Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Counting your chickens

An article in today’s Press and Journal highlights the fact that Highland Council has been sourcing cooked chicken for school kitchens from Brazil.
In a month that has seen funding ending for
Highlands & Islands Local Food Network is it not time that we fully supported local businesses?
Neighbouring Moray Council manage to source their meat locally, what a shame that our own council can’t follow their example and support local food producers.

Brae Start

Highland Council have today published full details of the work involved in the first stage of the ‘Streetscaping’ of the Brae. Details of the proposed work have already been posted in the Gurn, and drawn several comments
Today’s Nairshire Telegraph also carries an article with comments from some shopkeepers who’s businesses will be affected, unsurprisingly none are very happy about the work which is now starting at the beginning of the tourist season, especially those that rely on passing trade. It seems a late tender notice is the reason for the delay in the work starting. A meeting is scheduled for businesses tomorrow in the Courthouse.
The whole project has been one of controversy from the very beginning with many Nairnites not very happy about the proposed makeover.
It would no-doubt make just too much sense for stage one of the project to be postponed further and joined to the second stage of the Streetscape which is pencilled in for the autumn of this year, or do we think our tourists will really enjoy the ensuing disruption to the town?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not a gull in sight

As reported in the Gurn, seagulls are making it impossible for staff and pupils at Millbank School to eat outside.
The story has been picked up by the BBC’s
CBBC channel who sent a reporter to investigate the problem.
Hardly a seagull in sight for the whole report, maybe with the lack of food in the playground they have moved elsewhere?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hansard extract Asbestos (schools) debate 25.03.09

This is part of the speech by Paul Rowen the Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale in the debate held on the 25.03.09 in Westminster:
'Asbestos has no respect for status, position or job occupation. There are no safe limits; one fibre can be enough to cause asbestosis or mesothelioma. We know that the numbers of people dying of asbestos-related diseases are steadily rising each year. Currently, approximately 3,000 people die each year, with the peak expected over the next 10 to 20 years. Asbestos-related diseases have a long provenance. Typically, it can take 30 to 60 years before an exposure leads to a person developing the disease. That leads to difficulties in apportioning responsibility and problems in getting compensation. Many hon. Members have campaigned for better support for the victims of asbestos, including those who have worked in schools.

Asbestos is present in a large number of our schools that were built or modified between the 1940s and 1985, when its use was banned. It was mainly used as thermal insulation in boilers, in insulation boards used for fire protection, for acoustic purposes on ceilings, ducts, partitions and service shafts, and on steelwork for fire protection purposes.'
Yes education is dealt with seperately in Scotland but the issue remains the same. You can read the rest of the debate here on Hansard.

High Tide




End of Nairn pier

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Letter to the Gurn from Joe Telfer - '...and some that have got me irate yet again!'

Dear Gurn,

The Gurn has been on the ball this week covering many subjects, and some that have got me irate yet again !I will comment under this subject but will touch on others as they are related.
Last year you may recall that there was a serious pollution incident just as the swan was entering the harbour for the first time with the cygnets. Thanks to myself and Robert the skipper of Osprey, a tragedy was narrowly averted.I said then that accidents do happen and that it would be a good idea to have a few knapsack sprayers with detergent ready and waiting to deal with any future oil spills.
I was assured by highland regions head of harbours that the Nairn harbour master had all the equipment needed to deal with any pollution incident, and it was at his discretion as to how to deal with any incident.It is obvious that the response yet again is insufficient to deal with the latest incident.The female Swan (pen) is laying right at the moment and is busy picking algae, grass shoots, and shell silt, minerals etc, to produce her eggs. Some of this she gets from the harbour walls pontoons and harbour base. Today she is subject to contamination thanks to the insufficient harbour authority response!
This leads me to the next related subject regarding mechanised response to the shingle beds in the river estuary. I have to ask what is the wisdom of removing perfectly sound shingle beds located at either sides of the navigation channel ?I have a feeling that this is a King Canute exercise with no real thought or understanding of the dynamics of river and tides effects?The channel was in fact being naturally created and carved by the river and the shingle on either side acting as virtual extensions of the piers, resulting in a deeper and straighter channel than would otherwise have been there.Now the sea will no doubt flatten out the channel and make it shift yet again !
This leads me to yet another related subject highlighted in the gurn this last week, that of Nairns place in the world of tourism. Much was said about visitnairn and the positive contribution of Iain Fairweather's strategy plan to boost Nairn as a tourist resort. It is common knowledge that harbours piers and rivers are magnets for tourists. I have witnessed many coachloads of naturalists and birdwatchers trotting down to the end of the piers to witness and photograph the myriad of seabirds which had established themselves on the new shingle islands . Canada geese , brent geese, oyster catchers, turnstones, Knots, ducks, mergansers and goosanders, many species of gulls also used the place to feed and roost.It is ironic that Nairn is desperate for attractions to entertain the tourists, yet when nature provides this at no cost to the public purse, then a few machines move in and destroy the very thing that is needed! I rest my case, but will keep a weather eye as always on those that would harm the wildlife and environment either by accident or design!If the gurn will allow I enclose a photo of birds that used to enjoyed the new shingle islands

Yours etc,
Joe Telfer

Editor's note: due to previous controversy comments are closed on this thread. The Gurn does however welcome any responses on the issues raised by Joe Telfer but they will also have to be in the form of a letter with contact details (that will not be published) to enable the Gurnmeister to confirm your identity. Anonymity can still be available however.

Nairn 0 Fraserburgh 2

Fraserburgh took their chances, Nairn didn't do so well but hit the woodwork twice and despite often finding their way through the nervous Fraserburgh defence the home side went down to the opposition.

More pictures now available on the Gurn flickr pages.

A strong whiff of Diesel: update

The Gurn has now learned that the pollution came from a motor-boat moored on the slipway and was as a direct or indirect result of the recent gales moving the vessel. Anyway the cause of the pollution is academic now as throughout the morning one of the swans has been going about its business in a harbour that is still contaminated with diesel. Let's hope the concentration of the fuel is not high enough to harm the bird. The boom is obviously totally inadequate and the pollution from the slipway area (harmful/or not) is still escaping into the harbour.
Nairn has an active harbour and unfortunately accidents can and will happen but the question for the authorities is could this pollution incident have been prevented? In the meantime, how much longer will the smell of diesel hang over the harbour, can the authorities do more to prevent possible harm to wildlife?
The futility of the anti-pollution boom presently in the harbour can be seen in this picture.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nairn Academy to lose five teachers

Highland Council plan to axe 40 teachers, 5 of them in Nairn. Thanks to Nairnlass for pointing this story out to the Gurn. The Press and Journal have written an article about the latest stushie along at Glen Urquart Road.

An Academy pupil speaks out

Dear "Gurn"
I am a fifth year pupil in Nairn Academy and only discovered your site several minutes ago. I thought many of the posts were very interesting but on reading the Fast Food post I was quite angry and in response to this would like to make a few points of my own:
Firstly, it is wrong to say that "burger vans sit outside the school". I will openly admit that one is an ice cream van which sells crisps, chocolates and sweets etc, but the other van is a mexican food van which sells mainly healthy, vegetable based dishes. Being a regular customer myself, I can quite confidently say that the healthier food sold from this van is additive free and is extremely popular with the pupils. Quite frankly, the reason that less and less people are buying food from the school canteen is because it is simply not enjoyable. For example, I consider myself to be a rather open minded food eater, but even I stopped buying food from the canteen in second year! Also, to say that the school is implementing a healthy eating plan would not be strictly correct. While admittedly healthier drinks options have been introduced such as fruit smoothies, greasy flapjacks, cookies and muffins are still regularly sold in the vending machines. So to say that both vans outside are unhealthy alternatives enticing the school pupils away from what they should be eating is a criticism that needs to be re-evaluated.
Secondly, I was shocked to learn that there is such animosity against the pupils for their litter dropping. The owners of the vans outside the school are only there on the condition that they pick up their rubbish, so the majority of the blame cannot be placed upon these people. Yes, I can definitely say that there are pupils in the school that repeatedly drop litter, but these pupils are in the minority when compared to the numbers of pupils who actually utilise the many bins provided for them. If blame must be placed, then it should be upon those select individuals who are dropping the litter, and not aimed at all eight hundred of the schools students.
Yours sincerely,
A 5th Year Pupil,
Nairn Academy

A hazard to shipping no more?


Over the winter a massive sand bank has built up close to the west pier at the mouth of the River Nairn. The sand bank was five to six feet high in places and topped with pebbles of various sizes. Tonight at low tide heavy machinery was in action trying to spread the material over a wider are of beach in an effort to remove what had become a potential hazard to users of Nairn harbour.
Pictures will enlarge.

A strong whiff of diesel in the air


Word on the street is that there was some sort of diesel spill in the slipway area down at the harbour yesterday. Towards late afternoon the Gurnmeister witnessed a large amount of activity in that area, obviously Highland Council had committed a lot of resources to the clean up effort and an oil boom was in place.
The above pictures are from this evening, the boom is still in situ but traces of diesel are easily getting past the boom. As we know from a previous incident however, a little diesel can look like a lot and hopefully with the river in spate and the wind blowing strongly what is still left will soon dissipate and no harm will come to the local wildlife.
Pictures will enlarge.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another March, another millennium

The Second World War recedes further and further into history and soon the 65th anniversary of the Normandy Landings will be commemorated: commemorated along with controversy that not enough was done by the public purse to help the veterans themselves attend in person.

'Whilst I don’t disagree with such Services I’m not sure that persons wishing to attend should receive help towards their expenses. I’d say there are veterans of the landings in Sicily; Anzio; Salerno and the South of France who would like to know that if similar Services were held they could get some financial help to attend.' Comment from our correspondent Hamish.

With all our perceived troubles in this credit crunched world of 2009 do we do enough to acknowledge the debt we owe to those that fought against fascism and quite literally saved the world from darkness? We are free to gurn about almost anything but the freedom that we enjoy to do so is only there thanks to the sacrifice of others. We can criticise politicians and leaders in public without fear of retribution and the knock on the door from the secret police. We owe these freedoms to those that fought in a conflict that suddenly seems to have happened so long ago.



Recently the brother of our regular contributor Hamish Dunbar gave the Gurn a collection of documents detailing a little of Hamish’s war service in the Royal Navy. We’d like to present the details of the month of March 1944 from a diary kept by one of Hamish’s comrades aboard HMS Tumult. Another March in another age as experienced by a young Nairn loon.

March 1944

7th For the next week anti-submarine patrols are carried out with Tuscan, Exmoor, Brecon, Blankney, Qunatock and Brocklesby. One U-boat was intercepted and sunk. Forty-two survivors were picked up.

14th. Given “a day off” to visit Capri.

15th Returned to Naples and left with Laforey, Tuscan, Miaules and Brecon on anti-submarine patrol.

16th U.S. ships Eberle and Madison joined patrol

22nd returned to Naples. Mount Vesuvius erupted. Apparently the most violent eruption in one hundred years.

23rd Vesuvius still erupting. Most spectacular at night.

25th Wind veered, we are covered with lava dust from Vesuvius. Left for Capri.

26th Some of the ship’s company involved in a fracas with U.S. sailors on shore.

27th Finished cleaning lava dust and left for an anti-submarine sweep with Laforey and Ulster.

29th At 0437hrs Ulster reported a submarine’s contact which we confirmed and depth charge attacks made. HM ships Wilton Blencathra, Hambedon together with U.S. patrol craft joined the hunt. Ulster ordered to Palermo to take on more depth-charges.

30th Shortly before 0100 the submarine surfaced and we made contact on a dead-ahead bearing. We engaged with our for’ard guns and closed range. At 0100 torpedoes from the U-boat struck Laforery amidships port side and she sunk soon afterwards. The submarine was now illuminated by star-shell and was seen to be hit frequently by gun-fire.
She finally sunk by the stern at 0110 hrs.

We commence to look for survivors. Six officers and seventy ratings from Laforey together with twenty-seven of the U-boat’s crew were picked up.
HMS Tumult with Mount Vesuvius in the background





There's a lot of new stuff over there.

Bexley 98's pictures of Nairn

Over on the Gurn on Sunday there is a feed of the latest pictures with a Nairn connection that have been posted on Flickr. Here are some quite remarkable ones.

Here is the larger version of Bexley's slideshow.

Sainsbury’s still positive

Sainsbury’s have posted strong trading results today with sales higher than expected for the last quarter. In an article in today’s Scotsman the planned new store in Nairn is mentioned, Sainsbury’s first in the Highlands. Aside from the new stores in Scotland the company is also expecting to create 200 new jobs.
A new supermarket in Nairn has been knocked back so many times, but this appears to be further good news for those in favour of the store.

More on Visit Scotland's failure to mention Nairn


As mentioned in the previous article Visit Scotland apologised last night for missing Nairn out of the Freedom of the Highlands 09 accomodation guide. Not only did they miss Nairn out however, they put in the details for Inverness twice. Once above the picture of Nairn beach and also on the opposing page. We do rate a small sentence on the initial description of the section Inverness, Nairn and Loch Ness but apart from that anyone reading this brochure would have extreme difficulty discovering further information. Proof, if more were needed, that Nairn really has to stand up on its own two feet and fight for itself. We can't rely on anyone else to do it for us, even to do the simple task of proof reading a major glossy brochure to see that we appear in it as is our right. What a miserable failure by visit Scotland. You can get a copy of this brochure yourself from Nairn Library. Pages 62 and 63 are where we should be mentioned but instead is where Inverness comes out of it rather well.

The pages where the mistake was made.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Standing room only in the Courthouse

One of the council officials estimated 40 members of the public present tonight. Local democracy seems to be firing into life again citizens. Yes it was all about Tourism and the Provost opened the meeting by asking the regional director of Visit Scotland to say a few words, and he did, the sort of thing you would expect from a public official really, the normal ward meeting fare. The same from an official from Highland Council that had responsibility for tourism and then someone from HIE too said what she was paid to do. It was Iain Fairweather and Brian Stewart that everyone was there to listen to however. Once the pair of them started they dominated the meeting, after all it was they that had literally set the agenda and the others around the table from various officialdoms or other were making nice noises towards them. An early success was reported in that an extra 10,000 copies of the the Nairn Leisure Guide will be printed this year and then it was into the business of the strategy document.
Iain Fairweather stressed that it was not he in isolation that was behind the document but that visit Nairn was a membership organisation. He introduced Brian Stewart who was the main author of the paper and stated that if the document had been compiled by external consultants it would have cost between four and five thousand pounds. He stated that the exercise had been to provoke people and it seemed to have done that if the turnout was anything to go by.
Brian Stewart made an eloquent articulate speech about the challenge facing tourism in Nairn, he believed that tourism should be mainstream in the thinking of planners and others. He thought that every future proposal should be considered on the basis of whether it will make Nairn a more attractive and appealing place. He told us that we have to get away from the approach that we must look to others to do things, our challenge was to devise the right framework. There was applause for Brian when he finished.
The Provost then threw the meeting open to the public. It emerged from Dan Farrell that the Tourist Information Centre will soon be opening in the Community Centre the only hold up now seemed to be the sighting of the sings and obtaining the relevant permission from Transport Scotland.

John Oliver spoke of former efforts to make the most of the Charlie Chaplin connection with Nairn, an initiative he thought had basically failed. His intervention provoked a reaction from Laurie Fraser who seemed willing to take him to task on the matter. Sandy Park stepped in however to say that themed ideas were a good way forward. An old chestnut surfaced when a lady from the public benches criticised the lack of wet weather facilities in the town, she said that there was nothing to do in wet weather. She said to laughter that Woolies had been a good wet weather venue in the town but even that had gone.
Another old gurn surfaced from David Brownlees with the question where was Nairn? David also articulated the fact that we seem to be listed as Morayshire on many postal lists. Some discussion followed with a call to fight for the Nairnshire identity instead of the existing addresses of Morayshire and Highland that seem to be on most letters that come through our letterboxes. Brian of mynairn.com spoke of the unique Nairn product that was a selling point. One of the craft shop wifies told the meeting how so many people didn’t seem to know that Nairn had a beach, even some ladies from Inverness seemed to be ignorant of the fact. She was angry that Nairn seemed to be turning into a commuter town for Inverness.
The representative from visitscotland made a grovelling apology for missing out Nairn from an important brochure and said that they would be doing additional marketing to make up for it.
Back to the public comments and the statement that the first impression of Nairn was the derelict buildings along the A96 and that it was time for the town planners and the elected councillors to get their act together.
Sandy Park thought it was all a breath of fresh air and he told the meeting he wanted to harness the enthusiasm and would like to speak further with those present. He instructed Louise Clark to collect everyone’s details and e-mail address. There was an exchange between Samantha Bacon and John Oliver over the £60 million available to town centres in Scotland. Sandy and Liz assured the meeting that they were on the case and chasing the money.
There were of course many other comments and a genuine willingness to take things forward. Visit Nairn are up and running and recruiting new members, they are welcoming all that have an interest in tourism. The Gurnmeister just wonders if they will be able to work effectively with officialdom in Nairn over the future months and years. A marriage between the civil servants, that is to say the paid professionals that earn their living regardless of the success or failure of their initiatives and those who simply must succeed in the competitive world of tourism. Interesting times ahead.
Good luck to Visit Nairn from the Gurn.

PS, if you were there and think I've missed important details out please fill in the blanks.

All Fishertown loon ever really wanted comes true! Well nearly, but not in the Fishertown yet.

Recently Fishertown loon had a wee gurn about those gurning about litter. The public spirited Gurnite took us all to task he said in another thread:

'Instead of expecting others (The Council) to clean up after us why can we not take on the responsibility for ourselves (saving money all round)Have a campaign or area working groups doing something about the problem, even if it only to encourage some respect for our town again.Asking our kids/family members to do something positive (like cleaning up after themselves)no matter how small the contribution its better than spending the time on here "gurning" about the issue and expecting the man from the council "who I pay my council tax for to do the job for me".It's our town - not just the Council's - getting rid of 4 councillors or even all of the Highland Councillors won't stop any of the problems continuing!"It is our problem we make the mess""Go on I dare you all" start area community groups - get involved -2hrs a week - make a difference to where you live - make it our problem too..!What the hell - now't else is working other than the gurning..!I will gladly give up two hours a week I spend on the PC and do my bit if anyone else will, beats "gurning" and it's healthyWant to join me...!'
Well last night the value for money Suburban Community Council announced that a spring clean-up of their area starting on the 25th of April and then continuing the following week in various locations after the initial clean-up of the Tradespark Wood. Equipment will be provided and young people are being encouraged to take part. A member of the public stated that this could be a model for a future Royal Burgh Community Council to take up throughout the town. Another example of the citizens doing it for themselves.

Help our Conservatives dot con

As has been noted in the Gurn, the Conservatives have recognised and embraced the web unlike some political parties.
They have a
campaign website with issues which I would think everyone to a degree would support no matter what their political persuasion. The Tories have chosen subjects to support that very few will disapprove of. ‘Save the great British pub, support our small shops, save your local GP’, the list goes on.
Their ‘Help our High Street’ campaign is one that everyone can identify with, for every High Street is in demise, some more than others.
Sadly the £60 million which is the amount of money on offer for the campaign is not a lot of money to share amongst all the towns in Scotland, and I fear the campaign for most part will become little more than a giant begging bowl from residents all over Scotland, pouring out their heart felt stories of the town they once had.
Our High Streets have however changed forever. Ignoring for a moment the current credit crunch we as shoppers are drawn to the likes of the Inverness Eastgate centres and the Internet for many of our purchases. We want choice and we want value for money and the local High Street just doesn’t seem to do either of those. We just want goods, not a chat with the shopkeeper, or the chance to socialise with acquaintances ‘up the street’. I suspect that even with a new town supermarket our High Street would be struggling.
But the winner out of ‘Help our High Streets’ will be the Conservatives for they have found a matter dear to our hearts and shown that they as a party are prepared to act, no-doubt hoping we will remember all their ‘save our way of life’ campaigns at the next election.
No matter how successful the campaign has been as a Conservative Trojan Horse, hints as to who might win the money are already there to be seen,
Chris Walker, Conservative candidate for a borders seat says on the matter ‘It’s up to us now to convince the Scottish Government that we should have the lions share here in the Borders’. Will it come as any surprise if the winners of the ‘Help our High Streets’ are those with Tory candidates in marginal seats who are hoping to get elected?

The Brae - 14 weeks of traffic disruption coming soon

Residents in the High Street area have received letters from W.A. Fairhurst and Partners acting on the behalf of the Highland Council. The letter details how the work on the brae will commence on Monday April 13th and continue for 14 weeks.
This will obviously have an impact into the start of Nairn's tourist season and will also mean that drivers who normally uses the brae will have to find another route to their destinations during the work. Just exactly what the impact of that will be we will soon find out but it has been suggested by some that there may be problems at the Gordon Street Junction with the A96 and also at Waverly Road as Nairnites seek another route to go about their business. Perhaps those that come up the brae to look for a parking space will no longer bother and simply drive elsewhere to buy their papers, fags, butcher meat or get a takeaway?
The brae will be closed to 'all vehicular through traffic' during the contractors (Leiths) working hours which will 'generally be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday' and the letter adds that there may be some evening working to 8 p.m to complete paving work adjoining shop fronts.
This disruption will obviously impact on the shops further up the High Street too so the Gurn asks why all this couldn't have been done during the winter period?

Apolitical? The Gurnmeister doesn't think so.

Last night at the Suburban CC meeting the recent drive to get Nairnites to register their comments on the Conservative campaign site 'Help our High Street' was discussed. It was stressed that this was simply a way of getting Nairn's High Street up the political agenda. The site encourages individuals to suggest ways that their High Street could enjoy a share of the £60 million that the Scottish Government has made available to improve town centres. Samantha Bacon told the meeting that she had been accused of being a conservative because she urged fellow Nairnites to submit ideas for Nairn to the site, she stressed that in fact she was 'apolitical'. The Chair John Mackie stated that he too was 'apolitical' and agreed that it was a good idea to promote Nairn regardless of the politics if there was cash available.
The Gurmeister believes that the Suburban CC is not 'apolitical however'. The community councils are very much involved in politics in the community, politics in the truesest sense, doing their best for Nairn and its citizens. Everything they do in that sense is political and to the Gurnmeister their version of politics has more meaning and value than many of the professional politicians can ever achieve. Professional politics is often more about spin than substance, with the community councils what you see is what you get! More power to the community councillors (who receive no payment for their services) and their supporters that work on our behalf - long may their version of politics survive. Frankly they are better value than anything else on offer!
Now let's have a look at some comments from Nairnites that have appeared on the platform that the Scottish Tory site offers. Remember these comments have appeared as a result of a community initiative in Nairn,
you can still add to them here. Even if it is a Tory site it will let the other parties know that Nairn wants help for its High Street.

'Nairn town centre is so run down and we have a local council who do not acknowledge this. the town centre is getting more run down every year and something has to be done quickly before more damage to the image of Nairn is done. '

'I live in a small village in the Highlands of Scotland and my nearest town centre is Nairn. Nairn occupies a special place in the hearts of its residents whose hearts are being broken by the way areas of the town are deteriorating. It is a place where you feel safe and welcome. It is a place where young and old alike can enjoy the park or the seaside or a walk by the river. But businesses are closing and the potential of the area is not being realised. Visit Nairn and see for yourselves. '

'Ok, this nomination isn't actually for the town centre itself however it is something Nairn is desperately in need of. The whole town wants a new High School to be built especially in the wake of the recent asbestos contamination which is of great concern to the parents of all children in Nairn. The local council do not seem interested in this at all but seem to be willing to splash money on projects to extend the existing school however in the long run i believe that knocking it down and starting from scratch will be more cost effective in the long run. As i have already mentioned there are lots of people who are backing this due to the contamination. Please please give this idea some serious consideration as the children of Nairn are our future and deserve better than to be taught in a 1970s asbestos contaminated School...Thank You'

'As with many towns , nairn is suffering with shops closing, Nairn has been a very popular attraction for thousands of visitors down the years, we must not lose this wee seaside gem and do what we can to try and establish a nice high street,to make visiting our town a pleasent experience again!! please please help us out !! '

'Nairn needs help to revive its name and redevelop. I have lived here for 26 years and came here as a 10 year old child. I have seen Nairn change within this time to become progressively derelict and partly neglected in the areas it could benefit so much from. New businesses coming to Nairn have tried their hardest to create a colourful cheerie environment which is nice to see but a lot more could be done here. It is about time people cared about making a difference again when they have the powers to make it possible.'
'Why Nairn? Nairn is in a beautiful position, on the coast, fine beaches, many B and Bs Hotels, Large caravan park, 2 golf courses and lots of British and foreign tourists. However the High street is run down and many shops are closing, Woolies was a local favourite and this now stands empty. We have a Jazz festival, Arts festival, Highland games, all which bring thousands of visitors, I don't want the visitors to be put off by the high street. There are also about 10,000 residents who need a bustling and busy High street.'

'Nairn has been the victim of years of very poor town centre management. This has come about because of the belief that the town centre could be regenerated on the back of the goodwill of the resident supermarket. Over the last 10 years the supermarket has changed hands some three times and on each occasion any positive move towards regenerating of the town centre has been delayed. Nairn used to be a town on the fringe of Moray Council, now it is on the fringe of Highland Council and consequently has been for 20 years at the butt end of any expenditure or formal planning process. Nairn has a Victorian history of being a gentile tourist seaside town which has systematically been destroyed over the years under the false belief that the town would self-generate once a by-pass was built. 20 years on there is still no bypass. Nobody is against change and progress provided it is sensibly and sensitively managed. BUT now the belief is that a massively over-developed site on the edge of town, built on Common Good Land, will generate funds that will be put towards the regeneration of the town centre. If anybody actually believes that the funds generated will be spent on Nairn Town, despite assurances in Council minutes that it will be ring fenced - cuckoos and clouds spring to mind!! The leadership of the Town has been dissipated by regional re-organisations and there is no formal whole-Town representation at community level. These are clearly political issues that are not going to be resolved by money alone but staking a claim to some funding from this allocation might drive the community to take charge of the vacuum created by our political masters'

'Because Nairn was a thriving town and is now being ruined by lack of investment in the High Street'

'Nairn was once known as the Brighton of the North. The High Street has declined significantly over the years and is now very tatty and although the beaches and surrounding countryside are beautiful, the High Street is an eyesore that blights the town.'

'Nairn is very much a holiday destination but like most small communities, over the past 10-20 years has started to show its age and could do with a make-over to help support the many hard working businesses who continue to struggle to keep it an attractive place for local shoppers as well as our visitors. It needs a lift to ensure its continued virility, making it a 'must' for holiday makers and Nairnites alike.'

Could the voting age in Nairn be lowered to 16?

That is the interesting prospect that was raised at the Suburban Community Council meeting last night when the idea of a single community council for Nairn was raised. Scottish community councils are not covered by the Representation of the People’s Act and thus have the freedom to lower the voting age to the said bodies. Those attending the meeting seemed to be wholly in favour of allowing Nairn’s youth a greater say in the affairs of their town.
Of course a single community council would have to be created first and it is to that end that a Public consultation meeting will be held on Thursday the 9th of April at 7p.m. in Nairn’s community centre. Soon the population in Nairn will be asked to respond in a ballot paper that will be available in the Nairnshire and at other locations in the town. Members of the public will be asked the question ‘Do you wish to continue with the status quo for community councils in Nairn or do you want a single community council for Nairn.’ This ballot will be an expression of popular view and the proponents of a single council hope for a decisive enough expression of the public’s will to decide the question once and for all.
John MacKie told the public that he was hoping for a good turnout at the meeting and also a response to the ballot paper. Members of the public can also make representations via letter or e-mail to Louise Clark at the Courthouse if they wish to see a single council for Nairn.
It is interesting to note that the community council in Tain elect the Provost, now wouldn't that be a good idea in Nairn? Why should the four Highland Councillors decide who wears the chain, if there was a Royal Burgh Community Council of 15-20 members wouldn't that make the decision more reflective of the public will too?
We gurn enough about the state of democracy in Nairn don’t we, now’s our chance to do something about it. Get yourself along to the Community Centre on the 9th April and let your feelings be known.

More news from the Suburban Council later this morning.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hello dinghy sailor

Nairn Sailing Club are holding an open meeting this Sunday, the agenda is that of dinghy sailing. The club owns several dinghies and in the past has had a strong dinghy section supported by many young people who the club have trained.
If you or think you might have an interest, or you are already a dinghy sailor the club would be happy to see you this Sunday.

Date: Sunday 29th March
Time: 14:00
Where: NSC Club house which overlooks Nairn Harbour

Non-members most welcome

Asbestos in Schools: Parliamentry debate and BBC "Inside Out" programme. 25th March.

The debate and the BBC program will no doubt be watched by many Nairnites:

Here's the information from the Asbestos in Schools site.

BBC 1 "Inside Out" are running a report on asbestos in schools on 25 March at about 7.30pm. The report can be seen in most regions and follows the Parliamentary debate.

Parliamentary debate On 25th March 2009 at 4pm a Parliamentary debate will take place in Westminster Hall on the topic of “Asbestos in schools.” The Speaker specifically choose this debate amongst many others put forward by MP’s. Paul Rowen MP, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Spokesman on Work and Pensions will lead the debate, which will be answered by the Minister.

Mynairn fails to get listed on Courier and Highland News blog pages

Brian is firing on all cylinders today and gurning about the SPP newspaper group. He states:
Both the Inverness Courier and Highland News websites carry a page which features bloggers in the general local area - so in running this blog, I contacted the SPP Group to see if they would consider listing ‘My Nairn’ alongside the Gurn and others.
Sorry, no, I was told - My Nairn looks too much like a rival, so they wouldn’t list the site among the blogs.
The Gurnmeister doesn't see what the problem is and thinks Brian is just as likely to generate traffic in their direction as they are in his. Come on SPP list Mynairn. Gurnites, Brian has quite a lot more to say about this and you'll find it all here.

Food glorious food

A recent item in the Gurn about Nairn Academy being evacuated due to fire has seen the start of a thread/debate about litter allegedly being dropped by academy students.
A comment was made that burger vans sit outside the school each day whilst money is being spent in schools to promote healthy eating. 
A recent report in the Inverness Courier says that fewer pupils are taking up school meals, and as can be seen in Nairn, many are wandering out of school at lunchtime for a dose of their favourite fast food.
Here is the start of the problem; fast food is served in paper and wrappers some of which is ending up on our streets rather than a bin once the food is finished. Many Nairn traders offer special lunchtime deals for students but I doubt many take on the responsibility for the litter they in effect sell (Should they?)
Meanwhile back in school the food that the Government says we should eat is being wholeheartedly rejected. Some schools have banned pupils from leaving the premises at lunchtimes in order to try and tackle the issue; famously this was once met with parents pushing burgers and chips through school railings.
Clearly it is a problem that needs to be tackled or school canteens will close and even more fast food wrappers will line our streets.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Visit Nairn strategy document – a manifesto for change?

The Gurnmeister has had a browse through the complete document, available on Iain Fairweather’s visitnairn.com site. Inspired by the forthcoming debate that will take place in the Courthouse on Wednesday night the Editor of the Nairnshire debates Tourism in Nairn in his leader column this week. What strikes this reader of the visit Nairn Association’s document however, is that apart from tourism the paper goes straight to the heart of other questions that affects so many aspects of life in Nairn. Take for example the following extract from item 60:

'The town of Nairn notionally has three community councils (there are two more covering the rural ‘shire’). Each only represents a single ward, thus a limited part, or suburb, of the town. In fact only two of them actually exist; the third is defunct. The community council members are few, dedicated and hard working, but these bodies operate essentially as neighbourhood residents’ associations. None, therefore, is in a position to take an overall view of the interests of Nairn as a whole, and to articulate and represent the collective views of the town’s residents. In consequence, much of Nairn’s population feels disenfranchised. No other town-community in the region (with the exception of Inverness which is much larger) is represented in such a divided and patchy way. A unified community council for
the Burgh of Nairn would be a more effective and influential vehicle for debating and promoting the interests of the town.'

It is the view of the Gurnmeister that Visit Nairn are only reflecting the view of the majority of Nairnites here with this statement about our community councils but they are also demonstrating how radical their document is; an integral part of their suggestions towards a way forward is a call to change the way we govern ourselves in Nairn. So if you have a few moments this strategy document is well worth a read and if you care about some of the issues raised why not go along to the Courthouse on Wednesday night? This paper gives another chance for Nairnites to engage in debate about this town’s future.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nairn County 2 Deveronvale 0

Deveronvale were put out of the Highland League Cup by a Nairn side that scored the first goal against the run of play. In the second half the Wee County showed themselves to be far more competent on the brake and they took the game to the opposition. Goals to Lewis Mackinnon and Wayne Mackintosh.
Picture will enlarge and more here. Full match report here.

What a waste

Highland Council has announced a new strategy for dealing with our waste, the council plans to link with Moray Council and introduce incinerators to dispose of much of our rubbish. The net result is to try and minimize landfill, which is part of an EU target.

Energy from Waste is a friendly name for incinerators but they will still have a huge environmental impact producing toxins, and a detrimental effect on our tourist industry depending on where they are to be sited. The planned sites have not been released as yet. Locally when this idea was previously mooted Invergordon and Whiteness were two that were put forward. Whiteness is to be a marina and a housing development but with the current economic climate would the owners consider selling for an incinerator? No matter where the new plants are to be built planning blight is likely to affect several areas and no-doubt we will see several NIMBY groups launched.

Highland Council has tried to introduce increased recycling so it is curious that it has not tried to advance this method for waste disposal. Local group
Moray Waste Busters in Moray seem to be a worthwhile initiative that succeeds in recycling much more than we do in Nairn.

Recycling from many of the remote communities that Highland Council covers can be a very expensive business and the market for recycled raw materials has dropped dramatically in recent times. But should we not consider other strategies before adopting that of waste incineration?

Gaelic total immersion process coming to Nairn in July

More details over on Gurn Gàidhlig.

1001

Over 1000 posts on the Gurn now, thanks to all those who have contributed along the way. A bit of a nerdy milestone perhaps but a milestone none the less. The evolution of the Gurn continues with the help of the Gurnite community.
Meanwhile another spectacularly sunny day with another sprinkling of tourists in the town. The Gurn has learnt that Parkdean Lochloy have got off to a flying start with 59 of the hire caravans being let out this weekend. The Gurn has mentioned before how the caravan park pulls people into Nairn and at times with hires and the owner occupied caravans there can be up to 700 people staying on the site: a not insignificant contribution to the local economy. Tomorrow another sunny day is predicted and hopefully this will encourage a large crowd up at the Wee County as the local side entertain Deveronvale in the quarter final of the Highland League Cup but there are doubts as to how many of the side's top players may be available for the fixture. Nairn County Online have highlighted the problem in their latest article:
The manager has doubts over Willie Barron - who missed Wednesday night's win with an injury picked up last Saturday - Callum Donaldson, Wayne Mackintosh, Gregg Main, Steven Edwards and David Hind who are all struggling with knocks. Meanwhile, Chris Finnigan, Scott Graham and Gary Black will definitely miss out. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens come tomorrow," he said. "Wednesday night was a very physical game and it was something of a scrap. We did expect that going there but it means we do not have a lot of time to recover. It's not like playing just on Saturdays when we have a week to recover from knocks. We got back quite late and then boys had to get up the next morning to do a day's work. So from that point of view, it doesn't give us a lot of time to recover but we just have to get on with it."
More information here on Nairn County FC matters here. The Gurnmeister will be going to the match and hopefully will have one or two decent pictures to post later in the day.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nairn Academy evacuated

Part of the school was evacuated today as fumes from work on the roof entered the building. The school is assuring the community however that this was not a fire emergency. Lessons were disrupted for approximately one hour.
Thanks to Nairnlass for informing the Gurn of this incident

Park and Ride

Stagecoach has unveiled plans for a £7 million park and ride scheme near the Smithton/A 96 roundabout, this would include a 400-space car park and possibly a bus depot.
Many A96 commuters traveling into Inverness from the east would welcome any positive changes, but AyeRight cannot help but think the Stagecoach plan is in the wrong place.
Currently morning traffic going into Inverness from Nairn can back up to the Balloch turn off on the A96, by the time commuters reach the Smithton roundabout I doubt many would be happy spending time parking which could add 20 – 30 minutes to their journey.
Park and ride is a good idea, but for it to work I would suggest that a site further east is needed, possibly near to the airport with dedicated bus lanes on the A96, and a car park far in excess of 400 places.
A complimentary plan would be for the reintroduction of a filter lane at the Smithon roundabout. Prior to the changes to this junction the lane worked very well, with cars from the east allowing cars queuing from Smithton onto the A96, traffic flowed much more freely than it does now. Although some drivers do still wave queuing cars onto the roundabout, this is sometimes dangerous as it is not expected at a roundabout, and it has none of the speed advantages of a filter lane.
Clearly with all the planned new housing between Nairn and Inverness transport plans need to be looked at in detail, and the likes of park and ride schemes assessed before they are built.


Academy pupil has meningitis

The P&J carries a report today that a 4th year pupil at Nairn Academy is being treated for bacterial meningitis.
A letter has been sent to parents stating that the case is “rare” and “not particularly infectious”.
Hopefully this will prove to be the case with schooling at the Academy still disrupted post the asbestos issue.

Highland News finds the Freedom of Information Act door shut in their face

The Highland News has been trying to find out how much a civil servant got in a pay-off before he moved to another public funded job. Their investigation was a follow-up to the 'cashblack' affair. Their leader states:

'A YEAR ago the Highland News exposed the CashBlack affair – the extraordinary system that allowed senior civil servants to hop from one highly-paid public agency job to another with pockets full of golden handshake cash.
It was a scheme widely condemned by politicans when we revealed how Inverness executive Stuart Black accepted a £138,000 pay-off after volunteering to quit his £60,000-a-year post at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as director of global communications and nine days later was appointed to a £100,000-a-year post as director of planning with Highland Council.'
A follow-up request concerning another civil servant was submitted. The request was refused, the HN appealed only to eventually have the request turned down. The full story here.

Watch out, an army’s about!

The BBC reports that an army is planning a night march upon Nairn. Residents may however rest easy in their beds, as this is a reenactment of the night march that took place on April 15th 1746. This was when forces led by Bonnie Prince Charlie planned a night time attack upon Government forces that were camped near Nairn. The march never made it with forces returning to Culloden, but has become one of the ‘what ifs’ of history

“ It's one of the great 'what ifs' of history - what if the Jacobites had pressed on? ”

Dr Pollard, a Battlefield archaeologist will be leading the group this April. The original soldiers had to get across moorland, but in 2009 the reenactment march will also face a railway line and roads!
The walk will also be in aid of Erskine, a charity that provides care for for ex-servicemen and women, and is supported by the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Have a nice day

Nairn is famous for it’s sunny weather and today was the first really warm day of spring. 
Sunshine and blue sky brought at least a smile to most folk – long may it last.

Bankie path

Highland Council has started work on the bankie path this week. Curiously it appears (This may change) that the widening of the path will ape the A9 a little, and rather than have a new motorway of path to accommodate all users, there will just be widened sections along the route from the harbour to the paddling pool. 
So if you find yourself stuck behind someone at the harbour end of the path, you will soon reach the wider ‘dual carriageway’ like widened path and be able to overtake.
The only concern of the Gurn reporter was with the Easter holidays fast approaching is this work going to be completed in time, or will visitors find 'path closed' signs?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tilda's in Beijing

With the Scottish Cinema of Dreams in China.

Visit Nairn Press Release - Is a successor to the vision of Dr James Grigor in the offing?

The Gurn could be accused of laziness but we bring you the entire, unabridged press release from the new Visit Nairn Association who hope to set the heather alight with their new strategy to raise the town's profile in the tourism industry:
“THE BEST VISITOR DESTINATION ON THE MORAY FIRTH”

The new Visit Nairn Tourism Association puts forward imaginative strategy to attract more visitors to Highland town

Following a lively discussion at January’s meeting of the Nairn Partnership and Ward Forum, the VisitNairn Tourism Association has now produced a comprehensive strategy document designed to mobilise local efforts to improve Nairn’s appeal as a destination for visitors and tourists.

- a successor to the vision of Dr James Grigor?

Recalling the role played by Dr Grigor, the doctor and public figure whose statue now stands in Nairn’s Viewfield, and whose drive and initiative was largely responsible for the development of Nairn as the premier Victorian beach resort in the Highlands, this new strategy argues that tourism defines the character of the town, and has always been the main driver of the town’s economy.

The document, which is to be discussed with local businesses and communities and with Highland Council officials on 25th March, identifies a wide range of distinctive features of Nairn which could be more effectively exploited to attract visitors. As well as the renowned beach, mild climate and world-class golf courses and recreational facilities, the town has an impressive historic and architectural heritage, in the original Fishertown (now a designated Conservation Area), the much-photographed wrought-iron bandstand, and the stylish Victorian buildings of the High Street.

- trends in tourism, and the current economic circumstances, offer opportunities

Changing demographics, a growing interest in outdoor activities, recreation, nature and wildlife, and a search for authenticity and value, are all seen as trends in tourism to which Nairn can respond. The town, like others in the region, has been hard-hit by the economic downturn. But the report’s authors see this as an opportunity. They believe the recession, and the adverse exchange rate, are likely to prompt more holidaymakers to look again at UK destinations, and that this will increase visitor-flows to the Highland region. The strategy document argues that both residents and visitors will gain from initiatives to promote tourism, which will serve as an incentive to the growth of the retail sector and will stimulate employment in local services.

- radical proposals on how Nairn should address the challenges

The strategy document does not, however, underestimate the scale of the task. And it does not pull its punches about the constraints and obstacles that need to be overcome.
It draws attention to the planning blight which has resulted in “neglect, decay and dereliction at the heart of the town”. It questions whether the role of Nairn as a tourist destination has been adequately addressed in the regional plans for development of the A96 Corridor. The strategy calls for the creation of a single Community Council for Nairn which could then engage constructively and effectively with the regional authorities in scrutiny and reassessment of the range of currently-proposed residential developments for Nairn itself. The paper reflects widespread local concern that these plans threaten the fundamental character and appearance of Nairn and will diminish, rather than enhance, Nairn’s appeal to visitors. It quotes a local resident’s remark – that
“…towns which make tourism a priority and oblige developers to work within limits reap the benefits of increased tourist numbers and revenue, improved facilities and – in the longer term – enhanced property values. On the other hand, towns which make housing-development the principal priority become unattractive places to either visit or live.”
The tourism strategy identifies a number of specific proposals for action which are to be considered at a forthcoming meeting of the Nairn Partnership and Ward Forum at which the Highland Council’s Tourism Co-ordinator and representatives from VisitScotland are also expected to be present.
- a collaborative effort
In the wake of the February Ward Forum meeting, the Vice Chair of VisitNairn, Iain Fairweather, said,
“I am encouraged that the Provost and her colleagues on the Council showed such willingness to engage with us and to support our proposals to make Nairn a more attractive visitor destination. We believe that the actions outlined in our strategy will make a major contribution to that objective.
We are keen to involve not only the local government and planning authorities, and agencies like VisitScotland, but also local businesses and potential investors in Nairn. We also want to liaise closely with other counterpart organisations in the Highlands and Moray Firth area, and to work with those responsible for the major historical and heritage attractions of the area.
I appeal to all who want to see Nairn develop and grow as an attractive, prosperous and successful town to join the Association and support our efforts. If we get the decisions right, we can look forward to Nairn once again becoming - perhaps not ‘the Brighton of the North’, as in the old slogan - but rather the premier visitor destination on the Moray Firth.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tourism matters

Will be debated in the Courthouse on the evening of Wenesday the 25th of March at the Nairnshire ward forum. This meeting will be the much awaited sequel to the night when Iain Fairweather stole the show with his tourism presentation.
Billed as 'Tourism - the Way Forward for Nairn' this meeting should attract a pretty good turn out from Visit Nairn members and members of the public. The meeting will run from 6.00 pm until 8.00 pm. In attendance will be Scott Armstrong (VisitScotland), Colin Simpson (Highland Council), Stephanie Murray (Highlands & Islands Enterprise) and Iain Fairweather (Visit Nairn Tourism Association) along with Highland Council Members and the Nairnshire Partnership. Visit Nairn plan to make their draft strategy paper available online at www.visitnairn.com early next week.
Coming to town in the near future (the 28th of April), will be an organisation called 'Pride & Passion' running a day long Nairnshire based visitor experience. Want to know more about it, here's their website.
An early attempt to attract visitors to Nairn begins with the Braeval Hotel's beer festival:
'This year the hotel will host the Bandstand Beer Festival 2009 from 20 – 22 March. Ale enthusiasts, and those interested in sampling real ale, will enjoy a weekend of live music, entertainment, great food and over 30 Scottish and English real ales to try.'
More on the Braeval website.
Meanwhile, slighly cold and damp Italians have been spotted taking photographs on the High Street, no doubt enjoying the extra spending power of their Euros this year.

You can't help but look at my tits!

Over on the new section of the Gurn 'Gurn Gàidhlig' we had a look at a letter a Nairnite recently had published in the Press and Journal. The author of that letter stated 'I am not against spending money on the preservation of Gaelic. But we should not try to make it into something it is not, a modern means of mass communication.'
Well perhaps there is hope yet for Gaelic on the mass communication front, the Gurnmeister wishes to draw your attention to the Gaelic pages of the Sun and the article, 'Chan urrainn dhut ach aire a thoirt air na cìochan agam', the title of this article is a translation of that sentence.
Feumaidh Lorraine togail oirre — tha an duine aice, Steve, a’ feitheamh ann an Range Rover dubh spaideil.
Le priobadh sùla: “Ma dh’fhaoidte gu bheil mi a’ streap ri 50 — ach bidh mo chìochan math iomadh bliadhna fhathast.”
Lorraine has to leave - her husband, Steve, is waiting in a fancy black Range Rover.
With a wink: " Perhaps I'm nearing 50 - but my tits will be ok for many years yet."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Don’t feed me

The Highland News reports that teachers at Millbank School in Nairn have banned food being consumed outside due to gull attacks on pupils. It is hoped that if there is no food the gulls will go elsewhere.
But as
North Sea fish stocks continue to dwindle is it any surprise that the likes of gulls are attracted to humans for food? We are often happy to feed them titbits and comments in the Gurn have highlighted the problems that the bread crumb brigade can potentially cause for wildlife.
It is however sad that children are unable to eat food outside due to the potential menace of the marauding gulls.
Should we stop eating
their fish for a while or have we made the gulls fast food converts?

New Shops?

The Empty Shops Network is on the lookout for empty shops to turn into short-term temporary pop-up shops, community spaces and galleries.
It would certainly make our High Street more attractive if some if not all of the now closed shops were open again. Could Nairn become a centre of the arts on the back of shops being turned in the likes of galleries and workshops? I’m sure the majority of Nainites would welcome this move rather than the current displays of growing empty windows that greet us at the moment?
/span

Praise for Nairn Academy Staff and Pupils

As the asbestos clean-up operation continues at Nairn Academy, Highland Council has praised both staff and pupils for the way they have responded to the partial closure of the school.
The schools hopes to be fully re-opened post the Easter break when remedial work should be finished

Ducks for sale

CLIC Sargent is organising a fund raising duck race on the river Nairn on April 25th, the charity offers a range of support and services for children who have cancer.
£5 gets you a duck (Plastic) and the chance of a free T-shirt (See full
P&J article for details) and no feeding the ducks plastic crumbs folks!