Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rosebank Church - 9 flats for 'low income/starters and downsizers'?

An application that seems to have already ticked a few boxes and found favour within Highland Council is the plan for the Rosebank Church to be converted into 9 flats. Here's the final paragraph of a supporting document submitted to the Council.
'Nairn has great communications and is not only sustainable but a chance to adaptively reuse and renew a well loved part of Nairn’s heritage. The building is in great need of extensive repairs and by making it economically viable to renew and upkeep its future will be guaranteed, and low income/starters and downsizers have a much needed option rather than the usual developers unsustainable, unaffordable new town that threaten the farm and greenbelts, and further undermine the town and city centres. Many other aspects of the proposal is sustainable and simple additions like rainwater barrels at rainwater leaders can be pointed to but the main bonuses of this renewal is the historic preservation, the densification and affordable accommodation it provides, within a sustainable development. '
The document then outlines the support from within Highland Council:'Kerry Barnett (Conservation Architect) at the conservation department of the Highland Council as well as planner Jim Harbison (in the Inverness area office) and both have been very supportive of the approach. '
It could be that a use has finally been found for the derelict Church? You can view all the documents and plans connected with this application here.

Removal of Boats - Video

Video has been uploaded onto Youtube of the removal of the boats, you can see three short videos here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

1,140 mile round trip to watch Nairn County

'Les Smith will probably make the longest trip of any soccer fan tomorrow.
For the Tilehurst soccer fanatic (pictured) is heading for northern Scotland to watch the Highland League match between Nairn County and Cove Rangers.
This marathon trek will enable him to chalk up a ground in his quest to visit every stadium in all the main leagues in England, Scotland and Wales'

More about Les's ground-hopping adventures on a Reading newspaper site.

Library, swimming pool and much, much more to be outsourced?

Looks like the whole Culture & Leisure show could be leaving Glenurquhart Road for pastures (outsourced) new. Here's a press release from the Highland Council:
'Highland Councillors are being asked to agree the principle of establishing an arms-length organisation to deliver all activity concerning its leisure and cultural services. The services involved are swimming pools, leisure centres, sports activity, arts and culture, heritage and museums, community centres, libraries, archives, youth work and adult learning. The Education Culture and Sport Committee will consider a report on Thursday 5 August which recommends the principle of outsourcing all of the Council’s leisure and cultural services. Already 17 of Scotland’s 32 councils have gone down the route of managing, usually sports facilities through this mechanism.
Feedback from recent public budget consultations backs up the Council Administration’s view savings achieved by doing this could safeguard the maximum number of services during the forthcoming period of financial cutbacks. Public responses have told the Council that it is critical that services continue to be run efficiently and that there is no significant increase in prices.
In his report to the committee, Hugh Fraser, Director of Education Culture and Sport, said the financial advantages of outsourcing are primarily through savings achieved where an arms-length organisation with charitable status qualifies for non-domestic rates relief. Some increased opportunities to raise funds exist and a pattern of reduced costs is the norm. Savings of £700,000 could be possible. He said: “The aim of establishing a single organisation covering all leisure and cultural activity currently run by the Council would be to provide high quality services to the public whilst at the same time making savings on running costs as a result of the charitable status of an arms length organisation. Speed is therefore of the essence. Key decisions are required over the next few months on a range of detailed issues. The aim would be for transfer to happen as early into the financial year 2011/12 as possible” The Committee is being recommended to establish a project board, comprising key members of the senior management team, to lead progress on developing the ALO. Early work would be the preparation of a Service Level Agreement between the Council and the new organisation; the range of buildings and assets to be leased to or managed by the ALO; proposed staffing transfers; central support; capital funding and building and grounds maintenance arrangements.'
Might be one way forward but where would you go if you had a complaint about any of the services provided? Would there be any need for any more involvement from Councillors? The shape or the brave new credit-crunched world in the Highlands is looming on the horizon.

Special taxi offers for Senior Citizens

Taxi 24/7 seems to be making good use of the social media available and has a growing fan club on Facebook . The new company are offering special fares for senior citizens too, here's the details:
'Cheap taxi fares for the senior citizens of Nairn. £2.50 Monday to Friday and £3.00 Saturday and Sunday - these fares apply for journies within the town limits. Our office is at 44 High Street phone 45-95-95 and we are TAXI 24/7 Ltd. Cheers Ken and Sharon Finnerty'

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alistair Calder from British Columbia looks out of a window in Nairn

...and now the photo. Cawdor House in Nairn. #scotland2010 on Twitpic
Click on the picture to go to the twitpic page and you'll see the full size version. Earlier Alistair had eaten in the Classroom.
Pork tenderloin with mash & veg at The Classroom Bistro i... on Twitpic
Alistair was also going to the Ceilidh in the Legion tonight. Alistair seems to be enjoying Nairn, you can keep up to date with his tweets here. If anyone is on twitter tonight perhaps you could help him out, he's looking for a free wi-fi connection in town.

Burnt boat leaving harbour

One of the destroyed boats being lifted out of the harour this afternoon. See article below for further details. You will see from the following pictures that the damage was not restricted to the boats that were destroyed. The Black Pig also got a scorching.

The float under the pontoon was badly damaged by the heat too.

Two boats burnt out at the Harbour

Two boats caught fire in the harbour last night with fire crew attending at 2:00 this morning. Both were moored on the south pontoon (nearest the sailing club) and, by the looks of it, they are total right offs according to a gurnite who has sent in this information. The south pontoon was closed by police tape and the boats will be inspected by a forensic expert today to determine if the fire was started by an electrical fault or whether arson was involved. Picture will enlarge. Another picture here.

Update 10.47 : Teenage girl detained over Nairn boats blaze

The BBC reports: 'A 17-year-old girl has been detained by police in connection with a fire that caused damage to four boats tied up in a harbour.' More here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lodghill Clinic Flats – the new planning battleground for Nairn?

Outspoken reactions in the Nairn blogosphere tonight with both and MyNairn voicing strong opinions over the plan for 11 flats on the Lodgehill Clinic site. The planning notice has only been served on neighbours on the 26th of this month and already strong objections have been received from James Wallace and Thomas Chambers, you can read them and see the plans etc here, (once on that page click on the documents tab and you will see that public comments are down at the bottom of the list.)
I see there is a complaint that the flats would be out of context with the rest of the area. Well the Clinic building surely is also out of character at the moment. Anyway those concerned by this development might want to consider approaching the Nairn Residents Concern Group for their thoughts on the matter. When the residents of Water Lane were threatened by overdevelopment that was also to be three stories high the help of the NRCG was invaluable. Everyone should also remember that you can make a comment/submission about any planning application in Nairn (whether for or against or indifferent) it isn’t limited to neighbours and you can have your say too.

Selling a car up a gum tree

One of the regular gurnites tells us how she sold a car at the weekend. She'd recently brought one (after seeing it on the web) and then wanted to get rid of the old one. She thought about e-bay but was reluctant to fork out the cut that they would have wanted so she tried the free ad service on gumtree early on Sunday morning. She wasn't sure how successful that would be but was willing to give it a go before resorting to e-bay. Within 25 minutes she'd had a phone call from Aberdeen and the caller told her that they were heading for the Inverness bus with their cash in their pocket. They eventually arrived a few hours later and after a test drive left for home with their 'new' car. The seller also had three other inquiries, one of them during the test drive, which was perhaps handy.
Looks like the days of small ads in dead tree media could well be numbered.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

River Community Council AGM

The usual lively affair with Chair Jean Tolmie thanking everyone for their support during a difficult year. She mentioned the challenges met and those to come and especially thanked Stephanie Whitaker for her hard work recording the minutes.

There then followed a short meeting on other matters including the Sports Bar application for the social club. Members of the public present raised concerns about the proposed upstairs external smoking area, worried mainly it seems that noise would travel through the surrounding streets and lanes. They wanted more information about how the external smoking area would be constructed. The Community Council decided to seek more time from Highland Council to consider the matter, calling a special meeting in a week’s time to discuss the issue further. A concern was also raised about another application in the town centre area, this concern was more to do with the accuracy and confusion presented by the conflicting information contained in a neighbour’s notice and the online planning pages on the Highland Council site.

Two members of the public made detailed statements concerning lower river wildlife issues. The Councillors then debated these concerns, taking on board comments from other members of the public present and decided to forward the statements to Louise Clark at the Courthouse with a supporting covering letter adding their own points.

Iain Gordon specifically asked for the digital press present to mention that they wanted to know where the ‘salty bins’ were as they might be needed soon if we have a hard winter. His wit was priceless as usual. Vintage River CC.

The ‘Central Beach’ doesn’t exist

There’s East and there’s West. The term ‘central beach’ was a ploy dreamed up in the eighties by the then District Council officials to get a blue flag, the other more popular area the East Beach was getting a lot of dodgy test results at the time.
I note in the Nairnshire that there is a call from Graham Vine for more signs to discourage dogs and their owners from this part of the West Beach now that the Council dog ban signs have had to go. How in these cash strapped times would the Highland Council pay for more signs (that would have no legal force at all)? Perhaps we could close the swimming pool and divert the money to signs?
Now it is emerged that dogs should have been allowed on the beach after all, this commentator is quite happy to admit to (along with many, many other people) to ignoring the signs and taking dogs for walks on the beach regardless of the shiny enamel warnings. If more signs of a different nature go up I will still continue to do so, taking precautions of course to make sure that children and swans nearby are neither scared, annoyed or mauled. For goodness sake let common sense prevail and if anyone is unable or unwilling to control their dog then let the police deal with it.
Finally dogs and tourism do mix, just go for a walk around the caravan site (30,000 visitors per year), where some weeks just about every other caravan will have at least one resident dog. The staycationers are taking their canine friends on holiday with them and Nairn suits them perfectly.

Pioneering new multi-care centre opens in Nairn

The opening of the new facilities at Nairn hospital receives a write-up in the Press & Journal and also makes the front page of the Nairnshire Telegraph this week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dogs, no debate?

This in from John Maher referring to a previous post on the Gurn concerning the lifting of the dog ban on the beach:

Not allowing comments on this posting. Are you frightened about a bit of debate?

Well it may have been illegal but given the miles of beach at either side of the central beach it seems a shame we can't have a small bit we can take our children to where there's no risk of stepping in dog crap and or being confronted by a large, excitable dog. The dog might not mean any harm but I don't know that, especially if it is a rottweiler, as happened last week, and it frightens my daughter. Not all owners are as responsible as you imagine. Still, I guess it's a small price to pay for their civil liberties.


Sometimes we don't allow comments on articles John, that's the way this blog is. Your point of view and further beyond that is well catered for over on Nairn matters however. Maybe raising the level of the dog jobbie fine to £500 for a first offender (litter too, especially broken glass) and doubling for each subsequent offence might encourage a few more people to pick turds up. I have to say also that I have heard one individual (a regular on the lower riverside walks) complain vociferously about this and a few days later I saw him allowing his dog to crap in a wooded area where he thought no one was watching.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Minking the system

Thanks to Tommy Hogg for this excellent picture - it will enlarge a little.
Earlier this morning a flotilla of mink sailed past Swan Island, their heads just visible above the water but a V shaped ripple giving away their individual positions. They crossed to the wall by the pumping station and began to explore their way along towards the Bailey Bridge gathering a large audience of human admirers as they continued on their expedition. The presence of the human race did not seem to intimidate these creatures at all. Once past the other side of the bridge their antics caused much amusement as they tried to climb the wooden piles and parts of bare stone wall with varying degrees of success. One of them installed itself in a recess in the wall and seemed to have made itself quite at home. Below a larger mink made efforts to get the youngsters back into the water by dragging them by the neck. For around twenty minutes the mink road show continued.
Time to keep your mink on a lead?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Joe Telfer pushed in the river - reckless act could have taken life

Police are looking for two youths who pushed Joe Telfer into the river this evening just by the sewage pumping station. The tide was out and he fell 12ft into the river, fortunately his fall was broken by mud and less fortunately for the creature concerned one of the young swans. He missed the many large stones and metal objects in this part of the river. A badly shaken Mr Telfer refused a lift to the hospital from both police who were quickly on the scene and others who came to his aid.

Joe is a controversial figure and has upset a lot of folk over recent years and this might have been related to one of those incidents or more likely it was just a chance piece of reckless stupidity, either way it could have ended up with a murder charge and it is no way to behave towards any human being and anyone with any information should contact Nairn Police.

The scene of the assault

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sunset last night

Recent rainbow

Thanks to Charlie Black for this picture taken on the 19th of this month

Where is Nairn exactly?

Letter to the Gurn from Duncan Brown

Dear Gurn

I’m reading a book published last year called “Blood In The Glens” by Jean McLennan.
It is a book about murders that have occurred in the Scottish highlands.
Re the murder of Alistair Wilson, Crescent Road, the writer explains that on the day of the murder Alistair and friends had been walking in the Culbin Forest “which extends eastwards from just beyond the outskirts of Nairn in Inverness-shire towards Findhorn Bay.” (Mistake No. 1)
The very next sentence is: “Nairn is a popular seaside resort on the Moray Firth, with a links golf course.” (Mistake No.2)
The above mistakes apart, it is a very well written book!

Kind regards


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Over the top dog ban on the beach over at last

Thank goodness sense has at last prevailed and Highland Council have given up trying to enforce their long-standing and (to this observer) unjust dog ban on the 'Central' beach. This ban was a discrimination against local dog owners. At last locals and visitors will be able once again to enjoy taking their pets on the particular beach in question without any bother from this silly regulation - a regulation that large numbers of people simply ignored anyway. You can have expensive signs telling you to do this or that but if people think it unjust then they will just ignore the instructions on the shiny enamel plates. If someone is allowing their pet to misbehave then there is sufficient legislation to allow the proper authorities to deal with it, there is no need to target the law-abiding majority of pet owners and cause ill-feeling along the way.

County Social Club to be Sports Bar?

Remember the night club application that failed and then went to appeal to be refused by the Scottish Government's reporter? Well another application is in for the Nairn County Social Club and once again the applicant is a Mr P Moore, this time with a proposal for a Sports Bar. You can see the drawings here and the application details here. The previous application for a night club is here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nairn's Trip Advisor fame still spreading

Out there on the net reference is being made to the site listing Nairn as number nine in the list of up and coming destinations. One blogger has made a special trip to see Nairn and took a few pictures, the run down Regal features but the impression is generally good. Read about it all here, plus pictures and reactions.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Trip advisor pictures of Nairn

We've received a copy of a newsletter sent out by TripAdvisor to members featuring links to the 'Top 10 up and coming Destinations'. Nairn is in at number 9. The newsletter links to a page of images that Gurnites might find interesting. Lots of pictures of interiors etc.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back to the wisdom of Iain Bain

Sorry no review of the local press this week but we'd like to take you back to the Nairnshire of the 6th of July. Here we've often stated that the community has to do more for itself as the Highland Council quite often seems to have an agenda that is not synonymous with the interests of Nairn. Basically if we had a democratically elected organisation that represented the town then we would have the perfect vehicle to organise a lot more for ourselves. If the three Community Councils were combined then that vehicle would be born - A Royal Burgh of Nairn Council! Anyway let's examine a piece of Iain Bain's editorial from two editions ago (he's referring to the cuts Ward Forum meeting here):

'And those who studied the documents put before them will have noted the increasing role of a voluntary sector. Where we were sitting last week, the talk was of how much further such an extension could continue in a place like Nairn where bodies like the Sports Council and museum already work on that basis. There is a huge demand on volunteers' time and where would the people come from to man the boards of the non-profit making and charitable companies that would run former council functions? One suggestion was that in a small, compact place like Niarn, one board might cover a number of functions. And what would that look like? Very much like a district or burgh council! Aye, it all comes around. We thought it would, in the end.'

Iain Bain hopefully senses the inevitable in the wind.A single council for Nairn wouldn't cost too much at all, bear in mind it would be based on the amalgamation of the three existing community councils whose members give their service to the community for free. A single council would really help Nairn punch its weight in the world - if it doesn't happen we all lose out and an opportunity for the citizens of Nairn to address a democratic deficit that came into being with the loss of Nairn District Council will have been denied to us!

Whole lot of Yoga going on

This in from a Gurnite who feels it may be the perfect antidote to Streetscape?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kennel Cough and Parvovirus

Two alerts have been received for dog owners from our Veterinary correspondent.

The first warning is regarding Kennel Cough. Kennel Cough is an upper respiratory infection which is highly contagious. Some of the symptoms to watch out for are if your dog develops a dry, hacking cough, goes off its food and seems listless. All dogs can get it and particular attention should be paid to dogs which have underlying conditions, puppies and elderly dogs. If you think your dog has Kennel Cough consult your vet about treatment. Vaccines are available and the vet can advise you regarding these. Check out this video at YouTube to get an idea of the coughing.

More information on Kennel Cough can be found

The other condition doing the rounds is Parvovirus with reports of an increase of cases in
Aberdeen. This is an extremely serious virus which can kill your beloved pooch or leave it with serious long term health problems if it survives. Although puppies are very susceptible this virus can affect dogs of any age which have not been vaccinated.
The main symptoms are;

  • Severe, foul smelling diarrhoea which can be bloody (our correspondent says you never forget the smell!)
  • Vomiting
  • Listlessness
  • High temperature
  • Lethargic or depressed
  • Off their food and not drinking much

Once the symptoms appear then time is of the essence and you must seek veterinary help immediately.  This often fatal illness can strike fast and is very distressing for both the animal and the owner with a high emotional and financial cost. Our correspondent has seen the results of parvovirus first hand and urges everyone to consider getting their dogs vaccinated; on the face of it vaccination may seem expensive but in the long run it may be a small price to pay. Don’t wait for it to reach this area, if your dog or puppy is not vaccinated speak to your vet.
More information on Parvovirus can be found

Monday, July 05, 2010

Nearly midnight local press review

Bus woes again on Page 1 of the Nairnshire. On page 2 a mention of the sudden death of Bruce Barron (a full obituary to follow), what the Suburban CC want to do about part of Sandown and news of two Culloden and Ardersier councillors and a complaint of bullying. Next on page 3 the question is asked ‘Will Sainsbury’s open for business in Easter?’ Further into the paper to find out more about the 200 homes proposal for Croy and the campaign against the plans. Another page is dedicated to the cuts meeting held last Wednesday evening.

The editorial this week is a treat with a analysis of the cuts meeting and a wry observation at the end. There’s another complaint about the seagull s**** in a letter to the editor and a picture of Micheal Maclellan’s recent charity marathon. All this and more including the usual sports pages.

Murd’s question at the Ward Forum

Murd made a very good point about saving money at the cuts meeting. It was a question that caught the mood of the meeting. The Chief Executive Mr Dodds said he thought it was a very good question too.

Murd told the meeting:

“I reported a tree at the river, it was in a dangerous condition. I had to be consulted to go and show them where the tree was. There were two reps from Highland Council that went there. I asked them the question, ‘Why are there to of you here?’

‘Different departments.’ One was forestry the was the tec services. Why was there two men that had to go and see this.’

Mind the gap!

This evening and a large section of the barriers up the High Street seemed to have cowped over.

It’s all so political…

With only a couple of hours before the latest edition of the Nairnshire appears on the shelves of the Co-op it is perhaps worth reflecting on part of last week’s editorial:

‘No-one can deny that the puncturing of an economic bubble and the subsequent rescuing of a banking system has created huge debt. But it should not be forgotten that this is also a political matter. When Alston, Park et al come to Nairn tomorrow, wringing their municipal hands and asking for our help and forbearance in axing items that we thought were at the core of local life, then Nairnites should remember that they elect them and the certainties of gloom and doom that they will relate are also a matter of choice. This is politics.’

Iain Bain was of course referring to the Ward Forum Cuts meeting held in Rosebank last Wednesday night. The cuts that Highland Council are going to make are a political process, the Ward Forum road shows were part of that process and it was bizarre to see Councillor Alston accuse Liz MacDonald of trying to score political points. Maybe he just doesn’t understand Nairn, Liz is an SNP councillor yes but her personal politics are closer to the sentiments of the community then any political party, this was reflected in her coming top of the poll at the last election. In attacking Liz, Cllr Alston was in fact taking a swipe at the Community as the angry reaction he provoked from those present demonstrated. Is there anyone that believes that Liz is political and the Highland Council Administration is not? Here’s something that was sent in by one of the Gurnites, it’s an Audit Scotland Document entitled Best Value 2 pathfinder Audit, Highland Council

'103. There is strong political leadership in the council, with an administration that works consistently and effectively and an effective opposition. This contributes to a clear and consistent strategic direction. Elected members demonstrate good leadership, and working relationships between party groups, among members and between members and officers are generally good. Members have a positive approach and work well together in the interest of the whole of the Highland area.'

So Audit Scotland think Highland Council is a political council, somebody had better tell Mr Alston.

It'll be interesting indeed to see what the Nairnshire made of the proceedings last week especially as Sandy Park began with a quick barb intended for Iain Bain. He said, ' I think we did get a wee mention from Mr Bain that maybe we wouldn't take the consultation seriously but I think in all fairness we will, this will be fair, Councillor David Alston will explain that when he does his introduction.'

More later on the Co-op shelves - have 40p ready.

The Brae hits the P&J

The Brae crossing that is not a crossing receives coverage in the P&J today here's what Liz has to say:

“The safety officer has now recommended that the crossing is placed right at the bottom of the Brae although I find it difficult to understand how that makes it safer when it is a wider part of the street. I think there could also be some form of physical barrier to stop people using the rumble strip as a crossing.”

More from the article and a picture here.

Proof of the Regal/ filling station/ old community centre effect?

Again a picture of a Nairn sunset appears on the Internet attracting admiring comments and praise but the legend accompanying the picture should surely give us cause for concern:

'There is not a lot very pretty about nairn town centre. but it is beside this idyllic beautiful.'

Firhall on the beeb

The quiet life in a child-free village.

UPDATE: And now in the Express, Iain Bain gets quoted as a sceptic:

'Closer to home the editor of the local Nairnshire Telegraph also grumbled in the programme about a lack of children’s voices around the place and an unhealthy “skewed demographic”
More here

Seasonal sight on the beach

As summer continues, litter begins to appear on the beaches. Thnaks to one of the regular readers for the picture.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

So easy to pin the blame on one person?

The above picture shows the People's take on the latest cuts news. There's a lot of material in the Sunday Press about Danny's 'prepare for 40% cuts' instruction. Now most people will realize that it is the entire Westminster Government that is is coming up the cuts agenda but so often it is easier just to blame one individual and Danny seems to be the target these days.
Danny the axeman?

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Cuts Ward Forum - another dissatisfied customer

This in from 'A Jury':

'Having studied the hand-outs from Wednesday's Ward Forum, I am amazed that Highland council should have such a low opinion of the intelligence of its electorate. They ask us to give opinions on topics where the basic information provided is insufficient to assess the problem, never mind propose a solution. What figures that were quoted were rounded up or down, perhaps because they feel we cannot cope with more than one decimal place.- but suggesting a rather slack approach to accuracy.

A relatively large proportion of the expenditure £14.6m. goes on computers, communications and technology. Is this new and expensive technology being used to reduce expenditure?

e.g. Video conferencing council debates, thus allowing members to remain in their constituencies, and saving expenses for travelling, meals and often overnight accommodation. Paperless billing of council tax, rents etc., saving on postage as well as office time. 

I noted that there was no mention of cutting members salaries and expenses. But then WE must put up with poorer education, less care for the elderly, closed libraries and swimming pools, not to mention smelly dustbins. After all THEY must have their meals accommodation and travel expenses. Why else are they in the job? 

Figuratively Speaking,

A Jury'

Friday, July 02, 2010

Nairn pool proposed close-down - BBC Reporting Scotland 20th June2010

'Yestosh' has kindly posted the relevant piece on Youtube.

Come to Nairn on holiday - excellent sunsets free!

This picture in from one of the regular sunset watchers, taken last night, initially prospects for a decent sunset looked fairly slim but there was a last minute turnaround. This observer missed it, staying at home to continue sampling a nice range of cheap and tasty ciders obtained from Lidl Forres. (picture will enlarge)
Update: Another view of last night' stunning sunset from Charlie Black.

Brian captured an image too over at MyNairn

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Could we get by with one less Highland Councillor in Nairn?

At last night’s cuts consultation former Cllr David Fraser suggested a big cutback in the number of councillors in the Highlands, he told the meeting:

I heard Cllr Foxley on the radio recently saying there were no sacred cows. I just wonder why they haven’t considered a reduction in the number of councillors because I feel the Council should petition the Scottish Government to reduce the councillors by 25% and save half a million a year.’

Sandy replied that that had come up at several consultations and he’d mentioned it recently to John Swinney. ‘I think a reduction in councillors maybe the way to go,’ he said.

Cuts closures and pay-offs

As we reported earlier David Alston's blast at Liz on Wednesday night for being political didn't go down well with Nairnites. He was shouted down for his efforts. Let's face it all is political in Highland Council these days and the mere prescence of David Alston and Micheal Foxley in Rosebank made it even more so. They were just as guilty of 'politics' as Liz. Anyway Liz told the Gurn her thoughts about the consultation meeting, she said:

'The proposal to close the swimming pool is coming from the Administration - Sandy, Laurie and Graham so if it stays open they saved it from themselves closing it! The Care Home position wasn't saved although the public made it clear how important they were to their communities.

A lot of the proposals in the consultation have already been agreed by administration and gone through committee - grass cutting tender, privatising care homes, service point payment strategy, privatising care at home, day care review. David Alston said no decisions had been made.

Times are hard, and although folk like having their say I'd question the value of tonight's and the rest of the consultation across Highland and time and money could have been better spent with officers looking for savings in services without all this PR exercise to worry the public and staff and dividing communities.'

Large footfall to view Sainsbury's plans

Sainsbury's reps were reporting a large turn-out at the Community Centre today as a steady stream of Nairnites filed in to see the plans and fill in comment sheets. Still nearly half an hour to go and see for yourself (18.35).

We took a picture of the plan, it should enlarge and there is an artist's impression in the Nairnshire. Sainsbury's - bring it on! Let's get Nairn a supermarket worthy of the new millennium!

Nairn gets consulted

After Sandy Park receiving two separate petitions from young people on the swimming pool issue the meeting began just like any other ward forum. That is to say there was the compulsory Powerpoint presentation. We heard how bad the UK finances were and saw some nice graphs but really is there anyone left on Planet Nairn that doesn’t know how bad things are? Then there were a couple of other oral presentations to the overflowing main hall in Rosebank.
After this part of the proceedings we were given a little explanation of what was to happen next. There was a main booklet and a supplementary series of colour coded booklets to guide us in our debate and decision making. Each crowded table had to write down their responses to all manner of questions such as ‘Do we need the same number of Public toilets?’. To this observer it seemed that with the amount of people in the room it was a near futile exercise with it being very hard to hear the folk at the end of the other end of the table as the decibel rate in the room climbed higher. There were four periods of fifteen minutes to answer the questions and make group comments. Our table was not alone in not finishing responses to all these questions. Often there were contradictory opinions expressed and it was almost impossible to come to a consensus on often quite technical questions. Were we all being herded in the required direction anyway? Does a lot hinge on the questions being asked?

It was a great relief to get to the proper question and answer section, which contrary to some expectations lasted for over an hour. Liz made the first statement outlining her fears that despite the consultation process some things seemed to be getting cut anyway. She sat down to applause ringing around the hall. Cllr David Alston (LibDem) got quite shirty with Liz over that and started talking about political point scoring and then the citizens present got shirty with him in turn. Things looked like they were going to get quite nasty but they calmed down.
There were some more difficult moments for the administration councillors and the accompanying high heid yins as members of the public made their points (and many of them spoke eloquently on the swimming pool issue).
And so the consultation road show process came to an end in the Highlands with a farewell performance in Nairn. Goodness knows how they will find the millions of pounds worth of cuts without saying goodbye to so much members of the public take for granted. Folk made their way home as the late evening light slowly faded. Things will change, it looks like the Highland Council will take on board the fact that the swimming pool must survive but just what else will go in the coming months and years?