IN mid-January it was announced, to the dismay of many, that work on the reviled gathering place on the riverside at the Ness Islands would begin in the spring. Even after councillors voted in August to go ahead with the £300,000 plan to build a wall and concrete pathways on a cherished site of unspoilt natural beauty the faint hope remained that the hideously expensive riverside-ruining vanity project might still founder or stray of course. The declaration of the spring schedule dashed the hope that sanity could somehow still prevail.
We are well into February now and although on some days it might not feel like it spring is just around the corner. So on what day will work begin?
As so often with the appalling Gathering Place saga, which has gone on for almost two years, there was something peculiar about that “in the spring” announcement. The council does not inform the public that major projects on roads or other development will begin “in the summer” and then in April or May fail to provide a specific date.
We are at that stage with the Gathering Place. If work is indeed going to begin in the spring then it’s now time to tell people when I’m the spring. Why are they seemingly reluctant to provide a date?
We know one thing for certain. The council wants this over and done with as quietly and with as little fuss as possible.
But people vehemently opposed to this travesty – opposed in a petition by 3,000 – may not be willing to oblige them in that.
Ideally the council would like to see the riverside beauty spot turned into a fenced-off building site without anyone noticing. That’s not going to happen either.
Are they worried about on-site protests on the day the work begins? Who knows if that will happen but feelings among some if not many people will be running as high as the Ness in spate.
Are they worried about a torrent of bad publicity when the ripping up and tearing down at the location begins in a prolonged outbreak of environmental vandalism at its worst?
If so, that’s their problem.
If they have a date for work to start then it’s the council’s duty to announce it. Whatever the resulting reaction, people have a right to know.