The riverside Social Distancing Spot – jinxed from the start

The Gathering Place…wrong place, wrong time, wrong name.
by Colin Campbell                                                                                                                      Tuesday, April 21

IS it possible that somewhere out there in the cosmos fate decrees that some things both large and small are just not meant to happen?

That’s too big a question for me to handle, but shrink it down to something in my own domain and I can at least have a stab at it.

Take that riverside wall and concrete pathways planned for a beauty spot on the Inverness riverside adjacent to the Ness islands.

Understandably, it’s a while since we mentioned that.

But as a quick refresher we can conclude it was jinxed from the start.

There were the ridiculous claims for it when it was unveiled in May 2018, most notably that the wall and concrete “would enhance the natural environment”; there was the ridiculous cost of building it – up to £300,000; there was the outcry when it was approved in secret by unelected officials; there was the barrage of criticism from councillors who said they had not been kept informed of what was planned; there was the petition launched against it attracting 3,000 signatures. It goes on and on.

The thing was supposed to be completed by July last year. Then in January it was said work would start in the spring.

But not one concrete slab was laid. There was actually no sign of that happening anyway. “In the spring” was more of a wild guess than a scheduled date.

And then the coronavirus struck.

And since then we’ve forgotten all about the thing. Forgotten all about the thing called “The Gathering Place”.

That’s a title to conjure with these days.

Are there any suggestions for a new name more appropriate to these drastically changed times, which could remain drastically changed well into the future.

How about renaming it The Social Distancing Spot? Or The Stay Yards Apart Site?

There is no way any provost of Inverness is going to stand on the riverside any time this year and declare something called “The Gathering Place” is now proudly in place. Or next year either, I’d wager.

The whole saga has already dragged on for two years. Another two can be added on to that, minimum. And by then there really is a chance that the whole sorry affair could be consigned to history.

The creation of “The Gathering Place” now looks further away than ever. The wrong place with the wrong name for the wrong time.

Who knows how it all works.

But it looks like the fates really did conspire to jinx The Gathering Place/ Social Distancing Spot from the very start.

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