The chairman of an influential council committee has given a scathing review of ambitious plans for a north town, saying he doesn’t know if anything will happen in his lifetime.
Councillor Andrew Baxter, chairman of the Lochaber area committee, said a community consultation, Fort William 2040, was failing to achieve any change for the town so far, and he believed there was nothing in the future.
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Speaking at a meeting of ward councillors yesterday, Mr Baxter said: “While I was enthusiastic I remain very sceptical about the delivery of any of these plans.
“For example, years ago we had a meeting to discuss the water front and improving the outlook of the town. Many of the same things are now in the Fort William 2040 plan.
“I see no evidence of any of any these plans moving forward.
“We will need to secure permissions from Transport Scotland before anything on the waterfront can change, and so far they don’t seem to be paying much attention.
“Every bit of money seems to be focused on the A9 and the Forth crossings.
“I have a sinking feeling that nothing will ever be done, and that my successor will be talking about the same things long after I am gone.”
Scott Dalgarno, Highland Council’s development plans manager, replied: “I am not aware of the earlier discussions councillors that had taken place about the water front. However, the Fort William 2040 plan is putting in place a framework for development for the town and working with our partners to find out what they want to deliver.
“We see this as a new bit of work we are looking to develop this alongside the framework we are putting together for the Local Development Plan. We have taken it from there and turned it into a document that can be used to realise the potential of the town, as well as meet the aspirations of the many people we have consulted about the town’s future.
“We are trying to work proactively on Fort William’s future but understand the frustrations the committee has about the process, and delivery of projects.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We have a long-standing relationship with the Fort William Congestion Group, which includes representatives from The Highland Council, local businesses and other interested stakeholders, and have worked with them to improve traffic flows through the town on the A82.
“The full detail of the Fort William study will be considered in the context of the ongoing work on the second Strategic Transport Projects Review.”