Friday, November 30, 2012

A bit more planning - a Council document that will go to the Scottish Government - the dummy talks!

You can read the Highland Council document that our dummy star spoke about here.
Points that struck our regular reader about the document:

1)  It mentions the Nairn bypass, but almost as an afterthought to the main pitch, which is dualling of the whole of the A96 Inverness to Aberdeen.  A96 dualling is a worthy aim, but long term and very expensive.  HC should be pressing for the Nairn bypass ahead of (and if need be independently of) A96 dualling, just as Moray did with the Fochabers bypass.  The risk with the way HC is presenting this is that our bypass will only be taken forward if/when a grand plan for the whole A96 dualling project is agreed. (Our correspondent believes that that will not be in his lifetime)

Common Good unrest in Inverness

"New bypass may dip into city common good fund" states the front page of the Courier and in an article full of facts and figures you can also read "Inverness councillors, some of whom voted for the bypass route, are trustees who decide how the common good fund is distributed."  
A bit of  a stushie is brewing, the Courier also has a couple of letters on the subject. John West of the West Link Protest Group states in his correspondence: 
" We must question the position of Highland Councillors to pontificate on Inverness matters and to spend funds specifically bequeathed to Inverness. 
These trustees are not fulfilling their remit but preferring to bolster their political positions."

There also the suggestion of a conflict of interest in Mr West's letter should an application to support the relocation of recreational areas that will be affected by the by-pass be received. Now, plenty of reading material in the Courier if you have a copy  nearby or have friends or neighbours that buy it. What is interesting to this observer is that John West's letter contains a few phrases that you might have seen articulated in Nairn over Common Good issues. 
There is a big difference of course, Inverness's Common Good is cash and asset rich unlike Nairn. Here we have often heard the claim that the control of  the local Common Good should be taken away from Highland Council and given back to the people of Nairn. One wonders if similar views can find momentum in the Highland capital and even whether discontent with Glenurquhart Road could even lead to demands one day for an Inverness Council? 

Christmas arrives up the Riverside

The 19th of November might have been a bit early to start the Christmas rush according to the opinion poll in the Gurn sidebar but St Andrew's day seems to appropriate for the Riverside Christmas tree. One of our riverside correspondents sent this picture of some of the regular walkers gathered at the (now) traditional walkers festive tree.

Also a pic in from Stephen

Latha Naomh Anndra sona dhut - happy St. Andrew's Day!

The Courthouse Saltire heralds St Andrew's Day against a cold but brightening sky as daylight finally begins to install itself over the Moray Firth. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sea King helicopter returns to skies above Nairn

The helicopter returned to what looked like a similar search grid to last night at around 11.30 a.m. this morning. The pilot concentrated on the woods both sides of Granny Barbours Road and the Grantown Road and ventured over by the Crook too. After almost an hour's activity the helicopter left and shortly afterwards four police vehicles came down from Granny Barbour's and headed into town.
The Highland News site states: "A Northern Constaulary spokesman told the Highland News: "Our enquiries are on-going to establish the whereabouts of the man. We went to speak to him in connection with a number of offences including alleged drink driving and alleged resisting arrest." "
More information and pictures on the Highland News page here.  
Update - short video of search helicopter here. 

Soil testing team in residential area near Nairn harbour

A team prepare to drill another borehole

This observer purchased a copy of the Press and Journal this morning expecting to read something about last night's arial nocturnal activities but hasn't seen anything so far - maybe time for another wee read. What the P&J did have however was an article about ground being tested for possible contamination as part of a programme that the Highland Council are required to carry out by law. The P&J states:
"Highland Council has commissioned a team of engineers to carry checks on potentially contaminated ground near a block of flats at Nairn harbour. 
Glasgow-based firm ERS started extracting soil samples from the site on Monday for testing as part of a rolling programme of works at former industrial sites across the council area required by law."
More in  the Press and Journal today and the paper also states that anyone with concerns or queeries can ring Tec Services on 01463 228700.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Police in Nairn search for man in connection with an alleged disturbance"

Police are carrying out searches in the Nairn area for a man in connection with an alleged disturbance in the Granny Barbour Road area to the east of Nairn. No one was injured however police are anxious to trace the man who is described as in his 20's, wearing shorts and a t-shirt and no footwear.

Anyone with any information as to his whereabouts is asked to contact Police on 01463 715555.

Gurn exclusive - very blurred picture of chopper over Nairn

Police carrying out searches in connection with incident

Helicopters on late night manoeuvres over Nairn

Two helicopters reported in the skies above Nairn over the past two hours (22.51 at time of posting). There seems to be increased police activity in the town too. Three police vehicles were seen coming into town on the Grantown Road. A helicopter has been concentrating on the area between Househill and the riverside more recently. All quiet now however. Facebook and twitter alive with various theories. 

Suburban CC pause on funding for NICE

At their regular meeting in the Academy last night. Chair of Suburban Community Council, Dick Youngson, produced a letter from NICE seeking a funding donation for the organisation. The Council felt that they should consult with Rosemary of West and Tommy of River CCs before deciding on an amount to give to NICE.

New fencing other side of road near Kingsteps car park entrance

 Liz has published a picture on the yfrog service of new fencing that has appeared across the road from the turn-off down the road to the Kingsteps car-park. Click on the picture to see the full size image. Gurnites who are contacts on Liz's facebook page can also see the image plus a short commment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Closing down sale on the Brae

Sorry to see that Concept on the Brae are holding a closing down sale. On the temporary brighter side the shop is offering up to 50% reductions on some items for those who have begun Christmas shopping.

Sainsbury's Roundabout - more repairs

Thanks to one of our regular readers for this pictuere of work at the Sainsbury's roundabout. Our correspondent wonders how long it will be before workmen will have to return once more. 

Cantray Bridge work starts

Press Release from Highland Council:

Work has started this week on the refurbishment of Cantray Bridge near Croy.

The £67,000 contract has been awarded to Coffey Construction by The Highland Council to strengthen the bridge by installing a steel bracing to the central span. In addition, safety fencing will be erected to protect the masonry parapet walls.

Coming soon - Christmas Window dressing competition

Looks like the High Street shop windows will soon all be getting a make-over for Christmas. More details on the Business Association site here. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

County til' we die! - NCFC supporters pages.

For information on trips to away games and NCFC supporters activities - click here.

Riverside bedding - new affordable housing?

Our riverside correspondent Murd reports that a new facility has appeared in the woods on the popular riveside walks. A consequence of lack of affordable housing in the town (whatever affordable means)? 

And meanwhile over at the Bus Station Garage

Gordy is digging test holes. They'll probably need his digger again when it comes to lifting the mountains of pigeon poo inside the building.

Bus Station Garage - the planning decision aftermath

Documents to read for all serious students of Nairnshire planning matters - just click anywhere on each one to view.

1) Tim Stott's (Principal Planner) comments on the design etc of the building and on the planning-policy aspects.

2) McHardy's (Housing Development Manager) comments on the affordable-housing angle.

3) Highland Council Strategic Housing Investment Programme document (SHIP).

4) The planning officials' report (reflecting policy issues and objections) which went to Planning Committee.

5) West CC request to Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) for advice, describing the background and setting out what they saw as the key concerns.

6) A supplementary request to PAS highlighting the two specific points West CC were most interested in.

7)  Extracts from the advice from PAS  to West Community Council.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rothes 1 Nairn 3 Donald's pictures

Pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson

Rodent situation in Nairn

Gurnites will be aware of the vermin situation on the lower riverside. The Gurn understands there may be further information on events there in Monday night/Tuedsay morning's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph. 
We have recently heard of a sighting of rats coming out of a drain in the Fishertown and now another resident in that area tells the the Gurn: "Is the problem getting worse? Rat seen this morning in my garden in the Fishertown. Rang the Council but we're told they can't do anything to help. Have been up to Tradeway to get a poison bait box to put down. All rather worrying."

Rats have lived alongside mankind for millennia and are a pretty smart creatures, they know a few tricks when it comes to maintaining their existence close to us. The sight of a rat can be unsettling but it doesn't mean that the vermin situation is getting any worse generally. This observer would suggest reporting any sightings to both Community Councillors and one of our four Highland Council members. At least then information would be readily available about any problems.  The situation in the Merryton/Sewage bridge area demonstrates that the local authority can be prompted to take action if there is evidence of vermin in public areas they administer." 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Rothes 1 Nairn 3 - Pictures and comment

The faithful made their way up to Rothes today, past the ever extending Elgin housing schemes that are ceaselessly heading up the hill too, to that frosty hollow surrounded by distilleries and wooded hills. There the County faithful outnumbered the Rothes support by at least three to one. Some of the surface looked a little white and it was to get whiter still as the sun disappeared and the cold closed in again. It was time for a fill-up of pies and tea if you wanted to survive this one. It was a different kind of occasion but the intended purpose of it was the same as last week – three points. We were to get those three points, no one was over-confident or crowing about it but we did expect a win and it was to come eventually. 

Working the High Street today - The "Better Together" crew

A well-kent face at the Unionist Better Together stall outside the Courthouse today. Badges ballons and spoof one-way tickets to independence were available. Oor Graham says he is all for full devolution but not independence. His vision would see just about everything devolved to Holyrood. The few passers-by around 11.30 when this picture was taken were mostly polite. This observer was mistaken for one of the Together campaigners by one lady. I made my excuses and left at this point. As far as politics is concerned the Gurnmeister is most certainly a YES man but hey live and let live...

Black stuff down

The scene on the site of the old community centre yesterday. Another car park all but ready in time for the Christmas rush. The parking areas behind the High Street have never before been so visibile to drivers passing through, will this tempt them to stop in Nairn?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nice nearing 800 members

The NICE facebook page seems to be where the NICE news is these days. More here. 

Local politics - updates from Liz and Colin

Regular Gurnites will be aware that two of our four Highland Councillors have a social media presence which they regularly use to put across their point of view but also to inform residents of local issues. Liz can be found here on twitter. Colin has a facebook page that is open to public view and this morning on his page you can find comment on the Millbank Parent Council meeting last night. Colin has also been researching a recent controversial topic and has published a link concerning the feeding of swans plus some pointers on how to enjoy swanlife without exposing these beautiful creatures to risk from mankind. Here's Colin's facebook page.

The wisdom of Iain Bain - Kingsteps and the Challenger Bus

Iain Bain has a double-barrelled editorial this week and contemplates "Access Rights" and the "The Mission". He talks of the 2003 Land Reform Act and landowners sharpening up their act since then he tells an interesting anecdote. Iain delves into the history of the Kingsteps car-park and how the brown tourist signs to the car-park were covered up. He talks of the cretinous behaviour that residents have suffered and then says:
"A right of access is certainly not a right to abuse or disrespect legitimate land uses. But it is pretty clear that here is a right of access does exist, for better or worse. The car-park belongs to the people of  Nairn through the Common Good Fund and the local authority has spent public money on improving the access road. It needs to be protected, even if there is an alternative way into the Culbin via the beach."

Iain also goes into the troubled waters of the Challenger Bus appearing at Nairn schools. To the editor of our weekly paper it is important that bairns are taught about our society's Christian heritage. He wonders how far local authorities should go in "influencing faith" however and suggests: 
"The education authority has been found wanting here and its rapid reaction to protest speaks volumes. It has a duty to instruct children about religion but should it have handed that instruction over to an outside body? That is the question and it looks like insufficient control was exercised in this regard."

This week's Nairnshire Telegraph editorial, worth a browse if you haven't done so already.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dog Poo - the Highland Council's campaign and a few observations

Below you can see a sign that is to be found on the riverside walks warning of a £500 maximum fine for not picking up doo poo. The sign is out of date however and refers to the Civic Government Act 1982, according to a recent Highland Council dog poo campaign press release the fine now is: "a fixed penalty of £40, which rises to £60 if the penalty is not paid within 28 days" and comes under legislation entitled Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003.

Just do a search of the Gurn for "dog poo" and you will see how people are very much annoyed by those citizens (a minority of dog owners) who still leave doggie jobbies lying in popular parts of town and now there is also the increasing minority sport of picking up the dog poo in a bag and tying it to a bush or tree or leaving it in some other prominent position. The latter is a very curious practice indeed but it does go on. Every Community Council meeting in Nairn seems to end up with dog poo being discussed at some stage and there is now a clamour coming from the citizenry in Nairn and elsewhere in the Highlands  for their elected members to act.  

Thus the Highland Council state on their press release:
"A new poster campaign has been launched in the Highlands to remind dog walkers that people who do not pick up after their pets have fouled will be issued a fixed penalty notice. The posters also encourage the public to work with the Council in helping to track down persistent offenders.

The new signs give members of the public information on how to quickly report dog walkers who break the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003. They are appearing at locations across the Highlands where dogs are walked regularly. If a person witnesses someone not picking up after their dog has fouled, they are urged to call the council on 01349 886606 to report it." More information here. 

As we mentioned the Civic Govt Act Dog Poo minutiae was superseded by the 2003 legislation. You can examine the 2003 legislation here. We contrasted recently the maximum £1,000 fine for the offence in Durham with the £40 penalty here in the Highlands (Article here).   What is interesting however is information contained on the Borders Council website re the 2003 act:
"If you do not clean up after your dog, you face a fixed penalty of £40, which can go up to £60 if not paid within 28 days. Offenders can be reported to the Procurator Fiscal and may be fined up to £500 if convicted."
It is interesting then to see that there is still the £500 option there. This observer wonders how or why it might be possible to report an offender to the fiscal. Does there need to be special circumstances?  Again another snippet from the Borders Council site: "A number of SBC staff and the Police can issue fixed penalty notices."
Now our police force has got plenty to do but maybe at some point they might be able to work with the council to have a blitz on the jobbie offenders in Nairn?  

River Community Council in Social Club shock - potential conflict of interest

River Community Council had been expected to discuss the new planning application for the former Nairn County Social Club at their meeting last week but Chair Tommy Hogg told a shocked meeting (swelled somewhat by those there to debate the Kingsteps issue) that his Council felt unable to do so. He said that it turned out that River CC have a vested interest in the club. He went on to give the following statement:

"It has recently come to light that River Community Council has in its possession one ten pound share in  Nairn County Football Club. It appears that this was acquired in 1993 at a time we believe Nairn County was facing particularly challenging times and was actually seeking local financial support. Having discovered the share in our archives we reviewed the position and came to the conclusion that it is no longer appropriate for the Community Council to hold it particularly since pending planning issues could create a conflict of interest. We have accordingly taken steps to arrange for its disposal. NRCC continues with pride to support Nairn's tremendous football club."

River CC hope to be able to discuss the application at their next meeting in December which will give them time to make any submission or comments to the application which is due to be presented to the planning department on the 18th. Previous Gurn article about progress on the building (to be known in the near future as "Barcode" according the Gurn sources) here. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Forres shop local campaign - could it happen here?

FORRES business owners are joining forces to back a campaign launched by the community council to encourage people to shop locally in the run up to the busy festive season.The initiative comes in the same week as rumours circulate that the Mackenzie and Cruickshank building is about to be filled by a new business which would be a major boost for the floundering High Street."

The Forres Community Council? How silly, they should have three warring separate ones just like us shouldn't they? Anyway more details of the campaign on the Forres Gazette website. Could it be done here? 

A possible Kingsteps compromise that could benefit charity plus response from Alexander Brodie

Local resident Daniel offers a possible solution that might be away out of the Kingsteps stand-off between Brodie of Brodie and Highland Council.
UPDATE - Daniel's idea has received a response from Alexander Brodie which is now posted on this article below the original contribution.

Good morning,
I have been reading with interest the raging debate regarding the gate at the entrance to the lane leading to Kingsteps car park. Reading the latest article, it appears that Alexander Brodie is going to put up the gate, regardless of what the Highland Council etc say and is prepared to challenge them legally. I have an idea that I have not seen mentioned anywhere else, but its relatively simple. Its a "compromise on both sides and meet in the middle" solution.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sand on Station Park

The annual spreading of a top dressing of sand on Sation Park today. Once a year 50 tons are applied to help maintain the pristine surface that is the envy of many clubs and not only Highland League ones. Picture Mike MacKintosh. One example of the continuous hard work behind the scenes that has helped get the club to where it is today. 

And on Saturday Nairn County will be up at Rothes. Never been to MacKessack Park before? Then why not head up into the Morayshire hills and give the team a bit of support as they head into the Christmas run up which will culminate with back to back games against Forres Mechanics. After a prolonged cup run that kept the club away from league duty the Wee County came back with a bang on Saturday as they beat Turriff 4-0 and so they will be going to Rothes hopeful of another good result. 

Highland Council pest control department at the sewage bridge this morning

Highland Council's Alan Bentley discusses the rat problem with Joe Telfer both men are looking over to the area where Joe regularly feeds swans, ducks and pigeons.

Highland Council are to take action to eradicate the infestation on the Maggot side of the sewage bridge. As previously highlighted in the Gurn the area in question is where Joe Telfer and others regularly feed birds. Previous article here. Alan Bentley also spoke to local residents and River Community Council Chair Tommy Hogg. Also present was Highland Councillor Colin MacAulay. An appeal will be going out from Highland Council for bird lovers not to leave food on the riverbank. 

Bjorn the polar Bear visits Nairn - video

Stunning success for the revamped Christmas lights switch-on this year. After organising this event Michael Green's campaign to liven up Nairn's calendar with a series of new events gathers credence and gravitas. Looks like the ball is rolling now for the councillor newly elected in May.

Work on Lodgehill Clinic imminent?

One of our reliable sources informs us: "Metal barriers have gone up today round the old clinic site. So presumably work on refurbishment may be starting, although nothing has been heard officially. Rather bizarrely there are adverts on the barriers for Zippo's Circus."
Our correspondent speculates as to whether the barriers are to keep polar bears in or out of the future veterinary premises. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bjorn the Polar Bear hits town - pictures

Individual pictures here. Full screen slideshow here. 

And also Dave Shillabeer's pictures here plus full screen slideshow here.  And a set of images on Facebook here from Gerry Reynolds.

Move over Santa a star is Bjorn - Over a thousand people pack the High Kirk!

 Estimates tonight of well over a thousand people in the High Kirk to meet Bjorn the Bear. Led by pipers the crowds marched up the street after the switch-on of the Christmas lights down at the Courthouse. An absolutely magical night for the bairns and the older generations present too. Well done Michael Green and all those who helped make the special night possible  More pictuers later. 

Nairn Gaelic Choir Own Choice Dunoon 2012

Seo Choisir Ghàidhlig Inbhir Narann dhuibh a chàirdean agus abair thusa gur ann an fonn math a bha iad.

Brown stuff flows on Society Street

The overnight rain wasn't too heavy was it? Maybe it's just because there is a blockage somewhere? Anyway, here's a manhole cover at the Harbour Street end of Society Street around 10.30 this morning. Anyone got a bucket of disinfectant just to be on the safe side? 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nairn 4 Turriff 0 - more pictures

Individual pictures here. Full screen slideshow here. 

Sunday night reading material for the more serious students...

Here's the Westies (West Community Council) minutes for October and here's the Police report to Nairn's community councils for November.

10K for survey of old Social Work Building and other NICE matters

The NICE website reports: "There is very good news about funding, as our grant application for £10,000 from ‘Awards for All’ has been approved to do a feasibility study on the old Social Work building. We are also bidding for a grant from the Highland Council Discretionary Fund.
As HC officials have recently placed the Town Centre on the open market for developers, a ‘Note of Interest’ is being drawn up to try to prevent the loss of this key area for town centre regeneration."

The Gurn also understands that NICE maybe also drawing up a bid for the Links School building but nothing on their website about that yet if it is indeed the case. The organisation are also setting up working groups to examine issues centered around the following areas: Wetlands & Environmental Issues; Riverside Projects; Sports & Recreation; Tourism & Business. More on the NICE site. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nairn 4 Turriff 0 - pictures

Pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson

Individual pictures here. Full screen slideshow here. Gurn pics to follow over the rest of the weekend. In the meantime some pictures from Hopemaniac here.
It was always the case that there would be a smaller crowd today and the gaps around asylum seekers’ hill were marked. The cup excitement is over but those that didn’t bother to come up to Station Park again today missed out on the treat that was the latest episode in the glorious adventure that is this season. Earlier this week Conor Gethins had told the Courier that we are good enough to win the league. He underlined that desire today with a hat-trick and a stunning performance that tore Turriff to shreds. His first goal came so soon after kick-off that both Donald Matheson and a gurn photographer hadn’t even had time to take their lens caps off. There was another local photographer there today so perhaps images of that first goal will emerge.
Number two came in the 19th minute with another Conor Gethins break after receiving the ball on his chest on the right wing before moving into the box and drawing the Turriff keeper out a little before passing to Toshy to allow him to do the honours. Number three came in twenty-three when Gregg Main placed the ball with Gethins for his 2nd and the County’s 3rd.  Turriff looked devastated and some of their players now looked as though they were already on the bus for the long journey home.
A controversial sending off for new Turriff signing Darren McAlister for alleged use of the elbow. County fans in the Cowshed who were close to the incident were mostly perplexed while some Turriff fans agreed with the decision - a strange one!
Nine minutes into the second half Conor got his third and looked like getting more but the luck of the visiting keeper changed and he pulled off some good saves against the hat-trick hero. Turriff weren’t in this game, there was a gulf between the two sides this time round as the County side that is capable of showing 2nd and 3rd division sides their better side continued with determination to the sweet end.
The crowd although, as we mentioned, somewhat depleted on last week’s total was up on what could be expected for a normal league turn-out and they filed out the gate under the chilly November skies with many of their number wishing their lives away until next Saturday and the trip up the Morayshire glens to Rothes.   

Nairn 4 Turriff 0 - County back to the league with a bang

A torrid time for Turriff at Station Park today. more later.

Centralisation of playpark equipment in the western suburbs - alternative ways of consultation worthy of consideration by the Community Council?

Recently Jane contacted the Gurn she said: “I wondered if there had been any comment about the removal of play park equipment from 'the Courts' in Tradespark?  
I've contact Councillors and TEC Services at the Council but have yet to receive a response. The equipment might've been old but it was in good working order - in Alton Bank the items were removed yesterday without any consultation or negotiation.  
I'd like the items replaced as the play parks are very safe play areas for under 12s.I
Would be interested if any other gurnites share my concerns and might want to do something about it?

Very quickly however, Jane received a response from Colin. The present arrangements had their origins before the elections in May but he was aware of the situation from his attendance at Suburban Community Council meetings. He told the Gurn:
”My understanding is that the equipment in various parts of Nairn has worn and become unsafe. The view was taken that we should move away from some of the smaller sites/types - as at Altonbank (but also other areas) - partly because increasingly many family gardens have simple play equipment. Instead, the idea is to have some better play areas, more sophisticated apparatus, better maintained, wider age range etc.
After some discussion with Suburban CC, it was agreed that Moss-side would be the best location for all Tradespark's youngsters.
You'll have been at recent CC meetings when the equipment has been praised. Its really very well used and Suburban CC are now actively seeking external funding and looking at adding to the range on site. Indeed, I'm trying to get a bench installed so that parents can sit in comfort and watch their kids play.
I can see why Jane is so disappointed, but I do believe that strategically this development brings greatest benefit to the wider community.”

Jane isn’t satisfied with that however and told us: “It's really short-sighted, unnecessary and I'm annoyed by the lack of consultation by all parties.  If I'd known I'd have put up a fight to stop the removal - now it'll be about replacement or re-use. The Councillor's offered to meet me which I'll do and I've done a FOI request on costs and maintenance time over recent years.”

Jane’s situation demonstrates well how the democratic situation can often fail to connect with us. There are three community councils in Nairn, their affairs are reported to a certain extent in the press and one of them (River) has a website. How many people knew, in western suburbs, for example that playpark equipment was being discussed and decisions had been made? Yes some people will show no interest until something happens but could the community councils make more use of the digital resources out there to engage with the public? It is wrong to accuse everyone of apathy, quite often local issues are being hotly debated on Facebook and word gets around digital Nairnshire very quickly. It is time perhaps for all of Nairn’s Community Councils to have web pages or even twitter or Facebook accounts to engage with their constituents. There are hundreds of Nairn folk out there on twitter now and the number of Facebook will be in the thousands. Would it have been any better if a tweet had gone out such as “Nairn playpark areas – should they all go to one site to save money? Contact etc….” In this observer’s opinion the Community Councils will have to consider more use of digital resources or there is a danger they could get left behind by the younger members of the community and even the ever increasing legions of silver surfers in Nairn.

With regard to digital resources, we recently came across an excellent website that shows community organisations and voluntary groups how to manage their affairs more efficiently with free services that are available online. Some of the facilities won’t be to everyone’s taste but the site is worthy of examination. Here’s Community how 

"A Bridge in the wrong part of town?"

The Gurn recently had an opportunity to catch up with Murd Dunbar and hear his latest thoughts on how his Firhall Bridge campaign is going. You can also read a letter from Murd in this week’s Nairnshire Telegraph. He strongly believes the Highland Council is discriminating against the disabled and others who might not be easily able to cross the bridge. “The bridge cannot be crossed by everyone in the Community owing to the steep steps. Remember that within a short distance there are two care homes who look after the disabled and are denied their right  to cross the bridge when all that is required is a simple ramp to get up onto the bridge which provides ample room to take a wheelchair across. What about the human rights of those disabled who would dearly love to make use of the circular riverside walk?
Murd continued: “If they were criminals and in jail they would not be treated in this way but unfortunately their only fault is disabled or just unable to get up the steps for what ever reason  So I appeal to all  who are involved with rights of people who are discriminated against to support my campaign to have a ramp installed.

Murd made reference to a recent photograph of Michael Green down at the new path installed between the Bailey Bridge and the East Beach: “In the local press there was a photo of Councilor Green and a member of the local access panel opening the new path at the harbour which is a nice accomplishment.  Being able to do the circular walk of the river with all the beauty nature has to offer  and it can often offer  reasonable shelter on a cold windy day when a walk along the pier is not the ideal place to be - as those who do both walks will confirm. Is there any one out there willing to tell me why a ramp cannot be installed? Continuously I get told there is no money for this type of protect which has been estimated at around £30.000 and I am pretty sure this could be reduced with a help with a bit of thinking out of the box and help from local companies perhaps?

Murd still had more to say: “How I look forward to seeing a photo of Councillors and members of the access panel at the opening of a ramp. Their support is required as is that of any one who can help to accomplish this task.

The indefatigable Murd made a final plea: “So please bear in mind those who human rights but would be denied there rights to get across if they come to Nairn including many injured servicemen who might one day fancy a holiday in Nairn. It may be not a case of a Bridge  too Far  but just a Bridge in the wrong part of town.

Murd finished by quoting one of Highland Council’s slogans: “Let’s get it sorted!”

Friday, November 16, 2012

Funding first for Nairn!

Common Good Fund Sandown Liability Danger

It wasn't all sand and motorbikes at the Westies get-together on Wednesday night, there was some discussion in general about the Common Good fund before Michael made his fund-raising update. 
He read out some paragraphs from a document he'd come across during his duties as an elected member. We'll reproduce them here and instantly you will get an idea of the dangerous legacy left by the Highland Council's Sandown adventure:

"28. A long term liability of £0.734 million has been included in the common good balance sheet for the costs of bringing land at Sandown (owned by Nairn Common good) to a saleable condition. The repayment of this amount to the council will be dependent on achieving a successful sale of the land. 

29. In December 2010 the Council agreed to rescind, without penalty, the missives it signed with Deveron Homes Ltd over the development of the Sandown Lands after the company failed to get planning permission for a major housing development. As a result, the valuer has revalued the asset downwards from £15 million to £10 million. In the current economic climate the sale of this land is no longer certain, therefore the ability of Nairn common good to repay the outstanding liability is questionable in the short term. "

This observer would point to Forres where the citizens get a vote before any major development on Common Good Land, here we weren't asked. Thus the whole Sandown fiasco was a Highland Council adventure and they should pay the debt not the Nairn Common Good Fund. But that is just this humble citzen's opinion.  We also have a debt for the Community Centre. That's about £2 million isn't it? How many other towns across Highland had to pay for their own community centre? Were we thrust into the Big Society long before the term had passed a politician's lips? Answers on a postcard please?

There was comparison at the meeting between the competent way the Inverness Common Good Fund is run and the way in the past that ours had been handled.  Brian Stewart said:
" I think there is quite a feeling in town that, as we all know Nairn has a fairly substantial asset in the Common Good much of it fixed as capital, land and property and so on. After the meetings we had before the most recent elections with council officials, they were adamant that management of Nairn's common good fund should remain with the totality of Highland Council and council officials. In other words there was very strong reluctance to devolve or delegate any of the responsibility for policy making, of management of Nairn's Common Good downwards from Highland Council as such and that's all recorded and enshrined in policy documents the council has approved. I think the feeling that with a lot of us who are interested in the subject, in a way we've got common ground on this one Michael, is that there is a sense that in many ways, unlike the Inverness Common Good, which is very pro-actively managed and there are vigorous efforts by the committee to invest, generate income, look at ways of productively generating income. There's a feeling that for an awfully long time there's been much less of a pro-active approach to how Nairn's Common Good is managed. It's been very passive."

Colin said: "We've been subsumed into a different local authority, there's not anything mischievous or misleading. There's a history there of management that could have been better. Rest assured that Liz and I will do our damnedest to make sure..." Colin was then cut off by an interjection from a westie but gurnites will get his drift. He continued a minute or two later however,"I think there might have been opportunities, if you go back 40 years, 80 years, there's been previous councils in Nairn that could have done and didn't do and that's just the reality of where we are at. Whereas our friends further West managed their resource somewhat better."

Colin is right of course and this observer is certain that our voices will be heard better now that Liz and Colin are part of the Glenurquhart Road administration. We could look back and detail past mistakes but with Sandown we are literally still just looking over our shoulders at a more recent debacle.

Update: Liz tells the Gurn: Michael received the information from the Audit report which I shared with all Nairn members. There will be a report on this going to Highland Council on December 13th." 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

River CC Kingsteps debate 2 - Exchange between Alexander Brodie and Fred Holmes plus local resident's view from Amanda

Alexander Brodie: “I don’t know that the RSPB are doing there at the moment. I mean quite frankly they’re managing a show shooting reserve. We set up this huge area thinking its going to protect the birds and I discover that wildfowlers are sitting about shooting every thing.”
Fred Holmes: “ We don’t shoot everything that moves we shoot wildfowl.”
Alexander Brodie: “I’m sorry but wildfowling, I hunt pigeons and I eat everything I hunt.I shoot very rarely but the fact is I don not respect wildfowling […] It is one of the forms of hunting in which you do get people who come up, who don’t go onto the beach, who do not respect anything and it is not a form of hunting which I think is appropriate to that land which is a very scientifically interesting area of ground.
Fred Holmes: ”I agree with what you are saying, people visiting here do not respect the law but there are few visiting wildfowlers going down there. It is usually local wild fowlers that go down there.”

Sandown House is Scotland's Best Guest House at the Golf Tourism Scotland Gold Standard Awards

"Picking up the prestigious award at the glitzy event was the icing on the cake for the luxurious five-bedroom Nairn retreat which has undergone an ambitious redevelopment plan masterminded by owners Liz and Andy Burgess." More on the World Golf site.

Michael Green's vision for Common Good fund-raising - including a yearly East Beach extravaganza that could attract thousands

Last night at the West CC meeting Michael Green detailed the summer's fund raising success and outlined his vision for future events. To hear what he has in mind listen below.

Michael Green's events plans for Nairn by Graisg

Here's a video of the event in Weston Super Mare that Michael is referring to.

River CC Kingsteps debate 1 - Alexander Brodie intro and debate with a wildfowler.

Over the next few days we hope to bring you reports of what was said at Tuesday night’s River CC meeting when Alexander Brodie took to the floor and introduced himself and took questions on all aspects of the situation at Kingsteps and his intentions. Please bear in mind that we will not be publishing everything due to time constraints, so thus some points raised may not be there for those not at the meeting to consider. The Inverness Courier and the Nairnshire were there too however and since the Courier has show quite an interest in this issue this observer would anticipate coverage from them on Friday and full coverage by the Leopold Street Thunderer available in the Co-Op on Monday night as usual.

Alexander Brodie began:

“I do apologise for the way things have happened. I have been in constant contact throughout the whole proceedings with council members, I’ve been in Inverness speaking and explaining the problem and addressing the issue as much as I could. I’ve seen about ten people. I’ve made countless telephone calls, e-mails. I’ve explained the situation. Everyone I’ve spoken to said yes we understand the situation.

"So come on Nairn join in and let's get our town centre!"

Rosemary Young speaking at the West Community Council meeting last night in the Community Centre:
“I would just like to say how brilliantly NICE have done, I think they have done amazingly well to get where they’ve got. I know they’ve had lots of high-powered meetings with people recently and I know they’re moving into a position where they are going to have money. They are a force to be reckoned with and I do hope the whole town sits up and embraces something that started the ball rolling. There’s a lot of aggro about “oh they’re elite and god knows what” but they are not, they’re just some people trying to do something to give us a town centre that looks good. It’s as simple as that. So come on Nairn join in and let’s get our town centre!”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alexander Brodie addressing River CC meeting picture

Picture Murray MacRae. Click here and here to see copies of the correspondence between Highland Council and Ninian Brodie of Brodie at the time of negociations over the tarring of the road down to the car park at Kinsteps were concluded. Again pictures from Murray. More on the Gurn soon about the meeting last night. 

Riverside rat stushie reverberates

After discussion of River Community Councils riverside regeneration project between the sewage and A96 bridges in the Community Centre last night (Tuesday) Tommy Hogg stated:
“Our main problem a the moment is the fact that the place is alive with rats.[…] It’s actually the fact that the birds are getting fed off the bridge and all the feed is lying and the rats are just crawling all over the place.
Joe Telfer, sitting in the audience, was quick to intervene. ”No, no, no Tommy! I’ve been looking after the wildlife down there for nine years now.”
”Nine years?” said Tommy.
“Nine years, that’s right,” continued Joe.”I’ve been feeding them in a controlled way for the last five or six years The swans and the ducks.”
“And what about the rats?” Remarked the Chair?
“The rats,” exclaimed Joe” That sewage pipe that you’ve just had fixed was left open for about two weeks and I’ll tell you now to prove my point.” Joe then showed a picture of a sewer outfall with a gap which he said he had seen rats using..”There’s rats all over the river said Joe.
”This thesis was shared by Sandra Dunbar who remarked that the riverside was their natural habitat.
“I knew that meeting would bring this up,” said Joe in a fashion that seemed to indicate to this observer that he felt he was being unfairly treated.
Tommy replied that he was quite entitled to bring the matter up. The Gurn understands that this is the case with members of the public complaining to Tommy about the infestation.
“Anything I feed them is all used by the swans and the ducks.” Said Joe.
“Well do you make sure they clean everything on their plate?” Asked Sandra Dunbar to the amusement of those fifty or so citizens present. A brief exchange then took place between Sandra and Joe. Tommy tried to move the meeting onto the next business but some still continued.
Murd Dunbar was of the opinion that an infestation had to be dealt with whether the rats were being fed or not.
Joe had more to say: “It’s not moving with rats, there’s one family of 3 to 4 rats there. 2 adults and 2 young that I know of and I am down there feeding them twice a day. Not the rats I might add.”

Liz indicated that the Council did have a duty to deal with rats and stated that she would ask the environmental health department to investigate. This prompted Sandra to state that she had been told by the Council in the past that a rat problem in Boath Park area could not be dealt with until a rat was inside a property. To this Liz again stated that there obviously was a duty to be involved.

Joe Telfer feeding birds in the area in question

Nairn fiddlers up for MG Alba trad awards

"NORTH fiddle players are well represented in this year’s MG Alba Scots Trad Awards with Kirkhill’s Duncan Chisholm and Nairn musicians Rua Macmillan and Mike Vass all nominees in separate categories." More on the Courier site. 

Boath House is Scottish Hotel of the Year

"Boath House, a member of the Connoisseurs Scotland family of properties, has been named “Scottish Hotel of the Year” in the 2013 edition of the Good Hotel Guide."  More on the Luxury Travel Magazine's website. 

Nairn Saint Ninian 1 Parkvale 5 - pictures

While County exited the cup with pride over at Station Park on Saturday Saints were having a tough time of it over at the Showfield. There's a report in the Nairnshire Telegraph. To see more pictures click here.   Full screen slideshow here. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

River CC meeting 13th Nov - Alexander Brodie's night? Plus rat row.

Connect and share with the Polar Bears in your life

Bjorn the Polar Bear is coming to town on Monday night. One of our regular readers reports that he is a busy bear with a gig in Cardiff before he comes to light up our streets. 
These days even polar bears are on Facebook and oor Monday night star also has his own website. Don't Polar Bears sometimes eat seagulls? Is this Michael Green's secret weapon in his make Nairn unfriendly to the gulls initiative? We'll know for sure if the Council build an igloo for Bjorn and his Inuit sidekick up at the old laundry yard. 

Liz and Colin move fast - Nairn Planning list stays independent of Inverness

The Gurn is delighted to hear that the Nairn weekly planning list sent out to community councils and others in the town will remain just that and not be consumed into the Inverness list. See previous article here. Liz tells the Gurn: "following representation from Colin and myself the planning list for Nairn will continue to be sent out seperately."

It looks very much like the decision to change was made unilaterally by an official and came as news to our elected members. It's a small step but highly symbolic and very encouraging that it was quickly reversed. Perhaps it'll take some time to slow the Highland Council centralisation juggernaut down and point it in a new direction but at least a few more members of the crew will understand what has to happen thanks to Liz and Colin. 

Happy Diwali

Happy Diwali

One of our readers offers us a "Happy Diwali" greeting with the picture above. Looks lovely, can't see any pizza either. Click the picture for a larger image. 

NICE on the knocker

Simon tells the Gurn:
"Interesting on Saturday. Nice lady came by our house on her way round our parts with a bunch of JOIN NICE TODAY leaflets. She was very pleasant, didn’t do the doorstep sales thing at all, but she did say that “NICE now has nearly 600 members”. Mmmm, that’s 200 more than a couple of weeks ago and 400 more than less than a month ago. Is the Gurn aware of any mechanism available to verify the numbers being claimed? At this rate they’ll have all of Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey signed up by Christmas."

Brian McMillian found safe and well

Northern Constabulary are reporting that missing man Brian McMillan has been traced safe and well in the Aberdeen area

Connor Gethins “This season is probably our best chance of going all the way”

"NAIRN County are capable of winning the Highland League for the first time in a generation, according to star striker Conor Gethins.
Despite being 10th in the table, the Irish hitman is optimistic the Wee County are capable of claiming the club’s first title since their only ever championship season on 1975/76."  More on the Inverness Courier site. 

Creeping Invercentralism despite promises?

We were told recently that we would get a new deal from Highland Council. At the informal talks round the tables at the cuts consultation recently, Drew Hendry the leader of the Council, indicated to this observer that he was aware of the bad relationship between Nairn and Glenurquhart Road and he wished to change that. If not a new dawn, then at least a more sensible relationship with some real power coming back to communities was promised. Well Drew perhaps you'd better go and have another look under the bonnet of the Invercentric Glenurquhart Road Juggernaut because it is still firing on all cylinders. One of our regular readers sends us the text of an Highland Council e-mail that is going the rounds:

"The planning applications received for the Nairn Area will now be included with the Inverness planning applications and we will produce one Inverness and Nairn Planning List every Friday."

Proof, if any were needed, that we are simply seen as part of Inverness. Our correspondent suggests: 
"This is yet another example of the Highland Council's creeping process of absorbing the administration of everything to do with Nairn under the Inverness umbrella. A decision notified by a clerical official as a fait accompli (no consultation exercise on this!)
The local Nairn planning office was closed down some years ago (and we were told we could refer to documents and applications at the service point - ha!). They still have local planning offices in Wick, Golspie, Dingwall, Portree and Kingussie (I think some planning oversight of the Nairn area is now exercised by HC officials based in Kingussie). Not long ago I saw a report that those in Nairn seeking planning information and advice would have to ring a Highland Council call-centre in Dingwall. Now they are merging the Nairn weekly planning list with the Inverness one."

One wonders now if the Glenurquhart Road machine will deliver the coup de grâce to Nairn when Louise Clark retires from the Courthouse next year, despite what our councillors or the administration leaders might want, is the process that has been ongoing for over twenty years now so ingrained in the Highland Council beast that it cannot be stopped by mere human endaevour?  Will we one day soon see our Courthouse boarded up and for sale à la Kinross Town Hall or will Drew Hendry turn out to be Nairn's "Equaliser" aided by Liz and Colin as a team of "Invercentric Busters"? 

Liz and Colin have a delicate balancing act in representing a rainbow coalition and also the aspirations and concerns of their constituents. It will be interesting to see if they can reverse this decision. Nairn is a separate entity and we deserve to be treated as such. We need our own planning list thank you, we are not part of Inverness. Our corespondent raises a question that might give Liz and Colin, and Michael and Laurie some food for thought: "Are our elected Councillors paying any attention to this - or is their silence being regarded as acquiescence by the officials in Glenurquhart Road?

UPDATE 13.50 - Liz and Colin moved fast to turn this decision round and the Nairn list will stay just that and will not be consumed by the Inverness weekly list. A small victory but highly symbolic and encouraging. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

County pics - 345 images of the Scottish Cup game now online

See them here.

Allotments in Nairn 1769 - a call for land - just like demand for plots today?

One of our regular readers spotted the following on pages 591/2 of George Bain's History of Nairnshire. The book is available for free download here. 

An experiment in land cultivation in connection with the  Burgh of Nairn is interesting from its economic results. A  movement originated amongst the townspeople about the year 1769 for allotments of land. A Trades Society was  formed and an application was made to the Council for a  long lease of " the uncultivated moorish ground belonging to  the community lying to the west of the Auldton Burn or  strype that runs down from the Moss of Nairn."

Christmas cheer to brighten up the town centre - Monday 19th November

Highland Council Press Release states:

The Nairn Christmas Lights switch-on takes place at Nairn Court House on Monday, 19 November at 6.30pm.

Christmas carols will be sung by the Nairn Academy Choir and at 6.40pm. Provost Liz MacDonald assisted by Auldearn Primary School pupils Niamh Davis and Lewis MacLennan will start the countdown and then switch on the lights.

Following the switch on will be a musical procession to St Ninian’s Church where we will meet special guests - Bjorn the Polar Bear with Neula his Eskimo handler. There will be a Santa’s Grotto for the children along with tea, coffee, mince pies and seasonal fare.

Residents and businesses, please be aware that Gordon Street, High Street and Cawdor Street (up to the Post Office) will be closed to vehicular access from 6pm – 7pm.

Birthday greetings in the A96 passing

Police appeal for sightings of missing person - Brian Martin McMillan - Nairn

Police in Nairn are keen to trace missing person Brian Martin McMillan who was last seen riding his Honda Shadow motorbike, registration W817 FUM, on the A96 at Nairn on Thursday afternoon (08/11/12).

McMillan (49), is 5ft 6, of slim build with short brown hair and a full moustache. It is possible that he has relocated to a hotel/restaurant in the Aberdeen area.

Anyone who has seen Mr McMillan or has information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact Northern Constabulary on tel 01667 452222.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cawdor Kernow Karate Competition

A few action shots from Dave Shillabeer of  the Kernow Karate Competition held at Cawdor School Hall on Saturday 10th November.
"Great fun for kids, keeps them fit and teaches discipline." Dave told the Gurn. 

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here.    For all the latest Gurn Pictures bookmark this page. 

Remembrance Day in Nairn - Pictures

Thanks to Dave Shillabeer and Murray MacRae for their images of the Remembrance Parade earlier today. There are three sets of images on the Gurn Flickr pages linked as follows: Images 1, Images 2, Images 3.

Also some pictures taken earlier this autumn at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux,  Haute-Normandie, France of the memorial to the  51st Highland Division and of the Military Cemetery where many fallen Highlanders lie alongside other British, Commonwealth and French soldiers who died during the brief but deadly siege by Nazi forces in June 1940.

Murray told the Gurn that the Royal British Legion Nairn  branch raised £224.82 pence for the poppy appeal at Nairn County' s Station Park on Saturday and that the collectors Garnet Main, Nathan Grant and Ian McGillvary , would like to thank everybody and all the football supporters on Saturday that donated money towards the cause, it is most appreciated.

Nairn 2 Forfar 3 - pictures

From a Gurn Photographer - more to come on this set later this evening or tomorrow

And not forgetting Donald Matheson's pictures, see slideshow below. Individual pictures here.

Willie Johnston Scottish Cup superfan - haste ye back Willie!

Thanks to Ross at Thistle Channel TV for this video. Willie Johnston details his Scottish Cup odyssey so far. Full Screen Version here.   We're oot but the buzz lives on as the Wee County exited with heads held high yesterday afternoon in the replay - Nairn 2 Forfar 3. 

Willie Johnston Scottish Cup Trail from on Vimeo.

Donald Wilson had a few wee blethers with Willie, he told the Gurn: "A lot of fans first met Willie at Prestonpans. He had been at Fort William in the preliminary round where Preston Athletic beat Fort William then it was on to the next round where he met up with the motely crew from Station Park. A lovely guy with football coursing through his veins. Just wish his Scottish Cup odyssey was continuing with Nairn. The players and Les Fridge will be gutted – and so are the fans. But they have done Nairn proud and I sincerely hope when they return to league duty against Turriff on Saturday all the fans who turned up to cheer them on against Forfar do so again and help them push on with their league challenge.

Meeting Willie was a fantastic bonus from this year’s Scottish Cup run. He’s seen Nairn play five times and speaking to him after the game I know how much he has appreciated the craic before and after the games. If any Forfar fan reads this and you see Willie in the crowd against Ayr take the man out for pint after the game. He deserves it. Look forward to see you back at Nairn later in the season Willie."