Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bin here before!

As a beautiful sunny Sunday draws to a close, a familiar sight greets anyone who ventures to the harbour this evening. Not the swans and their signets, boats sailing, folk eating their chips, or boy racers burning rubber, no this is the regular overflowing bins.
I appreciate that money is tight for Highland Council and having someone empty the bins of a weekend might be too expensive, but how about more bins, or bigger bins, or even both?
Rubbish is now blowing into the harbour, is this really the image of Nairn that we want folk to see?

When will it ever end?

The SNP reveal that several versions of a Labour European election leaflet are attributing one quote supporting Gordon Brown to several different families. Depending on where you live in the country you may see this same quote linked to a family local to you.
It could just be seen as a lazy mistake by Labour election campaigners, but in these times of increased public concern over politicians honesty it does nothing to increase a cynical public’s trust of all things political.
Would it have been too much to obtain some real quotes from real people, maybe none were available!

To quote John Lennon:

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

Some truth would be very nice indeed!

More woes

An article on links to the Scottish Parliament Public Audit Committe Report that has some astonishing information on the loss made by VisitScotland's website. If you are interested in the subject you may wish to read the article and the comments it has attracted. It isn't only in Nairn that folk are concerned about the service offered by Visit Scotland.

Young gurnites in clean-up action

Regular readers will remember the previous appearance of this riverside seat. Well thanks to the public-spirited actions of Ailsa aged 7 and Iona aged 4 you can once again enjoy one of the River's best views in comfort. Well done girls. Thanks to Murd for the pictures.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fish Supper

Picture will enlarge.

Worth every penny?

Details of our councillor’s salaries are now available. They are hardly in the same league as their Westminster colleagues for either pay or expenses, but are they giving us value for money in these austere times? The BBC has done some sums

Would you miss the psychedelic boards?

It was stated at the Nairn Partnership meeting that the look of the town as you pass through on the A96 had led to a 'Brixton of the North' comment from a tourist, with this in mind it is perhaps imperative that something happens to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.
The Visit Nairn initiative to give the Regal a quick makeover is a great idea. If it happens could we have the existing makeover psychedelic boards relocated, they too make an excellent backdrop, it's a pity the building they are sited on seems to be disintegrating. Picture will enlarge.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Winning snapper

A pupil from Rosebank Primary is a winner of The Highland Council’s 2009 ‘Highland Environment’ photograph competition.
Marc Logie from Rosebank won the Primary School category with his photograph of Glascarnoch Dam, Ullapool
The aim of the competition was to get young people to identify why they love the Highland Environment and to show what they think makes the Highlands special enough to encourage others to save energy and look after our environment.
A selection of photographs submitted for the competition to be displayed at the Eastgate Centre, Inverness for two weeks from Monday 15 June 2009.
In order to raise environmental awareness among Highland school children, the Council intends to make this an annual competition.

Police and thieves

The Gurn has often covered the menace of dog fouling. Whilst it would seem it’s a minority of dog owners who cause the problem, the issue remains and unfortunately touches on all of us one way or another
In the Hilton area of Inverness, Highland Council Environmental Services are to join with
Northern Constabulary to jointly patrol problem areas that are suffering from dog fouling or litter.
It would seem a questionable use of Police resources but clearly the problem is being taken seriously for such an initiative to emerge. 
Will areas of Nairn also see joint Police and Environmental Services patrols to combat the problem here?

More Gaelic

Recently we featured a quote from the Nairnshire Telegraph concerning the origin of the Nairn name 'Maggot':
''A similar location in Inverness is also called The Maggot. Roddy MacLean in the Gaelic Place Names of Inverness says the name is a mystery but, alluding also to the Nairn Maggot, he suggests that both names may be derived from Gaelic magh, a plain, flat area. '
Dwelly's Illustrated Gaelic -English dictionary gives some more interesting words that might also have a connection with the origins of Nairn's maggot.
'Magar -air, -airean, sm Bait to fish with, artificial fly, fly for saith. [also ite-mhaghar]. 2 Spawn, young fishes. 3 Moving about when fishing, in contradistinction to “air chruaidh” (at anchor) — Uist. 4 Act of fishing for young saith, &c with a fly — iasgach a' mhaghair — (AH).'
Interesting isn't it Gurnites? The Dwelly dictionary is a remarkable document and came to the world in 1911 like a bolt out of the blue or 'a stone out of the air' as is said in Gaelic (mar chlach as an adhair). The compiler of the dictionary Edward Dwelly was a remarkable man and his story is told on this wikipedia page.
More recently his dictionary was made available on-line after ten years of hard work by a learner of Scottish Gaelic Micheal Bauer - Dwelly-d (short for Dwelly-digiteach "Digital Dwelly"). The digital version allows you to search from English to Gaelic an option that was never available in the original. This remarkable internet resource received no funding from the Gaelic authorities which irritated some Gaelic language activists considerably considering the project received over £200,000 in all. There are those that consider that the Gaelic quango Bòrd na Gàidhlig has lost its way over this and other issues but that is perhaps a Gurn for another day. In the meantime if you wish to read more about the controversy then this page on might interest you: ' Why did they spend a quarter of a million?'

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Welcome to Nairn - a new look for the Regal?

Could the Regal get a massive make-over in the near future? The above picture is of a potential transformation that Visit Nairn members would like to see happen to the dilapidated gateway to the town. Danny Alexander is fixing up a meeting for Visit Nairn with the Co-op and hopefully some positive action will ensue in the near future. Highland Council have been trying to get some movement on town centre issues with both the Co-op and Somerfield but as yet have nothing to show for their efforts. Hopefully the Visit Nairn initiative will bear fruit.

Rathad a’ Mhagha – Maggot Road, the citizens take over the meeting (just for a moment)

More than a little peeved perhaps that three of the Highland Councillors present weren’t really responding to their representations the non-council members of the forum and those on the public benches (oh yes, plus Liz) just did their own thing and called for a show of hands. ‘All those in favour of Maggot Road!.’

Those in favour easily carried it and Sandy and the other two members agreed to take the ‘consultation’ into account but at present the decision they have made stands as ‘Riverside flats leading to Maggot Road’, a name which sounds more like lengthy directions rather than that of a road. It will be interesting to see if the councillors go the whole way and give up on their desire to supplant a local name with something more politically correct. If they do they may regret the day very much because the strong feeling that was represented in the chamber is echoed very much on the streets and although they may pass some unpopular motions in what remains of their term of office it may be that the Maggot Road decision will come back to haunt them more than anything else should they wish to ignore the will of the community. To be fair the three councillors did listen intently and Sandy made reference to the possible Gaelic origins of the word Maggot.

We seem to be in a slightly different era in Nairn now, people are getting more involved as witnessed by the Sandown Campaign, the MacLean Court fight etc, etc. There seems to be a new militancy in the population, dating perhaps from the explosive scenes at the Sainsbury’s hearing last June and topped up very much by the ‘Can we have our town back please’ letter from Iain Fairweather in October. People want to make their point of view known and the desire to retain the name Maggot Road has become in itself another powerful local campaign. ‘We need to get Joanna Lumley up here’ said someone from the public benches, in jest yes but with a very serious side to the comment. ‘People power’ is alive and well in Nairn. Get involved Gurnites, let’s make our town what we want it to be not what the Highland Council sees fit for us. Our elected councillors will have to do our bidding if they want to get back in at the next elections.

The Sheena Baker Inquisition

Tonight Sheena didn’t mess about. She got straight down to business, asking the status of the Council’s loan to the Community centre in regard to the refusal of the Sandown planning application.
Sandy Park replied that there was no change in the status of the loan, a sum in excess of £2,000,000 pounds. At the time the Sandown Lands were the only asset that could be offset against the loan.
Sheena was worried that the debt was being run up even more but according to Sandy the debt was in fact static. Sheena then expanding to take in comments reported in the Nairnshire on the behalf of Mark Cummings of the PR company Invicta that had been employed by the developer. William Gilfinnan told the meeting that there was nothing in the background that wasn’t know about and reiterated that the developer had three options. Earlier he had stated that the developer could appeal, resubmit the application or walk away.
Sheen persisted with her questions, she wanted to know if given the new circumstances if the Highland Council could write off the the loan. Sandy replied that he thought that the Council would expect the money back and if the council were to consider what she had suggested then he believed that they would be very reluctant to do that.
William Gilfinnan on the behalf of the council stated that the asset was still there and it was a marketable commodity.

It was good to see Sheena in action again, she quite often is prepared to ask difficult questions of the local powers that be.

Tonight's Ward Forum and Nairnshire Partnership double header at the Courthouse

Lots of interesting debate tonight, finished early for once (19.34). Sheena Baker's interrogation of the powers that be on the £2,000,000 Community Centre debt came in equal first with the Maggot Road question in terms of drama and public participation, Sandown was discussed too and other subjects. It was interesting, more folk should give it a try. Nice to see representitives from the newly constituted West Community Council contributing too. Quote of the night from the public benches: ' We should get Joanna Lumley up here'.
More later, it is now such a nice evening after the wet day that a trip to see the swans beckons. Word is that one of the cygnets is no longer with us, having been left behind or separated from its parents it sadly died despite efforts to reunite it with the adult swans.

Spotlight – Information on your community?

A new community magazine ‘Spotlight’ was delivered to me today, it's a free monthly publication delivered to all Nainites along with our post.
I wish the magazine well; more information about our community is always welcome.
The introductory welcome apologies for being brief (Surely a new magazine deserves better) but Spotlight have been ‘literally swamped with requests to print community information and by local businesses wishing to promote their trade’ hmm.
I’m sure Spotlight staff had their gunwales under water, but the end printed publication is a mishmash of adverts for businesses of which disappointingly by far the great majority are based in Forres, hardly ‘Nairn and District’.
Our community is covered by a listing of some of Nairn’s Clubs and Societies, a pastoral letter, a list of church times, and extracts from a meeting of Nairn Suburban Community Council (Last April’s meeting).
Just like the advertising, the ‘What’s on’ section is a merge of events happening in both the Highlands and Moray, and for some reason I found it incredibly difficult to read!
What I assume is a tide table (No month, doesn’t say where it’s for, nor if the times given are for high or low water, or if they are local or GMT times (Sorry to be picky!)) tells us that ‘walking on the beach should be possible 2 hours either side of these times’.
School term dates don’t seem to tally completely with those given by Highland Council, but maybe they are for Moray?
But heh, it’s free! Have you got yours yet? Is this real competition to our Nairnshire Telegraph or indeed The Gurn!?

Pipe Dream

Despite the recent very cold winter Scottish Water has revealed figures showing that its major investment in new water mains across the Highlands and Islands has paid dividends, with 106 fewer burst pipes in the past year.
During 2008/09 Scottish Water dealt with 1,397 burst water mains in the Highland and Western Isles local authority areas, a seven per cent drop from 1,503 the previous year (07/08).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Suburban CC to support Sainsbury's application

Suburban are backing the River Community Council and are writing a letter of support for the Sainsbury's plan. John Mackie stated that they would leave it to River to speak at the Inquiry but fully supported the application and would send a letter to the Inquiry Reporter. Representitives from the newly formed West Coummunity Council were also at the Suburban meeting tonight and indicated that they would shortly be discussing their response to a request for support from the River CC over this issue.

Sandown, somewhere between 140-230 houses would be acceptable

That was the feeling up at the Suburban Community council's meeting in the academy tonight. 230 would be an absolute maximum if the feeling from the well-attended meeting was anything to go by. It was expressed from the public benches that this would enable houses to be built with sufficient internal and external living space.
It was excellent to see the ideas coming from the members of the public: proof, if any were needed, that the people of Nairn are full of ideas and ingenuity. There were calls for the community facility and wetland area to be 'de-coupled' from the planning project so as to enable the initiative to proceed without the hindrance of worrying what the present developers or any others would do in the future. Calls too for the land to be parcelled up into smaller areas and for a range of local firms to be invited to submit plans for each part of it. Another idea for a development to be built on state of the art renewable energy lines, an opportunity here to build a showcase project that would attract attention far beyond the Moray Firth. Gurnites, we are extremely lucky to live in a community that cares. Hopefully as we move closer to the day when the town has one community council to champion its values and aspirations, the creativity latent in our town will be unleashed to shape Nairn's future for the benefit of present and future generations.
It is obvious to the Gurnmeister that the Suburban Community Council is at the forefront of so much that is good for our community, well done Suburban Councillors.

Generous Parkdean?

Many Nairnites often overlook Parkdean as a tourist attraction, but thousands of visitors enjoy the Nairn facility each year.
We were saddened to read in the Nairnshire Telegraph this week that police are still investigating a ‘high value’ break in at the caravan park, which took place on the 7th/8th May.
The headline in The Nairnshire reads ‘Opportunist thefts – charity boxes’. We assume a headline mistake, for the Gurn understood that the ‘high value’ theft occurred from a rather uncharitable device, namely a cash machine at the park that charged £2 for each transaction. But maybe we are wrong and Parkdean residents are so generous that the high value theft was in fact from their loaded charity boxes!
We hope the culprits are apprehended soon, police are asking for anyone with any knowledge of the incident to contact them.

Sainsbury's - 219 extra declarations of support

A River Community Council source revealed to the Gurn this morning that in response to their advertisement in the Nairnshire Telegraph a further two hundred and nineteen people had registered their support for the application. The inquiry will be held next month and commences on the 16th.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paper Thin

The Gurn counts itself lucky in that its chosen media is that of the Internet rather than newsprint. Not for us the bourgeoning costs of ink and newsprint, no delivery costs, no worries about falling advertising revenue. Our outgoings for office space and overheads would humble even the most modest of MPs expense accounts.
Scottish daily newspapers however find themselves with their backs to the wall. The very future of famous titles such as The Herald, The Scotsman, and The Daily Record are in question.

'The steep decline in the number of Scots reading newspapers is "alarming", says Magnus Linklater, the former editor of the Scotsman'

In an article in
The Guardian newspaper it is reported that there is a call for young people to be given free subscriptions to Scottish daily and Sunday newspapers. It may be news to newspaper proprietors and companies like Menzies but young people just don’t read newspapers anymore, free or otherwise.
Much has been written about falling newspaper circulation but it is long past the time that actions rather than words are needed for the industry to survive and that doesn't mean free newsprint!

Castles made of sand

As we fret as to whether or not Visit Scotland are going to get tourists to Nairn this year, it’s refreshing to see a travel writer hit the spot when describing Nairn.

Check out the marvellous sandy beaches of Nairn along the Moray Firth – some of the most child friendly in Scotland. This is an excellent base for exploring the Scottish Highlands.

The author Jane Anderson may have mistakenly placed Nairn in Inverness-shire but she has clearly stated what Nairn offers families, great beaches and a good base for exploring Highland attractions, although I might quibble over placing Inverness on her list!
The full
article looks at seaside resorts around Britain as holiday destinations on the back of the poor exchange rate for British holidaymakers thinking of heading towards mainland Europe, this is the just the marketing Nairn needs.

Her article ends with the quote:

59% (Children) have never built a sandcastle on a British beach. What is the world coming to?

All children should have access to a bucket, a spade, and a beach, but at the end of each sunny day decaying sand castles seem to be in decline on Nairn’s beaches? Have computer games truly taken over?

Good news on Town centre redevelopment fund‏ bid

Optimistic news from David Brownless of the Association of Nairn Businesses:
'I Thought the Gurn would be interested to know of some progress on the ‘Town Centre Redevelopment Fund’.

The Association of Nairn Businesses, particularly Sheena Baker, have been encouraging the Highland Council to ensure that Nairn is well placed to make a project bid which could attract funding from the scheme. I am pleased to say that the Council have really taken up the challenge in endeavouring to lodge an application before the deadline.

The cut off date for the first phase of the TDRF is practically impossible to meet, if preparatory work on any project is not already well advanced. Fortunately for Nairn, in the Streetscape proposals, we have such a scheme, which has already been out for public consultation, and comes complete with fully prepared drawings.

Due to funding issues the Brae was the only area that could be initially considered for upgrading but now there is the potential to start a new phase and complete the works right up to the Cawdor Road/Leopold Street junction. We are well aware of the problems with the Supermarket site, and the empty properties close by, but we have to be realistic. The amount of money available, combined with ownership issues and the time available, mean that we could not even begin to think about solving that problem with this funding.

The works being proposed have the potential to make a real difference to the whole feel and appearance of the town centre. We need to start somewhere in creating a High Street better equipped to deal with the challenges that it will face over the coming years, and we feel that this fund offers a tremendous opportunity to take a major step forward.

It would be fantastic for Nairn if we could get this project approved, otherwise it will take many years to see the High Street revamped if funding has to be found from other sources.

The Association of Nairn Businesses is 100% behind the Highland Council in making this application, and we really hope to encourage the people of the town and those involved in tourism and other businesses generally to support the bid. The matter will be discussed at the Nairn Forum/Partnership on Wednesday 27th May .

David Brownless
Vice Chair -ANB '

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday sailing

The holiday weekend saw a cool overcast day on Saturday with some very heavy rain showers in the evening, Sunday was a more pleasant day with plenty of sunshine.
Nairn Sailing Club boats raced back from Whiteness Head on Sunday and enjoyed a strong following westerly wind for most of the way. Nairn harbour had a busy weekend with boats from Cromarty visiting on Saturday and Sunday.

Nairnshire Challenge

Picture will enlarge.
As promised more pictures now available here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hamish remembers the pies

Have been looking at past issues of the Gurn. On reading that of June 2005 the opening of a new shop selling pies is reported and that brought to mind 'Roddie's Penny Pies' which were sold only on a Saturday morning by Roddie the baker in his shop, now Asher's, in the High Street opposite the Waverley Hotel.
They were made in the bakehouse in Acre Street and usually sold out before they were cold. Really delicious. But then I was still in my early 'teens.

Best wishes


Letter to the Gurn from Jason Rose

Dear Gurn,
Re the Good Beach Guide:
The very wet spells we had last summer did trigger a number of sewer system emergency overflows. These functioned as designed, preventing the sewer system backing up into people's homes. Emergency overflows are regulated by the environment agency (SEPA) and generally discharge dilute, screened waste water, not raw sewage.
As for the treatment works at Nairn, it treats sewage to produce a high quality effluent - a clear water which is dispersed way out in the Moray Firth and nowhere near the beaches. And I can assure your reader interested in the impact of extra housing that this will not reduce the quality of the finished clear water.
One of your correspondents makes the very apt point that during bad weather all sorts of 'diffuse pollution' (run off from the countryside) enters the river and is washed out to sea. If you look at the samples taken by SEPA off Nairn last summer (posted on their website and at the noticeboards by the harbour and the links) you'll see they were all 'excellent' or 'good'.
It might be of interest to your readers that Scottish Water recently gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's flooding bill, suggesting that the best way to improve the sewer system's ability to cope with the sudden downpours we're seeing more of is to remove surface water connections from the system. We encourage developers to install rainwater recycling systems and would like to see more green roofs and car parks with porous surfaces.
I hope this information is useful to Gurnites. Keep up the good work with your superb blog.
Jason Rose.
Scottish Water & Nairn Resident!

Friday, May 22, 2009

There's poetry over at Caravan 109

'The boats in the harbour do move and sway
Whilst Swans have nested in the bay
They sit on the nest so very proud
'Til nine cygnets arrive all fluffy and loud'

For the full poem go to: My caravan holiday in Scotland in poetry

Not so peachy on the beaches

The Marine Conservation Society has released the 2009 Good Beach Guide. Only 41 Scottish beaches merit its excellent quality stamp, three less than last year.
Blame in the fall in water quality has been put down to the heavy summer downpours that we experienced last year overloading sewers and the treatment plants.
Nairn’s East beach failed to make it to the excellent quality, and only managed a basic pass for water quality.
Nairn beaches are always going to suffer in terms of water quality due to the sewage outlet and also pollution from the river.
We need to decide if our beaches are dog friendly or not and let all concerned organisations know. The MSC lists Nairn beaches as OK for dogs but visitors are going to find signs saying otherwise.

Nairn makes the biscuit

Scots are famous for snapping up items put on sale for tourists, so with that in mind Asher’s the Nairn bakers can expect high sales of their new Homecoming Scotland shortbread bites that go on sale as of next week.
The company is also supplying shortbread to the Highland Homecoming Conference.
Sandy Park is quoted as saying ‘
Shortbread is one of our unique delicacies that has worldwide recognition as being typically Scottish’ and thanks Ashers for promoting Homecoming Scotland.
Watch out for the queues in the High Street!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Inverness High Street on the slip too?

The Gurn has previously commented on the number of empty premises in parts of Inverness's Old Town. Now is Inverness High Street itself falling victim to the Eastgate, Golden Mile and other out of town stores? The signs seem to be spreading.
Elsewhere in the Nairn blogosphere tonight Brian is having a go at the Nairnshire and in response to that article Nairnbairn is suggesting that Iain Bain may have let the real big story go by. Why not pop over and tell Brian and Nairnbairn what you think about this week's Nairnshire. Over at Nairnmatters there is an appeal for trade, got anything you want them to have a pop at? The Nairn bypass campaign is going through a fallow period, Pookie is quiet too and Bill could well be back from Spain now. On the plot the polytunnel is the current topic. The perplexing question for the Gurnmeister tonight is, is Newsbleat really a Nairn Blog? Yet another Nairn based topic has appeared.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

'Nairn Matters' - New blog on the block

The Gurnmeister has for some time been urging campaigners with specialist knowledge to publish their material on the web. In the case of the recent Sandown Planning application speed was often of the essence.
Now there is a new blog on the block that will act as a specialist vehicle on planning, tourism and town centre development issues. It is long overdue and will enable instant publication of many important details when necessary. The blog states on the purpose of site page:

‘Through this site we wish to present our research on planning issues as a resource that may be of help to others. The site will also become a forum for local engagement and debate. You are welcome to contribute to that debate especially if you are a resident of Nairn, a developer or Highland Councillor.’
There we have it Gurnites, Nairn matters, a welcome and useful addition to the Nairn blogosphere and another venue for democratic expression for what the new blog calls the “people movement”

Monday, May 18, 2009

Relocation time?

Riverside campaigner Murd has suggested to the Council that this seat below Whinnieknowe is moved from its present location to a more suitable place where riverside ramblers could use it to relax in safety. We'll keep you informed of any progress Gurnites.

Town Centre Regeneration Fund - Will Highland Council make a bid on the behalf of Nairn?

Regular readers will remember the Gurn has recently published a few articles on this subject. (scroll down on that page if you follow the link). Well the clock has been ticking very quickly and in less than 48 hours the matter will be discussed at the Highland Council's Planning, Environment and Development Committee. The Director has recommended applications but will Nairn feature? You can read the relevant document here.
A regular Gurnite is wondering if the business community and the Visit Nairn Group has done any lobbying of our councillors on this subject and indeed,whether there should have been some public consultation on the subject from our four councillors? Will Nairn be in with a shout? We'll just have to see what comes out of that meeting and as the report states:

'The first deadline for applications will be 5 June 2009. The Scottish Government hope to
complete the assessment process and be able to announce offers of grant around 30 July

Some MP’s are expensive

I can almost hear your yawns as you read the title of this post. The subject has been in the media for too long and the list of items purchased with public money is slightly longer than my Amazon wish list.
There have been calls for general elections, resignations, paybacks, and changes made to the way MPs can claim expenses. ‘At it’ seems to be an overview of everyone in all parties with little hope of anyone being re-elected at the next general election.
On a local level our own MP Danny Alexander has been brave enough to publish his
expenses details on-line for everyone to see. As he says he is not cheap, commuting to and living in London, but like him or not he seems to be up front and honest which is more than can be said for a great many of his parliamentary colleagues.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nairn on the map (Chart)

Leading marks (Two orange painted triangles on poles) have been placed on the east pier. Nairn harbour has limited tidal access, and for any new visitor entering the harbour is a daunting task. Most harbours have either buoys or leading marks at their entrance, but in recent years Nairn has had neither. The idea of the leading marks is that approaching boats will enter the harbour by lining up the two triangles which should place them in the deepest water, however the marks might need adjustments as the shifting sand banks just outside the harbour piers keep shifting their position.
Almanacs, charts, and pilot books will be updated with details of the new marks so it might be that Nairn sees more visiting craft.

Break-in at Parkdean Caravan site

The Caravan site is very busy at the moment and the manager of the Parkdean Lochloy site is even quoted in the national press to that effect.
'Keith Kirkham, general manager of Parkdean's Nairn Lochloy caravan site in Invernessshire, said bookings were up by 30 per cent. He said: "We have six parks in Scotland and all are chock-full.'
More on how more people are taking holidays in Scotland on the Sunday Mail site.
The Gurn has learnt however, that the site's entertainment and administration complex had a visitor(s) that they could have well done without in the early hours of Friday morning. Someone climbed onto the roof, removed a few tiles, went through a ceiling and made off with the contents of the building's cash machine. The Gurn understands that sensors in the building may have been previously disabled.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Letter to the Gurn: The Common Good - make the Nairn Community Councillors Trustees as well as maybe the 4 Nairn Councillors

John Hart is one of the hard-working team that spent many long hours researching and preparing their submissions to the planning hearing on Tuesday. Here are his reflections and opinion about how we should proceed as a community. The Common Good Fund is his specialist subject:
Dear Gurn team,
I suspect that the Nairnshire next Tuesday will lead on the story of the rejection by the Highland Council Planning Committee of the Deveron Sandown Lands 550 house development. May I through your good offices, advise all Nairn citizens that Sandown Lands as an asset belonging to the Common Good Fund is now and always has been totally theirs. There is no farmer with either grazing rights or agricultural lease using it. While Highland Council holds the Deeds, they do so on behalf of Nairn residents. Therefore, they should use the area to walk their dogs, ride their horses, cycle over it, picnic on it, kick a football around it, fly a kite from it and not just the wetlands area - all of it. Make sure you take photographs of your usage of the area so that your claim to free usage is perpetuated. This counts for a lot at the next round of any future planning application.
There is no reason why there might not be 130 or more houses built on Sandown, so that the Common Good Fund can benefit and supplement the charitable work that it carries out. However, Nairn citizens must all ensure that they are consulted by the Trustees of the Common Good Fund BEFORE any disposal of Common Good Lands is made, under the heading of changes to the Nairnshire Local Plan, in its future guise as the Inner Murray Firth Plan. Be warned that Deveron or someone like them will be back. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that it was our Nairn Councillors, who were instrumental in rejecting the application.
The application totally failed because Highland Council were disingenuous in how they dealt with Deveron and the Nairn public. They failed to follow regulations by not acknowledging the primacy of the Nairnshire Local Plan for 130 houses on Sandown; then, not following procedures necessary to have it amended, having applied for planning consent for an increase to 230 houses; and then, not translating the housing limits within that original plan (max.130) into the DRAFT Development Plan. Furthermore, as the Draft Development Plan was never brought to committee for approval it also never had legal status, as an authorised Development Plan.
Nairn citizens should understand that the Common Good Fund is theirs and theirs alone. They should require that Highland Council make the Nairn Community Councillors Trustees as well as maybe the 4 Nairn Councillors. Thus, they should also insist that the other Highland Councillors should NOT be Trustees of the Nairn Common Good Fund. No offence to them but they should NOT be Trustees because they do NOT live in Nairn, a fundamental criteria of Common Good Fund administration, which Councillors in other areas of the Highlands should be demanding adherence to in their own areas where a Common Good Fund exists. (if any one is interested I can bore them with the historical details and some of the current cases being acted out around Scotland at present but there is lots of info at
By the way the Chairman was absolutely correct in insisting that as far as Planning Applications are concerned the ownership of the land is immaterial. Bizarrely any of us could put in a planning application for the change of use of say the Nairn Police Station. Strange but true!!
Thank you
John Hart
Mount PleasantSandown Road
IV12 5NW

If any Gurnites would like to contact John through e-mail please contact us and we'll forward his address

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Newton Orchard Planning application thrown out?

Strong rumours are circulating in the town tonight that another controversial planning application has bit the dust, having been rejected by the Scottish Office Reporter. Sources close to the Suburban Community Council seem pretty confident about this. If this is indeed the case then it will be another great result for the community. Fingers crossed for written confirmation.
Nairn will grow yes, but let's decide for ourselves how that will be!

9 in 2009

The new Nurn Nature section doesn't do swans and ducks but we still sometimes do here on Gurn mainstream. More pics here on Gurn flickr.

Migratory killer sofas return to River Nairn - Authorities must act quickly!

The Gurn made its name by its fearless reporting of this menace back in 2005. As a community we were lured into a false sense of security, we should have maintained a permanent 24 hour sofa watch once the immediate meanace had been dealt with. For Nairn it is now Sofa 2 time. We must act and act quickly. Sandy please get moving before the wider world finds out about this menace, the picture shows both an unsuspecting local going about her business and a duck in the river oblivious to the danger. Now we know why Joe's ducklings are vanishing at such a rapid rate this season.

The Gurn and its sister cyber-organ, the Gurn on Sunday will not rest until our town is finally free of this menace. Keeka Boo thank you for forwarding this picture to the Gurn and doing your civic duty in alerting the population.

Important: bathers please remember that killer sofas also
like to lurk just offshore.

Stuck in the middle with…

As shopkeepers on the Brae struggle with the streetscaping work, traffic on the High Street ground to a halt this afternoon when a lorry became stuck trying to negotiate the now reduced junction at the top of the Brae/High Street. A near permanent skip coned off to one side of the street and a contractors van parked on the other side of the lorry resulted in grid lock whilst the lorry driver went to see if he could find the owner of the van.
Remember this is just the first stage of the Brae streetscaping; part two will start in the autumn. I’m sure it will all be worth it in the end?

Nurn Nature - another Gurn blog emerges

A new Gurn blog is now available, as demonstrated by the new button in the sidebar. Nurn Nature claims:
'You may be forgiven for thinking that the wildlife of Nairn consists of a couple of thousand seagulls, several dozen ducks and two swans!
But there's more, much more............'
All yours Gurnites, we're still at the normal price too, no extra charge for the new supplement.

Marks and Spencer self-service - Welsh available but no Gaelic

Campaigners have been trying to get Marks and Spencer to add Gaelic to their self-service machines in Scotland. The language choice if you were to go into their store in Inverness and use the self-service machine the language choice would include Welsh but no Gaelic option would be available.
The Facebook group Support Bilingual Signs in Scotland (Gaelic/English) has organised an on-line campaign but it looks like M&S won't do much about it, in the short term anyway, Customer Services Advisor Mike Thompson is telling protesters:
'I am afraid that these machines are only able to hold 6 languages on them. These same 6 languages are on all of our self service tills across the UK. The decision was made that these were the most popular languages that would be used the most.I will however ensure that your comments with regards to Gaelic being used are logged for the attention of our policies teams.'
It is a bit incongruous to go into a Highland Store and be offered a Welsh language option but not a Gaelic one and it is disappointing. It may be however that it would cost a small fortune in programming resources to add another language or allow local variations, sometimes seemingly simple solutions on databases are just not possible.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brian was feeling sorry for them until he read the P&J

The result is an article on entitled 'How Invicta PR failed Deveron Homes'. Gurnites that have been following the Sandown Planning saga may wish to read his thoughts and even make an intervention in the mynairn comments as some interesting points have been made. 

Sandown: Nairnbairn's view

Nairnbairn's thoughts have come in to the Gurn on another thread but as the Gurnmeister agrees with them entirely then they deserve publication in their own right :-)

'This Sandown episode is a little chapter in a bigger and longer saga. It shows that when people who care about the town get together, mobilise and engage with the authorities, it is possible to influence decisions and get results.
Amid the relief, the satisfaction and the remarks about Sandy Park and others , this is the comment that really matters:
Anonymous said...

At least everyone is happy that the landscape can be destroyed on the East side of Nairn, but not the west. That is what I love about this place total inconsistency.

Anonymous has a point. But it's not East versus West, or Fishertown and uptown. It's about all of Nairn. Like Sandown, there are other developments happening (Maggot) or planned (South Nairn, Delnies) that will affect the whole town. And there are developments that are not happening, but ought to (Somerfield site, the Regal, the old bus station).

Only if Nairnites are prepared to devote time and effort, take part in meetings, and exert influence effectively by using the channels that are available, will we get the kind of Nairn we want. So let's see more residents at Community Council meetings - let's see a unified Community Council - let's make sure our elected councillors know that they are accountable. If we want to make this town better, we have to be prepared to stand up, speak up, and act... '

Why we need ‘Visit Nairn’

As previously reported Visit Scotland has a woefully lacking content on their web page for Nairn, it wouldn’t be of any surprise if a potential tourist skipped Nairn after reading it to go on to find somewhere that had a little more happening.
By accident Visit Scotland also omitted Nairn from their ‘Freedom of the Highlands’ guide this year. All in all they are not doing very well when it comes to attracting tourists to our town.
Over at our world famous Boath House Hotel chef Charles Lockley has won the prestigious ‘Scottish Chef of the Year’ award. Anyone who has sampled Charles’ cooking will already know of the high standards he sets, to win this accolade is indeed a great achievement.
It would seem however that as Visit Scotland were not one of the sponsors of this award they do not want to make mention of it. To compound matters Boath House are no longer members of Visit Scotland (Can’t think as to why).
To have such an obvious attraction not promoted by a government funded tourist board is indeed shameful. Taking the mess that Visit Scotland have made of promoting Nairn you would have thought that it was the least they could do, this attraction would surely bring visitors to Nairn the whole year round?
In an article in
The Herald newspaper Don Matheson of Boath House is quoted as saying

"I think Visit Scotland's remit is to promote anything of worth in Scotland".

I wonder how Visit Scotland manage to argue against that one?

Getting even more organised

It has never been easier for citizens to get organised on issues that affect them and their communities. Technology is enabling us to react in ways that were not possible a few years ago. If you have a spare 30 minutes then watch this video by Clay Shriky in which he attempts to explain some of the implications for humanity of this new inter-action.
Basically if communities are organised they can be as powerful and as well-informed as any organisation or business. This is what happened in Nairn yesterday and if we, as a community, stay on top of our game, that is how it will be in the future. Communities can tell the world what they want and use technology to help ensure they get what they desire. The Highland Council and the developers came to Nairn yesterday and found a well-informed community that had decided to defend itself against a planning proposal that it didn’t want. Thanks to a dozen or so very hard-working individuals a case was presented that was impossible to reject without profound implications for the relationship between our community and Inverness based local government. It was very refreshing to see out of town councillors taking in what the community had to say and reacting positively to it.

Nairn will have to be ready to react to further planning applications, ones the community wants and ones it doesn’t. Deveron may appeal and we may have to move into action again very quickly. Activists on the Sandown issue passed a lot of information to each other through e-mail, which certainly speeds things up. It is perhaps time however for all those working on the behalf of the community to consider publishing information simultaneously on the web. It can be done so easily through the like of google documents. Google allows you to store your information (a letter you wish others to copy and send to officials for example) and publish it as a web page if you wish. In a couple of clicks you can have your information on-line 24/7 for anyone else in the community to resource when they wish. It may be that you have found some nugget of information that would help another individual or group in the community or another community somewhere else, again its publication on the web will save you and others time and help achieve what so many of us in the community seem to want – i.e. more democracy.

Keep at it Gurnites, well done so far!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some points made at the planning hearing.

There is real shock around town tonight as word spreads that the application has been turned down. A lot of people expected the Deveron application to be approved. Here is an attempt to report some of the points that were raised against the application. As usual the best folk for this type of thing are the Nairnshire squad so order your copy of next Tuesday’s edition now.

After the applicant made their presentation Brian Lynch was the first to speak for the objectors. He made comments about the increase in both the are of housing and the density as opposed to the detail in the local plan. He mentioned five different figures for the numbers of housing that have appeared in recent times. They were 140, 192, 230, 330, 550. He suggested that there had been a lack of transparency in the process. Despite 2 years of discussion the total of houses still stood at 550. He asked for the permission to be withheld until the points in the submission had been properly investigated. He sat down to applause.

John Hart tried to register his concerns over several aspects of the Common Good Land and bemoaned the fact that the Nairn Common Good Fund had not been registered as a charity. He said that he was still waiting on information relating to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Highland Council concerning the Sandown Lands. He was told by Jimmy Gray the chair of the meeting that ownership of the land was not a valid issue at the hearing.

George Asher spoke on the behalf of the Golf Club. Basically he said that building such high density housing so close to an asset bringing in millions of pounds for the town was not a very good idea and the inhabitants of the new homes would use the public footpath across the course in high numbers thus having a devastating effect.

Dick Youngson spoke on the behalf of the Nairnshire Woodlands and Wetlands Association and the Nairn Allotment Society and raised several concise environmental concerns.
Dr Joan Noble raised issues about health and population. She compared how the population of Nairn had grown by 20% over 30 years yet this application would increase it by 15%? She mentioned how the Scottish population had remained stable recently. Gridlock on the A96 was an issue for her especially the deaths from traffic accidents in the area. She thought that Nairn should not have to prostitute itself to raise money for Highland Council.

Alan Farmington raised a few points on the behalf of Cawdor Estates. He raised the very important point that the current access arrangement could not serve as a sole access given that Cawdor were planning a development nearby at Delnies.

Cathy Stafford from Action for Planning Transparency raised a quick, concise point referring to precise minutiae of planning documents. Sorry Cathy that was a bit too quick to record but it certainly impressed the officials and councillors.

Graham Vine raised points about local roads and stated that there had been no local road assessment plan and maintained that it was apparent now that there would be an access from the scheme onto Altonburn Road, a road that was already at capacity and bordered by stone walls. The consequences to cyclists and pedestrians could be lethal when the residents of the new houses would begin to use the road as a rat run.

An Australian married to a Nairn woman (sorry didn’t get your name) mentioned how he had lived in many parts of the world but that the best place he had ever had the privilege of living in and he appealed to the councillors ‘For God’s sake don’t build this crap!’.

Kenneth Mackenzie told the meeting that the A96 was not adequate and that to add 550 houses would compound the problem. The A96 should be addressed before a decision is made on planning. He said that the 3-4 storey buildings would dominate. He said that a decision was being made on the future of Nairn and that during the 19th and 20th century Nairn had been growing as a medium density town with high amenity and the over development of Sandown would be the councillors legacy. He urged that the application be deferred.

John Mackie told the meeting that he was there to represent the man in the street, those folk that had spoken to him about the development. He said that once the public had found out about the density of the development ‘All hell had broken loose’. He cut short his speech stating that others had raised most of the points he was hoping to make and with reference to efforts to initiatives to curb dog poo he urged the meeting to ‘bag it and bin it.’

Sandy Park then spoke briefly and there was a gasp from the public as he recommended refusal. There was some discussion before a vote was taken and Laurie Fraser unsuccessfully tried to raised some points about footpaths on the North side of the A96. Cllr John Holden stated that they were being asked to put a town as big as Kinguisse onto Nairn.

The vote was unanimous and most members of the public then left and emerged into the sunshine outside the community centre to take in the enormity of the common sense decision that had just been made. The people of Nairn had been listened to and their wishes understood and acted upon. It was a great moment.

Sandown planning hearing - more pictures

More pictures here.

Better with a local loon and Gurn reader?

The Gurnmeister has heard it said more than once that dealing with Deveron Homes and Cawdor Estates is just like chalk and cheese. In other words the consultation Cawdor are willing to have with the local community over their Delnies development is spot on compared with the way the Deveron went about the process. Deveron's preceived lack of consultation was reflected in the decision today (other developers interested in Nairn please note!)
Well Lord Cawdor came into town in two capacities today. On the one hand he was here as an objector to the Sandown proposal and on the other as an applicant with a small housing development on the site of the former piggery at Boghole farm steadings. His application was accepted. The plans looked quite impressive with a lot of emphasis on improving the environment around the site.
Planning goes better with locals involved?

Technology exists - why couldn't Liz have taken part?

Even though the decision against Deveron's outline planning application was unanimous someone mentioned this afternoon that given all the solutions that exist these days Liz could have taken part in the Sandown planning hearing via telephone, skype and perhaps a few other inventions or pieces of software. Really what is to stop anyone anywhere in the world having their say at a planning meeting?
Welcome to the 21st Century Highland Council, next time the Provost is on holiday please let her take part :-)

A great day for Nairn - Sandown outline application refused!

Samantha Bacon hugs Cathy Stafford as they and other elated campaigners emerge into the sunshine outside the Community Centre

Sandy Park proposed the Deveron Homes outline application for Sandown be refused and was backed by all around the table to applause from the public benches:
What some of the objectors said:

Dr Joan Noble: ' Nairn shouldn't have to prostitute itself to raise money for Highland Council'
Australian mannie married to a Nairn women : 'You live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. For God's sake don't build this crap'.
John Mackie, suburban community council: 'Bag it and bin it!'.
The amazing sight of out of town councillors backing the local councillors and the people of Nairn. could this be the start of further bridge building between the Council and the community? A fuller report and pictures later. It's a beautiful day Gurnites and our protests have been heard, understood and acted on. Enjoy, even rejoice if you like :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yesterday was a very nice day

Good night all.

Sandown last minute protest initiative

The Gurn has received a copy of a letter the Nairn Concerned Residents Association has sent to Dr Stuart Black of Highland Council. They want as many people as possible to copy it and e-mail it to Dr Black as well, also with copies to Fergus Ewing, David Polson and J. Mackinnon. all at except Fergus and his email address can be googled. Please see Gurn articles below for further details and links.
Here's the letter, please copy and paste and add your name and address to the e-mail you send.

Dear Dr. Black,

Regarding the above Planning Application we, the Nairn Concerned Residents Group would like to request that the Hearing on the 12th May 2009 be deferred for the following reasons:

Would the Committee confirm if Deveron are in a position to renegotiate the purchase price after the Outline Planning Application hearing, as a result of the huge reduction in land prices caused by the biggest recession this country has known for some time. If Deveron can do this, it could drastically reduce the amount of money due to the Common Good Fund and as Trustees, the H.C. must protect the interests of the Common Good Fund. Will the Committee confirm that if Devron reduce their offer they will definitely go back out to tender and will consider defferring the sale until land prices recover ?

Re: 7.8 of the Planner's Report to the Committee, Deveron do not want to be subject to additional payments under the A96 Contributions Protocol. The Planner advises using money from the sale of the Sandown Lands to cover work on the A96 which this Development will necessitate. We strongly object to the use of Common Good Sale Receipts for upgrading a Trunk Road and question the validity of this proposal. Again, as Trustees, the H.C. must protect the interests of the Nairn Common Good Fund and must not ring-fence sale money for Road upgrades and must at the very least directly consult the people of Nairn before spending their Common Good Funds on a Regional project to upgrade a Trunk Road.

Yours faithfully,

Watching paint dry

Days, weeks, and months later the work to widen the bankie footpath still carries the ‘in progress’ status. When the Gurn jested that the work might not be finished in time for Easter little did we know that the project plan was going to be stretched into the summer.
So what does this huge feat of engineering require? Namely a JCB to scrape off the old surface and to widen the path, lorries to take away the old material, lorries to bring new surface materials, and a small roller to harden the new surface.
What should be a very quick, straightforward job seems to have slowed to a pace suggesting that Thomas Telford is back in town and we’re building the new Caledonian Canal.
Visitors to the bankie path are advised to buy all terrain buggies for their bairns, wear stout boots, and any cyclists should be aware of potential punctures, for rather than complete a small section at a time to minimise disruption, it would seem that the council is determined to progress the work as one long job, and at the moment the path is mainly compacted hardcore rather than a smooth surface.
Why is this work being carried out anyway? Was there gridlock on the path at busy times, folk bumping into each other, multiple buggy crashes, I doubt it. Maybe it is Highland Council getting ready for the huge influx of residents as it rubber-stamps every planning application that a developer wants to present.
Perhaps it will all be over by Christmas?