This week's Councillor Column is written by George Freeman, independent councillor for Lomond North.

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My comments are normally restricted to Argyll and Bute issues but, given the ever changing situation relating to the coronavirus, it would be impossible for me to ignore this major threat, not just within our local communities, but also across our country and globally.

Given the latest figures from Italy and Spain, it appears from all the expert predictions that we must brace ourselves for very difficult times ahead, although I hope and pray this will not be the case.

We see further changes to our way of life on a daily basis. As with other councils, coronavirus is now the highest priority for the council and our NHS partners.

Although advice continues to be issued by both governments about avoiding crowds and maintaining a distance of two metres from others, we continue to see this advice ignored with crowds descending on Luss and Arrochar last weekend that could increase the risk for those living in these communities.

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READ MORE: Helensburgh under lockdown...look back at an extraordinary week in our local communities

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A couple of years ago, the council washed its hands of providing Christmas lighting in our communities.

It is only through the hard work of those on the Helensburgh Festive Lighting Charitable Trust that Helensburgh has such a magnificent Christmas lighting display each year.

I was therefore saddened when other local councillors on the area committee refused last week to support my proposal to approve a small grant application towards the cost of providing the Christmas lights around the town.

Bah humbug. I doubt if the council would be very popular if the town ended up with no Christmas lights.

Another major local event to suffer at the hands of the area committee was the Rosneath Highland Gathering. I proposed approving a small grant towards the cost of the event, only to see other councillors withhold support. Even the other ward councillor for Rosneath refused to support the grant application for the Gathering.

Even though the Gathering has this week been cancelled because of the pandemic, it was still a sad day for those on the Rosneath Peninsula.

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READ MORE: Who got a share of Argyll and Bute's 'supporting communities' fund in Helensburgh and Lomond?

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With the exception of essential workers’ children, local schools have been closed.

The council has opened the kitchen at Hermitage Academy to provide free meals for eligible children, but many of my constituents would face a 40-mile round trip to collect these.

At 200 miles a week, with petrol costing around £30, I believe the council must rethink this arrangement.

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