HELENSBURGH’S Christmas 'elves' have been given a new home – just in time for the town’s festive celebrations to begin.

The town’s Festive Lighting Charitable Trust [HFLCT] faced an uncertain future when they were “evicted”, in their words, from their storage premises at Argyll and Bute Council’s Blackhill roads depot in the town.

But a family in the local business community has stepped in to ensure that all the lights and decorations can be stored – when they are not up in the town as they currently are.

Ahead of the Burgh’s big switch-on on Saturday, November 23, HFLCT blasted Argyll and Bute Council for the situation they were found in.

READ MORE: Volunteer 'elves' out in force putting up Helensburgh's Christmas lights

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “For the last ten years all the Christmas lights and spares have been stored in three steel containers owned by the Festive Lighting Trust at the Blackhill roads depot.

“The elves repaired all the features during the summer months in these containers, known as ‘the grotto’.

“In April Argyll and Bute Council – now forever known in Elf land as ‘ABC Grinch’ – instructed their solicitor to evict the Festive Lighting Trust from the depot.

“This was a crushing blow to the future of the Christmas lights project because a long term lease for the site, a mere 45 square metres, had been confirmed in writing many months previously and was to be produced for signing.

“The Trust would have paid the council a rent for the site.

“It looked like the end of road for the elves but they shook off their elf hats and determined that the council would not stop the town having its Christmas lights.

“It was just a case of calling on help from the many friends and supporters the elves have in town.

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“One of the Helensburgh business families who have supported the lights for the last 10 years came to the rescue.

“The family donated ground for the new grotto and helped with the installation of power and water to the site and also gifted two additional steel containers, one as a workshop and one as an ‘elfare’ unit where the elves can enjoy a cup of tea and sit down in their new ‘Elf Lounge’ as well as store all their ‘elf and safety’ kit and documents.

“What a wonderful early Christmas present for the town. The family have made us very welcome and their generosity in preparing the site has known no bounds.

“We are so lucky and once again town residents have shown that they will not let ABC Grinch destroy the will of voluntary groups in this town and the lights project is secure for many years to come.”

Lomond North councillor George Freeman had previously highlighted the eviction of HFLCT from the depot in a recent Advertiser column.

READ MORE: Councillor's Column: No festive cheer from Argyll and Bute Council this Christmas

Despite it all, the Trust has now installed all the town’s lights and are looking forward to the main event next Saturday.

The spokesperson added: “On Saturday the elves completed their flitting thanks to the expertise of Hugh Anderson Engineering and our three containers moved to their new home.

“We had already moved our 17 filing cabinets of spare stock, our workshop and test equipment, thanks to Euan Catterson from the Ashton and his ginormous van.

“There have been some costs for the move, though, and we are hoping for extra donations this year to help us replace this money to ensure it does not have to come out of the lights fund.

“We would like to record a big thank you to the front line depot staff for all their help over the last decade and a special thank you to the roads supervisor at the depot who has been unstinting in his help to the Christmas lights team over many years.

READ MORE: From the Archives: Helensburgh's Christmas lights faced 2009 blackout

“We have enjoyed working with you all and you will always be welcome in our new grotto for a cup of tea and a blether.”

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “We provided space for as long as we could.

“Funding cuts mean that we have to change the way we do things.

“The depot space is now needed to deliver essential services.”

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