Thursday, September 20, 2012

Alistair Noble's vision for Nairn

If you have always thought that Nairn has had a poor deal from the authorities in recent years in the face of growing Invercentric tendencies then perhaps Alistair’s NICE initiative is the opportunity for you to get involved and do something about it. 

Alistair has been part of NICE from the very beginning a couple of years ago when the group was formed to stop what many saw as Highland Council’s “Berlin wall of flats” proposal along the A96 in the town centre. This summer he recently has taken a more assertive role and stepped forward as the public face of that organisation. Now he wants to use the opportunities provided by Holyrood localism and Right to Buy initiatives to begin to redress some of the democratic deficit that has accumulated here in Nairn in recent years.

Alistair is passionate about the future of Nairn and wants to see a healthy prosperous town that has a much greater control of its own destiny. I’m sure many Gurnites would share those sentiments. NICE is hardly out of the starting blocks however and it will need mass subscription to succeed (1400 members), the support of Nairn’s four councillors, the three Community Councils and the institution known as Highland Council. It’s an ambitious programme and will Nairnites rally to Alistair’s flag in great numbers or simply reject the latest proposals? Last night (Wednesday) Alistair took his vision to the West Community Council, next week he goes to River and Suburban and NICE will also present a business plan next month. Full details of these meetings are available here on the NICE website. 

Is NICE for you? Perhaps this video of Alistair’s presentation might be informative. You may have to turn the sound on your PC up a little, Alistair has a quiet voice (even with a microphone) and because the window in the upstairs room at the Community Centre was open he also had to compete with passing traffic.


Yawn said...

I've always hated the poor architecture of the library and the flower shop so lets flatten the buildings!!!

Sorry but even if NICE is just trying to draw from an idealistic blank canvas I'm just not captured or motivated by their high ideals. How many tourists arrive in the high street, focus on the architecture and think 'I'll never come back' very few if any

Yes we know we have nice beaches, golf courses, the Culbin Forest, and the harbour

But what we really want is affordable housing and jobs

Sorry but I find the presentation turns me off from whatever it is that NICE are proposing to do for Nairn, oh and the surrounding areas.

IF they make another one please let it be short, snappy, and to the point

Anonymous said...

First of all, well done to the Gurn for taking the time and effort to go out and get this information for the many of us who can’t attend these presentations.
It would seem that NICE have, in Rosemary’s words, been incredibly active, so much so that they have already commissioned a business plan which they will present early in October and as, mentioned towards the end of the presentation, they have two projects which seem to be fairly well developed. So, how does one of NICE’s visions to “Create a forum for engaging and representing the views of Nairn residents and a mechanism for delivering their views” tie in with this? Unlike Rosemary, who has been privy to “the email chatter”, I don’t know how active NICE has actually been with the people and community of Nairn recently but they seem to be well down the road with their visions and ideas. These ideas may, or may not, be the best thing since sliced bread but, does the fact that these ideas seem to be so well established already, not tend to contradict their claims of engaging the views of Nairn residents? NICE may have done a lot of work to get to where they are at the moment but they now have to be honest that, at this stage, they are not representing the people of Nairn’s views, it’s their vision, the vision of a few, that they want the people of Nairn to buy into, not the people of Nairn’s vision. What happens if the residents of Nairn’s views differ from NICE? Will these views be taken on board or will they upset the NICE applecart too much and just be ignored? Throughout the presentation there are many references made to getting the views of the people and community of Nairn and it was mentioned that they need broad support which seems to amount to 10% of the population, can 10% of the population really be classed as broad support? And, why has Ardersier been included in this vision, it’s not even part of Nairnshire?
I couldn’t quite make out if the current non executive directors of Nairn (wee Freudian slip there?), sorry NICE, will be the professional members of staff. Can anyone confirm what was said? Alistair may think that the new Community Centre building is a wonderful replacement and a fantastic building but oh, how it could do with some decent soundproofing! The noise of traffic and people passing is very distracting and, while we’re at it, next time Alistair does this presentation will someone please keep his hands off the mouse as the cursor going round and round on the screen was making me quite dizzy.
On the positive side there a lot of areas which have been identified which would bring benefit to the town such as proper marketing and promotion of Nairn, the lack of local information and local history (both recent and past), the potential of year round tourism, to highlight a few and hopefully these areas can be developed.
NICE’s visions may well be worthy for Nairn and I wish them luck with their projects but they have to be aware that they are treading a very fine line. Their vision already has the feel of being a done deal. If they want to win the hearts and minds of Nairn they should be careful that they are not seen to be adopting a “we know what's best for you” attitude.

Anonymous said...

Well put mr/ms anonymous. The allusions to consulting and involving the people of Nairn are shallow. Save for the focus on the right to buy (and a lot of laudable reading/research) there's nothing much new in this ever grander vision. And I think the references to stimulating employment are equally shallow - there's no real sense NICE is especially interested in the livelihoods, housing or employment of the other 8,437 folk of Nairn. The pre-occupation is with buildings rather than a people.

NICE said...

It is good to see various reactions to some of the proposals being put forward by NICE. A number of concerns have been raised, and rightly so. The main thing NICE was tasked to undertake, by the members, was to convert to a Community Development Trust with Right to Buy. All the activity in recent months has been directed towards this objective and that has now been achieved. We now have a structure that empowers the community with the means to influence their own future.

In planning new Articles for NICE it was necessary to project into the future and ensure that whatever initiatives came forward from the community, we had the legal tools in place to deliver. So any talk that decisions have already been made would not be correct. We had to anticipate possibilities - and our vision is purely one of possibilities underwritten by a structure that gives powers to the community - or as many that choose to be involved. The Articles have now been signed off by the Scottish Government and the people of Nairn now have the means to achieve what they could only talk about previously. As someone said at a recent meeting, given the changes in local and national government, if NICE did not exist, it would have to be created.

Activities and services once undertaken by the authorities can now be passed back to community bodies so that people can make their own decisions and run their own services. But, it's important to know that nothing at this stage "is a done deal". What NICE has achieved is significant, but it is only a framework into which residents may now bring their ideas. We have been perceived to talk just about buildings rather than people. But used creatively buildings can impact on people. Even so, no decisions have been made about what they will be used for. We are in no sense "well down the road" as any proposals will come out of consultation. But we stress that, whatever they are used for, the goal will be to improve amenities; the appearance of the town; create new jobs; provide affordable housing and offer new services. Attempts will be made to ensure that Nairn gets its fair share of resources and as a charity, significant new sources funding become possible.

So at this stage all we can say is:
What are your ideas for Nairn - the town centre; the common good lands, etc?
What would you do to create jobs?
How would you make it possible to build more affordable housing?
What facilities or attractions would you develop to improve quality of life and make Nairn an attractive destination?
What would you do to you tackle our decaying buildings?
How would you develop and improve our open spaces for leisure and relaxation?
If you could have more local decision making, what powers would you restore to Nairn?

We'd like to think the whole of Nairn will become engaged but we are realistic enough to know that won't happen. That's why 10% is generally accepted as significant community engagement by Scottish Government. Various working groups will soon be established and we invite you to come forward with your ideas and be willing to get involved and help shape the future of Nairn and Nairnshire.

For those who are puzzled why we included areas outside Nairn? Simply because if there are ever any new developments that impact on NHS services and provision, the health board area is defined more widely than just Nairn and the IV12 postcode. It seemed wise at this stage to include outlying areas in anticipation of possible initiatives that may present themselves.

Finally, it is important to make clear that none of the current directors of NICE will become the professional staff. The Articles preclude them from receiving any benefit, now or in the future. The reality is that part-timers can't deliver a community project of this scale. Professional people with appropriate expertise will be engaged to deliver the agreed community vision.

We look forward to working with you. Wherever this ends up is largely down to you.

Anonymous said...

I think NICE should be commended for the creation of a framework that could potentially benefit the Town and it's residents greatly. The Directors have given freely of their time in order to turn all the talk and aspirations of many into action. As usual there are those who will seek to denegrate winge and criticise, but come up with no good ideas or action plan themselves. Maybe it's time Nairn residents gave their backing to decent professional people, whose only interest is the wellbeing of Nairn it's future, and it's people ?

Anonymous said...

Self righteous denigration of balanced criticism does not do well for the NICE case. Where's the whingeing? Had you read the comments carefully you'd have noted the praise. There are plenty of other ideas out there, just not yours