There is no doubt that the hot topic for the Helensburgh community at the moment is what is going to happen to our treasured seafront now that phase 2 of the council development has started behind the hoarding with the demolition of the old swimming pool obviously imminent.

It is self-evident that the council is well advanced with its plans for that area although none of these have been shared with the community at this point.

Thanks to the efforts of the community council in pressing for a meeting with senior officers to discuss this strategically important site, the Chamber attended the discussion last week and collectively we managed to elicit some information on the work currently being undertaken by Argyll and Bute Council.

Since the meeting I have managed to meet and brief a number of business owners and some community groups on the information gleaned from the meeting. I am grateful to the Advertiser for the chance to inform a wider audience of the work being undertaken by the council to achieve their objective of developing this site for sale/lease to already identified interested parties in order to recoup the £1million deficit from the new leisure centre.

This £1m debt was in the original business case for a Helensburgh leisure centre written in 2011 and has never been removed or addressed, and the council is now moving apace to market the site to recoup this debt.

So here we go again - over the last two decades the community has successfully repelled every move by Argyll and Bute Council to sell the site for a supermarket. But they still persist in ignoring the wishes of local people who remain committed to the view that this precious site be retained for leisure purposes, not retail.

The recent, excellent community council consultation on updating a “Vision for Helensburgh” completed only a few months ago, stressed again that businesses, community groups and residents do not want retail on their seafront.

Irrespective of public opinion though the council has proceeded to commission architects to plan the site and we were shown slides of the proposed development (although our request for a copy of the slides was denied).

The plan showed a 2,700 square metre, two storey building, running parallel with Clyde Street on the top part of the site.

The total square metreage has been designed to give one large unit of sufficient size to attract a supermarket to buy/lease the site and discussions are underway with five interested parties: Aldi, Lidl, M&S, Co-op and B&M, with - as one councillor told me - the Co-op out in front.

When I asked the councillor why they would consider such a proposal I was told: “Well, have you got any bright ideas on raising the £1m pounds deficit?”

Yes I have. Take it from the £84m total usable reserves shown in this year’s budget.

And then instruct council officers to engage with the community on how they will work with local people to fulfil the frequently stated wish for leisure opportunities to be integrated into our seafront and deliver on the promise made in the masterplan to incorporate development which is in keeping with a precious seafront site.

It is obvious that the community is going to have to come together once again to Save our Seafront and we need people to volunteer to become involved as we did in 2011 when we successfully rejected the attempt by Sainsbury’s to build a shed on the site.

As an initial step towards organising a working group, the Chamber offers an invitation to businesses and residents alike to come to the Parish Church Hall on Monday, August 29 from 4.30pm to 6pm.

Further updates on the plans will be given and we will be looking to form a co-ordinated challenge to this latest assault on the town’s prime asset and asking for firm offers of help and expertise in firming up our viable alternative.