Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday night local press review – ‘Lizgate’ hasn’t died down yet!

Page 1 of the P&J this morning and now Page 1 of the local paper tonight, Liz’s sacking is still hitting the headlines 21 days after the three administration members did the dirty. Are Graham Marsden and Sandy Park giving a different reason for Liz’s sacking? Judge for yourself by digesting all the latest details on the front page of this week’s 12 pager. A letter inside too calling for ‘Direct action to remove Ward 19’s ruling junta.’ Nairn’s ‘Summer of Discontent’ continues apace. Whatever Laurie does over the next couple of years, it seems the way he got the chain will weigh just as heavily around his provostship as the chain will around his neck.

Rosemary Young has a letter in the Nairnshire and is dismayed at the seagulls crapping all over the High Street. Sometimes the rain is very handy Rosemary, without it the whole town would turn white very quickly. Alistair Cunningham has a letter detailing the Save Rait Castle campaign and there is a letter too on Sandown issues. A ticking off for the Nairnshire from the Chairman of the Planning, Environment & Development Committee of Highland Council. Iain Bain is having none of it however and you’ll soon find out why in this week’s editorial.

Details of an uncertain future for the APT group (Association for Planning Transparency) on page 2 and on Page 3 news of Sainsbury and Co-op matters or the lack of any progress on both fronts. Saturday is a big day if you want to meet your Holyrood and Westminster members, both of them are holding surgeries in the Community Centre, Danny in the morning and Fergus in the afternoon. Lots more in this week’s paper, waiting for you in the morning at a newsagent’s or local Co-op outlet - apart from the new one that hasn't been built yet.

'Lizgate' on Press and Journal front page

'OUSTED Nairn Provost Liz MacDonald kept a weekend promise to hug her supporters and gave a special embrace to the campaigner who entered cyberspace to fight her corner.'

The P&J also spoke to Colin Barron, who started the Reinstate Liz facebook group:

'Mr Barron said: “I’m not into politics. But how can three people sack a popular provost and then vote in one of the three who sacked her?

“Where’s the consultation?

“We’ve e-mailed the other three and council leader Michael Foxley about this. They haven’t responded. All we want is answers.”

Full article and picture on Press and Journal site.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nairnshire Challenge 2010

The heavy overnight rain caused major changes in the first part of the route but spirits were not dampened at the Nairnshire Challenge 2010. Fantastic atmosphere on the Links as all those taking part cycled home.

UPDATE: A large selection of pictures now on the Gurn flickr pages

Liz and Rayner - Sunday Post page 3 girls

A stunning picture on Page 3 of the Sunday Post today from yesterday's 'free hugs' session as our ex-Provost was out on the street thanking those that supported her after her sacking by the other three Nairn Councillors.
This might be the end of a chapter in the 'Lizgate' affair but Liz told the Sunday Post: I have fought for Nairn. I will stand again as a councillor and Provost in 2012'
Comments too from citizens of Nairn in today's Sunday Post.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meanwhile down at the harbour...

The flags and the brollies were out. The sun had put in an unexpected appearance earlier in the morning but the predicted rain eventually came. Here's a short video and below a picture from Jingle Bangles which he/she entitles: "Our friends from Lilliput SC have arrived chaps"

The rise and rise of Danny Alexander - promotion again to ConDem Treasury Secretary

Danny is now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury after the other mannie obviously realised he'd blown it over the expenses scandal that broke last night. Who'll be the new Scottish Secretary? Charles Kennedy perhaps? (er no lol)Hey Danny, got some spare change out of all those billions to ensure Nairn swimming pool's survival?

Nairn free hugs session

Nairn free hugs session goes well with lots of media interest. More detail and pictures later. Pic will enlarge.

Update: more pictures now available on the Gurn flickr pages.

ANB cash for Nairn TIC

The Association of Nairn Businesses are making a cash donation to the running of the threatened Tourist Information Centre in the Community Centre. Is this a quick glimpse of the future? As cash dries up will the community simply have to do more for itself?

Nairn the fourth most expensive seaside town in Scotland

The Scotsman reports on the Bank of Scotland seaside towns review and states that it will take 5.46 times the average local salary to buy a home. Presumably the Bank knows what the average salary is and what the average house price is in Nairn.
Sadly, I think we already know that owning a home is a fantasy for many local young people at the moment whether they are lucky enough to be earning the average local wage (whatever the statistics say that is) or not. It sort of puts the Sandown planning fiasco into another sort of perspective, if things had been handled better by both the Highland Council and planners perhaps some social housing could be now nearing completion on part of the Sandown lands. It is Common Good land so we as a community, if we had been allowed more input, could have stipulated low density decent homes, with gardens, for rent or part buy etc for those unable to get a foot on the housing ladder. Hopefully next time round that might happen.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Nairn issues raised at Glenurquhart Road recently by a certain ex-Provost

'The Gurn understands that Liz raised a few issues that have been impacting on Nairnshire residents at the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee on Thursday through in Inverness. The Gurn further understands that no other Nairn councillors were present. Quite often a lot goes on at Glenurqhuart Road that concerns us here in Nairn but it’s rare we hear much about it. The Gurn got in touch with Liz to ask her what went on and more about the issues she raised, this is what she told the Gurn:

'The loss of the Moss-side school bus and the need for a Fishertown bus. As the tenders are currently being looked at now is the time to influence them. I said that as well as the commercial bus service Nairn required a supplement to that that served different interests of community ie. geographical communities (Fishertown) communities of interest (parents needing school transport). I suggested the Dial-a bus scheme may be able to service Fishertown as well as the country. You can understand the present private sector provider only being able to supply a profitable service but currently needs are not being met and cuts to provision should be picked up by the new tendering contact. I shall be meeting with Sam McNaughton and Bob Edwards to discuss this further.

I moved against the decision to put the grass cutting out to tender and that efficiency savings try to be found within the existing service. I questioned the timing of the tendering process stating that it had already been put on the Public Contracts site inviting interested parties to come forward. The report stated beginning the tender process on 28th May, I was given a fudgy answer that it had only invited interested parties and not gone to tender. There was also mention of a review of standards and I questioned if this included reducing the number of flower beds, but these are apparently not part of the review. My concern was that they'd be removed and grassed over and put to the contract.

Prior to the meeting I spoke to some of our front line staff who assessed that one third of their work was on grass cutting and may equate to 6 redundancies in Nairn one third of the staff, although I pressed the Director on the number of jobs at stake he would not give a figure. We have 160 full time grounds staff in Highland.
In addition to this our ground staff provide winter maintenance so there would be a reduction on this service as well which was only skirted over in the report.

Last year when charging for bulky uplifts was introduced I spoke at length that older people and people on benefits would suffer and that there should be a dispensation for them, however this got voted down. The number of people receiving the service reduced by 88% and I asked if they had information about the client group still using the service. The Council has a duty to do an equality impact assessment on any changes to service, but no-one had collected data about the clients, but it makes sense that it will be people without cars that are obliged to use it - the poor getting penalized yet again.'

Liz also told us about a recent Housing and Social Work Committee meeting.

'At H&SW Committee the week before I asked for a report to come forward about upgrading the bathroom in McLean Court, I got agreement at a previous Resources Committee that some of the money for Corsee may be used improve this facility and open it up for residents and day care clients. The housing for older people in the grounds has had its planning application lodged, and I was involved at the very beginning pushing this concept sometimes in direct contrast to what other local members wanted. I always believed that there was an expectation from the people in Nairn that provision should still be in this site for older people.

I also moved against increasing charges for the care at home service. The council is trying to get full cost recovery, there has been no recent review of the cost of providing the service so they used a figure from January 2009, but since then there have been cuts to this service and privatization (that has not been going too well). We got voted down by the administration 7-11. The home care is two and a half percent of the workload so the same % should apply to the management costs charged to it.'

Hug a sailor in Nairn tomorrow (Saturday)

After the High Street free hugs session (11.00) there will be more hugging down at the Sailing Club. Free hugs down there are from 12.00 to 15.30.
'If you're coming to Nairn for FREE HUGS tomorrow the Sailing Club open day is on and you could also get a FREE SAIL on the regatta (you may be lucky and see the dolphins) Pipe Band will be there, snacks etc'
See who's going for a hug at this event on this facebook page.

50 years ago almost today

The Beatles played the Regal in Nairn. A few more details on the Beatles +50 blog. Quite an appropriate date for a 'love-in' on the High Street then.

Nairn beach recommended in Marine Conservation Society 2010 guide

Nairn Beach makes the grade again. Some other Scottish beaches didn't and are blaming last year's weather conditions according to the P&J. Here's the MSC details.
Here's the MSC guide to all Scottish beaches they recommend.

Nairn 'Love-in' ? 'Sacked civic leader gives out free hugs in town centre in a bid to move on ‘in a nice positive way’ '

The P&J is perhaps getting a bit carried away and calling tomorrow's event a 'love-in'.
'Former Nairn Provost Liz MacDonald will hold a love-in tomorrow to thank some of her many supporters.
Mrs MacDonald, a talented belly-dancer as well as Highland councillor, was sacked as the civic leader earlier this month for allegedly politicising the role.'
The paper quotes Liz:
'Speaking yesterday, she said: “The purpose of the free hugs, on Saturday morning at 11, is just to draw a line under things.
“It’s just me saying ‘thank you’ to the people who have supported me. We’re all going to have a hug and move on.
“We’re a warm, friendly, caring community and we’re just getting together for a hug. I thought it would be a nice positive note to finish on, to thank people. '
Read the full P&J article here.
Liz is also quoted in the Courier:
Hugs all round from deposed Provost
'It's just about a bit of fun but I want to show that Nairn is a warm and welcoming place as well as thanking everybody for their support,' she siad.'I'm not going to be reinstated now so it's a bit of closure as well.'
However she admitted her councillor colleagues would be unlikely to receive a hug should they decide to turn up. '
The Courier article is not online yet. Also in the Courier today is a quote from Suzanne Renton who voted in the Courier on-line poll (result so far 75% think Liz should be reinstated, 25% no)
"Liz MacDonald has always done her best to back the views of the people of Nairn and has brought a lot of funding to the town. She is not just a 'yes' woman who sits on the fence, or goes along with the majority; she's willing to speak out for the good of the town and its people. She has been a great provost and I think it's a disgrace that she has been sackd so underhandedly."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nairn an SNP hotspot?

We've often thought here at the Gurn that SNP support in Nairn has been strong and solid for many years. The Scotsman in an article about redrawing the Holyrood constituencies speculates about Fergus's seat being split. Lochaber and Badenoch are joining Skye:
'The rest of Mr Ewing's constituency will make up a separate Inverness and Nairn constituency – another seat that will be a fight between the Nationalists and Lib Dems. Inverness tends to be good for the Lib Dems, while Nairn is an SNP hotspot.'
One ponders too Graham Marsden's LibDemmery involvement in ambushing/bushwhacking Liz - will it have a slightly toxic legacy for the LibDems in Nairnshire?

Full article here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Free hugs campaign Saturday - Liz 'Parking up' her dismissal

More details now available

Date: Saturday, 29 May 2010
Time: 11:00 - 13:00
Location: Court House, Nairn

Liz says:

'To Park my dismissal as Provost of Nairn, to make a positive statement and show Nairn as a friendly, welcoming, caring town. If you can't come to Nairn I hope you'll Hug someone where you are. Sometimes all you need is a HUG to make the day brighter.
Thank you all for your supportX ...'

Follow the build up to the big event on the dedicated Facebook page. A chance to put Nairn on the map Gurnites - let's go for it!

Cinema Nairn - Friday Night's film

The Sweet Smell Of Success(PG) 1957
They know him - and they shiver - the big names of Broadway, Hollywood and Capitol Hill. They know J.J.- the world-famed columnist whose gossip is gospel to sixty million readers!
They know the venom that flickers in those eyes behind the glasses - and they fawn - like Sid Falco, the kid who wanted "in" so much, he'd sell out his own girl to stand up there with J.J., sucking in the sweet smell of success!
This is J.J.'s story - but not the way he would have liked it told!
Friday 28th May at Nairn Community & Arts Centre - starts at 7.30pm

Tickets from the Community Centre, Nairn Bookshop and iolaire photo:graphics (at the Station).

Nairn Sailing Club Open Day Saturday 29th May

Next Saturday, 29th May, is Nairn Sailing Club's Open Day at the harbour. There will be a chance to try your hand at dinghy sailing and kayaking in the harbour basin under the supervision of instructors from Findhorn and Nairn. Members will be offering free trips around the bay on their boats and participating in the traditional parade of boats, all dressed for the occasion. The Nairn District Pipe Band will be playing and refreshments can be had from the BBQ, and in the Clubhouse where teas, coffees and baking will be provided by the women of the RNLI.
The fun starts from 10.30 at Nairn Harbour.

Lessons learned over Sandown housing saga

As Nairn looks to what happens next at Sandown the NRCG have had a letter published in the Courier summarising an aspect of the affair that they feel the newspaper missed in a recent article. Read John Hart's letter here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Budget Cuts Consultation meeting will be in Rosebank School on the 30th of June

Laurie Fraser announced to the Suburban CC the location of the much vaunted 'consultation' meeting on the 30th of June. Will 100 places be enough Lauire? Here's what the new chair of Ward 19 said:
‘...end of June here, in Rosebank School, so we’re anticipating about a 100 coming to that, certainly allowing for 100, so we’re hoping for a good attendance. There will be briefings by officials, they’re doing this all over the Highlands and people can sit there and have an input to the council, the budget the way it is done.’

Nairn Suburban CC meeting 25/05/10

A brief extract from the meeting held in Nairn Academy. The meeting was discussing Sandown at this point. In the picture are Chair Harry Thompson and Community Councillor John MacKie. You can also hear CC Cllr Dick Youngson and Loreine Thomson from the NRCG.

More later including what Laurie thinks of the budget consultation document.

Liz 'Parking it' and moving on with 'free hugs' campaign

Message from Liz on her facebook support group:

'FREE HUGS - 11am onwards, SATURDAY 29th MAY 2010. Let's call this to an end with a positve message that Nairn is a welcoming, friendly, caring community. Join me bringing the FREE HUGS campaign to Nairn all you need is cardboard with FREE HUGS written on it. (Still no reply from Sandy Park and no justification of my d...ismissal but let's Park it now and move on). FREE (virtual) HUGS to all my supporters.
Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, A man whos sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives. In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, sometimes, a hug is all that we need. (check out youtube sick puppies music cover)LOVE + HUGS - I HOPE TO SEE YOU ON SATURDAYLIZ X...'

Gurn cider watch

Appearing at a Tescos near you on the A96: 2 litre dry own brand for £1.32. On a pension of £20 per week? Why not stay pished for the duration?
War on drink and the causes of drink said someone?

Tain Cuts Ward Forum meeting dominated by threat to their pool

A taste of what's to come in Nairn on the evening 30th of June? Will Nairnites be sitting around at tables like a glorified French café? Trying to answer questions that even councillors perhaps don't fully understand. Remember Graham's statement to the River CC last week:

'...and yes I am a councillor but the fact is that I’m not a financier and I’m not deeply embedded in how the money is spent on a day-to-day basis so from that perspective if you would like somebody from Highland Council to come along to your next meeting and talk to you and actually respond to your questions and give you some of the kind of information that you are looking for’

Anyway Gurnites here's what one Highland citizen posted on the Council cuts blog this morning:

'A very well attended meeting on Monday night in Tain, although there was a feeling that the event was dominated by one issue, namely that of the potential closure of the swimming pool - even a trio of angelic schoolboys singing an appeal directly to the top table!. Good luck to that group though since the pool users had really got their act together and left councillors and officials in no doubt as to their desire to retain that facility. Perhaps the lesson to be learned for the rest of us in other sectors, is that no matter how noble the cause, unless you shout loudly you may end up the poorer for your inaction?
It was a noble exercise in democracy for the Council to then have us all sitting round tables trying to provide answers for various topics without us having sufficient background information - I left feeling as if the captain of the Titanic had come up to me and said "we've got a bit of a problem, any ideas?"
So who decides what is important - the danger is that we all become single issue groups and forget that it's all the parts that make the whole. From cradle to grave these are issues that makes society better and to loose but one makes us all the poorer.'

More from councillor Alston's cuts blog here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oidhche mhath

 Picture will enlarge a little

Bullfinch pair enjoying the sun

Nearly midnight press review

The Nairnshire leads with news of how Highland Council seems to be bending to the will of the people (aided by the recession) and a draft development plan going before the council soon seems to at last reflect the wishes of the community. A picture too on the front page of 105 year old Mary Blair receiving a telegram from the Queen.
Planning issues dominate the editorial this week and they featured at a recent meeting of Croy community council tool according to the Nairnshire. The plight of kids now having to walk along the dangerous single-track road from Moss-side into town after their bus was stopped, features too on page 7 with a picture and interview with Geri McNab and Katrina Ashford.
A double page picture spread from the Millbank centenary and pictures of swans too this week. Sport includes Nairn County’s last match of the season. Lots, lots more in a 16 page edition including words of wisdom from Cllr Graham Marsden on why he helped bin Liz. The mysterious Onion King society also advertises another meeting. Yours for 40p – go for it!

Nairn swans evening 23 May 2010

Highland Council Cuts Blog - Lots of comment from the Nairn area

'Blog-questionaire risks missing the point and misdirecting the debate' says Nairnbairn

One comment asks how you can be in Inverness swimming pool in thirty minutes if you live in Auldearn. (good point and you'd need a fast car and a traffic free A96 to make it most days from Nairn anyway wouldn't you?). A message too on the Budget blog for Graham Marsden.

'1. some how i dont think if I were to go stand at the bus stop in auldearn 30mins later i would be in the pool in Inverness, however I could be in the Nairn swimming pool.Opps how did the council assess the time allowed to get to the pool ?

2. Will the council take the responibility of ensuring that children in auldearn have enough time to attend thier weekly swimming classes if they have to travel to Inverness and the extra cost of the transport ?Graham Marsden take heart that the 2,212 facebook users subscribed to the save the nairn swimming pool campain probably dont live in nain , possible can afforded to be ignored as they never comented on this blog and can certainly be overlooked because if they didnt bother signing up to the council forum they are unlikely to turn out at an local election!
Concerned Elector (ward 19)'

To see the rest of the comments so far have a look here. In connection with the cuts process in general Nairnbairn has made a stinging criticism of the whole strategy and I'm sure many Gurnites will second his/her motion. Here's what he/she has published on the cuts blog:

'This blog-questionnaire risks missing the point and misdirecting the debate. It is rather like the joke about the traveller who has lost his way and seeks help from a local bystander - who says "Well, to get there, I wouldn't start from here...."

By putting only selected questions or specific options about reduction/disposal of front-line services out for discussion, Councillor Alston has already shaped and restricted the debate. As others have pointed out, this technique risks provoking inter-communal strife ("our library is more important than your community centre or their respite home" ). It encourages special-pleading. It prompts the enthusiasts for any specific facility to press their case ("cut what you like, but don't touch our pool/museum/whatever" ). It implies that those who shout loudest or muster the greatest number of signatures/Facebook posts are likely to be most successful in saving "their" pet project. It invites, and plays on, sentiment and emotion ("of course we can't possibly reduce the services to children/old folks/the vulnerable/the disabled" ).

Effective budget management is about priorities and choices. This means making value-judgments. It is also a very tough challenge. It is simply not possible for everyone to have everything they want paid for from public (ie our, taxpayers) funds. So those elected and paid to manage our public services have to be prepared to make choices and justify them (and take the electoral consequences if they make the wrong calls). A consultation exercise is not a device for escaping from, or disguising, this basic responsibility.

Above all, however, budget management - especially when money is tight - is about efficiency. That does not mean closing facilities. Efficiency means doing more with less. Making the resources stretch further. Making processes, and management, leaner and meaner. Simplifying decision-making. Stripping out layers of hierarchy. Devolving and delegating. Integrating back-office functions and cutting overheads, rather than closing down front-line services.

All basic stuff. Yet so far, the consultation exercise (online and on paper) reveals little about whether, and how far, this kind of action is being taken.

A simple and necessary first step is to benchmark: to identify whether Highland Council spending (in any area) is better, worse, or the same, as other local/regional authorities, and to publish figures which show the trend of spending. The Council already publishes "league tables" of the level of council tax throughout Scotland (and Highland ranks in the middle of the pack). So, for example.... in education in the Highlands, publish figures which compare pupil:teacher:administrator ratios. For social and welfare work, list comparative figures for cases: case workers. For older people, those with special needs, those in care, show how the spending per head compares with other regional authorities. Does Highland have more needy/elderly/vulnerable people than average? Does it spend more or less on them, pro-rata, than other regions? If these reveal that the Highland Council is employing more people, or spending more money, to deliver the same, or fewer services to its people, then this is a clear pointer to where savings could be made and efficiency improved.

Only when there are publicly-available performance and expenditure figures and benchmarks is it possible to identify where the Highland Council might be spending proportionately more (or delivering less for its money) than other authorities. Where these disparities are revealed, the obvious action is to examine how and why Highland Council is operating less efficiently, and making budgetary savings and management changes accordingly.

So, Councillor Alston, you are not asking the right questions. You are not at the moment, even publishing the kind of figures and information that enable the people of the region to ask the right questions. And if you don't ask the right questions, you won't get the right - or indeed any useful - answers.

The danger with this present exercise is that it fosters the illusion of a scrutiny and review process, while failing to shed any light on those areas which represent the major part of Council spending. The areas to focus on are NOT the museums, care homes and leisure facilities. It may be true that every little helps. But taken together, these kind of amenities account for only a minuscule share of the budget, while fulfilling a role within the communities of the region that - as others have commented - is critically important.
To cite an analogy that has been quoted elsewhere - if you have to lose weight, you don't do so by chopping off hands, arms or feet: you slim down those parts of the body that are carrying a little too much fat.'

And for more comment on general issues (remember libraries and museums are under threat too) look here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

'Nairn needs protagonists and not political yes-men'

'This is a time when we need our local voices. In this consultation/competition over where resources are applied, local facilities such as the swimming pool, the Museum, the Library, among others, have been called into question. Despite our new hospital and our vaunted community health and care system, Nairn has been let down in aspects of that system. The former Provost was vociferous in her condemnation of that. It has cost her the office but frankly, at this time Nairn needs protagonists and not political yes-men.'
Iain Bain, Editor of the Nairnshire Telegraph (edition of 18.05.10). Worth knocking the dust off last Tuesday's edition and browsing Iain's editorial if you haven't done so already.

1,2 Saturday afternoon entertainment at the Vic

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Highland Council Budget cuts blog now debating Swimming Pools

Highland residents have had 9 days to comment on the first subject raised on the Cuts Leader's blog. Presumably there will only be a similar period to comment on the latest question:
'19 May - Can we reduce the number of swimming pools, community centres, museums and libraries that we operate?

The Council currently operates a large number of community facilities. In order to reduce costs we are having to look at different options for these facilities for the future:
Closure of some facilities in order to maintain others
Reduction in opening hours
Using public buildings differently and more flexibly providing services and space for different needs and groups
Transferring the management of some facilities and services and leasing these to not-for-profit organisations
Increasing charges for the use of facilities'
You can comment here but registration is necessary.

Courier Poll shows strong support for Liz

The tally this morning on a Courier on line Poll. As mentioned in the article below Liz related material once again features in the Inverness Courier. The Poll on the Courier site is accessed half way down the side-bar on the right hand side.
An article published in the Courier yesterday is now live on line:
'The fall out from Councillor Liz MacDonald's removal continues to reverberate across the seaside town and her angry supporters have now launched a campaign to have her reinstated to the role via a website page and petition.
About 450 members have signed up to the Facebook site and are being urged to e-mail Highland Council leader Michael Foxley to complain.
However, that has cut no ice with Graham Marsden who made up thetrio of Nairn councillors, along with Sandy Park and Laurie Fraser, who accused the former provost of politicising the role.'
If you haven't seen the facebook group yet you can find it here. Comments and messages of support for Liz are coming in from Nairn and many beyond with many folk with a Nairn connection wishing to have their say too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Liz: more in the Courier today – and another on line poll – Facebook group ‘cuts no ice’ with Graham

The Courier has a major article on Liz’s sacking again. Most of the information in this article seems to be gleaned from the Facebook support group or links from the group. Nothing on line yet but perhaps they’ll be something this afternoon. There’s comment from Liz and Graham plus several ‘vox pop’ boxes along the side of the page plus news that the Courier are running an on-line Poll,’ ‘Do you think Liz MacDonald should be reinstated?’

The Facebook group is mentioned but Graham Marsden is unimpressed. Here’s what the paper says:
‘I have not had any e-mails, or telephone calls and have not been stopped in by anybody in the street protesting about the decision,’ said councillor Marsden
“Her role was civic and she politicised it. That is the reality and that was unacceptable. “Even if she got 1000 people on Facebook there are still 10,500 people in Nairn and at the last election she got 1500 votes”
Councillor Marsden suspects SNP supporters are attempting to whip up support for her reinstatement.’
The Courier poll is on their right-hand side-bar, half-way down the page. Once you have voted the Courier invites you to state why.
This article in the Courier shows how the ordinary citizens can take the situation into their own hands, create their own media on line and push subjects up the agenda. People in Nairn aren't shy about using the digital tools available to them either.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More from the River CC discussion of budget cuts on Tuesday night

Here's a few more extracts, once again you can't mention the subject of cuts in Nairn without the Swimming Pool coming into the equation.
Carol Clark:
‘All the community care services have already gone through cutback after cutback after cutback. They’ve done it so much over the last few years that I really can’t see how they can cut it back any further. '

Graham Marsden (he seemed to have the lion's share of this part of the meeting, here's a couple of the most important things he perhaps said)

‘Can I make a suggestion Mr Chairman? Maybe if you got someone to come along from the Highland Council to just talk about the things that you are asking about. The cutbacks and what has happened in Social Work etc, and yes I am a councillor but the fact is that I’m not a financier and I’m not deeply embedded in how the money is spent on a day-to-day basis so from that perspective if you would like somebody from Highland Council to come along to your next meeting and talk to you and actually respond to your questions and give you some of the kind of information that you are looking for’

‘I think there is an awful lot of stuff that people believe, I mean, one of the things is about the middle layer of management, if you get those out. The problem is, it is not that simple as you might imagine.’

‘Something like 50% of the money that Highland Council spends is on pay.’

‘Can I just interrupt? The point about this consultation document is really to get some feedback because the reality is, if we as a Council, come forward with cuts which is what this has done, I mean it’s about getting peoples’ response. How do you feel about your library, how do you feel about your swimming pool. How do you feel about, sort of, ever other street light being turned off. These are the sort of things. It’s about bringing these into the public forum Not next February or January when, this budget is next February so there’s lots and lots of time. It’s just like choosing sort of which is the worst. Really there’s nothing positive about it. We have made the cuts and you’re right it probably is a case of saying that OK you guys know what you are doing, get on with it but cut our swimming pool and we will lynch you. '

‘I think this is where really where we’ve been looking at things like the Swimming Pool, if the Council didn’t own it for instance and it went into, I don’t know, some sort of trust, then VAT could be claimed back and also Council Tax wouldn’t have to be paid so there are the sort of things that we as councillors are looking at at the moment.'

Talking about budget cuts

There was discussion of the cuts at the River CC meeting at the Laing Hall on Tuesday night. The members seemed to be inspired by the words of John Hart (suburban) at another meeting recently. Namely that there are well paid managers on Highland Council and it should be there job to manage and find cuts of say 10% in each department.

Here’s what Iain Gordon thought: ‘There are people paid there to manage, we put them in place on bloody good salaries. Hired to manage and then that’s what they should, they should manage. If they were running a proper business, it would be done on a cost effective basis. At the front line where we need it, you’re losing street cleaners etc, etc. When it should be right the way, take out a line of the whole management. The top can do more and the next level down can do more.

More later including comments from Highland Councillor Graham Marsden who was also present.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The 'Onion King Society'?

A curious Gurnite asked if we knew anything about the advert on the back of the Nairnshire:
'Deposition of Onion King Society - Inaugural meeting'.
Our correspondent had googled to no avail and would dearly love to know more.

Is it an omen?

Thanks to nairni69 for this composition entitled 'The Provost's return?'

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Liz’s sacking – Graham Marsden responds to a question at the River CC meeting.

A little more at last from one of the three Councillors that sacked Liz. Yesterday towards the end of the meeting at the Laing Hall, Highland Councillor Graham Marsden was questioned about Liz’s sacking.

‘Would you consider you have misjudged the mood of Nairn people with sacking of Provost Liz MacDonald? There were a number of letters in the Nairnshire none of them in support of the decision taken.’ Came the question from one of the River members, John Dolan.

Graham Marsden replied: ‘I think that for the reasons stated previously, what happened, happened and I’m not minded to revisit’... ‘I have, as I say, it’s very difficult to respond because I haven’t seen the letters. So the population of Nairn is over 10,000 people. How many letters are there?’

‘Half a dozen,’ was the response from John Dolan.


‘Are you saying that that is a poor response?’ John Dolan again.

‘No I’m not suggesting that. No I don’t know how representative it is but the reality is...Facebook with the potential closing of the swimming pool where a thousand people click on and say they are opposed to that. It’s fair comment but it’s a very easy way’s not really a plebiscite. It’s a measure of...they’re probably, what Liz had at the last, the previous election. She had 1,500 votes, so presumably a very significant proportion of those people would be very, very opposed to her not being Provost anymore but that’s out of ten and a half thousand people.’

There then followed some classic ‘lively’ River CC discussion with Bill Murdoch trying to close down the questioning thinking it not appropriate. Tommy Hogg in the chair for the absent Jeanne Tolmie asked Graham if he was happy to continue answering. Graham was happy to do so and continued.

‘I think I would like to see in the future, us look again and see whether it is appropriate in the 21st Century for Nairn Councillors just to decide who the Provost should be and indeed whether the Provost should be a Nairn councillor. But I think that is something for another time, it’s really something that I would like to see debated much more fully and maybe that in the future maybe the Community Councils would actually put forward a Community Councillor as Provost. Personally I would like to see that, I think that that would be much more appropriate but I’m not sure how the rules exist at the moment and whether that’s possible at the moment or whether the rules would have to be altered. So, and obviously there are other community councils, sorry councillors who may have different views on that.’
Update: We've been looking at the election results for 2007 and out of an electorate of 9,009 in Nairnshire 5,142 bothered to vote ( a quite good turn-out of 58.08%). As it was a PR system used the 8 candidates needed 1,029 first preferences to be elected in the first count. Liz was the only one to achieve this with 1,576 votes. You can see how many votes the others got and how they had to rely on 2nd, 3rd, preferences to get in etc, on this PDF document.

Sandown 'Plan was wrong from the start' (Inverness Courier)

Twice in a row the Courier leader is taken up by a Nairn issue. In today's edition they point a finger at the Highland Council Planning department for the Sandown debacle. They state:

'READING the appeal decision rejecting plans for 550 new homes at Sandown Lands in Nairn simply reinforces the feeling that something went very wrong in Highland Council's planning department.

In their findings the Scottish Government Reporters are unequivocal - the scheme breaches the local plan, with the number of houses proposed being five times more than envisaged for the site; it would have an adverse impact on the local area; and it is at odds with the council's own masterplan for the site, the A96 Growth Corridor Framework and the Highland Wide Local Development Plan.

Yet council planning officials advised councillors to approve the project last year after spending two years working with the applicant, Deveron Homes. Thankfully, the elected members did their job and unanimously voted against this unsuitable development.

How on earth a scheme that drives a coach and horses through local planning policy was allowed to progress so far remains unclear, but there are a few clues buried in the Reporters' judgement.'

More on the Courier site.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Good night all - Oidhche Mhath

Picture will enlarge a little. The best show in town is the sunset from Nairn beach. It can't always be guaranteed but it is always free when it does put in an appearance. Sleep well Gurnites, today as usual belongs to the printed word in the form of the Nairnshire telegraph. This edition is food for thought indeed.
Meanwhile if you are still up and looking for something to read perhaps the conversation with Mike and Donnie might be of some use to you? A few more sunset pictures here too.

The Highland Council election results in Nairnshire 2007 - first preferences

Liz 1576
Sandy 855
Laurie 669
Graham 535

Traffic Jam at Nairn Leisure

The new equipment for the fun hours at Nairn Swimming Pool. Let's hope the fun continues for many years to come!

'Our Caravan Holiday' a blog entry that shows what a wonderful place for a holiday Nairn is

Worth a look at the excellent photographs posted of a family holiday in Nairn. Great publicity for the town.

Monday night press review – A large crop of letters on a topical subject

The Sandown appeal falling at the final hurdle makes the front page this week, also alongside the main article a picture of Rosebank pupils at a presentation given by Nairn Sailing Club. 'Cop this', ‘Gull meance’ and a picture of the new civic head on page 2. Another major story on page 3 is the loss of the school bus service to Rosebank and Millbank schools – a purely commercial decision it seems.
A decision is expected on whether Corsee house is sold or not this week. Some Ardersier news on Page 4 and a picture of the Suburban Community Council. Liz articles on pages 6 & 7 and an editorial on her sacking plus 8 letters in her support on pages 8 &9 . This edition of the Nairnshire will be remembered for the forthright language in those letters. No doubt the other three Highland Councillors will be hoping this blows over soon but a read of this week’s crop of letters might indicate that although the storm may pass the damage left in its wake may never be repaired. Also two letters on other subjects this week.
Further into the paper and notes from Nairn Academy plus details of Millbank’s centenary open day. The usual comprehensive sports reports including the Wee County goal spree against Strathspey Thistle. A bumper read again this week and what a bargain for 40p.
Your dead tree information portal awaits you.

Poet pushes festival ticket sales past 1,000 mark

Ticket sales for the imminent 2010 Nairn Book & Arts Festival (5-13 June) have passed the 1,000 mark, in part thanks to Britain‘s first female Poet Laureate.

Carol Ann Duffy last week penned a poem called ‘Democracy‘ about the hung parliament, and last month wrote ‘Silver Lining‘ about the volcanic ash cloud. She is proving a major attraction along with writers Christopher Brookmyre and AL Kennedy, a tour of Cawdor Castle gardens, a lecture by a former submarine commander, stand-up comedy from Fred MacAulay, an archaeological discussion about Culloden and a performance of the acclaimed play The Tailor of Inverness.

Other events over the nine days include exhibitions of art in Nairn town centre shop windows, a musical celebration of whisky, events for Gaelic speakers and late night films including the classic Manhattan by Woody Allen.

In total over 1,200 tickets have been booked so far.

Festival Chairman John Fyfe said: “Ticket sales are going very well for the wide variety the festival offers. It‘s proof Nairn audiences appreciate quality. We opened our box office a few weeks earlier than usual and it seems to be paying off. Having said that, there's still plenty of room and we love big audiences so please take a look at the full line-up and keep booking those tickets."

The full line-up is available to see on line at Brochures have been flying off shelves in bookshops and other venues throughout the Highlands. Tickets are available from Nairn Community Centre, Nairn Bookshop and on line at

21.06 No Nairnshires in the Co-op yet

Withdrawals kicking in.

Sandown refusal - Liz Gilchrist's view

The Inverness South Community Councillor comments on the recent decision by the Scottish Government's reporters to refuse the appeal for 550 houses on Sandown. Liz is concerned by a comment Sandy Park made to the Press and Journal.

Cygnets hatch

At least four so far according to one of the regular lower river walkers. Here you can just see the head of one visible to the right of the nest. Picture will enlarge a little.

Green A96 Planning Protest Poetry

The Highland Green Party tells us in a Press Release (the first one ever received at the Gurn from them):
'So concerned was he about the dangers of Councillors taking the wrongdecision about developing the A96 Corridor between Inverness andNairn, one of our members - Bryn O'Shelin, ' a green poet' - had beenmoved to pen a few lines about the folly of The Highland Council'sproposals, which admirably sum up the reasons for the Greens'opposition to the notion of a development 'corridor', and also of thebenefits of investing in and expanding existing communities across theHighlands. His poem follows:
The A96 Corridor – Ode to a Road
Listen! For the time is nigh, when Councillors decide
A matter grave and upon which, many futures ride
Should the land, the fields and woods, ‘tween Inverness and Nairn
And which have fed and succoured us, since building of the cairns
Be buried deep, be cleft and cleaved, be lost to us for ever
Beneath the concrete overlord, the ultimate suppressor?
Or is there p’raps a better way, for each of us to thrive
Where all may share good learning, and fulfilling working lives
Where Highland-wide prosperity, comes first, prioritised
But withers on the vine, when investment’s centralised?
So, Councillors, I call on you, you the people’s voice Be wary how you cast your vote,
‘tis but a one-time choice
For once it’s made, it cannot change, its runes are cast in stone
And future generations, your decision may bemoan!'

700 letters of objection to the plan to close Nairn Swimming Pool

Save Nairn Swimming Pool activist Loreine Thomson has now collected more than 700 letters of objection to the Pool Closure Plan. She told the Gurn:
'I have received almost 700 letters of objection regarding the swimming pool with more coming in each day. Almost 35% of the objectors live outside the town - Forres, Dyke, Cawdor, Piperhill, Culloden, Balloch, Elgin, Geddes etc. - the need for our Pool impacts on a very wide community catchment area and on all ages.

Our Swimming Club is one of the best nationally and regularly contributes swimmers to our national teams. If the Pool closes, Scotland will lose potential swimmers for the Commonweath Games in 2014. The Pools at Culloden and Inverness are not at all suitable for the Swimming clubs.

Highland Council promote 'a Healthier Highlands' as part of the Highland wide Local Development Plan - are they setting aside this goal even before the Plan has passed the first stage! Come on Highland Council stand by what you write, keep Nairn Swimming Pool open.'

Ward Forum Budget Cuts meeting - still to be held in the Courthouse?

I not from the APT blog that there is a list of Budget Cuts meetings on the Highland Council website. I see the meeting for Nairn is still to be in the Courthouse - might be a bit overcrowded perhaps?
'Date and Time: Wednesday 30 June 2010 at 7.00 pm
Venue: The Chamber, The Court House, High Street, Nairn
Theme: Highland Council Budget Consultation'
Surely a larger venue will have to be arranged soon?

Comment of the week - the sequel

'Michty Mee what a tizzie aboot OorLizie just a wee progress report on the state of the good lady wifes state o mind at the moment she is still fair fizzen its nae deein ma bowels any good as our telly has jast broke doon & she has just phoned the electrical shopie on the high street & i am fairt Mr Fraser will visit the hoose to mend it cause he is in for a hellava shock if her indoors gets her hands on him, & there is more a consoomer problem needs to be sorted oot & she has an appointment we CAB hope to hell Mr Marsdens nae thair when she drops in also she is on The Dunbar Golf Coarse every day hoping to catch Mr Park & grab his balls whits worrying me will it be the ains thats attached to him or the wee white roond things, hell the is nothing worse than a wimmun scorned, but she has been a good quine this week so i dinna think she will make the front o The Nairnie. '

Donnie Macleod takes the Gurn to task

The Gurn has been critical of the local Green Party. Donnie was fair scunnert with that but held off his response until after the election:
'Now that the poor election is over, I would like to respond to some of your interesting comments about the Greens on your website. I have held off from replying before now as I too, like some of your campaigners, believe that there is nothing more annoying than politicians pontificating when there is a major election lomming. How they all agree about the issues that they never deal with afterwards!It would be much better if they pontificated when their isn't an election on. In response to my previous post you stated that 'It simply isn't enough to put out press releases and hope that the media take them up'. You obviously missed the point that I was trying to make. The references were to things that the Highland greens had been actually doing over a long period of time about the A96 proposals. It is not our expectation or fault that the media don't pick them up. The actions were carried out to keep the pressure on the Council and themedia are not necessary. If you rely on the media then you are relying on vested interests. My post was countering your assertion that we were only putting out a press release because of the impending election.Your assertion was like a red rag to a bull but I have waited because of it. My election result may have been pathetic but at least I have 796 people who put their trust in me to represent their views without there being a cat's chance in hell of me winning a first past the postelection. And give the Christians their due they also have over 800 people who had the courage to stand up for their convictions. I accept and agree with you about our failure to build up a grassroots base when we had a paid MSP. Maybe the next time will be different! However, we do need to be careful that public resources are not used to further the interests of a political party such as has happened all too often in the past.The election has really illustrated what a rubbish system we have forelecting our representatives to Westminster. The Scottish result was exactly identical to the result in 2005. The same numbers for all thefailed parties, same seats, same patter, how boring. Middle England does it again!!! What a lot if wasted votes in this constituency!! Danny Alexander was always going to win and the extra 8,000 votes he got weren't needed (8,000 wasted). The Tories, Labour and SNP had no chance anyway and they had other seats to hold. (another 32,000 voteswasted).The voters for the small parties actually didn't waste their votes as they were able to make a statement worthy of comment. This is exemplified by yourself when you congratulated the christians for beating the Greens.
By the way, the Gurn is Great.
Donnie Macleod (Not at Westminster, thankfully)'
Thanks for that Donnie, we'll put the other information you sent up soon plus we'll go back and put that comment from Isla in the headlines too. Gurn advice is to start a blog and just go for it. We could put it in the sidebar with the rest of the local blogs (Ardersier is almost Nairnshire lol and the local paper does claim you). You can see from the facebook groups linked in the sidebar too how this community is willing to engage in politics, by looking out for each other and speaking out. I'm sure your input would be welcome by most.
I remember the days when we got a Green candidate elected to the HC in Nairn, his performance was mirrored by a good performance by I think it was eight other candidates in the Highlands. The apple-cart was upset that time round for sure. It was a shame Eleanor didn't kick over a couple of tables but well there you go. Que sera, sera.
Hope you do better than the Christians next time.
We note also that another consituency candidate has responded on his blog to comments concerning Nairn. Here's what Mike Robb has to say about Liz's dismissal and the Pool issue.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

'Time for a Single Community Council' Facebook Group

Time for a bit more democracy in Nairn? Recent events have shown that community needs to do everything it can to speak out for itself. There's now a facebook group for the single Community Council for Nairn campaign.

Comment of the week

Once more by popular request:

'Bless ma cotton semmit just back fae the holidays we ma female gurner & had a wee butchers at The Nairnie to catch up on the gossip & the front page news story wiz that 3 glaigit mannies named Park, Fraser, Marsden hiv sent a letter tae oor awfea fine wifie Provost Liz wee that bonnie belly sacking her, this has got the misses dander up & she is in a hellava mood & after watching a thing abboot The Spice Girls a few years ago on the box all aboot girl power she is a woman possesed & hell no man is safe so
I have to keep her on a leash ben the hoose because she is after revenge for what they have done to The Kingsteps Lassie so i just hope she does not bump into to Sandy, Laurie & Graham, hold the front page again The Nairnie.'

Reinstate Liz petition forms

Completed petition forms can be handed in to the Flower Shop on the High Street. Meanwhile Liz, looking to the future and ready to continue defending Nairnshire, has posted a message to her supporters on the Facebook group. You can read it here.

Magnus might take the gold for dancing but his mum is a silver star too!

'Are Ye Dancing?' was the title of the last article, perhaps it's more appropriate for Magnus of Blockbuster video fame. Gurnites and Highland News readers were delighted with his Youtube video shot in Blockbusters Nairn ' You make my dreams come true'
Magnus's mum Jewellery Designer Melanie Muir has won a silver award in the Craft & Design selected Awards 2010. These UK National awards, sponsored by the magazine, promote the best craftspeople in the country by selecting the cream to put in their online gallery, and then asking the public to vote in the annual awards. You can see the winners here. Melanie also has a website displaying her work.

Are Ye Dancing?

Martian Kielty is looking for help with a book he's writing, he says:
'Are Ye Dancin'? is my fifth title and it's being written in conjunction with Eddie Tobin, who managed a lot of bands and venues in his time.
I'm looking for some personal anecdotes from some of the venues which survived from the early 20th century into today, like the Ballerina Ballroom and the Two Red Shoes in Elgin. I'm hoping you might like to share a few of your own anecdotes, or know people who'd love to chat about old times and maybe share a photo or two as well.'

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sandown Development, Nairn - Appeal Dismissal‏ - NRCG press release

Just in:
In the light of the Reporter's dismissal of the Appeal by Deveron Highland Ltd for a 550 units development on Sandown Common Good Lands at Nairn I offer the following Press Release from the Nairn Residents Concern Group:


The NRCG, a small tight knit group of residents, are delighted to have been rewarded with a favourable decision, which makes the many hours spent getting to this result the more satisfying. The Reporter's conclusions are totally in tandem with those submitted in arguments at the Appeal Hearing by both THC and the NRCG, on behalf of the many Nairn residents, who objected to this development, namely; non-compliance with the Development Plan; the scale of development would be excessive for this prominent location and would constitute overdevelopment; the likely effect of densities, building heights, and reduced structural landscaping on the character and appearance of the area would be adverse and jarring.

In particular we note that set against the Appellant's justification for the development as ' opportunity to construct the type of development which Ministers are pressing developers to embrace.....', the Reporter stated that: 'there was no basis for imposing a supposed government standard deriving from national policy'. The decision to dismiss the appeal therefore is a victory for common sense and we would hope that THC will now seek to ensure that any development on Sandown Common Good Land, is in keeping with the Reporter's observations, and, that it especially retains the common good aspects of the area, that are clearly defended in the Local Plan.

This development was a weapon of mass construction, whose destructive potential has been unearthed, fortunately before it destabilised the Nairn environment and its gateway.

John Hart
for NRCG
Excellent news John and an opportunity for Nairn to move forward in a sensible way and with the community deciding what is appropriate for whatever goes on the Sandown Lands and not Highland Council or developers. Let's get it right next time round!

Supporting Liz in the High Street today

Earlier on the High Street today the young and the older generations were all willing to sign the petition calling for Liz's reinstatement. You can sign the petition in the Flower Shop on the High Street and also at Sky Delights Deli on Leopold street and elsewhere in the town.

Deveron Highland's Sandown appeal rejected!

The appeal was rejected and the reasons for refusal are now available on the Scottish Government's site - PDF document to read here. Warning it is a long read :-)

Good news for Nairn - our town must grow but now perhaps we can all have a real say in how that can happen. Well done to all the objectors that put up such a great case at the inquiry.

Since there are nearly 40 people on the waiting list for allotments, the first thing the Council could do is mark out a few more plots alongside the existing ones up on Sandown?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Support Liz - petition signing and ideas exchange etc - Courthouse tomorrow (Saturday) 11.00 - 13.00

Please pop-by for a moment tomorrow, bring a copy or two of the various petitions, complaint letters, anything else useful etc but most of all bring yourself and any ideas that you might have for supporting Liz against her unfair dismissal and for all her future efforts on the behalf on Nairnshire.

Save the kids school bus in Nairn Facebook group

Another front opens in this community's fight against the cuts. There's still free dinners for Councillors and wages higher than the First Minister for some officials but as one mother says:
'Why do the councils have to take away EVERYTHING from the kids, if its not the parks, its raise the school dinner costs now to top it all THE SCHOOL BUS i dont know about you but my kids are to wee to be walking to school. along the main road....'
You can help by adding another campaign page to your favourites: Save the Kids school bus in Nairn
Update: it seems this is just a purely commercial decision from Stagecoach and nothing to do with Highland council.

Inverness Courier editorial supporting Liz:

'Let the public elect the Provost' says the Courier and calls Monday's incident 'shabby events'
The Inverness Courier comes out in support of Liz today in an editorial (not yet on line at 07.20) The paper states:

'The exact nature of the accusations against her are a little woolly.' and:

'If she does not speak out against council policy at local meetings no-one else will, and with such small numbers involved it is unrealistic to expect her to remain silent, even as chairman.'

'There is also an inconsistency in her accusers' argument. They say she has to go because her views are at odds with council policy, but that is irrelevant if this really is a non-political post, as they insist it is.'

'The answer we believe, is to hand power to select the Provost back to the people.'

'After this week's shabby events, we fear the alternative is for the position to lose all credibility with the public.'

That's what they think in the big city folks and reading the comments coming into the Gurn and the Facebook group and the Courier site itself it looks like the position of Provost of Nairn already has zero credibility since the bushwhacking incident when Liz was sacked in the Courthouse on Monday.

There is also an article and picture or Liz in the Courier and another article in the P&J, none of them are on-line yet. The Gurn will link to them if they appear later.
What do you think about the sacking? Poll in Gurn side-bar.

Mike Robb (Labour) blogs on

The election may be over but Mike Robb's blog seems to have received a new lease of life. He has written two articles 'Lib Dems sell-out on Nuclear Power' and 'After the Election'. The defeated candidate writes:
'I wonder how many LibDem voters are now questioning how their support for Danny Alexander has led directly to the return of a Tory Government and a coming programme of savage cuts which will devastate jobs and services in the Highlands. The Tories were a distant 4th in this constituency as they were across Scotland, but they are now about to dominate our lives, with the help of Mr Alexander and his LibDem colleagues. '
He's tweeting too and here's a couple of his entries:
'Guardian predicting a Portillo moment for Danny Alexander at next election.'

'Reaction to Danny A taking Sec State role much stronger than I expected. Real anger in north and contempt in the south. '
The Gurn has asked him what he thinks of Liz's sacking - after all the Labour party are part of the Council Administration - they must share some of the responsibility for sacking Liz.
Another chance to interact with a Politician - have you any questions for the former Labour Candidate?