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Hundreds give views in West of the Ness Community Survey to find safer routes to school for their children in Inverness


By Louise Glen

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David and Helen Smith with Yvonne and Hannah Thain.
David and Helen Smith with Yvonne and Hannah Thain.

Inverness mums who wanted to find safer walking and 'wheeling' routes to school for their children, say they are pleased with a consultation they've been working on.

So far 260 people have responded to the West of the Ness Community Survey after the mums Helen Smith, of Bishop Eden Primary School and Yvonne Thain, of St Joseph's Primary School got together to look at making it easier to get to school while reducing the school run's carbon footprint.

Ms Smith explains: "Yvonne and I were the two people who got the West of the Ness project going.

"Our original aim was to make it easier and safer for local children to get to school on foot, scooter, bike and also to try to reduce the amount of harmful exhaust fumes we are being exposed to on the way to and from school.

"However, the project soon widened out to cover local people of all age groups who need to get around the project area for work, shopping or even just for exercise and enjoyment.

She continued: "The project offers real opportunities for us to make it easier and more enjoyable for people to get around without using cars, to improve the area between the River Ness and the Caledonion Canal, and generally make it a better place to live and work in. As someone who was brought up in the area and who has lived here most of my life, I am really excited about this project and what it could achieve.

"We found out about the possibility of getting funding to do research and draw up a plan of action, then we formed a steering group of local organisations, and submitted a successful application to Sustrans Places for Everyone grant scheme for the funding which is paying for the current research.

"We have had a lot of help with the project from Sustrans and the Highland Council, but this is a project which has come from the local community, and it is a real chance for people in the local community to make their views known and shape what happens."

Ms Smith said the group were collecting the opinions of local people through a survey which will help put together a "shopping list" of improvements for the area.

She said: "We know that there are lots of problems – too much traffic, not enough crossings, narrow pavements, parked cars and delivery vehicles on pavements, road layouts which don’t work very well – and the survey is a chance for everyone living in the project area to tell us about the problems they are experiencing getting around, whether they walk, push a buggy/pram, use a wheelchair, cycle, scoot or walk.

"Also, if you currently drive but would like to leave the car at home more often, this is a chance to tell us what would make it easier for you to do this.

People have until the end of February to add their views, the survey that can be found at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/westofness


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