Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Step off the High Street into a green portal? "an accessible, exciting and welcoming place"

The Green Hive, social enterprise organisation, have circulated an e-mail around groups in Nairn. In the challenging scenarios that the community finds itself maybe the Hive can see the potential of getting some of the emergency cash that is coming the way of towns and cities in Scotland just now to make the vision of a green portal in the High Street a reality? It isn't actually a new idea and was floated during the heady days of the forerunner of the Hive, from the offshoot of Nairn River Community Council - Nairn River Enterprise. Could be really cool to get one of the empty premises up and running with the like.

Yesterday Snecky Councillors discussed what to do with their share of monies coming to the Highlands and an agenda item that went  before the Inverness City committe stated:

"The Scottish Government has allocated the Council an additional £1,066,000 ring-fenced Town Centre Fund (TCF). On 5 November, 2020, Members of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee Members agreed an area distribution of the grant. The City of Inverness Area has been allocated £252,468 to be invested in any of the eligible localities detailed in Appendix 1."

252K for Snecky, how much for Nairn out of the Town Centre Fund then and when will it be discussed? Will the forthcoming Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting hear about it from our four local Highland Council members. Would be fab to know what the initiatives are/could be for reviving the local economy post-covid? 

But anyway, here's what the the Green Hive are asking, may some folk out there in Gurnshire might wish to respond:

"Green Hive are planning out a Green Portal for Nairnshire, an accessible, exciting and welcoming place for members of the Nairnshire community to learn about sustainable living, local environmental action and activities using our space to bring people across our community together to form lasting bonds and friendships, whilst also benefiting our local environment, individuals and the community as whole. We're reaching out to your organisation as a local exemplar in looking after your community and environment, to see how we can work together and all benefit from a Green Portal on Nairn's High street, we would be very grateful if you could answer these 3 questions which will help us ensure our Green Portal project reaches the whole community and is a relevant and valuable addition to the Nairn community:


1. What do people in the community whom we find difficult to engage with - i.e. the socially isolated, whether from disability, poverty or other disadvantage - most need in terms of events, services, programmes?


2. What do young people in particular need to encourage them to participate?


3. What do young people in particular need to encourage them to participate?


We would really appreciate it if you could take the time to answer these questions - we really would like to keep your organisation involved in these plans as we believe strongly in collaborating and the power of teamwork - we will be reviewing all of your answers and putting together a review in February 2021 and will happily keep you updated on the progress of our project.

Do you have a particular event, activity or cause that you would like to work with Green Hive on in 2021?"

 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting - online 7pm Monday 25th January

 

NAIRN WEST & SUBURBAN

COMMUNITY COUNCIL

BUSINESS MEETING

to be held virtually on Zoom

7pm – 25th January 2021

For an invite & link email:

info.nwscc@gmail.com

Friday, January 15, 2021

Nairn River Community Council Chair's Report for 2020: "internal division and a lack of cooperation within our Community Council which has severely undermined our ability to function properly"

The Gurn has received a copy of the  report that was presented to the online AGM on Wednesday evening 13th of January. Gurnites may have already seen a little information about that meeting in an earlier post this week and some comments too on social media. Not many of you would have been at the meeting though, so here's what the chair's report had to say:

NRCC Chairman’s Report Summary of 2020 for AGM January 13th 2021


Before I start I would just like to Thank Mandy for all her work over the last twelve or so months, a very gruelling and upsetting time, spending many hours each week working on behalf of the CC and the Community. It is a shame to see her standing down without seeking re-election to the post but perfectly understandable – It will be difficult to replace her and a harder working Secretary will be hard to find. Thanks to Veronica for her time as the Treasurer and to Tommy for being there when we have needed him and hope he will be back to full fitness as soon as possible, and to Ron for agreeing to Chair the election of the new Chair part of these proceedings. I would like to Thank Willie Munro and David Haas for the support they have shown to the current OB over the recent time.


2020 has been a year of great adversity for Nairn River CC and our Community.
It has been blighted not just by the restrictions of the pandemic which have made our normal public engagement activity impossible, but also by internal division and a lack of cooperation within our Community Council which has severely undermined our ability to function properly.


2020 has also been characterised by continued resistance to open communication and collaboration with community groups by Nairn’s elected Councillors and Highland Officers despite repeated efforts by Nairn CC’s, BID and NICE to seek joint dialogue to build economic resilience in Nairn in the face of the pandemic


12 new Community Councillors were elected in January. The same four Office Bearers were re elected from the previous term (unopposed apart from the Chair). Since then the simplest collective decisions has been fraught with argument and obstruction, often generating dozens of emails wasting time and energy. Some members have consistently shunned the democratic process by not engaging fully in that process. This has undermined and disrupted the CC’s capacity to carry out collective work. The public reputation of the CC as a community body and the reputation of all of its members, has been tarnished including on social media and in the press. This has been demoralising, exhausting and often embarrassing for those CC members who have worked hard, despite this, to support their peers and pull together to defend Nairn River community interests.


With high levels of public controversy over some key development proposals for our town during 2020 it has been an uphill struggle to provide an effective voice for our community. After a training session held towards the end of the year, it was hoped that the CC could join together to follow the Code of Conduct but this has proved groundless. It appears some members believe that NRCC should have overcome the difficulties presented by the Covid19 emergency that caused mayhem at the highest levels of Government and Business instantly with business running as normal in a totally abnormal atmosphere. The CC guidance provided by THC does not make allowances for meetings or voting held on-line and some members still resist all efforts to mitigate this.


I hope that the next few months will see this internal strife resolved and collaboration restored so that all Community Councillors can focus on doing the job they were elected for.


2020 – Month by month


January – a delayed election due to a re-run. Reasons for the re-run have still not been fully explained,


The year began with an invitation for Community Councils to participate in ‘pre consultation’ for introduction of parking charges in several Nairn car parks. This proposition was previously rejected unanimously in 2018 by local Community and Business groups, but is now back ‘on the table’. Charging schemes can work in Scottish cities but evidence from other schemes around Scotland show that charging in small towns for parking is seldom an income generator once running costs are factored in and can seriously damage local High Streets by driving locals and visitors away to city shopping malls and online.


February – Good news for Nairn Post Office Bad news for RS McColl


In January we heard that RS McColls on our High Street was to be closed down by the parent company, but that as a result our current Post Office (with Royal Mail next door) would stay where it is instead of relocating in January 2020 to the McColls building as was proposed in the 2019 Post Office consultation. A narrow escape and we are glad that in 2019, despite NRCC being in abeyance, we took the time to raise questions about suitability of this new site for the Post Office. More importantly we still have a town centre Post Office in 2021. The impending closure of Lloyds TSB will leave Bank of Scotland and the Post Office as the only banking facilities in town


March Police Buildings Saved, AGM and lockdown


Local Community Councils saved the Old Police Station to be repurposed as a community resource


NRCC discovered in early 2020 that during our long ‘abeyance’ demolition of this building had been approved, in private, by Nairn’s four THC Councillors in January as part of a revised application for a new CAB with flats above.


The original proposal to renovate the Old Police Station/Social Work building, which would also put the (Common Good) public toilets at risk, had been shelved sometime in 2019 without any public discussion. A completely new design and location proposed by The Highland Council, again without community consultation, comprising of a newbuild on the site of the former Community Centre using Town Centre funds that were originally allocated to the  repurposing of an existing building. The two Nairn CC’s complained to Highland Council senior officers about this lack of transparency and the loss of a heritage building without public consultation. The Old Social Work building was happily reprieved and is now the subject of a million pound funding bid by NICE to the Scottish Government Regeneration Fund to convert it into a community and business hub and tourism welcome facility.


NRCC held a belated AGM in March to approve the 2018/19 accounts and release the THC grant.


NRCC formed new subgroups to tackle the growing workload and identified four volunteers to work jointly with NWSCC and THC to improve local oversight of Common Good Assets.


The COVID lockdown kicked in on March 19th, stopping all face to face public meetings. CC business was then restricted to email and online for the rest of the year, with Office Bearers carrying almost all of the workload. NRCC wrote jointly to the Highland Council with our sister CC NWSCC, in March, to ask them to defer all pending consultations on planning and policy matters including CAB flats, and on parking charges and this was agreed. NRCC contributed a donation to buy ID Cards for Nairn Task Force - a network of local volunteers set up to help isolated residents during lockdown


April Webex on-line meetings technical problems


CC members and Office Bearers got to grips with Webex and prepared for a first public meeting online. Some members had technical issues or hardware access issues. 


A second objection was lodged to the revised FIT homes planned near the Hospital due to the inadequacy of sound mitigation from the neighbouring Gordon’s Sawmill. NRCC noted that this was not the right location for social or convalescing housing, especially if it could put a major local employer at risk at a time of great economic uncertainty. The plan was rejected by Highland Council. Developer Albyn Housing then proceeded to pursue an appeal with Scottish Government.


Members also provided advice to a number of residents concerned that neighbours were breaching planning rules during lockdown – in one case by extending their back garden onto common land, letters were sent to Highland Council with photographic evidence so that action could be taken by Enforcement Officers.
 

May Technical Problems


Our first public meeting was curtailed by technical problems and unruly behaviour from some members. All Subgroups were suspended and Communication continued by email only. From that time forward all decisions were made openly and democratically, Google voting was trialled, but some members were still struggling to get up to speed with, or access to technology.


June


During lockdown the Sundancer Restaurant near the Harbour put forward a proposal to THC to use adjacent Common Good land for socially distanced outside catering from July. The two Nairn CC’s were consulted by the Ward Manager and Local Councillors as Common Good Trustees. Both of Nairns’ CCs submitted proposals for conditions and restrictions for short term use of this CG Asset, in line with local Bye-Law restrictions. In the event Sundancer chose not to extend service outside. This exercise underlined an urgent need for an agreed set of guidelines to be developed by THC along with the local community to aid local governance and decision making on use of Nairn CG Assets.


NRCC identified, in March, 4 members ready to work with NWSCC members and THC on this but no action taken by THC in 2020 to progress this, despite launching two CG consultations by December


July


A new alliance comprising the two Nairn CCs, Nairn BID and NICE (Nairn’s community development trust) was formed to seek collaboration with THC. NRCC was represented by OBs at online meetings. Against a backdrop of fears for Nairn’s economy and hospitality industry this community and business led ‘Group of Groups’ invited Highland Councillors and key Officers to joint talks to explore how we could work together to build economic resilience for Nairn post COVID. Two preliminary discussions took place, one at Nairn Golf Club, and the second online later in the summer hosted by Kate Lackie the new ECO for Nairnshire.


These meetings focussed on ways to improve visitor facilities for 2021 including for Camper Vans and Public Toilets. Highland Councillors and Officers suggested funding this by introducing Parking Charges on car parks on Common Good land in the Links/Seafront area. NRCC were promised detailed proposals and a business case by the Council for potential charging schemes and more information on other funding streams for visitor resources. These have not yet been provided.
Nairn River CC submitted an Objection to the latest revision by THC of the relocated CAB/flats plans for King Street
Two Walkabouts


1. Community reps of the two CCs and Nairn BID joined the Ward Manager and a Highland Engineer to review proposed COVID social distancing measures for Nairn. Proposals for the town centre included parking restrictions for the High Street area. It was agreed on inspection that parking on the High Street could stay, with work promised on pedestrian safety /distancing under Cawdor Road rail bridge, funds redirected from parking restrictions, and coordinated with BID support, to create cycle route/active travel signposting. Despite the constructive dialogue THC has yet to ‘deliver’ on this.


2. NRCC organised a further High Street walkabout for CC members to inspect the state of buildings and shop-fronts and welcomed Lucy Harding the new BID officer to join us


August – holiday let application


A Planning Application in Balmakeith Park proposed a garage conversion to be used as a holiday let. NRCC took the opportunity to flag up with THC the growing need for a short term let policy for Nairn due to the impact of the AirBnB boom on residential areas and on reducing affordable rented housing supply for locals. AirBnBs take accommodation out of availability for locals to rent and is a serious contributor to the lack of social housing in the Town.
New Scot Government Short Term Lets legislation is expected April 2021 for local authorities to implement to meet local needs and it is hoped Nairn communities will have a say in developing appropriate licensing arrangements for our locality.


September Meetings with THC


After a follow up meeting hosted by ECO Kate Lackie with local Highland Councillors and Officers the Group of Groups, the two Nairn CCs consulted members and locals on proposals for Camper Vans, Seafront Parking Charges, and toilets with Nairn River inviting comments on the CC website. Initial feedback from locals welcomed improved toilets and visitor facilities but told us that introducing parking charges around the Fishertown where parking for residents is already in short supply, remains controversial. Many locals indicated that camper van facilities would be better located out of town eg at Sandown, rather than allowing them to park overnight on seafront viewpoints. Since then community efforts to progress further dialogue on collaboration with Councillors or with Kate Lackie have been unsuccessful


Plans for the CAB flats proposed by The Highland Council were approved by The Highland Council.


NICE Funding application for Old Police Station/Regeneration Hub progressed to Stage 2 shortlist and NRCC members invited to contribute to a public survey on how the building might be used


October 

The Links Work, delayed from March, was completed on Phase One of the Links Development - the replacement of Paddling Pool with Splash Pad funded by ‘Team Hamish’ and Common Good Fund.


The Cawdor House Lavender Café retrospective change of use application proved controversial. The outdoor café and takeaway was opened by the guest house when COVID restrictions were imposed, following UK and Scottish Government guidance. Some neighbours were strongly opposed while cafe customers were strongly in favour


NRCC members voted by majority to submit a comment. After visiting the area, listening to the applicant and to the neighbours, OB’s proposed a neutral submission, presenting issues from both sides and suggesting some mitigations which might help reduce neighbour concerns. This was approved by all the CC members that voted (5 abstained with one conflict of interest).


Local objectors then complained to NRCC and THC resulting in the NRCC submission being taken down from the planning portal, checked and subsequently restored as no valid cause for complaint was found. Both the NRCC and Nairn Access Panel (NAC) who made a supportive submission, received similar hostile communications from local residents. Disability Equality Scotland (DES), on behalf of NAP, complained to THC Planning that community organisations were receiving public abuse for participating in the Planning process. The DES Officer in Edinburgh also complemented NRCC on the quality of our Planning submission

.
November 


Dog Waste Collection at Lochloy – queries were received by both CCs from Meadowlea residents who received letters from their factor (Screen Autumn) noting new charges for dog waste collection as THC was to stop providing the service. After negotiation and further public complaints, THC agreed to continue the service, providing new larger bins as part of existing Lochloy wide waste collection at no extra charge.


December


Revised Application for a scaled down and mostly indoor Lavender Café at Cawdor House
The 6 NRCC members who voted on this, unanimously backed a supportive comment as the new application addresses most of the previous neighbour objections to outdoor café service have been addressed. We also noted that stringent requirements from THC Transport to identify parking for customers and carry out a parking survey seemed unfair unless other neighbouring businesses are also subject to these requirements


In summary, in a year of enormous adversity, both internal and external, our newly elected Community Council hit the ground running and handled a greater public consultation workload in 2020 than in most previous 'normal' years. There were 34 Planning Applications submitted in 2020. 21 permitted, 9 are still under consideration, 3 Withdrawn, 3 Refused and 1 Unknown. That is 37 processed during the year. One application was for a change in design on 22 house types. If all these were applied for separately with the resultant charges THC would have realised more money from the developer helping to defray costs to the planning department.


Despite the pandemic and a year-long campaign of non-cooperation and abusive emails from a dissenting faction of our own members, NRCC Office Bearers have still made sure that the local community had a say on a number of significant local development and policy proposals, some highly controversial and NRCC has helped save one heritage building for future Community use.


NRCC have also seen the Highland Council initiate at the end of 2020, in the midst of continued restrictions on public meetings, two significant Common Good consultation processes with the people of Nairn for ‘disposal’ of Nairn Common Good Assets the Links Tearoom and Store and for Sandown Lands


NRCC continues to await the closer community collaboration with THC promised since 2018 by Donna Manson particulary with regard to improving community oversight of Nairn’s Common Good Assets and developing local agreement on consistent guidelines for any future changes of use or disposals.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

What exactly Nairn Common Good means and why it exists - the past, present and the future? NWSCC release information document related to consultation on Highland Council selling Sandown Lands

The Gurn has received a copy of the following document:

 
In response to local media articles and the current consultation about selling Sandown Common Good land a lot of questions are being asked about what exactly Nairn Common Good means and why it exists.  Nairn West and Suburban Community Council have compiled a 'Common Good Story' which takes us from the 12th Century to present day. This hopefully will be interesting and raise public awareness about what the issues are and how we could all as a community become more involved in the decisions which are being taken about Nairn community's assets.

Nairn Common Good – the Story.

As Scotland emerged from the fragmented and warlike ruling system of the early middle ages, the accession of King David I to the Scottish throne led to the pattern of settlements that we still see today.
Brought up in England, he had seen the prosperity which came through trade and co-operative working between merchants, tradesmen, seafarers and farmers, and the importance of links to mainland Europe.  Scottish merchants were empowered to hold markets and trade prospered between Moray Firth towns, the south of Scotland and the Continent. Fishing and shipbuilding became very important industries.

In the late 12th century, David’s grandson, William the Lion, built the Castle sited on Constabulary Gardens and granted Nairn a formal charter for a separate sheriffdom, the Burgh of Nairn.   The burgh was responsible for trade, law and order, markets and fishing rights.

King James VI visited Nairn in 1589 and confirmed Nairn’s burgh status with a new Royal Charter, and lands granted within the Burgh boundaries stretched from Tradespark to Kingsteps.  These public lands were known as ‘Commonties’ and could include shared grazing and farmland, peat banks, harbourage, bleaching greens, wells, areas for preparing nets and recreation.  Some areas remain in the form of Common Good lands at Sandown, Viewfield, the West Links, Foreshore, Sailing Club, Dunbar Golf Club, the East Links, Caravan Site and the Maggot.

Tolls raised by bailies could be used to improve the Burgh, and therefore the concept of a Common Good Fund used for the benefit of the town was established.  Sadly, corruption and grabbing of lands and assets by the magistrates became widespread, until in 1832 electoral reform law introduced proper local elections and the power to charge rates to pay for public health, housing etc.  The common good fund was no longer the principal source of funding for a burgh and councils were able to add to the Common Good assets by purchasing or receiving donations of assets and land, or investing.

In 1975, as part of local government organisation, Scottish Burghs were replaced by District and Regional Councils, with district councils scrapped in 1995.  The link between Common Good funds and their communities became tenuous and the new authorities had little understanding of the situation, holding Common Good assets on behalf of the inhabitants of the former burghs, but giving those same inhabitants no control over how assets were managed or spent.  Asset registers were neglected and have only recently been properly updated and adopted by Highland Council.

Fast forward to 2006 when a plan to market the remaining Tradespark Lands granted in the Charter of 1589, was drawn up behind closed doors at Highland Council (HC).   Sandown Farm had been rented out with the proceeds going to the Common Good Fund (CGF).

Significant expense was incurred compensating the sitting tenant and preparing the land for sale, but as the land was protected because of the 1589 charter, HC had actually no legal right to market it without Court permission.
This had not been sought nor the required consultation carried out, therefore the attempted sale was apparently null and void.  In the event the developer applied for 550 houses rather than the 300 allowed in the local plan, and was turned down by both HC and the Scottish Government reporter.

HC sought to recoup the expenses in 2013 by claiming some of Sandown Land, but this was also apparently an illegal process, and is currently being challenged.  

Meantime Nairn Community Councils and others were challenging the management of the Common Good Fund and the decision making processes.   Several high profile mismanagement issues had come to light, in particular the omission to raise the Caravan Park rental on a seven yearly cycle from 1993.  This lost the CG fund £187,000, which HC eventually agreed to reimburse in 2014.    

This brings us to who is responsible for Common Good Fund spending and decisions?
Nairn Common Good Fund is run like a trust and all 72 Highland Councillors are the ‘trustees’ having a duty to make decisions in the best interests of and obtain best value for the various Common Good Funds in the area.  This supersedes their duty to Highland Council.  Up to a certain limit, Nairn councillors can make common good decisions for Nairn, and receive financial reports, but there is no designated Nairn Common Good committee as in Inverness.
However, there is a major conflict of interest for these councillors, some of whom may also be directors of High Life Highland who are managing some of the CG assets.  As HC becomes more and more in debt, the temptation to replace statutory council spending (which other areas get as a right) with CG money is significant.

Common Good assets can be used to provide public open space or community buildings, to give out grants, or support local events.  Where HC uses CG land for statutory purposes like recreation it should pay rental like other users or maintenance in lieu of rent.  This happens in other burghs in Highland, but in Nairn HC pays neither rental nor maintenance for the CG lands it uses to provide necessary public open space.

There is a very pressing need for Nairn to have a Common Good committee which includes neutral representatives from the community.  This is the pattern in several other parts of Scotland, or even locally in Highland where at least one community council is consulted about CG decisions and spend.  A Nairn CG committee was promised in 2012 by HC officials and councillors but was never delivered.

And so to Sandown again………
Sandown Lands have been the property of the inhabitants of Nairn since 1589, over 430 years.  Over the last year, behind closed doors, plans have been formulated by HC officials and Nairn councillors to sell all the land to a developer as soon as possible. (according to the Ward Business minutes), and it appears a developer may already have been approached.
The majority of our public recreational spaces in Nairn and some community buildings are Common Good which is why it is so important they are preserved and not sold off.   Our common good land is also a major draw for tourists.  Without it we would not be a tourist destination and a large percentage of businesses in Nairn benefit greatly.  Another reason why having control over the development of Sandown is so very important.  It must incorporate and be part of a leisure, recreational, tourist gateway space so that we continue to make Nairn a tourist destination and create diverse jobs and livelihoods. 

The process has started with a three month consultation.  Court permission must then be sought before a sale can be allowed.   The rationale appears to be that more housing is required and that cashing in this property will provide a lump sum for the CG Fund. No evidence has been provided that this is needed now or in the next few years.

What are the issues for our community to consider?

Consultation or lack of it.
Covid.   Normally consultation would consist of public meetings and exhibitions.  A consultation on selling almost all the assets of the multimillion Nairn Common Good Fund during a pandemic and over the Christmas period with minimal discussion and an insubstantial 4 page document which lacks any rationale for the sale is unacceptable to say the least.
The Community Empowerment Act gives additional legal backing to the importance of consulting communities properly about use of their CG assets. 

Disputed Appropriation of Land by HC in 2013 and Lack of Clean Title because this land is from the Charter of 1589.
The land was not made legally available for sale in 2008 therefore no marketing expenses were valid.

Purposes and Alternatives.
No rationale for the sale at this time has been explained and no cost benefit analysis has been presented.
The legal duty to get the best price that is reasonably possible cannot be assured when there is only one option:  sale of the whole of the land for volume building.  This is likely to be the option bringing in the least money.
Other options of selling plots; leasing to provide long term income streams; selling small areas only and keeping control of options for recreation, leisure and tourist gateway uses of the land would give the community long term control of their asset.

Economic Meltdown
Between Covid and Brexit, the economy is facing the worst recession in 300 years.  Investments may be decimated while land and property should be much safer.  

Trustees Duties
Land value.   Sandown was valued at £14 million in 2006 with a bid of £22 million from the developer who was turned down.  It was £10 million in 2010, £7 million in 2013 and now £6-7 million.  Councillors have a duty to ensure that the interests of the CG fund are placed first.  This is clearly NOT the time to sell land which we have had for 430 years.  Councillors are thought to possibly be individually financially responsible if NCG loses most of its value by doing this.

Need for Housing
Housing is a statutory duty of the Local Authority it is most certainly not a function of the Common Good fund.  Current Scottish Government and Highland Council policy is to redevelop and renovate town centre property, not develop greenfield sites on the edge of town.  

How would the CG fund be used if this land was sold.
No case has been made for how the money would be used, and as with housing, the possible uses such as regeneration are likely to be as a substitute for HC statutory spend or regeneration grants which the taxpayers of the town are entitled to anyway.  
In particular the conflict of interest of Highland Councillors and lack of non conflicted representatives in the decision making process is completely unacceptable and needs addressing as a matter of urgency.

Conclusion:
Nairn Common Good lands are hugely important assets to the people of Nairn.   Sandown has been in the Common Good for over 430 years and once sold lock stock and barrel to a single developer that is it.  Gone for ever.   Does Nairn need another bland housing development which profits a single developer?  There are other options and we in Nairn should be having more say in what happens to our town and in plans for its long term future.  What do we want?  Do we want to be a dormitory town to Inverness or to be independent and thriving where ‘place’ and local community are our priorities? 

At the moment all development decisions are made by Highland Council. In early 2021 guidance and regulations for community led Local Place Plans, one of the provisions of the new Scottish Planning System will be published.   Why is Highland Council proposing the sale of Sandown Lands at this time?  Should any talk of sale be off the table until such time as markets improve, and other options have been explored through proper community consultation under the new Local Place Plan legislation?  Food for thought!  This is your opportunity to make a difference to Nairn.  Yes, we need some more housing but is the sale of the entire Sandown Common Good land at this point a good deal for the people of Nairn and it’s future generations?   In 2021 we will have the opportunity to work in partnership with Highland Council to shape the future of our town.  

Get involved and have your say by submitting your comments by e mail to commongood@highland.gov.uk
or post to Sara Murdoch, Highland Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5NX.
Closing Date 12th February 2021.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

It kicks off at Nairn River CC AGM but Highland Councillor Ron MacWilliam does a great job calming things down

High drama as Ron took the chair for the election of office bearers and it was certainly dramatic as the factions split 6-6 for Hamish Bain and Peter Gibson for the Chair but a cut of the cards secured it for Hamish as the Ace of Diamonds put him back in his role.


Then it was Simon Noble who became the Secretary after another cut of the cards and then with yet another cut Veronica MacKinnon became Treasurer.

Ron calmed several outbreaks of dissent by calmly listening to points of order and even took a conflict of interest claim by fellow Highland Councillor Liz MacDonald well and dealt with that effectively. 

A lot of unhappiness and there will be reverberations but Ron, here at the Gurn, we thought that you did a great job - a job that would have been impossible for any of our four regular Councillors given the recent history of events at Nairn River Community Council. 

But for River CC a nightmare scenario as the Chair and Secretary are now from the two opposing factions - the split is as deep as ever. 

Ironically Ron commentated before the vote on how he had never seen so many people at a Community Council meeting and how it indicated that people were passionate about their town.

Big online turnout for Nairn River CC AGM predicted this evening - out of town Highland Cllr Ron MacWilliam to chair election of office bearers

The Gurn understands that there will be a good turnout of members of the public at the Nairn River Community Council AGM this evening. It appears that all the three officer bearer positions have at least 2 candidates so there may be changes when all is done and dusted. 

An out of town Councillor, Ron MacWilliam, will handle proceedings for those vital few minutes when sitting officer bearers step down and a vote for the positions is held. It is unusual that someone from out of town should do that but perhaps members felt that was the best way to proceed given the stushie that erupted at the last online event and found its way onto the front page of the Nairnshire. 

Details of how members of the public can attend this online meeting are in the image below.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Nairn's housing crisis - could radical ideas be better than conventional development if people are willing to see homes on Sandown?

There is a housing crisis in the Highlands and young people especially are missing out on the opportunity of getting a home. The ongoing consultation for Sandown is about whether the Common Good land should be sold to a developer - but is that sort of conventional development not going to solve much at all? Single person's housing is by far the greatest need and developers like building bigger homes for sale.  Here's a screenshot of a post from Facebook that we shared. Is this sort of out of the box solution something we should be considering? 




Friday, January 08, 2021

The Nairnshire Courier to hit the streets - well more or less as the Tuesday Courier gets a massive Nairnshire makeover

The new News from Nairnshire Facebook page reads:"

"Introducing the new Nairnshire edition of the Inverness Courier 

The Inverness Courier is expanding its coverage of Nairnshire by providing a new weekly Nairnshire edition which will be available to purchase in local shops from Tuesday 12th January.
 
There will also be a section on the Inverness Courier website dedicated to Nairnshire coverage so that you can get the news, events, arts and sport linked to Nairn, Croy, Cawdor, Dalcross, Auldearn and Tornagrain, as soon as it happens. 
 
Make sure to give our Facebook page a like  and pick up a copy of the Nairnshire edition of the Inverness Courier from Tuesday 12th January."
 

 The Gurn also understands that local journalist Donald Wilson has been deployed by  HNmedia to help fill the big local news vacuum left by the demise of the Nairnshire Telegraph.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

The Nairn news void - can the Courier fill the breach with a Nairn supplement?

 With the passing of the Nairnshire it's a lot easier to be unaware of things going on in the town in 2021. So an interesting development as Strachans state on their Facebook page:

"Starting on Tuesday 12th January the Tuesday edition of the Inverness Courier will include a Nairn supplement. Supplies may be limited, so phone us on 453219 to reserve a copy."

A tough act to follow though.