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