Consultation highlights concern over Wick's vacant buildings
THERE is growing public concern at the unsightly appearance of vacant and boarded-up buildings in Wick town centre, judging by feedback at a consultation session on Friday.
Also highlighted by local residents were problems of litter and dog-fouling, while on a more positive note there was praise for the amount of volunteering that takes place in and around Wick and many people are pleased to see so much activity at the harbour.
The session at Caithness House, the council building in Market Square, was hosted by Wick development officer Jennifer Harvey as part of her work on a 12-month project paid for by the Scottish Government’s Aspiring Communities Fund.
The aim is to identify inequalities in services across Caithness. Jennifer wanted to hear local people’s views on what is good about Wick, what is not so good, and what can be done by the community to bring about improvements.
“People were very upset that the town centre has been allowed to get into such a state of disrepair and how some people don’t take pride in their surroundings,” Jennifer said afterwards.
“They felt that too many buildings had been left vacant and boarded up. Neighbouring shops feel that their businesses are suffering as a direct result.
“People feel that the town centre is dirty, with lots of cigarette butts, chewing gum and litter on the streets, as well as dog-fouling. They also pointed out that moss is in abundance on roofs and pavements.
“They would like the owners of vacant buildings to be contacted and held accountable for leaving their premises in a derelict state. They would like to see the town spruced up, with street-sweepers to keep pavements clean, or business owners being made responsible for their area.”
It was suggested that if some premises are going to remain vacant then the window space should be used to promote the town in a positive way – with pictures of harbour developments or community events, for example, or visitor-friendly maps and information about local history.
Jennifer added: “There was also feedback about the great volunteering that goes on around the town, while people felt that the harbour area is looking good and thriving.
“Some feel the riverside is looking good but could be utilised better – a lot green area but used only a few times a year.”
Comments from Friday’s session are being collated and will be made available at a Wick locality plan meeting this Wednesday.
A previous Wick consultation event, held in the Pulteney Centre, covered drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.