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Wick community councillors 'fed up' over rate of progress on town centre tasks

By Alan Hendry

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Wick community councillor Allan Bruce (centre, in high-vis jacket) and other volunteers at the recent spruce-up event.
Wick community councillor Allan Bruce (centre, in high-vis jacket) and other volunteers at the recent spruce-up event.

Community councillors in Wick say they are "fed up" of waiting for the local authority to complete a series of agreed improvements as part of the town centre regeneration project.

While volunteers have rallied round to carry out a range of clean-up tasks, there are concerns over the rate of progress being made by Highland Council on the programme of ancillary works – despite the high number of "easy hits" on the list.

Chairperson Joanna Coghill voiced her frustration at the monthly meeting of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council on Monday night.

She pointed out that a year has passed since a walkabout meeting to identify repair and maintenance jobs to be carried out by local authority departments. The ancillary works are intended to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the town centre by fixing lampposts, signs, slabs, barriers, railings and other fixtures.

“It is now a year since we walked round the town and discussed this and nothing has been done," Mrs Coghill said.

"There has been a huge, positive response from volunteers. We've done our bit. When is the council going to start doing their bit?”

“I think we've done more than our bit, and I for one am totally fed up of waiting now. When is it going to start?”

Mrs Coghill spoke of potholed roads as well as pavements that in some cases are “too dangerous to walk on”.

She said: “I am tired of harping on every month. When are the roads going to be looked at? When are the pavements going to be looked at?”

Community councillor Allan Bruce pointed to a spreadsheet listing 28 tasks to be addressed by Highland Council.

“It clearly underlines exactly what has been agreed by the community council, by our councillors and also by all the departments that went on the walk around the town," Mr Bruce explained.

“From what I can see from the spreadsheet there are clear owners for each of these items.

"We thank the departments that have made a start, but there are a lot of easy hits on that list that I don't think have even been looked at yet.”

Councillor Raymond Bremner (Wick and East Caithness) said he would try to set up a discussion about the ancillary works and would report back to the community council.

Later, Mr Bruce highlighted the successful town spruce-up event in advance of gala week. More than 50 volunteers joined forces on the evening of July 20, having been thwarted by a thunderstorm the previous night.

Members of Wick Paths Group focused on the riverside fountain area, while others concentrated on tidy-up jobs around the town centre and the lanes leading from it.

“Fifty-six people turned out, ranging in age from seven to 70-plus," Mr Bruce said. "When I mentioned it round this table, I never dreamt that we were going to get that number of people. The banter was good.

“This is clear evidence of the people doing their bit and it ties in with what Joanna said earlier.

“We've got a good list – we know what is needing to be done. It just needs to be actioned.

“They [Highland Council] have done a couple of things. Now let's get going with the rest of it. We are doing our bit.”

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