Thurso activist frustrated over 'eyesore parcel of ground'
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A community activist based in Thurso has vented his frustration over an "eyesore parcel of ground" he believes could be developed as a parking facility for rail passengers.
Alexander Glasgow believes that the area – sandwiched between the platform of Thurso railway station and the Premier Inn hotel development – is a "wasted opportunity" for the landowner, Network Rail, to take forward.
"It's deeply frustrating that Network Rail has failed to respond to multiple contacts from an MSP and councillor. Edward Mountain [MSP] asked the direct question if they owned it. [Councillor] Struan Mackie repeatedly has followed it up," said Mr Glasgow.
"It must paint a sorry picture to the site owners' intermediate who asked me to make representations."
Mr Glasgow has been chasing the issue over the last 18 months and believes that the local community council has not pursued the matter.
"This parcel of ground would be ideal as a parking area for rail passengers. Current foot passengers and vehicles have to use the same narrow poorly lit lane."
Mr Glasgow said that the railway siding previously received freight trains but currently serves no practical use.
"It simply is an eyesore and wasted opportunity. I see no justifiable reason for the current owners not admitting liability and selling or even gifting it."
Separately, Mr Glasgow says he will be an "adopter" for the railway station, thanks to Scotrail, which means he can tend to the flower tubs situated there.
Thurso and Northwest councillor Struan Mackie said: "Given the development in the immediate area with the Premier Inn, it would be a positive step to see the formal mart siding being developed.
"After repeated attempts to contact Network Rail, who we believe own the parcel of land, both myself and members of the community have unfortunately hit a brick wall. Given the well known issues of getting parking near the station when trains either arrive or leave for Inverness, a dedicated car park could potentially be a very prudent use of the land."
The Highland councillor added that there is only one disabled parking bay and two single car spaces at the location with most passengers using the side of the station or the Lovers Lane car park bays.
"But again, these are strictly limited," he added.
"As we attempt to encourage more people to use the Far North Line and take the train instead of the car, access to car parking will be vital in helping people make the switch."
Fellow Thurso councillors, Karl Rosie and Matthew Reiss, also agreed that the matter needed addressed.
Councillor Rosie said: "I am waiting on topic engagement from a Gareth Bell at Network Rail. I am also aware of yesterday’s HiTrans announcement of a £1.5 million pot to fund the provision of rapid EV [electric vehicle] charging and am in the process of laying a marker for Thurso provision generally and will highlight that opportunity to Network Rail."