Friday, November 16, 2018

Fancy a go on the Brexitometer? Available Nairn High Street Saturday 17th November 10.30 am - 1 pm

The Gurn understands that Yes Nairn will have a Brexiometer for sounding out Nairn public opinion on Brexit available 10.30 am to 1 pm in the High Street. You put a sticker on the board to demonstrate your thoughts on various questions. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Questions for Cllr Peter Saggers on parking charges from Nairn Community Councils - they cite 10 reasons why the charges will be bad for Nairn

The Gurn has seen a copy of the questions that Nairn West and Suburban CC and their colleagues at Nairn River CC have submitted to Nairn's Conservative Councillor Peter Saggers. It's a fairly long read but if you have concerns on the effects of parking charges on our community it will certainly be a good idea to make a cup of tea and sit down and read the following document:

Proposed parking charges for Nairn from 2018/19
October 2018
Initial response and questions from Nairn West and Suburban and Nairn River CCs

Dear Councillor Saggers

You asked us at a recent meeting of West and Suburban Community Council to come back to you with our thoughts on a way forward for implementing proposed parking charges for Nairn which were voted through by Highland Council in March without prior community consultation.
We have been told it is a matter of when, and how, not if, these charges are to be imposed on Nairn's residents and economy, as we, apparently, have no choice in the matter.

We would like to reiterate jointly the strong objection of local residents and businesses we represent, as the two Nairn town Community Councils, to the way these proposals are being forced upon our town, with no prior consideration of the informed experience of Nairn residents.

In our view the imposition of parking charges for Nairn is a highly irresponsible and economically unjustified intervention by Highland Council.
Furthermore , it demonstrates a complete failure by Highland Council to consult meaningfully, listen to and reflect the expressed views and needs of local communities, and a total disregard for the key principles of the Community Empowerment Act.

That said, we want as local communities to be involved and engaged in meaningful dialogue with Highland Council, so that we can understand exactly how charging for parking in Nairn, could impact on our local economy, tourist trade, public safety and residents’ quality of life.

We have yet to see a coherent business case and rationale to justify why these parking charges are viable in terms of revenue for Highland, without risk of damage to Nairn's local economy.

Until we have this background information, we are not in a position to make any constructive comments to Highland Council on what should or shouldn’t happen next

We would therefore ask you, as one of our elected members, to source answers to the following questions from Highland Council and bring them back to a future meeting of Nairn Community Councils to allow a properly informed discussion with residents on this issue and what should happen next, if anything.

Q 1 A What locations are already targeted for parking charges in Nairn ? (if any)

When Charges were agreed in principle in March at the Council budget meeting ( without prior public consultation) we were told of 4 parking locations proposed for Nairn.

3 were on Nairn Common Good Land , which means that these could not be put to any use without full consultation with the people of Nairn, as is required under law (CEA).
Q 1 B Have the 3 Nairn Common Good locations been ‘withdrawn’ from any pilot Parking Charges scheme for Nairn? 

Q1 C If so how will that affect revenue projections and annual targets?

The 4th location(LIbrary Car Park) is privately owned with the Council leasing it from the landowner, who is within his rights to raise the rent if the Council starts generating more income from this asset, thus potentially compromising any new parking revenue for the Council.

Q1 D Is the Nairn Library Car Park still proposed for Parking Charges?

Q1 E What are revenue projections for that location and annual targets ?

Can you clarify in the light of the above

Q2 Why is Highland Council still pursuing Parking Charges for Nairn when none of the sites proposed so far may be viable to generate an income stream as they stand?

Q3 Also for reasons stated above, why is Highland Council not first engaging, before implementation, in a full consultation process on possible parking charges with the people of Nairn, as is required under the Community Empowerment Act?

Q4 As regards the ‘Business Case’ for these proposals - we have several questions- as none of the numbers we have seen to date actually 'add up' to a viable scheme to benefit Nairn.

4A Can we see a credible business case for Parking Charges in Nairn, with a 5 year cash flow diagram showing initial costs of implementation , and ongoing running and maintenance costs for future years which indicate a long term viable income for Nairn at a local level. This should factor in projected loss of business through leakage from the local economy, and added costs of policing parking overspill outwith chargeable areas.

4B Can we see quantifiable evidence from other small towns like Nairn, where parking charges have generated sustainable local revenue or benefitted local economies?
(As it stands the only beneficiary here seems to be Highland Council)

Q5 Implementation costs and projected income

5 A Why is £30, 000 the target income to be raised annually in Nairn?
( what this is based on, how many spaces, and from which targeted locations in Nairn? )

5 B How much will it cost to set up parking meters, and other services and infrastructure to collect parking fees for Nairn?

5 C How much will it cost to run and maintain this service annually in Nairn? 

5 D How much will it cost to fund enforcement of parking charges in Nairn ?

5 E Will all these costs be deducted from Nairn’s parking charges revenue?

Q6- Enforcement and Traffic Wardens

6AHow much Traffic Warden time can we expect to see in Nairn in future?

6B Will Traffic Warden costs be paid centrally by Highland Council as part of central payroll or will they also be charged in future to Nairn’s Community Services budget?

We strongly object as Community Councils to any shortfall in parking revenue being docked from Nairn’s Community Services budget - but adding new enforcement costs would add insult to injury by expecting local residents and visitors, who choose to park here to use Nairn amenities, to pay to be further penalised and in effect punished for that choice.

We note upcoming consultation on traffic enforcement for Nairn in October

We believe that these new measures though long awaited to tackle current parking infringements in Nairn, will be used in conjunction with proposed new parking charges by Highland Council to draw more revenue out of Nairn into central Highland budget. Charging to park will cause significant economic and social damage locally -in terms of loss of business for our High Street shops and local businesses, accessibility issues for the less mobile, and negative messages to visitors. This measure will cost Nairn much more than a few parking fees

Looked at holistically at the Nairn locality level, the resulting cost in lost business income to the town’s fragile and interlinked local economy is likely to be many times the £30,000 revenue income targeted by Highland Council in parking fees.

The Association of Nairn Businesses, Visit Nairn and Community Councils told our elected members this, loud and clear, before March’s regrettable and possibly illegal budget decision

There is clearly no business case for investing significant sums of public money up front in a centrally driven, unproven scheme, in the face of a high level of informed local business and community opposition, to generate a mere £30,000 revenue for Highland Council.

This is a tiny sum in the context of Highland’s massive overdraft and potentially 6 figure sums of Developer Contributions currently unaccounted for Nairn’s Lochloy development, which have been a matter of concern recently at local Community Council meetings.
We are told by Highland Council that their new Parking Policy is an example of ‘localisation’, giving local communities more local control to generate funds and target spending on local needs. It certainly is not. The whole scheme has been contrived by officers at Glenurquhart Road HQ without any input invited from Nairn, and appears designed expressly to disempower local communities, not to empower them.

Q7 - The Bigger Economic Picture

Has any prior scoping work been done at a Highland level to quantify and project how local parking charges will benefit and not be detrimental to local economies?

If not why not ?

We expect the economic impact of parking charges in Nairn to be negative from Day One due to the combination of significant upfront and running costs and long term damage to local businesses and the tourist economy.

Put simply, this is a bad policy. Doing nothing is always less damaging than spending public funds in order to lose money.

Undermining Our Community Services Budget

We have been told that if local parking revenue targets of £30,000 to be imposed by Highland Council in Year One are not met that any shortfall will be deducted from Nairn Community Services budget .

This is neither acceptable or reasonable for our community. Some have called it ‘blackmail’
We need reassurance as Nairn residents that any upfront investment by Highland Council in implementing parking charges will not be clawed back in cuts to Nairn’s public amenities

Community Services looks after roads, drains, grounds maintenance of green spaces,cleansing, waste management etc: all services essential to sustain local business and Nain’s vital tourist economy. We have already seen service cuts ( eg reduced frequency of drain clearing) result in additional one off costs for emergency repairs, clean ups and other infrastructure problems. More cuts mean more such costs, plus damage to the tourist economy through loss of local amenities and public health and safety hazards, eg overflowing drains, uncollected waste, blocked routes.

Q 8 Can we see the last 3 complete financial years history of disaggregated spend on Community Services for Nairn, for each heading, including any reductions in service and emergency repairs required?

Q9 To help us understand the wider context for Nairn and Nairnshire can you also supply the following disaggregated figures for the last 3 financial years total revenue generated for Highland Council budget by Nairn and Nairnshire total spend on Nairn and Nairnshire by Highland Council % share of Scottish Government block grant for Highland, which is spent on Nairn and Nairnshire

In summary
We feel that the impact of parking charges will be entirely detrimental to Nairn

1 It will give Nairn the wrong message as a tourist town (‘come to Nairn and be pursued by Traffic Wardens’)
2 It will give the wrong message to locals (‘pay if you want to shop close to home’ )
3 It will put people off choosing to shop in, live in and visit Nairn . Many will go elsewhere
4 Local shops and businesses with tight margins will go out of business or move away
5 We will see more public nuisance and additional traffic congestion in our residential streets (causing additional policing and public costs) as people park there to avoid chargeable parking
6 The revenue target is not realistic, so no spending of public funds to implement the scheme has yet been justified. We need to see a viable and transparent business case
7 Local amenities and the tourist economy will be undermined if Community Services budgets are compromised
8 The whole scheme is being imposed with no respect for local views, and experience
9 Nairn is being blackmailed to implement parking charges or lose community services
10 This approach has damaged local confidence in Highland Council and our Councillors
Dick Youngson - Chair Nairn West and Suburban Community Council
Tommy Hogg - Chair Nairn River Community Council

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Meanwhile protests against parking charges in Angus towns - should Nairn businesses and community councils pay attention and organise similar?

In Angus parking charges were introduced into the Council area's towns at the start of this month. Businesses and residents there haven't taken it lying down though and there has been massive protest including a mass drive to the Council Headquarters last Thursday. 

As a result of that protest the demonstrators have secured a meeting with the Council. They state on their page:

"We are happy to inform you we have secured a meeting with Angus Council on Monday 12th November 2018. We will be meeting to discuss the parking restrictions and requesting Angus Council to take the views of the community seriously and start a dialogue so we can move forward on this issue. There will be representatives from other Angus towns and also local media present at the meeting at our request. We will not stop until this policy is changed.

It would help if you could feed any information or comments you have that you wish us to put forward through this forum or on the Angus Parking Potest page before 1pm on Monday. We will endeavour to collate this information before the meeting. It would also be good if town centre businesses can log footfall and takings from 1st November and let us know if the parking restrictions have impacted on daily business. We don't need financial business information just general percentage of any losses or reduced income from the start of the charges."

Real immediate evidence of a downturn in takings and footfall is being posted on the group's pages such as the following:

"I manage a charity shop in forfar and since the start of the charges been implemented footfall has fallen by 50%. Sales are down by 40% donations from customers are down by 30% this is having a huge impact."  More information here. 

We're told it is a done deal and the parking meters are coming. Well they are not here yet and there is a window of opportunity to get Highland Council to see sense. Here at the Gurn we would urge the Nairn Businesses and their representatives to watch the developing situation in Angus and to demand that Highland Council doesn't make Nairn suffer in the same way. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Local Politician and road safety campaigner seeks answers to length of time car has been abandoned on A96

Many of our readers may have seen the damaged and abandoned car that David Stewart mentions in the press release below. There is actually another one, upturned in the ditch 50 or so yards further along in the Inverness direction. If you are not a regular traveller on this section of road you may be forgiven for thinking that an accident of some kind had just happened, especially when travelling at night. Anyway the press release from the Labour mannie is below:

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart has contacted the trunk road operator, Bear Scotland, to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the abandoned collision damaged silver Vauxhall Corsa lying on the South verge of the A96 Inverness Road near Gollanfield.

David said " I am told that this silver Vauxhall Corsa which has been involved in a collision, has been abandoned on the verge of the A96 Inverness - Nairn Road near Gollanfield for in excess of 10 weeks. All road users travelling this route are well aware of the vehicle. My understanding is that such vehicles could be moved at the time of the collision or shortly thereafter by the emergency services at the owners request. In these circumstances the Police for example would initiate the vehicle recovery scheme and the owner/driver would pay for the recovery. However, at the end of the day it is the owners responsibility to arrange removal of the damaged vehicle and not that of the Police.

" I am aware that this vehicle has been in situ for in excess of 10 weeks and I would have thought that in that time it would be classed as abandoned and it would have been removed by the Operating Company as per guidelines.

"I have today made contact with Bear Scotland to ascertain the reason that this vehicle is being left in situ and at the end of the day I would like them to expedite it's removal from the verge of the A96, as clearly it is unsightly, succumbing to vandalism and giving those resident or visiting the area a bad impression. I understood that bear Scotland could remove the vehicle and claim expenses back from the owner.

Lossie v Nairn 10.11.18 a few bits from the game on video

Nairn certainly came back into scoring form on Saturday. Match report here.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

6 am Nairn 11.11.2018 and the pipers play

This morning at 6 am pipers played " The Battle's o'er "at four Nairn Churches as the Armistice 100th year day of remembrance began (St Ninian's, URC, Parish Church and St Columba's)

Picture Donald Matheson

Friday, November 09, 2018

A tale of parking charges recently introduced to small towns elsewhere in Scotland

People react to avoid parking charges and behaviour changes. This social media post from an Angus store explains the situation, parking charges were introduced in Angus towns on the 1st of November.


Here you can see further details of empty car parks and claims of business takings being 50% down. The folk in Angus are not taking it lying down though, they have started regular weekly protests at the local Council HQ.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

How Nairn's Highland Councillors could stop parking charges on the Links, the Maggot and the Harbour

Cllr Peter Saggers has said recently that we have to accept that parking charges are coming to Nairn. Parking charges are coming to Nairn because Peter, Laurie and Tom voted for them when it came to the the minutiae of the last Highland Council Budget.

It would seem that parking charges will come to the Highland Council owned spaces behind the High Street but what about the Library car park which they lease and also the spaces owned by the Co-op? Then there is the land in Nairn presently used for parking which is owned by the Common Good Fund such as the Links, Maggot and Harbour areas.

We believe that Highland Council have a tradition of accepting the will of the four Nairn Councillors when it comes to Nairn Common Good issues: even though the entire 80 Highland Councillors are trustees of the fund.

So we believe that Nairn Councillors should simply say that it is not the will of the people of Nairn for parking charges to be levied on Common Good Lands and as representitives of the community they cannot support the introduction of these charges. Then it is up to Highland Council to accept that or decide if they wish to act like a colonial government and seize complete control of Nairn's Common Good assets. 

Here at the Gurn we consider free parking to be one ot the town's greatest assets, is it soon to be simply cast aside? Will Nairn's Highland Councillors find the courage to resist or will they simply implement the wishes of the Inverness based Highland Council?

Nairn Library Car Park, not the propterty of Highland Council but could they still  install meters?

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

TONIGHT - Brexit Public Meeting - with Drew Hendry MP, Tuesday 6th November in the British Legion at 6.30 pm.

Do you have concerns about Brexit? Drew Hendry MP is holding a public meeting tonight in the British Legion at 6.30, go along to find out more.

Man assaulted after being asked for directions on A96 in Nairn

Monday, November 05, 2018

Nairn BID Board appointments announced

Chair - Michael Boylan, Co-op
Vice Chair - Peter Gibson, West End Concepts Finance Director - Mike Mitchell, Nairn Community and Arts Centre
Secretary - Peter Saggers, Nairn Citizens Advice Bureau

Board Directors:

John Bochel, Sunny Brae Bed and Breakfast 
Bob Ferenth, Nairn Bowling Club 
Michael Green, Seaview Lodge 
Iain Bruce, Nairn Drama Club (The Little Theatre) 
Anika Schulz, Cawdor House Bed and Breakfast 
Gordon Mair, Sainsburys

Friday, November 02, 2018

“What you have to appreciate is that car parking charges are coming” and then what? Gurn opinion

At the meeting of the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council in the Community Centre on Monday night there was an update on the situation on parking charges. There was mention of a meeting between councillors and officials and BID members and Cllrs are waiting for clarification on points from officials. The implementation of parking charges was delayed until after the BID vote but now it seems things are getting back on track.

Interestingly Tom Heggie mentioned that there was: “a clear differentiation between what belongs to Highland Council and what is Common Good land, so there is a clear distinction and there will have to be different considerations given to each.”

Tom certainly seems to be picking up Council-speak quite well, this observer was left wondering if that meant meters would go on Common Good land too with a cut going to Nairn somehow or would our four Highland Councillors find the courage to say no to that and leave as much of the town free of meters as possible?

In response to details concerning recent correspondence on parking Peter Saggers said: “I'm sorry my request for suggestions was misunderstood, I was looking for what charging structure would meet with approval. What you have to appreciate is that car parking charges are coming. I was looking for suggestions as to what might be acceptable and what might not.”

That's it folks, parking charges are coming. Here at the Gurn we think it is a way of playing Russian Roulette with the town centre economy but with perhaps four or five bullets in the chamber rather than one. We hope we are wrong but we believe parking charges will have a very bad impact. The three councillors who voted for parking charges to come to Nairn in the Highland Council budget earlier this year can dress it up any way they like but these charges are being imposed against the will of the community by an Inverness based Council.

There was mention too that it is all meant to raise £30k in the first year. Well that will be a figure that we doubt will ever decrease but come on – all that risk for just £30k? All that displacement of vehicles looking for free parking in presently trouble free side streets and other areas in the town centre? More yellow lines, more restrictions and residents permits will undoubtedly have to follow as we reach a truly false dawn of localism with the Highland Council's lowest common denominator, parking charges ideology imposed upon us.

A cash-strapped Council will do it's best to milk Nairn for every penny in an effort to make ends meet. Another £69 million in cuts are predicted and no doubt we will get our fair share of that pain. We find the suggestion that there should be discussion on what scale of parking charges should be implemented quite remarkable, the Cllrs who voted for this should have the courage of their convictions and implement it without all this waffle. It's probably all on a piece of paper in Glenurquhart Road anyway.

Happy days! It is tragic, no matter who you vote for, they always seem to let you down.

Monday, October 29, 2018

No fireworks in Nairn this year on November 4th as planned but other options discussed at Nairn West and Suburban CC meeting tonight

At the West and Suburban CC meeting in the Community Centre tonight it became clear that the proposed bonfire night including fireworks will not take place on the 4th of next month. Lorraine Mallison said that the application for the event had to be in three months before the date and she said that she held up her hands and admitted that it hadn't happened. She cited the level of work involved in organising the event and personal circumstances meaning she hadn't been available.

It appears ongoing discussions are going ahead with the relevant department of Highland Council with a view to moving the event to Burns Night (January 25th 2018). The event would take place at the same venue.

Cllr Tom Heggie suggested that the Community Council seek appropriate legal advice as they may be vulnerable to challenge as they were changing the original purpose for which they had been raising funds.

Lorraine said that she had been doing that. She said it came from the community and it was their decision and they wanted the event to go ahead and we are just trying to fulfil that as best as we can but.

Laurie Fraser said that if you wanted to go ahead then your papers had to be in by Wednesday, he went on: “you will get no sympathy I think from the Council officials if they are not 100% correct. This has been going on for nearly two years now, my advice to you is leave it for one more year and have it next year.”

Laurie also suggested talking to the BID as they were looking to put on events and it could be that if you give them all the cash and the paperwork and they will do it all for you.  

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Nairn Golf Club helps Football Club

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Highland Greens against Council cludgie closures

Council should flush toilet plans, say Greens

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie and Badenoch and Strathspey Councillor Pippa Hadley have called for plans to close a host of public conveniences across the Highlands to be scrapped.

The Highland Council will debate a report recommending the closure of public toilets throughout the area today (25 Oct 2018).

The Scottish Green Party is opposed to these closures as;

· They present considerable public health and public decency concerns, which the council has failed to discuss with NHS Highland and Police Scotland.

· They will result in the loss of jobs, and the jobs of those who remain will be impacted. Furthermore the council has not yet consulted all the affected employees.

· While the report states that 90% of the population lives within 15 minutes of a publicly available toilet, this fails to take into account the needs of remote communities, popular tourist destinations and the long journeys required to access important services such as hospital appointments.

· The council’s equalities impact assessment identifies negative impacts for older people, people with disabilities and pregnant women.

For these reasons Councillor Hadley will oppose these proposals at the council meeting.

Commenting, Councillor Hadley said:

“The proposals to close a considerable number of public toilets in the Highlands would present considerable challenges for the communities affected. The plans fail to take account of remote and rural communities, they don’t consider the long journeys many have to make to access NHS services, and they completely discount any impact on tourism.

“The council’s equalities impact assessment also highlighted a number of significant negative impacts and it is important that these are adequately addressed, the report completely fails to do so and it is for these reasons that I will be opposing the plans.”

Mr Finnie added:

“It is galling that despite all that has been said, including in the Highland Council’s own equalities impact assessment, about the negative impact of these closures, the proposals are still being presented.

“The impact on jobs, with both redundancies and reorganisation expected, seem to have been largely overlooked, and the council has not yet engaged on a one to one basis with all the employees affected. This is a disgrace, and a complete abdication of responsibility from an organisation which should be setting an example to others in the region on good practice.

“Highland Council has made a complete mess of this whole sorry affair. It is quite staggering that the council didn’t, for instance, take tourism into account, given its huge importance to the economy of the region. I am pleased that the council has finally acknowledged some of its own ineptitude in this report. Councillors should go one step further and vote along with my colleague, Councillor Hadley, to reject this outrageous proposal.”

"Few people in Scotland ever have to confront Scotland’s unjust planning laws. When they do, however, they soon realise that the dice is firmly loaded in favour of big business and house builders with economic muscle.” Tom Devine

All those serious students of planning matters in Nairn will probably agree with much of what Tom Devine has to say about the Scottish Planning System. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Why are they closing Lovat Lodge? - a personal message from one of the regular users of the facility

Many of you will have seen the article in the Nairnshire where Cllr Liz MacDonald has explained the situation with Lovat Lodge being financially unviable and having to close. We recevied an e-mail explaining how this closure will impact on lives of the regular visitors to Lovat Lodge.

Vera tells the Gurn:

"It is such a god send to many elderly and disabled people from all around who otherwise will never get a holiday again? My husband had a stroke (severe) and there really is no comparable place for us to take a holiday. He needs an adjustable bed and a carer to help get in and out of beds. Luckily Lovat allow a private carer to come and help.We were up there again a couple of weeks ago and it was so sad to see a few of the old ladies getting together to book their next trip in May to be told Lovat would probably be shutting after New Year. They were crying its a lovely place to go and meet up with pals and be very well fed and looked after. There really is nowhere else like it that I can find. Surely the people of Nairn don't want that either, we all spend money in Nairn when we visit a couple of times a year. I am maybe not getting in touch with right people but wanted to give our side of story to anyone who will listen."

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Quite a lot going on in the Nairn twittersphere these days folks, we'll post anything interesting we see here via the Gurn twitter page

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 and you can scroll down the wee twitter boxie on the right hand side as far as you like to see what the latest craic is. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Good turnout for anti-development protest at Culloden Battlefield

A good turnout for the  GSDC (Group To Stop Development At Culloden) protest earlier today, Speakers criticised the developers, Historical Environment Scotland and also the Scottish Government. They want intervention from Holyrood to stop other applicaitons now in the planning system.  A protest camp has been established close to the site. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018