This week's Community Column is written by Vivien Dance, chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Chamber’s efforts to promote and protect local commerce continued this month with the completion of the independent Town Audit, which supports our anecdotal view that Helensburgh is indeed punching above its weight – and is well above national averages when audited against similar town centres.

It enjoys more shops per head of population, has many award winning businesses and the retail offering is strong.

Business confidence is above average in a diverse and attractive town centre with a good range of facilities and services along with a busy calendar of events, testament to a strong and active voluntary sector.

READ MORE: Costly study of town must be made to pay its way, says Chamber of Commerce

Well done to all who contribute to this very positive overview of our town.

Further good news this week on confidence in the town comes with news of new companies investing in town centre businesses and preparing to open, and the many bids received for the Santander building, all helping to keep our vacancy rates for premises well below the national comparators.

The Chamber will use this evidence based audit in our continuing representations to both officers and members of Argyll and Bute Council as we try to protect local businesses from the nonsensical decisions they are taking with little or no regard to the detrimental impact on commerce.

READ MORE: No Waverley visits will hurt Helensburgh's economy, say business chiefs

The most recent example of this cavalier approach to our traders is the decision to remove coach parking from the seafront during the three year construction of the fiasco which is now the seafront development.

The obvious potential to lose thousands of tourists each year prompted one of our members to ask: “Why does our council hate local business as they are always attacking us without regard to our wellbeing?”

This realistic but disappointing assessment was endorsed by all – so there are plenty of challenges ahead for the Chamber in the weeks ahead including inputting in to the Town Centre Conservation Area debate and endorsing the excellent submission from the Community Council on this plan.

READ MORE: Check out the latest Helensburgh and Lomond news headlines here