by Colin Campbell
THE new lockdown is yet more bad news for the Gathering Place gang. This tiny group, led by arts chairwoman Isabelle Mackenzie and Provost Helen Carmichael, and supported by council chief executive Donna Manson, are the only people in the city who want to see this riverside monstrosity built, at a cost of £300,000.
Now whatever plans they have for it have been thrown into further disarray.
Following the most recent postponement of work planned for August/September, it was announced that it would be built in the spring.
What are the chances of that now?
This lockdown, the last we will have to endure, is not going to be a brief one, and neither should it be.
Given the virulence of the new strain of the virus, it could extend into March or more likely April, by which time a very large number of people should be vaccinated and the spread of the plague will have been drastically curtailed.
And then organisations like Highland Council will, as they did last year, emerge blinking into the light with another mountain of catch-up work to be done.
Will they have the sheer audacity to again declare the construction of a wall and concrete pathway on a natural beauty spot as a priority project? That would be bad enough. But by then we will also be on the verge of a tourist season which, in dramatically changed circumstances, could be one of the busiest Inverness has ever seen.
Even for the gang, turning the riverside into a building site at such a time could not be an option.
And then they really will be running out of time, with new council elections due a few months later in May, 2022.
The sensible thing to do would be to drop this reviled act of riverside vandalism, but will they? Or will a handful of councillors make a final misbegotten attempt to satisfy their egos and inflict this vanity project on Inverness as a parting act of revenge against the thousands of people who have sought to block it for the past three years.
Time will tell.
But we may yet get to a point where those who want this thing constructed either quit the council or hopefully are voted out, and a new administration emerges, with their first act being to sink the Gathering Place plans into the river and see them swept out into the firth, never to be seen again.