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Lochaber MSP Kate Forbes is to be asked if she will make enquiries about what is happening as regards the Fort William 2040 Masterplan and Delivery Programme.
Fort William 2040 – FW2040 – is an ongoing project to plan, refine and implement a shared vision for the future of Fort William and Lochaber.
It was launched amidst much fanfare exactly three years ago, but at this month’s meeting of Kilmallie Community Council, there were frustrations expressed over what is perceived as a lack of communication with community organisations.
Community council chairman, John Hutchison, said FW2040 was the main issue at the recent Linnhe Community Alliance (LCA) meeting involving representatives from various community councils in the area.
‘The fact that we don’t really get reports from FW2040 and that the democratic oversight doesn’t really seem to be there were issues mentioned,’ said Mr Hutchison last week.
‘It seems to be almost left to Highland Council area committee to receive annual reports and find out what’s going on there. In some respects it is peculiar it has been left down to Highland Council to oversee the delivery plans for Fort William 2040, so the feeling of the meeting (LCA) was that we should ask Kate Forbes to make enquiries with a view to getting some sort of democratic oversight because there are about 20 public bodies or so involved in this delivery plan.’
Mr Hutchison said it had been learned from Transport Scotland that there is a transport working group attached to FW2040, but it has no community involvement as far as he was aware.
‘I don’t even know if the people on that working group know anything about the area. So there’s definitely questions to be asked.’
Councillor Ben Thompson (Caol and Mallaig) told the meeting the use of the word ‘oversight’ to described the local authority’s level of involvement was possible stretching the definition slightly.
‘I think that’s probably too strong a word for the amount of involvement we actually get. We basically get an annual update, so it’s good that Transport Scotland comes and talks to us but at the last meeting they were just able to give us a very brief update on what they were doing at Nevis Bridge roundabout, none of the more strategic questions were able to be addressed by Transport Scotland officials who attended,’ he said.
‘Councillors are getting updated on it, but it is right to focus on officer meetings because to date I still have not see minutes of those meetings despite asking for them. So I am with you on this approach.’
Mr Hutchison added: ‘It’s frustrating, quite vague and woolly. I’m not sure there’s even a plan, but they refer to it as a flagship community planning exercise.
‘We don’t really need exercises, we need some projects to happen. From the outset, 2040 did not seem a very ambitious timescale, but that’s another matter.’
Around 120 people attended the Fort William 2040 consultation event in the Nevis Centre in 2018.
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