Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nairn draw Elgin City in the Scottish Cup

Third division side Elgin City will be making a trip along the A96 to face Nairn County on Saturday the 24th of October. It will be an intriguing tie to have the former Highland League rivals back at Station Park. Interesting too to note that Les Fridge signed three Elgin players earlier this year, they will surely be out to prove their skills against their former team. It is an excellent tie and saves everyone the bother of a trip down south as was with last year's frutiless trip down to Edinburgh City.
The full
Scottish Cup fixture list is here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What do our politicians think of the Highland Wide Local Development Plan?

See here for a previous Gurn and if you care about the future of Nairn, this area and the Highlands in general then pay attention to the Nairn blogosphere and information about how to contribute to the consultation process. Yes consultation, rightly or wrongly, can be seen as a dirty word - i.e. you get consulted and then you get shafted with what the authorities want anyway. Well this time we really have to use this consultation loudly and clearly in such a way that our views cannot be ignored.
The purpose of this Gurn is, however, to demand of our Politicians what they think of the Council's Highland Wide Plan. The likes of Fergus Ewing and Danny Alexander know the community very well and in the past they must have heard countless gurns about the pace and scale of proposed developments along the A96 corridor. So a question to our MP and MSP's - do you think there is too much development proposed in this area? Do you share the concerns of many of your constituents in Nairn and beyond? Why are you all so quiet? Maybe you have released material to the press already that didn't get very far? Will you help draw attention to this consultation process to enable your constituents to articulate their fears? At the moment this important document that will become the planning blueprint for the Highland's future is not a topic of everyday conversation on the street. You, ladies and gentlemen have the power to do something about that! We'd be delighted to hear from you.
Maybe some of the Highland councillors should also be saying a thing or two extra to encourage more participation, up until now it seems as if it is the unpaid Community Councillors in Nairn that are doing all the hard work on drawing attention to this plan and the opportunity it presents to air concerns.

Tilda joins stars in signing free Polanski petition

The long arm of United States law enforcement is doing its best to get film director Roman Polanski back to the USA to face serious charges dating from 32 years ago. The Guardian reports that several movie stars have signed a petition for his release from a jail in Switzerland:
'The petition has now been signed by more than 70 film industry luminaries, including Polanski's fellow directors Michael Mann, Wim Wenders, Pedro Almodóvar, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Julian Schnabel, the Dardenne brothers, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Wong Kar-Wai, Walter Salles and Jonathan Demme. Actors Tilda Swinton, Monica Bellucci and Asia Argento, as well as producer Harvey Weinstein, have also put their names on the petition. Yesterday, Weinstein stated he was "calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation".'

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to the Highland Wide Local Development Plan (HwLDP)

Make no mistake Gurnites this is a very important document and whether you (like many) think that ‘consultation’ is a dirty word or not you have to get involved this time. As the Nairn Matters blog states:
‘The public is invited to make its views known by the 9th November. A meeting will be held in Nairn on the 2nd Oct for open discussion. Let’s be clear. If these plans go forward it will bring about one of the biggest changes to the Highland way of life since the Clearances, especially around the Inner Moray Firth.’

You may have already read this post on Nairn Matters but we recommend a return to consider two comments that have been made. Here are two extracts:

‘Who “says” we have to have all this development? I was told this was all in “THE PLAN” by a young representative of the council. Whose plan? Why? Who is going to benefit? This will bring in more revenue for councils and the government but why do we have to suffer by having a huge conurbation on our door step? If we do go ahead with all this development, does that mean that we will perhaps be given a Nairn bypass and only then? Is this the carrot dangling?’

And the Nairn Residents Concern Group have said:
‘No other town in the Highlands has been targetted for such large scale housing development; even the City of Inverness, itself, sees only an increase of 7500 people and 3400 houses
The outcome for Nairn is that it will become a cast off area for Inverness, with all that that entails. Tourism has been totally neglected in the HwLDP particularly with respect to Nairn, which is seen only as an area for housing development – of big bucks for the property developers and the ’stack em and rack em’ building philosophy!
Perhaps the HwLDP should have addressed the issues which affect its current residents – i.e. the state of Nairn Town Centre. Surely by having an attractive Centre, Tourism will flourish, self employed home-working people will come, small businesses will start up and in the end everyone will be happy. However, the real answer is that Highland Council do not have the money to redevelop our Town Centre except through allowing property developers to build houses which will attract A96 protocol contributions to enable infrastructure and town regeneration to be afforded.
I believe that this inverted way of thinking will create massive problems for Nairn and will destroy the very essence of the unique character of our environment.’

And what of the Main Issues report, the reasoning behind which Highland Council set out their stall. The APT blog has posted a comment it has received and here’s an extract:

‘First, it is a complete nonsense to call a plan ‘local’ if it is to cover a third of Scotland, an area larger than Belgium. At the least, a full Structure Plan should be produced for this vast area.
Second, the whole plan lacks a 21st c. vision for the area and seems stuck in 1970s thinking. It seems to revolve around creating a large urban / suburban sprawl along the A96, completely dependent on road and air transport and destroying excellent agricultural land in the process. There are very few proposals for anywhere else. This will suck people and resources out of the areas of Highland further away from Inverness, which need investment and support much more than Inverness does. In fact the key benefit of the plan seems to be to pour more money into the pockets of a few wealthy individuals at the expense of the Highlands as a whole.

Read the full APT article here. There is another post on the APT today that quotes concerns that are being raised elsewhere in the Highlands about this planned development. The West Highland Free Press states:
Relocating Inverness College and the Scottish Agricultural College, along with a range of businesses, on farmland to the east of the city runs hand-in-hand with plans by Highland Council to develop the A96 corridor out to Nairn. The local authority want to see 30,000 new residents in that area by 2030.
‘The announcement that a huge chunk of HIE’s budget is to be spent on a prosperous area drew a furious reaction from the Western Isles, where the agency’s contribution in 2009 has so far amounted to just £350,000.Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader Angus Campbell said he was “increasingly concerned” by their approach.“HIE should be seeking to spread opportunity to the more fragile parts of the Highlands and Islands rather than consolidating into the Inner Moray Firth and pouring ever-increasing levels of resource into the already booming economy of Inverness,” he said.’
The APT rightly questions the serious effects that this overbalance of development in the Nairn & Inverness area will have,
more here.
If we don’t want to see everything between Nairn and Inverness concreted over we have to get involved Gurnites.

Allanaha after the flood

Picture will enlarge. Thanks to Murd for this image.

'Calvinism and coffee ... with a cow looking on'

An interesting review of the Houshill Farm shop and restuarant on the 'Calavinism and Motorcycle maintenance blog.'

'A few years ago as I used to muse in coffee shops and dream of opening a really good coffee shop near Inverness. My calling in life is not as a minor league restaurateur so I just went on dreaming. In the last few years some great coffee venues have sprung up. I can think of Brodie Countryfair, Storehouse of Foulis as well as the old favourites like Girvans and Simpsons. In the last few weeks there are two new kids on the block, the Dairy in Daviot and my choice for today Househill Farm on the Grantown Road just outside Nairn.'

More here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nairn 5 Golspie 2

Picture should enlarge in most browsers.
Nairn proceed in the Scottish Cup but for the first 45 minutes and beyond into the second half Golspie were still in this game and it was only in the last thirty minutes that Nairn demonstrated their authority firmly over their opponents.Will the Scottish Cup draw next week be kind and deliver a glamour fixture to the Wee County? More pictures now available on the Gurn flickr pages.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Amazing clouds - is it a September thing?

This picture should enlarge in most browsers. The scene tonight down the Links. We got a message at Gurn HQ that exceptional cloud formations were lining up for a sunset show so we sent a photographer down. It the depths of the Gurnmeisters still useful brain cells something stirred and thoughts turned to another September almost a long time ago now. In fact in the last millennium something similar happened on a September night. The formations at that time got a lot of intrest in the local media and the Forres Gazette seemed to have an explanition. Click here to see how things were on 1.9.99.
Some more pictures now on the Gurn flickr pages.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Breaking news - Water Lane planning application for 5 houses refused under delegated powers!

The above is an extract of the planners decision. It was refused comprehensively on many of the grounds that Water Lane residents and supporters used in their objections. (Picture should enlarge a little). It didn't even get to the council debating chamber!
Water Lane residents are grateful for the support of many individuals who gave practical advice and those who also submitted objections. Also thanks to the Nairn Concerned Citizens group and the River Community Council plus the APT group, Planning Aid Scotland and the four Highland councillors for responding to requests for meetings promptly.

This episode demonstrates once again that Nairn is a caring community, people look out for their fellow citizens if they are faced with the like of this failed over-development. It goes to show that we can preserve, and even expand our community, in a way that we want and not that out of town developers desire.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sailings from Nairn

Irene Mackintosh has sent us some material she came across during her research for her book "Street Names of Nairn". She says, 'little do we realise how much was going on in the 1800's.'Irene is right, her material shows that not only was there a daily ferrry to Cromarty 'every lawful day' but there was also a regular service to Edinburgh. And to think today we can't even get a bus service to operate down the Fishertown yet in the 1800's Nairn harbour was the gateway to the world. More of the material that Irene has found here.
Thanks Irene.

Some older pictures

A new file on the Gurn flickr pages now. Quite a bit of earlier material, some of it even pre-Gurn. Quite a lot of it is low resolution material but perhaps some Gurnites might find the odd item of interest.

Just how will the young cope in the brave new post-crunch world?

The spin seems to be that the recession is over but is it? Anyway just how will the young fare in the next few years and beyond? It is undeniable that they face profound challenges. A stark post over on the APT blog that brings home a few problems that just won't go away no matter how many of us feel inclined to put our heads in the sand.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This week at the Little Theatre

Don't forget...
Writer girl informs us:
Nairn Drama club are putting on their interpretation of the writings of the Pen and I creative writing group on the 24th and the 25th of September, it is a mix of light hearted and slightly more serious monologues and sketches, there is bound to be something for every one, this is a totally new venture for both groups and am sure both evenings shall be well supported, go along for a great night's entertainment, check local press foe details, and look out for the posters,
Writer girl

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A History of Nairnshire - now available online.

Maybe a few Gurnites have come across it already because it has been downloaded from the Internet Archive 271 times up to now. It was uploaded from the University of Toronto's collection. Here's where to find it. Also available is The natural history of a highland parish, Ardclach, Nairnshire (1900).

'The future of local news can be secured if we embrace blogging and put it at the centre of a new journalism network'

It's been a while since we've commented on the pains of the newspaper industry and especially the threats that local newspapers face (hopefully the Nairnshire will remain the exception to the rule). Anyway Iright sent me a link to an interesting article by Jeff Jarvis that was published in the Guardian. He sees the future for local news as a giant network built upon 'hyperlocal bloggers'. He thinks there could be a lot of cash out there for the taking. Mmmmm, the offers aren't exactly pouring in here at Gurn H.Q. Jeff.
'Or to put it another way: will there be a market demand for journalism? Can the market meet this demand? And who will pay for the journalism we need? These are business questions and so we sought business answers in research with a wide range of news companies.
The most startling and hopeful number we found is this: some hyperlocal bloggers, serving markets of about 50,000 people, are bringing in up to $200,000 a year in advertising. These are sustainable businesses and we believe they are critical elements of the future of local news – a future no longer controlled by a single newspaper but instead by an ecosystem made up of many players with varying motives, means and models, working collaboratively in networks.'
It's an interesting article but perhaps a tad optimistic about how hundreds perhaps thousands of people could earn their living from blogging.
'Bottom line: after three years, we project that a blogger could hire editorial staff and advertising help – citizen salespeople who help support the citizen journalists – and net $148,000 out of $332,000 revenue. That's a conservative estimate when you consider that a community weekly paper in such a town probably earns between $2m-$5m.'
Worth a read perhaps, here's the Guardian page. In the meantime if anyone wants to invest a million in the Gurn please get in touch. Seriously it may never make money but citizen journalism is here to stay and will have an increasing effect in the future. Let's not forget that we are fortunate to have a 'Hyperlocal' weekly paper too.

Four-star approach with Council tax payers' money?

'Highland council spent more than £8,000 on a six-day “mediation” course for its human resources staff at the four-star Tulloch Castle in Dingwall.'
Sunday Times journalists have obviously been using the Freedom of Information act to trawl around for a few headline grabbing facts and figures. Here's their article on councils spending money on 'play days'.
I imagine Sandy will be just as annoyed with that titbit of information as many hard-working residents of the Highlands that fork out their cash each month to finance Highland Council.
UPDATE It gets even better Gurnites, from the hotel website:
'In days of old, only the Laird or the Chief of the Clan could enjoy a relaxing stay in a Scottish highland castle. Nowadays, times have changed. At Tulloch Castle Hotel, you'll be made as welcome as the Laird himself, to sample the splendid hospitality, comfortable surroundings and superb food.'

Friday, September 18, 2009

Highland wide Local Development Plan‏ - tourism concerns

We've mentioned the ongoing consultation exercise connected with the HWLD a few times on the Gurn and the APT blog and Nairn Matters have written articles too. It is important that we all get involved and make our views know. The Gurn will return to this subject, in the meantime we are reproducing in full a letter Iain Fairweather has sent to local businesses with his concerns from the tourism angle.
Dear Business Owner,

One of the most important documents out for discussion at present is the Highland wide Local Development Plan. In it, Highland Council set out their stall, clearly stating their preferred options for development. The Scottish Government has made certain assumptions and predictions about population growth and Highland Council is tasked with delivering a new infrastructure and extensive new housing developments for the area. The public is invited to make its views known by the 9th November. A meeting will be held in Nairn on the 2nd Oct for open discussion. Let's be clear. If these plans go forward it will bring about one of the biggest changes to the Highland way of life since the Clearances, especially around the Inner Moray Firth.

The expansion of Nairn is an important element of the A96 Corridor Framework. The development of these growth areas are closely tied in to the provision of a much needed bypass of the town. The phasing of development in Nairn will be important. Some land is identified in the current Nairnshire Local Plan for housing development at Lochloy and Sandown, and these are still considered to be the priority areas for development. The land identified for future growth to the west and south of Nairn can however also contribute to meeting housing demand in the area, and this will have to happen in a way which delivers the community facilities and services that Nairn will need in the future. We are working with Transport Scotland on the delivery of the Nairn by-pass, although its delivery is likely to be some years away. It is important that the future development sites in Nairn contribute towards the ultimate delivery of the by-pass.

Download the full PDF document here

I am concerned about some of the assumptions being made for population growth and the use of phrases like "meeting housing demand in the area". Further, it seems that only through the provision of extensive housing can the bypass be delivered. Is that a reasonable trade-off? The proposals look like turning the Inner Moray Firth into another Central belt. Don't know about you, but that's not why I moved here. Above all, the Development Plan takes little account of tourism, a key local industry. That said, it's a well written document that clearly sets out the options. We have been given the chance to contribute to these plans for the future of Nairn. Please make time to do so.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Roll up Water Lane planning students - more reading material

In a week where the controversial Water Lane planning application dominated the front page of our local newspaper the Gurn is delighted to be able to bring you a copy of an objection to the town houses over development plan from one of the residents of Water Lane.
Put the kettle on, make a cup of tea and then set down to read this 13 page objection complete with a comprehensive set of pictures taken in the lane that demonstrate how people's lives will be affected. Here it is (a PDF document). Happy reading gurnites.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Writings of the Pen and I - Nairn Drama Club

Don't forget...
Writer girl informs us:
Nairn Drama club are putting on their interpretation of the writings of the Pen and I creative writing group on the 24th and the 25th of September, it is a mix of light hearted and slightly more serious monologues and sketches, there is bound to be something for every one, this is a totally new venture for both groups and am sure both evenings shall be well supported, go along for a great night's entertainment, check local press foe details, and look out for the posters,
Writer girl

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Woolies - It's Nickel and Dime that are moving in!

Thanks to a Gurnite correspondent who confirmed the name of the store with details from a reliable source as opposed to the gurn's usual unreliable ones :-) That's it folks - 'Nickel and Dime' coming soon to the High Street.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kretzschmaria deusta

The Gurn had asked for a rethink on the Whinnieknowe beech but sadly it seems indeed that the wound on the side of the tree was a bit more than simply a scar from the past. It seems a nasty pathogen called Kretzschmaria deusta had got in and this can indeed make a tree very unsafe as the wood becomes brittle inside the trunk. It was ironic that a beech tree nearby would fall first though. Anyway thanks to Grant Stuart of Highland Council for forwarding the information from his notes and for being so willing to discuss the issue. Thanks too to Liz for her involvment.

After the spate

Picture will enlarge. Sunday afternoon strollers enjoy the new beachscape.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Exclusive - Inverness 'Woolies' style store to open branch in Nairn's former Woolworth's building.

The Gurn's unreliable source told us how the Inverness business plans to move in for the Christmas rush and perhaps beyond that too. You could ensure that Gurnites (if and when this comes off) if you smash open the piggy banks and go down town on a spending spree, thus ensuring the future of this central building as a retail space. Fingers crossed Gurnites, this could be just the lift the High Street needs!

Friday, September 04, 2009

River Nairn in spate - pictures

Pictures now available on the Gurn flickr pages. Thanks to Murd, Tommy and Keekaboo.

Whinnieknowe Tree Irony

It is sad to see another beech come down up at Whinnieknowe but this time it was an act of Mother Nature rather than man. The winds and high rain have obviously done for one of the fine specimens on the Church of Scotland side of the fence. It is ironic when you consider that the nearby beech had its healthy crown taken down earlier in the week after it seems Health and Safety concerns were raised within the Highland Council administration . Any danger to the public came from a totally unforeseen direction.
The Gurnmeister had been in correspondence with the Provost Liz in an attempt to get a rethink on the beech and she forwarded some information from officials who it seems are willing to discuss the tree's future. A pity the top came off so swiftly!
Thanks to Murd and Keekdaboo for the pictures respectively. More of Murd's pictures will be published later on the Gurn's flickr pages.
If you have any pictures of the spate on the river the Gurn will be delighted to publish them too over on the flickr pages.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

SEPA floodwatch on River Nairn

The River Nairn in spate around 19.45 this evening. Below is information published on the SEPA site this afternoon. Their latest flood warnings and information can be seen on this web page.

River rising fast

There must have been a lot of rain overnight further up the river because although the rain only started in Nairn after 6 a.m. the river was fairly high and had turned brown not long after mid-day.

Praise for Highland Libraries

'Good relationships between staff and customers has been highlighted as a reason for increased visits to Highland libraries.' According to a BBC article here.
Gurnites will know just how pleasant an experience a visit to Nairn Library is and the staff are indeed worthy of praise for their help and advice, especially during the times they had to cope with running what amounted to a tourist information office on top of their regular duties. Nairn library could be described as the heart of Nairn High Street and long may it continue to be so. Keep up the good work folks!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Charty car wash 19th September

A quick not for the diary Gurnites:
for 19th September 2009,
Car wash at Nairn fire station
in aid of the Fire Fighter Charity
9.00am -4.00pm

Too late for a rethink now!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Any chance of a reprieve/rethink for this Whinnieknowe beech tree?

Recently a few of the dead and diseased elms along the upper riverside walks have received a mark which no doubt indicates that they are to be felled soon. This one, however, has been placed on a middle-aged beech tree just below Whinnieknowe.On the side facing the river it has quite a big scar where in the past a branch must have been removed. Initially this doesn't look healthy but despite this the tree stands fast and proud and you only have to look upwards to see how healthy it is despite this bit of bad luck in the past.

The Gurnmeister wonders what are the criteria that led to a big red 'X' being placed on this specimen? If it goes it won't be replaced overnight and if a young one gets planted in its place then what chance that it will survive vandalism? Regular readers of the local paper will sadly know just how prevelant destruction of young trees has become in the Nairn area.
This beech is not perfect but then the riverside is not a park, it is a riverside walk and claims to nothing more than that, offering the chance to see a mix of the local flora and fauna (and invasive flora too sadly). Trees that have a few blemishes are often more use to wildlife than those without and even the debris left behind from the dead elms has its place in the ecological structure.
The Gurnmeister is going to forward his concerns to the Provost. Again Gurnites, go along and decide for yourselves.

Still tourists around

Still a steady stream of tourists up at Cawdor Castle, which was looking its best in the September sunshine.

Tuesday morning mainstream media revue - 'Tom, Dick and Harry'

Bad news for Cawdor Primary school on the front page of the Nairnshire and inside lots of news form the recent Ward Forum and other important issues relevant to Nairn, the usual sports reports, a letter about the controversial Woolies planning application and pictures of recent graduates.
It is to the editorial we turn however, and Iain Bain raises a few concerns should perhaps Sheena Baker's wish for more local representation on the administration of the Common Good Fund come to fruition.
'Those who advocate freeing up the administration of Common Good Funds out to consider deeply before they open up control of the funds to a wider group including Tom, Dick and Harry.' States Iain in his opening paragraph.
Sheena was articulating a lot of local concern in her comments and it was interesting to see that she got a sympathetic response from the Highland Council with William Gilfillan who stated that the Council's legal department were investigating such suggestions. It seems to be the way the wind is blowing, especially in the wider Scottish sense with Common Good Fund campaigners already having had petitions on this very subject accepted into the lower rungs of the parliament's law making process.
The last West Community Council meeting discussed a circular from the Royal Burgh of Selkirk and District Community Council who were encouraging their colleagues all over Scotland to make representations to John Swinney on the issue. As time moves to the next Holyrood elections then perhaps such a policy of allowing more local control on Common Good issues might be a useful addition to the SNP's manifesto. It would be a good point to include in any of our local councillors declaration of policies too when the time comes.
Iain's editorial returns to more practical concerns however. He thinks that anyone appointed in the future should be elected rather that co-opted. This raises issues of how a future single council for the town, an entity that many think inevitable, would be elected. Here cost issues would come into the equation but there will have to be a better way than simply those who are interested turning up on the night and resolving the issue. Ballot papers in the style of the local elections would be costly but perhaps there might be some more simpler way, with residents of the town turning up and proving their identity and then being given some sort of voting slip? Maybe it could be made even more representative by allowing the over 16's/14's? a vote too.
Iain is right with his concerns but surely there could be room for co-option of non-elected citizens (without voting rights on the fund) as long has they had relevant skills and experience?
The Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council - sounds nice doesn't it?