West Community Council chair Rosemary Young had written to River and Suburban CC calling for a working group or subcommittee to discuss planning matters. Her three page letter which outlines how West CC view certain recent difficulties over planning matters can be seen here.
This initiative received a very cool response from the River members however and this observer detects that perhaps the “cross-border” interventions from West which recently took a different view from River over the Bus Station and Braeval applications. Jimmy Ferguson and Brian Stewart were in the Community Centre last night (Tuesday) to support Rosemary’s letter and reply to any points raised by River members but they had a hard time of it.
River member Andrew Purkis said: “I’m not particularly in favour of this. I do think there is merit in it but we do have organised bodies of community councillors already. Where there are areas where there are developments which affect the town generally, I think those are important for the community councils to get together to discuss those issues.I don’t think it needs to set up another level of bureaucracy. I would trust our chairman, and I’m sure each community council would trust their chairman, if there was an issue which really affected the town as a whole, for those chairman to meet and see if there is any common ground and then come back to discuss and then come back to the committees.”
Jimmy Ferguson said in reply to that and other comments: The issue wasn’t so much about someone wanting to put an extension up in their back garden and that sort of stuff, that’s very local. There are some big issues around the town, like Sandown, like Nairn South, where it’s going to have a massive impact on the whole community. Individuals within each of the community councils have quite strong backgrounds or professional backgrounds and the idea behind this was just to have a get together with a few of those people to discuss what are the bigger issues around the town and try and form a consensus on what the Nairn community really feel about some of those issues.
Leslie Bolton supported Andrew’s point of view: “Why do we need another level, Mr Chairman, I agree with Andrew, we meet monthly, eleven times a year, we have four joint meetings, that’s fifteen meetings in the year and if there was some major issue that Highland Council said they were going to deal with the town centre as a whole, we could always call a special meeting to discuss that. On Nairn South we made our representations, Nairn West made different representations, on Braeval as Stephanie said, we had a view, it was criticised at the West meeting, it was criticised at the Suburban meeting. Now that’s not the way to go. We are entitled to have our opinion on anything that comes within our area. And if we say what we say then that’s it.”
Sheilea Mayer then spoke about the Lodgehill Clinic planning application and how the three Community Councils working in unison succeeding in getting an appropriate result for the residents in that area. At this point this observer spoke of how a sort of procedure has developed in the town where residents of one particular area that are faced with an inappropriate development know that they have to get support from other areas of the town and not only their own local community council. This observer believes that these campaigns when they come are best left to individuals concerned to start things off and go to the Community Councils.
Tommy Hogg perhaps summed up the current thinking of River CC when he said: “The common message just doesn’t work sometimes, what suits one community council area will not sort the other and that has been proved in the past and it’s still the same way.”
Stephanie Whittaker added to this: “I think the town will come together when it is under threat and I think it is quite obvious that everyone will work together, the other thing is there is disagreement. If you ask, I have been spending ages, wondering around town saying to people, “What do you think about the bus station?” “What do you think of the plans.” Wonderful, really great, dreadful, hate it. There is a dichotomy of opinion and there always will be. It may be that it is a difference of opinion between community councils but it may be that the people in the town are thinking different things it’s up to us to listen to what they are saying[…] People are wonderful and they will come together and I don’t think we need to push them too much outside the system that we have already."
Although there was a fairly negative reception towards Rosemary's proposal from River members they did agree to discuss it further and thought it would also be a matter for the joint community council meeting on the 31st of January.