ANOTHER well deserved accolade for the Tree Trust volunteers with the recognition that Helensburgh has been named the top place in Scotland to enjoy cherry blossoms this year. The streets are stunning, just a joy to see – thank you for a wonderful start to spring.

It is great to welcome a few new businesses to the town. We wish you well and admire your courage and determination. Helensburgh folk will do their best to support your ventures.

Helensburgh has many attributes, but is not immune to the impact of the flatlining of the national economy, raging inflation and price hikes – and we are beginning to see business decisions change the commercial face of the town.

A national company has left the site where a hire company has traded for over 40 years, the closure of M &Co will leave a terrific void in our high street, and Kenny Manderson is closing the retail side of the family business after 87 years.

Less than two years ago we had a low number of empty premises across the town and there was a healthy churn of new businesses which maintained that high occupancy rate. This year has seen a marked difference to that buoyancy, vacated premises are lying empty, a worrying and alarming trend.

However, against the economic reality and changes we witness in our town, council officers had the bright idea to build more shops and restaurants on the seafront and spend huge sums on marketing the plan, seeking “expressions of interest” for the fenced portion of the site.

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As none were received, the business community of Helensburgh would like to express the first interest in the site.

Based on constructive responses to our recent survey, we would like to use this column to express an interest in the seafront site to Argyll and Bute Council.

First, it would be in the interest of local businesses to turn the fenced area into a car park and tourist bus park for an interim period – until such time as the economy bounces back and the town can reach some a form of consensus over the future of the site.

This will also give the Helensburgh Skatepark Project time to show the potential for leisure activities on the site. Our congratulations to all involved for bringing that to fruition: your tenacity is really impressive. Well done.

Additionally, we would like to see signs erected welcoming people to the town and promoting the free parking on the seafront for this summer. Go on, give it a shot –it’s better than leaving it looking like an unloved bit of waste ground for months - or maybe years.