• PART of the plans for the new seafront will mean that holiday coaches would be required to drop off passengers and then park elsewhere in the town. Station Road at Craigendoran and Rhu Road Higher at the Rugby Club have been mentioned as possible parking sites. This is helpful neither to the town businesses, the holiday makers or the residents of the designated parking places. The photos show the access to Station Road, Station Road itself and Rhu Road Higher near the rugby club.

                                                   East Clyde St Station Road junctionRhu Road Higher at Rugby ClubStation Road 1

    The fight for the seafront begins

    HELENSBURGH'S future as a destination of choice for coach parties is under threat from the Waterfront Development plan, threatening the economic well-being of the town's many small businesses.

    The attack on the town is coming from two sides, the omission of coach parking in the new seafront and the future creation of a large new shopping mall which will not only discourage any visitors from exploring further into the town but also be a visual blight blocking the views across the Clyde.

    The Waterfront Project Team initially highlighted the importance of Community Support and buy-in, as a means of ensuring that any scheme delivered is one that is regarded as ‘fit-for-purpose’ and seen as meeting community needs.

    In discussing the published scheme, Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce Members have concluded that the proposed project fails on both these counts, particularly when examined in context of the outcomes from the recent public survey undertaken by Helensburgh Community Council.

    Chamber chief executive John Clark said: “One could be forgiven for developing the belief that the project is simply about the new Pool and Fitness Centre, together with some necessary hard landscaping.

    However, the reality is that the implications of this project for Helensburgh as a day visitor destination, and for those businesses reliant on that trade, are pretty serious indeed.

    He continued: “The loss of almost half of the current car parking spaces, coupled with the complete loss of all coach parking facilities in the town centre will have serious consequences for a wide range of businesses.

    Just one of the coach operators approached by the Chamber indicated that they bring some 12,000 visitors to the town each year. Multiplying that by four or five and an average £10 spend per visitor, means the town is down £500,000 in a year.”

    And he added: “This is a black and white question, if there are no parking facilities then coach drivers will look to the many alternative destinations first.

    The fact that some hospitality businesses in town are currently developing a scheme to reward coach drivers with meal vouchers will be of no avail.

    The Chamber also believes that within the new pool itself numerous opportunities have been lost to create a feature instead of just a facilit

    Rather than being designed around fun it seems to have been designed around utility, but without the advantage of being fit for use as a gala pool. The lack of appropriate spectator seating makes it unsuitable for any interaction between supervising parents and children using the pool

    The absence of slides, flumes or waves mean it’s just another pool and families will be tempted to drive elsewhere for the fun aspects Helensburgh doesn’t deliver. The important opportunity to provide for a “Changing Place” for disabled adult visitors has been ignored in favour of a standard disabled toilet

    John said: “While the design team have agreed to incorporate comments from the Community Council into their position paper for Argyll and Bute Council, nothing guarantees any aspects of the scheme as currently designed will change

    It seems likely the Council will argue that tightness of timescale caused by delays so far; the condition of the current pool; and the tightness ofbudget (given the £18M or so involved in the whole project) are pressing reasons not to change the design at this stage. 

    That said, a significant amount of the money being spent is driven by the need for flood defences dictated by the pool being sited so close to the southern end of the site.

    The recommendation from the Community Council to position the building as per the 2012 Masterplan Addendum, aligned north-south beside the pier, would avoid the flooding risk and reduce the costs considerably. That would allow more to be spent on the building and the other public realm needs of the site.”

    He added: “Although it isn’t integral to the Waterfront Project at this stage, the longer term earmarking of part of the site for a future “Retail Development” also has implications for current businesses in the town.

    We would much rather see this devoted to creating an attraction or filling the current activity void for the towns teenage community with a skate park, climbing wall or other facility.”

    The proposed new car park includes only a coach drop-off point and there has been a suggestion that the coaches might leave their passengers at the drop off point, which is at the far end of the pier and then park in Station Road, Craigendoran or in the Rugby Club area, to wait until it is time to pick them up again.

    Neil Wells, managing director of Lochs and Glens Holidays, who bring 12,000 holiday makers to Helensburgh every year told the Chamber: "It is a shame that so little thought has been given to the coach based tourists that have been visiting Helensburgh for generations

    "The proposal only includes a drop off point at the far end of the car park, with a long walk to the town centre. No thought has been given to picking passengers back up again.

    "It is unrealistic to expect tourists to happily queue up waiting for their coach to return, especially on those rare days when it’s pouring with rain."

    He went on to say: "Helensburgh’s enduring success, and recent resurgence, has been because it is an accessible, attractive and interesting town that is easy for visitors to explore on foot.

    "It would appear that the parking has been positioned to force visitors to go through a retail development that will probably be indistinguishable from the one they have at home. The plan would discourage tourists from exploring the rest of the town."

    The Chamber of Commerce has already agreed to create and distribute a leaflet explaining their concerns and is offering a £5 membership to local businesses so that they can join the campaign for changes to the proposals.

    This and other issues will be discussed at the Chamber AGM on June 27, beginning at the later than usual time of 7pm in the Parish Church Hall. This meeting is open to ALL Helensburgh businesses.

    Festive fun and quirky quizzes


    The December members meeting took the form of an informal get together featuring festive nibbles, a few glasses of wine and some excellent, if challenging quizzes, a good time was had by all!. The next members meeting will be in February, we look forward to seeing you then.

    Bank Note Warning

    Businesses in the Retail Sector and Night time Economy are advised of the recent detection of counterfeit Bank of England £20 notes, tendered recently in West Lothian. A £500 transaction was paid for using these notes. It was later discovered that there were only four different serial numbers used on all of the notes, as follows:





    Businesses are reminded to be vigilant when checking similar banknotes and should contact Police Scotland via 101 should any such noted be discovered or detected.

    Do you have skills to help restore Helensburgh mansion?

    The sale of a once grand, listed Scottish manor house has been completed, paving the way for a sensitive restoration project.

    And the developer of Morar House at Helensburgh, overlooking the Clyde Estuary, is seeking local contractors to help carry out the work through a briefing session sponsored by Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

    All Saints Living, which has already won awards for a restoration project in Stirlingshire, is seeking local construction subcontractors and suppliers to help deliver this prestigious scheme.

    Anyone interested is invited to attend a briefing session between 15:00 and 19:00 at Helensburgh Parish Church Hall in Colquhoun Street - G84 8UP - on Wednesday 15th February, to find out more and register interest in supporting the project.

    Morar House, in Colquhoun Street Upper, was designed by architect William Leiper and built between 1901 and 1903 in the grounds of Drumadoon, home of the ship owning McAlpine family.

    Next door to Charles Rennie Machintosh's Hill House and having stood empty for several years, it is listed in the Scottish buildings at risk register country houses, mansions and large villas category.

    Planning permission for its redevelopment and additional development in the gardens was granted last year – allowing All Saints to complete the purchase from Edinburgh architect Lorn Macneal.

    Said Keith McDougall, Director with All Saints Living: “We plan a tasteful and sensitive renovation, which will restore this fine house to its former splendour and are seeking local businesses to help us with the project.

    The house is unique and impressive. It is a listed William Leiper designed mansion, which is magnificently placed in 1.59 acres of grounds, with extraordinary views over the Clyde Estuary.

    Although it has been vacant for a number of years, there are still numerous original features present and we plan to incorporate into six spacious apartments in the original house. We would also develop a new build extension with six further apartments and to make all these apartments more accessible we plan to install lifts.

    Three large detached homes would also be built within the grounds.

    We hope to hope to be in a position to be on site by the spring and the project should take approximately a year to complete.”

    The Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce is assisting All Saints Living with its search for skilled support. Chief Executive Alan Trail said: “We are always delighted when a new development brings jobs to the local area and even more so when it sees one of Helensburgh architectural gems restored and saved for the future.

    We would like to encourage anyone who feels they have something to offer this project to go along and make themelves and their talents known. This is an opportunity that does not come along too often and we are pleased to have been able to play a part in arranging it.”

    Another highly successful restoration and new build venture carried out by All Saints Living was the grade B (Grade II) listed mansion, barns, outbuildings and walled garden at Larbert House and Country Estate in Stirlingshire.

    This was nominated for numerous property accolades and won the Best Renovation Project, Scotland title at the 2015 Real Estate and Property Awards.

    Chamber member support Dementia Friendly Campaign

    Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce members met at the Dementia Resource Centre in West Princes Street and by the end of the evening there were 10 new Dementia Friends in the business community.

    The evening was hosted by Victoria MacLeod, Dementia Advisor, and she ran a fascinating discussion about dementia, its effects on the lives of people living with the disease, and on ways in which the whole community, and businesses in particular can help.

    But the chamber of commerce is not the only group getting behind the campaign.

    Pupils at Hermitage Academy have also joined in following a great response to a presentation about dementia by Ryan Brown to his fellow S6 pupils.

    Senior pupils in S6 will be leading the project to run dementia friend sessions in school and the initiative has been warmly welcome by the school and by the staff at the dementia resource centre.

    Pupils who take part in the Dementia Friend sessions will be able to gain hours towards the national Saltire Scheme which recognises youth volunteering.

    A dementia friendly community involves everyone, shop assistants, public service workers, faith groups, businesses, emergency services, bus drivers, school pupils, clubs and societies, a committed group of people determined to create an environment where people with dementia can remain a part of their community for as long as possible.

    It doesn't take much to become a dementia friend or to make your business dementia friendly but it can make a world of difference to a group of people whose lives are already very difficult.

    The steering group which is championing the project, is led by Alzheimer Scotland Community Development Worker Liz Hamilton, and includes representatives of Argyll and Bute Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Third Sector and community groups.

    There are plans to hold an open evening on October 12 in the Resource Centre to launch the project officially and to set out objectives and vision for the group and a spokesman said: “There is only one other Dementia Friendly Community so far in Scotland and we would love Helensburgh and Lomond to become the second.

    It is a very simple process for individuals and for businesses and there are clear benefits for the whole community both in terms of repeat business for shops and businesses and in creating a safer environment for some of the more vulnerable members of the community.”

    For further information contact Liz Hamilton on 01436678050.

    SUMMER FESTIVAL family fun for all

    HELENSBURGH Summer Festival will have something for the whole family.

    The Festival, being held on Saturday in the town centre will feature the traditional market offering all kinds of produce and arts and crafts as well as a wide range of tasty street food from a hog roast to oven baked pizza.

    Organised by Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce the Summer Festival this year will feature a selection of games and side shows with children's rides, nature puzzles and some very physical challenges for the fit and daring.

    Colquhoun Square will be the venue for a series of displays by the MoD's very talented sniffer dogs and for a great programme of jazz from the Neptune Volunteer Band.

    Down on the seafront esplanade the Army Cadets will be running an inflatable assault course and providing information about the Army Cadet Force, there will be bouncy trampolines, a climbing wall and a chance to “Dunk and Sailor” from Faslane!

    There will will be a beat the keeper and a cargo net crawl, the Northern Diving Group will demonstrate the Bomb Disposal Robot supported by two IED Trucks and 43 Cdo Royal Marines will also be taking part in the day's fun although of course the Bomb Disposal team may suddenly vanish if they get a call out!

    The submarine recruitment trailer will be on hand to offer careers information and there will be a stand featuring the work of Babcock and of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and of course Codona's shows will be open in the pier car park.

    A spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce said: “We are hoping that the weather will be kind to us and that everyone will be able to enjoy a fun day without getting wet – apart from the volunteers for the Dunk-a-Sailor of course!

    “This is an ideal opportunity for Helensburgh businesses to join in the fun by doing something themselves, in shop or outside their premises, to show the people of the town and from further away just what an amazing place Helensburgh is for shopping, relaxing and having a great time and we hope that many of them will rise to the occasion to provide a warm welcome to everyone.”

    For further information or to offer your services go to the Facebook page Helensburgh Summer Festival.

    Digital projector for hire

    HELENSBURGH Community Council has a digital projector which they are happy to hire out. If anyone would like to make use of it they should contact Stewart Noble on 01436 675484 or email him on

    £65,000 on offer to improve shopfronts in Helensburgh

    Courtesy of The Lochside Press

    A second wave of funding for improved shopfronts in Helensburgh has been launched this week.

    Through Argyll and Bute Council’s agreement with Drum Development, the developers of the Waitrose site, £140,000 was made available for shopfront enhancements.

    The scheme opened in 2014 and so far more than £75,000 has been earmarked to upgrade the frontage of 20 businesses in Helensburgh town centre.

    The second phase will open from March 1 to June 30 with applications to be determined in the autumn.

    The council’s policy lead for infrastructure, Ellen Morton, is calling on local businesses to apply: "The initiative has worked really well so far, with 12 businesses in the town centre completing work to their shopfronts, and looking much the better for it, and another four jobs on site, with the remaining four due to start soon

    "The money is there to give businesses a little extra help towards improving the character and appearance of their buildings and, ultimately, drawing more customers through the door. It is amazing the difference some professional work can make.

    "We are here to administer the grants; ultimately it is for business owners themselves to get quotes and to commission the work and we will provide the funds once all the necessary paperwork is completed and statutory permissions granted.

    "Of course our regeneration team will be on hand to provide advice and will be making every effort to streamline the grant process and make it as user-friendly as possible."

    For further information email or call 01546 604382.

    Fun night at Networking evening

    HELENSBURGH'S new Civic Centre provided the very pleasant venue for the Chamber's networking event on Tuesday, February 9.

    The gathering, which offered wine, soft drinks and some very tasty goodies began with a fun "getting to know you" challenge which had a couple of bottles of wine as prizes, and continued to a round table discussion in groups on the topics of what members would like from the Chamber and ways of attracting new members to imporve the offer and networking opportunities.

    A second challenge, to spot the members from the unexpected facts provided, had a camera prize, donated by M&T Builders Merchants, and was won by Vivien Dance of Viton.

    The Chamber Board will be reviewing the outcomes of the discussion at their next meeting and hope to be able to use the ideas presented to take the Chamber forward.

    The next members meeting will take the form of an "away evening" at the fabulous ten pin bowling alley at HM Submarine Base Clyde. Anyone wishing to attend should email their name and date of birth to Chief Executive Alan Trail by clickng here.


    Fabulous offer from SOS to chamber members

    Chamber member SOS Fitness has now opened in Helensburgh, Dumbarton, Bearsden and Glasgow and would like to open the opportunity to all local Business owners to take out a corporate membership package which will allow Buisness employees to attend any class at corporate rates, 50% reduction.

    A yearly membership in Helensburgh and Dumbarton would cost £480 per year, corporate membership per person will be offered at £240 per person.

    Steve Losh of SOS told us: "This offer is open to all businesses in Helensburgh and surrounding areas.

    "If any business is keen to get involved on a membership or sponsorship basis then please give me a call on 07951229752."

    Networking fun at Civic Centre

    THE next meeting of Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Coimmerce will be an open networking event at the new Helensburgh Civic Centre on Tuesday, February 9.

    The meeting will start at 5.30pm with a wine or soft drinks reception and the real networking activities starting at 5.45pm. We have a full programme arranged to let everyone network in a fun and safe environment and a couple of prizes will be up for grabs during the evening.

    All that we ask is that you bring along plenty of business cards and positive energy.

    The meeting is free to all chamber members  and non-members will be very welcome to join in the fun for a £5 charge which, if they decide to join the chamber on the night, will be taken off their annual subscription.

    So we have an idea of numbers please email with the names of those attending.

    We also need one interesting fact about each attendee that it is unlikely that other attendees will know. This can be business or personal and all will become clear on the night. Send your interesting fact to Alan at the address above please!

    Hope to see everyone there!

    Olaf to be guest at Market in the Square

    OLAF, the snowman star of Disney's Frozen, will be making a guest appearance at Helensburgh's Market in the Square on Saturday.

    The popular character will be joined by his even more famous friend Mickey Mouse and will be helping to entertain youngsters at the increasingly popular event.

    This third Market in the Square will feature some 50 stalls and as well as the cartoon characters there will be a bouncy castle and Pop up Paint to keep the young visitors to the market entertained as well as a huge range of yummy goodies on offer including candy floss, slush and fresh popcorn.

    This month's market, which is run under the auspices of Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce, will be the biggest yet and will run from 10am until 4pm.

    The Chamber of Commerce has negotiated a special deal for its members who will get TWO free stalls a year at the market and a fabulous discount on the stall hire for any additional markets they wish to take part in.

    The free stalls can be used to promote members' own businesses or donated to a local group to raise funds for non-political events or charities.

    This month Let's Promote (UK) Ltd will be donating their stall to the Helensburgh Bicentenial Pipeband Championship for fund raising and Viton will be using their's to raise funds for the Christmas Lights Switch on.

    FREE stalls offer

    FOLLOWING the success of the frst two Markets in the Square, Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce has negotiated a great deal for all its members.

    Each member will be eligible for TWO free stalls at the market every year and also to a £10 discount on the price of a stall at any subsequent markets.

    Market stalls can be used by the business itself or donated to other local groups or charities as long as they are not political.
    Stall bookings must be made by the business representative to Fiona Howard on at least two weeks before the market being booked.

    This offer applies only to the Market in the Square which is held on the second Saturday of every month and NOT to Helensburgh Summer Festival, Winter Festival or any other events organised with markets.

    Free2Shop Campaign Launched

    A CONSISTENT approach and lack of confusion over car parking in Helensburgh is the key to capitalising on the success of the CHORD Project.

    This is the belief of both Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce and Helensburgh Community Council and the organisations have launched a joint campaign to get their message to the powers-that-be at Argyll and Bute Council with an appeal for the reinstatement of the two free hours of parking in town car parks which was trialled recently and for one hour free parking to be allowed on street.

    The petition states: “We the undersigned petition Argyll & Bute council to introduce TWO hours free parking in all the council operated car parks in Helensburgh.

    “We also require on-street parking to be standardized within the Town Centre to ONE hour free.”

    It has been proven time and time again that parking is key to the ongoing success of town centres and the decision was taken to engage directly with the local businesses and people who  park and shop in the town, to find out what they think, by providing petitions and questionnaires.

    A spokesman for the Chamber said this week: “We believe that the reintroduction of parking charges and the lack of consistency regarding rules for on-street parking charges are deterring people from using the Town Centre, which is having a negative impact on the shops, businesses and the local economy.

    “Despite the recent improvements, our town centre is struggling to compete with out-of-town shopping and other areas that offer free parking.

    “With the Chord works near completion the introduction of two hours of free parking would be regarded as a sign of support to the local community and businesses and attract shoppers and visitors back to the town after the major disruptions of the last two years. “

    And a spokesman for the Community Council said: “Helensburgh Community Council has consistently sought resolution of the issue of car parking for a year since a public consultation run by the Town Improvement Group of the HCC in February 2014 identified it as an item of public concern.

    “A formal paper on behalf of both the Chamber of Commerce and the HCC was submitted to the Helensburgh and Lomond Area Committee for action in November of 2014.”

    There is no doubt that the regeneration/ renovation work that the council has recently completed in the town centre has greatly improved the appearance of the town and the shopping experience.

    However, given the nearly two years it has taken to complete the work, the disruption and length of disruption has significantly reduced the footfall in the town and many shops have witnessed significant fall in business.

    To regain that custom and attract more shoppers to the town we propose that two hours free parking be introduced throughout the town particularly in car parks that are in close proximity to the main shopping streets on Sinclair Street, Princes Street and Clyde Street. 

    Competition in the region is very strong. There are many shopping experiences that offer free parking within 10 miles of Helensburgh and to compete with the other shopping experiences we must offer the same basic benefits and services such as free parking.

    The petition is backed by a questionnaire designed to gather feed back about previous parking habits and expectations for the future, the petitions are in the local shops, cafes and restaurants.

    The Questionnaires are available to complete in: The Pet Shop, S.O.S. Shoe Repair, Grasshopper Toys and on the Argyll and Bute Council website. The petition can also be signed online and can be accessed from the Chamber Facebook page and by clicking here.

    Any businesses who, so far, have not received any Petitions/Questionnaires or have run out can collect from The Pet Shop.


    HELENSBURGH is to be the venue for a fun new market venture featuring food producers and crafts people.

    The Market in the Square will be held in the newly redesigned Colquhoun Square on the second Saturday of every month starting on February 14, Valentine's Day!

    The market is being run under the auspices of Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce and is being organised and managed by Stall Hire Scotland who provided the market stalls and farmers market at the Winter, Hallowe'en and Summer Festivals and run the Farmers' Market at Loch Lomond Shores as well as markets in and around Glasgow.

    The markets will run from 10am until 4pm on each day and local producers and traders are invited to contact Stall Hire Scotland to book stalls to showcase their products.

    A spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce said: “The success of the one or two day markets held in the Square prompted a number of local businesses to ask that the market become a more regular feature and we were glad to facilitate that.

    It will be good to see the new events space being made use of and hopefully the market will attract many new people to the town where they will also be able to visit the many unique retail and food outlets that Helensburgh offers.

    We hope that many, local craftspeople and producers will take advantage of the opportunity to showcase their work and that Helensburgh people will support them.”

    Jordan Clark of Stall Hire Scotland said: “Our latest market, Helensburgh Market in the Square will run on the second Saturday of each month, starting on February 14.

    Our producers will vary dependant on the seasonal availability of their products, but at most Markets you will find fresh home-baking, seasonal veg, fresh meat and fish, and some craft stalls as well.

    We will be happy to hear from top quality Food and Artisan Craft producers who might like to take part in the market.”

    Please contact Jordan Clark on 07983 392488 or email him at or call Tracy Thomson on 07775 572287 or email her at

    A booking form can be found on the Facebook page for the Market in the Square

    Sunday 15 February 2015
    12.00 – 15.30 pm
    Helensburgh Swimming Pool

    Following the recent storms, a group of local Geocachers will be taking part in a CITO (Cache In,Trash Out) event to help clean up the beach and esplanade.

    The event is being hosted by Helensburgh / Balloch / Rosneath / Dumbarton Geocachers and organised by Helens burgh member Gareth Hooper, but everyone is welcome to join in and help restore Helensburgh's seafront to the condition it was in before the winter waves struck.

    For those who want to learn about this addictive hobby, there will be help and advice on hand as well as a visit to a nearby cache to show you the ropes.

    Bring the children too as there will be activities for them to enjoy while the adults are shovelling flotsam and jetsam. We fully intend to have as much fun as possible and everyone will be made to feel very welcome.

    Local business have joined Argyll and Bute Council in rallying round to lend their support: The Council is supplying all the equipment we need (gloves, bags, grabbers, shovels) and a skip to dispose of the debris collected; Helensburgh Swimming Pool will be making the cafe area available for workers to warm up and enjoy refreshments; Clyde Street Café has offered a discount to all participants and will stay open late; Costa Coffee are supplying cups so that a steady supply of hot drinks is available to the volunteers.

    For more information, contact Gareth Hooper:


    Is customer service a vital part of your business strategy? How happy are you to leave your business in the hands of your staff?

    Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce is offering its members the chance to make absolutely certain that their customers get the best possible service with some FREE training.

    The Chamber will be joining forces with Business Gateway in Argyll and Bute to hold a Worldhost training day on Tuesday, February 17.

    The one-day course is called ‘Principles of Customer Service’ and is intended to train front-line staff to deliver a great customer experience that will increase customer retention and return visits. Through this interactive programme your staff will think about their own experiences of good and bad service, understand why their role has such an impact on your customers’ experience and learn vital communication and listening skills that will set them up for success.
    It is worth noting that:

    For Businesses: If a business has at least 50% of its front line staff accredited in Principles of Customer Service they can be World Host accredited. They can display a plaque, window sticker and will gain a certificate. This will be reviewed every two years to ensure the percentage is still valid.

    For Destinations/Towns/Streets: If 25% of relevant customer facing businesses are recognised as being WorldHost businesses, the destination can be a ‘WorldHost Destination’. For Example: Herm Island which is a tiny island off the coast of Guernsey is recognised as a WorldHost Island, East Kilbride Shopping Centre is also accredited, and various places are working towards accreditation.

    The training day will run from 9am till 5pm at Braeholm, West Montrose Street, Helensburgh.
    Places are limited to 16 so please let us know if you would like places booked as soon as possible. Email to book your places.

    New Members Meeting - TONIGHT

    TONIGHT 5.30-6.30PM

    Sunshine super day for prize winners

    flags 1

    THE new look Colquhoun Square provided a beautiful backdrop for a special presentation on Saturday morning.
    The winners of the Summer Festival Commonwealth Flag competition were presented with their prizes by Chamber chief executive Alan Trail and board member Kath Owen.
    Attending were representatives of some of the sponsors including Cruise Loch Lomond, Grasshopper Toys and the Mandarin Restaurant.
    Other prizes were donated by the Gleddoch, Masala Twist, Posh Paws, Vanity Fair, the Pet Shop, Callagahn the butcher, M&Co, M&T Builders Merchants and photographer Robert Bell who also took some of these photos - thanks Robert!

    Wine and nibbles TONIGHT!

    Just a quick reminder that it's our monthly meeting this evening: 5.30pm in the coffee shop at the Commodore hotel. Do pop along and relax with a glass of wine, nibbles and the very good company of your local business colleagues!
    We look forward to seeing you there.
    Alan Trail, Chief Executive

    Commonwealth Flag winners drawn

    The winning entries in the Summer Festival Commonwealth Flag Competition were drawn on Friday by Captain Alistair Willis RN, Captain HMS Neptune and Captain of the Base, HM Naval Base Clyde.
    The winners were Poppy Galloway, Betty Jones, Paula Forbes, Halo O'Reilly, Marco Giarchi, Franca Bianchet, T-Jay Lambert, Malcolm Ross, Logan Brown, Debbie McBride, Archie McBride, Katy Smith, Arran Boxall, Peter Swigeiski and Katie Hill.
    The prizes on offer were a cruise for four with Cruise Loch Lomond, a print of the Waverley, a round of golf at Gleddoch, vouchers for the Mandarin and Masala Twist, four goody bags from Grasshopper Toys, a voucher for the Pet Shop, another from Posh Paws, a meal deal for two from Callaghan the butcher, a scratch and care kit from M&T Builders Merchants and a voucher from M&Co.
    The competition was sponsored by the "big Boots" and the photos show chamber board members Kath Owen, Wendy Hamilton and Alan Trail with Capt Willis and Kath with Alasdair MacKenzie, manager of Boots.

    flag draw pix

    Taste Our Best Food and Drink Award Initiative extended

    THE Taste Our Best award, a joint initiative between the Scottish Government and VisitScotland, is being extended to help build stronger links between the places people visit and the food and drink experiences on offer.

    Henricks Bar & Bistro, who use Scottish produce on their menu, helped launch the extension recently. 58% of all visitors, and 71% of overseas visitors to Scotland eat in a pub or bar, whilst almost half (49%) of all visitors want to try local food, placing the country’s licensed premises in a perfect position to capitalise on a growing interest in the nation’s natural larder.

    Research has shown that visitors are willing to pay up to 15% more for food that is of Scottish or regional origin and businesses that provide local food can typically enjoy higher level sales of up to 20% per year, providing a real financial incentive for tourism businesses to sign up to the accreditation scheme.

    In 2015, the Year of Food and Drink, Scotland will celebrate the role that Scottish cuisine plays in shaping the country’s economic success.

    Food and drink is an integral part of the tourism experience and the industry is worth £13bn a year. The target is to grow this to £16.5bn by 2017.

    Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “A stop in a pub or bar is a must for many visitors to Scotland, so these establishments can play a crucial role in helping create an appetite for Scotland’s natural produce.

    "We know that visitors enjoy authentic, quality Scottish food and drink, with many willing to pay up to 15% more for food that they know is of Scottish origin.

    "By sourcing and promoting local produce, businesses have a real opportunity to boost both their finances and their reputation.”

    The Taste Our Best award scheme is the latest addition to VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance (QA) Schemes, which aim to drive up quality in tourism products across the country.Taste Our Best provides businesses with an assessment of the overall quality of the visitor experience and the use of Sco

    ttish produce on their menu by qualified advisors, with those meeting the necessary criteria gaining the award.

    Find more information by clicking here

    food 0647

    Windfarm debate

    THE Helensburgh Windfarm debate comes to Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

    The September members meeting will feature three speakers including two representing both sides of the windfarm debate.

    Ian Fraser, chairman of the Windfarm Development Group and a representative of Teg-H, the Turbines Evaluation Group (Helensburgh and Area), will each give a short presentation before being given an opportunity to answer questions.

    The third speaker will be Graham Campbell, SQA Regional Manager who will be talking about the new Scottish qualifications and what employers can expect from candidates offering these qualifications in their cv.

    The meeting will be held in the Commodore Hotel at 5.30pm. Prospective members are welcome to come along to find out more about the chamber.

    City Deal will provide alternative A82 section through West Dunbartonshire

    WEST Dunbartonshire Council has signed-up to a major investment project that could create a new alternative road to the A82 as part of a £1.13 billion programme for the Glasgow Clyde Valley region.

    The City Deal, which was formally agreed today, will be used to fund major infrastructure projects, drive innovation and address challenges in the labour market across eight participating local authorities.

    The funding will comprise £500million from the UK Government, £500million from the Scottish Government, and £130million from the participating Councils.

    The funding will be provided over a 20 year period. Experts forecast that 15,000 jobs will be created across the region during the construction phase alone and over the programme period 28,000 new jobs will be created.

    The City Deal is made up of 20 named projects including the Glasgow Airport Rail Link and SPT bus improvement linkage projects. West Dunbartonshire’s project is the £27.897m development of the EXXON site in Bowling, which includes proposals for an alternative road route to the A82 being constructed through the site, to open up the site for development and allow traffic to bypass Milton. It is expected that work could start in 2016 with completion in 2022.

    Council officers will now develop a project plan and business case for the proposed project.

    Councillor Martin Rooney, Leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, joined the seven other leaders from participating Councils at the signing event at the Glasgow Science Centre.

    He said: “This funding is great news for West Dunbartonshire and probably the best deal of its kind in the UK. The Council’s expected contribution to this huge infrastructure investment will be just £3.8 million, which is excellent value for money given the transformation potential of this project.

    "We have always stated that regeneration and jobs are our priorities, and the development of the EXXON site will support both these ambitions.”

    Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury, said: “This is fantastic news for residents of the Glasgow and the Clyde Valley region, as it means those who know the area best - the people who live and work here - can decide where this investment can benefit them and their families most.

    Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay said: “As our largest city Glasgow is central in driving economic growth. That is why the Scottish Government has agreed to invest £500 million in a city deal for Glasgow and the Clyde Valley that delivers significant benefits for the region and Scotland as a whole.”

    The City Deal is expected to give the City Region a permanent uplift in its GVA of £2.2billion per annum (4.4%); generate 15,000 construction jobs during the construction period and 28,000 permanent additional jobs once construction is complete; and will unlock £3.3billion of private sector deal0001

    Business voices wanted by BBC

    THE BBC World Service are looking for business people from Helenburgh and Lomond to take part in a referendum debate the day before the vote.

    The World Have Your Say programme is coming from Helensburgh on September 17 to discuss Scottish independence.

    Programme spokesman Peter Dobbie said: “It’s a one hour global phone-in show using social media, with an estimated reach of up to 30 million listeners per week.

    Our biggest audiences are via NPR in the US, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. We’re looking for a range of local business people to give us their take on independence.”

    And to add to this mix they want to hear the views of businesses in Helensburgh and Lomond and will be broadcasting from the town on the morning of September 17.

    If any local business-people would like to take part could they email as soon as possible.


    Draft parking policy framework

    MEMBERS agreed at Argyll and Bute Council's Policy and Resources Committee to endorse the draft parking policy

    This new policy aims to ensure consistency in regard to parking policy across the council area, while recognising the specific needs of our different administrative areas.

    Members also agreed to a formal process whereby area committees can review local traffic regulation orders (TROs), effectively giving local members control of parking issues, within the broader parameters of the Argyll and Bute parking framework.

    Members recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not work in Argyll and Bute, with its huge area and diverse local needs. As such, the policy formalises the arrangement whereby TROs are within the power of area committees, allowing parking to be managed at a local level. If an area committee was minded to change the existing charging arrangements or to introduce new charging arrangements this would have to go through the council’s executive committee process, as is normal practice.

    The parking policy effectively formalises what is already reflected in current custom and practice, providing the council with an overarching framework for the provision and control of parking across Argyll and Bute, where none previously existed.

    Following the approval at yesterday’s (Thursday 21 August) committee meeting, area based proposals will be developed through member workshops and area committees over the winter. Local members will consider a number of factors such as the level of provision, the extent of charged and free spaces, the distribution of available parking as well as local nuances.

    Following these local proposals will come a period of stakeholder consultation, the range of which will depend on the outcome of the member workshops and the amount of change proposed to the current arrangements.

    Area committees will then formalise the proposed changes to TROs and confirm the implementation timeline, with the finalised policy then being taken to the full council for adoption.

    The council’s parking strategy is aimed at increasing the parking turnover in our town centres, which in turn supports the local economy - ensuring that there are spaces available for people to park and access local shops.

    To ensure this parking turnover the council has recently taken on the responsibility for the enforcement of parking regulations across the Argyll and Bute. We have employed new amenity wardens who patrol all areas of Argyll and Bute where parking restrictions are in force. These include, but are not limited to, areas with yellow lines, pay and display bays, loading and unloading areas, disabled bays, limited waiting areas and off-street parking areas.

    Vehicles caught parking illegally are now issued with a penalty charge notice (PCN). In line with national guidelines, the PCN is set at £60, to be paid within 28 days. If paid within 14 days, the charge is reduced to £30. If unpaid, the charge increases to £90.  Unpaid PCNs could result in the council instructing sheriff's officers to pursue recovery of the debt, which may incur additional costs.

    The policy also aims to improve road safety, manage traffic effectively and to encourage a shift towards more eco-friendly transport means. This policy sits within the council’s policy context, supporting the outcomes of the single outcome agreement (SOA): sustaining the viability of our town centres, encouraging healthier lifestyles and reducing traffic congestion.

    The draft parking policy is available on the council website


    Food for thought

    HELENSBURGH and Lomond Chamber of Commerce were given food for thought at their March meeting … in more ways than one.

    The meeting was held at the Garth and hosted by owners Cara and Milan Nicolic who are also owners and mine hosts at La Barca and the Riverbank.

    Milan provided a fablous sampler menu of the treats on offer at the Garth and the members attending thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Milan was happy to tell them that the Garth is designed for families and the multiple choice of wide screens for viewing major sporting events among other things were greatly appreciated.

    The official guest speaker at the meeting was George Alexander who is watch commander at Helensburgh Fre Station and a Fire Safety Enforcement officer.

    He told the members that he would be willing to visit them in heir premises o discuss fire safetyissues and to offer advise on how best to meet the legal requirments. He said that there are a number of sector specific guids available to businesses to help them stay safe and within the law.garth 3

    Security talk for Chamber members

    HELENSBURGH based community police officer Constable Andrew Crawford was the guest speaker at the February members meeting of Helensburgh Chamber of Commerce.

    He told the members that the police officers serving Helensburgh and Lomond are split into five shifts under the leadership of Inspector Claire Miller and that there is always a shift on duty.

    Helensburgh Police Office continues to be staffed 24 hours but is only open to the public Monday to Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday to Sunday from noon to 10pm.

    The meeting heard that Helensburgh Town Centre has dedicated officers Constables Gus Daniel and Neil Gilmore and that they are always happy to pop in to meet local business owners and offer advice.

    They have their own mobile phone number which businesses can use to contact them for non emergency issues at any time. The number is 07908229407.

    The town centre is covered by CCTV which is monitored 24 hours a day and with the new CHORD works will come new more up-to-date coverage for the Colquhoun Square area.

    police talk

    Waitrose helps boost town centre businesses

    A LEAFLET printed and published by Waitrose and promoting Helensburgh businesses will be available for customers of the town store in the very near future. The leaflet has been printed and published in collaboration with Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

    A good place to live, work and play

    HELENSBURGH and Lomond Chamber of Commerce was represented at the recent Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership workshop designed to consider the falling population in Argyll and Bute.

    The Helensburgh event was one of three interactive workshops and a public question time events held on the themes of education, economy, health, young people, stronger communities and infrastructure.

    The afternoon event involved participants in joining a number of discussion groups to research views on the possible causes and solutions for the falling popuation and this was followed in the evening by a question-timestyle event.

    Argyll and Bute’s population has dropped by more than 3,000 in ten years. A reducing population could have consequences for public services including health, education and employment in the area, and may also impact on government funding allocated to Argyll and Bute in future.

    Participants in the workshop events took part in an interactive questionnaire which could also have been completed online at the Argyll and Bute Council website.meeting 1

    Chamber in talks with Council

    HIGH level talks between Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce board members and Argyll and Bute Council looked at a wide range of issues last week.

    Attending for the Council were  Councillor Ellen Morton, Depute Leader, Sally Loudon, Chief Executive and Fergus Murray, Head of Economic Development and Strategic Transportation while the Chamber was represented by Chief Executive Alan Trail, Kathleen Owen and Peter Merriman.

    Initially Peter updated the council attendees on the Chamber's new working relationship with Visit Helensburgh and Helensburgh Community Council and how it was envisaged that all three bodies could work together.

    This was very well received by the council representatives who felt it was major progress and would make some council issues easier to progress and to communicate and to reach more informed and cohesive decisions.

    Discussions then moved on to the new Local Development Plan which includes the allocation for around 1,100 new houses.

    Problems caused by the lack of new houses in the area, highlighted by the fact of the census figures out showing a 7.5% drop in population in Helensburgh and Lomond area, were discussed.

    Drop in population also affects Government money given to the council so new houses are a priority and the Chamber members heard the arguments that show the need for housing in the area and explained why large areas have been allocated to provide new build homes.

    The council then lead talks on plans for the Pier Head which are still very much still to be confirmed and they made it clear that they are willing to work with the Chamber to achieve the best option for the town.

    The current swimming pool which will be replaced as part of the development has only around four years left after it’s current refurb so development should be completed before this time.

    CHORD was discussed briefly and it was mentioned that any disputes between the contractor and council regards extra works are to be expected in this size of contract but also are not holding up any of the works.

    Communications are still key to keeping everyone involved in the progress and any delays that may occur be reported as soon as possible.

    Kathleen then brought to the council's attention problems retailers have locally with the lack of free parking.

    The council representatives were keen to look at the issues and see if there were options within the current parking setup could be changed.

    All issues including cost of maintaining the parking spaces, monitoring parking times, funding display tickets and any loss of revenue the charges bring to the council will be discussed in the future.

    The council had no objections to parking reviews and if the Chamber can come up with a viable option they saw no reason why it could not be implemented in Helensburgh but did say every area was different and should be treated accordingly.

    All parties agreed to follow up on outstanding issues and future meetings will be planned although no dates have been set.

    FirstGroup consults Chamber

    FIRSTGROUP, operators of the rail franchise that serves Helensburgh have held talks with Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

    Chamber Chief Executive Alan Trail and board member Frank Willoughby met with Mike Price of FirstGroup to discuss rail services as part of FirstGroup's consultation process in the run up to re-tendering for the franchise.
    One of the key topics of conversation was the role of the rail service in further tourism in the  Clyde and Loch Lomond areas and it was generally agreed that there was more scope for the rail partnerships to promote the area and encourage non car based tourism.

    The discussion highlighted the fact that business travellers find is quicker to get to Edinburgh by travelling to Queen Street and joining an Edinburgh train there rather than taking the direct train from Helensburgh and that the lack of facilities and in particular WiFi on the Helensburgh to Edinburgh route makes the change even more attractive.

    The discussion also highlighted the problems of parking in Helensburgh and the conflict between commuters and shoppers for spaces.

    Chamber members pointed out that some commuters already use Craigendoran as a park and ride for Helensburgh and suggested that a formal Park and Ride car park at Craigendoran would be an attractive proposition.

    topics included the possibility of phone based ticketing and a SMART card system as well as the significant movements of service personnel at weekends which sometimes highlights ticketing problems.

    The meeting noted that Dumbarton Central staff had performed well during recent disruption and there was praise too for the response of FirstGroup's Twitter team in keeping passengers informed.

    Grey Matters

    HELENSBURGH and Lomond Chamber of Commerce Board Member Kathleen Owen was the guest speaker at the January Grey Matters meeting held at AVA Office in Colquhoun Square.

    Kathleen explained the roll of the Chamber of Commerce and it`s importance in assisting business in the town, especially new businesses.

    The meeting heard that the chamber liases with many organisations including Argyll and Bute Council, Scotrail, Visit Helensburgh and other chambers of commerce and finds that by working together the town benefits as a whole.

    Kathleen invited feedback from the group in a Q and A session at the end of her talk.

    She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed attending my first Grey Matters meeting, I found the members to be well informed, lively and engaged with the future of the town.

    “They empasised the importance of a thriving town centre, accessibility for all especially mothers with prams and people of their age who may be restricted by mobility, with easy access for public transport.

    “They had very firm and positive ideas for the town and were a cheerful, group of people. It was a pleasure to spend time in their company.”

    Kathleen finished her visit by encouraging the group to attend the upcoming meeting by Community Development “Argyll & Bute a good place to live, work and play” at The Pillar Hall on Thursday, February 6 where they can have an input on the economic development in Helensburghgrey matters 1

    Chamber festive celebration

    HELENSBURGH and Lomond Chamber of Commerce members kicked of the Festive Season is real style thanks to La Barca, Helensburgh.

    La Barca's geniel proprietor Milan Nikolic laid on a superb Festive Feast for the members at popular tapas bar and restaurant and his generosity was greatly appreciated by all who attended.

    Milan is pictured with Chamber Chief Executive Alan Trail and board member Frank Willoughby.chamber 3

    Meeting with a Twist

    OUR November meeting was kindly hosted by Amit and Manish at Helensburgh's newest eatery Masala Twist.

    Born in Glasgow's West End Masala Twist has become a byword in Glasgow for great food and they provided our members with a great welcome and a chance to try out some of their tasty treats.

    Our guest speaker was Campbell Divertie who brought us up to date on CHORD and there were updates also on the Christmas Window competion and the Winter Festival.masala 2

    Chamber welcomes Young Enterprise team

    HELENSBURGH and Lomond Chamber of Commerce has some welcome new members.

    The Chamber has awarded a year's free membership to the Lomond School Young Enterprise team Ignition YESC.

    And their lead teacher Carol McElhill, Ignition chief executive Kirsty Rogers, financial director Cameron Lawson, primary liaision Jamie Dodds and their volunteer business advisor chamber member Stewart Noble attended the last members meeting to where they were wecomed by chamber chief executive Alan Traill.

    The members heard that the group had set up their business through the Youong Enterprise Scotland company programme and had raised their own “share capital” to get started.

    They have a number of money making projects in mind and will be competition for the honours at the annual review of Dunbartonshire YES companies, hoping to be able to represent the county at the national event later in the year.

    Young Enterprise Scotland have been providing young people with enterprise education across the country for 40 years.

    Pupils aged 16 to 18 set up and run their own company in schools over the course of an academic year, electing a board of directors among their peers, raising share capital, marketing and financing a product or service of their own choice in order to gain valuable lessons about all aspects of business operations.

    At the end of the year they liquidate the company and present a report and accounts.

    Seventeen regional finals are held throughout Scotland with the winners of each going forward to the national Scottish final.

    Last year's Lomond School group, Prospect YES, were runners-up in the annual Dunbartonshire Awards so this year's group have a hard act to follow.

    Stuart Miller, chief executive of YES, says: “The Company Programme offers pupils a real chance to develop and try out their business skills.

    The quality of the products they produce and the commitment and enthusiasm they demonstrate for their company throughout the year is incredible.

    At a time when young people aren’t always receiving the best press, the attitude and drive for excellence we see from participants year on year just goes to show the future of Scottish business is in safe hands.”

    The group were later presented with their chamber membership certificate at the Chamber office in the Municipal Buildings.

    The photo shows: Stewart Noble, Cameron Lawson, Alan Traill, Kirsty Rogers, Jamie Dodds and Carol McElhill.dscf9084