A CONTROVERSIAL bid to open an Indian restaurant and takeaway in Port Glasgow has been given the go-ahead.

It will be located at the site of the former Aulds shop in Princes Street and will have capacity for 34, trading 2-11pm, Monday to Saturday and 4-11pm on Sundays.

Members of the planning board gave the proposal the green light despite vehement opposition from councillor Drew McKenzie and a petition containing more than 300 signatures.

Councillor McKenzie said: "This is not a restaurant, it is a takeaway and we have 12 fast-food outlets in the area, there is a proliferation at the moment.

"A great number of retailers both in the retail park and town centre do not want fast food outlets in the town centre.

"Just like charity shops and bookmakers, it is an indication of high deprivation.

"We want to get away from that."

Planning officials had stated that the application would help bring a vacant retail unit currently in poor condition back into use and be of 'positive benefit to the vitality of the town centre'.

But Councillor McKenzie disputed that it would bring footfall into the area because ' the shutters would be down in the afternoon'.

Councillor McKenzie said: "Vitality and vibrancy is not the words you would use to describe Port Glasgow town centre, it is getting ruined by this policy."

Councillor David Wilson, chairman of the board, replied: "We have spent a lot of money on the town centre. I am told 25 per cent of the shop floor space in the town centre is vacant.

"Another empty unit is the last thing we need.

"I don't think we should be giving out the message from this planning board that we are not open for business.

"I would like to go somewhere in Port Glasgow and to sit down to have a curry.

"But I can't do that at the moment."

Councillor Innes Nelson said: "I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing having a lot of fast-food outlets in the one place."

But fellow board member Jim Clocherty said: "I have sympathy with Councillor McKenzie's arguments, being a town centre councillor for Greenock."

Cllr McKenzie said the application should be rejected on the grounds of loss of a further retail unit and the mix of use in the town centre.

Councillor John Crowther made a motion to approve the application, saying: "People will be travelling into Port Glasgow to to the retail unit and alighting from the train and walking down Princes Street. I do not see this application being detrimental to other restaurants or carry-out outlets as we have better footfall now."

His motion was supported by 6-4.