COMMUNITY groups in the Helensburgh and Lomond area will have only one chance in 2017 to apply for financial support from a key Argyll and Bute Council fund.

The Third Sector Grants fund was previously distributed in two rounds each year - in April and August - but from next year awards will be made in April only.

And time is running out to get applications in to the council: the deadline for completed applications for next year is Friday, February 10.

Approving the changes last week, members of the council's policy and resources committee also agreed to a name change for the fund, which will now be known as the Supporting Communities fund.

Other approved changes include developing the criteria for grant funding so that community councils and parent councils can apply, and agreeing a phased approach to increasing community participation in grant decisions.

This includes the development of assessment panels made up of members of the public to make recommendations to Area Committee.

It was also agreed that area committees are informed of the distribution of awards from another key source of financial support for local groups, the Early Years Fund.

There is also a possibility that Participatory Budgeting could be used in the future as a way of distributing grant funding.

The council’s policy lead for community and culture, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “These improvements are a positive step in making it easier for people to apply for grant funding and for funds to be distributed.

“These two funding streams are extremely beneficial to local communities and I hope that by improving them they will become much more accessible for people to apply.”

Local groups who received a share of the Third Sector Grants fund in 2016-17 include the Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank, Cove Burgh Hall and the West of Scotland Military Wives Choir.

The Argyll and Bute Supporting Communities Fund is now open to applications. The deadline to apply is February 10, 2017, for a decision in April.

Applications forms can be downloaded from

Alternatively, you can email or telephone your local office, which in Helensburgh and Lomond is 01436 658735.