They had so much to say about why it must be built. And now there’s not a cheep from any of them

by Colin Campbell

SO Prince Andrew didn’t show up for the opening ceremony of the Gathering Place, after all. Nor did Banksy. Or Emma Raducanu, or Bob the Builder.

That’s because there was no opening ceremony.

Why was that? Tape cutting and self congratulatory speeches are part of the increasingly self indulgent ceremonial landscape.

Scottish Government ministers are despatched north to mark the official opening of an “affordable” house these days. Or at least a small cluster of three or four, with tenants and officials and beaming smiles all around.

But nothing to mark the opening to the public of this major artwork showpiece that the council has been so determined to build, this landmark structure that would be the pride of Inverness and would attract visitors from far and wide?

Were The Kelpies also opened without so much as a whimper of celebration?

Let’s not in the interests of sanity compare the Kelpies to the Gathering Place. A genuinely impressive creation which is an eye-opener when you first see it sort of towers over our ridiculous little  wall.

Ardent Gathering Place enthusiast Isabelle MacKenzie.

Although, during this saga, believe it or not, the Kelpies were on several occasions cited as justification for building the Gathering Place, on the basis of nothing ventured, nothing gained. Well, as far as that argument goes, we can now see all to clearly what’s been ventured – £300,000 – and what’s pathetically been gained.

But the absence of any opening ceremony, even a few brief words from Provost Helen Carmichael or arts groups leader Isabelle “it’ll be unique in all the world” MacKenzie?

The architects of this debacle appear to be too embarrassed by it to show their faces on the riverside after its completion.

They had so, so much to say as they pressed home their arguments as to why it should and must be built.

But now that it has been built and is there for all too they’ve gone AWOL. A clique of councillors argued fervently for the Gathering Place to go ahead. And now they’ve finally got what they wanted there’s not so much as a cheep from any of them. Not a single one of them has expressed any view on the concrete outcome they so ardently desired.

In reality, we couldn’t expect a line up of council speakers to actually stand in front of a microphone and say anything positive about this pile of concrete junk. There are limits as to how idiotic people are willing to make themselves look in public appearances.

And it would be stretching it expecting them to somewhat belatedly admit they got it all horribly wrong.

So blank council silence about the merits of their glorious Gathering Place it is, and the silence is likely to remain unbroken.

Maybe Helen Smith and a few of the more ardent campaigners who were admirably vocal in protesting against this concrete desecration of the riverside from the outset should hold an opening ceremony of their own.

With a large crowd in attendance to hear their words of condemnation the applause would be audible in the city centre, or perhaps more importantly, at Glenurquhart Road.

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