THIS week's Councillor Column comes from SNP representative for Helensburgh and Lomond South, Cllr Richard Trail.

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THE sad passing of Ellen Morton leaves a large gap in the council.

She was a woman who knew her own mind and was not shy about expressing it.

Outside the formal business of the council, Ellen could be entertaining company. I recall her telling the story of the old Drill Hall on East Princes Street. Long after the hall had ceased to be used for drilling soldiers, it had continued to see service for sport, dance and various community groups.

READ MORE: 'You crossed her at your peril': Tributes to Helensburgh councillor Ellen Morton

The corrugated steel construction and Spartan facilities eventually fell out of favour and it finally closed. The building had never been an architectural marvel and could fairly have been described as unsightly. Not to everyone, however, and for some unfathomable reason it came to be listed on the Historic Environment Scotland (HES) register.

Efforts to find a use for the building came to nothing. The local members on the council agreed that it should be demolished. HES resisted the request for demolition of a listed building.

A meeting was held with Historic Environment Scotland and local members to resolve the issue. Cogent arguments were put forward in support of demolition only to be met with obstinate refusal from HES.

Ellen eventually lost patience and gave way to a passionate rant at the bureaucratic intransigence from Edinburgh which was leaving this rusting eyesore in our town.

HES relented under this emotional outburst. They finally got it. Ellen had a way of winning her point. You can imagine how this must have gladdened the heart of the feisty girl from Clydebank.

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READ MORE: Should Helensburgh leave Argyll and Bute for West Dunbartonshire Council?

THERE has been a call for the Helensburgh district to be moved out of Argyll into West Dunbartonshire.

There is a lot to be said in favour of such a move. Our historical connections have been with Dumbarton not Lochgilphead. The change of boundaries 25 years ago never made any geographic sense to me.

How many of us do our shopping in Lochgilphead rather than Dumbarton? It is stretching the meaning of the word ‘local’ to suggest that an administrative centre in Lochgilphead is local.

We have good travel connections to Dumbarton and Glasgow. The current difficulties on the Rest and be Thankful show how weak our links are to Argyll.

However, the government needs to be persuaded to review the boundaries and that is not on the horizon.

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