HOPES that Helensburgh’s crumbling pier could benefit from a Scottish Government fund for town centre regeneration look likely to be dashed.

Argyll and Bute Council members have debated possible uses for £1.2 million of funding from Holyrood, which is part of the authority’s budget settlement from the government.

But it is doubtful that the money could be used to carry out repairs to the pier, which it is forecast will cost almost £1m.

It’s also thought unlikely that any repair work on the pier can be completed in time for the paddle steamer Waverley to call in 2020, following the recent announcement by the famous ship’s operators that it won’t visit Helensburgh at all in 2019 due to the condition of the pier.

READ MORE: Pier may not be fixed by 2020 – and repairs could cost nearly £1m

Councillor George Freeman (Lomond North) quizzed executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne on the issue of Scottish Government funding during a meeting of the council on Thursday, April 18.

Cllr Freeman said: “It is clear from the guidance that this funding is to be used for projects on heritage, access and infrastructure, among other things.

“I know that this funding is to be used in the 2019/20 financial year, but these funds normally recur each year.

“Is this a fund that could benefit Helensburgh pier, which I am sure our members would be supportive of if it were possible?”

READ MORE: 'Wave for the Waverley' on Helensburgh pier this weekend

Ms Milne replied: “We are considering a range of things, but what I would say is that Helensburgh and Lomond members are aware that the costs of repairs to the pier are significant.

“It is unlikely that we could carry them out within the time period for this funding to be used, partly because of the various preparation works that would be required.”

Councillor Freeman then said: “I appreciate the difficulties with the timescale, but can projects like this not be broken down into phases?”

Ms Milne said: “I honestly don’t know the answer to that, but I really do think it is unlikely to be done in that way.

“You need a marine engineer for those repairs, but I would not profess to giving a definite answer.”

The discussion took place the day after a report to the authority’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee recommended that a bid to the council’s Supporting Communities Fund from the Helensburgh Seafront Development Group, which is hoping to repair and regenerate the pier, for an engineering study should be refused.

READ MORE: Council set to turn down Helensburgh pier group's funding bid

At Thursday's full council meeting, Ms Milne agreed to a request from Cllr Freeman to tell all Helensburgh and Lomond’s councillors when she does get a definitive answer to the question.

Council leader Aileen Morton (Helensburgh Central) then said: “I have had no indication that money will be available next year.

“As far as I know, this funding is a one-off.”