by Colin Campbell
AN outbreak of squabbling has broken out among Inverness councillors over how £252,000 in town centre funding should be spent on enhancing the city and surrounding areas.
The cash from the Scottish Government aims to support construction and employment.
However some councillors have different ideas from officials on the best way to utilise the money, and in a bid to sort things out a special meeting of the Inverness area committee is scheduled.
Glen Mhor Ltd wants £20,800 towards the conversion of premises at 2 Baron Taylor’s Street into 30 flexible offices.
The owners of MacGregor’s Bar in Academy Street are seeking £30,400 to put towards a new gourmet fish bar at the premises.
In Castle Street £41,000 is being sought to convert vacant premises into an art gallery and events space.
There’s a bid for £35,010 to “declutter” the High Street, including the removal of some street furniture and restoration of paved surfaces.
These are just some of the proposals put forward.
Whether the High Street needs to be “decluttered” at a cost of £35,000 I do not really know. £20,000 towards the cost of creating new office space in Baron Taylor’s Street? I pass on that one also. Around £40,000 going towards creating an arts gallery and “events space” in Castle Street? Is that a good idea. Well maybe, and maybe not.
These projects and others put forward all have some merit. But, instead of a small amount of money being made available for this, that and the other, just imagine if another proposal on a much larger scale was presented for consideration by these same councillors and officials.
“It is intended to spend £300,000 on building a wall and pathways on land adjacent to the Ness Islands. The area is currently a grassy bank sloping gently down towards the riverside, and is considered a natural, unspoilt beauty spot. The money would be spent with the intention to concrete it over. The £300,000 outlay is considered an essential project to enhance the Ness riverside.”
This is actually going to happen, if it goes ahead as scheduled, in a few weeks time.
And it’s these same councillors who voted for it.
So the puerile squabbling over how to disperse the £252,000 they’ve received from the Scottish Government should be put in context.
They’re hotly debating matters of trivia.
While the worst squanderfest of public money Inverness has ever seen, a colossal, ruinous waste which has generated widespread fury and loathing is all lined up and ready to go.
How do modest plans for office space, street improvement, utilising an empty building and giving a helping hand to creating a new fish bar, all costing peanuts by comparison, compare with the riverside ruining travesty of spending £300,000 on the reviled Gathering Place?
And as councillors argue and bicker over minor spending matters, the question has to be asked yet again.
How could they have allowed the purblind insanity of the Gathering Place to go ahead?