CONFIRMATION that spending in Helensburgh has slumped during the lockdown – in common with many towns across Scotland – has prompted calls for a 'rescue plan' for the country's town centre.

A survey found that debit card spending in Helensburgh and Dumbarton together had fallen by 31 per cent year-on-year since the end of March.

Key industries such as hospitality, tourism and retail are warning thousands of jobs could be lost in the coming months due to the slump in demand and continued social distancing measures.

Conservative West of Scotland MSP Maurice Corry, who lives in Helensburgh, said: “There is no doubt that we are now facing an economic emergency, on top of the Covid-19 health emergency.

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“Every decision people take over the coming weeks, from spending money in local stores, supporting locally run cafes, and paying for local traders to fix household appliances, might be the difference between people joining the job queue at Christmas, or staying on track to further their career.

“Town centres across Scotland have been badly hit in recent months and the SNP Government needs to lead the way in coming up with a rescue plan for our town centres.

“Measures such as encouraging everyone to buy local, relaxing laws on outdoor eating and drinking, scrapping parking charges and an on-going review of the two-metre social distancing review are just some of the ways the SNP Government could give our high streets a boost.

“The SNP Government must use their powers to act now to save our high streets, instead of simply blaming Westminster.

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“Without radical action, we risk plunging Scotland into the deepest economic depression of modern times which will leave lasting and incalculable damage on the life changes of the young and the poorest in our society.

“As we ease lockdown measures hopefully in the coming weeks, I will certainly be encouraging everyone in the West of Scotland to buy local.”

The survey on the value of consumer spending across Scotland, reported in the Sunday Post, found that Oban was the worst-hit town in Scotland by the effects of the lockdown, with debit card spend there down by 68 per cent.

It was followed by Golspie and Brora together, and then by Aviemore and Grantown-on-Spey.

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Helensburgh and Dumbarton together were just outside the top 20 on the list.

Non-essential retail businesses in Helensburgh and elsewhere will be able to reopen their doors from Monday, June 29, following the latest announcement by the First Minister on the easing of lockdown restrictions.

A Scottish Government spokesperson responded: “Our total support for Scottish business now stands at £2.3 billion, and we are also investing £2 million to support the recovery of town centres.

“We will continue to do everything we can to support employers and employees at this time and to prepare for recovery when it is safe to reopen the economy.”

READ MORE: Check out all the latest news headlines from across Helensburgh and Lomond here