Sunday, April 04, 2010

Nairn, Alness and Tain swimming pools - the soft targets for Highland Council?

Further to a recent Gurn article on the potential closure of Nairn Swimming Pool we ask if three communities are being set up by a loaded question in the Highland Council review document ?
'The Council manages 12 swimming pools and provides grant aid to 9 others. Can we reduce the number of swimming pools?
We would like your views on whether we should use travel time of half an hour between existing pools as the key criteria for determining whether pools should close. This would suggest closing Alness, Tain and Nairn pools. Alternatively, should we use other criteria? If so what criteria should the council use to identify potential pool closures? '
Ever seen a loaded question? Who came up with that question? Did Nairn's four Councillors approve it? Seems like asking the punters to come up with a response to a set of loaded dice? Are the Highland Council setting communities against each other?
The Gurn hopes to soon have a link to a copy of the petition sheet that can be downloaded or printed off.


We're doomed said...

Some of the budget suggestions are for local closures with services provided solely in Inverness. My apologies if I have missed any exception reading through the Highland Council's proposals, but not once have I seen the idea for anything in Inverness to close and be moved outwith the area.
For some years now in Nairn we have seen a trickle of local council services closing and being moved to Inverness.
Apart from losing local jobs it also means a journey for Nairnites, an example would be if we want to see a planning application
On the back of the cuts I suspect we will see local council services severely curtailed everywhere in the Highlands
The effect on some communities will be very great as I suspect there will also be an incentive on private and business services to follow suit as Inverness increasingly becomes not the hub to the Highlands but just about the only location outside of the tourist industry for employment
For many years communities have been arguing for more local facilities from the council, all this is about to fade
Inverness itself has argued for regional bodies to be relocated, witness SNH. This however is likely to be the first and last organisation to be moved in this way, the costs are now just too high
I fear that towns outwith Inverness are going to find themselves increasingly disempowered, and our councillors are going to be fighting the losing corner for retention of any council services
I very much hope that I'm proved wrong (for once!)

Captain Mainwaring said...

Pull yourself together Fraser.
When the Sandown development is finally built there are going to be loads of jobs on their humongous business park. We need private enterprise and entrepreneurs, less of this mamby pamby public sector stuff
If we all pull together we'll get through this, you mark my words, and make sure you vote for me in the coming elections
We need a descent party in power none of this nonsense socialist nationalist banter

Anonymous said...

Half an hour? The usual assumption that everyone has cars? What about the people who have to rely on public transport? There is no way you could get to Inverness in half an hour, in fact, you probably can't get to the Aquadome in Inversneckie from Nairn in half an hour.
I reckon the Gurn is right, the propaganda machine is oiling the way for many decisions which have probably already been taken.
That doesn't mean we don't go down without a fight.
By the way, has anyone seen any of the Fab Four recently (Liz, Sandy, Laurie & Graham), they all seem to be lying low?

Anonymous said...

As far as I am aware, when a petition is submitted it only counts as one objection. You really need to be getting people to sign an individual letter (could be a proforma letter, that they just need to complete their address details and then sign it) and then hand them in on mass or individually. Doesn't need to be an A4 letter, just a slip of paper with the basic objection ie, "I don't want the Nairn Swimming pool to close" or something along that line then their name, address and signature.

Anonymous said...

Time for a march from the Courthouse down to the swimming pool and a rally?

Anonymous said...

Very good point about public transport - the feedback to the council should recommend the 30 mins travelling time *by public transport*, and see what a spanner in the works that causes. :)

The trickle of public services leaving Nairn just underlines the need to have a strong, single voice Royal Burgh of Nairn community council, IMO.

- Brian

Mal Function said...

The Council's budget problem is serious and the cuts have to be substantial.

Just pruning at the margins by 10% or whatever on services like gritting, road maintenance etc, and cutting facilities and services to outlying communities, shows a lack of imagination, and won't deliver.

As We're Doomed has noted,
"not once have I seen the idea for anything in Inverness to close and be moved outwith the area."

The biggest costs, in almost any organisation, are the central admin, services and overheads at "headquarters". In Highland Council's case, this is in Inverness, which is the highest-cost location in the region (in terms of property, office space and running costs).

So.... to save money, shift major chunks of the Council's operations to other lower-cost locations around the region. This would be in line with regional development policy and the principle of decentralisation. This is what central UK government had to do to save money, relocating whole departments from London to Swansea (DVLA), East Kilbride (HMRC), Newcastle (DHSS), etc. It's what the BBC is doing, moving production to Manchester and elsewhere.

So relocate the entire Highland Council Planning department to Nairn. Run all Roads maintenance from Kingussie. Put the main Social Work departments in Dingwall. Manage Housing and Property from Fort William. And so on.

If staff choose not to relocate from Inverness to these other centres, tough: we'll have a slimmed-down and less expensive Council, and if slots have to be filled, recruit locally - think of the boost that would give to employment prospects in these other local towns around the region!

Short-term pain, certainly, but long term gain. And such a process would oblige the Council itself to examine what functions are vital and what could be reduced without significant loss of efficiency.

The spotlight needs to be shone fiercely on the Council in Inverness, not on the local pools, libraries, and respite centres in towns and villages elsewhere around the Highland region. We should be strengthening and supporting local communities, not axeing their services while sustaining the behemoth at the centre.

Reality bites said...

30 minutes is an arbitrary figure and is not worth quibbling over

I would suggest that no one wants any current service provided by Highland Council to close, but in reality given the massive budget constraints most must
It is all very well to spotlight the Highland Council, but the root of this issue is the amount of public money that the government has used to shore up the banks.
It is this shortfall that is now becoming apparent and is likely to last for a decade or more. We are not just talking cuts in this years budget, but for many, many years to come
For most councils the tax they raise directly from us is usually 20% or less of their overall budget, so it would take an unacceptable rise in council tax to counter the budget deficit effectively put in place by central government
This is the fall out from banking that saw deregulation and many other questionable practices collapse
Perhaps at the time of the government bail outs someone forgot to say public services are going to be flattened, but I'm afraid it is going to take more that marches, petitions, and face book groups to save the likes of Nairn swimming pool, it is going to take money that councils just don't have and are not going to get for a very long time

Graisg said...

@ reality bites: It's a whole new ball game yes. But maybe it's time Nairn took more control of its own affairs, maybe there's imaginative ways we can do things for ourselves and try and protect our community as things at Highland Council fall to pieces.
Why should Glenurquhart Road and it's panel of 2,000 (whoever they are) decide our fate?
We need a democratically elected body that represents Nairn and not Highland Council!
A Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council - Bring it on!
We need a voice that represents Nairn and not Highland Council.

colin said...

Ok Anonymous
Draft a letter and post online for the people to download. That is if you are forsaving our locl services.
we all must stand up and be counted.