Highland Council is to review its diary arrangements after leaving senior ambulance, fire and police chiefs waiting several hours for a routine meeting in Inverness yesterday.
The community safety committee meeting was delayed by the day’s earlier gathering of the authority’s audit and scrutiny committee.
The first meeting overran, partly due to a lengthy debate in which councillors were venting their anger over a bungled school building project.
Several councillors, including two former long-serving police officers, criticised the potential seriousness of yesterday’s clash of audit and scrutiny committee and later community safety committee meeting.
The delay left dozens of people from the emergency services waiting, some of whom had travelled from the far corners of the region.
Far north councillor Matthew Reiss, a former Caithness, Sutherland and East Ross area police commander, said: “It’s clearly not been well thought out.
“It’s not very professional, helpful or considerate for people who may have had to travel a considerable distance; guest speakers, people from other agencies.”
Fellow community safety committee member and another long serving former policeman Ian Renwick, who represents Skye, said it was “ridiculous” to keep people with important duties waiting for hours.
Councillor Gail Ross, Wick, said: “No one committee meeting is more important than any other. This has been a bad error of judgement to have two on the same day.
“When it comes to scrutinising the timetable for next year, we will all be aware that each committee meeting has to have its own day so we can scrutinise everything that is put before us.”
Council leader Margaret Davidson offered hope of a solution.
“We must never have as important a committee as community planning sidelined into following on any other committee,” she said.
“We need to increase the status of the committee. We have discussed that recently and I think there’ll be proposals to the council on that theme.”