Inverness anglers claim Highland Council’s promise to build their club a ‘super new hut’ as part of the River Ness Art Project have evaporated into thin air.
They claim it has left them with an architect’s bill they can ill afford and that their 100-year-old hut will end up demolished.
Graham Mackenzie, president of Inverness Angling Club, said they first heard in May last year that their hut at Little Isle Pool was to be demolished as part of the amphitheatre-like ‘My Ness’ public artwork with a walkway, seating area and viewing point projecting out over the water.
Mr Mackenzie said: “When we heard the hut was to be demolished we met council officials and were told, ‘sorry we didn’t tell you, but don’t worry you’ll get a super new hut out of it’.
“’Super new hut’ are the exact words they used at a number of meetings.
“They asked us to get architect’s plans drawn up for it, which we did at the cost of £1,200, a lot of money for us.”
Mr Mackenzie said the club was aware of planning being lodged for My Ness just before Christmas last year, and didn’t object because they had been told their new hut would be part of the project.
He said: “Our hut wasn’t even in the plan.
“When we had a meeting with them last month, we found they’ve withdrawn all their promises.
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“We were told it was our responsibility to build and pay for the new hut.
“When I suggested they were bullying us into a corner, they weren’t happy, but that’s the way I feel.
“We’ve said unless we get a new hut out of this, you aren’t touching the one we’ve got because we’ll make do with what we’ve got. There’s been no communication since.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The Ness Anglers have been engaged throughout the development of the My Ness Project.
“Discussions continue with office bearers of the club with a view to establishing how best to incorporate improvements to their facilities into the project.
“Advice and assistance has been given to the anglers to develop their plans and the council looks forward to continuing these discussions in the next few weeks to bring matters to a successful conclusion.”
Former angling club member, councillor Ken Gowans said: “It would appear that the council has moved the goal posts, relying on the club for good will yet not extending the same good will to them.”
Mr Gowans said councillors were incensed that planners approved the My Ness plans under delegated powers this week, without the plans being shown to the City of Inverness committee or discussed publicly at the council’s south planning committee.
He said: “It’s a big chunk of public money which has never been presented for proper discussion and simply slipped through.”