A HELENSBURGH councillor has expressed fears at the financial impact of the latest delay to the town's £19.5 million waterfront redevelopment.

Lorna Douglas was speaking after Argyll and Bute Council announced it is to re-run the tendering process to find a contractor for the work on the town’s new swimming pool and leisure centre after a "technical glitch" in the process was found.

The nature of the glitch, along with the possible implications of the decision on the project's budget and timeline, has not yet been made public.

But Councillor Douglas did welcome the authority's pledge that re-running the tender process could open the door to Helensburgh's crumbling pier playing a part in the waterfront redevelopment work after all – despite repeated insistences by officials and some councillors in the past that the two were, and would remain, entirely separate.

READ MORE: Helensburgh pier could be included in waterfront development after all

Councillor Douglas said: “I am clearly disappointed that the waterfront development will be delayed, especially with the apparent financial implications that this will no doubt have.

“This was an issue raised a few weeks ago by a prominent councillor who blamed the last delay and subsequent rise in costs on the Helensburgh Community Council and those councillors who had delayed the planning process.

“However, anything that will now incorporate the pier project can only be a good thing.”

Councillor Douglas was referring to a debate at June’s meeting of the authority’s environment, development and infrastructure committee which heard concerns about the affordability of the process.

READ MORE: Helensburgh waterfront delays 'not the council's fault', meeting told

Councillor Ellen Morton said at that meeting: “It is very important that this is not seen as a criticism of the planning process. The council and PPSL need to go through the process – we can’t just say we are jumping through it.

“The community council objected repeatedly and refused to accept the reports from professional flooding experts. Because of that, there was a totally appropriate delay.

“It is important to recognise that the rising costs are something that officers identified months ago, we were all aware of it, and I am sure it will be managed appropriately when the tendering process starts.”

Dr Peter Brown, community council vice-convener, later refuted Councillor Morton’s remarks as “disingenuous” and said: “The council’s planning committee approved additional sea defences for the project just one month after their original forecast, which would add about 0.1 per cent, around £24,000, in inflation costs to their £19.5m budget.

“Yet, without explanation, their revised timeline now has the pool completing a full four months later than originally planned.

“It also appears that the council are preparing the ground to say that their original budget is insufficient for many other reasons than the single month of planning approval delay.”

READ MORE: Helensburgh Community Council rejects waterfront blame claims

Representatives of Helensburgh Seafront Development Project were contacted for comment, but none were available as this article was published on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 3.

However, the group published a Facebook post that afternoon simply saying of the news: “What could this mean for the future of Helensburgh Pier?”

The council said in a statement on Tuesday: “Progress has been made in raising understanding in the construction industry of the project’s requirements, with a number of potential bidders responding to the initial tender issued by Argyll and Bute Council.

“However, complex projects like the waterfront development must follow strict procurement processes and in this instance the council has identified that an inadvertent technical breach occurred in the initial response it received to the tender.

“Therefore the council will re-launch the tender process.

“As well as ensuring legal compliance, this next tender will include the option of using Helensburgh pier to deliver the new leisure centre and swimming pool development effectively.”

READ MORE: Council 'will not pursue' high cost Helensburgh pier options

The initial tendering process had been due to close on Friday, June 7.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, policy lead for strategic finance and capital regeneration Programme, said: “The old chestnut, that no good deed goes unpunished, seems to perfectly illustrate this situation.

“The procurement rules are complex and strict to ensure a fair process for all. Having taken legal advice, the lowest risk approach is to re-set the tender process and start again. Not ideal, but better than a challenge later.

“On a positive note, council officers will be able to focus on developing details of the £85,000 investment in the pier. We know this matters to local people and look forward to work beginning on it.”