Monday, September 01, 2014

The Nairn Traffic Lights - could Highland Council do a lot more to sort the situation out?

We've heard suggestions to the effect that Highland Council can do nothing themselves to change the lights situation and they have to go to the table with the high heid yins of BEAR, Transport Scotland etc, etc and get a point of view across. This isn't the view held by Brian Stewart however, Brian is one of the Community Councillors from West CC and he said at the joint meeting of the westies and subbies (Suburban Community Council) on Tues night in the Academy:

"The local authority does have the power to make a temporary regulation the same as they do for a roadworks. The local authority has the power to suspend parking bays, to prescribe a detour in a road or indeed to suspend the operation of traffic lights. They might need a tick in the box from Transport Scotland to do it but Highland Council does have the opportunity or the scope to do that if they are so minded or if they can be persuaded that it is a wise thing to do. "

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nairn County Supporters set off on the first part of their West Highland Way journey

The first group of 11 Nairn County FC supporters left Nairn this afternoon on board Ken's luxury coach heading to their base at Crianlaraich.  They will meet up with the other 4 walkers along the way.

Tomorrow they will all set off on the first leg of the West Highland Way, let's hope the weather is favourable and the midges are missing!

Nairn 6 Keith 1 - Pictures by Kenny MacLeod

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Seaman’s Hall goes to the Festival – New Highland Contemporary

The Seaman’s Hall has come out of its summer slumber to participate in the Nairn Book and Arts Festival 2014. It’s worth a visit folks, we are lucky that so many people have done so much hard work to lay on a series of exhibitions across Nairn for the Festival and it is a thrill just to see the Seaman’s Hall in a new guise, one of its secret selves perhaps, with people moving around doing what they do at exhibitions. Another underused space is transformed for the Nairn Book and Arts Festival. What a pity there couldn’t be this much of a buzz about the hall several days a week all year round. At least the Referendum will fill it for another day later in September.

A lot of interesting stuff to look at then and my favourite of the night was “The High Priestess of Holding Hands” by Charles Edward Wells. A “mixed media installation with photography, film and performance.” Over in a corner it draws you in, looking a bit of an orphan perhaps, away from the other works all by itself. 

The artist Charles Edward is quoted: “In between, the reinforced structures and our own realised concepts in the space to play; the questions. Why do we walk on pavements and not over walls? Why do we feel ungroomed when we grow our body hair? Why do we see with our eyes and not our noses? These questions in a very simple way are scientific play time experiments. Experimentation and exploration of thought is intrinsic to my practice and since the subject can vary dramatically in my work, the medium can vary too. In saying this there is one consistency: I must be in the work. I believe the most effective way in which to present the sincerity of the work is to be present within it and for the audience to experience it directly.” 

More from Charles Edward in the handout that guides you around the hall and plenty more from other third year students too. A lot to look at and a lot to read in the guide too. You can do the reading whilst walking around or perhaps when you take the sheets of paper home but it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to sit in a comfortable armchair and set about that task that way. You can’t have everything though. 

There was a link on Charles Edward’s work to his website. Here’s another piece of writing from the artist. A slightly different vein perhaps:

“I have a friend who is a sex therapist. He has worked in many places. He informed me that the North-East of Scotland is more sexually repressed that Bible-Belt US. My thoughts wandered. Cerebrally, I took a jaunt through the history of sexual repression and peered at other cultures who seem to have avoided the suffocating effects of a life of continual self-repression, like the Baltic people who still use sex magic and ritual as a part of everyday life. What if Elgin, my hometown, had avoided the repressive Victorian values and looked at sex as the special, mystical and vital thing it is. How could that have happened? The High Priestess is the myth I wish we had.” 

Entry to New Highland Contemporary is free at the Seaman’s Hall, Harbour Street, Saturday 30th August - Sunday 7th September 10am to 4pm

Nairn County 6 Keith 1 Pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here. 

Cruising on sunshine - Nairn 6 Keith 1

There was a chilled, and obviously sunny, feel about the afternoon at Station Park, the dark clouds had literally just parted and light filled the sacred spot that is the Wee County's home. There was really no doubt that the improved performance of Wednesday night would lead to a victory today, it was made to happen today and it came to pass. Mild euphoria in sunshine but in the knowledge that there is still a considerable task to do but once again it looks possible. Three goals for Conor Gethins and one apiece for Adam Naismith, Sean Webb And Robbie Duncanson. 

Image below and more images here on the  Gurn Flickr pages

The overnight queue for a home in Nairn!

The scene this morning in the Springfield Properties show house car park up at Lochloy. Potential home owners desperate to live in Nairn shared their experiences of camping out overnight in their vehicles to be first in the queue for 16 new plots going on sale this morning at 11.30 am.

The possible  Lochloy residents were sharing a cuppa and braving the showers this morning.  What a great way to get to know your future neighbours.

Nairn 1 Cove 1 - pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nairn CAB bag packing fundraiser at Sainsbury's this Saturday and Sunday

Pamela from the CAB tells the Gurn: 

"We have loved seeing all your Ice Bucket Challenge videos on Facebook. Now Nairn CAB would like you to help fill our buckets! We are having a bag packing fundraiser at Sainsbury's in Nairn this Saturday and Sunday. Come along and help support your local bureau whilst you shop. Hope to see you all there."

Co-op to feed the County Fans on West Highland Way expedition

Ali Nichol and his team of fifteen County Fan colleagues will be leaving on Sunday to head for their West Highland Way base at Crianlaraich. The squad will be raising money for the Station Park Ground Improvement Fund and will be transported to their destination and ferried to the start and finish points daily by Ken Finnerty and one of his 24/7 taxi vehicles. 

Meanwhile the Co-op have contributed to the fund-raiser and provided a large substantial quantity of supplies that should help keep the boys fed and watered during their five day expediton. The fans tell the Gurn they would like to thank Michael Boylan and Kenny Nicol at the co-op Nairn for donating the provisions. More about the West Highland Way Walk and Great Glen Kayak Challenge that will take the Centenary Baton all the way back to Nairn here. 

Video - Festival exhibitions open next week - "Bronze in Nairn" and "Nairnshire" - and others

No death by powerpoint with some visiting quango or council worthy in the Courthouse tonight but instead the magnificent building was at its living, breathing best at a crowded preview of the “Bronze in Nairn” and “Nairnshire” parallel exhibitions. A few images from tonight here and below a video of Nairn Book and Arts Tanera Bryden saying a few words of thanks, then a short speech by Mo Farquharson of Black Isle Bronze, followed by the awards for the photography competition announced by the Camera Club’s Dave Freeman.

The exhibitions are delightful and, once again, demonstrate the fantastic potential of the indoor civic space that is the Courthouse. Get yourself down there if you can the venue will be open Tuesday 2nd – Sunday 7th September 2014 from 10.00am – 4.00pm. More details on

Traffic Lights - Cllr Colin MacAulay: "I think we have the right people around the table"

Dick Youngson Chair of Suburban Community Council said at the joint meeting of the Subbies and Westies at the Academy on Tuesday night:

A96 Traffic problems are hellish at the moment, absolutely hellish. It’s never been worse and it’s not just peak time. It can happen at any time the traffic lights system we’ve got and pedestrian crossing is just not working and really I think we should have BEAR back in and discuss with them what we can do. We can’t put up with this all winter. It’s taking people the best part of three quarters of an hour to get in from Delnies into town. 

John Mackie said: “Are BEAR the people we should be talking too, Transport Scotland were instrumental in putting traffic lights up in the wrong place so surely they should be addressing it.”

Dick agreed. A little later Graham Vine said: “Every single time we’ve raised these issues at ward fora or wherever the Highland Council officers and councillors have said we’ll talk to BEAR about it, and as you rightly say BEAR’s job is to make sure that the pressure cushions work and that the light bulbs go on and off and that’s it! They have no say or want to have any say on where the lights should be or how they should operate. I was poo-pooed a little while a go but I’m going to raise it again: I think we should try officially shrouding nearly all of those lights and see if the traffic gets better or worse. 

Alastair Noble then joined the discussion: “The traffic assessments have just been the biggest load of cobblers, we’re still at Nairn South with people saying there’s no problem with the A96, it won’t make any difference. So hopefully sanity will prevail and I know this sounds maybe a bit harsh but the planners keep recommending that these developments go ahead. We suffer from their daft decisions. Thankfully the councillors overrule them and don’t actually vote with them but we’re still in the enormously daft position of so-called professionals , transport and planners, saying that it will be all right and I can only echo Brian; I can’t believe how difficult it would be, or it is, to get into the centre of Nairn. You think twice about going shopping in Nairn.” 

Colin MacAulay (one of our Highland Councillors) responded: “I think we have the right people around the table. We have Transport Scotland here. We have a new area manager in terms of roads north and have the attendance of the high heid yins – Glasgow coming up to meetings now. We’ve taken it all the way to the minister, we’ve...we live here as well, we’re as exasperated as every taxi driver and every white van man and everybody that wants to go from Mossside to Balmakeith. Again it’s back to this thing in terms of a major part of the issue has been Lochloy, the failings and refailings in that light and you then get a fault back from that. You then get the congestion around several lights and back around Leopold Street there. [...] Transport Scotland have been using BEAR to make improvements and you can see it actually, sometimes the traffic is extraordinarily heavy and it flows beautifully and there are other times when the traffic is not heavy and it’s got jams from Delnies right through to Lochloy but at Lochloy you can see that the traffic is absolutely moving smoothly heading eastward from there. We’ve got a problem in the centre of town and as a lay individual you feed that in. I have to commend folk like Andrew MacIvor and Stewart Stanfield because they are on the money, they’ve assessed the situation, they’ve given their advice to BEAR, to Siemens and to Transport Scotland. I think they’re finally listening.”

Brian Stewart then continued with another contribution : “Since we are all perhaps to be hopeful that we have a new chap here or a meeting coming up but point one is it shouldn’t hinge on personalities or individuals. The second thing here and what is important to put on the table at whatever meeting now is; is this a minor problem of technical tweaking and fine tuning the wires in the road and the bulbs in the lights or is it a major problem of traffic management. For the last two or three years the reaction and the approach has essentially been it’s a minor problem of tweaking these lights or those lights or the Lochloy lights or the Albert Street junction or the Leopold Street sequence. I think that the experience of the last two or three years and particularly of recent months and the reaction there has been is that it is more than just a minor problem.”

UPDATE: Cllr Liz MacDonald has stated this morning on the Facebook page "Remove Nairn Traffic Lights":

"Fergus Ewing was in Nairn on Wednesday and we were discussing the possibility of removing some of the traffic lights. We have also raised this concerns several times with Transport Scotland on a regular basis. The best way to improve traffic movement within Nairn is to get the By-pass delivered as quickly as possible and it is currently 2 years ahead of the rest of the A96 dualling east of Nairn."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One for the many serious students of Nairn's traffic lights - A report submitted to Nairn West CC in 2011, based on an examination of Highland Council documents under a Freedom of Information request

Further to the report of the traffic lights discussion at the joint Community Councils meeting on Tuesday night (more to come from that yet) click here to see a copy of a document submitted to the Westies in 2011 entitled:

Did Highland Council (and Transport Scotland) get the planning right?  

 - it is a forensic examination of how we got so many traffic lights in Nairn, a bit complicated in parts perhaps but worth sticking with - it doesn't hold back by the way - some bed time reading perhaps? 

Nairn 1 Cove 1 Images from Kenny MacLeod

Individual images here.

Community Development Company to take forward wetlands and facilities on Sandown with former Tradespark Hall charity cash

At the combined meeting of the Westies and Subbies CCs on Tuesday night, Dick Youngson, in his usual modest way, delivered a short statement on something that might fundamentally change the way we go about things in Nairn: (see Gurn comment after article). 

Dick said: “Many of you will remember the old Tradespark Hall. The asbestos clad hall which was sold and demolished and houses built on the site. Well the proceeds from that went into what was an existing charity. It was the Delnies charity, they enlarged it to call it the Delnies and Tradespark Hall charity. So there is quite a bit of cash in that. 

It’s managed by trustees and a local lawyer. We’ve approached them and the money has to be spent in that part of Tradespark. It has to be spent for a specific purpose. It can’t be put into anything, it has to be spent on community facilities and sporting, recreational facilities. So it is quite specific. Now we have approached them and the trustees along with the lawyers are meeting next week [...].
The trustees are now more than happy to transfer that money to us, to a development company and we can use that to set up a little enterprise group to take on the development of the parkland, wetland and the community facilities.”

Dick was then asked: “how much are we talking about?”

He replied, “about 180,000 at the present time and remains to be seen whether that actually, by the time the investments are sold. We’ll see what we get at the end of the day. But it’s about that, it’s a little bit more perhaps. But it’s quite enough now to act to engage a project manager and to apply for matched funding and some of the larger grants.

It’s something which we will ....with Colin and the Council and we’ll look at a plan, we’ve already had a plan [...]. It’s actually in the plan, it’s already in the Sandown plan anyway, so it is something which we will develop along with the social housing. This area adjacent to Sandown Road which can be actually used for very attractive (and it has to be very attractive social housing). We don’t want flats or anything like that. So that’s where we are at present. We’ll know in a week or two how it’s going and then we’ll start sort of discussing it with the Council, Colin, Liz and the rest of the ward Cllrs and we’ll form management committee of the main players here again. The Woodlands and Wetlands Association, ourselves, the Cllrs and people that are quite au fait with this project. "

Gurn comment

Dick Youngson is an exceptional man and we are lucky to have him working for the Common Good of us all. He has a proven track record of delivering for the community. This recent article on the Nairn Allotment site, records his formidable success as chair of that group and the successful projects that have reverberated far beyond Nairn. Good luck to his ideas on how to take the wetlands and housing forward on the Sandown Lands. This is the kind of community control we need or our assets. 

There are others like Dick with the skills and willingness to work on such projects, and give their services for no payment, for the benefit of our community (the Common Good). We need full control of the Nairn Common Good fund from Inverness to achieve this effectively but in the meantime if it means setting up what would virtually be another Common Good fund but under community and not Highland Council control then Godspeed to Dick and those that will assist and facilitate it for him!

End Glenurquhart Road Direct Rule – Freedom for Nairnshire!

How Nairn got the traffic lights and the present day environmental and economic penalty paid by residents and business

The “hellish” delays that can be caused by the Nairn traffic lights were discussed at the joint meeting of the West and Suburban Community Councils in Nairn Academy on Tuesday night. We’ll return to the substance of those discussions but in the light of recent facebook activism by local residents perhaps this is an opportune moment to quote Cllr Brian Stewart of the Westies who gave a short briefing on how we got so many traffic lights in Nairn.

Brian said: “I think the origins of it all are quite clear, a team of consultants run by Colin Buchannan produced a report for the Sainsbury’s development proposal because they were required to. Which was tabled to Highland Council and that incorporated traffic studies which led to or which included recommendations for traffic lights. Highland Council as the local planning authority agreed those proposals as part of the package that went with the permission to develop Sainsbury’s . Highland Council as the planning authority were required to get Transport Scoltand’s endorsement or acceptance of traffic lights because the A96 is a trunk road and Transport Scotland endorsed and accepted them and BEAR Scotland’s job is simply to make sure that the electricity, that the lights work, so BEAR Scotland have no policy responsibility.”

John MacKie of the subbies then made an intervention: “When the traffic lights were being put in we approached the local councillors and not one of them had any knowledge of this – the lights going in. They all deny any knowledge, they were never approached about the traffic lights.”

Delays of up to 45 mins have been reported on Social media recently
Brian responded: “Well there is documentary proof on Highland Council’s files of what was recommended and what was put to Transport Scotland. It is not for me to comment on whether the Highland Council officials presented that clearly and accurately to the elected Council members but there is clear evidence on the Council’s own files on how that set of traffic lights, that sequence of traffic lights came to be. That’s all water under the bridge, that’s all for the past history now. 

The issue now, in a sense, given the range and the extent of the problem, and it has to be said, the environmental, economic and other consequences of the problem. There is an issue here. There is an issue of environmental pollution and all of that with lots of traffic standing static and spewing out exhaust fumes. There is an economic cost to every white van man, to every tradesman, to everyone that needs to come and go through Nairn. There is an economic penalty for those such as bed and breakfast owners and other businesses and hotels and shops that rely on people coming easily to or into and out of or through Nairn. And there is obviously a penalty by every commuter and every resident who has to use that road. Now that’s a pretty damning list on the down side and while it is our fervent hope, all of us, that the magic solution of the bypass will sweep all this away. We’re all realistic enough to realise that we’ve got another 2, 3, 5, 8, 10 years before we are into this brave new world of a bypass.”

A little more of this debate from the subbies/westies meeting on Tuesday night when time permits. Dick, Brian and others had more to say and the only Highland Councillor present (poor Colin, he can get hammered at these events but at least he’s there) also made a contribution.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Annoyed resident tells the Gurn he will remove untidy posters in town centre

Annoyed resident Iain Fairweather tells the Gurn:

"I'm getting increasingly annoyed by the number of people who plaster and disfigure our town with notices. There is no excuse, however valid the cause, for adding to the dilapidated appearance of the town centre and plastering empty spaces with rubbish. Most shops will display a poster if asked. Please people, kindly desist and show a degree of responsibility. I'm going to start removing them!"

Below some pictures of the notices that have upset Iain.

Images - County Centenary Baton (a work of art) that will travel the West Highland Way and kayak the Great Glen back to Nairn

The baton was created from an Alder branch by David Walker of the Kayak club. The branch was donated by Greens Nurseries.  Individual images here (click on each one on that page just to see what a beautiful work of art the baton is) Full screen slideshow here. More information on the walk here. Video interview with Steven Bain and Ali Nicol here. 

The 15 walkers set off on Monday next week (1st September) from Milngavie and will reach Fort William on the Friday after 96 miles on the way. They will be joined by another 14 fans from Uncle Bob’s Bar for the final session. A back up vehicle for the walkers has been provided by Ken’s 24/7 taxis and Heather of Uncle Bob’s is providing a minibus for the walkers on the final day. Then the baton will be handed over to the Kayak club for the rest of the journey. 

The final part of the baton’s homecoming will be celebrated in a parade from the harbour to the Bandstand (site of County’s first ever competitive game) on Saturday September the 20th and all Nairnshire is invited to march behind a pipe band for a photo opportunity at the bandstand. Just wear something yellow and black and c’mon down. Details of the event here.

The walk and the marathon Kayak session is to raise funds for the County Fans Ground Improvement Fund and the Nairn Kayak club – if you would like to sponsor either the Fans GIF or the Kayak club please contact and we will forward your details.

Green bin rubbish uplift to be reduced to once every three weeks?

Chair of River Community Council Tommy Hogg has already gone on record with his opposition to the proposal by Highland Council to reduce the bin collection from every two weeks to three. He his quoted in a Courier article here.  A massive flood of criticism from members of the public has been voiced on that article’s webpage.

Last night at the joint meeting of the West and Suburban Councils heard further opposition voiced. The discussion on the frequency of the green bin service was raised after the subject of household rubbish being dumped in the Tradespark Wood was aired.  Rubbish has been found at several points in the Tradespark wood and the police have been involved after bills with an address were discovered in one of the bags. Whether the dumping is an element of someone’s lifestyle choice or because they have no room left in their green bin is unknown but someone has been spoken to by the police.

Ian Knox then said: “Is there any truth in the rumour that I’ve been stopped and asked about changing the green bins from 2 weeks to 3 weeks? I  thought we were actually trying to get it back to one week again?”

Dick Youngson replied: “I don’t know if we’ll ever get that but there are all these options being looked at.”

Graham Vine pointed out to Highland Councillor Colin MacAulay (the only authority member present – Liz and Michael had sent apologies) that if someone was away when a three week collection was made that would make it six weeks and that in the summer months would in the summer months just be a horrible festering mess.

Dick was also worried about rubbish spewing out of the top of bins. He added: “Strictly speaking the refuse collectors shouldn’t handle that bin if the lid doesn’t close.”

Colin then said: “These are pros and cons. More bin collections, you know we are trying to recycle more and one of the moves in that direction of smaller and fewer bins and different bins. And I know that’s a hassle factor for society but it is one of the things in terms of a kind of social engineering kind of a way that does do what we all want to do which is waste less and recycle more. “
Martin Ashford said we should have more comprehensive recycling, picking up glass etc.

This observer pointed out that the whole bin collection system can go haywire in areas where bins are uplifted together in areas like the High Street. An offending object might be placed in a bin after you have placed it in the uplift area (a piece of polystyrene in a blue bin for example) and an innocent householder will not have their bin emptied and get a sticker telling them why on the bin. People have been known to give up recycling after this treatment and simply put everything in the green bin again.

Murd Dunbar called for a skip outside the recycling centre because if people go up and the centre is shut they will not take the rubbish home but just dump it. Murd said their argument against that was that it might not be “landfill” material but he said that surely it would be better there than dumped around the Country.
Ian Knox called for consultation before anything happened. Colin MacAulay then said:

“A whole range of ideas have come into the Council about how to save money, so that will be one of the ideas and we will do some financial crunching on the pros and cons and what the savings are. It will then come back to us as either as a firm proposal or not. It’s not in the offing imminently and I guess what I can try and do is flag up whenever it is and take a view in terms will be a saving when it comes through. It’s a case of if we need to make a saving what do we make the saving on? I’ll try when it gets to that budget setting stage and what kind of proposals are there, I’ll try and bring it back so folk can give it a good airing anyway.”

John Mackie said he could have understood it if it was going to be the blue bin but not the green bin.

What do you think Gurnshire? Could you cope with a three weekly green bin uplift? Do you think Colin has the right attitude or should he simply say to his political colleagues “my constituents will not accept this, it shouldn’t even be a cost saving proposal going forward”? 

Another nearly frosty morning

The sun rises above the Lochloy estate and reveals a heavy white dew on the Dunbar golf course. The temperature was zero again this morning but no frost. Inevitably one autumn morning the grass will turn white and crispy but not this time. Meanwhile a -1.6C with ice on the thermometer has been reported at Cawdor on Monday morning. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Patients Group further statement "The Practice has not been prepared to place in writing the issues they have articulated to us nor have they provided evidence to support their claims. "

Recently we published information from Nairn Health Care Group in response to concerns raised in the public domain by the Patients Group - what the practice said can be found in this Gurn article here "Nairn Health Care statement - clarification of communication to Patients Group."  The original Patients Group statement is here "PPG promise to keep patients informed." That too, in its turn, was also a response to a response by the NHS and the healthcare group . 

Now another press release from the Patients Group has been published on their website. Here's a paragraph from the latest missive: 

"Overall, the PPG has been disappointed in the approach of the Practice in dealing with issues, especially when we were prepared to postpone public meetings and make efforts to provide a new partnering agreement. The Practice has not been prepared to place in writing the issues they have articulated to us nor have they provided evidence to support their claims. It is also disappointing that they have not even considered mediation to repair this ‘breakdown in trust’ between the Practice and the Chair. We can only conclude that they were not happy with the way that they were being portrayed in the press and have not had a effective strategy to deal with the press and public. What is even more disappointing is that the PPG could have helped the practice in these matters and indeed offered in private to help. "

More information on the PPG site here including links to copies of documents they have sent to the practice. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fancy doing the West Highland Way 1st - 5th September - accommodation and supply vehicle provided - one space on County fans fundraiser avaiable

Due to unavoidable circumstances one space has become available on this NCFC fans ground improvement fundraiser - more details here. Contact asap if interested.  

Nairn Branch of Legion march to Parish Church for World War 1 service

Image from Murray MacRae - more of Murray's pictures here. 

Cricketers get a result at Buckie

As we reported earlier this weekend, not much joy to be had for Nairn County FC through in Buckie on Saturday. The Gurn is delighted to report the following cricket result however:

"Nairn County Cricket Club 2nd XI (Reserve League) played Buckie today.

Nairn 91 for 9 wickets
Buckie All Out for 53"

Scores and image below courtesy of RGIV12