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Caithness News Bulletins October 2003

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Thurso Riverside Mall was formally re-opened by John Thurso MP on Saturday 4th October after a £205,000 facelift and refurbishment.

The Riverside Mall Project is the culmination of four years of planning by the Rotary Club of Thurso through their Community Service programme and supported by the Thurso Working Group.

Phase 1 of the project costing £15,000 was completed by The Highland Council’s Planning and Development Service with the assistance of the Caithness Countryside Ranger in the spring of 2001.  This involved minor path repairs and providing an interpretive trail which proved very popular with users.

John Thurso MP Opens Thurso River Mall Project 5 October
John Thurso MP opened the latest stage of the Thurso River Development Project on Saturday 4th October 2003 in weather more akin to December or January.  Blustery showers of rain and hail, however, failed to dampen the spirits of those involved in this project and an opportune break in the cloud at 2.30pm allowed the ribbon cutting ceremony to go ahead outside.  This ceremony was preceded by a walk around the river by many of those present following the new Mall paths and crossing the river by the Cemetery and Mount Vernon Bridges.  Thurso Rotary President Paul Hagan introduced Lord Thurso to the assembled company and invited John Thurso MP, Caithness Convener David Flear, and Chief Executive of CASE, Carroll Buxton, to address the gathering.

The experience gained form the initial phase prompted the Rotary Club to expand the scope of the original concept which resulted in a comprehensive long-term development plan of the Mall and Riverside Area being drawn up.

The works comprised the formation of new paths and upgrading of all paths alongside the River Thurso such that they are suitable for wheelchair access. Key to opening up this area for all-abilites use was the section between the Mall upper path and footbridge leading to the Boating Pond.

Wheelchair access ramps and steps have also been provided to the Cemetery Footbridge together with the upgrading of the existing riverbank footpaths (including raising them where flooding occurs) which has opened this area up to all-abilities use throughout the year.

A new path and viewing platform has been created beside the Salmon Pool weir. Improvements have been made to the Boating Pond and the drainage system to the pond and surrounding area has been refurbished. A new lighting system has been installed to make the area safer for the public at night. This runs from the trunk road, around the boating pond to the cross river bridges.

New seating benches and litter bins have been provided, bulbs and flowers have been planted and further improvements are to be made to the woodland adjoining the river

Phase 2 of this project has again been taken forward by The Highland Council’s Planning and Development Service in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Thurso.

Funding was secured through the Planning & Development Service Capital Programme (£153,000 for both phases) with £49,000 of assistance from Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise.

Grateful thanks should be given to two members of the Rotary Club of Thurso for their ’in-kind’ assistance to the project. James Campbell who acted as Project Architect and David Warren as Project Engineer.

The contractor for the project was John Gunn and Sons, Lybster.

John Thurso MP: “As it was my ancestors who gave the Town the land many generations ago it gives me particular delight to see this wonderful restoration by the community of this important community asset I hope that both towns people and visitor will derive great pleasure from it for many years to come.”

Councillor David Flear, Area Convener said: “This is a prime example of partnership working between The Highland Council, the Rotary Club and Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, where one organisation cannot achieve much alone but can achieve greater things together.”

Carroll Buxton, Chief Executive of Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise said: "This project has revitalised the riverside area and provides a community asset for all ages and abilities.  It also adds to the infrastructure round the town which makes the area more attractive and interesting for visitors."

Councillor Alastair MacDonald and member of the Rotary Club said: “The results will be of great benefit providing access for all in a reasonably sheltered area of the town which is uncommon in Caithness.”