HELENSBURGH doesn't have enough parking to help small retailers survive, a local independent business owner has warned.

Irina Agostinelli, owner of Fabric & Finery on West Clyde Street, said there was "no point" trying to increase footfall to Helensburgh if shoppers have nowhere to park.

The shop's Facebook page includes details of where to park in the town to encourage shoppers after the leisure centre development moved seafront car parking further away from local shops.

But Ms Agostinelli also said the closure of other shops in Helensburgh in the past year has contributed to fewer customers coming to the town centre to shop with independent retailers.

She told the Advertiser: "I would like to see revision of the parking situation in Helensburgh, including coach parking.

"There is no point trying to increase the retail if people cannot park their cars to visit this increased retail.

"It is not even about free parking. It is about the sheer availability of parking.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Irina Agostinelli, owner of Fabric & FineryIrina Agostinelli, owner of Fabric & Finery (Image: Newsquest)

"Now that the swimming pool has moved further out, the parking has moved with it.

"Elderly and people unstable on their feet find it hard to walk all that way. Same for the Co-op car park and the one behind the Sugar Boat.

"After 11am the swimming pool car park is full and only in front of the pool building there are some spaces left, the car park has been greatly reduced and is no longer sufficient.

"For shops away from the seafront, it is even worse.

"There is no parking available anywhere around town to stop quickly to nip quickly into a shop and the additional zoning that disallows parking outside marked spaces is not helping, you simply cannot get rid of your car during daytime hours."

Among the national firms that have, or had, shops in Helensburgh, Clarks and M&Co have closed in recent years, followed in the last few weeks by Amaryllis Living and Vanity Fair.

Ms Agostinelli said she has noticed a reduction in customers after each closure, particularly M&Co.

Amaryllis Living opted not to take on another 10-year lease and Vanity Fair was cutting back their outlets as their own lease came to an end.

Ms Agostinelli said some leases in the town had not been renewed because "serious roof repairs" were needed on buildings, with tenant businesses unwilling, or unable, to pay significant sums for a new roof on a building they didn't own.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Better parking is essential to help Helensburgh's businesses, according to Irina AgostinelliBetter parking is essential to help Helensburgh's businesses, according to Irina Agostinelli (Image: Newsquest)

"In my opinion it is high time that commercial leases get an overhaul and become fairer," she said.

"They are in stark contrast to private tenancy agreements, where the landlord has to pay for pretty much anything that does not work to the tenant's satisfaction.

"My wish list of solutions for retail in Helensburgh is clear: first, for the landlords to repair their buildings in a sustainable way, not a quick fix, to provide leaseholders with a solid base that the they are happy to pay the 'going rate' for.

"The landlords should then be an equal partner to the leaseholders: one party provides the property, the other pays for its use.

"Within all the vacant properties there are not many that are dry without buckets everywhere at the onset of any stormy rainy day.

"Several are too dilapidated to even be usable for a business. Full repair leases should have never, ever been allowed in the first place."

She added that other hurdles in the town included available water contracts for small retailers, and the ongoing battle to encourage customers to shop in person and not online.

An Argyll and Bute spokesperson said: “We try to encourage people, who are able, to use cars less and opt for more active travel. Our Better Journeys campaign is about how small changes can make a big difference for both you and the environment: www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/better-journeys

“We’re also currently asking Helensburgh residents, organisations and businesses what improvements you’d like to see to make it easier and safer to move around the town, walking, cycling or wheeling. You can take part in our Helensburgh in motion survey at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/my-community/community-planning/consultations/consultation/helensburgh-motion.

“That then frees spaces for people, who are less mobile, to park closer to the shops. There are also blue badge parking spaces in the town centre, so please leave them free for the people who are entitled to use them.”