Businesses are being urged to sign up for an Argyll and Bute gift card initiative - despite Helensburgh firms expressing misgivings about the benefits of the scheme.

The Scotland Loves Local campaign was designed to encourage residents to spend money locally.

But before Christmans, Helensburgh businesses expressed concerns that national retailers such as Morrisons were signed up and gaining the benefits over local firms.

There are currenly 304 businesses across Argyll and Bute signed up, including independent shops, restaurants, and visitor attractions.

Thousands of cards across the area had £120 put on late last year to encourage shopping local as well as offer help during a crushing cost-of-living crisis.

But business leaders said that while they supported help for residents, the gift card was not what they had been promised.

Last month, Wendy Hamilton, who runs Grasshopper Toys in West Princes Street and is the local representative for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The Love Local scheme is now not what it was billed as - which was a scheme to help residents with the cost of Christmas, and simultaneously help rejuvenate local businesses by encouraging residents to shop locally.

"It's a missed opportunity for our local businesses and in turn those residents who want a vibrant healthy town centre."

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Councillor Alastair Redman, policy lead for economic growth and communities, said: “Argyll and Bute is the ideal location for such a locally-focused Gift Card scheme.

“We’re fortunate, particularly in our food and drink sector, with a large number of local businesses who offer fantastic produce which really can’t be bettered anywhere in Scotland and indeed the world.

“It’s been great to see so much support from the business sector but there’s definitely further scope for other traders including our seafood providers and farmer’s markets to sign up to the scheme.”