I blogged nearly a month ago about the terrible decision being put to Highland Council to drive the final part of the western end of Inverness’s bypass through a lovely park. As you’ll read in that post, I’d written to my four local councillors, the city’s provost and my MSP about some of the issues around the decision. I’d asked some questions that sought to challenge the claim that option 6, the recommended route, was as cheap as it appeared, and that option 7, the most popular and least environmentally-destructive route, needed to be as expensive as it was.
Since then, I’ve had only two responses, both somewhat “holding” messages. One was a brief email from one of my councillors, saying that she needed to talk to the council staff involved and would get back to me. The other was from my MSP, Fergus Ewing, who gave a bit more details relating to the route never being a part of the trunk route network, and who promised to get back to me with more information about my specific questions once he’d got it from the council.
Now it all seems a little academic, seeing as the recommendation that went to the full council, to go ahead with option 6, was approved on the 1st of March. Although the minutes are yet to be published on the council website, I was astonished to discover just the other day that the decision was unanimous – every single councillor in attendance supported option 6.
That no councillor sought to reflect public opinion or challenge the facts of the recommendation is a most curious demonstration of local democracy. My points still stand, and my desire to get the facts I am seeking remain. If it turns out that councillors have been acting without the full picture, or more worryingly have neglected to seek it themselves, then it would be a terrible indictment of local government.
I really ought to chase up those councillors I’ve yet to hear back from. Nearly a month is too long to go without so much as an acknowledgement of my email. Watch this space.