Friday, January 30, 2009

Ayeright on Trojan Horses

Deveron Highland hand delivered an envelope to myself and I suspect the majority of Nairn residents today.
I felt as though I had unwittingly dragged a Trojan horse into the house, as all the niceness with regard Deveron slipped out over the table as I opened it. Inside are three written sheets, plus one of plans (.pdf file if you have not seen it)
Deveron are a very kind company, proposing over £100 million of investment into the local area. Presumably this includes the land purchase, building costs, and sale value of the housing.
The creation of 500 jobs I suspect will depend on all the units on the proposed industrial estate being let or sold, and new businesses moving to the area. New Industrial parks usually attract grant monies to be built, so this is not a move out of the goodness of their hearts. Does Nairn really need yet another Industrial site? We already have the Balmakeith and Granny Barbour’s. They are hardly tourist friendly attractions to the town.
Deveron tie needs together. Meeting the shortage (Have they seen the long lists of housing for sale at Solicitors recently?) of family housing, is in the same breath linked to affordable housing. According to a later sentence, the number of ‘affordable’ homes for sale will be just 34 out of 138 the rest will be rented. Not an impressive figure.
In trying to tick our ‘right on’ boxes we are informed that there will be provision of low energy homes. All new builds have to meet certain standards of insulation, and therefore hopefully use less energy to heat than older buildings.
Their ecological wetlands is that already – just leave it alone
The whole tone of the letter is that Deveron are really doing Nairnites a big favour in building here, heck they are even prepared to scale down some of their high-rise flats from 4 to 3 stories.
What is not mentioned is the density of the estate, with little space for each dwelling.
Working on rough figures, 500 new homes with an average of two residents (Family homes will have more) is equal to 1000 people, this equates to an increase in the Nairn population by 10%.
I wonder what work has been put in to scale up our already over stretched services to accommodate such a rise in demand?
Another 500+ cars are going to be competing for space on the A96 and the High street.
Nairn has suffered many times before at the hands of developers. At a time when many residents have identified (Iain Fairweather for one) a need for a real plan to include all-important tourism, I cannot see the Deveron plan offering anything towards that.
Tourists entering Nairn from the west will be confronted with a modern development that they could see anywhere in the country. It reflects nothing of Nairn, only a developer trying to make as much money as possible.
I’m not against change, and can see the need for development, but I can see this is going to become a very large sore thumb on the Nairn landscape.
Now time to nip over to MyNairn fellow Gurnites, have a read of Brian's take on this, he has a couple of other very important angles on this issue.

Gurn apology, we thought a dog-turd was worth £50

It seems that your pooch's jobbie will only cost you £40 if you don't pick it up.

Thanks to 'fear-naidheachd' for keeping an eye on the Courier

The Gurn likes to think that it keeps up to date with the ways of the world, and has the odd gurn for anything we find that we think is not quite right.
Imagine our amazement to find that on the main web page of that mighty organ ‘The Inverness Courier’ they
had published a link to their Christmas TV supplement.
As there are only 329 shopping day’s left till Christmas we had thought that this was just advanced publishing, but no, this is the Christmas 2008 supplement. Handy we suppose if you wanted to check what you had missed, or couldn’t remember what you’d watched!
We have to ask is the Inverness Courier going the way of the infamous Nairn Scotland website?

Tapadh leat Fhir Naidheachd, nach intinneach sin. Another rescue mission for the time-lord?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Iain Fairweather does their job for them! A document you must read: Nairn in 2020, Brigadoon or a Jewel in the Scottish Crown?

Indeed dear Gurnites you must read this (document in PDF format) and e-mail it on to your friends in the Gurnosphere.

The Gurn has reckoned for some time that a groundswell is building against the Highland Council in Nairn. Tonight that discomfort that the population feels with our elected body surfaced at the meeting of the Nairn Partnership in the Courthourse when Iain Fairweather made a presentation in response to criticism/invitation of Highland Council Convener Sandy Park.
Iain’s statement was unusual in its delivery and style and threw the elected members and the officials, as he proceeded, their faces dropped (Graham Marsden's features were not visible from the Gurn's vantage point however). At the end of his presentation Iain received applause from the public benches and the ‘civilian’ elements of the partnership. He was criticised for purveying ‘doom and gloom’ by Provost Liz and the official William Gillfinnan who did his best to try and reclaim the mystique and authority of local government. It didn’t work however, as Iain received backing from Sheena Baker and members of the public to further applause. It was quite a night, the Gurnmeister believes things will never be the same again at meetings of the Nairn partnership.
Now this event will no doubt be covered in the pages of next week's Nairnshire Telegraph and the Gurn urges you to go out and buy that publication next week for the minutiae, the Gurn has a recording but doesn't have the time to transcribe proceedings, sorry we wish we could but there are limits to our free service. We urge you however
to read Iain Fairweather’s document and whether you agree with all, part or none of it, to engage in the debate and reclaim Nairn’s future from those that try and tell us what is good for us!
The question raised previously by Iain Fairweather is still very appropriate: Can we have our town back please? We'll only get it back if we get involved and mobilise our community, Nairnshire has the talent and ablilty to punch above its own weight in this world and preserve its identity regardless of what the Inverness based mandarins wish for us. It is up to each one of us now, let's support Iain and other campaigners in their efforts to have our collective voice heard. We can no longer afford to leave our destiny solely in the hands of the Highland Council.

Ayeright examines the road to ruin

As companies close their doors for the last time, Julia Finch looks at 25 people who were culpable for our current economic woes

AyeRight travels back in time to 1981

Just as Dan Dare and Tomorrows World (Both references only suited to older readers) showed us the future, who would have thought that an electronic newspaper service was around in 1981
but it was as this this YouTube video shows.

You can just imagine the cynics rolling around laughing at the idea that anyone would want such a service.
Admittedly it was clunky and slow back then, but how we wish a certain local newspaper might catch on 28 years later!
I’m sure it’s just a passing fad and local newsprint will be around forever more in its once a week format?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Gurn success story: Sleeping beauty website will come back to life soon.

From the public benches at the Nairn Partnership meeting tonight the Gurn heard that the NairnScotland site will be going live on the 10th Feb. Presumably it is this site that was already live until April 2007. Couldn't have been anything to do with a series of Gurns by any chance?.
Never mind, a potential step forward for the Sleeping Beauty, let's see how she fares in the weeks after 10th Feb.

Developer looking for dispensation

All kinds of planning discussion have appeared in the Gurn in recent days. A new development is asking for special dispensation not to have to provide any social housing on the grounds that the development is for the over 60’s.
I’m not sure as to why anyone should believe that there are no folk over 60 who would like social housing, but is this yet another developer who is going to slip under the planning rules? (And make more money!)

AyeRight is caught napping

It’s official, resting your eye lids is good for you, even better if you have actually dropped off to sleep for a short nap during the day .
Here is proof (If ever your boss questioned it) that a short snooze will make you work better.
Still probably best not to do whilst driving a car, although OK for pilots if they switch the plane onto automatic… hmm

AyeRight researches films

As the recession/depression deepens more of us are staying home for entertainment rather than having a night out on the town
A new website will allow you to search out a film in a variety of formats.
It will not only find your film but inform you if it is available on TV, DVD, Cinema, or even as a download. Choose DVD and it will even tell you the cheapest store to buy it in. If you’re into films it looks just the ticket for a night in on the cheap.
For those of you who want more of a cinematic experience don’t forget
the Nairn run Cinema of Dreams site .
Join the forum, watch the selected film, write a review, and discuss (Beanbags and cakes not included!)

AyeRight inspects the awards

It appears that Nairn hasn’t made it into these prestigious awards this year, maybe because the major building projects in recent years (Apart for the community centre) has been that of private housing rather than shops or offices.
Good to see Inverness was one of the nominees, better luck next year Nairn

Jordon House residents meeting with Albyn housing team

The Doc was there and this is his eyewitness report:

'Just back from what I could say was a pretty poor turn out (4) by residents from Jordon house with some of the management team from Albyn housing , in Nairn community centre tonight (wed) to discuss the state of play with regards to our housing situatiCheck Spellingon, present were
Housing and Communities Director: Helen Barton
Housing and Communities Manager: Catriona Naughton

Helen Barton opened the meeting by explaining the reason Albyn would not be renewing the lease on Jordon house, this was down to the state of repair of the place, e.g. roof needing repair, water damage etc, which would incur the owner of the building along with other essential repairs a vast expense which would eventually increase the rent of the building to Albyn and there for not make it a viable proposition for them.

She also emphasised the fact that Jordon house was never meant to be a long term solution to housing needs in Nairn, but an opportunity to house people for 10 years while they increased there stock of housing , with examples given tonight of bridgemill and lochloy developments,
when asked if anyone in Jordon house might be re-housed in any of these new developments, the answer was that "these new builds will not be complete by our eviction date". (bang goes the docs chance of a flat close to his beloved ducks wouldn't have to leave the flat to feed them ! )

Another point raised by another resident was the fact although we have eviction notices and a notice to quit ,with the latter being posted through our letter boxes after the meeting tonight!,
On the housing point system, we are not at this time in a homeless situation, as there is a year left on our tenancy, we will be considered homeless two months before eviction date of march 2010, but in all honesty the impression I got tonight at the meeting was that Albyn were doing there very best to house everyone here, they informed us tonight that in fact there was only 10 people left in the building now needing re-housed, so with my basic maths skills 1/3 of residents have been re-housed in the last 4 weeks , so the remainder of us should have not to much to worry about .'

33 on allotment waiting list but hope on the horizon for potential plot-holders

Nairn Allotment Society's waiting list now stands at 33 but plans to bring back allotments to the Mill Road site are now well advanced and an application for funding is in. If all goes well those higher up the list will be offered a plot in the spring or in the event of a delay the autumn. A much smaller site that may offer the opportunity to take two others of the list has become available too. If you wish to be placed on the Society's waiting list contact the Chairman (and indefatiguable environment campaigner Dick Youngson), alternatively e-mail your details to the Gurn and we will forward them to the Society. Contact the society too if you have a plot of land, no matter how big or small, that you would be willing to allow others to use.

Successful business relocates to town centre

Not all doom and gloom in the High Street environs as an established outfit moves closer to the action. Picture will enlarge.

Sandown more news

Below you will see a report on last night's community council meeting. Brian over at MyNairn has been commenting on the subject too. He refers to an article in the P&J. Here is one important bit.

'Deveron Highland will glean the response of community councillors and local business leaders at a 7pm presentation at the town’s Newton Hotel next Thursday. '

Don't members of the public have a right to be there too? Why are local business leaders any more important than the rest of us that will have to live with the consequences of this development? Bear in mind that local business folk don't always reflect the views of the population. Take the objection to the Sainsbury's proposal for instance.

AyeRight’s no right (We knew that!)

A common gurn in Nairn is that of health care. Mention getting a GPs appointment to just about anyone, and you can expect a lengthy tale as to their latest experience, and here is mine… over a period I needed to see my doctor on a monthly basis, it made sense to see the same GP who would be familiar with my case. Working outwith Nairn I wanted if possible appointments at the beginning or the end of day, so that I wasn’t away from my work for too long.
Sadly my aim to see the same GP over a period of months at the beginning or end of day failed miserably.
Wrong time of month – ‘Next months appointments are not on the system yet, can you phone back tomorrow?’ If you remember, if you can get through on the phone to the surgery, and it’s convenient to phone from your work I was often met with ‘They’re still not on’ when I got through the next day, with the receptionist not really knowing when they would be – ‘can you phone again?’
To compound matters, doctors at Lodgehill clinic spend time at the local hospital, which takes them out of the surgery rota for a week at a time.
In the end I did get to see a GP every month (But not my one) and I didn’t always get end or start of day appointments meaning that sometimes I had to drive back to Nairn in the middle of the day.
My work requires me to do hours which are effectively 24/7 so I am aware what it is like not to have a 9-5 job – not always nice but a necessity. I suspect that a large majority of the working population of Nairn have Inverness or towns east as their place of work, traffic on the A96 confirms that so I suspect that I am not alone in having an issue seeing a GP?
The government has been trying to get GPs to offer
longer opening hours at their surgeries. This has certainly been met with some success in England. Is it too much to hope that the same scheme might be adopted in Nairn? Even if it is I fear the next problem is going to be getting GPs to work, as their salaries are sufficiently large for many older doctors to move to part time working. See you in the queue?
Photo: A common gurn in Nairn

AyeRight - Yes yet more on supermakets folks!

As we try and untangle the various stories with regard Sainsbury’s, Asda have announced both new build and expansion of existing stores creating some 7000 new jobs.
Whilst this doesn’t directly affect Nairn, other big supermarkets have also stated their intent to expand this year, and we can only hope (For those of us that want it) that includes a Sainsbury’s store in Nairn.
Nairn traders will no-doubt eye any development nervously, supermarkets sell much more than food, and a new supermarket could potentially knock already tumbling trade of some stores.
A notice in the Nairnshire states that a health business (Shop) is for sale is this possibly another closure if not sold?
The main body of tourists will not be along the High street for another few months, even then, how many of our shops see a boost from tourism anyway?
I continue to shop ‘up the street’ but admit I also have a 2nd message list for those items I can only get outwith Nairn, either from local towns or the Internet.
It seems unlikely that we will see many if any new businesses open shops on our High Street in the near future. But whist existing shopkeepers fret about a supermarket development, could in fact be their salvation? If Nairnites are tempted to stay in Nairn to shop because of a new supermarket is there a chance they might also use the High street more rather than travel to the likes of Forres or Inverness? I think the answer could be yes, but it will be a bumpy ride, and some traders might not survive because the whole nature of retail is forever changing.

Spurtle on Sainsbury's stores popping up everywhere

Spurtle on recent Sainsbury's developments:

''I don't know, you turn your back for a couple of days, and Sainsbury's stores are popping up all over the place - must be those 'green shoots of recovery' that the BBC keep telling us to look out for.In my opinion, the two stories really are quite different though.
In fact , one is a story, and the other is typical of modern journalism, basically puffs of smoke.The Inverness Courier article is about nothing. A national supermarket operator has perhaps been looking at a potential site on a development that's been on a drawing board for so long that it seems to pre-date the internet. At least Brian over at MyNairn can't find any details about it online, and if Brian can't, then I would doubt that anyone can.
Even in pre-current crisis Britain though, did Inverness actually really need another 'pile it high, warehouse type out-of-town (kill the old town)retail experience , with 500 or so houses bolted onto its nether regions, with lots of those affordable ones, to keep the lefties happy' type development ?65,000 people live in the place. There will be enough retail parks in Inverness shortly to slake the shopping thirst of the majority of folks from Wick to West Linton.
But.................. the Sainbury's Nairn article is much more interesting ( I would have to say that, while the P+J benefits from online accessibility, the old Nairnshire has to score more points for actually getting the details correct).
Unexpected ,was the phrase uttered to the Spurtle today. A move that our Colonial cousins may describe as being out of 'left field'.A smart move methinks though. The one thing that really sold the Balmakeith proposal to those who actively supported it, was the presence of Sainbury's ( have no doubt that the council vote would have been quite different , had it been Tesco/Asda applying to build).So the company have obviously decided that they must take a greater control in shaping the destiny of the Nairn store. Obviously there is still unease within the business community, though it now seems more specific in questioning the need for the 'warehouse ' type retail units , in addition to the supermarket. There is the possibility that they might find a more open approach from Sainsbury's themselves on these concerns.Sainbury's may well even consider actively engaging the nearest neighbours to the project, which would be in their best interest after all, rather than adopting the condescending approach employed by Pettifers on some occasions.Let's just hope we can all still afford to buy food, when Nairn does get a new supermarket.
All in all, an interesting few days. '

Crime clean-up rate 71.1%

The Northern Constabulary sends an officer to all the Community Council meetings if operating conditions permit and last night Constable Paul Johnstone introduced himself to the public meeting organised by Nairn Suburban Com C. He gave a report on local campaigns and some issues the police are dealing with and told the meeting that the local crime clean-up rate was 71.1%. Constable Johnstone explained that this was the highest in the force area and well above other forces in the country, he went on to say that they were aiming to improve on that but they couldn't have achieved the 71.1%without the help of the community.
Evidence, if any were needed, that we do indeed live in a community fellow Gurnites. We have to be vigilant in the years to come, look how the Highland Council is centralising its affairs in Inverness and the danger is that this process, plus the council's planning policy could go some way to destroying the community spirit in our town. Could one be justified in labelling Highland Council 'an enemy of community'?
It is with this in mind that the Gurn was so delighted to see the public and the Suburban councillors support the proposal for a single community council for the town. More in the post below.

Yet another excuse on the Aberdeen express

The Gurnmeister took a wee trip to Aberdeen yesterday on the new 0730 service and all was well as the ancient but refurbished diesel multiple unit headed through the stunning Aberdeenshire scenery, until Dyce that is. By now there were quite a few offshore workers with their characteristic bags in company colours who had intended to get off at Dyce. The train stopped and then quickly moved off again without giving passengers a chance to get off. 'We apologise to passengers who had intended to alight at Dyce but unfortunately the doors would not open,' was the official excuse. Thank goodness the doors decided to work at Aberdeen. The Gurnmeister had visions of station staff trying to let us out with sledgehammers or fireman arriving with cutting gear.
The 'Bears' were not happy and many of them had no intention of waiting for the next train out from Aberdeen to Dyce, they headed off in search of someone in authority to demand taxis.
Let's hope an engineer inspects those doors soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More support for a single Community Council in Nairn

Tonight it was the turn of the Suburban Community Councillors and the rows of folk on the public benches to call for a single Community Council. Again the meeting was unanimous. The points of view and the hopes attached to this desire to see a single body fighting for Nairn where the same as those to that were heard at a recent meeting of Nairn River Community Council. The Subruban members outlined their hopes for progress in a forthcoming meeting with their River opposite numbers.
The dream is still on Gurnites but the Community Councillors can't do it without us - please give them your support.

Suburban Community Council to continue opposition to Sandown Planning Application

The Suburban watchdogs are to persist with their objection to the Sandown planning application. They asked the public for their views and the unanimous decision was to campaign against the project. The main reason is the large number of homes in such a small space, the density of the renewed application is still 550 homes. The Gurn suspects the developer will have to come down by half before winning the support of the folk out in the western parts of Nairn.
The picture will enlarge.

Looking for a job in Nairn? £65,022 p.a.

'Head Teacher Nairn Academy
Salary £65,022
'Nairn Academy is a non-denominational, six year comprehensive school. It is located in the former county town of Nairn and its catchment also includes the villages of Auldearn, Cawdor and Ferness and surrounding areas. There are 4 associated primary schools - 2 primary schools in Nairn (Millbank and Rosebank Primary Schools) and two rural primary schools in Auldearn and Cawdor. Over 25% of pupils travel to school by bus.'
For more information have a look at the Highland Council site.

A danger to shipping?

Regular visitors to the Harbour will have noticed the two large banks of pebbles that are building up on either side of the entrance to the River Nairn. Yes, I know we don't have any shipping as such but will something have to be done to remove these potential obstacles before they become any bigger?

Here swans make use of the western bank as a small island emerges at low tide.

Ayeright's Woolworth’s Lament

A month on since the Nairn store closed its doors for the last time I was beginning to come to terms with my retail loss. A telephone extension cable was sourced elsewhere in town, and when the shed didn’t reveal a tin of paint I thought was hiding there, I thought for a brief moment ‘I’ll just pop up to Woolies’, only for my memory to be refreshed of its recent demise. I have yet to find another store in Nairn that allows you to browse at such a range of objects that you will probably never need (But might have bought), without someone in a grey coat launching at you with a ‘can I help’. Browsing is clearly not an acceptable pastime in some Nairn stores. Replying ‘I was just looking’ sounds both lame and daft, yet many Woolies customers were doing just that, looking to see what the world had swept into their Nairn store. Had we had more time maybe Lottery funding could have been gained for us to have bought both our Woolies store and it’s contents, lock, stock, and barrel. It could then have been turned into a Woolies museum into which we could all have freely gone and ‘looked’. Stock could have been rotated illogically just as when it was a real store, and Nairn would have had a unique selling point, a Woolworth’s museum to which the hoards would have made the pilgrimage. The museum could have sold small bags of pic & mix, and red coated museum staff could have greeted the happy visitors...My memory of Woolies was revived today when I up ended the toaster to shake out a stuck piece of crust, Woolworth's was the proud make of the toaster. Those were the days!

Culloden getting a Sainsbury's before Nairn - what would the bookies give for odds?

Any betting Gurnites out there? What do you think the chances are that Sainsbury's will set up in the Inverness urban sprawl before the doors open on the planned Balmakeith store.
'SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury's is in early talks to build a major store on the outskirts of Inverness near Culloden.
The development would be located between Stratton Lodge and Stratton Farm and help kick start the £320 million Inverness Arc project, a massive residential, business and retail scheme first unveiled by Inverness Estates five years ago.'
Meanwhile on the P&J site.
'Sainsbury’s town planner for Scotland Jeff Wilson said: “I am delighted to be able to confirm that we are in a position to proceed with the local planning inquiry.
“We are confident that our proposals, which will create in excess of 200 new permanent jobs in the food store and about 100 jobs in the other retail units, will receive the support of the independent review.”

AyeRight is not eating out anymore

Our correspondent's mind is once again back on food matters:'Our local newspaper carries over half a page of advertising for restaurants this week, in a 12 page paper that is quite a lot of column inches
Some adverts are for Valentines meals in February, others, maybe a sign of the recession are to entice us through their doors with special offers of cheaper meals.
‘Beat the credit crunch’ says one, ‘eat at home’ says me, but clearly that is not the answer they are looking for.
As reported in the Gurn, more of us our downgrading our eating out experience from restaurant to takeaway in an effort to save monies. Further down the chain folk are buying more takeaway type ingredients at the supermarket, only to be beaten by those of us who start meals with a pile of raw ingredients at home.
One restaurant advert that did catch my eye (Not because I wanted to go) is for a buffet style menu. ‘Eat as much as you can for only £8.95’ and kids eat free. With
obesity being a national problem I wonder how long it will be before the government bans such promotions much as it did with happy hours in pubs and bars?
I wish restauranteurs well, especially in the current economic climate but not on the back of encouraging folk to over eat!'

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cùrsa Gàidhlig saor an asgaidh: free Gaelic course

Don't forget that you can get a place free on this course being held in Nairn Community Centre this Friday and Saturday. More information on this previous Gurn entry.

Bidh fàilte chrìdheil oirbh uile!

Blas Festival 2009

This years festival has one act for Nairn, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham at the community centre on Monday 7th September.
Now billed as ‘legends’ (In their own time?) they are worth seeing for their comedy alone. I predict an early sell out, get your tickets soon!

AyeRight ponders what to have for tea

There are many recipe sites that allow you to tap in a list of ingredients and will then find you meals for you to cook. This google search goes one further, it looks at the items you enter, and searches the web for recipe ideas, not just one site.
Sadly, a day post the great event and I find myself with haggis, neeps, and tatties that still need using, no problem with ‘Cookin' With Google’, recipes are found for me.
With financial depression biting this could be a useful site to make a meal from those items at the back of the fridge (If you can identify as to what they are!)
But for unexpected guests ‘you’ll have had your tea’ is still the cheapest form of greeting!

Could Nairn have its own dog poo calender asks Ayeright

A doo poo calendar for 2009? Something that could be a must for Nairnites, or will the threat of a £50 fine make folk clean up their (Dogs) act? '

Good idea Ayeright, send in pics of nearby turds to the Gurn and well see if we can knock up a calendar for Nairn on one of those Vanity publishing sites. '

AyeRight is hoping these two stories are not related

Walkers crisps have been running a competition for a new flavour crisp. Cajun Squirrel is high on the list of votes at the moment along with Builder’s Breakfast, Chilli & Chocolate, Crispy Duck Hoisin (Sorry Doc), Fish & Chips, and Onion Bhaji
Meanwhile it is reported that Sir Tim Rice has imported a few squirrels to his Dundonnell Highland estate.
I’m sure Salt & Vinegar is his flavour of choice!

Ayeright asks: Is Nairn a winner or a loser?

As Nairn battles away for a new supermarket, should we feel lucky that we are to get an improved A96 and improved rail links to Inverness and Aberdeen under the strategic transport projects review.
As has been mentioned before in the Gurn, poor access at either end of the A96 is not likely to improve a Nairnites journey to Inverness, and if you choose to take the train the station at Inverness is on the doorstep of the rapidly dying Old Town.
I’m sure if we had a choice, improved shopping in Nairn would win over a half hearted attempt to improve transport links?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bad News Exclusive: Sainsbury's planning inquiry put back to 16th June

The Gurn has learnt that the Reporter has decided to allow a request to defer the public inquiry. The Inquiry will now take place on the 16th June. There is no doubt that to a town suffering job losses and shops closing (plus the lack of a supermarket that meets the needs of consumers of this new millennium) that this postponement is a disaster. However, a Nairn source close to Sainsbury's told the Gurn that the company remains committed to the project. Let's hope that commitment survives the forthcoming shocks that this recession still has to deliver!
Plus the following in from Spurtle:
Phone call to Spurtle's hot line this morning, confirming public inquiry deferred until June 16th. Reason cited by the Reporter : "Exceptional circumstances............ and that material that parties could reasonably have expected to produce is not available in time for others to adequately consider..... " So it sounds like, prior to going pop, someone at Pettifer Estates may not have been putting quite as much effort into preparing for the inquiry as they should have. Sounds like Sainsbury's don't quite have their finger on the pulse either. There a are lot of folks hoping to see improved supermarket facilities in the town as soon as possible - yet we now have the developer's administration pushing the inquiry back until June and their supermarket partners, only yesterday, writing to a supporter, telling them that everything is on schedule for the March public inquiry ! These people should be in Government - The left hand doesn't know what the left hand's doing :) Meanwhile, this leaves a breathing space for the Co-op to decide what they are going to do with the Somerfield site. Spurtle would suggest that they re-develop the site themselves, and do it quickly. The longer it goes undeveloped , the more chance it will end up being sold on to another operator. We know that Sainsbury's don't want it - so it must be appealing to Tesco/Asda/Morrisons - even if it's just as a poke in the eye for Sainsbury's prior to their store getting the green light .

Happy Birthday Mr Burns

All the best from the Gurn.

More on state funding for newspapers.

Regulars will know that AyeRight recently wrote an article on this subject. Well we all know that some newspapers are having a tough time of it but in France it seems Preisdent Sarkozy has deemed that they must be saved and has pumped untold euros into his scheme. Good money after bad? Are the French just a few steps ahead of us.

'The French president
Nicolas Sarkozy today announced €600m (£565m) in emergency aid for his country's troubled newspaper industry and declared that every 18-year-old in France would get a year's free subscription to the paper of their choice to boost reading habits.
The crisis-hit French press is among the least profitable in Europe, stifled by rigid communist print unions, a lack of kiosks selling papers and a declining readership far below that of the UK or Germany.' So reports the Guardian, the Gurnmeister
read this on their website not the paper lol.

Other interesting comment too on the state of play of Britains local newspapers:
'Maybe, at worst, 500 more ITV jobs will go as regional coverage declines (by kind permission of Ofcom). Britain's 1,300 regional and local
newspapers, by contrast, still have some 12,000 journalists. They leave broadcasting's legions standing. But they are in big trouble: Trinity Mirror reckons to have shut down 44 since recession began. Other chains reel constantly between layoffs and closure. The basis of news-gathering itself is under acute strain, with entire communities stripped of the means of communication that in many ways defines them. ' Guardian journalist Peter Preston also claims,'Take away really local news - about your village, your town, your city - and all the broadcasting deals on Earth won't fill the gap.' For the full article pop over to this article 'Digital Britain still needs its local papers'
Does the modern day digital society still need local papers? The Gurn reckons, that for the time being, yes. And perhaps before too long the Editor of the Nairnshire might be able to go round one of the Government's toxic banks on Nairn High Street and get some of Gordon Brown's crisp newly printed notes if the Primeminster decides to do a Sarko and dish out barrowloads of dosh to the newspaper industry here.

Busy long-tailed tits

Thanks to our staff photographer Cuideag. Pictures will enlarge.

AyeRight calms down

The Gurnmeister noticed a little anxiety creeping into our correspondent's recent posts. He confessed at a staff meeting that he was worried by the threat of Threshers perhaps closing one or both of their off-licenses in Nairn and the loss of easy access to his favourite tipple. AyeRight is now back on good form after finding an on-line alternative should the unthinkable happen. Here's the site that he found.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gaelic course in Nairn free of charge! Learners and fluent speakers welcome.

The Gurn has received a press release from CNSA:

CNSA, are pleased to announce that a Total Immersion Plus Course is to be held in the Nairn Community Centre, King Street, Nairn on Friday 30th January from 1.00pm-9.00pm and then on Saturday 31st January from 9.00am-5.00pm.
This course is open to any fluent Gaelic speaker and a warm welcome awaits all those who wish to become a tutor for a variety of TIP courses.
We would also very much like to see as many as possible, “all levels” adult learners who are seeking a conversational fluency in Gaelic.
If you would like any further information regarding this free of charge course at which there are some 100 places available, please contact Finlay M. Macleoid on (…01542-836322 or email as soon as possible.
For further information regarding the above press release please contact: Finlay M. Macleoid Home (…01542-836322 Work (…01463-225469) Email

Could a really quick developer house the evicted next door?

Picture will enlarge

Friday, January 23, 2009

AyeRight says dump charges

Highland Council is in need of more money in it’s coffers. From the 1st April we are to be charged for the uplift for anything that cannot be crammed into a wheelie bin, namely £15 which covers up to 3 items (How about a fiver for one?).
Since the move of our waste/recycle unit way out towards Grantown, I can only see that this new charge will further encourage fly tipping.
Carry your dead fridge up the street on a dark night and save yourself £15, and save yourself the hassle and money of getting it all the way out to the Grantown Road which is the alternative to the charge.
Apart from how unsightly dumped items are going to look poking out of our hedgerows, there is also the cost to the council/landowner of clearing this predicted mess up. We also want waste items to get to a recycling centre - don’t we?
As our Provost said, it is the elderly and those on benefits who are going to be hit hardest by this charge.
Encourage us to recycle by all means, but make it free or its going to cost us in more ways than one!

Could Nairn go dry?

News that the Thresher Group is looking to shed some 400 stores could mean another loss of shops on Nairn High street.
The Thresher Group own both Haddows and Victoria wine. The two are the only off license units on Nairn High Street and could mean a very dry time for Nairnites if both are closed.

State funding for newspapers?

AyeRight debates the issue:
Should local newspapers receive state funding so they can carry on reporting about well... state funding?
The government charges along like a happy father throwing coins at a wedding scramble to any bank that is a bit short of a bit of cash, but are we now to see other institutions about to benefit as well?
The thought of the press being owned, or even part owned by government is not one I would relish. Content will surely be subject to control, or at least have a government slant?

There are those who question our money being used to save all the banks, citing that the banks have just banked most of the money, and that share holders have been saved. Meanwhile many customers are not seeing any benefit of the bail out.
Nationalisation is not a process I would have expected to see happening under this New Labour government, or any other for that matter.
Will we start to see sectors of private industry brought back into state
control - Rail Track springs to mind, but at this rate it could be the Nairnshire as well!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ayeright's blue print for Nairn

F*** we reckon our correspondent has lost it but in the interests of democracy we publish Ayeright's vision. Here's his mock up of what the Fishertown Bankie will be like, please read on...

'Now and again we suffer rather than gain from a visionary. Often these people are architects who inflict their view of the world upon us, then see it built and move on.
Some are more prophet like, such as the Brahan Seer, Marx as Spurtle tells us, and Sandy Park who have issued forth their versions of the future. Some got it right, others very wrong.
Hoping I'm the latter and inspired by the new posts on the bankie I present my future of Nairn in glorious techno-colour.
First this involves building a new supermarket on the Links. This is an ideal site and offers excellent parking, and it is not too far from what is left of the High street.
Access to the new hyperstore would be via a new super highway which would also act as a Nairn bypass.
Based around the coast, this would provide a picturesque road to attract tourists. The new highway would also include cycle, pram, and extra wide footpaths to eliminate the current perceived congestion on the bankie, this would also act as a unique selling point for Nairn.
The flats at the harbour would be knocked down and a Hilton hotel built, as well as a wine bar, a bistro, and of course a McDonalds (No town would be complete without one)
Part of the harbour itself would be filled in to provide extra parking, and only shiny boats over 30’ would be able to moor there.
As we all begin to buy our messages on-line, the only shop left on the High Street will be the Co-op which will remain out of principle rather than profit
The Baily bridge would be replaced by a new one to accomadate the new Nairn bypass, and Parkdean would become a Disney World
Nairn pipe band will march around the town in ever decreasing circles on Saturdays and local holidays to remind folk that the pipes were instruments of war. And much shaking of fists will be seen when they blow up their bags for the 5:00 am start.
A further attraction for tourists would be that Highland council would promote driving on the right. This would save a huge amount of monies in ‘keep to the left signs’ and would seem much more tourist friendly.
Nairn will become so popular that everyone will want to come and live here and new housing will stretch as far as Inverness to the West, and Elgin to the East
Everyone from now until the plan is finished will upload their photos onto Flickr so that future generations can be reminded that Nairn was once a nice little seaside town in the Highlands, before 21st Century Schizoid Man got his ideas adopted!

For all who remember King Crimson and Nairn (That was)
King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man

Death seed blind mans greed
Poets starving children bleed
Nothing hes got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.'

Bump: masterpiece

The AyeRight vision document for Nairn. Could it already be a done deal?

Worrying pictures have been forwarded to the Gurn. Could it be that all the town's phone boxes are already being relocated to the car park of the proposed Little Chef on the Links section of the A96 'Bankie' motorway?

Doc Grigor envisages possible new role for the Sandancer?

The Doc has had a wee vision tonight too. He sees new opportunities for this established business if AyeRight's plan takes hold and of course a change of name to perhaps lament the passing of an era. Thanks for downloading your vision Doc. Keep downloading your dreams and visions dear Gurnites. - would it work in Nairn? is a powerful community site and its forum is effectively another local paper in digital form. It even has a Birth, Marriages and Deaths column. So far the forum has received 406,254 posts and has, 4,158 members. Obviously such a site and forum must take a lot of work but maybe there is funding available for such a community venture. Although the Nairnshire area is much smaller, maybe it would work here. It would be a lot more use than our present 'Sleeping Beauty' which is still stuck in April 2007, maybe a passing timelord could go back and rescue the administrator of that site?

AyeRight keeps us posted

Mysterious wooden posts have appeared on our west bankie. Speculation grows... small snow poles, path widening, or an addendum to the A96? The posts appeared several days ago but work people have not reappeared. Can anyone resolve this once and for all?
Update: 'bump' to the top for comment value.

New logo revealed for H.M.Gov 'Toxic Bankie'

Thanks to AyeRight for the pic:
Can you think of a marketing slogan for the Government's Bank?

Bump 22/1 (excellent quote in comments from Spurtle)

AyeRight misses out on a prize holiday to Nairn

The dating site 'The List' advertised a prize of a holiday to Nairn, but a few hours later the prize is changed with Fort William as the venue.
Did they visit
NairnScotland, or did someone tip them the wink that Nairn is not a 'fascinating coastal town' as they had thought?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Royal Mail - more trouble ahead reckons AyeRight

'Royal Mail has announced huge profits of £900,000 per day, part of this seems due to the enforced closure of 2,500 Post Offices to be completed by March of this year. We have already see the closure of our Post Office in Harbour Street which led to immense queues at the Cawdor Street Post Office before Christmas.
It seems any notion that Royal Mail is a public service is to be further squashed with the possible end of the fixed price letter service, with a prediction for there to be a fall of 7% in mail and parcels over the next year. This is especially bad news for folk in the Highlands assuming that some of our mail has to travel a further distance.
There is still the possibility of part of Royal Mail being sold to TNT, and not so many weeks ago posties being told they had to up their walking speeds.
On-line shopping is often handled by carriers other than Royal Mail, and possibly the only saving grace has been that of eBay sales that tend to use Royal Mail.
Email must have had an effect on the number of letters sent, and on-line services such as those offered by the DVLA for vehicle road tax renewal, must mean lower use of Post Office counter services.
Royal Mail services
are very impressive, but is it too much or too little too late? So what is to be the future of Royal Mail, broken up, sold off?'

The Gurnmeister wishes we could have kept the Harbour Street Post Office instead of the Toxic Bankie. Would have been a lot cheaper and the Post Office might have been a lot more careful about who they gave loans and mortgages too. Now the folk in the other Toxic Bankie (Northern Rock) are to all get a 10% bonus. Nice work if you can get it!

More frozen pictures - thanks to Cuideag

Nice work Cuideag!
PS Pictures will enlarge.

AyeRight looks at the stars and stripes

AyeRight's spin on yesterday's big event:
'Now matter what your views on the United States of America, it was difficult to go anywhere near any media yesterday and not be reminded that the 44th President of the United Stated was being sworn into office.
Myself I’m awaiting the bulging Sunday papers so that I can read in full (Or not if I fall asleep) the speeches made yesterday, as well as comment, pull out posters, stars and stripe flags, and tokens to be collected for the complete Obama miniature family figures.
In the wake of the banking crisis this is a little bit of news that the media will want to cling to as it has a feel good factor and is outwith the UK. It has had months to research the item so expect little else in terms of content if you indulge in the weekend dead trees.
I wish Obama well, even if he is now the most powerful man in the world he maybe has the worst job (OK - I concede Gordon Brown’s might beat him to that position).
More worryingly is that the Gurn now has serious competition. Putting itself firmly into the public domain the Whitehouse has a blog.
I’m not expecting to write for it but expect a wealth of humorous, satirical, and funny content as well as the serious stuff of course. We shall see, meanwhile I’ll try and munch my way through a bit more popcorn! God bless America (Someone has to!)'

Obama even mentioned Britain in his speech Ayeright, 'something about when the enemy were at the gates of the capital', can't be bothered to listen to it again for the exact words. Was listening to Chuc Tripp (from Alaska) on Reidio nan Gaidheal yesterday and he said that it was a great day for the fight against racism but apart from that he didn't think there was much else to get excited about. Tend to agree with that myself.

AyeRight can’t write (We Knew that!)

'I recently read an article that suggested that the Internet was to blame for us not reading anymore
I’m not sure about reading but computers have ended what ability I had in the hand writing department. In recent years I used to be able to practice a little by signing my name on credit card slips, but my signature has been replaced by four buttons that I press in a certain sequence.
I recently had to sign several legal documents and realised that my signature is now a random scribble. An artist might call it a variation on a theme, but to me it is now a work in progress. Back at home I practiced (As once I did as a small child) to produce a repeatable signing but just more scribble. A different pen produced no better results, and should it (Ha ha) become a collectors item in a centuries time, collectors will have a devil of a job spotting what is real and what is an Arthur Blake.
I am considering going back a few centuries and just making a cross instead of any attempt at scrawling my name. A wobbly line looks quite promising, but I sign so rarely now I would quickly forget as to what my new signature looked like.
Soon, as retina recognition becomes the norm I won’t even have to remember the sequence of four numbers, I wonder for how many years a draw full of Biros will last, forever at this rate!'

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mystic Sandy‏

AyeRight reviews one of the Convenor's past predictions
'Sandy’s crystal ball wasne working too well that day - maybe need to remind someone of their political predictions?
Community centre can trigger regeneration of Nairn town centre, says Provost (22/06/06)
Provost Sandy Park said: “I am confident that a start to this eagerly awaited project will be the catalyst to a wide range of property developments and environmental improvements to our town. The centre will be a state of the art building which will be the hub of the community. It will be a terrific resource for local people and the many tourists who visit our seaside resort every year.”
More here.'
But love this bit AyeRight:
' The Court House will remain the main public caller office in Nairn but Barron House will also be a significant base for a range of services provided by the Council, including the Planning Service.'

Ayeright waxes

This winter has seen the appearance of waxwings in Nairn again. The birds tend to appear in small flocks and are after any berries they can find. Waxwings seem quite tame, and don’t mind you getting quite close to them. This might be to their detriment as I have seen cats also being tolerated by these birds. Their tuft makes them quite distinctive from other garden visitors, and are close in size to starlings

AyeRight laments his loss of silence

AyeRight chills?

'Zen like I’m listening to John Cages 4’ 33” when what sounds like the thunder of horse hooves on the new bray canter through my speakers. Resigned that this is part of the experience of listening to this particular piece of music, I make a mental note to do something about the culprit - my mobile phone.
Normally it sits in a small cradle near my computer, but whenever I have the Hi Fi on it seems to decide to add a cacophony of noise to what ever I am listening to. Not just hooves, but crackles and pops, small trills, and then there is the ring tone itself for a call, txt, or email. I should just switch it off, but then I would miss that all important call (At least that is what I tell myself).
The solution I discovered is quite simple. The wires to my speakers are acting as transmitters whenever my phone picks up a signal. All that is needed is a couple of ferrite rings available from the likes of Maplin for a couple of pounds. These you will often see buried in the end of more expensive USB leads, there for the same reason to stop interference.
So now I listen to music in perfect silence (Except Mr Cage proved there was no such thing) but find myself checking my phone to see if it switched on because I’m missing all those hooves, crackles and pops, and small trills - you can’t win.'

Exclusive: Sainsbury's planning application - could the public inquiry be deferred? Plus Co-op issues...

Thanks to Spurtle for this story. The Gurn can confirm that the DPEA reporter is considering an application to defer the Public Inquiry set to go ahead next month.
The Gurn also understands that with Pettifer Estates recently having gone bust it is likely that it is the Administrators of the company that have requested a deferral.
Here's more from our correspondent Spurtle:
'It appears that the authorities don't like to defer hearings though, unless the circumstances are extraordinary. Looks like we'll have to wait to see if they do in this case..Meanwhile the Co-op have secured the sale of 90 Somerfield stores, in the process of their takeover. This was a requirement from the OFT, one of the conditions to be satisfied to allow the takeover to go ahead, without referring the matter to the Monopolies and Mergers commission. Nairn's not on the list though - so we need to watch this space to see what the Co-op decide to do. Word is that they may consider the re-development of the Somerfield site themselves .Spurtle, Mrs Spurtle and the Spurt would be quite happy with a bigger , shiny new Co-op. By far the most ethical of the big players , though that phrase is ,in itself, a tad oxymoronic, when talking about supermarkets . Sainsbury's and the Pettifer situation will no doubt be a factor in their decisions though . Let's hope that something posititve can come out of this mess.
'What a tangled web we weave
Go 'round with circumstance
Someone show me how to tell the dancer
From the dance'
( spot of Eagles there, for Nairnbairn)

Gurning about the Nairnshire Telegraph

A complaint about the Nairnshire over on

Bikers or posters?

AyeRight on the right track?
'The west beach appears to have been invaded by a quad bike. Tracks on the beach suggest a leisure rather than work user, for just like the boys on jet skis the bike (Or bikes) seem quite keen on going round and around. Maybe it is indeed just innocent work by the council (Related to the posts?) or are we facing boy racers on quads?'

As predicted but still a loss

Dallas the jewellers closing down soon. Another iconic part of Nairn's retail environment about to become history.

Did Liz slip on frozen pavements issue?

Rush out and treat yourself to the weekly slice(s) of dead tree (aka Nairnshire Telegraph) and read all about a heated debate between Provost Liz and Cllr Graham Marsden. There was a wee rammy between them over the New Year lack of gritting - pics previously seen on the Gurn. Interesting reading. As the geordie mannie says on Big Brother, 'You decide!'.

The A9 must surely be a lot quieter now

The Gurnmeister noticed last week how busy the goods yard was at Inverness railway station with lots of Stobart containers being lifted on and off trains. It seems Tesco are sending all their goods up north on the tracks now. The thought of being able to go down the A9 without being stuck behind convoys of Tesco trucks doing 45mph is almost tempting. Anyone drove down recently? Any improvement in jouney time?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Michelin stars in their eyes

Ayeright files another food story:

As the Gurn gathers in the votes for Gurnites favourite takeaway, staff at Michelin have had to carry out a hasty ring round after their 2009 guide was leaked ahead of publication time letting winning chefs know before they read of their award elsewhere (The Gurn?)
This year on our doorstep (I have a large doorstep) Boath House at Auldearn has been awarded one star for the first time. I have eaten there and have always been impressed by chef Charlie Lockley’s cooking (I wonder if they do takeaways?)
This year we are told that Michelin has awarded more stars than ever. Maybe this is clever marketing in a recession which will encourage more diners to visit the top restaurants.
I can say I have never joined the Michelin star trail in a similar manor to which folk bag Munros, and am unlikely to do so. I recently celebrated a milestone birthday with a lunchtime bag of chips, and very good they were too. I like my food but not because a tyre company tells me I should, but then someone has to believe the hype!

Brian's plan

Blogger Brian has been researching the local planning situation, he has some suggestions for us over at

Bank and two kids to support!

Ayeright seems scunnered with the bankers:
'A recent Gurn article reported on the demise of the Old Town in Inverness ‘Old Town Closedown’?
Just as this feature made me nostalgic for when we used to have High Street shops, I am reminded
by the following story of a time when we the public used to borrow money from the banks
I wonder if the good citizens of Nairn will start having coffee mornings and collection boxes in aid of our fallen lenders?'

Keeping MPs expenses secret, how will Danny Alexander vote?

Hi fellow Gurnites, I've just noticed a facebook group set up to alert folk about the vote on Thursday concerning MP's expenses. The group's webpage informs us:

'On the 16th of May 2008 the High Court ruled that MPs’ expenses must be published under the Freedom of Information Act.This Thursday, MPs are voting to change the law to keep their expenses secret after all, just before publication was due and after spending nearly a million of your pounds and seven months compiling the data.'

We can do something about it however:

'Please write to your MP about this through - ask them to lobby against this concealment, and tell them that will be permanently and prominently noting those MPs who took the opportunity to fight against this regressive move. The millions of constituents who will check this site before the next election will doutbtless be interested.'

So the Gurnmeister has written to the local MP, let's see how he votes later this week. If you have a few moments why not send him an e-mail yourself through

Ballerina Ballroom Cinema ff Dreams +++ breaking news+++

Lights on downstairs this afternoon and a sound just like the one a hoover makes filtering out into a High Street.

To AyeRight vinegar was just something you put on your chips

'Shelves in even our local stores are awash with chemical items to make our sinks brighter, our whites whiter, and our wallets lighter, along with a host of other cleaning promises.
Living in Nairn, most of us are only too aware of where the waste that we pour or flush down the drain goes to, and from there out into the Firth from the sewer pipe on our East beach. There is a slight filtering/cleaning process that goes on in between, but I often wonder looking at the rows of cleaning items on shop shelves how much of this is pumped into the sea?
Here is a site that I’m almost scared to mention without letting shops know in advance. I have visions of a Delia like run on a product which will see the shelves devoid of the product for months. I can only suggest that you form an orderly queue and limit yourselves to one bottle per customer. Once you try it your chips will never get a look in, but our Firth might well be a cleaner place!'

Could it happen here? A £50 penalty for feeding the gulls?

The Doc tells the Gurn of news of a new initiative down south:
'Holidaymakers and residents in Burnham-On-Sea who feed seagulls or pigeons could face fines of up to £50 from next spring.'
Could a few crumbs get you in the same do-da as a doggie jobbie? i.e. with a wallet £50 lighter. How will the authorities distinguish between duck and swan lovers and fans of other birds?

Opinion Poll: Should the town of Nairn (the Royal Burgh) have a single community council?

Poll now up on the Gurn on Sunday.

Other new stuff below, this will stay on top for a while.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Holiday homes

AyeRight is all irate again:
Mere mention is enough to make the blood boil. Whole communities have been decanted of their young folk as incomers move into once ordinary humble properties, and inflate the cost of housing beyond the reach of the average wage. The problem is not just a Scottish one, but affects many rural communities throughout the UK.
‘Is it worth it’ the Timesonline asks of a property it features,
Mains of Moyness steading.
Apparently the TOL reckons ‘the most sensible use of the property may be as a letting business’. Sensible no-doubt if you are aiming to invest the asking price of £225,000, but outrageous if you are a young person looking to buy a home in the place you were born.
The TOL reckons it would cost as much as the purchase price to renovate the steading into three properties, which at peak-period one might expect to let for ‘£500 per week’.
By my rough and ready reckoning if you have £450,000 sat doing nothing, it would take nearly six years renting all three properties at £500 per week before you broke even and moved into profit.
Is it worth it? I am sure someone somewhere will think so as their thousands sit in a bank accruing little interest in the current economic climate.
Meanwhile will another young Nairn face pack their bags to live somewhere else?