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Wick councillor says he would not back any plan for parking charges

By Matt Leslie

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A CAITHNESS councillor has said he could not support any future plan Highland Council might have to implement parking charges in Wick.

Speaking at this week's meeting of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council, Andrew Sinclair insisted that such a scheme would not work for the town.

Car-park charges are in place in Inverness and other parts of the Highlands and concerns were raised at Monday's meeting that Wick could be among the next on the list.

The recent charges for non-Caithness residents to John O'Groats have pulled in more than £21,000 within the first three months of its implementation.

While concerns were expressed by community councillors that the John O'Groats example may be catching the attention of officials at Highland Council, Councillor Sinclair – who represents the Wick and East Caithness ward – said he would oppose any such measure for Wick.

He said: "I can't see charges being imposed upon Wick as being part of Highland Council's plans.

"However, should the proposal to impose such a policy come up further on down the line, I could not support it.

"While parking charges might work for places such as Inverness and Aviemore, where there are more tourists, Wick's car parks are mostly used by residents."

The issue of winter road maintenance was also raised by the community council – with a concern being voiced that the gritters during the recent cold snap didn't appear to be doing much in the way of gritting.

Councillor Sinclair clarified the situation, saying: "That is not always the case. The gritters may appear to be empty or doing nothing.

"However, this is usually because they are heading back after gritting a number of roads and are travelling back to their base to replenish their supplies of grit."

Ongoing issues surrounding the community campus that hosts Wick High School and community facilities were raised at this week's meeting of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council.

Allan Farquhar of the stakeholder group said that some Highland councillors had suggested that the group be wound up.

However, he insisted that the group still had a role to play given Highland Council still has to be held to account over issues with the campus that have not yet been resolved.

Mr Farquhar said: "This was supposed to be a 'state-of-the-art facility' yet we are now in the sixth year of what was meant to be a four-year project.

"The completion of the boulevard was supposed to be two years ago. It is now set to be completed by June 2020.

"The ventilation system in the seated spectators' area of the swimming needs to addressed as temperatures have been as high as 35 degrees, making it far too humid.

"Also, spectators sitting in the front two rows cannot see the swimming pool in its entirety."

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