THE team behind a campaign to bring Helensburgh's only cinema into community ownership say they hope to hear news of the first stage of their funding campaign later this month.

The 'Save the Tower' steering group was set up earlier this year in a bid to secure a long-term future for the Tower Digital Arts Centre in Sinclair Street.

They say the current owner, Brian Keating, is "contemplating a transition to retirement due to circumstances beyond his control".

An engagement event at the centre in February was attended by hundreds of people, with every one of the day's free tickets snapped up in a few hours, while the buyout has also been backed by Helensburgh Community Council, the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, and local MSP Jackie Baillie.

The group submitted a 'stage one' application to the Scottish Land Fund in mid-May, and says it expects to find out soon it its application has been a success.

Donna Hicks from the Save the Tower Steering Group told the Advertiser: "We submitted our Scottish Land Fund Stage 1 application on May 16.

"The review period for these applications is normally six to eight weeks, so we should be hearing if we are successful in the next couple of weeks.

"Our Plan A is to utilise funding from the Scottish Land Fund to provide the bulk of the funds required to purchase the Tower.

"The Scottish Land Fund process is a two-stage process. Stage 1 provides the funding that would enable us to answer the big questions in detail as relates to the Tower.

"That would include a detailed business plan, including start-up and ongoing operations; a survey of the building to establish any remedial work and/or long-term maintenance plan; a valuation of the building; confirming the viability of splitting the building into two distinct parts (The Tower and the Scottish Submarine Centre); and clear deeds.

"Funding from a successful stage 1 application, plus some of the funds people have helped us raise, would cover the resources and work required to fully answer these critical questions.

"The answers to these questions would then become the basis of our stage 2 application. This is the stage where we request the actual funds to purchase the building.

"If we are successful in stage 1, we would expect to complete the stage 1 work and be in the position to submit our stage 2 application in the autumn, with the outcome of stage 2 most probably being shared in spring 2025."

In the meantime, another community engagement is being planned, some time between the end of August and the middle of September, to update the public on what's been achieved so far and what it's expected the coming months will look like if the stage 1 funds are secured.

Donna added: "We fully anticipate that we will need to substantially grow the team and those involved to both deliver stage 2 and gear up operations for 2025.

"We know that members of our amazing community will step up to make this happen.

"As soon as we know the outcome of the stage 1 application, we will share this with you. 

"Fingers crossed and look-out for a 'save the date' later this summer."