COACH tours will not visit Helensburgh for some years to come if parking plans for the town’s waterfront site remain as they are, business chiefs fear.

The Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce has urged Argyll and Bute Council to resume discussions on how best to accommodate coaches beside the new centre.

There is set to be no coach parking while the centre is built, with a proposal that two spaces near to the old gasometer site on Maitland Street are used instead.

The Chamber has previously expressed concerns over the impact on business if coach tours do not have suitable parking in the town centre.

The leisure centre building contract is to be discussed by the council’s business continuity committee on Thursday, June 25, after being considered by the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee the day before.

READ MORE: Council suggests solution to waterfront coach parking headache

Chamber chair Vivien Dance said: “All the Chamber’s suggestions for a system to continue to provide appropriate visitor coach parking facilities were dismissed and all discussions with coach operators ended when the lockdown came in to force.

“All we know for certain is that there will be no parking for visitor coaches on the seafront once the project commences.

“There is no way to spin the suggested alternative of two spaces along near the old gasometer site as any kind of good news, but no doubt the council continue to promote it in that way.

“The coach companies have already indicated what they think of such a proposal, that has no understanding of the clientele that arrive on these vital coaches for the Helensburgh economy.

“The coach companies will now be reviewing their schedules for future years given the loss of what will no doubt be a full season’s trade both to them and the town.

READ MORE: Helensburgh business chiefs voice fears over waterfront coach parking arrangements

“Normally they work to a three year plan but Covid-19 will have changed all that.  It would not be any surprise to the Chamber if, because of the intransigence and stubbornness of the council to consider a way to make the seafront car park available to them in a safe way,  their plans will not include a Helensburgh stop for some seasons to come.

“There is still plenty of time for Argyll and Bute to resume discussions on this matter.

“It is to be hoped that they think again on this one and just not proceed with little regard to the impact this will have on the economic revival of the town, particularly after the devastation that the Covid crisis had thrust on the town.”

On the report produced by the council for the meetings to discuss the tender for the centre, Mrs Dance added: “The Chamber is aware of the projected timetable for this project.

“This will have a significant impact on Helensburgh’s ability to trade over that period.

“We have further concerns that, like the CHORD project, there will be a overrun to this timetable as the council is not renowned for its successful management of in-house projects.

READ MORE: Councillor's warning over Helensburgh waterfront coach parking plans

“Confidence in their ability to deliver on time and on budget was further eroded when they failed at their first challenge, a legal procurement of the contract, so we are already behind their initial projected timetable dates.”

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: “Our focus is on delivering a high quality facility for residents and visitors of Helensburgh.

“The development represents significant council investment in the town and its future.

"Reports will be considered and scrutinised by the local area committee and the wider-area business continuity committee (BCC).

“The council set up the BCC to ensure that key council business could continue while we deal with the additional demands of helping our communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Agreement from the BCC would allow this key project for Helensburgh to take another step towards completion.”

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