SCHOOLCHILDREN could be asked to design a new coat of arms for Gourock - with the current controversial emblem's days numbered.

A report compiled by local officials has recommended that the existing one - which features a figure widely considered to be that of an enslaved man - should be replaced.

Now a town councillor who had resisted calls for the coat of arms to be removed has softened his stance after the idea won public backing.

Chris McEleny, who previously stated he would oppose any move to replace the crest, says he has heard 'compelling arguments' for changing the local emblem.

He intends to ask his fellow councillors to support a competition for primary school pupils to design a replacement.

He hopes that an exhibition could then be held to explain the previous coat of arms and showcase the new one.

The current coat of arms depicts a black man holding a dagger with a three-masted ship in the background, which opponents say is offensive due to the crest's association with the Darroch family and its links to the slave trade.

Council officials conducted a consultation on the crest and found that a majority of those surveyed were in favour of changing or removing the emblem.

Of the individuals surveyed, 77 felt that the symbol should be changed or removed, 50 felt it should be retained and 23 were unclear about their views or didn't know.

A majority of those who wanted to retain the crest felt that information boards should be placed besides any instances of the coat of arms to explain what it depicts.

Councillor McEleny said: “The work carried out on Inverclyde’s historical links to slavery is very impressive.

"I’m very pleased to see so many people take part.

"I’m still of the view that our history is our history, warts and all, and that it’s very important that we don’t erase it but instead learn from it.

“However, there have been some compelling arguments that I have listened to.

"To me it is vital that we respect and learn from our past so that we can better shape our future but we don’t need to be bound by it."

The coat of arms is on display in five locations across the town, including at Gamble Halls and the Municipal Buildings.

The council working group's report on the coat of arms says: 'Having regard to the views expressed in the Gourock coat of arms consultation, where both the online survey and the listening events were strongly in favour of its removal, the working group recommends that officers carry out further work to investigate the removal of the coat of arms from display where practicable, and produce additional information on the coat of arms in any place where removal may prove problematic.

'In each individual case, officers will have to consider: practical and cost implications for any action; any listed building or other planning implications; and any title or other legal constraints that may apply.'