Kate Forbes MSP has voiced her concern after the chair of Highland Council’s Care, Learning and Housing Committee resigned blaming the influence of “the Inverness mafia” in local councillors’ proposals to support Lochaber retailers and residents in the run up to Christmas.
Cllr Andrew Baxter, who also chairs the local authority’s Lochaber Committee, thought he had arranged for two hours free car parking for Fort William for the six weeks in the run-up to Christmas – only to be overruled by “the Inverness mafia”.
Mr Baxter also said that “too many in Inverness” see important issues in the Lochaber area “as inconvenient or irrelevant”.
Ms Forbes, constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said she was disappointed by the comments – and added that she had great respect for Cllr Baxter with whom she has worked closely on some Lochaber issues.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “I am sorry to hear such a senior figure in the independent administration say that important issues in Lochaber are seen as ‘irrelevant’ in Inverness.
“If this is indeed the case, then it will no doubt apply to other areas of my constituency, all of which exists outside Inverness.
“Cllr Baxter’s remarks appears to confirm what many West Highlanders have been saying for years – whether it’s schools, roads or toilets – Highland Council need to respond to, invest in and consider the needs of communities outside Inverness.
“I will continue to work with Cllr Baxter, of whom I have great respect for, for the good of the Lochaber people.”