Friday, October 03, 2008

Somerfield Store ‘what if?’ masterclass

That is what the meeting of the Nairnshire ward forum felt like from the public benches up in the Courthouse on Wednesday night.
The official line as stated by Highland Council’s William Gilfillan is that the council is proceeding to encourage Somerfield to submit a detailed planning apllication and the council will continue with this process. It is obvious that the council do not subscribe to the Pettifer thesis that the store is already on the Co-op’s disposal list, it would after all have been a wise move by the Co-op to compile such a list given that they will probably have to dispose of a certain number of stores to satisfy the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The council waits for Somerfield to move then.
Highland Council Convenor, Sandy Park told the meeting, ‘We seem to be in the hands of everyone else but ourselves.’
There was discussion between Sheena Baker and Graham Marsden as to whether it was Somerfield or the Trunk Roads Authority that were dragging their feet over the issue as the question of access onto the A96 will loom large over the process. There was talk of various might-happen scenarios but really the council is boxed in, they have to wait and see if the intentions of Somerfield are genuine and whether what is still left of that organisation can deliver or whether whoever owns the supermarket in the future will show any interest in the plans. Either way Sandy was right when he warned the meeting that the people of Nairn were losing their patience. Perhaps it was Sheena Baker who focused on the biggest danger that might emerge when she informed the meeting that she was very worried that there was no Plan B should the whole thing fail.

The Gurn has to admit that a lot of folk think the redevelopment plan has failed and nothing much will come out of it for at least a couple of years. Meanwhile several prominent buildings next to the A96 continue to decay as the Highland Council waits for a supermarket saviour that will charge in and save the day. It would be nice if it happened but the betting money will probably be going the other way just now.
Meanwhile not a good day for the Highland Council as the Inverness Courier headlines with 'Detectives launch probe into city's housing fair - Investigation centres on allegations over planning consultation process.'
Also, according to the Courier, an Inverness councillor 'is at the centre of a major investigation into allegations of fraud'.
And on page 2 the Courier claims that the cash-strapped council has decided to hand over an extra £40,000 of taxpayer's cash to the Highland Housing Fair without knowing exactly how the money will be spent.
The Highland Housing Fair is certainly turning out to be controversial isn't it?


Bill said...

Thanks for these very interesting reports, Graisg, firstly about the ongoing 'drama' over the badly-needed new shopping options for Nairn residents. Also for your mention of the Courier's articles on fraud investigations involving Highland Council - unfortunately the Courier's RSS web-feed seems not always to throw up the most relevant stories in my RSS aggregator, but I was able to find the article online in their website. It makes interesting reading for sure.

Graisg said...

Morning Bill, I put the investigation stuff up after a quick read of today's dead tree edition of the Courier - they're certainly doing their job this week - hats off to them!
Had a quick look on the Courier site for a link but couldn't find anything. Will try again later perhaps.
Autumn well at truly kicking in at last here :-)

Iain said...

For too long we have pinned our hopes - or our councillors have - that the town centre will be saved by a supermarket chain. Perhaps our council needs to think again - and even dream about the type of town centre Nairn needs. Perhaps we have sat back for too long hoping that they'd get it sorted. Should we, the community begin to think about a long-term plan for the town. What kind of town do we want? What types of shops would we like to have? Perhaps it is not too late for the people of Nairn to seize the initiative. Surely we can do more than simply wring our hands over another failed supermarket scheme? "What if" there's another way?

Graisg said...

Fair comment Iain,
The Community has to have more say, as pointed out before in this blog the Gurn thinks that the interests of the Community and the interests of the Highland Council are not always heading in the same direction. With this in mind it is now more obvious than ever that we need one strong Community Council to represent this town and to take us forward in the way we desire.
In short an organisation that would have all the gravitas of the old District Council and would promote the Royal Burgh of Nairn in a much more convincing way that Highland Council. 'The Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council'?

Anonymous said...

It's time to give up on the idea of a town centre supermarket; the site is too small and there would be insufficient parking. Traffic is already far too dense.
Demolish everything we can, save any old buildings which can be saved. make the space parking for the Hgh Street and town centre, with some garden/ courtyard space and give 100% support to the Sainsbury project.

Anonymous said...

Forget about a town centre suoermarket it is never going to happen. The only hope is Sainsburys plan for a decent out of town supermarket which is what the people of Nairn want and badly need. As for the town centre bulldose the empty buildings including Somerfields store, landscape the area and provide car parking to service the town centre.

Anonymous said...

If Sainsburys open out of towm there will be no town centre or high street anymore. It will spiral into dereliction as local shops have no chance of competeing with Sainsbury's.
There will be nothing to go to the high street for....