This week's Community Column is written by Vivien Dance from the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce...

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Firstly I would like to thank the Community Council and the Advertiser for their support for Helensburgh businesses in their recent coverage and webinars.

The reinforcing of our ‘shop local’ message was really appreciated by local traders and will continue to be at the forefront of the Chamber’s work in the year ahead.

As 2022 began, an air of optimism was daring to peep up above the masks and our resilient traders began to talk of new plans to boost trade and recoup Covid losses.

Today, the reality is that a different bunch of pressures – interest rate rises, energy costs, price increases across a range of goods, National Insurance increases – are lining up to reduce consumer spend in every town.

The spectre of less money in our purses and wallets brought about by a range of issues outwith individual business owners’ control suggests this trading year will be another challenging one that needs to be met head on - as we did with Covid.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

There is no shortage of worrying news. This week it was the data that four shops a day are closing in Scotland, but we always seem to be able to counter that with good news about Helensburgh. Businesses are still choosing to open new ventures in the town and we look forward to welcoming and supporting them.

Businesses that offer accommodation are already reporting good trade from staycationers - many are choosing Helensburgh, even from as near as Glasgow and Stirling, because there is plenty to see and do on a short break and the independent shops are a definite attraction.

Now we have to continue the good habits we have developed, keep choosing to spend what we can afford with local traders so they can continue to give good value.

In addition we have to concentrate on attracting those from other areas who wish to experience good customer service in a welcoming and convivial town. Simply tell your friends and help promote the town message where and when you can.

Helensburgh has many advantages over other town centres. It is supported by the wider community, traders and a host of people who are determined to help Helensburgh retain its vitality. Voluntary groups are back in action and plans are in place for more events to increase footfall.

Others have resumed work on our streetscape and local path network and are promoting this nationally. All we need now is someone to turn off the rain tap that has made February its own!