THE final whistle appears to have been blown on plans to hand over the management of a Helensburgh public park to two local football clubs.

Ardencaple FC and Helensburgh FC registered their interest in taking on the East King Street public park in 2017 under new Scottish legislation on ‘community asset transfers’.

A report on ‘current active expressions of interest’ to Argyll and Bute Council on taking over community assets was considered by the local authority’s policy and resources committee recently.

Under ‘current status’ the report states that the two clubs each “require to provide details of joint proposal” to the council.

But Ardencaple’s chairman, Craig Holborn, said the authority had never provided information the two clubs needed in order to take their plans forward.

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Mr Holborn said: “The ‘asset transfer request(s)’ relating to East King Street got nowhere, and sadly nowhere very slowly.

“It was like pulling teeth, although I must confess that I’ve had more enjoyable visits to the dentist than to the council.

“After delay after delay after delay, we reluctantly took a step back from this, as did Helensburgh FC.

“I am unsure as to whether this was always the desired outcome that the council had been seeking, but we were making no progress whatsoever and, despite repeated requests for relevant information that had been mutually agreed as being an integral part of our decision-making process, this was never made available to us.

“It was therefore impossible to produce a joint proposal, or indeed even a single proposal from ourselves, so nothing was ever submitted.

“Perhaps a more accurate ‘current status’ should read – ‘no progress since July 2018 due to council’s inability or unwillingness to provide requisite info, as per minutes’.

“We were seriously committed to this initiative, had we been afforded the courtesy of information being made available to us, and in a timely manner.

“The real loser is our local community. All we sought to achieve was improved and more effective utilisation of the facilities for our players and the wider community in general.

“We would only be prepared to consider coming back to the table if we were guaranteed that the council would take matters seriously and deal with us in a professional and timely fashion.”

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An Argyll and Bute spokesperson said: “The council has liaised with both Ardencaple and Helensburgh FCs in regard to their separate informal approaches for a possible asset transfer in terms of the Community Empowerment Act.

“We are keen to work in partnership with communities particularly in areas such as this which could benefit both football clubs whilst ensuring there is a continuing benefit for the wider community.

“For a number of reasons, things have not progressed as quickly as we would have wished.

“We will be extending an invitation to meet with Ardencaple and Helensburgh FCs this week and hope to have a date for a meeting in the near future.”

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