Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Green Hive awarded Big Lottery Funding

Nairn’s environment charity has been successful in attracting a substantial two year grant from the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) to start in January 2019.

This grant will enable Green Hive to expand the volunteer projects and activities it runs and through piloting social enterprise introduce regular volunteering and work experience opportunities in Nairn.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “I am delighted that Nairn River Enterprise’s Green Hive project has been successful in securing a Big Lottery Fund grant. The funding will make a big difference where it is needed most and I wish Green Hive every success as it goes on to develop and expand its project for the benefit of their local community.”

Green Hive Chair Simon Noble said “This grant gives us a fantastic opportunity to consolidate the achievements of the past 2 years. We’ll be able to build on the partnerships we’ve forged with the schools, local organisations like the Allotments Society, Men’s Shed and WASPs Studios, and we’ll be able to organise so many more opportunities for people to volunteer and later on offer work placements and skills training.”

Green Hive’s success will make a difference in Nairn with public events being held in Viewfield and Riverside Park, opportunities for local residents to learn skills in food growing, sewing and up-cycling, and employment being created in the area.

This new funding from the BLF will enable Green Hive to expand its development officer’s role to support, coordinate and build our projects with two new staff roles being created later this year. It will go towards the cost of renting Green Hive’s hub space in the Old Links School; public events, maintenance and resources for the Viewfield community orchard; food, refreshments and training for volunteers; as well as the set up of our Green Enterprise.

Green Enterprise will take waste materials and create usable useful products to sell in our community, such as growing mushrooms from used coffee grounds. Our enterprise project will adopt a social enterprise model meaning that any profit generated will be used to fund charitable projects in Nairn.

Including this grant from the BLF, over the last two years Green Hive has enjoyed support from Scottish Government’s Voluntary Action Fund, The Davidson Trust, The Highland Council, The Pebble Trust, Foundation Scotland, Tescos Bags of Help and The Robertson Trust. This grant from the lottery will cement the progress they have assisted.

Green Hive is an organisation owned and managed by community volunteers. Our mission is to create more opportunities for the people of Nairn through action to protect and conserve our environment. We want to celebrate Nairn’s wonderful natural landscape and make Nairn a place where we are all proud to live. Green Hive coordinates the Viewfield Community Orchard and composting project, Bumblebags sewing group, community litter picks and ‘Art is Rubbish’ competition.

Find out more about Green Hive: follow us on facebook @NairnsGreenHive,,, 07453912697

Group photo taken at the Apple Day event 21st Oct 2018

Gill Hay picking litter at the beach and riverside clean up 30th September 2018

Volunteer sewing a Bumblebag

Alastair Simmons digging beds at the Viewfield Community Orchard

Nairn BID board confirm that they are fundamently opposed to the introduction of parking charges in Nairn

Press release from the BID:

Following a meeting of the Nairn BID Board of Directors in relation to the proposed car parking charges to be introduced to Nairn during 2019, the Board can confirm that they are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of parking charges in Nairn. We have requested that our Ward Councillors enter into a joint review of the proposal in order to review all options and to propose alternatives to car parking charges in the town.

The Board are seriously concerned about the impact that parking charges will have on the town, its local businesses and residents. A request has been put to the town’s ward councillors and we await their formal response. 

Nairn BID chair Michael Boylan said "We've recently had an admission and apology from Highland Council budget leader Councillor Mackinnon for the way in which the 2018/19 budget was led by the administration given that there was no real consultation and, in my opinion, no thought through consideration of the impact that parking charges would have locally. Fewer people coming into town means fewer jobs and higher welfare costs at a time when Nairn is coming together to ensure a prosperous future. At a recent public meeting, the newly appointed Highland Council Chief Executive stated that it is for local members to come up with solutions. We will engage with local members to ensure they find an alternative solution and hope they are open to this.”

Highland Council town health check - Nairn looking mid-table?

The Press and Journal reports: "A “health check” on the vibrancy of Highland towns and Inverness city centre has discovered stark contrasts in fortunes across the region.

The top locations were found to be Fort William, given 44 marks out of 50, and Alness, with 41 points.
Bottom of the “report card” were Portree on Skye, with 26, and Wick in Caithness, with 27."

Nairn comes in at 37 so we sort of look to be mid-table.  The Highland Council say in a press release: 

"The Highland Council has today announced significant progress in the quality of collection and reporting on the performance of it’s town centres through the release of new Town Centre Health Check “Story Maps”. 

Town Centre Health Checks are a means of assessing the strength, vitality and performance of town centres over time. The results of health check exercises are used to formulate strategies for improvements and inform policy documents.

Data was gathered in summer 2018 with fifteen town centres being assessed. Each town centre was scored against ten indicators of health including ease of movement and night time economy. Unit vacancies were recorded along with classifications of premises to allow analysis of long term trends and identify availability of services across different locations."

The Council produced story maps which you can read here.  There is information across the categories that the Council use and pie charts etc.   Here's some of the info:

"Nairn presented a very mixed picture when assessed. Its vacancy rate was higher than the Highland town centre average, yet it also provided a substantial retail offering and a number of key services. Several negative issues presented themselves. Cycling facilities were lacking, its built environment was poorly maintained in places and it had a large and prominent vacant site. It lacked much in the way of greenery, had little in terms of public art and appeared to have no real night time economy. "
In these troubled times for High Streets, it is perhaps interesting to read their assessment of our retail facilities:

"Nairn - Retail Audit
Send keyboard focus to media

Base Retail Audit

The Highland-wide retail audit was undertaken in order to establish the numbers and typology of retail units and uses within the chosen town centres. 

The survey identified 104 retail/business units in Nairn, of which:
24 were Comparison Retail 
22 were Leisure Services
17 were Retail Services
15 were Vacant
13 were Financial, Business & Property
7 were Convenience Retail
4 were Other Non-Retail Uses
1 was Accommodation
1 was Unknown"

"Independent/Local & National Retailer Mix

The presence of independent and local retailers in a town centre area is considered to be a sign of retail strength. Profits from independents usually stay within the local area and the shops often offer a unique and varied retail experience. A significant number of national retailers can, on the other hand, suggest that a town centre is a market success and worthy of attracting businesses based further afield. The percentage of local/independent retailers in Nairn was 70.96%, slightly below the Highland town centre average of 73.64% recorded in the retail audit."

They also say "The percentage of vacant units in Nairn was 14.42%, slightly above the Highland town centre average of 9.7%."

Well worth making a cuppa and heading for the story map created by Highland Council. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Nairn next year when the parking charges kick in?

How parking charges are influencing the local economy in the small towns of Angus after one month of the charges imposed by the local council. 

Highland Council parking charges 410K pain for 27K gain?

Here at the Gurn we were very interested to see that the Angus Businesses folk who are at their wits' end with the parking charges imposed upon them by the local Council since the 1st of November (see previous Gurn article here) had published information containg a list of how Councils that have Decriminalised Parking Enforcement in place were getting on.

The table below is available in a Transport Scotland PDF documenet here.  A-reir Comhdhail na h-Alba:

"A local authority operating a DPE regime must keep an account of their income and expenditure in respect of designated parking places and additional parking charges, in the permitted and special parking areas."

And so here's the table 

So fellow Gurnites, Highland Council had 648K of expenditure after 675K coming in from fines and pay and display etc. That left 27K in the pot to go to pay for repair of potholes and other transport related things? 

Do you work for Highland Council? Are you a councillor? It would be great to know an exact breakdown of how the 648K was spent. Please drop us a line here at the Gurn.

Update: We would wish to draw readers attention to the following twitter conversation with Cllr Ben Thomson (Lochaber). He tells us that that total Highland Council parking income is around £1.5m and not everything is in that table. To see the entire conversation click on the tweets to go to the relevant twitter thread.

How parking charges damage small town High Streets - real time evidence emerging from Angus after one month of parking charges.

On the 1st of November Angus Council started parking charges in Arbroath, Montrose, Brechin, Forfar and Kerriemuir. The real time evidence that ABRA (Angus Business and Reatail Association) is amassing is a stark warning for Nairn if Highland Council go ahead and implement parking charges here.

In 2019 Nairn town centre businesses will be hit with a double whammy too as Sainsbury's will effectively become a retail park, with another store next door and  a McDonalds too complete with free parking for all. Nothing against other businesses up there  folks but hey let's have a parking level playing field for the folks in the High Street please! Remember that the organisation that gave planning permission for that development will also be the one that puts in parking charges to the town centre - more joined up thinking from Highland Council?

There is evidence of a drop in takings (83% of respondents to the survey report a drop in trade and nine businesses had paid stoff off already), reduced hours of business opening and staff lay-offs. See more details in the image below. The businesses affected are fighting a spirited campaign to get the parking meters taken away but, so far, it looks like Angus Council are not shifting from their strategy. More indications that Nairn business have to become more proactive and come out fighting now as it is a lot harder to stop the meters once they are in. More details of the ABRA campaign against parking charges on their Facebook page here. 

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Common Good Fund notes from the Borders that may be of interest to the many serious students of these matters in Nairn

We've got a link for you folks, it isn't a long read when you get there but it centres on what sort of things go in a register of assets from the historical standpoint. Here it is. 

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Team Hamish "saddened that precious common good funds have been spent undertaking yet further consultations..."

Readers may have seen the previous article this week, available here: "Explosion of support for Team Hamish on popular Nairn social media pages as public anger grows towards Highland Council over their attitude to the award winning organisation."  The Gurn had understood that Team Hamish had been concerned for some time about the attitude of Highland Council towards their project and finally went public with their frustrations. 

Today the Highland Council published a press release in connection with their own Links consultation which they have budgeted 15K of Nairn Common Good Fund cash for. In the light of recent developments the Gurn asked Team Hamish for comment on today's press release from Highland Council. They told us:

"We are saddened that precious common good funds have been spent undertaking yet further consultations when the community has made their preferences clear on a number of previous occasions.

Additionally we believe the community would have welcomed transparency and open dialogue regarding the formal procedures to be followed in making such critical decisions when enhancing the town."

Here is the Highland Council press release from earlier today:

Another successful consultation event was held at the Nairn Community and Arts Centre on Saturday 3rd December where it was confirmed that the draft outline plan put forward at the first event held at the Community Centre in November met with broad approval, as did the proposed projects to deliver the plan. 

Nick Wright, consultant, said: “Throughout, this has been a positive process with very good levels of community engagement and lots of consensus about future priorities for the Links, keeping the natural character whilst updating what the Links has to offer, with an emphasis on local organisations working collaboratively with the Council. Almost everyone who came to the event was comfortable with the projects put forward, and with the suggestions of who would be involved from the community and the proposed next steps to start delivering the projects."

What has emerged, as well as strong support for improving the area around the Paddling Pool and James Cafe in collaboration with all interested parties, is a widespread desire for new facilities to blend in with the natural setting of the Links. Another main priority is improving accessibility across the Links and particularly to the beach.

The consultation is moving into the concluding phase and the final report is now being prepared. The Council intends to set up a meeting in January with key potential delivery partners who have emerged from the consultation process to enable early action to agree delivery on the ground on a project by project basis. The clear message from the local community is to ‘make things happen’.

Area Chair Councillor Tom Heggie said: “On behalf of the Nairnshire Councillors I would like to thank the people of Nairn for their enthusiasm and input to the consultation process. I have received several very positive reports from groups who were consulted and they have remarked on how carefully the consultant listened to them. We are now awaiting his draft set of proposals which will be discussed with a range of stakeholders. This will allow the final proposals to be ratified at the March meeting of the Nairnshire Committee.”

Contact the Elderly - Nairn tea parties to combat lonliness

Guests and volunteers from a group aimed at overcoming loneliness marked a new beginning with a special event at Nairn’s Golf View Hotel.

Contact the Elderly, which combats social isolation among older people through tea parties, usually meets at a local volunteer’s home. But last weekend the charity celebrated the re-launch of the Nairn group with a luxury afternoon tea at the hotel – and issued an invitation to others in need of company to join them.

The charity organises monthly, free tea parties all over Scotland for older people who live alone and don’t have the chance to get out and about much and socialise. Transport is provided by volunteer drivers who chauffeur guests door-to-door.

The Nairn group had been temporarily in abeyance but is now fully up and running again and looking for more guests and volunteers to join the party.

Caroline Peter, Contact the Elderly Support Officer, said:

“We’re thrilled to have the Nairn group running again as it’s such a great opportunity for an older person in need of a bit of company to meet like-minded folk in a friendly and relaxed setting.

“It might just be a chat over a cup of tea and some cake but for some people who are socially isolated from the community it can be a real lifeline of friendship. The difference it can make to someone living alone is immense. 
“We know that the thought of meeting new people can be quite daunting but the atmosphere is always really friendly and welcoming.

“Our drivers get to know the guests and can strike up real friendships. It’s just a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon and the hosts and drivers get as much enjoyment out of it as the guests.

“We’d be delighted to hear from anyone interested in joining our parties as a guest or volunteer driver or host in Nairn.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer or guest with Contact the Elderly in Scotland, please contact Caroline Peter on 01561 405011 or

Christmas Concert - proceeds to Team Hamish - Drumossie Hotel Tues 11th December 2018 7.30pm

It's that time of the year again! The Terribles are dusting off their jingle bells and getting ready to shock & delight the good people of Inverness and area at their annual charity Christmas concert.
The event of the year is on Tues 11th Dec at 7.30pm in the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness. A cheery mix of show music, light classics and Christmas singalong.
Tickets £8 at the door or book on 01667 453507.
All proceeds to Team Hamish.

Swan and Duck update, six years on from the formation of a Trust

More on the Simply Superb Swans site. 

Could Jumble Sales make a comeback in Nairn? A vist to the Nairn CAB fund-raiser last Saturday

It was great fun to have a rummage around the varioius bits and pieces laid out in the Nairn CAB office on Saturday. This observer managed to find an unused flask to take the place of his  metal one that has mysteriously given up retaining heat after several years. Such is the serendipity of jumble sales. It was fabulous  to get back into a retro jumble haggling situation for once. Many folk will remember jumble sales, will we see more? The only downside is that someone has to take away what is left over and store it somewhere etc. 

Anyway, good to visit the CAB fundraiser and have a blether with some of the volunteers who give their time free to help anyone with a problem. Sadly, they are needed more than ever as there are an increasing number of people with problems, financial and otherwise and it doesn't look like that situation may diminish in the near future. Universal Credit and other factors such as the cost of living are continuing to have a major effect. Well down the volunteers for doing all they can to help those in difficulties. 

The CAB are still in the process of sorting out multi-agency funding to move to a more suitable  bespoke premises with facilities to receive clients in a much better way and space for those who have no choice  but to bring their bairns downtown with them when they seek help with problems. The Gurn understands that the CAB may soon launch a crowd-funding initiative - every penny given to this essential facility will be money well-spent. Merry Christmas to all the folks at the CAB and thank you for all your hard work for our community!

Slideshow in pictures below and individual images here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Explosion of support for Team Hamish on popular Nairn social media pages as public anger grows towards Highland Council over their attitude to the award winning organisation

Lots of comments coming in on the article below which has been posted on the Team Hamish facebook page and also on the popular Nairn pages "Nairn our town, our views" and "Nairn Rocks".  It looks like Highland Council have succeeded in upsetting an entire community. Why do they always have to be like this towards Nairn? 

Nairn BID make first appointment

The board of Nairn BID have made their first appointment. Janis MacLean has taken up her role as the new Nairn BID Manager. Janis works on a part-time basis and will work from the BID office which is located upstairs in Nairn Community & Arts Centre.

Following a recruitment process led by Chair Michael Boylan and Vice Chair Peter Gibson, Janis has now started her new role. Janis brings a range of skills to her role as manager and looks forward to working together with the local community and Nairn's businesses, to rebuild Nairn’s reputation as a vibrant town for all.

Previously, Janis has worked for the Highland Military Tattoo at Fort George, as sales & marketing manager, working with the team to promote the Tattoo throughout the Highlands. Janis would collaborate with tourism operators, local businesses, schools, event organisers and the hospitality industry, to forge relationships which would inevitably benefit all concerned, building on marketing, sales and sponsorship opportunities.

Janis also has experience of working in a similar role to that of a BID Manager, having worked for a community owned and managed charitable development company. Its key aim was to develop and improve the way of life and standard of living in the local area, working with a range of community groups and volunteers to implement a regeneration strategy, which would develop sustainable projects that tackle important issues within the community.

Janis also supported the initial project team for Nairn BID and has also owned her own business so therefore understands the challenges that can be faced by many small business owners. She hopes that by working together, Nairn can build upon its existing strengths and make our town a must-visit destination to shop, live and visit.

Chair of Nairn BID Micheal Boylan said “this is an important appointment for Nairn, one of the biggest benefits of having a BID is the resource it brings to support local businesses and groups. The role is part time and is supported by the commitment given from the board of directors and other partners on the local community”

You can contact Janis by e-mail on or drop into the office. As her hours can be varied, please either call, message or text first. Her contact number will be available later this week, which will be publicised on here and on our website.

Islamaphobia incident - thougthful editorial in the Nairnshire Telegraph this week

Nip out and buy the Leopold Street Thunderer this week folks there is a very well thought out editorial about a recent episode described on a scottish radio station. Iain Bain reflects on that and the treatment that Hardhip Singh received from a heckler at the Nairn Festival in 2017. That incident was met with a wave of support for Hardhip, I hope there is a similar reaction from some of our civic leaders perhaps to the lady who received this appaling treatment and was, after all, simply a visitor to our town - and we want as many of those as we can get. 

Here's a description of the incident in question, someone has put an extract from the programe on a soundcloud file.

County Youth policy in action - Nairn U20s 1 Lossie U20s 0

A couple of short videos from the second half at Station Park last night.

Monday, December 03, 2018

S2S plans no more

Meanwhile in Angus worried retailers getting desperate after a month of parking charges in small town communities

Here at the Gurn we believe the current situation with parking charges in the Angus towns (introduced at the start of November) is a good indication of how things will pan out in Nairn if Highland Council go ahead and impose parking charges on us. It's a parallel universe that awaits us next year. 

Here's a close up of what the posters say.

Links Development Consultation - a flying visit on Saturday on the way to the football

This observer attended the Links consultation held by Highland Council in the Community and Arts centre at 14.30 on Saturday afternoon. It looked pretty good, with a huge map on the floor, pictures on the wall and information posters for you to look at and some buttons to put in a plastic jar for whatever really tickled your Christmas fancy. Pictures below.

Individual images here

We had a bit of a blether with one or two folk, including some of Santa's little helpers who had just finished another busy shift downstairs at the Nairn Play Christmas fair. Here it all was before us, the ultimate Nairn Links Christmas wish list. This observer bottled it however (the lure of Station Park and Nairn County versus Deveronvale at 15.00 was beckoning), handing my button tokens (invest in your Links dreams currency?) over to Tom Heggie who was in situ with his three colleagues.

We understand from what Tom Heggie had to say at a recent Nairn River Community Council meeting that this consultation is wide ranging, has included Team Hamish, schools, etc, etc. 15K of Common Good cash has been set aside for consultation. It all looks top of the range and will be online too we were told. Here's hoping whatever people want doesn't get left on the shelf with all the other reports and plans that have come and gone over the years. It was evident from the River CC meeting that there are different ideas about where the money will come from with a school of thought that Team Hamish cash is the only game in town while Peter Saggers believes that the Common Good could possibly make contributions and Tom Heggie speaking about the eventual resulting framework accessing other funds.

Meanwhile the award winning Team Hamish plan certainly seems to be raising Nairn's profile out there in town planning world.