One of the issues that will come to dominate 2011 in Nairn will be the town centre and Highland Council’s Plan B. The Citizens’ group NICE will also be to the fore as they continue the campaign for a better town centre and perhaps expand their role to help improve other parts of Nairn. Inextricabley linked with the town centre (and the Sandown problem) is the Common Good fund, especially as efforts by the Highland Council to raise cash from the fund have ended in spectacular disaster - is it now time for a daring change of approach? This observer thinks so. Earlier this month a book entitled ‘The Poor have no Lawyers’ was recommended to me. It is written by Common Good campaigner Andy Wightman and in quoting from chapter 23 “All Property of a Burgh” I’m struck by just how appropriate his words are for our current situation in Nairn:
“Common good assets form a central part of the history, heritage, culture and identity of communities across
It is self-evident that those best positioned to take a view on the best interests of the inhabitants of a Burgh are the inhabitants themselves. This should be done through open, transparent and democratic debate and yet they have no such avenue to do so. Instead the local authority determines this question. This is no longer sustainable.
There are literally hundreds of millions of pounds floating around in the form of previously unaccounted-for assets, undervalued assets and underused assets. This wealth belongs to local people and not to the Council. It should be used to begin a process of civic renewal and physical regeneration, to deliver wealth and prosperity and to give back to towns across
We need more control over our own affairs as Andy Wightman says, local people have the skills (just look at the squad of talent quickly assembled by NICE) and a profound desire to protect and improve their community. Will our Highland Council representatives have the courage to let the community take the next steps instead of relying too heavily on the advice and guidance of their (often out of town) officials? Will they have the foresight to respond to public opinion and allow us to have a Royal Burgh Community Council? Remember Scottish Government sponsored consultation on that is still ongoing until the end of January. They have the choice, let the community have more freedom or fight a battle against the community to keep power in
2011 will be very interesting indeed.