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Highland MSP Emma Roddick calls for a separate Inverness council saying that the city 'unmet needs' arguing that because it is perceived that 'the city gets everything, so it, ironically, loses out on needed investment'

By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Emma Roddick.
MSP Emma Roddick.

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has called for the Highland Council to be split up after asking whether the local authority can still be called “local” due to the vast area it covers in Holyrood.

The move would see the creation of an Inverness City Council while the rest of the Highlands would get its own local authority areas as appropriate, rather than one for the city and one for the rest.

The call has been made for years – most recently by Councillor Struan Mackie in Caithness – as many people believe the council and its officers are spread to thin.

There has also been a feeling among many locals that “Inverness gets everything” from investment to services which are centralised in the city while other areas are left to make do as best they can.

The point was underlined recently by the publication of the Inverness Strategy by the council, something that many areas lack yet there is a masterplan for Fort William dubbed FW2040.

Ms Roddick, who remains a Highland Councillor for the Inverness Central ward since becoming an MSP in May’s Scottish Parliamentary Elections, called for change to address poverty in the city.

However, she departs from others who want the same thing in arguing that rather than the rest of the Highlands being deprived by the current system it is in fact Inverness who gets the thin end of the wedge.

In Holyrood, she asked the Minister for Parliamentary Business George Adam: “Does he believe that the Highland Council area given its size can be described as local government? And would he see the benefits in an Inverness city council both for our fastest growing city and the rest of the Highlands which have very different interests.”

Mr Adam said: “We currently have no plans to change the Highland Council area. I understand the geographic challenges for Highland Council were recognised when it was first created.

“Unfortunately, these challenges did not allow for a practical solution that would have allowed the area to be split up and those challenges have not changed.”

Speaking afterwards she said: “Inverness has unmet needs in the Highland Council. Councillors representing the city are outnumbered by those outwith it and their perception is that the city gets everything, so it, ironically, loses out on needed investment.

“Our city wards include areas of deprivation which are crying out for attention. There is no logical reason that Merkinch should be in the same local authority area as Applecross.

“The only way to ensure each area of the Highlands gets the representation it deserves and to allow good decisions to be made locally is to introduce smaller councils.”

Related Story – POLL: Do you think Inverness should get its own council?

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