EFFORTS to save Helensburgh’s crumbling pier from ruin have been dealt a major blow after the group fighting to restore the historic structure announced it is disbanding.

The chairman of the Helensburgh Seafront Development Project (HSDP) confirmed to the Advertiser this week that the organisation will not be continuing, five years after it launched.

The HSDP has been working since 2015 to raise funds and gather enough support from the community and the local authority to return the category C-listed pier, which dates back more than two centuries, to a fit-for-use berthing site for vessels. The pier has been closed to all marine traffic for two years.

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Citing a lack of cooperation from Argyll and Bute Council in seeking a permanent solution, HSDP chairman David Cantello said the group had come to the decision that any further work was “futile”.

He said: “Waverley will, of course, no longer be able to use the pier. The council appears to have determined that the pier, with its future potential and Waverley’s presence, is of no benefit to the town and the wider public.

“If they have some other plan, then it is not apparent. After several years of engagement with Argyll and Bute Council and attempting to engage Scottish Government ministers earlier this year, who determined that it was a local authority matter, we have developed a conviction that the council’s obduracy and resistance would outlast the masonry of the pier itself.

“Sadly, we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer expend time, effort and people’s money in pursuing what appears to be a hopeless cause.”

Helensburgh’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, along with Conservative MSP and Helensburgh resident Maurice Corry, both attended a rally to ‘Save Helensburgh Pier’ in April 2019.

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Ms Baillie said: “This group has made every effort to try to help the council with restoring the pier to its former glory – something that would have had a hugely positive impact on the local economy.

“Whilst some financial assistance would have been available from the Scottish Government to help with the pier, ultimately it is the responsibility of the local authority to have the restoration of the pier as a top priority. Sadly, this has not appeared to be the case.

“The cherished and important pier cannot be allowed to deteriorate further and I urge the council to take action to support the pier. My thanks go to the HSDP for all their efforts, I know their work has been hugely appreciated.”

Mr Corry added: “I am disappointed to see the group disbanding, having put so much time and voluntary effort into trying to protect the future of the pier and I thank everyone involved.

“I understand that the council have recently put in a near six-figure sum in investing in the pier and that is welcome. While this is a setback, we must take the time to look at how the pier can best be utilised in the future.”

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An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “We have met with and actively engaged with HSDP to consider various options for the pier. Officers have provided help and support including technical advices and surveys.

“A number of options were taken to the Helensburgh and Lomond Area Committee in June 2019. These options were ruled out due to a combination of practical elements and cost. In addition, officers liaised with Waverley Excursions to try and find an effective and low-cost solution to allow the Waverley to berth. Unfortunately, funding for large-scale infrastructure was not available.

“The council was able to allocate £85,000 to make the pier safe for pedestrian use including installing new hand rails.

“To date, no further investigation work has been carried out and the berth is currently closed to all craft.”

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