Wednesday, June 30, 2010
John Mackie encourage all present to go along to Rosebank tonight to have their say as the Highland Council Cuts Roadshow hits town. There were those present that thought Highland Council had already made their minds up but John stated that it was important to make one’s feelings known. It was mentioned that it was ironic that the Cuts debate was coming to Nairn on the last official day of the consultation process.
The Suburban Council are to go to Highland Council in an effort to get moving on the Wetlands/Parklands part of the Sandown project regardless of whether Deveron come back with a new plan or not.
Members felt that the much proclaimed ‘consultation’ process on Boundary Changes for Nairn’s Community Councils had not taken place in any meaningful form and were pointing the finger at Highland Council. Today is also the last day for consultation on that matter too. So if you feel that we should have a single Council representing Nairn then send in an e-mail (you can get details in the Gurn side-bar).
There was a discussion about the recent bus woes in Nairn and John Mackie wants to hear from you if you have bus problems such as not being able to get to the hospital etc or if a bus doesn’t come or if it is too crowded to get on.
Murd Dunbar was present to give an update on his efforts to get improved access for the Firhall Bridge. The next meeting is on the 25th of August.
The sum currently stands at about £146million and is costing the authority another £15million a year in charges.
Local politicians had hoped the Highland MP would intervene, given his past comments and his new high-powered role within the coalition government.'
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Since the beginning of this year, the Sainsbury’s team has been developing proposals for a new store at Balmakeith and has now secured outline planning permission, including a £250,000 contribution to Nairn Town Centre for enhanced street lighting, real time bus service and shop front improvement scheme and a two year commitment to improve frequency and routes of the number 20 bus.
Members of the team will be at Nairn Community Centre on Thursday 1st July to unveil the proposal to the community and gain its views. Sainsbury's has received some initial feedback on their proposals and has been working on the details of the proposal which it hopes will be submitted shortly as a planning application to The Highland Council.
The new 25,000sq ft sales area store will offer a wide range of Sainsbury's products, along with a petrol filling station which will allow for supermarket fuel prices in the town.
In addition to the food store, the proposal includes 25,000 sq ft of non-food retail units and Sainsbury’s hopes to attract other retailers to complement the town’s existing shops.
Jeff Wilson, Town Planning Manager for Sainsbury's said,
"We are excited about bringing a new store to Nairn and the proposed development at Balmakeith is a great opportunity to generate further investment in the town, creating long-term employment and enhancing retail choice. Our team have been working hard these last few months to make sure that we have taken into account the feedback we have received on our plans.
“Should the Council approve our proposal, we expect to start work on site later this year with an aspiration to open in Spring 2011."
Nairn Councillor Sandy Park, Convener of The Highland Council, commented,
"I am pleased to hear that Sainsbury's have taken on board the feedback they have received while working on their plans for this new store. I hope that the people of Nairn will take the opportunity to visit the exhibition to see what is proposed for this new development in their town."
The public exhibition will be held in Nairn Community Centre between 2pm and 7pm on Thursday 1st July.
With public services facing tough spending cuts, Catriona Johnson, chairwoman of Westhill Community Council, is calling on the Highlands to lead the rest of the UK.
She wants the local authority to submit a formal request to the Scottish and UK Governments to sanction a pay cut for the council's top-paid officials, eight of whom receive more than £100,000.'
Monday, June 28, 2010
Whilst I am not familiar with this particular case, the Archaeology Unit have asked for the building to be 'preserved by record', i.e. the subject of a full building recording prior to demolition. This requirement will be attached as a condition of planning consent.
'The Highland Council has today ( 28 June 2010) confirmed that there is no new sales marketing campaign for the sale of land at Sandown Nairn and that Deveron Homes remain the preferred bidder for development of the land.
As agreed, at the Council’s recent Planning, Environment and Development Committee development at Sandown continues to be supported subject to a review of the development potential of the site. This follows the recent appeal decision by the Scottish Government’s Reporters which upheld the Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for Deveron Homes’ initial proposal.
Councillor Sandy Park, Convener of The Highland Council said: “I am extremely concerned about the inaccurate information circulating at present about the sale of Sandown land. It is currently under offer to Deveron Homes and we want to work with the company and the community to deliver an acceptable scheme. As future proposals come forward Deveron Homes have got to carry out pre-application community consultations in line with new planning legislation and we look forward to local people getting involved in that process.”
Sunday, June 27, 2010
'9. Posters, mounts and string must be removed within the 7 days following the election. '
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
'I have no problem with interest being charged now that the sale of the Sandown land is out of the question but it should be from yesterday at 1% and not retrospectively.'
'WG explained that at the last Ward Forum, Sheena Baker had raised questions regarding the financing of Nairn Community Centre by the Nairn Common Good Fund.
Total cost of £2.814m to date with the capital element to fund the Community Centre being £2.081m. The balance went to pay off the tenant farmer and to cover a range of costs associated with legal fees, marketing fees and other smaller items. To date, no interest has been applied by Highland Council. WG highlighted that interest may be applied in the future but this would be a decision for the full Highland Council.
SB commented that it was concerning that the costs involved were around £3m and the Council appeared no further with securing the sale of Sandown.'
The Document presented to the full council yesterday stated in connection with the £390,000 paid to release the land title: 'This sum was charged to the Nairn Common Good Fund when incurred and already attracts an interest charge from the Council.' Now no mention of that at the Ward Forum meeting. Would this have needed the agreement of the full Council?
Thanks to Sheena for forwarding the relevant minute of the ward forum - here at the Gurn we tend to agree with her - the meter for interest charges should only start running from yesterday and not before.
'Did I not ask at a Nairnshire Partnership meeting a several months back several searching questions relating to the Nairn Common Good Land and whether interest was being charged, if so at what rate etc. I said when I asked the list of questions that I was not expecting answers there and then but it was agreed that Wm Gilfillan would take the questions away and research and answer them at the next meeting. This he did and we were assured at the next meeting that interest was not being charged but that it might change in the future. Nothing, I repeat nothing was said about there being any likelihood of it being charged retrospectively.
I was 100% + right to ask the questions and to get the answers. This was noted by yourself on the gurn and also by the Nairnshire Telegraph. It may have been as far back as last August, I do not have the relevant file to hand to check back copies of the minutes of the Partnership meeting.
The question arises once more about the Trustees who make decisions re Common Good Assets and as I said at that time we need people as trustees other than Councilors who are 100% independent and who would challenge such decisions!
I have no problem with interest being charged now that the sale of the Sandown land is out of the question but it should be from yesterday at 1% and not retrospectively.
Comments re the mal administration of the land used by the farmer are more or less correct and again I think it is a “cheek” for the Councilors to conveniently forget that aspect or “sweep it under the carpet”.
The two major players who will have clear memories of the farmers land saga are Bill Young and Frank Allen. Frank was, at the time, the area ward manager and Bill Young took a major interest in the various legal aspects of the case on behalf of himself and the “concerned community”.
Memories fade but this needs revisiting and, in my humble view, the retrospective interest charge needs challenging.
'It has come to the NRCG's attention that Sandown Common Good Lands are again up for sale. The Particulars of the sale cite a Development brief which has been prepared by Highland Council.
It is our understanding, following approval of the HwLDP - Vision and Strategy paper presented to PED on 26th May 2010 that a NEW development brief will be drafted, that the Nairn community will be fully consulted on the contents of such a brief, and that any such Development Brief must be approved by the Council. '
More from the NRCG on Sandown matters soon...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Top picture: protesters take over the entrance to the Council chambers. Second picture: John Finnie leader of the opposition addresses the demonstrators. More pictures here on the Gurn flickr pages.
I have thought of something which does not seem to have entered the fracas surrounding the Somerfield site, and the proposed demolition of the old council offices and Free Church.
My husband and I own Cawdor House, 7 Cawdor Street, formerly known as Ascot and Eldon House. We have been researching the house, and bought the book 'Nairn and the Disruption' by A. Gordon McGillvray. The house and Church are mentioned in this. They were the first purpose built Free Church and Manse in Scotland. In fact the front of the book has the plaque from the Church which verify's this with the words " Nairn Free Church begun in anticipation of the diruption of May 18, 1843, when ministers and members left the Church of scotland in very large numbers in protest over the interference of the state in the life of the church. This building was the first of many churches built for congregations of the Free Church of Scotland, and was opened for worship on Sunday June 11, 1843."
Coming to my point- we have submitted plans to extend the house, and the planning officer came out to do his site visit last week. He told us that our house is 'of historical interest' as it is the first Free Church Manse. So, does the Church not fall under the same category or higher? And if so, how on earth has Somerfield been given permission to knock it down? Surely this Church is part of Nairn's history, and should be preserved and used, and contribute once again to the community in some way?
I think this issue requires further investigation before part of Nairn's rich history is flattened.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
“THE SNP opposition are calling for the chairwoman of Highland Council's social work committee to resign if plans to build five new care homes in the region are scrapped tomorrow (Thursday), as expected. They have said that Margaret Davidson (Independent) must be held to account for not one but two 360-degree turns on care home provision in the Highlands.” Full details on what the Highland Council opposition have to say on the matter here.
Perhaps more worrying for the Council ruling coalition will be the fact that over 800 marched in Fort William at the weekend on this issue and it looks like Charles Kennedy is rebelling against his Glenurquhart Road colleagues too, the P&J reported on Monday:
‘Giving a speech to the crowds, Mr Kennedy said: “This is not about opposing the private sector. What we’re saying is that, as a community, we should maintain a public sector provision which has been a mainstay over the years. “Commitments were made and financial arrangements were put in place. All we are asking is that they be stuck to.” More here.
A march is planned from the Northern Meeting Park tomorrow at 09.30 to reach the Highland Council HQ in time for the meeting that will decide the fate of the care homes proposal. It seems that the outcome is a foregone conclusion but if large numbers of protesters turn out tomorrow morning will the Administration hold the line without losing a few councillors who find themselves unable to square this with their consciences? Sometimes last minute lobbying can have an effect. In the meantime Lib Dem Councillor David Alston has come out fighting, attacking ‘scaremongering’ by campaigners:
“Mr Alston felt compelled to respond to speculation among some campaigners that existing care homes may close as a result of the review.
He said: “All councillors feel passionately about services for the elderly and every single one wants to do their best for the elderly in their communities.
“Any suggestion that a vote against building care homes shows a lack of compassion is a falsehood.
“A few misguided or misled campaigners have suggested we plan the immediate closure of the five existing homes. This is untrue. Scaremongering of this kind, which distresses residents and their families, is a callous manipulation of people who deserve our respect and require our support.” More here.
The scene looks set for an emotional event tomorrow morning and perhaps a wee taster of more similar protests to come in the future as the Highland Council gets down to making serious cuts in the budget.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
In the same way that a few derelict buildings can give the wrong impression of Nairn, there are a few eyesores in the centre of Ardersier that must do little more than hurry the visitor along to Fort George or other destinations.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
She said it would be irresponsible to close any of the local pools as children might then resort to going to local rivers and trying to learn by themselves.
Sally Cartwright, of Alness, said it was the people of Alness who raised the funds to make the pool larger than originally planned. She said: “Morally you can’t close it.” ' Full article here.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
‘At the moment Nairn Common Good Fund maybe hasn’t got enough money worth nicking. But as and when, if ever, Sandown is sold for real money then there will be real money there and we don’t want Highland Council playing with it.’
A statement that had Councillor Laurie Fraser affirming, ‘No, we do not want that happening, no.’
Earlier Brian Stewart had outlined how the Housing Expo in Inverness had received Inverness Common Good money and he found this worrying, he said:
Laurie pointed out that this had been a decision of the Inverness City committee as it was an Inverness Common Good issue. Brian then went on to detail some of the points that concerned him in the Common Good Funds Policy Document. He stated that for payments of over £10,000 the decision would go to the Highland Council Resource committee, coupled with this and also,perhaps the biggest of his concerns, section 8 of that document and he quoted the following
‘Don’t need to be a lawyer to see that that is a loophole wide enough to drive a truck through. It effectively gives Highland Council carte blanche to spend Common Good money in any way they chose without any consultation as long as they are able to say ‘we have had regard for the interests of the local community.’
Laurie made some further comments but suggested that the West Council write to William Gillfinnan (giving Laurie a copy) as there would be an opportunity for further review in six months time.
There we have a few details from the debate Gurnites, perhaps there will be more in the Nairnshire but we hope to have given you a flavour of the quality of debate, backed by considerable research that the unpaid volunteer watchdogs at the West lay on once a month in the community centre.
Granted there is a gentleman’s agreement to allow the local members to decide what happens to local funds but we are moving into troubled times ahead and who knows what might happen at Highland Council. There is no guarantee it will stay like that forever. The cuts could bring a period of turmoil, the ruling administration has weathered a few problems but will it survive the full term and if it doesn’t what will take its place? Another regime that might cast envious eyes on a Nairn Common Good Fund that one day might have been topped up from Sandown? If our local members were to be given a veto, for example, on any move from the resources committee or others to spend Nairn money then perhaps the Brian Stewart and his West colleagues and, we imagine, quite a few more folk in Nairn would have their fears allayed. The community has to keep its eye on the ball on this one.
The Council already charges for a range of services, including school meals, hire of rooms and facilities, commercial refuse collection, leisure centre use, car parking, and burials. It receives income of approximately £68 million from these charges.
By increasing charges over and above inflation, the Council estimates it could inject £3.7 million into the budget over the next two years and ease the need for savings'
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The celebrations start with the flag raising ceremony at the Court House on Monday, 21 June at 10.30 am. In attendance will be the Lord Lieutenant, Ewen Brodie, The Highland Council Convener, Councillor Sandy Park, Provost Laurie Fraser and Nairn Ward Members, Royal British Legion, Seaforth Club, serving members and veterans from the Armed Forces and three pipers.
At 12.00noon, Royal Air Force representatives will make a presentation on their contribution to the Armed Services at the Royal British Legion.
On Saturday, 26 June, a parade has been planned at 2.30 pm led by the Nairn & District Pipe Band, marching from Millbank Street. Millbank Crescent, Cawdor Road and past the Royal British Legion where the salute will be taken by the Lord Lieutenant.
The Lord Lieutenant will give an address at 3.45p.m. followed by representatives from The Highland Council, the Royal British Legion and Seaforth Club.
At 4.30p.m., representatives from the Royal British Legion and Seaforth Club will renew their Poppy Wreaths at the War Memorial in a private Act of Remembrance followed at 5.30 pm by a short sunset service at the Royal British Legion where the Armed Forces Day Flag will be lowered, accompanied by pipers playing “Home to Barracks”. The flag will then be presented to a veteran.
Armed Forces Week ends on Monday, 28 June with the lowering of the flag at the Court House at 10.30 am.
At this point Graham Vine intervened: ‘Can we please not have departments engaging consultants merely to endorse what it was they intend to do in the first place. Consultants should only be engaged where the Council simply doesn’t have officers with the necessary expertise.’
‘And we looked at discretionary and statutory..’said Rosemary then Graham continued:
‘Yes, there seems to be a lack of understanding even within the Highland Council as to which of their activities was statutory and which of them were things that they have fallen into the habit of doing’
‘Rosemary continued to round up her summary: ‘To cut a long story short we fine-tuned that and give it to our councillors and asked them to take it,’ she then looked in the direction of Cllr Laurie Fraser who was present and asked, ‘did you?’
He confirmed that they’d given the information to the budget team.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The Nairnshire ‘spreads’ on the buses issues and a startling admission from a Highland Council official. Read for yourself and decide if you think it is a scandal. There’s changes at Auldearn Community Council and debate over the Cawdor village Hall again. A new backer for the Nairn Games, is a certain national company trying to worm its way into the affections of Nairnites? There’s lots of pictures including another one of the man with the chain, a more flattering picture of Laurie this time round? Loads on the Book and Arts Festival and the usual extravaganza of sports reports and pictures. Down to 12 pages this week but not lacking in thrills, information, sensation and down right hyperlocal raison d’être. It wouldn’t be Tuesday without the Nairnshire.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
The nickname 'Yellow brick road' seems to be gaining currency as we start to see more of how things will look as the project progresses. The first picture shows the new design while across the road the old look remains.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The latest entry in this LibDem blog is an article dated 10.01.10 and states: 'We would like to apologies for the site being out of action for the past month due to technical problems which have now been resolved.' The previous entry was posted on Posted on February 27th 2009. There has been a bit more activity on the Facebook group however with a member posting a message in April of this year but nothing official from the Lib Dems there either. Surely Danny and Graham have done something interesting about getting a Nairn by-pass over the last 16 months? We know Graham has been very busy in the lead up to the Lizgate affair and speaking to the press afterwards so perhaps we'd better ask the main man. Any news on the by-pass Danny?
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
‘S ann anns a’ Bheurla a bha a’ mhòr chuid den tachartas seo. Bha an dithis aca a’ leughadh an cuid obrach sa Ghàidhlig agus ged a bha e a’ còrdadh rium bha mi mothachail fad na ùine gur e Beurla a bha faighinn prìomhachas. Cha robh doigh eile faighinn as nam bheachdsa, chì thu san darna bhideo APC a’ tuigsinn nach robh moran daoine aig an robh Gàidhlig an làthair.
Leugh APC an caibideil ud bho ‘Tighinn Dhachaigh’ far a bheil an trèana agus an taibhse a’ stad ann an Inbhir Nairn airson greiseag.
Dà uair a thìde le APC agus Meg Bateman agus cha do chosg e ach sia notaichean. Aig a’ cheann thall chan eil cus adhbhar ann a bhith gearain.
Moss-side bus withdrawal - users claim they got one week’s notice- Highland Council got ten – why didn’t they warn the community?
"Giving a week’s notice was ridiculous. How did they expect people who had used the bus for years to suddenly find other forms of transport. If they had been using the bus it was probably because they didn’t have other means of transport."
It emerged at a meeting held by River Community Council on Tuesday night however that Highland Council knew a full ten weeks in advance that the withdrawal would take place. In situ to talk about problems concerning public transport (mainly issues about getting to the hospital from the Fishertown) was Mr Robert Edwards a Highland Council senior transport officer. He told the meeting that they get 70 days notice of a change from Stagecoach and that they usually informed local members and ward members, he went on to say that Stagecoach should display information about the change 21 days beforehand.
Liz was also present and stated that she received a copy of all the bus time tables about a month ago but this document didn’t specify any changes. Community Councillor Ian Gordon was outraged by the 70 day revelation and said:
We’ve a 40 day period where everyone is sitting on their butts doing nothing when we could have organised a protest or whatever. Why was that not made available to us quicker so we could act upon it?’ Liz then qualified her statement to say that she got the new timetables about the same time as the article appeared in the Nairnshire. Ian continued, ‘An awful lot of people that do not have private transport are dependent on public transport and we cannot just sit and pontificate around this table if we are comfortable with private transport and not looking after the people that need it.’
It then emerged from Mr Edwards that the first 14 days of the 70 have to remain confidential but that still leaves 8 weeks where Nairn folk could have been informed of this change – why weren’t they? Protests had to be organised and the media contacted by parents almost after the event. It might have perhaps been a different story if those parents and their supporters had had a full eight weeks to campaign to keep their bus. Highland Council you should have warned the community – what went wrong and will you make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Students of the local Common Good Fund may wish to read this document that went before the Resources Committee at Glenurquhart Road earlier today (sorry we don't know if it was approved).
The total project value, including marketing and infrastructure schemes in the three countries, is 7.4 million euros, attracting 6.2 million euros of grant funding from the EU Interreg IV funding scheme.
The Sail West project will create a marine leisure centre of excellence in the coastal zone and provide employment opportunities as well as rejuvenate coastal communities. The lead partner is Donegal County Council with 23 partners involved in the project including The Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.'
Sounds great but what has to go to fund this 100K? Full press release here.
The money will also be used to build a new dairy parlour and ensure that nearby Claymore Creamery remains in business.'
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
The River CC have been, up to now, the only Community Council in the town not to support Murd Dunbar’s campaign for improved access for all on the Firhall Bridge.
The letter and the visiting residents were given a sympathetic hearing from the River CC but as Murd pointed out the River are still the only Council not to support the proposal. One felt the wind of change in the air however, and this observer feels it is only a matter of time before the River put their full weight behind this initiative. They agreed to go and meet with the St Olaf residents and hear more of their concerns about the lack of disabled access to the bridge. Now that the River CC is seeking funds to upgrade the path from the Firhall Bridge to the Howford then surely ramps on at Firhall will become even more of a necessity.
Murd also revealed tonight that someone in Highland Council had told him that the work to remove the redundant pipe was being progressed by the HAPS (Housing and Property Services?) and ‘timescales’ would soon be provided.
Monday, June 07, 2010
'This report recommends amendments to organisational structures/establishments as a consequence of proposals from Service Directors.'
Sunday, June 06, 2010
Murd Dunbar has been concerned about this spot for some time and he told the Gurn:
'I was concerned that the result of raising the drain and road would result in further erosion at this point. I pointed the fact out to the contractors at the time of the road being resurfaced and was told it would be rectified. At the same time I reported it to TEC services. Not long before the resurfacing they spent money repairing the path and lowering the drain and installing kerbs to prevent this damage which occurred every time it rained and, as you can see, their good work was undone when the resurfacing was done. Realising it was going to be left I raised the matter again and was told it was the roads department who would deal with it after an inspection. The Highland Council keep telling us all money is tight but are they prepared to ignore warnings of what will happen. Is there any point anymore in trying to raise the obvious? In the past when putting forward some of my suggestions I have been told that ‘you are not an engineer, Mr Dunbar.’ That’s true and I concede that but I do have common sense. So if this work is considered satisfactory by engineers it’s no wonder that money is unnecessarily spent as it will be in this case to put things right again. '
Here's a picture taken earlier this morning by Murd that shows the water clearly running down the centre of the path.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Friday, June 04, 2010
'John McIntosh of Grant Place, Claggan, the founder of a campaign group initially established to save it from closure, was unimpressed by what he heard.
“It was rather heated, actually.
“They weren’t listening. And we had one old friend who was in tears today, asking ‘are they going to take my home away?’ It’s so sad.”
Are the Highland Council administration preparing to drop a promise made? More on the P&J site.
But local firm Mackenzie and Cruikshank say the project which goes to inquiry next week would force them to close their doors after almost 130 years in business.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
More on the Oxford Hotels and Inns site.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The matter of dangerous and inconsiderate parking in these areas was recently raised at a River Community Council meeting where Highland Councillor Graham Marsden promised to take the matter up with the authorities.
“Fetch me a drink…” I crooned, and as he tottered off below decks, I gazed desperately into the darkness of the harbour, with it’s little boats bumping together.
“Lager or cider?” he barked, as I leapt nimbly into the freezing water, my thoughts only of home.
Sadly, the pink velour tracksuit I had chosen to wear, quickly became waterlogged, dragging me deeper and deeper into the abyss…
II) She couldn’t resist the idea of being perched aboard a yacht, clutching a pina colada, or something equally classy. But being stone cold sober and in a state of shock, words failed the former glamour model, as she climbed aboard the good ship ‘petit pois’. The aperitifs consisted of cans rather than bottles - not a drop of bubbly in sight. There was only one thing for it. If only she hadn’t been wearing a huge pink sponge!
III) “Fetch me a drink, Mr. B…” she crooned, breathing a huge sigh of relief as the ageing car salesman disappeared below decks. What to do? What to do? She looked wildly about her for a means of escape. There were plenty of other boats in the harbour, but most of them even more ridiculous than this so-called yacht she had been invited onto, by that fiend in human shape, Adrian Barnard, or Mr. Boneyard, as she had mentally renamed him.
“Lager or cider?” he bellowed. She rolled her eyes. Just when she had thought things couldn’t get any worse! There wasn’t any point in answering. She had to act now and fast, or her entire evening would be in ruins. And what, she pondered in horror - what if someone were to see her aboard this crate, clutching a can of Strongbow, making inane chit-chat with a man who could barely speak? That was it. Her mind was made up.
Adrian Barnard appeared on deck just in time to see his date disappearing over the edge of his boat and into the harbour.
“Pookie…!” he screamed in alarm.
“Pookie! Don’t worry, I’ll save you…!”
The Chief Secretary, who stepped in after David Laws resignation for abusing his expenses, ran up the highest bill of any MP for using the little-known perk last year.
Mr Alexander's wife, 35-year-old magazine writer Rebecca Hoar, used public money to travel between Westminster and their family home in the North-East Highlands.
The average cost of the trips – by rail and by air – between London and Inverness was £209'