Saturday, May 19, 2018

Liz disappointed that Nairn has to wait another six years before getting flood prevention scheme

Click on the video below to hear Liz speaking at the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee at Highland Council last Thursday (17th of May).  This Gurn article here from January 2016 gives details of the risks to Nairn from flooding and what needs to be done. 

Auldearn and Cawdor "grapsing the nettle" and filling in where the Highland Council are cutting back

Liz MacDonald outlines how Auldearn and Cawdor are becoming more proactive in sorting things for themselves. Click on the video below to hear her speaking at the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee at Highland Council last Thursday (17th of May):

After a 2 year cygnet drought, Duke and Penny have hatched 7 cygnets



Friday, May 18, 2018

Parking Charges - Tom Heggie at Community Council meeting "so there is severe pressure being put on by Councillors across the board so we have yet to see what the outcome of that will be"


At the River CC meeting in the Community Centre on Wednesday evening the subject of parking charges was on the agenda once again and the Chair, Tommy Hogg, asked Tom Heggie for an update.  

Tom Heggie said: “ We wait until the Highland Council meeting in June, that's when the policy, which is part of the policy mentioned here will go to the full Council. There is at present no parking policy, there is a great deal of debate, a great deal of discussion going on and there is at the moment  no policy in place so therefore there can be no final decisions or discussion about parking charges per se. In Nairn, which is unique within Highland we have an agreement that there will be no consultation until the conclusion of the BID process which will be balloted in August. Thereafter there is due to be an appropriate consultation process […]"

Tom carried on a little longer on the subject including details of Community Empowerment seminars he'd recently been too.

Liz was the next to speak: “As Tom says the parking policy has been deferred until the redesign group has reached its conclusions. There was a meeting of the redesign group, working group, yesterday where it was discussed in a very heated atmosphere. Carolyn Wilson was saying that they had a petition in Alness where they had 1,100 signatures. I've just picked up today in Nairn, a petition with 1,100 signatures so there is a lot of opposition to the car-parking in its current form. But one of the points that was made very clearly was that the paper that came before the Council that laid out the money that it was going to be raised was flawed.

Free parking, almost part of the town's DNA but will Highland Council take it away?
There was that many mistakes, for example, they had the two Common Good car parks in. Carolyn Wilson said that in her area in Alness they had a car park identified as having 203 spaces when it just had 90 and there was other areas in there that didn't even belong to the Council that was identified for car parks to raise funds for the Council. So the paper that went to the Council was totally flawed and leaves the Council with a deficit of, is it, 1.4 million?”

Liz then seemed a little unsure of that figure and asked her colleagues if that was correct. She said that the deficit becomes a budget pressure unless they could close it up. She went on:
“At the redesign group meeting, certainly whenever they are discussing car parking there are a lot of people that attend who are not members and I'm one of them and so are several others that turn up and make their case for their communities.”

Tom Heggie then said: “There are other meetings where what Liz is describing is, so there is severe pressure being put on by Councillors across the board so we have yet to see what the outcome of that will be.”

The debate continued with mention from Tom Heggie about the massive debate about the lack of clarity in the initial stages.

Then an interesting intervention from a member of the public Loreine Thomson who stated:

I'll read you a quote from the letter that I got back from Bill Loban and he has signed it as chair or the redesign board and it says. The decision on this saving (that's the one point four million) has therefore already been made by the Council for 18/19 and that the intended consultation is to discuss when and how the charges can be introduced.”

The discussion continued and when time permits we hope to post more and include also technical details about what has to be done with money raised from parking charges revenue which was questioned by another member of the public who seemed to have a remarkable in-depth knowledge of the subject which seemed to surpass that of the three elected members present.

Gurn opinion:

So there we have it folks, Highland Council has got itself into a toxic parking mix and there is obviously a lot of trouble behind the scenes. It's decision time soon for Laurie and Tom, will they lay it on the line and commit to resigning from the administration if the parking charges go through?

Another Councillor comments on Councillors upset at parking fines "The entitlement on display there is staggering."

Here's what Richard Laird, a Highland Councillor himself thinks of some comments attributed to other Glenurquhart Road members in an article in the Inverness Courier: "Councillors face fines after being snared by parking rules"

Gurn comment: The arrogance displayed in that article just comes out and hits you right in the face. Yes Richard Laird is right, the entitlement on display there is staggering, it is appalling.

Please have a read of the article if you can. Stuff like this is just too much, "I am not going to walk along Glenurquhart Road when I am entitled to park outside the HQ. There is a shortage of parking spaces, and I think on occasions people park there who are not entitled to be there."

Shorewatch training day - When: Wednesday 27th June 6-9pm Where: Nairn Sailing Club


Bu Chòir Inbhir Narann a' dèanamh deiseil son iomairtean samhraidh - Nairn Yes preparing for summer campaigning


Some Nairn Yessers met at the bandstand last night for a wee blether about forthcoming summer activities. Afterwards they retired to a nearby hostelry  for some refreshments. More images here. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Highland Council was on the brink of chaos last night after as many as five members threatened to resign from the independent group over parking charges."

According to the Press and Journal:

"The four are Margaret Paterson, Carolyn Wilson, Donnie Mackay and Mike Finlayson. A fifth councillor could not be contacted for comment."

Interestingly Laurie can be seen in last week's Highland Council webcast saying that he fully supported Margaret. 

Last night at the River CC meeting Tom Heggie and Laurie were not giving away too much but they were obviously concerned by the attitude of their Council administration and I get the impression that there is quite a bit of friction behind the scenes. We'll give a report on last nights River CC meeting when time permits but in the meantime head over to the P&J for more on parking issues. 

Give communities a stronger role in planning their local areas to address planning ‘frustrations’, says Holyrood Committee

The recommendations of the  Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee  will certainly chime with those groups in Nairn who recently wrote to Highand Council and the Scottish Government over several issues that they feel the community has not had a proper say on. More in this article: 


It seems that Community Empowerment is the will of Holyrood but will we ever see it effectively working in Nairn?  Anyway here's the Scottish Parliament Press Release:

We want communities to have a stronger voice in planning what their neighbourhoods look like, says a Holyrood Committee today.

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee sets out recommendations to strengthen the Planning (Scotland) Bill in a report published today, while recognising that it has the potential to improve the planning process overall.

The Bill aims to streamline the system of development planning, support delivery of planned developments and includes a new right for communities to produce their own plans for their local areas called Local Place Plans.

Key Committee recommendations include…
We call for the Bill to include a purpose for planning to provide greater certainty to communities and developers, and encourage more meaningful engagement on planning applications, Local Place Plans and Local Development Plans.

While we welcome that planning authorities must “take account of” Local Place Plans, we are concerned that, without further support, disadvantaged communities will be considerably less likely to take advantage of Local Place Plans due to a lack of capacity, time and resources. This will widen inequality.

We are concerned that the Bill proposals don’t go far enough to address planning frustrations felt by many communities. We believe that in a plan-led system, appeals should only be allowed in certain circumstances and we urge the Scottish Government to look at these issues.

We recognise music venues make an important contribution to Scotland and it is unreasonable for those moving into a new development to complain about pre-existing noise levels. We recommend that Agent of Change – a principle that puts the onus on developers to mitigate pre-existing noise impacts – should be included within the Bill.

Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said:

“Planning impacts every aspect of our lives. It decides where our homes are built, where our children go to school and how we use our outdoor spaces.

“Over the past few months, we have taken evidence on Scotland’s new approach to planning and while we consider this Bill has the potential to improve our lives, we have also outlined a number of ways it can be strengthened.

“A clear theme running through our report is the importance of empowering communities to have a meaningful say on the kind of place they want to live in. Communities being able to help shape their area by working with planning authorities early on makes for better places.
Bob Doris MSP

“It remains the case that more disadvantaged communities could lose out on shaping their local areas because of a lack of money, time and capacity, which we think may widen inequality. That’s why we’ve called for communities to be supported so that planning works for everyone.”

Commenting on the Agent of Change principle, Convener Bob Doris MSP said:

“We all have fond memories of visiting local music venues and hearing emerging new talents. Music venues are an incredibly valuable part of many communities and make an important contribution to the cultural life and economy of Scotland.

“We think it is unreasonable for those moving into a new development to be able to complain about pre-existing noise levels, which can result in music venues closing their doors because it’s too costly to mitigate that noise. That’s why we want to see the Agent of Change principle included within the Planning Bill.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Laurie Fraser calls for entire Council budget to be devolved to Nairn

Here's the point in last week's Highland Council meeting where he calls for full financial control of the budget for Nairn and, interestingly, he states his full support for Dingwall Councillor Margaret Patersons and her threat to resign from the administration if car parking charges go ahead.

Dingwall Councillor threatens to resign from administration if Parking Charges go ahead " I was elected by the people and I will support them as that is my duty as a Councillor"

Here's Dingwall Councillor Margaret Paterson saying she will resign from the Highland Council administration if parking charges go ahead. She was speaking in the Council chamber last Thursday, 10th of May.  A little later in the webcast Laurie Fraser says he fully supports her.

 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New petition to Fergus Ewing - calling for a Ministerial Statement to protect the Moray Firth from oil transfers

Monday, May 14, 2018

"The popular belief is that there will be no consultation and Nairn will soon have parking meters"

We've just been having another look at the editorial in last week's Nairnshire Telegraph. 

The editor ponders on whether the majority are anti car-parking charges and writes:

"We hesitate to say this is a majority view because that is untested, so far, but the experience over years since meters first appeared made an appearance on the High Street is to firmly object to the idea. The fact is we have not heard a view expressed to the contrary, in support of parking charges. 

And when it comes to the three councillors voting for the parking charges after the public meeting, the Nairnshire continues:

"Locals were given the line that this was expedient; the budget had to be passed, but there was a kind of deferral on the parking charges there would be consultation."

"At the end of the month, the council intends to come to a decision on the charges. Will consultation have taken place by then? To date there is precious little sign of it. At a recent meeting of Highland Council's Re-design Committee members were treated to a hard sell by a council official proposing the benefits of parking charges."

A little later the editorial reaches it's point. 

"The popular belief is that there will be no consultation and Nairn swill soon have parking meters. It seems that when consultation was talked about earlier in the year the emphasis was on the word's first syllable. 

Music - David Starr in the Invernairne Saturday (19th May)


Here's what he sounds like 

Royal Bank looks rank


The Royal Bank lawn in the High Street now looking very untidy as the morning sun casts shawdows on the long grass. Grounds maintenance budget closing down as well? Click to enlarge image.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Our community has lost trust that their views and needs are being listened to or acted on by planners and other decision makers at Highland level." state Nairn River Community Council

Yesterday we published an article concerning the letter sent by Nairn River Community Council and five other local groups to Highland Council and the Scottish Government setting out their concerns over the lack of genuine "community empowerment" in Nairn. You can read that article here, well worth following the link there to the letter too. 

River CC have also filled in a document called a "participation Request" to Highland Council which is another quite remarkable document.  Such a request is something you can do under Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. Here's a couple of extracts from the River CC request for you:

"Our community has lost trust that their views and needs are being listened to or acted on by planners and other decision makers at Highland level. 

Furthermore as a Community Council we are finding the current local government climate in Highland to be actively hostile to the principles of community engagement, consultation and collaboration, enshrined in the Community Empowerment Act 2015, as we have just suffered 60% cuts to Community Council operational funds, and are aware that a previous participation request from another local Community Council in Nairn was recently rejected by Highland Council without any support offered to resubmit. 

We ( NairnRiverCC) along with several other community led bodies are currently raising concerns with senior HC management, Planning and Community Planning leads and Scottish local government minister, at how the current development planning and community planning process in Highland is not meeting local community needs in Nairn, by failing to implement the core principles of the Community Empowerment Act 2015."

"We know that Nairn is not getting its fair share of Highland resources, and our community wants to be more empowered to influence how our Council and business taxes are being spent. We also want to see proper local governance, and control over how our own Common Good assets are being used to benefit our town. We expect the next Nairnshire Plan to be community led, in line with the principles of the Community Empowerment Act, and look forward to leading that process in partnership with local authorities, rather than being told what has been decided at Highland Council HQ in Inverness after it has already been agreed and rubber stamped by officials, with our elected members sometimes only in the loop a matter of days before."

Here's how River CC see outcomes being improved:

"Public Authorities in Highland will deliver for Nairn on the principles of the Community Empowerment Act by ensuring that
  • local services and facilities are developed and delivered which meet identified local needs. ( including housing)
  • the interests, economic resilience and wellbeing of Nairn's local communities take priority over a centralised Highland Council agenda.
  • best value is derived for Nairn communities from council and business taxes and local Common Good assets 
  • due diligence and an infrastructure first approach is observed in public authority relationships with commercial developers. 
  • local plans are made more effective by drawing fully on local knowledge, expertise and experience available through Community Councils and other community led bodies 
  • local communities have a key role in local planning in line with CEA
  • public funds are not wasted in implementing plans or services which are unworkable or based on unrealistic revenue projections
  • no proposals affecting Nairn are permitted to go ahead without a proper evidence base, business case and effective public consultationWe cite again as examples of recent practice which require 'doing it differently', the parking charges proposals and draft parking policy currently being imposed on Nairn by Highland Council without any local consultation or collaboration .
Such ill thought through proposals are not only financially unrealistic and wasteful, but also potentially damaging to Nairn's community resilience and local and tourist economy."

Friday, May 11, 2018

" Inadequate structures in place to support consultation and involvement of Nairn communities " A remarkable letter from Nairn River Community Council and 5 other local community groups to Highland Council and the Scottish Government

NRCC state on their Website:

"We have on Monday 6th May sent out a joint letter with 5 other Nairn community groups to the highest level of Highland Council and the Scottish Government and our elected representatives, to complain about inadequate structures in place to support consultation and involvement of Nairn communities in local development and community planning matters.

We are concerned that in Highland the principles of the Community Empowerment Act ( 2015) are not being effectively implemented, with potentially damaging effects for Nairn when decisions are taken without local consultation and due consideration of local priorities and needs."

Of course regular readers of the Gurn and the local media will know that the growing local democratic deficit with the claims that wishes of Nairn folk are being ignored as power became centralised in Inverness has been an undercurrent of concern for almost a generation in the town and surrounding area. This new initiative signed by, NRCC, Nairn West and Suburban Community Council, Croy and Culloden Moor Community Council, Association of Nairn Businesses, Nairn Residents Concern Group and Kingsteps Residents Group is a concise argument detailing the prime issues where many feel that local opinion has been and continues to be ignored.  

The crie de coeur this time by the groups that have signed the letter centres on the lack of local input at a time when Scotland is supposed to be moving into a new local democratic age of "community empowerment". To many things are as bad as the ever were with organisations from outwith Nairn still  making our decisions for us. 

The joint letter finishes:

    "There is a common thread in all these issues: that the input of local community groups is blocked, excluded, or ignored. We therefore seek a positive assurance that this will change, and that current and future decisions on the planning, development, provision of facilities and delivery of services will be led by the community's own priorities, and that local groups will be enabled and encouraged to participate fully in the decisions.

    This letter is copied to the Minister(s) responsible, to our local MSP, and to relevant public agencies. We would would welcome a response from all which provides that reassurance, and sets out in detail how our concerns will be addressed."

    There is an article on the River CC site here and the letter can be read here. 
  1. "

Ladies Day raises the roof for The Leanne Fund

An incredible £1,800 was raised at the first ever Ladies Day in Nairn in support of The Leanne Fund. 

The Leanne Fund is the foremost charity working across the Highlands and Islands and Grampian to support those affected by Cystic Fibrosis and their families. 

The event was organised by Ashley Patterson from Nairn who has Cystic Fibrosis and has received support from The Leanne Fund. 



Held at the Sun Dancer in Nairn, the event included a prosecco reception and afternoon tea. 

Ashley Patterson 
Ashley said: “I decided to host a Ladies Day to fundraise for The Leanne Fund. Over the past 5 years, the support the fund has given me has been incredible. From supporting me through driving lessons, special treats at Christmas time and allowing me to keep active with a gym membership - it was time I gave something back. 

“The Ladies Day included bottomless prosecco for a couple of hours, followed by afternoon tea. We raised a lot through our raffle and pick a square board! Our total for the day was a fantastic £1800! A great day had by all!”  

The Leanne Fund was set up in 2009 in memory of Leanne Mitchell from the Isle of Lewis. 

The charity funds special treats and a range of support services for young people affected by Cystic Fibrosis and their families across the region. 

Ashley with her Nana and her Mum

Since the Leanne Fund was founded it has continued to expand and develop the range of services and experiences offered in response to the needs of Cystic Fibrosis patients and their families. 

The Leanne Fund relies entirely on fundraising, sponsors and charitable donations to fund their valuable work. 

The Leanne Fund’s aim is to create happy memories now that can last a lifetime. 

Click on images to enlarge


For more information visit: 


Email: info@theleannefund.co.uk 

Facebook.com/theleannefund 

Twitter: @theleannefund

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The first of approximately 22 weeks of heavy loads passes through Nairn 9th May 2018 - video

The wind farm components are making their way to the Dorenall Wind Farm, South of Dufftown, leaving Inverness Harbour, planned daily departure of 9.30 am. The convoys are due to pass through Nairn between 10 and 10.30 am, this being the first one might have accounted for a slight delay there as the convoy passed the Lochloy junction at around 10.40. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Concert in Nairn Old Parish Church - Saturday 12th May 7.00 pm




Parking charges: "the move will encourage shoppers to “abandon” high streets in favour of free parking at supermarkets..."

Another Parking Charges article in the Press and Journal today with folk outlining their major concerns that parking charges will damage Highland communities:

"David Richardson, Highlands and Islands development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said the move will encourage shoppers to “abandon” high streets in favour of free parking at supermarkets and retail parks, or do more shopping online."

And another quote: 

"Nairn Suburban and West Community Council chairman Richard Youngson is concerned with the failure to consult the local community over the charges.

He fears that any loss of town centre footfall will be compounded if the administration swiftly approves future plans for out-of-town retailers or food outlets.

Mr Youngson said: “We feel that putting in parking charges is just ridiculous. We are making a very strong case to Highland Council to say ‘Look, you have to listen. If you go down this road, all you will do is kill the town centres of Nairn, Dingwall and the rest.’"


Parking charges for Nairn " no chance of stopping them"

We had recently written to the three Nairn Councillors who voted for the parking charges as part of the Highland Council budget plans to ask them what initiatives they have planned to stop the parking charges coming to Nairn. Cllr Tom Heggie did reply and told us that he would respond more fully when he had had meetings with his colleagues, in the meantime he told us he had given an assurance to avoid public debate at present, until the BID made some progress.

Cllr Liz MacDonald has not been silent however and has indicated at the recent West and Suburban Community Council meeting that she believes that parking charges are coming. More in today's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Police hunt vandals who damaged Nairn Beehive

Part 2 - The wisdom of Highland Council's " Highland Parking with Purpose" document that is the blueprint for parking charges


Continuing our look at the Highland Council document that justifies and outlines the modus operandi of bring parking charges to our and other communities. See the first article here. Now we're in the recommendations on page 11. Here's one that pops up out of the page at us;

“Ensure integration of car park provision and charging regimes to encourage growth and investment in our tourist based economy”

Wow! Why didn't anyone think of that before, parking charges a wonderful way to give a boost to our local tourist based economy? Does anyone believe that? Do any of our councillors believe that?

Let's have another one: “Roll out the benefits of the new policy across the Highlands utilising
local committees and community partnerships”.

Surely this means, roll out the centralised policy of Glenurquhart Road and impose parking charges on Nairn? Whatever happened to localism?

Go on, one more, it's early yet: Work with national government and partner agencies such as Hi Trans and HIE to meet the challenges and maximise the opportunities of changes in behaviour.”

Force it through with the help of others? Maximise the opportunities of less people coming into the town centre? Changes in behaviours, more trips to retail outlets at Balmakeith then? Maximise the rateable values from there?

Just one more in this post, some more later perhaps after this observer has had a bit of a lie-down.

“The expansion in the number of car parks subject to charging will also need a review of payment collection procedures. The use of cashless payment systems and contactless payments should be considered at all locations as this will greatly enhance both usage monitoring and enhance cash collection procedures.”

So how much would that all cost then, along with other installation costs and enforcement? Can't see any figures in this document so far, perhaps that comes later?


Missing Cat Sutors Avenue area of Boathpark Nairn Sunday 6th May

Our lovely cat Gypsy has gone missing from the Sutors Avenue area of Boathpark Nairn. She is a female tabby black, brown and grey with cream underbelly. 


She has distinctive hairy ears. She went missing yesterday morning; she generally does not wander away and is always turning up and disappearing several times a day. She knows her own territory well and tends to stick well within it over the last six years and does not cross the main road. She is wearing a mainly brown collar with green and pink spots; she is micro-chipped, neutered and her collar has a bell and ID barrel. This is very unusual behaviour for her. Perhaps she has been inadvertently locked in a shed somewhere?

If she is seen contact 07895035015 or 01667456431.