Sunday, July 31, 2011

The week ahead - Sainsbury's Balmakeith opening

For better or worse there will a new retail landscape in Nairn from 09.00 a.m. on Wednesday when there will be a short opening ceremony at the Sainsbury’s store at Balmakeith.
It’s been a long hike since the 3rd of June 2008 when Nairn citizens turned out on mass at the Courthouse to demand that the planning committee and its out of town members pass the application on the table from Sainsbury’s. It was a febrile atmosphere that day. It’s worth remembering how it all started out here’s how the Gurn summed it up in June 2008:

“Motion approved at the Courthouse almost on the stroke of mid-day. Vote 12-2 for the motion. All Nairn Councillors voted for the motion. Massive public turn-out, a very crowded courthouse and unfortunately not room for everyone even all standing room taken up.
A very highly charged atmosphere today, there wasn't a seat to be had in the Courthouse well before 10.00 am and the situation became critical by 10.15 when members of the public were soon standing all around the tables set out for the members and the applicants and objectors. With a queue still trying to get in. There were calls for the meeting to be moved to a more suitable venue. These appeals were rejected but the councillors looked very uncomfortable with the situation. Obviously a large crowd was not expected. The crowded conditions created an intimacy between the members and the public however and at least one councillor admitted at the end that he had been swayed by the power of public opinion.Resounding applause for the applicants and their supporters that spoke and laughter for some of the comments from the objectors. Then the debate and, surprisingly for some, all of Nairn's councillors indicated their support for the Sainsbury's store but with reservations. We will bring you more on this debate later. It was a remarkable occasion to witness and perhaps marks a turning point in local peoples input into the deomocratic process in the town. Well done Nairn's four councillors 'The Fantastic Four?' for having the bottle to go against the planners and side with the public!When the motion was passed the applause would have been heard down at the bottom of the brae.”

There have been many twists and turns in the road towards the public inquiry and beyond but when Jeanne Tolmie of Nairn River Community Council cuts the ribbon on Wednesday morning the community will have its wish – a supermarket worthy of the size of Nairn and a wider choice of food without having to travel out of town. It’ll all be over, done and dusted, with the first trolleys heading for the tills a short time after the scissors snip the tape.

Whatever happens next, for better or worse for the Co-op and the High Street in general what we have up at Balmakeith has come about principally because of public demand and even activism in some cases. Sainsbury’s has been Nairn’s favourite supermarket chain for well over three years before its doors were even to open. Next week the relationship between the supermarket and the community that agitated for it enters a new "live" phase

Nairn 3 Strathspey Thistle 0

A great start to the Highland League 2011/12 campaign yesterday at Station Park. Match report here.

Pictures Donald Matheson. Individual images here.Full screen slideshow here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looking good for the Nairn Show

Looks like it will be a pleasant day for the Nairn show. Good luck to all involved, here's wishing you a good turnout and a successful event today.

It would have been nice to have an alternative?

If you are a tourist heading eastwards along the B9090 after visiting Cawdor this is the highly visible new sign you will see just beyond the junction for Nairn. If you are pondering on how to proceed south, east or ready to try anything then this sign could well tempt you away from Nairn.

Wouldn't it have been nice if Nairn, a town whose economy depends on tourism, had had a chance for some input into this tourist route?

Would have been a nice idea wouldn't it?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Busy Nairn Allotment Society - Open days and boot sale in August

Nairn Allotment Society have a busy programme of events in August starting with their open day at Sandown on Sunday the 7th. There will be the usual range of stalls and tea/coffee available.

On Sunday 14th the event will be repeated down at the new allotments in Mill Road. Both events run from midday to four o’ clock. Your chance to see the new site and perhaps pick up a few gardening tips. Perhaps you would like to help the Society in its campaign to get more allotments in Nairn or would even like a plot yourself. If so please come along for a chat with the membership at either of the open days.

Then on Sunday the 21st the Society will be holding a car boot sale at the Maggot Car Park. A chance there to sell a few spare items for cash. A pitch for your car will cost £5 but no traders please. Again the event will run from 12.00 - 16.00.

The allotment society look forward to seeing you at the 3 August events. For further details or to book a space at the boot sale contact

New Masterplan 300-350 houses for Sandown on the wish list

We're going round the course again and Highland Council will be asking the community for their input this time. If anyone thought the community would be deciding how many houses go on Sandown however, they will be disappointed. Any consultation over numbers of dwellings will be well within markers laid down by the local authority. Making another of his regular comments to the Inverness Courier today, Graham Marsden says:

"We will be looking at something in the region of 300 to 350 houses ultimately, but whether we have a business park or not has to be decided."

The Courier mentions that £2 million from the previous deal with developers was earmarked to pay off a loan that went towards building the Community Centre. Here's another quote from the Courier:

"Councillor Marsden stressed it was more important to get the plans for Sandown right, rather that rush them to pay off the loan."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Movement at last from the Co-op over the Regal

People power seems to have finally moved the Co-op into action over the state of the Regal. Rosemary Young tells the Gurn that she has just received a letter from the Co-op head office, from a Mr Geoff Player, Director of Property, in fact.

The last paragraph of the letter states:

" I have instructed our property agents to come up with proposals for some cosmetic works which will hopefully assist with the visual appearance of the building."

Stirring in the heather?

Seems Danny's seat might vanish in the Boundary Review:

"There'll be a strirring in the heather up in the Scottish Highlands, however, because Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) may have to go head to head against Danny Alexander (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)." Says Sky News

Spin-off for the High Street if Forres folk visit Sainsbury's?

One of our regular readers sent this image of a full-page Sainsbury's ad in the Forres Gazette. Could businesses elsewhere in the town see a bit of a spin-off if Forrresians come through in great numbers?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30K over three years to build and maintain a website for Highland Council's new charity

Thanks to the regular reader who sent in a link to a page on the Drum, the creative marketing and media site.

Wasn't the idea of putting the swimming pools and other leisure facilities at arms length to save money? Here's what the Drum has to say:

"The Highland Council is searching for an agency to design, develop and host a website that will enhance the quality of life of those who live in the Highlands.

The site will be developed for High Life Highland, which will be registered as a charity from October, where it will aim to deliver community learning and leisure services on behalf of the council.

The website will be designed, developed and hosted by the successful applicant, with the aim of promoting the charity’s services, as well as details of services to customers."

This existing page looks good enough to this observer with links to all you perhaps would like to know. No doubt the Council's high heid yins will have a rationale for this but houldn't charity begin at home. Why spend £30K on a new site? Full details on the Drum if you fancy the job..

The Gurn hearby offers to create a gurnstyle blog/site for £30 and hand it over to the High Life folk.

Sainsbury's Nairn helping the Community already!

The Nairn Pensioners Social and Luncheon Club will receive a donation of £500 from Sainsbury’s Nairn. The donation will allow the group to enjoy a High Tea to round off their day out to Pitmedden Gardens in Aberdeen shire.

A spokesperson from the group has said “we are looking forward to visiting the new store on the morning of the grand opening on august the 3rd to collect our cheque before we leave on our bus trip”

Store manager, Raymond Barton, said, “We are very proud to make our first donation as a new Sainsbury’s store to this local group. We are dedicated to helping the local community and we look forward to dealing with many other local Charities and Community groups in the future”

The Nairn Pensioners Social and Luncheon Club meet on Mondays and Thursdays in the Nairn Community Centre for lunch. In summer months the group embarks on monthly trip to local areas of interest. Sainsbury’s donated fresh fruit, vegetables and meats to the club after the taster day held at the community centre earlier this month

Picking up your doggie's jobbies week

If anyone doesn't do that by now will a publicity campaign do anything to convince them? Reading a press release from Highland Council it emerges that 20 people were fined £40 each across the Highlands for leaving pooch turds in their wake:
"The law makes it an offence if a dog fouls anywhere to where the public have access. Any waste must be immediately pick it up and dispose of correctly. If not dog owners can face a £40 penalty.
Over 20 dog walkers were fined in the Highlands last year for failing to pick up after their dogs.
James Sanderson Education and Enforcement officer with The Highland Council said: “Despite the signs, the posters and the free bags there are still dog walkers who think it is okay to leave dog waste on the ground. Some people think it’s alright if their dog fouls on a beach but this is in many ways worse as children will play with the sand and walk on beaches in bare feet. The tide can wash sand over a dog mess and it makes a beach like a minefield for anyone wanting to enjoy the beautiful coastal areas we have in our Highlands.”

This observer feels that forty quid is not enough. £400 for a first offence, doubling for every subsequent offence would be the way to go for both jobbies and litter. For more information on National Poop Scoop Week click here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Could Highland Council manage "some cosmetic works" too?

Here's that quote from a Co-op spokesperson again concerning the Regal mess:

"A quick solution cannot, however, be guaranteed in the current economic climate. But in the meantime the co-operative will carry out some cosmetic works to improve the appearance of the buildings."

Well perhaps the Highland Council could manage a bit of cosmetic work on the buildings they own along Nairn's very own Desolation Row tourist attraction. One wonders how tall the weeds are along at their Glenurquhart Road HQ in Inverness and whether grass grows on the roofs there. Looks like the Co-op could be getting their act together at last as a result of people power - now what about Highland Council?

Individual pictures here.

The Regal and the old petrol station continue to decay - July 2011

Individual pictures here. Full screen slideshow here.

UPDATE: (Weds 08.29) The Gurn has learnt from Rosemary Young that the Scottish Government's tourism minister is looking into what can be done about the state of the Regal.

Midges in Nairn

Midges are not unknown in Nairn of course but they are usually pretty rare. This observer experienced some vicious bites up at Sandown yesterday evening and tonight more reports of midge attacks are coming in. Hopefully midges will not become a regular part of the Nairn summer scene. Climate change?

Facebook campaigners move Co-op to action?

Could bad publicity on Facebook finally be moving the Co-op to action on the Regal/old petrol station disaster zone? There's a major article in the Press and Journal today as a direct result of the Boycott the Nairn Co-op facebook campaign. Although many people contributing to that group are drawing back from a boycott that will affect jobs but there is still tangible anger being demonstrated.

A Co-op spokesperson is quoted in the P&J today:

"We are currently exploring a range of operations regarding the future of the buildings, including the sale of them."
"A quick solution cannot, however, be guaranteed in the current economic climate. But in the meantime the co-operative will carry out some cosmetic works to improve the appearance of the buildings."

Cosmetic works in the pipeline then and it will be interesting to see if the Co-op come forward quickly with more details. If you have a Facebook account you can contribute to the ongoing debate which the Co-op seem to be finally listening to.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Legion Colours - Service of Rededication

A service of rededication of the Royal British Legion Nairn branch colours was held on Sunday July 24th at St Ninian's Church. Picture Murray MacRae. More pictures here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rosemary Young joins the Co-op boycotters

Above is Rosemary Young's contribution to the Facebook Campaign to boycott the Co-op until they clean up the Regal etc. (click to see a bigger image if you have trouble reading it) The Campaign seems to be gathering pace and numbers as folk get on their PC's and laptops after a long sunny day. Not everyone is of the same mind however, here's another comment:

"I cant believe how narrow minded you people are...sure go ahead and boycott the Co-op , but how will you feel when its staff are out of jobs ??? Probably wont bother any of you, with money to throw away."

Perhaps the executives at the Co-op should have thought a bit like that when they set out to hire a bunch of suits for the public inquiry to try and stop a decent supermarket worthy of the new millennium coming to Nairn. Didn't they realise that the Community would turn against them for that? The top men at the Co-op wanted to keep their monopoly control over Nairn.

This observer has effectively boycotted the Co-op for the big shop for many years now and has relied on mercy lifts to other towns for more choice. Sainsbury's will offer that choice without having to travel but for some the Co-op will still be the most convenient place to shop and nothing will change that - it might even be quieter for a while with smaller queues. We'll just have to wait and see how things go. It is a shame that peoples jobs may be affected but the ill-will in this community is to the gaffers that have left things as they are and not the individuals that work there who are part of our community. The Co-op can go a long way to making amends by simply cleaning up the mess that is the Regal and the old petrol station - then the community might be inclined to show them some support again. Come on Co-op high heid yins - are you Caring and Sharing or don't you give a toss for Nairn's appearance?

Why not pop over to Facebook and add your views?

Dead Dolphin?

This picture in from Charlie Black. Taken on the rocks near the swimming pool on the West Beach. He isn't sure but he thinks it might be a dead Dolphin calf. It would be extremely sad if one of the local Moray Firth Dolphins has come to grief.

The Gurn also heard today about an article in the Forres Gazette of a 4ft long dog-fish being seen by the pier at mid-day on Saturday the 25th of June. Picture and details in the Forres Gazette.

UPDATE: Another of the regulars came across a dead mature Dolphin last Sunday a quarter of a mile past the bothy on the Delnies shoreline.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Campaign to boycott Nairn Co-op appears on Facebook

Might be controversial this but a page has appeared on Facebook asking folk to boycott the Co-op until they clean up the Regal and the Petrol Station. Details are on this facebook page.

Nice and quiet

Nothing out of NICE for sometime now, both the NICE plan and the Highland Council's ambitions for the town centre remain available for view on the website. Will anything ever happen or do we just have two versions of a dream that will never come into being?

Meanwhile all the empty buildings along the A96 continue to decay. Perhaps there are stirrings behind the scenes or maybe once again we will have to wait for the promise of development cash to come in from housing on the Sandown Lands before there is any movement at all? There's also an ongoing development brief in the pipeline for Sandown:

"Work on the Development Brief will progress over the course of Summer 2011, with regular reports being given to the local members and community groups through the Ward Forum meetings. A draft brief will be prepared for the Planning, Environment and Development Committee meeting later in the autumn. This will then be followed by further public and stakeholder consultation with adoption of the Development Brief as Supplementary Guidance taking place before the end of 2011."

The Council promises to get everyone's views on board too:

"We will organise venue bookings and base information, including maps, and will place adverts in the local newspapers, contact local groups and try to engage with people through our blog and social networking sites to reach the widest audience possible."

Coming soon a "Charette" for Sandown then. Full Highland Council document here. Full steam ahead by the end of the autumn for Sandown and cash coming in to sort the town centre and pay the community centre debt soon after that?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oor Graham misses a bit of litter

Come on Councillor, how could you miss this on your regular patrol? Thanks to the Gurnite who sent in the picture.

Fishing at the harbour enjoys a renaissance

This picture was sent in by one of the regulars who today counted 17 having a go today, the majority of them bairns. Perhaps it's the rising price of food or simply holiday makers bringing their rods with them or maybe publicity about a potential ban on fishing at the harbour has brought about this rise in numbers.

Inverness supporting Nairn devolutionists?

It looks like a few Invernessians think it might be a good idea for Nairn to have a measure of freedom? The poll is still ongoing here. And the original article in the Courier has attracted some forthright comment. Why not pop over to the Courier and give them your thoughts?

Time for Graham Marsden to put Highland Council rule over Nairn in his binbag?

Dogs and the river

Here's one creature that didn't have Tommy to rescue it - no happy ending there. Best keep your animal out of the river when there's a spate.

LibDems getting used to being rubbish?

One of our regular readers sends us this link showing that Oor Graham is not the only LibDem in the UK getting rubbish(ed). Who next with a bin bag on Nairn Beach - Danny himself?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Retired angler catches dog

The Gurn understands Community Councillor Tommy Hogg was at the end of the pier on Sunday evening when he witnessed a potential tragedy unfolding as a retriever that had entered the river by the Maggot car park lost its battle to swim against the fast flowing water in the river Nairn. The animal was growing increasingly tired as it was being swept towards the harbour mouth. Tommy, on the spur of the moment decided to make an attempt to save the animal. He went down the steps into the almost chest high water and positioned himself to intercept the creature in distress. Before the dog reached him however it began rolling in the water and went under. Tommy made a lunge for where he thought the animal would pass and luckily for the dog he succeeded in grabbing it. Tommy eventually managed to get the dog out of the water onto the pier where it seemed to be initially in a very bad state but made a recovery, by then the pet’s owners had reached the scene of the rescue. Tommy was fairly knackered too and next time says he will think twice about embarking on any more dangerous rescue missions. The lucky dog and its owners returned to Inverness after a day out in Nairn they will never forget. On Tommy’s return home the response from his wife was apparently unrepeatable.

Oor Graham's Page 3 spread

The Courier seems to be paying more and more attention to Nairn matters these days. Graham Marsden receives the Page 3 treatment in the Tuesday Courier complete with picture: "Nairn beach's one-man litter buster leads the way". The Gurn had previously revealed how he cleans up the harbour now it seems our LibDem mannie is fighting them on the beaches.

"In these sorts of times, and indeed most of the time, it is up to all of us in the community if we see stuff to pick it up and put it in the rubbish bin."

Fair enough but how many litterbug fines have Highland Council ever issued in Nairn Graham? Why is there no deterrent?

Nairn resident and cycle campaigner Jason Rose has his picture in the Courier too but only on page 7. Jason is calling for a coastal cycle trail between Inverness and Nairn.

Laikenbuie Open Day


OPEN DAY SUNDAY 24th JULY from 2 - 5pm






TREASURE HUNT (bring wellies), BOATING


on the A939 Nairn to Grantown road between Recycling Centre and Greens Nursery, 3 miles from Nairn. Tel: 01667 454630.

Entrance Adults £3.00, Children free

All entrance money and donations divided between:-


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“Bring back local committee”

Screams the banner headline of the Nairnshire with their take on Alistair Noble’s submission to the Combined Community Council meeting last week. Interesting reading and subsequent comment provided from Liz and Oor Graham after the event. Although I kind of get the impression that Graham doesn’t get the idea that people in Nairn want real political power back and are not just on about expanding voluntary services. It is very difficult for Graham really, he is part of the centralising administration that has taken so much power from Nairn yet he has to go along to meetings in Nairn and listen when folk lament all that is lost and could still be lost.

Mention is also made of the low turnout on the public benches. It’s an interesting point, folk stay away from regular meetings of the CC’s but when something kicks off, like an OTT planning application, then folk will arrive in their droves. Again this observer feels that the sentiments expressed by Alistair and his colleagues will find sympathy and support from the great majority of the Nairnshire population even if they are reluctant to attend the meetings.

Iain Bain tackles the subject too in his editorial and supports the sentiment expressed last Monday night. He says:

“The final turn of the screw came in 2007 when electoral reform saw new wards brought in and the end of the Area Committee system which had preserved to a diminishing extent the shades of the former District tier of local government. We would like to return to some kind of community representation and we are in broad agreement with the principle that Dr Noble states.”

Much more of this editorial on a newsstand near you. Keep up to date with this week’s edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph.

Sainsbury's - Mesolithic Rest Stop

As Nairn waits patiently for the opening of Sainsbury's the site itself makes news on the BBC webpages:

"Archaeologists believe the remains of burned oak uncovered at the site of the Highland's first Sainsbury's store to be evidence of an ancient "rest stop". "

More here. Planning conditions prevent Sainsbury's having a restaurant in the store but should that ever change they would have the ideal "theme" for a more modern rest stop.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Traffic lights switched on - Nairn survives?


Despite the ongoing delays as work continues at Balmakeith (picture above), Nairn seems to have survived the big switch-on yesterday. This morning as the rush hour got underway traffic seemed to be moving along the A96 in smaller groups and perhaps a little slower than normal. Motorists waiting to exit from the Moss-side Road junction and the Grantown Road seemed to be getting their fair share of green lights too. Community Councillor Ian Gordon told the Gurn that he thought the lights seemed to be working well as he parked up in the town centre car-park. Pictures of the lights in action here.

How was it for you today, any problems?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lodgehill Clinic for sale - yours for 200K

"The subjects are not identified for any specific use within the Local Plan and it would be reasonable to assume that a change of use will be forthcoming for any Use Class similar to surgery premises such as serviced offices, Veterinary Practice, or offices. Also in view of the concentration of residental units within the locality it would be reasonable to assume that consent would be granted for residental development. There is also scope, due to the layout of the building for dual or three different occupancies either on a shared purchase or sublet basis."

More on this Remax page. It's quite a big file and may take a moment or two to load. Thanks to the regular reader who sent the link.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flood Alert

Thanks to the regular reader who sent us the following:

"An updated FLOOD ALERT has been issued for Findhorn Nairn Moray and Speyside.

River levels are forecast to rise due to prolonged rainfall over the weekend, with the greatest impact expected on Sunday.

As the persistent rain on Friday and Saturday turns heavier during Sunday, this will result in an increased flood risk to the region. Smaller watercourses will respond quickly to heavier, more intense spells of rain however the persistent rain around these heavier showers may result in a more gradual increase of river levels on larger watercourses."

More information here on the SEPA site.

Courier Opinion Poll - Independence for Nairn?

"Should Nairn be independent from Inverness when it comes to Highland Council decision making?"

This observer is not sure how long that poll will stay up but why not pop over and have your vote while it does? One fails to see why Inverness folk should be allowed a vote on Independence for Nairn however :-)

Little Theatre - new signage

Picture here on Bratach's Flickr pages.

Nairn's new anthem?

Thanks to Colin for the Link to John Sutherland's video. John writes on his Youtube page.

"I was sitting at home in Auckland, New Zealand, feeling rather homesick, stumming away on my guitar, playing the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen and it came upon to me to write a tune about Nairn (my hometown). So here it is!

This is a demo version, recorded in my bedroom played badly -- a diamond in the rough. However, I have plans...

...To have the whole thing re-recorded in Nairn, by Nairn folk. Making it a community effort to have a Nairn song to sing along to, to be used in the promotion of Nairn. "

More on the youtube page.

The state of Nairn Cemetery - Highland Council admit "Its appearance has changed"

Repercussions from the anger expressed about the deteriorating state of Nairn Cemetery at Tuesday's River CC meeting continue to reverberate. The Courier mentions how River CC have taken action on the behalf of outraged citizens and says:

"Highland Council staff visited the burial ground, in Grantown Road, this week and admitted its appearance had changed."

Hands up then from Highland Council. This hasn't happened overnight however and councillors and officials should have been keeping a closer eye on how things were proceeding. This is one part of town where the Highland Council should be ashamed of themselves for putting the grass-cutting out to contact.

"We are at the start of taking our own community and its care back under local control"

The uprising is finally underway Gurnites and Central Command in Glenurquhart Road will read all about it on page 9 of the Courier today. The title of this post is a quote from Alistair Noble. Today's article in the paper is entitled "Nairn Seeks devolution". We certainly do! And it's time to get behind the "Usual Suspects" at their combined meetings and of course at their monthly affairs across the town.

"Top priority in a range of ideas on how Nairn can acheive its full potential is establishment of a Nairnshire Committee - similar to the Inverness City Committee, which is responsible for Inverness Common Good Fund - which would work with bodies such as Highland Council, NHS Highland and the Scottish Government."

The Gurn is proud to support those wishing to end Inverness (Highland Council) rule in Nairn. The "Nairnshire Spring" has come a bit late but it is gathering momentum.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Scottish Community Councils Association to close

There's no doubt that the Community Councils are a very important part of the fabric of our community and regular readers here will be well aware of their constant efforts on our behalf in Nairnshire. Undoubtedly the problems experienced here in Nairn as the community fights to get back power lost to the centralising local authority will be mirrored across Scotland. It is a pity then to hear that the Association of Scottish Community Councils is to close following Scottish Government cutbacks.

The Association has issued an outspoken attack on John Swinney, they say:

"1200 Community Councils in Scotland are now without a collective voice, and a national presence. It seems the unkept promises to Community Councils from the Government’s 2007 Manifesto were only the beginning. Mr Swinney has just given the best possible gift to the bureaucrats and politicians who have resented and marginalised Community Councils since they were established in 1973."

It does seem a shame that there will no longer be a full-time resource for the likes of our hard working Community Councillors in Nairn to refer to when they need quick help and advice. It's all down to cash now it seems. You can read the full press release from the ASCC here.

Graham Marsden cleans up the harbour

On Tuesday night the River CC heard a complaint from a local wildlife enthusiast about the litter in Nairn harbour, one of the Councillors had the received the complaint via e-mail. Graham Marsden told the meeting that he had been down on Saturday and cleaned up litter from both ends of the harbour. He said, "If there is something in there, then it is only from the last few days."

"You can't be more public spirited than that!" Exclaimed River CC chair and elder stateswoman of Nairn's Usual Suspects, Jeanne Tolmie.

This observer has heard that Graham Marsden may soon be heading up the river with a pair of snips to sort a few overhanging branches. What other jobs could oor Graham get up to in his spare time? Have Gurnites got any suggestions? A pick, shovel and wheelbarrow and he could get the bypass started? Gurnites will remember his previous statement that he wanted to set aboot the Regal with a sledgehammer.

Traffic lights will be switched on Sunday 17th.

The Combined Usual Suspects were told on Monday night that the lights would be switched on this Sunday and then there would be a period up to the opening of Sainsbury's where the lights would be synchronised. Graham Marsden seemed to think there might be some "idiosyncratic" behavior displayed during that period by the new equipment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How long before a pedestrian is killed on Station Brae?

There's been plenty of talk but no action on making Station Brae safer. If anything it is getting more dangerous all the time. The following is from a regular gurnite:

"Around about half past four/quarter to five today I was walking down the Station brae from Queenspark. I saw a small lorry coming up the brae and felt that it was really close to the pavement. I turned round and saw it hitting the edge of the pavement for a couple of yards and, by the time it had reached the top of the brae (close to Jimmy Lennon’s house), it had actually mounted the pavement. Many pedestrians use this pavement; schoolkids, people going to appointments at the hospital, carers with wheelchairs from the nearby nursing homes, older people going shopping from Queenspark etc, and if there had been any pedestrians in the vicinity of this lorry they would have been hit, I have no doubt about that.
Since the Doctors Surgery opened there has been a significant increase in traffic using this route and there is also some traffic trying to avoid the current traffic lights and road works. As you all know this is a narrow road and when traffic is moving in both directions drivers have a tendency to pull away from oncoming traffic which puts pedestrians in extreme danger, if not from vehicles hitting the pavement then from wing mirrors etc. I have seen a few near misses but this one today was the worst yet.
Are there any plans for some form of traffic control on the brae? Either to cut down on the speed or to reduce the danger to pedestrians?"

It's amazing isn't it? We have councillors earning a salary and hundreds of officials working for Highland Council also earning large amounts of public money - so why then does it take so long to get things done? Perhaps the budget for the roads in Nairn should just be given to the Nairn Community Councils. Someone needs to get their act together before there are deaths or serious injuries on the brae.

River CC move fast on Cemetery problems

The Gurn has received a copy of a letter on its way to Highland Council complaining of declining standards at Nairn Cemetery. The subject was discussed last night by River CC at their regular meeting in the Community Centre.
Also available online now are the minutes of the Combined CCs meeting (usual suspects). Serious students of problems facing Nairn will find the document interesting.

Castle Stuart downpour - scientific comment

The BBC have a scientific analysis of the weather that hit Castle Stuart. Sounds like the same sort of bad luck that flooded a few properties in Nairn two years ago.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

The "Usual Suspects" offer hope

The usual suspects (picture here) got down to business earlier this evening (Monday) in the community centre for the CCC meeting (combined community councils). It went fairly well with discussion moving on to what could be done to get some power back to Nairnshire. A discussion document prepared by Alistair Noble was very well received and at their next meeting the CCCs will also meet with Nairnshire East, Cawdor and Auldearn community councils. Here's the document from Alistair it may provoke a few comments in Gurnshire too:

Releasing the full potential of the Royal Burgh of Nairn and Nairnshire

It is now accepted that big is no longer beautiful. We are at the start of taking our own community and its care back under local control. Truly acting in the Common Good and making best use of our local resources. It is obvious that Nairnshire is under severe pressure and needs to improve the democratic input into local, Highland and Scottish political decision making.

Our first priority must be to establish a Nairnshire committee which puts Nairnshire’s interests at the heart of all it does. It must clearly establish its working procedures and its relationship with other bodies especially Highland Council and Health Board and the Scottish Government. This must include the four councillors, six community councils, and Nairn partnership including business, tourism, health and social care.

This committee would be tasked with coming up with real solutions to the wide range of problems we have and the financial pressures we are about to encounter.

This would include producing a clear and corporate Nairn Local Plan dealing with the town centre, High Street, bus station, Lochloy, Balmakeith Nairn South, Sandown, Delnies and all the real rural issues.

The committee would become the custodians of the Nairn Common Good and within that have a clear understanding of who is responsible for the Common Good Fund the legal responsibility for the best use of that fund.

The integrated model of care which Nairn has done so much to establish places a great responsibility on us all to ensure that Nairnshire receives its fair share of resource and then we all work together to obtain best value from that resource. This will be within the Integrated Framework Resource model ant the better we can make local services including carers, voluntary and private sector the better will be the care we will all receive.

We could look at setting up a Nairn Housing Association and take forward the NICE thinking around town centre housing including upgrading the potential houses above the shops in the High Street.

This paper is written to help the debate and to encourage a clear strategy to come from the first joint meeting of the three Nairn Community Councils.

Alastair L Noble 6/7/2011

More from the meeting of the Combined Usual Suspects later this week.

Mill road allotments opening ceremony Sun 10th July

Individual pictures here and pictures by John Henderson here.

Gurn caption contest

Picture donated by anonymous. Caption contest - You can win six month's free subscription to the Gurn. What did a very smug Tommy Hogg say to Graham Marsden at The Nairn Allotment Societys Open Day at Mill Road? Picture will enlarge.

More pictures from Mill Road later. Will also get round to posting today's comments soon but a few things on a the moment.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gàidhlig aig Sainsbury's - Gaelic at Sainsbury's

Picture will enlarge. Sainsbury's have opted for the bilingual option on their new signage at Balmakeith. Back in 2008 the Gurn speculated:

"Yes, they've got to get their store up and running first but it would be nice if they did, as they will be the first supermarket inside the Gaidhealtachd for those visitors approaching from the east.
Nairn has a thriving Gaelic choir, just about 200 gaelic speakers according to the last census and now the Gaelic unit at Millbank school. Sainsbury's and Pettifer estates have promised that they will consult widely on the details of their scheme so that presents a chance to lobby for some Gaelic signage at the proposed store."

More pictures of the bilingual signs here. Incidently at the start of the next school year the Gurn understands that the Gaelic unit at Millbank will have 48 pupils.

New sign at Foynesfield crossroads

Helen, one of our regular readers was a bit perplexed by this sign, wondering why tourists might want to go to Grantown to get to Aberdeen. Seems like a new concept to this observer too, maybe to Aberdeen via the 'Grampian Highlands'? A quick google reveals more however, this is one of 12 national tourist routes. There is also more information here and on this Transport Scotland web page.

On the agenda for the "Usual Suspects"

The agenda for the Combined Usual Suspects (community councils) meeting on Monday night has now been published and can be seen here. River CC also meet on Tuesday and their agenda is here.

As we have said recently this inauguaral meeting of the Combined talents of River, West and Suburban Community Councils could be a major step forward for our community against Invercentric forces based in Glenurquhart Road - on the other hand it could be a disaster movie from the moment it sets sail. Why not pop along to the community centre to see for yourself?

The Gurn wishes the usual suspects well tomorrow night. The Gurn is proud to support the usual suspects in their efforts to get a better deal for Nairn.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Scottish Open Golf - Bad Weather bad luck

The BBC shows pictures of the water on the course at Castle Stuart. Over on MyNairn you can see a picture of the recent weather we have been experiencing in Nairn. Overnight it seems Castle Stuart was badly hit and play has been suspended again. Not the ideal debut for the competition but at least a bit of extra time for golfing types to wander through Nairn and admire the crumbling structures of the Regal, bus station etc - that all looks at its best in the rain doesn't it? We had a lot of talk about all that mess towards the end of last year and the start of this one but nothing seems to have happened yet. Time for more talk soon - or even a bit of action?

Anyway the rainfall this summer brings to mind the predictions given at a SNH seminar in Nairn last October:

"predictions were for a 40cm sea rise by 2050 and the temperature increasing by 2.5C with dryer summers and wetter winters."

Dryer summers you say? Bring it on!

Common Good land Forres - a good result for the citizens

Hat-tip to Green Dad for spotting a Scotsman article which details Moray Council backing down over plans to sell off Common Good Land in the face of opposition from the citizens of Forres.

"Some 70 per cent of the people of Forres who responded to the council's public consultation voted against the sell-off. "

Soon Highland Council will embark on a consultation process for their second attempt to do something with Sandown. Hopefully Highland Council will listen well to everything the public have to say this time round the course and we'll all live happily ever after.

Cycle to work and save some money?

Ever thought of working out how long it would for a new bicycle to pay for itself if you used two wheels instead of four to get to work? Obviously cycling to Inverness is not an option but even within the town how much could you eventually save? Say cycling from the western suburbs to a new job at Sainsbury's or maybe into town from Auldearn. Here's a site that helps you do the math.

"Highland council to slash own pay"

"Highland council members are doing something almost unheard of -- giving themselves a deep pay cut. On July 19, elected officials here will hold a public hearing on giving themselves a 33 percent slash in pay..."

Seems like an idea that will have quite a lot of public support but no need for too much excitement it's Highland Council Utah.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Toorie - time for a bit of attention

Regular reader Duncan Brown sends us this picture and wonders if the Common Good Fund could finance a bit of restoration work on the Toorie. A larger picture can be seen here.

Sainsbury's Nairn opening 3rd August

saReports the Inverness Courier this morning and a "taster day" in the Community Centre from 10a.m. to 3.p.m. on the 16th July to sample food and fashion.

UPDATE: Short opening ceremony at 09.00 on Weds 3rd then a new dawn for Nairn consumers.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

44 years ago today - were you there?

Eric Clapton and Cream and five days later Pink Floyd. Any regular readers with memories of those gigs?

Monday night in the Community Centre - an historic event awaits?

Is this the start of something big? Will it be the birth of an organisation that will be capable of fighting for a fair deal for Nairn in the face of the Invercentric powers that be?

Or will it be just another talking-shop disaster movie in the making? We should know by the end of the first session.

Up for discussion are several topics that affect the whole town, including, Affordable Housing, Wastebutsters, Traffic lights on the A96 and Transport. Health and support organisations. Proposals for future meetings will be discussed. The advert in the Nairnshire states "Members of the public welcome." Why not get along and see what the community councillors of Nairn will say on your behalf.

The Inaugrual Combined Meeting of Nairn Community Councils (River, Suburban & West) in the Community and Arts Centre Monday July 11th at 7.30 p.m.

One day you might be able to tell your grandchildren that you were there!

Craig Campbell goes to Alloa

County lose their top hit-man. More on the Highland News site.

Seagull Flashback

Recently on the Gurn we highlighted how Iain Bain had denounced a recent Highland Council press release on the seagull problem as a "token gesture", the post including links to research on seagulls migrating to town centres etc, is here. Let us remind ourselves of some of the content of that press release however:

“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.”

Really? Did the Highland Council suddenly realise that something had to be done in early in 2010? Now flashback to September 1985 and a Nairnshire article entitled "A gull problem and fouling of public places discussed by committee." Here are some extracts from the article.

"The increase of the gull problem in the town over many years has resulted in more and more problems for the residents, there have been several reports recently of people being attacked by the gulls when they feel their chicks are threatened and their loud cries throughout the night cause considerable disturbance in many parts of the town.

It was obvious, said Environmental Health Chairman Councillor James Campbell the gulls had become increasingly unpopular for some time. But what action, if any could they as a local authority take?'

Mr Cook told members the matter was first brought to their attention a year ago when the course of action decided upon was to offer advice to residents to have nests removed from their rooftops and to make it as difficult as possible for gulls to build a nest in the first place.

Director of Law and Administration Mr Allan Kerr told the meeting that they had no real powers except in two areas - where a health hazard was being created by large amounts of droppings or in respect of amenity such as gulls congregating in the town square. They had no powers to deal with gulls nesting on rooftops or attacking people."

Obviously there was no need for a press release in 1985 as it was all reported in the Nairnshire. Meanwhile back to the future and the campaign to raise awareness (first introduced in May 2010) by Highland Council. Can we anticipate another press release from this campaign in 2037 and lots more talk in between?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch-chainges - Laurie switches the bling?

One of our sharp-eyed regular readers has noticed that Laurie has had a bit of a Provosterial chain switch recently and informed us of the new style compared with that on display at one of his civic appearences in March 2011.
Above you can see the bling back in March

And here's some more recent bling from last month. Which style suits Laurie best?

UPDATE: Laurie always up for a pick when the bling swings - here he is in September 2010 complete with accessories

"Call for a ban on fishing at harbour"

See page 3 of this week's Nairnshire for further details. What do you think? Poll in the sidebar.

Iain Bain's editorial should also be read in conjunction with the page 3 article: "The wildlife which now inhabits the lower Nairn signifies the recovery of the area from its former industrial use. It represents a new order but it is still a natural order and while it is right to attempt to protect it, that protection should not become interference."

Monday, July 04, 2011

Nairn Model Centre

The Nairn Property Centre has closed but coming soon is the Nairn Model Centre. More details here.

Mill Road allotment volunteers construct polytunnel

The allotments at Mill Road just wouldn't have happened with out the many hard hours of voluntary labour, planning book-keeping, dealing with the funding authorities etc. The allotments will be officially opened this weekend. If you would like to get your name down for an allotment (the Allotment Society is campaigning for more sites in the town) or would like to get involved in the work of the Society then pop over to their website and contact them through the e-mail address in the sidebar.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

New Highland Community Council funding scheme “a disaster for the more rural, fragile, peripheral communities”?

Recently the Highland Council published the new funding figures for the Highland area’s 156 Community Councils, here’s how the local councils fared with the redistribution of the annual budget for these local watchdog organisations.

Auldearn: up £12.28 (from £1110.72 to £1123.00)

Cawdor and West Nairnshire: up £170.95 (from £1110.72 to £1281.68)

East Nairnshire: down £42.10 (from £1110.72 to £1068.62)

Nairn Suburban: up £848.78 (from £1110.72 to £1959.50)

Nairn West: up £53.10 (from £1110.72 to £1163.82)

Nairn River: up £1477.03 (from £1110.72 to £2587.75)

There’s no new money in total just a re-gig of the hand-outs. The Council states:

“The total amount of grants to be distributed remains at £207,413 but the future share out will remove large variations in payments across the Highlands and align payments with actual running costs of Community Councils.”

Locally everyone seems to be doing better apart from East Nairnshire but when you compare the starting cost of your average Highland Councillor at £15,000 you can see how paltry this funding is. One regular Gurnite who has a passing interest in local CC affairs is thinking a bit beyond the parochial gains however, and told the Gurn:

“We can see what the new formulae would deliver for Nairn's three CCs. But the really serious issue is illustrated in the comments in the webcast of the Council debate (at which incidentally no Nairn councillor spoke). In a nutshell, the new scheme, because it allocates money essentially on the basis of population/electorate, gives big money to the densely-populated geographically-small areas (like Nairn River, the biggest winner of all, and some of the Inverness suburbs) and cuts savagely (up to 30%) the remoter, thinly-populated, and rural parishes from Badenoch and Strathspey to the Western Highlands and the Isles.

Forget Nairn for a moment. This is a disaster for the more rural, fragile, peripheral communities where CCs play a much more crucial role than they do in the urban centres, and where the actual costs (travel etc) even of holding meetings are much higher. Individually and collectively, these areas get much less money while the urban areas get more.”

Our correspondent continued: “ I suppose we could say 'it's not our problem'. Nairn as such doesn't come out of it badly. But once again the Council officials have come up with a crude, simplistic, unimaginative blunt instrument of a funding formula which - because it is population based - has the effect of weakening regional communities and strengthening the centralisation of political and social activity. And, even when the shortcomings of this were pointed out at the Council meeting by reps from the rural areas (who argued for a rethink and fuller consultation), the Council heavy-hitters, almost all Inverness-based, voted such a deferral down and forced through a decision based on the proposal as tabled. Another example of the Inverness-centric mentality working to the detriment of the rest of the region? Or maybe just a lack of imagination or willingness to explore what one Councillor called for: a more nuanced formula which gives more weight, in the allocation of money, to the need to support the more "fragile" and rural communities.”

To this observer the cash based on population figures just demonstrates how imbalanced and foolish it is to have three community councils in Nairn, with River being far bigger and more powerful than the other two councils. It’s crazy, we should have a single Community Council but the Highland powers that be refused to listen to public opinion and representations from Nairn. In the meantime we will have the Community Council Forum however, which will meet for the first time on Monday the 11th of July, details and agenda to be announced soon. Meanwhile how will this cash disparity actually affect the situation on the ground in Nairn? Again our correspondent has a view:

“I do worry that the massive disparities in budgetary allocations within this small town and community have the potential to sow dissension and discontent. At least until now each CC, and the various parts of the town have been on a level playing field, and the CC money has been essentially for running-costs plus the odd leaflet exercise. Now it is a different ball-game, because the new funding regime implies that (some) CCs will be expected to develop and implement community projects. That's why they get the "per capita" allocation based on population numbers.”

We’ll see what happens but this observer would suggest that it might be worth attending the first combined meeting of River, Suburban and West on the 11th. An historic occasion if nothing else, where we may just get some co-ordinated thinking and action on some of the problems facing us.