People who question council ‘visions’ are NOT ‘infected by negativity’

by Colin Campbell

DURING a council debate on the 101 (literally) pages of the council’s latest “visions” for Inverness, convener Margaret Davidson made a standout declaration.

“I refuse to be infected by negativity,” she said.

This was in response to the views of another councillor who had mild doubts about the council’s ability to transform the Highland capital into their “vision” of a “healthier, greener, safer” place through yet more “visions”.

Margaret Davidson.

Whether these doubts will prove justified, who knows.

But Mrs Davidson’s remark may well have revealed something significant, not just about her but about the council she leads.

Is it the case that those who take a different view to that of the Davidson led hierarchy are not expressing reasonable criticism based on rational thought?

But that they can’t help themselves, because they are “infected by negativity”.

Councillor Davidson’s use of the word “infected”, whether clumsy or deliberate, was inappropriate to say the least.

She’s old enough and should be wise enough to realise that, used in response to critics of a regime, it has sinister historical overtones. And its usage should be avoided in any and all circumstances where a mere difference in opinion is involved.

But that would certainly explain why the ultimate “vision” of the Gathering Place was pushed through. The thousands who protested against it weren’t basing an argument on their own judgement.

They were “infected by negativity”.

And what could be more negative, maybe in Margaret Davidson’s opinion, than objecting to tearing up the riverside and building a concrete slab costing £360,000 on it.

Couldn’t thousands of silly petition signing protesters not see the positivity in that?

What happened on the riverside also puts the new “green Inverness” vision in some context.

When it comes to “greening” the city, the installation of the concrete Gathering Place on a natural beauty spot hasn’t exactly been a very impressive start.

But is there really a connection between the three-year riverside debacle and these “visionary” plans to transform Inverness?

You’d need to have your head buried in the mud at the site where grass used to be not to see it.

Literally thousands of people protested against the concrete slab “vision”. It was difficult if not impossible to find a single member of the public who supported it.

And yet our “inclusive” council pressed ahead with it regardless. It was a landmark decision in the worst possible sense. It provided crystal clear evidence that when Davidson and co decide something, they aren’t interested in what members of the public think.

What happens if some people express “negative” views about the “visionary” upheaval planned ahead. Will that just be ignored too?

There was also some tough talking from Councillor Jimmy Gray, who said it would need “courage” in the face of opposition to some of the proposals, particularly virtually removing all traffic from the city centre, to enable it’s “greening”.

We’ll believe that when we see it, which we suspect will be never.

But Mr Gray, a former provost, didn’t join up last week. He’s been a councillor for years. And while he waxed lyrical about the transformative plans for the future, what’s he been doing up to now? Where has his courage been all these years in this desperately traffic choked town and city, where the prospect of securing “safe active travel” throughout it is a million miles away, as anyone who rides a bike, as I do, will readily testify?

Or did Jimmy Gray read the huge wish list in that 101 page report and decide it was time to start being courageous from next Monday?

Pledges have been made regarding “consultation” on what is proposed in this vast document that, if enacted, would change parts of Inverness beyond recognition. Will that be Gathering Place style consultation? Virtually non-existent in any meaningful sense and ignored when it arrives?

As council convener, Margaret Davidson has devoted a huge amount of time to public service and undoubtedly done some good work. There’s no denying that. But she’s also been in a very powerful position, and an extended power trip can lead to arrogance.

In making her smug declaration at that meeting last week that she refused to be “infected by negativity”, the question arises, does Margaret Davidson really think that those who happen to have doubts about proposals, notions or “visions” the council hierarchy comes up with really are afflicted in this way, as she certainly seemed to imply? The council’s blind arrogance over the Gathering Place at least gives some suggestion that she actually does.

If so, with elections coming up in May, it’s time for Mags to pack her bags.


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