It is always a pleasure to welcome new businesses to our area and it is particularly reassuring to see that Helensburgh is still attracting commercial enterprises; we wish all of them every success with their ventures.

Also, on behalf of the business community, could I welcome all new homeowners to our town; we hope you enjoy living in the area and we look forward to trading with you in the years ahead.

The last of the restrictions that have curtailed business life for over two years have now been removed and community life in Helensburgh is being restored piece by piece. It is a pleasure to be able to see faces again and no doubt a welcome relief to all business staff who had to endure mask wearing for long shifts, it has been a long haul for all of you.

Speaking to local business owners, it is reassuring to hear they are still being supported by local residents who seem determined to support the “Shop Local” mantra. This will be increasingly important in the months ahead as all commercial traders have to deal with the impact of cost of living rises, but if we continue to do our spending locally rather than elsewhere the town will continue to thrive. Many businesses have asked me to pass on their appreciation for the loyalty residents continue to show for town shops and local tradesmen as they face yet another external challenge to their viability.

Trading is always boosted by sunshine and an added bonus this spring is the magnificent cherry blossom on most of our main streets, the work of the Trees Trust over many years has really paid dividends this year, thank you. Every week we hear of our community groups springing back to life and this all adds to the offering that Helensburgh has for visitors who make a significant contribution to the town economy, welcome back all of you.

This article will publish on election day: good luck to every single candidate who has been brave enough to put their names forward in the democratic process. It is a great privilege to represent your community as a ward councillor and the chamber hopes that every successful candidate will head off to Kilmory to battle for Helensburgh and Lomond and wrestle back control of the council from officers to elected members.

Talking of wrestling back control, the chamber will shortly begin work in tandem with the community council to challenge the current masterplan for the second phase of the seafront. More details on this over the summer months.