Monday, November 29, 2010

Nice work - more notes from NICE

Nice tells the Gurn: "It has been a busy week for those interested in the future of Nairn and the site in the centre of town."
Further headings in a Nice press release are:

· Nairn in 3D – the design workshop

· The way forward – working together to get the plans right

· Reflecting local views

· A more ambitious objective?

. Some Radical thinking ?

· The next steps

Obviously NICE is considering its role after the present effort to find out what the people of Nairn would like for their town centre. Will NICE become the developers of the town centre? Effectively that seems to be the direction that some of the suggestions could eventually lead. What do you think? Should the community take total control? To read this press release in its entirety pop over to the Nice website or head over to the NICE Facebook page

Vice-Convenor no more - A week is a long time in Highland Politics

Last Monday night the Gurn asked Graham Marsden if he'd resigned as Vice Convener of the resources committee on the Highland Council. Rumours had been circulating Nairn but Graham said, 'I haven't resigned.'
He didn't seem his usual perky self when asked the question however ,so this observer left him in peace and sat down to enjoy the Nairn Town Centre 3-D build as you go show.

Obviously the next question should have been: 'Do you have any plans to resign?' This evening the Nairnshire reports that he is to step down in December. Obviously quitting as a high heid yin on the ruling administration has to follow protocols.
To be fair to Graham, he is resigning on an important point of principle close to his heart. One wonders for the stability of the ruling administration however, as more and more councillors examine their consciences as the Council heads for the choppy waters of brutal cuts to the work force and the services provided. More in the Nairnshire Telegraph

River Community Council Resignation

The Gurn understands that one of the elected members of the River Community Council

Schools closed in Nairn today and IT issues with the Highland Council website

Brian reports that Schools are closed and that the Highland Council website has crashed. He has a few thoughts on the issue.
Update: the closed Nairn Academy above and
a few more pictures (mainly from today) now on this page over at the Gurnflickr pages.
and also this one here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Town Centre Busy

Obviously folk are not heading out on the A96 to their usual retail haunts. All tills are working in the 'new' Co-op and long queues are forming. Elsewhere a steady stream of folk heading away from Nickel and Dime with snow shovels and sledges.
Here's what life is like on the A96 today

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More pictures of today's snow here.

Ward Forum becomes Youth Forum - The Courthouse comes to life with new blood

Nairn Youth Forum came to the Courthouse on Wednesday night and stole the show. A bunch of young people passionate about their objectives outlined what they are doing to make Nairn and the Highlands in general a better place. They are actively engaged in campaigns on health, transport, crime and anti-social behaviour.
Did you take part in the Highland Council budget cuts consulation? Well the pupils at Nairn Academy did, there were over 800 submissions from the 846 young people at Nairn Academy. Some of those submissions/suggestions made to the council earlier in the year were passed around as the youngsters made their various presentations on the behalf of Nairn Youth Forum and Highland Youth Voice, Nairn’s members of the Scottish Youth Parliament were even present to tell us about their role in recent debates in that Parliament.
Overall those present came away with an impression of a confident, dedicated, well-informed and organised group of younger citizens who are out to make our community a better place - an impression of youth that goes against the grain of the stereo-typical negative image that more mature citizens can sometimes have.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sandy’s nice letter to NICE now in the public domain.

Over on the Nice site, the Convenor’s letter has been published. In it he talks about how he sees the Council’s relationship with Nice over the extended consultation period. It’s magnanimous material, well done Sandy! This observer would like to pick a little bone over the following sentence however:
“Whilst NICE does not speak for everyone in Nairn, my ward colleagues and I are happy to work with NICE to find a positive solution for our town centre."

One is tempted to ask if the Highland Council speaks for everyone in Nairn?
Read Sandy’s Letter in full here.

UPDATE Saturday Morning:

Tramping the digital streets late last night a regular gurnite and NICE watcher popped up and pointed out that Sandy’s remark about who NICE represent is very interesting because if looked at from a purely scientific standpoint then NICE, having the support and active membership of the town’s three properly constituted Community Councils, could be said to represent just as many electors as the Highland Council.

But if you think ‘representation’ in terms of the community’s concerns and aspirations then it could be suggested that NICE offers a potentially far superior method of representation. In short as our correspondent tells us:

"NICE representativity comes not just from a headcount of those who sign membership forms (they will soon be available), but from the fact that they provide a platform and a vehicle to collate and reflect views from any and all citizens of the Royal Burgh of Nairn. “

Our correspondent goes on to say, “NICE could legitimately say to Sandy, A Nairn Councillor, that for Nairnites, the town centre is perhaps the greatest priority and for a long time the Council’s views have been out of sync with the people of Nairn."

Que sera sera... time for another cuppa and a mince pie?

Nairn sings in the snow

The sing-song went rather well and then it started snowing.

Red, Blue or Green? When will you get gritted?

Here's the Highland Council map of Nairnshire's gritting priorities.

The A9 Moy 'improvement' fiasco continues

Just back from the papershop for a copy of the Courier, they splash with the 'Saving of the Clansman' but inside refer to the problems on the new overtaking lane at Moy. The P&J also had something along the lines of 'They were warned by locals' on the front page and on line other papers are following it up too. They are now online with a new article:
"One woman said that millions had been spent building a “death trap” and a local councillor said the cash would have been better invested in the long-awaited dualling of the road." More here. and here's the P&J report from yesterday. They're referring to the closure of the £2.6 million new 'safe' piece of road up on the A9 at Moy. Basically it seems its a death trap and Transport Scotland admits that there is a 'design issue'.
Shouldn't someone get sent down the road for this?' We only have to look at the Brae in Nairn to see how planners should be made to listen a wee bit more to the thoughts of locals. The Courier reports that Strathdearn Community Council objected on several grounds to the new lane. Given the current financial climate, surely this waste of taxpayers money deserves a thorough investigation by the Scottish Parliament and perhaps a flurry of P45's at the end of it?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Permanent home needed for piece of Nairnshire Heritage

Murray MacRae went and asked the Trustees who now have responsibility for Jac's House if he could remove the sign that was lying in the undergrowth with a view to its preservation. They duly obliged and now Murray is in the process of cleaning the sign up a little and considering options for restoration etc. Murray is also asking if anyone would like to provide a permanent home to this little piece of Nairnshire history. Any offers please e-mail the Gurn (address in sidebar) and we will forward them on to him.
Nice job Murray!

Nice tonight

Nice have a meeting tonight in the Sailing Club at 17.30.

Miss Terry comments

An old post on has come back to life with three very interesting comments by Miss Terry.

Predicted Common Good bun-fight at the Courthouse Coral fails to live up to expectations

Graham Vine and Sandy Park had already exchanged pleasantries on another matter earlier in the meeting so perhaps the tension had somewhat abated but towards the end they faced up to each other at both ends of the long table. Sandy perhaps with more gravitas than the admittedly more articulate Mr Vine as the Convener sat at the end with the former magistrates chair looming above him and the proceedings.
Graham Vine started by reiterating some of the West CC’s concerns about the control of the Common Good fund. This observer realised that the heat was disappearing form this topic as soon as Graham Vine started to speak. He referred to the debate in the Nairnshire and the arguments on different threads concerning the fund and sought clarification (conflicting was now too strong a word to use for those arguments apparently). He quoted Sandy saying that the common good fund should be under the control of the people who were accountable yet it appeared that the fund was under the control of the entire 80 councillors of the Highland Council. Graham pointed out that there wasn’t much in the fund at the moment but there could be ’15 million quid in the tin’ once the Sandown Lands were sold. He didn’t take long getting to the point and asked if the Nairn Councillors had a right of veto to stop Highland Council spending our common good money.
Sandy outlined the historical perspective of how things work and how he was 99.9% certain that Nairn decisions would stand with the rest of the council. Sandy made a very good case actually and his soothing noises seemed to placate even Graham Vine. Sandy said that a Civil War would come about if the Highland Council would ever be inclined to attempt such an action.
‘Well I don’t have a Kalashnikov but I’ve got a scythe,’ said Graham indicating that he would be willing to follow Sandy if he started the revolution. Sandy said he knew that his councillor colleagues would be there with their claymores too.
No blood on the floor last night Gurnites but prepare to march on Inverness with Comrade Vine, Citizens Fraser and Marsden and Commissar Park should the other 76 councillors ever try it on and steal our riches (or empty wallet at the moment?) from the common good fund.
Actually last night’s Ward Forum was for the most part run by representatives of Nairn’s Youth – and a pretty dynamic, interesting, caring and socially involved lot they are. More about that later folks.

Crime goes down again in Nairn

There may be economic woes on the horizon but Nairn as a community has many advantages over other areas. One of the benefits of living in Nairn is that we have a lower crime rate compared with many other areas in the UK.
Inspector MacLeod told the Ward Forum meeting in the Courthouse last night that crime was down again in Nairn over the last two months in comparison with the previous year. Here’s some of the figures he presented:
2009, 2010 ,
Thefts 17, 14
Vandalism 17, 9
Underage drinking 15, 9
Drink Driving 4,3
Breach of Peace 20, 14

Searches had gone up from 22 to 40 but the Inspector told the meeting that this didn’t indicate more crime just that the police could now devote more time to the drug-related searches etc.
Liz was glad that crime had gone down but at the same time worried that we might lose police officers because of these reductions, Nairn not being ‘such a criminal area’. Angus MacLeod told her that it was Northern Constabulary policy to prevent crime and to be visible in the community. He said that there were no plans at the moment to reduce officer numbers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Courier goes into 'bring it on mode'?

The Inverness Courier Leader this week tells the Highlands: 'Reasons to be cheerless' , complete with a doom-laden reference from economic sooth-sayer Tony MacKay.
Well we've all more or less got the idea already thank you very much. How about just a little bit of optimism for the time of year we're moving towards? Perhaps the Courier should get over it for a wee while and head to Nairn on Friday night for a cheery singsong?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jac's Hoose

Recently we had an article on the merits of the planning application and an alternative suggestion for allotments on Jacopo Morganti's house and garden. Murray MacRae now has a few more photographs for us.
One wonders if that sign should have a place in Nairn museum before all trace of an institution disappears?

Individual pictures here

Lodgehill Clinic – The residents still need your support against the new proposal

The Nairnshire today carries a very good front-page report on the proceedings down at the West CC meeting at the Sailing Club on Thursday night. It is surreal but it seems you can reduce a height of a building in terms of storeys yet from the lay point of view make the roof higher (in terms of ‘responding directly to the heights of surrounding buildings’). Read the Nairnshire for the full horror story.

Whatever, this proposal is still too dense and out of keeping with this part of the town. The residents in this area are not against development of the site but surely something 2 storeys and 6-8 flats would be acceptable rather than massive overdevelopment of this site.
You can view the new plans here. Please consider submitting an objection – you never know when it might be your turn to have something unacceptable proposed next to you!

Traffic Warden Alert

Word on the street is that two traffic wardens hit town today and that one of them dished out £215 of tickets in the first hour. 'Not before time,' says our correspondent.

Update: one of the Gurn staff was wondering if the parking Blitzkreig gadges got this one?

Update: Inspector Macleod told the Ward Forum last night (Weds) that the traffic wardens had come to Nairn as a result of three separate complaints. The police had hoped that the situation would police itself but that hadn't happened. The Inspector was hopeful that it now would however.

Nairn still upwardly mobile thanks to a handsome hitman: Nairn 3 Rothes 0

The title of this post comes from the guts of Kenny MacLeod's entertaining report of Nairn County's 3-0 win over Rothes on Saturday. Here's pictures from Club photographer Donald Matheson. Individual pictures here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More of the nearly lenticular from Wednesday evening

Another view of those strange clouds has appeared on From the Inverness angle they look slightly more than 'nearly' lenticular.
Inverness Sky by Highland Blade on Flickr And from beyond Inverness too up at Loch Ashie.

And here's more images from around Nairn taken at about the same time. These pictures from Jingle Bangles, Charlie Black and Cuideag.

The last chance - Nairn has until the 31st of January to get a single Community Council (a Town Council)

It's the third and final stage of an ongoing consultation - yes, 'consultation' can seem like a dirty, overdone word but if you want to see a single voice for Nairn you have to make the effort.
Perhaps we could have a town-wide vote organised by the three existing community councils? River CC are against a single council but why not put it to the public?

Of course if you don't want a single council for Nairn then you should have your say too. Gurnites will note however the poll in the side bar where over 190 readers of this digital rag have voted and the result so far is 92% in favour. Don't forget the straw poll of the 18 members of the public at the West CC meeting last Thursday:16 Yes No 2. A previous poll organised by the Suburban Council with approx 150 votes showed a similar result.

Sandy can you please make sure Nairn residents get to have a proper say on this subject this time round? Maybe some mechanism to have a vote? Last time at the Ward Forum it was squeezed out by a power-point display and a much needed debate about the swimming pool.

If you want this Gurnites - make your voices heard!

Sainsbury's are coming, Sainsbury's are coming, Sainsbury's are coming...

Thanks to Dave for the following message earlier today : 'Lots of activity in the Sainsburys field this morning..........
A digger, 2 trucks and even a small portacabin / store...........

Looks like something is happening at last !!!\"

Yeah it really seems to be happening up there as these pics from a Gurn photographer show. The earth movers are really busy today and there's a mannie in a reflective jacket putting in markers.

Co-op are you watching? Soon your price monopoly in Nairn will be gone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nice forms - have your say on the town centre - now available at:

Post Office
The Nairn Pet Shop
Tradeway (Leopold St)
The Nairn Community & Arts Centre
Tradeway (High Street)
Bike and BuggyLibrary
The Book Shop
Caledonian Craft Shop (Brae)
Cafe Nairn
Pampered Pets
Harbour Street Stores
Iolaire (Harbour St)
Council Service Point (from Monday)

Or have your say online here.

Havelock Hotel for sale

Details on the HSPC site.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday morning: time for the Nice report

Good morning Gurnshire, here's something just in from the NICE press office. Treat yourself to an extra cuppa, sit down and read the NICE report:

The second NICE discussion-meeting took place last night [Thursday 18 Nov] at the Nairn Sailing Club (and the group reiterated their grateful thanks to the Club for making the premises available). The various working groups reported on progress so far, and the group agreed on further action. Among the main points….

· Timetable for consultation extended

The group welcomed Sandy Park’s letter responding to the request for a longer consultation period, and appreciated the Council’s agreement to extend the deadline to 1 February 2011. Members of the group reaffirmed their intention to play a full and constructive part in the proposed design workshop on 22 November. There was a clear feeling that that the process should be driven by the need to achieve a satisfactory and viable plan for the redevelopment of the town centre site.

· Impressive public response so far

NICE has been greatly encouraged by the enthusiastic response from the people of Nairn. The poster campaign by the Ideas Working Group has stimulated interest around the town, and a NICE membership application form (no payment required!) will shortly be available. Already there have been many thoughtful and constructive comments on the new NICE website at (please keep posting your thoughts online). Some local schools have put forward ideas, and the NICE Facebook page has begun to attract followers. A reminder: please put in suggestions and ideas for what you want on this town centre site – either online or via the forms available in many local shops – by 6 December.

· Emerging ideas

Comments on the website reveal a wide range of imaginative ideas for the town centre. At last night’s meeting the NICE Design and Planning Team presented some initial outline suggestions for the site. Key factors in their thinking have been

- providing views and access across the site which draw attention to the Courthouse, attract passing visitors, and encourage people towards the High Street;

- simplifying the existing multitude of entry and exit points on to the main A96 (King Street) trunk road, in order to improve traffic flow and provide better access for all including pedestrians and cyclists to the town centre;

- striking a balance between the provision of parking, the creation of public amenity open space, and the (re)development of buildings to provide the retail, office and possible residential space needed to make the site economically viable;

- adapting and preserving the attractive and sound older buildings which give the area its character;

- proposing alternative options for buses and other public services.

[The Design and Planning Team hope to make some of their suggested plans available online in due course for comment].

· Getting the neighbours involved

Research is continuing on the ownership of, and responsibility for, adjacent sites and properties. It is hoped that not only the Co-op, but also the various other owners of nearby land and property will respond positively to this opportunity to play a constructive role in redeveloping the town centre area for the benefit of all.

· Finding the money – how will all this be paid for?

The Highland Council and some of the blog comments have reminded everyone that in the current difficult financial circumstances there is little if any public funding available to pay for “wish-lists and dreams”. NICE is determined to take a pragmatic approach, but believes that present circumstances offer an opportunity to explore creative solutions to the challenge of realising an affordable and economically viable redevelopment plan. The NICE financing team will be investigating alternative sources of funding for urban regeneration, community initiatives, and project-financing. Some interesting ideas for generating revenue in and from the redevelopment of the site are taking shape (but keen readers will have to wait a little longer, or come to the next NICE meeting, to learn more!).

· Keeping people informed

NICE recognises that there is a need to keep everyone up-to-date about what the group is trying to do, with the aim of encouraging debate and discussion. At the same time the group is aware of the need to respect the confidences of those – whether officials, businesses, or private individuals – who wish to engage in dialogue or correspondence with the group. NICE will therefore continue to make available as much information as possible via its website and through other media; but any formal, personal or commercially sensitive communications with the group will only be made public with the consent of the originator.

19 November 2010

If any Gurnshire residents have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, rants, poetry etc, concerning the future of Nairn Town Centre then why not pop over to NICE and add your musings.

Access to shops

Not always easy for those with restricted mobility. The Association of Nairn Businesses has been discussing the issue.

Cash for Firhall - Howford path upgrade

We may be heading into a new dark age of public funding and although the taps for public projects are being turned off at source there is still a penny or two dripping through the system. A Highland Council Press release details money available for a series of paths in the Highlands, one of them mentioned is 'Upgrade to path along the River Nairn'. The Gurn understands that this will be the path from Firhall to the Howford but how much cash will be available for this path is unclear. What is certain is that there are one or two parts of that path badly in need of a little work. Perhaps more will be revealed soon.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Gentle touches of late afternon sun on the brae

Ciaradh an Fheasgar 19an t-Samhain 2010

'S e àite sonraichte a th'ann an Inbhir Narann. (Broig air gus dealbh nas motha fhaicinn)

Coming soon to Harbour Street

The shop left vacant by the previous business flitting further down towards the harbour will soon be filling up again. (picture will enlarge)

Wintersong no more! - Back to Christmas for Nairn

Last year there was a lot of hot debate over the 'Wintersong' celebrations and then controversy over the way the cash was spent on consultants etc,(Budget 33K). Well this year we are firmally back in traditional territory for the Christmas Celebrations with a slimmed down event more fitting for these credit crunched times. A Highland Council press release reads:
"Two Nairn pupils will be assisting Provost Laurie Fraser as they switch on the Christmas lights in Nairn.
Kerr McKellar (P7) and Jade Berry (P7) from Millbank Primary will be centre stage in this community festive spectacular on Friday, 26th November at Nairn Court House which starts at 6.30pm.
The public are invited to join in the Christmas Carols with local adult choir ‘The Accidentals’ and Nairn Academy Choir (S1-S4) as they sing ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Away in a Manger’, ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’, and ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.
The High Street and Gordon Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from 6pm to 7pm.

"Time to move on and forget the impossible dreams!"

That's part of the latest comment on (getting to the parts the other consultations don't reach?)
"The council is making cuts all over! They have no money! Get real and realise what Nairn needs is affordable housing and more parking. The saga of the town centre has gone on long enough. The whole thing was a dead loss from the start. Time to move on and forget the impossible dreams!" Says Sheena Black - to read Sheena's full comment and to see what others have to say pop over to Nairn Improvement Community Entreprise (NICE).
Have you got anything you want to say about the town centre? NICE want your views, you can do that via their website or alternatively fill in one of the forms in the Community Centre, the Library and various shops in the town centre.

Liz mentioned in the P&J today

It has to go to the full Council but the

Grass-cutting going out to the private sector - Liz at Glenurquhart Road yesterday

This observer believes the grass-cutting boys do a great job keeping Nairn tidy during the summer months - will a private contractor be able to provide the same level of service? We only have to wait a few months to find out unless the full Council reverses a decision made yesterday. Nairn's appearance is paramount to our image as a holiday town - is hiving off the grass cutting to the private sector just a form of Russian Roulette?
Although it looks like Nairn Grass Cutting will be going out to private contractors some Highland areas will keep theirs. The Press & Journal states:
'Services in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross will be retained by the council, but the contracts for the remaining areas will be given to external contractors next year. It excludes core ground maintenance activities, including burials and cremations and flower beds. '
So Nairn takes another hit while others carry on as normal?
Liz was unhappy the matter was being discussed in private and wants to take the matter to the full council with a notice of amendment. More on the P&J website

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Single Community Council for Nairn (a town council)? – a straw poll on the public benches.

Tonight at the West Community Council meeting held in the sailing club there was a large turnout of members of the public. They were mainly in attendance to debate a local planning matter but when the subject of the ongoing consultation concerning a single council for Nairn was discussed those present were asked if they thought a single Nairn Council would be a good idea.

The result: Yes 16 Abstensions 2.

That mirrors the feeling being expressed in the Gurn poll in the sidebar where currently 92% (184 votes received) think a town council would be a good idea.

It is obvious the public want a single community council for Nairn – will Highland Council listen? What do you reckon Sandy – will you let Nairn have a wee bit more democracy?

Nairn Town Centre: suggestions from Donald Wilson, Tommy Hogg & Jason Rose

You can read what they have to say over on the NICE site, you can also have your own say on how you think the redevelopment of Nairn town centre should be handled.

The Nice people also have a facebook page now.

Wednesday night sunset

The unusual cloud formations seen last night were also captured by Charlie Black. Thanks for sending us this image Charlie.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nearly Lenticular

Thanks to Jingle Bangles for these pictures of how the clouds were building up earlier this evening.

Alan Barron and Alistair Cunningham's suggestions for Nairn Town Centre

Here's part of what Alan suggests:
'Transfer all existing Council facilities to Viewfield House and let Museum use Town House which could also incorporate a proper Tourist Info facility in the centre of town.'

To read more of Alan and Alistair's suggestions pop over to Have your say too!

NICE now have a facebook page too.

Nairn 3 Wick 3

Pictures from Nairn's 3-All draw with Wick on Saturday when the Wee County once again proved that they are the best 10-man side in the Highland League. Pics from official club photographer Donald Matheson.

Full screen slide show available here. Individual pics here. Nairn soccer journalist Kenny MacLeod's report here.

Johh Fyfe's suggestions for Nairn Town Centre

John Fyfe has written to with his suggestions for the town centre. Here's a little of what he has to say:

"I agree with much of what has already been written and would like the following points also to be considered:

* Approach the co-op management at national level to gift the Regal complex to the town since they do not use it and it appears to be structurally separate from their newly refurbished store. I am sure that they would welcome the goodwill which this would generate for them. The town could then find suitable tenants who could maintain the exterior properly.

* Acquire and demolish the library building to create access from the High Street onto a landscaped square incorporating the old school with its attractive palladian style frontage."

To read more of John's suggestions and those of others who have written in why not go over to Nairn Improvement Community Don't forget to have your say too - It's time to get involved folks.

NICE - Reaches the Parts Other Consultations Cannot Reach?

Nairn Mink

Thanks to Jingle Bangles for this picture of one of the Nairn Mink. These local creatures seem to be losing a lot of their shyness.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

180 votes now in - 93% want a Town Council for Nairn

180 votes have now been received in the Gurn's (admittedly unscientific) poll and 93% of Gurnites would like to see a single town Council for Nairn instead of three seperate Community Councils. There is an ongoing review of Community Councils in the Highlands so here's a chance for Laurie, Sandy and Graham to be remembered for giving Nairn back a measure of democracy - a chance for the Administration Councillors to get some good karma - Give Nairn a Royal Burgh Community Council!

Here's why we need one if you are not already convinced:

Nairn is increasingly struggling to maintain its identity in the face of the growth and centralising influence of Inverness. ‘Invercentric’ attitudes are a major problem when it comes to fighting Nairn’s corner. One effective weapon for Nairn would be the creation of the ‘Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council.’ Nairn would then have a vehicle to effectively punch its weight in the world. Things will only become worse as the cuts bite, more power will disappear to Inverness unless the community mobilises.

Nairn with a population of nearly 9,000 is an anomaly within the Highland area in that it has three community councils. Just look at other towns in the Highlands and nearby that have a single community council to represent them:

Fort William with 9,908 has a single council

Wick (7,333) too

Thurso (7,737) as well

and Tain (3,500)

Elgin (20,829) also

Forres (8,967) our neighbour has a single council

Buckie (8,059) about the same size as well

Lossiemouth (6,803) (Lossie CC has been prominent in fighting to keep the RAF base open)

Keith (4,491) - Keith has a single voice but not Nairn

Nairn is a distinct cohesive community and there has been a democratic deficit since the demise of the former District Council. A Royal Burgh Community council would fill that void and give the town a strong voice again.

The three existing councils are not in a position to effectively put across the town’s views and thus they tend to focus on issues in their own individual areas. Take the Sandown issue, although in the Suburban area, the effect of 550 houses and the accompanying traffic would have an impact on the lives of everyone in Nairn. Wouldn’t it have been better if we could have coordinated a reaction to this planning application on a community-wide basis?

Things can go seriously wrong too when three councils are involved – take the recent debacle concerning bus services in the town were two councils had submitted conflicting proposals. A case of united we stand divided we fall?

The inner Moray Firth area is changing rapidly and we have to be on the ball if we are to make sure that any future development is on terms that the community wish and not on a basis that gives carte blanche to developers or Highland planners. Again it is safer to prepare our response on a collective basis as future large-scale planning applications are submitted.

The workload of community councils is increasing as the number of consultation documents from various agencies multiplies. Having observed Nairn Community Councils for some years and the former District Council as well this observer believes that some community councillors must now be as busy as the former District Councillors but without the administrative and secretarial support and resources and hardly any budget. This workload will increase, why duplicate it across three separate councils? This way the burden would be shared and there would less danger of any controversial projects slipping through the net without effective consultation with the community.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anyone want a Nice poster?

Nice posters now available (PDF format)

Icy pavements once again this year? Graham Marsden seems to be worried!

The situation last winter when pedestrians took to the roads to avoid the dangerous pavements

Hopefully the weather won’t be as bad this winter but the worry is have Highland Council learned enough from the difficulties of last winter and will they be able to do any better if we have another prolonged cold spell this time round? Will they once more fail to ensure even the town centre pavements are kept safe? Don’t forget we are entering a phase of massive cuts to the public sector and issues of manpower etc that even the Council themselves cannot foresee might yet emerge.

It was interesting, and worrying, to read Graham Marsden’s letter in the Nairnshire last week then. He began

“This week Highland Council announced the winter maintenance programme, but curiously, without any reference to how and when pavements are to be cleared.

We need to consider the importance of pavement clearing or where pavement doesn’t exist, the road-side, and how we can ensure the winter doesn’t leave a legacy of pedestrians with broken or damaged limbs and frustration that residents are unable to leave their homes.”

Now Graham is a leading member of the Council’s administration but reading the first paragraphs of his letter you might be forgiven for thinking that he was perhaps a member of the opposition or even a concerned member of the public. Does this illustrate just how hard it is for local members to influence policy in their areas? We seem to have little room for manoeuvre to dictate our own destiny in Nairn even over such an important issue as snow clearing. Graham goes on to illustrate the difficulties suffered by Nairnites last year, being confined in their homes etc. He argues that you use less salt to treat a path than a road and asks ‘Do we have a responsibility to afford the same or similar level of safety to pedestrians?’, ‘I believe we do,’ he responds to his own rhetorical question. He tells us how he will ask those “making the decisions on winter maintenance at Highland Council to look again at the priorities in provision for Nairn and other towns, to see if we should be fundamentally re-focussing the way we deal with winter maintenance to ensure our pedestrians are as safe as our car drivers, to ensure our pedestrians are as safe as our car drivers, perhaps in these cash-strapped times for less cost!”

Let us wish him well but this observer feels that his letter reveals the extent to which Nairn has little power of manoeuvre to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to dealing with the like of last year’s extreme conditions: the rules had to be followed and the roads had to be treated in order of priority but in actual fact, for days, even stepping onto the pavements in the High Street was to risk injury. Will pedestrians once again have to walk on the comparative safety of the roads this year? Let’s hope we don’t have to find out!

Shaun MacDonald's suggestion for the town centre

More suggestions for Nairn Town Centre are appearing on the Nice Site. Here's what Shaun MacDonald thinks. Have you got ideas too? Have your say on the Nairn Improvement and Enterprise site (or alternatively fill in one of the forms now available in Strachans and other shops in Nairn)

"1, Give the old Regal to Tilda Swinton’s Film Foundation for a Cinema and HQ, build on what she has done for our town already and harness this goodwill before it up and leaves. (lots of ways to do this, and no demolition costs) What a great advert for our town.
2. Use the space of the old petrol station for extra parking until we see what happens to the Co-op’s after Sainsburys open the doors.
3.VAN (CVS) etc plus Tourist Info office for the old buildings that prove that they just don’t make them to last anymore.
4. A proper “Highland” or even “Nairn Art Gallery/Centre” with public toilets, a Cafe etc for the Community Center. Did you know that 70% of the Visual Art that you own is in storage which is paid for again by you as a taxpayer?. Inverness have been trying to build an Art Gallery proper for the last 30 years and still nothing , there’s one in the eye for them, literally. Underpin the work done by all the volunteers in getting an Arts Festivals, Jazz festival, Film Festival etc going.

I think establishments would benefit our Community and boost our industry “TOURISM”. We’ve not lost what we have, we have just never built on it. What do the Golf widows, weather weary visitors and aspiring locals want? – a bit of the City without having to leave this Wonderful place. Please! at least let the Town Centre be Nairn for Nairnites from all parts of Nairn past and present, a housing scheme is a housing scheme and they are built on the fringes of Commerce and Culture for a reason – shared access which leads to a sense of Community and hopefully restored civic pride."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Remembrance Day Nairn 14th November 2010

Thanks to Murray MacRae for this picture of Remembrance Day activities earlier today.
Update - more pictures added this morning (Monday). Slideshow below and full screen slideshow available here. For Individual pictures click here.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

Sandy writes to NICE - Extension given to town centre consulation

The Gurn understands that Sandy Park has had his colleagues and officials round the table and come up with an extension to the Town Centre plan B consultation period as requested by NICE. The consultation will now run until the 1st of February.
A good step forward Gurnites - a chance for everyone in Nairn to have their say on what happens to the town centre. NICE one Sandy!
Meanwhile suggestions for the town centre are appearing on the Nice website, why not pop over and have your say too on the NICE 'Your ideas' page?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to get your buggy across the Firhall Bridge

Thanks to Murd for these pictures that illustrate the difficulties in getting across the Firhall Bridge if you set off round the river with a buggy and a bairn inside. Surely the Highland Council has a health and safety responsibility to improve access to this bridge? - after all the riverside walks are promoted as an asset to the town.
Murd is still campaigning for improved access to the the bridge and is a regular visitor to all the town's community councils (would be easier for Murd and everyone else if we simply had a town council wouldn't it? but that's another issue). He has the backing of the 3 Councils and regularly gives them updates. Murd can give you a dizzy list of all the high heid yins and low heid yins that he's been passed round at the Highland Council. There was even the famous day when two officials came out to see him at the bridge, both of them bringing their own cars. To this observer it just looks like an endless game of pass the parcel. Perhaps if we could have all the time (in cash) that the folk in Glenurquhart Road have been looking at Murd's e-mails then perhaps we'd have a state of the art ramp and turning point on both sides of the bridge by now. What will it take to get something done? Will we have to wait until after the cuts? Will it be easier to deal with less of the officials than more?
Murd isn't going away, that's for sure. Maybe the best we can hope for in the short term is that a few of them passing the parcel go away after the cuts but it'll probably the boys in orange suits that get the dunt instead of those who just seem to be nothing but a foggy apparatus that frustrates communities getting things done for themselves.
Think about it Gurnites, why do we have to go begging to Glenurquhart Road to get things done? We need more power back in Nairn!
instead of those who just seem to be nothing but a foggy apparatus that frustrates communities getting things done for themselves.

Remote Nairn?

It's nice to see Nairn getting a mention in a Guardian article that informs readers of where to go to see the Northern Lights but are we remote?
' I haven't seen the northern lights for a while, but the further north you go the better, so head to the remote regions of the Highlands and Islands, particularly the north-east, such as Nairn...'
Full article here on the Guardian, Insiders' guide to the northern lights (scroll half-way down the page for the Scottish information)

Facebook group "Nairn Academy should be knocked down and rebuilt" update

In March of last year we had a look at the facebook group and remarked how young people in Nairn were willing to use the new media to express their views. Since then the group has grown from 79 to 242 members and still seems to be active. Young people in Nairn obviously engage with local issues but a lot of it is under the radar from the more traditional methods.

Friday, November 12, 2010

On yer baidhsagail - A new blog on the Nairn block

Bitten by the Bikebug hits the Nairn digital newstands. A very warm welcome from the Gurn team to the new kid on the block.

Rok - questions for HIE?

Spare a thought for those just paid off from Rok, unemployment isn’t fun for anyone but it is doubly cruel to find oneself on the dole just six weeks before Christmas through no fault of your own. Hopefully some jobs will be saved once the administrators get a better idea of some of Rok’s ongoing contracts. Let’s also hope anyone owed money by Rok also sees some cash before Christmas too.
Today in the Courier (not on line yet) you can read the following:

“Meanwhile questions are being asked about Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s decision to award Rok a £32 million Contract in September, despite the firm reporting a £3.8 million loss for the first half of the year and admitting serious operational problems in August.
Mrs Scanlon and Inverness economist Tony Mackay want to know whether HIE carried out sufficient checks before striking the deal for Rok to take on the agency’s building work for the next four years.” More in today’s Courier.

Today The West Highland Free Press has an editorial that raises similar points. They are concerned about the ongoing projects at Arnish Fabrication Yard and Raasay House. The Pàipear Beag also refers to the £32 million contract:

“Two months later the property framework contract looks pretty silly. Highlands and Islands Enterprise will not say how much of the £32 million has been irretrievably released.
They must do so. If the future of the Arnish and Raasay developments are now jeopardised or compromised, it is the responsibility fo HIE to let the public – who are their investors and employers – know the full details.”

Another blast of a chill economic wind to add to the region’s woes and all this before the closure of (perhaps 2) RAF bases and the culling of the public sector.