Thursday, February 22, 2018

Anti parking charges movement blossoms on Nairn High Street - now there's a petition

Posters rapidly appearing in windows today and The Flower Shop and other outlets also have petition sheets. 

Potholes rapidly turning into craters at A96 King Street roundabout

Getting even worse as you approach the King Street roundabout on the A96 from the east. Take care folks. 

New funding to tackle Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species on the River Nairn

"PROJECT managers are now in place to lead an ambitious four-year scheme to reduce the population of American mink and target non-native plants including Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed around riverbanks in Nairn, Findhorn and Lossiemouth."

Royal Bank Closure later this year - Nairn River Community Council to protest on Saturday March 10th

NRCC, at their regular monthly meeting in the Community and Arts centre, last night decided that they would organise a protest outside the Royal Bank of Scotland Branch in Nairn to show their concern at the effect the  intended closure of the branch will have on businesses and individuals in the town. The protest will take place on the morning of Saturday 10th March. 

Recently there was a meeting in the town in which David Richardson of the Federation of Small Businesses and local MP Drew Hendry spoke of the ongoing effect that bank closures were having on rural communities in Scotland and the damage more closures could cause. Video of that meeting here. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Parking charges latest - debate at River Community Council meeting - Tom Heggie outlines his posistion

There was quite a lot on tonight at the regular meeting of the Nairn River Community Council. A large number of members of the public were present and also Highland Councillors Tom Heggie, Laurie Fraser and Liz MacDonald with apologies form Peter Saggers. When it came to the subject of parking charges the Chair of the meeting, Tommy Hogg, asked Tom Heggie to speak. Cllr Heggie began:

"As you are aware there was a meeting last Tuesday and people made their views known and we as councillors made our views known. We were in a situation in the Council that every Councillor was told that if they had a proposal to take something out of the budget they had to have a substitute because there was a need for a balanced budget. The proposals were put through with the proviso that further consultation would take place. All of the Councillors voiced their disapproval.

We accepted that there would be further consultation. We've been doing quite a lot of research. Michael Boylan from the BID and the Association of Businesses, he has offered to pull together people to discuss all the implications with us and we will be having meetings with – in fact- the budget leader sent me an e-mail today saying he's be open to meeting with us to discuss proposals. The toilets should be seen as part of the whole package.

We are looking at , again there's lack of clarity about everything. Where we are at the moment, was I have made a plea to the Council and, that a) we were put in an invidious situation that nobody had valued, nobody had put a sum of money on what this car parking was supposed to generate. Some of the car parking was Common Good and further research indicates that there's a probability that other areas are in the same situation and there's maybe other complications that a head of service or whoever is proposing this hasn't researched properly.

We have the support of Michael Boylan and as a group of councillors we will be looking closely at further developments. Liz who is a member of the opposition and they wish this to be postponed. That was not carried in the Council but the four councillors are bringing information together and it looks as though, because this has not been thought through the proper – who actually owns the land I think would be a fair one. It's not been properly researched, that there is still a case to be made, a strong cast to be made that this should be taken off the table but we are in the early days of negotiating that. That would be our view, that would be our objective and that is what we will be trying to achieve. Having it taken off the table but the other side of that is we also need clarification and there was a great lack of clarification about the whole idea of the toilets and how that can be progressed. In some communities Alness and others in the West they have taken responsibility locally and they have community groups that are talking responsibility for certain activities in the community, quite extensive involvement in quite a number of activities but we don't have that option at the moment. "

Tom was then questioned by Iain Bruce of the Community Council and faced criticism from Sheena Baker too. More when time permits. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

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

If there's not much being posted here it's worth having a look at the Gurn twitter account. Quite a lot happens in the Nairn twittersphere these days and you can scroll down the wee twitter boxie on the right hand side as far as you like to see what the latest craic is. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either. 

Parking charges for Nairn - mystery of how they were strangled at birth yet again before the 2017 Highland Council budget.

Just for historical purposes we thought we'd link back to pre-budget posturing at the end of 2016 when the possibility parking charges for Nairn and other small towns and communities in the Highlands emerged yet again in a Press and Journal report. 

There then followed some very entertaining comment  from (then) councillor Michael Green at a Community Council meeting:  

"So it is incredibly unlikely and what was driving it transpired was seemingly some councillors down in Fort William who couldn't get to sleep at night with the thought of folk in Nairn getting free parking. " More here 

And so once again parking charges never appeared - fast forward to 2018 and we wait with interest as to how Tom, Laurie and Peter will expand on their cunning strategy of stopping parking charges for Nairn by voting for them in the budget - maybe more in the Leopold Street Thunderer tomorrow too. Where there's a will there's a way? 

Don't forget citizens of Gurnshire you can also go along and try and catch the eye of the chair of River CC Tommy Hogg on Wednesday night in the Community Centre at 7.30 and request to address the meeting yourself as parking charges are on that organisation's agenda for this week's meeting.  For the serious stundents of these matters, good comments too on a thread over on the ever-popular Nairn Rocks Facebook page. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Parking charges for Nairn - BIg turn out possible for Nairn River Community Council meeting on Wednesday night (21st Feb)?

When a controversial subject hits the public domain in Nairn it usually means a good turn-out for the local community council meetings. On Wednesday night in the Community and Arts Centre there will be a meeting of NRCC starting at 7.30 pm.

Item 10 on the agenda states: 

"Updates Parking, Harbour, Public Survey, Scottish Water liaison, RBS closure, NHS Dental Services at Nairn Hospital" . Full agenda here.

So there will be an opportunity to members of the public to react to the decision of three of Nairn's Councillors to vote for a budget that included parking charges for Nairn. Perhaps their decision included a strong hope that they could still do something to stop them as the process is implemented, their strategy seems to have been lost on the majority of residents however, with anger being expressed on social media and in real time too. 

Perhaps Tom, Laurie and Peter will turn up to tell the meeting how they intend to stop the parking charges (after voting for them in the Highland Council's budget). What is the method in their apparent madness? Maybe we will hear more too if they have spoken to Leopold Street's finest for when the Tuesday morning edition hits the streets. 

County win over Strathspey - videos of Jordon Madrae's goal and interview with Ali Nichol and Donald Wilson on latest ground improvement fund-raiser and things at the club in general

Match report here. 

Update pictures Donald Matheson - Individual images here.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Riviera Community Enterprises - A new eco-tourism initiative for Nairn

A small group of local people interested in tourism, cycling and the environment got together before Christmas and started to develop an idea which if it succeeds will bring a new eco-tourism initiative to Nairn in the summer. It will use a colourful, fun and eco-friendly type of transport that will also improve the well-being of many of the town’s elderly and housebound. And it’s an activity that additionally will provide healthy seasonal employment for several fit young people.

The answer the group came up with is ‘Riviera Rickshaw Rides’ – with the ‘Riviera’ reference being what the Moray Firth coast was known as - the ‘Riviera of the North’.  The group hopes to bring back a little of that 20’s and 30’s romance in its branding.

The fledgling organisation, will be a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity whose main aim will be to promote of eco-tourism, especially the pedal-powered variety in the Nairn area.
‘Its eco-tourism with social benefits’, added David Munro, who is a local professional tour guide who founded the Forres-based social enterprise Moray Wastebusters, ‘ as the aim is to also support the elderly, less able and housebound in the town to improve their well-being by taking them out for rides in the fresh air. The tourist service will help to subsidise that part of the service.

An iconic type of transport throughout Asia and now operating in many towns and cities throughout the UK rickshaws could become a colourful feature to the town’s quieter roads and paths leisurely carrying their passengers around Nairn’s attractive coastal scenery and countryside.

The plan is to operate two rickshaws specifically for tourists and one customised power- assisted rickshaw for use by Nairn’s less able residents. After receiving the appropriate training the customised rickshaw could be ridden by volunteers as well as the professional riders to ensure that as many as possible would get a chance to go outside on a sunny day, get some fresh air and maybe visit a seafront cafe for a cup of tea.

Having had an enthusiastic reception from the care homes and sheltered housing units we are just beginning to promote the idea to all the accommodation providers in Nairn. The ones we have spoken to so far have been enthusiastic and see it as a welcome addition to the town’s tourist facilities.
Many tourist whether its a middle-aged couple staying in the Muthu Newton, the Golf View Hotels or parents a toddler staying at the caravans park will enjoy using the colourful rickshaws which will travel slowly and safely around Nairn’s quieter roads and paths to allow their passengers to savour Nairn’s attractive scenery at a gentle pace.

The riders will simultaneously deliver a commentary about some of Nairn’s fascinating history from small fishing community to Victorian health resort.
We also hope to provide regular walking tours, which will add another dimension to Nairn’s tourist activities.

‘The response from the care homes and sheltered housing units has been very enthusiastic and we’re looking forward to the day the service will start - hopefully by the early summer. I’ll be giving presentations to the care homes over the coming weeks to let them know more about the service and what it entails’ added David.

Rickshaw Rides is based on a Danish organisation that is already operating in some towns in Scotland called ‘Cycling Without Age’ ( but the main difference is that while CWA relies entirely on volunteers we will be asking a donation to help cover the wage of the rider and help make the service more sustainable. If people want to volunteer that’s fine and we’ll be happy to train them but in terms of not disappointing any residents we felt it was better to use both staff and volunteers. We’ll be closely monitoring how that works in practice.

The enterprise will operate out of Leopold Street’ David added, ‘the location is ideal because we effectively have a high-street location with potential to develop a small tourist hub here’. We are currently exploring with VisitNairn and VisitScotland the possibility of being a Visitor Information Point where tourists will be able to come to the office to get information about everything that’s happening locally.

Through using the rickshaw service nad providing electric and mountain bike hire our aim is to promote Nairn and the surrounding area as an eco-tourist destination –we have a beautiful area with above-average sunshine, a stunning coastline, the UK’s biggest coastal forest and an attractive rolling hinterland with rugged moors- all dotted with attractive villages, medieval castles and forts. The beauty of it all is that it has hundreds of miles of relatively flat roads running through the coastal landscape –ideal to promote cycling in its many forms.

David Munro - Project Coordinator - STGA Green Badge Tour Guide, Founder of Moray Wastebusters -Fundraiser

Kevin Grant - Owner of ‘Bikespokes’ - Mobile bicycle engineer – bicycle hire operator

Wendy Springett – Auldearn – based crafstperson and artist.

Advisor - Hugh Grant – Tour Guide, Owner of Inverness Tours, Author

More water supply problems in Tradespark

Residents again reported loss of water in the Tradespark area as there was yet another problem with the water main in Moss-side Road.

Local resident Nancy told the Gurn of the ongoing situation this has all created:

"It is bad enough trying to negotiate the travel throughout Nairn without suffering burst water pipes 2 days in a row in Tradespark. Once again, Moss-Side Road is being dug up and no water coursing through our taps. The stress is getting to be too much. Disrupted travel plans yesterday as vehicular access cut off to Emily Mews and Charlotte , including extensive flooding of the grounds. Then no water until 3.30 pm. Another burst pipe this morning. It is too much in the 21st century."

Scottish Water have since apologised to residents, a top local newshound who lives locally accepted their apology and replied to them on twitter

Sewage Bridge (aka Merryton Bridge) now open

Lost Cat Waverley Road Nairn - have you seen Dipper?

Update Found -  happy day now in Waverly Road

Lost cat Waverley Rd Putting this up for a friend. Please contact the Gurn if you have any information also contact details at Moray Coast Vets

‘Missing from Waverley Road since the 16th February. Have you seen Dipper? She is old, very timid and completely deaf’.

Update: spotted A96 end of Waverley Road around 6 am. Please have a look around if you live in the area folks.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Budget passed including car parking charges - see what Nairn's four councillors had to say in Highland Council's own video

The Highland Council Budget has been passed including car parking charges for Nairn. This link will take you to the point that Liz MacDonald starts to speak about Parking and other issues. She is followed by Tom Heggie and a  bit later on in the video at 2.20.30 you get Laurie Fraser and Peter Saggers. The budget was passed however and no doubt the three councillors who voted for it are pining their hopes on the promise of further consultation where perhaps something can be done, those at the meeting on Tuesday night in the legion were very cynical about consultation after the event however.

Are we stuffed or is there still room for manoeuvre?  Anyway, we hear that Liz voted against the budget and Nairn's three other councillors voted for it.  See for yourselves below, the start button in the centre can be a bit hard to see but it is there.

Update: Here at the Gurn we think the day's events were summed up well by this Inverness based journalist. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ANB "stop the parking meters" public meeting in the Royal British Legion Nairn 13 Feb 2018 - video

The Meeting held by the Association of Nairn Businesses in the legion was well attended.  Nairn's four Highland Councillors were left in no doubt on what the public wanted to do. Questions about how it all happened, comments on how it will affect businesses and the community and suggestions on how Councillors can act to stop it going through in the budget on Thursday at Highland Council headquarters in Glenurquhart Road Inverness. 

The video below comes in a playlist of five sections, when one finishes the other will start automatically.

Drew Hendry MP's message of support to Nairn meeting against proposed parking charges

A message of support from Drew Hendry MP was read out to the meeting last night  (videos of meeting here):

"Nairn deserves a well thought out and agreed plan, to protect and boost our communty and economy and I believe this proposal does not achieve outcomes that would deliver for Nairn. It is neither properly thought out nor agreed with local people and would be likely to cause a number of problems, not only for business but for local people and tourists.

Our High street in Nairn and local businesses have had to weather some pretty tough times and a loss of discretionary spending would be highly likely as choices are made over concentrating shopping activity in retail parks for convenience and costs.

I also believe that parking charges would cause drivers to displace to other parts of the town where charges would not exist. For example this could be to car parks provided for shoppers, such as the Co-op, but would also start to impact on nearby residential streets. This, in turn, would be highly likely to have to lead to the introduction of formalised street parking control for Nairn.

This is a double problem as it is probable that enforcement would be limited, the cost to return being unbalanced, inevitably leading to newer “on street” rules being flouted. This would lead to a further unfairness or a perception of it for local people.

Another issue, as others have pointed out, is one of overalll financial fairness to the community. 

The prospect of income being raised on Nairn Common Good Land going directly to support budget savings failures for the Highland Council is simply not acceptable. If Common Good land is, through agreement with those who live and work in Nairn, to generate income then that must go back to Nairn Common Good.

There are many other implications but I believe that these reasons alone are sufficient to insist that the proposal should be abandoned. The people of Nairn deserve more respect and it is past time that a proper approach was taken to planning how to invest in Nairn’s future. As stated above, this is neither inclusive nor fair and I would be happy to support all of those who oppose the proposal."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Highland Council parking charges for Nairn condemned in hard-hitting editorials in both the Inverness Courier and Nairnshire Telegraph

Local press coming out strongly in favour of stop the parking charges protesters in Nairn. Public meeting tonight in the Legion at 7 pm please go along if you can. 

Nairn - a very strong community prepared to stand up for itself - parking protest tonight comes almost ten years to the day of another major protest in the town

Last night at the meeting to stop the Royal Bank Closure, Drew Hendry MP took the time to give his support to the campaign to stop parking charges in the town. He called the proposal "horrible" and said he was firmly against it. Speaking after the meeting this observer told him that it was such a shame that Nairn has to spend so much time fighting a rearguard action against proposals from outwith the town that are not in the community's interest. It would be far better if we could channel our collective energy and talent into positive initiatives that the authorities could support instead of always trying to impose what they want on us.

Tonight 13th (February) at 7 pm there will be a meeting in the Legion to try and stop (once again) parking meters being installed at four sites in the town by Highand Council. It is a battle we have to win readers, please get to this meeting if you can. 

This fight comes almost ten years to the day when Nairn residents took to the streets for a major protest to try and save the Harbour Street Post Office. The authorities got away with that one sadly, but the images below demonstrate just how strong this community is and how it is prepared to defend itself against unjust and stupid decision by people that don' t live here.  If you can't play the slideshow below then please head here to see the individual images.

Sewage Bridge closure for up to a fortnight - or as the authorities prefer to call it "They Merryton Bridge"

Thanks to Stephen over at the popular NWYWAB page for the picture below. Closed for up to a fortnight according to information posted on the bridge.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Banking closures harming communities and businesses - Drew Hendry MP and David Richardson of the FSB speak at Nairn meeting against further RBS closures

Opening the meeting Drew and David


More Q&A

Two meetings you really should consider going to - tonight Monday 12th and tomorrow Tuesday 13th

First up tonight in the Community Centre 6.30 pm - stop the Royal Bank Closure organised by the FSB and speaking is Drew Hendry MP.

"The Federation of Small Businesses is working with local MP Drew Hendry to fight the RBS branch closures. There's a meeting in Nairn on Monday 12th February at 6.30pm in the Community Centre. They say, "It is important that we all work together to show our support for local branches and the more businesses that attend the better. Please come along and bring your friends."

And tomorrow night in the legion at 7.00 pm - stop the parking charges!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pre-consultation consultation on where the bairns that would live on Liz's land would go to school?

In that article we quoted the following: "An interesting paragraph appears re school catchment areas. In that document the Transport Planning Team state:

"It is understood that the current primary school catchment for this site will be Auldearn Primary, which would require the provision of transport to and from the school given the location of the site in relation to the school. Subject to this remaining the case, it is recommended that any permission granted is required to agree a suitable level of financial contribution towards the provision of such school transport services supporting this site. The amount and timing of such contributions should be agreed with the Public Transport Team to ensure that the funds can be used in time to provide the necessary services from when units start to become occupied."

Now, interestingly, the Gurn has seen a copy of an e-mail (coming to us from an unreliable source with links to  the  Nairn River Community Council). The e-mail from the Highland Council education folkies to the Community Council talks about changes to school catchment areas and specifically mentions Lochloy:

"Dear Sir or Madam

Highland Council is in the very early stages of considering some changes to the catchment areas of the primary schools around Nairn. These are linked to the development of the Lochloy Housing Estate, and to the re-routing of the A96.

Changes to catchment areas are subject to an extensive statutory consultation process, that involves notification being provided to all parents and all staff of the affected schools, and to local community councils. A public meeting is part of the statutory consultation process. I would stress however, that at this stage we are a long way from even having a Proposal to issue for formal consultation. A statutory consultation exercise has to be approved in advance by the members of Highland Council’s People Committee, and as yet we have not approached the Committee members to seek such approval. 

Prior to approaching elected members, we would like to gather the informal views of local parents and other community representatives. Depending on the views expressed, we might then seek agreement to conduct a statutory consultation exercise.

I would therefore like to meet with the Community Council to outline our thoughts in more detail, and explain the reasons behind them. I would be grateful if you could let me know where and when this would be possible. I can be contacted on 07500 120 271

When discussing this matter with other members of the CC, I would be grateful if you could make it clear that the Proposal has not yet been approved by the Highland Council’s People Committee, and that this approval is required prior to any formal consultation taking place.

I look forward to hearing from you."

So the start of the process begins, wouldn't it been a lot easier if a school had been built up in Lochloy after all as originally planned?  Is there any room left for one now?

Here at the Gurn we find this part very interesting: "Prior to approaching elected members, we would like to gather the informal views of local parents and other community representatives. "   Just a minute shouldn't Nairn's elected members (the four Highland Council ones) be the first people to contact because any councillor at the top of his or her game should surely know what the parents are thinking? 

So readers, education folk are wishing to speak to the community council, if you are a parent with an interest in Nairnshire's cachement areas you may wish to get a seat at that meeting. Parents with bairns at Nairn schools will no doubt be aware of the places and limitations of each school. It says some changes - just how many schools will be affected?  

If Highland Council have detailed plans for where they want bairns to go or to change schools perhaps - shouldn't they just come out with them now?

Please support this public meeting to stop parking charges in Nairn - Come along to the Legion on Tuesday night (Feb 13th)

Highland League Cup - Nairn 3 Lossie 2 Pictures Donald Matheson

Match report here.   Individual images from Donald here. 

Gurn video of third County goal from Jordon MacRae