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Mike Smith: Business Focus – Let’s hope new Highland councillors agree on the priority of growing the local economy

By Mike Smith

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Mike Smith, of Inverness BID.
Mike Smith, of Inverness BID.

Writing on the local election day, this comment is being produced without knowledge as to the voting outcome, writes Mike Smith, of Inverness Business Improvement District (BID).

The news that almost half of the previous number of Highland councillors were stepping down is understandable given the strains and stresses on them and their communities in the Covid years.

Formed in 2008, BID has had an ever-evolving relationship with the 22 councillors on the Inverness area committee and over the years the relationship with this key city centre stakeholder has become ever more positive and productive.

Councillor Helen Carmichael’s appointment in 2015 as the first female Provost of Inverness in 600 years was welcomed by all and during her time as Provost (and city leader), Helen was hugely supportive of the city centre and as a nominated BID director, she recognised its importance to the area’s economic vitality.

The Provost was one of a number of senior politicians stepping down including the Highland Council leader for the past five years, Margaret Davidson, after 27 years service as a councillor.

She was joined by former Provost Jimmy Gray who held a series of the top committee roles and Carolyn Caddick who was a Depute Provost.

BID would like to thank these and all the Highland councillors standing down at this time for their support and service to the community.

Whichever political grouping is voted into power, BID looks forward to working with them over the next term.

BID recognises that each of the incoming councillors may have their own set of political and social priorities but hopes there will be mutual agreement on the priority of growing the local economy and job creation.

There are so many city centre opportunities to be taken forward including agreeing a single city vision, upgrading Academy Street, a new station masterplan and its relationship with the existing city centre dynamics.

In BID’s view, crucial to success is identification of the project lead with sufficient resource to drive these projects forward.

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