The leader of West Dunbartonshire Council is to meet with the management of Loch Lomond Shores after the cancellation of its popular Christmas lights switch-on.

Councillor Jonathan McColl is awaiting confirmation from the tourist attraction so a suitable date can be set for the talks - but hopes that the meeting, once he returns from two weeks of annual leave, will help resolve the issues preventing the festive event from going ahead.

Bosses have blamed safety concerns for pulling the plug after 38,000 crammed into 2017’s free event, causing congestion inside the attraction and in Balloch where visitors’ vehicles were abandoned after the car park overflowed.

The attendance was 23,000 higher than the previous year, as people turned up for the switch on, fireworks display and live entertainment, but also to enjoy the addition of a continental style Christmas market.

Cllr McColl told the Advertiser: “I was disappointed to hear that Loch Lomond Shores have decided to cancel their Christmas lights event this year.

“This event generates huge interest from the local community and beyond and is important for the businesses at Loch Lomond Shores and Balloch Village.

“I have asked for a meeting with the manager of Loch Lomond Shores to find out the reasons for this decision and to see if there is any way the council can help to resolve any issues getting in the way of the event going ahead.”

The cancellation follows management also scrapping other events this year, including annual food and drink event Springfest and banning hot food and drink market vendors from the venue.

Loch Lomond Shores did not respond to the Advertiser’s requests for comment, but in a statement this week, a spokesperson confirmed that bosses had cancelled this year’s switch-on “due to safety concerns raised by the police and local licensing over the unprecedented number of attendees at last year’s switch-on”.

There have been suggestions, however, that a change in staffing may also be behind event cancellations at the venue.

LLS manager Audrey Reid is leaving her role this week and there is a new facilities manager on site, who is only managing the facilities management. It is believed that there is no one covering the marketing and events side of things at the moment.

Inspector Roddy MacNeill confirmed that there had been issues due to the large number of people attending last year, but suggested that this wouldn’t automatically rule out the feasibility of the event being held this year.

He told the Advertiser: “Why it has been cancelled is obviously a matter for Loch Lomond Shores to see what they have taken into account.

“The main thing from last year, which does not necessarily have any bearing on this year, was that the numbers turning out were greater than expected by quite a bit and there was congestion in and around Loch Lomond Shores with pedestrians and on the road network in Balloch and on the A82. Congestion wouldn’t automatically cause this year’s to be cancelled, that it was LLS have decided.

“There are basic measures that could be put in place like ticketing. Ticketing wouldn't need to be charged but it gives you an idea of numbers so these can be managed appropriately and it prevents extra numbers turning up. But maybe that was not appropriate for those planning it.”

The announcement has come as a big disappointment to those who had been keen to attend a similar event this year, while concerns have also been raised about the impact on businesses operating from Loch Lomond Shores.

Jim Biddulph from Balloch and Haldane Community Council said: “I’m not really surprised, the feedback from last years event was terrible with everyone crammed into one space should to shoulder. Local residents were up in arms because cars and emergency vehicles couldn’t get into streets because of abandoned cars.

“It’ll be a blow to the actual shops and people who run businesses there because footfall won’t be the same as in the past with Christmas events.”