

Thank you again for your support.

Dr Rachel Edwards GP, Open Britain activist.