Sunday, May 31, 2009
I appreciate that money is tight for Highland Council and having someone empty the bins of a weekend might be too expensive, but how about more bins, or bigger bins, or even both?
Rubbish is now blowing into the harbour, is this really the image of Nairn that we want folk to see?
It could just be seen as a lazy mistake by Labour election campaigners, but in these times of increased public concern over politicians honesty it does nothing to increase a cynical public’s trust of all things political.
Would it have been too much to obtain some real quotes from real people, maybe none were available!
To quote John Lennon:
I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
Regular readers will remember the previous appearance of this riverside seat. Well thanks to the public-spirited actions of Ailsa aged 7 and Iona aged 4 you can once again enjoy one of the River's best views in comfort. Well done girls. Thanks to Murd for the pictures.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Marc Logie from Rosebank won the Primary School category with his photograph of Glascarnoch Dam, Ullapool
The aim of the competition was to get young people to identify why they love the Highland Environment and to show what they think makes the Highlands special enough to encourage others to save energy and look after our environment.
A selection of photographs submitted for the competition to be displayed at the Eastgate Centre, Inverness for two weeks from Monday 15 June 2009.
In order to raise environmental awareness among Highland school children, the Council intends to make this an annual competition.
In the Hilton area of Inverness, Highland Council Environmental Services are to join with Northern Constabulary to jointly patrol problem areas that are suffering from dog fouling or litter.
It would seem a questionable use of Police resources but clearly the problem is being taken seriously for such an initiative to emerge.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Those in favour easily carried it and Sandy and the other two members agreed to take the ‘consultation’ into account but at present the decision they have made stands as ‘Riverside flats leading to Maggot Road’, a name which sounds more like lengthy directions rather than that of a road. It will be interesting to see if the councillors go the whole way and give up on their desire to supplant a local name with something more politically correct. If they do they may regret the day very much because the strong feeling that was represented in the chamber is echoed very much on the streets and although they may pass some unpopular motions in what remains of their term of office it may be that the Maggot Road decision will come back to haunt them more than anything else should they wish to ignore the will of the community. To be fair the three councillors did listen intently and Sandy made reference to the possible Gaelic origins of the word Maggot.
We seem to be in a slightly different era in Nairn now, people are getting more involved as witnessed by the Sandown Campaign, the MacLean Court fight etc, etc. There seems to be a new militancy in the population, dating perhaps from the explosive scenes at the Sainsbury’s hearing last June and topped up very much by the ‘Can we have our town back please’ letter from Iain Fairweather in October. People want to make their point of view known and the desire to retain the name Maggot Road has become in itself another powerful local campaign. ‘We need to get Joanna Lumley up here’ said someone from the public benches, in jest yes but with a very serious side to the comment. ‘People power’ is alive and well in Nairn. Get involved Gurnites, let’s make our town what we want it to be not what the Highland Council sees fit for us. Our elected councillors will have to do our bidding if they want to get back in at the next elections.
Sandy Park replied that there was no change in the status of the loan, a sum in excess of £2,000,000 pounds. At the time the Sandown Lands were the only asset that could be offset against the loan.
Sheena was worried that the debt was being run up even more but according to Sandy the debt was in fact static. Sheena then expanding to take in comments reported in the Nairnshire on the behalf of Mark Cummings of the PR company Invicta that had been employed by the developer. William Gilfinnan told the meeting that there was nothing in the background that wasn’t know about and reiterated that the developer had three options. Earlier he had stated that the developer could appeal, resubmit the application or walk away.
Sheen persisted with her questions, she wanted to know if given the new circumstances if the Highland Council could write off the the loan. Sandy replied that he thought that the Council would expect the money back and if the council were to consider what she had suggested then he believed that they would be very reluctant to do that.
William Gilfinnan on the behalf of the council stated that the asset was still there and it was a marketable commodity.
It was good to see Sheena in action again, she quite often is prepared to ask difficult questions of the local powers that be.
I wish the magazine well; more information about our community is always welcome.
The introductory welcome apologies for being brief (Surely a new magazine deserves better) but Spotlight have been ‘literally swamped with requests to print community information and by local businesses wishing to promote their trade’ hmm.
I’m sure Spotlight staff had their gunwales under water, but the end printed publication is a mishmash of adverts for businesses of which disappointingly by far the great majority are based in Forres, hardly ‘Nairn and District’.
Our community is covered by a listing of some of Nairn’s Clubs and Societies, a pastoral letter, a list of church times, and extracts from a meeting of Nairn Suburban Community Council (Last April’s meeting).
Just like the advertising, the ‘What’s on’ section is a merge of events happening in both the Highlands and Moray, and for some reason I found it incredibly difficult to read!
What I assume is a tide table (No month, doesn’t say where it’s for, nor if the times given are for high or low water, or if they are local or GMT times (Sorry to be picky!)) tells us that ‘walking on the beach should be possible 2 hours either side of these times’.
School term dates don’t seem to tally completely with those given by Highland Council, but maybe they are for Moray?
But heh, it’s free! Have you got yours yet? Is this real competition to our Nairnshire Telegraph or indeed The Gurn!?
During 2008/09 Scottish Water dealt with 1,397 burst water mains in the Highland and Western Isles local authority areas, a seven per cent drop from 1,503 the previous year (07/08).
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We were saddened to read in the Nairnshire Telegraph this week that police are still investigating a ‘high value’ break in at the caravan park, which took place on the 7th/8th May.
The headline in The Nairnshire reads ‘Opportunist thefts – charity boxes’. We assume a headline mistake, for the Gurn understood that the ‘high value’ theft occurred from a rather uncharitable device, namely a cash machine at the park that charged £2 for each transaction. But maybe we are wrong and Parkdean residents are so generous that the high value theft was in fact from their loaded charity boxes!
We hope the culprits are apprehended soon, police are asking for anyone with any knowledge of the incident to contact them.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Scottish daily newspapers however find themselves with their backs to the wall. The very future of famous titles such as The Herald, The Scotsman, and The Daily Record are in question.
'The steep decline in the number of Scots reading newspapers is "alarming", says Magnus Linklater, the former editor of the Scotsman'
In an article in The Guardian newspaper it is reported that there is a call for young people to be given free subscriptions to Scottish daily and Sunday newspapers. It may be news to newspaper proprietors and companies like Menzies but young people just don’t read newspapers anymore, free or otherwise.
Much has been written about falling newspaper circulation but it is long past the time that actions rather than words are needed for the industry to survive and that doesn't mean free newsprint!
Check out the marvellous sandy beaches of Nairn along the Moray Firth – some of the most child friendly in Scotland. This is an excellent base for exploring the Scottish Highlands.
The author Jane Anderson may have mistakenly placed Nairn in Inverness-shire but she has clearly stated what Nairn offers families, great beaches and a good base for exploring Highland attractions, although I might quibble over placing Inverness on her list!
The full article looks at seaside resorts around Britain as holiday destinations on the back of the poor exchange rate for British holidaymakers thinking of heading towards mainland Europe, this is the just the marketing Nairn needs.
Her article ends with the quote:
59% (Children) have never built a sandcastle on a British beach. What is the world coming to?
All children should have access to a bucket, a spade, and a beach, but at the end of each sunny day decaying sand castles seem to be in decline on Nairn’s beaches? Have computer games truly taken over?
The Association of Nairn Businesses, particularly Sheena Baker, have been encouraging the Highland Council to ensure that Nairn is well placed to make a project bid which could attract funding from the scheme. I am pleased to say that the Council have really taken up the challenge in endeavouring to lodge an application before the deadline.
The cut off date for the first phase of the TDRF is practically impossible to meet, if preparatory work on any project is not already well advanced. Fortunately for Nairn, in the Streetscape proposals, we have such a scheme, which has already been out for public consultation, and comes complete with fully prepared drawings.
Due to funding issues the Brae was the only area that could be initially considered for upgrading but now there is the potential to start a new phase and complete the works right up to the Cawdor Road/Leopold Street junction. We are well aware of the problems with the Supermarket site, and the empty properties close by, but we have to be realistic. The amount of money available, combined with ownership issues and the time available, mean that we could not even begin to think about solving that problem with this funding.
The works being proposed have the potential to make a real difference to the whole feel and appearance of the town centre. We need to start somewhere in creating a High Street better equipped to deal with the challenges that it will face over the coming years, and we feel that this fund offers a tremendous opportunity to take a major step forward.
It would be fantastic for Nairn if we could get this project approved, otherwise it will take many years to see the High Street revamped if funding has to be found from other sources.
The Association of Nairn Businesses is 100% behind the Highland Council in making this application, and we really hope to encourage the people of the town and those involved in tourism and other businesses generally to support the bid. The matter will be discussed at the Nairn Forum/Partnership on Wednesday 27th May .
Vice Chair -ANB '
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Nine Nairn Sailing Club boats raced back from Whiteness Head on Sunday and enjoyed a strong following westerly wind for most of the way. Nairn harbour had a busy weekend with boats from Cromarty visiting on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
They were made in the bakehouse in Acre Street and usually sold out before they were cold. Really delicious. But then I was still in my early 'teens.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Blame in the fall in water quality has been put down to the heavy summer downpours that we experienced last year overloading sewers and the treatment plants.
Nairn’s East beach failed to make it to the excellent quality, and only managed a basic pass for water quality.
We need to decide if our beaches are dog friendly or not and let all concerned organisations know. The MSC lists Nairn beaches as OK for dogs but visitors are going to find signs saying otherwise.
The company is also supplying shortbread to the Highland Homecoming Conference.
Sandy Park is quoted as saying ‘Shortbread is one of our unique delicacies that has worldwide recognition as being typically Scottish’ and thanks Ashers for promoting Homecoming Scotland.
Watch out for the queues in the High Street!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Now there is a new blog on the block that will act as a specialist vehicle on planning, tourism and town centre development issues. It is long overdue and will enable instant publication of many important details when necessary. The blog states on the purpose of site page:
‘Through this site we wish to present our research on planning issues as a resource that may be of help to others. The site will also become a forum for local engagement and debate. You are welcome to contribute to that debate especially if you are a resident of Nairn, a developer or Highland Councillor.’
There we have it Gurnites, Nairn matters, a welcome and useful addition to the Nairn blogosphere and another venue for democratic expression for what the new blog calls the “people movement”
Monday, May 18, 2009
'The first deadline for applications will be 5 June 2009. The Scottish Government hope to
complete the assessment process and be able to announce offers of grant around 30 July
There have been calls for general elections, resignations, paybacks, and changes made to the way MPs can claim expenses. ‘At it’ seems to be an overview of everyone in all parties with little hope of anyone being re-elected at the next general election.
On a local level our own MP Danny Alexander has been brave enough to publish his expenses details on-line for everyone to see. As he says he is not cheap, commuting to and living in London, but like him or not he seems to be up front and honest which is more than can be said for a great many of his parliamentary colleagues.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Almanacs, charts, and pilot books will be updated with details of the new marks so it might be that Nairn sees more visiting craft.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Letter to the Gurn: The Common Good - make the Nairn Community Councillors Trustees as well as maybe the 4 Nairn Councillors
If any Gurnites would like to contact John through e-mail please contact us and we'll forward his address
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Gurn and its sister cyber-organ, the Gurn on Sunday will not rest until our town is finally free of this menace. Keeka Boo thank you for forwarding this picture to the Gurn and doing your civic duty in alerting the population.
Important: bathers please remember that killer sofas also like to lurk just offshore.
Remember this is just the first stage of the Brae streetscaping; part two will start in the autumn. I’m sure it will all be worth it in the end?
But there's more, much more............'
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
'This Sandown episode is a little chapter in a bigger and longer saga. It shows that when people who care about the town get together, mobilise and engage with the authorities, it is possible to influence decisions and get results.
Amid the relief, the satisfaction and the remarks about Sandy Park and others , this is the comment that really matters:
At least everyone is happy that the landscape can be destroyed on the East side of Nairn, but not the west. That is what I love about this place total inconsistency.
Anonymous has a point. But it's not East versus West, or Fishertown and uptown. It's about all of Nairn. Like Sandown, there are other developments happening (Maggot) or planned (South Nairn, Delnies) that will affect the whole town. And there are developments that are not happening, but ought to (Somerfield site, the Regal, the old bus station).
Only if Nairnites are prepared to devote time and effort, take part in meetings, and exert influence effectively by using the channels that are available, will we get the kind of Nairn we want. So let's see more residents at Community Council meetings - let's see a unified Community Council - let's make sure our elected councillors know that they are accountable. If we want to make this town better, we have to be prepared to stand up, speak up, and act... '
By accident Visit Scotland also omitted Nairn from their ‘Freedom of the Highlands’ guide this year. All in all they are not doing very well when it comes to attracting tourists to our town.
Over at our world famous Boath House Hotel chef Charles Lockley has won the prestigious ‘Scottish Chef of the Year’ award. Anyone who has sampled Charles’ cooking will already know of the high standards he sets, to win this accolade is indeed a great achievement.
It would seem however that as Visit Scotland were not one of the sponsors of this award they do not want to make mention of it. To compound matters Boath House are no longer members of Visit Scotland (Can’t think as to why).
To have such an obvious attraction not promoted by a government funded tourist board is indeed shameful. Taking the mess that Visit Scotland have made of promoting Nairn you would have thought that it was the least they could do, this attraction would surely bring visitors to Nairn the whole year round?
In an article in The Herald newspaper Don Matheson of Boath House is quoted as saying
"I think Visit Scotland's remit is to promote anything of worth in Scotland".
I wonder how Visit Scotland manage to argue against that one?
Basically if communities are organised they can be as powerful and as well-informed as any organisation or business. This is what happened in Nairn yesterday and if we, as a community, stay on top of our game, that is how it will be in the future. Communities can tell the world what they want and use technology to help ensure they get what they desire. The Highland Council and the developers came to Nairn yesterday and found a well-informed community that had decided to defend itself against a planning proposal that it didn’t want. Thanks to a dozen or so very hard-working individuals a case was presented that was impossible to reject without profound implications for the relationship between our community and Inverness based local government. It was very refreshing to see out of town councillors taking in what the community had to say and reacting positively to it.
Nairn will have to be ready to react to further planning applications, ones the community wants and ones it doesn’t. Deveron may appeal and we may have to move into action again very quickly. Activists on the Sandown issue passed a lot of information to each other through e-mail, which certainly speeds things up. It is perhaps time however for all those working on the behalf of the community to consider publishing information simultaneously on the web. It can be done so easily through the like of google documents. Google allows you to store your information (a letter you wish others to copy and send to officials for example) and publish it as a web page if you wish. In a couple of clicks you can have your information on-line 24/7 for anyone else in the community to resource when they wish. It may be that you have found some nugget of information that would help another individual or group in the community or another community somewhere else, again its publication on the web will save you and others time and help achieve what so many of us in the community seem to want – i.e. more democracy.
Keep at it Gurnites, well done so far!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
After the applicant made their presentation Brian Lynch was the first to speak for the objectors. He made comments about the increase in both the are of housing and the density as opposed to the detail in the local plan. He mentioned five different figures for the numbers of housing that have appeared in recent times. They were 140, 192, 230, 330, 550. He suggested that there had been a lack of transparency in the process. Despite 2 years of discussion the total of houses still stood at 550. He asked for the permission to be withheld until the points in the submission had been properly investigated. He sat down to applause.
John Hart tried to register his concerns over several aspects of the Common Good Land and bemoaned the fact that the Nairn Common Good Fund had not been registered as a charity. He said that he was still waiting on information relating to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Highland Council concerning the Sandown Lands. He was told by Jimmy Gray the chair of the meeting that ownership of the land was not a valid issue at the hearing.
George Asher spoke on the behalf of the Golf Club. Basically he said that building such high density housing so close to an asset bringing in millions of pounds for the town was not a very good idea and the inhabitants of the new homes would use the public footpath across the course in high numbers thus having a devastating effect.
Dick Youngson spoke on the behalf of the Nairnshire Woodlands and Wetlands Association and the Nairn Allotment Society and raised several concise environmental concerns.
Dr Joan Noble raised issues about health and population. She compared how the population of Nairn had grown by 20% over 30 years yet this application would increase it by 15%? She mentioned how the Scottish population had remained stable recently. Gridlock on the A96 was an issue for her especially the deaths from traffic accidents in the area. She thought that Nairn should not have to prostitute itself to raise money for Highland Council.
Alan Farmington raised a few points on the behalf of Cawdor Estates. He raised the very important point that the current access arrangement could not serve as a sole access given that Cawdor were planning a development nearby at Delnies.
Cathy Stafford from Action for Planning Transparency raised a quick, concise point referring to precise minutiae of planning documents. Sorry Cathy that was a bit too quick to record but it certainly impressed the officials and councillors.
Graham Vine raised points about local roads and stated that there had been no local road assessment plan and maintained that it was apparent now that there would be an access from the scheme onto Altonburn Road, a road that was already at capacity and bordered by stone walls. The consequences to cyclists and pedestrians could be lethal when the residents of the new houses would begin to use the road as a rat run.
An Australian married to a Nairn woman (sorry didn’t get your name) mentioned how he had lived in many parts of the world but that the best place he had ever had the privilege of living in and he appealed to the councillors ‘For God’s sake don’t build this crap!’.
Kenneth Mackenzie told the meeting that the A96 was not adequate and that to add 550 houses would compound the problem. The A96 should be addressed before a decision is made on planning. He said that the 3-4 storey buildings would dominate. He said that a decision was being made on the future of Nairn and that during the 19th and 20th century Nairn had been growing as a medium density town with high amenity and the over development of Sandown would be the councillors legacy. He urged that the application be deferred.
John Mackie told the meeting that he was there to represent the man in the street, those folk that had spoken to him about the development. He said that once the public had found out about the density of the development ‘All hell had broken loose’. He cut short his speech stating that others had raised most of the points he was hoping to make and with reference to efforts to initiatives to curb dog poo he urged the meeting to ‘bag it and bin it.’
Sandy Park then spoke briefly and there was a gasp from the public as he recommended refusal. There was some discussion before a vote was taken and Laurie Fraser unsuccessfully tried to raised some points about footpaths on the North side of the A96. Cllr John Holden stated that they were being asked to put a town as big as Kinguisse onto Nairn.
The vote was unanimous and most members of the public then left and emerged into the sunshine outside the community centre to take in the enormity of the common sense decision that had just been made. The people of Nairn had been listened to and their wishes understood and acted upon. It was a great moment.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Dear Dr. Black,
Regarding the above Planning Application we, the Nairn Concerned Residents Group would like to request that the Hearing on the 12th May 2009 be deferred for the following reasons:
Would the Committee confirm if Deveron are in a position to renegotiate the purchase price after the Outline Planning Application hearing, as a result of the huge reduction in land prices caused by the biggest recession this country has known for some time. If Deveron can do this, it could drastically reduce the amount of money due to the Common Good Fund and as Trustees, the H.C. must protect the interests of the Common Good Fund. Will the Committee confirm that if Devron reduce their offer they will definitely go back out to tender and will consider defferring the sale until land prices recover ?
Re: 7.8 of the Planner's Report to the Committee, Deveron do not want to be subject to additional payments under the A96 Contributions Protocol. The Planner advises using money from the sale of the Sandown Lands to cover work on the A96 which this Development will necessitate. We strongly object to the use of Common Good Sale Receipts for upgrading a Trunk Road and question the validity of this proposal. Again, as Trustees, the H.C. must protect the interests of the Nairn Common Good Fund and must not ring-fence sale money for Road upgrades and must at the very least directly consult the people of Nairn before spending their Common Good Funds on a Regional project to upgrade a Trunk Road.
Days, weeks, and months later the work to widen the bankie footpath still carries the ‘in progress’ status. When the Gurn jested that the work might not be finished in time for Easter little did we know that the project plan was going to be stretched into the summer.
So what does this huge feat of engineering require? Namely a JCB to scrape off the old surface and to widen the path, lorries to take away the old material, lorries to bring new surface materials, and a small roller to harden the new surface.
What should be a very quick, straightforward job seems to have slowed to a pace suggesting that Thomas Telford is back in town and we’re building the new Caledonian Canal.
Visitors to the bankie path are advised to buy all terrain buggies for their bairns, wear stout boots, and any cyclists should be aware of potential punctures, for rather than complete a small section at a time to minimise disruption, it would seem that the council is determined to progress the work as one long job, and at the moment the path is mainly compacted hardcore rather than a smooth surface.
Why is this work being carried out anyway? Was there gridlock on the path at busy times, folk bumping into each other, multiple buggy crashes, I doubt it. Maybe it is Highland Council getting ready for the huge influx of residents as it rubber-stamps every planning application that a developer wants to present.
Perhaps it will all be over by Christmas?
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
So counter to the strong health advise given by Highland Council, help their non-ethical investments out by buying some fags and lighting up.
'Protestors against plans for a controversial new town centre and business park on the western outskirts of Nairn have vowed to ask serious questions of Scottish ministers if they do not take the plans to a public inquiry.'
You'll have to get hold of a copy of the paper to read the rest but one more sentence: ' Members of the public are expected to turn out en masse to the planning meeting at Nairn Community Centre on Tuesday.'
It's important Gurnites - Will you be there?
The Highland Council is run by an Independent/Lib/Lab alliance. Soon those two political parties in that coalition will come looking for our votes. It might help their respective causes if their councillors listen to the people of Nairn on Tuesday.