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Inverness councillors advised to take 'no action' over paw print trail ahead of area meeting


By Niall Harkiss

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Colourful footprints have appeared in the city centre.
Colourful footprints have appeared in the city centre.

Inverness councillors are to be asked to take no action against the controversial Inverness Paw Print Trail.

Members of Highland Council’s city of Inverness area committee will meet on Monday to consider the future of the installation on city centre streets which has drawn a certain amount of public criticism.

Green and yellow footprints and paw prints leading people towards the Victorian Market were first spotted in the city centre along the pavements of Drummond Street and Lombard Street last October.

It later emerged that the Paw Print Trail had been put in place by the council as a means of attracting increased footfall to the market – at the request of market tenants.

Council executives say the purpose of the new trail was to increase footfall within the area while also promoting the market as a “dog friendly” shopping experience.

Some business owners in the surrounding area, however, hit out at the trail, claiming that there was no warning or explanation for it before they simply found it laid outside their premises.

One described the trail as something that looked like it belonged in a playground rather than on city streets.

In a report going before councillors next week the executive chief officer for communities and place, Allan Gunn, sets out a range of options for discussion.

Recommending no action for the time being, officers said the time permitted to assess the benefits or pitfalls of the trail had not been sufficient and raised the point that the prints were put in place based on feedback from market residents.

On the idea of removing the trail they said this option carries “significant” risk, with no guarantee the prints could be removed cleanly – at an estimated cost of £2800.

A requirement to replace the paving stones themselves could cost around £12,000.

Highland Council officers have proposed that no action be taken over the prints.
Highland Council officers have proposed that no action be taken over the prints.

Other options include changing the colour or design of the paw prints but this also comes with concerns that the height of the prints could be considered a trip hazard with officers citing HSE guidance that anything over 10mm tall would be a concern.

Lastly, members will be asked to consider overlaying the prints with a new font though the same concerns about height apply.

Mr Gunn said: “While the options outlined above are all practically possible, there is Health and Safety Executive and financial risks associated with options two, three and four.”

He wants to wait for a potential further report on the success or otherwise of the trail, for the market.


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