We've had a fair bit in the local press recently about how visions of "Community Empowerment" differ between the newly created Nairnshire Community Partnership and the town's Community Council's. We posted an article last month. Is it just another false dawn that will result in Community Empowerment simply becoming another centralised service?
We have to admit that here at the Gurn we are perhaps the most pessimistic we have ever been about the chances of Nairn ever having a proper say in its own affairs and attempting to plan its own future, rather than others coming to town and telling us what has to be done - but maybe we have just grown too cynical and it is time to leave it all to more optimistic and visionary voices out there. We won't go as far to say that "we're doomed" but feel that the present situation is not very far away from that at the moment as far as addressing the democratic deficit goes.
Serious students of these matters may wish to read an article in the latest newsletter from the Scottish Community Alliance entitled "Let communities Shape their own future" which features an essay from Stephen Maxwell at View magazine; it really does give a deep analysis of the situation in Scotland and describes some of the forces preventing real change in this direction. Here's a wee snippet:
"‘Community' has become one of the most deceiving words in Scotland’s political lexicon. Community planning seemed to promise that local communities would take the lead in the planning of their own services. Instead it has defined communities as one voice among many more powerful voices, mainly from the public sector, in a process led by local authorities.
'Community budgeting' seemed to promise that communities would gain control of a budget of their own to spend on their priorities. Instead it turned out to be a process by which public authorities would disaggregate their spending in local communities to establish the size and bias of the overall spend; a useful ambition but not quite what seemed to be promised by the headline.
'Community empowerment' was the most deceiving of them all. It seemed to leave little scope for misunderstanding; communities were to be given the power to take decisions on their own account along With a capacity to implement them, But it turned out to mean that communities would be helped to contribute their views on local priorities and to present them to multi-sectoral structures, such as community planning partnerships,"
Scottish Greens Transport Spokesperson John Finnie MSP has expressed concern at a move by the UK Government to change the method of rail funding in Scotland over the next five years, thus reducing the funds available to improve the rail network.
The Scottish Government was due to publish its Statement of Funds Available for railways on Friday 13th October, yet the UK Government’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t inform the government of its final offer until the day before.
The change will mean that a long term agreement between the Scottish and UK Government’s in place since 2005 will become defunct and Scotland will no longer receive funding proportionate to the size of the Scottish rail network.
John Finnie said:
“I am extremely concerned that the UK Government has taken the decision to reduce the funding allocated to maintain and improve Scotland’s rail network. The current funding arrangements have been in place for more than ten years and ensure that Scotland receives a share of railway funding proportionate to its share of the rail network.
“At a time when we know we must reduce harmful emissions to mitigate the impact of climate change it is vital that we increase investment in rail and other forms of sustainable travel. Cutting investment in rail by £600 million is absurd and will only make it that much harder to tackle climate change.
“This cut in funding will have real impacts on communities across Scotland. Only last month the Transport Minister announced he would fund a feasibility study into the Levenmouth rail link in Fife. While there is improvement required on the Highland Main Line, the Far North Line and on the Inverness to Aberdeen route. All of these projects and others across the country may now be hampered by this funding cut.
“I hope colleagues from all parties can put differences aside and match their requests for improved rail infrastructure by joining my call on the UK government to revisit this decision and ensure that Scotland continues to receive its fair share of rail funding.”
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.
It was July 2nd this year that I travelled up to Nairn from Paisley to see St Mirren play the hosts, Nairn County FC in a pre season friendly. Leaving the score aside, it was the immediate impression of a well run club run by seriously good people that made my mind up that a return trip was a must.
But for the passing of young Calum Riddell and the subsequent cancelling of yesterday's SHFL game against Huntly, that trip would have been made yesterday. However after an early departure from Paisley this morning, I arrived outside Station Park for the Calum Riddell benefit match, to be met once again by Andy the gate steward who I was talking to when a gent wearing a yellow Nairn County jacket approached me and said "Stuart, nice to meet you at last. I'm Donald Matheson, club chairman" From that point in time I met all manner of club members, from deputy chairman Ian Finlayson and director Shone Devine to club legend, goalkeeper Richard Konzack of the 1975/76 league winning side. Indeed there were more but one or two of their names have slipped my mind for which I can only apologise. I was flabbergasted by a few people that came up and shook my hand because they follow me on Twitter or saw John Dolan's excellent article in last Tuesdays Nairnshire Telegraph which included a photo I sent him.
The match itself was well contested with one or two meaty tackles going in but on the whole it was played in a good atmosphere and the final score, a 1-1 draw was the perfect end to an emotional day.
After the game, club photographer Kenny MacLeod kindly took a couple of photos of me and the chairman standing on the park in front of the stand. I said my goodbyes to a few people and all to soon, I was back in the car and pointing it in the general direction of my home town of Paisley. Sitting at home I am still turning over in my mind everything that happened today. The 390 mile round trip was nothing. I had enjoyed myself immensely and I have very intention of being back at Station Park before the end of the season. Once again I was welcomed with open arms by many that I now consider my friends.
So thank you all and all the best for the rest of the season. The "Wee County" are my SHFL team. No mistake.
We go off topic a bit here but there are big changes on the way, bulk-data and technology will see that and a lot of certainties around employment and in fact entire professions may change beyond recognition or vanish and new ones emerge. So what could it all mean for Nairn, will the opportunities and dangers from change be greater here in Nairn? And if change is coming are there ways we in Nairn can adapt without having to go through the gatekeepers of the likes of the centralist high heid yins in Inverness? Will we remain virutally powerless in determining our community's future or will Scottish Government "community empowerment" legislation ever filter down into mechanisms that will allow this caring community's creativity and compassion to flower (providing we can all sing off the same hymn sheet of course once we know what we want beyond freedom from Highland Council - Saor Inbhir Narrann!) :-)
This video was recommended to us by one of our regular readers a few days ago. There can be no doubt that technology is bring many changes to the way we live. The guy in this video makes his case around economics - if it is cheaper to do things a different way then there will be change - big changes, in fact a "disruption" on the scale of moving from horses to the internal combustion engine.
Get a cuppa or a dram and give this vid a go...
One of our regular readers said he thought it mind-blowing...
What a day at Station Park as County knocked Whitehill Welfare out of the Scottish Cup - Whitehill played in a strip similar to Saint Ninian's and meanwhile at the Showfield Saint Ninian were playing a team called Whitehills (no relation to the other team appearing across the other side of the tracks.
Results today were Nairn County 1 Whitehill Welfare 0 and over the way Nairn Saint Ninian 7 Whitehills 0. A great day for soccer in Nairn...and then came the Scottish Cup draw and Nairn will be at home to Cove...the team that beat us 8-0 last week but it is the cup and Sharpie and his boys will be up for it.
Anyway here's a bit of vid from both of the fixtures.
The priorities with which The Highland Council will grit roads within the Nairn area this winter have been approved by local Councillors at the Nairnshire Committee held earlier today (Thursday 21 September).
The winter maintenance plan for the Nairn area includes priority road lists and maps showing the priority gritting routes.
The Committee discussed the priorities of gritting a network of 66km primary routes, 98km secondary routes and 169km of other routes in the Nairn area.
Primary routes are treated first, followed by secondary routes and crews will only move on to treat other roads when the primary and secondary routes are all completed.
The routes have been set within the context of the Council’s current Winter Maintenance Policy which is in place to ensure a consistent level of service is applied across all areas of the Highlands. Each year local areas put in place their Winter Maintenance Plan to cover the operational details in order to deliver a service locally within existing budget and resources.
In the Nairn area 9 members of staff will be delivering winter maintenance supported by local Amenity, Streets and Wasteoperatives.Three front-line gritters and one footapath tractor will be available.
Chair of the Nairn-shire Committee, Cllr Tom Heggie said: “Across the Nairn area real time date is obtained from 3 sites on the local road network, as well as one on the trunk road. These sensors provide staff with key information on the surface temperature and road conditions and a rota system will be in place to ensure experienced staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Throughout the winter months we will monitor the agreed plan to make sure we provide the best possible service and use all the resources available most effectively.”
Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie has called on Highlands and Islands Enterprise to cancel an arms industry event it is organising in which, “Businesses in the Highlands and Islands are being invited to a free workshop to find out how the region can benefit from opportunities in the aerospace, defence, security and space industries.”
Mr Finnie has previously raised concerns with HIE about using public monies to support the defence industry.
The free workshop will be held in at An Lòchran, Inverness Campus on Tuesday 26 September and invites local businesses to find out how the region can benefit from opportunities in the aerospace, defence, security and space industries. It is organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and ADS Scotland which is the Scottish branch of the aerospace, defence, security and space industry trade organisation, ADS.
Mr Finnie has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament condemning this event and the use of public monies to promote the an industry that produces weapons that can be used to maim and kill innocent civilians which also calls on the Scottish Government to review its agencies' policies on the promotion of such organisations and for HIE to cancel this event.
Mr Finnie said;
“Public money should not be used to support the design, manufacture and sale of arms.
“The arms industry around the world is obscenely wealthy and needs no encouragement, let alone public finance to support its sordid trade.
“When I’ve previously raised issued with HIE about their support I’ve been told it’s hard to separate the manufacture of items which could have an application for the defence industries.
“There’s precious little public money about and it certainly should not be used to advance this particular sector.
“I have contacted the Chief Executive of HIE asking that she cancel this event and hope the Scottish Government will be progressive and stop all public support to the arms sector.”
Today the boys in yellow and black have a visit from the league leaders Cove - it will be a huge challenge for Ronnie Sharp's high-performing squad but against all expectations they still sit in the upper echelons of the Highland League Table.
For all the latest on the situation on and off the pitch at Station Park there's no better way to find out the latest information than to read the Chairman's (Donald Matheson's) autumn update that has just been published on the club site.
"An incident which occurred during a Festival event last night has been reported to the Police. This involved a comment which was made to Hardeep Singh Kohli during his evening event. We are aware that this comment caused offence. We would like to make it clear that we felt that the incident was dealt with firmly and conclusively at the time it occurred. Having spoken to Hardeep Singh Kohli at length, it is clear that he felt that the incident was dealt with appropriately by all parties concerned.
Hardeep Singh Kohli commented - "I had the most amazing time in Nairn surrounded by the most welcoming people. One man's idiocy couldn't undo the warmth I felt and the support of my friends in Nairn." "
Earlier today on the popular Nairn Rocks Facebook page hundreds of Nairn folk had added their support to an article condemning the comments, the article had been posted on the Facebook page by an eye-witness who was disgusted and shocked by the behaviour of one of the audience at the previous night's festival event.
If you couldn't make it to the games the live broadcast that was put out on the popular Nairn when you were a bairn facebook pages is available here.
The page's administrator Stephen Smerdon tells the Gurn the broadcast was very successful: "at one point 1800 viewers from Australia, new Zealand, USA, Canada, Malaysia and every country in between all watching live at the same time, including the housebound and indeed in some cases bedbound."
A ground breaking service obviously very much appreciated giving many folk far away a chance to see what was going on at home.
Before you read this we urge you to get yourself a copy of the Nairnshire Telegraph and digest the contents of the front page and this week's editorial and you can get an idea of the fall-out from the fall-out between the town's Community Council's and the Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership. So what's the partnership then? Now there have been a lot of different entities over the years that have had some sort of “partnership” title and have met in the Courthouse – usually for death by Powerpoint sessions. This observer has seen a few of them come and go and usually they felt nothing more than talking shops but perhaps the odd crumb of comfort and achievement did come out of them from time to time. Have we moved on to something completely different thanks to Scottish Government legislation? The document we have received recently from the Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership explains what it is and why it is there - “community empowerment” led to its birth. Some readers may have responded to their survey – a link to that survey appeared here and on many local social media meeting places.
Of course we have often stated that the best form of community empowerment would be the recreation of the Nairn District Council and obviously we could never get back exactly what has gone but real power back in that chamber is the only way to go. In the meantime we have to make do with the Community Councils as the nearest thing to a local democratic forum but they are more or less toothless and often ignored as coverage of local planning issues has consistently shown. Now we have the Partnership as well and the community councils are not happy with the way the Partnership has been reacting to them – and from the content of Nairnshire Telegraph today it looks like the feeling is mutual.
The Community Councils are holding a meeting to discuss their role in local decision taking, planning and Community Empowerment in the Community and Arts Centre on Wednesday the 20th September at 8 pm following a monthly meeting of Nairn River CC at 7 pm.
And the Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership have a meeting soon too. Their next meeting being scheduled for 1000 hours on Monday 25th September 2017 at the Nairn Community Centre. This is a meeting held in public according to the partnership.
So serious students of these matters may wish to attend one or both of those meetings.
Now the information we have received from the Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership
The Nairn & Nairnshire Community Partnership was established following the introduction of the Community Empowerment Act 2015. This legislation identified the five statutory partners to support this process as the Local Authority, NHS, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.
Chief Inspector Brian Mackay is the partnership chair and a core group containing representatives from the five statutory partners has been established, Highlife Highland and the Voluntary Sector also provide valuable support and input. In addition, Nairn Area Inspector Mike Middlehurst has accepted the request to be deputy chair.
The Nairn & Nairnshire Community Partnership replaces the Nairn District Partnership and this will be used as a structure for the partnership to cement relationships whist working together for the benefit of our communities.
The Community Partnership has key areas to address in ensuring that it works together to progress the following plans for the Partnership area.
Children’s plan (led by the local authority)
Adults plan (led by the NHS)
Locality plans (led by the partnership)
Community learning and Development plans (led by Highlands & Islands Enterprise).
The content of these plans although in draft format at this time will on completion be replicated on the Partnership Website. The direction of each plan has been agreed following considerable Community Consultation within the Partnership area where “The Place Wheel” survey was made available for completion and return to the Partnership. This has then enabled informed decisions to be made in respect of populating the respective plans for going forward. This process, along with information already known by all partners, ensured that the relevant areas of inequality being identified and that with additional support from other agencies improvements can be being made.
Progress to Date
The first partnership meeting took place on in October 2016. Where in attendance were the statutory partners, the voluntary sector and members of the public. Key priorities were discussed and plans were commenced for community engagement/consultation to take place as detailed above.
Having received and analysed the data returned from the consultation period the partnership will now focus on what the local issues are for our communities and how we can all work effectively as a partnership to improve the quality of life for our communities.
The initial analysis has identified a number of areas that require attention as these are the issues that directly affect our communities. In order to have control of these issues the undernoted categories are being developed for inclusion in the Locality Plan. These are
Spaces and Places
Employment and training
which we as a Partnership will now prioritise. Although at a very early stage the Plans being developed by the Partnership will on being agreed, be shared in order that our communities are aware of the Partnership direction and how it is striving to improve life in our communities.
Future meetings and Communications
We will share the progress of the partnership, and any news stories, by means of the local media and social media.
The partnership is working towards having a “Twitter” feed, an Instagram Page and if sufficient interest was evident a Facebook page. Design is also ongoing for an emblem to demonstrate commitment to Nairn and our surrounding communities, progress on its development will shared when available.
The partnership will meet bi-monthly, with the date and venue of the meeting being shared on the Website www.highlandcpp.org.uk. The next meeting being scheduled for 1000hours on Monday 25th September 2017 at the Nairn Community Centre. This is a meeting held in public.