Maybe it’s just that the URC hall and splendid “chill” area is more likely to lead to a relaxed atmosphere than the Community Centre but Alistair Noble was in a more lucid, engaging and animated frame of mind as he gave his lecture for the second time. This was the night to make a video perhaps but the recording of the first talk has already had over 200 hits so if it had been made last night a few people would have been, up to now, unaware of the content of Alistair’s vision.
This time round there were questions from the floor during the proceedings. I confess I missed the first half of the meeting but was present for some probing questions. There are people with concerns about NICE’s modus operandi and Alistair listened carefully and did his best to assuage any doubts or worries. We can’t get away from his central thesis however, Nairn’s civic status is still in the process of being picked to pieces by the InverCentric power brokers and we have to get our act together, stop any squabbling or we can expect more of the same. The meeting was not the total show of support that the West CC one was. River made no decision or affirmation of support like West CC but they received Alistair well and I don’t think there was anybody there that doesn’t think that Nairn has been/ is still being shafted and that the community has to act in some way.
The business plan that some feel might be a done deal is, in fact according to Alistair, just the bare bones of the mechanics of a way forward and it will be the community that will put the meat and tissue on the beast. One community councillor had difficulties reconciling that, he felt that a business plan was just that, however vague, something conceived beforehand by a small group of people. This observer has to admit that the business plan does seem to be nebulous at this stage – can you have such a thing, a contradiction in terms springs to mind? I asked if NICE, although not a body that would have to, would subscribe to the tenets of the Freedom of Information Act. You can for example, if you so wish, ask the Highland Council for all copies of Councillor X’s e-mail communications on a particular topic to organisation Y and you would probably get them. Alistair stressed that NICE would be completely transparent.
There’s another chance to see Alistair tonight (Tuesday) at the Suburban CC meeting in the Academy. There will be a leaflet drop to every house in Nairn at the beginning of next month and then a meeting on the 12th of October for the official launch of the NICE programme. That meeting should be quite a large affair, get down to it if you can, listen to Alistair and see what you think. If anyone has any alternatives then the 12th would be the moment to stand up and give your point of view too.
Can we get our act together in Nairn or are we destined to end up squabbling amongst ourselves like the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front in the Life of Brian as the Romans (Invercentrics) rule over as and do as they please? Do some of us secretly prefer the Romans anyway? The Scottish Government are talking in terms of “Locality Planning” and want to see power drilled down to communities. Michael Green, present last night, stated that Alistair’s presentation seemed to very much look like material that would come in the near future from Holyrood. There is an opportunity, can we as a community jump on board quickly? Can NICE do it and can they do it right?