Saturday, March 28, 2015

Traffic wardens active in Nairn again

One of our regular readers reports a team of traffic wardens in town yesterday. Park sensibly gurnites you could take a hit.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nairn 4 Turriff 0 - pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Nairn Healthcare News April 2015

Reproduced below is the latest newsletter from Nairn Healthcare Group

Nairn Healthcare News April 2015


Nairn Healthcare has said goodbye to long-serving Practice Nurse Kathy Gaffney who retired in February however we will be welcoming a new nurse and healthcare assistant in the upcoming weeks.

Our two GP registrars, Dr Clark and Dr Milton, are currently working at Raigmore Hospital and on maternity leave respectively but we hope to see them both return in the near future.

Step Count Challenge

Twenty members of NHG staff are giving the National Step Count Challenge a go. We will be counting our daily steps for 8 weeks and hopefully will reap the benefits that walking entails. Walking at a moderate pace is ideal and active people live longer and healthier lives. Walking reduces the risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression and reduces blood pressure. Not only that, walking lowers the risk of strokes, improves mood and manages weight. As the staff are in four different teams, it gives us a bit of healthy competition too.

Visitors from Spain 

Nairn Healthcare welcomed two GPs from Castelldefels in Catalonia on Monday 23rd March to our Practice. Dr Antoni Peris i Grao (Director General) and Dr Ionut Chirac visited to share ideas and to discuss projects. We discussed digital health developments in both Scotland and Catalonia and identified common areas of interest and opportunities for future collaboration. Alongside Donna Henderson (Service Development Manager, Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare) and Elaine Mead (Chief Executive, NHS Highland), Dr Adrian Baker, Dr Andrew Evennett and Tanya Allan (Assistant Practice Manager) compared and contrasted primary care and community based services in Highland and Catalonia.

We will welcome Norwegian visitors to the Practice again in April.

New Physio Service

There is a new NHS 24 service available to patients over 16 who suffer from a muscle or joint problem and are seeking to access NHS physiotherapy. The MATS (Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service) was launched on 12th January 2015 and is a centralised helpline based in Scotland. Patients will speak initially to a call-handler and if necessary, a trained physiotherapist for support. Initially, this will be telephone based, with additional information sent by post. If MATS feel that a further referral is required, patients will be referred to the Physiotherapy Department in Nairn Town and County Hospital and patients should be seen in 4 weeks (a waiting time target); often this is quicker than a GP referral which can take up to 12 weeks.

To get in touch with MATS, please call 0845 604 001 between 9am – 6pm, Monday- Friday. For more information about this service, you can visit

NHG Statistics


Every month, we hope to give our patients an insight into how many patients we see and treat on a monthly basis. This month we looked into home visits for the month of February.

The Healthcare Assistants do regular home visits on a Monday and Thursday for those who are unable to attend the Practice. In February alone, they visited 35 patients. 

The GPs visited 158 patients at their own home plus an extra 113 visits were carried out to the nursing homes. Another 18 visits took place out-with the surgery opening times.

Home visits are available for patients who are unfit to travel to one of the surgeries. The visit requests are handled by the receptionists who will ask for a little information to pass onto the Duty GP.

Bowel Screening

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Each year, approximately 4,000 are diagnosed with this condition. However, if found early, bowel cancer is highly treatable. The best way to detect the early stages of bowel cancer is to do a home screening test. Everyone aged 50-74 is sent one every two years. If you haven’t done a test in the last two years, please get in touch by calling 0800 0121 833 or visit

Postcards with a Nairn connection

One of our regular readers sent a message on twitter pointing us in the direction of an interesting site that has articles concerning postcards with a Nairn connection. The first postcard begins:

"Postcards #1 - Banff

My Great-Grandparents (my mother's, mother's parents) had a collection of postcards. They date from 1909 until about 1920. My Great-Uncle remembers them being in a photo album on the coffee table in their living room when he was growing up. "

The postcards are either sent to addresses in Nairn or from Nairn, the historical family details that accompany each postcard are fascinating. At the bottom of each page is a link to the next postcard. More on the site "Renaissance Woman". 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Album launch announced for Bandstand Beer Festival

Nairn 4 Turriff 0 - Nairn all but won the League for Brora last night - pictures Mashy Young

One of the most impressive displays of the season at Station Park last night as County demolished an initially confident Turriff side and all but ended their hopes of catching Brora at the top of the league. It was a refreshing  performance that lifted the spirits of the faithful, especially those who made the disappointing journey to Harmsworth Park on Saturday. Match report here.

Individual images here. 

In the Highland News today: "Nairn barman's brain injury only spotted after sixth hospital visit"

Details on this Highland News webpage here but the full story by Donald Wilson in the paper today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Talking town centre themes and proposals

Last night saw a discussion session in the Courthouse to top up the day’s consultation event on the town centre action plan – copy available online here. Present were community councillors and representatives of groups such as NICE (Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise and NEI (Nairn Economic Initiative) in the town with previous and ongoing interests in town centre development. There was also a power-point presentation from HIE. 

There was then discussion around three tables on three questions: 

Which projects could the community take forward?

Who could work in partnership to deliver the projects?

Which projects will be most difficult to achieve?

The conversations around these questions then went ahead under three themes with their own lists of proposals, they were: 
1. Improve High Street environment and expand activities.
2. Make better use of area between King Street and the High Street. 
3. Improve walking and cycling links between the town centre and surroundings. 

Gurnites would be familiar with many of the elements of discussions that this observer heard and participated in. It is hard to know just what we can achieve in this time of austerity and just where enthusiastic volunteers might come from to put their shoulders to the municipal wheel along with some of the long-serving usual suspects who have been hard at it for years in an effort to take forward some of these proposals. A bit of inspirational momentum is now needed but sadly if felt at times last night that the consultation wheel was being spun one more time to see if any magical solution popped out of the ether. This observer doesn’t doubt the sincerity of all involved but something needs to happen fast to give impetus to the whole basket of wish-lists – Colin MacAulay’s micro brewery/distillery perhaps? There was still optimism though but of the subdued variety. Who knows we might actually get somewhere this time instead of coming back for more of the same in 12 months time?

You can read the town centre action plan here. HISEZ (a new one for some perhaps) will be holding a networking event at some point in the future for all those groups involved in taking forward the proposals. So far the only proposal that seems to be going ahead full steam without any further input necessary is the redesigned shop front scheme that will enable High Street businesses to access the Sainsbury’s cash designated for makeovers – this time it will be a lot easier for the shopkeepers to jump through the hoops thanks to a new process drawn up by Highland Council’s area manager Liz Cowie. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Common Good delays - all the latest in today's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph (lots more including "Desperate Dan" editorial)

Today's edition of the Nairnshire splashes the front page with information that came into the public domain at the recent meeting of the Highland Council area committee. Available at a newsagent's or one of Nairn's many Co-op stores.

Another good read in the paper is Iain Bain's erudite editorial that analyses Danny Alexander's prospects and strategy. The title "Desperate Dan" gives the idea. Iain also muses on the drift of the election in general and suggests: "But the danger is that the demonisation of the SNP which appears to be going on all over British politics at the moment might go over the top and be seen as an attack on Scots in general." More in today's Leopold Street Thunderer.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Courier getting it wrong about how Kyle Wilkie left NCFC ?

This is what the Courier is putting out on twitter as a taster for an article they are publishing tomorrow:
Meanwhile over on the Nairn County site Les Fridge states:

"Nairn County FC wish to announce that Kyle Wilkie has left the club on loan to Berwick Rangers FC. Kyle had an agreement with Nairn that if a senior club made an approach and an offer NCFC would not stand in his way, to gain a promotion in his career. We wish him well and thank him for his efforts with our club and assure him of a warm welcome anytime at Nairn."

County fans were a little mystified as to the whereabouts of Kyle on Saturday up at Wick but this observer detected no animosity towards the player from the Station Park faithful who made the fruitless trek north. It will be interesting to read the Courier account tomorrow however. 

Draft action plan for Nairn town centre - have your say - tomorrow Tues 24th 2-5 in the Courthouse

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nairn Kayak Club - Loch Ness crossing world record breakers

The Nairn Kayak Club's record breaking crossing of Loch Ness end-to-end has officially entered the Guiness Book of records:

"The fastest time to kayak the length of Loch Ness, Scotland, UK, from Fort Augustus to Dores (a distance of 17.9 nautical miles, 20.59 miles, 33.15 km) is 3 hours 42 minutes 7 seconds, achieved by the Nairn Kayak Club on 7 September 2014."  More details and picture here. 

Provost Laurie Fraser said: "It is an outstanding effort and what the Kayak Club have done is wonderful. It has put Nairn back on the map for kayaking and
places it as the kayak centre in the Highlands."

The Chairman of the Nairn Kayak Club, Jaime Walker said: This amazing feat clearly shows that all the hard work and dedication from the four team world record holders has been rewarded and recognised."

On of the record holders Michael Surmon said: "It is an absolute hounour and a privilege to have been able to be part of the effort to raise the profile of Nairn Kayak Club, and at the same time, Nairn, our lovely home town.

The efforts of Steven Bain made it possible for us as a club and a team, to complete the whole of the Great Glen waterway/Caledonian Canal. As an added bonus, the performance team managed to break the world record. 

What made the effort more worthwhile is that the Nairn Kayak Club joined fores with Nairn County Football Club in making a noise for Nairn. A great example of a community coming together in a great way. "

Ian catches the spectacular in the sky this evening

Highland League Cup Wick 2 County 1 Pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

The eclipse seen from Littlemill

Another Nairnsire photographer captured the eclipse last week - images here on David Clark's flickr pages. 

Back to Politics - a two horse race that is interesting national meejah

The other candidates hardly seem to get a mention in the many national press articles that are outlining the contest between Danny and Drew. The SNP are the big time favourites with the bookies but Danny could still be in this if his personal vote holds up significantly. 

Here's the Independent's latest analysis of the contest.  Meanwhile out on the streets of Nairn is seems to be the SNP that are managing to get teams of activists out and about.  Anyone else out there campaigning in Nairn please feel free to send us pictures/details of your activities.

Seagull Pride rampant - as the "Scorries" take the Highland League Cup semi-final Wick 2 Nairn 1

Disappointment for County fans who headed north with optimism after their side's recent run of good form. It wasn't to be though as Wick made the best of it in the second half and scored two to destroy County's hopes of injecting some excitement into the final part of the season. That's the way it went despite a cracking header from Paul MacLeod which found the home net in the first half. 

By the time the fans bus had reached the Berridale Braes they had started to come to terms with the crushing blow and philosophical approaches were being taken - it was still a big downer however. More on the game later.

Norrie the Scorrie was celebrating yesterday afternoon

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Station Park faithful heading north today

The tweet says it all. This observer will soon be heading to the luxury departure lounge at Uncle Bob's Bar prior to leaving on the fans special service to Wick at 10.30. More later...que sera, sera, County gu bràth!

Losing the light at Lochindorb - pictures from Dave Shillabeer

In parts of Nairnshire there were glimpses of the eclipse. Lisa published pictures from Lethen and Dave Shillabeer caught a glimpse at Lochandorb. In town too there was the odd break in the clouds, we hear that the eclipse was visible for a while in Tradespark. What everyone witnessed though was the eerie falling of the daylight darkness. Here's Dave's images from Lochindorb in the slideshow below. Individual images here.

How the planners think Nairn should grow in the future - what the Scottish Government's reporters thought about the IMFLDP

It's been a while but the  Highland Council's Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan has been analysed by Scottish Government Reporters and they have made their recommendations (which the Council will have to follow). Gurnites will recall that there were many critics of the plan locally, including the Community Councils and some specific zoning projections for development received considerable comment from residents. The Council then replied to the submissions and the whole package went down the road to the Scottish Government's officials who have the final say. 

A copy of the Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals document is available on their site. Here is how you get to it in the DPEA's own words.

On entering the website, click on the tab “Examination Report” in the middle of the page and then under the “Document Name” tab, click on the blue highlighted “Report” document. The report will then download and you then click “open” to read the report.

The pages relevant to Nairn are 272-344. The reporters conclusions start at 331 and the recommendations start on 342.

The document will also be posted on the Highland Council's site. It contains details of the residents and CCs responses to the plans, the Council's position on the responses and the conclusions and recommendations of the DPEA reporters as far as Nairn is concerned. Here are the recommendations:

"It is recommended that:

1. Paragraph 4.34 be replaced with the following: ‘The town centre, lying to the west of the river has declined in recent years. Its regeneration to serve the needs of the growing town is a high priority. The council will work with the local community to implement the Town Centre Masterplan published in 2011 through development of an action plan to highlight options and mechanisms for funding and delivering regeneration of the town centre, harbour and waterfront areas.’

2. The last sentence of paragraph 4.39 be ended at ‘……settlement’ and the following additional sentence added: “Whilst capacity exists currently, the cumulative impact of all proposed development within the overall plan on shared treatment assets makes it necessary for early engagement to take place between developers and Scottish Water, to ensure any additional capacity demands in the future can be delivered in line with development.”

3. The following sentence be added to NA2: Requirements: ‘The required traffic and flood risk assessments may impact on the capacity of the site reducing the housing capacity below the currently projected capacity of 90 houses. 

4. The following sentences be added to NA3: Requirements: ‘Constraints to development identified by the masterplan will have a significant effect in  determining the numbers of houses able to be accommodated on the site.’

5. The last sentence of paragraph 4.37 be replaced with ‘Longer term development options at Nairn South are largely dependent on developers agreeing and delivering suitable improvements to the local road network.’

6. The requirements text for site NA8 be replaced with the following: “The Council will prepare a new Nairn South Strategic Masterplan that the Council may adopt as Statutory Guidance, setting out physical development considerations and requirements including transport requirements in terms of vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access to both the Town Centre and the wider area; connectivity within the site; green network and footpath/cycleway connections; phasing; open space provision and developer contributions. Applications only to be considered following adoption of the revised masterplan. Developers will be required to produce a transport assessment addressing deficiencies in the transport network in line with the adopted masterplan. Further requirements notably include landscaping; flood risk; provision of a recreational access management plan; consideration of potential heritage impacts; and the avoidance of any adverse effect on the integrity of the Inner Moray Firth SPA/Ramsar (see para. 4.40).

7. Site NA9 be deleted, and excluded from the settlement development area."

No doubt there will be much for those that made submissions to consider amongst those pages and they will be working out just how far the Reporters have aligned themselves with the council's vision and just how much they have listened to local concern. If time permits we hope to have a further browse of the conclusions later this weekend. 

Tip: the recommendations and the whole document is littered with the "NA" numbers, these refer to sites around and in Nairn and reference to the Council's IMFLDP Nairn map below (click to enlarge) may be helpful for those serious students of these matters. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Clips of the eclipse from Lethen

And a couple of images - all on Lisa's flickr pages. 

The train now standing at the East Beach will soon be departing for the Links?

A Highland Council official recently stated: "I can confirm that works at the links are not yet complete and further play equipment will be installed over the coming months to supplement what is currently in situ which I believe will lead to a more positive and fulfilling play experience for younger residents and visitors alike." Further details here. 

Councillor Michael Green recently stated publicly that Highland Council would learn from its mistakes and indicated that there would be more consultation. This observer would suggest that more details about what sort of equipment could be heading for the Links might need to be put urgently into the public domain - in the febrile atmosphere surrounding the Links Slide debacle it is possible that rumours might crop up - in fact one already has: one of our regular unreliable sources indicates that he is certain that there could soon be a departure from the East Beach railway station. 

Disability awareness day for schools 2015 - Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Yesterday saw the annual Disability Awareness day for schools in the Community Centre. It was a remarkable event to witness. Pictures below in slideshow and individual images here.   

Also Yesterday Steve Clelland of Highland Highlife was present to accept this year's accessibility award from the Nairn Access Panel's Liz Bow.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Big Slide anger resurfaces - Gurn analysis of latest developments

A picture that appeared on-line showing Highland Council workers taking away another layer of the high bank that supported the big slide and also acted as a wind brake at the Links play park prompted another round of irate but well considered comments on the social media earlier this week. As always the popular "Nairn when you were a bairn" facebook pages were the epicentre of citizens’ concerns. One member of the site posted the following comment which contained information from a Council official.

“Councillor Liz Macdonald asked Iain Reid, operational support officer, Highland Council to answer my questions that were originally directed to herself and Laurie Fraser, have patience here is his reply to me:

'Comments relating to the area in general and a desire for this site to be aimed towards younger children in particular (up to age 10 to 12 years old approx) have been received over a period of time by way of parents raising the matter with Highlife Highland and also directly with Members. Via discussion between members and the old transport, environmental & community services dept (now community services) as part of the councils ongoing assessment of assets, a strategy was in place to make any changes reflect facilities for younger children at this site (older children have facilities available at the putting green play area). You will appreciate members are elected to represent and act on behalf of their constituents and do so on a day to day basis, as they have done in this instance.

The slide had defects relating not only to the unit itself but the access steps which were in poor condition. Parents had contacted the council voicing concerns.

Funding was available within this years budget for some improvements to the play area but this funding could not be guaranteed in future years and so there was a one off opportunity to not only make the site safer but also take a step towards the goal of providing a much better play experience for the younger children.

I cannot comment on the flattening of the hill as this was not part of my involvement with the project.

I am disappointed that there has been negative publicity regarding the improvements carried out at the links and the putting green sites over the past few years as there has been a sustained effort to improve play facilities here. I can confirm that works at the links are not yet complete and further play equipment will be installed over the coming months to supplement what is currently in situ which I believe will lead to a more positive and fulfilling play experience for younger residents and visitors alike.”

The comments from Iain Reid are worthy of analysis in the light of the public outrage that has surfaced in recent weeks over this issue. It is ironic that sometimes issues that can define political careers can come out of nowhere but our local councillors should have been more sensitive about the Links and this problem is of their own making. One of our regular readers told us recently: “Some people may think a row over a slide is a storm in a teacup. But is symptomatic of a much wider and deeper problem with the way the Council does things and it’s not the only example!” There are many that would agree with that. This issue has struck the public consciousness in a way that others often fail to do and it could have unforeseen consequences in the long term for local members. A large number of local residents (probably the majority) feel deeply offended by the way that Highland Council have gone about spending public money on the recent Links play area “developments". Anyway, below the image are some Gurn thoughts on what Mr Reid has to say.

Big Slide no more and now Big Brae no more 
i) He says that comments were made by parents to HighLife Highland and to Members. Where is the evidence of this? How many comments/complaints? Why did none of this ever appear in any printed or online outlet or on Twitter etc (after all, Highland Council is now very social media savvy and almost any other local issue of concern appears on these platforms)? Why did it never come up at Community Councils (after all, the Tradespark playground and the Riverside skatepark have been raised at CCs). 

ii) if it were the case that the slide and its access steps had "defects", then the obvious question arises - why not just fix or refurbish instead of demolishing and removing? Doesn't exactly square with the notion of value for money in tough times.

iii) he says that the "strategy" to remove and replace equipment was decided by discussion between Members and the former TECS, now community services officials. Why no public discussion? Why no mention in the Nairnshire, or by Members at CC meetings? Why no Ward Forum meeting to discuss this and other local issues? This is a compelling argument for Ward Business meetings to be open to the public - or at least for the minutes/action notes to be published.

iv) the suggestion that the playground equipment be reorganised or replaced in such a way as to have one area for little kids by the paddling pool and a separate area for older kids over in the leisure park area has already been shot down in flames as a stupid idea by parents on the "Nairn when you were a bairn" site, who point out quite rightly that most families have kids of various ages, and separate playparks make things more difficult for parents to oversee kids and for families to have an outing together...

v) the reference to funding being available in this year's budget (but perhaps not next year's) blows the notion of a "strategy" or a systematic plan out of the water. In the absence of information in the public domain it could make some feel that this was indeed a "rabbit out of hat" project done without thought and at short notice simply to get rid of some spare money before the end of the financial year – the Council need to put more information out there on the process that led to the project. 

vi) again in the absence of other information the remark that Iain Reid was unaware of and uninvolved in "the flattening of the hill" is very interesting. Not only does it very strongly suggest that this was not part of the original plan but will feed, rightly or wrongly, the suspicion that this was the Council's retaliation against public criticism and a way of making sure the big slide could not be reinstated. That hill was also a pretty good shelter belt. It seems to us the public has a right to ask who decided or authorised the removal of the hill, and to hold that person to account. 

vii) Michael Green said publicly that the Council would learn from their mistakes over this. We note that Mr Reid refers to plans for further play equipment to be installed. A foregone conclusion? We don't see any reference in his message to the prospect of any public consultation over what further equipment and where.....Just what other surprises might Nairn residents find when they take an early morning stroll on the Links?

The Gurn feels that Highland Council should call a public meeting  to explain their decision making processes up to this point; put their hands up with a sincere apology; put all the costs of this project in the public domain and then seek the blessing of the community for anything else that might be planned for the Links. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fundraiser top auction for Nairn Football Community Coaching

Ali Nichol told the Gurn:

"I am doing this latest auction for the newly formed Nairn Football Community Coaching group.
Aims of the group is to help develop boys and girls from primary three to primary seven. All the
coaches are PVG certified and have a vast knowledge of the game. Courses for this start in April. Coaches include ex Nairn County Manager Jim Walker, Lee Early Walker, Wayne Mackintosh, Andrea Colletto, Marc MacDonald, Glenn Main, John Davidson, Steven Willox and Louise Walker. 

Monies raised from this auction will be put towards the coaches training gear including waterproofs, shorts tops etc. I think this is a brilliant initiative with the guys giving up their free time to help develop youngsters in the Nairn area. 

Back to the auction this Celtic away top from 2003 is signed by Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton, Lubo Moravcik, Didier Agathe, Tom Boyd, Rab Douglas, Jonny Gould, Paul Lambert, Neil Lennon, Jackie McNamara, Alan Stubbs, Joos Valgaeren, Alan Thompson, Rab Douglas and Tommy Johnson.

Auction will end next Saturday 21st of March at 6pm. Top comes with a certificate of authenticity. As always please bid on We Believe or if you wish to remain anonymous PM me."  

Bid HQ just now is the Nairn County Fans We Believe facebook page. Top bid at the moment is £260 - if you would like to bid and don't have access to Facebook then please contact us at and we will forward your bid to Ali.