Friday, April 30, 2010

Swimming Pool Consultation and the cuts - What Cllr Graham Vine had to say at the Ward Forum

Continuing our report of events at the Nairn Ward Forum on Wednesday evening

Graham Vine was the next to ask Nairn’s four Highland Councillors a question. He expanded onto the modus operandi of the cuts process in general:

‘Could I ask our elected members. We were invited to participate in a consultation. How are we supposed to be able to understand all those massive big budget items in Highland Council? You are our elected members whose duty is to scrutinise the activities of the Highland Council officers on our behalf. We should look to you to tell us how we can save money, where we can save money, because you should understand those budgets. All (didn’t get the next few words here) a figure of two or three hundred million pounds for this that or the other. We don’t know if that’s going on front-line services or whether half of it is frittered away on consultants or liaison managers or whatever. You’re the guys that should be telling us what you’re going…’

Graham was then interrupted by Liz.

‘Thank you for this Graham,’ she said. ‘That was exactly the point my group made about the consultation process. That it is up to elected members to make the choices. There wasn’t enough information for the public to understand it. If they decided against one thing what would they actually have as something else. So you’re right. (didn’t get Liz’s next sentence unfortunately)

‘Thank you,’ said Graham.

Sandy then rejoined the debate ‘Obviously with the consultation you can ask the very question of the Director of Finance. This is a six,seven hundred million pound business. You know, this is a very complex budget process. We’re going through a consultation process of fifteen meetings in the next month. We’re going through the same in all wards in the Highlands. I’m really pleased with the meeting tonight.’

The meeting continued…

Riverside Clean-up

Murray MacRae sent in this picture taken this afternoon of volunteers cleaning up rubbish from the riverside. Here they are working on the Khyber back path up to Broadhill. Murray wishes to express his appreciation for the work of these volunteers and here at the Gurn we are very happy to second the motion. Well done!

Inverness Community Centres now safe from cuts so why not Nairn Swimming Pool?

At the Ward Forum meeting on Tuesday night there were no assurances that Nairn Swimming Pool would be saved. We were told that the Consultation process would go on. No such difficulties for an Inverness Councillor though - he is telling the world that the Inverness Community Centres are safe - Surely Sandy Park if he is the leader of the Adminstration could secure such a statement for Nairn Swimming Pool? We were told we wouldn't know the result of the consultation until Februrary - looks like you can bypass the process if you have the political clout at Highland Council.
Here's what the Press and Journal reports today:
'Highland Council had considered shutting down up to four of the centres to save £133,000 a year on staff and running costs.
Those in the frame had been the Spectrum Centre, Merkinch Centre, James Cameron Centre, Hilton community centre, Raigmore community centre and the Cameron Club youth centre.
Speaking after lobbying colleagues at separate meetings of the Independents and ruling administration yesterday, Inverness Central councillor Peter Corbett said he had been delighted with the backing of other councillors to exclude the facilities from any hit-list as part of a continuing public consultation on budget possibilities.'
Interesting isn't it? Come on Sandy, you are the gaffer. Your turn now, an assurance that Nairn Swimming Pool is safe please!
More from Tuesday's ward forum meeting later.
And a May Day march against the cuts is taking place in Inverness tomorrow.

Films tonight - Cinema Nairn making it more like the movies for you

Jason told the Gurn:
'Just a reminder that anyone 'searching' for something to do tomorrow night (Friday) should saddle up and hoof on over to the Community Centre for the next Cinema Nairn screening, the 1956 John Wayne/John Ford classic The Searchers.
We're showing it in widescreen format. Cor!

Bar opens at 7 with the films starting at 7.30. I say films as we are opening with a superb short film called Gone Fishing starring Bill Paterson.

More on the blog:'

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Under threat Nairn Swimming Pool so popular it has to turn youngsters away!

News posted on the Save Nairn Swimming Pool Facebook pages by Beth:

'Last night a new fun session was introduced to the pool E-Mails sent out to the local schools the respons last night to the new equipment was overwhelming.
Sadly the staff had to refuse entry to the pool to about thirty to forty children as they had reached there maximum load for the pool of seventy five people.
This goes to show small changes can reap rewards.'

Nairn Swimming Pool – has it been badly managed?

Continued from 'What an agenda - what a night! ' - a report on last night's Nairn Ward Forum meeting.

Sandy replied to the suggestion that Nairn wasn’t getting its far share of the budget with the assertion that Nairn had got a new Community Centre, a new Police Station and three million pounds had been spent on the Academy. Sandy thought that Nairn had had its share.

Liz, chairing the meeting then continued. She said that the consultation document was ‘appalling’ because it was based on the criteria of travel to other pools - just on that basis alone it should be thrown out. She was worried that there had been a lot of scaremongering caused by the consultation process. She mentioned also the 66k to be spent on retiling. This prompted an intervention from the public benches whereby concept of retiling was questioned. It was suggested that pools down south were all sprayed, a cheaper option it seems, cheaper and easier.

Liz retorted that she was just trying to get across that the council is investing in the pool so why are they at the same time consulting about closing it.

Louise Harrison of the Nairn District Swimming Club then spoke, she said:

‘I would just like to point out that part of the reason that the pool looks like it is losing a lot of money is that it is being run very ineffectively over the last few years. Tomorrow, hopefully, all the Councillors and Mr Dodds and Dr Alston will receive a letter from the swimming club with a number of issues about the swimming pool and how it has hindered our development with not being able to access the pools for the amount of time that we require to access it. I think if you looked at our letter tomorrow you will realise that the pool could be run for the community very well in the future.’

Louise’s statement was followed by applause. Sandy began his reply as soon as the applause died down. ‘Thanks for that, that’s exactly what we’re wanting, that’s what the consultation is all about.’ He explained that he’d picked up on this issue on Sunday morning and that he had a meeting at 8.00 in the morning to look at the matter of the tiles to see if there was a cheaper way it could be down. ‘I take on board what you said,’ he continued, ‘thank you for that it is very important.’

The discussion continued, more later…

'Council to spend £70,000 on repairs to pool it may close' - P&J

See this post for information from last night's ward forum meeting (more soon) concerning the Pool. Here's a snippet from today's P&J however:

'Nairn Provost, SNP councillor Liz MacDonald, who is currently responding to scores of letters from worried constituents, said: “I can’t see Nairn pool closing, to be quite frank. Do you not think it’s a bit of a red herring on the part of the administration?

“They’re putting out this consultation on the budget, and I think they’re wanting to get people stirred up about it. It’s very emotive. I think that they’re manipulating the whole situation to be honest.” She added: “They should definitely spend this on the pool because it’s needed in Nairn.”

Who knows Liz, do Highland Councillors even really know what's going on here? Are we now in a period of consultation chaos? More information from last night's meeting soon, in the meantime here's the P&J article: Money already set aside in budget for necessary work on tiling at Nairn leisure facility

The History of the original Nairn Police Station

Dave Connor has added a wealth of information to one of his Flickr pages, he details the history of the original police station in Nairn. Dave says: 'The reason I have so much information is because the Minute Book of the Nairnshire Police Committee - Commissioners of Supply (1858-1890)(1890 was when County councils came in) turned up in one of the garage at Nairn copshop about 15 years ago and was passed on to me.'

To see the picture and the fascinating information, plus interesting comments, head along to this flickr page.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What an agenda - what a night! The Swimming Pool element (part 1)

The Swimming Pool element of the evening’s Ward Forum proceedings began with a question from the Nairn Synchronised Swimming Club. They asked if if the Highland Council had considered that there were two thriving national competitive clubs whose existence would be threatened if the Pool was closed.

Provost Liz replied: ‘I think I will ask the Convenor to answer the question as it was the administration that put forward the budget consultation and I was actually opposed to it at Highland Council.’

And so it was left to Sandy to do the honours for the regime. He began by apologising to the youngsters present for having to sit through the meeting up to that point, ‘ the massive debate’ as he put it. He said how he had been so impressed on Sunday by the Syncro Club. It emerged the he and Laurie had taken up an invitation to see the club performing. ‘It really meant a lot to me,’ said the Convenor of Highland Council. Sandy felt it had been a constructive meeting with the club on Sunday, he went on to explain how he had to attend another 15 ward forum meetings over the next 2 to 3 weeks, finishing up in Nairn on the 30th of June which he said would be an opportunity to quiz the Chief Executive, the Budget Leader and the Director of Finance. He admitted that there were tremendous problems with the budget. He explained that Nairn Swimming was put on (the list) was because of a criteria of distances going from one pool to another. He said that the youngsters turning up here tonight meant a lot. He urged the members of the public present to keep the letters coming as that was very important, he explained how they were compiling a portfolio of all the letters coming forward. Sandy then said that he would be informing the Chief Executive first thing in the morning of the evening’s attendance. He told everyone, ’I am, as Convenor, very aware of the situation in Nairn. We will be back here on the 30th of June to finalise the consultation.’

There was an immediate response from a member of the public (sorry madam forgotten your name). This lady wanted to know why Nairn wasn’t getting (in the budget) what Inverness was getting. She though Nairn was getting less and less and wanted to know why the Chief Executive couldn’t take a cut in pay and give it to the swimming Pool. ‘He gets more than the First Minister,’ she proclaimed.

‘That’s a very good question,’ replied Sandy Park. Obviously demands emerging that the Glenurquhart Road mandarins take a big hit are getting through to oor Sandy!

The floor was still with the first contributor however and she went on to describe how Nairn’s pool was a lot better and cleaner than the Aquadome and how people came from Inverness and Forres to swim here. ‘And from Elgin too,’ came an additional comment from the public benches. Continuing the first contributor asked where kids would go. ‘It’s a holiday town as well,’ she said.’ Putting a bridge over Nairn and forgetting about it. Taking Nairn off the map. Putting it all in the bin.’ She looked around the room and asked: ‘Is everyone in agreence with me?’

The applause was self-explanatory.

More from the Ward Forum Swimming Pool debate soon.

Nairn Ward Forum - What an agenda! What a night!

Good evening Gurnites, the best show in town was once again the ward forum, standing room only and the Courthouse debating chamber becoming very warm as the evening went on. Basically what went on tonight was that ordinary punters came and had their say and had their say emphatically. On 'Changing Community Care' there was forthright, articulate and outspoken comment. On the consultation for a single Community Council again there was forthright and outspoken comment and on the Nairn Swimming Pool issue there was forthright and outspoken comment to the power of ten. Other items were mentioned too as well as the material above. How much we report will depend on how well the Gurn low grade digital recorder performed and how much can be gleaned from notes or memory. We will do our best over the next day or two, starting with the swimming pool issue. It was a night to remember, we'll do our best to recreate it for you - it was fantastic to see so many citizens prepared to stand up and do their bit for our community. Thank goodness we live in Nairn!

More soon...

A stunning picture of a sunset on Nairn Beach

You'll have to go over to Flickr to see Scott Boulton's picture.

Getting people to the Clinic in July – time for some quick joined-up thinking and a regular bus service?

At last night’s Suburban Community Council meeting worries were expressed on how some patients would get to the Clinic once it flits from Lodgehill to the new hospital building. Com Cllr John Mackie outlined how presently some patients who were not quite so mobile were able to reach the clinic with the aid of the town bus and the Stagecoach services 10 and 305. All these services dropped people off within walking distance of the Clinic but the extra distance to the hospital would present some with considerable difficulty and perhaps expense.

It will be a lot harder for these people to get up to the hospital and concern was expressed that no one was ‘taking the bull by the horns’ and organising a regular bus service to the hospital.

Com Councillor Dr Alistair Noble thought that this was a real problem that had to be addressed he thought that existing vehicles, drivers and subsidies plus general management costs should be pooled to provide a ‘mini Rolls-Royce service’ for those that needed it. He was of the opinion that it was absolutely essential that people get transport as it was the most cost-effective way to deliver a health and social care service as the alternative was to go round peoples homes.

John Mackie thought that information about a new service needed to be put into the public domain urgently as the move would be complete in July.

Dr Noble is right the authorities will have to put their heads together quickly and sort something out for the folk that will have difficulty making it up to the new clinic. Unfortunately as John Mackie also stated at the meeting, ‘Nobody appears to be doing any organisation.’

Gulls under attack

Another P&J report and this time it seems someone in the town is shooting gulls.

'Gulls have died a cruel and lingering death after being shot and wounded in a Highland seaside town.
Now the police and the Scottish SPCA are appealing for information after the spate of airgun attacks left gulls fatally wounded at Nairn.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity has been called out on several occasions in recent weeks after members of the public found seagulls severely injured in a residential area within the town, and not far from a school.' Full article here.

Not the ideal way to deal with the problem really. Perhaps someone has lost the plot waiting for the Scottish Government and the Local Authorities to get their act together and do something about the increasing populations of Gulls in many Scottish towns and cities? There has been a trial in Dumfries, details here.

It could be that there are no simple solutions however. It seems you need a licence to even remove nests and eggs. To quote from a Highland Council document: 'Direct Action, which includes the removal of eggs and nests, may be undertaken by properly trained operators under the conditions of a General Licence.

To further quote from the Committee document from August last year :

'7 Conclusions
7.1 Seagull nuisance affects a large number of towns and cities across Scotland, and there is no simple solution to the problem.
7.2 The Council’s current position is that it provides advice on request to property owners and the general public in relation to the measures available for dealing with seagull nuisance.
7.3 To achieve a reduction in the seagull population in towns and cities, a coordinated approach is required from property owners, in terms of bird proofing buildings, and the public, in terms of removing the food supply.
7.4 The results from the trial currently underway in Dumfries will be made available to local authorities in due course, and they will be assessed to establish the effectiveness of the various measures used.
7.5 In order to provide the public with more information it is proposed that a leaflet is produced which will provide the public and businesses with information on the legal protection for seagulls, the control measures available, discourage the feeding of seagulls, and encourage the public and businesses to ensure that the lids of waste bins are properly closed, to help restrict food supplies for seagulls.
7.6 Discarded food in public places is classed as litter under the Environmental Protection Act, and as such, offenders are liable to a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice.
7.7 The leaflet would also support a media campaign during the breeding season to support the measures to restrict the food supply for seagulls.'

Did that leaflet ever get produced? Anyone ever see one?

For serious students of A96 planning issues...

...and Gurnshire is not without such folk. Appearing on the APT blog today under the title 'Major Decisions to be made soon':

'APTSec is becoming increasingly concerned that major planning applications for development in the A96 Corridor (which are currently contrary to existing local plans) will be determined before the new Highland–wide Local Development Plan has completed its 'Examination' stage. Why should I be concerned, well...'

Pop over to the APT blog for more information

Saipem 7000 mentioned in the P&J

The massive visitor just offshore has attracted the attention of the P&J.

'The Saipem 7000 is owned by the oil and gas industry contractor Saipem which has offices in Aberdeen. It is understood the massive lifter and pipelayer could be moored up off Nairn while between jobs, but Saipem in Aberdeen did not know yesterday.'

Maybe the Saipem is going to be spending a bit longer here. If the vessel is looking for work perhaps some of the 800 beds on board could be made available to holiday makers if the prediction of Nairn being very popular this year come true.

Full Press and Journal article here.

Finished in 1987, the Vessel cost an estimated $400,000,000 and one would imagine that it is an asset that no company would want to be idle for too long a time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Red legged partridge in Nairn!

This video has been forwarded to the Gurn by Peter McIntosh. His wife filmed the clip. He would be interested to know if anyone else in Nairn spotted any more of these birds.
Peter believes some were released in Southern Scotland but has no idea  what this bird doing up here. Peter lives close to the Newton Woods. He says that  the clip is a bit grainy on youtube, for some reason, which is a shame as his colouring is quite striking.

Tuesday Morning Local Press Review

This week three letters in the Nairnshire making succinct and topical points. There’s a spirited argument for Nairn Swimming Pool from Gary Price. Gary has a number of points to make in defence of the pool and he makes them very well. He also asks questions of the consultation process and raises the issue of the consultation process, he is concerned indeed by the ‘problem solving’ and wonders aloud how this came about when we have highly paid officials and councillors to make decisions. I think Gurnites will agree with most or all of this letter. Concern continues to gather pace in Nairnshire over the threat to the pool and the cuts in general.

Thus a warning too about the fate of our Library from Paddy and Sheila Maher, they argue that the library is part of the social fabric of Nairn and could be in danger as part of the consultation process. Indeed we must be aware and be prepared to protect the library. It isn’t on the ‘hit list’ that made its way to the media via a freedom of information request but who knows what might happen next in the febrile atmosphere caused by these proposed cuts. 

Murd Dunbar takes the democratic process of River Community Council to task in the third letter to appear in this week’s edition.

The cuts feature too in the report of West Community Council’s meeting last week. Stinging criticism of the Highland Council’s consultation process from Com Councillor Brian Stewart and specific comment towards our Highland Councillors from Com Councillor Graham Vine. Criticism of the consultation process too from another Highland Councillor, Bob Wynd, as he lays into the administration for the effect it is all having on communities, particularly the fact that Ardersier library has appeared on a list of those that could close. Cllr Roddy Balfour too has spoken out:

‘The Council has a duty to provide things like libraries, swimming pools, service points and the only thing they are not closing down are the salaries of those at the top.’

News of the Rock4life cancellation, the editorial dwells on this issue too and examines if the market for rock festivals in the Highlands is now saturated. Interesting thoughts as usual from Iain Bain.

So to the front page and concerns from the Nairn Games Committee over sponsorship. A picture here too of Mark Bain who is preparing for an expedition to the Peruvian rain forest. Inside on page 2 news of new planning applications for the St Olaf Manor Complex in Cawdor Street. Details of the Nairnshire move (partial at the moment) to Cawdor Street too.

Election news with a picture of Mike Robb (Labour) and his squad of canvassers plus details of Tory support for Nairn Swimming Pool from Jim Ferguson. The paper seems to be mercifully short of election news, perhaps most people have made their minds up by now?

All the usual sport including cricket and soccer news plus tennis success for Lisa Munro.

On the back page the Suburban Community Council announce that they are back in business tonight (7.30 pm at Nairn Academy), their advert reads as follows:

Welcome to New Members, Election of Office Bearers, Sandown Lands, Highland Council Budget Cuts, Community Council Boundary Consultation – All made welcome – states the advert in bold italics.

Looks like it will be an interesting evening up in the suburbs tonight. Do you have any thoughts on those issues, your community council representatives would be delighted to see you. Here at Gurn HQ we once again point out that the Community Council Consultation process gives us the chance to secure a Royal Burgh Community Council for the town and ensure the community speaks with a single voice when dealing with Highland Council and other authorities.

The Nairnshire Telegraph is a  bumper read this week,full of details, information and comment – Yours for 40p – why not head for the shops right now and ensure your copy of one dead-tree information portal that still manages to hit the spot. A small price to pay for an organ that succinctly articulates the life and times of our community. Long live the Nairnshire Telegraph!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nairnshire Ward Forum - Wednesday night 7-9.00 p.m. the Courthouse

Two items on the agenda that will be of interest to Gurnites:

4. Community Council Consultation (Louise Clark) This consultation is a chance to get Nairn a better deal by asking for a single Community Council - i.e. A Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council.

7. Open Question and Answer Session
7.1 Question from Nairn Synchronised Swimming Club re Nairn Swimming Pool - we'll see if any debate is allowed on this subject.

See the full agenda here

Saipem 7000 by night

Thanks to Rob Holder for this picture, taken from Delnies. Picture will enlarge.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2,000+ 'Save Nairn Swimming Pool' Facebook group just keeps growing!

The anger out there hasn't gone away. The Facebook group just keeps growing and tonight stands at a membership of 2,010 and messages and information are still being posted. There's an interesting message from Sharon who worked at Nairn Pool for six years, she feels that more time should be given over to the general public in the pool timetable. Here's some of what she has to say:

'Nairn has become a teaching pool:- school swimming lessons every morning Monday to Friday, after school lessons Monday to Thursday 3pm til 5 or 6pm. Yes our children need to be taught to swim, as we in Nairn are surrounded by water. But how much of the timetabling of our pool is dedicated to public swimming? Not a great deal is the answer. We the public need to make it known that we want and need more general public time. '

To read the rest of Sharon's thoughts on the matter and to see the latest messages head over to 'Save Nairn Swimming Pool'

Saipem 7000 (world's second largest crane vessel) off Nairn

Just how large this vessel looms just off of Nairn can be seen here. Thanks again to Rob for the information posted earlier on the Gurn. There's information about the Saipem 7000 on Wikipedia.

And the light show, not a spectacular video but you get the idea:

Nairn 1 Brora 1 more pictures of yesterday's game

More pictures on the Gurn Flickr pages

Match report available here

Stuck in Nairn traffic yesterday and still gurning

This in from a disgruntled Gurnite motorist:

A taste of things to come?

Could disruption spill onto the A96 once work, lights, action hit the High Street in a few days time? Work yesterday on the A96 saw traffic tailing back either side of the roadworks with motorists heading West frustrated by the oncoming traffic becoming stuck in the one lane system when the lights went to red at the A96/Leopold St junction. This work has been ongoing for several days now with no obvious end in sight, lets hope it's soon

UPDATE 22.18: We hear from Scottish Water that the hole in the road is their responsibility a spokesman told the Gurn:

'The traffic lights on the A96 at Seabank Rd are for emergency repairs to a collapsed manhole. It's a very deep brick walled chamber that has started to give way so we can't delay the work. We expect the repairs to take days rather than weeks.
Just our luck this happens so close to the start of Return of Streetscape.

Many thanks to motorists for their patience.'

Information on ships in the Firth

Thanks to Rob Holder for pointing us in the direction of an excellent site that details all shipping movements in the area. Just click on Inner Moray Firth and all will be revealed. Rob explained to the Gurn:

A neat little website that may be of interest to readers is detailed below. I found this when trying to identify the floating blackpool in the firth tonight! apparently its the worlds sencond largest platform crane! (saipen 7000).

I often find myself wondering what the ships in the firth are and this website helps identify them as well as giving nfo on the route and purpose.

Police Station Old and New

Pictures of the new and previous building on Dave Connor's Flickr pages. Dave is also interested in the history of the former, former police station just across the road and now boarded up. You can contact Dave through his flickr site.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nairn 1 Brora 1

Made in Britain - Parked in Nairn

Tory candidate Jim Ferguson was in Nairn today

Mike Robb (Labour Candidate) blogs again

Mike Robb has mentioned Nairn Swimming Pool again. The Highland Council cuts consultation comes in for criticism again. Here's an extract from his latest blog:

'...Highland Council’s consultation on proposed areas for budget cuts is a big issue. I’ve already made clear my support for the Swimming Pool in Nairn and the six community centres in Inverness threatened with closure. We should not be pitching one community against another in this way. These are exactly the kind of front-line services we should be protecting.The cost-savings would be small compared to the damage to local communities. I’ll be fighting to save them.'

Mike Robb's blog can be found here

Mike has the same problem as Danny Alexander, his party is part of the administration at Highland Council thus they must share the responsibility for the anger that the consultation process is causing.

Will the proposed cuts dent Danny's campaign?

'The SNP’s Bob Wynd, a councillor for 11 years, said he had never known such “chaos” in the authority’s handling of its finances and that he was overwhelmed by distressed constituents while visiting Barn Church lunch club in his Culloden and Ardersier ward on Thursday.

“The administration is creating chaos, it’s all over the place and this is not the way you do budget business,” he said.

“Everywhere I go people are concerned about libraries and swimming pools being closed. They’re asking what’s going to close? This administration is spreading fear and alarm throughout every community.”

So reports the Press & Journal this morning. We have suggested earlier that if enough momentum gets behind the opposition to the cuts or the much criticised consultation process that is proceeding them then it could potentially affect the Lib-Dem incumbents reelection. Will the fact that the Highland Council is run by a Lib-Dem coalition with Labour and other councillors encourage voters to punish Danny Alexander for the uncertainty that is abroad?

Full details of the P&J article here: Lib Dems accused of council budget chaos -
councillor says leaders spreading fear and alarm

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not much Nairn related news today - but a 'special battleground'

The Press and Journal has a few details about the candidates in the election and details of life in the constituency but there isn't much material out there to link to this morning.
'The geography of this constituency, with the bustling city of Inverness set in the stunning, wild beauty of the Highlands, makes this a special battleground.'
Here both this observer and Mrs Gurnmeister fell asleep watching the political debate last night, I lasted 45 minutes and Mrs G a little longer. I woke up to hear Sky news proclaiming that it was Dave and Nick wot won it. Perhaps the most interesting thing to emerge from the whole process was the following snippet from a contributor to Guido Fawke's blog:
'Senders73: Charlie Whelan seen chatting to Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander in spin room - I guess they are on the same side these days... '
Danny was obviously down in Bristol then. It's said that Charlie Whelan lives in this area too so perhaps the pair of them were discussing the merits of Nairn beach? I wonder if Danny will get back easily considering the latest disruption to flights? Up the High Street a couple of UKIP posters have added to the excitement by joining the numerous Tory and LibDem offerings dominating the town.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rock4life no more

Rock4life is cancelled. The BBC reports:

'A new music festival in the Highlands which was to feature veteran rockers Status Quo has been cancelled.

Rock4Life was due to be held on 1 May at Whiteness, near Ardersier, and raise money for the Highland Hospice.
The second day of the two-day event, at which pop acts Sugababes and McFly were due to appear, had already been cancelled because of poor ticket sales.
Highland Council confirmed they had now been told by organisers the festival would no longer be going ahead.
Rock4Life was expected to attract a crowd of about 20,000.
A spokesman for Highland Council said they had been informed the decision to call off the entire event was taken due to the "knock-on effect" from the loss of the second day, which created a cash-flow problem.'

More on the BBC site.

Association of Nairn Businesses site

The Association of Nairn Businesses web site is up and running. A highly informative site with good graphics and excellent images of Nairn :-)

The Nairnshire - Are they finally flitting?

Newsbleat recently reported that the Nairnshire Telegraph would be flitting to the old Bridal Shop in Cawdor Street. This news has actually been rumour in the town for over 18 months now but it looks as though Newsbleat was right, the move is now apparently imminent.

Nairn Library not on the hit list?

The Press and Journal reports that a hit list of rural libraries has emerged after a Freedom of Information request from a member of the public. The paper reports:

'Responding to the FoI request, head of community learning and leisure Ian Murray confirmed yesterday that council officers had identified libraries at Plockton, Caol, Invergordon, Helmsdale, Ardersier and Beauly for possible closures that would save around £94,000.
The closure of 11 others – Bettyhill, Knoydart, Achiltibuie, Lochcarron, Cromarty, Golspie, Lairg, Broadford, Mallaig, Bonar Bridge and Muir of Ord – would save almost £100,000.
And in search of a total £666,000 saving within the libraries budget, a “large library” is being considered for closure leaving libraries in Inverness, Culloden and Wick in the frame.
The woman who submitted the FoI request did not wish to be identified. She said she sought the information because she felt communities should be aware of which libraries are threatened in order to have a proper opportunity to respond to the consultation. Councillors were, until now, unaware of the names on the list.'

One imagines that Councillors representing those areas on the list will be receiving a few phone calls, letters and e-mails from their constituents. The full Press and Journal article here.

The Scotsman reported recently that library closures in Scotland have increased over recent years even before the credit crunch kicked into local government funding. An interesting article highlighting the difficulties that libraries face here: Is your local library on borrowed time?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seatscape - the version cutbacks prevented

Thanks to one of our regular readers for this picture.

Highland Council - Like an obese person preparing to cut off fingers and toes?

An interesting analogy surfaced during debate at the West Community Council meeting last night. (The Westerners had a wee debate that was a preamble to their next meeting that will focus on their area's response to the Budget Cuts proposed by Highland Council). Basically Highland Council was compared to an obese individual that, rather than go through the disciplines of learning how to slim properly, was preparing to cut off fingers and toes (i.e. swimming pools and community centres) rather than tackle its fat belly or big backside.  An interesting comparison and one that will find support elsewhere around the town and beyond as criticism of the consultation process grows in the Highlands.

West Community Council also expressed their support for River colleagues over the dangerous 'crossing' on the brae and are to seek to work with both the River and Suburban Councils to look at the many traffic problems in the town. Support was also expressed for the campaign to save Nairn Swimming Pool. Rosemary Young reported that her phone had been red hot with angry callers complaining about the proposed closure. Jim Ferguson thought at first that it had been an April Fools joke. Councillors also expressed concern about the future of Nairn Library and the museum. 

The next West meeting will be on the 18th of May at 19.30 in Nairn Community Centre and will discuss both licensing consultation and the Budget Cuts consultation. 

Under-threat Nairn swimming pool to close for repairs

The Press and Journal's angle on the forthcoming repairs to Nairn Swimming Pool:

'NAIRN swimming pool, which could face the axe as part of Highland Council budget cuts, is to close in the coming weeks – for essential repairs.
The council confirmed yesterday that the venue will close temporarily before the end of the current school term to allow the work to be carried out.
Replacement wall cladding will be fitted in the pool hall, cutting short swimming lessons for local school pupils who use the facility.
The pool is the subject of several local campaigns which were sparked by its inclusion in a long list of council facilities which could close permanently to help the authority balance its books over the next three years.
The various petitions have had the support of hundreds of pool users from Nairn and beyond.'

More on the P&J site.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

''Seatscape" goes ahead without any problems

Thanks to Nairni49 for this picture of the new seats on the West Pier.

Tuesday Morning Press Review

The Nairnshire has details of a proposal that, if it is incorporated into the Highland Wide Development Plan, would double the size of Croy. The Nairnshire has reaction from many concerned parties. There’s a a couple of snippets of Ardersier news on page 2 plus the usual ‘Cop this’ and news of a new report on Nairn Academy.

Page 3 is back to Streetscape issues and there’s also an article about the dangers to pedestrians on the brae. Swimming Pool issues dominate page 4, your chance to get up to date on this controversy. One way you can help is by signing an individual letter of protest to the Highland Council, copies of the letter are available in Atmosphere on the High Street.

This week’s editorial concentrates on the recent television debate by the leaders of the three main political parties. Letters are thin on the ground this week but there is a plea for Nairnites to pay attention to the ongoing consultation process re the future of Nairn’s Community Councils.

There's lots more in this week's edition to keep you entertained. From the advertisements it appears that the Car Boot season is with us again with news of forthcoming sales at Millbank Primary, Nairn Academy and Cawdor Primary. Once again a mere 40p investment keeps you up to date with all the local news and events.

PS Nairn Academy Report also available on line.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Streetscape arrangements - Highland Council Version

Thanks to one of our avid readers who pointed us in the direction of a Highland Council press release:
'At the second meeting of the Nairn Streetscape Stakeholders’ Group held last week, it was confirmed that The Highland Council would be making £15,000 available to the business community in support of promotional activities during and on completion of the streetscape works. The onus is on the business community to come up with proposals to stimulate trade and the funding will be administered through the Association of Nairn Businesses. Funding provided by the Council will enable additional funding to be sought through the Leader Programme.
Stakeholders at the meeting also received clarification about the practicalities of traffic management during the High Street upgrade. It was emphasised that full road closure is anticipated only during surfacing of the central carriageway and that this element of the work is programmed to take place towards the end of September / early October and not during the summer months. Work on the footways will commence at the top of the Brae on the Castle Square side of the street, will progress towards Cawdor Street as far as Ladbrokes. They will then move across to the RBS side and continue back towards Gordon Street. During these works the High Street should remain open for traffic, albeit with a 10mph speed restriction for site safety. Signage on the A96 will emphasise the availability of free public parking in Nairn.
Both Councillors and Council officers present at the meeting stressed the fact that the timing of the High Street upgrade had been wholly dictated by conditions attaching to funding through the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund, which is contributing £800,000 to the project. The remainder of funds are provided by the Highland Council Planning and Development Service, which is managing the project.
David Brownless, Chair of the Association of Nairn Businesses, said: “I’m sure everyone will be relieved to hear that the High Street is not going to be closed to traffic for the vast majority of the time that the works are taking place. Obviously we realise that the road will have to be closed when the new road surface itself is being laid. With regard to the timing of the resurfacing though, it seems that the favoured option is to carry it out during a relatively short period at the end of the contract, in late September or early October. While still causing disruption, this would at least prevent the need for a series of regular road closures throughout the busy months of the summer.
“The stakeholder group have also received assurances that as much car parking as possible will be retained on the High Street during the works and we are encouraged by the allocation of funding which will see a campaign of marketing and promotional activities roll out as the streetscape works near completion.”
Work in Nairn High Street will commence on April 26th and will run for approximately 24 weeks.'
Our correspondent offers the following tongue in cheek suggestions for promotional activity:
1) Have a go on a steam hammer
2) Test how strong your cycle helmet is under falling masonry
3) Just how deaf are you, take part in our Nairn High Street talk sessions
4) Did you like the dust from volcanic Iceland, come and sample Nairn High Street dust
5) Rein act scenes from a spaghetti western in Nairn High Street this summer
6) Bob the Builder your child's favourite? Forget Sunflower Valley come to Nairn High Street
Well it is good to know that traffic will be allowed onto the High Street. It's going to happen folks and we'll live through it. Nairn will survive!

Tory Support for Nairn Swimming Pool

Tory candidate Jim Ferguson writes on his blog:

'I was saddened to hear that Highland Council were contemplating closure of Nairn Swimming Pool due to budget cuts.
It is a well run pool with a long history of serving the people of Nairn and I was saddened to see this news in the press.
Nairn swimming pool is a well loved, popular, social venue and brings great enjoyment to not only the people of the town, but the surrounding area too.
I learned to swim in Nairn Swimming pool and so did my children and I would be bitterly disappointed if it closed.'

Read more on Jim Ferguson's blog

New Cycle track in Auldearn

'Youngsters on right track master biking area’s learning curves', 'Auldearn group draw up plans and do some spadework to come up with area cyclists can bank on'

More on the Press & Journal site

Sunday, April 18, 2010

So where did Highland Council go so wrong with money?

A bewildered Gurnite has been reading the BBC website and sees that the Borders Council is actually investing money in the area's infrastructure. Our correspondent asks, 'where did Highland Council go so wrong with money?'

'Scottish Borders Council is to consider a spending review which could see £17m invested in projects across the region.
A new bus station in Galashiels, roads schemes and increased school capacity are included in the plans.
A meeting next week will consider the investment proposals which would take place over the next four years.
Council leader David Parker said the projects would "significantly boost" the Borders economy and have a major impact on services.
"The council's administration has carried out the most comprehensive review of our capital funding for some time," he said.'

Perhaps that isn't the whole story however, perhaps one or two swimming pools are to be closed to pay for the new investments? More details on the BBC's website.

Firhall Bridge and the Househill steps ramp proposals

At Tuesday's meeting of the River Community Council a copy of a letter from Ward Manager Louise Clark was circulated. The later states:

'The Access Panel considered the report on the Firhall Bridge and came to the conclusion that the suggested refurbishment to the bridge would not make it wholly accessible. There was also concern about the report stating the footbridge would be 'manageable with care' for wheelchair uses. They considered an alternative suggestion of ramps near the Househill steps which would give a circular route via the Jubilee Bridge. We are currently looking inot it but no decision has been made on either site at this point of time.'

You will remember that the Gurn did ask where users of the ramp would go once they'd made use of this facility proposed for the Househill steps. We outlined the potential difficulties in this article.

Now it seems this ramp would give a 'circular route via the Jubilee Bridge'. Presumably a footpath would be laid along the single track road (very busy at rat run times) to ensure safety for users of this circular route and then perhaps some kind of pedestrian crossing to allow users to cross the busy A939. Here's MSP Dave Stewart talking about existing dangers in this area almost 3 years ago. Much of what he says is still relevant today. One wonders again why Highland Council employees came up with the idea for a ramp at Househill.

Station Park Flashback to 1998

Amazing what's out there on the web.

'Nairn faces summer of disruption'

Sunday evening and back to the top for this article. Mainly for the thoughtful (as usual) comment from Spurtle.

Another Courier headline and quite frankly not one that is likely to encourage visitors to come to the town this summer. 'Temporary traffic lights will be in place', reports the Courier. There seems to be some mystery now as to how much traffic will be allowed up the High Street. The Gurn gathers that there was some irritation expressed with the Nairnshire telegraph (the paper reported that the High Street would be closed) at yesterdays 'suits and stakeholder' meeting to discuss the forthcoming 24 week operation to give the High Street a makeover. Perhaps everthing will become clearer once the work starts but whatever happens how many holiday makers will want to listen to pneumatic drills as part of their vacation?
The Gurn hears more people asking how, given the cuts and hard times, that there is a million pounds of funding to do up a high street that only received similar treatment 23 years ago. Councillors can explain different funding pots etc but any explanations will be lost on most folk that don't speak the language of local government. Many people would prefer to see the money spent elsewhere and just don't understand why that can't happen.
Any truth too in the rumours of a street party at the end of the Streetscape and 60K for shopkeepers to do up their frontages?

Keith 2 Nairn 0 - more pictures

More pictures now on the Gurn flickr pages.

Organised crime and whisky at Dulsie

Thanks to Irene for another of her research snippets that do so much to give us glimpses of Nairnshire's past. The above article is from March 1818. It sounds like quite a brutal encounter between the authorities and the smugglers and more reminiscent of a wild frontier area than the quiet peacful scenes we know today.

Stranger things have happened up at Dulsie however. Here's one small snippet from Richard Thomson's The Natural History of Highland Parish, a local residents approaches Drochaid an t-sithein (the fairy knoll bridge) on the way home:

'One dark night, we are told, a belated drover from a Cawdor market, happened to pass this way. On approaching the bridge, he was greatly astonished and frightened beyond measure, to observe rays of the most brilliant light beaming through rocky foundations, at numerous rents and cracks where the sharpest eyes in the country had never before been able to detect. '

Fortified wine, you make me feel fine

Murd is wondering if a new species of tree is to be found on the Riverside. Empty bottles of this product are not an unusual sight in Nairn but perhaps we have a unique sighting here.

Museums in the Highlands prepare their case against cuts

We've already heard how cuts in funding could mean the end of Nairn museum in Viewfield. Museums across the Highlands have developed a strategy to fight their corner. They plan a meeting in Inverness on the 26th of May, their blog states: 'It will be a high-profile meeting with a press-launch and will kick-off with a press photo-shoot; many influential stakeholders will be invited.'

As part of their strategy the HMIF recommends that members:

'Go to your ward forum meetings. There is a time for questions at the end of the meeting so have a question prepared and don’t be afraid to ask for a response. Remember you are fighting for your museum.
Invite everyone when you have an exhibition opening! Local councillors, Hugh Fraser, any one you feel will help your museum. Don’t take no for an answer.
Create a case study for your museum. Be brief and focused but detail the community value of your museum and quantify volunteer and board hours as well as any retail sales. This is your opportunity to sell your museum – pass a copy to us but also make sure local councillors see it.
Solicit letters of support from Schools, MSPs, MPs, MEPs, local councillors, community councils and local celebrities. Pass this information to us but again make sure it goes to your Councils
Ask local people to feed into the consultation process as they need to make their voices heard as well. The link to the Blog on the Council’s web page is here: '

Just another facet of the impact the cuts could potentially have on the cultural and social live of the Highlands. Anyone heading for the budget blog will be disappointed however. The Highland Council website proclaims: ' this will commence following the General Election on 6th May. Why the delay? Many people are worried about these cuts and wish to state their views, surely any off-topic party-political point scoring posts could simply be deleted?

You can find the Museums blog here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Highland League Cup Keith 2 Nairn 0

There wasn't much in it until the first goal. Keith march on in the cup and no one can accuse them of not playing for the shirt. Picture will enlarge. Match report available here.

Situation at tipping-point?

The potential of a 20K fine doesn't seem to be working very well as a deterrent along at least one back road close to the town.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pool Campaign: NDASC hope to speak at Ward Forum Meeting!

'Nairn Swimming Pool Closing - not if we have anything to do with it,' reads a post title on the Nairn District Amateur Swimming Clubs news webpage. They go on to state:

' To help our campaign please sign local petitions and please come along to the Ward Forum Meeting at 7pm in Nairn Court House on Wednesday 28th April. Wear your NDASC sweatshirts! It promises to be a busy meeting but our support will be recognised and we have requested the opportunity to speak to the meeting about the Club and the pool. Your support will be greatly appreciated. We would really like all swimmers and parents to come along.'

You can visit the NDASC website here. One wonders if the Courthouse will be able to accomodate everyone. Will a bigger venue be necessary as the protesters exercise their right to speak to the Ward Forum?

'Under threat pool has a tourism spin-off'

A letter from a Forres resident in support of the Save the Narin Swimming Pool campaign has appeared in the Inverness Courier. Read JR Moir's letter to the Courier here.

An effort at a splash of paint reveals:

The fine weather continued today, enough for one Gurnite to think about a splash of paint on an old garden bench. The seat in question came from the Fisherman's hall, but what the owner hadn't realised was that underneath was a list of names. 'Kenny's Mob' is one, and the other is for James Kemp (1954) with the scrawl '7 days time' and a skull and cross bones.

Does anyone know who these folk are, and why did they leave their names underneath a bench?

Kenny's Mob

David Spean
Tom Todd
Jim McKay
Gordon McCulloch
Thomas Dowdells
David Carrol
Ian Mitchell
Harry Mitchell
William McCabe
James McCabe
Bill Frances
Joe McLennon

All on the job

The Cuts: 'Nairn Sports Council could be on the brink of collapse'

In an article about cuts in funding to the Courier muses over the future for the Nairn Sports Council. Chairman George Verhaere is quoted in today's issue:
'If it carries on like this the whole thing will fold and we will not be able to provide any more funding for clubs or individual members. It's very serious.'

Ash spotters unable to reach consensus

Somebody joked yesterday that the Icelanders had already ruined the banking system and that now they were out to wreck world air travel. Last night a Gurn photographer joined a few others that were out volcanic ash-spotting. There was too much cloud around really but some thought that there were indeed more parts of the sky reflecting the sun than is normally to be seen at this time of year. Perhaps there will be another chance this evening.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nairn Swimming Pool - Letter from SNP candidate to constituents

This in from a Fishertown Gurnite, click on the picture to enlarge. Please confine any comments to the Swimming Pool issue and the Highland Council cuts in general please.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nairn Swimming Pool - Labour Candidate 'hugely concerned about the consultation process'

Mike Robb the Labour Party Candidate has blogged about the Nairn Swimming Pool situation. He writes: 

'Since the start of the week, the local news has been dominated by Highland Council’s proposed programme of cuts to local services, including the Nairn Swimming Pool. There is a Facebook campaign to save the pool here.

As I have no direct connection with Nairn, I’ll avoid the easy option of signing up for the campaign as if the Nairn pool is a facility I have used and loved. I do however, fully support what local community campaigners are trying to achieve.

The Labour party is making the case at this election for protecting front-line services whilst we secure the recovery. That’s not easy, but local services, and the jobs that depend on them, should not be paying the price for the excesses of the banking system. And if a much-used local swimming pool is not a front line service, I don’t know what is!

I am hugely concerned about the consultation process currently being undertaken by Highland Council. We face difficult financial times, but asking communities to compete with each other about what services should be cut and which should be saved is not how I think things should be done.

Earlier this week I visited Hilton Community Centre, in Inverness, who are also on the list of potential closures. Should they have to argue why they should be saved rather than Nairn’s pool? Setting community against community is no way to do things. It’s an invidious process.

Elected politicians are there to make the difficult decisions, not absolve themselves through a flawed process of consultation.'

Read the rest on Mike Robb's blog.

UPDATE: if you don't normally read comments on the Gurn, we'd recommend the one received so far on this article.

Nairn 3 Fort William 2

Read Kenny MacLeod's Match report here.

Co-op now says plans for Nairn to be revealed later this month

The Inverness Courier states:

'SUPERMARKET chain the Co-op will announce plans for its Nairn Store later this month. '

The Courier details that the Co-op halted the plans until the outcome of the Sainsbury's inquiry. The Courier goes on to say:

'...It continues to take time to consider, despite stating it would come to a conclusion last month.

"We anticipate being able to make an announcement by the end of April," said a Co-op spokeswoman.'