by Colin Campbell
MORE than one councillor has said to me the Gathering Place should be named “MacKenzie’s Folly”.
That designation has a ring to it. I don’t know whether or not it would be fair, but how fair has Arts group chairwoman Isabelle MacKenzie been to the Inverness public?
She has been the most ardent and determined instigator behind this riverside travesty, and also the most absurd. In her most recent proclamation she said that when finished it would be unique, and unlike anything else in the world.
She led the way in brushing aside all criticism of the scheme, including a 3,000-strong protest petition, and the barricades went up around the site in April.
And nearly four months on, where do things stand now? A supposed 12-week project that was supposed to be completed by “the early summer” is a rubble and dirt strewn site where it looks like work has barely begun.
There are huge concrete slabs and pillars in place that bear absolutely no resemblance to the council artist’s pretty picture illustrations of what the thing would look like.
And Isabelle MacKenzie and the council have absolutely nothing to say about it.
No updates, no explanations, not even a hint of an apology for getting the scheduling so wrong.
Petition protest organiser Helen Smith says that is a disgrace, and she’s absolutely right.
This vanity project, costing £300,000 in public money, has been a delusional shambles right from the start. The lovely riverside beauty spot that’s now a barricaded off building site should have been left untouched, as the overwhelming majority of people wanted.
It’s maybe not surprising after what’s gone before that it’s in the state it is now, and looks it may not be finished by winter, far less early summer.
There’s plenty blame to go around but Isabelle MacKenzie set herself up as the public figurehead of the Gathering Place.
It adds insult to injury that she has nothing to say about it now.