Nov 13 2012 by Denis Brown, Perthshire Advertiser
Fresh doubt has been cast over the viability of Perth’s saturation-prone South Inch as a regular event venue.
Concerns over the parkland’s suitability for staging major summer attractions arose during a discussions at Perth and Kinross Council’s environment committee’s latest meeting.
A report outlining PKC’s environment service six-monthly business management and improvement plan covering April to September highlighted areas requiring improvements.
The report pointed out that efforts by PKC’s environment service and event organisers had ensured two key Perth events were staged despite many events across Scotland being cancelled due to inclement weather.
One was the Perth Show, which went ahead on a soggy lesser South Inch, and the Perth Highland Games, which having been cancelled the previous year due to torrential rain, relocated from the South to the North Inch.
But rain coupled with ground conditions following Perth Show have become annual concerns for organisers of Perth Highland Games – cancelled in 2004 and 2007 and relocated to Perth Racecourse in 2008.
Ahead of this summer’s event, Games secretary Andrew Rettie hinted that the North Inch could eventually become his event’s new home.
This, he added, would let organisers reassure potential attendees planning to travel to the event that the show would more than likely go on, unlike if it was on the South Inch.
In response to a question from Councillor Murray Lyle at the environment committee, PKC’s environment director Jim Valentine conceded there were problems with the South Inch and a strategy was presently being devised.
He added: “But remember, the South Inch is a flood plain and designed to protect Perth, so we have to look at all possibilities.”
A council officer added PKC staff were well aware of “pockets of drainage” requiring attention at the South Inch and a survey was due for later this year.
Lyle responded: “I am aware that it’s a flood plain – it’s not keeping water out that’s the problem, it’s letting it out.”
Cllr Callum Gillies recalled how there were still damp patches on the day of this year’s Perth Show.
“ I’m not against holding the Highland Games on the North Inch but I have concerns about using it for car parking as the vehicles can do a lot of harm to the surface,” he said.
Separately, the report highlighted that grass cutting and weed treatment missed its budgeted target despite a tenth of grounds staff being axed.