Saturday, February 28, 2009

The dram that got away! River Nairn reopens for 2009 with Liz and Willie Barron doing the honours

Pictures will enlarge. More to come later in slideshow format.
UPDATE: As promised slideshow here and individual pictures can be seen here.

Lib Dems start campaign site for Nairn By-pass

They state 'Nairn needs a by-pass NOW! The Scottish Government says it will build the by-pass that Nairn urgently needs sometime between now and 2032, but it won't say when - or where Nairn's by-pass is in the queue of projects. MP Danny Alexander and councillor Graham Marsden have set up this website to campaign for Nairn to be near the top of the list.'
Their campaign site is set-up in blog format and accepts comments. Nice to see the by-pass campaign moving into the digital environment.
UPDATE Sunday morning: Apologies wrong information above, the Gurnmeister tried to make a comment on the Lib Dem By-pass blog but was met with the following: 'Comments are closed.' Oh Dear, digital democracy is a two-way thing and not just a top-down affair. Obviously comments have to be vetted but allowing comments would enable further conversation between the politicians and readers. Shame about that! Aren't Danny and Graham up for a bit more consultation with folk in Nairn?
UPDATE: Sunday afternoon: comments are allowed folks, according to site admin:
'Thanks Bill - comments are open, although they had accidentally been left off on one of the posts (the one before this one).
It has been sorted now (I hope).'

A sick joke but true!

Highland Council has 27 million invested in tobaco yes, but part of that investment is incredibly on the behalf of the 'Inverness Burial Grounds Commutation funds.' Deadly but true! How can this organisation claim any respectabilty as long as this situation continues?

They are quoted as saying: '"Tobacco stocks can provide relatively high, stable and predictable returns, particularly relative to other potential investments, particularly during difficult economic times such as these."

For further details head to the BBC site.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Highland Council seeks help with its housing debt

'A delegation from Highland Council is meeting a senior Treasury official in Westminster about easing its housing debt, BBC Scotland has learned.
The local authority is spending £15m a year on loan charges to service its £146m housing debt.
It has said that if the UK Government "eased that burden" it could commit more money to improving housing stock.
Highland said it might even be able to resume council house building, adding that this would create new jobs.' More
on the BBC site. Thanks to Keekabout for the link.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A single community council for Nairn – now just a question of how long will it take?

John MacKie, chair of the Suburban Community Council spoke last night of how he and fellow community councillors are being stopped constantly in the street and asked how things were progressing with the initiative to bring about a single entity for Nairn at this level of local government. He told the very well-attended public meeting that he was now going to seek the advice of the Highland Council ward manager as to the best way to bring this about. The meeting then became, for a short while, a de-facto campaign workshop with councillors and members of the public exchanging ideas on the way forward. It seems there will indeed soon be a request to revive the dormant West council in the town. As was pointed out, this objective and that of a single council for Nairn are not mutually exclusive, given that a West Council would also be campaigning for absorption into the new council. It was very refreshing to see such interesting, articulate debate from two dozen plus folk present who simply want the best for the town. It bodes well for the future when a single council exists, then Nairnites would no doubt want to back their flagship organisation to the hilt and the Gurn suspects there would be no shortage of citizens willing to commit their time, energies and talent. Let’s hope we soon obtain the return of a body that would be ,once again, the true civic heart of our community, a body capable of taking us forward into this new millennium in a way that would harness the creativity and pride we have in our community. Nairn is a great place, its citizens want to keep it like that, yes we are open to debate about progress, development, etc but make no mistake we demand an organisation that will represent us and us alone!
It could be that very soon there will be a public meeting calling for a single community council in the town and those that oppose the motion would be given the chance to give their side of the argument but the feeling seemed to be (correctly thinks the Gurnmeister) that the public would back the motion whole-heartedly. At present the unscientific survey over on the Gurn on Sunday indicates approximately a 76% level of support for a single council with a significant ‘couldn’t care less’ minority of 17% the rest being for the status quo. This digital journal predicts a single community council for Nairn within 2 years. As we approach the next Highland Council elections in 2011 it will be very hard for that organisation, and especially our four councillors, to ignore the will of the people. Although the Gurn is ignorant of the position of Sandy Park and Laurie Fraser on the issue it is obvious from a previous debate witnessed at the River Community Council that Provost Liz and Graham Marsden share the ambition of the majority.

The Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council: RBNCC – bring it on!
Get involved Gurnites! – Let’s make it happen!

Four places where you can sign the MacLean Court Petition

Samantha Bacon has informed the Gurn of two new sites in town where you can sign the petition, remember there are already petition sheets in David Bronwlee's Bikes and Buggie shop in Leopold Street but now you can also sign at:
Graeme Fraser & Co --- Accountant between The Kist and the Baby Shop and

Strachans Paper Shop.

Samantha adds, 'Hopefully, more Petition sites soon but just a reminder that all petitions and letters of protest have to be in either to Liz MacDonald via the Service Point or Harriet Dempster of the Social Work Department, Highland Council, before the 10th March. '
Please note UPDATE: Petition can now be signed in the Star Hotel

Ok not Ok

Highland Council seem to be giving us mixed messages with regard recycling. Last week a colour brochure came through the door telling us how well we were doing, this week a sticker has been put on my wheelie bin reminding me to recycle!
Despite the splendid facilities for recycling at Park Quarry, this facility remains only of use to those who have their own transport to drive there and don’t mind footing the carbon cost. At least the old facility at Station Park didn’t mean a car journey out of town in order to recycle.
The brown and blue recycle bins may provide a part solution but it easy to see from a few purchases at a supermarket that many items cannot be recycled without a trip to Park Quarry, namely cardboard and plastic bottles. Could a facility to recycle these items not be provided beside the Somerfield bottle banks?
Meanwhile I will await the next recycling message from Highland Council

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A dog's life

Cooler winds reminded me that winter has yet to pass and we can still expect snowfall for several months yet as well as gales this evening.
My thoughts went out today as I saw an old dog being coerced to walk towards the beach by its owner. The wind was fairly biting by then and I bet Fido would have been much happier in front of the fire.
Dog owners too are having a rough time on the streets as dog poo vigilantes watch their every move, and the council dog mannie is also on the poo trail seeking to make £40 which must be welcome income for Highland Council in these difficult times.
If we can just find a UK importer an American company has the
Owners can now sit and watch TV whilst their pets exercise, no need to go out the front door and I’m sure the dogs wouldn’t mind if their owners had the occasional shottie as well!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thankfully, some things stay the same

Winter aconites at Firhall

Nationalise the banks and privatise the Post Office!

The Gurnmeister turns to non-parochial affairs for a second or two.
Now the taxpayer is paying untold billions to keep a cluster of basket-case banks up and running, even paying out bonuses to the reckless people that got us into the mess we are now in. Meanwhile the government is telling the post office workers that they must allow the operation to be 'part' privatised, telling them that their pensions might no longer exist if they don't. Now compare the actions of the dysfunctional organisations called banks to those of the Post Office and ask yourself which institution you would like to preserve? Wouldn't it be easier to pay out all the depositors in the failed banks and offer them accounts at the Post Office rather than throw good money after bad. I'd sooner see the likes of the Nairn posties in a secure job than the likes of the total 'bankers' that have made such a mess.
Simple gurnonomics yes, but I'm sure there will be one or two Gurnites that agree?

Letter to the Gurn: MacLean Court protest

I am really surprised that there has not been a Cross Party collaberation of our Four elected Ward Members regarding this protest. This could have been an ideal opportunity for all Four - not just the Provost - to show Leadership, Commitment to the issues which affect Nairn, and an understanding of what is important to Nairn. Yet again, Nairnites have been given another example of a reluctance of Ward Members to engage with the community and support what the electorate are proposing for the good of Nairn.
Yours aye
Samantha Bacon

Monday, February 23, 2009


Clear winter days often highlight distant hills that are lost in haze or cloud at other times of the year, I do try to remember as many of their names as I can but often forget.
website provides some handy panoramas one of which is for Nairn. Print out and keep in your back pocket and act with authority as you point out far away mountains and places

£574 per hour

For any bankers looking for a new lucrative career an eagle eyed Gurn contributor has spotted a post on that fine web site Jobs North that offers up to £574 per hour.
It’s not clear if there are any bonuses on top of this salary but a quality required would be to sit very still for long periods and do nothing. If only our bankers had followed this working practice long ago!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nairn 2 Deveronvale 2

After a flaky start Nairn dominated this game for most of the match and the goals by Lewis MacKinnon and Shuan Kerr showed class and confidence. The long lay-off had not harmed the team's abilities at all, infact quite the opposite as Nairn showed the league leaders how to play football. It all melted away to almost nothing however as Deveronvale got two goals in the last few minutes and showed the class and power that had eluded them for most of the game.
Pictures will enlarge and more of them tomorrow.

Cash for questions

Scottish Conservatives (Remember them?) claim to have secured 60 million pounds to help Scottish town centres
Every High street in Scotland could use a bit of TLC so just for once the Conservatives surely have a vote winning policy, I can’t see any town centre turning down a bit of makeover cash ‘No, we look nice enough thank you’.
It’s not clear from the web site as to how the money will be distributed, you are asked to nominate your town centre so it’s maybe just a case of getting enough votes (First past the post?), or the most heart rendering story of rot and decay? Nor is it clear as to how the winning towns can spend it but let’s worry about that when Nairn wins.
There are just over 300 towns in Scotland so if the monies were fairly distributed (Not a Conservative trait) then each town could have just under £200,000 to make their High Streets thriving and pretty once again.
The way councils spend money at the moment a team of consultants would be employed using most of if not all of the hard won cash to tell us as to how to spend it!

MacLean Court another poster and car stickers

Gurnites will be aware that there already is a poster and petition sheet that can be downloaded via the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page. Now a contributor has created another poster in PDF format, available here, and two alternatives of car-sticker sheets that can also be printed off. Here they are, car stickers 1, car stickers 2.

New Information board

New information board by the Seamans Hall. Picture will enlarge.

Council pays consultants £110,000 to help make cuts in workers’ pay

That's enough cash to keep MacLean Court Day Care Centre open for three years. Councillors are also to get a pay rise. The full story can be read over on the Press and Journal.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A forum of free speech

Thanks to the Doc for the link, this forum introduces itself:
'Welcome to the Inverness Forum a Place where Freedom of Speech - Thought And Opinion has its Stand, Feel Free To Talk about whats on your Mind and any Experiences you have had or maybe your looking for a Mutual House Exchange or Local Letting, Well you've found the right place. '
The Inverness Forum see what you think, unlike the publicly open however, you have to register for this forum to see the content.

The Doc's worldwide film project on track!

Doctor Grigor told the Gurn this morning:
The Train starts rolling today ! a member of our website ( in China is doing her filming tonight (Fri) On a train from Xi'an to Bejing, which is great news, other journeys are at this moment being planned, including one in India ! The Doc reckons his wee film project will be some months in the making as there will be lots of editing to be done once he receives his clips from all round the world.

One member in Australia has declared his interest, so Nairn to Australia via the world on a train,talking about film is definitely on track.

Our mentors Tilda and Marc are really excited about my wee project and cant wait to see the finished project.
Anyone that would like to help out the Doc with the nairn filming, please let me know, as we have at least 3 members in Nairn, who would like to do something for it.

The Doc would like to start the film with a little piece about nairn and our festival before boarding the train in nairn for his bit of the film ( the subject of which we have decided should be about a favourate film)

We also looking for a name for this short film, so all suggestions welcome!
Go Gàidhlig Doc, 'Gabhamaid sgrìob gu Inbhir Narann!' - Let's take a trip to Nairn!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another good day for signatures

The MacLean Court Action Group hit the streets today collecting more signatures, others turned up with sheets full of signatures that they had already gathered. Numbers on the petition are rising all the time. Another chance to collect signatures this Saturday - meet 10.30 at Somerfields for another 2 hour session.
The Nairnshire will be carrying a report of the Action Group Meeting and perhaps a picture too, so save up your pennies and see you in the queue at the Co-op at 2030 on Monday night :-)
......Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

More on the Provost's pastime and personal philosophy

Liz, told the Gurn more about her pastime, her personal philosophy and about a forthcoming charity event pictured above:
'The event is to raise money for Crossroads (Nairn), Sponsored by The Macallan Whiskey, and has dancers from across Scotland and America taking part. I've registered event on Homecoming 2009 but not heard back yet if it's been accepted.

My troupe has been going for 3 years, we only dance at community events, family fun days and charity fundraising (we do not go dancing in pubs and clubs). Unfortunately belly dance has an unpleasant stigma attached to it due to peoples preconceived notions or experiences while on holiday. Tribal dancing is about having fun, women supporting each other in a positive atmosphere, being encouraging and developing our dance so it's always evolving and growing as the dancers improve and hone their technique.

Although I enjoy my work life as a Councillor, it can be stressful and at times quite confrontational and Tribal dancing gives me a bit of escapism and it's the best way I've found 'so far' to burn off some steam while hopefully bringing a bit of fun, colour and activity when we perform. I do take my role seriously and always try to represent Nairn and Highlands within the protocols set out with decorum and respect , but I hope I don't have to conform to this 24/7 as I believe I've got as much right as anyone else to let my hair down and enjoy my hobby which is dancing.

I not teaching a regular class at present as I'm focussing solely on the troupe development, but if anyone is interested they could contact me and they'd be very welcome to come along and give it a try.

I believe we should all enjoy and embrace life, not dwell on the past, learn from mistakes and the best way to move is forward (I was never any good at reversing - tee hee)'

Gurn on Sunday comes back to life

Due to popular demand the Gurn on Sunday is once again active and you can go over there right now and get a taste of AyeRight’s Girdle Oatcake recipe.

Gurnites get involved: go to
the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Provost's lifestyle front page

A familar face has made it to the front page of the i-lifestyle mag distributed to over 200,000 readers in the Highlands.
' Founder and teacher of the Tribal Misfits, Liz MacDonald -- who doubles as the Provost of Nairn -- and Linsey MacQueen, an American Tribal dance teacher based in Inverness, are spearheading the Strictly Belly Dance Show. '
For more information about the forthcoming tour and the background to this initiative you can read the i-lifestyle mag on-line here. It's all on page 3.

Did you go to or work at Millbank School

If so Nairn museum want to hear from you, they are working hard to make 2010, the centenary year of the school, a special year of celebrations. More information on the museum site.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meeting with Liz Thursday 10.00 set up Action Group

Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

The Campaign for a single Community Council gathers pace

John Hart has had a letter published in the Nairnshire in which he strongly backs the campaign for a single Community Council for Nairn. His argument is based mainly around planning issues. He urges us all to write to the Highland Council demanding that they review the current community council set-up in Nairn. He states:
'The Council is legally obliged to have regard to such representations from electors, and to review and revise the CC arrangements, if a minimum of 20 local electors "petition" them to make a change.'
Sounds like a very good idea John. For a full read of John's letter and other important material, including Iain Bain's radical solution for Council Tax Reform, raid the piggy-bank for 40p and get yourself to the Nearest newsagents.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Somerfield with us for another 2 years?

Looks like it could take two years for the Co-op to integrate the Somerfield brand. Thanks to one of the regulars for forwarding the article and asking the question, 'Somerfield with us to 2011, where does that leave Nairn?'

Highland Council advertises Independent school

The Gurnmeister has nothing at all against private education but hopes that the Highland Council is receiving payment for the detailed display in the Nairn Library Window today that advertises the Moray Firth School. Good luck to anyone who can afford the annual fees of £6,780 for the Junior School or £7,980 for the Middle School. It is only natural that those with the means might want to seek the best for their children but is it right that this facility is advertised in a public building especially at a time when there have been crisis meetings about the state of Nairn Academy?
At a time when the Highland Council has had to make some drastic cutbacks let's hope that some cash is coming in for this display.
Picture will enlarge.

The Doc on Cash

The Doc reads with interest the plans to withdraw cash(coins) from circulation in the near future, it is to be replaced with a card which allows you to pay for items under £10 e.g. cup of coffee and a newspaper, this technology will also be incorporated in to mobile phones allowing you to "tap and pay" simply tapping you phone on to a terminal in that particular outlet without having to use a pin number (transactions over £10 will require a pin )

I am sure charities that rely on our loose change put in to there boxes in shops etc, will be watching with fear at the prospect, as will our big issue vendors

Sign the MacLean Court petition at 'Bikes and Buggies'

If you haven't had a chance to sign the petition yet then pop into Bikes and Buggies in Leopold Street the next time you are in town.

David Brownless the proprietor told the Gurn in another thread that he would also be taking the petition to the next meeting of Auldearn community councillors. He said, 'Sadly, it's only a meeting of Councillors, rather than a CC meeting but any additional signatures that can be gathered will increase the pressure for common sense to prevail, and, as importantly, increase awareness of the situation. We have a parent council meeting at the school the following week, and I'll make sure we get a few more 'onside' on the evening itself.'

Do you have a copy of the petition in your shop or business? If you have please tell the Gurn and we'll let everyone know.

Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

If you wanted to replace Danny Alexander would you start blogging now?

The Mail on Sunday has an article entitled ‘Cameron and his web of power’, not our Bill but the Tory mannie down in London. It looks as though Cameron thinks he can go a long way to winning the next election by using the new media. ‘His team of advisers are examining how best they can tap into the internet revolution by using blogging sites such as Twitter and Facebook to win over the new generation of IT-savvy voters.’
Cameron has been stirred by the success of the Obama campaign. The Mail states that the President of the United States has an internet army of 3.1 million activists, which he uses to test opinion and perhaps more importantly to raise funds.’
It is a pity the article isn’t online but perhaps it will appear later in the week. Ok Obama has 3 million activists but what could you achieve in this parliamentary constituency if you had, say, 300 active internet followers who were willing to put in a bit of work both on the net and on the doorstep? Is it now possibly more profitable for candidates to have a blog than to be seen at coffee mornings?

Footnote: crazy, my spellchecker wanted to change Obama to Osama!
......Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

Thanks AyeRight that was fun

Here is the less than laudable effort...
Should be doing something sensible really...

Gurnites get involved: go to
the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

Less for more?

As outlined in a previous Gurn report Highland Council are making several budget saving cuts in order to comply with the freeze on council tax.
TEC services are to reduce repairs and maintenance to piers and harbours by 5%, with priority being given to any health and safety issues.
Further to that there will be a 10% increase in harbour dues from the 1st April 2009 for non-commercial vessels.
The hike in dues is way above inflation, and with the cap on improving piers and harbours is a tax on leisure users, which the council has been trying to encourage in recent years with the demise of commercial boats.
With the increasing size of the shingle banks at the harbour mouth many boats will struggle to get out to sea this year, and if funds are only to be used for essential work there is little chance of Highland Council clearing these navigational hazards away.
Will the increased dues mean we will hear less in the way of chinks from Pimms filled glasses by Nairn’s boating fraternity this summer?

AyeRight the artist

We are seeing a steady increase of computer applications being available to use on-line. 
Befunky is a fun piece of software that allows you to manipulate photos or images. It is free to use, just upload your chosen pic and choose a template. You can share your finished piece of work on-line or download to your computer

Another Nairn business closes

Carters the fish and chip shop at the bus station has closed its doors for the last time. However, a sign in the window suggests that a new fast food outlet is taking over the building. Pizza Direct and Plaice and Chips will be the new venture

A Gurn invitation to Sandy, Graham and Laurie

Please feel free to e-mail the Gurn with your thoughts on the MacLean Court issue, we'd be delighted to publish your views.
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

River Community Council round-up

Here’s a Gurn report, slightly late folks but I think you will appreciate that MacLean Court activities have been taking up the Gurnmeister’s time this week.

The River CC meeting was attended by all the regular community councillors and also Convenor Sanday Park, Provost Liz and Sgt Olga Hansan from the Nairn Police station. She gave a run-down on the considerable amount of ongoing activities that the force are engaging in to protect our community and gave us the latest on how the move was going. There are no cells in Nairn at the moment given the move to the Courthouse Lane premises, looks like miscreants will have to find their own way back from Inverness in the morning from now on.

Murd asked Liz if she’d heard anything from the Access Panel with regards to a decision on funding for disabled access to the Firhall Bridge. It seems the Access Panel is still deciding priority. Let’s hope Murd’s project wins support, it would make such a difference to a lot of people if they could enjoy both sides of the river on a round trip instead of having to return and go back the same way

And then some talk of what will happen to the Corsee building, local Highland Council members will be consulted it seems. The meeting was given a reminder that the Balmakeith planning inquiry had been moved to the 16th of June.
There was a gurn or two, supported by Sandy, about the level of paperwork the community councils have to deal with and how the inclusion of licensing applications would add to the burden facing these volunteer groups. The Chair Jean Tolmie did urge the Convenor that it would be helpful to be given the Highland Council Agenda however, something that she hasn’t been getting for a while. Sandy agreed that that would be useful.

There was debate, as usual, of the Somerfield/Co-op town centre plan, ongoing epic, saga, drama, etc, etc. Sandy Park told the meeting that it was the most frustrating issue he had faced for 10 years. Liz too told off her dissatisfaction with the issue. There is also the regular issue of Trunk Roads Department permission raising its ugly head every time this issue is debated. Someone should really get their finger out in that department because it would stop a supermarket rebuild even if anyone wanted to do it.

Speaking of regular chestnuts what would a River CC meeting be without a mention of the Bailey Bridge. Sandy Park, perhaps bravely, asked the council if they thought that perhaps they might receive opposition to allowing traffic to use the bridge once more if money could be found for repairs. He suggested that some people seem to be very happy with the pedestrian environment down there. The Gurnmeister has to admit it is nice not to have to worry about traffic when crossing the road on the way to the beach down there on the caravan site side of the river. The discussion then moved on to potential funding sources.

There were a few other things that the Gurn hasn’t got the time to include folks so head along to the newsagent’s on Tuesday and treat yourself to the usual 40p analogue device to find out more.
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congratulations to AyeRight - he has climbed the Gurn ladder of success

AyeRight is now co-editor and a partner in Gurn enterprises. So impressed was the Gurnmeister with his/her? long-standing level of service, his/her? intellectual abilities and his/her? absurd sense of humour, coupled with his/her? devotion to the Gurn mission statement that he/she? has finally reached the highest office. Below is his/her? first article submitted in his/her own right.
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

AyeRight has a taxing time

Nobody likes paying taxes, all governments tinker with ways of raising tax, mainly to attract the majority of the electorate to vote for their party.

Taxes are never universally fair; depending where you swing from the tree of life there will always be one group or another who will pay more under one government, and less under another.

In Scotland our current SNP government set a
manifesto in 2007 in which they stated they would scrap council tax in favour of a fairer local tax. This hasn’t happened yet, but for the second year running we have seen a freeze on the amount of council tax we pay.

In theory this sounds good, more pounds in our pocket and our local councils having less of our money to fritter away on flowerpots or new road signs.

Through inflation the reality is that our councils have had a cut in monies for two years and have had to decide upon cuts in services in order to meet their new budgets.

The Highland Council revenue
budget reveals their planned spending cuts, all of which have been carried through bar (Thanks to Nairnites efforts) the closure of MacLean Court.

Scrutiny of the budget document reveals that several services currently providing for our more vulnerable citizens are frozen in terms of funding, or are going to be scaled back or closed.

Rather than having a freeze on council tax should the SNP have not allowed an inflation only increase, that way many services could have been saved?

In hindsight of this winter's weather one cutback brings a smile:

‘There has been a decline in the overall level of winter maintenance activity over the past number of years, with an overall reduction in the days of lying snow.

This proposal reduces the budget for winter maintenance, and proposes that where additional resources are required, the Winter Maintenance Emergency Fund (currently around £1.4 million) is used to cover any budget overspend’.

And if we thought our pavements were slippy this year!

Provost Liz with something for the record

Liz wrote what follows as a response to the Fishertoonloon piece but given the topical nature of the subject it really should be an article too.

'Putting the record straight - when the proposal to close McLean Court became definate last Friday I spoke to the Convenor Sandy Park half a dozen times between then and it coming to Highland Council and it is with Sandy's help and intervention that the decision to close was deferred.I will continue to try and make a reasoned case and justification to retain the day care, which I believe is an essential life line for the clients as well providing as respite for their carers. The bottom line in the paper is that it states 'Services to 12 people who have low levels of assessed need would cease' One client asked me 'I hope we wouldn't have to travel out of Nairn, where would they take us to instead?' The sad fact is there is nowhere else! '
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign tool kit page.

AyeRight spots a sneaky plan

‘They may take our lives, but they will never take our oil’
These days the battles between the Scots and the English are mainly confined to the sports field. Due to fears of Scottish devolution
The Times reports that in the 1970s plans were afoot to redraw the boundaries of Scotland’s coastal waters so that it had less claim to its oil. There were even plans to divide Orkney and Shetland from Scotland.
Who knows what Westminster has up its sleeve should Scotland become independent in the near future?
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign toolkit page.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Something for the Doc who turns out to be a bit of a linguist

La pomme la plus haute
Certains croient déjà
Qu'on la parlait dans le jardin
Le premier jardin
Le Paradis
Et que les fleurs la parlent encore

Cette pomme la plus haute
Ce langage d'une nation
Une nation en renaissance

Cette langue parlée seulement
Sur les lèvres d'un pour cent

Mais à côté d'une montagne
Et de tous les bijoux du monde
Ses mots scintillent plus brillants
Chacun, comme une lumière
À travers la belle Écosse

Elle s'accroche par un fil
Son destin est peut-être décidé
Mais aujourd'hui, je peux encore partager
Ses trésors vivants

Écoute sa magie
Viendras-tu sur la piste de danse?

Je l'ai écrit autrefois, mais je dois avouer que c' était avec l'aide d'une amie Québecoise

Mais loin de plus important au jourd'hui citoyens: sauvez les services de MacLean Court!

Fishertown Loon said...

'It would be a great step forward if the "other 3", (if you get my jist) stepped forward and made it along to this meeting with Liz to give their support, or could it be a political step to far, opposed to local electoral plight??Now I know that the gurn is read by the mighty ones, I thought I might try some intimidation....!!
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign toolkit page.

Nairn Spelding on MacLean Court campaign

Well done the Gurn, all gurnites and those who signed the petition. However it's important pressure is maintained and the council don't back-track in March. The comments (published in your blog today) made by the chair at Thursday's meeting however make interesting reading.
Indeed it suggests despite the high salaries these officials are paid they simply hadn't done their homework.
One wonders how many other budget cuts were approved by councillors last week based on incomplete, flawed or dare we suggest inaccurate information.
Nairn Spelding
Editor's note: not to be confused with Spelding

Yes, the campaign continues Nairn Spelding, Liz is setting up an official action group next week, meanwhile please keep gathering signatures everyone.
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign toolkit page.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

AyeRight, last of the great romantics

Usually AyeRight would had ordered a dozen red roses, had a bottle of the finest champagne ready to chill, and have booked a table for two at one of Nairn’s finest eateries.
A huge valentines card would have been hand written by some poor urchin dragged off the street so that AyeRight’s ardour would remain mysterious, and Post Office counter staff would have gasped at the expense of the 1st class postage.
Candle wicks were trimmed, and the dimmer switch checked and made ready for the mood lighting.
A selection of romantic tunes would have been culled from the slightly warping vinyl in the attic, and a reminder to get a new stylus would have been noted.
Sunday best was dusted down and the jacket and troos despatched for a good dry clean if deemed necessary (Usually after ‘that’ stain refused to be shifted with soap and water).
Those were the days but now deep in the economic depression AyeRight has decided to handle Valentine’s Day slightly differently this year.
So positive that the new Valentines gift will be well received AyeRight
is sharing it with you here
Another great freebie from the Gurn
We hope your loved one enjoys!
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign toolkit page.

Tha MacLean Court Campaign - A date for your Diary

Liz is dedicating a large part of her next surgery to all worried about the various aspects of the plans for the day care centre. She wants to see everyone in the Provost's room at the Courthouse next Thursday 19th at 10.00 a.m.
If you are involved in this issue this will be a good chance for a wee get-together with the Provost.
Gurnites get involved: go to the MacLean Court campaign toolkit page.

Maclean Court decision deferred but the fight goes on!

A decision on the proposed closure of MacLean Court has been deferred until the 11th March . But the campaign continues, please print off a few more petition sheets and keep going. 861 signatures after 4 days of campaigning now and Liz has said ' We've got a month now to get every signature in Nairn!'
Please stay tuned to the Gurn and the Nairnshire for details of meetings etc related to this subject.

Now here's the official speil read out by the chair of Social Work at Glenurquart Road today.

'Additional and new information regarding difficulties at MacLean Court has been bought to my attention.

The budget line is about service improvement.

I am advised the we cannot deliver personal care to the frailer service users in the existing building.

In consultation with the Chair I am now advised that we will bring back a full report to the next Housing and Social Work Committee on 11 March 2009 which will provide information on how we can maintain, or improve, the current level of service to the people in Nairn.

If we are not content with the assurances given in the report we will then look far savings elsewhere in the Social Work budget.'

The 861 that have signed the petition and those that wrote letters and e-mails have already influenced the Highland Council. Together we can go the whole way and save the Day Care Centre! Keep going folks we can win! Nairn is a caring community and we want to keep it that way!

How can you help? Any campaigning suggestions? Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.

Doggie doo-doo still an issue

Everyday teams of Gurn reporters are scouring Nairn for interesting news and pictures. Thanks to one of our regulars we have evidence that the official anti-poo signs on this lamppost in Harbour Street are having little or no effect and that someone has made a supplementary effort in the hope of achieving more success.

Tha e a' cur sneachd a-rithist - It's placing/putting snow again (as they say in the other language)

Anyone interested in learning a bit of the other language? Please contact the Gurn.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thanks from the Provost for your work on Maclean Court petition

Liz reports over 800 signatures, 21 letters, numerous e-mails and the support of both community councils. Signatures are still being collected out there and Liz thanks everyone for their support so far.
Let's hope for the right decision tomorrow.

Nairn's community councils: the options

The Gurn didn't arrive in time to catch all discussion on this issue at last night's River Community Council meeting but it seems there now exists the possibility that there may soon be an initiative to revive the Nairn West Community Council. Up until now it had seemed that the future held three possibilities.
1) Status Quo - two councils and no representation for the West area
2) West gets divided between Suburban and River
3) The Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council comes into being
Now we may soon have option 4) The return to three Community Councils.
The Gurn is a great fan of option 3 and reckons that is what most folk would opt for but if there is a call to restart the West CC then obviously the authorities would have to consider it. The Gurn would say however that this is a good time for fans of a single community council for the town of Nairn to raise their heads above the parapet. The unscientific poll over on the Gurn on Sunday indicates that there may be massive support for the proposal but of course we may be wrong.
More news views and analysis on last nights River CC meeting later today - Breaking news, Highland Council Convener Sandy Park was in attendance last night.

Nairnshire's sleeping beauty website finally stirs

The Gurn had heard that a rescue mission was under way and it seems there has been a wee touch of activity. The Events calendar says 'coming soon' and no longer gives you details of events in April 2007. The community matters page has been updated too. So far so good!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

MacLean Court petition

UPDATE: IMPORTANT: One more signature session for the petition tomorrow (Weds) outside the Courthouse 10-12 a.m. maybe longer if enough Gurnites are willing to help. Drop by if you're down town. (weather permitting of course)
Signatures are being collected elsewhere too up until 1500 tomorrow when they have to be left for Liz at the Courthouse service point. If you want to help there is still time, see below in this article for information on how to print off sheets etc.
Keep going folks and well done Billy for gathering another 80 signatures this morning.

Ayeright on Gurn motoring

All of the Gurn team drive around in bright new shiny limos and are very happy to lose packets of money each year when they trade in last years model for a new plate. There’s nothing quite like the smell of new leather as the bank notes are pulled from your wallet to pay for your new wheels.
But the government is considering following the example of other European countries in the form
of a ‘scrap’ payment on vehicles that are over nine years old.
In Germany this can amount to £2,200 and has greatly helped the ailing car industry, as drivers are tempted to trade in older cars for newer models.
With the current economic depression the Gurn can see that this could be applied to many consumer sectors to boost sales of new goods.
Rather than pay Highland Council £15 to collect your old fridge the government could pay you £30 to trade it in for a new one, this would cut out Highland Council as the middle man.
The possibilities are endless and would indeed get the economy on a roll again.
Maybe we could get a trade in for Nairn?

You couldn't come to the ball

We are sure it will be of no surprise to readers of that fine Inverness broadsheet The Inverness Courier, to find that the paper been awarded a prestigious Newspaper of the Year award at the Highland and Islands Media awards.
The award ceremony took place last Saturday at Nairn’s Newton hotel, with first minister Alex Salmond handing out the cash.
The Press Ball is always well supported by Highland media folk, the event raising welcome funds for charity with a great night being had by all.
The seasonally chill weather seemed to keep many participants inside the hotel on the Sunday morning; historically a bracing walk along the bankie is the order of the day in order to blow the remnants of the previous nights ‘small sherry’ out of the editorial systems.
It will be of no surprise to regular Gurn readers to hear that the esteemed blog was not nominated for any of the awards this year. This is of great relief to Gurn staff as all have two left feet when it comes to dancing, and a definite allergy to sherry

The Doc and plans for his train journey

The Doc is happy to report that my idea of a train journey through film of diff countries wasn't so mad after all !, already i have members of our site as far away as Australia , willing to take part in the docs wee film documentary, filmed by that particular member aboard a train in there own country with views of outside the windows and them talking about film in there particular country, so far we have Scotland , England, Italy, Canada, Australia on-board (sorry)
One person will do there piece on a miniature railway and the person in Australia will catch a train that only comes through there way once every 4 days , one member in China is going to be doing a train journey from Xi'an to Bejing and will do her piece on that train for us !
I think this might turn out to be a world first if it all comes together and it all came to me in a dream !! " Long live the state of cinema "

The way the doc sees the pieces of film merging together is that each shot ends with a shot of what is the scenery outside the moving train and then cuts in to the scenery of the next country and that person does there little clip about film of there particular country and then pans to the scenery outside and so on,, The journey will begin in Nairn (home of the festival) with me entering the train doing my little piece and then cutting to diff countries and the journey ending up with our Australian friend on his train journey in the outback! What a project, but if it comes of then what a wonderful little piece of film that would be, made with worldwide effort !

-11C last night?

That's what the Gurnmeister's ageing ropey thermometer believes was the score last night. Any other offers?

Apparently it was often cold at the beginning of the last century but we've got a long way to go before Niagra falls becomes a walk-on tourist attraction again. Thanks to Murd for forwarding the pictures.

Planning Department fails to inspire confidence to say the least

Late yesterday afternoon the Gurn received the following comment on a related matter:

'Readers of your Blog might like to note that the Advert giving 21 days to inspect the plans etc and make representation was wrongly worded by Planning (It gave the address where plans could be inspected as Golspie). Therefore a new notice has to be inserted by Planning. This gives extra time and also gives us an insight into why the Council are overspending and trying to save some money at Maclean Court(They will have the cost of 2 adverts instead of one )Mind you if they worked in a bank they would probably see that as grounds for a bonus.'

Sure enough Gurnites, a new ad appears today in the Nairnshire with a little footnote:
The Highland Council would like to apologise for the incorrect office address which was published on last week's advert....'
Hardly inspiring is it? If they can't even get the ad right what hope is there?

A touch of fantasy hits AyeRight?

MacLean Court issue goes global?
An intrepid Gurn reporter discovered yesterday that the Gurn is read by folk in high places. Councillors Sandy Park and Graham Marsden are confessed Gurn readers, and our Provost Liz MacDonald is now both a fan and a contributor.
The P&J continues to highlight Highland Councils folly with a story that the installation of the returned Three Graces statues in
Inverness could have amounted to £355,000.
What would we rather have folks, some forgotten stookies restored or day-care for our elderly citizens?
AyeRight has been sent a photo of support for saving MacLean Court. It seems readership of the Gurn has gone across the pond and allegedly is being read by someone in the highest office on their favourite mobile device.
‘Can’t prise the Gurn out of his hands’ is the quote given by a close aid.

Statues or people - Stark choices

At least someone else besides Liz on HC is thinking about the day centre :
The Highland Council have decided on a £5,000 option for a statue instead of the £350,000 choice.
'Aird and Loch Ness councillor Drew Hendry celebrated the Ness Bank choice, putting the £350,000 estimate into context by pointing out that one-tenth of the amount would rescue Nairn’s McLean Court day centre from the council’s budget cuts.' More in the Press and Journal.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Provost Liz on the MacLean Court issue

Also see the articles below, here and here for details of how to help and more information on the issue.
'Provost Liz said...
I'd like to thank the Gurn for helping organise the petition to save McLean Court day care service. There is no similar alternative provision in Nairn at present, the attendee's are too frail for the lunch club and too able for the Manor (which cares for people with high dependancy needs).McLean Court provides an excellent service valued by attenders, families and the people of Nairn and should be retained.A proposed budget cut of £35K which enables this service is unacceptable and I shall be moving against it at the Highland Council meeting on 12th February.

RegardsProvost Liz

p.s. my first blog ever, because I feel so strongly about this issue '

UPDATE: successful petition session outside the Courthouse today 10-12 a.m. Several Gurnites turned up to help including Doc Grigor, in the picture below we keep his face hidden to preserve his anonymity (anonymity that all contributors to the Gurn are guaranteed if they wish it) . Provost Liz turned up too and helped encourage members of the public to sign the petition. Sandy Park, Graham Marsden and Larry Fraser emerged from the Courthouse towards the end of the petition session, none of them signed the petition but perhaps they have already done so elsewhere? Sandy Park stated that he was a Gurn reader, Graham too said that he had recently discovered the Gurn's existence. Will Graham change his mind and try to get the Lib Dem group to support the day centre? Can Sandy move mountains? We'll have to wait and see. Many folk stopped to say that they had already signed the petition in their churches or at coffee mornings etc, a few said they were still collecting signatures themselves.

It is quite obvious that outrage is building up in the community, several people mentioned a Press and journal article that states: 'Figures obtained by the Press and Journal under freedom of information laws show Highland Council spent £27million on consultants between 2004 and last year...' The Gurn has done a wee sum and believes that that money would have kept the day centre open for 771 years given that Highland Council thinks it can save £35,000 per year from this savage cut.
Please get involved - all the information in the articles below.

AyeRight with more food for cuts - sorry thought

'No one likes paying taxes but is Highland Council wise in voting to freeze Council Tax this year , the recession has seen income to the council fall so surely it needs more money not less? The council is deleting 110 posts but is this enough?
Due to the economic climate many folk in the Highlands have lost their jobs, or maybe will this year making it more difficult for them to meet even existing council tax payments.
We have to ask what level of service we want from the council and as taxpayers do we welcome the proposed freeze or would we be prepared to pay more?'
Don't know if you'll get many votes with that one AyeRight but don't the Scottish Government have some say in this 'no rise' business? Another interesting opinon from a well placed HC source tells us of proposed cuts in the winter maintenance. Will freezing dangerous pavements become the default position?
'Budget cut (or as they like to put it 'savings measure') cutting winter maintenance in 2009/10 by £348K and 2010/11 by £116K.
There is no way services can be improved and will very likely suffer severely due to these massive cuts in essential front line services.'
The future is bleak if you like to go past your garden gate in winter.

AyeRight on the Tescopoly

Much as the majority of Nairnites are crying out for an alternative Nairn based retail food outlet, would we really welcome a Tescos?
The web site
Tescopoly outlines the negatives of the company, but in reality is Tescos any better or worse than any of our major supermarkets?
Is this what Nairn really wants?
‘From a nation of shopkeepers to Clone Town Britain?
'The UK's biggest supermarkets are grappling for ever greater market share. Small independent stores and suppliers, and ultimately consumers, are paying a direct price in the face of unfair competition. In the five years to 2002, 50 specialist stores including butchers, bakers, fishmongers and newsagents closed every week. In May 2005 the IGD revealed the loss of 2,157 unaffiliated independent convenience retailers, compared to only 1,079 the year before.’'

Snow you know

AyeRight topical information service up and on-line now:

As the white stuff keeps tumbling out of the sky the Met Office offers some snow education
'How does snow form?
Snow crystals form in clouds when the temperature is below freezing. They are made by water droplets freezing onto ice particles. As an ice crystal falls through the cloud it bumps into others and becomes a snowflake. This processing of bumping into others, along with some melting and re-freezing helps to form their complex design. The air that the snowflake falls through has to be below freezing otherwise the snowflake will melt and turn to rain.’

Friday, February 06, 2009


Three things you can do:
1) Print off a copy of the petition
2) Print off a poster and display it
3) e-mail everyone you know to get their help and then e-mail our councillors, don't' bother with Liz she is organising the campaign, then tell everyone else you know about this issue.
If you don't know what this is all about please read this post below.
UPDATE: Please get all petition sheets to the service point at th Courthouse for Liz to pick up by 1500 on Wednesday. Liz can be contacted for further information via her webpage on the Highland Council site. You can contact Councillors, Laurie Fraser, Graham Marsden or Sandy Park via this list of councillors.
UPDATE 11,00 am 07/02/09: The Gurnmeister intends to hit the street with a few petition sheets (weather permitting) on Monday morning. Want to join in? Print a few off and meet outside the courthouse at 1000 am. E-mail the Gurn if you have any other petition efforts planned. The Gurn also hears that Jean Tolmie, chair of RCC is mustering her troops too. Any of our other councillors doing anything? Please let the Gurn know.
Regulars please note: for a while any new posts will appear below this and the previous one connected with this shameful scandal.
On other matters, posted a link to a new Nairn blog.
And potential for 'Milk riots' in Nairn?

Highland council closure threats harming eldery members of our community!

Shame on you Sandy Park - You have the power to stop this - Will you act or stay silent?
'A blind 89-year-old widow is heartbroken that the day-centre which has become her social lifeline is being shut down as part of budget cuts by Highland Council.
Forres-born Mary Lewis, a former nurse, said yesterday that she and others using the McLean Court facility in Nairn’s Albert Street were shocked by the council’s decision.
She was intrigued to know how those making the decision would feel if their parents faced the same plight.'
More information on the Press and Journal site.
Gurnites, we must protect the vulnerable in our society. Kick out the well-paid suits not the elderly from their day-centre. This shocking closure will only save the council £35,000. Get rid of the three Convenors instead and how much would we save?
It is time to get involved citizens - enough is enough. Our community is under attack.

Traigh Inbhir Narann aig dol fodha na grèine - Nairn beach at sunset

Perhaps we should just keep Nairn beach a secret? Picture will enlarge.

"A train Journey through film "

The Doc has put an idea forward to members of the cinema of dreams website, in there own particular countries of plans to make a short film, in what could be described as a worldwide effort. Here's the Doc's thoughts:
'The more i think about my wee idea of our train journey through film, the more it grows on me, I start of on a train in the highlands of scotland (just a quick 20 min journey) talk about films and film making in Scotland, edit it to around 5 minutes and then the next member in there country does a simular thing, jump on a quick train journey talk about film in there country including shots of outside the window and so on through europe,usa,China Australia and so on, yes it sounds a big project coz it is a worldwide effort, but if everyone is responsible for there own little piece of film and sends it on to me i could get it edited, you could use whatever media is avaiable to you, even cell phone clips would be acceptable if a camcorder is not avaiable, this by no means have to be in any way a professional affair ,Rough and ready just like the festival spirit ! why do you ask a train ? I think it makes the film have a theme to connect each piece together, and compliments a journey of film and a chance to see bits of that country through the window... you often find thats where you find the interesting sights of countrys is through a train window AM I MAD ? or could it be the next you tube sensation !!! or infact oscar worthy !!! '

Hugh McBean 1st class carer

Hughie and Mandy's hard work for others in the community has been recognised by a national paper. This week Hugh has been nominated for the Children’s Champions Award for his efforts in helping vulnerable children and their families.
'SELFLESS postman Hugh McBean knows all about handling with care.
For the first-class mailman provides invaluable respite care for families of vulnerable youngsters.
Hugh, along with wife Mandy, draws on the strength and experience gained caring for their own terminally-ill daughter Anastasia. '

Gurnomonics – or, yes we have no milk today? A Coopnopoly beckons

A sign of things to come under the potential coopnopoly in Nairn? No milk on the shelves, too much snow this time but it could have been some other problem that stopped another vital foodstuff reaching Nairn. Somerfields still has its own supply but imagine if the Coop moves over the road and installs itself in that building or a new one that a passing extra terrestrial vessel might kindly beam down for us. Then with the Coop supplying Morning, Noon and Night and the Tradespark store too there would have been quite a shortage. Milk riots in Nairn?
The supreme irony of it all is that while the Coop shelves are bare of milk tonight there is enough milk up the road in the creamery to probably fill every bath in Nairn. And a workforce that from time to time has reason to worry about the future. Proof that supermarkets should be forced to source more goods locally? Let’s hope the future Sainsbury’s will be happy to have some supplies barrowed across the road. It is so silly that we don’t have more of a chance to buy the milk that is produced locally and thus help some of our friends’ and neighbours’ employment prospects. 
Nairn milk for Nairn shops?
Thanks to Nairn Spelding for the mmmm, yes heads up, is what they say these days. Nairn Spelding is not to be confused with Spelding.