THIS week's community column comes from the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.


In our last Community Column we highlighted that one of the many issues on which we were making representation on behalf of our growing membership was to press for the release of the Making Places report, an independent study commissioned in 2018 by Argyll and Bute Council at a cost of £30,000 in consultancy fees.

The report is now in the public domain and presents an extremely positive view of Helensburgh and its future viability. Business owners are acutely aware of the importance of positive marketing and promotion, and this costly external assessment, which concluded that “Helensburgh is a welcoming and vibrant town with a strong sense of community”, must now be promoted by Argyll and Bute Council to support local commerce.

The Chamber’s Town Audit is progressing well and data from this will be reported to the next meeting of members on May 15, when we will also welcome Fergus Murray, the council’s head of economic development, to discuss a range of matters pertaining to town development.

These will include the latest proposal from Argyll and Bute Council to designate the town centre as a conservation area, again with considerable sums of external consultancy fees already invested in promoting the idea.

The Chamber has raised concerns about the potential for increased planning fees and costs for business owners when this is nodded through by the planning committee, as early indications seem to suggest. Town business owners should take a keen interest in this latest council scheme.

Finally thanks to everyone who, like the Chamber, has called for immediate remedial action on Helensburgh pier to allow the economic benefits of the Waverley’s visits to be reinstated.

When might this high profile issue be worthy of discussion at an area committee meeting? Perhaps less spend on consultancy fees, and more on repairs, would be an obvious solution in the first instance.