Councillor Baxter issues warning over Fort William masterplan

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The Lochaber leader for Highland Council issued a firm warning not to let the Fort William 2040 masterplan ‘sit on the shelf’ as he grilled council planners at a meeting today (Wednesday November 7).

Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Andrew Baxter expressed doubts over whether the action plan will have any real effect in progressing developments in the town and voiced frustration at the current  progress being made.

The FW 2040 masterplan, which sets out the 20-plus projects that are expected to be completed within the next 22 years, was drawn up by council planners after a lengthy consultation process conducted over the last year, which included a workshop event attended by 120 people in the Nevis Centre.

He said: ‘While I’m enthusiastic about the workshop I remain sceptical about the delivery of any of this and it could well sit on a shelf for the next 20 years and the next person sitting in my chair will be looking at the same things.’

Mr Baxter went on to say that much of what the masterplan covers has already been discussed before in previous years by councillors and the success of the plan is heavily reliant on the cooperation of companies and agencies working in the area.

‘Much of it is dependent on Transport Scotland who have virtually dismissed this and I’m not convinced Transport Scotland will take a blind bit of notice of this. Also a lot of this is reliant on Liberty.’

Scott Dalgarno, development plans manager for FW 2040, responded to Mr Baxters concerns at the meeting that the masterplan is a ‘tool to be used on a on-going basis’ for developments and will be reviewed annually in conjunction with the Lochaber area committee and the community.

Mr Dalgarno also provided councillors with an updated FW 2040 map, however Mr Baxter said that he was ‘not particularly satisfied’ that this only received by councillors on the day of the meeting.