Back on Wednesday night in the Community Centre at the West CC meeting, Mike Barnett, one of the Directors of NICE gave a summary of what is potentially a new phase for NICE in its efforts to ensure the town centre is developed in a manner that is appropriate for the community. Before Mike began to speak however Brian Stewart said: “I therefore, very much hope, speaking personally, that as the new developments begin to take shape that NICE will again mobilise public opinion and try and reflect accurately what the community thinks and feels.” He also said “There is a lot still to be discussed, a lot still to be done, we face huge challenges. How we meet them is going to be a test for all of us.”
NICE seems to be confident that it still has an “active membership” but that has to be put to the test at some time in the near future at a public meeting in which the Directors will seek approval for their latest idea of a Community Interest Company and a draft brief that Mike Barnett is taking to Highland Council for their consideration. It has to be said since the NICE website sprang back to life after a long rest, a flurry of articles are not attracting the volume of comments that were be seen earlier in the year. Will the rank and file be willing to be summoned back into action after the long summer hiatus or have they drifted away like the website regulars? Will the Community Councils once again be willing to all fall in line behind NICE too as a new direction is contemplated? Mike Barnett said that he thought the passage of time and the actions or lack of them by other parties had been to NICE’s advantage. Perhaps he’s right and everyone will come back refocused and ready to contribute once again when what is essentially a bit of meat and bones on Alistair Noble's vision of returning more democracy to our parochial affairs.
Mike’s briefing document will be going to the Highland Council before anyone else sees it (this observer is slightly worried by that but takes the point from Alistair and Brian Stewart that any move of this kind would need the support of the Council given they own or administrate so many of Nairn’s assets). After Council feedback the paper would be in the public domain via the membership of NICE once there was feedback that it was “in the right ball park, that it’s hitting the right spots.”
This observer awaits with interest that paper going into the public domain. Can NICE once again “mobilise public opinion and try and reflect accurately what the community thinks and feels” or has their moment passed?
Hopefully gurnites will turn out in large numbers to air their views when a public meeting is eventually called by NICE. It may be that a Community Interest Company is the vehicle that could change things in the town centre for the better and most people seem to be agreed that we need change. Sometimes we know what we don’t want but the problems may come when we look for consensus on what we do want. Potentially a major step in the right direction however, but as Brian Stewart says there is still a lot to be discussed.