Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hold on to your dreams loon - all the Gurn dreamers are with you!

The video info says:

'This was just a spur of the moment thing, I had just bought the (500) days of summer soundtrack and was dancing to it and my colleague suggested that he film me doing it.
This is an example of how to love life even when you work in a small video rental shop in a town that nobody has heard of.'

Seems someone is taking this a bit too seriously however - read more on the info on the video's utube page. Seriously hope the discipline threat evaporates, Nairn needs more dreamers not less! You deserve a bonus for bringing the shop to the world's attention!

Love the other video too. Dinnertime with Dad

Firhall Footbridge Accessibility Report

The Gurn supports the efforts to enable better access to the Firhall Bridge. A recent post has encouraged some debate on the issue, most of it supportive. Anyone showing an interest in this worthwhile project may like to read a copy of the consultant's report for themselves. Your chance to see just exactly what is involved in bringing about this important project. The document is over four megabytes and might take a few moments to download.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Time to move the goalposts?

Snow again but this time the variety that melts from most of the pavements by mid-day. Picture will enlarge.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cinema Nairn - what you can see in 2010

Just head over and see the programme for the year ahead.

Caledonian Mercury - A Scottish Newspaper made without killing trees

The Caledonian Mercury, a new newspaper that doesn't have an off-line version. The format looks a bit disappointing but it is early days. No mention of Nairn yet but the Mercury is one paper that will not go behind a pay-wall. Have you tried your new national daily yet?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Highland Christmas - praise for Nairn out there in the blogosphere!

Just came across the following:

'For Christmas weekend Mom and I booked a holiday package at a resort in Nairn (just east of Inverness if you know something of Scottish geography) and after a wee mishap with taking the train we made it to the beautiful sea town and Golf View Hotel which was incredible!!! Imagine hot breakfast every morning, afternoon tea, and four course meals every evening (except on Christmas when it was a five course lunch!) I could get used to this treatment. While most of the people there were a little older than us (yes that includes my mom) it just made me think "man am I ready for retirement!" All kidding aside it was a nice break and the town of Nairn was so pleasant we went shopping down the main street and everyone loved that Americans were visiting Nairn over Christmas (really makes you feel appreciated!).'

It had been posted on a blog called Tales of My Scottish Adventures.

Sarah's going to Nairn on holiday

Making the Firhall Bridge more accessible

Murd Dunbar demonstrates the existing room for manoeuvre on the Firhall Bridge to illustrate how, if the disused pipes were removed and ramps built on either side, it would be possible to go over the bridge in a wheelchair. Mums with bairns in pushchairs can be regularly seen struggling to get up the existing bridge steps. Murd recently won the support of the River Community Council and the Gurn understands he recently presented his case to the West at their meeting this week. No doubt a report of that meeting will appear in the Nairnshire. The Gurn further understands that Councillor Graham Marsden is making further efforts to support this initiative. An idea that has now been costed at between £15,000 and £20,000. Graham Marsden succinctly makes the point that having spent money recently to make the paths more accessible it doesn't make sense not to upgrade the bridge. The money would not come from Highland Council funds but from other sources of funding.

Well done Murd! Well done Graham! Keep campaigning.

While on the subject - Gaelic medium education in Nairn

Another advert from the Nairnshire. Gaelic medium education exists in Nairn too - Nairn kids now have the chance to learn the language.

Carson nach cuir sibh fòn gu Sarah? Why not phone Sarah?

Guardian country diary - Nairn Harbour

Ray Collier observes the harbour wildlife.

Gaelic debate explodes onto Northern Times web pages

Councillor Deidrie MacKay made an outspoken attack on Gaelic education at a community council meeting recently in Brora. Her comments were the usual sort of anti-gaelic stuff. What is unusual this time is the strength of the reply from the Bòrd na Gàidhlig chair Art MacCormack (a copy of the text of his reply can be found on this page) Deidre MacKay is really being taken to task and being asked to back her comments up with facts. The Northern Times web pages contain comments attacking MacKay in no uncertain terms and the site's poll gives an indication of which way the debate is going.

Deidrie MacKay seems to have united the Gaelic community in condemnation of her comments, no mean feat Deidrie.

Carbuncle awards

One of our regular correspondents draws our attention to the Carbuncle awards. Our correspondent seems to think that Inverness could be nominated for the Plook on the Plinth Award.
'This award is for the most dismal town in Scotland. This year it is Glenrothes - do you know if there is anywhere worse? Past winners include Cumbernauld and Airdrie. If you wish to nominate towns for the most dismal place award this is the criteria you should bear in mind. What sets the Carbuncles apart is that it is not about punishing towns that are ugly through no fault of their own. For any nomination there should be evidence of:
• Unexploited potential
• A lack of vision and ambition by powers that be
• Examples of how things are being mis-managed '
Is it really that bad now? There's also 'The Pock Mark Award' for the worst planning decision and the The Zit Building Award for the worst looking building. The Carbuncle Awards can be found here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Save The Old Links School - take 2!

This ad in the Nairnshire says it all really. Seems like Groundhog day again. Things are tough yes but surely this part of the Fishertown can be saved? What sort of redevelopment would we see?

Important town centre 'open' meeting for businesses only?

A gurnite has pointed out that the advertisement heralding a meeting to discuss the High Street/Town Centre Redevelopment on Tuesday the 2nd February in the Courthouse at 7.00p p.m. bears the legend 'Open to all businesses' at the bottom. Our correspondent thinks that this in fact is a way of saying 'not open to anyone without a business'. Surely the future of the town centre is just as important for the customers of Nairn businesses as it is for the businesses themselves, especially those that live in the town centre. Here at the Gurn we take the view that the Streetscape is coming, desired or not, and there will be much complaint as the project has the potential to cause chaos during the summer season.

Maybe the Association of Nairn Businesses want to avoid a stushie but isn't it likely to provoke one if they have a private meeting with the Council on the future of the town centre? Perhaps there would be very few people that would be willing to turn up anyway but there will no doubt be a greater number willing to say they never got the chance to comment and willing to point fingers when the time comes. The meeting is after all being held in the Courthouse which is a public place and the heart of what is left of local democracy.

See the sofas but get your skates on

Migratory sofas making their way past the Skateboard park this lunchtime, no doubt heading to their spawning grounds in the river.

'East Cost' (trains) - a law unto themselves!

Users of the North lines will be accustomed to travelling in taxis or buses due to late or cancelled trains or other problems. Over recent years the Inverness-Aberdeen line in particular has often resulted in clocking up many bus miles for long suffering regular users, often with a bus between the relevant gap in the service but usually without a train waiting for you once the bus journey part of the amended service is completed. This is a tale of the line south however. It is often wise to get yourself to Inverness by other means than the connecting 07.17 from Nairn if you wish to catch the 07.55 Kings Cross train. I've been caught out twice, once the train from Nairn arrived in Inverness just late enough to see the London train pulling out of the station - the result? Several hundred pounds of taxi fares for Scotrail in getting the affected passengers further south. Another time I was lucky enough to make it to Inverness by car when enough advance warning was given that the Nairn service was late but it was a close thing.
Bearing in mind the difficulties that can arise sometimes if one relies on that connection I took the offer of a lift to Invernes. Arriving at the road at the side of Eastgate 2 that leads to the station drop-off point at around half-seven the London train could clearly be seen leaving the station. I thought perhaps they were changing the platform for some reason. Imagine my disbelief at the surreal message on the platform screen : 'London Kings Cross 07.26'. I checked my ticket to see if I was still in the same dimension and yes it definately had the normal time of 07.55 printed on the ticket and reservation card.
I asked a station employee what the situation was and why the train had left early. 'That's East Coast, they're a law unto themselves, they decided last night, didn't even tell us,' she said. She went on to tell me that there would be a bus at 07.55 however.
The bus driver explained that this had in fact been happening for a few days and was either something to do with the aftermath of the Carrbridge derailment or, perhaps a more regular reason, signal failure. It appeared that East Coast had got a message out on Moray Firth Radio about the change of time but that of course assumes that everyone listens to MFR.
The story had a happy ending however, the bus made one stop at Perth after negotiating a couple of inches of slush and snow over the passes and actually made it into Waverley Station fifteen minutes before the train that left half an hour early arrived in the capital. Now that London service can perform quite well once unleashed on the 'proper' railway south of Edinburgh and will move very fast indeed but it just goes to show that the line north to Inverness is only fit for Trains à Petite Vitesse.

End of an era

Iain Fairweather sends us this picture I'm sure we will all join him in wishing Mike and Val the best for the future. Iain Says, 'End of an era as Harbour Street Stores shuts its doors. Best wishes for the future to Mike and Val.'

Picture will enlarge

Friday, January 22, 2010

Was the bad weather good for the High Street?

It seems to have helped in Forres:

'WHILE Forres's blanket of snow brought misery to many, there is one group of people with cause to celebrate the weather, other than the winter-sports enthusiasts - the town's shopkeepers.
Retailers along the High Street and beyond have told the "Forres Gazette" that the town's citizens have been making regular trips through their doors and, in many cases, sales are up on last year.
Many shops have also reported that slightly more unusual items have been flying off the shelves during the Arctic weather.'
More here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Seafront at its coldest

Thanks to Marie at uk for the picture.

Overseas rate?

James Logan Ralph sends us the above information cleaned from the net. 'May be one reason why we seem to be de-tached and delivery charges are on the increase,' he says.

Perhaps the Nairnshire Independence party seized the Courthouse over the Holidays and we haven't noticed yet?

Name that fish

This creature was about a foot long and had sharp teeth. Can anyone identify the species for Murd?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Harbour Street Stores closing Friday

If you haven't been down Harbour Street for a while why not pop down one last time to experience the last old style shoppie in Nairn. It'll soon be gone and it'll be missed.

Ice Flow Dulsie Bridge

Thanks to Peter and Jen for sharing this video of a dramatic ice flow up at Dulsie Bridge.

To see a second video click here.

Icy links and putting green

Thanks to the Cutter for this pic, more pics from the Cutter here.

Wintersong poll filed

The figures are slightly hard to read but they came in at 86, 3, 5 & 3% in the order that the questions were asked.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gurn gets twittered up

As we know some Gurnites are part of the twitterati, we've opened up an account. The idea is that an RSS feed will automatically all the latest from the Gurn on a twitter page. Let's see what happens :-)

Correct Gaelic for the tweeterati!

This link might prove useful for the Gurnite Gaelic learners out there. Regular feeds of short 'natural' Gaelic sentences with pronunciation too. Seems like the site does what it says on the tin:

'A group of native Gaelic speakers from Skye, Uist, Islay, Barra, Lewis and Tiree, providing correct Gaelic phrases and translations on Twitter.' Here's where you can find the twitter page.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Getting back to normal

The thaw allows you to see the riverside footpaths again. Perhaps it's time for the Council's jobbie poilis to get back on the beat down by the harbour?

No grit left - even for the council?

'Highland Council staff were yesterday told to take the day off work if they could not safely walk across icy authority car parks.

The GMB union accused the council of failing in its “duty of care” after falls on ice this week led to two members breaking bones.

Another union member had to crawl on their hands and knees after a wheelchair overturned.' More on the Press and Journal site.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Highland Council blow £16,000,000

Here's one they can't blame the Scottish or Westminster Governments for:

'A bungled Highland Council green energy scheme to heat homes in a deprived town and cash in by feeding the national grid blew £16million of public money.
An auditors report, discussed in private yesterday, exposed a catalogue of failures by council officials – past and present – who oversaw the community project in the Pulteneytown area of Wick.
The local authority’s chief executive is now deciding whether anyone should face disciplinary action over the failed Caithness Heat and Power scheme.
The 30-page report by the council’s head of internal audit, Nigel Rose, was shown to more than 60 councillors who attended a special meeting in Inverness yesterday. Councillors were not allowed to keep a copy.'

More on the Press and Journal site - Catalogue of blunders by officials cost £16m

Gritting and other issues: River Community Council meeting 12/01/10

Just a video snapshot for now, more later from last night's meeting.

Some notes from the meeting:

NRCC heard from Norther Constabulary how there had been a significant reduction of crime in the Nairn and Strathspey force area. Where crime has fallen by 12% in the Northern Constabulary generally it has fallen by 22% in this area in the last twelve months. Crime detection rate is now 68% compared to 63% in the force command generally. The constables explained how they were making inroads into youth disorder problems with an educational approach that was making significant dividends. A resident from Church Street, an area that has has experienced disorder problems in the past told the meeting that there had been a great improvement recently. The meeting passed a vote of thanks to traffic warden Sandy Ford and there was some trepidation that his local knowledge and good relationship with the public would be sorely missed. The police intend to attend all community council meetings and will answer questions from the public but would prefer advance notice of the questions sent to the Inspector at the new station.

Jean thanked Margaret Mackintosh, who stood down from the council at the election, for her years of hard work as treasurer. Margaret had hoped to be at the first meeting of the new council but the state of the streets probably kept her at home perhaps?

Liz reported that the vacant post of Harbour master would be filled, contrary to initial fears that the late Alex Taylor's post would be left vacant due to cuts. The post will be an agency position and will shortly be advertised.

There was a long and animated debate about the state of the roads in the town. It was very lively at times and passionate views were heard. You will have read similar views if you are a regular reader of the Gurn. The meeting heard of elderly people that had not left their houses for almost a month for fear of slipping on the paths. You can see the gist of Liz's position in the video. It was reported that mechanical diggers are now scrapping snow and ice from the roads in Queenspark. There were fears that the category system 1,2,3 &4 wasn't being adhered too and even where it was this was leaving large areas with no gritting assistance at all. A dark joke was heard about 'Category 5' areas.

Another lively debate for the Firhall Bridge and support for Riverside campaigner Murd Dunbar who won the backing of the Community Council for his initiative to enable disabled access via ramps over the Firhall bridge, thus opening up both sides of the riverside walks to more members of the community. Good on you Murd, keep going there's a lot of folk out there behind you too!

Graham Marsden promised to further look into issues concerning the Nightclub application for Church Street and promised to report the result of a meeting with the Council's solicitor back to Carol Clark. Graham told the council that he remained vehemently opposed to the application.

Murd once again repeated his gurn about the beech hedge that needs cutting on the brae up to Queen's Park from the railway bridge. The Highland Council really does need to pay more attention to this hedge, especially given the narrow pavement and the speed and numbers of cars moving on the Cawdor Road here. Numbers of cars that will only increase as more facilities move into the new hospital building.

There was a discussion on planning matters and the extent to which the community council should involve itself on applications in housing schemes etc. Tommy Hogg was of the opinion that they should pay a little more attention citing the occasions when people complain to the council after the event. Others were more reticent - a debate that will no doubt continue.

That's about it as remembered by this correspondent. No doubt more will appear in the local press but why not make a belated New Year resolution to attend at least one community council meeting yourself in 2010?

UPDATE Snow clearing in Queen's Park:

Two pictures of the contractors at work here and here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nairnshire New Year's day soccer 1842

Thanks to Irene Main MacKintosh for the following snippet that shows that football in Nairnshire goes back a bit further than one might think. Sounds like a great time was had by all and it makes the new millennium look dull by comparison.

Tuesday morning press review

'Dairy buyout was only option,' is the banner headline in the weekly paper and the Nairnshire provides us with the most succint account of the events at the Creamery to be found in any newspaper to date. The editorial deals with the subject too and hints at the difficulties the buy-out team will face in the competitive environment that is the Dairy industry today. Hopefully local stores will provide us with more opportunities in the future to buy the local creamery product and thus support the remaining local workers. The front page also carries a picture depicting the start of Millbank Primary school's centenary year celebrations.

There are four pages of sports reports from 2009, amazing how much sport there is in Nairn and a chance for many participants of the various clubs, leagues and societies to reflect upon the events of 2009 this week. It's a big 'letter to the Nairnshire week' with another plea to keep the Dava windmill free. A thoughtful letter from Rosemary Young replying to Greg Riddle's recent letter attacking those that hold back development in the town. Rosemary urges Mr Riddle and others to get involved with the community councils and have their say this way. There will be many in Nairn, the great majority the Gurn thinks, who will agree with Rosemary when she says:

'Not all development is objectional. The crucial point is to have the right kind of development. Proposals have to improve the quality of life and deliver economic growth which is permanent and sustainable.'

Councillor Graham Marsden writes in reflecting on the recent weather and the effect on the Fishertown. He seems to be calling for a rethink of council policy that sees the Fishertown graded as priority 4 for salting (which in effect means sometime perhaps?). He suspects that 'part of the winter maintenance savings may be illusory' given the cost to the NHS etc. The trouble for Graham is that he is part of an administration that has cut the budget for roads maintenance and there will probably be much, much more to come. Graham is a councillor that cares about the community but the tragic fact his that he and the other three Nairn councillors are victims of economic restraints beyond their control and there is less and less that they can effectively do to protect their community. His letter nonetheless is very though provoking. The final letter is from Harry Garland who asks searching questions about gritting policy and wants to know which councillors voted for the cuts in the budget.

The Nairnshire, ladies and gentlemen, the usual compulsive must have read of the week!

Hogmany lantern magic

Marie from Scotland Made Easy has sent us a picture she took of a Vietnamese lantern heading skywards across the hogmany darkness. Did many Gurnites see the procession of lanterns heading towards the moon after the bells? They made an amazing sight indeed and added very much to the occasion.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nairnac on curling

Greetings Gurnsters,

After reading about the cancellation of the grand curling match at Lake of Menteith due to real or imagined Health and Safety fears, I was just thinking that with the current freezing conditions it seems an opportunity has been missed to put the outdoor curling rink in the corner of the showfield into use. It even has floodlighting at it (which may or may not actually work).
It might have brought a few visitors to the town and made for a bit of a spectacle.

I can't say I'm aware of it ever actually being used, but I'm sure some of the knowledgable gurners can give a potted history of it.

Attached is a photo of the rink which some folk might not even realise exists.


UPDATE Monday morning: Well done the Curling rebels!

'It is a thoroughly Scottish rebellion: thousands of renegade curling fans defying a health and safety warning to stage a national meeting on the Lake of Menteith.' More on the Herald site.

Was last night the coldest so far?

-12.5C on the thermometer at Gurn HQ first thing this morning. The beach and the riverside walks are very pretty and folk are emerging to enjoy the winter scenery. Wildlife finding things difficult though.

If you've seen enough of the snow now then don't click on these other images of this morning. And the sunset too.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Watch your suspension on the Town Bridge

The bad weather has meant that the pothole on the A96 bridge (to be seen on the way into town) has grown considerably. There are a few smaller ones too on the same side of the road closer to the turn off for Maggot Road.

Nairn is fabulous

'Nairn is fabulous,' says Rosemary Young and she sends the Gurn this picture to prove her point. Even though it was cold Rosemary thought there would be more around to see the sunset. The usual suspects usually head for the harbour area when the prospects look good Rosemary. I was on the way there myself but stopped off for tea and apple cake at a friend's on the way down and missed it too.

Asbestos in Nairn Academy - MSP Mary Scanlon on the case

Mary Scanlon mentioned Nairn Academy in debate at Holyrood yesterday:

'“The concerns over asbestos in Highland schools have been high on the political agenda for some time,” she said.

“Only last year, contractors in Nairn Academy dislodged asbestos flakes, and back in 2007 teachers had to stop using drawing pins for fear of disrupting asbestos.”

The state of the structure of Wick Academy had also been questioned and raised on numerous occasions in the Scottish Parliament, she said.'

More on the Press and Journal: Council urged to face up to asbestos danger

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Free movie tomorrow night - Cinema Nairn

' Cinema Nairn tomorrow night? Toy Story at 6 (free entry) and Kinky Boots at 8pm. At the Community Centre.'

Pictures from the County line

Thanks to Jason Rose for these two pictures he took coming home today via Grantown and Ferness. Larger versions of these two pictures here and here.

Grantown Council Tax Strike - could it spread?

'Residents have been urged to refuse to pay council tax for a month in protest over the level of snow clearing on roads in and around their village.
The Grantown on Spey Highland Council Tax Strike has been launched on the social networking website Facebook. '
So says the BBC, a quick search on Facebook finds nothing however. Will a non-payment campaign have legs or die a quick death?

UPDATE: a head of steam seems to be building up here and there on Facebook as regards to gritting or the perceived lack of it in Scotland and the UK. I can't help feeling that perhaps one or two people have more than a little antipathy towards their councils and may be using this issue to vent their more wider feelings. People are struggling in the recession and they look at those working in the public sector, often with better terms and conditions and pension schemes and they can become angry.  Take Highland Council for example, hardly universally popular in the Nairn area, is it surprising that people are likely to vent their spleen? Anyway here's some links to what's building up on Facebook:

Events, events, events... are making an effort to get all events listings under one roof and have come up with an attractive and user-friendly site within a site that enables you to publicise your event.  Here's events.  

Epicurus lives on

Epicurus is still closing next week but then flitting to the other side of Leopold Street and into the premises left vacant by Bikes and Buggies. The business will be under new management but the present proprietress will be in situ for a short while. Good news for Nairn High Street.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Nairn winter sports

Rosemary thought we might all enjoy this wee clip from Iain Fairweather.

Food still getting through to the Highlands

Gurnites will have probably seen the dramatic images on the telly of the derailed locomotive and Stobart food containers at Carrbridge. Stobart still have enough rolling stock to keep going however and quite a long train of similar containers was to be seen passing through Nairn around lunchtime. Once again the Inverness-Aberdeen line proves itself to be the ideal emergency route to the Highlands when both the A9 and the main railway route south are both blocked. To think too that there were strong rumours that some politicians wanted to close this lifeline back in the late seventies/early eighties.

More pictures of frozen Nairn - nothing exciting just a few pictures from areas around town where the recent thaw failed to make little impact.

Beautiful Nairn

Gurn contributor Nairnac thought Gurnites might appreciate a poem from the infamous Bard William Topaz McGonagall. 'No mention of overflowing jobby bins or icy pavements,' says Nairnac.

Beautiful Nairn

All ye tourists who wish to be away
From the crowded city for a brief holiday;
The town of Nairn is worth a visit, I do confess,
And it's only about fifteen miles from Inverness.

And in the summer season it's a very popular bathing-place,
And the visitors from London and Edinburgh finds solace,
As they walk along the yellow sand beach inhaling fresh air;
Besides, there's every accommodation for ladies and gentlemen there.

Then there's a large number of bathing coaches there,
And the climate is salubrious, and very warm the air;
And every convenience is within the bathers' reach,
Besides, there's very beautiful walks by the sea beach.

The visitors to Nairn can pass away the time agreeably,
By viewing Tarbetness, which slopes downwards to the sea;
And Queen Street is one of the prettiest thoroughfares,
Because there's splendid shops in it, and stocked with different wares.

And there's ornamental grounds, and lovely shady nooks,
Which is a great advantage to visitors while reading their books;
And there's a certain place known as the Ladies' Beach,
So private that no intruder can them reach.

And there's many neat cottages with gardens very nice,
And picturesque villas, which can be rented at a reasonable price;
Besides, there's a golf course for those that such a game seeks,
Which would prove a great attraction to the knights of clubs and cleeks.

The surrounding scenery of Nairn is magnificent to be seen,
Especially its fertile fields and woodlands so green;
Besides, not far from Nairn, there's Cawdor Castle, the ancient seat
Of the noble Thanes of Cawdor, with its bold turrets so neat.

And its massive proportions is very imposing to see,
Because the arched entrance is secured by a drawbridge and a fosse;
And visitors will be allowed all over the grounds to roam,
Besides shown over the castle if the Earl is not at home.

The scenery surrounding the castle is charming in the summertime,
And the apples in the orchard there is very fine,
Also the flower-beds are most beautiful to see,
Especially in the month of June, when the birds sing merrily.

Then there's the ancient stronghold of the Bays of Lochloy,
And visitors when they see it will it heartily enjoy;
And a little further on there's the blasted heath of Macbeth,
And a hillock where the witches are wont to dance till out of breath.

And as the visitors to Nairn walk along the yellow sand,
They can see, right across the Moray Firth, the Black Island so grand,
With its productive fields and romantic scenery,
And as the tourist gazes thereon his heart fills with ecstasy.

And Darnaway Castle is well worthy of praise,
And to oblige all visitors there are open days,
When they can see the castle where one thousand warriors in all
Oft have assembled in the Earl of Randolph's Hall.

And in conclusion I will say for good bathing Nairn is the best,
And besides its pleasant scenery is of historical interest;
And the climate gives health to many visitors while there,
Therefore I would recommend Nairn for balmy pure air.

Damned if they do and damned if they don't

Once again a comment to the Gurn finds itself elevated to article status. Here's a comment received yesterday by 'Thank you' on another post:

The current prolonged cold snap has certainly caused a good stooshie with regard our ice and snow covered streets and pavements, with no let up in the current weather conditions in sight.
I for one, and perhaps I’m the only one would like to thank all the people who have worked so hard to try and keep our roads open in recent weeks. It’s been no easy task as has been seen by the number of gritting vehicles who themselves have become casualties and slid off our roads, fortunately no one involved in these operations has been reported as seriously hurt.
Joe public it seems has been outraged and angry that cash strapped councils have not thrown more of our money at the problem. Whilst it may be desirable to have squads of specially trained snow clearing workers ready to roll out at the drop of a snow flake, I would suggest that in monetary terms councils would get hung if they made this sort of expenditure, what would the crack snow clearing team do for the rest of the year?
In general councils have managed to keep main roads open. These are our main arteries when it comes to receiving goods, getting to work, etc and in general I have found all the ones I’ve had to use perfectly OK when driving with due care and attention. Getting to my car and then onto a main road has on some days been challenging, but with good footwear and careful driving I have managed.
The alternative that some people are asking for is a much more extensive gritting of side roads and pavements. Whilst this would undoubtedly be desirable I just cannot see that the council could justify the cost. On some days snowfalls are every few hours and with hard frosts at night pavements and side roads would require several applications of grit in any given twenty-four hours. Ignoring the manpower costs, Highland Council is using roughly £56,000 worth of salt per day to keep main routes open, I cannot begin to calculate even the material costs involved in trying to grit every public way in the region. Note: I’m calculating salt costs at £28 per tonne; it could be a little more or less than this.
With a Council Tax freeze there isn’t a way our council or any council for that matter can find money for the extra winter costs other than by cutting another service, and with the salt bill running to around £400,000 a week that is an awful lot of our money it has to find.
There are no easy answers and I’m sure Highland Council would very much like to provide a better service when it comes to the extent of its gritting.
Just in case you are wondering I don’t work for the council but live in Nairn and as I said at the beginning of this gurn wanted to thank the people who have worked over the holiday period to keep so many of our roads open!
As for future winter policy for Scottish councils that it up to us at the next elections. A continued freeze on council taxes, or do you want to pay a lot more so that the next bad winter is not quite so harsh to endure?

UPDATE: meanwhile in the other Royal Burgh...

'Council’s gritting ‘not good enough’
Tain and Easter Ross councillor says lack of road maintenance has left locals marooned at home.

Tain and Easter Ross Independent councillor Alasdair Rhind has lost patience with Highland Council’s ploughing and gritting in his ward.
He said: “I spoke with transport director Neil Gillies to be told, ‘We’ve done our best’.

“Frankly, they haven’t done their best, and here we are with people stranded in their homes because of the snow.'

Update 11.52 Thurs:
Debate about the merits of the HC salting regime could very soon become academic if we take the First Minister at his word:

'First Minister Alex Salmond said the cold spell was the worst since the notorious winter of 1962-63 and warned that Scotland had just 45,000 tonnes of salt and grit left.
He said the supply – enough for 10 days in a regular winter – would have to be kept for main routes, leaving side roads and residential streets untreated.'

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Employment disaster for Nairn - up to 65 jobs to go at Claymore Creamery

Breaking news on the Highland News site:

'UP to 65 jobs are to go at a Highland dairy as work is shifted to southern Scotland.

Staff at the Claymore Creamery on the Balmakeith Industrial Estate in Nairn are braced for big cuts after a management buyout was announced.
The creamery, owned by Arla Foods, employs more than 100 staff and is one of the town's biggest employers.'

More here on the Highland News site: 'Jobs axe shock at North dairy'

A railway link for Nairn harbour?

The Gurn is delighted to present the first of a series of articles by Irene Main Mackintosh (author of 'Street Names of Nairn')

Today we cannot get a much needed bus service down to the Fishertown, but who would have thought in 1863 the Provost and Councillors of our town were engaged in discussions to have a railway line built down to the Harbour under the auspices of the Morayshire Railway Bill

24TH. MARCH 1863


A public meeting of the people of Nairn was held there on Thursday last, for the purpose of considering, and if so resolved, petitioning Parliament regarding the Morayshire Railway Bill, which has for its object the establishment of a steam boat communication between Lossiemouth and other places on the north and south side of the Moray Firth. Lt. Col. Alexander Findlay of Millbank, Provost, was unanimously elected chairman of the meeting, and he called on Provost Grant of Elgin to explain the object of the bill and nature of the opposition made to it, which he did at great length. It was then moved by Mr.Ketchen that the meeting petition Parliament in favour of the bill, whereupon it was moved by an amendment by Mr. Davidson, town

Clerk, seconded by Mr. Hugh Mann, that the meeting, while deprecating the opposition which in the case of said bill had been offered by the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway Company and others to the free navigation of the Moray Firth, is of opinion that of all the ports on the south side, Nairn is the one best suited for a steam-boat, communication with the northern shores; that, the first step towards this communication, and one which irrespective thereof is of great importance, is a railway connection with the harbour of Nairn; and that the chairman be therefore requested to make a representation to this effect to the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction and Great North of Scotland Railway Companies, with a request that one or both of them will establish such a connection with the least possible delay. After full

discussion Mr. Ketchen withdrew his motion, and the amendment was carried. The

best thanks of the meeting were then voted to Provost Grant for his lucid explanation and to Col. Findlay for his conduct in the chair, and the meeting separated.

Irene Main Mackintosh

Monday, January 04, 2010

Frozen jobbies start stacking up

Obviously other issues are taking priority at the moment but once the thaw starts the council will have to be quick off the mark in tackling Nairn's doggie jobbie mountains.
Update: news reaches the Gurn of an emergency make over for the doggie bin.

Inconsiderate parking

We've had a gurn in accompanied by a picture. The scene above is an image taken of the disabled parking bays behind the Courthouse. The problem here is that the car in the picture had not been reversed enough thus forcing pedestrians to have to tramp through an icy surface rather than the gritted path that the car was parked on top of. Please consider pedestrians when parking. We've heard too of similar silly parking round at Somerfield/Co-op too.

The complainant is in forgiving mood however and told the Gurn: 'This Gurnite would like to wish all readers a happy New Year, especially the owner of this car.'

Skiing skills proving useful in 2010 Nairn

Thanks to Donald L for this picture of skier on the Newton Footpath, handy equipment for those parts the grit can't reach yet.

Remember Highland Council can't be blamed for everything and we have debated here how much responsibility we should take ourselves for clearing snow but it cannot be denied that they have cut back on gritting this year. They might have saved a few pounds for themselves but just how much do communities gain from this? Here's some information from the Press & Journal today:

'Up to 100 patients a day, many with fractures, were also seen at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. The sheer number of people who needed treatment for injuries has been blamed on councils not gritting paths and pavements during the cold spell.'
The P&J also attacks councils in the North and suggests that they may lose money anyway as injured parties consider legal action: Cutbacks may cost councils dear.

'LOCAL authorities may rue the day that they decided to let council tax payers largely fend for themselves in one of the longest periods of cold weather in recent memory.'

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Dangerous pavements - Groundhog day? Nearly, but whiter this time?

Long time readers will remember the Gurn's article about the state of the pavements in the town centre last year and how pedestrians were risking the roads instead of the black ice on the pavements. Exactly one year on and we have a similar scene although a few folk do seem keener to risk the pavements this time round but they are in the minority.

A couple of shopkeepers have cleared some snow/ice on the pavements in front of their shops but conditions are still dangerous in most of the town centre. For those interested in the subject here's a few pictures showing how once again in 2010 those on foot are abandoning the pavements on the second day of the year. No doubt there will once again be more debate in the local press on this issue. There is also comment and debate in articles below about whether we should take more responsibility ourselves when it comes to clearing snow.

New to the Gurn? Just surfing through? See pictures of many of the events that took place in Nairn in 2009 - perhaps you might be enticed into coming here on holiday?