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Highland Council chief warns of 'reputational risk' over riverside art in Inverness

By Gregor White

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Councillors are set to meet to discuss the riverside art project next week, including the proposed My Ness creation.
Councillors are set to meet to discuss the riverside art project next week, including the proposed My Ness creation.

Council chief executive Donna Manson has warned Highland councillors of the risk of cancelling the riverside arts programme

After an outcry over planning permission being granted for the My Ness project by council officers using delegated powers a group of councillors forced a special meeting of the Inverness city committee to reconsider the artworks.

That is due to take place on Tuesday.

Among papers prepared for the meeting council chief executive Donna Manson warns the committee of a “significant reputational risk to the council “should the artworks project be cancelled”.

The report also assesses the financial cost to the council of cancellation at between £120,000 and £190,000.

This includes £93,000 paid towards the project by the council which it would expect to reclaim from funding partners including Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Creative Scotland.

However it would have to bear that cost in the event of cancellation.

With the riverside artworks programme growing out of the work undertaken to improve flood defences along the River Ness the report states: “The purpose of the River Ness Arts programme was, in conjunction with the flood scheme, to enhance the river frontage, making the flood wall more attractive to the community, linking the community and the river and particularly focused on how people view the river.”

Arguing that public involvement has been a significant element of the work it continues: “The concept of the programme – linking people and the river – was developed following consultation with local people.

“The Flood Team’s public consultation events and stakeholder meetings shaped the vision for the initial vision for the project.

“Following the successful funding application, project briefs were prepared by the project tea, with a focus on meeting the overall objectives and the original concept drawn from the public consultation.”

Councillors at Tuesday’s meeting are being asked to agree that the artworks project should continue.

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