A POSTAL ballot of people in the west end of Helensburgh is due to start on Monday as a local community group tries to pursue the compulsory purchase of two parcels of land in the area.

The Helensburgh Community Woodland Group (HCWG) has long wanted to buy sites at the Castle Woods and Cumberland Avenue, both of which have been earmarked for housing by their owners.

HCWG trustees Gordon Greig and David Robertson gave an update to members of Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) last week – in which they said an offer to the sites’ owners of £145,000 to buy both areas of land had been turned down.

READ MORE: 'End game in sight' says woodlands group over Helensburgh ownership battle

Mr Greig said: “The offer was not accepted, so our group now plans to purchase the land using ‘right to buy’ rules under the Community Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

“To do that we have to carry out a community ballot of residents in the west end of Helensburgh, from Suffolk Street to the boundary with Rhu.

“The postal vote will begin on Monday, September 9 and will continue until approximately the end of the month.”

For the buy-out process to continue to the next stage, there has to be a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one vote in favour.

READ MORE: Talks break down over Helensburgh woodland's future

There also has to be a certain level of turnout for the vote to be valid, though the question of whether the turnout is acceptable rests with the Scottish Government.

HCWG has already been granted ‘preferred bidder’ status by the government in respect of both sites, meaning the land owners have to give the group first refusal if they decide to sell up.

The ballot paper will feature two questions – one asking whether the voter is in favour of a community buy-out of the Castle Wood site, the other asking exactly the same question of the land at Cumberland Avenue.

Mr Robertson said: “The Scottish Land Fund will pay for up to 90 per cent of the acquisition costs if there is enough community benefit, but we would make up the balance.”

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