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CHARLES BANNERMAN: Meeting needed for Academy Street boffins to face folk in Inverness

By Charles Bannerman

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An artist's impression of how Academy Street could look.
An artist's impression of how Academy Street could look.

The blocking of Academy Street to through vehicles has developed into such a major public issue that those responsible must now make themselves available for direct scrutiny of this attempt effectively to cut this city in two.

And I don’t mean sending in poor officials with an array of obscure maps and spin to face the music at the Spectrum Centre. Nor do I mean yet another frequently ridiculed online “consultation”, devoid of opportunities for cross-examination, that always seems to produce the outcome the council wants.

This city needs a large face-to-face gathering where all the councillors who voted to jump to the Scottish Government’s virtue signalling, green-washing agenda can account for their actions and answer live questions from the public. That includes those who nodded this through simply because their political party told them to support something that creates major problems for many people.

Arrangements must also be much more inclusive than for last August’s contrived sham in a cycle café that filled with interested parties before Joe Public knew about it.

This time a representative audience must be given full opportunity to cross-examine the decision-makers... councillors who otherwise contrive to avoid such direct public scrutiny, preferring to take cover behind these fatuous online surveys. We need a face-to-face event, maybe in a school lecture theatre, where those imposing this on us can be held fully accountable.

After all, despite claims of “consultation”, plenty of answers still elude the vast majority of council taxpayers.

Let’s start with traffic numbers. If a reported 7000-8000 vehicles-a-day are going to be denied Academy Street, how many will instead congest the Victorian thoroughfares of the Crown, or Bank Street? And how many for the Longman which is already part of another traffic foul-up? From Grant Street to Morrisons is 0.9 miles by Academy Street and 2.3 miles by the Longman.

How do they reconcile this 150 per cent increase, producing a half-kilogram plus of extra carbon dioxide per round trip, with their claim that this is part of an attempt to reduce vehicle usage by 20 per cent?

Regarding pollution, show us the scientific evidence, including how reproducible their data is, for the validity of measurements mainly selectively taken at the worst possible point near Queensgate. How do they reconcile this with the main smells in Academy Street being fag smoke and oriental cuisine, especially with electric buses already reducing such pollution as there was? And how do they know that their readings aren’t influenced by freaks like the discarded cigarette butt which allegedly sent their meter off the scale?

I’m also sure that Merkinchers and their neighbours need justification for being imprisoned by a proposal driven by party political dogma. And what evidence, other than wishful thinking, do these councillors have for their assertions that all this will magically bring droves of pedestrians and cyclists to Academy Street, especially given the totally underwhelming uptake of previous similar measures?

To secure external funding, Bridge Street would have to be narrowed to vehicles to create more cycle space. Implications and verified statistics please?

These councillors must urgently face their electorate here and once genuine public opinion emerges, I’m sure that council standing orders can provide for this damaging and ill-advised orgy of virtue signalling to be reconsidered.

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