From Ft Wm, Inv & Tor CC
"The challenges we face will not be solved with one meeting[..]. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." -Barack H Obama

FW2027 is a nascent project to fulfill Fort William's ambition to be recognised as Britain's 'Town of the Year' in 2027. The first public proposal of this ambition seems to have been made by local entrepreneur Angus MacDonald OBE at an online meeting of the Fort William, Inverlochy, and Torlundy Community Council (FITCC) on the evening of 16th November 2021; the rationale behind Mr MacDonald's choice of year is not known. Not to be confused with FW2040. See also: 'Annotated Angus'.

Genesis (boring)

On the afternoon of 21st October 2021 Community Councillor Mark Drayton was choosing a bottle of red wine in Lidl when he was nudged by a slow-moving shopping trolley, full of groceries but apparently abandoned. The trolley's health-and-safety-defying operator turned out to be FITCC chairman Mark Linfield who was at that moment (no pun intended) hiding behind a warehouse cage full of packing materials. After the pair had kissed and made up, Mr Linfield revealed in passing that he had invited local businessman Angus MacDonald to address November's FITCC meeting in order to propose a significant programme of local improvements, following an apparently very thought-provoking walk up and down Fort William High Street in the company both of Mr Linfield and FITCC secretary Patricia Jordan.

An alacritous Mr Drayton advised Mr Linfield to encourage Mr MacDonald to pre-circulate a summary of his ideas but, for whatever reason, this was not forthcoming. Instead, Mr Drayton made fairly extensive notes during Mr MacDonald's presentation to the community council on 16th November, and he subsequently opened an email channel to Mr MacDonald in order to clarify and expand on a number of points. Mr Drayton created this Wikipage to document Mr MacDonald's "very welcome" initiative. He later posted his expanded notes, with comments added, here. More formally, the draft minute of the 16th November FITCC meeting records, under item #3 ("Angus MacDonald – Highland Cinema and Bookshop"), the following (next section):-

FITCC November minute, third item

(DRAFT) MINUTE: Tue 16/11/21 FITCC (‘Teams’) meeting - #3: Angus MacDonald (Highland Cinema and Bookshop)

[[ source: (DRAFT) MINUTE OF FITCC MEETING on TUESDAY 16th NOVEMBER 2021 at 7:00pm via MS-Teams ]]

Angus [MacDonald] gave an enthusiastic presentation on a number of exciting ideas for enhancing the High St. He spoke of fewer empty shops and the High Street in a much better state than in was a few years ago but there is still a long way to go. The need to encourage business people to take on premises that will bring locals back into the town. Look at ways of extending the season – festivals, events etc. It was agreed that the Town Team has done an excellent job of rallying volunteers to improve and brighten up the town but a wider diversity of shops is needed. The Bye-pass looking onto the back of the buildings gives a really poor impression. Airds Crossing buildings are a blight on the town with owners not prepared to consider alternative use or enhance the appearance of the buildings. All were in agreement that the Underpass is a dreadful entrance to and from the town. An approach has been made by FITCC to HC to address this problem. Angus is making presentations to individual Councillors, the Lochaber Area Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society and the Museum in the hope that we can all work together in an effort to make the high street a better experience for both locals and visitors. Angus spoke of approaching charitable Trusts for Art projects and not always relying on public funds. The chair spoke of the FW2040 plan with some of the projects being delivered before 2040 and moves afoot to bring progress and decision making back again into local control. Angus advised of his visit to Treorchy in Wales which won the 2020 Great British High Street of the year Award. A thriving High Street with many small businesses and craft shops not just reflecting the culture and heritage of the area but providing useful and necessary services to the local community. The meetings agreed to invite Angus back early in the new year when we will hold a Public meeting to present the idea of going forward for the 2027 Great British High Street of the year Award and as part of a consultation process with wider community/stakeholder participation. The chair thanked Angus for his presentation and sharing his thoughts for the future and will get back in touch in January’22 to arrange dates for a Public meeting.