WATCH: Highland Council reacts to Ness fishermen’s doggie sculpture protest against the Gathering Place artwork by warning of Inverness committee scrutiny after summer recess.
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Highland councillors will decide whether a wooden doggie sculpture installed “as real art” beside a controversial public artwork walkway in Inverness is allowed to remain.
River Ness fishermen, horrified at how the “eyesore” Gathering Place project has blighted their century-old angling beat, took it upon themselves to cement a chain-sawed Labrador figure by the structure’s curved wall on Wednesday.
No permission was sought, with Inverness Angling Club vice-president Steve Watt calling it “the nicest possible protest” to “brighten the place up”.
Claiming he wants to show the local authority what real art is, Mr Watt says members of the public, community police and even council employees have so far stopped to say how much they like the treated larch statue.
But the unauthorised addition to the Gathering Place, part of the £790,000-plus Ness River art project, could yet go “walkies” when Highland councillors return from summer recess next month.
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The council was not aware of the activity by Inverness Angling Club to install a sculpture.
“Any consideration of the sculpture and its siting at this location would be a matter for members of the city of Inverness and area committee to consider and the council is currently in recess.
“Ownership and responsibility for the sculpture is entirely a matter for the club.”
Mr Watt and fellow angling club members have no intention of allowing the canine creation to be removed.
He said: “We’ve had no contact at all from the council. Nobody has said we should remove it and we’re not going to take it out either.
“It is very well cemented in.
“They can do whatever they want, but there will be an outcry if they try to take it away because it has been much admired.
“The community bobbies were just down looking at it and everyone seems to like it.
“We’ve had lots of folk stopping to say how nice it is.”
Meanwhile, the council is set to remove red plastic barricades from part of the My Ness Gathering Place site this weekend.
The council drew fresh criticism for cordoning off reseeded grass, in an area eroded by footfall.
The council spokeswoman said: “Our contractor has advised that temporary fencing will be removed by Saturday.
“Public access has been maintained to the riverside and the Gathering Place during the turf laying works.”