by Colin Campbell
INVERNESS MP Drew Hendry has taken personal charge of how the city should look in 2035.
But he was somewhat upstaged this week when Chancellor Rishi Sunak provided cash for Inverness developments here and now.
£20 million will be made available for the Castle, the Bught and the Northern Meeting Park as part of £170 million being sent across the border for locally based projects.
Through being allocated a sum of that size, Inverness has done very well indeed.
But Hendry’s SNP protested. They claimed Sunak was “bypassing the devolution settlement”.
No surprises there. Given their overt central belt bias, they’d be quite happy if Inverness didn’t get a brass farthing for these projects before 2035.
As chairman of “Inverness Futures” Hendry would instead be ordered by The Party to wave around his “Inverness 2035” fantasy plan and proclaim, “See what we can look forward to! A safe home for everyone, beautiful streets to marvel at, charm, joy and delightful surroundings everywhere in the most welcoming city in the world.
“It’s all here in our plan. For 2035! Only 13 years to wait!”
Twitter maestro Hendry, the best MP on Twitter Inverness has ever had, had nothing whatever to say about the welcome millions being poured into Inverness.
There wasn’t a word about it on his beloved Twitter site. Could that be taken as a sullen silence? Probably. Unless he was working yesterday on another Inverness Futures ambition for 2035, such as the arrival of free flying cars.
The SNP doesn’t like being upstaged by Westminster, even when money coming north of the border will benefit people’s lives.
You’d think, however, they’d have got used to it by now, as it was billions in furlough money during the pandemic which prevented desperation, despair and begging on the streets.
The SNP Government’s trainee account finance secretary, Kate “more, more, more” Forbes was resentful about being “bypassed” also.
If only Highland politicians like her and Hendry and Ian Blackford could welcome the Highland capital benefitting very clearly and precisely from the Chancellor’s Budget rather than responding to it, inevitably, with a grievance ridden scowl.
But the reality for them is that benefitting people’s lives has nothing to do with it. All that matter is whether the SNP gets – or is denied – the credit.
Highland Council did welcome the extra £20 million for Inverness.
Council leader Margaret Davidson said: “We are very pleased to learn today that the bid for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Constituency has been successful centred around its Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration Project. Never has the need for regeneration projects to be as closely aligned with the Net Zero agenda as today. These projects will allow re-use and regeneration of key historical landmarks in the city, that will complement the already significant investment being made in the Castle and other city centre projects.”
If she says so. Schools, potholes, showcasing their £300,000 Gathering Place, it seems “Net Zero” ambitions now trump everything else with the Net Zero council these days.
But Davidson and co. drift ever further away from the public by using incomprehensible language like “Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration Project”.
What does that mean? Do they even know what it means themselves? Or is it just some unbelievably clumsy phrase some official has dreamed up because it sounds COP26 trendy?
I’d have thought the Bught Park wasn’t a major source of carbon pollution. Or the Castle or the Northern Meeting Park either.
Anyway, in plain and simple language from the office of Chancellor Rishi Sunak Inverness has been awarded an extra £20 million to spend on local projects. That is very welcome news indeed.
Drew Hendry and his 2035 fantasies and Margaret Davidson and her cultural emissions we do not for now need to dwell on any further.