Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Street Markets in Nairn – Can we have some please?

In the Nairnshire Telegraph of June 5th Iain Bain wrote an editorial around Councillor Michael Green’s efforts to bring back some life into the town centre. He broadly wishes the newly elected councillor well but believes he will have a tough time bringing his ideas into fruition although street markets may be easier to achieve than resurrecting the Home Holiday Week according to Iain:

“Fourteen years ago the couple of series of Street Markets were highly successful and did a lot to bring people to Nairn. We could see them working now, to combat the Saturday afternoon malaise which overcomes the centre of Nairn when everybody has got into their car and gone somewhere else.”

Iain goes on to talk about the considerable effort involved and the changed context in which we now live and then continues: “Will an independent Councillor be supported in his campaign by political opponents and is there any interest in the town from a local authority officialdom, increasingly viewing Nairn from the standpoint of Inverness?”

It would be very hard not to see Liz and Colin supporting any initiative from Michael to bring some life back into the town centre. However, getting a committee together to give up time and effort to bring back the home holiday week would take some doing, with most of the regular volunteering types usually maxed out over the summer but maybe others might step forward who might be inclined to contribute to Nairn’s civic pride for a few hours in the summer months.

We have to look beyond the local authority to ourselves if we want to get anything done now. The authority can help with advice but might hit you with a hefty charge for boots and equipment on the ground – witness the charges for installing the stage in Viewfield for the Big Lunch. We have to get more done for ourselves in Nairn whether “local authority officialdom” is in favour or not. Here our councillors can be effective leaders in “thinking out of the box” to enable the community’s aspirations to go forward. It shouldn’t be about what the Highland Council wants or doesn’t want us to do, we have to do things ourselves in spite of Invercentralism. Hopefully a new administration is a new start however, with some room for the Highland periphery to swim freely in its own civic waters again, creating the ideal environment for initiatives from the community grass roots. 

The markets fourteen years ago that Iain Bain refers too were one off events, this observer believes he is correct when he says that sums of public money were involved in staging them. Such largesse is now a thing of the past, austerity Nairn might not see the like of that  for some time so perhaps we should be thinking of a different kind of market? A weekly market for residents of Nairnshire to buy and sell their produce and goods? There may be some opposition to this from some shopkeepers but bringing people into the town for markets would benefit them too. There are large pavement areas in the town where stalls could be physically put up with little difficulty and such an undertaking could even be tried later this summer. There would be other sorts of difficulties, someone would have to apply for a market licence under the Civic Government Act and planning permission may be involved as well but the support of local councillors might smooth those hurdles. Perhaps that sort of market is not what Michael has in mind though. We await developments with interest. 


Anonymous said...

I for one would welcome street markets, They would bring life to the street and, as you say, most Saturday afternoons the High Street is abandoned.

Anonymous said...

I would welcome saturday farmers markets anytime, local quality produce by local people.

Tat stalls can stay at the car boot days.

Tit For Tat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Graisg said...

@tit for tat, calling anon "arrogant" would have been sufficient but it wouldn't be polite to add the other word :-)

Arfur Daley said...

Some very thoughtful comments in this Gurn post, which sets this positive idea into the current (tough budgetary times) context.

A few more thoughts:
- someone, or some group, needs to take "ownership" of this initiative and lead the considerable effort that would be needed. It can't all be left to Michael Green. Look at what a struggle it was recently to mobilise the Jubilee picnic, until the Museum team stepped up to the plate. For a street market, couldn't the ANB drive the process?

- if the Council has the old equipment (stalls, awnings etc) but asks for hefty payments to put them up, would they provide the stuff free for volunteers to put up?

- establishing a regular farmers' market (on the X Saturday of each month) is a big ask. It takes time to build up a reputation and get people into the habit; and it needs to avoid competing with neighbouring events.

- is it worth testing the water by trying to organise a street market to coincide with, for example, the Highland Games? Plenty of people around, and a chance to liven up the main part of town as well as the Links?

Graisg said...

Interesting comment Arfur. Personally I think the term "farmers' market" is perhaps likely to make some consumers a bit wary. I have heard criticism that some such markets contain very few farmers.
It would be nice to have something up the street on games day but I believe that traders can actually turn up on the day down at the links and pay for a stance. There are usually about a dozen various stalls lined up down there by and that is probably where most traders would want to go to get the maximum footfall.
Perhaps you are right however, a one-off or even two/three-off as per 14 years ago might be the way forward this year if enough traders could be found to give it a go. Again personally, I would like to see it restricted to residents of Nairnshire, even offically re-invoking the market charter that came with the Mercat Cross that still stands outside the Courthouse.
Gurnite historians out there might be able to tell us which ancient scottish king it was that gave Nairn burgh status and a right to a weeklie mercat. Liz could put the civic bling on and state "I hereby reinvoke the weeklie mercat granted by King ? in 15??" and a nice publicity opportunity could be had.

marketing said...

If a street market is really to succeed then I would strongly urge that it happens every week, in that way folk would get used to using it on a regular basis and it just might become part of their regular shopping pattern. Local fruit and veg would be great as an alternative to the supermarket offerings. Maybe Jock Scott and Donnie Macleod who run veg box schemes, and Westhardmuir might be interested in taking regular stalls, all are local and would fit the bill.

Anonymous said...

A group is being formed to act on the ideas for street markets, harbourfests etc...

It will include councillors, members of the ANB, plus individual business people from the town.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want to go to a street market in Nairn?
Every pavement in the town is covered in seagull muck.
the high street... the corner at the royal bank....the coop..and the area at the regal and bus depot are absolutely disgusting and unhygienic , no one should be thinking of supplying food or buying it in these conditions. Forget street markets till we make a big impact on the number of seagulls that are living here.

Salty said...

@ Anon 6:12

No mention of the shameful contribution made by humans to the mess on the High Street then, chewing gum, fag ends, bits of food, and general rubbish

Forget blaming gulls till we make a big impact on the filth we create ourselves, less humans, maybe

Anonymous said...

Every shop keeper should be responsible for their own front door, back in the 60's and 70's they used to be proud of their own wee bit. I remember working in one shop where we had to polish the door handles and scrub the doorstep, then brush and wash down the pavement.
I do agree that the streets are really bad with seagull mess. It is humans fault, leaving food lying around that the gulls can get to, but there are people in this town who encourage them by feeding the gulls on purpose.

Anonymous said...

Less humans is a good idea , when are you all leaving.