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August 2017

It was this time last year that I reported on the decision to close the local civic amenity depots at Johnstone and Linwood. Thankfully, and following a public outcry, that decision was reversed and the two sites reopened. This year I hear that the Council is adding to this resource with a “Rapid Response Team”. The Council’s mobile patrol squad aims to boost civic pride in Renfrewshire’s key streets and open spaces, preventing build-up of unsightly rubbish and street clutter in key hotspots. The aim is to supplement the routine street cleaning and waste disposal work done by the Council’s army of hard-working waste workers. The Team will also have powers to track down and prosecute rubbish-dumping rogues - target the types of waste which cause most everyday nuisance, offence and slip or traffic safety risks. This will mean a faster response to complaints about nuisance dumping, littering and fly-posting. Primarily aimed at Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew town centres, the service has been extended to include the villages of Howwood, Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch.

See www.renfrewshire.gov.uk or phone 0300 300 0380 if you want more information about safe disposal of trade or household waste, or to tell the Council about fly-tipping, street litter, fly-poster and graffiti.
The public parks in Paisley and Renfrew are to be upgraded. This is a most welcome development giving many people an enhanced experience when they visit. However, I am very aware that other parks in the areas covered by The Advertizer are in need of a makeover. In particular, Howwood villagers have set up an action group to look into a possible community buy-out. The Howwood Public Park Committee have been working closely with local Councillor Andy Doig and others within the council to see if an asset transfer of the Park and Pavilion would be possible. Failing that, they plan to push for an upgrading of the park to an acceptable standard.

A last minute update on planning - an application has been submitted for the former Bull’s Garage site in Bridge of Weir. The application reference is 17/0490/PP, found on the Council website with plans, elevations and supporting documents, at http://pl.renfrewshire.gov.uk/online-applications. The plans show proposals for a mixed use development comprising a residential care home with 65 bedrooms, a supermarket of 8,000 sq.ft. (approx twice the size of the BoW Co-op) and a coffee shop of 2,000 sq.ft. There will be 20 parking spaces for the care home, with an additional 70 spaces for retail parking. A plan view of the site is available at http://pad.renfrewshire.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00402238.pdf.

Staying with planning, the site visits scheduled for housing applications in Bridge of Weir in July were cancelled, with a new date still to be set. I believe the Whitelint Gate visit for a retail development did go ahead on 19th July, but too late for a report this month. I hope to bring you an update next month.

Brookfield Village Trust was set up several years ago with the aim to acquire Merchiston Field to help preserve the village envelope. Their AGM on 3rd August will provide an opportunity to hear a report on negotiations so far and the way forward. All welcome - non-members will not be eligible to vote but can join at the AGM. More details on the village news pages.

And finally, some great news on the roads. Councillor Natalie Don tells me that the A761 stretch between Bridge of Weir and Brookfield is now to be resurfaced and this work will be carried out following the completion of the existing commitments of roadworks in October. However, I sincerely hope that the Council will take the necessary steps to improve drainage along this stretch as this seems to be the main cause of the regular deterioration of the carriageway. Having just come back from a trip to the Highlands, where weather conditions are invariably more harsh than here in the ‘softy’ south, I am astonished at how good their roads are compared to those in the Central Belt. Is it something in the “watter”?

Legal Blog

by Isabella McKerrow, Affinity Family Law

Why Every Adult Should Have A Power Of Attorney

As we head towards old age and face the prospect of becoming mentally and physically infirm, it is sensible to have a Power of Attorney “POA” in place. However, an adult could become physically or mentally infirm at any age as a result of illness or trauma. Every adult should consider having a POA in place, given they are inexpensive and unlike a will do not have to be reviewed every few years.

A POA can ensure that the financial affairs and personal welfare of the adult will be looked after by someone they trust. An adult who is mentally capable may grant a POA for various purposes and for however long. There are two types: Continuing, relating to property and assets or financial affairs of the granter. This can be used at any time for convenience and remains effective on subsequent incapacity: Welfare, relating to personal welfare decisions ensuring the family are involved and preventing the Local Authority making decisions if the granter becomes incapable. It can be stipulated that welfare powers are not granted unless a GP certifies the adult mentally incapable. A combined POA can be granted with both continuing and welfare powers.

The advantages of having a POA are that it enables speedy and appropriate intervention. It avoids the adult’s family the problems that arise when an individual loses capacity such as it being impossible to manage their financial/business affairs or deal with their property. The welfare POA prevents the Local Authority moving an incapable adult into a care home without the family’s consent. Granting a POA also avoids the lengthy, complicated and expensive process of applying to court for a Guardianship Order, which may only grant limited powers and may have to be renewed by further expensive court applications every three years.

Optical Blog

by Kerry Taher, New Vision Opticians

Why try Contact Lenses?

Some of you will be shuddering at the very thought of putting something on your eye. Believe it or not though, as long as your eyes are suitable and you can handle/take care of the contact lenses properly, anyone can wear contact lenses (CLs).

The choice of CLs is now greater than ever. Lots of different materials and huge ranges of prescriptions mean that everyone has an option, even varifocal wearers. From the part-time wearers (once or twice a year) to the full-time wearers (1 month without removing the CLs) and everything in-between, there are CLs for you.

The average age to start CLs is 12-15 years of age but fitting a child of 7 is not out of the question. As long as there is understanding of risks/hygiene and competence in handling then there is no minimum (or maximum!) age. CLs can even have a positive impact on a child’s social behaviour, helping them to feel more confident.

Probably the best question to ask yourself is “are there any occasions where I wish I didn’t need glasses to see?”. This can be anything from glasses feeling uncomfortable, steaming up, sports, vanity etc. If the answer is yes, then you should give them a try.

Most opticians offer free trials which involve an initial assessment and fitting based on a current eye examination, so just ask. You will then be taught all you need to know to safely handle and care for your CLs before the 1-2 week trial begins. After this, you have a check-up and this is when you decide if you wish to continue wearing CLs. All being well, different wearing schedules can then be discussed.

For any contact lens related information, please call the practice on 01505 614 700.

Dental Blog

by Sheila Macintyre, Practice Owner, Kilbarchan Dental Practice

Sugar is not all Sweet

Last month we highlighted the surprising levels of sugar in a selection of popular drinks but there is lots more you really need to know about every dentist’s “enemy number one”!

Most adults and children in the UK consume too much sugar and tooth decay is now the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children. The kind of sugar we eat too much of is known as “free sugars”. Free sugars are any sugars added to food or drinks. They are also naturally occurring in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

Everyone knows that sugar causes tooth decay and other oral health problems. Bacteria loves to feed on sugar and the consequences can be far more wide reaching than you might think. Sugary drinks can contain up to 50g of sugar which is 3 or 4 times the amount a child should consume in a day with type 2 diabetes, obesity and mental disorders all linked to high sugar intake.

We only really recommend drinking water as many fruit juices can be just as harmful as fizzy pop with high acid content and/or added sugars. Try cutting down on some of those sugary drinks and sweets and remember even dried fruit has a high sugar content and coats the teeth. Milk is a much safer alternative to drinking yoghurt, milkshakes and smoothies - some of which have really high sugar levels. Home-popped popcorn and fibrous foods such as celery act as natural toothbrushes and fresh veg and fruit is much better for you than processed food and drink that tend to have lots of additional ingredients (and much lower nutritional values). Always check the ingredients and nutritional information on packaging and, when you do consume food or drink with sugar, restrict it to meal times. Most importantly remember to always remember to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

If you would like any more advice on how to care for your teeth visit us at Kilbarchan Dental Practice, call 01505 704969 or click www.kilbarchandental.co.uk

Financial Blog

by Carl Melvin, Affluent Financial Planning Ltd

Landlords & Tax – More tax to pay?

The Government has trained its sights on property investors and landlords now face higher tax bills. Many landlords are higher rate income taxpayers and the loss of higher rate tax relief on mortgage costs could be very painful for some, particularly those with large portfolios or with a high level of borrowing. In summary, higher rate tax relief is being withdraw over the next 4 years meaning taxable profits will be higher - leading to more tax to pay. In some cases, the tax bill may exceed the net income the landlord receives! The changes are;

Although the target for this tax grab is higher rate income taxpayers, those who pay basic rate income tax may not escape unscathed. Much depends on how big the mortgage is and how much interest is claimed against rental profits. Once finance costs are disallowed as shown above, rental profits may push a basic rate taxpayer into higher rate income tax taking their tax rate from 20% to 40%

Landlords should now consider the following;

  • Do the maths – is buy to let still a worthwhile investment?
  • Reduce debt? - and lower your risk
  • Tax planning – transfer ownership to a lower rate taxpaying spouse/civil partner?
  • Take professional advice – the tax rules around property investment are complicated.

This information is not financial advice. If you require advice you should consult a professional adviser. The first meeting is normally free and there is no obligation.

Call us for a FREE financial review on 01505 59 50 60 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Alternatively, pop into the Affluent office opposite Amaretto restaurant on Main Street, Bridge of Weir. www.affluentfp.co.uk

The History Spot

Henry Birkmyre and his Descendants

Henry Birkmyre (1762- 1844) worked as a handloom weaver in Kilbarchan, where in 1785 he married his first cousin Agnes Birkmyre. After their marriage, Henry and Agnes attended Burntshields Burgher Church. The baptisms of three of their children, Jean in 1786, John in 1788 and Agnes in 1791, are recorded in Burntshields church records. In 1792 the family moved to Port Glasgow where Henry took up employment in a sailcloth manufactury. A fourth child, William, was born in Port Glasgow in 1802. The Birkmyres prospered in Port Glasgow. Henry soon rose to the position of foreman in Gourock Ropework Co. and was made a partner in the firm in 1814. His portrait, which still exists, is said to have hung in the company’s boardroom.

Henry sent his younger son, William, to Glasgow to be trained by city merchants. This early training paid off and, following in his father’s footsteps, William was appointed as a manager in the rope works. In 1831 he married Margaret Aitken. William was regarded as a shrewd businessman and laid the foundations of the future success and world-wide expansion of Gourock Ropework Co. He retired in 1860 and died in 1862 in Ashgrove, the family home at the bottom of Clune Brae in Port Glasgow.

Two of William’s sons, Henry (b.1832) and John (b.1836) became partners in Gourock Ropework Co. A third son William (b.1838) spent some time in India, and pursued a political career, becoming MP for the Burgh of Ayr. A younger son, Adam (b.1848), attended to the family’s business interests overseas. Under the brothers’ control, Gourock Ropework Co. became renowned world-wide as manufacturers of rope, sail cloth and canvas.

All four brothers became extremely wealthy and were generous benefactors in the local community. Henry was instrumental in founding Clune Park U.P. Church in 1878. In 1881, he diversified his interests and bought New Lanark Mills from the then owner, Charles Walker. Under the Birkmyre family, Gourock Ropework Co. owned David Dale’s new Lanark Mills for the next 65 years.

John, in 1870, appointed David Bryce, a renowned architect, to build his baronial mansion, Broadstone House on the hills above Port Glasgow. He gifted Broadstone Jubilee Hospital to the community of Port Glasgow. William, the third brother, spent time in India and pursued a political career, becoming MP for the Burgh of Ayr. He gifted Birkmyre Park (later known as the Public Park) to the town of Port Glasgow. Adam owned Shallott (now part of St. Columba’s School buildings) and various other properties in Kilmacolm. In 1897, he gifted recreation grounds, now Birkmyre Park, to Kilmacolm village. He also had interests in Calcutta in India and in Switzerland where he died in 1906.

© 2017, Helen Calcluth, Renfrewshire Local History Forum

Pet Blog

by PetVets

Dental Problems in Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs have 20 teeth, 4 incisors at the front and 16 “cheek teeth” consisting of 1 set of premolars and 3 sets of molars. All of these are open rooted, meaning they grow continuously. In healthy guinea pigs the normal process of biting and chewing food causes wearing of the teeth and prevents them overgrowing.

Abnormal wear of the teeth leads to overgrowth. This tends to form spikes on the outer edge of the upper cheek teeth and the inner edge of the lower teeth. This prevents normal eating and can cause injuries and sores in the mouth. The lower teeth can overgrow to the extent that they trap the tongue and prevent normal swallowing.

Causes of dental problems include:

  • Incorrect diet: Most common cause. Inadequate amount of roughage (hay/grass) in diet leads to reduced wearing of teeth. Also inadequate vitamin C supplementation can cause scurvy with effects including dental misalignment and pain from loose teeth.
  • Genetic abnormalities: Affecting jaw conformation leading to abnormal wear of teeth.
  • Illness/injury: Causing reduced food intake or preference for softer foods and so reducing wear of teeth.

Signs of dental problems include:

  • Reduced appetite or anorexia
  • Salivation
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Dropping food
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal faeces

Treatment of dental misalignment involves a general anaesthetic to file teeth back into a normal shape and promote normal chewing action. In some cases extractions are necessary. Sometimes x-rays are taken to assess tooth roots for impaction. Antibiotics are used to treat secondary infections. Anti-inflammatories are given for pain relief until oral lesions heal. Syringe feeding of liquid diets is sometimes required until the patient is able to eat normally.

Prevention of dental issues is best achieved by providing the correct diet with at least 80% hay/grass and a suitable vitamin C supplement.

Sporting Blog

Metabolism Myths...

There is a lot of information out there about metabolism and how you can improve it or speed it up as well as things to avoid that slow it down. Unfortunately, a lot of what we read is untrue and will play no part in changing your metabolism – here are my top three;

1. Frequency of Meals

Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day does not speed up your metabolism. Research shows that your metabolism is not triggered by meal size, frequency or timing. If anything, the more often you eat, the more potential there is to consume more calories than intended throughout the day if you are not careful.

2. Having Breakfast

Making sure you have breakfast in the morning does not speed up your metabolism. By consuming food first thing in the morning does not mean that you suddenly switch on your metabolism at an increased rate. Missing breakfast won’t make any change to your metabolic rate; however, it can help curb cravings and frequent snacking throughout the day, which aids in calorie control and a healthier eating pattern. What negates fat loss or weight gain is your calorie intake over 24 hours, and more so over 7 days, rather than whether you do or don’t skip breakfast.

3. Food Type

There are no special foods that speed up your metabolism. Research hasn’t shown any positive benefits to eating a certain type of food that acts directly on your metabolism. The key thing is a varied diet full of nourishment and flexibility that you can sustain long term.


For more information on nutrition or Personal Training contact me on 0773 627 4925 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

July 2017

This time last year I was I was lamenting on the lack of activity at the site of the old Library building in Kilmacolm. Now the site is busy with a definite structure taking shape. The site of the former Java Minute has been under wraps for some considerable time and it is great to see the covers coming off with a whole new facelift. I hear that this will be a wine-bar/bistro establishment with late opening to 10pm.

There are a few planning updates. A new group is being set up in Kilmacolm, made up of villagers concerned over a number of areas in the village greenbelt under threat. This reminds me of the protests a few years ago when Duchal Woods (Milton Wood) was under threat of development and the village rallied together to save the woodland space. The new group is looking for enthusiastic members to join their numbers. Details on page 32.

In Lochwinnoch the prospective developers at the Johnshill site have appealed against the refusal of planning. Cllr Andy Doig advises that he will be writing to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) with his concerns.

In Kilbarchan, there will be a DPEA Planning Hearing on 18th July opposing the proposed Branscroft development. Andy also advises that there may be a new planning application to build on Old Howwood Road between Spateston and the village. Hopefully we’ll have an update by the next issue.

In Bridge of Weir, there will be site visits on 19th July by the Scottish Government’s Planning & Appeals Division to the Whitelint site at 10am and the site north of Kilmacolm Road at 1.30pm. Last year, 128 objections were lodged against the proposed development by Gladman Developments Ltd for 80 houses along the north side of Kilmacolm Road. No date has been given for the publication of the final decision on these proposed developments. Cala Homes has also lodged an appeal against the refusal of consent to their proposed development on Lawmarnock Road. The associated documents can be viewed at the Renfrewshire Council Customer Service Centre in Cotton Street, Paisley or online at www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk

The former Bull’s Garage site now appears to be under new ownership and rumours abound as to what may be planned for the site. Simply Construct UK in Glasgow advised that they are currently working on a planning application and will keep us updated as this progresses.

Renfrewshire Council’s capital investment programme for the roads and footway network will include roads in Bishopton, Bridge of Weir, Houston, Howwood, Langbank and Lochwinnoch, which will all benefit from some level of work, ranging from resurfacing to patching. We have posted details on our website of how this investment will be allocated over the various villages.

There is a list of proposed roadworks for Bridge of Weir but sadly this does not include the section of main road running out of Bridge of Weir towards Brookfield. In this area, leaving the village where the road runs under the trees, both sides of the carriageway are in a terrible state. There have been reports of tyre damage and I’m sure there will be more to come, possibly even a more serious incident as folks try to avoid the holes in the road. New councillor, Natalie Don, told us that she was hopeful that this will be included in improvement plans for later in the year. Meanwhile, drivers please take care.

Finally, a section of the A761 in upper Port Glasgow from the new school campus roundabout to the Boglestone roundabout will be closed for the first two weeks of July with diversions in place. Details on p26. Best to avoid if you can - canny locals will know the alternative routes!

Happy holidays to everyone!

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Muscle Cramps in Long Distance Running

Lots of what we hear is that muscle cramps centre around hydration, electrolytes, salt etc. While these play a role in preventing and helping cramps when they kick in, there’s a lot more that we can do to try and control them in the first instance.

When you start running, you generally start with a nice upright posture and a steady foot strike… however you don’t always finish that way as fatigue kicks in. When good form falls apart, hamstrings, quads and calves tend to take the fall first!

Hamstrings cramp when:

  • The upper body rounds forward
  • The lower back arches
  • The hips sink back
  • You stop utilizing the glutes
  • Ultimately the hamstrings are left to drive the stride alone

Quads cramp when:

  • The foot strike becomes more like a shuffle
  • The hamstrings aren’t working to pick the feet up off the ground
  • The feet are spending more time on the ground than they are lifting off it
  • Essentially the quads are taking all the impact

Calves cramp when:

  • The hips are no longer pushing forward
  • The feet begin striking the ground in varying positions
  • The calves are left to absorb all the impact

As well as considering the above, 3 things you can do to help prevent cramps or help if they kick in are:

  • BREATHE – oxygen helps fuel the muscles. As we tire our breathing gets shallower. Focus on deeper breathing to help fuel those muscles.
  • RELAX THE UPPER BODY – don’t let the shoulders tense up towards your ears and don’t keep your arms rigidly bent to prevent little arm swing that helps drive the legs. Relax the upper body, give the arms a shake out and reset your arm swing, which in turn helps power the stride.
  • SHORTEN YOUR STRIDE – the further the foot reaches out the more the body must do to keep up. Focus on pulling the feet off the ground and a little higher and in turn this fires the hamstrings and glutes allowing the hips to drive forward.


For more information on nutrition or Personal Training contact me on 0773 627 4925 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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