THE Advertiser's first councillor column of 2022 comes from Cllr Gemma Penfold (Conservative, Helensburgh and Lomond South).

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I’D like to start my first Advertiser column of 2022 by wishing a very happy new year to everyone in Helensburgh and Lomond.

Though we would have wished otherwise, 2022 has started cautiously, with some Covid restrictions back in place, but all in all the year that lies ahead looks set to be a much better one than 2021.

I would also like to offer my wishes for good luck and happiness to all, and I hope that the year ahead sees families back together, businesses booming and mental health improving.

Some things, though, don’t change from year to year, and at Argyll and Bute Council – and at local authorities across the whole of Scotland – the start of a new year means the focus of both elected councillors and council officials is on the authority’s budget for the next 12 months and beyond.

With that in mind, I’d like to encourage you to reach out to your local councillor if there is a particular area of services that you believe the council should be investing more money into. Roads and pavements are always a priority for our constituents, but what else needs a focus this year? Please contact me with your thoughts and I’ll feed them into the council’s considerations before the budget for 2022-23 is set next month.

Meanwhile, some very welcome news for people living in my Helensburgh and Lomond South ward recently has been the start of consultation with the community on the design of the cycle path which will link Helensburgh, Cardross and Dumbarton.

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The consultation is open until Sunday, January 23 and can be found, and completed, at the consultations page of Argyll and Bute Council’s website (

Work on the path has not been standing still of late, though: the council’s roads operations team have been busy in Cardross laying the surfacing on the section of the path through the park in the village, and resurfacing the Geilston Park road.

A number of finishing elements are still required – fencing, signage and so on – and this work is due to be completed by external contractors soon. The council is keen to get the path through the park useable and open for the community as soon as possible.

Finally this month, I would like to congratulate Argyll and Bute’s newest councillor – my Conservative colleague, Paul Collins. Paul won the by-election in the Lomond North ward on December 16 and will be in post at least until the local government election in May.

I know that Paul will be a very welcome addition to the council, and I look forward to working with him to make Helensburgh and Lomond an even better place to live.