There are a few others too, you will find a drop-down tab at the top right hand side of this page if you click here. If you like any of the styles all you have to do is bookmark them.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Liz calls for joint Community Council meetings – “The Ward Forum is not for local issues now, it’s hijacked!”
Liz contributed on the debate on the way forward for Nairn’s Community councils at the Suburban CC on Wednesday night. She called for the three existing councils to have joint meetings during the months of April, May and June. She told the meeting:
”I used to think that the Ward Forum was where all the community councils came together and we could discuss local issues but it is pretty apparent to me now that that is just a vehicle for the Highland Council. Maybe you as Community Councillors could say to River and West let’s have our next three months meetings together. It shouldn’t be that difficult, you are all meeting on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and I’m sure you could have joint meetings. The Ward Forum is not for local issues anymore it’s hijacked!”
John Mackie and his fellow suburban councillors welcomed Liz’s intervention and he spoke of how the community councils outside Nairn should be involved as well and how they supported a single council for Nairn as a strong council in Nairn could back them. He said, “There is no reason we can’t meet together and have a joint agenda.”
This observer welcomes Liz’s statement, once again she has shown herself to be on the ball and in step with public opinion. Highland Council has its own agenda – the interests of Highland Council do not always dovetail with what is best for Nairn. Nairn people need to make decisions for Nairn – we can’t leave it to a Council based in Inverness.
Meanwhile a Scotsman poll has the LibDems falling behind the Greens. No sign of that on the Gurn fun poll however.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Suburban CC – talking traffic light blues – Transport Scotland in the frame as the blame game kicks in!
John Mackie stated that there had been a “drastic lack of consultation” concerning recent events on the suburban patch of the A96, he went on to say, “ I don’t know where the traffic lights at Moss-side Road come from but it is going to create a bigger problem than is already being experienced for motorists. I’ve had several phone calls about the tailbacks and what is going to happen when the traffic lights are there all the time. I don’t know who they consulted, I don’t know if Highland Council was consulted. The first and only thing I knew about it was when I read it in the Nairnshire.” John went on to say that the junction of the A96 with Manse Road and Waverley Road had been mentioned at the Sainsbury’s public inquiry yet there were no lights being installed there.
Liz (who was present along with her colleagues Graham and Laurie) stated that Transport Scotland had stipulated four sets of lights along with the conditions imposed on the development of Sainsbury’s. She had sought advice from the Council’s TECS department who had told her that the lights would not be put out of sync as they would recalculate every time the pedestrian crossings were used. She added, “I don’t know how successful that is going to be.” She outlined the four spots where the lights were going in – the details of the lights are still coming as a revelation to many Nairn residents and this observer was surprised that some at the meeting tonight still had no real idea of where the lights and the associated pedestrian crossings were going.
Laurie said they it had all been delegated and he had been told, “You want a supermarket, that’s it, that is what comes with it!”
Someone asked what the rationale for the sets of lights had been and Graham intervened with a response: “They say in order to ensure the safety of people entering and leaving the A96 and pedestrians, that you need that number of traffic lights.”
The discussion ebbed and flowed around various levels of incredulity and trepidation of what Nairn and anyone attempting to drive through the town will have to endure. Alistair Noble contributed too, he said:
“This is illustrating the absolute nonsense and the complete breakdown of trust between Nairn people and the planners, whoever they are…We have consistently said that making Nairn bigger and making Nairn more congested is going to cause chaos and the idea that you take 6,7 or 8 sets of traffic lights – when I came to Nairn first I used to laugh when I used to go down to wherever it was and go through some of the places in England that were being built up and being by-passed by motorways and said I’d hate to be a GP there. It’s going to be hell to be a GP trying to get from one side of Nairn to the other side of Nairn. The ambulances, everything will come to a halt.”
There we have it Gurnites, traffic light madness is coming whether we like it or not. Time for a few more folk to get the pushbikes out of the shed this summer and whiz pass the queues of waiting traffic?
"A computer model has found that it is indeed possible to sequence all the new traffic lights planned for Nairn giving a journey time through Nairn to Sainsbury’s of only 4.7 minutes. The bad news is that the random pedestrians pressing buttons on the crossings completely screw this idea, and at peak times the journey could be as much as 45.7 minutes or longer.
I proposed that this new road sign be erected at Sandown."
Monday, March 28, 2011
More on the Single Community Council debate (it would be a town council really wouldn't it? - and give Nairn a say against the Invercentrics) in this week's Nairnshire. Iain Bain reports from the West CC meeting last week and there is a little hope that another meeting coming up soon might take things forward.
Mary Scanlon, in a letter in this week's paper also mentions the Single Community Council issue. She is basically replying to a letter written by oor Sandy which appeared in the local paper on the 15th of this month. Sandy was out to 'correct a number of assertions made' in the MSP's recent survey and on the Single CC issue he said:
"It is interesting to note that out of 700 responses (8% of the local population) there is no support for a single Community Council."
Well Mrs Scanlon clarifies this, and to this observer rightly states the blindingly obvious: "The survey did not have a question relating to an single Community Council, therefore it was rarely commented on."
How could a survey that didn't ask the question show that there is no support for a Single CC? There you are citizens, when will the Highland Council let the people of Nairn decide what sort of democratic vehicle they wish to organise their town with? In the meantime what do you think of the poll on the Gurn, Sandy? Interesting? It does ask the question clearly. Support for a single CC is presently at 72%?
How about a more scientific ballot across Nairn or do we have to wait to make it a major issue at the Council elections in May 2012?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Here in Nairn Co-op rule will soon be coming to an end with help from Sainsbury's but in another part of the Highlands the locals are still campaigning for more choice. On Skye there is a campaign to bring Tesco to the island. The BBC reports:
"Resident Alasdair Macleod sometimes brings shopping more than 100 miles (161km) from the nearest big supermarket in Inverness.
He told me: "I was there at the weekend and did a big shop because you go to the Co-op and spend a fortune.
"You can do a big shop in Inverness and you've got a big basket and you notice there's maybe £40 or £50 difference." More on the BBC site.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
The three-way temporary lights at the junction of Moss-side Road with the A96 will not be as bad as the ones that will be installed here once the work is completed but given that Nairn will get another three sets on top of this one and the existing lights, then perhaps the three-way queues building up here are a taste of what is to come?
Further down the west-bound queue the trunk road contractors were busy installing what looks like an improved pedestrian crossing.
The Keeping Nairnshire Colourful squad were getting ready for another session by the Achareidh part of the A96 this morning. The design above that they are installing today is by garden designer Sarah Speakman. The design picture will enlarge.
Friday, March 25, 2011
An overflowing poo bin up at Lochloy - whose responsibility to empty it?
"It's up to the other shopkeepers of Nairn to come up to the game and be part of a new Nairn."
UDATE - article on the P&J site with quotes from David Brownless and Ali Asher.
Pictures from yesterday here.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
UPDATE: more pictures now on the Gurn flickr pages.
West Councillor Graham Vine told his colleagues and members of the public at the meeting in the Community Centre last night of his continued efforts concerning issues relating to Nairn’s Common Good Fund. He said:
“I was castigated by some elected members for having got MSPs to intervene over the question of the Common Good and they complained bitterly that it was costing a lot of money to reply. To which is my response, ‘well if you had replied to us in the first place we wouldn’t have needed to get the MSPs involved.’
He went on to say how he went to Louise Clark in the Courthouse and asked her to dig out the minutes of the council meeting that agreed to grant the original lease to the farmer at Sandown in 1988. He then described how later that day he was ‘buttonholed’ in the Co-op by a Highland Councillor and, to this observer, what he says he was told seems very much like a ‘my gang is bigger than your gang’ statement in relation to Common Good matters.
Graham Vine stated that he has relayed his conversation in the Co-op ‘word for word’ to Fergus Ewing who he says is continuing to pursue these matters with Highland Council on the behalf of West Community Council.
This item on the agenda continued for some time. More later this week if time permits, if it doesn’t the Nairnshire Telegraph was, as usual, also present and no doubt will report on this item in next week’s edition.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This observer was rummaging around at the bottom of the kindling box today and came across something that was filed away for fire lighting material back in 2007. The leaflet had the usual kind of LibDem poses with oor Graham featuring heavily as part of 'A strong team for Nairnshire'. Do you think the LibDems have been strong for Nairnshire? Over the last four years more and more power seems to have dripped away in the direction of Inverness. The LibDems claim to be against centralisation yet their administration seems to be very Invercentric when it comes to Nairn.
Craig Harrow received 27.7% of the vote in the constituency overall and upped the LibDem vote by 11.5%. Fergus's vote was up by 10% as well however and the LibDem hopeful remained just that. This time round the LibDems have another candidate and what's the betting that her share of the vote will go down by at least 11% across the constituency? The LibDems seem to be the party to dislike at the moment and here in Nairnshire this observer feels there may also be some payback for the LibDem involvement in sacking popular provost Liz MacDonald. The picture will enlarge a little.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
There are currently four opinion polls live in the sidebar. A new one on the Single Community Council issue has been started recently to reflect the school of thought that believes there should be 2 councils instead of the status quo of 3 or those who are presently campaigning for one. We've been there before on the Gurn yes but it is only fair that all options are polled.
The Highland Council recently decided that there is not enough interest in Nairn for one single Council to go ahead. There has been plenty of hot debate about this recently in the pages of the Nairnshire Telegraph.
So please pass the word on the 1, 2 or 3 poll. Have your say!
The lack of a strong campaigning Green party in the Highlands is a tragedy, from here they look like a total lost cause and a wasted vote for the Holyrood elections in May. You can visit the Highland Greens website here.
Monday, March 21, 2011
This observer was thinking that the SNP support in the poll was rather high at 47% (21/03/11) Nairnshire does have a high SNP support but we wondered perhaps if our fun poll has been inflated a little by the culture surrounding this blog which is a wee bittie SNP inclined at times.
We had a look at the results for this constituency at the last Holyrood election (2007) which is perhaps the nearest comparison you can get. Yes there are two votes, for the Constituency and across the Highlands for the list but we are focusing on the constituency turn-out last time round.
The SNP were on 41%, The LibDems 27%, Labour 19%, Conservative 11%
The Gurn’s 47% for the SNP doesn’t look too far-fetched compared with Fergus’s result back in 2007. The others were hardly in it at all with Eleanor Scott for the Greens losing her seat on the list back then. It could be that this time round the Greens might make a comeback and what happens if the UKIP support shown in the fun poll comes through with enough votes to give them an MSP? The idea of someone fighting for UK independence in the Scottish Parliament seems a bit odd really but it might happen.
The Gurn Poll does point to a Lib Dem collapse and it will be interesting to see where their votes go if that happens. One wonders too if a few Labour supporters will see the SNP as a better bet for Scotland over the next few years as the ConDems in London set about implementing their policies. Here’s what life long labour supporter and political columnist Joyce McMillan is going to do:
“And the question we face is just this: when the flack begins to fly, and Scotland’s free prescriptions and university fees need to be defended, and the vision of society that underpins them needs to be articulated with energy and pride and a touch of poetry – then who do we seriously think is going to face the world with the strongest, the most confident, and the most credible case for the path we are taking? Will it be Iain Gray and Andy Kerr? Or will it be Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, John Swinney and Mike Russell? It pains me to say it, but I think the answer to that question is clear. And although my heart will always say no to the SNP, this time around my head increasingly says yes; not just for the sake of Scotland, but for the sake of the whole idea of a convivial and democratic society, which needs doughty and capable defenders now, more than at any time in our history.”
You can read Joyce’s full article here: My hear says no, my head says yes.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Sandy is out to sort the scammers, here's what the P&J reports today:
Councillor Sandy Park yesterday hit out at the con and urged others not to be duped by the unsolicited letters informing them they are winners of the Euro Millions." More on the P&J site.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Green Dad tells it like it was last night in the Waverly Hotel as thirty plus individuals met to discuss the progress of the Mill Road site. Nairn Allotment Society, with the help of Highland Council and Leader funding are well ahead with their plans and the site should be open early in April.
The Society now administer three sites, Sandown, Mill Road and a 'secret' garden just off the High Street but already with all places now taken at Mill Road they are looking ahead and want to work with developers, landowners etc to provide more allotment areas around the town and beyond and in any new schemes that spring up too.
Here's Green Dad's excellent report of the meeting and here's the Society's site. If you would like to be on the waiting list or generally join in with campaigning for more allotments in Nairnshire then send them your details.
Glen and Gille Allingham's Really Garlicky Company is the subject of an article on the Journal's Website:
"At a Tesco store in Elgin, near Nairn, shelves are dotted with signs with tales of nearby producers. "Enjoy the Taste of Scotland," says one showing a map of the region, a picture of Mr. and Ms. Allingham holding a garlic bulb with children running in the field behind them, and a description of their business."
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Last time round it emerged tha there were about 200 Gaelic speakers in Nairnshire and another 100 or so with the ability to either understand or write the language but not speak it. The Gaelic question is quite easy really compared to the Scots one.
Here on the Gurn we get the occiasional very competent and witty comments in Scots. Perhaps the question often asked however, is what is Scots? According to the website Aye Can Scots is:
"Scots is the collective name for Scottish dialects such as 'Glaswegian', 'Doric', 'Buchan', 'Dundonian', or 'Shetland'. Taken altogether, Scottish dialects are called the Scots language. Sometimes Scots is known by the names 'Scotch', 'broad or braid Scots', 'Doric' and 'Lallans'."
So if you can understand folk from those places, and of course folk just across the border in Moray that still speak the local Scottish Dialect, then surely you tick the 'Understand' box. More details on Scots can be found on the Aye Can site.
A letter in the Nairnshire this week will, this observer believes, find a lot of support among Gurnites. Here's a paragraph:
" Nairn seems to be in danger of being gently entrapped in the Inverness web where it can be quietly cocooned. Will we in due course retain sufficient identity to even retain our Lord Lieutenant?"
Well said Rupert, a very good letter. The Gurn has said it before and we say it again: "Freedom for Nairnshire - End Inverness Rule!"
To read Rupert Furze's letter you will need the County's well known analogue device, distributed through Co-ops (and some other outlets) near you, have 40p ready.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Press and Journal reports: "Highland Council is proposing to close 14 public toilets and restrict the opening times of nearly a dozen more as part of cost-cutting measures." More here.
Marine Road is on the hit list. Again decisions affecting Nairn will be taken in Inverness. This observer believes a tourist town should hang on to all its public toilets - I wonder if Sandy and his administration colleagues would agree?
Obviously this site is a commercial one and businesses are invited to submit further details, maybe it could be the one that really catches on with this type of service?
From the site's about page it appears that this site is run by a local company:
"The High.St is owned and operated by Solution Management Ltd. Our registered office is at:
28 High St
Sunday, March 13, 2011
There is quite a lot of support for the SNP in Gurnshire, but in this sort of poll in the past there has been quite a bit of support for the LibDems as well. As one commentator said perhaps SNP supporters are the only ones with the enthusiasm to participate but one wonders if this just might be a slight indication that the Barnsley Lib-Dem melt-down might have a significant aftershock in the Highlands? A poll in Wales has the LibDems and UKIP on equal pegging, here in Gurnshire the Greens, UKIP and LibDems are all nearly level too. Might that be how it pans out at the real ballot box here? Of course that ballot in May is the only poll that matters and we await that result with interest.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
A report going to a council meeting next week recommends giving another £198,000 to the Housing Expo.
The BBC reports on its site:
"The local authority's planning, environment and development committee on Wednesday will be asked to approve the £198,000.
Officers have said the funds could come from the planning and development service budget through projected underspends elsewhere in the budget."
Projected underspends hey - how about a few shillings being spent on a couple of planning meetings from Nairn for important issues like the Lodgehill Clinic then? With all the spare underspend cash that must be sloshing around in the planning coffers surely Highland Council could manage that?
You can read the article on the BBC here the council agenda is here and the paper that makes the recommendation is here. The Gurn will not be taking comments on this, it just seems too crazy to be true.
The P&J reports:
"Highland Council is to give Barclays Bank £33,000 towards staging the Scottish Open golf tournament near Inverness.
Critics say the expenditure is insensitive at a time when the elderly are struggling to pay bills and council services are being cut." More on the P&J site
Update 16/03 : the Gurn has received confirmation that the money does go to the Open costs but not to Barclays.
Friday, March 11, 2011
There are a lot of folk in Nairn that feel we are being forced into a situation where Nairn will be allowed to grow too big and too soon with profound consequences for the Community. Now that the Highland Council has listed all the responses to the their Highland Wide Development Plan it will presumably go forward to the Scottish Government for determination and thus a public inquiry. Scroll down two articles to see links to the material concerning Nairn.
To this observer Joan Noble captures the feeling of many in the town in her submission to the plan. Below are three extracts from her paper covering important points that many Nairnites will find common currency with, you'll have to click on them to enlarge to read the text clearly. Her entire submission can be seen here.
The X-Factor experience as seen by a Nairn resident:
'Make-up essentials, hairbrush, camera, tissues, baby wipes, paper and pen, a French FHM, wallet, phone, umbrella, spare tights, lunch and snacks, prints of lyrics, Strepsils, caffeine tablets, paracetamol. It is 7.40am on Wednesday the 9th of March, and I am ready for the Glasgow auditions of The X Factor.
Rewind a bit. My name is Alexia. I am 31 and live in Nairn, next to Inverness. If you hear me speak, you might think that I am French or something, and you would be right. I have been in the country for almost 10 years. I have a Scottish husband, two little girls, a part-time job as an administrator, a library card, a yoga DVD, a piano, a swimming-pool membership and a garden (with too many bushes and flowers for its own good).'
Thursday, March 10, 2011
"The representations received on the Proposed Plan have been assessed and draft, recommended responses prepared. These have been placed in the format requested by Scottish Government (“Schedule 4 format”). They will be available below when they have been completed."
There is a general list of all the areas and questions here. Of special interest to Gurnites will be the detailed responses concerning Nairn here, Cawdor expansion here, Nairn South here (interesting to see the contributions from the Sawmill, Major Allenby, the Consortium and other interested parties, the comment is made that the new residents in the scheme across the road would access the Riverside via Firhall "causing disturbance to the residents.) Obviously new developments will have all sorts of consequences some foreseen and others not. In a previous Gurn post you will notice how important the correct development of Nairn South will be to the Sawmill.
Sandown responses are detailed here. There seems to be a lot of conciliatory language in that document. Maybe Highland Council will get Sandown right this time round? Delnies here. Lochloy here.
Obviously there is a lot more there in all those documents. Here at Gurn HQ we intend to read one or two of them and extract a few gems concerning Nairnshire's future.
Also worth reading are the individual responses, many of them from concerned groups and individuals they are available here. Alistair and Joan Noble both made representations and so did Cathy Stafford, likewise the NRCG and West and Suburban Community Councils.
All good reading - if any Gurnites spot any sections that deserve a quick "heads up" then let us know the document and page etc and what you think.
Anyway two interesting pictures are available here and here on railway enthusiast Lee Ayling's Flickr pages. In the first image the Council garden squad's shed and greenhouse can clearly be seen plus some cultivated land.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
The sawmill is part of Nairn, as iconic as the bandstand or the Courthouse if you give it some thought, it is part of the Community having been at its present site for 150 years. There’s 90 jobs up there dependent on the continuing success of Gordons and with this in mind representatives from the sawmill gave a presentation to the River Community Council and members of the public last night in the Community Centre.
Gordons is a success story and they have every intention of continuing to be so in a very competitive industry. They are continually making investment and want to carry on doing so with expansion into the 5.1 hectares allocated to them in the local plan. This would enable them to expand the work force with 10 extra jobs but more importantly safeguard the existing 90 jobs at Balblair Road. Jobs are a rare commodity in Nairn and those at the sawmill are essential to the continued well-being of Nairn. The expansion would give them access to the potential of wood being delivered by the railway or at least allow for better access to the 50 lorry movements per day that presently have to negotiate the presently less than ideal access to the sawmill.
Gordons wish for a buffer zone of woodland to be established between their planned expansion area and the proposed housing for Nairn South that we are beginning to hear so much about. In fact there is already an application received for housing on the field just across from Firhall. River Community Council and others will shortly be making representations on that application, this observer wonders where the infrastructure is to support that proposed development, where will the sewerage go, will Cawdor Road be able to cope with the traffic? Gordons feel that future development must integrate with their business and to build too many houses too close to an industrial area would be a bad move. Quite right in this observer’s opinion, the sawmill was there first, let the proposed housing reflect that.
We’ve heard quite a bit recently about how we can’t have planning meetings in the Courthouse because there is no webcasting facility (imagine that with a £60 million IT contract! But perhaps the Caley could help out by offering their next door wi-fi access – but that is another story) but it is a great pity that the presentation by Gordons isn’t also on video online for Nairnites to browse. Then you would see how much this business has invested for the future and don’t forget the local estates of Darnaway, Lethen and Cawdor also work closely with Gordons. Gordons take in wood on a ratio of 40% from private woodland and 60% from the state sector and the wood comes from a 75-100 mile radius. In an ever-changing unpredictable world they are a sustainable rock of the local economy and deserve our support.
Whatever happens in Nairn South, and let’s not forget that some think that the rush to designate so much land for development between Nairn in Inverness is simply to follow the tragedy of the Irish model of development, a sustainable future for Gordons Sawmill must be at the top of the community’s agenda and that of the planners too.
A drop of snow overnight and Nairn looks very pretty in the sunshine. It doesn't look as though the bad weather has the staying power this time round however.
Coming later - Will there be a secure future for Gordons Sawmill if the planners' concept of "South Nairn" comes into being?
Meanwhile, Liz and Graham are both tweeting again this morning, you can see their latest messages via the links half-way down the sidebar.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Liz had been speaking to a John Bruce, the Highland Council's election manager and it appears that there is still an opportunity to settle the issue of a single Community Council in Nairn once and for all with a referendum. Liz explained:
"I said there's still a dispute about whether there should be one, two or three Community Councils in nairn and would there be a chance to put a referendum paper in with the ballot papers for the CC's. It would be an option if the CC's wanted it."
Liz went on to say that it might stop the back-fighting and argy bargy ( a reference there to earlier debate in the meeting about the recent correspondence appearing in the Nairnshire Telegraph) and would give River a chance to get their point across and inform the public of the implications"
For elections to take place under the new rules however, River would need 11 candidates coming forward, Suburban would need 10 and West 8. The minimum number needed to stand to ensure the survival of the three councils would be 7, that is to say if you had seven candidates only then you could form the council without an election. The large numbers needed are yet another reason to simply have a Burgh of Nairn Community Council across the board but that is just this observer's opinion.
There will shortly be a meeting between all three Community Councils to discuss the issue, River indicated this evening that they have responded positively to a letter from Highland Council setting up a date and time for this meeting.
Let's hope Liz's Nairn colleagues on the Highland Council don't go against her proposal of a referendum on mere political grounds. This is an opportunity to settle a question that will just continue to fester unless the public are allowed to have their say.
Monday, March 07, 2011
If the planning committee have to come to Nairn for a site visit it makes sense for them all to pop along to the Courthouse and make their decision there. That would give the forty or so objectors and other interested Nairnites the chance to pop along. That surely would be local democracy at work?
Graham Marsden seems to have a wee problem with the idea of Nairn applications being heard in Nairn however, he's worried that it wouldn't get web casted. This is what he has to say on twitter:
"SNP councillor Liz MacDonald requested Nairn planning apps be heard in Nairn - so wouldn't be webcast and archived for viewing by Nairnites."
"I remember the day when Highland Council was deliver locally and not the centralised Liberal/Labour administration we have now ;-( "
"@cllrgsvmarsden I asked Lodgehill application be held in Nairn so local people could be present. Web casting should be possible in each area"
The Gurn has jumped in with a wee tweet too:
"@cllrgsvmarsden If the resources are not available the Gurn offers to video the Lodgehill decision (Big Soc Style) and put it on Utube :-)"
Sunday, March 06, 2011
Oor Graham follows Liz's example and speaks to the digital masses via twitter. That only leaves Sandy and Laurie to share their thoughts on the micro-blogging site. You can keep up to date with the thoughts of your LibDem member here.