New councillors face the imminent threat of systematic hypnosis

by Colin Campbell

A NEW bunch of councillors will take up office and get down to work in the next few days. There are some new faces for Inverness and the surrounding area, no doubt brimming with optimism, positivity and practical good ideas.

That’s as it should be and I hope they manage to make an impact. But there’s no doubt they’re up against it.

It’s a phenomenon I’ve seen occur since I began covering the council, for my sins, back in 1975, and it’s not easily explainable.

Too often ordinary people with a common sense outlook seemingly get overwhelmed by the council system and end up being fundamentally transformed by it. I’m not entirely convinced there isn’t a form of hypnosis in place to create this character change.

For example if the last bunch had remained as streetwise citizens I firmly believe not a single one of them would have thought it a good idea to build a £300,000 concrete slab on a Ness riverside beauty spot and call it the Gathering Place. Not a single one.

But after they became councillors it was full steam ahead with ripping up the riverside, installing the slab, and now we are where we are.

With highly paid and supposedly expert officials now mainly running the show the bureaucratic system is more infested with impenetrable jargon, “visions for the future” and wishful thinking than it’s ever been.

In the last administration too often the role of councillors seemed to be to praise mountainous reports produced by officials and rubber stamp their approval.

In one telling exchange I recall one councillor, Andrew Jarvie, querying a point made in one long term “Vision for Inverness” about something to with Castle Street. This was on the 1,000th or maybe 10,000th page of the document. An official’s first response was to tell Mr Jarvie that he was gratified that he had read it so closely.

A councillor actually reading inordinately lengthy reports by officials before passing a verdict, invariably favourable, on them? There’s a surprise.

It may be wishful thinking on my part but here are some headline issues which I hope we hear a lot less of, or virtually nothing at all, in the next council term.

Reimagining the city centre.

Reinventing the city centre.

Twenty year “Visions for Inverness” which outline how things might/could/should look sometime around 2042.

New plans for “public artwork” on the Ness Riverside.

New plans for “public artwork” anywhere.

Ambitions to make Inverness a “greener, friendlier, fairer city”.

Plans to reduce the “carbon footprint” of Inverness.

And last but by no means least, plans for an “integrated traffic hub” which would mean, among other things, Farraline Park becoming “green city space”. That particular notion has been bouncing around for decades.

The others, in all their lofty aspiration, have emerged mainly in more recent times.

And after countless hours of council navel gazing, they’ve got us absolutely nowhere. With the exception of the artwork stuff, which is smeared across different parts of Inverness.

However the highly paid officials will continue churning out their visions and their verbiage to justify their existence.

And whether the ordinary folk elected to the council will be overwhelmed by it all or will retain at least a modicum of the common sense, down to earth outlook they have at the moment before entering the strangely hypnotic system remains to be seen.

We can only hope.

One thought on “New councillors face the imminent threat of systematic hypnosis

  1. Presenting Councillors with more visions than a bus load of hippies with access to an unlimited supply of LSD is a great way of ensuring that they quickly forget what they promised the electorate they would focus on.


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