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We will listen, says council boss over Wick regeneration

By David G Scott

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Highland Council’s chief executive has pledged that local people's views on the future of Wick town centre will be taken on board.

Donna Manson was speaking after going on a walkabout tour of Wick with local councillors on Monday to assess how regeneration plans will work.

A recent meeting at Wick Town Hall had seen the councillors produce a radical vision of how a town centre revamp would benefit local traders and the community as a whole.

Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson on Monday evening after a meeting with Wick Community Council. Picture: David G Scott
Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson on Monday evening after a meeting with Wick Community Council. Picture: David G Scott

"I'm concerned about the town centre in terms of its cleanliness and I can see there are a lot of issues," the council boss said after her tour of the town.

"The councillors and myself had a good look around and, on a positive note, we want to do something about it. We're working with a range of partners to see what can be done and there is a town centre regeneration plan."

She went on: "Caithness is certainly a priority for us in terms of town regeneration. I had a look around Wick harbour and thought it looked fantastic, so there are some good things happening."

She said that while on her tour with the councillors she had talked to "concerned residents" who had voiced their opinions.

"People are obviously very concerned about the town centre and we talked about parking restrictions among other things," she said.

Mrs Manson also said there would be a consultation meeting that the public can attend in June.

"We will listen to folk at that meeting and take on board what they have to say. At the moment we're also looking at sourcing other funding sources for the regeneration project."

Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said: "It is good to see that the chief executive of the council is taking a keen interest in the town and the wider Caithness area. We are often hearing that the council’s focus can be Inverness-centric, but the visit that the chief executive has made to various areas is very welcome, especially walking and acknowledging some of the issues that our community faces."

Another Wick councillor, Nicola Sinclair, said she welcomed the opportunity to show Mrs Manson "some of the issues as well as the many strengths of our town centre".

Councillor Sinclair said: "Donna is very supportive of our plans for regeneration and has committed to helping us resource that vision. At the Wick Community Council meeting she was very frank about the improvements that need to be delivered but also spoke about our beautiful landscape, archaeology and sense of community which are all strengths we can build on.

"For me it's a breath of fresh air to have a chief executive who gets out and about across the whole Highland area and makes herself available for local meetings. Donna has Wick in her sights now, and with the council backing and support from the community we are hopeful we can make a real difference."

There will be another stakeholder meeting for Wick business people at the Norseman Hotel on May 28 at 7.30pm. The public consultation on the regeneration plan will take place on June 10 at Mackays Hotel.

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