THIS week's councillor column comes from Cllr Gary Mulvaney, depute leader of Argyll and Bute Council.

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HERON Brothers are making good progress with the Helensburgh waterfront project.

I visited the site earlier this month, spoke with the project manager and saw the work to date, which included the arrival of the rock armour for the flood defences; site infilling to raise its height and the start of piling works for the steel erection. Heron Bros have issued local newsletters to those in the vicinity and communication is very much a priority for them.

This £22million investment is a flagship leisure project - and contrary to the prophets of doom who decry the council, it is the final piece of a multi-million-pound jigsaw that started with the new Hermitage Academy, continued with CHORD, has seen hundreds of new homes built, and an old school developed into the civic centre; along with the regeneration of Hermitage Park.

READ MORE: New Helensburgh leisure centre developers pledge to leave 'lasting legacy' in town

Consider how many great restaurants we have now compared to a decade ago. Our town may not be perfect, and the same goes for the council, but when you look at other town centres nearby, we have got something to be proud of.

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THERE are many issues around Covid-19, and along with the council leader, I have attended many meetings as the pandemic’s impact was felt in our communities and council services.

We continue to monitor expenditure and how Covid-19 has affected our finances, in the short-term and longer term. At the moment the net additional costs due to Covid are in the region of £11m, with just over £6m being covered by previously-announced additional Scottish Government funding.

It is hoped that the council will be able to use some current funds more flexibly and use some savings to bridge the gap.

Every council has similar challenges but as a result of good financial management, Argyll and Bute seems to be in a better position than many.

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READ MORE: 11 options revealed to improve access to Argyll and Bute via A83

I JOINED the Cabinet Secretary’s virtual meeting of the A83 Taskforce and heard of his ‘timelines’ and ‘corridors’ following yet another landslip and closure of the Rest and Be Thankful.

To me the clear focus must be on identifying a permanent replacement route, a firm commitment by the Scottish Government to wholly fund it, and the drive to make it happen. We have waited long enough.

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FINALLY I’d like to pay tribute to Aileen Morton as she stands down as council leader.

We may be from different parties but that didn’t matter to either of us.

The role is an enormously demanding one and Aileen tackled it head on with both an incredible work-rate and diligence, but also with common sense perspective of what was for the greater good. Simply the best.

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