Monday, February 28, 2011

Nairnshire Telegraph review - The Single Council for Nairn edition - Iain Bain makes comparison between Highland Council and Gadaffi.

A front page spread, two lengthy letters and an editorial on the issue of the Single Council for Nairn, this week's Nairnshire is a must. The Gurn is obviously not alone in thinking that the machinery of Highland Council is out to deny the residents of Nairn the chance of having a Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council to fight for us instead of three community councils covering very odd and inconsistent parts of the town and thus preventing Nairn from having a united voice. The Highland Council contend that there is "no evidence of strong community support for change" in Nairn for a single council, a position that goes against any past soundings of public opinion.

Iain Bain in this week's edition compares the attitude of Highland Council with that of the Libyan Dictator:

"This is political practice more like Col Gaddafi's than anything we are used to in the Highlands and it really is quite unworthy."

Why won't our councillors let the people decide - does divide and rule suit them? Read all about it in the Nairnshire. If you care about the future of Nairn then this week's local paper is essential reading. Find out about what is going down on this issue.

After Inverness, Nairn is the second biggest built up area in the Highlands and it needs more say in its own affairs. Time for a revolution against Inverness rule?


Full range of anti-seagull devices in use

Thanks to Jingle Bangles for this example of the full range in use.

Stopping the turds in a "friendly non-confrontational way"

Highland Council want you for their friendly, volunteer stop the turds army.

"Green Dog Walkers is a non confrontational friendly way of changing people’s attitudes towards dog fouling in public places and encourages responsible dog ownership. Volunteers from community groups will wear a Green Dog Walkers (GDW) wristband which signifies that they have 'Taken the Pledge' to always clean up after their dog; to carry extra dog bags and be happy to be approached to 'lend' a doggie bag to those without; and to be a friendly reminder to other dog walkers to clean up after their dogs. Their four legged friends will also be able to promote the scheme by wearing a specially branded dog collar or snood."

Will this strategy get rid of the turd mountains building up on Nairn's brown strips? More on the Highland Council web site.

New Zealand pygmy weed threatens Loch Flemington

More on the BBC site


Opening soon

Day three of brilliant February sunshine bathes the new premises on the High Street

Cearcall Comhraidh Inbhir Narann

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Liz on Twitter

Liz has often used the digital tools available to campaign on local issues and now she becomes the first local councillor to use the micro-blogging site twitter. You can follow Liz here.

Inverurie 4 Nairn 0

More pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson on the Gurn flickr pages.

A reversal of fortunes for County yesterday through in Inverurie as they lose by the same margin they inflicted on Keith mid-week. Despite the setback they remain in 6th place in a highly competitive league. Match report here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nairn St Ninian 3 Cruden Bay 2

More pictures on the Gurn flickr pages

Lenticular sunset

Thanks to Jingle Bangles for these pictures of the cloud formations on Thursday evening, below in another post you can see the formations earlier in the afternoon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gurn candidate watch

The LibDem wifie has made another visit to Nairn. Obviously the LibDems feel that Nairn is fertile territority in the their not uncondsiderable task of aiming to knock popular Fergus off the topspot in May's election. This observer has come across one or two former LibDems who have vowed never to vote for them again however, so Christine Jardine's visits could be all in vain. Has anyone noticed anything from any of the other candidates in the forthcoming Holyrood election? At least "CJinverness" (why no mention of Nairn in the twitter handle Christine?) is putting in a respectable amount of time in the area. Should you be a LibDem , you can follow her on twitter

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nairn 4 Keith 0

The league leaders go home in a sorry state as Nairn outclass them at Station Park. Here's Kenny MacLeod's match report.

NICE notes from the 17th

Here's the notes from the latest NICE meeting. NICE is moving forward with an initiative to canvass public views on how to respond to the 'Call for sites' invitation from the Highland Council (that is part of the development of the local plan apparently). It does get a bit difficult trying to follow all this as the technical jargon piles up but NICE do make efforts to translate their continuing efforts to talk to the planners in their own language.
NICE now has over a hundred members and 25 people attended the last meeting, is that enough to give NICE the long-term staying power it needs or will membership numbers have to go much higher than that? Things are obviously a bit beyond what oor Sandy would call "the usual suspects" now but can NICE become big enough to morph into a long-term mainstream organisation with staying power and the ability to accurately reflect, distill and represent Nairn public opinion? The town has great need of such an organisation that's for sure but the difficulty is that we, quite often, as a community know what we don't want but do we know what we do want when it comes to what we think should be developed and what shouldn't and just how many of us are prepared to participate in debate on the pros and cons outlined by NICE?

The next meeting of NICE will be on Friday 25 Feb from 17.00 to 18.45 in the Community Centre. Use it or lose it?

Clubbing starts again

Nairn and District gardening club has its first meeting of 2011 on the 10th of March in the community centre. The meeting starts at 7.30. p.m. and will be all about wine making and what you can use for the process from your garden, allotment or hedgerow. The club’s speaker is Pasty Forbes and there will be a warm welcome for all. Why not go along and see what your local garden club has to offer?

Nairn 3 Fraserburgh 2

Pictures from Club photographer Donald Matheson

Individual pictures here and Kenny MacLeod's match report here.

Listen to Les Fridge here on this MFR extract

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Swimming Pool incident

Apparently this afternoon there was an incident at the Swimming Pool which, thankfully, turned out to be a false alarm. Fire and Ambulance crews were in attendance to deal with the evacuation of the pool. The cause of the incident was due to an alarm which measures the amount of ozone in the pool being triggered.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Local press review

The plight of the Classroom assistants hits the front page of the Nairnshire this week. Liz is quoted:
"They've just kicked this into touch until after the elections in May, It is postponing the inevitable."
More comment from Liz on the front page.
Lots inside the 16 page issue too, with another former Provost also making the headlines. Nigel Graham is concerned about the loss of local democracy in Nairn and wants to see decision making coming back to the town. Views there from Nigel that will be endorsed by many in the town.
Another common Good stushie between Graham Vine and the other Graham plus Laurie at the West CC meeting is to be found as well. The Common Good issues just won't go away will they? See the latest on page 5 of the Nairnshire.
Loreine Thomson of NRCG was in the thick of it at the River CC meeting last week too with tough questions for the planning consultant Robert Evans when he gave a presentation on his firms ideas for land at "Nairn South". There's a quote from Gordon's sawmill on how they see things developing around them in this area - see more on page 6.
Graham (Marsden) attacks Liz's thesis that the proposed Swimming Pool Closure was a 'red herring'. Oor LibDem (Condem?) mannie has a massive three column letter published this week outlining why he thinks Liz is wrong.
Ian Bain's editorial, like many other leaders and articles across the Highlands this week, zeros in on the Classroom Assistants and is entitled " Assault on Education 11"
"It seems to us almost unbelievable that a local authority could pull this radical idea out of a the hat only days before it sat down to make a lasting decision." Says Iain
Part two of Iain's editorial focuses on the Common Good issue. Not only the present poor state of the town's Common Good comes in for Iain's attention this week but he asks whether this is a problem that should also be looked at in a Scottish context.

Plenty more in the Nairnshire, we've just highlighted the articles that provoke the most interest here at Gurn HQ. 40p will still secure you a copy of the hallowed analogue device - why delay any longer if you haven't obtained one yet this week?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Highland Council Budget decisions undemocratic?

"HIGHLAND Council's latest budget decisions failed to allow proper scrutiny, costing or consultation, critics claim.

They accuse the ruling coalition of Independent, Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors of not fully costing its 2011-13 programme after a series of spending U-turns on the eve of a final budget debate on Thursday."

More criticism of the ruling administration in the Press and Journal today. The recent decisions will no doubt reverberate all the way to the ballot boxes in May. Meanwhile in limbo, now that the Highland Council has withdrawn funding, are the talented students from the National Center of Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton. Let's hope a solution can be found that will allow this facility to continue in the Highlands. Here are the students protesting at Glenurquhart Road last Thursday.

A bit of sunshine

A touch of sunshine on the beach and winter is banished for a wee while.

John MacGregor VC book on sale at Royal British Legion

The book costs ten pounds and a percentage of each sale is going to the refurbishment of the hall.

The campaign to raise the profile of John MacGregor in Scotland took a major step forward this weekend with a two page feature in the Mail on Sunday. The article starts:

"His life could have come straight out of a Hollywood movie - and to this day he remains Canada's most decorated soldier.

Yet for decades, the wartime adventures of Scot John MacGregor have been unknown in his native land."

Also an article here from Donald Wilson in last week's Highland News

Recycling fines proposal gets more publicity

Highland Council's proposal for fines for folk that don't recycle gets aired in the Hearald today.

"ONE of Scotland’s largest local authorities has called on the Government to introduce on- the-spot fines of £60 to residents who do not recycle.

Highland Council wants households who throw out cardboard, newspapers, plastic bottles and glass and those who contaminate recycling bins with food waste and other items such as soiled nappies to be fined."

Errr, hold on can we have something to put the plastic and cardboard in first please? We've gurned about this before actually. More in the Herald.

Highland Council still pushing for fines for non-recyclers

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saint Ninian 2 Parkvale 3

More pictures available here on the Gurn flickr pages
color: rgb(153, 102, 51);

No significant impact from 27K funding cut to Community Centre

Graham Marsden stated on Wednesday night that the 27K cut in funding from Highland Council would have no significant impact on the Community Centre.
Graham Vine of West CC had asked: "If this would be the thin end of the wedge once the ALOs get going."
Our one and only LibDem Councillor, sitting next to Laurie, in reply to Cllr Vine told the meeting: "The income for this building is enough to ensure that it continues to fund the maintenance and all the other things it requires to do."
Later in the short discussion he said: "It is amazingly popular and a fantastic asset to Nairn."

Courier Editorial attacks Council on Thursday's decisions

"WAS it political pragmatism or weak leadership that yesterday saw members of Highland Council’s ruling coalition backtrack on plans to scrap 344 mostly part-time classroom assistants from the region’s schools and replace them with 150 part-time auxiliaries working with specific children?

The last-minute decision has delighted those who launched spontaneous local campaigns when the plans emerged a fortnight ago, ranging from the Skye parents withdrawing their children from school on “Walk Out Wednesday” to 10-year-old Zoe Atkinson from Nairn speaking to her MP and MSP and collecting names on a petition."

So begins the Courier's editorial, it goes on to speculate whether the Council's administration is likely or deserves to survive. More here.

Comment too from Jane Atkinson and Merv Riley in this article: Financial ‘fudge’ leaves school staff in limbo

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Vision for “Nairn South”

One of the pages of the Balblair masterplan

On Tuesday night Nairn River CC and members of the public were given a presentation by Muir Smith Evans, Planning and Development consultants, of how local resident and landowner Charles Allenby feels Nairn's development should proceed.

Obviously there are quite a few issues around what will and won’t happen in the area that has been termed “Nairn South ” and many of them were discussed at the Community Council meeting. If we have time here at the Gurn we will post a little more information from the meeting.

The Gurn has obtained a copy of the document shown to the meeting. Why not have a look at the proposal, online now in googledoc format, just click here to browse this document This observer feels that above all else we should welcome the proposed lower density of the proposal and consider it as a very good initiative to promote further debate on how Nairn South (that would be Inbhir Narann a Deas on the bilingual signs) should proceed.

Classroom assistants: "The firing squad has been told to go away for a coffee"

Sandy fills up the glass before getting down to business. The mannie to the right of him Mr Alistair Dodds, chief executive, apologised publicly for the way the classroom assistants heard of their proposed sackings.

Protestors filled the concourse outside the Council headquarters and an equal number were on the lawn opposite the entrance too.

There will be many that agree with the comment in the title of this post, it came today from Cllr John Finnie, leader of the opposition on Highland Council. Have the administration just created a device to get everyone past the May Holyrood elections or will the promised review save any jobs? An amendment from the SNP to keep the levels of Classroom Assistants at current levels and to fund this with projected savings from implementation of the ongoing £70million IT contract was defeated by the LibDems/Labour/Independent ruling group.

The Plockton National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music was left in limbo too as lots of nice words were said but it still remains in the cuts package even if there is the will within the administration to look for ways to save it. Brinkmanship looking for funding from the Scottish Parliament might be one strategy but it's also a form or Russian Roulette that could backfire on the Highlands.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Backdown on Classroom Assistants tomorrow?

The BBC is reporting this evening:

"BBC Scotland understands that in a series of pre-budget meeting discussions Liberal Democrat councillors have proposed a compromise to the plans.
Parents on Skye have staged protests twice this week over the planned cut to classroom assistants.
A group of parents from Thurso had also been preparing to join demonstrations in Inverness on Thursday as councillors met to discuss cuts and the local authority's budget for 2011/12." More here.
Graham Marsden indicated at the West CC meeting this evening that some sort of review was being planned. Could the Highland Council administration's cuts proposals be unravelling as a wave of outrage sweeps the Highlands? No doubt more will be revealed at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

The parents from Thurso will be joining those from Skye, Inverness and elsewhere in the Highlands tomorrow and over 200 demonstrators have pledged on Facebook to turn up to protest at the planned closure of the National Centre for Traditional music based at Plockton. Trade Union protesters have also promised to be outside the council headquarters. It could be a very busy day tomorrow along at Glenurquhart Road.

First steps nursery being denied a level playing field?

River CC heard last night from the proprietor of First Steps Roslin Murdoch that her business which employs six people could face closure given the Council’s decision to withdraw funded places for children from her nursery. Highland Council had prepared a report looking at the costs of each service in Nairn, Rosebank, Millbank, First Steps and Junior World and concluded that there was “over-provision” and that the more expensive provision was First Steps. Roslin told the meeting that First Steps was the only nursery operating to full capacity. She disputed the costings from Highland Council and claimed that they had not included the cost of the “Nursery Cluster Teacher”, the amount she pays for the lease (£3,250) and the pension costs of Highland Council employees in their comparison calculations.

Roslin only received the report on the 28th of January although it had been issued to the schools in October. This information was backed by Liz who agreed First Steps had only been given the details at the last minute. Parents have so far gathered over a 1,000 signatures on a petition and Danny Alexander and MSP Dave Stewart have promised to rapidly seek answers on the information from Highland Council. Roslin is to also meet with Fergus Ewing this week.
Sandy was at the meeting and he offered to set up a “business” meeting between Mr Clifford Cook, the official with responsibility for the report. Mr Cook lives in Nairn but was unable to attend the meeting of 80 angry parents last Thursday although Liz and Laurie were in attendance and the official directly below Mr Cook. Roslin was happy to attend a business meeting but felt that Mr Cook should face the parents too.

It seems monstrously unfair Gurnites that First Steps did not see this report for over three months. During that time there could have been time for the nursery and parents to prepare a response and discussion could have been had at a slightly more relaxed place. Now a major campaign seeking answers is under way, drawing in MSPs and our MP. Meanwhile the nursery’s employees and the parents that use that service are in limbo – It shouldn’t have happened like this, everyone should have had more time to consider the report’s implications. Cuts will come yes and they may be brutal and even heart-breaking but there must be a fairer examination of all the facts by all parties before any decisions are made.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sandy gets grilled on Classroom Assistants sackings

Oor Sandy (Highland Council Convener Sandy Park, that is, if you are not a regular here) got a bit of a grilling this evening at the Nairn River CC meeting. Members wanted to know where the decision to cut all 334 Classroom Assistant posts had come from. To those present it seemed as if it had come completely out of the blue as it hadn’t shown up in any shape or form in the consultations.

In his replies to the constant questions Sandy meandered somewhat, one is never sure with Sandy whether this is a wily tactic to avoid giving a headline making response or simply the normal stream of his consciousness finding expression. He did indicate that it had come up in consultations concerning Education but did admit: “There wasn’t really a big deal of consultation specifically of classroom assistants. "

Again he was asked if it could not have been said at the time that this cut was one of the possible outcomes. He said it was very difficult to consult about specific jobs and indicated that teaching and management were all taking a hit.

Sandy said that with the budget process: “You’ve got to keep going back to the directors and back to the directors and saying look, we’re still no there. Like down south, they’re talking about a four day week for education. OK that was thrown out. Keep putting in and saying the only other place we can go now is here, less staff, less provision. So that’s basically what we’re asking, every director had to come back with more and more because we were asking for more and more cuts.”

That’s it from the horse’s mouth Gurnites, looks like the whip was cracked at the Directors then? Whatever, it is all coming to a head on Thursday and there is ever likelihood that there will be a rather large demonstration at Glenurquhart Road to lobby Sandy and his administration colleagues as they arrive for the cuts meeting, planned to start at 10.30 a.m.

More from the River CC meeting soon, including the latest on the First Steps nursery funding plus houses for Nairn South?

Highland Council: a third of the grounds staff went but all the managers were kept on!

"When the Grounds went out, we lost a third of the staff but we kept all our managers. Six managers just got reassigned other jobs at the same time and I just thought how can we lose a third of our grounds staff and keep all our managers. And now they just call them contract managers or else they’re performance managers. "
Liz* speaking at the River Community Council meeting earlier this evening in the Community Centre.
* Just a reminder for the non-regulars that Liz is Councillor Liz MacDonald, former Provost and indefatigable campaigner for the citzens of Nairnshire.

10 year old Zoe's petition to support Classroom Assistants going strong

The Courier reports:
"TEN-year-old primary pupil Zoe Atkinson, Kilravock Crescent, Nairn, has launched a campaign to save classroom assistants."
Also in the Courier news of a gagging order from Highland Council, they are trying to stop employees speaking out against the education cuts.

Nairn couple in court today

"A 72-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman are expected to appear are Inverness Sheriff Court today in connection with an alleged domestic incident at a house in Nairn yesterday.
Both were arrested and are now the subjects of reports to the Procurator Fiscal.
The alleged incident took place in the Lochloy Road area of the town on 6 February 2011."

Cuts uproar spreads across the Highlands

Demonstrations are planned for Thursday morning at the Highland Council's cuts meeting - Glenurquhart Road, 10th February
Parents in Nairn are not the only ones outraged by the cuts proposed to primary and nursery education in the Highlands. The Scotsman reports:
"A 100-strong group from the Staffin and Kilmuir schools, which together have 53 pupils, lobbied councillors at a meeting in Portree and also plan to demonstrate at Highland Council on Thursday when budget cuts will be discussed." More information here.
"It is believed other parents from across Inverness will keep their children at home on Thursday when Highland Council meets to determine budget cuts, including cutting 344 classroom assistant jobs. The Friends of Brora School, the parent council of Brora Primary School, also voiced its concerns."
News from further North too where parents are also campaigning against the cuts:
"The proposal, which could result in over 300 classroom assistants in primary schools being made redundant across the Highlands, was criticised by a Thurso mother who claimed it would impact on local pupils and teachers.
Lesley Wilson and other members of Pennyland Primary's parent council are to contact Caithness councillors on the controversial issue before a decision is made at a meeting in Inverness next week."
More in the John O' Groat Journal.
On Facebook over 200 demonstrators trying to save the Plockton National School of Traditional Musical have pledged to attend the meeting too. They will be there from 09.30 onwards and many of them will be taking instruments for a "session" against the cuts.
No doubt many others will be making their way to Glenurquhart Road on Thursday as well. It is one thing talking about cuts, now as the Council prepares to do the dirty deed. Will the LibDems, Labour and Independent members all be able to go through with it in the face of protests on the day and no doubt red hot phones and e-mail boxes at home?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Late night local press review

It's all about the cuts on the front page of the Nairnshire, read all the latest in the weekly paper about how parents have been responding to threats to cut the teaching assistants and First Step Nursery. Liz has been assisting the parents in their fight and there is comment from her. Iain Bain's also attacks the nature and raison d'être of the cuts too.

There's a picture of Labour MSP David Stewart this week, he wants councillors to think again about the cuts - well Mr Stewart, those cuts have your party's name on them just as much as the LibDems and Independents on the council. You want to make a change? Well instruct your Labour colleagues on the council to vote against the administration and find other ways of balancing the books that don't affect primary education so badly. You got your picture in the paper now go and do something for Nairn. Try putting real pressure on through the Labour Party apparatus. Voters will remember who proposed the cuts and who passed them when it comes to the parties looking for votes in May.
More NICE stuff in the Nairnshire, River Community Council's plans for the town centre and lots more this week.

Liz supports neighbourhood watch scheme for Nairn

More in today's P&J.


176 Highland Council staff earn more than £50,000

Yesterday the Mail on Sunday had an article claiming that the number of Council employees in Scotland earning above 50K had risen by 20% in the last year. It seems Highland Council have 197 employees that are enjoying salaries of above this figure. The Mail on Sunday states;
"Highland Council said that of the 176 employees earning more than £50,000, 97 of them are 'senior teaching staff''.
Of course some of them will be well above 50K as well. But 176 x £50,000 = £ 8,800,000 per year.
Wouldn't it be nice if they were willing to share the pain with say, a 10% pay cut? Meanwhile it seems almost a certainty that 334 teaching assistants at well below £50,000 per year will be paid off by the Council once the decision is ratified on Thursday.

Nairn mother's fears that budget cuts will have huge impact on her son

"The mother of an autistic toddler fears local authority budget cuts will have a “devastating” impact on her son’s development.
Clare Anderson received a letter from First Steps Nursery in Nairn telling her she would not be able to apply for his funded position as Highland Council was cutting spending on childcare places for three and four-year-olds from August."
It seems there is no alternative for Clare in Nairn as other nurseries will not be able to offer the one-to-one care for her son. The cuts are going to hit the Andersons hard, her husband has just been paid off from the Council's garden maintenance squad. The reality of decisions being made at Glenurquhart Road by our Councillors are now beginning to bite.
She added: “It feels like the cuts are affecting us on all sides. The council says it wants to give more support and money back into services like these and then they go and do something like this."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Still feel like paying attention to town centre matters?

NICE are looking for more comment from citizens on town centre issues, there’s NICE’s plan (version 4) and The council’s (plan B version 3). You can find all the latest over on the NICE site, including the plans and a document highlighting the issues between the two.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Nine man County take the points: Nairn 3 Clach 2

An exciting home Derby up at Station Park today and a win against Clach's manpower advantage.
Read Kenny MacLeod's report here.
Slideshow below, full scale slideshow here and individual pictures here. Most images from Club Photographer Donald matheson but first 19 images from

Balmakeith Archaeology Pictures

RG has uploaded a few pictures from the ongoing "dig" at Balmakeith onto his page of Nairn Town images on Flickr. Gurnites might also like to browse Bratach's Images of the beach.


Kayaks in Nairn harbour

A squad of five setting out from Nairn Harbour this morning.

Nairn parents start fight to stop cuts to Nursery Funding

Nairn parents are questioning the council's figures and claiming they haven't been consulted on a major cash cut to the First Steps nursery in Nairn that would mean the end of funded places for 3 & 4 year olds. The Council are claiming overprovision in Nairn. 80 parents attended a public meeting on Thursday night and came away very unsatisfied.

"Parents and nursery owner Roslin Murdoch are angry they have not been consulted and question the figures in the report.

Ms Murdoch said they did not include her £3,000 annual lease fee and some of the salary and pension costs of the council staff at other nurseries."

Full story in the Press and Journal

Is this a cut that Laurie, Graham and Sandy will be supporting? I wonder if they will have any comment to make about the Council's figures used to support this cut?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Bookies no more

Scotscoup on the High Street shuts its doors. Below the sign on the door a mosaic design on the floor hints of a long forgotten change in the life-cycle of these premises.

Nairn Protest on front page of Courier

There's a picture of Nairn teaching auxillary Merv Riley handing leaflets out to concerned mothers outside Millbank Primary. Mervy is one of 344 assistants who will be paid off if the Highland Council cuts go through as planned next Thursday.

Merv is quoted: " In a large class of 30 you are looking for the children who are not focusing and you bring them back on track," he explained."You are effectively a second pair of eyes and a second pair of ears for the teacher and help motivate the children."

Mum Lorraine McBeath also spoke to the newspaper about the job-slashing exercise, the Courier report states: "It is really bad news," she said. "They are very important for supporting the teachers and help the youngsters especially ones that need to be brought up a level."

It seems from this Courier article that assistants and parents will be demonstrating along at Glenurquhart Road next Thursday. There could be quite a crowd with supporters of the Plockton School for traditional music promising to turn up for a "session" too. The crunch is coming for oor Sandy, Graham and Laurie. Yes the financial crisis was not of their making but many in the Highlands will put the blame for the cuts on them.

A petition has now been created for this campaign too. You can view/sign it here. With the social media tools available now, those concerned by this cut will obviously get organised very quickly and set about lobbying their local councillors throughout the Highlands. One wonders if there will be some adminstration defectors when it comes to the nitty gritty? Will some Independent/LibDem/Labour members just be unable to go through with it?

Here's the Courier article.

Secrecy claims concerning checks on Highland Council's £70 million contract

"GLOBAL giant Fujitsu’s £70million contract with Highland Council has become mired in further controversy amid claims that checks on its progress are shrouded in secrecy.

Fears have been expressed by some councillors that a regular council meeting to monitor the contract is increasingly becoming confidential. And teachers’ union the EIS also believes it is being kept in the dark over aspects of the contract."

More on the Press and Journal site.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Scottish Government's "Tesco Tax" falls - no holding Sainsbury's back now?

Thanks to Robert for pointing the Gurn in the direction of this article on the Beeb. Saisnbury's had indicated they were more than a little peeved with this proposed tax. Nothing to stop Sainsbury's now then is there? Bring it on please!

They're talking about us on Wikipedia

Actuallly they're trying to make their minds up whether to use the word Nairnshire for certain categories:

Here's what a bit of Wikitalk on the Wiki Project Scotland page looks like.

'Nairn' refers to the town, not the area/district/county. As the category is for the whole area, it is unhelpful and confusing to just call it 'populated places in Nairn'. The area is still commonly referred to as 'Nairnshire', and signposted as such by the council (see for example [2]). Or name it something like 'Nairn area' or 'Nairn district' etc. A similar name for the Inverness area category would be good, seeing as the committee area no longer exists, I would suggest just 'Inverness area'. --Vclaw (talk) 19:42, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Sigh Nairn is also a town.... Inverness district and Nairn district then?♦ Dr. Blofeld 19:52, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
I think "area" to avoid confusion with the earlier "districts". Ben MacDui 20:52, 1 February 2011 (UTC)"
You can see the entire debate on Categories here.

Oor Graham on the front page

Graham gets himself on the front page of the Highland Standard - The LibDem freebie that's going round the doors at the moment. It's got lots of pics of a wifie that thinks she's got a chance against Fergus. Her name didn't really sink in, it was only Graham's face that prevented the offending item going straight into the bin really, she was up the Ward Forum the other night too - is there an election coming or something? Perhaps the banners should say 'Save the LibDems'? They are obviously short of a few populist issues so they are highlighting the proposal to amalgamate all the Scottish Police forces - I suppose that that's better than say: "Danny - for selling English Forests but saving Scottish ones" or some other witty headline that Gurnites could perhaps come up with.
Well, LibDem bandwagon or not one wonders how it would all pan out for the Highlands and Nairn in particular if we just had one Scottish Police Force. As long as the officers could keep turning up at Ward Forums and Community Council meetings to report that crime was still going down then it would be fine but would it be like that? In their free paper The LibDems claim:

"Ministers show clear preference for centralisation, but are choosing to hide what it will mean behind a consultation exercise until after May's elections."

Wow! The Highland LibDems against centralisation? Fantastic, but perhaps they could tell us how come, if we have so many Liberal Councillors at Glenurquhart Road and Danny being a LibDem MP and all that, that we have seen so much of the civic life blood of Nairn drip away to Inverness over the past few years? They haven't exactly stood up to stop that have they?

Mill Road Allotments - NAS Press Release

Information on the Mill Road allotments available from a Press Release posted on the NAS site.

Contractors Sleigh Landscapes began work at Mill Road yesterday.

Museum cuts - Des McCulloch speaks out

Many Gurnites will know Cawdor resident Des McCulloch, Des has been speaking to the Press and Journal about pay-offs that are proposed for Inverness Museum.

"Des McCulloch, a full-time attendant at the museum for seven years, claimed that the full picture had been kept from staff.

He said: “On the surface, the cuts didn’t seem so bad when we were told the museums owned by the council would be receiving a 15% cut to their budget. But they didn’t tell us that all the cuts would be taking place at the Inverness museum.” "

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Target: Sandy Park

A vigorous campaign to save the National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music, based at Plockton High School has kicked off and as the petition web page states it's target is Sandy Park.

You can view/sign the petition here. No doubt we will see much much more of this as the cuts get underway. This observer feels that this particular campaign has the potential to go international and become quite a cause célèbre.

UPDATE: in less than 24 hours the petition to Sandy has attracted over 2,100 signatures and the international dimension is represented by Japan, France, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Thailand and Holland. This is one cut that will be noticed way beyond the Highlands.

UPDATE: Looks like Sandy could be serenaded into the Council Buildings next week for the cuts meeting (10th). Here's a message that appeared on Facebook:

"As you'll all know, the council meet next Thursday to decide on whether this proposal will go ahead. The current pupils at Plockton are planning on a session in Inverness as well, outside the council buildings. As long as we're not on the council ground or block the road we aren't breaking any law so bring your instruments along on Thursday next week! Will keep you's all posted with times and things!"

Here's where you can find the Facebook group.

Jimmy Ferguson's criticism of Jeanne Tolmie

Part of the contents of an e-mail circulated to NICE members and local Highland Councillors have now found their way into the local mainstream media, that is to say the Nairnshire Telegraph (this week's 16 pager is a belter by the way). At last week's ward forum Jeanne indicated that she was not particularly enamoured with NICE. Now those comments are a bit hard to fathom, especially since she is the chair of a Community Council that is officially supporting NICE. Anyway this is what Jimmy Ferguson (NICE's high heid yin) had to say:

"I was very surprised that Jean Tolmie did not agree with NICE's submission, maybe it was forgotten that the River CC has three active participants in the NICE team who have all made significant and welcome suggestions and afforded a lot of their personal time. It will be very interesting to review Jean's issues and alternative suggestions, I feel it is a shame she has not participated in the any workshops and presentations or fed in to the NICE effort or THC her opinions, they are all equally important."

Now it is worth pointing out that, regardless of her eventual views, Jeanne would not have been able to attend many of the weekly NICE meetings/workshops before Christmas. The great majority of them were held in the Sailing Club and unfortunately Jeanne was effectively excluded by the fact that she is unfortunately no longer able to climb stairs unaided. Jeanne and other disabled individuals, should they have wished to attend those meetings, would have been unable to do so.

"Highland Council is making these cuts, not the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats"

Unison is pointing the finger at the members of Highland Council ahead of the meeting to rubber-stamp the cuts at Glenurquhart Road in nine days time and the title of this post is from a quote in the Press and Journal today. Locally today's Nairnshire Telegraph has a front page article on how the cuts will affect Nairnshire. It seems the swimming pool and the library will stay and go under the wing of an ALO (Arm's Length Organisation) but in the longer term, can anyone be sure that the threat of losing facilities will not return as the Council struggles to find money to fund that ALO? In the sense of how the cuts will affect the Highlands as a whole it is worth turning to the Press and Journal site again:

"Mr Alston was unable to say exactly how many people would lose their jobs, as some posts were currently being held vacant or filled only on a temporary basis."

It is this uncertainty that is most disconcerting, nobody can predict the full impact of the cuts and the knock on effect as things we have taken for granted for so long disappear from the municipal landscape. Here in Nairn one only has to look at the loss of the Community Care Forum to see how essential networks that bind a community will come under threat. The cuts meeting on February the 10th will be a bleak day along at Glenurquhart Road and the statement from the Unions will be echoed by many: Highland Council didn't cause the financial crisis but the current administration (LibDem/Labour/Independent) will get the blame for putting them through and it is inevitable that the cuts will have an impact when voters go to the polls for the Holyrood elections in May. We've been hearing about cuts for a long time now but they are just around the corner - the Phoney War is over!

See the Press and Journal article here.

Holyrood grants - jobs spin-off for Nairn

Looks like some jobs will be created in Nairn thanks to "Regional Selective Assistance" handouts from the Scottish Government:

"More than £12million has been handed to Scottish firms under the Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) scheme, which aims to protect jobs during a recession.

The funding will lead to the creation of more than 1,200 posts throughout the country.

These include 65 jobs at branches of IT consulting firm Capgemini at Nairn and in the Highlands after the company was given £200,000."

More on the Press & Journal site.