Saturday, May 20, 2017

Meg's home!

Some good news.............

Message from Meg's mum on Facebook.
Belinda Emmens
7 mins
Update on MEG
After 7 hours spent in a Nairn field on a rainy Saturday afternoon/evening, Gerry & I are delighted to let everyone know Meg is finally back home! Woohoo! Chuffed to bits!
Needless to say after being "absent without leave" for 10 days she's thin, exhausted and she's a little bit lame.
We will do a proper update and thank you in the next few days, BUT in the interim we just want to say how overwhelmed we've been with the help, advice, extra pairs of eyes and general support we've received from friends everywhere, folk in Nairn and the wider community in getting MEG home safe and fairly sound.
THANK YOU ALL from the bottom of our hearts xxx

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A new housing estate at Lochloy in exchange for the bridge that never was? Interesting suggestion from member of the public at CC meeting.

Last night when this observer returned form a couple of pints at the Seaforth we put up a wee summary of the River CC meeting in which the Proposal of Application Notice for  NA2 South Kingsteps, Nairn from Springfield was discussed - further details here. 

One member of the public at the meeting suggested this would be a good time to get a commitment from developers for the bridge that never was (over the railway to connect the Lochloy schemes to the A96 and the industrial estate and whatever else was destined to be built (such as a Sainsbury's store).  

A quick flashback to October of 2013 when we posted an article about discussion at a community council meeting over Lochloy problems including the bridge that never was but was supposed to be. Here is an extract from an article "Lochloy – a non-existent bridge over troubled planning waters"

" No River CC meeting seems to be complete these days without either the Lochloy grass cutting problems on the agenda or debate at some point on Lochloy related issues – namely the lack of planning enforcement. A resident of Lochloy present on Wednesday night told the regular River CC monthly meeting:

“But surely when planning permission was granted in the first place something should have been put in place to ensure that the planning regulations were upheld.”

The Westies Chair, Rosemary, who was also at the meeting then intervened: “Mr Chairman could I actually ask our ex Provost Liz over there. She’s been an elected councillor for some years. When you saw these things weren't happening at Lochloy did you do anything about it?

Liz replied that she had meetings with planning officers and that she thought the problem had been lack of enforcement.

Rosemary followed this up: “Well would you see if there is some way out of this because surely if things aren't complied with then it’s the fault of what was put down in the first place? Therefore you should have been shouting it to the rooftops.”

There was some more debate and then Liz got another chance to say more: “The last time I actually went and arranged a meeting with planning officers the files had been archived that had the conditions in them and they took them back out and they started collecting the monies again for the bridge across which I think that the council is now trying to deliver. But it has…I mean, that site has been a nightmare.” "

And so back to the present day and the interesting suggestion from the floor of the latest River CC meeting last night (Thursday 16th May 2017). Namely that is in exchange for planning permission get the developers to build the bridge that never was and take the pressure off the Lochloy Road junction. 

A long way to go then folks, Springfield are going to take their proposal for project  "Macdonald Fields, Meadow Lea Nairn" to public consultation and some time after that will be a planning application. However when the area NA2 appeared in the Inner Moray Firth Development plan for consultation there were over 25 pages of comments received and most of them were pretty anti - here's a bit form a Gurn article of February 2014:

"One submission comes from the town’s three community councils. Nairn West, River and Suburban CCs state:

"See attached composite note of jointly-agreed CC comments, in particular Section 4, headed SOUTH KINGSTEPS (NA2) – objection: development not required and not appropriate. This site should be removed from the Plan, for several reasons. “Rounding-off” the eastern margin of the town (given in the MIR as a reason for allocation) is no justification for building over the green space and watercourse of this field which have amenity value. Building housing on this field would have implications for drainage. The indicative total of 90 units is totally unacceptable. This would substantially alter the current low-density-residential character of the existing Kingsteps houses. The total of new housing elsewhere built and approved (Lochloy), likely (Delnies ) and allocated (Nairn South, Sandown, etc) renders this allocation superfluous. Access is a critical constraint. The capacity of the unclassified minor road to Brodie is limited. Access to this site through the existing Lochloy site NA5 (which itself has only one entry-point already serving some 600 houses) is inappropriate. If combined with a direct link out on to the Lochloy-Brodie road, this would create an obvious “ratrun”. This road – the sole access – leads only to an already problematic junction in Nairn, and eastward as a narrow rural road with no convenient connection to the A96. Unless and until the bypass route is confirmed and there is a vehicular linkage eastward from the Lochloy residential area on to the eventual A96 bypass, there should be no development on site NA2.”

Another comment received by the Council reads:

“Lochloy Road, through Kingsteps is a narrow road. The through traffic is made up of timber lorries, tractors, delivery vans, school buses plus the use of private vehicles from Kingsteps and beyond. Passing areas are not designated, therefore private driveways are used. Exit on to A96 from Lochloy Road at the junction at certain times results in long queues forming on Lochloy Road. This would be made worse by the addition of 90 plus more cars joining the exit to work. This would not be alleviated by the new proposed trunk road as traffic would still have to travel on Lochloy Road.”

In his representation, Laurie Fraser, himself a Highland Councillor states: 
“NA2 South Kingsteps. There should be no further housing built to the east of Nairn until the transport links have been improved. This means a road from the A96, Balmakeith, over the railway line to link in with the current development being proposed.” More here.

Oidhche mhath Gurnshire.

Last boats coming into harbour on Open Day - picture John Jeffrey

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Breaking news Nairn River CC has a secretary at last and another housing estate for Lochloy?

A long session at Nairn River Community Council yesterday evening that started with the end of the search for a secretary. Stephen Fuller steps into the breach and was proposed and nominated very quickly indeed as other potential candidates breathed a sigh of relief.

The sole Highland Councillor present was Tom Heggie and it seems the ward's four councillors have divided up the Community Councils between them and Tom will be coming to River CC. Lots of good craic about getting the short straw. 

Stopping the proposed application for S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth was discussed and the recent trip to Holyrood by Cromarty Rising and some folk from Nairnshire who got home and decided to creat “Nairnshire Rising” on this side of the Firth. Ongoing and a new application for ship to ship transfers expected in October. 

Murd thought that the riverside was now totally neglected since the Highland Council took over the grass cutting responsibilities into the public sector. 

There was a bit of a blether about dangerous trees up the riverside.

The meeting heard how the Nairn workclub will soon be closing. The club offers help to those who need to write up their CV for meeting the requirements of claiming universal credit. Folk that have no computers at home can go in and get one to one help. No more funding, a vital facility is going and what next for folk on the edge of the cliff? Depressing stuff, hopefully something can be done here. 

Mike Henderson was concerned that although there now have been traffic wardens in the Highland Council area for some time there seems to have been little or no enforcement action in Nairn.

A bit of a stushie over the brown bin scenario and it's downside. You would have to have been there to get the craic on that on as a robust exchange developed between two of the CC's members. 

Mike Henderson spoke again, this time on why the full set of 20 beds at Nairn Hospital are not all in operation.

And then there was planning and :

“Proposal of Application Notice for site at NA2 South Kingsteps, Nairn
Please find enclosed a Proposal of Application Notice (POAN) for a site at South Kingsteps,
Nairn. The following details are included:

Proposal of Application Notice for site at NA2 South Kingsteps, Nairn

As the document from Springfield stated:

The site is identified as NA2 for residential development within the Inner Moray Firth Local
Development Plan 2015.

Further documentation from Springfield that entered the public domain at the River CC meeting stated:

“PROPOSALS FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE AT SOUTH KINGSTEPS, NAIRN, ALLOCATED AS NA2 WITHIN THE INNER MORAY FIRTH LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2015 Notice is hereby given of a ‘drop-in’ public exhibition to learn more about the above proposed planning application which will be submitted to the Highland Council. The exhibition will be in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre, King Street, Nairn, IV12 4BQ on Thursday 31st August 2017 between 2:00pm – 8.00pm.”

There we go folks looks like the Lochloy suburbs could get a whole lot bigger in the future. When this site went out for comment in the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan it attracted a lot of adverse comment - have things cooled down? We'll see no doubt as the consultation and the eventual planning application emerge.

Here's a wee Highland Council map we featured on the Gurn some time ago which shows you where the NA2 site is.

Click on image to enlarge
There was quite a bit of other stuff discussed at River CC too, if time and memory permits (after a wee diversion afterwards to the Seaforth Club) we will make an attempt to retrieve from remaining brain cells later today. Oidhche mhath!  

"Our lives" Black and White photography exhibition Sunday 14th to Thursday 25th Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Our Lives

A celebration of people with learning disabilities living in the Highlands.

For Learning Disabilities Week this year People First Highland have commissioned a series of black and white photographs to celebrate the lives and achievements of people with learning disabilities living in the Highlands.

The photographs illustrate people at work; at home; at leisure and in relationships.

Many of these ordinary daily pursuits would have been impossible for many of these people and others like them a couple of decades ago, when many with learning disabilities lived in residential hospital settings and had little contact with the wider community.

As these images show, thankfully things are changing – although there is still a way to go for people with a learning disability to be fully integrated and valued by society.

All the photographs except the one of the photographer were taken by Nairn resident John Gallon who has a learning disability himself. John, who is a member of Nairn Camera Club, is delighted with his first solo exhibition. “I feel so proud – it means a lot to me and it shows what people with a learning disability can achieve. Taking the photographs was challenging but it was a great experience and I found seeing them displayed very moving.”

John was supported by local photographer Carrie Bates, who assisted him to develop his camera and photo editing skills, and who took the photograph of John, entitled ‘Fully focused’.

The exhibition, entitled Our Lives, is on display until Thursday 25th May upstairs at Nairn Community and Arts Centre.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meanwhile over on the Gurn twitter account

If there's not much being posted here it's worth having a look at the Gurn twitter account. Quite a lot happens in the Nairn twittersphere these days. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Busy time for Nairnshire Rising stall at Nairn Harbour Open Day

It was a busy day again at the Nairn Sailing Club's harbour open day. The waterfront area was buzzing with the sounds and colours of the event. And a busy time too for the newly launched Nairnshire Rising group who are campaigning with their colleagues Cromarty Rising across the water to stop the proposed ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth. 

A steady stream of folk stopped at the stall to have a blether and exchange ideas and information on the campaign so far and what to do when the new application is due to be submitted by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority in October of this year. Political support too from Cllr Liz MacDonald and her former colleague Stephen Fuller and also Westminster LibDem candidate Richard Cunningham. Next to the Nairnshire Rising stall Greenpeace were campaigning against the rising levels of plastic in the seas. 

Picture Murray MacRae

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Nairnshire Rising" New group launched to boost campaign against transfer of oil between ships on the Moray Firth

"THE campaign against the transfer of crude oil in open waters is gaining momentum as a second protest group has been formed.

Nairnshire Rising has been created on the back of the success of Cromarty Rising, set up to oppose plans for ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray and Cromarty firths."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Westminster candidates for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey announced

According to the Highland Council site the candidates for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey are as follows:

Donald MacLeod Boyd - Scottish Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”
Ritchie Cunningham - Scottish Liberal Democrats
Drew Hendry - Scottish National Party (SNP)
Mike Robb - Scottish Labour Party
Nicholas Tulloch - Scottish Conservative and Unionist

Fresh from his unsuccessful candidature for the Highland Council elections local man Ritchie Cunningham is standing for the LibDems.

Police Scotland appealing for information after a number of break-ins to garages in Househill Terrace Nairn

Missing dog - Meg, Fox Red Labrador

Meg went missing on Monday night after slipping her lead. She was seen near the traffic lights at Lochloy and someone thought they saw her running across the road up into Broadhill.  On Tuesday there was a possible sighting of her in the Easter Delnies/Sandown area.

Potentially, she could be anywhere around the town, if you see her please contact the number below.

Image may contain: dog and text

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Greens not getting inbetweens - "this is no normal election"

Media Release
Highlands and Islands Greens



Highlands and Islands Greens have today confirmed they will not be contesting the forthcoming General Election. This means there will be no Scottish Green candidate on the ballot paper in any of the five constituencies1 the branch covers on the 8th June.

Instead the party will be focussing on supporting their newly elected Councillors, and getting down to making a difference locally.
Highland and Islands Greens Convenor James MacKessack-Leitch said:

“We are delighted to have made breakthroughs in Highland and Orkney Islands Councils with our excellent candidates Pippa Hadley and Steve Sankey respectively. Our focus is not only on winning elections, but supporting those elected and making sure that the voters who have trusted us start to see Green policies enacted – that is our priority right now.”

“At any normal election we would be proud to field candidates and run a positive campaign, however, this is no normal election. This General Election has been called for naked party political purposes as the Tories attempt to crush Labour in England and Wales.”

“This immature behaviour has no relevance in the Highlands and Islands, let alone Scotland or Northern Ireland, but will only serve to increase voter apathy and anger at the way politics is conducted in this country, at a time when there are far bigger issues at stake.”

“This campaign has the potential to become entirely negative and much of the rhetoric is already toxic, so we will be active in pushing the candidates on a progressive path and to outline positive reasons why we should be casting our votes for them, rather than having to pick the lesser evil.”

“For clarity, we will not be endorsing any candidates. ”


1The five constituencies covered by Highlands and Islands Greens are: Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey; Ross, Skye and Lochaber; Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Orkney and Shetland; Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Alastair Noble criticises "inefficent" care model in the Highlands

"Calls have been made for an overhaul of the “inefficient” current care model in the Highlands by a retired doctor

Former GP Alastair Noble said that greater focus needs to be put on allocating appropriate resources to specific areas than happens at present.

Dr Noble, who has advised the Scottish Government on integrated health and social care reform, said that changes need to be made to the way care is commissioned across the Highlands.

It comes after the Press and Journal revealed that millions of pounds have been paid to carers not to work."

More on the Press and Journal site here.

Balmakeith unoffical "aire de service" going over to agriculture Friday morning?

The Gurn understands that a certain field close to the Balmakeith industrial estate may be subject to slurry spreading and ploughing on Friday morning around 10 am.

Update: Friday 12th May 08.45 The Gurn understands that the proposed return to agriculture has been cancelled. 

A date for your diary - teamhamishnairn - 11th June - remembering one incredible wee loon

Saturday, May 06, 2017

New Visit Nairn A3 size map of the town

Iain Fairweather tells the Gurn:  

"VisitNairn has had a map printed to try and help visitors access accommodation and other services in the town. Most B&Bs will have copies and hopefully a few shops. Although the Community & Arts Centre is no longer providing Tourist Information, they will offer a copy to anyone asking about accommodation."

Glenurquhart Road Bingo - a reluctance to use all the preferences?

Here at Gurn HQ we continue to check out the data that was posted on line by Highland Council after the election counts yesterday.  It seems a lot of people didn't bother in going all the way down to 10th preference. Here's a graph we made up from the numbers obtained online.

Click to enlarge image

471 people were content to vote for only  one candidate even though there were four to chose from. We can see too how the figure drops rapidly away. 2888 people didn't want to make a fourth choice and look how it drops away even more dramatically after that. At least more people bothered to go to the poll this time 52% as opposed to 44% in 2012.

Jacobite Officer - test trailer - written and performed by Matthew John Donnachie

Jacobite Officer trailer which will go live later this year

Written and performed by Matthew John Donnachie. He tells the Gurn that it is adapted from the forthcoming book. Music written by Kenny MacLennan , produced by himself and Kenny MacLennan. Filmed by Allan Crook DPDM // DP Digital Media Special thanks to Ian Forsyth.

Crunching the preferences No 1 Gurn think tank observations on the grand game of Glenurquhart Road Bingo - aka Highland Council Elections

Number 1. Liz's slow but steady fall from the top slot

The Gurn's mathematics and statistics research unit has been analysing the polling data published by Highland Council and making observations on how it all went. 

We have to say it was remarkable how much Liz MacDonald's total of first preferences slipped in comparison with 2012. Back then she crossed the line first in her own right with 1,012 votes. This time round she amassed a mere 647 votes in comparison and the kudos of top of the poll was Tom Heggie's for the taking on the day. 

Perhaps the SNP policy of splitting the town between two candidates was more efficient this time with voters doing as instructed but it was in place last time when Colin MacAulay got 407 first preferences – this time Stephen Fuller got 586. All sitting councillors amass a rolling body of “antis” over their terms of office and the longer they serve the bigger that gets. Sometimes there are misunderstandings and things councillors just can't do for people and given the cutbacks of recent years it gets harder for local members to rememdy issues. Liz was unable to comment on planning issues due to an intention to develop her land however and here at the Gurn we think this will have had a significant effect on increasing that number of folk who were motivated to encourage others not to vote for her. 

Anyway Liz is elected, our research department came up with this very interesting and ironic point however. From 1st over the line last time Liz had to wait until the 7th preferences were chewed by the Highland Council computers before she finally crossed the line:

“#7: Stephen Fuller's elimination proves pivotal, because of course the transfers from him (518) go almost entirely to Liz MacDonald. Laurie (41) and Michael (34) get just a handful and Peter Saggers (4) hardly any. So Liz leapfrogs over Laurie and Peter Saggers and gets re-elected on the back of Stephen Fuller's departure. Some irony that the one (veteran) SNP only gets in by virtue of her colleague getting the chop!"

Highland Council results and data available here. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

How the preferences stacked up in Nairn and Cawdor ward

Click on image to enlarge. 

The first preferences descending order

Candidate First Preference (the quota to get over the line was 1,061). As many predicted Tom Heggie came first with enough for that too.  And after the number crunching was done we got Tom Heggie, Liz MacDonald, Peter Saggers and Laurie Fraser, not sure in what order they got over the line that info will be published later by Highland Council perhaps). 

Tom HEGGIE Independent 1144
Peter SAGGERS Scottish Conservative and Unionist 816
Laurie FRASER Independent 694
Liz MACDONALD Scottish National Party (SNP) 647
Stephen FULLER Scottish National Party (SNP) 586
Michael GREEN Independent 558
Ritchie CUNNINGHAM Scottish Liberal Democrats 369
Paul MCIVOR Independent 310
Andrew MACKINTOSH Scottish Labour Party 147
Louis MCINTOSH Scottish Socialist Party 32

Sorry to see Michael Green and Stephen Fuller oot.

Stephen was our youngest councillor and in touch with what it is like for young families at the sharp end. We need more like him involved in politics, he's no longer a councillor but I'm sure he'll carry on with his community work collecting for foodbanks etc, etc. Good luck in everything you do in the future Stephen on a personal and community level. 

And Michael Green, not everyone's cup of tea but he was our best hope in translating the initiatives emanating from Holyrood for community empowerment and localism into real gains for our community. He leaves behind him a gap for others to step up and fill in many of the initiatives that have real potential to help Nairn. We have lost one of the hardest workers in the engine room when it comes to getting a fair deal for Nairn. 

That's it folks it seems when an Inverness resident turns up with the right colour rosette then you could be oot. That's democracy and that's what happened on the day. It's all we have but sometimes the system looks fcked but no doubt there will be others with different points of view. 

We await the final detailed result with interest and suspect that less than 50% will have bothered to go to the polling booths again - more people might have voted for nobody than the rest combined.

Long live the Nairnshire People's Liberation Front! 

Shock results in Nairn Highland Council election

Tom Heggie (Ind)  takes top billing, along with Liz Macdonald (SNP), Laurie Fraser (Ind) and Peter Saggers (Con).

Michael Green and Stephen Fuller fail to be re-elected.