Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Town Centre Regeneration Fund

The Town Centre Regeneration Fund publicised greatly by the Conservative party is now officially open to applications for a share of the £60 million.
The closing date for the first deadline is June 1st of this year. An application form with a complete set of instructions is available
here.

What will the Fund support?
We will consider all capital activity. This might include for example:
Improving pedestrian or vehicle access to a town centre
Improving parking provision within a town centre
Attracting increased footfall, both by day and by night
Diversification of the mix of services and amenities within a town centre, underpinned by an understanding of the requirements of the local community
Acquisition of gap sites and vacant properties for redevelopment
Streetscape improvements which enhance and improve how a town centre operates, providing these are of sufficient scale and ambition to represent a capital investment
Remediation of vacant or derelict sites within the town centre to fit them for retail, residential, business or recreational use
Purchase of gap sites to allow for use as residential, retail, business or recreation
Remodelling of existing premises to provide a suitable mix and floorplan of retail, business, residential and recreational uses, or to comply with Disability Discrimination Act legislation

We will be looking for evidence that the investment is needed, and that it will contribute to long term strategic improvements to the town centre. Inclusion in local plans and evidence of the support of local partners will be important.


There is a lot that Nairn could apply for under those guidelines, but as has been mentioned before £60 million is not a lot of money shared across all the towns of Scotland, work to the Brae alone is £500,000!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another completely unscientific Gurn poll

Should Maggot Road remain Maggot Road or should a more politically correct name unnconected with Nairn's heritage be used?
If you care, even a wee bittie, why not head over to the Gurn on Sunday and answer this simple loaded question. You'll find the poll on the left in the sidebar.

Welcome to Scotland

Never mind becoming popular as a tourist destination, it would seem from figures just released that Scotland is becoming a favourite place to come and live.
A decrease in the figures for international migration suggests that Scotland is seeing a greater numbers of people moving here from other parts of the UK, births have also exceeded deaths.
The
Highlands has seen high figures for inward migration with nearly 2000 people coming to live here each year since 2002.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Her Majesty’s Inspector

Despite horrendous recent problems with asbestos, Nairn Academy has gained a positive report from a recent school inspection. The synopsis of the full report issued by Highland Council also includes the line ‘improvements in the school’s accommodation and grounds’ which in light of the recent asbestos issue is hard to believe. Nonetheless the report praises both pupils and staff, so well done to all concerned.

What’s On?

The Gurn team missed the duck race last Saturday. We all agreed we had caught sight of the announcement for the event in The Nairnshire Telegraph some weeks back, but had forgotten to write it into our electronic, always synchronised, never miss a date, sometimes crashes, on-line diaries. Next year we are promising ourselves one of those paper type calendars that you just pin on the wall and write dates into, we hear they’re pretty good these days.
Meanwhile if you have a community event you would like to draw to the attention of the masses, the Gurn is please to announce a ‘What’s on’ section (See button in side bar). 
This is a free service, although you are welcome to hit the Gurn ‘donate’ button and help us save up for some paper diaries and pear cider.
As you may see the section is currently about as sparse as Visit Scotland’s page of events for Nairn, but hopefully the Gurn ‘What’s on’ will begin to fill.
Please email any events you would like us to consider for inclusion in this section to: gurnwhatson@googlemail.com

Many thanks

The Gurn Team

C-gull violence, more shocking evidence


Following on from Murd's picture we have another image from Joe that shows how our feathered neighbours will work together to attack intruders. Joe says:


'The 2 on the left of the pic each had a hold of the gulls wing on the right, whilst the gull on the right had the wing of one on the left !
The upshot was that the pair of gulls on the left turned the seagull on the right over on its back ! You can see the feet in the air !
The one on it's back eventually escaped minus a few feathers.

Proving that gulls have a lot of strength in those beaks and necks, can work together, and will fight to retain their territory.'

Monday, April 27, 2009

Maggot stays on the agenda

This week's Nairnshire contains very strong letters calling for the retention of the name 'Maggot'. Rush out and buy your copy now and read the attack on the politically correct culture that demands such changes.

Meanwhile Murd writes:
I thought you might be interested in a few thoughts that add fuel to the ongoing discussion on the Maggot. The garage was on the left as you come off the bridge on the so called MAGGOT ROAD but my recollection is that it was just an entrance to the businesses and after the Slaughter house it was only a dirt track to the East beach and was not upgraded until about the 1970? Access to the caravan site was mainly by the bailey bridge. '

C-gull violence or simply a mating ritual?

Murd observed two seagulls recently, they spent some time in the above posistion the Gull on the right having trapped the other gulls beak in its own. They stayed like that for a considerable amount of time. Seagull wrestling? Mating? Random violence?

White lines (Don’t do it)

The line painters have been out in force today in the Fishertown refreshing the areas roads white lines and speed signs as well as the yellow parking restrictions.
The 20 mph speed restriction remains confused with this not being marked on all of the many streets that enter the Fishertown area. It is an important safety factor as many of the streets are narrow and have some have no pavements. Some more signs please?

The Inverness-Nairn 'city region' - is this how the world is seeing us now?

Alasdair Rae is a lecturer in the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield and blogs on urban policy and planning among other things. In a recent post he uses the phrase 'The Inverness-Nairn 'city region' '. Is this how the outside world is begging to see us now or at least those in the planning and development world? If we are going to fight to keep a seperate identity for Nairn then we might have quite a battle on our hands. Alasdair's blog post can be seen here.
It is perhaps appropriate to now re-post a comment made by NairnBairn on a previous thread, it has echoes of all this and very importantly comes back to the planning issue:
'I'm flattered by the Gurn's name-check and link to my comments over on the MyNairn blog. So in the interests of democracy, fair play and equality, I feel I ought to throw a pebble into the Gurn's pond too...Two observations, I think. One is about change. Spelding and a couple of the Anonymous commentators above need to understand that those who are actively looking at what can be done on the tourism front are not necessarily seeking to change Nairn into something, or somewhere else. The aim has to be rather to preserve, protect and promote the existing good features of Nairn; and (as Iain has observed above) to try and do something positive and constructive about the currently blighted parts of the town.The second point is about planning. The status quo is not an option. The Inverness-driven "growth" agenda is generating huge pressure to build - houses, flats, business parks... and more. The challenge is how to manage this to ensure that any development in Nairn delivers the right results. The harbour redevelopment is a classic example not just of a missed opportunity, but of a planning failure. Calling for affordable housing and more jobs misses the point. It is clear from recent and proposed developments (Bridgemill, Sandown, and others) that the default approach, which yields most profit, is cheap, high-density housing, with perhaps a bit of business space and a token gesture to the community. Such proposals won't enhance Nairn's appeal either to residents or visitors. If the plannners give priority to tourism then any resulting developments are less likely to be dismal eyesores. And increasing the flow of visitors is more likely to stimulate local commerce, and increase spending on local goods and services, than the construction of yet more unattractive 'affordable' housing and under-occupied business parks. Nairn may have an extensive beach of lovely sand: but this does not mean that its residents should be adopting the ostrich position. '

Sunday, April 26, 2009

CLIC Sargent fun


Thanks to Gloria for sending the pictures. Looks like everything went well. The Gurnmeister noticed that CLIC Sargent were making use of the Parkdean facilities early on Saturday afternoon and that the Nairn Fire Brigade were present. It looked like fun but no camera was to hand. By accident the Gurnmeister later came across the duck race, once again without camera, the opportunity to capture the Angling Associations finest with landing nets full of yellow plastic ducks passed by. It might have helped if some information had been available online to remind the more digitally minded amongst us that a wonderful opportunity to take pictures of our local ducks surrounded by plastic invaders was nigh.
Does anyone fancy starting up a What's On website or blog? I'm sure the citizens of Nairn would appreciate it very much and it would give more exposure to worthy events such as the CLIC Sargent duck race.
Info on the Nairn's official site is still rather sparse. 'Details coming soon' is the eternal claim of Nairnscotland.co.uk for the weekly events though an annual event's page seems to have some info.
A few other bitties in from fellow Gurnites still to go up but in the morning perhaps. The Gurnmeister is now relaxing having discovered a special 4 for £5 special offer for Pear Cider in a local off-licence. Maybe Iright still has a thing or two though or perhaps we've all peaked for the weekend.
Sleep well dear Gurnites.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

@ anon (20.05) re Wullie T

Please contact the Gurn through the e-mail address in the sidebar.

Gurn on Sunday






Blood pressure check

It seemed very busy this afternoon. Well done to all the volunteers.

Sign of the times

At least the Sandancer amusement arcade is showing a sign of optimism, ‘Open tomorrow’ says the notice on the door. Clearly the effects of the Brae streetscaping work are localised, and enough visitors are trooping into the Sandancer for it to be planning on opening tomorrow.
I’m usually a great fan of birds but if that parrot at Sandancer’s front door squawks ‘speak to me’ once more…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Take a holiday in Scotland this year

Whilst the recession continues to bite, with numerous forecasts offering expert opinion as to when the worst might be over, Phillip Riddle chief executive of Visit Scotland has the UK as the place where most visitors to Scotland will come from this year. Corporate tours are down as are overseas visitors.
In nearby Inverness Nicol Manson of the Highlands Loch Ness tourist group says Inverness is ‘buoyant’ despite the economic gloom.
It would seem the weak pound means mainland Europe is looking less attractive as a destination for UK tourists.
So… dig out your bucket and spade and get down to the beach, your holiday is on your doorstep this year Nairnites!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Visit Nairn flash mob for Danny Alexander?

Visit Nairn members and supporters are being urged to lobby Danny Alexander this Friday at his surgery in the Community Centre. Following on the back of the successful AGM of the organisation there is now an initiative to get something done about the unsightly apperance of the former Regal and other buildings in the town centre. The e-mail states:
'The burning issue at many discussions, even among local residents is the tarnished and depressing image that first confronts everyone who comes to Nairn - that of the Regal bar, cinema, petrol station and bus garage. We know that many tourists just keep driving. We all love it here but first impressions count and these buildings send out the wrong signals. All the clever marketing in the world can't compete with the very visible image that greets every visitor.

So is it time for action? Danny Alexander MP has a surgery at the Community Centre at 5.30 on Friday. It only takes a couple of us to go and see him but if we all turned up in the foyer to show support for the issue perhaps he might be persuaded to find a way of doing something. We have got to deal with this blight and thus change the perception of a run-down Highland town. '

Meanwhile Brian was at the VisitNairn.com A.G.M. and debates what could be done on myNairn. Do we need to get more seaside like or is that just a sure fire way or ruining what Nairn is all about? Could we have more tourist attractions without turning the town into a vision of mass culture touristy hell? Nothing wrong with initiatives to encourage more visitors to Nairn but the Gurnmeister argues that we have to be very careful otherwise we will scare regulars away and ruin the place for ourselves too. The caravan site was very busy over Easter, the holidaymakers there chose Nairn not Blackpool. Time to 'Gae canny'?


Water works

SEPA are hosting a public discussion on the topic of water quality. It’s SEPA’s aim to improve water quality in Scotland by 2015.
Venue: Royal Highland Hotel, Inverness – 14th May (Click on attached graphic for further details)

Weather wherever

Weather is an emotive subject for most folk, and like politics everyone has an opinion, it often forms part of our greeting process when meeting folk, ‘nice day again’.
But over at Landmark at Carrbridge manager Danny Fullerton is far from happy with the BBC efforts who he reckons often forecast poor weather for the area when the opposite is true, this he thinks effects the number or tourists who come to the
attraction.
As an increasing number of visitors use the Internet to plan their holidays or days out, is Nairn also being affected by poor weather forecasts? A potential visitor might see the predicted forecast as being fairly driech for Nairn and head elsewhere when it might be a perfectly nice day here. Another problem for weather accuracy for Nairn is that the nearest weather station that the BBC uses is at Cromarty, and as Nairnites know it can be a bonny day here whilst the Black Isle looks… well black!
As long as our potential visitors don’t go to the Nairn section of the Visit Scotland website and then look at the weather forecast we will hopefully still get some visiting tourists!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nairn Fat

Scottish Water has released details of a campaign they launched to try and stop businesses and householders pouring fat into their drains that can then cause blockages.
In Nairn we have suffered with reported fat problems in Seabank Road and also beside the sewerage bridge by the river.
Scottish Water have reported an improvement in the drains at Nethy Bridge, can Nairn become part of the fat free league as well?

Nairn twins with Forres?

We’re not twinning as such but it seems problems with developers are also shared by one of Nairnites favourite shopping towns, Forres. The proposed out of town development is ringing the beginning of the death knell as far as some Forres High Street businesses are concerned, afraid that the new shopping centre will equal lost customers.
In ‘listening’ to residents the developers have changed their plans a little, but have also attached a stinging caveat with regard the proposed leisure centre. This weeks
Forres Gazette leader spells out the issues
Is it the case that all developers promise communities the earth and then gradually chisel away the good bits so they can maximise profits?
I hope the good folk of Forres manage to extract what they want, but just like the proposed Sainsbury’s in Nairn I have the feeling this is never going to be an entirely happy end game.

Not so fast

The rolling out of broadband availability to the great majority of households in the Highlands was a major technological achievement, companies as well as individuals found themselves able to communicate at similar speeds to those based in an urban environment. 
Being in a remote rural location was not a barrier to a company setting up and working in the IT sphere in the Highlands. 
Whilst some more isolated communities were given wireless solutions, the great majority of the broadband provided was through BT upgrading exchanges, with the service being provided by the copper wire that had also served our landline telephony for many years.
Already being installed in some UK cities is ‘super fast’ broadband with speeds of up to 60 mbps. This is reliant on being very close to a telephone exchange or increasingly through a fibre optic connection rather than copper.
Here lays the
problem, most of us in the Highlands are too far away from an exchange to enjoy the service, and fibre optic networks are few are far between outwith major towns.
The relatively cheap solution of providing broadband via a piggy back solution on existing copper wires is just not an option for future service improvements.
Major investment in fibre has been made in the Highlands in the form of the
Pathfinder Project, which provides high-speed links for schools and colleges, but even this has seen issues with overloaded capacity and a lack of secondary or backup routes.
The reality is that the fibre infrastructure is unlikely to be invested in by telecommunication companies outside of major areas of population, especially as we increasingly switch to mobile rather than landline solutions for our phones.
Without massive Government financial support to rural areas the Highlands will become hugely disadvantaged from a business perspective in the coming years, and as we all know, money is currently in short supply

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maggot Road it is and Maggot Road it should stay!

An angry local responds to the previous article:
'The Nairnshire Telegraph Editorial summed it up perfectly. I 've never heard such nonsense from elected members and community councillors who should know better. Maggot Road it is and Maggot road it should stay. How many towns and city's still have a Gallowgate. Rather gruesome history but fascinating nonetheless. Some of these people should get off their backsides and read the plaque at the Maggot installed at not inconsiderable expense which explains the areas origins.
We already have confusion between Merryton Gardens/Crescent; WyvisRoad/Drive and it would be the same if we created a Riverside Drive when we already have a RiverbankTerrace. Anyway why use a title like drive for a postal address for a block of flats. It's absolute nonsense. Get real and preserve our local history. Preserve it and be proud of it. We had the same nonsene when the sewerage bridge was renamed Merryton Bridge.'
Angry Local.
The Gurnmeister agrees, enough of this Orwellian renaming crap, let's tell them to get lost - Maggot Road or nothing!

What’s in a name?

Today’s Nairnshire Telegraph published the details of a meeting held by Nairn councillors to try and decide as to what the official name of the road named locally as Maggot Road should be. The reason for needing a proper road name is that the flats currently being built along ‘the road’ are in need of proper postal addresses and despite the Maggot being the adopted name for the road, it seems a mass debate was needed.
Maggot Road is mentioned in publications and maps, but would Maggot Road referring to the road that leads to the Maggot just be too logical?
Names in the hat included: Bailey Drive, this is a reference to the Bailey Bridge but as was pointed out this is a type of bridge and in the future a new bridge might not be a Bailey one. Merryton Drive was another, as was Maggot Drive.
Riverside Road was another candidate, as was Riverside Terrace, there was even a suggestion of splitting the road and having two names.
It would seem a shame if there was a move to name Maggot Road anything other than Maggot Road/Drive/Crescent/Path/Street or even just The Maggot for it is after all the road to a historical part of Nairn called the Maggot, I wonder how the new flats obtained planning permission to build on a road that doesn't exist?
Maybe the Gurn’s resident historian Hamish can throw light on the origin of the name for Cllr Park wasn’t sure where the name Maggot came from.
Do Gurnites have any suggestions as to what the road should be called?

Pig Street 1966


More on Pig Street from Hamish:
'Many of the cottage occupants reared pigs until they were ready for market

My grandmother raised pigs in her garden until not long before war broke out in 1939. At one time she had an arrangement with Altonburn School; Altondon and Edenvale to collect pig swill. The latter were, and may still be, two fairly large family residences in Pig Street. Altonburn was then a boys prep school and so she had a good supply of swill from there. She had a pony and cart for that purpose and I think she had one or two other collection points too. John Ross the butcher who had a shop at the bottom of the Brae bought most, if not all, of her pigs. Having sold her produce she bought two piglets and went back to 'square one'

The attached is a photo of her cottage and garden as it was when England won the World Cup. Two modern bungalows now occupy the site.'

Hamish

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brae days

New hours for Ross Outdoors Ltd on the Brae.

Value for money?

Highland Council have published the remuneration details of their councillors
A basic salary is £16,234, is this a job one you would happily carry out for this kind of money?

Pig Street: a question from Hamish

Hamish is wondering if anyone can help? Why and when did Pig Street become Pig Street?

'My Grandparents lived in "Pig Street" and my father was born in a cottage there at the end of the nineteenth century. Until she died in 1961 I sent cards to Granny on her birthday and at Christmas for lots of years and these were addressed to Cumberland Avenue. Although the road was referred to as Pig Street by a large majority of townsfolk I'd suggest that few knew of it as Cumberland Avenue. Any knowledge of when the name was changed and why? I believe it was Granny who said that the Duke of Cumberland passed along the road one day before the battle of Culloden.She also said that the last man to be hanged in Inverness was seen in the road soon before his arrest. ' Hamish.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Asbestos in schools, more worrying information

Carole Hagerdon is a teacher dying from mesothelioma, contracted after 'working in schools for 34 years', according to the Times website. She recently spoke on the subject to the Nasuwt teaching union conference. The interview with her carries some worrying statistics. It is easy to be accused of scaremongering on this issue but the Gurn recommends that those interested in the subject read the article for themselves. Asbestos in schools is an issue that won't go away.
Here are a selection of previous Gurn articles that mention the situation at Nairn Academy.
UPDATE: comment received from 'concerned parent'.
'Carole Hagerdon is a very brave individual to speak out the way she has done. It is only through people like her who is facing the inevitable dreadful consequences of her exposure to this deadly material that politicians will be made to listen to the evidence which appears to be more compelling by the day that there is a risk to our children and school staff.The Gurn points out that the media can be accused of scaremongering but rightly recommends those interested read the article for themselves and reach their own conclusions. Let's not apologise for people trying to better educate themselves about issues concerning the health of their children and indeed the people in whose care they are entrusted.We all need to take this issue seriously and not brush it under the carpet which is what the government would wish us to do. '

Nairn needs a by-pass most of the time!

Pig Street junction with A96 looking towards the Tradespark wood at around 17.00 today.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_q_9cEeypi6U/Set0sxpdO5I/AAAAAAAABxE/J9rN_8nX0wA/s400/bypass1.jpg

North Sea Gas

Folkie fan writes to the Gurn:
'IT must be nearly 20 years ago in my miss-spent youth when I first heard the folk group North Sea Gas perform at the Braeval Hotel.
I have a vague recollection of leaving the pub in the we sma' hours and taking a tumble over Bunker's Brae in my smart new hand knitted (folkie) pullover.
Woke up in the morning with my lovely new jumper clarted in mud, and a thick head to boot.
A bit older and wiser now the knitted jumper has gone and so have the hangovers.
On Saturday night (Aug. 18) I was in the audience at the Royal British Legion where NSG were top of the bill.
It wasn't a full house but the lads had the hall bouncing as they ripped through their fantastic repertoire including many traditional folk songs, ballads and to the delight I think of some some former oil rig construction workers "The Kishorn Commandos" a great tale about life in the wild west during the halcyon days of the rig construction industry.
It was hand clapping feet stomping stuff from start to finish, and at times the demands placed on the audience were as great the energy and enthusiasm of this dynamic trio who continue to thrill audiences with their brand of traditional folk music around the globe.
At £6 a ticket it was fantastic value. Pity there were more bums on seats but I hear there could be an opportunity again to hear NSG perform at Nairn.
If this happens. take my advice, snap up a ticket. They're fantastic value. Well done to the band and well done to the local organisers who managed to bring them to Nairn. FOLKIE FAN.'

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nairn 0 Huntly 2

Close encounters of the first-half kind, after that it was all Huntly for most of the last forty-five minutes. This picture will enlarge and more pictues to come later.

Hamish remembers...

A few more memories from our correspondent Hamish,
'A fire appliance passed by my home on the way to an incident a few days ago and that caused me to reflect on my own career in the Fire Service and then on to two fire incidents that occurred in Nairn when I was, I’d say, in my early “teens” in the thirties.

One of these involved a factory that produced good quality woollen garments and the like and was sited at the junction of Millbank Street and Millbank Crescent. It was constructed mainly of timber and I believe was owned by the Misses Ellis who were the owners of the Golf View and Golf Links hotels at that time. The factory had not been in production for long – probably only a matter of months when it caught on fire and the building together with. the machinery and contents became a total loss.

Near to the same time as this incident a large quantity of wool arrived by train in Nairn and was stolen very soon after its arrival there. I recall that the value of the wool was in the region of £600 and that could have bought a house or two cars then. The local opinion was that it had to be an “inside job”.
I don’t recall that the case was ever solved.

The other incident was rather a tragic one. It happened during the night hours in McGillivray the coal merchant’s yard which was sited down near to the harbour and Mr. Walker the boat builder’s yard. The stables there were completely destroyed and the three cart horses stabled therein were burnt to death. I recall being told that one or more had been led out from the building but had panicked and had dashed back into the inferno.'

Friday, April 17, 2009

Speed Traps

Much is made of bad roads, stretches of tarmac where a lot of accidents happen. There may be roads in poor condition, with sharp corners, or unexpected cambers but the reality is there are bad drivers, not roads.
In an attempt to make sure that we adhere to speed limits speed cameras are installed in various locations, or for those of us in the Highlands mobile cameras operate.
In order to give us warning of an impending speed check The Northern Safety Camera Partnership have a
web site where they publish details of their mobile speed camera locations.
Just as Police officers cannot hide behind trees with speed guns, it seems that we need to know where to expect to see speed cameras in the coming days, does this not defeat their purpose to some extent?

Nairn traditional seaside holiday break

Here's what one visitor thought interesting enough in Nairn to put up on their Flickr pages, to them Nairn is a place for a traditional seaside holiday break ( the tags they chose for the set). Despite the problems that some see in the town it might be worth remembering that that is still what a lot of people come here for.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hamish on the 'Pathie'

I’ve noted that in the past two or so issues of the Gurn a reference to the work being done on the “pathie” and it occurred to me that many of the local townsfolk may not be aware that the bank on which the path has been laid is not a natural creation.

For a few years before the war most, if not all, of the bank from where it starts near to the harbour to the Marine Hotel cottages was the local “dump” for most of the rubbish collected by “scavvies” from households in the town. The rubbish was mostly ashes from coal fires ‘cos most of all other waste was either burnt or buried and that what could not be disposed of in either way e.g. rags, bones and scrap metal and the like was taken to Andy Williams scrap yard on the corner of King Street and Society Street for which a few pennies changed hands. Andy paid tuppence for a rabbit skin provided it was not too badly damaged. Shades of Steptoe and Son

The bank that encircles the cricket field from the “toorie” round towards the children’s play area was also created in the same way .
Hamish

Visit Scotland again

Visit Scotland is doing a lot for the Highlands according to a press release on the Highland Council web site today. A new document ‘Delivering for the Highlands’ appears to be the thrust of the new initiative from Visit Scotland.
With several Scottish groups withdrawing from Visit Scotland and deciding to do their own marketing are Visit Scotland making a concerted effort to help their members?
Let’s just hope that they remember Nairn and don’t have us down as being in Morayshire, as if they would!

Tonight’s the night

As reported in the Gurn there could be a few visitors heading our way tonight!

Visit Scotland – does Nairn exist, only just?

A recent posting I made about an article featuring Nairn in The List prompted a reply from nairnbairn with regard to the fiasco of this year’s Visit Scotland guide, ‘Freedom of the Highlands’ that negates to mention Nairn.
Looking at the Visit Scotland web site for
Nairn we fair pretty poorly.
The front splash page features a photo of the River Nairn in winter, fine if the majority of your visitors arrive during the off-season but ours don’t. The accompanying text gives a short history and says what a sunny place we have (Remember photo of River Nairn in winter). But now the text gets lazy, obviously not updated in years and mentions Nairn museum and the Fishertown museum, the latter has not been in existence for a long time.
Hopefully not too many visitors will pencil in the Fishertown museum as a ‘must see’ reason to visit us, the guide goes on...

‘During the summer months, Nairn hosts an extensive programme of family entertainment and major events’

This statement seems positive, the family will love all the entertainment, I click ‘Events’ in the side bar to see what exactly is on and plan to book my holiday around it. OK at the moment there are no events but the tourist season doesn’t really kick off until after Easter so I click on ‘Events for next 90 days’. By my reckoning this takes me into summer months when Visit Scotland promise ‘an extensive programme of family entertainment and major events’. As a potential tourist it would seem that up until the end of July Nairn has just one event according to Visit Scotland, ‘The Nairn Book and Arts festival’. This might be an excellent event, but lasts just 8 days in June, nothing else is listed and so as far as the potential tourist is concerned Nairn has just one event – whoopee, that will bring folk flocking in all summer long!
Undaunted by the lack of formal events I decide Nairn must have more to offer, I click on visitor attractions, just one listed, the Culbin sands, great place to come in… yes you’ve guessed it, winter ‘Large numbers of sea ducks can be seen offshore in winter’ and then there are the excellent directions ‘From Nairn railway station turn left down Cawdor Road, continue down High Street, right onto Bridge Street and follow as before. 2 miles.’ I'm lost, not sure how a tourist would fare?
As a potential visitor I give Nairn one last chance, I click on ‘Activities, Sports & Leisure’, and the long list given for the family? Two golf courses, I’m going to holiday somewhere else this year!
For any Nairn businesses that pay Visit Scotland I would be demanding an immediate make over of the web site and my money back for this year. If they can’t manage that satisfactorily, take Nairn off the site. We might get some visitors then!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Get Healthy, Get inside a hotel, and Go for it?

In an Easter weekend that seemed to see the commercial side of Nairn mainly closed, and the only action was that of being chased by a council lawnmower, it is perhaps refreshing to see that The List has other ideas about Nairn that maybe Nairnites have missed?

‘Where better to discover Scotland’s fantastic adventure offering with an action-packed break to the fascinating coastal town of Nairn, in the Scottish Highlands?’

Reading the blurb on The List it seems that most of the ‘action’ is within the grounds of the Golf View hotel where you can go to the gym, swim, and have a game of tennis, and if you are knackered after all that, take a sauna, go to the steam room, or take a spa bath. The only other ‘action’ mentioned in Nairn is a trip to the Culbin forest, where you can walk, bike, and spot wildlife, but maybe you will have fallen asleep in the spa bath.

The List is promoting Visit Scotland’s Adventure Pass. Regrettably a quick perusal suggests there is nothing in Nairn included; just have to make do with the Golf View then?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Outbreak of retail activity on the High Street

The shop formerly known as 'Pulse' comes back to life. Why not go down and have a browse.

As scheduled the brae is closed


Nairn still needs a by-pass!

It's rather quiet on the Nairn needs a bypass site, nothing posted since the ninth of March. That's an eternity in blog terms. Any news Graham? Not quiet on the A96 though, the tail-backs seem to be a permanent feature of town centre life.

Driving miss crazy

As the sun burnt off the morning haar, tourists and visitors descended upon the attractions in Nairn that were still open this Easter Monday, namely a walk along the bankie and onto the beach.
All was quiet and serine until Highland Council arrived on the scene in the form of a tractor and a mower. It seemed that the grass growing on the bankie, the parkie, and the links had reached a dangerous length and just had to be cut no matter what, to add to the urgency a few daises had managed to push their heads into the sunshine, clearly a scenic disaster waiting to happen. Tourists stirred from their slumbers as the mighty council machines roared by, disturbing the tranquil peace of a holiday Monday. Others leapt out of the way as the mower and tractor approached the bit of grass they happened to be standing on.
Maybe it was a Highland gathering of grass cutting machines and the hundreds of folk on the bankie and the beaches had chosen to come through to Nairn to see the spectacle, but I doubt it, more likely to be a superb piece of planning on behalf of some council official.
‘How can we make Nairn more attractive to visitors this Easter? Lets shut as many things as we can and put visitors in fear of their lives as we tear up and down mowing the grass’.
Hopefully the two folk cutting the grass will have been on overtime, at least they will have had a lucrative Easter Monday whilst everyone else suffered
Happy Easter Highland Council, good to see that as ever you know what you’re doing!

It’s in the post

Nairn businessman Terence Watson has started a petition with regard to what he considers the unfair costs that some carriers charge to bring goods to the Highlands and Islands. The petition at number10.gov.uk and has gained sufficient support in terms of the number of people who have ‘signed’ it, for Mr Watson to expect an official Government response.
Like Mr Watson and I’m sure many others, I have winced at the carriage charges that some firms levy when delivering to Nairn, sometimes the carriage is more expensive than the goods themselves. Where I can, I always cancel my order and let the company concerned know as to why. Once or twice this has had a positive effect in that companies have offered to put the goods ‘in the’ post rather than use a carrier, and have then charged me an acceptable amount. This is usually just smaller companies; larger ones are not so flexible.
Whilst the current carriage levy for the likes of Nairn can sometimes seem unfair, from a business point of view I can see it becoming an increasing problem. As companies begin to cherry pick their customers to increase their profits, sending goods to far flung places such as Nairn are not that attractive, miles travelled equal carbon fuel used, which in turn adds to costs.
Unless there is a radical change in the way that food is grown and produced, it is likely that prices in our supermarkets will also rise compared to those in more populated areas nearer to distribution centres.
The biggest advocator for flat fee post has been the Royal Mail, but with the possible break up/sell off of the company I can see that will soon change, we will no longer be able to send a letter to anywhere in Britain for the cost of a fixed price stamp, and the same will happen with parcels.
I fear that in the future if you want to get cheaper goods you are going to have to move to be nearer greater population densities. You can of course always avoid all carriage costs by shopping on our High Street!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nairn 1 Wick 2

Picture will enlarge. Wick maintained their unbeaten recent form despite a spirited Nairn side causing them an endless series of problems. More pictures here.

The Tittle Tattle Times hits the streets

There's a new blog in town Gurnites. Overwhelmed by the sensational success of her horrorscope feature on the Gurn, Pookie Candelabra, has decided to take the simple but big step of going it alone in the Nairn blogosphere and the team at the Gurn wish her well. Sensational stuff, ranging from good seagull recipies (Seagull à trois), a retired porn star and other features. What tickled the Gurnmeister most of all was the article in which Pookie reminisces about her own mis-spent youth and compares it with how most of today's youth go about their business:
'Ah, happy days indeed! And how sad to see the so-called 'future generation', whiling away their precious hours, engaged in pointless, self-destructive and downright soul-sucking activities such as 'revision', 'sport', 'voluntary work', ’Saving up to buy a house’!!!'
Get over to the Tittle Tattle Times and enjoy yourselves folks, don't forget to put it in your favourites and blogfeeds.

We are sailing

Parts of the town are maybe closed, but the fine sunny weather brought folk down to the beach and the harbour today. Nairn sailing club were craning in the boats that had wintered ashore marking the start of the sailing season, so hopefully we can now just expect the odd April shower rather than any further wintry conditions.
There was a chill wind and also a high tide but Nairn’s beaches enjoyed a good few visitors. No one seemed brave enough to go in for a dip, but despite the cool breeze a few managed an Easter ice cream.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Visit Nairn (Closed)

The swimming pool is closed and but for a change in signage a tourist might have been forgiven for thinking that our High Street as well as the Brae were closed as of Monday. The bankie footpath was closed (Now open – sort of). The slipway at the harbour is closed, and of course the Bailey bridge is still closed.
Many shops on the High Street are… closed.
There is near gridlock as the A96 snakes its way past a closed church, a closed cinema, a closed bus garage, a closed petrol station, a closed Police Station (Being demolished), and a closed community centre.
This is the sort of town you would really want to visit; no wonder the brochure for our visitors contains pictures of other places!

'We'll be back here again in a year's time discussing the same thing!'

The headline was the reaction of one member of the public filing out of the community centre last night after the debate about the future of Nairn's Community Councils. Less than 50 people attended, a figure that disappointed some but others might see that as a massive attendance given the reluctance of many to involve themselves in local affairs. The gathering learned that only about 150 ballot papers had been returned to Lousie Clark at the Courthouse. That, however, was reason for disappointment although perhaps not despair. The majority of those in attendance and of those that voted were in favour of a single community council for Nairn.
Pressure of time this morning prevents a fuller report but more details of the meeting will appear on the Gurn this evening, there were flashes of controversy as the proceedings got under way and many good arguments were heard.
UPDATE AS PROMISED
John Mackie chaired the meeting and gave a few details as to why it had been called. He said that many people had been asking why there were three community councils in Nairn instead of one. He mentioned the consultation workload that was now thrown at such councils, all the time they were dealing with planning. One community council for Nairn might be able to do that far better with sub-committees reporting back to the main council. It would mean a stronger voice for Nairn. He told how often people from other areas would go to Suburban meetings, people didn’t seem to know who to contact. He mentioned towns like Fort William and Dingwall and Forres that had a single council. He said that it was up to the folk in Nairn and not just Nairn, around the town there were small communities that would like to be in the area covered by the town, there were issues around boundaries that would have to be resolved. Nairn needed one voice on issues like the A96.
John then went on to list some disadvantages if the amalgamation were to go ahead. It would be hard to get candidates. The set-up would have to change with one council. There would not be so much participation from the public. The public would react to sub-committees and venues would have to be found.
There was some discussion about what parts of the town the councillors would come from as some were worried that some areas would have too much representation. It was mentioned that that already happens with no elected member for Queenspark attending the River council meetings and, at the moment, the West area had no representation at all. The interesting point about lowering the voting age for a community council was raised and how even how a special sub-committee could be set-up for the Academy pupils, that would be difficult but not impossible.
Brian Stewart was very much in favour and spoke as an ‘incomer from Forres’. He listed three main reasons, those being 1) principle, 2) we are one community and ought to be represented as such, 3) politically essential in influencing decisions.
Graham Vine outlined how he was putting the proposal for a West Council for now as quite a lot of people said yes to the proposal but that many had said it would be better to have one council. He said that one of the tough tasks would be getting enough people, he suggested that if a member of the public could get six signatures from his neighbours, he probably would be elected.
Jean Tolime and Bill Murdoch from the River Council questioned the impartiality of John Mackie, John replied that he was not biased and it was up to the folk in Nairn. Brian Stewart raised a point of order as he felt that a conversation between John and Jean was not appropriate to the format of the meeting. Sheena Baker was in favour of looking at the proposal for one council but was worried how this would affect different areas of the town. Murd Dunbar succinctly made the point that many people did not understand the function of the Community Councils and how many people thought that the River Council just deal with River Nairn issues. More publicity was needed according to Murd.
Louise Clark from Highland Council stated that her organisation was halfway through a consultation with the Scottish Government on community councils and that the consultation on a single council for Nairn would be added to the public consultation that Highland Council would get underway next year.

The Meeting only lasted an hour but the issue was thoroughly discussed. It remains to be seen if the proximity to Easter affected the attendance and whether more Nairnites will vote to state their preference because as things stand John Mackie is right to point out that there is not yet enough support for a mandate for change. Sorry if your point of view didn’t make it into the Gurnmeister’s notebook but the Nairnshire, as always, was their too so reserve your copy for next week now.

The Gurn’s Easter Message: If you want a single council for Nairn you will have to get involved to achieve that. Happy Easter fellow Gurnites.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Extra, extra read all about it

Paul Carr is not the first and won’t be the last to comment on the newspaper industry, the Gurn this week commented on falling sales of Scottish newspapers. In his article Mr Carr makes some sound observations on the whole industry along with survival guides for those who will listen.
At the Gurn we hope you are entertained enough to enjoy a little of what we write and that you come back now and again to visit. We are not a replacement for a newspaper for we recognise that a blog is just that, a blog.
Keep supporting our news media, despite its shortcomings the likes of the BBC is still a respected news organisation in many parts of the world, freedom of the press is a freedom that we need to maintain.

Closed in time for Easter

Anyone got any spare tile glue? Highland Council have announced today the closure of Nairn swimming pool due to tiles falling off a wall. Work is apparently still in progress estimating the amount of work needed to stick the tiles back on due to the extent of the damage, but Highland Council hope that they might reopen in early May.
At the time of writing the Gurn is pleased to announce that the sea is still open should Nairnites or holiday makers still want a swim, but watch out for the roadworks on the bankie!

Nairn twinned with Curacao?

An avid Gurnite has been browsing the brand new Nairn Leisure Guide and has drawn our attention to page 51 of the said document. In fact so industrious is our researcher that a picture on that page has come under our researcher’s magnifying glass. Get a copy of the leisure guide for yourself and examine the picture. Someone has used a photo of a young couple browsing a postcard rack in an effort, no doubt, to demonstrate that Nairn is an attractive tourist destination. Well thanks to our Gurnite regular we can reveal that this photo also appears on this website and the mouse over legend states: ‘Postcard shopping, Curacao.’ The image seems to be the property of photos.com. So that’s your task for the day fellow gurnites, get a copy of the leisure guide and compare the piccie on page 51 with the website link above.
Apart from that the leisure guide looks pretty good this year but no doubt dozens of gurnites are already checking every last detail as we speak. Here's hoping for a good season!

The High Street closing for business on Monday?

It seems this sign is causing consternation amongst traders on the High Street. It is after all only the Brae that is to be closed on Monday, to the best of the Gurn's knowledge. Apparently the sign will be changed tomorrow but in the meantime thousands of drivers will have read this information. Thanks to Iain Fairweather for the picture.

Download a senior moment

Some members of Highlands Youth Voice are to share technology tips at the Highland Citizen’s Network Conference this month. Seems that the silver haired surfers are to get hints and tips from the ‘yooth’ on topics such as mobile phones, iPods, and laptops. So if you reckon your grandpa needs to chill a little when downloading from The Pirate Bay whilst only getting a 1MB connection send him along.
The Gurn office were wondering if the ‘yooth’ would like a once over of the Gurn office, as we might have one or two questions we would like to test their skills with!

Think you know Scots?

You’re probably more likely to hear a bit of cockney rather than Scots in Nairn these days, but how well do folk know their language? Homecoming Scotland has teamed up with Chambers dictionary to bring you a fun quiz, so if you think you are ‘gleg’ give it a shottie – note: refreshing the page will give you a new set of questions, hope it doesn’t give you the mirligoes!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Woolies wonder of

Regular readers of the Gurn will know of our affection for the late Woolworth's store, AyeRight has started writing a collection of tunes including: The Pic & Mix Reel, The Matching Towels Foursome, and Woolies Lament.
News came into the Gurn today that there is a new website for ex Woolworth’s staff –
Woolworths Reunited. We hope this will prove a useful resource for folk who were connected to the famous store and will not go the route of Friends Reunited!

Rock Nairn

A little known Nairn delicacy is that of Nairn rock. Usually just the choice of holidaymakers the rock makes a fine sweet sook for anyone of that persuasion. Available in candy stripes with the wording Nairn cut through the middle, the rock is very distinctive. The taste is a smooth, arrogant peppermint. It will totally engage with your teeth, so much so that you might need to seek a dentist should you decide to crunch.
Production quality seems pretty good, with a uniform cellophane wrapper and a neat paper insert ‘A souvenir from Nairn’.
Nairn rock has been gently pushing itself out across quality outlets in the High Street.
Why not rock out this Easter with your very own stick, give Nairn rock the break it deserves!

It’s not Rocket Science

William Roe is chairman of Highland and Islands Enterprise, in itself not a problem but he is also chairman of a consultancy company called Rocket Science, and it is alleged that Rocket Science was awarded contracts by HIE without going through the proper tendering process.
Further to that, it was found that one report prepared by Rocket Science for HIE was plagiarized from other academic papers, monies charged for this report are to be returned.
As reported by the Inverness Courier, MSP Mary Scanlon is asking both Audit Scotland and HIE for an
explanation, meanwhile Mr. Roe seems to be happy to continue in both posts.

Milking it

Farmers rarely get a good press, ‘when have you ever seen a poor farmer’ is the question often asked whenever the state of agriculture is discussed.
Aria Foods who source milk for many supermarkets has announced a
cut in the price it will pay farmers for milk, including the supplies it obtains from the Claymore Creamery in Nairn. A penny or two doesn’t sound much to the consumer but will make a difference to farmers, many of whom have already left the dairy industry.
The reality is that our farming industry is in a mess, the average age of a UK farmer is around
60 with few younger people wanting to enter the industry.
Much is made of the EU subsides paid to farmers, but the UK is not always the real winner, and do we really want to encourage set aside, not using the land?
The current credit crisis has highlighted a need to produce more of our own products but many farmers feel we are just not geared up to do so, for too long we have relied on cheap food imports.
One Nairn farmer now makes the majority of his money from growing barley for the whisky industry and from rent from holiday homes, neither endeavour is putting local food on our tables.
The very success of the likes of Aria Foods in screwing down prices paid to farmers is ultimately going to lead to a crisis in UK farming in the not too distant futures, certainly not a case of jam tomorrow