A DECISION by councillors to turn down a £2,500 funding request for Christmas lights in Helensburgh has been branded “no surprise” by the trust in charge of the festive display.

Members of Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee went with a recommendation not to give any cash to the Helensburgh Festive Lighting Charitable Trust from the Supporting Communities fund at its meeting on Thursday, March 19.

Councillor George Freeman submitted an amendment which would have seen the Trust and Rosneath Highland Gathering receive £2,500, as opposed to nothing.

But he failed to find a seconder among the other six councillors present, and the recommendations of a council officer were approved by the committee.

READ MORE: Who got what from Helensburgh and Lomond's £23,000 Supporting Communities fund pot?

A total of 11 projects received grants of up to £2,500 from the funding pot.

The Helensburgh Bicentenary Pipe Band Championships was another applicant not to be allocated money from the fund, though that event has now been cancelled for this year, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Vivien Dance, chair of the Festive Lighting Charitable Trust, said: “First of all we would like to wish all the community groups who did receive a grant all the best as they continue with the valuable work they do in the community.

“The decision by councillors not to award any of the £23,678 fund to the town’s Christmas lights was not a surprise to the “elves” . It is now a matter of public record that the council does not support the provision of Christmas lights in Helensburgh.

READ MORE: Pictures from Helensburgh's 2019 Christmas lights switch-on

“We had asked for a contribution of £2,500 towards the cost of hiring in the access equipment. The Trust would have match funded this from other sources.

“The £2,500 would have ensured seven weeks of Christmas lights for the town over the festive season, and we are very grateful to Councillor Freeman for recognising the economic benefit this sum would bring to the town – but he was a lone voice.

“We had been encouraged to apply for this grant by many in the community who think that the Christmas lights are a worthy project and should receive some council funding from the Supporting Communities fund, but we were not expecting a positive response from local councillors.

“However, it would have been helpful if we could have received just a few hundred pounds from the £23,678, as then we could have said to other external funders that we have the support and backing in principle of the local council.

READ MORE: Helensburgh festive lighting trust 'shocked' as public donates less than £300 at switching-on ceremony

“But instead the councillors voted six to one in favour of ‘no award’.”

Councillor Freeman said during the meeting: “There are certain organisations, like Helensburgh Festive Lighting Charitable Trust, which is a major benefit to the community. That is clear for all to see.

“Without all the effort they put in, Helensburgh probably would not have any festive lighting, and I will be supporting them in my amendment.”

But it was to no avail, as all six other councillors present went with the recommendations outlined in a report prior to the meeting.

In response to a request by Councillor Richard Trail, community development officer Kirsty Moyes, who joined the meeting by Skype, explained why it was recommended that certain groups which had applied to the fund should not receive a grant.

LATEST HEADLINES: New driver aged 17 reported for 'dangerous driving' after car and van crash on main Helensburgh road

In relation to the Festive Lighting Charitable Trust, she said: “The area this application could have scored higher was evidence of need.”

Councillor Trail said that he had “some sympathy” with Councillor Freeman’s amendment, and that it was hard to see some of the applications not receiving a grant.

But he added: “That’s the way the budget goes.”

Councillor Barbara Morgan, chairing the meeting in the absence of Ellen Morton, said: “Helensburgh Festive Lighting Charitable Trust has been awarded £40,000 from the council over the last three years, so it is probably in the best position to apply for other funding.”

READ MORE: Click here to catch up with all the latest Helensburgh and Lomond news headlines