Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 years wait for an allotment in Nairn

That's what it just about works out at according to members of Nairn Allotment Society. It might be a bit quicker if you are at the top end of the list but it is slow moving to say the least. There are now 27 people on the waiting list for an allotment in Nairn and given that there are only 18 allotments you can see how things are pretty grim. This is even without the Allotment Society publicising the existence of the list. There is a feeling that the real demand in Nairn for allotments would be twice or three times that figure.
Not all hope is lost however, the Nairn Allotment Society has assurances both from the Cawdor Estates developers and Deveron homes that 'substantial' numbers allotments will be included in the plans. So at some time in the future there will be more allotments but waiting for these developments to go ahead in the current climate might be a bit like waiting for a new supermarket in the town centre or a by-pass for the town. Perhaps the Deveron homes people could show their commitment to their project by siting another 18 allotments immediately alongside the existing 18? Surely the council would smooth the way for that?
It is surely a good sign that developers and potential developers are willing to talk to the allotment society, if Nairn must grow then surely open space, woodland areas and plenty of allotments will be needed to prevent Nairn becoming a mess like the growing sprawl that is Inverness.
In addition it appears that the Highland Council have now appointed an 'Allotments Officer' and the Society will meet with this individual soon, high on the agenda will be a proposal to restore the former allotment site in Mill Road.
The Gurn has been told that the Allotment Society plan to canvass local farmers and landowners to see if anyone would be prepared to diversify into providing allotments on a part of their land.
So if you fancy helping out would-be allotment holders by renting out some of your land for their benefit the Nairn Allotment Society would like to hear from you.

Very frosty morning - black ice

It looked very dangerous this morning at the junction of Waverly Road and Cawdor Road. Black ice was covering the roads and the pavements. The Gurnmeister was getting the early train and even the platforms were a sheet of ice. Was it just a localised problem or were other areas of the town hit? Did Highland Council get around to doing anything about it or does gritting only start after 06.00 a.m. ? How was it in your part of town?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Proposal to build a 'Gaelic Community' near Inverness

An initiative from Finaly MacLeod. Finlay is a controversial figure in Gaelic circles and recently had a well publicised stuchie with Bòrd na Gàidhlig. He is however considered by some to be a visionary figure and he is acknowledged as being the driving force and the inspiration behind the network of Gaelic pre-school groups that did so much to create demand for a revival of Gaelic teaching in schools. It will be interesting to see if his initiative attracts significant support.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Pic will enlarge

Ayeright Limbos up about this situation:

Nairn should change its name to Limbo (Twinned with No Bypass). Any new visitor to Nairn is now met within the space of a few hundred yards an empty church, an abandoned bar/cinema, an empty bus station, petrol station, and community centre. Soon they will see an empty police station, and who knows what will become of Somerfields?. Is this really a way of attracting folk to visit Nairn? It is hardly welcoming or inviting. With so much up in the air with regard the Sainsburys application this vista is unlikely to change for many, many years. In Inverness faced with a shortage of land they built upwards witness Eastgate one and two. Could we not see the same in Nairn with the bus station area being used as well as the Somerfields/old community centre land to create our own mulit story solution? It would probably look hideous but could anything be worse than the empty buildings we have now? Even if the council had the gumption to purchase empty properties, flatten them and plant some grass it would be ten times better than what we are left with. The recession is likely to put many plans for new supermarkets on hold and I suspect that Nairn might well suffer. Meanwhile how about some constructive thinking to make the centre of out town as seen from the A96 less ghost like?

A tale of two community centres

Picture will enlarge

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How solid are the River Park anti-Sainsbury's rebels?

A letter appeared in this week's Nairnshire from a certain Mr Phil Andrews of River Park. He stated in his opening paragraph: 'Can I say how delighted residents of River Park were when it was announced that the plan for Sainsbury's had been called in.'
Well now River Park begins down at the Grantown Road doesn't it? Are all the folk down at that end of the scheme all against Sainsbury's and supporting the aims of Mr Andrews? Just how strong is the anti Sainsbury feeling? We'll find out when we get to the Public Inquiry. The Gurn reckons Mr Andrews support might not be as large as he thinks. Maybe enough antis in River Park to order a taxi to the inquiry?
In the meantime we're all condemned to travel to Forres and Inverness if we want a better choice of food, not to mention the jobs that we might not see now for a couple of years at least. Aye, delighted indeed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can we have our town back please?

Contributed to the Gurn by Iain Fairweather :
(Update: 18/10/08 further support for Iain, see below and in comments)
In recent years there have been numerous developments in Nairn. Some good, some not so good. There have been bold plans for the town centre. Yet once again these have been stymied because they are too closely aligned with the fortunes of supermarket chains. Perhaps it's time to consider other options. Developers, while correctly going through the right channels, appear to sneaked a few projects under the noses of community councils, or that's how it seems. Some residents are beginning to feel disenfranchised. Decisions which will affect our town and our lifestyles are being made by those who may have a degree of vested interest. Numerous ad hoc developments seem to pop up with regularity and we wonder if anyone has an over-arching vision for Nairn. Is there a long-term plan or are we just being buffeted by external forces, whether developer, elected representative or even Highland Council? An increasing number of residents are worried about where it's all heading, so can we please have their town back?
In principle I am not against redevelopment. I'm for anything that improves our lot and results in Nairn being an even better place to live. But we seem to be subject to various random projects that adversely impact on our way of the life or on the kind of town we want to live in. It's not easy to step back and take a long-term view of the kind of town we want to become. Perhaps it's about time we got together to develop a vision for the future and plan a 10-year project. Nairn has a lot going for it and there are new festivals and events drawing visitors to the town. Is there anything further we can develop to give Nairn a unique appeal? What building developments do we actually need and how can we stimulate the improvement of the High St.? Given a blank sheet, what kind of town centre do we need in order to deliver the kind of town we want to live in and attract visitors to? A new shopping complex may be good but does it need to be a supermarket? Could it be something that would see numerous small retail or specialist businesses established and thus attract more visitors?
The new Visit Nairn Tourism Association recognises the importance of bringing people to Nairn. Too often they only come for an overnight stay. Isn't it about time Nairn became a destination rather than an overnight dormitory? We have golf, walking, a rich history and the classical Scottish experience all waiting to be developed and marketed around the globe. But if we do attract more visitors, what are they coming to? Will we be able to deliver a positively memorable Scottish experience? Or will the dilapidated High St be their lasting memory? Without tourists our future is bleak and it is within this context than town planning needs to take place. Too many schemes are decided purely on a project by project basis. They need to be looked at together with impact assessments on how each will affect the whole. Too many new developments of the wrong type will adversely Nairn as a serious Highland holiday destination. Could we even end up living in a town that we no longer enjoy being part of?
When we ask about getting money for this project or that we are generally told that there is nothing in the budget. Well let's look again at the budget. Perhaps money is not being spent in the right areas and we, the town's people, would like to have more say about what our money is spent on. If there is no funding for something then let's find some creative ways to get the funding. The Community Centre is a shining example of what can be done. If the planners have got it wrong then perhaps it's time we told them how to get it right. Is too much being imposed from above instead of arising from within? Perhaps, we have for too long believed that others would look after our interests and we haven't engaged in ways we ought to have done. But we have now been dispossessed and we see things happening we are not happy about. There are many things over which we feel we have no control. The people of Nairn need a new platform to debate issues of key importance to us all. So to the people of Nairn I say, "let's get together again as a community and take greater responsibility for our town". To those who'd rather keep control, we say, "give it back to the people - please!"
Update: 18/10/08
Support for Iain from 'Nairn Bairn':
'Iain Fairweather's comments are perceptive and his appeal for a fresh approach is compelling. His post should be reproduced on the front page (or editorial column)of the less-than-inspiring local newspaper, and pinned to the door of every local elected representative!His analysis highlights the dysfunctional nature of local administration and decision-making. The successful evolution and development of the town needs three things: vision, resources, and the powers to decide and to implement. At present the public authorities who have the power (Highland Council and other public bodies) have limited resources, priorities elsewhere, and precious little vision. Most of the time they appear to do little but acquiesce in, or obstruct, the initiatives of others. Those who have the resources (mainly private landowners and developers - from Cawdor to Deveron to Pettifer) are inevitably driven by the profitability of the specific investment they propose, with scant regard for "the wider picture". And incidentally the inclusion of affordable housing or childrens' playgrounds as the price for inappropriately-intensive urban development and as a sop to supposed public opinion, misses the point and compounds the problem.
There are clearly some like Iain (and the Gurn...) who have - or would like to see emerge - a vision of Nairn as a pleasant, vibrant place with a thriving town centre, a diverse range of shops and activities both commercial and recreational. Nairn cannot be an industrial centre, and should not become a dormitory suburb of Inverness. It needs to reclaim its proper identity - which as Iain says, largely revolves around tourism. Creating an environment that draws in visitors, and gives them decent facilities and an interesting range of things to see and do, will enhance the quality of life for residents too.
Problem is, it seems that those who have the power and resources don't seem to share this vision. Supermarket chain stores, cheap and charmless housing blocks, bleak carparks, and crowded highways won't deliver it.
So Iain is right: there needs to be a new coalition in the Nairn community. Getting a unified Community council, as Gurn suggests, would indeed be a useful first step. And getting elected councillors to act with some sort of coherence and vigour in pursuit of such a vision would be progress indeed...'

Regards from Tomnarroch Farm in New Zealand.

Min Walker writes to the Gurn:

I enjoy your site, wish there was names to some of the faces. I have been away a long time.
Hamish memories about the shops stirred a few of my own:
Hot orange at Morgantis
Fish and chips at Berties at the top of Harbour Street
Sweeties from McColls
Fletchers butteries and wedding cakes
Also rope swings on the trees in the valleys at the Links.
A miniscule of my memories.
Do any of your bloggers remember the Childrens Pantomimes in the 1950s organised by
Chris Lobban?
Regards from Tomnarroch Farm in New Zealand.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A wedding in Nairn

Some interesting pictures were coming up in the flickr feed for Nairn over on the Gurn on Sunday. Nairn Beach is obviously a fantastic place for a few wedding photographs. Have a look at this page on flickr.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Will this building soon belong to the Government?

Some commentators think that the forthcoming hand-outs amount to a way of nationalising the banks. Troubling times indeed as folk wonder about how the recession will impact upon their jobs or businesses and for some, even if their pension funds are in a safe place - if there is indeed any such thing as a safe place in financial terms these days.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Afternoon school run jam

The usual afternoon scene at the top end of the High Street as parents head home with their children. Following the debate that seems to be opening up on feet versus cars on the Bailey Bridge the Gurn would like to hear from parents. Do you drive the kids to school? Is it quicker? Do you travel a great distance? Would it be healthier to walk? Are there other reasons that make the car the better choice?
The picture will enlarge. As a wee side issue is it only on the road sign at this junction that the 'C''s are disappearing or is it happening all over Nairnshire?

A bheil sibh airson Gàidhlig a dh'ionnsachadh?

Want to learn Gaelic?
Clasaichean Gàidhlig ann an Inbhir Narann. Tòisichidh clasaichean air an 3 là den t-Samhain agus criochnachaidh iad air an 15 den Dùbhlachd.
Gaelic Classes in Nairn. Classes begin on the 3rd November 08 and run until the 15th December
Complete Beginners: 11.00am – 12.00 Monday 3rd Nov. Intermediate (Speaking our Language Series 1 Book 2) – 9.30am – 10.45am, Monday 3rd Nov. Both classes will take place in the Nairn Community Centre. Enrolment for the class will take place on the first morning of each class. Please ensure that you are able to make payment that day.
Costs – £25 for 7 wks
Concessions for Senior Citizens -£12 for 7wks
GM Parents-no charge.
For further information please contact: Margaret Mulholland
Community Learning and Development Officer(Gaelic)Highland Council North Tower, Inverness Castle, Inverness, IV2 3EG 01463 238685 /
The only Gurn over this that we have is that even Gaelic in Nairn is under the power of the mighty municipality of Inverness. Want to learn Gaelic in Nairn? Ring Inverness lol!
Well two Gurns actually, the times aren't really much help to anyone in full-time employment who wants to learn Gaelic.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nairn’s Tartan Army goes from strength to strength

The Gurn has heard from from Colin Barron that the Nairn Tartan Army is now over 100 strong and are planning a second speakers’ night following the great success of an earlier event. This time the speakers are:

· John “Dixies” Deans (Celtic, he scored 132 goals in just 184 games for them and holds the Post war record for the most goals scored in a single game-6)
· Colin Stein (Rangers, The last player to score a hat-trick while representing Scotland at international level. He won a total of 21 caps scoring ten goals.)
· Bob Valentine (Former Grade One Scottish football referee.)

This speaker’s night will be held in The Seaforth Club Function Hall on Saturday November 8th with doors opening at 6:45 for 7:30pm start. Tables are available from 2 people to 20 people and the cost is £22 per person. To secure a place contact: 07845010014
Colin is anticipating a memorable night of laughs and jokes, along with the serious questions and answer sessions and autograph hunters are encouraged to bring along anything you wish to be signed. Colin adds, club colours should not be worn but Scotland colours are encouraged.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Former fire chief has still got the vital spark!

You've probably read the Nairnshire's report on the Inverness Council (opps shouldn't that be Highland Council ) Nairn ward meeting last Wednesday night up at the Courthouse and you can't help but notice that Battling Bill Shand made a dramatic intervention from the public benches and asked to be allowed to speak. Permission was granted by the worthies and then Bill tore into them over the Bailey Bridge. The Gurn editor was lucky enough to have been there to witness the event. The former councillor had his facts and figures well compiled and there was no mistaking the gravitas and drama of the occasion as the community hero firmly issued notice on the Highland Council that the Nairn public were not going to let this issue go away.
"The reasons we get from councillors who do not support the bridge - and I don't care what they're saying tonight they are not very keen on it being opened - is that the public don't want it. But that is ridiculed by the survey that was done by an independent body," said Bill in a powerful speech that stole the show. Nice one Bill, keep on with the Bailey Bridge Battle and don't let them get away with neglecting this vital piece of infrastructure any longer.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nairn Politics small-minded?

Even more outspoken than the Gurn this week is Brian's MyNairn blog.
'There’s a weird small-mindedness in the town that suggests that Nairn’s roots are as a retirement village, and therefore it should stay that way and to hell with the young families that live here.' Says Brian
Lots of other stuff on MyNairn this week, picking up the slack in the Nairn Blogosphere is Brian. Nairn is different yes, not without problems we like to Gurn about but it is Disneyland compared to many less fortunate places on Mother Earth, and if it seems weird and small minded, who cares? Let's be weird and small-minded big time! Tilda loves it anyway :-)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Kilnhill eco-village plan falls through

The Sunday Herald is reporting the demise of the so called 'eco' village on Forestery Commission land near Nairn. The Gurn had previously spoken out against this project and its high profile Scottish Green Party backer.
The Herald article states:
Although the proposal was backed by the Scottish Green Party, it was condemned as the "murder" of a woodland and its wildlife by conservation groups. An ecological study found that the wood supported red squirrels, otters, pine martens, bats and badgers.
To make room for the houses, the commission was planning to cut down up to 70% of the trees in the building zones and 30-40% in surrounding areas. Kilnhill, which includes native species such as Scots pine and juniper, is listed on the UK ancient woodland inventory and dates back at least 400 years.
Along with the 32 houses, the plan also included eight holiday chalets and other associated facilities. But opponents argued that encouraging holidaymakers to fly up to Aberdeen to stay in the woods was not very environmentally friendly.'
Eleanor Scott isn't giving up though:
'The former Green MSP, Eleanor Scott, who is standing as a candidate for co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, argued that there was a need for sustainable housing around Nairn. "The Forestry Commission must now make more changes to the scheme which could help build support," she said.'
If we are to save the Nairnshire environment from the Scottish Green Party we'd better keep our eye on the planning ball. You'll get the full article here.

Nairn High Street "Dead on Saturday afternoons!'"

This sign to be seen in one of the shop windows in Nairn High Street. Picture will enlarge.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Somerfield site - what do you think will happen?

From the Masterclass article below you will see that Highland Council have been debating the Somerfield store. Why should they have all the fun? You too can speculate! Well what do you think will happen? Go over to The Gurn on Sunday and have your say in the Gurn's second opinion poll. Once you've voted on that, scroll down and see which of our 4 councillors came out top in another totally unscientific popularity poll.

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?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hamish remembers another regular sea bather

Here's our correspondent Hamish:
I've read Graeme's article and his reference to the swimmer and it being a freezing cold day when he took the photograph called to mind a Nairn man who swam in the sea every day of the year regardless of weather or sea conditions. This man's name was Cope - John I think - and he lived in Cumming Street. He had a draper's shop in the High Street which was almost opposite Douglas Street. I'd say he was middle aged and possibly past that stage in life in the thirties but I could be quite wrong in that to me, a young teenager, a person approaching a fortieth birthday was "old". I've seen him leave his home wearing no more than a bathing costume, a pair of sand shoes and a light raincoat. He would walk down to the beach, wade into the sea, submerge himself two or three times - never did see him swim - and then return to his house.
Hamish is wondering if anyone can else has info on John Cope, did his regular dips help him live to a ripe old age for example? Any other Gurnites with memories of Mr Cope?

Graeme writes to the Gurn

Hello Gurn,
As a frequent visitor to your blog, and regular visitor to Nairn I thought I'd try to make a contribution by emailing you some photographs that I took over this past weekend. Playing around with my camera, I had a lovely walk along the pier and snapped the harbour in all its glory on my way back. I headed along to the bandstand to get a wee pic of it but my tripod wasn't playing ball so this was my best attempt. The swimmer that can just about be made out, jumped in from the pier on Sunday morning and swam towards the Nairn Golf Club then back. Freezing water, cold day, strong winds !! Top marks to the guy. Heard it mentioned that he was in training to swim the 12 miles across the firth.
A couple of snaps are from Cawdor's Living Food event which seemed to pull in good numbers despite inclement weather. Over 50 stalls selling a variety of fantastic local produce from venison to shellfish, chocolate to whisky, jam to organic burgers. We had a great day out and the kids even enjoyed dancing in the rain !
A walk along the river showed how green most of the trees still are. Is autumn retreating a bit this year ? The banks were absolutely covered in this plant ( some kind of balsam ? ) which seems to have overtaken at points. My daughter enjoyed popping the seed pods on our way round.
Anyway, feel free to use any or none of my snaps and keep up the good work, I really enjoy your blog, it keeps me up to date with all the local news and gossip.


Thanks Graeme, good work, that's the kind of input we're very happy to receive at the Gurn. Gurnites can see a full-scale slide show here. Graeme obviously encountered the Himalayan Balsam around the river, now going to seed. Still the Highland Council have done nothing and the seed from this year's bumper crop will probably completely overwhelm the native species next year if nothing is done. It is a very beautiful plant yes, but we could do with a lot less of it if the native habitat is to remain a native habitat.