Friday, September 30, 2011

Here comes the sun

Warm and sunny again and it we may have it for most of the day. Have a nice one Gurnshire.

What a waste

Dawn reveals all. What a pity, a least a fiver's worth waiting for Salty the seagull there. Somebody could have sent the money to Danny instead.

Danny needs your dosh

The latest Libdem propaganda came through this observer's door yesterday and I can't make my mind up whether to send Danny £100 or £50. Perhaps the libdems are running a bit short in the Highlands given the unpopularity of their decision to get into bed with the Tories. Can't say I've heard anyone say they are going to vote libdem in recent months, met one or two folk who are still happy with the Tories however. Maybe Danny should put the hat round Nairnshire's Conservatives?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sunset 29th September 2011

Finally we got a decent sunset this month. Individual pictures in set here.

Joan Noble gets intae em

"A NAIRN doctor has rubbished Highland Council’s forecast of population growth in the town for the next decade.

Jean Noble ( questioned the local authority’s estimate that 1196 new homes are required in Nairn up to 2021 during an hearing into the Highland-wide Local Development Plan"

More on the Courier website and in the paper tomorrow it seems

PS spot the mistake from the Courier.

Car park for sale? Liz speaks out!

Aspects of the Highland Council's attempt to sell parts of the town centre for development came up for scrutiny last night at the Ward Forum meeting at the Courthouse. Liz was the first to voice major concerns. She told the meeting: “I’d like to mention my concern at the haste in which the town centre is being developed, about the inclusion of the car parks in the development brief. I think that is going to be a big problem.”

Laurie replied that the initiative was to ensure that the site wasn’t left lying for years and years.

Liz came back, “That wasn’t my point, my point was about losing the car park in the centre of the town. Including the parking in the town centre development brief, I feel, is giving the developer, or whoever comes in, too much and we should have done the same as we did with Corsee and that was knock down the building and then put it out to development.”

Graham Vine was the next to speak and he backed up Liz and then went on to say that he thought Sainsbury’s were bringing people into Nairn but the problem was that the town centre car parks were often full so any visitors attracted by the new store have difficulties if they were tempted to come into town. He then moved onto the subject of the old Social Work offices. He said, “There were a number of people who felt that was quite a nice building and should be refurbished. Does the Council have any hand or hold on what will be done with that property?”

Graham Marsden responded: “We are the planning authority for starters but also the fact is, yes, we will be looking very carefully at any proposals that are brought forward to ensure that it fits in with the rest of the town centre and we would consult widely before anything went ahead.”

Cllr Vine was not convinced and came back: “And does the document for sale make it clear that re-use of the building is preferred to demolition?”

Our LibDem mannie replied: “I can’t answer that, I haven’t seen that but what I can say is that, is that we will look very strongly at anything to see that it will fit in within the context of the wider town centre."

The other Graham continued to press home his point: “Liz has just said that there is nothing in it to suggest that use of the buildings is desirable and therefore it is likely to get approaches from someone that is just like to develop it.”

Graham Marsden then more or less repeated himself but there was a little bit more at the core of his final reponse: “I agree with you, and that is, a personal view which is, we should retain it but I don’t think we want to constrain developers in any way.”

Rosemary Young then spoke and made a sensible suggestion that this observer thinks will find much support throughout Gurnshire; I just want to emphasise this point, we sat round with NICE, sat round with the Highland Council and it was very, very clear that this town wants to preserve those buildings. Before it goes any further I think you should put it under the sale conditions that this is not for demolition but this is to be used for something else. I think you should put that in the brief for the sale.”

Laurie closed the debate on this item saying “I’ll take on board what you said and pass it on.”

Hopefully Laurie will do more than that. Hopefully Laurie will insist that the old Social Work buildings are preserved and the car parks are not sold. Liz is usually on the ball when it comes to reflecting public opinion and Rosemary is not far behind her with this skill too. If Laurie and the Council want to avoid conflict with the community over these items then they will make quick changes to the development brief to avoid any potential confusion and a dossier of planning objections, perhaps, in the future should a developer be found. Get to it Laurie, you don’t have to take it back to anyone –you are the main man in this town!

Cheeky spring fun

An excellent picture here on Flickr of loons jumping in the River down at the harbour back in the April heatwave - oh the joys of youth! Interesting that we should be finishing the season with a September heatwave too. Shame about the bit in the middle.

Doc Grigor Railway Update

"Ideas starting to roll in for my mini sit-on railway for Nairn. If you are willing to support me and others please pm me in a private message with your contact details come on let's have holiday maker talk about the wonderful mini railway they have in Nairn. Our loco will not be running on steam will explain later. Here is a small youtube clip of roughly of what we are on about. Of course there will be a fair bit of fund-raising to be done but surprisingly this project is as not as expensive as you would think."

Carbuncle responses are "ad hominem' arguments?

The " Nairnbairn is a snob? " article is slipping away down the Gurn just now but perhaps a comment from "Nairnbairn's official spokesman" is worthy of an article in its own right:

"nairnbairn a snob at heart" (Nairnshire editorial)

"nairnbairn a sad individual" (Councillor Sandy Park)

Shooting the messenger is not a very impressive contribution to public debate. Otherwise known as ad hominem arguments, personal insults are the last refuge of those who have lost the argument, have nothing constructive to say, or want to divert attention from the substance of the point being made.

"nairnbairn in hiding?" (says Charlie boy)

Look around the town. There are hundreds of nairnbairns. That person in the queue next to you - or walking up the street - is nairnbairn. nairnbairns are all around you.

Wee County away to Blue Toon in the cup

A trip to Peterhead on Saturday October the 22nd for the Station Park faithful. A bus is being organised by Colin Barron. You should be able to see the page for this if logged on to Facebook.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nairn's Central Car Park to be included in Highland Council job lot?

"Consideration may also be given to the disposal of Central Car Park between Falconers Lane and Fairlie Lane", say the details on the Highland Council "Development Opportunity in Nairn Town Centre" web page.

Assuming of course that the Central Car Park is indeed that big bittie bewteen Falconers Lane and the Co-op supermarket and not a term for something else then, is this perhaps a "consideration" too far? Any of the NICE folk out there with any thoughts? Where would you park if the central car park was sold off - up at Sainsbury's perhaps? Surely there must be some mistake?

Common Good staying in the Common Good?

Dick Youngson gave details of the Suburban CC’s ongoing work in informing Highland Council of the wishes of the community for the development of the Sandown lands and he said:

“What we have suggested was that we, as a Nairn Community, kept the Sandown Lands as Common Good land and yet, developed it rather like Firhall. And rather like the Longman in Inverness, which is still all Common Good Land and all the firms pay into the Common Good which is a very valuable asset for Inverness.”

Problems on the Buses – Suburban CC want to know your experiences

John Mackie told the CC meeting at the Academy last night that they were continuing to compile a dossier of complaints about bus services in Nairn and wanted to hear more from members of the public. There seem to be problems for folk getting across from the bus station to the High Street to get up to the hospital when the buses from Inverness were running late and John stated that the surgery were concerned about this too. Highlighted too, was recent lack of consultation on timetable changes. Worries surfaced that the new revamped 10 service timetable may no longer include the Tradespark detour but it was also stated that the new timetable hadn’t been published yet. There were complaints too about the increasing cost of travel on the town services and it was asked how long the No20 would last once the Sainsbury’s funding ran out.
So the Suburban folk want to hear from you and they will be forwarding detailed complaints to the authorities including, it was suggested, MSPs and the MP.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Catching up on the latest on the Gurn?

You can try the Gurnshire Times, it comes out every Tuesday and has wee snippets that link to all the main articles and one or two from Green Dad and the APT'ers too. If you want to have a browse back over the last month or two then try Gurn timeslide.

Nairnbairn - The Carbuncle nominator - "A snob at Heart"?

Nairn's in the running for the magazine Urban Realm's Plook on the Plinth award then according to the Narinshire. We're in the shortlist to become officially "Scotland's most dismal town." The nominations have received some comments but there are also attacks on the way the competition operates. One comment posted reads:

"I agree with Urban Realm that nominations should not be censored but surely there should be some due diligence to check that the nominations are based on facts and fair judgement before they are announced as a shortlist. A shortlist assumes that the nominations have been assessed on their merits so the fact that the areas have not even been visited by the judging panel to check accuracy is incredibly worrying. There are some glaring errors in the factual accuracy of these nominations as AyrMan has highlighted and, in the Nairn example, a clear NIMBY/ Anti-Affordable Housing lobby which is hijacking a real opportunity to highlight some poor planning decisions. The credibility of those spearheading these awards is questionable as a result of this lack of due diligence."

There is support for of the Nairn submission however. "Janice and Roddy" state:

"Oh how I agree with the nairnbairn!
Having first come to Nairn as an impressionable 10 year old on holiday, I was instantly besotted and my goal in life very quickly became "to live here forever". I finally achieved my lifelong ambition in 1982.
It now saddens me greatly to feel over these years that my love affair with Nairn has turned sour due to many of the reasons stated by the nairnbairn.
Come on the powers that be, open your eyes and see the nairnbairn as a modern day Doctor Grigor....reinstate Nairn to its former glory and give us back a beautiful town to be proud of once more! "

Go to this page and scroll down the comments to see more. The award attracts considerable press interest and undoubtedly there will be those that await the final decision with trepidation while others will point the finger (with some justification this observer believes) at Highland Council's town centre policy over recent years as the cause of our misfortune. Yes parts of the town centre are a disgrace but this observer certainly feels that we don't live in the most dismal town in Scotland. Nairnbairn warns that we are heading that way however and there he will find many like-minded souls who fear what the Highland wide Development Plan might bring in the years to come.

Iain Bain attacks the nomination in his editorial this week too and suggests: "One analysis of Nairnbairn's nomination is that its broadbrush approach makes points that are unsustainable and also reveals a snob at heart."

Turds are Us - Courier Jobbie coverage

The page five treatment for the sewage that is going into the river just opposite the Maggot Flats. The Courier reports:

"Residents forced to keep their windows closed because of the stench of sewage are backing plans by a community council to stop the waste festering on the river bank outside their homes. The sewage, from an emergency overflow pipe, is spilling out and running down the bank during heavy rainfall before entering the River Nairn, near the Riverside Court area of Nairn. " More in the Courier today, we'll link to it if it goes on-line.

It isn't only into the river, it also flows out of the two inspection covers on either side of the sewage bridge and onto the paths, and this can't be very good at all for people living in that area or users of the riverside. You can see the discoloration where it has been gathering. Pictures have previously been posted on the Gurn.

Four dead herons since June

This sad image from our correspondent Jingle Bangles. He tells us this is the fourth dead heron he's seen in the area from the Jubilee Bridge to the harbour walls since June. This pictures was taken by the West Pier. Recently he contacted the appropriate department of Northern Constabulary. Birds, of course, do die of natural causes but four dead herons in this stretch seems a lot. If anyone has any information on anyone harming wildlife they should contact the Wildlife Crime officers at Northern Constabulary.

Trumping Trump

A critically acclaimed documentary is to be shown by Cinema Nairn on the 3rd of October. Jason Rose, organiser with Cinema Nairn, said: “Earlier this year we had a great audience for the classic film Local Hero. You’ve Been Trumped basically tells the same story except this is fact not fiction and almost on our doorstep. We’re really lucky to secure the film for our community-run cinema and we’re sure it will be of great interest to many.” More details here.

Bulb planting thanks

From Billy of Keeping Nairnshire Colourful

Thanks to all those folk who came along and helped us with the planting of the daffodil bulbs, they should make a fine display and the weather was kind to us as well. We will be planting again next weekend so if anyone can help please come along. Well done folks a great mornings work.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jacko's with the treble

A fantastic finish to the Welfare League season for Jacko's through in Elgin on Friday night. Match report, video and images on the STV site.

Sandy; “Nairn is very much in our hearts”

At last Wednesday’s combined CC meeting oor Sandy said his piece and gave those gathered in the Community Centre a brief update on some of the issues that have been to the fore over recent years.

He began by talking about the town centre supermarket issue;” In the year 2000 everyone that was around knew that there was going to be a supermarket in the town centre. That was pushed forward very much by the community, very much pushed forward by the business association, ably led by Sheena Baker and Mike Green. At the time we were getting advice that a supermarket would never fit in the town centre. But we said oh yes it will. So we went forward with that.[...] And I remember saying to Frank Allan, “Oh well, that means we’ll get the Town Centre sorted in a couple of years time.” He said, “5,6 years maybe.” We were stymied by the town centre all these years because there was planning permission for a supermarket on it.”
Sandy went on to list all the difficulties and heartache with the various owners over the years and continued:” We are where we are, just last year the Co-op backed away, the chickened out in having opposition from Sainsbury’s. Then with the help of people in this room and yourselves we got together very quickly, William and others, got very quickly, a town centre development brief which we did within a year. That has now gone out to market.

Back in June we did write to the Co-op asking them what their intentions were with the filling station and the Regal Bar and they wrote and said they were going to put these on the market but they were hoping to give them a lick of paint or whatever. [...] In the middle of July we wrote again and this is a reply from the Co-op:”As I said previously, due to the structure of our business all property must be marketed (this is the council offering to buy the filling station). Agent fees will be minimal if there is no demand, however, we have already had several inquiries therefore at this stage the property is not seen to be a liability which we would sell for a nominal price. (we were prepared to give them a nominal price to tidy it up to make a car-park). If the council are interested in purchasing the site we will listen to any inquiries but for us to sell at a modest value I would need to prove that there was no demand or commercial value.”

[...] In the meantime, As I said, the town centre has been marketed, the Community Centre is obviously still there. It’s been empty for 3 to 4 years now. There is a scheme, which I’m following up and I haven’t shared this with my fellow members here yet and it’s the VDLF.” Sandy then explained the nature of the Scottish Government’s Vacant Derelict Land Fund and how he had instructed officers to follow this up.”What we have to do is to try and get the Community Centre on a reserve list of projects for the Scottish Government and I’m sure with the contacts we’ve got with the Scottish Government I would be reasonably confident that we could do that. If we were able to get it onto the reserve list of projects, this is for demolishing it, because I would think, in my small pea brain, if we got the site demolished and cleared it would be an advantage for developers. Because I think developers coming along just now seeing the cost of developing that, because you’re talking approximately 100-150 thousand.” Sandy went on to state that if a slippage was identified it could be slotted in this financial year if the Scottish Government were in agreement. Hot off the press news from Sandy for the meeting!

Sandy then briefly went on about the Highland wide Development plan and specifically Sandown, saying that an application for 550 houses was rejected and that if the community didn’t want 300 then that could be rejected too. He indicated that we must all work together:

“We have to be realistic, and have a bit of confidence in each of our abilities to deliver something in the town,” he said Shortly after that statement he continued:” Nairn is very much in our hearts. You maybe think you don’t see much of me. I’m in Inverness all the time or I’m galavanting all over the Highlands but I’ve got a lot of really good contacts in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government.”

On the issue of the By-pass Sandy said he would be meeting Keith Brown the minister next week. Sandy then gave the meeting some news on the Bus Station when pressed by Rosemary Young.

“I’ve had two meetings with the owner of the Bus Station and he has assured me a planning application will be in within the next two to three weeks.”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nairn 2 Selkirk 1

County progress in the Scottish Cup. Pictures below (first 27 from club photographer Donald Matheson, the rest from Individual pictures here. Full screen slideshow here.

And here's Kenny MacLeod's match report.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cludgie Party looking for your vote

Polling starts Monday - more details here.

A Question concerning the A96

One of our regular readers sends us a copy of a question he has submitted to the Highland Council to be answered at the Ward Forum meeting next week in the Courthouse:

"Highland Council will be well aware of the 4 fatal accidents on the A96 trunk road, over the last 12 years or so, within Nairn settlement and its immediate vicinity and several key studies and publications concerning the A96 trunk road:
the HITRANS A96 Bypass Study (Economic Appraisal Report) that showed some 10,700 vehicles would be diverted to a future Nairn Bypass with £5.2m of related journey time savings and the potential for £13.1m being generated by additional development land;
the Transport Scotland Strategic Transport Projects Review that showed that the accident and accident severity rate on this section of the A96 is double the national average and the proposed dualling of the A96 and Nairn Bypass was identified as Strongly Positive

What efforts are being made by Highland Council, and in particular those Nairn Councillors who deal with Transport Scotland, to ensure the Nairn Bypass is brought forward in the first phase of improvements on the A96 to ensure the accident rate reductions, journey time savings, and environmental improvements for the residents of Nairn?"

Our correspondent tells us: "My big worry is that the focus of Transport Scotland and Highland Council is on the UHI new Campus in Inverness, the Airport, the new village at Tornagrain, etc and Nairn is in danger of being left behind."

Liz praises Sandy

Sandy made an intervention with an update on a few matters at the CC Forum earlier this week ( a report on what he had to say later this week if time permits). Anyway Sandy received some praise from, perhaps an unexpected quarter? Liz said:

"I'd just like to say that when we got elected last time round and Sandy was made Convenor of Highland Council, well, I thought that is going to help Nairn to have someone in that position of power and authority in the Council. It can't do anything but help Nairn and I think that he does work very hard for the town."

"It’s not that we want to keep people out, It’s just that we want sensible growth in line with what has gone on in the past"

"The Highland-wide Development Plan has its day before the Scottish Office Reporter in Eden Court next week and the plan also raised its ugly head at Wednesday night’s Community Councils Forum. A constant critic of the plan Joan Noble told the meeting:

It’s actually been very aspirational coming from HIE and population growth aspirations in 2006, none of it bears any relation to reality and especially now with the recession upon us. None of it has been revised downwards from the point of numbers. They’re still using high migration scenarios which we’ve never reached, we’ve never reached post-war migration scenarios over the last 10 years even with the big numbers of Eastern Europeans coming in 2006. So this is the sort of thing we are facing with the Highland-wide Development Plan. We are looking at a model which is based on something which is never going to happen. Now we’ve said this to Malcolm MacLeod at numerous meetings and all he says are things like; “Do you not share our vision,” and we say “No, it’s rubbish.” That’s as far as it gets and it’s still in the planning. Every single meeting he’s gone into has said this is not credible and here we are at the last gasp with the Reporter’s examination having to go through it all again with these population estimates. Nairn is projected to have 1700 people in the next 20 years and they’re catering for 9,600. What planet are we on? This is the thing that is really getting people feeling that there is a democratic deficit. We’re talking sense, I’m sorry but we are and all we get is a lot of rubbish, which is dangerous rubbish for a town which depends on a green environment and tourism. It’s not that we want to keep people out, It’s just that we want sensible growth in line with what has gone on in the past."

Selkirk the underdogs but they sign Spanish striker in time for the trip to Station Park

The Southern Reporter states:

"Talking of his side’s Highland clash against Nairn County, Selkirk manager Bryan Templeton told us: “Nairn play at a high level and are obviously a good side, so we are going to be up against it.

“We know that we have a job on our hands, but we are capable of doing it. More here

It seems the Borders side have also signed a Spanish striker, Romero Aguilera , who competed at Schoolboy international level, in time for their trip north to face the Wee County in the Scottish Cup. Here's a quote from their Chairman Jim Moody

Moody flew over to Mallorca a fortnight ago to sign the striker, who is reported to have scored over 70 goals in two seasons for his hometown team of Puerto Pollenca.
Moody added: "He seemed to think he would be playing Rangers and Celtic, but I explained the level that Selkirk play at. If he's as good as we are told, then we wouldn't stand in his way if he was to go and play for a bigger Scottish team. His first test will be against Nairn County."

More on the Border Telegraph

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Who does Gurnshire most want in the bin?

Have you voted in the the latest unscientific Gurn poll? Over on the right in the sidebar.Who would you like most to lose their seat at the elections in May? The results so far at 22nd September above. Picture will enlarge.

Building a new democracy for Nairn - Can we make it happen?

It is highly likely that a lot will change in the term of the present Scottish Government. There is a school of thought that the SNP may achieve a result indistinguishable from independence by the end of their term. Whatever the final result, at the end of this Holyrood administration Scotland will probably be a lot more than just a slightly different place than it is today and the landscape of local government too will probably undergo massive changes given the majority that the SNP have in parliament.

When we look to the future and Nairn’s potential role or place in the new Scotland, then we might consider, as Alisatair Noble suggests, how the initiative to integrate Health and Social services locally can be extended into other areas of our civic life as a further test bed as to how a local democratic deficit could be righted, thus providing a role model for elsewhere. It’d be a tough task because an essentially centralising machine of Highland Council local government would have to subscribe itself to a localism agenda and allow Nairn folk to use the limited cash available in the way they saw fit. Nothing short of a revolution necessary there.

Last night Sandy was making the right platitudes but just how much would happen beyond the next election, that is to say if Sandy and his colleagues are re-elected or once their replacements are in place? Well, if the Scottish government is serious about a localism agenda then there would be pressure from the top as well as from communities below to bring about improvements in Scotland’s parochial tiers of democracy. A chance to squeeze the Invercentric bone marrow out of the Glenurquahart Road apparatus? Can it be done and have we any other alternative but to try? Here’s what Alistair had to say in the Community Centre last night:

"I don’t know if any of you have noticed today but Mr Cameron has announced that planning is not just about development and employment but has to include things like environment and people which is a massive change in policy south of the border and we’ve all had Mr Swinney’s budget today so the financial reality is that we are broke for the next 10 or 20 years, maybe longer. All I’m about to say is based on my understanding of all the good things that have happened in Nairn over the last 40 years and the long-term relationships that I think we have in Nairn between the councillors, between all members of the Nairn community and try to explain what I mean by locality planning in the context of what I’m talking about tonight in my understanding of what we have been doing in Nairn for the last 40 years.

It started when Sandy Park and I used to meet in the butcher’s shop and decide what we would do next to sort out what was happening in Nairn. And there has been some great success, this building has been a fantastic success and that has been built on a large number of Nairn people putting in a lot of work and effort. We’ve got the hospital complex which is regarded as one of the gems in the Scottish Health Service and the model in that is the model I’ll be trying to talk about tonight. That was based on years and years of hard work and people working together to make sure we got it right. I think locality planning is our understanding of our community, to be aware of its strength and to be aware of its weaknesses but above all we need to involve local people in decisions that affect them, their families and the environment. And it’s where the conflicting wishes and needs and desires are clarified and corporate decisions are made with as much openness as possible. That all sounds kind of jargony but if you look at what’s happening now there are all sorts of pressures on the system on development, on planning. Some of you might have heard me going on about Loch Flemington but if you pollute the environment you take an awful lot of time to correct your mistakes.

So if this is for real, and we accept we are under real financial pressure then we have to make the best use of whatever money we get, then can we come up with a Nairn model that is based on these long-term relationships and trust. The better the information, the easier it is for the decisions to be made, to get it right and if we get it right then we’ll all be much more happier about what’s going on. I think we are being given the opportunity now in the context of the massive changes that are going to happen in Highland around Health and Social Work going together and Highland being a pilot for an integrated resource framework. Basically it’s about a fair allocation to each locality and that locality makes best use of that. I think we genuinely need to develop a Nairn way of working which allows genuine decisions to be made on our behalf by our democratically elected representatives.

We’re not here to debate the fact that it is the MSPs and the Councillors who are actually going to make the decisions. What I think we are here to do is to try and make sure that they have as much of the right information and the right knowledge and the right expertise to make that decision correctly and if we use that local knowledge we’re much more likely to get the right decisions. So it’s a kind of combination of using the fantastic opportunities we’ve got around technology to give us a fantastic amount of information but then we’ve got to intelligibly use that information. That’s where people at the present moment are struggling because people are swamped. If you look at what goes to the Council in piles of paper 10ft high, they are discussing thing they really don’t know a lot about. If you go to the MSPs, if you go to the MPs, if you go to Europe, the same thing is happening. So in no way are we trying to say this is anything other than making the present democratic model work better. And the only way to make it work is if the locals really take part in it and we have this trust and confidence that what we are saying, what we are doing is actually in the Common Good or Nairn and that’s a concept that, as you know I think, is very sensible and sane – and it’s where we balance the conflicting pressures, disputes and debates and arguments that we are all necessarily going to have. [...]

When you start to put health and the local authority together and all the stuff that is likely to come from the Scottish Government will be around integration and best value for money and minimising waste and I think this is where we have all got to take responsibility and all work together to try and make sure that happens. Thank you."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Usual Suspects put a bit of flesh and bone on hope

The usual suspects met again earlier this evening (Wednesday) in the community centre with the West Community Council hosting this official meeting of the Royal Burgh of Nairn’s three community Councils. There was a good turnout with a representatives from Cawdor and Auldearn CC’s. Oor Sandy the Convenor of Highland Council was there along with Liz and Graham plus one of their high heid yins William Gilfillan. There was plenty to report and some top of the range material too, especially a speech from Alistair Noble, radical localism thinker, (almost the spiritual leader of the usual suspects really) and what he had to say will resonate with many Gurnites. We’ll get to some of what Alistair and the others said tomorrow perhaps but in the meantime let’s start with the opening words of the magnificent lady that finally made them clean up the Regal – the indefatigable Rosemary Young! Here’s what she had to say as she spoke to the meeting.

“There is a groundswell of thinking that Nairn town has to grab its identity and decide how it positions itself and what it wants to be in the future, we have many like-minded and intelligent people based in Nairn who are willing and able to form committees, forum, group, call it what you like, in order, and I do mean this, to help our elected councillors and the Highland Council to implement the hard decisions that they have to make for the people of Nairn and to let the people of Nairn have a say in what happens. Strategy is what we need and the right one for Nairn is surely a very simple request. We need to decide if we are indeed a tourist town and if that is the case, decide how we will present ourselves. It would appear, and this is a personal opinion, the Councils are broke, the Country is broke, Europe is broke and it appears that the world is heading that way as well. We are not unaware of the lack of funds available to Nairn and that is clear strategic thinking is the way forward.”

Rosemary then went on to explain that she had been rapped over the knuckles by a council official recently about how unfair she had been to elected councillors over the Regal and she quoted the official as stating to her (in relation to getting the clean-up) “You can do this, you are a normal person.” Rosemary then continued:

“Well if normal people can get things done we need to help those who should be getting things done but can’t because they are not normal once they become councillors. We are here to help and drive this town forward in a way to enrich all members of society to the coming, most difficult years. We are all in this together.”

So Gurnites more soon, Let’s hope the Highland Council and other bodies are up for it and capable of listening to the usual suspects and going forward with them. This observer supports their aims and is sure that Gurnshire is in line and marching behind them and has been for some considerable time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Arthur a heron in Galway

This observer has always been impressed with the local herons. They are one of the few birds left on the River Nairn that don’t queue up for mankind’s offerings and seem to be content to get on with the job of working for a living. It was interesting, but also disheartening in a way, to come across Arthur the Galway Heron during a trip to the West Coast of Ireland earlier this month. There seemed to be around 60 swans, umpteen ducks and plenty of seagulls in the harbour area. There was a woman feeding all the birds, all or nothing it seems and no signs telling you which birds shouldn’t be fed. I noticed a heron on the harbour wall which was content to stand a lot closer to humanity than its Celtic cousins in Nairn would do (picture will enlarge). The bird was more than happy to pose for a photograph. A woman coming out of a nearby house saw me taking pictures of the bird and she told me:

“The heron’s name is Arthur and I feed him every day.” She shouted Arthur over and with a couple of flaps of his wings he crossed the road to see his provider in the hope of another hand-out. Could it happen here?

Hôtel Golf View à Nairn

"Assemblage de 19 images" on Flickr.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Billy the Train

All this talk of potential rolling stock taking to the rails along the prom or the streets of Nairn has seen one of our regular correspondents down for wee blether with Billy the Train. Our correspondent reveals that Billy has been undergoing secret time trials for a twice daily run from the Sewage Works Car Park to the West Golf club. Billy will also multi-tasking by emptying dog poo bins along the route.

Keep Nairnshire Colourful - Volunteers needed for the next two Saturdays

Keeping Nairnshire Colourful need a hand on Saturday the 24th and also the following weekend on Saturday 1st of October. Both days are a 9.00 a.m. start. The aim is to create a vivid blue loch at the bottom of the Cemetery Brae. Last year thousands of Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) bulbs were planted to create an impressive river of blue. Next spring if the work is completed, the river will flow into a loch.

Keeping Nairnshire Colourful will also be planting 110,000 bulbs at other locations around town and are always on the look-out for more volunteers. If you want to get involved in the group's work ring Dougie Gray on 01667 460003 or give Billy a PM on the Facebook page.

Dougie told the Courier recently: I am interested in the town looking bonnie. I think it is important to make the approaches to Nairn, whether it is from the east, west or south, as colourful as possible so that people so that people are more likely to stop in Nairn rather than driving through."

Saving Highland's Loch Flemington 'globally important'

"Every trout in Loch Flemington, near Nairn, died in a single day in 1995 because of a blue-green algae bloom.
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), near Edinburgh, is now working with the local community to restore the loch's water quality.
Dr Alastair Noble, who has lived near the loch for 40 years, said the project could have global significance.
A treatment called Phoslock was applied to Loch Flemington in 2009.
Results of tests done in 2010 and this year have shown water quality has since improved significantly, according CEH."
More on the BBC site.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A place a bit like Nairn/Narin/Narann

Over in Donegal there’s a place called Narin with big sandy beaches and a caravan site. They were having a mixture of sun and rain while this observer passed through. In fact there’s more than one choice of how you spell Narin. One of the signs on the pub (closed) is actually spelt Nairn – twinned with the Regal? You can see from the Gaelic name for the community however that perhaps there is a bit of a different origin to the name as far as the Celtic roots go.

An Fhearainn is the same as Fearainn(land) in Gàidhlig but seems to indicate “township” as well in Gaeilge (Irish). Here the convential theory is that Nairn’s Gaelic name Inbhir Narann comes from a shortening of Inbhir nam Feàrna (the River of Alders) and no shortage of alders on the River Nairn up to the present day that’s for sure despite the onward march of Japenese Knotweed, etc.

Interesting to note also that in Britanny and Wales there are places spelt Gwern/Gwern and a commune elsewhere in France with the name Verne with perhaps the same origin, i.e.from the Brythonic Celtic language word for Alder “Gwern”. Nirn/Nurn twinned with Verne?

Some more pictures of Narin coming soon on the Gurn flickr pages.

Doctor Grigor revises his options...

Another message from Doc G to the good citizens of Gurnshire:

" further to my suggestions about the idea of a miniature railway running along the seafront, I still think it is an excellent idea even if I say so myself, but I do see problems that might occur , although if this does go ahead. I don't think steam is the power I would use. I have had a couple of suggestions from a couple of folk who are quite excited about this idea and that the train does not need to run on tracks it could run on wheels and I have also been informed by someone who has been on one of these that they really don't take up much room whatsoever and also having no tracks to run on there is plenty scope as to where to take folk on there wee journey apart from along the seafront of which of course is a must for a part of this journey, what a dam good idea and one I am sure the holiday makers would thoroughly enjoy. I am willing to go full steam ahead with this project and see it to the end ..... anyone with me ?"

regards the Doc

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Buckie 2 Nairn 2

Nairn came away from Victoria Park with a share of the points. Not enough to keep the Wee County in second spot however as Forres won at home to Rothes and moved up behind Buckie in the table. The momentum continues for Nairn however with a good away performance.

Pictures from Donald Matheson. Full screen slideshow here and individual pictures here.Match report here.

Nairn to Cawdor 10K

A couple of hours after the Coast to Coasters get away the 10K got under way at 11.00 a.m. Picture will enlarge and a few more pictures here. Compared to the 750 that got away at 8.00 a.m. numbers were quite small for the 10K. An observer that saw the earlier start pass the harbour commented that although the Bailey Bridge is closed to cars it was ok for several hundred runners to be on it at the same time - good point when you think about it isn't it?

Scotland Nokia Coast to Coast 2011

The 06.15 start. It had been dry until around 06.00 and then one of this summer's characteristic downpours arrived. There were warnings that there was a lot of water now at the transfer station to the bicycles at Cawdor but everyone seemed in good form as the small group of around 20 super-fit souls who will be kayaking on Loch Ness later set off on a long trek westward.

"There's no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, just the wrong clothes," said Laurie to the 06.30 crowd of around 250 competitors. His wee speech was much appreciated by the already sodden sportsmen and women, cheers and applause for Laurie then the next squad set off in the direction of Cawdor along the River Nairn. (pictures will enlarge a little)

Another group sets off at 08.00 if any Gurnites out there are up yet and the 10K competitors to Cawdor go at 11.00. Good luck everyone.

UPDATE: A few pictures on the Gurn Flickr pages of the 08.00 starters Cladach gu Cladach - Coast to Coast Scotland 2011 - Pictures

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nairn's "Hanging Gardens of Babylon"

There was considerable discussion at the River CC meeting earlier this week about the state of several buildings on the High Street and the Brae. Jeanne Tolmie remarked that there was a "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" appearance. You can see an example of what she is referring to in the image above. Members were worried about potential health and safety issues given the build-up of material in some of the rhone pipes. Tommy Hogg also stated that he believed a piece of a chimney had come down on the Brae recently.

It was also reported to the meeting that the Association of Nairn Businesses had been offered the use of a cherry-picker free of charge some years ago to rectify the situation but had backed out over the fear that there could be serious liability issues. Liz told the meeting: "I'm going to see if there is any enforcement or inspection that can be done by the Council."

Let's hope there is Liz. Perhaps the Council need to send someone up in a cherry-picker just to ascertain whether there is any risk to the public anywhere in the High Street environs and as Murd Dunbar pointed out too there is also a considerable bit of vegetation along the side of the old Community Centre rhones - that's one that could be cleaned up by the Council with no liability issues!

Concept (top-shop) no more

They're still going strong down on the brae however

How the Suburban folk want to see Sandown developed

Nairn Suburban Community Council have published the results of their Sandown Development brief meeting held on the 30th of August 2011. On their wish list are a Community Facility, a Tourist Information Office manned by volunteers and an office for wildlife and countryside rangers to work from. They also wish to see play areas, and a wetlands area and park. Allotments are on the agenda too and as far as housing goes they state:

"All housing developments in the fields north of the A96 should be clearly thought out. The community does not want developer led proposals of expensive properties and tall unsuitable blocks of flats. Local people and families require "village" or "community" designed houses. The site lends itself to low, single storied or one and a half storied buildings to maintain attractive vistas and landscape. The environmental corridors will maintain the concept of depth and distance."

As far as a business park goes that is a "non-starter" for the NSCC given the current climate, they correctly state that once the Dalcross Business Park gets under way there will be little call for a business park in Nairn.

There's plenty more sensible opinion and detail about the options they want to see go forward for Sandown in the paper they have produced. Well done the NSCC folk! This observer is sure that Gurnites will be willing to back most or all of their proposals for the Sandown Lands.

Read the full document here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another message from Doc G

"Gurnites please keep checking in to the gurn for a slight change of plans for my wee venture for a miniatre railway in Nairn of which I have had many many words of support from folk over the past couple of day's.. my new idea runs along the same lines (no pun intendid) as did the previous idea."
We await your proposals with interest Sir.

Ceilidh group raises £2,900 for charity this season

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Your chance to become one of the usual suspects?

The deadline for nominations for the Nairn Community Council elections is Tuesday the 4th of October and all you have to do is fill this form in and you could be well on your way to becoming one of the usual suspects.
We've talked often enough about the things that are going wrong in Nairn and the Invercentric policies of Highland Council. A good way to have your say on many issues is to get involved in the Community Councils and if we are to have the kind of town that we want and not what others want to dictate to us then more people must get involved. More information here.

Coming soon - a new landmark for Nairn

At Tuesday nights River CC meeting members heard how a new 29 metres high communication mast will be going up on the side of the railway next to Grant's garage. The mast will provide a direct radio link between drivers and signallers on the railway and will improve safety reliability and punctuality on the rail network according to the information received by the River folk.
Although the company are informing residents and sending information to the local MP, MSP and councillors the development can go ahead under "committed development rights" and there may be very little that anyone can do about it should they object to the mast..
There were some concerns expressed by River CC members and Liz told the meeting: " Why couldn't they have done it out of town a wee bit to it wasn't so obtrusive."
River CC members were minded to wait until residents opinions could be gauged before responding to the letter that had received from the railway company.

A trip to Brodie

Thanks to Kenny MacLeod for this picture of a Free Church Sunday school outing to Brodie in the late 1920s. He tells the Gurn: "My mum 3 Aunts and an Uncle are in there somewhere." (picture will enlarge).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

State of Cemetery continues to shame Nairn - "Distressed Families"

Back in June we reported on the considerable decline in the standard of maintenance at Nairn Cemetery. On July the 13th outrage at the decline in care of this important part of Nairn was expressed at a River Community Council meeting and the watchdogs acted quickly. All this seemed to have come as a surprise to Highland Council and they admitted things were on the slip. There had been warnings expressed that the administration's policy of cuts and putting grass cutting out to contract could be potentially damaging to a town like Nairn which needs to keep its appearance in top condition given how important it is to attract visitors . The state of the cemetery is so much more important than anywhere else in the town and if a local authority cannot care for this facility to the standard that its citizens demand then why are we paying the wages of the Councillors who voted for the policies that have created this shameful situation?

Things seem to have got worse since July despite Graham Marsden taking the matter up with officials. This evening (Tuesday) Stephanie Whittaker of the River CC read out a letter she had received from the council which explained that the contractor was only responsible for grass cutting and the path-edging, weed-killing, shrub pruning and grave digging was the responsibility of the Council and that since Cllr Marsden's intervention it had been agreed that Nairn Cemetery will now be classed as a high amenity cut. This observer can only wonder why Nairn Cemetery was never classed as the highest amenity value in the first instance?

There was more to come at the meeting and it was quite shocking to hear what Liz had to say. She told the meeting: "I've had complaints over the weekend about breakages to vases etc around the graves when they were trimming. The grass was very long and there were some very upset families there on Friday. They were saying to me that it is difficult enough going up to visit graves without seeing it in a dreadful mess and cleaning up breakages that have been caused by the contractors."

Liz went on to say that she had been in contact with an official in Aviemore called Val Gallagher who has contacted the families to hear what their concerns are. To this observer this is almost beyond belief, if you are unhappy with the way the Highland Council are looking after the area around the grave of a loved one then you have to deal with some official in Aviemore!

Iain Gordon of River CC sternly told Cllr Marsden of his dissatisfaction in the matter and how this was a very emotive matter. Graham replied:

"I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just saying what's already been said, and that is there is, I think, a recognition among all of us that this is a very sensitive area and we must work very hard to ensure that it is done properly."

Liz went on to explain one of the explanations for the drop in standards she had been given by Tech Services. They had told her that there was a new regulation in regard to weed control and they couldn't just pre-spray they have to wait until the weeds are substantial before they can start spraying." This explanation was met with gasps of incredulity from some of those present.

Stephanie once again came into the debate and told the meeting: " We need to do something, we should write on the behalf of the distressed families, it is no good saying this is dreadful and doing nothing about it!"

River CC will once again be complaining to the Council. One is left perplexed at how the ruling group members on the Highland Council who represent Nairn (Graham, Laurie, Sandy) have allowed it all to come to this. What is the point of you being in your positions if you cannot sort this out?

Nairn Triathalon 24th September

"The Nairn Triathlon, brought to you by triathloninverness for the first time, will take place on Saturday 24th September, 2011 at Nairn Leisure. With beautiful surroundings in the Nairnshire countryside and views over the Moray Firth to greet you at the finish line however you choose to race we hope it will be an enjoyable event for all." More details here.

Exclusive - paddle boat rentals for the River Nairn next season?

Picture will enlarge. The Gurn understands that an application for financial support will soon be going before Nairn's Community Councils. Word on the street is that the paddle boats will be " 'Light touch' and sympathetic to the existing environment."

The Gurnshire Times Established 13th September 2011 - A bit of fun on a wet day

The Gurnshire Times - knocked up after a couple of clicks on - a wee gadget that you can fill up with Twitter, Facebook and other feeds.
Anyway it looks dry outside now, time to get things done.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Petrol Prices in Nairn

The latest prices today as at close of play (image will enlarge). The image was sent in by one of our regulars and is from this price comparison site.

Our correspondent writes: "What a surprise, Sainsbury's is cheapest in Nairn, good for Grants for offering a better price than the Co-op, mind you, there are enough folk who don't seem to care about the cost and fill up anywhere? Sainsbury's Nairn now seems to be offering a cheaper price for 4 star than any garage in Elgin or Inverness. Come to sunny Nairn and fill up on cheap (er) fuel!"

NAS plotting again


A new style of funding application by the plotters.

Nairn 3 Clach 0

Club photographer Donald Matheson sends the Gurn pictures from Saturday's win that put County up to second. All eyes on Victoria Park this coming Saturday as the Wee County make the trip to Victoria Park to take on Buckie the present League leaders. Individual pictures here.

What future for the showfield?

The APT blog recently warned us all to pay attention to what could be planned for the area. The Development Plan goes forward with all views being taken into account. Could it emerge that the Showfield becomes a housing scheme at the end of all this?

The BBC reports: "Nairnshire Farming Society has also offered its seven-acre (3ha) showfield in Nairn for housing. " More here.

The West CC have something to say about that however and here is an extract from their submission:

"4. The Farmers’ Showfield [NH 879 562] is one of only two significant green spaces remaining in the town centre, and deserves protection. It is used for a variety of recreational purposes. Part of it – 0.6 ha – has however already been zoned for housing (para 10.f of the 2000 Local Plan). This is only justifiable if it guarantees, as an immutable condition, the preservation of the remainder as public open space."

You can view the Society's submission here and the list of other submissions relating to Nairn here.

Not many Nairnites will want to see housing on the Showfield and it could get quite messy once resistance got organised. Bearing this in mind it's worth a quick look back to an article on the NICE blog that offered a sensible solution to the future of the Showfield. Maybe there could just be a better way for everyone concerned.

Lodgehill Clinic - residents might have to put up with the occasional bark rather than sneeze

Rumours that Moray Coast Vet group were planning to flit up to the Lodgehill Clinic from St Ninian Road were given credence by a report in last Tuesday's Courier. Not everyone reads the Tuesday Courier and there's nothing on the site to quote from but anyway, there was an interview with John Donald and it seems that reports of a planning application going in are true.

All power to the proposed move, hopefully the residents and the town's three Community Councils will submit letters of support if the application has to go for debate but surely such a sensible change could go through on delegated powers?

Full steam on the prom?

A suggestion arrives from Doctor Grigor:

Dear Gurners,
as you aware most seaside resorsts have various attratctions to bring folk in e.g sealife centres, etc. But Nairn sems to be lacking in such things . So I have come up with an idea of which I have been thinking of for many a year .What a prime location nairn would be for a miniature railway, perhaps along the seafront . Running perhaps from the harbour to the Links or perhaps a little bit further, what a super attraction that would be for the town. taking in such wondertfull views as the train heads along the seafront! I know a project like this would not be cheap but I am sure there are lottery grants etc and a bit of fundraising would help, any views please ?

Fair parking at Fairways?

Some West End residents have been critical of the volume of traffic passing their homes of late due to the route being used as a 'rat run'. One gurn regular has found that some residents of Fairways have started parking on the pavement on a regular basis meaning folk with prams and wheel chairs are forced onto the road. Not a good state of affairs especially if there is more traffic to contend with as has been suggested.
"Why not park the cars in the road where they belong, they would act as a traffic calming measure?" Suggests our correspondent.

Former LibDem Candidate off to Downing Street

Perhaps a few Gurnites will remember Christine Jardine who failed to become elected for the LibDems in the Nairn & Inverness seat at the Holyrood election in May. Well she's off the broo now and on her way to London. Thanks to the regular Gurnite who sent the following from the Herald:

"Christine Jardine, a former writer with The Herald and an ex-Liberal Democrat candidate in Scotland, has been taken on by the Prime Minister as a special adviser to liaise between No 10 and the Scotland Office. Allan Ross, a civil servant, is to manage Scottish matters at an official level within Downing Street."

You can read the full article on the Herald if you have a subscription

Tributes to Ken Ramage

Tributes to the late Ken Ramage are stacking up on Alison Kerr's jazz blog.

Here's another wee one from a regular Gurnite:

We will miss Ken dearly and are so thankful for the good times he has given us as a unique present for so many years.

"The music in my heart I bore, long after it was heard no more."

(William Wordsworth)

Boot sale with a facebook page

Nairn St Ninian Car Boot Sale - 06 November · 11:00 - 15:00.

Ballerina dreaming - Fleetwood Mac - tickets 90p or 80p if purchased in advance

Did anyone manage to get a ticket for that one?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

tuilleadh Gàidhlig

Just a wee bittie from the editorial of the West Highland Free Press (26th August). Again in reference to the Scottish Government's recent research/opinion poll.

"Action not surveys are needed if Gaelic is to survive.

...But overall, we do not need a census to tell us that spoken, community Gaelic continues to decline. And we do not need another Scottish Government survey to reassure us that 81 per cent of Scots "feel it is important that Scotland does not lose its Galeic language traditions". In present circumstances that is at best condescending.
At worst it is whitewashing failure. What money is available to Gaelic should be spent on Gaelic, not on canvassing shoppers in Cambuslang for their opinions of Gaelic.
And the money that is spent on Gaelic must be spent more bravely, more imaginatively and more distant from from the dead hand of Inverness. If it is not, if there is not a root-and-branch reappraisal of current policies, we will all have reason to dread the results of the 2021 census."

There are those in the Gaelic world that think that too much is organised from Inverness. "The dead hand of Inverness" could apply to a lot of other things too couldn't it - especially the way the status of Nairn has been gradually eroded by Invercentrics at the heart of local government in the Highlands.