It was 26 years ago that the Helensburgh district was separated from the Dumbarton district and fell into the arms of Argyll and Bute.

The change had been the subject of much debate at the time and a referendum was held to decide the issue. The main issue for residents was whether we would be treated better by Argyll and Bute.

The politics of the day had Labour as the dominant party in Scotland and most councils in the Glasgow area were run by a Labour administration. Dumbarton District Council was no exception and its Labour administration chose to favour their own constituents in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven over the Helensburgh district. The disparity in spending had become more pronounced over the years and naturally the public grumbled.

As the local government reorganisation of 1996 approached the Labour councillors started to take note of the rebellious voters in Helensburgh. While they may not have liked this area they certainly appreciated the money that the district provided to their coffers.

In an effort to mollify the angry residents they condescended to construct a new library in the town. That was built in the run up to the vote to determine the future of the district. When the result of the vote was announced they resorted to type. The shell of the building was complete but the fitting out was abandoned and it remained empty until the new Argyll and Bute Council completed the job.

The politics of local government had a profound change in 2007 thanks to the Liberal Democrats. They persuaded the Labour party to adopt a proportional representation voting system for councils. At a stroke this abolished single party controlled councils. Some complain about the multi member wards but there can be no doubt that coalition administrations give all parties a chance to be part of an administration. A broader range of views have to be taken into account in decision making.

There have been many changes in local government over the past 26 years. Fire and police budgets have been removed from councils. Leisure facilities are now run by Live Argyll. The proposed national social care service will be another major loss to councils.

When there is a new reorganisation of local authorities, it will be an opportunity for us to reconsider our decision to join a rural authority. Helensburgh has always been an awkward appendage to Argyll and Bute. It does not identify rural. Its historic links have always been to Dumbarton and Glasgow. A council in Dumbarton, with a coalition of parties running its administration is not to be feared, as were the Labour administrations of the past.