Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sandown Public Inquiry Tuesday - be there!

Starts 10.00 Tuesday 2nd March

Gather at 09.30 outside the Community Centre to show your support for the objectors

Update: article and picture on Press and Journal website:

'Councillors have registered concerns that Nairn’s existing infrastructure would be unable to cope with such a population influx.
Local councillor Sandy Park, the authority’s convener, has warned that services in the town are already “creaking at the seams”.
Deveron Highland spent two years and a six-figure sum developing the scheme in consultation with the council, whose rules demand that at least a quarter of the homes would have to be “affordable”.
The vision, including a business centre, community facilities and a wetland park, was opposed by local councillors, the Nairn Residents Concern Group and Nairn Golf Club, but has the support of Inverness Chamber of Commerce.'

Full article here.

Also comment from Inverness South Community Councillor Liz Gilchrist on her blog:

'This application was turned down by the Councillors because of their concerns?
Why are the same rules not put in place for all developments within the region.
Development will happen, they have to. Increasing population demands require more homes and particulary affordable ones.
BUT time and time again we ask that infrastructure is put in place along with developments and not left to chance after the event when we know they will happen!
The argument is that an influx of people will automatically bring new long-term growth and sustainable growth for the local economy. That does not follow.'
Liz's blog is here.

Crime reduced 22% - 7 out of 10 crimes detected

Inspector MacLennan gave his regular presentation to the Ward Forum on Wednesday night too. He assured the gathering that teams of hit squad traffic wardens would not descend form Inverness once Sandy the warden had retired. He pointed out that police officers could also be utilised for these duties. He responded to a query about an individual phoning Nairn police station and speaking to someone in Aviemore. This would be a rare occasion and would happen only if support staff were not available, to have a police officer manning the phone would mean that they would not be available to be where they should be – on the street. He said that it doesn’t happen often or effect service delivery. The Inspector reported that the recent trend of violence towards police officers had ceased and that hopefully this had just been a blip. He reported the recent attempted murder in Queenspark and had increased the police presence in the area in the aftermath to reassure the community.
Not only do we live in an area where 7 out of 10 crimes are detected but there has been a 22% reduction in crime since April 2009 (in the force area generally this was 12%).
Operation Magma had no ended and in its place was operation round-up where the police would now work closely with the NHS in engaging with youths and their parents.
All in all a very positive report from Inspector MacLennan and in this age of technology does it matter too much who answers the phone as long as they can get a police officer to you when you need one?

Our Community Councillors - fantastic unpaid champions of Nairnshire

Discussion of youth matters at the Ward Forum spilled over into Community Council affairs on Wednesday night. Graham Vine told the meeting how the West Council had a co-opted member from Nairn Academy. Louise Clark of Highland Council was worried if that was actually permissible under current legislation. John Mackie of the Suburban Council assured her that it was and that in the Central Belt there were community councillors younger than 16. It seems a good idea to encourage young people to take part in this lowest level of our democratic system. Let’s hope that when we eventually get the single unitary Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council there will be at least two or three places reserved for Academy pupils.

This is an ideal opportunity to bring a comment we received by e-mail recently into the conversation.
‘It is a wonder that given the level of activity, responsibility and dedication required of members of community councils that anyone would take on the unpaid role,’ was the opinion of one of our regular gurnite readers.
A very relevant point, having observed local government activities in Nairnshire for many years we are of the opinion that the workload of community councillors at least equals that of members of the former Nairn District Council. As our correspondent suggested our community councillors are unpaid and comparison has to be made here with what you get in terms of value for money from our four Highland Councillors. If you want
to know what they cost you then have a look at this list of expenses.
We are extremely lucky to have these volunteers ready to give their time, for no charge, to the community.
The Suburban Community Council are still looking for candidates to stand for the forthcoming election, perhaps you may be considering it or maybe waiting until we get a single council for the town. Our correspondent has sent us a link to a page that explains the roles of Community Councillors and offers advice and information. Here’s the
Association of Scottish Community Councils information web page.

Sandy in Europe - video interview

The European Committee of the regions have a video interview with Sandy Park, go to the bottom of this web page and click on the Sandy Park link.

For all February posts see side-bar

There's been a lot of interesting articles posted on the Gurn this month - over 90 so far. The Gurn's home page only carries a limited number of stories in order to increase page loading speed. If you want to catch up on more interesting things happening in Nairn scroll down the side bar until you reach the list of all articles posted so far this month.

Meanwhile down at the car wash...

Should Highland Council start charging for what up to now has been a free service?

Sign of change

Still not open however but the website has been registered. Will on-line shopping for wine gums soon be coming to Nairn?

'Spending of £250,000 delaying new Nairn Store' - HC hasn't signed legal documents - Sainsbury's can't get started

'Spending of £250,000 delaying new Nairn Store', reports the Press and Journal this morning. The paper seems to be indicating that the delay is on the Highland Council side and is stemming from the use of the 250K contribution from Sainsbury's to the Town Centre regeneration. A quote from the P&J:
'A spokesman for the council said yesterday that the discussions on the use of the contribution were "proceeding positively" but had not been concluded.'
Highland Council seriously need to get their finger out and get this sorted. Nairn cannot wait any longer for more shopping choice and the jobs Sainsbury's will bring. Worringly they haven't signed legal documents yet. The paper goes on:
'A public inquiry followed and ministers ultimately rejected the advice of their own officials, to give their blessing for a £20million store which promises to create 300 retail jobs and end the Co-op's monopoly at Nairn. Since then, construction work has been delayed several months because the council has not finalised legal documents and the supermarket's opening has been put back to March 2011.'
Now assuming the Press and Journal has got this right, why the delay in signing the docs Highland Council? The 250K can be sorted out at your leisure, Sainsbury's have obviously agreed to pay it in one form or another.
What have our Councillors got to say on this important matter? Any comment Liz, Sandy, Laurie, Graham? Let Sainsbury's get started! Set aboot your officials and get this sorted!

bump (Sunday 1300)

Nairnshire Liberation Front attacks Inverness imperialism

(this is a special one for readers in the Village) Last night 'Free Nairnshire' slogans were daubed on all newsagents in the town that have continued to sell copies of the Inverness Courier. Several businesses had already pulped all copies of the Courier, having decided not to risk any further trouble with the Guerilla group who had earlier issued warnings to shopkeepers. The NLF see anything that even mentions the name of Inverness as a threat to Nairnshire culture and community. While the Gurn has sympathy with the underground movement we will only support peaceful non-violent protest against Inverness rule and will not condone attacks to property.
It seems the NLF have got over their  struggle with the People's front for the liberation of Nairnshire and have returned to their direct action strategy. Fingers of blame have also been pointed  at activists from the breakaway faction 'Saor Inbhir-Narann' who have for some time been trying to discredit the former parent group. 

Scottish Water: reducing fat in drains

Whilst there seem to have been large scale offenders in the Nairn area in recent years, householders too can help reduce the burden that fat build-ups place on the sewer network by not pouring cooking fats down the sink. The idea being that it costs us all money in the long run when specialist equipment has to be used to clear blockages.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tilleadh dhan chala - returning to the harbour

Gurnshire part of the Inverness Village?

We're quite content here on the Gurn for content from our articles to be posted on other sites, after all that's what we do with a lot of material ourselves. It's what some think the very future of news is itself, that is to say a link-driven economy where the more people or sites that use segments of your feeds then the more will eventually follow the links back to your site.  All the same it is slightly annoying to be considered part of Inverness. Take a look a this news site my village Inverness. 

It's not only in real life that things can get centralised. Freedom for Gurnshire :-)

Rock4Life on the Carse (aka Whitness Head)

Any Gurnites needing tickets might want to pop along to the Rock4Life website. The Accomodation page only lists Inverness businesses at the moment however, but we're sure that anyone looking at the location map will consider Nairn as well. On the day it may well be easier trying to get to the site from this direction!

Highland Council tobacco hypocrisy continues unabated!

Again the P&J has been investigating Highland Council:

'Highland Council’s continued multimillion-pound investment in the tobacco industry threatens to overshadow publication of a report next week which claims that the authority takes health issues seriously.
The document by its health improvement policy officer Keith Walker commits the council to “reducing the burden of disease, disability and premature death due to tobacco by reducing the inequalities in current smoking rates, reducing exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke and reducing the uptake of smoking.” '

Yet at the same time the council has millions of pounds invested in tobacco companies. If this organisation is prepared to indulge in this high-level hypocrisy then how can they be taken seriously in anything else they are involved in. Do we want to be represented by an organisation that invests in a substance that causes death and serious diseases?Read the full P&J article here.

Scottish Water; more written answers to Ward Forum

Click on the picture to enlarge. Question 4 has already appeared on the Gurn (scroll down the Gurn for the 'smell on the Golf Course' article. Interesting questions and interesting answers - it appears that Scottish Water recently considered shutting the sewerage bridge although the answer is slightly confusing.

Scottish Water also made a presentation of how they are campaigning to stop people pouring fat down the drain. A lot of their work seems to be with educating school children. They showed the horror video filmed in a Nairn sewer coated in fat. When questioned, however, it emerged that no business in the Highland area covered by Scottish water has ever been prosecuted for irresponsibly pouring fat down the drains.

Viewfield - Could it become a no-go area?

Concern was raised at the West Community Council meeting last Tuesday about youths drinking in Viewfield. It was reported also that there had been an attempted break-in at the museum and an exhibit had been damaged. Brian Stewart mentioned that at a recent function in the Community Centre he'd heard people saying that they were considering taking another route home rather than go through Viewfield. A representative from Northern Constabulary was present to hear these concerns, it was suggested that successful policing in other areas of the town had led to displacement of young (and not so young drinkers) from areas like the Jubilee Bridge.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Bookies think it's Danny's

There's some speculation on political blogs tonight that Brown will call a general election this weekend. Here it would seem to be Danny's to throw away. In Inverness Nairn Badenoch & Strathspey it looks like it's Danny's as far as the Bookies are concerned with the SNP some way behind but ahead of labour. Looks like the Tories could be in a bitter battle with the Greens for the wooden spoon if they don't raise their profile somewhat. If you fancy a flutter on those prices try here. Click on the picture to enlarge if you can't read the odds.

Sugababes and McFly to support the Quo at McD's

More details emerging of the bands for the Carse over at the BBC. Saw some twittering about acts for Cawdor today too but perhaps just silly rumours for now.

Blackouts in town last night?

Here in Gurn HQ we had to reset the digital clock this morning. There's a report on twitter of lights going on and off in town during the early hours. Anyone experience the lights going off last night or at any time since?

Highland Planners could be £1,370,000 down by the end of the financial year

This would mean the planning department going to the full council cap in hand for a top-up. It just so happens that the full council will be coming back in the autumn for another round of cuts worth £36 million on top of the £12 million just announced. One wonders how they will manage to help the planners out.
'Planning officials in the Highlands are seeking an extra £372,000 to cover a major fall in planning fee income.
Highland Council received £2.2 million in planning fees and building warrants from April to November last year, compared to £2.9 million a year earlier and £3.4 million in 2007.
The shortfall is expected to reach £1,370,000 by the end of the financial year, leading the planning, environment and development committee to make a request to the full council for an injection of cash.'
more on planning

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snow business - you can clean outside your shop/business and not be liable.

Click on the picture to read the written answers from the Highland Council to snow related questions asked of them for last night's meeting. Liz told the world that there was no liability on anyone cleaning outside their premises - the local authority was liable.

Sandy Park told the meeting that he'd had an e-mail from Cllr Rosemary Young in New York. She had told him here all shops and businesses are legally responsible for cleaning snow and litter outside their premises and Sandy was keen to see if anything could be done to possibly enforce the same in the Highlands. Might be a good idea Sandy especially for fag-ends as well as snow.

Jeanne Tolmie wanted to know why Ardersier had so many gritting bins compared to Nairn. Apparently this was due to 'historical' reasons. There is going to be a review of snow clearing procedures and gritting bins would be part of that but when we look back to what Liz told the River Community Council recently it is entirely clear that the Council's main mannie in this department ,Mr Neil Gillies, is not very keen on more grit bins. Now could one be forgiven that this is typical of all Highland Council 'reviews', being about what officials want and not what communities desire? If Nairn wants more grit bins then that should be nothing to do with anyone in Inverness. If Ardersier have more bins than Nairn than good for them but will they have to be dragged down to the lowest common denominator rather than Nairn being upgraded to Ardersier's grit box capacity? Is this what Highland Communities must now expect from the Council.

More from this week's council meetings soon.

Live eye cameras - check the A96 East and West at Delnies

Go to the site and just click on the camera icons to see the regularly updated images. It says Inverness on mouse-over but it's Nairn lol. Might be useful if you are thinking of heading towards Inverness on some of these snowy/icy days that are still with us.

Nairnshire virutal business wins government grant to tackle youth unemployment

The Caledonian Mercury is reporting that a Nairnshire based virtual business Ki Work has won a substantial grant for the Goverment to train and employ green energy specialists.

More here on the Mercury and the company's website here: 'Create an online business in minutes.'

Mary Scanlon continues the campaign against asbestos in Nairn Academy and other Highland schools

Donald Wilson again with the latest on Mary Scanlon's drive to get the Scottish Government to do more on asbestos in our schools:
'Tory MSP Mrs Scanlon said: "The report confirms the concerns raised by the Highland News Group.
"I'm glad the Westminster Government are now looking at this issue and I will be asking the Scottish Government to look at it because I don't believe councils are treating this matter seriously enough."
Another good investigate piece on this controversial subject on the Highland News site this week.

UFO mystery over Nairn - Highland News follow-up.

An article in this weeks Highland News that has more detail on the UFO incident report we linked to in the Gurn recently. The local redtop paper has been speaking to the webmaster of the paranormal site that first featured the report of the strange phenomenom in the Nairn skies. Donald has also been investigation other mystery sightings in the Highlands.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Station Brae - an accident waiting to happen?

The Gurn recently reported on the state of the Station Brae, there have since been action on the potholes but this evening at the ward forum Sheena Baker highlighted her concerns about safety in this area. She is really worried that there are lots of near misses with vehichles on the station brae and with the hospital to become ready later in the summer her fears have intensified. She would like to see traffic calming measures here.

Hopefully the powers that be will listen to Sheena's request to have something done urgently to improve safety on this busy stretch of road. The calming measures under the bridge in Mill Road were mentioned. Maybe similar could be achieved in the station brae danger area, if vehicles had to slow at the bottom of this man made hollow it would make things a lot better. Well done Sheena for fighting the corner for those that walk the pavement in this area every day and for those others that will use it when all the functions in the new hospital are open.

For all February posts see the side bar

There's been a lot of interesting articles posted on the Gurn this month - over 90 so far. The Gurn's home page only carries a limited number of stories in order to increase page loading speed. If you want to catch up on more interesting things happening in Nairn scroll down the side bar until you reach the list of all articles posted so far this month.

Ciaradh an fheasgair Inbhir Narann sa Gearran - February sunset in Nairn

No matter what time of the year you visit Nairn there is a chance of seeing one of the town's wonderful sunsets.

Suffering domestic abuse?: Nairn police can and want to help!

Inspector Willie MacLennan gave a detailed report to the ward forum this evening (more on this tomorrow but in the meantime we'd like to focus on one important topic he raised).

The Inspector pointed out that dealing with domestic abuse was an absolute priority for the Northern Constabulary and they were good at investigating this crime. Any victim should come forward and report domestic abuse to the police. There were over 12 incidents of domestic abuse in the period from the 16 Dec and 13 in the same period in the preceeding year.

Sewage works odour - Sandy is on Scottish Water's case big time!

The above is the shamefully inadequate response to a question that was asked of Scottish Water prior to their presentation at the Ward Forum this evening. Sandy was having none of it and waded in big time. He said that he'd even spoken to John Swinney to try and get some action on this. A rep from Nairn Dunbar golf club supported the convenor and said that this was now having a detremental effect on the club with word spreading about the smells. It emerged that Scottish Water had suspended the relevant operation until the evening when they knew the club had competitions and the club rep asked if this could become the norm.

A serious issue here, that sewage works can really stink at certain times and it could be when sludge is either coming in or out - quite often a big red lorry can be seen heading down Maggot Road to the works. Is this the lorry that brings or takes away the smelly stuff? Surely given our dependence on the tourist industry this has to be sorted?

Mill Road allotments - start within two months

News from the allotment society that they have a draft lease from Highland Council and it is anticipated that work will start on transforming the site into allotments within the next two months. It is anticipated that at least 15 people on the waiting list of 36 will be able to be given space on the site. Contracts for fencing work and repair of the drive and car park area have also been finalised.
Tonight the allotment society also discussed their objection to the Sandown Planning application by Deveron for 550 homes. Whatever the outcome of the inquiry their preference is to see new allotments back to back with the existing ones that line the field from Sandown Farm Lane to the properties on Pig Street.

Sandy meets George Lyon in Brussels

'George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, has met with Cllr Sandy Park of Highland Council in Brussels as Cllr Park attended his first meeting at the Committee of the Regions (CoR) following nomination by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

Mr Lyon was contributing to a debate on the future of Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) in which Cllr Park outlined the importance of continued agricultural support to Highland communities.

Commenting, Mr Lyon said:
"I am delighted that Cllr Park has joined the CoR. His input will be invaluable as the reform of the CAP moves forward.

"It is vital that the interests of Scottish farmers are put front and centre and I will meet with Cllr Park and his Highland council colleagues in the coming weeks to discuss CAP reform in detail."'

More on The MEP's site.

On another HC related internet matter - seen on twitter today:

'Anytime you mention that I can't help but think along the lines of 'The Highland Council wants you to take the ring to Mordor'.

Yes you're right, twitter is full of strange nonsense.

Corsee Concern at the West Council meeting

Last night in the Community Centre provided more evidence of how far Nairn’s revived West Community Council has come in a short space of time. The Gurnmeister was impressed to hear a high standard of debate on subjects affecting the West area and the town in general. Nairn is really lucky to have such a capable bunch of citizens willing to give up their time for free. Oh, if only we had a single Community Council for the Royal Burgh! The strikingly competent West mob plus the best of the rest of Nairn’s community councils would be strong voice to put forward the aims and ambitions of our community.

There is concern in the West area about what might happen to Corsee when the council social care and other health and welfare offices relocate to the hospital site. The building will fall vacant and Highland Council have made public their intention to develop and dispose of the Corsee site. Concern was raised that whenever development sites come on the market in the town centre area then the default is to put up cheap housing. Mention was made of the Maggot flats. Could the same happen in the Corsee Gardens? It seems that the Highland Council wish to build 8 houses on the garden area and sell the building itself for redevelopment. Brian Stewart who has been canvassing local residents outlined several concerns including the fact the building has significant historical interest for Nairn and there were currently contentious issues over the provision of housing and care for elderly people. He thought the council’s proposals could result in a substantial quantity of new housing. There was no longer a realistic prospect that Corsee would revert to its former role as a care home given there were other facilities in Nairn. There had been suggestions that the original title-transfer may have included convenants on the future use of Corsee specifically for the benefit of the elderly people of Niarn. If the Council’s proposals were withing the spirit of such an obligation but there appears to be no provision for common facilities or amenities. Mention was made of what in fact was the Council’s position on housing suitable for the elderly given that houses that had been reserved for that purpose in Nairn in the past were now deemed suitable for other individuals too and sometimes that was not always a successful policy. Could the proposal for housing for the elderly only be guaranteed?

There’s no doubt that the plan for eight houses and the sell-off of the building would increase the housing density of the area and increase existing parking problems. Brian felt that any parking should be provided within the site and not on the street. Jim Ferguson thought that there was a chance to do something imaginative to the site given the proximity of the town centre. There was a suggestion that housing was perhaps not the best outcome for what was a very valuable are to the town.

The Community Council then debated a series of questions and options they intend to put to the Highland Council outlining their and the residents’ concerns. Most prominently they felt that it would be helpful to have clarification as to what the Council plans to build - sheltered housing or simply bungalows for sale. Brian Stewart will write to Louise Clark and planners and also intends to raise the issue at the Nairnshire Ward Forum this evening.

The Gurn feels that this issue highlights how we have to look out for each other in Nairn, be it infill over-development in Water Lane, over the top numbers of houses on Sandown or Corsee or any where else in the town. We have to stand together to make sure that all residents have their voices heard fairly by the planners and if necessary we must be ready to act together if that doesn’t happen. These are important times for Nairn’s future – don’t let your eye off the ball Gurnites!

More from the West meeting later.

Snow returns to Nairn

Yes it's back or is it? A slight thaw has set in and it doesn't seem as cold this afternoon. What will the night bring however? Surley Nairn County's match this evening will have been cancelled?

The Chosen 2,300 - are you one of them?

We have a wee gurn reaching us today. It seems Highland Council have sent out invitations to 14,000 people in the hope of finding 2,300 that would be willing to take part in a 'Highland Citizens' Panel.' Now one Gurnite is asking just how do you pick 14,000 people at random? Is a computer program used or is there a National Lottery type machine in the bowels of Glenurquhart Road? Our correspondent asks: 'Are they in effect unpaid consultants or a safety valve for THC 'we consulted our citizens in this matter' so it wasn't us who made this dreadful decision?'
You can see the Highland Council press release here. The Gurn wonders if this system is foolproof, what if some of these folk were to make themselves known to councillors or politicians or other groups etc, could the consultation process be thus influenced by lobbying?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

116 High Street - more local retail history

The recent Gurn article about the forthcoming availability of the 116 High Street premises inspired a few memories on this thread. Now thanks to the MR Archive we can add some more information to the shop's history. The details are from 1969 and 1900 respectively. Pictures will enlarge.


West Community Council meeting

Discussion this evening on Viewfield, Showfield and Corsee. More on the Gurn tomorrow.  Also meeting this evening were the Suburban Community Council, hope they've managed to find a few candidates for the election.

Another famous person's dog on Nairn beach

On Sunday it was Jeff Zycinski, head of Radio BBC Scotland, that had a picture taken of his dog on Nairn beach. Today our internet monitoring unit can exclusively reveal that Charlie Whelan took his dog for a walk on Nairn beach recently. Here's the picture to prove it.

Soon the tourist season and the silly dog ban. Do we really need to waste money on that in these troubled times cash-strapped times? It's not only famous people that bring their dogs to Nairn and spend money but the unknown folk too. Dog owners are just as likely to spend money here as the canine-less. Let the dogs on all the beaches and if any dog-owners are irresponsible, hit them with the on-the-spot £50 turd penalty.

-10C again last night

A series of ever colder nights but beautiful sunny days as a trade-off with snow still on all the hills beyond Nairn, nothing to stop two locals having an early morning flight however and still enough of the river not frozen yet. Tufted ducks beware, two heavyweights landing. Picture will enlarge and more pictures here.

Scenery around Nairn and Tilda boost Pringle

Tilda's wee Pringle movie gets another mention in the media:
'As part of her involvement, Swinton stars in a short film by Ryan McGinley, with locations including ruined castles, beaches and caves. Swinton is barefoot and bare-faced. With her androgyny and agelessness, she seems to embody an idea of timeless style that Pringle is keen to embrace. "You see models in our clothes, who might be 18 or 19," says Waight Keller. "Then I wear them and I'm in my late-30s. And then you've got Tilda wearing them in her late-40s. There's a real modernity to that. It's great to have a woman of Tilda's age fronting the campaign. There's such a sense of character and of life experience to that." As she did last season, Swinton will more than likely have a front-row seat for the show tomorrow evening.
Pringle's return in the autumn to London Fashion Week was so successful that Waight Keller is excited about another season on sovereign soil. "Coming back to London for Fashion Week last year made the Scottish focus for us even more important," she says. "Tilda is a big part of that because I think she embodies an idea of contemporary Scotland so well, that idea of heritage and roots, but also of real modernity. That's the kind of Scot I've had in mind working on the autumn/winter collection.
"The scenery around Nairn, where we shot the campaign with Tilda, has also been a massive influence for me. The colours and textures of that landscape are so evocative. Even the weather is an influence."'

More on the Scotsman. And another chance to see the film here: (That page has changed - click about pringle and then you will see ad film, click on that.

Gurnshire amateur film critics seemed generally downbeat about this movie however.

After midnight local press review

The Nairnshire leads with John Oliver back on the Charlie Chaplin trial. Another effort from John to make Nairn’s association with the late cinema star into a positive tourist attraction for the town. The plan might cost a cool £250,000 however. Read all about it in this week’s local player. Joe Telfer also commandeers a small section of the front page with swan information and details of his forthcoming display in the Library.

The Suburban Council are having trouble finding people willing to stand as candidates in the forthcoming election. That’s a bit of a shame, over the years there has been no shortage of people willing to go along and have their say, now it is time for one or two of them to step forward and help keep this community council and democratic watchdog going. Ian Bain also mentions this in his editorial column. Disruptive kids in Ardersier and disruptive tactics at Croy Community Council? More information on these subjects on pages two and three. Plus could some town centre businesses qualify for a handout to spruce their exteriors up? – Sheena Baker is on the Case. Snow clearing is debated again on page 4 and a report from the Nairnshire Farming Society annual dinner on page 5. The Whale and Dolphin Society have worries about the marina at Whitness impacting on the Dolphins.

Three letters this week preparing the ground for the Sandown Objectors at the forthcoming public inquiry. It will be an important event and the Gurn urges you all to get there for the start on Tues March 2nd, it starts at 10.00 but perhaps we should all get there for at least 09.30 to make an impression and let the world know our views. Anyone taking banners etc?

Letters this week from Elizabeth Bligh, Brain Lynch (you can see a copy here too) and Graham Vine. Just a flavour from Graham’s letter – he isn’t holding back:

‘It appears that none of the other Nairn elected members might be able to attend the Appeal to support Cllr Park and Highland Council. I would urge them to re-examine their diaries, as should Highland Council be defeated at this Appeal, the other elected members may find that they cannot dump all the blame on Sandy Park and walk away with their reputations intact.’

Three must-read letters this week Gurnites – don’t forget March 2nd Sandown Public Inquiry.

The usual big spread on sport with an interview with returning soccer favourite Robbie Duncanson to Station Park. The ‘Cop this’ section is quite full this week too. Waiting for you at any one of Nairn’s dozens of Co-op outlets and this time next year perhaps at Sainsbury’s too. Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Potholes - Do we need a 'jetpatcher' too?

Aberdeen has just got one, can Nairn have one too please? Here's more info on these wonderful vehicles.

'It was estimated that £100 million would be needed over the next 10 years to get Aberdeen’s routes fixed properly.' About the same for the roads in the Highland Council area too or more?

Sunday sunshine (and snow?) on Nairn Beach

Jeff Zycinski, Head of Radio at BBC Scotland visited Nairn beach yesterday and blogged about it:

'The Zed family have been trying to hurry along the coming of spring. It's all in the mind, you see. That's why we hit the road to Nairn this morning and enjoyed a lovely hour or so on the East Beach with the sun blazing on our necks while we kicked the snow off our shoes'

Great pictures Jeff but I think that might be ice that your pooch is sitting in however. Click here to visit Jeff's blog.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A busy weekend on the Gurn

Quite a lot posted over the weekend, you'll have to scroll down quite a bit to see all the articles.

NRCG still seeking your objections to Sandown

The following from a NRCG circular:

'Would you please pass on this note on to as many of your fellow objectors as you can think of; and we would ask them - and you - to e-mail back by return that you/they support the position stated below and please feel free to add any additional objections:
"We object to the overdevelopment of Sandown Lands, to the density, house numbers and style of this proposed development and to its non-compliance with the Nairn Local plan: and we support Highland Councils original and unanimous decision to reject it in May 2009. Any future plans to develop Sandown must be sympathetic to Nairn and its surrounding areas and should not be in a high density configuration"
Responses need to have your full name(s), Mr & Mrs where appropriate, and address shown on the return
e-mails or the Developer will claim that they be disallowed as "coming from anywhere". Please direct your email to or by letter at the address below.
Thank you, and we hope to see as many of you as possible at the Nairn Community Centre in March - your visible support can really make a difference so if you can attend in person this would be very supportive. Details are on Scottish Governments website: Case No: PPA-270-632.
Yours sincerely,
Brian Lynch
for Nairn Residents Concern Group
Sandown Farm Lane
01667 451574'

The Gurn will be going to the public inquiry on the 2nd of March. The inquiry starts at 10.00 so to make our presence felt would it be best to be there from 09.30 onwards perhaps? Are you going to the inquiry and if protesting will you be taking banners etc?

Also another article on Sandown posted on the Gurn over the weekend here.

The new benches - the cracks are showing now

Our riverside reporter Murd Dunbar first broke the news of the rusting benches on Thursday. Since then the Gurn has obtained more shocking pictures of the advanced state of decay that seems to have set in on some of these benches. There are three similar benches down at the harbour and they seem to be fine, they are slightly different however in that the ends are welded shut and there are holes drilled in the base (as Murd has suggested to the Council).

Steaming in Nairn

On April the 12th 2009 the Gurnmeister was on Sunday morning duty with the elite pitch repair squad at Station Park when the double-header hit town. We were enjoying a cup of tea at the time and I was not the only one to lament not having a camera nearby as the locos stopped briefly for the token at Nairn station. However it seems somebody made a video. The second part of the video seems to be in the Keith area.

A new photo studio on the brae

Iain Fairweather has opened a photography studio on the brae, at present the studio is open by appointment only (Ballark Place - behind East2West - Alliance & Leicester), more details on Iain's site. 

Saturday - it was nice to see the sun

The sun lifted everyones spirits and belief that this cold winter would eventually end spread. A few more pictures here.

Potholes sorted

Gurned Wednesday night and sorted for the weekend. Well done Highland Council!

Shop available on the brae from April

Let's hope there's a quick response when the premises becomes available, there's been quite a lot of new retail activity in the High/Leopold Street recently and we don't want to see things going the other way.

'Retail Unit for Rental. Currently operating as a popular hairdressing salon but easily adapted for other trading activities. A well maintained property on a busy High Street location in the centre of Nairn. ' More information on HSPC. Thanks to the Gurnite property watcher that sent this in.

Inverness Councillor will no longer claim free dinners

Inverness member Drew Hendry SNP, is reported in yesterday's courier as recently cancelling his lunch entitlement with the authority.

Nairn County sign Robbie Duncanson

A familiar face returns to Station Park. The Wee County have signed former youth player Robbie Duncanson from Deveronvale on a three and a half year contract. Robbie has had previous experience in the Nairn first team too but left to play for Brora. The player lives locally in Ardersier and has also played for Golspie and Clach.

Golf: Kesley MacDonald wants to be seen as a Curtis Cup contender in 2011 as well as 2012

A report on Kelsey on the site:

'Kelsey MacDonald gets rather annoyed when people link her with the 2012 Curtis Cup which will be played in her home town of Nairn.

The Scottish Under-21 champion for the past two years wants people - particularly the GB&I selectors - to think of her as a serious contender for a place in THIS YEAR'S Curtis Cup match at Essex County Club, Boston in June.
Kelsey, currently playing in the Hacienda del Alamo Festival in south-east Spain, wrote in an E-mail this week:
"My dream right now is to play in America for the Curtis Cup ... this year!!

"When I was a young girl I had a big dream to play the Curtis Cup when the announced venue for 2012 was Nairn. Obvouisly I stilll want to play in 2012. It is also the year I hope to finish at the University of Stirling and hopefully be preparing to turn pro.'

See the full article here.

Highland Council in talks with Sainsbury's over 250K contribution

The Press and Journal today reports:

'Highland Council planners yesterday discussed the detail of where a £250,000 contribution from Sainsbury's will be invested as part of the regeneration proposals for Nairn town centre.'

No one from planning was available for comment according to the paper and the opening date for the new supermarket is set for March 2011. No Christmas shopping at Balmakeith this year then.

Sandown: NRCG ask searching questions of Highland Council

The Nairn Residents Concern Group are asking a series of questions about the Highland Council's role in the Sandown fiasco to date. The group have detailed them in a letter written to the Gurn. This letter is a must for all those who are interested in the background and eventual outcome of this controversial planning application. You can read the letter here.

Brian Lynch, spokesperson for NRCG also told the Gurn, "NRCG would also like to say than you to the 100 or so people who took the time to write to us and express their opposition to the current proposals for Sandown"

This public inquiry, starting on 2nd March will be important for Nairn's future, it is worth taking the time to be there for the first few hours at least.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Northern Police news - Serious assault in Nairn

NorthernPolice: 51-year-old Nairn man due in court on Monday in connection with alleged serious assault in the coastal town - More here.

Station Park by night

Stamp the feet to warm yourself up, take a bite out of the make-believe hot pie and enjoy a short virtual visit to savour the atmosphere of Staion Park on a cold February night. (the 10th to be precise) Sorry we can't show any of the game, the Highland League doesn't allow that.

Firhall Bridge - Murd's drawing

Murd has made a drawing of how he envisages the installation of a ramp, steps and handrails to improve access to the Firhall Bridge.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Country roads, taking you home?

Compared to some of the roads around Nairnshire perhaps the town hasn't got too much to complain about. Here's the scene on another station brae, or the brae down to where Auldearn station used to be to be more exact. Got any potholes near you? Send pictures of them to the Gurn. (Picture will enlarge a little)

New riverside seats going rusty too quickly?

Riverside watcher Murd reports that some of the new seats installed by the council seem to have split and are now rusting badly. Murd has informed the TEC services at the council of the problem and suggests to them that holes should be drilled in the bottom of the legs to allow water to escape thus preventing the freezing liquid expanding and splitting the hollow metal tubes.

Have a look for yourselves fellow Gurnites as you pass this type of seat around the riverside and elswhere around the town. Could it already be too late for some of these new benches?

Councillors told to get on their bikes or use the bus

The Press and Journal continues the reporting into potential ways of saving money at Highland Council:
'Highland councillors have been urged to cycle to meetings and use buses to help the local authority save thousands of pounds in expenses.
They have also been told to consider car sharing and other “green” forms of transport in a drive to trim spending.'
And on free meals they have spoken to one councillor against and one for:
'Inverness councillor Peter Corbett said members should pay for their own meals. But fellow city councillor Bob Wynd said: “When councillors are attending here they are actually away from their normal place of work which is within their own ward or home. Whatever industry or company you work for, when you are asked to attend some place away from normal office or place of work you are paid expenses accordingly.”
The Scotsman today contains details of what Councillors can actually get at the moment:
'At present, the cost of a cooked lunch on main committee days is £8.20 per head and £5.20 for a light lunch. Under a nationally agreed allowance scheme, members are entitled to claim a maximum of £12 in expenses for lunch if a meal is not provided by the council.' The full article here.
Nairnshire's four councillors have an ideal opportunity to set an example to the rest of the Council here, they should state publicly that they will no longer claim any free lunches!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Station brae - a midweek gurnfest special

The Station Brae is an unpleasant experience for both pedestrians and motorists these days. It is all the same a very busy route into town for both species. This route will become even busier when the relocation of the Lodgehill Clinic is completed. Now just as we gurned about the potholes on the Town Bridge, highlighting the dangers as motorists concentrate on missing potholes instead of other dangers (pedestrians on the narrow pavement for example), we'd like to point out that the same danger exists here from the disintegrating road surface.

In wet weather the pavement can be quite messy with soil dropping down from the parts of the wall where stones are missing. Another hazard on an already narrow pavement that pedestrians should not have to endure.

Here you can see how the beech hedge obscures part of the low bridge warning sign. In the spring new growth will obscure the sign completely. Beech grows very quickly and will soon hang down to hinder passage on the pavement unless it receives a severe trim this winter. This will have to take place before the birds start nesting too. All in all a bit of work for our cash-strapped local authority in putting this area right. This footpath can be dangerous at the best of times - surely it has to be a priority - even at a time when money is short?

Cinema this Saturday 07.30 p.m.

More information at Cinema Nairn

Gurn stats - length of time visitors spend on the blog

We've had stats on the Gurn before but got a bit fed up with them, we thought we would try the free service offered by however as they seem to promise quite a lot but, as usual, if you want to know more you have to pay for an upgrade. What they do give away free is very illuminating however. It seems a few Gurnites are spending quite a lot of time on the Gurn. Do a few of you drop in once or twice a week and use the Gurn like a newspaper or magazine just to catch up on the latest? (picture will enlarge)

Cutbacks at the Glenurquhart Road lunch club too?

The Courier reports on possible changes to councillors' free dinners:

'FREE lunches enjoyed by councillors could be scaled down from two courses to one in an attempt to shave £9000 off the local authority's headquarters catering budget.

The proposal comes just a week after Highland Council agreed cuts of £12.1 million and 66 job losses in its three largest departments - education, social work and transport.

It follows an Inverness Courier Freedom of Information request last October which found refreshments such as tea, coffee and biscuits, plus cold buffets and hot lunches for members, cost the local authority across the region £88,591.96 in 2008/9 - an increase of £6840 on the previous financial year.

More here ' Highland Council 'free' lunches could be slimmed down' If the elderly will lose the lunch club subsidy completely then shouldn't the Councillors lose theirs too - and take in sandwiches instead?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

UFO seen over Nairn!

Posted on a paranormal investigation blog two days ago:

'Full Description of Event/Sighting: I was travelling home from Aberdeen and was nearly approaching the east of Nairn when I spotted a orange glowing light to my left. I looked a few times and just instantly thought it was extremely weird. I turned up the Grantown road to try to get closer and once on the dark country road, I cut my engine. In darkness I opened my door and lifted myself to the top of my van and just observed in quiet amazement at what I was seeing, an orange fireball like object travelling in a perfect line north-north-east, complete silence, no engines, no rotors, no nothing, but this amazing orange fireball object. The object went behind a cloud and I didn't see it again.'

More on The Vike Factor -Into the paranormal

Tuesday evening local press review

The Nairnshire front page carries the legend ‘Links school fate back on the agenda.’ A good account of Graham Marsden’s meeting in the very building and the outcome of events from last week. Let’s hope the optimism harnessed at the campaign meetingt doesn’t evaporate and this building can be kept in use for the benefit of the community. Scroll down the Gurn for interesting threads with comment on this issue. Page two is full of more Highland Council material. Complaints from Croy and Culloden Moor community council about having to print off material sent by e-mail from the council and fears that this might increase as the e-planning system goes live (or should it be ‘more live’) on the 23rd of this month. Details too on page 2 of the council tax freeze and the cuts.

The ‘lively’ events of the River Community Council from Tuesday night on Page 3, perhaps it’s just as well that space might be preventing further details of that meeting. Moving deeper into the paper we’ve details of the fish factory decision that was taken to a full meeting of the council. Willie Lane now can go ahead in his move from chickens to fish. Croy Councillor Glynis Sinclair who was trying to stop the fish processing plant doesn’t hold back in her comments to the Nairnshire.

Bridgemill Direct take a full-page advert for their ‘End of Season Sale’ which will run from Thursday 18th to Monday the 22nd and promises all stock at half-price.

Population increases in the Highlands and major new investments at Dalcross are two other major items that draw the reader’s attention. The Letters to the Editior this week include information from two Sandown Campaigners – pay attention to this material gurnites, the forthcoming public inquiry is going to be very important for the future of Nairn. If you have the time why not get along to the inquiry to show your support to those fighting the 550 house plan for Sandown. Make it your task of the week to read the letters from Brian Lynch and John Hart.

An obituary for Bob Denholm, remembered by many for his ‘Riverside Diaries’ details his career and his considerable achievements in many fields. He will be sorely missed, a man who loved the River Nairn and its flora and fauna.

Much more within the 16 page issue, also including the usual sport and the details of the two home defeats suffered by Nairn County FC last week. Your weekly treat awaits you in a newsagents or one of the many Co-ops near you.

Statistics prove success of riverside path improvements

Murd Dunbar has obtained figures from the Highland Council that show how the riverside paths have increased in popularity since the £50,000 upgrade to the surfaces. The Council instilled a sensor pad beneath the path near the Firhall Bridge several years ago.
2004 – 14884

2005 - 9465

2006 – 5542 (People counter was undercounting)

2007 – 14868

2008 – 33476 (New path opened in Feb of this year)

2009 – 22462
This goes to show that even more members of the community have made use of the paths since the upgrage. As Councillor Graham Marsden said at the January meeting of the River Community Council (the one where there was a majority vote for Murd's improved access initiative), it doesn't make sense to improve the paths but stop at the bridge itself.
The Gurn feels the path figures would get another boost if those that can't get over the bridge at present were given the opportunity to do so.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New additions to the Nairn shopping experience

Ok we haven't got a Sainsbury's yet and only have a Co-op/Somerfield fit for the 1970's but Nairn is an ideal spot for a couple of hours exploration even in the heart of winter. The Leopold street area now has two new shops worthy of a look and just around the corner is the heart of the cafe/restaurant district with other interesting shops to explore. Why not come for a first-hand browse instead of a virtual one?

Nairn 10K: a date for your diary

Sunday 7th. March 2010 - 2.30pm Start - Registration from 1:00pm to 2:00pm at the Nairn Community Centre. Registration will close at 2:00pm prompt.
Each 10k finisher will receive a commemorative souvenir, drink and refreshments. Medals will be awarded to fun-run finishers. A water station will be provided at approx 4.5 miles.
The race itself starts and finishes on the Nairn High Street.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nairn 1 Forres 2

County were reduced to ten men after the second half sending-off of Campbell. They played with renewed heart however and although they went 1-0 down they pulled a goal back. It all went terribly wrong towards the end as a chance to go ahead was squandered. In the aftermath of that wasted chance a disorganised County saw Forres clinch it seconds later up the other end of the park. More pictures here. A full match report here on

Nairn was never a one horse town

Recently we've heard Highland Councillors talking about how they would like to raise Council Tax. Perhaps it is an ideal time to reflect on how taxes were levied in the past. It is interesting to see who could afford a horse in 1797. Thanks to Irene for another of her wee gems from her research into Nairnshire's past. (picture will enlarge).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Links school - online debate continues

The thread is slipping down the Gurn now but it is still attracting interesting comment, click here to read the latest. Hamish has also added more information in a comment to the Links School history thread.

Firhall Bridge an 'anti' speaks out

As this article is posted the support for Murd's campaign is currently at 80% in the Gurn's unscientific poll. We suspect that this is how support would pan out in the community at large but as we say our poll is unscientific. In the interests of democracy we publish the opinion of someone that does not support the plan, this individual has a good reason for staying anonymous and we respect that and are willing to publish their views.

'I have the greatest respect for Murd's effots to improve the ambience of our riverside and access to it for ALL. But if you are questioning why there may not be support for his proposals to make the Firhall Bridge accessible to wheelchair users you just need to look at your blog about council cuts we are facing.
Recently Highland Council got into one hell of a stramash over the cancellation of a school trip because one mum was upset because her disabled daughter could not go on the trip. To my mind that was crass stupidity on the council's part . In my view the mother involved was being totally selfish. Here we have another case where there is a balance to be struck but there is a clear distinction - the cost of investment in a ramp to the bridge potentially at the expense of other services to people with disabilities.
It's easy to have a pop at councillors but we must be fair to them. Murd has demonstrated that a wheelchair can get across the bridge. But you can bet your bottom dollar that any ramp would have to fulfil stringent and no doubt costly building regulations which would all add to a considerable bill to the taxpayer. As a caring society we must do what we can to ensured the disadvantaged in our midst are not unnecessarily disadvantaged. But we have to live within our means. How many people with wheelchairs would use this route? There are many alternative pathways and walks with better surfaces than the riverside path that wheelchair users can enjoy. And you can be sure other services would suffer if thousands were spent on this project. Anon.'

Funding would actually be from sources other than Highand Council anon, it would be money that would go to some other community if Nairn were not to get it. Are we to say no more projects to go on the wish list just because there is no money in the public coffers? If we were to base our criteria on that assumption we would say no by-pass ever for Nairn because there is no money and other services would have to suffer if we were to build it.
If we want to talk about money and Highland Council however, in the debate at Glenuquhart Road yesterday the suggestion was heard that there should be cuts amongst the 881 staff on the council that earn over £40,000 before hitting voluntary organisations.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Cuts part 1

Convenor Sandy Park prepares to take his seat

Councillor Alston made the opening speech explaining the administration’s rationale for the cuts. Fine and noble words about sharing the burden of having to bail out the banks and how they had to get it right for the future because if it was left to 2013 it would be an unholy mess. It was all quite laudable until he started a rant against the Scottish Government, accusing them of taking decision making powers away, after that he just sounded like a typical petty politician scoring points.

He was followed by the convenors of the committees and then John Finnie the official leader of the opposition spoke. He was brief saying he would leave much of the debate to the amendments his group would be tabling. He indicated that he saw the budget as an attack on front line services.

The amendments were proposed but all defeated, there was some considerable debate but the votes came out around the 50-19 mark each time. The Lib-Lab-Indy ruling group held their nerve and went through with it - 12 million pounds will be cut from the budget. They will come back in the Autumn to decide on more cuts. History and their constituents will be their judges.