by Colin Campbell
WHEN I commented on the “Inverness 2035” Nirvana outlined by a new group of “prominent people” who comprise “Inverness Futures” I based it on material which had been written about it in the press. That failed to do it justice. I’ve since read the full report, not a particularly time consuming task because it’s not all that long.
And as “visionary” documents go, I’ve never read such unadulterated garbage in my life.
It makes the absurd airy-fairy waffle produced by the Gathering Place “artists” seem as down to earth as a crofter’s scrawl on the back a fag packet of what materials he needs before building a dyke.
Written in the future tense, it outlines what Inverness will become by 2035, according to the visionaries.
I’d assumed the visionaries would have included at least some attempt at explaining how this magical transformation would take place.
But I overestimated their connection with reality. There is not a word, a jot or a scintilla of a suggestion as to how any of it will be achieved. Not a single mention or reference as to how any of it’s supposed to happen.
Here’s a fairly random selection of how they see things changing in just over 13 short years time.
“Inverness will be a welcoming city for visitors from near and far. Shops, businesses, tour operators and residents will be proud of Inverness’s world renowned reputation as the welcoming city. It will be a statement of intent turned into reality by the people of Inverness. Their pride in our welcoming city will make Inverness a great place to live and visit.”
“Every entry to Inverness is attractive and welcoming as part of the City’s ongoing work to fulfil its promise to be the world’s most welcoming city. Inverness won’t just be a city for visitors – it will be a place to enjoy for those who live here. The city centre will be attractive, accessible for all and most importantly family-friendly with a focus on creating a place and atmosphere that has a positive and enriching effect on wellbeing.”
“Inverness’s charm will be its people – in its shops, restaurants, businesses and on the streets. Food and drink will be at the heart of the design of our city centre, with restaurants and bars for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.”
“Our streets will be bustling with families enjoying the ‘what’s on’ features of the day or finding their way along the digital urban trails, supported by our gigabit Wi-Fi infrastructure throughout the city.”
“Visitors will be attracted to walking or cycling to their destination because of the beautiful pedestrian streetscapes. They will marvel at our historical architecture, there to enjoy because of the extensive and regular cleaning of city centre buildings and street cleaning.”
“Inverness will be the best city to grow up in, a claim that will be backed up by being an accredited UNICEF Child-Friendly City and local political commitment to creating nurturing social and school environments – ensuring no child is left behind.”
“The city will be awash with colour because of a citywide partnership between local schools and council services.”
“A long-standing commitment to new housing – both affordable and social rent – will ensure every family has a safe home to live in.”
“Venues will keep reimagining the city’s entertainment through the extensive augmented reality experiences interwoven across the city.”
“Inverness will be a carbon-neutral city and will boast the lowest air pollution of any Scottish city.”
Have you ever read such bull***t?
And that’s just some of it. The rest, if you want to bathe in more visions, is available online.
Welcome, charm, awash with colour, marvelling, reimagining, beauty, they’ve thrown in the lot.
I would make a couple of points that stand out even in visionary Nirvana land.
So by 2035, which is just over 13 short years away, ie, the timescale between now and 2009, “every family” will have a “safe home to live in”.
Oh really? As compared to the current situation of a housing waiting list stretching from here to infinity with many people not even bothering to join because they know how bad the situation is?
And how is that supposed to happen, that is, in the real world? Credible explanation is there none.
And in the “world’s most welcoming city, Inverness’s charm will be its people”.
Where’s all this welcome and charm supposed to come from? Mass brain transplants?
The people of Inverness are like the people everywhere else in Scotland and the UK, no more charming and welcoming and no less than they are anywhere else. And on the subject of welcome and charm, you’ll find plenty of that in the city centre at a weekends when the booze gets flowing, just don’t say the wrong thing at the wrong time or look at someone the wrong way.
Arch windbag MP Drew Hendry is the chairman of the group and leader of the visionaries. He, of course, is entirely shameless.
The other members of Inverness Futures may have been dragged along by Hendry. But based on what they’ve produced in “Inverness 2035”, I’d have been embarrassed to touch it with a barge pole.