Dead above the water and dead below the water as well: in grim times, reasons for cheer over rising certainty Gathering Place will never be built

The idyllic site planned for the Gathering Place which would turned into a building site for a wall and concrete pathways.
by Colin Campbell

INVERNESS news and views recently reported that the borehole tests carried out at the site for the planned riverside Gathering Place “have revealed that there is too much of a depth of sand for the concrete supports for the cantilevered section to work”.

With the council pledged to spend no more money on this £300,000 monstrosity – on top of the tens of thousands already squandered for the achievement of precisely nothing – this would have the effect of sinking the reviled project entirely.

OpenNess campaigner Helen Smith has now submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council seeking information about the results of the recent borehole tests and implications regarding cost and design.

She told us: “I suspect the findings have proved problematic!”

How problematic remains to be seen, but the 3,000 people who signed a petition against the riverside-ruining wall and concrete project will be hoping the answer is “extremely”.

Mrs Smith, who organised the petition, has previously shown herself to be very well informed about the details surrounding the hated Gathering Place.

The £300,000 monstrosity was supposed by have been completed, according to the original time schedule, by July last year.

Then, following a council meeting last August, nothing more was heard about until January, when it was announced work would begin “in the spring”. No further detail followed, an absence of information which had nothing to do with the coronavirus, which had not at the time yet become a factor.

Two months ago it was announced that construction work on it would definitively begin as a priority project in August/September. No further information was provided on that either, until Arts group chairwoman Isabelle Mackenzie suddenly announced 10 days ago that there would be yet another delay, this time until “next spring”.

The credibility of that statement bore comparison to the Gathering Place itself – as non-existent.

With the pandemic worsening and certain to be still with us “next spring”, with the council having a budget deficit of over £30million, and with public opposition to the scheme being as strong as ever, the “Coronavirus Gathering Place” looks dead above the water.

Borehole problems relating to the riverbed would leave it dead below the water as well.

And you can’t get much deader than that.

With so much bad news around, the increasingly certainty that this thing will never be built should at least provide some small uplift for many people as we look forward to a particularly bleak and unappealing winter ahead.

The coronavirus and its impact will some day be just a terrible memory.

But the Ness riverside will have been preserved for future generations without the council wrecking crew getting their way.

That may not be a major factor just now with so much else going on. But it is a reason for some cheer, nevertheless.

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