Update on the West Link

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.

6 thoughts on “Update on the West Link

  1. Of course, this is exactly the time when you have the opportunity to utilise the democratic process to its full potential – there are Council elections in a matter of weeks, and the current councillor’s votes on this would hopefully be a big issue for you folks in ‘the big smoke’. Disappointing that 3 of your Ward councillors didn’t even have the courtesy to get back to you. The main shame is that (I think) you are too late to get nominated to stand yourself!

  2. Well indeed, and I did hint in my letters to the councillors that their responses would shape my voting intention. I will be chasing them up soon though.

    No chance I would be interested in standing – sounds like far too much hard work taking flak from disgruntled constituents like me.

  3. Not a surprise you got no reply, just par for the course, I would say. Are you aware of the recent events regarding our challenge to the Option 6 decision which was taken after council officials mislead the meeting on the 1st March. For more information on this you should have a look on http://www.Bogbain.com, the new council leader is to meet John West and Brian MacGregor to dicuss our Tunnel proposal. Thomas Telford built a triple cut and fill tunnel under the canal 204 years ago at Garlochie, the photo is on the Bogbain web site, it is a marvellous and very simple and cheap method of tunnelling.

  4. HI Alec, thanks for your comment. It’s good to know that there’s a meeting with the new council leader. Given the heavy level of incumbency from the recent elections I am not convinced there will be a change of plan but it’s important to try, so good luck for that.

    It is odd that they didn’t consider a tunnel at the time, as odd as the rejection of Option 7.

    I’ve since chased up the councillors, and one of them did get back to me with more substantive information, but really only the assessment that was already in the public domain and not anything that actually addressed the questions I was asking.

    I’ve also since chased up Fergus Ewing whose staff have promised me a response soon. If that answer is not good enough, I’ll resort to FOI.

    Watch this space. And keep us posted on the meeting.

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