PEOPLE power has helped persuade Highland Council to clean up some of Inverness city centre’s most notorious quarters.
Baron Taylor’s Street, Lombard Street and Drummond Street are all set to get a deep clean within the next fortnight, funded by the Inverness Common Good Fund.
Inverness Central councillor Bet McAllister confirmed £6000 was being made available for the work which will focus on cleaning streets and walls as well as painting the lane linking Lombard Street and High Street.
"I think it’s an area everyone knows has great potential but has become a bit rundown in recent years," she said.
"There are talks going on with local businesses about how they can help and the idea would be that the council brings the streets up to a standard and then each individual premises does its bit to improve or maintain its own frontage."
The Inverness City Centre Improvement (ICCI) residents’ group said it was thanks to pressure from them that the work would take place.
The group’s Linda Kirkland said the deep clean plan "definitely" came about as a result of a meeting it had with Highland Council city centre manager David Haas and director of development and infrastructure Stuart Black last month.
"I don’t think it was on their agenda before then but we certainly made them aware of the strength of feeling about that part of the town in particular," she said.
"Baron Taylor’s Street is disgusting at times and can be quite intimidating to walk down.
"We recognise the council can’t do everything itself, but if they can bring things up to a standard and then shop holders are encouraged to keep their own bits looking good, that would be a massive improvement."
The news comes just days after ICCI reported how more than 1400 people took part in its online survey about the city centre.
Litter and general "untidiness" were identified as key issues.
"It all does feel like this is a sign that our efforts are really starting to make a difference," said Mrs Kirkland.
Business owners have given the plans a cautious welcome.
Martin Sellar, owner of The Health Shop in Baron Taylor’s Street, said: "Often in the past there have been meetings and discussions but not enough action, so if it’s different this time round that’s great.
"Something definitely has to be done about this part of the town."
Charlie Barbour, who runs his FlexiSpace office accommodation business in the same street, said: "I welcome the fact that the council recognise the need to help local traders but I would question whether they are doing things in the right order.
"The thing that causes the biggest problem in the area is the on-street bins.
"I’ve spoken to the council on numerous occasions about creating communal stores just to get these off the street and out of sight and it seems to me that would be the first thing to tackle.
"Once that’s done you could then move on to do a proper clean of the rest, but it’s good at least to see something on the verge of actually happening now."