In June this year the council declared a Housing Emergency in Argyll and Bute.

It was declared for a number of reasons - firstly a reduction in the amount of housing supply coupled with an increase in demand for housing.

There has also been an increase in property values, well above national and local wages.

Housing construction costs rose by 22 per cent in 2021-22 and continue to rise, and there are significant labour and skills shortages across a range of professions and trades.

In Argyll and Bute there are a number of figures which highlight the pressure: an 8 per cent increase in the households on the social rented waiting list; a 29 per cent increase in the number of people presenting as homeless in 22/23 compared to 21/22; a reduction in the number of social housing allocations becoming available - the number of annual allocations have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

In terms of what the council are trying to do, Helensburgh is in a better position than the rest of Argyll and Bute in terms of house builders looking to build for sale.

Cala recently completed a development, and there are currently 12 affordable houses being built at East King Street by Dunbritton Housing Association.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Councillor Graham HardieCouncillor Graham Hardie (Image: Newsquest)

The council continues to try and identify empty properties in Helensburgh and Lomond that they can assist to try and get back into use - making best use of our existing stock is key to addressing the current housing emergency.

The council has advertised a scheme whereby they will work with housing associations to buy properties for sale on the open market.

This project is at an early stage but hopefully they will be able to assist the housing associations to bring back into the affordable rented sector through this process.,

On another note I was recently in Hermitage Park with my brother and his family, and thought it was a great place to enjoy a sunny afternoon in Helensburgh.

I would like to congratulate Hermitage Park in winning a Green Flag award for the fourth year in a row, naming it as one of Scotland’s best green spaces and recognising it as a clean, safe and well maintained area.

The award was made by the environmental charity 'Keep Scotland Beautiful'.

My thanks to all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the years to transform the park into this award winning space and a well loved and used asset in the town.