TALKS are under way over the final price of the Helensburgh waterfront project after the Covid pandemic sparked a rise in construction costs, a senior council official has revealed.

The £19.5 million waterfront development is due to be completed this summer, with an estimated opening date of early September for its centrepiece, the town's new swimming pool and leisure centre.

One of the area's new councillors, Math Campbell-Sturgess (SNP, Helensburgh and Lomond South), asked for more detail on "commercial negotiations" between Argyll and Bute Council and its main contractor for the waterfront, Heron Bros, at a meeting this week.

And though that detail wasn't forthcoming at the meeting itself, a pledge was given to supply the information to Cllr Campbell-Sturgess as soon as possible.

In a report, executive director Kirsty Flanagan had said of the Helensburgh waterfront project: “Commercial negotiations are ongoing with the main contractor to determine financial impact.”

Councillor Campbell-Sturgess asked: “What is the actual detail of that?”

Ms Flanagan replied: “I don’t think I have any more detail. I would need to get in touch with [council head of commercial services] Ross McLaughlin but we could come back to you with further information.”

Executive director Douglas Hendry then added: “The general position in relation to the waterfront is that the contract was entered into before the impact of Covid and all the subsequent issues with the increase in costs and materials.

“Large elements of the contract were struck on a fixed price basis. I cannot go into much more detail than that.

“In general terms, the contract has been managed on that basis. There are variations, but Mr McLaughlin will get that information to Councillor Campbell-Sturgess as quickly as possible.”

After being asked if he was satisfied with the response, Councillor Campbell-Sturgess then said: “It answers the question, but I will await the details.”

In addition to the leisure centre and pool, the project also includes new car parking space, 'public realm' works and improvements to the flood defences at the site. 

Heron Bros has been contacted for comment.

The same report sparked a discussion on the fate of the restoration of Rothesay Pavilion - a project which has been on hold since the scheme's main contractor went into administration in March 2020.

The Pavilion's restoration is the last unfinished element of the council's CHORD project, details of which were first unveiled in 2008.

The A-listed Pavilion, which was built in 1938 and is regarded as having unique international architectural significance, has been closed to the public for the refurbishment work since 2015, and the original £8m budget for the project has since more than doubled.