HELENSBURGH councillors have given their enthusiastic backing to the local projects contained in proposals for a £50 million UK Government funding bid - including the long-awaited return of the town's pier to marine use.

Argyll and Bute Council officials have drawn up a list of transport projects which the authority hopes to submit to the Westminster government's Levelling Up fund later this year.

Among proposals for the whole of the council area are four ideas for Helensburgh and Lomond:

- Improvements to Helensburgh Pier to enable it to be used for marine traffic for the first time since 2018;

- Accelerated plans for a cycle route linking Dumbarton, Helensburgh, Rhu, Garelochhead and Rosneath;

- An additional rail halt at Garelochhead to serve HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane;

- The development of a hydrogen or electric bus service in the area, the last possibly including a link to Glasgow Airport.

The council intends to submit a funding bid for those projects, and others across Argyll and Bute, to the UK Government in the spring.

The draft proposals were discussed at a meeting of the council's policy and resources committee on Thursday, February 17.

Councillor Richard Trail (SNP, Helensburgh and Lomond South) told officers: “I am very pleased to see some of the forward-looking proposals you have for the Helensburgh area, including the hydrogen and electric bus service and the repairs to the pier with a berthing facility.

“The other one is the Dumbarton to Rosneath cycle path, which I hope will proceed a little more expeditiously than the Dumbarton to Cardross element, which has moved at one mile per decade.”

Fergus Murray, the council’s head of economic growth, responded: “I welcome your support. One key thing about the cycle path is having capital funding in place to move it forward.

“This is an opportunity we are bidding for and if successful, we can accelerate the process. That is what we hope to achieve.”

Councillor David Kinniburgh (Conservative, Helensburgh and Lomond South) said: “My question was going to be on the cycle way. The recent consultation has been carried out for the Helensburgh to Dumbarton part of the route.

“Does that add weight to this bid for Connected Helensburgh, the fact that this consultation has been completed?”

Mr Murray answered: “It certainly does, although I will not discuss the contents or results of the consultation until it is presented to the [Helensburgh and Lomond] area committee.

“Having the information is key to our bid, if it is a positive message. This will be reported to the area committee in due course.”

The area committee’s next meeting is due to be held  on Thursday, March 17. 

The consultation referred to by Cllr Kinniburgh ran from December 23 until January 23.

As well as the potential £50m bid, the council also plans a separate bid for up to £20m for transport projects in Dunoon and Rothesay.

Kintyre and the Islands Liberal Democrat Councillor Robin Currie, the council’s leader and the committee's chair, added: “I am sure we will have two exceptionally strong bids to put in, and here’s hoping we get the money.”