Monday, August 31, 2009

Nairn Blogmeet Wednesday

Details of location etc now up on Bill's blog. Look forward to seeing the regulars and perhaps a few others this time.

John Street - It's official!

Picture will enlarge. At last the real McCoy has appeared in John Street. That's it on the left, the Gurn still thinks the one on the right gets top marks however.

Water Lane proposals - Letter in the Press and Journal

The NRCG, who are backing residents' objections have had a letter concerning the planning application published in the Press and Journal. To read the letter visit this page and scroll half-way down.
If you too are concerned by the Water Lane proposal and over development in Nairn, you can make your views know to the planning department. There are still two days left to do this. More details here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Murd's sign's up

Back to the top for the Monday morning edition and well worth top spot!
Murd has run out of patience waiting for the local authority to put up a name plate for John Street so he's spent a fiver and done it for himself! Nice one Murd.

Ballerina optimism

Russian Vine improves fake Victoriana?

We've received one or two gurns in the past about the new 'historical' lamposts that were forced on the Fishertown. Here's one that certainly looks nice with a bit of Russian Vine. Will this fast growing plant stop there though! Thanks to Tony for the picture.

Light blogging ahead

September could be a very light month on the Gurn, work and other commitments mean time must be spent on other matters, including some more attempts at Gaelic short stories. If you have anything urgent, especially on local planning matters and don't get a quick response you can always try Nairn Matters (a forum for issues concerning Nairn). One avenue for many groups and organisations might be to consider starting a blog themselves. There is a school of though that this dissipates the potential readership when a story or an issue arises. The Gurnmeister feels that, just as in the greater blogsphere, Nairn issues that are of great concern would rise to the top and many people also keep in touch with all the blogs through RSS feeds and blog readers like this one here so we could easily survive with a few more blogs in Nairn.
Just as before if we had some information to share with the world we had to wait for the MSM to publish it for us (if they were willing), why wait for a blog or web site to do it? Put information online yourself! Blog readers are a facility that enable you to click on a link to your favourite blog to see a quick list of the latest articles without visiting that blog thus saving you time. There you have it Gurnites, we are all the media now!

Water Lane latest

3 days to objections deadline. Latest information here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

APT - a blog to keep up to date with

A lot of Gurnites feel that all the development plans around Nairn and between here and Inverness have got out of control and are very worried about the future of our town and the surrounding area. One of the ways of understanding the implications of it all and how you can have your say (individually and collectively) to redress the balance is to keep up todate with the Action for Planning Transparency blog. There are several new articles on the blog today, one of them deals with how this A96 masterplan came about.
We are now into the 10 week consultation period for the Highland Wide Local Development Plan. If you don't like the way things have been going up to now then you have to get involved and get things changed. Again the APT blog can keeped you informed as to how.

Another Nairn benchmark

Newsbleat reflects on the passing of another season from a familiar Nairn vantage point and it seems the blog has news of 'Highland Rubbish to be fired into space'. Perhaps the newsbleat blogger should come to the Nairn blogmeet?

NCRG supports Water Lane residents

The Gurn can reveal that the Nairn Concerned Residents' Group have submitted an objection to the Woolies town houses planning application for Water Lane. The NCRG was born of the controversy surrounding the Maggot Road flats and went on to join the fight against the 550 houses on Sandown. The Gurn further understands that they will give evidence at the Sandown Public Inquiry whenever the date is set by the Scottish Government.
If you also want to help stop over development in Water Lane then there is still time to get involved. Make no mistake Gurnites, if this planning application is approved then anything could happen anywhere in Nairn!
You can make an online objection on this webpage. It seems to accept comments but if you click onto the tab to read the comments it won't allow you to do so (IE7 anyway). The Gurn has published details of the plans and they are also available in the Courthouse. Why not take a walk down Water Lane and see for yourself the impact this development will have.There it is Gurnites, it is worth considering supporting your fellow citizens because such a planning application could affect your area next.Those concerned about this development have until Tuesday the 1st of September to register their objections that's only 5 Days

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nairn bloggermeet 2

The Nairn blogosphere has expanded rapidly over the last 12 months. Next Wednesday evening Nairn bloggers are getting together for a small informal gathering, a chance to share views and ideas about blogging. If you have an interest in blogging and would like to attend please contact the Gurn for further details.

West Pier seats to be replaced

Last night Louise Clark told the masses at the Ward Forum meeting upstairs in the Courthouse that the West Pier seats are to be replaced. Things might look very different it seems by the start of next season. The article on the state of the seats attracted quite a lot of comment.

Deveron aig Sandown agus Caladair aig Delnies - Lachlan air Rèido nan Gàidheal a-màireach

Eisd ri Rèidio nan Gàidheal a-màireach! Prògram Coinneach eadar 09.00 agus 10.00 sa mhadainn. Bidh Lachlan coir a-mach air na planaichean aig Deveron agus Caladair agus ciamar a bhios a h-uile cail a tha sin a' bualadh oirnn sa bhaile seo. Sin thu fhèin Lachlan a bhalaich!
Lachlan on RnG tomorrow speaking about Deveron and Cawdor's plans.

A Gurnite composes an objection is support of Water Lane residents

Water Lane issues once again dominate the Gurn this week but please scroll down for some other very important posts (Cawdor/Delnies, Sandown, ward forum passion, strong opinions from the Visit Nairn group, Sheenas Common Good questions). Please note that if you too want to help the Water Lane residents then please read the paragraph following this letter from a Gurnite for details.
'Dear Mr McCracken,
I wish to object to the current plans to build new housing in Water Lane
Vehicles
The lane in common with several similar lanes that join the High Street contains housing and commercial buildings that were in place long before the current high use/ownership of motor vehicles.Vehicular access to Water Lane is limited to that of the junction with the High Street, no modern day development would be acceptable with such limited access provision.
In terms of health & safety vehicular access should be discouraged rather than increased as the exit from Water Lane is extremely difficult to negotiate, offering the driver little or no vision of pedestrian traffic or indeed vehicular traffic on the High Street which s/he is entering. Other than the removal of buildings I cannot see any way in which this might be improved except by installing traffic lights at this junction.
Water Lane also offers very restricted access at the High Street end in terms of width, this would I suggest precludes some vehicles gaining access to the lane including importantly emergency vehicles. Increased traffic use might well mean higher damage risk to the walls of adjacent properties, especially if construction vehicles need to access the lane.
The majority of the High Street end of the lane is currently paved but there is insufficient area for a pavement to be built to also allow use by motor vehicles. Pedestrians and vehicles are therefore forced to share this space with no clear demarcation for either party; this has to be seen as a high-risk safety issue for the lane.
The lane does not currently enjoy any special speed limit or indeed any traffic calming in order to encourage low speeds and extreme caution by drivers. At the very least signage is needed and a clear indication of a turning point within the lane if indeed one can be created. The width of vehicles entering the lane is governed by the adjacent building but a length restriction should also be considered. Limits should be put in place before any building work commences. There also needs to be clear signage and also road/pavement marking to alert pedestrians of the possible hazard of vehicles entering or leaving Water Lane.
Currently any vehicle leaving Water Lane to enter the High Street has to effectively nudge onto the High Street pavement in the hope that pedestrians will stop to allow him/her to exit. Rights of way are non apparent (If they exist at all) and this could easily lead to a pedestrian stepping in front of and being struck by a moving vehicle trying to exit the lane.
I would suggest that the council looks at the issue of vehicular access and how to improve the safety of pedestrians within this area outwith this planning application.
Fire safety and emergency vehicle access
A full fire risk assessment should take place. The difficult/severely restricted access rules out access by emergency vehicles so all fire fighting and emergency equipment would have to be manually carried from the High Street. This is far from ideal, and whilst the current buildings also have this limitation it would surely be foolhardy to put further lives at risk by agreeing to any further building in Water Lane? Increasingly emergency services are dealing with obese members of the public, which necessitates a vehicle being close by in order to use lifting apparatus etc. If rescue equipment is limited to that which can be carried from the High Street it might not be sufficient compared to that available if there were vehicular access.If it is agreed that the building can go ahead should fire safety fears demand extra fire insulation within the new properties.
Car Parking
Whilst the plans put forward offer very limited car parking it might well be the case that each new adult resident owns a car and wishes to park it outside their new home. The lack of car parking space will inevitably lead to conflict with new and established residents. Nearby car parking is limited (High Street) and likely to be further decreased when Highland Council expands it’s Streetscaping plans to include the whole High Street.
Garden/Play area
No garden space is offered with the properties, so should the new housing attract any families with children (Either resident or visiting) there is no safe outside play area. Worse, parents might see the street area outside the new development as a safe play area but this would put their children not only in conflict with, but also in severe danger from any vehicles using the lane. Any driver manoeuvring a vehicle within the confines of Water Lane might well be concentrating on avoiding buildings and other vehicles rather than children playing, this could lead to a tragic accident. There are no nearby alternative play areas and as far as I know none planned.
Ownership
Has Highland Council fully adopted Water Lane? I ask that question with regard to the maintenance and upkeep of the current ‘road’ surface in Water Lane. Who will be responsible for ensuring that the current surface is maintained and is of high enough quality to support increased vehicle use, especially for any proposed building work.
Overview
Water Lane is currently a quiet mostly residential area, with pedestrians using the lane either to get to and from their homes or to gain access to and from the river, vehicle use is limited. An influx of new residents to the proposed new housing would very much change the character of the lane for current residents. The size of the proposed new build would mean both loss of light to the lane and would detract from the quality of life of the current inhabitants.If Nairn were an inner city then the plans that have been submitted might seem acceptable but it is not. Any developer wants to maximise the land that they have but this proposal seems out of keeping with Nairn and current buildings within Water Lane.The lane holds much historical interest and although not currently a preservation area might well attract that status soon.I very much hope that planning permission is not granted and that any future development involves local residents and the community long before it comes to the planning stage.
Yours sincerely'
You can also make an online objection on this webpage. It seems to accept comments but if you click onto the tab to read the comments it won't allow you to do so (IE7 anyway). The Gurn has published details of the plans and they are also available in the Courthouse. Why not take a walk down Water Lane and see for yourself the impact this development will have.
There it is Gurnites, it is worth considering supporting your fellow citizens because such a planning application could affect your area next.
Those concerned about this development have until Tuesday the 1st of September to register their objections that's only 6 Days

Sheena Baker's questions from Last Night's Nairnshire Partnership meeting

The Gurn has stated before that in our opinion Sheena is one of the best councillors we never had, if by magic we were to be tomorrow allowed 5 councillors instead of 4 then she should be press-ganged immediately. Hopefully folk of her calibre may show an interest of serving on the future Royal Burgh Of Nairn Community Council once we eventually have that organisation established
Sheena returned to her mission of raising awareness of loans and other expenses incurred against the Common Good Fund last night. Her task is made a lot easier now as the Deveron Homes plan for Sandown is no longer a 'live' application and councillors and officials are at more liberty to discuss the issue. The loan from Highland Council to pay for the Community Centre was over £2, 000,000 and then there is the issue of the payment to the farmer etc to free Sandown for development, that is around £700,000. It did emerge that no interest is being charged by the council for this loan at the present but it was admitted that this might not be the case in the future.
Here are the questions she asked and she did preface them with the statement that she wasn't expecting immediate answers. It was instructive to note that William Gilfinnan did state that the Council were seeking legal advice on some of them already. Now on to Sheena's questions. Please note that if you wish to make comments please try and be constructive on this issue rather than get into the blame game. There will probably be enough time for that when, as it seems highly likely, the Sandown issue goes to a public inquiry and another bonanza for the lawyers begins.
' New points

With the application now no longer “a live local planning application” for our 4 Councillors as it has been passed to the Reporter and ultimately the Scottish Exec, are there likely to be costs from the process of the appeal being set against the loan/ Common good Fund/asset?

If the appeal by Deveron fails is there anything in the contract that states they would get some form of compensation/ golden goodbye presumably to go towards costs incurred by them from the onset of the application. I understand there may be. Can this be thoroughly checked and as well as checking it ascertain who would actually be liable to pay it – THC or the Common Good Fund?

The original contract seems to have been for 300 + houses, as Deveron increased that to 500+ and if the appeal fails was the original contract not then broken by Deveron when their planning application greatly exceeded the agreed number of homes? If the answer to that is yes then presumably there would be no right to compensation.

All these questions arise as the contract for the sale of a common good asset has been kept secret and, it is my opinion, it is now time for “the residents of Nairn” to start seeing some transparency regarding the contract.

Moving on

Have the 4 Trustees seen and fully read the contract between Deveron and THC/Whois the legal second party? Presumably under the Freedom of Information Act if someone asked for a copy they would get it or would it be time barred?

I am concerned that the Trustees might personally be liable if this all goes pear shaped. Have they ascertained that the Indemnity insurance covering them as Councillors also cover the wider remit of being trustees?

More importantly as our 4 Councillors are wearing 2 hats – one as a paid HC councillor and one as a Trustee of the Common Good, there could be a perception of conflict of interest when acting as Trustee. The small matter of allegiance comes to mind, if there was a conflict which side would they support?

Personally I feel they should seriously consider including other “trustees” from the wider community and also include one or two volunteer Professionals with legal and accountancy backgrounds as it’s clear from the various blogs and the media that the present representation is not acceptable to many in the local community and, in my view, needs to be swiftly revisited.

Sheena Baker
26.8.09'

Visit Nairn statement delivered to Ward Forum last night

VN Update and report as delivered by Iain Fairweather

'We did wonder if this would be a good year for tourism and it does seem that for many it has been an excellent year - and I'm told on a par with the mid-90s.

As a group VisitNairn continues to pursue issues of importance to the town and to our visitors.
1) We have campaigned for changes to the tourist information signage. The major problem was that the requests for new signage had be made by VisitScotland to BEAR - and that all took time. It is now better but not perfect. We have sought to bring a number of other issues to public attention and have succeeded quite well with articles and letters in the Nairnshire and Courier.

2) We were grateful for Council support in the full page adverts placed in two brochures. 10,000 extra copies of the Nairn Leisure Guide were distributed elsewhere in Scotland and the 120,000 Inverness and Loch Ness Guide gave Nairn additional exposure. We also had a full page in Highland Life to compensate for an omission in the Leisure Guide. It would be nice to think that the town was busy because of this additional marketing.

3) Our partnership with VisitScotland and the Community Centre is working very well. It was reported to us by guests that the courtesy and help offered by Sam and her team was by far the best out of all the TIC’s they visited on their trip to Scotland. The Centre has worked hard to find accommodation and we have done what we could to advise them of known vacancies during the busy periods. There is more we need to do as a tourism group to encourage more businesses to join us and thus have better information to hand. But alongside the Community Centre, our own network with B&Bs and hotels has worked well. We have struggled to identify vacancies on a particular night. For that reason, Visitnairn.com now has an availability and online booking engine so the potential is there, but sadly, few have signed up for that. We'll be doing all we can to get people use this facility as it is frustrating for us and for our visitors when we get to the point of not knowing who to phone next.

4) VN members have actively promoted local businesses and restaurants but we'd like to see more of them joining our Association. We would also welcome greater input from retail as the combined partnership with accommodation is important. Only when we know each other's product can we market effectively.

5) VisitScotland has always advocated participation the Quality Assurance Scheme but an increasing number of providers are withdrawing from that. We only have 5 VisitScotland registered B&Bs in Nairn. VS are now pushing very strongly the use of Trip Advisor believing that one the best judges of service are actual customers. Nairn now has its own Travel Advisor site where visitors can add their own reviews -
www.cometonairn.com. Whether a business is doing everything right or could do better, we now have a good way of getting the feedback we need.

6) We have formed close links with the Nairn Ceilidh Group and have given practical help and support in the work they do. A large number of tourists make up the audience on Thursday evenings and with our input the venue and decor has been improved and they are just about to install new sound equipment to improve the visitor experience. We are keen to support any group that has vision for a better and more beautiful Nairn. We support the explorations into a new centre in the town to compliment what others are doing. Such a centre has the potential to benefit tourism and the town - and maybe even increase tourism into the winter months by enabling us to provide facilities for business tourism and educational tourism. The economic benefit to the town would be keenly felt if the shoulder months were filled more effectively.



7) Survey - A number of B&Bs have been using a survey form as one means of trying to assess people's view of what we offer. We also had a online survey form. People are generally very positive but there were lots of comments about the shabby appearance of the town. We need to do more to publicise what we have. Visitors and locals do not know about the Tourist Information point; it seems they struggle to locate restaurants; they hate the traffic and complain about the number of traffic lights. But people are generally impressed with what we offer in terms of the beach and the views. However, responsibility for the townscape is down to us.

8) The big issue we have to deal with is the Regal and associated areas. Our visitor survey clearly identifies that the Regal is a blight on our town. Many see beyond the obvious - but a good number do not – and first impressions count. We did meet with Danny Alexander with a view to getting a meeting with the Co-op. Via Danny we did get a Land Registry report on ownership of land but as yet we have had no meeting with the Co-op.
As you may be aware, others are pursuing alternative ideas for the use of the area around Somerfield. For those concerned about the image of the town, the matter of the Regal and town centre development is the most pressing issue. A number of ideas are coming forward - BUT - we are quite frustrated that no one in authority appears to have made any effort to address the visual impact of that building. We simply don't accept that nothing can be done - and worryingly - it could be 5 years before the Co-op do anything. Nairn cannot afford to wait that long. We therefore challenge those who have the power to influence change make an effort to get this onto the agenda. There are some in this room who could make a difference and perhaps we need some new party-political stickers delivered to every home advocating - "A New Town Centre for Nairn". '

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ward Forum fervour and Nairn Partnership passion!

It was a remarkable evening upstairs in the Courthouse and the Gurnmeister hopes he can do justice to what passed earlier, however keep that forty pence in your pocket for Monday evening/Tuesday morning beacause the local paper was, as usual, there to record the proceedings. Hopefully a fuller description of events will emerge on the Gurn in the morning but Water Lane events are unfolding at great speed and we have more material to publish and they will take precedence, I know the web is supposed to be a 24/7 resource but please be patient.
What was the the most startling part of the evening then? Sheena Baker and her list of Common Good Fund questions (the Gurnmeister must look at his notes but it seems that William Gilfillan is already investigating legal implications of some of them)? Iain Fairweather with his stats that point out that it has been a good tourist season so far - as good as the mid-90's in fact? Was it Rosemary Machen-Young who called for a 200 strong group of Nairnites to just go out and clean up the Regal, regardless of what Somerfield or anyone else might think or try and do to stop it? Was it the Inquisition of River CC's Margaret MacKintosh who relentlessly and succinctly asked Malcolm MacLeod of HC (he was presenting the Highland Development Plan Scheme) why we have to build on perfectly good arable land? Was it our indefatigable gaffer Sandy Park who indicated that people had to get involved because previous consultations could have been held in a telephone box on the High Street? Sandy that was a good point, top man! You are right, it's down to the citizens to participate.
It's hard to articulate really, you should have been there to see it for yourself, perhaps eventually they will webcast this too. The main point is perhaps, that we get a chance to input into the new development plan for the Highlands and the process has been promised to be open and transparent. Let's take them at their word Gurnites, as they say themselves we have to learn from the past. If we think the A96 Corridor Master Plan is the cause of all our woes for example, let's get involved on mass and chuck out what we don't want - let's develop planet Nairnshire in the style we want and not anyone else. If it's really a new planning world then let's make it ours. Make your views heard Gurnites. More on this tomorrow if time permits and keep up to date over on the APT blog too.
PS Gurnmeister opinion on Cawdor Delnies plan below

A new future for Nairn - Cawdor Delnies plan - but where's the allotments?

That really was the only criticism that Mr and Mrs Gurnmeister had of the revised masterplan on show at the community centre today. OK, like all the other plans for the area at the moment it has an element of fantasty but surely fantasy based on reality: by that we mean no plans for business parks that will remain empty etc. Golf and tourism are strong elements of the proposal and elements that work well for Nairn already. Here's the masterplan. Have a look for yourself there are other documents too that show the changes after consultation, you can submit your views here on this web page which also allows you to access further information.
It is so ironic that many Nairnites feel that they are getting a better deal from the local aristocracy than from the democratically elected Highland Council's preffered developer on Sandown but when you think about it it isn't all that strange: Cawdor Estate and Cawdor Castle are part of our community and thus will also be around in the future to live with the consequences of their plans.
So apart from the lack of allotments, well done. If Gurnites submit comments please ask for more allotments. There are now 40 people on the Nairn Allotment Society waiting list and although initiatives in the pipeline could soon take a few off there is a proven demand for land to grow fruit and vegetables. Cawdor could resolve this in a flash.
Better the devil you know than the devil you don't?

Seagullsphere

The Nairn blogosphere and the Nairnshire are not without seagull comment this week. I wonder if anyone will enjoy the interesting use of Joni Mitchell's Song to a Seagull over on Where Mountains Meet the Sea.
Here's a utube recording, love the intro by Joni herself.

Water Lane campaign gathers momentum

It seems the campaign against the proposed 5 town houses on the rear of the Woolworths building is spreading beyone the confines of Water Lane with others in the town indicating that they wish to help their fellow citizens threatened with over-development. The Gurn has received a copy of a letter sent to Mr MacCracken the planning officer dealing with this application:
'Formal Objection: Proposed Development at Water Lane, Nairn (Application:09/00090/FULNA)

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you in support of all residents affected by the above proposal and object for following reasons:

The proposed type of development is not in line with the 200 years old historic character of this quarter.
The number of houses and their size, height, material and architecture will have a most negative impact on the future sympathic and distinctive development of Nairn's town center.

The proposed development will massively constrain the Water Lane residents' quality of life: loss of daylight (height of the buildings), loss of privacy (narrow Lane - opposite windows), increased traffic / noise. The parking situation is doubtful, the quarter's infrastructure (drainage/sewage) with such an overdevelopment questionable.

Loss of substantial business premises (suitable for attractive larger retailers, desperately needed!) is also a concern re the necessary revitalisation of Nairn's High Street and reactivation of tourism.

At least, even the quality of life in the proposed new houses (same problems as described before) will be very low. Following the drafts supplied, the houses are very narrow with few windows only towards the frontage - but are three stories high - this will be only suitable for a very small segment of population excluding disabled people, elderly people and families with children.

Yours sincerely,'
Should you wish to help the Water Lane citizens then you too can write too the following address:
The Planning Officer
Mssrs. McCracken / Polson
Area Planning Office
Highland Council,
1-3 Church Street,
INVERNESS
IV1 1DY
You can also make an online objection on this webpage. It seems to accept comments but if you click onto the tab to read the comments it won't allow you to do so (IE7 anyway). The Gurn has published details of the plans and they are also available in the Courthouse. Why not take a walk down Water Lane and see for yourself the impact this development will have.
There it is Gurnites, it is worth considering supporting your fellow citizens because such a planning application could affect your area next.
Those concerned about this development have until Tuesday the 1st of September to register their objections that's only 7 Days

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nairn 2 Rothes 1 - North of Scotland cup joy tonight


It was a difficult game with Rothes playing really well but the script went according to plan at the end of 90 minutes, Nairn are in the final again. Goals by Steven MacKay and Craig Campbell sealed the event and allowed Nairn to progress once again to what seems their yearly right of passage. Hats off to the Rothes fans though, they kept us all entertained with their constant singing, 'We're Rothes until we die', was sung with Gusto. That's what it's all about in the Highland League, supporting your local side all your days.

Tuesday morning press review

Our local paper revisits the Holme Rose right of way issues once again with new twists in the story. The West Community Council also hits the headlines with news of important issues they are debating. Scottish Water are on the defensive over a sewage issue. A sequel to the debate on the Maggot trees and much more. This week's paper may well be remembered for its letter from a seagull supporter. Worth smashing the piggy bank against the wall with gusto just to obtain the 40p to allow you to access this classic pro-gull 'gurn'. The Nairnshire's correspondent blames anti-seagull talk mainly on 'incomers'. We won't tell you more, have fun reading it for yourself.
A few jobs available this week and a comprehensive report on NCFC losing at home on Saturday.

Dusseldorf - Inverness Great for golfers but not so good for business

We hear from a Gurnite who points out how this flight is praised on the following Hi-Engergy page.
'Lufthansa begins weekly flights operating from Inverness Airport to Dusseldorf from June to September 2009. The service will provide direct access between the Highlands and Islands and Germany for both leisure and business visitors, linking to Lufthansa's extensive global network.'
Yes wonderful for golfers and other tourists but our correspondent suggests that it is of minimal use to business folk as it is a Saturday return service and tells us of a Nairn resident that has to travel to Edinburgh for regular business trips to Germany.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Unbeaten run ends: Nairn 0 Fraserburgh 1

Really annoying because apart from a good Broch goal there wasn't much between these two sides. If Nairn are to do anything this season then losing at home just cannot be on the agenda. A good crowd up at Station Park today enjoying the sunshine. More pictures later, much later :-)

UPDATE: sooner rather than later here are some more pictures.

UPDATE: Monday morning and a report in the P&J Broch 'fortunate' at Station Park.

Saturday night rock memory

Picture will enlarge. Alan Watson on stage with Slipstream and rocking the crowd at one of the Maggot free fests. Sometime in the eighties, good times indeed. The Gurnmeister remembers being there but has not got a scoobie what year. Thanks to Murray for the pic.
Charlie Robertson donated the scaffolding for the night and the electricty if my memory serves me right. Rock on Gurnites!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Nairnshire Partnership and Ward Forum 26th August 18.00 - 20.00, the Courthouse - an item for debate that Gurnites may wish to hear in person

Good morning Gurnites, here's the Highland Council webpage and the agenda in detail. A concerned Gurnite has drawn our attention to item 10:
10. Highland Development Plan Scheme – presentation by Malcolm Macleod, HC’s Development Plans Manager
Our correspondent tells us, 'the MIR (Main Issue Report) itself is now coming up for consultation with the general public. This HWDP will inform the development of the whole of the inner Moray Firth area for some years to come and is enormously important.' Our fellow Gurnite continues.' mention this only to highlight two things, people in Nairn need to be attending anything to do with the MIR now in order to acquaint themselves with it in an environment where there are people to answer their questions as is the case at the Forum next week. They should also take the opportunity to go online and look at the MIR on the H.C. website and here is where to go.......

This may all sound a bit dull but we have to show an interest because if we don't then the voices of ordinary citizens will be lost and we may get the kind of future that others want to impose upon us. If you care about your community and other communities in the Moray Firth and the Highlands then get involved in planning issues, make your views known, talk to your friends and neighbours about it and let's make the agenda something that is citizen led and not council, government or developer led. Sometimes we like to bitch about how we think things are going wrong and how we feel we are ignored but this time let's make 100% use of this new chance to have our say.
Keep an eye on the APT blog too for important news items about further meetings and chances to get your point of view across.

Bill discusses the release of Megrahi

Interesting piece from Bill on his blog and some debate has started with reaction in the comments.

Nairn Academy Science Blog

A new blog on the block:
'Blog depicting the development of the new Science and Library block due to be completed at Nairn Academy by the end of October 2009.' Here's a page with a video of pre-fabricated sections being put in place.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Street Names of Nairn – Irene Main Mackintosh

Nairn is fortunate in having several local historians who publish excellent material. Irene Main Mackintosh is no exception; her new book 'Street Names of Nairn' is a fascinating read covering the history of nearly 40 Nairn streets including The Maggot! (Cause of much controversy earlier in the year when a developer wanted to sanitise the name)

The proceeds from the sale of the book (£3.99) are for Nairn museum, so rush out and buy yourself a copy soon. Just right for nights by the fireside now the days are drawing in.

Eala

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

West folk

Another meeting on Tuesday night for the baby of the Nairn community council bunch but you wouldn’t have realised this to see the way things were running smoothly with a wide range of topics being discussed. The Westerners were getting to grips with the Sandown and the Delnies projects. The proposed developments will obviously have an impact on their area especially if the residents of the new schemes look for rat runs through the West End. The West councillors like their suburban counterparts are supporters of development but not at any price and they decided that they would join the Sandown objectors at the public inquiry as the issue would not be about development per se on Sandown but the Deveron proposal itself. Bill Shand was also at the meeting and he was of the opinion that nothing substantial could go ahead until Nairn had a bypass in situ. Seonaid Armstrong reminded the meeting of the numbers of homes involved, 550 for Sandown and 300 for Delnies and the impact that car ownership of all those potential residents could have on the West of the town and the rest of the community in general.
Another issue connected with development is of course sewage and the meeting had hoped to have a representative from the Petty and Ardersier community council as they would be at the receiving end of all the new sewage produced by the new communities. Unfortunately the Ardersier rep was unable to attend. Councillor Laurie Fraser was in attendance however and added to the conversation with asked, bringing the benefit of his years of experience as a Highland and previously Nairn District councillor to the meeting. Laurie can get a bit of stick at times, just like his three colleagues, but he certainly is good at his game given half a chance and his insights are often very perceptive, helpful and revealing.
The West members had hoped to attract a larger attendance to the meeting but it was pointed out to them that it was par for the course for community councils to have small turn-outs until something happened that affected large members of the community and then rooms and halls could soon fill up with citizens seeking help.
There was more conversation about a single community council for Nairn (one of the raisons d’être of the resurrected West CC). Graham Vine told his colleagues that he had been told that the Highland wide consultation on community councils would begin sooner than expected but would take longer than expected. An extremely complicated process of consultation and re-consultation looks as though it will take 18 months plus. In the meantime there were various suggestions as to how the 3 councils could work together and become (de facto) a single council in all but name and thus be ready for the end of the process. It could be interesting times in the near future Gurnites, should the make-up of the River Council change in the end of year elections and become more supportive of the link-up, then could Nairn’s community councils declare a sort of UDI and form a single council for the town anyway? A move that would surely be endorsed by the town’s four Highland Council members and receive massive public backing and goodwill?
Sadly news too of a renewed threat to the Maclean Court day care facility and the West CC are to write a letter supporting the centre. A call from Jimmy Ferguson for an enforcement of the dog ban on the central beach, tempered with a plea for information to holiday makers, telling them where they can take walk their dogs. There was more, much more and once again a main stream media representative was there. They always make such a better job of recording the whole thing than the Gurn, so if you’re going out on the ran-dan this weekend make sure to save yourself 40p so you don’t miss out on all the details on Monday night or Tuesday morning when the most important paper in the North once again hits the local newsstands.
The west folk – doing their bit you!

Piper on the west pier



Morning, Gurnites. Thanks to Tommy for this picture. Any suggestions as to what tune the piper was playing on the pier? The six seat clean-up reel? Iright's blue seat march?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Water Lane plans












Images will enlarge. The plan has come back the same with another document showing elevations. Pop down to the Courthouse to see it Gurnites, then go down Water Lane to see for yourselves how this planned overdevelopment will cram people into such a small place. Please also read the post below and keep your eye on the ball. Soon it could be happening on a space near you. Time to support all Nairn citizens threatened by overdevelopment Gurnites. Together we can decide what sort of a town we want and not the developers!

Water Lane plans 'gone to Kingussie'‏

Dear Gurn,
I thought your readers might be interested to hear how I got on trying to find out about the plans for five town houses in Water Lane off theHigh Street.
I did spot that the original notification advised me to go Barron House which I knew was closed. It's encouraging to note the Court House has copies of the plans but I am usually away from Nairn Monday to Friday 9 to 5. Then I noted that the plans could be inspected in Inverness and as luck would have it I was able to visit the planning office in Church Street during my lunch break today.
Only to be told, after some searching, that I couldn't inspect the plans as 'the file has gone to Kingussie'!
I asked about e-planning (which means you can view plans on line) but it seems this won't be fully up and running in Highland till next month (by which time it will be too late to comment on the Water Lane plans), although it has been receiving planning applications since April.
Jason Rose,
Nairn.
That is very interesting Jason and disturbing, you would think a copy would be available by some means in the Inverness Office. The e-planning does provide a basic service at the moment but if you were looking for information on the Water Lane plan then no chance, the last weekly list is for the 7th of August and available on PDF, the Water Lane application came in after that. When will the latest list be available? As a matter of interest the plans and other documents are now available for viewing in the Courthouse.
Please note that later this evening the Gurn intends to publish the details of the Water Lane proposal on line for all gurnites to see. This is an important planning application gurnites, if it gets the go ahead the floodgates will be open to cram inappropriate houses in anywhere in our community. Your street or neighbourhood could be the target of such a development next!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The just after midnight press review

This week's Nairnshire front page is a sewage splash with details and reaction to the recent pollution event in the River Nairn. Inside, news of possible discrimination against a young tennis star, more debate on Nairn as a cultural destination, the lack of a Fishertown bus service. Letters about the seagulls and alleged Lib Dem 'hypocrisy'. The Editor has his finger on the pulse with a write-up of how volunteers do so much for the town. A large jazz article and more on the Woolies planning application - you can see a copy of the drawing for 5 houses that could be crammed into Water Lane if this application succeeds. There's pictures from the games and more, much more, the usual delightful 40p treat is waiting to brighten up your life at a newsagent's near you.

State of the seats on the west pier: troublemakers start gathering!

Crowds of agitated Gurnites start gathering on the West Pier demanding that action is taken to fulfill Iright's blue seat vision. Thanks to Tommy for the picture.

Breadcrumb Brigade issues have migrated

A thread over on Mynairn.com has let to further comments on the breadcrumbs issue. Brian started out by congratulating Joe on 2 years of swan island and as usual a debate started on related matters. It seems rather tame so far compared to some we've seen here on the same subject and let's hope it stays that way. Worth scrolling down on another older mynairn thread to read a new lengthy comment from 'the dude' who had a really bad holidy experience in the town. Let's hope his thoughts don't get too far up the Google ratings when people are researching Nairn for a potential holiday break. Why not pop over and as the Guardian says 'Comment is free.'

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Na Geamaichean Gaidhealach Inbhir Narann - 2009 - Nairn Highland Games

The weather held off and a great games day was enjoyed by all, made perfect by the news filtering through that Nairn County, playing away from home, had beaten Huntly.
Picture will enlarge and others later this weekend if time permits but the Gurnmeister only managed to get down towards the end of the games so if any gurnites out there have posted pictures on flickr or elsewhere please send us the link.
UPDATE: MORE PICTURES now available on Gurnflikr
and over on Bill's Comments you can see videos of the games.

Nairn Academy rumours

The Gurn has been hearing rumours that the Academy might not open on time this year. Up until now we've been inclined to believe it was the usual silly season stuff but after a conversation with a Nairn Academy worker today it seems that there is either some substance to these rumours or an unfortunate coincidence or other has added meat and bones to the nonsense, and the Gurn sincerely hopes they are nonsense but if they persist a simple denial or confirmation from Highland Council might be necessary.
Comments have been disabled for this thread.
Update 1600 17/08: the Gurn has heard from the Provost that there are no problems with Nairn Academy and the school will open as normal and in full tomorrow. Good news indeed there folks!

Huntly 0 Nairn 1

A great win for the wee county through in Huntly. Nairn now fourth in the league, hot of the heels of the cup win through in Lossie on Tuesday too!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sandown Public Inquiry appeal turned down?

Today's Courier has a small article on page seven with the headline Developer's inquiry appeal turned down.
The article states:
'A DEVELOPER appealing a decision by councillors to rerfuse planning permission for 550 homes and a business park on the outskirts of Nairn has had its wishes for a public inquiry ignored.'
However this morning the Scottish Government site still maintains that the case is still 'Ready for allocation to reporter.' You can see the inquiry file here plus all relevant documents.
The Courier article does rather confusingly state, 'However the final decision will rest with the Scottish Government on how the appeal should proceed.' This article also mentions that councillors 'agreed this week they would rather the appeal be heard at an informal hearing.'
Perhaps things will become clearer as the day proceeds.
UPDATE 2250: Scottish Government site still indicating case awaiting allocation of a reporter. Confused Courier causing confusion?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A bench mark for slipping standards?



Sorry can't remember who it was but someone was gruning at the River Community Council meeting about the state of the seats on the West Pier, the general state of disrepair and the weeds and fag ends and litter underneath then. Is this the image we wish to project to tourists?
UPDATE 14.08.09: A concerned gurnite sends in this picture of the dog-jobbie bin doubling up as a litter bin in the abscence of adequate litter facilities on the pier. Our correspondent adds, 'Some Italian tourists were looking with dismay at the overflowing bin!'

Gurnite Power

Seems like our opinions are being heard well beyond the County line. Brian has more on mynairn.com.

Merrytown farm plans?

A worried member of the public attended the River Community Council meeting on Tuesday night to see if anyone had any news of a planning application for the Merryton Farm site. Recently a surveying team had been seen on the land and given the controversial large development of flats next door it is understandable that residents would want to be quick off the mark if there was any likelihood of another development nearby. It is perfectly legitimate for the owner to have the land surveyed however, and it is perhaps inevitable that that field so close to the town centre will one day see some sort of development but the Gurn shares the worries of that resident who would not like to see yet more large blocks of flats in that area.
If we are to build new homes in Nairn, let's make sure that everyone gets a garden and a bit of parking space with each home, be they private, housing association, affordable or unaffordable or whatever. Keep your eye on the ball Gurnites, sensible development only in Nairn (and a sewage system that can cope with that development please)!

Bad PR?

Mark Cummings has become a familiar name in Nairn given his involvement with the Sandown Lands planning application. Recently he was mentioned in the Sunday Times, a gurnite has forwared another article that has appeared on the Dunfermiline press site which once again mentions Mr Cummings.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Station brae beech hedge due a trim?

The road sign more than slightly obscured now. Looks like it has been a good year for the beech hedge. Thanks to Murd for the picture

No Fishertown bus service

The campaign to get a bus service down to the harbour has stalled again with little joy from Highland Council and Stagecoach on this matter. River Community Councillor Margaret Mackintosh was deeply disappointed and once again stressed how elderly residents of the Fishertown will need to get to the hospital once the medical services move. She stated that she knew one elderly woman who had given up on physio as she was unable to afford the £9 taxi fare to the hospital.

Murd's continuing effort to ensure disabled access to the Firhall Bridge

Riverside campaigner Murd Dunbar has learnt that Scottish Water appear to be willing for the old water main to be removed from the Firhall Bridge. The next step would be a Highland Council report on the conditions and options of the bridge to be commission, although this was in the pipeline for action it has now slipped back somewhat do to financial restrictions. One step forward, one step backward? Murd promises to keep up the pressure however and last night he gave the River Community Council the latest update on how things have been proceeding.
Well done Murd and more power to your campaign to enable access for all across this bridge, something that would enable those less mobile or agile than the rest of us to enjoy the round trip along the riverside walks.

Rosebank Church work

Picture will enlarge. The work on the former kirk has inspired a Gurnite to anonymous comment:

'Could we at last be seeing some progress on one of the eyesores of Nairn which has been a blight on the town for three decades?
The owner of the Rosebank Church seems to be doing some serious work on the restoration of the roof of the building.
One would suspect if he is spending this kind of money there could be developments in the offing.
Or at least he is making the property a more attractive option for potentital buyers. Let's hope so.!!! '

Anon.

Highland Council subsidises Nairn Common Good

The River Community Council meetings can be lively affairs and last night was no exception. More later this evening on events in the community centre last night but now a few words about the Common Good.
Stephanie regularly raises issues members of the public raise with her on the street and last night she told the meeting that a lot of people were concerned about the common good fund. These concerns seemed to be shared around the table with the words 'conflict of interest' being muttered and one community councillor even suggested that given the situation the name 'Common Good' should be dropped.
Highland Councillors Liz and Graham, who were present, entered the debate with the claim that, at present, the Highland Council subsidises the Common Good fund and without the council's help the fund would be short of money. Liz mentioned the new Maggot car park as one example. Tommy suggested the fund was short of money because there was no longer any income from Sandown.
Out of this debate came an important fact from Liz that no doubt the Common Good campaigners in the town will analyse deeply. She stated that Sandown was not Common Good Land but a Common Good Asset and that also a young man had recently got into trouble for using his motorbike on this land under the erroneous impression that he had the right to do so.
It looks like we are moving to a debate over the Common Good Fund gurnites, this is not a bad thing at all. The Gurn has made no secret that it supports those who wish for more public input into the decision making process, ideally by incorporating those elected to the new proposed Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council into the fund administration. Whatever the immediate outcome there can be no doubt that the Common Good will play a part in the public inquiry over Sandown that will take place next year.
A final point, Graham reminded the meeting that the first £2,000,000 of any sale of the main asset would go to pay for the community centre.
More this evening on River Community Council issues.

River back to normal?

The sewage is no longer flowing straight into the river but with the low level of water coming down the Nairn will things manage to correct themselves quickly? Last night at the River Community Council Tommy Hogg stated that two dead salmon had been seen in the river. A coincidence perhaps, fish die of many things, but coming at a time of a serious pollution incident this will worry many Nairn Anglers.
If you see sewage or other pollution entering the river in the town area you can contact Scottish Water on the following number.
0845 600 8855 and give the following postcode references IV12 5AA for the river and IV12 4PH for the harbour pier area. (thanks to Councillor Graham Marsden for that information, Graham was busy investigating possible pollution sites yesterday).
You can also take pictures and forward them to the authorities and local media, including the Gurn and the Swan Blog. Over on the swan blog there have now been over half a dozen comments from members of the public on the thread concerning this latest pollution issue.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sandown Appeal: Request for Support.‏

The Gurn is happy to publish the following appeal from Brian Lynch of the Nairn Residents Concern Group.
'The people of Nairn may remember the May 12th (2009) planning hearing where Highland Council quite correctly rejected Deveron Higland's planning application for 550 homes (plus wetlands,community centre etc) at Sandown. You may also be aware that Deveron have appealed this decision and that there will be a public enquiry at a date yet to be advised.

Nairn Residents Concern Group have a working party that not only worked up and presented a "citizen objectors" case at the May 12th hearing-but continues to proactively work the issue right up to the present.

We are prepared to construct, register and present objections to Deverons appeal submission when the public enquiry date is announced. The developers are likely to argue, on the basis of the very limited survey exercise they conducted, that there was no clear public view among the people of Nairn either in favour of, or against, their proposals. This is despite that fact that no-one spoke in favour of the development at the Planning Committee hearing in May.

The goal which we all share, is of a Nairn which retains its unique character and qualities, and where development is appropriate, proportionate, and reflects the views and aspirations of the town’s residents. Therefore the Nairn Residents Concern Group response will cover several principal objections, the key one of which is specifically related to the large number (550 houses), and high density of the proposed development and its impact on infrastructure. We believe that the submission the Group makes to the appeal will carry more weight if we can demonstrate to the Appeals Reporter that it reflects the collective views of a substantial number of the people of Nairn. We are therefore keen to incorporate the comments of local residents into our document.

So can I seek input from all those readers of the Gurn who have concerns about any aspect of Deveron's plans for the Sandown land (whether specifically about the number of houses, or about the wider impact of the proposal on the infrastructure, traffic, services and facilities of the town)? To express support for the Group's position, please send an email to
brian.lynch3@virgin.net (or write to the address below) giving your own name and address and indicating any points about which you are particularly concerned.

Yours Sincerely,
Brian Lynch
(For Nairn Residents Concern Group)
"Benview": Sandown Farm Lane, Nairn'
Thanks Brian. Please foward this appeal to friends and neighbours gurnites, print off a few copies for those without PC's. This is a fight for what kind of a town we want to live in - now it is time to get involved!

Monday night press review

The Nairnshire is the Gurnshire again, the Sailing Club are gurning all over the front page about harbour fees. Highland Council state the case for the defence and give facts and figures, including a cash sum for the pontoons. A sum that would enable quite a few Bailey Bridges to be repaired?
Danny Alexander visits the train station. Iain Bain writes about the Gulls. Yours for the usual price at a newsagent's near you.

The River Nairn now an open sewer! Filth flows unimpaired just above the 'Sewerage Bridge'



No doubt about it, this time the real McCoy can be seen flowing into the River Nairn from an outfall just 20 yards above the sewerage bridge on the left bank. The stench on the riverbank is overpowering. The Gurnmeister had seen a grey streak close to the bank just before 10.00 a.m. this morning but was in too much of a hurry to investigate. Around 17.00 and armed with a camera he returned to find the following scene. Ducks were in the water around the outfall, the wildlife has no choice but what would bathers on the beach do if they knew what was coming their way?
More pictures of how this health hazard is entering the river are available here on the Gurn's flickr account.
Plus more background to this story on the Swan Blog. It seems SEPA have been informed, will the environmental authority act quickly?
UPDATE:
We've had something in from a gurnite who's seen a bit of the real McCoy in the past and is now subscribing to the school of thought that thinks a few jobbies could be getting into the harbour on their way down to the sea. There's a couple of pictures here.
UPDATE: news of Scottish Water in the area late this evening and one of the usual explanations? Get over to the swan blog for more information.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Wall - an old media still going strong

Picture will enlarge.

Mark Cummings of Invicta mentioned in the Sunday Times

Read the article here.
Update March 2010 As at 5th March 2010 the Procurator Fiscal’s office in Edinburgh, has decided that no proceedings are to be taken against Mr Mark Cummings concerning the allegations made in the linked article.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Pilgrimage - swannie signs up

Tonight the Gurnmeister met swannie the newest member of the pilgrimage team. A few more pictures on the gurn flickr vault. Bill recently walked passed the festival and shares his thoughts and also a few pictures on his blog.

Friday, August 07, 2009

New town bus service launched

The 159 will run from the Cinema of Dreams Maggot terminus to the 'End of the Line' up at the Supermarket of Dreams fantasy planning game site and will stop at Ashers to allow public inquiry lawyers to get their coffee and sandwiches.

Still no room to get by

Despite the lorry driver trying out a bit of the pavement on the brae the car behind still couldn't proceed. The brae was meant to be safer now wasn't it?

Nairn - Capturing the hope and the despair

Morning Gurnites, I was going to start the day with a reminder that there has been a lot of material published on the Gurn this week and that it was worth a scroll down to see some of this, especially the letter from Shuan MacDonald. However a comment from Nairnbairn on another thread achieves this purpose and thus, we post that comment in its own right.
'This and the preceding blog once again capture both the hope and the despair that so many of us feel about what is happening in Nairn. Shaun Macdonald's impassioned plea - and the comments it has inspired - show the imagination and the positive thinking that is typical of those many people who want to see Nairn become a better and more attractive place. Such sentiments inspire hope.
Then in the very next blog, we read of the reality. Proof that - as had been predicted - closure of the local planning office has sown confusion among officials (and even developers' agents!) and caused inconvenience to residents. Local concern that this Water Lane proposal may herald similar unwelcome development bids on other "spare land" in future. And a not unreasonable suspicion that yet another High Street landmark (Woolies) might end up as flats.
So hope rapidly turns to despair. While the positive thinkers offer ideas (arts centre, galleries, whatever), the developers are busy trying to exploit the opportunities that arise because of the absence of a coherent plan and vision for the regeneration of Nairn.
What will it take to mobilise the town into taking creative, positive, constructive action to revive the town centre? As Shaun pointed out, some (Book & Arts, Jazz, etc) are doing what they can. But where is the civic leadership which this town needs?
I was reminded of lines from a TS Eliot poem:
"Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow..."
And the title of the poem from which this comes....?
"The Hollow Men". '