Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
The temperature was dropping fast and you could see the breath vapours rising from the long line of fans waiting to get into Station Park tonight. Another massive turn out for the other end of the two seasonal local derbies and perhaps a crowd of 500-600 again?
Fresh from their mauling at Mosset Park last week County showed that they could contain the Forres big boys and even make their way up to the other end of the park with flashes of their normal flair that was sadly absent last week. It was to be redemption day for the Wee County as Steve MacKay broke away and scored just before the half-time whistle. Steven Ellis knocked in the County's second at 70 minutes. Forres came back into it towards the end with former Nairn County star and local loon Willie Barron scoring in a moment like something out of a Roy of the Rovers Christmas fairy-tale special.
A good game, a good atmosphere, a good league this year, long may it continue with these two local sides dominating the HFL. It looked pretty desperate last week and even now Forres are five points out front with 2 games in hand but football is a funny game and a County side that were humiliated last week suddenly again look like a team that belong in second place.
Says one of the loons on twitter. Still raining now at 20 to 3. If it's still wet tonight then there won't be much room left in the Cowshed once the Forres hordes descend in search of three more points.
Here's hoping a different County team turn up. Que sera, sera...see youz there.
More videos available now on Gurntube.
Today there are some varieties of potato that are more blight resistant than others but once again this summer many of Nairn’s amateur potato growers were hit by the sickening sight of potato blight on their crops in the gardens and allotments of the town. It is annoying, frustrating etc, but it doesn’t mean starvation or forced emigration as a result of having nothing to eat in the winter like it did in the past. In 1845 the
“It appears that disturbances of a serious nature have occurred within the last few days at
It is interesting to see the “Big Society” reaction of the authorities as reported in the following issue of the Mirror on Feb 23rd (see the text here on a Gurn flickr page). If similar misfortunes were to befall us in the present day would seventy or so “respectable citizens” obey their summons and enrol to potentially protect society against the breakdown of the established order. This observer has heard it said that we only live three meals away from complete social collapse and it would only need the food lorries to stop coming up the A96 to bring that about. One thinks too of some of the economic worse-case scenarios being bandied about by some of the pundits on television and radio programmes. How would we get on if the hole in the wall machines stopped giving us cash? Would we be able to react responsibly as a civil society or would there be a need for “respectable citizens” to step forward and, perhaps, even take over the responsibility of the authorities. One might imagine that all Highland Council might be able to do for us would be to send an official to give us a power point presentation in the Courthouse. Would organisations like the Rotary, the Community Councils and other clubs and societies in the town come into their own should serious misfortunes befall us in the future?
There was also an amusing sequel to the riot that made it into the paper on the 21st March that year - text again here on a Gurn flickr page.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Thanks to Green Dad for tweeting the following info:
"Refuse collection and Kerbside Recycling
All bin collections will remain the same except Monday, January the 2nd which will be collected on Saturday, 31st December."
Remember - Get rid of your waste before you get wasted!
Obviously the West are not confining their discussions to their own patch and their advert also invites residents of any part of Nairn to attend. This observer would anticipate NICEafarian input on the subject of the Town Centre. It should be an interesting meeting.
The Gurn understands from sources close to River Community Council that four citizens have applied to become "co-opted" councillors on the watchdog organisation. The applications are from residents in the Broadhill, Boathpark, the Lochloy and the Mill Road areas. Our sources tell us that River CC are keen to be seen by some as not simply a "Fishertown" operation and are out to obtain representation for the areas in their patch that have up to now not had members on the Council. One Fishertown rep on the Council last time, John Dolan, did not stand for election this time round although Andrew Purkis (also a Fishertown resident) was elected so four members are presently from the Fishertown - that's 50% of the total. With four more members however the Fishertown representation will be down to 33% of the total.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Nairnbairn has sent the Gurn a Christmas message:
Now that the 2011 Carbuncle Award has been announced and the year draws to an end, it is time for Nairnbairn to break a self-imposed silence. This message is also being copied to Urban Realm, and to the Editor of the Nairnshire Telegraph.
So.... Linwood was presented with the 2011 ‘Plook’ award. Can Nairn celebrate a lucky escape?
It is very tempting to look at the pictures of the grey and crumbling wasteland at the centre of Linwood (or for that matter the concrete and tarmac that encircles Fort William) and take consolation from the thought that Nairn is much nicer than those places. So it is. But schadenfreude (delight in the misfortunes of others) is not a noble sentiment.
Did that stupid, sad, and foolish Nairnbairn get it all wrong? Well, perhaps not entirely.
The nomination was provocative and over-the-top. It was meant to be. As several commentators have (reluctantly) acknowledged, local residents have lived for so long with the consequences of bad planning and poor design that many had almost ceased to notice. At least the Carbuncle story stirred some reaction. Even indignation is better than apathy.
The public response also revealed a lot about local attitudes. Nairnbairn had deliberately chosen to use a pseudonym, in the hope that readers might concentrate on the views and the arguments put forward, and not on the personality, hair colour, bank balance, home address or family ancestry of the person writing. Having lit the blue touch-paper, Nairnbairn decided to remain silent, in the hope that the debate would focus on the issues, and not turn into a “shoot the messenger” campaign.
Sadly, with a few honourable exceptions, that hope was not fulfilled. It was predictable, but depressing, to observe how quickly local figures lined up, not to comment on the planning or architecture of the town, but to condemn Nairnbairn’s motives, to call for Nairnbairn to own up, to explain and defend the nomination, to “have the courage of his/her convictions” – indeed to be run out of town or worse. Was Nairnbairn a crank, a fool, a malign public enemy, a prejudiced resident or (worst of all!) an upstart outsider? Some felt no inhibitions about launching forth anyway. Nairnbairn was “a snob”, said a local editorial. Councillors rushed to condemn: Nairnbairn was “a sad individual”, “unhelpful and thoughtless”,and “unfair”. Online critics – perhaps not realising the hypocrisy of their own anonymity – joined in: Nairnbairn was a devious developer, a self-appointed arbiter of taste, a coward, a loser. Bring back the stocks! Let’s have some witch-burning! Welcome to medieval Nairn!
Such reactions to the Nairnbairn nomination turned out in fact to be the clearest evidence, and strongest justification, for its author’s choice to remain anonymous. Even after the award was announced, the chorus continued. The town’s elected councillors, so quick to condemn and criticise, and so keen to claim credit for the efforts they say they have made, should perhaps remember the cautionary warning: Qui s’excuse, s’accuse.
Others both locally and in online comment, were more perceptive, agreeing that there was a basis for Nairnbairn’s nomination. Some endorsed it. Many recognised that it reflected a deep affection for Nairn, a disappointment at some of the past planning decisions and failures, and a desire to see successful and attractive regeneration and development. In his review of Nairn for ‘Urban Realm’, Mark Chalmers the architect and journalist offered a balanced and accurate description of the character and qualities of the town, and rightly concluded that a Carbuncle award would be unjustified.
The nomination did however make people look around the town, and think about its appearance. If this episode has underlined that the residents of Nairn need to appreciate and to look after what they have, then it will not have been in vain. If the energy that was put into condemning Nairnbairn, and the pride that led people to defend the town, can be devoted to improving it, then some good may yet result. The nomination was indeed, as one resident put it, “a rallying call”. As the thoughtful editorial in the 20 December ‘Nairnshire Telegraph’ points out, there are some disturbing parallels between Linwood and Nairn. For Nairn to develop successfully, people need to think about what they want the town to become, and to engage with an open mind in discussion of future plans. The worst reaction of all to the Carbuncle Award decision would be an outburst of “I told you so” gloating, cries of “Nairnbairn got it wrong”, and a reversion to complacency and apathy.
Nairnbairn will continue to express opinion and comment where and when circumstances warrant it; and will hope that future contributions – like this one – will be accepted in the spirit in which they are offered: free, well-intentioned and honest debate about what is best for the town.
At this festive season and on the threshold of a new year, goodwill to all men (and women). To those who were offended by Nairnbairn’s Carbuncle nomination, sympathy – but no apology. To those who acknowledged its purpose and understood its point, thanks.
And thank you Nairnbairn but not for the nomination. Merry Christmas to you too. And that was this observer thinking the Gurn was going to be low-key for a day or two :-)
Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr nuair a thig i.
Best wishes to all Gurnites over this holiday period. Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading the Gurn over the past year. The Gurn will be going into low-key mode for a day or two now but if you have any thoughts on the past year or the one coming up please head for the keyboard if you get a quiet moment and share them with Gurnshire. Thanks everyone for your support and contributions over the course of the year:-)
Friday, December 23, 2011
Here's some pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson
"Michael Barnett said that the immediate next steps included finalising the proposed new Articles of the Company, their informal submission to OSCR for approval, a membership drive (the target of 1000 had been suggested during the meeting), initial work on a business plan and funding requirements, and engagement with parties such as Highland Council, Local Councillors, and Community Councils. Once progress had been made on these and other matters, it would be necessary to call a further Extraordinary General Meeting at which the proposed new Articles would have to be voted on, which would involve a Special Resolution requiring a 75% vote in favour."
Obviously as the minute quoted above states, NICE has a lot of work to do but it will be interesting to see what happens as we draw near the Highland Council elections in May. If NICE has a successful membership drive and the town's three community councils reaffirm their support then it will be interesting to see if all sitting councillors and any candidates endorse the NICE business plan should it be ready by then. More information on the NICE website.
A message to the world appears on the disused toilets at the riverside. Graffiti was one of the subjects mentioned at the River Community Council meeting last week and the local watchdogs and members of the public present were wanting Highland Council to act and to act quickly.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
The APT blog points out that the "The Highland Council has received the Report of Examination for the Highland wide Local Development Plan from the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals."
It's 610 pages long, this observer has had a wee browse and thinks that Nairn objectors to many aspects of the plan will not be very pleased at all with the report. Time and the economy over the next few decades will have the final say but it looks as though major expansion of Nairn will go ahead if willing developers can be found. We were consulted, now others have taken our views into account and have decided. There will be some changes however, all recommendations in the report are binding on the Council it seems.
One crucial argument, that there should be a bypass before there is any more development, seems to have failed to make an impact. Here's three points lifted from page 607 of the report:
"15. It thus appears to be generally accepted that there should be a Nairn by-pass. I note that paragraph 14.3 of the proposed plan says that the Council will continue to lobby for the by-pass. I find that this is as much as may reasonably be expected in the plan in relation to securing the bypass.
16. Regarding lack of road capacity, present levels of congestion, noise and pollution may well be, at the least, unpleasant for residents and visitors, but evidence does not demonstrate that they are of such magnitude as to justify a prohibition on new development.
17. Regarding safety, evidence does not show that accident rates in Nairn are especially high in relation to rates in other towns of similar character."
Plenty more where that came from, anyone with the time for a deeper look into matters from this report might want to try the following pages (they give the council's summary, the objections and the Reporters' recommendations): The Document is here
Lochloy p85, Sandown p88, Delnies p94, Nairn South p107 - A section on Nairn in general commences at p610. Printers and Christmas wrapping paper ready?
"The main concern will be any rainfall and the snow melting because there are areas of the park that I believe are very soft but, hopefully, the guys can get on the park when the snow clears and begin to prepare it for Friday," said Can-Cans manager Charlie Rowley to the Forres Gazette. More here.
The kick-off is at 20.00 tomorrow night at Mosset Park.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The threats from Invasive species, plants and diseases are many but there's news of a fightback on the Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed front. The crayfish seem to be thriving in the Geddes burn unfortunately:
"Members of the angling association trapped 400 crayfish in the Geddes Burn this season, compared to 173 last season."
All the information on efforts to maintain the health of the local rivers here.
"Nairn is not perfect but to erect its defects into a case for Nairn being the most dismal town in Scotland was potentially highly destructive."
Plenty more where that came from and if you have 45p you too can have a browse. Continuing though, Iain Bain states something that makes this observer wonder if perhaps he has gone slightly off-beam towards the end of the editorial.
"One thing is certain. Nairn badly needs to develop its sense of civic pride. This has been missing for generations and it is not helped by our remote local authority." The editorial must be read in full context however, Iain goes on to make comment on the town centre and those involved in "squabbling".
If Iain is suggesting that Civic Pride is missing at the top tier (i.e. those that go through to Glenurquhart Road on our behalf to make decisions along with the other 76 Highland councillors) then this observer would contend that it isn't amongst the ordinary punters. Thousands of people in Nairn take a great pride in their community and the fact that they live in a place that is so attractive and contains a sense of community, something that has eroded considerable elsewhere. Yes we are ruled by an Inverness organisation that often refers to us as "Ward 19" and it could even be suggested that it maybe suits the centralist philosophy of Highland Council to let the identities of the periphery fade away but Nairnshire still exists and so does the title "Royal Burgh of Nairn" if we chose to use it - other communities in Scotland are not shy in continuing to do so.
Our civic pride has manifested itself time and time again over the years at meetings (the most recent being the massive protest events held by NICE) and there are many in the community willing to put their hands to the wheel in attempts to defend and improve the town and environs. The civic pride is there, is it simply the case that the community needs better leadership?
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sorry for the poor quality of the image, it is in fact a digital image taken with a camera of how the microfilm shows up on a PC screen.
Monday, December 19, 2011
There's a Moray Council meeting tomorrow (Tues 20th Dec) and on the agenda are the proposed options for boundary changes to Westminster Constituencies. Here's what a report recommends to the full council:
"It is welcomed that the whole Moray local authority area is wholly contained within one constituency. However it is suggested that the resurrection of a Moray and Nairn constituency may be more beneficial in the interests of the electorate who may share commonality in local issues faced along the coast and A96 corridor. In addition the suggestion of a Moray and Nairn constituency would pose less risk to the elections administration process by lessening the geographical and logistical impact."
More here. What next, will we be wooed to go in with Moray Council at local government too? A promise perhaps of more freedom with the housekeeping money - including the Common Good? What a thought, would we be better off dumping Inverness for Elgin? In the sidebar the Gurn is running a poll on the Westminster options. Last night it was running approx 5 to 1 in favour of Moray but during the daytime hours a lot of votes came in the other way, now it is climbing back towards evens.
Oor Graham's Venison campaign (see post below) and comments about the source of supermarket food got me round to thinking about that image. Perhaps there is a marketing trick or two for some of our High Street folk. Maybe, for instance, our butchers in Nairn could proudly display that all the meat they have is sourced in Scotland?
This autumn this observer was in Ireland and remembers one supermarket chain "Supavalu" that showed charts of how many products produced in Ireland they sold as a percentage of their total sales. Maybe supermarkets trading in Scotland could start doing the same?
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Those Gurnites who have attended some of the meetings held by the usual suspects this year (that is to say the Community Council forum and NICE etc) will have heard the word "Localism" mentioned a few times and the belief expressed that the wind of change is blowing through Holyrood, meaning that communities like Nairn might soon have more chance of having a greater say in the decisions made that affect their areas. The set-up at Nairn hospital where Health and Social services are working together has been cited as a test-bed for the rest of Scotland and it has been further suggested that Nairn could do a lot more in localism experimentation and thus show the rest of the country the way. Hopefully Holyrood will give us that chance.
The Gurn has mentioned Common Good campaigner Andy Wightman before, he wrote recently:
"Arguments for greater devolution or indeed outright independence reflect an extension of the idea that power should reside as close as possible to the people and that decisions that can be made locally, should be. However, at the same time as Scotland is on a journey to greater autonomy as a nation, the opposite is happening at the local level."
At the national level in Scotland we are doing very well, Holyrood has the sort of powers that members of the Breton regional government can only dream of at present but at the local level the drift has been to more and more centralisation. That is a philosophy that the administration members of the Highland Council that represent Nairn have subscribed to. Everything we have lost in the last five years has gone on their watch.
Wightman also states: "The lack of any real local governance represents not simply a democratic deficit but a problem of practical politics. Scotland is replete with a wide variety of definitions of community for a whole host of different purposes. Community Council areas may be the closest we come to a geography of community but coverage is patchy, boundaries unclear and powers non-existent." More from Andy Wightman's' article here.
We know what the Scottish Government aspires to do for us at national level but what do they intend to do for communities at the micro level? At the end of this term of Government could it just be possible that Nairn would have restored the power to decide who gets social housing within the boundaries of the County; to organise it's own grass-cutting and grounds maintenance; to decide planning matters within the County too? Will we get back control of the Common Good fund from Highland Council as well? It'll be interesting to see what initiatives the Scottish Government come up with at this level.
As we pointed out on the Gurn, the boundaries of Westminster Constituencies are going to be changed again. One of our regular readers sent this in: “I just wonder how many folk in Nairn are aware of the consultation, or the 4 Jan deadline - indeed I'd be curious to know which way local opinion leans on this topic. Would we be better off represented by an MP/MSP for Inverness and Skye? Or would joining up with Moray give us an MP/MSP better-placed to promote/protect Nairn's interests?”
The way things stand at the moment it looks like we will be thrown in with the Inverness and Skye constituency (no mention of Nairn). See the map of proposals here:
It’s also up for debate at Highland Council and one of the options they are considering is that Nairn should go to Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey go to Inverness and Skye.
So the question for us to consider perhaps, is would we be better represented by an MP based in Moray or someone who also had Inverness and Skye to consider? Do we have more in common with Moray than we do with Inverness and Skye?
If any Gurnites have any strong feelings on the matter they can make a submission themselves to the boundary commission. The Gurn is also running a poll in the sidebar on this question.
The NICE website has gone quiet again. Perhaps it’s all over again for 2011 for this organisation or perhaps something of significance has been going on in the background but no information recently on their digital outlet.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Gurnites will remember that much supported organisation Crossroads care , an organisation that has done sterling work here in Nairn and across the Highlands and they have a remarkable fund-raising footprint in our community, lost their care contract with Highland Council under controversial circumstances. The contract was given to the organisation from the central belt Carr Gomm. The community is still backing Crossroads however, not only here but across the Highlands. The support Crossroads enjoys was reflected recently in Sainsbury's decision to select Crossroads as their local charity partner.
Incredibly Danny Alexander's Christmas card raises funds for Carr Gomm. There is a large article in the Press and Journal today. Liz is quoted:
"Danny's choice of charity is insensitive. With the problems we've got in Nairn, of Carr Gomm not being able to fulfil the remit of the contract and Crossroads having to pick up the slack, his choice was really awful." More from Liz in the P&J and excuses from Danny plus comment from Carr Gomm.
Danny you are a plonker!
UPDATE: not everyone bothers to read the comments on articles. There are a few in now and this observer would recommend a look at the thoughts of "Well Red."
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
When horses and carts were aye on the go,
Your door was aye open, your key on the shelf
For nobody thought about helping their self,
When bairns played out late and nobody cared,
There wasnt a reason for them to be scared.
Then in the summer, the auld Glasgow fair,
The same folk kept coming, aye looking for mair,
Mair chance of the sun, two weeks on the beach,
Coming from Glasgow, we were easy to reach,
We had two picture houses, and the old public hall,
When a dance every Friday, was open to all.
Now sad to say, those good days are gone,
But thanks to good health, the memories live on,
Although you may think I'm not talking about Nairn,
Thats just how it was, when I was a bairn.
"Community land rights campaigner Andy Wightman said the Inverness Common Good Fund would be due compensation if the land was built on.
Now West Link Protest Group and Inverness Civic Trust have challenged Highland Council on the matter. In a joint statement, they said:
"The council's rejection of the claim is based upon misunderstanding of the legal basis of common good in Scotland and assumes that as their name is on the title that they are the owners, which they are not." More on the BBC site.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Local council operatives flexing their muscle today. Refused to uplift my binful of plastics, tins cardboard etc. Put a sticker on my blue bin for an offending couple of plastic supermarket bags I had placed at the top of the load containing piles of other plastic and cardboard material. For 'contaminating' the load with two plastic supermarket size bags my penalty is now it won't be emptied until December 31. Now that's clever. What the h*** do you do with accumulative waste over Christmas.
By the way - I was considering being a good citizen and taking a shovel to clear the mess of debris including food waste in the car park behind Barron House once rented by the council. If we wait long enough the rats are going to move in and it'll cost the council a lot more to clean that little lot up. I'll leave them to it! No doubt they will argue it's private property and run up a legal bill costing the taxpayer hundreds to get it cleaned up.
Little wonder people shake their heads at the jobsworths running the country. I know everyone is subject to the same rules. But a simple sticker reminding me about my responsibilities re plastic bags would have sufficed. So much for the season of goodwill.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Friday, December 09, 2011
Nice work RG! Gurnites can see the pictures individually here. And if you have a flickr account you can leave comments there.