Friday, December 30, 2011

The gap narrows again - Nairn 2 Forres 1

The temperature was dropping fast and you could see the breath vapours rising from the long line of fans waiting to get into Station Park tonight. Another massive turn out for the other end of the two seasonal local derbies and perhaps a crowd of 500-600 again?
Fresh from their mauling at Mosset Park last week County showed that they could contain the Forres big boys and even make their way up to the other end of the park with flashes of their normal flair that was sadly absent last week. It was to be redemption day for the Wee County as Steve MacKay broke away and scored just before the half-time whistle. Steven Ellis knocked in the County's second at 70 minutes. Forres came back into it towards the end with former Nairn County star and local loon Willie Barron scoring in a moment like something out of a Roy of the Rovers Christmas fairy-tale special.

A good game, a good atmosphere, a good league this year, long may it continue with these two local sides dominating the HFL. It looked pretty desperate last week and even now Forres are five points out front with 2 games in hand but football is a funny game and a County side that were humiliated last week suddenly again look like a team that belong in second place.

Read local sports journalist Kenny MacLeod's report here.

Buzzing for "Festive Derbies Part 2: The Revenge"

Says one of the loons on twitter. Still raining now at 20 to 3. If it's still wet tonight then there won't be much room left in the Cowshed once the Forres hordes descend in search of three more points.

Here's hoping a different County team turn up. Que sera, sera...see youz there.

Opening of the River Nairn 2011 - video flashback

Thanks to Murray MacRae for this video capturing the events back in March on the Jubilee bridge as Laurie swings the bling once again and throws a dram away into the burn.

More videos available now on Gurntube.

Nairn's tattie riot

Today there are some varieties of potato that are more blight resistant than others but once again this summer many of Nairn’s amateur potato growers were hit by the sickening sight of potato blight on their crops in the gardens and allotments of the town. It is annoying, frustrating etc, but it doesn’t mean starvation or forced emigration as a result of having nothing to eat in the winter like it did in the past. In 1845 the Highland potato crop failed and the results were disastrous. For many in communities along the Moray Firth the fact that potatoes that had survived the onslaught of blight and other foodstuffs were being exported out of the Highlands was too much to accept and sometimes unrest broke out. Against this background Nairn’s wee tattie riot in February of 1846 was reported in the Nairnshire Mirror of Feb 7th 1846:

“It appears that disturbances of a serious nature have occurred within the last few days at Inverness. Occasioned by the loading of potatoes at that port for the London market, to protest which large numbers of inhabitants made on masse, and the civil authorities being put to defence by the rioters. It was found necessary to order a party of military from Fort George. The news of these proceedings in the northern capital seems to have excited disturbances of a smaller scale in this burgh. On Thursday evening a crowd, chiefly young lads and boys, collected and attacked several of the farmers who had been attending the corn market, while leaving town. One gentleman was pulled off his horse by the mob, and was deprived of his hat in the fray and another was assaulted in Leopold Street, when proceeding towards Inverness in his gig. Several stones were thrown at him, by one which a friend who accompanied him was cut on the head. They were obliged to return to town for protection. We believe the mob got up a sort of effigy, with which they paraded the streets for some time and showed a disposition to insult the authorities when they interfered, but in a few hours they dispersed and the town regained its usual quiet appearance. We understand the matter is undergoing judicial investigation by the authorities with a view to discovering the ringleaders in the affair. In the spring of 1796 – exactly 50 years ago similar tumults, similarly remembered as the corn riots took place simultaneously at Inverness and Nairn. The Nairnshire Volunteers, then embodied were called out here to suppress the riots and several persons from this place were tried at the circuit court and suffered three months imprisonment each, for the part they had played in the riot.”

It is interesting to see the “Big Society” reaction of the authorities as reported in the following issue of the Mirror on Feb 23rd (see the text here on a Gurn flickr page). If similar misfortunes were to befall us in the present day would seventy or so “respectable citizens” obey their summons and enrol to potentially protect society against the breakdown of the established order. This observer has heard it said that we only live three meals away from complete social collapse and it would only need the food lorries to stop coming up the A96 to bring that about. One thinks too of some of the economic worse-case scenarios being bandied about by some of the pundits on television and radio programmes. How would we get on if the hole in the wall machines stopped giving us cash? Would we be able to react responsibly as a civil society or would there be a need for “respectable citizens” to step forward and, perhaps, even take over the responsibility of the authorities. One might imagine that all Highland Council might be able to do for us would be to send an official to give us a power point presentation in the Courthouse. Would organisations like the Rotary, the Community Councils and other clubs and societies in the town come into their own should serious misfortunes befall us in the future?

There was also an amusing sequel to the riot that made it into the paper on the 21st March that year - text again here on a Gurn flickr page.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monday bins will be collected on Saturday

Thanks to Green Dad for tweeting the following info:

"Refuse collection and Kerbside Recycling
All bin collections will remain the same except Monday, January the 2nd which will be collected on Saturday, 31st December."

Remember - Get rid of your waste before you get wasted!

More on the Highland Council Christmas Waste Info page.

Community Councils, first up in 2012...

Will be the West CC. They have a meeting in the Community Centre on Wednesday the 4th at 7.30 p.m. The Westies will be talking about the Sandown Lands, Traffic Lights, Bus Routes and the Town Centre.
Obviously the West are not confining their discussions to their own patch and their advert also invites residents of any part of Nairn to attend. This observer would anticipate NICEafarian input on the subject of the Town Centre. It should be an interesting meeting.

River CC spreads the net

The Gurn understands from sources close to River Community Council that four citizens have applied to become "co-opted" councillors on the watchdog organisation. The applications are from residents in the Broadhill, Boathpark, the Lochloy and the Mill Road areas. Our sources tell us that River CC are keen to be seen by some as not simply a "Fishertown" operation and are out to obtain representation for the areas in their patch that have up to now not had members on the Council. One Fishertown rep on the Council last time, John Dolan, did not stand for election this time round although Andrew Purkis (also a Fishertown resident) was elected so four members are presently from the Fishertown - that's 50% of the total. With four more members however the Fishertown representation will be down to 33% of the total.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boozing and disturbance on the Khyber

The Gurn understands that boozers on the Khyber brae disturbed residents of Broadhill with shouting and breaking of bottles last night. It seems two police cars were dispatched and dealt with the disturbance. Local residents swept up a large quantity of glass in the morning.

It had been claimed at a River Community Council meeting recently that alcohol was being consumed on the Khyber after being purchased from a convenient nearby off-licence.

Oor Sandy and Graham hit the campaign trail?

Letters in the Nairnshire this week from the Convener and Cllr Marsden. Sandy has come out fighting, stating in reply to recent material in the paper that Nairn has had a good deal out of Highland Council over the last 16 years. Oor Graham has a suggestion on how citizens can cope with icy pavements.

Could both these gentlemen be starting their re-election campaigns already? Lots more in the Nairnshire this week including a "happiness" feature plus postcode delivery rip-offs. Also an in-depth analysis of the shattering defeat suffered by the Wee County at Mosset Park. Where was Santa? And the Highland Plan, reaction and analysis. The Nairnshire Telegraph, Christmas wouldn't be complete without it!

River Nairn Part 6

Here's another Video from fwcampbell52L2L's Youtube pages. We've previously posted the excellent videos made of Gordon's sawmil. You can find other videos of the River Nairn on his account here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Turkey Trot 2011

This year's Turkey Trot was the usual mega-fun event and had the good fortune to evade the squally showers that were present earlier in the morning.

Full Screen slideshow here.

UPDATE: More pictures on Flickr from HeatherD24

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nairnbairn breaks a self-imposed silence

Nairnbairn has sent the Gurn a Christmas message:

Dear Gurn

Now that the 2011 Carbuncle Award has been announced and the year draws to an end, it is time for Nairnbairn to break a self-imposed silence. This message is also being copied to Urban Realm, and to the Editor of the Nairnshire Telegraph.

So.... Linwood was presented with the 2011 ‘Plook’ award. Can Nairn celebrate a lucky escape?

It is very tempting to look at the pictures of the grey and crumbling wasteland at the centre of Linwood (or for that matter the concrete and tarmac that encircles Fort William) and take consolation from the thought that Nairn is much nicer than those places. So it is. But schadenfreude (delight in the misfortunes of others) is not a noble sentiment.

Did that stupid, sad, and foolish Nairnbairn get it all wrong? Well, perhaps not entirely.

The nomination was provocative and over-the-top. It was meant to be. As several commentators have (reluctantly) acknowledged, local residents have lived for so long with the consequences of bad planning and poor design that many had almost ceased to notice. At least the Carbuncle story stirred some reaction. Even indignation is better than apathy.

The public response also revealed a lot about local attitudes. Nairnbairn had deliberately chosen to use a pseudonym, in the hope that readers might concentrate on the views and the arguments put forward, and not on the personality, hair colour, bank balance, home address or family ancestry of the person writing. Having lit the blue touch-paper, Nairnbairn decided to remain silent, in the hope that the debate would focus on the issues, and not turn into a “shoot the messenger” campaign.

Sadly, with a few honourable exceptions, that hope was not fulfilled. It was predictable, but depressing, to observe how quickly local figures lined up, not to comment on the planning or architecture of the town, but to condemn Nairnbairn’s motives, to call for Nairnbairn to own up, to explain and defend the nomination, to “have the courage of his/her convictions” – indeed to be run out of town or worse. Was Nairnbairn a crank, a fool, a malign public enemy, a prejudiced resident or (worst of all!) an upstart outsider? Some felt no inhibitions about launching forth anyway. Nairnbairn was “a snob”, said a local editorial. Councillors rushed to condemn: Nairnbairn was “a sad individual”, “unhelpful and thoughtless”,and “unfair”. Online critics – perhaps not realising the hypocrisy of their own anonymity – joined in: Nairnbairn was a devious developer, a self-appointed arbiter of taste, a coward, a loser. Bring back the stocks! Let’s have some witch-burning! Welcome to medieval Nairn!

Such reactions to the Nairnbairn nomination turned out in fact to be the clearest evidence, and strongest justification, for its author’s choice to remain anonymous. Even after the award was announced, the chorus continued. The town’s elected councillors, so quick to condemn and criticise, and so keen to claim credit for the efforts they say they have made, should perhaps remember the cautionary warning: Qui s’excuse, s’accuse.

Others both locally and in online comment, were more perceptive, agreeing that there was a basis for Nairnbairn’s nomination. Some endorsed it. Many recognised that it reflected a deep affection for Nairn, a disappointment at some of the past planning decisions and failures, and a desire to see successful and attractive regeneration and development. In his review of Nairn for ‘Urban Realm’, Mark Chalmers the architect and journalist offered a balanced and accurate description of the character and qualities of the town, and rightly concluded that a Carbuncle award would be unjustified.

The nomination did however make people look around the town, and think about its appearance. If this episode has underlined that the residents of Nairn need to appreciate and to look after what they have, then it will not have been in vain. If the energy that was put into condemning Nairnbairn, and the pride that led people to defend the town, can be devoted to improving it, then some good may yet result. The nomination was indeed, as one resident put it, “a rallying call”. As the thoughtful editorial in the 20 December ‘Nairnshire Telegraph’ points out, there are some disturbing parallels between Linwood and Nairn. For Nairn to develop successfully, people need to think about what they want the town to become, and to engage with an open mind in discussion of future plans. The worst reaction of all to the Carbuncle Award decision would be an outburst of “I told you so” gloating, cries of “Nairnbairn got it wrong”, and a reversion to complacency and apathy.

Nairnbairn will continue to express opinion and comment where and when circumstances warrant it; and will hope that future contributions – like this one – will be accepted in the spirit in which they are offered: free, well-intentioned and honest debate about what is best for the town.

At this festive season and on the threshold of a new year, goodwill to all men (and women). To those who were offended by Nairnbairn’s Carbuncle nomination, sympathy – but no apology. To those who acknowledged its purpose and understood its point, thanks.


And thank you Nairnbairn but not for the nomination. Merry Christmas to you too. And that was this observer thinking the Gurn was going to be low-key for a day or two :-)

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year when it comes

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr nuair a thig i.

Best wishes to all Gurnites over this holiday period. Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading the Gurn over the past year. The Gurn will be going into low-key mode for a day or two now but if you have any thoughts on the past year or the one coming up please head for the keyboard if you get a quiet moment and share them with Gurnshire. Thanks everyone for your support and contributions over the course of the year:-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Forres 4 Nairn 0

Christmas came early for the Can-Cans as they trashed the County 4-0. The Nairn element of the massive crowd were all but gone already as the final whistle blew to end a miserable outing for the faithful along the A96 to the league leaders fortress. The second part of the Christmas double header is yet to come but with Forres now 8 points clear of us at the top of the league it suddenly becomes a lot harder. Match report here.
Part 2 of the proceedings is on the 30th at Station Park.

Here's some pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson

NICE moves towards development trust status and seeks 1000 members

The NICEafarians met on Monday night. They had an EGM which enabled them to pass a couple of resolutions that should help them move forward as a "Community Body" should the OSCR (the Office of the Scottish Charities Register) give their approval. A minute of their meeting states:

"Michael Barnett said that the immediate next steps included finalising the proposed new Articles of the Company, their informal submission to OSCR for approval, a membership drive (the target of 1000 had been suggested during the meeting), initial work on a business plan and funding requirements, and engagement with parties such as Highland Council, Local Councillors, and Community Councils. Once progress had been made on these and other matters, it would be necessary to call a further Extraordinary General Meeting at which the proposed new Articles would have to be voted on, which would involve a Special Resolution requiring a 75% vote in favour."

Obviously as the minute quoted above states, NICE has a lot of work to do but it will be interesting to see what happens as we draw near the Highland Council elections in May. If NICE has a successful membership drive and the town's three community councils reaffirm their support then it will be interesting to see if all sitting councillors and any candidates endorse the NICE business plan should it be ready by then. More information on the NICE website.


A message to the world appears on the disused toilets at the riverside. Graffiti was one of the subjects mentioned at the River Community Council meeting last week and the local watchdogs and members of the public present were wanting Highland Council to act and to act quickly.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Serious Christmas reading material for students of local planning matters...

The APT blog points out that the "The Highland Council has received the Report of Examination for the Highland wide Local Development Plan from the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals."

It's 610 pages long, this observer has had a wee browse and thinks that Nairn objectors to many aspects of the plan will not be very pleased at all with the report. Time and the economy over the next few decades will have the final say but it looks as though major expansion of Nairn will go ahead if willing developers can be found. We were consulted, now others have taken our views into account and have decided. There will be some changes however, all recommendations in the report are binding on the Council it seems.

One crucial argument, that there should be a bypass before there is any more development, seems to have failed to make an impact. Here's three points lifted from page 607 of the report:

"15. It thus appears to be generally accepted that there should be a Nairn by-pass. I note that paragraph 14.3 of the proposed plan says that the Council will continue to lobby for the by-pass. I find that this is as much as may reasonably be expected in the plan in relation to securing the bypass.

16. Regarding lack of road capacity, present levels of congestion, noise and pollution may well be, at the least, unpleasant for residents and visitors, but evidence does not demonstrate that they are of such magnitude as to justify a prohibition on new development.

17. Regarding safety, evidence does not show that accident rates in Nairn are especially high in relation to rates in other towns of similar character."

Plenty more where that came from, anyone with the time for a deeper look into matters from this report might want to try the following pages (they give the council's summary, the objections and the Reporters' recommendations): The Document is here

Lochloy p85, Sandown p88, Delnies p94, Nairn South p107 - A section on Nairn in general commences at p610. Printers and Christmas wrapping paper ready?

Anyone wishing to have a wee gurn might want to comment over at the APT blog perhaps?

Could the Wee County's Friday night appointment go ahead?

Nairn have back to back games with Forres over the Christmas holiday period. These games are crucial. Forres are top of the Highland League and Nairn are second but five points behind them. With six points to be had between the two games there is everything to play for. Worries persist about the state of Mosset Park however:

"The main concern will be any rainfall and the snow melting because there are areas of the park that I believe are very soft but, hopefully, the guys can get on the park when the snow clears and begin to prepare it for Friday," said Can-Cans manager Charlie Rowley to the Forres Gazette. More here.

The kick-off is at 20.00 tomorrow night at Mosset Park.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rivers Findhorn, Nairn, Lossie news

Information on the threats to our local rivers and reports on this season's catches in the Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fisheries Trust newsletter.
The threats from Invasive species, plants and diseases are many but there's news of a fightback on the Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed front. The crayfish seem to be thriving in the Geddes burn unfortunately:
"Members of the angling association trapped 400 crayfish in the Geddes Burn this season, compared to 173 last season."

All the information on efforts to maintain the health of the local rivers here.

Happy Solstice

At mid-day today we wil once again be on our way back :-)

Thanks for the regular gurnite who provides us with the tip of typing "let it snow" into Google - very interesting! And here's a free Christmas Giveaway from the Gurn - the Gurnshire Times Christmas week edition is now out.

Moray Council vote 14-10 for a "Moray and Nairn" constituency

"Moray Council will ask commissioners planning new parliamentary boundaries to name a planned extended constituency as Moray and Nairn."
More on the STV website. How do Gurnites feel about the proposal? Poll in the side-bar.

Civic Pride missing in Nairn?

This week the Nairnshire Telegraph turns once again to analysis of Nairnbairn's Carbuncular activities and the prize of infamy that Nairn had, it seems, no real chance of winning. There's a two page spread with comment from many of the usual suspects and some unusual ones (pages4&5). Again a hard-hitting editorial with a few more broadsides in the direction of the Bairn.

"Nairn is not perfect but to erect its defects into a case for Nairn being the most dismal town in Scotland was potentially highly destructive."

Plenty more where that came from and if you have 45p you too can have a browse. Continuing though, Iain Bain states something that makes this observer wonder if perhaps he has gone slightly off-beam towards the end of the editorial.

"One thing is certain. Nairn badly needs to develop its sense of civic pride. This has been missing for generations and it is not helped by our remote local authority." The editorial must be read in full context however, Iain goes on to make comment on the town centre and those involved in "squabbling".

If Iain is suggesting that Civic Pride is missing at the top tier (i.e. those that go through to Glenurquhart Road on our behalf to make decisions along with the other 76 Highland councillors) then this observer would contend that it isn't amongst the ordinary punters. Thousands of people in Nairn take a great pride in their community and the fact that they live in a place that is so attractive and contains a sense of community, something that has eroded considerable elsewhere. Yes we are ruled by an Inverness organisation that often refers to us as "Ward 19" and it could even be suggested that it maybe suits the centralist philosophy of Highland Council to let the identities of the periphery fade away but Nairnshire still exists and so does the title "Royal Burgh of Nairn" if we chose to use it - other communities in Scotland are not shy in continuing to do so.

Our civic pride has manifested itself time and time again over the years at meetings (the most recent being the massive protest events held by NICE) and there are many in the community willing to put their hands to the wheel in attempts to defend and improve the town and environs. The civic pride is there, is it simply the case that the community needs better leadership?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Valuable community land at Tradespark

The Nairnshire Mirror article above of November 18th 1848 has a familiar ring to it. Unlike Sandown, which went out under a single lease, it looks like Tradespark had been subdivided up into smallholdings by the Nairn Friendly Society of Trades under a 95 year lease in 1766. Maybe that's what we should do with Sandown today, some small holdings perhaps, and some for the Trades, that is to say local tradesman and companies who could all build a few houses each instead of one large scheme?

Sorry for the poor quality of the image, it is in fact a digital image taken with a camera of how the microfilm shows up on a PC screen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Moray wants Nairn?

Thanks to the regular gurnite who sent us a link to a very interesting nugget or two of information. "Will Nairn voters have their ballot papers counted in Elgin?" Asks our correspondent.
There's a Moray Council meeting tomorrow (Tues 20th Dec) and on the agenda are the proposed options for boundary changes to Westminster Constituencies. Here's what a report recommends to the full council:

"It is welcomed that the whole Moray local authority area is wholly contained within one constituency. However it is suggested that the resurrection of a Moray and Nairn constituency may be more beneficial in the interests of the electorate who may share commonality in local issues faced along the coast and A96 corridor. In addition the suggestion of a Moray and Nairn constituency would pose less risk to the elections administration process by lessening the geographical and logistical impact."

More here. What next, will we be wooed to go in with Moray Council at local government too? A promise perhaps of more freedom with the housekeeping money - including the Common Good? What a thought, would we be better off dumping Inverness for Elgin? In the sidebar the Gurn is running a poll on the Westminster options. Last night it was running approx 5 to 1 in favour of Moray but during the daytime hours a lot of votes came in the other way, now it is climbing back towards evens.

Do any Supermarkets trading in Scotland offer this type of information?

This observer was in Ireland in September saw the above sign displayed in a branch of the SuperValu chain. Have any Gurnites ever seen similar information in a supermarket in Scotland giving information on the amount of goods either produced or sourced (or both) in Scotland that were being sold in that supermarket? Given the extensive use of IT in the supply chain surely it wouldn't be too difficult for supermarkets to get that information off their databases?

Oor Graham's Venison campaign (see post below) and comments about the source of supermarket food got me round to thinking about that image. Perhaps there is a marketing trick or two for some of our High Street folk. Maybe, for instance, our butchers in Nairn could proudly display that all the meat they have is sourced in Scotland?

Graham's campaign for real venison in Sainsbury's Nairn

Oor Graham (aka Cllr Marsden) tells the Gurn that he has been campaigning to get "real venison" on the shelves at Sainsbury's. He added that sales of venison are important to jobs in the Highlands and also to the Scottish economy. So far he has tried to push his point via both the local manager and the national feedback department at the supermarket but wonders if Gurnshire could put a little pressure on too?
Graham says that processed venison and burgers are available but not "real venison". C'mon Sainsbury's let's have some for those that want it. This autumn this observer was in Ireland and remembers one supermarket chain "Supavalu" that showed charts of how many products produced in Ireland they sold as a percentage of their total sales. Maybe supermarkets trading in Scotland could start doing the same?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What will the SNP government do to restore democracy at the local level in Scotland?

Gurnites please note, it has been a bit of a busy weekend on the Gurn so scroll down after this article to see the latest.

Those Gurnites who have attended some of the meetings held by the usual suspects this year (that is to say the Community Council forum and NICE etc) will have heard the word "Localism" mentioned a few times and the belief expressed that the wind of change is blowing through Holyrood, meaning that communities like Nairn might soon have more chance of having a greater say in the decisions made that affect their areas. The set-up at Nairn hospital where Health and Social services are working together has been cited as a test-bed for the rest of Scotland and it has been further suggested that Nairn could do a lot more in localism experimentation and thus show the rest of the country the way. Hopefully Holyrood will give us that chance.

The Gurn has mentioned Common Good campaigner Andy Wightman before, he wrote recently:
"Arguments for greater devolution or indeed outright independence reflect an extension of the idea that power should reside as close as possible to the people and that decisions that can be made locally, should be. However, at the same time as Scotland is on a journey to greater autonomy as a nation, the opposite is happening at the local level."

At the national level in Scotland we are doing very well, Holyrood has the sort of powers that members of the Breton regional government can only dream of at present but at the local level the drift has been to more and more centralisation. That is a philosophy that the administration members of the Highland Council that represent Nairn have subscribed to. Everything we have lost in the last five years has gone on their watch.

Wightman also states: "The lack of any real local governance represents not simply a democratic deficit but a problem of practical politics. Scotland is replete with a wide variety of definitions of community for a whole host of different purposes. Community Council areas may be the closest we come to a geography of community but coverage is patchy, boundaries unclear and powers non-existent." More from Andy Wightman's' article here.

We know what the Scottish Government aspires to do for us at national level but what do they intend to do for communities at the micro level? At the end of this term of Government could it just be possible that Nairn would have restored the power to decide who gets social housing within the boundaries of the County; to organise it's own grass-cutting and grounds maintenance; to decide planning matters within the County too? Will we get back control of the Common Good fund from Highland Council as well? It'll be interesting to see what initiatives the Scottish Government come up with at this level.

Gurn Polls

Above a pie-chart of the Gurn poll based on what an Independent Scotland should do in regards to the Eurozone. Click on it to enlarge. Given the recent Eurosceptic fashion it is surprising that around 39% would be in favour of Scotland joining the Euro. The Euro poll is closed but there are another two Gurn polls in the sidebar now.

A few pictures from a Sunday morning stroll in snowy Nairn

Individual pictures of a walk in the snowy landscapes of Nairn. Slideshow here.

What Westminster Constituency should Nairn be part of?

As we pointed out on the Gurn, the boundaries of Westminster Constituencies are going to be changed again. One of our regular readers sent this in: “I just wonder how many folk in Nairn are aware of the consultation, or the 4 Jan deadline - indeed I'd be curious to know which way local opinion leans on this topic. Would we be better off represented by an MP/MSP for Inverness and Skye? Or would joining up with Moray give us an MP/MSP better-placed to promote/protect Nairn's interests?”

The way things stand at the moment it looks like we will be thrown in with the Inverness and Skye constituency (no mention of Nairn). See the map of proposals here:

It’s also up for debate at Highland Council and one of the options they are considering is that Nairn should go to Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey go to Inverness and Skye.

So the question for us to consider perhaps, is would we be better represented by an MP based in Moray or someone who also had Inverness and Skye to consider? Do we have more in common with Moray than we do with Inverness and Skye?

If any Gurnites have any strong feelings on the matter they can make a submission themselves to the boundary commission. The Gurn is also running a poll in the sidebar on this question.

NICE and quiet for Christmas

The NICE website has gone quiet again. Perhaps it’s all over again for 2011 for this organisation or perhaps something of significance has been going on in the background but no information recently on their digital outlet.

Secondary Economic Activity: Gordon's Sawmill, Nairn Part 2

Here's the second video of this series that someone has posted online. The first three minutes seem to be a repeat of Part 1 but, once again, a very interesting insight into what happens at the sawmill.

Saturday night snow

Snow fell in Nairn late on Saturday night. Fun for the revellers travelling between pubs as snowballs flew but for drivers the conditions were treacherous . In some parts of the town the snow fell on black ice that had formed the previous morning. Even the A96 was dangerous with many drivers proceeding at a crawling pace.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Danny Alexander's Christmas card faux-pas - "Danny's choice was really awful," says Liz

Danny's Christmas card just shows how much he doesn't really understand Nairn. You've probably heard of Danny's card which makes reference to Harriet Harman's "Ginger Rodent" gibe. A nice touch perhaps but there is something else about that card that demonstrates how out of touch he really is with what goes on in our community.
Gurnites will remember that much supported organisation Crossroads care , an organisation that has done sterling work here in Nairn and across the Highlands and they have a remarkable fund-raising footprint in our community, lost their care contract with Highland Council under controversial circumstances. The contract was given to the organisation from the central belt Carr Gomm. The community is still backing Crossroads however, not only here but across the Highlands. The support Crossroads enjoys was reflected recently in Sainsbury's decision to select Crossroads as their local charity partner.

Incredibly Danny Alexander's Christmas card raises funds for Carr Gomm. There is a large article in the Press and Journal today. Liz is quoted:

"Danny's choice of charity is insensitive. With the problems we've got in Nairn, of Carr Gomm not being able to fulfil the remit of the contract and Crossroads having to pick up the slack, his choice was really awful." More from Liz in the P&J and excuses from Danny plus comment from Carr Gomm.

Danny you are a plonker!

UPDATE: not everyone bothers to read the comments on articles. There are a few in now and this observer would recommend a look at the thoughts of "Well Red."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Breeding Gaelic speakers in captivity

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Time for the Nairn Doggie Jobbie lotto?

"Officials in New Taipei City say that more than 4,000 people have collected 14,500 bags of excrement. For each bag they turned in, they were given a lottery ticket." It worked in Taiwan, perhaps it might go down well in Nairn too.

Worst case scenario - what could we do in Nairn to mitigate circumstances?

The media is not full of Christmas cheer at the moment:
"IMF head Christine Lagarde has said the world economic outlook is "gloomy" and no country is immune from rising risks.She said all nations, starting with Europe, needed to head off a crisis with risks of a global depression.
"There is no economy in the world immune from the crisis that we not only see unfolding but escalating," she said.
"It is going to be hopefully resolved by all countries, all regions actually taking action." More from the French wifie on the BBC site.

If the proverbial has to hit the fan, then hopefully it can be postponed until at least after Christmas. The Highlands and Nairn will not escape it if it happens but what steps could we take to look out for each other if the worst case scenario came to be? How could we maximise what would be left of Nairn's economic potential? Are there ways we could ensure that money spent in Nairn continues to revolve around the local economy?

This observer thinks a weekly street market might help with stalls only for residents of Nairnshire that make or grow things within the County boundaries. Obviously the more you could support local businesses the better. Maybe local supermarkets could be persuaded to take more local produce or even tell us what they would like to see grown locally? Would a local currency be of some use in promoting trade amongst ourselves? Here's the Stroud Pound site, an example of a succesful local currency. Is it time we had a Credit Union in Nairn to finance people with the small scale loans that banks are not interested in? They have one in Forres. Could we create some community businesses to employ people? Even if that work were only on a voluntary basis at least it would have a constructive effect.

Events of recent years have demonstrated that we cannot rely on an "Invercentric" local authority to take the lead for us. The interests of Highland Council do not always dovetail with the interests of our community. If we are to mitigate the effects of the gathering economic storm then we have to rely on each other. We are lucky that we have many active groups in the town that have a history of working together for the benefit of the community. We have three active community councils in Nairn and more in the County that could, perhaps, initiate projects that might harness the expertise in our community for the benefit of all. Perhaps they could do it individually or together through the Royal Burgh Community Council Forum. Then there's NICE, could that group now really rise to the occasion and become a force for the "Common Good", that could utilise assets the town owns to create wealth and employment for the community? We really are all in this together. Can we be daring enough to swim against the current and make Nairn an even stronger community? Do any Gurnites have thoughts on how we might endure what possibly/probably is before us?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Thanks to Murray MacRae for forwarding this poem from his cousin John Findlater who used to live in Queenspark but now bides in Forres. John is in his seventies now and most of the older generation will know him says Murray.


Well I remember a long, time ago,
When horses and carts were aye on the go,
Your door was aye open, your key on the shelf
For nobody thought about helping their self,
When bairns played out late and nobody cared,
There wasnt a reason for them to be scared.

Then in the summer, the auld Glasgow fair,
The same folk kept coming, aye looking for mair,
Mair chance of the sun, two weeks on the beach,
Coming from Glasgow, we were easy to reach,
We had two picture houses, and the old public hall,
When a dance every Friday, was open to all.

Now sad to say, those good days are gone,
But thanks to good health, the memories live on,
Although you may think I'm not talking about Nairn,
Thats just how it was, when I was a bairn.

John Findlater

Inverness revolt on Common Good brewing?

Something perhaps for our own students of Common Good matters. The Gurn understands that some of our own usual suspects who have taken an interest in Nairn Common Good affairs were at the meeting in Inverness where campaigner Andy Wightman was guest speaker. The Stushie centres around the route of the proposed by-pass that Highland Council hope to build. The BBC reports:

"Community land rights campaigner Andy Wightman said the Inverness Common Good Fund would be due compensation if the land was built on.
Now West Link Protest Group and Inverness Civic Trust have challenged Highland Council on the matter. In a joint statement, they said:
"The council's rejection of the claim is based upon misunderstanding of the legal basis of common good in Scotland and assumes that as their name is on the title that they are the owners, which they are not." More on the BBC site.

Gurnshire less Eurosceptic?

The poll in the side-bar is presently showing that 37% of Gurnites who have voted would favour Scotland joining the Eurozone. That's not bad when you consider the Eurozone might not be around, in the form we know it today, for much longer. Robert Peston on the BBC site perhaps explains it in a way that ordinary punters can understand. The difficulties seem insurmountable. Perhaps an independent Scotland would one day seek to join what's left of the Eurozone at some time in the future should the seemingly inevitable happen in the meantime?

Linwood wins Carbuncle Award

Nairn just wasn't in it at all. "Poor Linwood - but it does seem much more deserving," said our regular reader who forwarded us the Link. Carbuncle alert over then, argument over, now it's time to get on Highland Council's back again to get them moving on demolishing the old community centre etc? Or will it just all be more talk all the way to the elections in May?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Broadhill Grit Bin

The Gurn understands that this grit bin was obtained for Broadhill by the combined forces of River Community Council and Liz MacDonald.

Another job for the Green Polis?

Maybe the heat could be off Donald for a day or two? "Russian aircraft carrier 'fly tipping' in Moray Firth"

Want to learn Gaelic in 2012?

Fòram na Gàidhlig, the online learners' community are starting a new international web-based initiative in 2012.

"The Gaelic 2012 initiative will be launched on 1 January 2012.

We want to bring together a group of people who have decided to make learning Gaelic their New Year's Resolution for 2012. It is a well-known fact that collaborative language learning is more effective than doing it on your own. So, we will be making coordinated use of existing Gaelic learning websites and online forums to make learning Gaelic in 2012 as easy as possible."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The easy way to deal with doggie jobbies - a red tartan Poo-Ch

You can see below that once again (two posts below) that dog turds have been discussed at Community Council level. If you are a responsible dog owner that picks up your pet's turds then there is now a product that you can buy to save you the bother of carrying that plastic bag too far. What's more it's a local product too: "The discreet way to carry doggy pooh on the move."
Even if you are not a responsible owner, this could be your chance to redeem yourself and look stylish at the same time.

River CC vote against houses on land next to the Vets on St Ninian Road

Tonight River CC voted 7-1 to support local residents who have objected to a proposal to build two houses on land next to the present Veterinary Clinic in St Ninian road. Here's the application on the Highland Council e-planning site.

Turds, broken bottles and graffiti

River CC discussed the dog poo situation this evening and Sheila Mayer reported that the Prom once again is becoming a winter brown strip. It was a conversation that has been had in previous years and other CCs in Nairn discuss this subject with depressing regularity too. Present also were Liz and Graham for the Highland Council and Louise Clark too who was the official responsible for getting this first meeting of River CC underway up to the point where the new chair was elected. Louise told the meeting the council was aware of the problem and had made efforts to clean it up. It was also reported that the dog warden was also taking action. Graham Marsden told the Gurn that he was going away to find out if Highland Council could up the dog-fouling fine from its present £50. The serial offenders obviously feel that the slight risk of suffering a fifty note hit to the pocket is well worth the risk.
There were also calls for action on broken bottles in the children's play area on the links and also on graffiti that has been appearing up the Riverside.

All Change at River CC

Jeanne Tolmie bowed out after almost 35 years as Chair of River CC tonight. She heads for the back benches. Tommy Hogg is the newcomer in the hot seat. Stephanie Whittaker is the new Secretary and Ian Gordon was returned as Treasurer.

Power cut closes Rosebank

"PUPILS from Rosebank Primary school in Nairn were sent home today after stormy weather meant the school’s electricity was cut off." More on the Highland News site.

Riverside Christmas Spirit Update

Monday, December 12, 2011

Donald Wilson's blue bin gurn

This in from local resident Donald Wilson:

Local council operatives flexing their muscle today. Refused to uplift my binful of plastics, tins cardboard etc. Put a sticker on my blue bin for an offending couple of plastic supermarket bags I had placed at the top of the load containing piles of other plastic and cardboard material. For 'contaminating' the load with two plastic supermarket size bags my penalty is now it won't be emptied until December 31. Now that's clever. What the h*** do you do with accumulative waste over Christmas.

By the way - I was considering being a good citizen and taking a shovel to clear the mess of debris including food waste in the car park behind Barron House once rented by the council. If we wait long enough the rats are going to move in and it'll cost the council a lot more to clean that little lot up. I'll leave them to it! No doubt they will argue it's private property and run up a legal bill costing the taxpayer hundreds to get it cleaned up.

Little wonder people shake their heads at the jobsworths running the country. I know everyone is subject to the same rules. But a simple sticker reminding me about my responsibilities re plastic bags would have sufficed. So much for the season of goodwill.

Donald Wilson

Nairn West beach erosion

Another week another couple of feet towards the Links.

Mike Robb wants Devolution Max

Remember Mike Robb? He was the Labour candidate against Danny at the last Westminster election. Who knows, perhaps he'll get another run out soon if the coalition continues to go the way it is going? Anyway, at a time when the latest polls are showing the SNP even further ahead in the polls than they were in May the Labour mannie gets his head round the fact that they were given a bloody nose by the SNP:

"The SNP out spent, out organised and out campaigned us, and continue to do so. To deal with that, we need to do way more than just re-organise the constituency party deck chairs. We need a policy programme that enthuses people in Scotland about what Labour will do for them."

Just what could Labour do for Scotland? Perhaps someone has ideas on that, this observer is at a bit of a loss to come up with something. Anyway Mike even contemplates an Independent Scotland:
"Whether we like it or not, we are heading towards an independence referendum. We need to work out what we want to achieve from that. Are we just about winning a majority “no” vote, or are we brave enough to use the coming debate to make the case for our own vision of a confident and self reliant 21st century Scotland? Do we think devolution has gone far enough or do we want to make a Labour case for more? If Scotland votes for independence, what will people want an Independent Scottish Labour Party to do for them?"

Mike shows us clearly where he is heading however and his thoughts just demonstrate how far Scottish politics have shifted now. If you want the support of the Scottish electorate then is it all about how close you place yourself to SNP policy in order to achieve that? Mike will obviously be needing a third option on the referendum ballot paper:

"Personally, I think we should be arguing the case for “devolution max” with left of centre policies that work in a Scottish context and are based on much more control of the economic levers. We need to recognise the strengths of being part of the UK, but not be afraid to argue for distinctive, Scottish politics. Politics that the rest of the UK might look at and say “can we have some of that too please" "

A worrying case

John Angus was staying at a hostel in Nairn. He was banned from travelling without permission of the police but he did so and committed a sexual offence in Aberdeen. Too dangerous to travel but OK to live in our community?
According to the BBC: "He can only be freed if a parole board decides he is no longer a danger and he would then be supervised for the rest of his life."

The Inverness Courier also provides some information:"Angus had been living in a flat in Inverness but just before the trip to Aberdeen he had been moved by social workers "for his own protection" to a hostel in Nairn after word got around that he was a paedophile." More on the Courier site.

Andy Wightman Common Good Campaigner heading for Inverness on by-pass issue

"Give the folk of Inverness their land back. Let them have their say in a referendum," tweets Andy Wightman. Andy is the author of "The Poor had no Lawyers" a book incidently, that was recommended to this observer by none other than our very own usual suspect, Alistair Noble. (The Poor Had No Lawyers provides a fascinating and in depth account of how Scotland's vast commons were converted into private ownership through a variety of legal devices.)

Andy has also blogged:
"Highland Council are proposing to build a new road – the West Link– to provide a southern bypass for Inverness and allow traffic travelling from the A82 to the A9 and vice-versa to avoid the town centre. I have no view on the merits or otherwise of the proposal or any of the particular options. I do, however, have a view on the fact that Highland Council are in a state of denial that part of the land required for the new road belongs to the Common good Fund of the Royal Burgh of Inverness. This does not, of itself, prevent a road being built but it may require the Council to seek the approval of the courts and would certainly entitle the Common Good Fund to be receive a capital sum by way of compensation. The story has unfolded in an interesting fashion..." More on Andy Wightman's blog.

The man himself will be in Innverness tomorrow night he states:
I will be giving a public lecture in Inverness on Tuesday 13 December at 7pm at Royal Highland Hotel. Tickets £5 on the door

Veto no threat to coalition says Danny

"The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has said the EU veto does not threaten the coalition, defending the Conservatives' and Liberal Democrats' right to disagree over David Cameron's decision to block a new EU agreement."

So reports the Guardian. This observer suspects that the coalition falling to pieces would be the end of Danny's career as an MP. Surely, his prospects of retaining Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, should there be a snap general election, would be fairly slim at the moment.

CC bother in Ardersier

This observer knows that things can get heated at Community Council meetings sometimes in Nairn and that there have been one or two incidents that have hit the headlines in recent years but events concerning Ardersier Community Council seem to put the occasional problems here into the shade:

"THREATS have been made to a community councillor to stand down or face the consequences.Sandy Devidge went ahead and successfully sought re-election as chairman of Ardersier and Petty Community Council this week, despite the anonymous letter threatening to expose alleged illegal activities, claims he insists are nonsense."

Community Councils may be the lowest tier of government in Scotland but the passions generated around them can obviously be just as fiery as those coming from more exalted chambers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

St Ninian 0 Winter 1

Trees trouble for bus station plan

The Highland Council forestry officer has made a visit to the Bus Station site and his findings and observations may be a big blow to the developer's hopes. Here's a couple of extracts:

"Section 3.1.7. of the Design And Supporting Statement suggests that retaining the neighbouring building to the North West and wall to North East would allow sufficient separation between the new building and the trees so that it will not affect the longevity of the trees. As I already mentioned, there is unlikely to be any impact on tree roots as these are not likely to have grown under the foundations of the wall. However, the proposal brings the flats too close to the existing mature trees so that the shading would affect the amenity of the people living in the flats and there is likely to be subsequent pressure to have these trees removed as a result."

"While it would obviously be welcome to see the old bus depot being redeveloped, I have concerns that the scale and residential nature of the development would result in pressure to have adjacent trees removed. I am therefore not in a position to support the current proposals."

Read the tree officer's report here (scroll down the documents to "Consultation 06 Dec").

Friday, December 09, 2011

Nairn High Street - Match the shop to the image

RG IV12 has a flickr page full of pictures of Nairn shops. Can you match pictures with shop names?

Nice work RG! Gurnites can see the pictures individually here. And if you have a flickr account you can leave comments there.