Riverside plan succeeds in gaining a SIXTH supporter

Inverness man publicly backs scheme!

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Inverness woman Dell McClurg, recently enjoying the riverside sunshine with granddaughter Amelia at the location planned to be concreted over, was one of those who signed the 2,300 strong protest petition. However, the number of people publicly backing the Gathering Place has now risen from five to six.

THERE was a new twist in the Gathering Place affair when the £300,000 project planned for the riverside gained a SIXTH supporter. Inverness man Donald Macleod also broke new ground when he became the first member of the public with no links to the council to openly back the scheme, in a letter to the Inverness Courier.

 Writing to the paper, Mr Macleod said objectors to the development should “get a life”, and claimed a petition signed by 2,300 people opposing the Gathering Place had come from “elderly reactionaries”.

 He also praised Provost Helen Carmichael for refusing to meet the petition organisers. And he concluded: “The protesters should continue to get short shrift from the council and should spend their time on something worthwhile.”

 Before Mr Macleod’s intervention, the total number of people expressing support for the Gathering Place since it was approved behind the scenes by council officials without being opened up to debate by elected councillors stood at five.

 They were Provost Carmichael, Arts group chairman Isabelle Mackenzie, and councillors Graham Ross and Carolyn Caddick.

Former councillor Thomas Prag has also backed the scheme.

 The fact that a member of the public – if only one – has now come forward to support the Gathering Place is liable to be welcomed by them as a significant affirmation of their determination to see the project through.

 Provost Carmichael refused to meet the petition organisers as they were an “unconstitutional” group. She has said there will be no U-turn and it will go ahead regardless of what people think about it. The provost expressed the same opinion on the tilting pier, before it was dumped because of intense public opposition.

 Around 10 councillors are vehemently opposed to the Gathering Place and the way it has been handled, but a number of others have remained silent on the issue, offering no opinion either for or against it.

 However, at a packed public meeting on the issue, there was universal condemnation of what was branded a “riverside-ruining” development. Only Mr Prag spoke out in favour of it, before storming out claiming he had been denied the chance to properly address the meeting, where speakers were limited to elected councillors only.

 There was also fierce condemnation from those present of plans to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on the scheme at a time of widespread council cutbacks.

 The council insists that plans to build a wall and concrete pathways at the location will “enhance its natural beauty”.

 Yesterday, on the warmest day of the year so far, people basked in the sunshine in an unspoilt, natural setting which those who oppose the Gathering Place say should simply be left alone.

 The area was due to be concreted over by July, although it is now unclear when work on it is intended to start.

 It’s estimated that it will take around four months to complete, during which a substantial stretch of the riverside will be turned into a building site.

 With the number of people publicly backing the Gathering Place having risen sharply from five to six, in advance of any work being carried out momentum could be gathering in the weeks ahead for the total to reach double figures.

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