REPAIRS to Helensburgh’s pier will not be included as part of the town’s waterfront leisure centre project, Argyll and Bute Council has insisted.

But the local authority has been urged to make repairs to the pier a priority when it spends its allocation of cash from the Scottish Government to regenerate town centres.

Helensburgh Central councillor Lorna Douglas asked at a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee if the pier would form part of the plans for the £19 million leisure centre.

But the council has always insisted that the waterfront development would not include any work on the pier itself – and Pippa Milne, executive director of development and infrastructure, confirmed that the two are still being viewed by the authority as entirely separate.

READ MORE: £1.2m to be spent on Helensburgh's waterfront – before a single brick is laid

The question was part of a brief debate on the ‘drawing down’ of an additional £235,000 from the budget to see the project through to full business case, which was approved by the committee.

Councillor Douglas said at the meeting on Thursday, May 16: “With all the things happening with Helensburgh pier, I just wondered if there is a plan towards the pier as part of the future with the waterfront development?”

Ms Milne replied: “It is separate. It is at the stage where we have done some work with the engineering team and marine specialists, and there are a number of options.

“These include a full restoration of the pier, which would cost around £800,000 to make it safe for pedestrian access.

“But I am happy to pick up separately, and in a bit more detail, if that would help.”

READ MORE: Hundreds back rally to save Helensburgh's pier

Meanwhile, in the days following the meeting, Helensburgh's MSP, Jackie Baillie, urged the council to make the pier the centrepiece of a bid to the Scottish Government’s fund for regenerating town centres after asking a question on the issue at the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Baillie was told by finance secretary Derek Mackay that the government’s Town Centre Fund could potentially be used to breathe new life into the facility.

Following a written answer from Mr Mackay, Ms Baillie is now anxious for the council to include the pier, which may not be ready for the 2020 sailing season, as part of its application to the fund.

Mr Mackay told Ms Baillie in his written answer “The Town Centre Fund is a ring-fenced capital fund for local authorities.

“It is for local authorities to allocate funding, and supporting guidance indicates that it is expected that they make investment decisions in the context of national and local commitments to town centres.

“In this context, in some towns this could therefore include the repair or refurbishment of a pier.”

Mr Mackay's answer comes after a meeting of the council last month was told it was "unlikely" that the town centre cash could be used to return the pier – which has been closed to all marin traffic on safety grounds since last October on safety grounds – to an operational condition.

READ MORE: Helensburgh pier 'unlikely to benefit' from town centre cash

Ms Baillie said: “This is welcome news for the people of Helensburgh.

"Helensburgh pier is not only iconic but vitally important for the local economy.

“It was disappointing enough that the pier was in such a bad state that the Waverley would have been unable to stop in the town this year if its summer timetable had gone ahead.

“But now the council has said that it may not even be ready for next year. This will have a huge impact on tourism locally which will affect local businesses and the economy.

“I hope that the council will now look at using the Town Centre Fund to help with repairs to the pier so that it is fit for next season.”

The council made the admission that the pier may not be ready for next year after the operators of the paddle steamer Waverley announced in April that the iconic ship would not call there in 2019.

However, that has since proven academic, as it has been confirmed that due to boiler repair works the Waverley will not be sailing anywhere this year.

READ MORE: Waverley's future in doubt as 2019 season is cancelled

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “We are as keen as everyone else to have the Waverley calling at Helensburgh again.

“The full structural analysis of the pier currently being undertaken needs to be completed before a decision can be taken on how to proceed.

“Early findings indicate that major work will be required before the pier can be made available for berthing.

“Works of this nature on any structure in the water are complex and it may not be practically possible to complete repairs in time for the 2020 season.”