The leader of West Dunbartonshire Council is to meet with the management of Loch Lomond Shores after the cancellation of its popular Christmas lights switch-on.

Councillor Jonathan McColl is awaiting confirmation from the tourist attraction so a suitable date can be set for the talks - but hopes the meeting, once he returns from two weeks of annual leave, will help resolve the issues preventing the festive event from going ahead.

The cancellation has come as a major disappointment to those planning to attend, while concerns have also been raised about the impact on businesses.

Bosses have blamed safety concerns for pulling the plug after 38,000 crammed into 2017’s free event, causing congestion inside the attraction, and in Balloch where visitors’ vehicles were abandoned after the car park overflowed.

The attendance was 23,000 higher than the previous year, as people turned up for the switch on, fireworks display and live entertainment, but also to enjoy the addition of a continental style Christmas market.

Cllr McColl told the Reporter: “I was disappointed to hear Loch Lomond Shores has decided to cancel its Christmas lights event this year.

“This event generates huge interest from the local community and beyond and is important for the businesses at Loch Lomond Shores and Balloch village.

“I have asked for a meeting with the manager of Loch Lomond Shores to find out the reasons for this decision and to see if there is any way the council can help to resolve any issues getting in the way of the event going ahead.

“I’m hopeful we can find a way to continue holding regular and one off events at Loch Lomond Shores. I won’t know how we achieve that until I meet with the new Facilities Manager and get a clear understanding of the issues and rationale for recent decisions.”

The council’s depute leader, Cllr Caroline McAllister, added: “I understand no approach [from Loch Lomond Shores] was made to the council.”

The centre’s bosses have also scrapped other events this year, including annual food and drink event Springfest and banning hot food and drink market vendors from the venue.

Following the latest cancellation, a spokesman from the Loch Lomond Shores management company said: “Due to safety concerns raised by the police and local licensing over the unprecedented number of attendees at last year’s light switch-on it has been decided there will be no Christmas Light Switch on this year. In its place Loch Lomond Shores will be organising a Christmas Market, hosting Santa’s grotto and arranging various activities over the festive season.”

There have been suggestions, however, a change in staffing may be behind event cancellations at the venue.