Mackie argues for fair spend of social distancing funds
A DRAFT proposal showing that Highland Council earmarked Wick as an area where new "social distancing" paths and cycleways could be developed has drawn criticism from community representatives in Thurso.
Over the coming weeks, towns across the region, along with the city of Inverness, will see a roll-out of temporary walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure along priority routes as a response to the coronavirus crisis.
These active travel measures will ensure that people can move safely on essential journeys and while taking daily exercise. Councillor Struan Mackie, who represents the Thurso and Northwest Caithness Council ward, was dismayed that Inverness and its immediate surroundings seemed to be the main priority of the plan.
"The intensive interventions in and around Inverness are in complete contrast to the piecemeal offerings for the rest of Highland," he said.
"Wick, for example, which has been included last, only has one route in totality. "Contrast this with the 22 substantive changes proposed for the Highland capital, and it does not feel like a balanced application to benefit as much of the region as possible."
He also alleged a lack of transparency from Highland Council who "never asked" for the ward councillors' opinions prior to the submission to Scottish Government for funds. "I am totally convinced that across Caithness there would be deserving modifications to help with social distancing, in addition to the small programme in Wick," Councillor Mackie added.
He also felt that residents in Sutherland have good reason to be "deeply aggrieved" with not a single intervention planned anywhere in that county.