From a different era, council champion of the Ferry whose iron fists were his security

by Colin Campbell

ALARM bells are ringing all over the place after the brutal death of Conservative MP David Amess. And that’s not surprising.

Security measures for MPs and MSPs are being reviewed, although some have insisted there must not be an overreaction and they must be able to continue meeting their constituents face to face to hear their concerns and the problems they want to raise.

Dan Corbett fought tenaciously for the upgrading of South Kessock, the Ferry.

A police chief has now said local councillors will be included among those given security advice.

In truth, most people don’t even know the name, or names, of their local councillors.

But at the same time no one should scoff at any worries they also have. There’s always the chance that someone will take an intense personal dislike to a person in public office, even if he’s just an ordinary guy elected with a few hundred votes, who lives a normal life a couple of streets away.

But there is no chance of councillors being allocated a security guard. And a basic assumption must be that those who seek election have weighed up the full range of implications and made their judgement accordingly.

They may not deserve to be on the receiving end of abuse, although online abuse seems to be as far as it goes, but however regrettably, that’s an unpleasant part of the job.

If it gets too nasty, they can quit, without any sense of shame or surrender. But as far as I’m aware, no councillor has ever done so. In my dealings with them over the years I’ve found most to be made of pretty stern stuff.

And none was ever made of sterner stuff than Dan Corbett, who was the councillor for South Kessock, the Ferry, back in the 1970s. I still think of Dan, father of ex-Caley star and councillor Peter, as the most indomitable representative Inverness has ever had.

He could be as pugnacious as he was agreeably pleasant over a cuppa in his heart of the Ferry house. He was of medium height, and solidly and powerfully built. And those physical characteristics mattered if you were the councillor for the Ferry back then.

If the estate is officially categorised as “deprived” now, it was much more so at that time. Rundown and in some parts near derelict, Dan fought for its upgrading, house by house, street by street, on the former Inverness District Council.

But there was more to his council work than that. The Ferry in those days was a very rough place with some very rough people who, for whatever reason, you would not want knocking on your door at any time of the day or especially the night.

Dan was fearless. And anyone arriving at his door seeking trouble with their outspoken and combative local councillor could be assured they would get it from a born fighter, in every sense of the word, who would never back down.

But times have moved on and they don’t make them like Dan Corbett anymore. And no one, rightly, would nowadays put up with what he had to face.

Security? Dan Corbett’s iron fists were if need be his own security. This was in an era long before the arrival of computers or the onset of online abuse. But who knows? Maybe an actual thug at the door was easier for someone like Dan to deal with than the online threats, vitriol and poison swirling around now.

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