Helensburgh is extremely lucky in having a community served by quite vibrant business and voluntary sectors. Obviously at the forefront of this we have an active Leisure sector well populated with good pubs, restaurants and take-aways.
This aspect of the town is enhanced by such things as the Clyde Sea Lochs Trail which the Chamber actively supports, and a number of active volunteer organisations that enhance community life.
Helensburgh also enjoys a very high occupancy rate in the town's business premises, without having too high a proportion of bookmakers and charity shops. Even where retail premises are empty, many are in the process of being brought into use for new purposes.
The town has escaped that ‘gap-toothed’ look, prevalent in many similar towns with more premises empty than occupied. This is partly because local entrepreneurs have taken initiatives to turn a range of what were previously shops into active use for other purposes and, in many ways, that puts us at the front of a high street revolution forced by changing patterns of consumer spend and the rise of online shopping.
While the above is partly anecdotal the Chamber of Commerce is adopting initiatives that will help to support local businesses and maintain Helensburgh’s current vibrancy. We have therefore decided to fund a ‘Town Audit’, undertaken by independent Consultants.
This will capture clear evidence on the town's good attributes and identify projects that would further enhance and sustain the area in the face of the continuing challenges to town centres. We are equally pleased to note a recent surge in membership with new businesses and charities coming on board.
The Chamber will soon be meeting with the Council’s Economic Development Team and pressing them to move forward with publication of the “Making Places” report. While the original intent was for this to be a ‘peoples’ wish list, we understand it’s currently having its ‘political’ aspects considered.
We are also looking for the Council to update both the Local Development Plan and the Development Master Plan which are seriously out of date and need to reflect changed circumstances.