Tuesday, June 30, 2009

School’s out

The summer holidays beckon but news today that Nairn Academy is to get an extension built, with completion by the autumn mid-term holidays.
The building is of a modular form costing some £2.5 million.
Hopefully the new building will go some way to resolve some of the major accommodation issues which the Academy has seen this year

River dance

A busy evening in Nairn. The search and rescue helicopter from Lossiemouth was making a low sweep over the beaches and our Coastguards were also on alert.
A visiting rib came into the harbour for a brief visit and then set off in the direction of Cromarty.
In the river young people enjoyed a cooling dip as have many for generations, although several now sport wet suits to stay warm. Other folk were swimming in the sea, and fishing off the pier.
The occasional porpoise was seen in jumping the firth, and as the wind dropped the temperature rose and the sea turned glassy.
The harbour looks empty as some 15 Nairn boats have set off on their summer cruise, this year to Barra.
Both Nairnites and visitors took in the beautiful evening along the bankie (Will the new path ever be finished!)
A perfect summer evening

Work on a kirk

Nice to know that there's at least one undiseased elm left in Nairnshire.

20-40 years before a bypass?

Iain Bain this week writes an editorial on bypass matters and draws our attention to the efforts of Jimmy Ferguson of the West Community Council with regard to this issue. Further talk about Nairn and a bypass emerged at the Highland Council 'Speakeasy' and here's some of it from notes made about the open mike session:
'Ewen Anderson (7N Architects), retained by Balblair, spoke about his alternative vision for Nairn development. The bypass, envisaged within the 20-40 year timescale of the A96 corridor plan, would take a long time to materialise. It would risk stimulating ‘ring road development’ leaving a void between the existing town and the building along the line of the expected bypass. Nairn should grow organically as a walking town (sic), with development infilling existing wedges of land, and the creation of inner distributor roads to relieve A96 traffic.'
To read more about what people had to say about Nairn at this Highland Council organised event head over to the APT blog and join in the discussion. The APT are working hard on our behalf, they deserve our support in their efforts to empower people with access to good quality information so that we can all become properly involved with the issues that will affect all our lives.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chop down this lampost to save ducklings from predators?

The above picture shows two hoodie crows in the harbour area making use of mankind's facilty and no doubt eyeing up the latest ducklings to head into the danger zone. It was sent to the Gurn by someone who has been reading Joe's blog. Should all the lampposts be taken down to protect the ducklings? It is a ridiculous situation but it is the very same logic that swan blogger Joe Telfer is using when he calls for the Spruce trees along the lower riverside walk to be felled. Joe states in his latest post:
'The Creek between the merryton and bailey bridges is now a valley of death for young ducklings. Hoodie Crows have established a nest in the spruce trees directly opposite the Swans island and have systematically targeted all ducklings in this area. The two herons have taken many chicks, so too the black back and herring gulls.'
He goes on to say:
'When i first heard about the plan to cut down the spruce trees on the lower river, i was vehemently against it. However my gut reaction has now changed in favour of the idea.
It would deprive the hoodie crows nesting ability on this stretch of the river, in addition it would open up the river view to passers by, which in turn would keep the herons on the move at the island hotspot. Planting deciduous species, and various bushes and shrubs, like gorse, broom , honeysuckle for fragrance and colour etc, would be much more attractive and beneficial to other bird species.'
The problem is Joe, that we are not quite talking about pure nature anymore in this area, what we in fact have now is something more akin to a farmyard/zoo where a hybrid race of mallards/silver appleyards have become dependant on human feeding. The humans feed the birds, the birds like the idea and nest in the area, when the young are born their mothers take them in search of the humans and the predators make the most of this situation. If it is a valley of death then it is mankind that draws these creatures to their doom with the offer of a handful of breadcrumbs. Of course it gives people great pleasure to feed the ducks and the swans and there's nothing wrong with that but it isn't quite the simple communion with nature that it first appears.
Why should healthy trees have to die to satisfy human sentimentality? These trees are on their way to becoming landmarks and a closer inspection will reveal native species in their midst. The Gurnmeister knows this, having planted one or two there quite a few years ago. Plant honeysuckle Joe? The perfume of that species on that side of the river has been almost overpowering in recent days and there's no shortage of broom and gorse. The Spruce trees have amenity value and people enjoy them very much. I remember quite well in the days of Chrissie Ellen on the Nairn District Council where there was a debate about their future and that of other trees along the riverside. There were calls even then to keep them as folk had an eye to their future potential on the Nairn Skyline. Yes some will have to be felled in the future to allow the rest the proper space to grow but you want to make the river more open to scare away the herons? Don't people have the right to continue seeing the herons going about their business on this stretch of the river, even if that does mean they take the odd duckling snack?
Joe also suggests:
'Having a tree as a landmark would be better placed away from the riverbank, and should also be a native species.'
That would mean felling existing ones and planting new trees. What chance would they have against vandalism. A recent Nairnshire report highlighted the destruction of newly planted trees in the suburbs.
Joe believes that the hoodies got one of the cygnets, the Gurn understands that the cygnet was in fact abandoned by its parents and thus sadly is the way. Now the biggest killers of cygnets on the river Nairn are Swans. Remember a couple of years ago when the residents brought back their young only to have them killed by another pair that had moved in and fortified themselves on breadcrumbs.
Joe also adds in his blog:
'The Balance between predators and prey has now tipped firmly in favour of the predators.'
Well a few years ago a Mallard on the River Nairn was a rare site, now there are plenty of them and they seem to be quite happy and willing to stay, there is no immediate danger to the numbers even if most of this year's crop have been snacked up. Others will return in the autumn from further up the river and elsewhere.
The Gurn would argue that it is in fact the balance of sentimentality has now tipped firmly in the wrong direction. It is time for full public debate about the river ecology both in and out of the water. The Spruce are just fine at the moment, they looked magnificent in the prolonged frost we had in the winter. If anyone wants to make work for themselves then go and tackle the Japanese knotweed and Himalyan Balsam, it's out of control just the other side of the sewerage bridge and has already established a foothold near the spruces, you'll see it next to two bonny giant hogweed plants that are now flowering.
It is also worth noting that the Gurn has been informed by Highland Council that there are no plans to fell the trees, it had however been discussed at some informal level between a member of the public and one of the council's employee's. The Gurn calls for all voices to be heard - the riverside environment belongs to us all and each voice should have the same influence.
Please note previous breadcrumb brigade discussions have been quite heated on the Gurn so if you wish to make a contribution you are quite welcome but please keep it civilised otherwise, as has happened on similar articles in the past comments will be turned off on this thread

Brae Heart

It’s good to see that humour still exists with Nairn bookshop displaying a children’s book in their window that clearly relates to the scene outside the shop.
The disruption has been horrendous with one trader reporting that he has seen his passing trade fall away as folk either avoided the Brae or scuttled past the shops as fast as they could, no doubt the same is true for other businesses.
Autumn sees the next part of the work kick off which is in Gordon Street. Fun and games as that will mean all High Street traffic will have to be diverted up the newly refurbished Brae!
Update: I've been informed that the work on Gordon Street might well start directly after the Brae work is finished. Just watch for increased A96 congestion as traffic trying to turn right into the Brae to get to the High Street backs up on the A96.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

APT keeping the eye on the ball

Lots of talk about Nairn it seems at the Speakeasy held on the 23rd of June. More on this article here on the Action for Planning Transparency blog.
The APT group also alerts us to the fact that the Highland Council will start its consultation process on the future of Community Councils in the are in September. That will be the time for all advocates of a single community council for Nairn to get organised and get campaigning.
'Stage one of the consultation process will begin in September, when the council will announce its intention to revoke the current eight schemes and invite suggestions on the area and composition of Community Councils. This will last for 12 weeks.'
Again more on the APT blog here. Why not head over there and join the planning debate?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Armed Forces Day parade

Picture will enlarge. More pictures here.

Now there's cometonairn.com

'The upsurge in the use of sites like Trip Advisor have given travellers the ability to express their satisfaction, or otherwise, of good customer service. www.cometonairn.com now invites Nairn residents and visitors to post their own reviews of local services, from accommodation, visitor attractions to local shops and businesses. Let's all raise our game and ensure Nairn is one of the best places in the Highlands to visit.' States an e-mail to the Gurn alerting us to the presence of the new facility.
If you want to help Nairn raise its game then this site may be for you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The West Community Council - They seem a very competent lot.

Only a few weeks old now and still finding their feet but that didn’t mean a shortage of items on the agenda: Sainsbury’s, Sandown Lands, Common Good fund, Inner Moray Firth Development Plan, Parking in the West End, and observance of dog restrictions on the Blue Flag beach.
There were printed copies of power point presentations on the Common Good fund (two councillors from the group had attended a seminar in Elgin) and how things should be working if we really were going to get a by-pass.
Yes Gurnites, the team of Rosemary Young, Alison Miller, Graham Vine, Seonaid Armstrong and Jimmy Ferguson mean business and they had some forensic questions for Laurie Fraser and Liz who were present to observe the meeting. They intend to get their teeth into all the issues that impact on their 2,000 plus constituents, be they internal to the area covered by the West Council or those such as the Sandown Lands which will have a massive traffic impact on the West End according to the councillors.

Just to give you a flavour of the meeting here’s a few lines from one of the documents presented:
‘It would appear that an informed discussion on the most effective method of how to manage the Common Good assets on behalf of the Nairn community has not taken place, or if it has it has not been adequately communicated.

Should common good asses be sold off? Land leased or other?

With ownership comes responsibility, who can do that most effectively?’

It bodes well citizens that we have another hard-working team of volunteers ready to fight for the interests of the town. It is encouraging too to see that the West Council pledge their support to efforts to establish a single community council for Nairn.

‘We do pledge our support to co-operate with public consultation on a single Nairn Community Council and to assist with the setting up of such a body, should that be the outcome of the consultation.’

Interesting times ahead!

Newsbleat bleats about Sainsbury's

Newsbleat examines the support in Nairn for Sainsbury's:
'And one correspondent tries to argue that most of the businesses in Nairn town centre won't be affected as they are banks, bookies or pubs.
Well that's fine then.
We can't wait for the Nairn High Street of the future - no food retailers but plenty of opportunities to get bladdered and place a bet. '

Anonymous says earlier tonight

on another thread concerning traffic lights

'It has just taken me 1 hour to get from tradespark to boathpark. I wonder why?'

Reasons to be cheerful

Summer is here was the firm opinion held by folk after the fine weather we had yesterday.
Maybe with the impending school holidays in mind
Highland Council have announced a list of summer activities.
The new Leisure and Summer Program can be picked up from Service Points and Libraries which is probably just as well as their web version is unavailable at the time of writing.
Update: This link takes you to the Nairn activities

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday night press review

'It has not been a particularly good time for Highland Council whose planning department has been seen not so much with egg on its face as filling an omelette.'
Iain Bain tells it like it is in both the main article and the editorial. Available at the co-op now, why wait until tomorrow morning for your hit?

Nearly 75% of town centre premises may not be affected by Sainsbury's claims Spelding.

Spelding writes for the Gurn again:
On the eve of the final days of the Public inquiry into the Sainsbury’s planning application I thought this might be a pertinent time to re-visit a posting I made on 1st June 2008.

Again this is not a scientific survey or analysis but just a snapshot of an ongoing situation. This has been reviewed and tweaked since the previous (totally non-scientific) survey in June 2008. Some additional categories have been created and some premises transferred into others, ie Physio and Health Shop into Hairdressers etc.

There are now approx 131 retail and business premises within the area from the British Legion in Cawdor Road to Jacko’s in Harbour Street. Premises in Moray Place, Falconers Lane and Gordon Street, which had been omitted from previous survey, have been added as has the British Legion, Seaforth Club and Jackos.

Out of these there are:
Banks/Finance/Insurance/EstateAgents/Solicitors/Offices/Local Govt 21
Bars/Off Licences 10
Bookies 2
Bridal 2
Butchers 2
Charity Shops 3
Chemists/Pharmacies 2
Clothes Shops 4
Electrical 2
Empty 9
Flower Shops 2
Food shops (not supermarkets) 2
Fruit Shops 1
Gift Shops 9
Hairdressers/Barbers/Beauty/Health shops/Physio 13
Multinationals 4
Opticians 2
Paper Shops 2
Pet Shops/Services 4
Other: Various ie, Tattoist, Taxi's,
Furniture & Carpet, Funeral Directors etc 13
Restaurants/Cafes/Takeaways 20
Supermarkets 2

So nearly 75% of the High St area consists of;
Banks/Finance/Insurance/EstateAgents/Solicitors/Offices/Local Govt
Hairdressers/Barbers/Beauty/Health shops/Physio
Other: Various ie, Tattoist, Taxi's, Furniture & Carpet, Funeral Directors etc
Bars/Off Licence
Empty premises
some Pet shop/Services

There are 96 premises, nearly 75%, unlikely to be affected directly by a Sainsbury’s ; Banks/Finance/Insurance/Estate Agents/Solicitors/Office/Local Govt, Bars/Off Licences, Bookies, Bridal, Chemists/Pharmacies, Hairdresser’s/Barber’s/Beauty Shops, Opticians, Restaurants/Cafes/Takeaways, Others, some Pet shop/Services, Empty premises.

Again, depending on what Sainsbury’s may sell 26 Business could find some impact but may well not suffer too much as they are located within the town centre and are used on an everyday basis or are specialist retailers;
Clothes Shops, Charity Shops, Electrical, Gift Shops, Paper Shops, some Pet Shops/Services, Multinationals.

That leaves 9 premises which may be directly affected by Sainsbury’s; Supermarkets, Fruit shops, Flower shops, Butchers, Food shops (not supermarkets).

So whats changed in a year? Not much! All the comments I made in June 2008 are still relevant. Leakage is still happening, probably more so with the opening of Lidl in Forres and the growing popularity of the expanded Asda and Tesco’s in Elgin.

We’re another year further down the line and Nairn is still in the shopping dark ages and still no access to a decent supermarket.

Let’s hope that the Reporter makes a decision which will bring us into the light! A supermarket worthy of a town of this size. Aren’t we worth it?

22nd June 2006

There was hope back in 2006 that on the back of a new community centre the town would blossom. Our then Provost Sandy Park saw the new building as an important starting block for regeneration of the town saying:

"An early start to work on the community centre should send out a signal that we are back in business and I am confident it will be the catalyst to a wide range of improvements to our town."

Three years ago Somerfield seemed ready to start their expansion, but any new town centre supermarket seems to now be up in the air. Perhaps something could be revealed this week at the Sainsbury’s hearing but who knows?
The announced £500,000 of improvements to the High Street has only started this year, with the controversial streetscaping of the Brae.
The new Nairn hospital isn’t finished as yet, but as predicted Social Work staff have moved there.
We do have our new community centre but it has saddled the town with debt due to Sandown land not being sold as yet.
Our unique bandstand has been refurbished but we have yet to see the ‘wide range of improvements’ that Sandy had hoped for.
Predictions for three years hence anyone?

Nairn was buzzing at the weekend.

Yes indeed, a local blogger caught the buzz in Harbour Street. Meanwhile inquiries continue to find out who cut the broom and whether natural spring colour could become a thing fo the past along the Links.
Nairnbairn in his comments to a blog post by Brian is concerned that Viewfield may be threatened again in the near future. The APT blog has been busy too. Bill is following events in Iran.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another opening

Some six months after it closed its doors Nairn’s Woolworth’s shop has new tenants in the form of Wildday.com. Nairnites flooded through the doors yesterday to browse and have a look around the old store. Wildday only have a 10 day tenancy on the property so the opening is short lived, however, an unconfirmed report suggests that the store will soon be opening on a more permanent basis selling Woolworth’s type goods.
Good to see that business can thrive on our High Street

Broom Doom

Earlier this morning the Gurn was alerted to the fact that someone or some group/organisation had been cutting the broom along the Links yesterday between the Sandancer and the Links car park. Upon arriving in the area it was obvious that a large patch of broom had been clear-felled and left by the path. Yesterday a worried gurnite and her friend remonstrated with the cutters, they were worried about the effect on birdlife. The cutters were unmoved by this and continued.

Do the left over stumps present a danger to walkers or children playing in the dunes?
Do you enjoy the spring and early summer colours along this part of the seafront? Perhaps you won't have the chance next year. Could this clump of gorse be next for the chop?

Further along the beach, Japanese Knotweed ( a plant that has devasted areas of the riverside) grows unmolested as the broom is destroyed further along. Please e-mail the gurn if you have any details about why the broom was cut and who is carrying out the work.

Happy Solstice to all Gurnites!

Stad-grian sona dhuibh uile, Happy Solstice everyone! May you have many more! More pictures here

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Be part of the Nairn blogosphere - How to create a blog

There is no monopoly on information anymore, we are all the media now. Go down the sidebar and you will see 10 local blogs that cover a variety of subjects. If you've got something to tell the world then go for it. You could be blogging in a few minutes time. Here's a two minute video that shows you how.

Wear the supermarket of your dreams with pride!

Campaign stickers now available from River Community Council reps. Can Gurnites think of any other catchy slogans to wear to the Public Inquiry - Please nothing like 'Nairn says f*** off Somerfield.'

Dutch elm disease above Firhall

A picture from Keekaboo, illustrating the devastation this disease has caused along the River Nairn.

Blueberry Hill

The recent mainly blacked out release of MPs expenses claims has done nothing to abate the public’s disbelief at their spending of our money.
In recent weeks our local MP Danny Alexander put some detail of his expenses on his web site. Although this gave information of his bulk expenses, more detail is now released.

The Scotsman found the following
DANNY Alexander, the Lib Dem MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, claimed £1,140 for shelves and a cupboard in two alcoves in his house. Then in 2007 he claimed £175 for roof repairs before moving in June that year. He got back £750 for survey and £1,000 for removal costs, but it also meant that the taxpayer had to fork out for a much higher mortgage of £1,138, up from £550.
He removed his wife Rebecca's first name from bills lodged. In 2007/08, he claimed a total of £168,478.

A journalist at the Press and Journal has also trawled through Danny’s receipts and come up with the following observation.
You might be intrigued by the fact that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, bought a Cox’s apple in the Commons, according to his receipts, but why did the authorities black out the item just above it on the bill? Was this a clumsy clerical error or something else? As the bill only came to £1.50 it hardly seems that it has the makings of a national crisis. Splashing out £1.29 on Wet Ones tissues might seem extravagant, but he would need them to clean up after the crisps he bought as well, obviously.
But the 64,000 dollar question is, why did he start buying blueberry muffins when this seemed so out of character as his receipts show a clear liking for Kettle chips? You start to notice things like that after being fed scraps by the censors.

The BBC gives a link to Danny plus all his expense claims (Many blacked out). Apart from the actual cost of the items there is also the huge administrative overhead for processing the receipts, and also the work to copy, censure, and release the details into the public domain. I reckon The Daily Telegraph did a much better job at publishing the details and it was mush cheaper on the public purse.
Will the revelations with regard Mr. Alexander’s spending cause him enough embarrassment to stand down? There are no moats or duck islands but clearly the odd apple or two, and now the blueberry muffin scandal.

Nairn deserves Sainsbury's

Liz is quoted in the Press and Journal today:
Speaking on the third day of the inquiry at Nairn Community Centre, she said: “I believe the population base and the local community deserve improved shopping facilities, even if a lack of suitable sites within the town centre mean these have to be located outwith the town centre.
More here on the P&J site. This morning the Courier splashes with the news that Tesco want a store in Nairn now. The Gurn reported that this information emerged at the inquiry and now the Courier reveals that Tesco are after the Bus Station site. Maybe our shopping prospects could look very different a year or two from now?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sainsbury's inquiry latest

Just in from a member of the viewing public today:

'I was at the enquiry all day. Liz, Jeanne and Margaret all made really impressive statements. Overall Sainsburys Crew came out on top, they really made a mess of Somerfield's Transport and Roads Consultant.'
Well done Ladies and well done Sainsbury's :-)

P&J: Sainsbury’s point to Nairn benefits

Hopefully a few Gurnmeister notes from yesterday too if time permits later. Sorry no Gurn reporters at the best show in town today but Iain Bain is there for the long haul so next week's Nairnshire should be a treat - reserve your copy now.
PS: it did emerge yesterday that Tesco have shown an interest in a town centre site.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nairn – Sainsbury’s of the North?

Sainsbury’s has announced today that it has raised nearly £450 million in order to both expand and build new stores.
Providing they can get permission to build in Nairn the news would seem to suggest that despite the recession they will have the money to go ahead with the store.

Highland Council shutting out the community from 'Speakeasy' for developers/landowners?

A lot of concerned folk raising issues over on the APT blog tonight. A new post reads:
'If someone invited you to a Speakeasy, what would be your first thoughts? An illicit liquor shop or drinking club somewhere I suspect. Well, I have come across a few more 'modern' uses of the term whilst 'googling', but not quite with the same meaning as outlined below.It will interest you to know that The A96 Strategic Development Advisor to The Highland Council, Scott Davidson of Halcrow, is organising a 'speakeasy' event aimed at developers. His Invitation reads:
"You are invited to a Speakeasy on the delivery of the A96 Growth Corridor on the Tuesday, 23 June 2009 from 9:00am at the Eden Court, Inverness...""The purpose of the Speakeasy is to allow developers/landowners the opportunity to informally develop views on the delivery of the A96 Framework; particularly with regard to short, medium and long term phasing".
"Developers will be encouraged to contribute on how to phase delivery of the A96 Growth Corridor over the development period. In these considerations representatives from public sector infrastructure providers will be available." (The Highland Council, Transport Scotland and Scottish Water).'
Are the public going to be allowed in? There's a lot more about this over on the APT blog and a list of comments received by way of e-mail from concerned members of the Action Planning Transparency organisation. Get over there and get informed about this latest twist in the A96 Corridor story.
The APT group are also looking for your views and suggestion on this matter.

Woolies building coming back to life - for a short period only.

Breaking news. Wild day.com are moving into Woolies this evening and will be opening soon for a short period. Recently the roving entity went into the shop formerly known as Pulse for a short stay too, since then that building will shortly be opening up as a jewellers. Good to see something happening in Woolies, even if it will be short-lived.

'It's easier to be better when things are very bad!"

At the inquiry this morning another witness for Saisnbury's was recounting his retail survey data and giving some insight into the theory and practice of his craft. To further explain some of the minutiae of his precognition under questions from his own side's QC (who was no doubt doing an excellent job in closing up avenues for the opposition in advance) he resorted to using a flip chart and started drawing diagrams.
One was about the probabilty of change of shopping habits. It seems there is a resistance to change in the heart and mind of the consumer and often they will endure quite a lot before things become so bad that they change their habits. In Nairn if looks like quite a lot of us would change our habits but not so many if a new Somerfield were also built in the town centre. In Irvine however, very few people are inclined to change their habits, such is the satisfaction with the choice of retail outlets. The witness was searching for the words to make a point when the reporter interjected and did it for him, ' It's easier to be better when things are really bad.'
Doesn't those words of the Reporter just about sum it all up? That's why we want Sainsbury's, they have an open playing field and good luck to them.

P&J reports on the Sainsbury's Inquiry

Just as the Gurnmeister expected, the P&J have given prominence to question of what Highland Council exactly wanted from Sainsbury's under their A96 protocol scheme. The Gurn's account of yesterday's dissection of the Highland Council position is here: 'Inquiry gets under way with a million pound question!'
And so to the P&J:
A senior planner with Highland Council was summoned to Nairn yesterday to clarify what the authority wanted from Sainsbury’s in return for allowing it to build a supermarket in the town.
It came after a QC representing Sainsbury’s at the public inquiry into plans for its first store in the Highlands accused the council of “outrageous and unreasonable behaviour”.'

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Provost Liz's precognition statement to the Public Inquiry

Gurnites and all others with an interest in this public inquiry may wish to read Liz's statement to the inquiry that she will make later in the week. I've put it up as a web page and perhaps that has upset the formatting a little but it should all be readable. Here it is.

Swans again

A video from Iain over on the revamped Superb Swans blog. Meanwhile here Spurtle has made a superb contribution to the ever growing thread which contains some frank opinions about retailing in Nairn. Perhaps someone should print those comments off and submit them to the Public Inquiry. Now where's that precognition from Liz?

Rubber Bullets

The MOD has revealed that it is less than happy with the proposed development of Whiteness Head due to the possibility of the live firing range having to curtail activities at Fort George.
The proposed development at Whiteness Head includes a marina that would see increased boating activity near or around the firing range. Highland Council have already given the go ahead for planning permission but it would seem the MOD are unhappy with subsequent negotiations with regard to the frequency with which it might have to close its firing range.
Although the development at Whiteness Head seems to be on hold at the present time, the owners have continued to clear the land.
Nairn sailing club has recently enjoyed some weekend use of the lagoon at Whiteness for dinghy sailing.

All hunky-dory - Sainsbury's inquiry back on track

See the previous post for full details of the problem. The afternoon session started a wee while after 13.45 as the Highland Council team met in a side room to discuss their difficulties. They returned to the inquiry hall to state that 'they did not intend to insist on a contribution.'
Great news Gurnites, the show then moved on with the applicant's transport witness getting a cross-examination from the Somerfield team and two River Park residents. It was the questions from the Reporter that seem to stir the Sainsbury bench into serious action however as they went searching for the documents and references that she was referring too. An interesting afternoon, hopeful for a success of course but great to see this part of the democratic process in action. Perhaps a few more notes later, perhaps not :-)

Inquiry gets under way with a million pound question!

Nairn River Community Council's Jeanne Tolmie arrives at the inquiry this morning. Picture will enlarge and more here.
So before the first witness could be called there was an intervention by the applicant's QC, he wanted to draw the Reporter's attention to a sequence of events that could have a serious impact on the inquiry.
Initially it seems that Highland Council hoped to get serious monies out of Sainsbury's under the A96 Framework Protocol (i.e. the principal that developers help finance infrastructure). Well earlier in the year the applicant's representatives were told in a meeting with Highland Council officials that they wouldn't have to pay this protocol. With that you could knock a figure in excess of £1,000,000 off the total cost of the project. Last Friday afternoon they were told that they would have to pay! Last Friday afternoon Gurnites!! Now understandably most people would be pissed off with that especially when precognitions to the inquiry may have been geared for non payment of protocol dosh. So the reporter wants to know what the position of Highland Council really is. The council's solicitor present at the Inquiry told the Reporter that she had missed an e-mail (dated 12 May) telling her that the position had changed again. The situation still remained confused however. Someone is hotfooting it through from Glenurquart Road and should be there for the afternoon session starting at 13.45 p.m.
Incidentally the QC seemed to have a pretty good argument as to why Sainsbury's shouldn't have to pay the protocol and wanted to know why it hadn't been applied to the Somerfield planning proposal. The inquiry runs until Friday and then again for two days next week . Worth a peek.
A P&J reporter was present this morning, it will be worth seeing their take on the situation in tomorrow's paper.

Cormorant takes a dive - Plus Nairn swan blogging is back

Picture will enlarge. Two cormorants were enjoying their Nairn vacation watching the swan family pass by. Suddenly daddie swan took a swift U-turn and tried to grab a cormorant from its rock. Father swan looks very disappointed as the cormorant disappears into the water before his eyes. Cormorant number 2 is meanwhile also contemplating a quick exit.
Gurnites may like to know that the Simply Superb Swans blog is now back in action with regular updates. Worldwide fans of our swans can now get a regular fix.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sainsbury's: Tomorrow's public inquiry

Bill has commented on this thread. Well worth a read and representative of the majority on this issue.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lochloy Road junction traffic lights out again

The traffic lights were out once again at this important junction on the A96. Traffic seemed to be moving smoothly however, with drivers on the A96 even giving way to those wishing to join the main road from the Lochloy housing schemes. Maybe things will continue in the same vein in the morning if the lights are not fixed overnight but Brian seems to think there will be some problems in the morning.

Support the supermarket application - attend the public inquiry on Tuesday!

Sainsbury's Planning application Public Inquiry
Tuesday morning
Starts 10.00 a.m.
Community Centre
If you want more choice of food in Nairn then be there! If you want to see more jobs created in Nairn then be there!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Discover another of Scotland's languages - your chance to get all gaelicked up in Nairn this summer!

Picture will enlarge. A great chance for a crash course with the revolutionary 'Total Immersion Process'. The Gurnmeister went over to the community centre earlier in the year to witness a 2-day course put on by Finlay. Frankly it was astonishing there were a few students there that had had previous TIP tuition, the Gurnmeister was able to have interesting conversations with people that hadn't been learning Gaelic for long at all - the confidence and capabilities of Finlay's students was astonishing.
The previous course was only for two days and attracted quite a lot of folk from all over Scotland and even an Irish language speaker from Donegal. Give it a go if you can, Gurnmeister recommended.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New business nearly ready to open

Picture will enlarge

Bag to the future

We were being encouraged to ‘Bag and bin’ certain items a couple of weeks back (See Gurn report) rather than flush them down the toilet to help keep our beaches cleaner, now Highland Council are joining a nationwide initiative to encourage dog owners to ‘Grab it, bag it, bin it’.
The mantra could get a little confusing but if you hear it being chanted it hopefully means that someone near you is going to thoughtfully dispose of a nasty item into a bag!
‘Grab it, bag it, bin it’ is quite catchy, perhaps someone could write some more words and we could get the likes of Chaz & Dave to record it as the summer single of 2009!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One for the brochures - Nairn beach June 2009

Thanks to Tommy for the picture.

Let them eat art

The Highland News carries a story suggesting that Nairn should ditch the idea of a new supermarket in the town centre and campaign for a new arts centre instead.
Nairn certainly enjoys several arts based festivals each year, but despite the attractiveness of a new arts centre I don’t suppose many Nairnites would be over the moon about having to go out of town for all their food shopping if this proposal goes ahead and we don’t get a new town based store.
It does however add a new dimension as to what to do with the Co-op owned Somerfield store, but will this just lengthen and complicate the already exceedingly long debate over the issue?

We are sailing

A large yacht from Sweden is visiting the harbour today. Hopefully the new leading marks at the harbour entrance will make it easier for boats to navigate into Nairn and we might see more visiting boats as details become more public.
Nairn Sailing Club is hosting a regatta this Saturday (13th), which should see further boats visiting the harbour and club.

A movie pilgrimage to Nairn - Tilda is on the ropes!

' The Scottish Road Movie Film Festival – organised by Swinton and the film-maker and writer Mark Cousins – is an off-beat film festival they organised in the actress's home-town of Nairn last year. They estimate it will take 70 volunteers manning ropes to take the Screen Machine – a mobile cinema on a lorry that opens out from its container – along minor roads from the west coast of Scotland to Nairn.'
More here and sign up for the pilgrimage here.
Just in from Tilda and Mark:
Dear Friends,
What do we like about cinema? That it takes us somewhere, imaginatively, in its arms so to speak, and that it is communal.
We have devised an event to render these things; a journey for kids and adults between two places that mean a lot to us. The journey will start in Glencoe, in the west of Scotland. It will end in Nairn where Charlie Chaplin holidayed, where the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams took place in August 2008, where we first showed a modest wee Iranian journey film, The Boot, which has become our totem.
We will pull the Screen Machine mobile cinema (
www.screenmachine.co.uk) on our journey, over 5 days. Why? To make a pilgrimage for cinema. To bear witness to its wonders. To miscegenate walking and film. In tribute to the road movie genre. In tribute to the brilliance of the Scottish land. To show the world that film deserves such an effort.
Many of the roads are too busy for such pulling, so our efforts will take place on quiet stretches, in sites of great beauty. In between times we will drive the Screen Machine, and travel on a bus. Every night we will stop in a small town or village and screen movies.
The journey will take place between 1st and 6th August, when we will arrive in Nairn and show films until Sunday 9th. The full route, programme and tickets will become available through our website (
www.a-pilgrimage.org) from 1st July. Those travellers wishing to join us for the whole journey will be invited to book a seat on the bus too. We'll provide some suggestions for accommodation, but you may have to be prepared to camp occasionally, as the Highlands in August are very popular!
We hope you can join us on A Pilgrimage...

love Tilda and Mark

Liz speaks about the Sandown Tenancy Agreement: 'once again no seconder the story of my life in Nairn!'

Recently the Gurn featured a link to the Nairn Concerned Residents Association letter that has been uploaded on to the Nairn Matters Site. A part of that letter contains comments on the management of the lease and tenancy of the Sandown Common Good land.

In relation to this subject Liz told the Gurn:

'The meeting was held in private because it was discussing matters of financial confidentiality.

I requested at the onset that we discuss it in public (no seconder) then I moved when in private that the farmer not be paid off because by that time 1. the ECS had confirmed bank rolling the community centre which I always thought they should have provided anyway, I still have reservations about Nairn Common Good being used for this purpose as ECS have a responsibility for them and 2. the farmer was not using the land so how long would he keep paying for something with no income - even if he had set it aside I don't think it would have covered his rent - once again no seconder the story of my life in Nairn!

Councillors at the time were me, Laurie, Sandy and John Matheson - the bigger question is who were the councillors in position when the farming tenancy was permitted and the whole debacle started?'
Liz poses a good question. By the way when she refers to ECS she means the Education, Culture and Sport department of Highland Council. The Common Good status of Sandown is an issue that is climbing the community agenda with a vengeance. The Gurn understands that community councillors from the West and Suburban councils were to attend a Common Good Seminar in Elgin and that other activists are networking with other common good fund campaigners elsewhere in Scotland. Expect to hear a lot more on this issue.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Welcome to the APT blog!

Great to see the APT up and on-line with a blog. Regulars to the Gurn will know who they are and the good work they have done but just incase you haven't heard of them before here's a little information:
Action for Planning Transparency, APT, is a group made up of members of the public, and it is based in the Highlands of Scotland.

The Objectives of APT are:

To encourage honest and open debate between communities and planners;
To create a focus for communities and a sharing of experience in planning matters;
To raise public awareness of the planning process, and strengthen the participation of local people in all stages of that process
The APT told the Gurn: 'The more people that read it, follow it, comment on it and link their blogs and web pages to it the more coverage we’ll get. '
Gurnites, here's the blog, please tell the world.

Rocket Man

As reported in the Gurn, a question mark was put over the tendering process of Highland and Islands Enterprise after they awarded numerous contracts to the company Rocket Science, the chair of HIE Willie Roe being a director of this company.
One report prepared by Rocket Science for HIE was allegedly plagiarized from other academic papers, monies charged for this report were to be returned.
HIE have announced today a
review of the tendering process with Rocket Science, and it is believed that the chairman Willie Roe has severed all ties with the company.

Monday, June 08, 2009

One foot in the Brae

The swirling pavement cobbles look almost finished, but the central new road looks as though another few weeks might be needed to complete phase one of the Brae streetscaping. The finished article might well be safer for pedestrians but at the moment you have to dodge the contractors machinery. A reversing lorry full of tarmac shows how narrow the new road is going to be; a parked delivery van or lorry will bring traffic to a standstill when the road opens once more.
Brave tourists peer into shop windows as they scuttle past trying to get away from the noise and dust as quickly as possible, I don’t suppose many mementos of a Nairn holiday will be purchased from the Brae today – anyone for a fridge magnet?

Lib Dem win

52,924 votes were cast in Highland in the five-yearly European Parliamentary Elections, a turn out of 30.8%. This included 11,086 postal votes. 

In Highland, the Liberal Democrats topped the poll with 14,550 votes. The Scottish National Party were second with 14,393, the Conservatives were third with 6,728 and Labour were fourth with 5,325.

The Highland result of the Election to the Scotland Region of the European Parliament is as follows:-

Party/Individual Votes cast
British National Party 979
Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship” 1,485
Conservative Party 6,728
Jury Team 275
Liberal Democrats 14,550
No2EU: Yes to Democracy 361
Scottish Green Party 3,806
Scottish National Party (SNP) 14,393
Scottish Socialist Party 336
Socialist Labour Party 596
The Labour Party 5,325
UK Independence Party 3,458
Duncan Robertson 414
Rejected votes 218
Total votes cast 52,924

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Swine flu – Scottish Tourism the next victim?

The Sunday Times has an article about the spread of swine flu in Scotland and implicit in this article is suggestion that Scots may be at more risk than others. A controversial theory to say the least:

‘Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, has suggested Scotland’s poor health record may help to explain why its population appears more prone to the virus than elsewhere.’

In this media age it is all about perception and if the idea that it is easier to catch swine flu in Scotland gathers momentum then the dangers to tourism are obvious. Mark Macaskall goes on to say in his article.

‘Ministers may yet decide that a ban on major events such as the T in the Park music festival and the Edinburgh Tattoo, which is attended by more than 200,000 people from around the world , is necessary.’

Is that an alarmist statement or simply a reflection of the fact that it would be a dereliction of duty if ministers had not planned for the possibility of such action? Many experts seem to think swine flu will take hold with the onset of winter anyway as is usual with cold and flu viruses so we may indeed see the cancellation of major sporting events, closure of cinemas, theatres etc but could it happen sooner than that?

Whatever happens, it is instructive to look at how a community already affected by the virus is coping. Forargyll.com has been posting updates on the situation in Dunoon and in doing so offering a platform to those threatened by the virus to exchange information. Another example of how the new media offers alternative sources of information when they are needed.
The Sunday Times article is available on line here.

Are we inclined to be too hard on people that work for the council?

Iright's article on trips abroad for Highland Council has prompted the following anonymous comment. Are we inclined to be too hard on those that work for the council?
'It’s very easy to make snide remarks about people who work for the council; they do not have a platform to defend themselves, and are rarely praised even when their work is excellent. The authors of such comments rarely want to change matters by working for the council (As they themselves are always so great) but are content to sit on the side lines and snipe.With regard business trips abroad… having had to make such trips, to those who again look on from the sidelines it might seem like a great perk of a job, I can assure them it is not. From the Highlands if you are flying to say mainland Europe it always means a very long day getting to say Inverness airport and then on to Gatwick (Sweating you’ll make the connection), or travelling to Aberdeen, Glasgow, or Edinburgh. You spend hours sitting in an airport or on a plane and generally arrive very tired and not really wanting much more than have a shower and to go to sleep, you then attend to your business meeting/exhibition keeping an eye on the clock for your trip home. Rarely is there any time to ‘sight see’ and if you do have a free evening most places are closed. If you are on your own the lonely meals and maybe a drink in the bar are not very exciting, and I can assure people that I would much rather be at home. You do your best to write up notes from your trip on your way back, often arriving home in the wee small hours, and then be expected to be in the office for 9:00 am the next day. Glamorous no, see much of other countries, no.I’m sure with the current budget restrictions Highland Council have cut back on their foreign travel, but all to easy to label them as cretins and their business trips as ‘jollies’.'

Friday, June 05, 2009

Art for art's sake

If you’ve visited the High Street in recent days you will probably have noticed pieces of ‘art’ placed in various locations. Apart from shop windows the Court House, Nairn Museum, the Railway Station, the Community Centre, and Nairn Library are all doubling up as galleries for 10 days (4th – 14th June) as part of the Nairn Book & Arts Festival.
Exhibitions are free so take a wander and see what is on offer; the paintings in the Court house really do make a change of scene from the usual business!