OFFICIAL figures classifying Garelochhead as a ‘small town’ for the first time, rather than a village, have been questioned by a local councillor.

According to a Scottish Government report on the urban and rural classification of communities across the country, Garelochhead’s population rose from 2,110 in 2012 to 3,700 in 2016 – an increase of more than 76 per cent in just four years.

However, Lomond North councillor George Freeman, who lives in Garelochhead, claimed the figures are misleading.

He said: “This has stemmed from the Scottish Government’s Urban Rural Classification report from 2016 in which they have pulled together a number of postcodes and areas such as Portincaple to determine that, under their classification, they consider that the Garelochhead area equates to the size of a small town.

“No one who knows the area would seriously consider that Portincaple is part of a town. In general terms, the population of Garelochhead over recent years has not changed.”

Referring to comments made by Conservative West of Scotland MSP Maurice Corry calling for increased investment in the area as a result of the reclassification, Cllr Freeman said: “I note one list MSP trying to argue that as a result of this change, the Scottish Government should work with the council to ensure that transport links, community facilities and health centres are improved.

“He obviously does not know that we have the most modern health centre in the Helensburgh and Lomond area and that our transport links are the best of any rural community in the area."

Cllr Freeman added: “I doubt if you will find anyone from Garelochhead, Portincaple or the surrounding areas who will argue that they now live in a town.”

Other villages now classified as small towns in the government report are Blackburn and Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire, Conon Bridge and Maryburgh in the Highlands, Leuchars and Guardbridge in Fife, and Winchburgh in West Lothian.