Isabelle MacKenzie: looking back at a busy first 18 months as a Millburn Ward Councillor

May 2017 marked a new chapter in my colourful life! My thanks to everyone who put their faith in me and voted for my election to represent the Millburn Ward as your local councillor. 

In the last 18 months - what a time it has been! - and having first to learn the rules and procedures, it was then straight down to work as a committed full-time Councillor. 

Over the last year I have been working hard in the community pursuing the issues that matter to you as my constituents, from problems with Bus Stops on Mason Road to overhanging trees in Victoria Drive.  I have met with people from all walks of life and all ages, from a still-young lady of 102 years, through to children in our schools.  I have worked with local business owners, Inverness Business Improvement District and the management of the retail park at Eastfield Way to ensure that it was rebranded from the rather misleading “Inverness Centre” to what is should have been: Inverness Shopping Park.

In the Inverness Arts Committee, which I chair, we have (finally!) managed to agree on a project in keeping with the views of many Invernessians.  There are a few more art projects in the pipeline, and I am keeping an eye on them to ensure that there is no overspend from the original budget, and that the artworks fit with the vision expressed by many of the people of Inverness.

The leaves are falling and Winter is coming once again.  Last winter I encouraged communities to do their bit (see the story here) and help those around them, especially the elderly who are often most at risk from ice and snow on paths and pavements, so I want to encourage community participation for the coming winter.  If any community group wants to get grit bins, or needs advice on how to deal with winter issues, contact me on the number below or at one of my regular surgeries in Church Street (details also below).

There have been a number of issues in the ward with overhanging trees affecting pavements, and with tree roots lifting paving slabs or damaging tarmac pavements and creating trip hazards, so on your behalf I have worked tirelessly with the Council Officers and relevant associations to find suitable solutions to the problems.  Hopefully in the not too distant future the issues in our area will rectified to a satisfactory conclusion, but do let me know if problems remain in your area.

The new LED street lighting programme is well under way: in areas where there has been an issue with street lighting I have worked with the lighting officers to ensure that adequate lighting is provided.  If there are any street lights not working in your street then please get in touch and I will take steps to get the problem sorted as quickly as possible.

Parking is always an issue in Inverness, and the Millburn ward is no exception.  I have ensured that one business has stopped parking on (and blocking) pavements, and helped an elderly resident to get the relevant parking permit issued despite the hurdles that were put in their way.  Several inconsiderate motorists had quite large outstanding parking fines to pay, so I brought this to the attention of the Council parking enforcement team for action, and I hope that this might be a deterrent for those who flaunt the parking controls in our area. You can see more on this issue here.

In the Council Chamber I have brought forward a motion to reduce the use of plastic cups within the Council’s buildings, and with the backing of fellow Councillors from around the region, we are looking at practical ways to reduce plastic use throughout Highland.  Reducing the use of plastic cups is a small step towards tackling the issue worldwide: if we all work together we can make many small impacts upon a global problem, and it will make a difference.

I regularly lobby our MPs and MSPs on matters that are import to us all, from subjects like education, where our once enviable standards have dropped dramatically because of Scottish Government failings, through to finding further funding for our roads, either internally or from the Scottish Government.  Being a member of the many NHS/Highland Council committees I am always striving to find ways that we can collectively improve service delivery on critical social care issues, and I will continue to fight for real changes that deliver real improvements.  I will continue to work hard on your behalf to improve our ward and the Highlands as a whole.

The time since my being elected in May 2017 has been busy, learning the “ins and outs” of the Council, attending Community Councils throughout the ward, and representing all of you in the Council Chamber.  I am a member of several committees - the list is quite lengthy! - but I enjoy representing the ward in all of the areas I am involved in.  For that I am truly thankful for being elected and being able to really make a difference, and my personal thanks go out to all of those who have put their faith in me to represent them in Highland Council. 

To do my best for all of you I need to know what you think, what is concerning you, what you think is going well and what you would like to see Highland Council doing better.  I will be holding fortnightly surgeries at 109 Church Street, Inverness every second Saturday from 1000 to 1300, so please feel free to drop in and speak to me about anything you want action on.  I cannot promise to find a solution to every problem, but I can promise to try!

Cllr Isabelle MacKenzie can be contacted on: 

Telephone:  07787 007816.

Email:  isabelle.mackenzie.cllr@highland.gov.uk

Surgeries: 109 Church Street, Inverness, every second Saturday from 1000 to 1300.