At Random with Martin Laing – week 25

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Emperor’s new clothes?

I am, unusually, virtually at a loss for words. Fortunately, not quite – though  ‘apoplectic’ is one apposite term to describe my mood.

Last week – and as I have previously – I cast doubt on the merit of splurging £260,000 to tart up the tiny pedestrianised Gibraltar Street in Oban – the wee link between the town centre and Tesco car park.

Then I saw last week’s Oban Times and its follow-up story, with an artist’s impression, putting flesh on the bones of what the substantial outlay could achieve.

As Jack and Victor might say in Still Game, it showed ‘hee haw’. That was, at least, my impression.

The ‘architect’s vision’ photograph published of how the wee ‘street’ could look following this substantial outlay struck me more than forcefully for its complete nothingness.

The only discernible change I could see was that the welcoming seating put out there by the cafes in the street was removed,

We were informed – rather theatrically, I thought – that this significant dollop of dough would buy ‘amphitheatre-style seating’. Where? Please explain. And that it would fund ‘added greenery and uplighting posts’ – I assume that means a couple of raised-bed planters and street lamps.

How on earth does this warrant more than a quarter of a million pounds during a period of desperate austerity? Who who dreamed up this ridiculous waste of public money? The lion’s share is coming from the government but there is a £10,000 contribution from BID4Oban, the town’s business organisation.

I cannot help but think of the old story of the emperor’s new clothes.

Disgraceful behaviour

While I’m feeling grumpy, I’ll add a splenetic venting over the vandalism which destroyed flower boxes in Combie Street, outside Wynne Butchers.

What on earth goes through someone’s tiny mind to prompt such action? I hope the police can find the culprits and that they face condign punishment.

Finally, on a more positive note, well done to Homebase for donating flowers to replace those destroyed.

What do you think? Send your comments to editor@obantimes.co.uk