A trail of colourful footprints designed to increase footfall at Inverness’s Victorian Market is potentially facing the axe just months after being added.
The green and yellow foot and paw prints were put in by Highland Council after discussions with tenants at the Victorian Market.
Their purpose was to direct people to the newly-refurbished market from the High Street area and let them know that it is dog-friendly.
Some testimonials have praised the work – but not everyone is pleased.
And some Inverness councillors are unhappy that they were not consulted about the work before it was agreed.
At Monday’s Inverness city committee, councillors will be asked if they want to keep the trail, change its colour or remove it altogether.
Removing paw prints could cost council £12,000
The issue was discussed at the last city committee meeting in November.
Councillors voted to defer a decision on it until February because of some confusion about the costs involved with removing them.
Although they only cost £895 to put in, the cost of removal could be as high as £12,000.
That’s because of the risk of damaging the paving stones during the process.
A statement from the council’s report said: “This option carries significant risk due to there being no guarantees they would be removed cleanly.
“If this is unsuccessful then it could result in having to replace the paving stone, which could mean a total estimated cost of £12,000.
“Trying in the first instance to remove then this would cost an estimated £2800.
“This option would not be recommended as an acceptable risk to take
based on the financial constraints on our budget at present.”
In support of the paw print trail
The council paper includes supportive comments from several Victorian Market businesses.
Jeni Lannetta from the Bad Girl Bakery said: “We’ve definitely seen an increase in dog users since the paw prints were installed.
“I think anything like this that encourages increased footfall – especially over the winter months – is a fantastic idea.”
Esther Nelson from Ginger Fashion said some locals aren’t aware that the market is dog-friendly.
She said: “I think it’s important to get the message out there that we are dog
Trail dubbed ‘gaudy’ and ‘shabby’
Others on social media have been critical of the prints.
Among the comments have been ones asking what size the dog is supposed to be since its print is the same size as the human and wondering why the human is barefoot.
Inverness councillor Alasdair Christie was the person who proposed the motion to remove the prints.
And he will be leading the charge against them on Monday once again.
Councillor Christie said: “It has brought out some good banter from across the city. But the reality is this doesn’t add any value.
“The majority of people I’ve spoken to just don’t like them. They’ve said they look pretty shabby, a bit gaudy and ask what’s the purpose of them.
“We could’ve done something much better than this for the money. It’s a shame this didn’t come to the committee before appearing on our streets.”
Officials have recommended that the paw print trail remains in place.
But councillors also have the option of scrapping them altogether or asking for the colour of them to be changed.
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