Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cawdor Maintenance Trust treated unfairly by Highland Planners?

Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the Delnies planning application have Highland Council dragged their heels in dealing with it? John Mackie of Nairn Suburban Community Council certainly seems to think so.

John Mackie gave an update on a recent meeting of the town’s three Community Councils with the Cawdor Maintenance Trust concerning the Delnies planning application. He said:

“They have taken ownership of the access road into their development and they have an agreement with Transport Scotland and it is now going to go to planning and they accept that the roundabout will be further out than the original work was. The roundabout will then accommodate their development, when Sandown comes along Transport that will be a separate issue, Transport Scotland has said there won’t be another roundabout but they can have an access road in, and there will be joint access between Sandown and Delnies.

Really the main thrust of the meeting was that they’ve had a lot of talks with Highland Council, Transport Scotland and all the other folk to try and move their planning application forward. There’s been various reasons for the delay. I offered, and it is up to us here tonight, I offered to do a letter to put into the planning at Highland Coucil to say how disappointed we were that they’d ticked all the right boxes way back years ago and have been held back, where other developers come along, don’t even bother to consult, and seem to get pushed forward. I felt that they’re doing the planning a disservice by dragging their heels on this one. If they wait to take it to planning and throw it out, then that is a different kettle of fish but just to keep putting it on the back burner for evermore, didn’t seem right. I’ve been seeing all the consultation that Cawdor Maintenance Trust carried out, and if we want developers to take the legislation seriously then I think we should support the ones who do things right. So would you be in agreement for just a wee letter to say we’re disappointed with the time it has taken?”

Alistair Noble indicated he wasn’t happy with the idea of a letter. He made his case:

“Part of the whole reason for the kind of mess that we are in is that we haven’t a clear plan and basically what we have got is a 2000 and whatever it is local plan and it looks as though Delnies is potentially going to build a few houses in a field in the middle of nowhere with no infrastructure and no clear connection to anything else and we may not see Sandown ever built and we may just end up with a few houses at Sandown and nothing else. My preferred option would be to look at this in the context of the sort of discussion we’re having around the Inner Moray Firth, a sensible and cohesive way forward. “

John replied, “The planning application is in and being held back and held back by Highland Council or whoever and that is not the way to do it. If they don’t agree with it then they can throw it out.” He went on to say how Alan Farningham for the Trust had said that nothing was likely to happen for at least five years.

“That makes it, in my opinion, even dafter to go ahead and do it.” Replied Alistair.

The discussion continued and a compromise on the letter was reached, Alistair said, “ I have no difficulty writing to say to Highland Council they haven’t handled it very well as long as we are not suggesting in any way that that means any approval for Delnies.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No Highland Councillors at the Suburban CC meeting tonight

No Highland Councillors in attendance at the meeting of the Suburban Community Council meeting this evening, which was a pity because they might have learnt a thing or two from debate about the role of community councils and how they can get a better deal for Nairn. More on the Gurn from this evening's meeting in the Academy over the next few days. In the meantime here's the police report that was delivered to the meeting.

Crayfish update - the anglers continue the fight

Two pictures from another recent trip up the Geddes burn by Nairn anglers to check the traps. One of the anglers told the Gurn:

"The large cray fish on the left was over 7 inches long from tail to claw tip, the 3rd cray fish from the left was the mother of the 47 young in front of her which we got last week. In total we had 14 cray fish plus 47 young, today we had another 14 plus 32 young. In the last 2 weeks since you did the original artical we have caught 28 plus 79 young, this gives us a total count of 151 so far for the season, and it is only the end of June, (we keep doing this untill the end of October) 151 which will no longer breed! Who says we are wasting our time?"

Over to you SNH - still not supporting the efforts of the Nairn Anglers to protect the local eco-system from the invaders?

Brownies working for their gardening badge at Sandown

Picture Jill Henderson. More pictures and details on the Nairn Allotments site.

Sunset over the Sutors

As seen by Bratach last night.

Liz quits planning committee, ANB send a nice postcard

Liz has quit the planning committee because one day she may be a developer too (rules is rules), David Brownless has sent a fancy postcard to Holyrood. More in your Nairnshire Telegraph. It's all in the Nairnshire but also available here in glorious technicolour.08.31 in the morning and the sun is shining. Have a nice day Gurnites!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nairn Cemetery – should the local authority do more?

This observer recently went up to have a look at the cemetery as a result of a complaint from a regular reader of this blog. It was suggested to the Gurn that the newer part of the cemetery is kept very well the older areas, including those where folk have been buried in the last twenty to thirty years are not kept as well as they used to be.

It seems the newer area is better suited to ride-on mowers and strimmers with the edges of the lawns being level with the paths while the older parts with their higher edges do not fare so well these days. The mowers seem to have scalped some areas badly and weeds have come back in place of grass, the wheels of the mowers have also damaged the grass edges in places. Weed killer has been used but when the weeds reach a certain height the dead ones look just as bad as similar living ones. You can kill the weeds yes but someone has to scrape them up to make a good job of it. This observer remembers seeing a council employee with a small mountfield style mower cutting in-between graves some years ago. It could be that this still happens in some parts of the cemetery but unfortunately this very special part of Nairn looks as though it could do with a few more man hours each week to retain it in a better condition. Maybe cutbacks are the culprit here but surely the cemetery deserves the highest standard of care and maintenance. Perhaps our councillors might like to ask themselves if adequate provision is being made for the upkeep of the cemetery?

Sunset 25th June 2011

Armed Forces Week Nairn - lowering of the flag ceremony - Pictures

Individual pictures here and full screen slideshow here. Pictures from Murray MacRae and other Gurn photographers.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nairn-opti-mistically (sic)

"In Scotland, Nairn-opti-mistically referred to as ‘the Brighton of the North'-has a fishing port, lots of sand and a large number of ornate Victorian villas. Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton lives here, and runs the wildly eccentric Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams film festival, where the admission is £3 or a tray of homebaked cakes."

All this on a Countrylife page about buying seaside properties.

Armed Forces Week Nairn 2011 - Lowering of the flag ceremony

Pictures to follow later.

"The answer my friends is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind"

The P&J reports. “Auldearn Primary School could get a 39ft turbine, while Nairn Academy is in line for one 32ft high. An application has also been lodged for a 49ft turbine at Cawdor Primary.”

This observer has heard a bit of debate about wind recently Last week Lesley Boulton of River CC made his anti-wind-farm feelings known and this week it was the turn of Graham Vine of the West folk. He said in relation to a consultation document that he admitted he had read three times “with a wet towel on my head”:

“One of the things that concerned me most about all this stuff about onshore wind-farms is that there is absolutely no justification for having them in the first place. It just talks about whether we should put them here, should we put them there, should we put them everywhere. There is absolutely no analysis saying this is producing a useful amount of power or producing a quarter of what we thought or wanted and not when we need it and when we do produce it sometimes we can’t use it. I think that it is taking entirely the wrong end of the stick, it is presuming wind-farms are a proven case and I don’t believe personally that that is the case. I don’t believe wind-farms are the proven case for Scotland’s energy needs.”

Well perhaps we’d better think of some other solutions then. How about a nice combined power and heat incinerator to warm up Nairn South during the, now, cold winters. Maybe in the field opposite Firhall? That could take all the plastic we can’t put in the blue bin. Perhaps we could have a wee nuclear power station on Sandown where the business park was going to be? There are unfortunately no easy ways to satisfy mankind’s insatiable demand for energy – unless we turn all the computers and freezers and big-screen tellys off?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Retired Highland Councillor dies

Former Highland Councillor, John Matheson has died at his home in Nairn.
His funeral will take place at Nairn Old Parish Church at 1 pm on Tuesday 28 June, thereafter to Nairn Cemetery.
John passed away on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife Alma and children, Iain and Fiona.
John served on the former Highland Regional Council between 1986 and 1990. He was chairman of the Information Systems Group and the Management Services Group between 1986-90 and was Vice-Chairman of the Manpower Services Group between 1989-90.
He was elected to The Highland Council in 1995 and served continuously until retiring in 2007. He served as Chairman of the Finance Committee and later as Chairman of the Resources Committee.
Convener Sandy Park paid tribute to Councillor Matheson's long service to local government.
He said: "Being a retired banker, John had a terrific grasp of finance and provided the council with tremendous guidance on financial matters. He was also a very good local councillor for Nairn, being attentive to the needs of local people. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and our thoughts are with his wife and family at this time."

A shift of development emphasis away from Tornagrain towards Nairn?

Also on the subject of development on the west of Nairn the Gurn understands that the town's three community councils had a meeting with a developer last night and that this meeting was not open to the public. Given certain comments in the press recently would it not have been better to have opened this meeting up the public?

Affordable housing in Nairn – who gets it?

Perhaps it is slightly ironic that the Community Council that represents the most affluent area of Nairn should so often be the one that speaks up for the rights of less well-off Nairnites but so it was again on Wednesday night when the subject of affordable housing in Nairn appeared on the agenda. Graham Vine started the debate:

“I’ve had great difficulty trying to get consistent stories out of Highland Council. One of the questions that we were asking is whether people in Nairn get priority and I got a sort of Civil Service answer. Yes people with a local connection, if you have got a lad with a new wife in the back bedroom of his mum & dad’s house with a baby they get priority but their priority is 30 points and somebody that has landed in Inverness and is homeless has a priority of 70 points. So somebody with no connection to Nairn has a much greater priority than a family in Nairn that is overcrowded in one back bedroom.” Graham thought it was a bit of a con and added, “Yes you do get priority but you are 8th in line not 1st in line.” He summed it up, “When affordable housing becomes available it’s not going to be for Nairn folk, it’s going to be for homeless people from all over the Highlands or even the Central Belt.”

Brian Stewart commented:”If this is something where each Regional Council has any sort of discretion as to the weighting they give to the various different factors then one obvious things for us to argue is that the formula, or allocation of points, the weighting given, should be more significantly influenced by the local resident element, in other words we could presumably argue for a shift in the formula.”

Graham Vine said a little later: “If you force out the younger generation because they can’t get a house then who’s going to look after the mum and dad when they are 80, if the kids who might have been fifty and living in Nairn somewhere else because they couldn’t find anywhere else in Nairn to live?”

Tommy Hogg, (River CC observer at the meeting) stated: “But it’s always been the way, it’s been doctored so much now it’s just commonplace and people just accept it and the Council are getting away with murder.”

“Well let’s do something about it!” Exclaimed the Chair, Rosemary Young. The West CC then decided to take the item forward to the joint meeting of CCs on the 11th of July and to simultaneously further research the subject with a view to vigorously lobbying for changes in the policy.

Well done the West folk, it is monstrously unfair that local people are effectively well down the queue for affordable housing in Nairn. Not so long ago we had a housing manager in Nairn and the Nairn District Council decided who got a house – it was all done within the boundaries of Nairnshire. It is worth reflecting just how much influence we have lost over our own affairs under the rule of Highland Council. Yes, well done indeed the West folk and here’s wishing them all the best in getting further backing from the other community councils at the joint CC meeting. “Let’s do something about it!” said Rosemary Young – yes let’s do something about that and the other issues facing Nairn and Nairnshire in general. Freedom for Nairnshire! – End Inverness rule!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Inverness Canoe Club in Nairn harbour

Picture Murray MacRae. More pictures here.
UPDATE: Stewart Howarth informs us that this picture is in fact of the Inverness Club and not the Nairn organisation. Stewart is the mannie in the picture wearing a wide-brimmed white hat. Apologies for any confusion.

The Nairn club meet every Thursday night at the Swimming Pool.

National Bike Week - we get a banner but nothing happening here.

We qualify for a banner but nothing else is happening here. A quick look at the National Bike week map confirms that. Given the above average use of bikes in Nairn that is a pity. There seems to be a few things happening in Inverness however.

This observer feels a little irritated by the translation into Gaelic, there is a perfectly good word for bicycle spelt "rothair" in Gaelic or even "baidsagal" which sounds a lot better than "baidhc".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Funding Application goes in for wetlands, park areas, and allotments on Sandown

Earlier today (Wednesday) Rosemary Young read out a letter that had been sent to Nairn Community Councils and others. It was a letter informing West of a combined preliminary funding bid for lottery cash for the entire south field of the Sandown lands, that is to say the area bordered by the A96, Sandown Road, the properties on Wyvis Road and the bridle path to the west. The plan is to include more allotments, after the opening of Mill Road there is renewed interest in obtaining plots and the waiting list is growing once again. There are to be the proposed wetlands area and play space for children of all ages. The three groups involved in the bid are Nairn Allotment Society, The Nairn Woodlands and Wetlands Association and Nairn Suburban Community Council.

The letter prompted some debate amongst the Councillors present, including Tommy Hogg of River CC who was sitting on the public benches as an observer. Brian Stewart remarked that the bid was 25% of the whole area zoned. He summed up his feelings by raising three points and he told the meeting:

“We should all be supportive of this initiative – not the details necessarily but the idea of proposing or bidding for a chunk of Sandown to be dedicated to Green Space, Wetlands, nature, etc. As an idea that is something that Sandown should include and it is something that the community does have an interest and an enthusiasm and the willingness to have that kind of thing and I support it for that reason. The second point is that this bid, or this green space in it, should not rule out or should not prejudice the scope to have other green space on Sandown. This shouldn’t be the only bit of green. Apart from this which is a green bid the overall approach to Sandown is that there should be a balanced mix of thoughtfully designed and laid out, not all green field and not all car park but a balanced mix which is thoughtfully designed to preserve and protect the views to deliver a kind of attractive gateway to the town, and ultimately to be kind of integrated or reconciled with the other ides that will emerge for the Cawdor Delnies development.

Graham Vine said that there might be an argument for some houses on the periphery of the field and thus some more green space in the northern field rather than having the north field all houses and the south field all green. Seonaid Armstrong spoke of the original plan for houses with gable ends and a fence up against the A96 and said that it was important to think of the quality of life with houses that were attractive and sufficiently spaced apart with a design that was liveable.

Rosemary Young closed this item on the agenda by stating that the West CC would send a response saying that they supported the the bid but that they didn’t want to see a lack of green space lost because all that is taken up as green space.

Qualified support then from the West, looks like the ball is well and truly rolling in advance of the Highland Council’s forthcoming Sandown development brief consultation. This observer wishes the bid well and is certain many, many gurnites will only be to happy to support the concept outlined by the three organisations.

Coming soon on the Gurn, more from the West meeting. Affordable accommodation – are locals getting a fair chance? Busting the waste, the latest on the proposal by Tommy Hogg and Graham Vine and a few other items.

Seagull problems and a "token gesture" press release from Highland Council

A recent press release by Highland Council has prompted an article and a sanguine editorial from Iain Bain in this week’s Nairnshire. The editorial is a remarkable piece of prose in its own right and captures eloquently the scene on one of our recent wet days, giving a marker of the time and space in which we now exist with our large winged companions all around us. If you aren’t within reach of a Nairnshire then you can see the Highland Council Press release here.

The Press Release states: “The campaign to raise awareness of the problem of seagulls nesting in urban areas in the Highlands was first introduced in the Highlands in May 2010 by The Highland Council.” Now Nairnites have been concerned about the town’s Seagull population nesting on rooftops since before the turn of the last millennium. Here in Nairn nobody needs to raise awareness of the problem, the problem has been in the face of many residents for quite a while. Iain Bain writes:

“The present leaflet, just ahead of the time when the chicks will fall out of the nests and create a problem as their parents aggressively defend them, is a token gesture. Don’t expect the local authority to do anything more.”

Iain is quite right about that, at last the Highland Council admits there is a problem and then puts out a leaflet telling us what we already know. I suppose it helps keep their press officer in a job. In August 2008, after years of the seagull problem being passed as a political football between local and central government the Scottish Government announced that they were going to try to do something about it and announced:

“The formation of a new team to help deal with the nuisance of seagulls has been announced today. The Seagull Task Force will shortly begin looking at ways in which gulls can be prevented from nesting and how nests can be effectively destroyed.
Action will begin on the ground next spring with Dumfries acting as a pilot.” More details here.

This observer had a quick google to see if there was any indication of how the pilot scheme was getting on in Dumfries. There was little to be found but it emerges that if you have seagulls on your roof in Dumfries you will get more than a leaflet from the local authority to help you:

· “Are gulls nesting on your property?
· Are the gulls causing a nuisance to you or your neighbours?
Then contact Environmental Standards.
We are offering free removal of gull eggs and nests during the breeding period of May – July. The service will be available to all residential premises and business premises in Dumfries and Heathhall, where there have been issues surrounding public health and safety i.e. food stealing, dive-bombing and aggressive behaviour from the gulls.” Full web page here.

Useful you might think, but many town centre residents will know that you will not succeed just by one attempt to remove a nest, you will probably have to continue for at least a fortnight as the seagulls don’t give up that easily and, even after you think you have won the battle, you might come out a few days later to find the birds back in place. This can be a time-consuming and costly business if you have say a property where the nest can only be safely accessed by a cherry picker. Seagull researcher Peter Rock wrote in 2003:

“What seems to be forgotten in this issue is that, for the gulls, successful breeding is far and away the most important aspect of their lives and that their investment in it is considerable. They will not easily relinquish their grasp on a breeding attempt. Dealing with all manner of threats and avoiding them is thoroughly ingrained in the nature of these birds - they have survived in this way for thousands of years. Were there an easy "cure" to this issue, it would already have been discovered and there would be considerably fewer, or no roof-nesting by gulls at all in Britain - or in the other countries where it occurs. Forming sensible - and sensitive - strategies for the management of urban gulls is going to take time and research.” It doesn’t seem if anyone has come up with anything since then. More details from Peter Rock’s research here and more on the historical background to the problem in this Independent article.

It is really hard to see how a way forward can be found unless a squad of at least half a dozen is created by the Highland Council, complete with good ladders and other equipment, to deal with this problem during the nesting season. Provision would have to be found for overtime payments too. The seagull population in Nairn will probably rise even more in the next few years too. Again to quote Peter Rock:

“The breeding season runs from March to the end of July. One attempt is made per season and three eggs are laid. In urban situations, this usually means that pairs will bring off three young each year. Pairing for life adds stability to their breeding patterns and, even if this is only 10 years, a pair could raise 30 offspring. This exceptional breeding success explains the exponential, national growth rate of 13 per cent. It should not be forgotten that to maintain a stable population in any species, including humans, all that is necessary is for each individual to reproduce itself once in its lifetime. Urban gulls are doing far better than this.”

The Herring Gull is protected under the wildlife act and even if shooting or poisoning were possible it would be difficult to accomplish safely in a built-up environment and would affect most of our animal loving sensibilities. There are many active seagull fans in Nairn and they make up a significant minority, yes, not as large as the numbers of swan and duck fans, but they find considerable pleasure in feeding these creatures despite the possible opprobrium of their neighbours. Many visitors to Nairn are also happy to feed the gulls as they quite often come from communities that haven’t been colonised yet and see these birds as part of nature’s seaside beauty. Maybe if the local authority had started to remove nests about twenty years ago instead of waiting until ten years into the new millennium to start issuing press releases we might have been in a different situation today.

10-0 for Jackos and bizzare circumstances for Uncle Bob's

The STV site continues its coverage of the Forres and Nairn Welfare League. One wonders how long before they set up a news page for Nairn and other towns in the Highlands similar to their Forres page.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nairn River CC AGM

We've covered quite a lot of the activities of River Community Council over the last 12 months but perhaps it'd be best tonight from the horse's mouth in the form of a copy of their Annual Review (available here as a googledoc). Why not take a look to see what they have been up to on your behalf.

Not much else to report, there was no election of office-bearers as all community councils in Nairn are up for election in November and it would hardly be worth the bother of a changover in the final few months of this term of office.
The first combined meeting of the community councils will take place on July 11th at 7.30 p.m. Hopefully West, Suburban and River will call it something interesting. How about "The Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council Forum."?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blue bin debate hits the local mainstream media

Recently this observer heard from one Fishertown resident who told us that he had been to the council to refuse a blue bin on the grounds that he had nowhere to put it and that he was willing to continue to make regular trips up the road to the recycling centre. We also know one other Fishertown resident who has to traipse bins through the house from the rear garden on collection days, if she put them outside then pedestrians would have to walk on the road. So not everywhere can accommodate a range of bins easily especially some parts of the Fishertown. There has been quite a bit of debate recently on the Gurn on the merits or otherwise of the blue bins but now the argument has exploded onto the pages of the Nairnshire Telegraph with an intervention from Fishertown resident Audrey Young who suggests in a a hard-hitting letter that they should be removed. More in your weekly paper.

Armed Forces Week Ceremony Pictures

Pictures Murray MacRae - more pictures here

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Armed Forces Week in Nairn

Starts on Monday at 10.30 at the Courthouse. Why not pop down town if you have the chance? There are more events planned next week however if you can't make that ceremony.

"At Nairn, the celebrations start with the flag raising ceremony at the Court House on Monday, 20 June at 10.30 am. In attendance will be the Lord Lieutenant, the Provost of Nairn, Nairn Ward Members, Royal British Legion, Seaforth Club, serving members and veterans from the Armed Forces and three pipers.

At noon, Royal Naval representatives will make a presentation on their contribution to the Armed Services at the Royal British Legion.

On Saturday, 25 June, a parade has been planned at 1.30p.m. led by the Nairn & District Pipe Band marching from Millbank Street, Millbank Crescent, past the War Memorial, down Cawdor Street and past the Royal British Legion where the salute will be taken by the Lord Lieutenant. At 5.00p.m., the Royal British Legion will hold a Sunset Ceremony with the Nairn & District Pipe Band playing a selection of tunes followed by the lowering of the Armed Forces Day Flag. The Flag will be presented to this year’s senior veteran at the conclusion by last year’s recipient"

RNLI stall

Preparations for the RNLI stall outside the Courthouse earlier this morning. Why not pop down and have a look? As usual there was a large selection of healthy looking herbaecous plants ready to go straight into the garden.

Wall to wall Danny as we head back to the seventies?

It was heard to escape Danny Alexander's voice yesterday if you had a Television or a radio switched on at newsbroadcast times. Danny is the Westminster Government's front man in their efforts to make Civil Servants work until they are 66, pay more into their pension schemes and receive a pension based on their average earnings instead of final salary. Danny certainly got around yesterday and he certainly sounded confident on both the radio and television. It continues today in acres of newsprint:

"Yesterday the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander provoked fury by warning public sector workers it would be a "colossal mistake" to reject a deal that was the best they could hope for." More on the independent site.

The unions (or at least some of their leaders) are up for a fight. In that same Independent article we have Dave Prentis being quoted:

"Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, made the comments as furious unions threatened to walk away from talks over coalition plans to require most public sector employees to work longer and pay more for less generous entitlements in retirement.
He told the Guardian today: "It will be the biggest since the general strike. It won't be the miners' strike. We are going to win." "

This observer feels that the Unions could be walking into a bigger trap than the one that Arthur Scargill fell into in 1984. Danny sounded upbeat and confident and it seems the Government are willing to have a rumble too. The Unions should be careful what they wish for, maybe some of the LibDems might not have the appetite for a prolonged battle but the Tories certainly will. The miners strikes of 73/74 toppled Heath but as we all know the paradigm shifted with Magaret Thathcher in 79 and the next time round the Tories were ready. If there is prolonged, unpopular union unrest then Cameron could go to the country just as Heath did in 74 on the issue of who runs the country and the result might not be very pretty at all - a Tory government with a majority and a mandate to go far beyond anything the present coalition may be contemplating. If such an election were to happen then voters in Scotland might turn to the SNP in huge numbers if Labour looked liked losing. Remember the huge spikes in SNP support in the two elections in 1974 when the SNP won 22 and 30% of the vote respectively.

A return to 1926? No, a re-run of 1984/5 maybe, at a push, if the rank and file have the bottle and are willing to gamble on losing a lot more than Danny is proposing at the moment. The times they may have a changed and we might have a lot more technology lying around but there certainly is a a bit of retro feeling creeping in after the first year of Cameron rule in Westminster. All we need now is a punk rock revival to really set the scene.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

“Isn’t there a danger that Nairn will be overwhelmed with residential development?”

This observer enjoyed the talk given by Tim Stott of Highland Council over at the River CC meeting in the Community Centre on Tuesday night. It was a joy to actually have someone speaking without a power point presentation – a few more officials that come to Nairn should try a bit of this – why should powerpoint be so compulsory when talking to the masses? Anyway Tim gave the meeting about fifteen minutes of quality off the top of his head and then a further thirty minutes answering questions.

He explained the present status of the Highland Wide Development Plan and also the more local plan that takes in Nairn. It does seem strange to this observer calling this a local plan when it extends north to Tain, over to Garve, down to Fort Augustus and along back to encompass Nairnshire via the boundaries of the Cairngorm National Park, but such is our place in the greater scheme of things now.

Some might recall the Highland Council’s recent “call for sites” where landowners had the opportunity to put their properties up to be included in zones that will eventually be accepted for the “principle of development”. This process also gave everyone the chance to put forward suggestions for areas that should never be developed. In short it gives pro and anti development lobbies the chance to have their input into the process. Things are now at the ideas stage. In the autumn there will be a meeting in Nairn where a map will be shown indicating all the areas suggested for development and those that have been put forward as areas that should not be touched. In between now and then the Highland Council Planning Development and Environment committee will have decided what it thinks are the best options and these too will be indicated on the map. Then everyone will have a chance to react to all the proposals and then after this consultation a list of options will be drawn up next year. Those, who in Tim’s words, might be “really annoyed” by elements of the decisions made will have the chance to take the issue to a Public Local Inquiry which will be the formal legal phase at the end of the process.

River CC had suggested that the Links, Maggot, playing field, Riverside Walks and space either side of the river and Viewfield should never be developed. The only suggestion they had submitted for development was the Bus Station area. Tim indicated the development ideas that had come forward so far: Nairn South (where landowners and developers had submitted similar proposals), Househill farm (where the landowner had submitted, via an agent, the entire farm for a mixture of housing, public parks, employment, retail and tourism). Sainsbury’s were also asking for the rest of their site to be included for the principle of Class 1 retail development, giving them the option to expand in future. There was also an infill site at Lochloy adjoining the existing development, this submission was from Mr Derek MacDonald.

Later in the meeting during the Q&A session Lesley Boulton, after giving a list of all the major developments proposed in the area: “Isn’t there a danger that Nairn will be overwhelmed with residential development?”
Tim replied that Sandown had had a business park element and the wider proposal at Delneis has a golf course, a hotel and tourism related development. He went on to say:
“I don’t think all these developments will happen, and they certainly won’t happen very fast because there isn’t the demand out there. I wouldn’t panic too much in thinking all these developments are going to happen because, the market demand, quite a few of them, Delnies for example, don’t have a builder lined up as far as I know.”

Lesley Boulton went on to air a complaint heard before by this observer at this type of gathering:

“Well surely the planning process is planning for a possibility, a probability, something that may never happen. It seems to be we spend a log of time going through lots of plans which will never come to fruition. Not in my lifetime anyway.”

Tim replied: “We always have a choice of sites, it is a conscious policy of the Highland Council to have a choice of sites. You don’t tie up all the land supply in Nairn with one owner, because you give all the power and the only housing site down to one land owner or developer and the price of land will go up and therefore the price of houses as well as a result of that. We don’t put all our eggs in one basket, we don’t have a single land-owner with total control of the land supply in a town. So that’s why we zone more land than there is the actual demand for people to buy houses, but the idea is to provide lots of choice, the landowners have to compete. The net result of all that is the price of land comes down therefore, other things being equal, the price of houses sold at the end of the process should be less as well.”

More from this meeting later in the week if time permits. No doubt many Gurnites will be waiting with anticipation the eventual map that appears this autumn. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on up until then and no doubt folk will want to be ready if they feel that some of the proposed developments are inappropriate or excessive. There will of course also be some that will be willing to praise developments, Gurnites will remember how the Delnies proposal received the backing of many when it was shown in the Community Centre. Interesting times aren’t they?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Could "Nairnshire Waste Busters" get off the ground?

Tommy Hogg told last night's meeting of River CC that he had been approached by Graham Vine of West CC about the possibilty of setting up a copy of the successful Moray Waste Busters operation in Nairn.
The idea received strong backing from Tommy's fellow community councillors and he is to go through to Forres with Graham on an official visit to Waste Busters. Liz revealed that the town's four Highland Councillors had received an e-mail from an individual along the same lines seeking their backing to set-up such an operation. Liz said she would put the individual concerned in touch with Tommy and Graham.
Graham Marsden suggested that there was certainly space up at Balmakeith for such an operation with the bonus that everything that would be recycled would not go to landfill which costs money.

It was felt at the meeting that this idea would be an ideal item to add to the agenda of the first meeting of the Combined Community Council Forum. We could certainly do with such a facility in Nairn and I'm sure Gurnites will add their support to Tommy and Graham's proposal, in the meantime anyone looking for a bargain might want to visit the Moray Waste busters facilities. There's no shortage of recycled goods and objects there at bargain prices and this observer was particularly struck by the large amount of golf clubs that were available.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Super fast fibre optic broadband coming to Nairn

"BT has also confirmed it is rolling out its super fast fibre optic broadband service outside the central belt for the first time.

Its latest investment programme will connect a further 71,000 homes and businesses with exchanges in Aberdeen, Nairn, Inverkeithing, Cumbernauld and Glasgow the latest to be upgraded."
More on

The end of Fort George as an Army base?

Scotland on Sunday has predicted the demise of the Fort as a home for the Army:

"A senior Ministry of Defence source told Scotland on Sunday that the base would close as a result of the review. Soldiers of the Black Watch, currently stationed at Fort George, will be the last troops to leave the barracks when they move to RM Condor in Arbroath, Angus, currently the home of 45 Commando." More here.

Later articles in the press have carried a statement from the MOD that no final decisions have been made yet. If it does close it'll be another blow to the standing of our Westminster MP Danny Alexander. There isn't much point in having an MP at the heart of government if he can't do anything to save the like of Fort George vanishing from the military portfolio.

Would the loss of Fort George have as much economic impact locally as the closure of Kinloss however? Perhaps a few soldiers come for the odd pint in Nairn but basically their social life is now organised around Inverness and there are no married quarters in Nairn now. The Fort just doesn't support as many civilian jobs as Kinloss does and restoration work would still continue through Historic Scotalnd. The loss of the army wouldn't stop tourists heading to the Fort and the history of the military links would remain but to this observer the Fort just wouldn't be the same without it being a functioning military base. It'll be a pity if the military goes but at the end of the day we're probably just as powerless as Danny Alexander to do anything about it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Blue Bins are arriving

Good to see the shiny new blue bins appearing in Nairn. Here's looking forward to more recylcing. A pity glass still has to be taken to central points however.

Scottish Open 2011- B&B Accommodation

Accomodation available from 6th -11th July. £60.pp/pn

For further details contact 01667 453466 e-mail

Nairn Parrots get the red-top treatment

Some Nairn news out there at last - Nairn Inverness-shire that is, obviously the News of the Screws thinks we've already been assimilated. Anyway click here for "Squak dirty to me".

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Congratulations to Wendy and Stuart

Married today 2.30 p.m. at the United Reform Church. A reception was held at the Nairn Dunbar Golf Club. Picture from Murd Dunbar.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One for the organic meat eaters

Tours of the organic poultry unit are available down at Ardersier on Sunday (12th) from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. There will be a minbus service from the Community Market at the Ardersier football pitches.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Making the most out of the Open

There's some free workshops for businesses coming up in Nairn on the 21st of this month. More details here.

Nairnshire Challenge 2011 - Images

25 pages of pictures now on the Gurn Flickr pages. More to come over the next few days.

Flickr tip, once browsing an image you have selected, click actions, then view all sizes to see larger versions of that image.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Parking enforcement

As seen on the brae yesterday by Iain. Watch where you park Gurnites, the free-for-all is over now.

Jobs at Nairn Academy

Highland Council are looking for a cook, a maths teacher and a temporary PE teacher. Type in Nairn on this page for further details.

Keep smiling

This recent picture taken at the harbour in from one of the regular Gurnites. The Union Flag is upside down it seems. We checked this out and indeed it is:

"The flag does not have reflection symmetry, due to the slight pinwheeling of St Patrick's cross, which is technically called the counterchange of saltires. Thus, it has a right side and a wrong side up. To fly the flag the correct way up, the broad portion of the white cross of St Andrew should be above the red band of St Patrick (and the thin white portion below) in the upper hoist canton (the corner at the top nearest to the flag-pole), giving the Scottish symbol precedence over the Irish symbol. This is expressed by the phrases wide white top and broad side up. Traditionally, flying a flag upside down is understood as a distress signal. In the case of the Union Flag, the difference is so subtle as to be easily missed by many. Indeed, some people have displayed it upside down inadvertently." More here on Wikipedia

Monday, June 06, 2011

Storm Trooper on Nairn beach

An image from Steven Bunn of Highland Campervans who encountered this holidaying Storm Trooper on Nairn's West Beach on Saturday. Thanks Steven.

Crayfish patrol on the Geddes Burn

Up close with one of the North American invaders.

Nairn Anglers were up as usual checking the traps in the Geddes Burn this weekend for the North American Signal Crayfish Invaders. Above you can see two of the regulars (as not seen on TV) holding one of the beasties. These creatures that like feasting on salmon eggs and other indigenious elements of the local ecology are also partial to catfood. Some more pictures on the Gurn Flickr pages.

Well made nest

This nest was lying underneath the young pines at the Maggot car-park yesterday. Those pines are pretty sparse trees and the nest would have been quite noticeable in there, this observer thinks the it might have come from somewhere else. Does anyone know what sort of bird will have built it? It is about a foot across with an outer ring of Silver Birch. Inside long grass, moss and what looks like wool or animal hair has been used to create a snug lining.

Wesminster Constituencies - Boundary changes to come in the Highlands?

The ConDem government is set to change a lot of boundaries for Westminster Constituencies. It is going to be a major shake-up and it seems that the LibDems might suffer as a consequence. Here's what the Guardian has to see about a couple of local heroes:

"Charles Kennedy v Danny Alexander: Charles Kennedy's Ross, Skye & Lochaber seat could gain a large part of the votes from Danny Alexander's Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey seat, creating a conflict between the two, often seen as opposite ends of the Lib Dem spectrum. Labour believes a Lib Dem amendment limiting the geographical size of a constituency to match the current largest, which happens to be Kennedy's, was put in as a fix to prevent such a standoff. But now it is known any seat can be affected, there could be crucial changes at the margins nonetheless". More here on the Guardian.

This observer might suggest that whatever the boundaries of Danny's seat it might fall to one of the Westminster opposition parties in the Highlands, probably the SNP if their Holyrood results translate into Westminster numbers next time round, if not there could still be a comeback by Labour to take the seat. Charles Kennedy would probably survive any anti LibDem surge as the voters won't see him as such a toxic asset.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Nairnshire Challenge 2011 - Pictures

First few pictures now up on the Gurn flickr pages. Lots more to come over the next few days.

Tip - To see larger images if browsing pictures on flickr, click the Actions tab above the individual picture and then click "View all sizes."
Update latest 07/06/11 - 1343 images uploaded including first batch taken in town. Quite a few images taken in the town to go up yet.

Transport Authorities practice to meet anticipated demand from Nairnites for travel to Sainsbury's

Well that's what this observer thought it was until Laurie, in charge of traffic management for Today's Nairnshire Challenge, put me right. Good luck to all participants today. Hopefully we'll have some pictures of the event on the Gurnflickr pages later this evening.

Friday, June 03, 2011

BBC Plonkers

Mrs Gurnmeister gasped with indignation this evening while watching Landward on BBC2 as the reporter referred to "the Nairn in Morayshire".

Apart from that elementary mistake the snippet on the River Nairn was as advertised, Nairn anglers were shown catching North American Signal Crayfish in traps. The mannie from SNH was rather defeatist however, claiming that very little could be done but Nairn anglers feel that they can make a difference. Amazing isn't it? The authorities are keen to spend big money on getting all the mink but when it comes to these crayfish beasties that like to eat salmon eggs it's a different story. Bin the defeatist mannie and spend the equivalent of his salary on a few more traps?

PS if you didn't see Landward then issue 12 is available on the BBC iPlayer for a few days. The Nairn item is about 10.48 minutes into the video.

Dangerous White Line?

Concerns were expressed at Wedensday night's Suburban CC meeting that motorists could find themselves driving up onto the pavement in foggy conditions etc, if they followed the white line on the new pavement at the Sandown crossroads. The inside white line must be there to prevent cyclists from riding into the the regular drain recesses along the road that cut into the pavement.

Councillors also discussed posssible future options for Sandown Farm Lane to reduce the frequency and speed of rat-runners. There were calls for the 60 limit to be reduced to 30. The possibilities of speed bumps and the suggestion of blocking the road off were also discussed.

Blowing in the wind

Delnies topsoil heads for Sandown on Thursday morning.

Harbour Saltire

Sunset 02 June2011

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Fort William 1 Nairn 3

Nairn finish in 5th spot this season with the Highland League (Morganti Cup) in the trophy cupboard too. Pictures from Donald Matheson.

Individual pictures here. Match report here.