Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Give us grounds to grow! ... Hard times call for some smart thinking..."

" Hard times call for some smart thinking, and my view is that it¹s well time for a new Dig for Victory Campaign. All round Scotland there¹s no shortage of unused land which the public own already. There are also plenty of people who are desperate to get hold of land to grow their own healthy, delicious food. In these difficult economic times it makes very little sense to have unused land sitting idle, while people who¹d love to use it for  productive food growing can¹t."  

Read more of John's thoughts over on the Nairn Allotment Society site. John will be the society's guest speaker at a meeting in November. 

Gutter Gardening

Our gutter press reporter Vix Sinex has been reading the rhones again: 

WELL DONE Donaldson and Henderson. What a difference a quick clean out makes AND the fabric of the building is not being torn apart by the root systems. Picture 3 shows serious potential damage and damp penetration near the window on the right to another High Street building. No's 4-7 are buildings that are part of Nairn's heritage which have been carefully maintained by....you've guessed it, The Council. The Sedum in the gutters of 4 &5 is not exactly a fast growing weed. This is years of neglect. 
Well councillors, your comments  please. You are the elected custodians of Nairn.

Vix Sinex

Monday, July 30, 2012

Yorkshire Building Society Nairn Branch closing down

A sign on the window informs the public that the office is closing on Tues 31st of July at 5.p.m. and will not re-open. It goes on to inform customers that the nearest branch is in Inverness.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Community Celidh Success Story

Every Thursday night at the Royal British Legion Nairn  - Mid June to Mid-September

The Nairn Ceilidh Group had another packed house for their regular Thursday night performance at the British Legion Highland Hall this week.

The Group played host to the Chernobyl Children’s lifeline (Nairn link) and there was also a large party of visitors from Holland to boost the numbers.

“We had to put up the house full sign just a few minutes after the performance began. Although five of our seven ceilidhs this year have virtually played to full houses it was the first time the hall has been full five five minutes after ‘curtain up’ so to speak, “ said CG Chairman Donald Wilson.

“We have played host to the Chernobyl children for several years and it’s always a great pleasure to see them there with their carers who do an incredible job bringing these youngsters into their homes. There are many heart warming stories to be told and I spoke to one young lady, Olga who first came to Nairn several years ago and she returned again as an adult helper and has just graduated in Mathematics at university.

“You learn so much about how these children benefit from their stay in Scotland and our organisation is just one of many in the Highland community that helps the lifeline make their stay here a happy and rewarding experience.”

Donald added: “We also have links with a Dutch travel company who have now sent three groups to our ceilidhs. We are getting more local volunteers coming on board to help and VisitNairn has been fantastic promoting our ceilidhs in local hotels and guests houses. The whole show is becoming very much a community success story and we hope visitors and locals will continue to support us.”

Tweeting town centre topics

Liz is tweeting town centre thoughts. With the bus station issue live again and rumours of the slumbering NICE beastie stirring it could be that the town centre will once again be back on top of the agenda. Liz's twitter account is here. 

Show time

This observer hopes to get to the Nairn Show tomorrow, here's hoping the weather is kind. See you all there.

The Bells - the Bells

Gurn correspondent Vix Sinex heard the bells, he told the Gurn:

"I felt like Quasimodo this morning. Totally stupefied by the clamour of the bells of Nairn ringing out at 0812 to signal the start of the Olympics. This phenomenal and UK wide event was televised and reported on the Scottish news. One can only hope it makes a small addition to the local rag next week."

Personally Vix this observer will not be watching the opening ceremony on television. I found the idea of a Coca-cola lorry preceeding the flame around the country most distasteful and will be a gurny spoilsport tonight. How does Gurnshire feel about the London Olympics, are you interested at all?

Round 2 for bus station garage application?

The Gurn has been forwarded a copy of an e-mail going the rounds in an effort to muster objections to the new planning application for the bus station garage site. Essentially it appears to be almost the same plan but with four more flats on the ground floor rather than a shop, there is however a drop in the height of the proposed building as a tier of flats obviously needs less height than a shop. The previous plan was passed but not without controversy and a border incident between River and West CCs that could have done with UN mediation at the time. This controversial argument  added to the problems the community faces by not having a single unitary Community Council for the town to speak with one voice. 

The e-mail (from a prominent member of West CC) states: "The application will only come forward to Committee and be discussed publicly if a statutory consultee (an agency like Scottish Water, or the relevant Community Council - which in this case is Nairn River) objects - and there is no sign that any of these will do so; or if there are at least 5 objections from members of the local community."

Here's a further quote from that e-mail: " I (and indeed my colleagues on Nairn West CC) continue to believe that this proposed redevelopment is the wrong kind of building, in the wrong place. We would like to see something suitable built on the bus garage site. But we do not think this is a sensible place to put a block of affordable housing, and we fear that this will not help to regenerate the town centre nor enhance the appeal of the immediate area (which includes Viewfield) for local people or visitors. The latest proposal is in our view worse than the earlier one. Removal of the shop from the plans takes away the one element which might have contributed to a wider range of facilities and services within the town centre. "

Last time round the Westies were strongly against with River in favour. Will there be any change in River CC's stance this time round? The application was very controversial with opinion split across the town. The shop was viewed favourably by many who want to see more competition in Nairn, now that it is no longer a part of the application it remains to be seen if that influences the usual suspects too.

If you have any strong feelings either way about this latest application for the bus station garage site you can see the latest plans here and click on comments then the "make a comment" tab to add your thoughts for the benefit of planners and councillors in their deliberations. 

Monday night's training game - Nairn v Golspie - pictures

Pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Highland News tells the victim’s side of the story

Last week the Highland News stuffed up big time with an insensitive comment concerning a local man who appeared in court after an incident in which a girl was badly burnt with scalding water. A shitestorm of comment from dozens of Nairn residents directed towards the Highland News appeared on the paper’s website and Facebook page. The newspaper allowed the comments to remain online for 2-3 days and then deleted them.

This week, no doubt after reflecting on the error of their ways, they have published the victim’s side of the story, including a graphic picture of Heather Dooley’s injuries. Well done the Highland News for that, but on balance, this observer feels that overall you have lost a few readers in Nairn. More in this week’s edition of the Highland News.

Nairn in the morning - thoughts and pix from Vix

That old Gurner Vix Sinex was up and about and in a better mood this morning. It's probably the sun:

"Thought I would share a few views taken when most were still in their steaming pits piling up the zzzz's. There was actually a good sunrise this morning which makes the standard pictures of the bandstand look a little more interesting.

Walking back on the 'quiet' A96 I saw this new view of The Station/Highland Hotel or whatever the current owner is calling it these days. It set me thinking. The powers that  be will sell off the car parks despite what we say. The developer will want to put up a building that is going to give them a financial return and we are going to end up with a 'Brick Canyon' going down King Street. What a wasted opportunity. With a decent vista across to the town centre, visitors will want to stop in convenient car parks and tour the town injecting much needed revenue. I know NICE are up to something but they want to get a move on or they will lose the opportunity to have some influence.

Another photogenic building is The Parish Church. Trying to get a decent photo has now been ruined by the traffic lights and all the other street furniture
that gets in the way. Well, I think I have found a new angle. Ah, that's better. I thought I was going soft".

Thanks for that Vix, I agree with you on the NICE situation (website here). They simply look at present like a group that comes back for Christmas and AGMs. What's the problem with keeping the punters in the loop? If the high heid yins of NICE are really planning something then tell the population, you wouldn't want to be accused of a top-down elitist take it or leave it approach would you? Maybe Vix is right, you've just about lost the opportunity to have any influence in Nairn?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

St Ninian 1 Clach 4 - Pictures

A composed Clach comfortably beat Saints last night at the Showfield but it wasn't all one way traffic with Saints looking dangerous at times. 

Tough job on the Nairn Academy playing fields

Around 7.15 p.m. last night a Highland Council tractor was making a valiant attempt to cut some of the extremely long grass in the Academy playing fields. A couple of our readers had informed us of the overgrown state of the fields and we went up to have a look for ourselves. The reports had not been exagerated.  Below you can see one of the sets of rugby posts surrounded by almost knee high grass. It might take more than the machine pictured above to deal with it. Obviously something has gone wrong this year and the Academy haven't been able to keep up with the grass cutting. Maybe time for Highland Council to call in a combine harvester?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nairn rooftop garden award - winner announced

Vix Sinex, as usual, got up in a gurny mood this morning: "Whilst wandering around Nairn early this morning I was struck by the variety of roof top gardens that are burgeoning during this growing season. First place has to go to The Bank of Scotland for the impressive array of greenery over their front door and the sheer pride in allowing the cable to the plastic sign to go so freestyle over the facia of the building."

Murd is back home

A message from Murd:

Murd Dunbar would like to thank all those who asked about his health over the last few weeks, during his recent serious illness after major surgery.

He is home again now after 4 weeks in Raigmore and is slowly recovering.

He will be resuming his campaign for the Firhall bridge to get a ramp in the near future, and his motto "A Cameron never shall yield" still stands!

Thanks again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lunch at the Victoria Hotel

This observer had been down at Mill Road Allotments on Saturday, helping some of the plotters preparing for the open day. The Sun had finally emerged and had been beating down for a couple of hours. After midday I headed up the street quite thirsty and the idea formed in my mind of having a pint in the Vic and just watching the world go by for a moment or two. The pint of lager tasted very good, looking around I noticed that several customers had come in to take advantage of the new lunch menu. On hearing that the special of the day was home-made vegetarian pizza I succumbed and ordered, being a less than adventurous soul most of the time I simply went for chips and peas to accompany the pizza. There wasn’t a veggy option for the soup unfortunately, but on a hot day that’s not too much of a misfortune. There have been some days this July however when soup would have gone down very well.

It’s amazing how bright and airy the Vic is when the midday sun shines, interesting too to this observer just how much activity there is in our High Street compared to some other small towns. My pizza arrived and, if I have any complaint at all, it was that the plate wasn’t big enough, not because of the portion being too small but that it was too big for the plate! It wasn’t long before a couple of peas escaped to roll across the table. I set about tackling the huge, thick piece of pizza and some of the accompanying chips. Simple tasty fare, it did the job filling my empty stomach as the ambience of Saturday afternoon in the Vic got into its stride in the background. I could have had homemade soup as well as a main course for £5.95 but there wasn’t a veggy option available on Saturday. As it was a warm sunny day that didn’t matter too much but unfortunately athere have been quite a few dreich cool summer days recently when soup would have been appreciated.

Over in the "Library" corner one of the reugulars was sitting in a comfortable armchair reading the Press and Journal. In came Geoff Skeet, one of the Saturday afternoon musicians, a chance for a few minutes conversation with Geoff about affairs parochial and further afield too. A slight anxiety now over the number of calories I was consuming but the sun filtered through the window, the food and the craic was good and another pint was in order. Calorie counting could wait for another day. 

I went the whole way (almost) and had a half portion of the sticky toffee pudding. . More craic followed as other members of the band turned up. Donald Wilson entered into a bit of banter with a couple of the regulars from the Thursday night Legion Ceilidh who had popped down to the Vic for a meal and an afternoon listening to the music. The music started and a mixture of Nairnites and tourists started to fill up the tables and the area near the bar.  

This observer spoke to one wifie present who, a long time ago now, used to work across the road in the former Burnetts the bakers shop, now Iain Fairweather’s model shop. She reminisced on some of the sights she used to see on Saturday afternoons at the height of the darkest days of the legendary Bermuda Triangle. Gurnites might be pleased, or disappointed, in equal numbers that these days the Vic most certainly isn’t what it used to be but it does offer a competitive option for lunch in comfortable, welcoming surroundings and judging by the satisfying meal that this observer had, is a welcome addition to the choices available when eating out in Nairn. 

First Minister in Nairn this Monday morning - Picture

Gurn reporter Bratach gets the shot of the day outside the Royal Bank this morning. Larger image available here. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nairn County bounce again

Another County pre-season "bounce" game, pictures from Donald Matheson, club photographer. 

Nairn Allotments Mill Road open day pictures

Pictures available here. 

Bus Station Garage planning application changes?

This observer has been informed by unreliable sources close to West Community Council insiders that there is a new/amended planning application in for the bus station garage. Word on the street is that there is to be no shoppie now and sixteen flats instead of twelve. If this rumour is confirmed then it will be interesting to see the public reaction. The application was very controversial and for some of those that backed it the inclusion of another retail premises in the town centre area would have been a factor in their decision. 

We await with interest to see if the rumours are true and if knowledge of such a change has indeed been received by Nairn’s Community Councils. If so, then no doubt such information will appear in the Nairnshire Telegraph tomorrow night by the usual tried and tested route. 
This observer wonders if such an amended application, were it ever to happen, would be dealt with by officials under delegated powers or have to go through the entire process of receiving public comment again.

Sunday miscellany

The unsettled weather continues as we swing back from Saturday’s sunshine to a breezy day cloudy day that threatens a downpour. However, at last we were finally treated to a decent sunset on Friday night. 

The new town centre landscape is now on view, this image taken from outside the new community centre looking across the remains of the old. Once the final bits of wall come tumbling down and the area is tidied up and turned into a car park (hopefully not a temporary one) the centre of Nairn will look a lot more attractive to passing motorists. As we are on a roll with demolition how about trashing this former church too and of course the Regal? Another application to the Scottish Government’s town centre demolition fund from the local authority perhaps?

There are those who would like to have bus stops installed on either side of the A96 in the town centre rather than see dozens of bus movements, like this one, every day across a very busy road in-between a very complicated set of junctions. One of our readers recently told the Gurn that they quite liked the present set up however as passengers could alight in a safe area and there was room for those times when two buses going in the same direction caught up with each other in the town centre.  

Here on the Gurn Hazel's seagull gurn still continues to attract comment for and against Salty and his friends.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Council hit squad appear at McLean Court community garden

Gurnites might recall this week’s Nairnshire Telegraph and the picture of the overgrown Community garden at McLean Court. The headline read “Resident’s wrath over garden neglect and included a picture of the overgrown community garden. The Nairnshire detailed the problems:

”When a Nairnshire reporter visited
McLean Court last Friday it appeared that grassed areas had been cut. However planters full of shrubs showed signs of neglect and paved areas were infested with weeds.”

The Gurn has since spoken to an unreliable source close to prominent members of West Community Council who told the Gurn that the Westies had been so exasperated by the neglect of
McLean Court that they had instructed a professional gardener to sort it and had set aside £200 for that purpose. The gardener turned up on the Monday morning to find a hit squad of five council employees hard at work. The west watchdogs are to still contribute £200 however and are consulting the residents as to how the money could be spent improving the garden. Was the Council shamed into action by the Nairnshire asking questions in the background or was it all part of routine maintenance? Perhaps we’ll never know but it seems there have been a lot of complaints raised according to the Nairnshire report.

Gurnites must remember that the number of Council manual workers has been almost halved in recent years, down from 41 to 21 according to one observer so we are now left with a squad that more or less reacts to problems that occur rather than getting there in the first place to prevent those problems occurring.

The Gurn’s solution or attempt at a move in the right direction would be to bring the grass cutting back under council control when the present contract runs out in one year. There still exists in the Council squad a nucleus of employees who have the skills, knowledge and pride in the job to go out look after things if they were given the chance and a little additional manpower. They know where things are and they know what needs to be done. Thus they need the minimum of management – pay a manager off instead of workers? They also would be able to train up new employees (either full or part-time but recruited locally) and install the same esprit de corps that they themselves still possess. There’s still a chance to turn things back a little, perhaps the new regime will have another look at the contract costings and see if we can have a local solution to the problems forced on us by the former centralising administration that was only 16 miles away but so often felt so, so much further from our needs and aspirations.

Scotland's Gardens scheme - Mill Road open day tomorrow (Sunday)

Paddy Scott the Director of Scotland's Gardens Scheme was in Nairn today to visit Allotment Society members  preparing for tomorrow's open day. In the picture also are Dick Youngson and Anne Stewart. More details of the open day here. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Nairnshire needs its own flag! Gurn photoshop suggestion.

On June 12  a  letter appeared in the Nairnshire Telegraph from Rupert Furze bemoaning the fact the Nairn Yacht in the Royal Jubilee flotilla had no county flag to fly unlike the Moray gig and had to make do with Nairn Sailing club's flag. 
Rupert said in his letter: "If we are proud to live in Nairnshire, we should all be asking ourselves what we can do to help the county retain its identity in the face of central and local government bureaucracy and collectivism."

Rupert is spot on, time for a Nairnshire flag. Here's the Gurn's suggestion. Can any gurnites come up with other designs?

Update: This in from Jingle Bangles who is obviously a Gull/Gow fan too. Would have looked fine from the mast of Nairn's Royal Yacht. JB recommends we all read "THE TIES THAT BIND" By Willuc The Gow.

Oor Graham's hoosie for sale

Oor Graham's hoosie is a very, very, very fine hoosie. Anyone wanting to bide in Nairn's Fishertoon then give the mannie a tweet

Salty seagull debate rages - picture

Salty spotted earlier today by Ian MacRae. Is Salty a menace or just a natural part of Nairn's scenery? The debate rages on this Gurn thread - add your thoughts to Hazel's seagull gurn. Fans of Salty can see a full size picture here. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Co-op bank coming to Nairn High Street

Gurn reader Jim O'Brien tells us:

Today's news of the mandatory sale of 600 Lloyds TSB branches to comply with Europan competition rules has been expected. Surprise is that the buyer is to be the Co-op Bank, and that the transferred branches will trade as the TSB in future.

Among the branches affected will be those at Nairn and Forres. A full list will be found here.

This is good news, I feel. The Co-op have a belief in ethical trading - good - but have a weakness in co-ordinated banking systems. Computers used by the Co-op Bank, Smile (internet systems) and the Brittania systems simply don't work together. However the TSB branch systems will use the Lloyds software, so maybe the integration of the others might follow.

Gollanfield Ganja Bust

A Northern Constabulary press release states:
"Police have seized a cannabis cultivation with an estimated street value of £100,000 from a property just off the A96 at Gollanfield, between Inverness and Nairn.

Officers recovered a commerical sized cultivation from the property yesterday evening. A South-East Asian man has been arrested and is the subject of a report to Procurator Fiscal in connection with the seizure.

Officers are still at the property today carrying out further inquiries.

Residents in all areas of the Highlands and Islands are urged to use their natural senses to look out for the following signs, which may indicate the presence of cannabis cultivations:

Nairn town centre - New perspectives emerging from the demolition dust

Images of today's demolition and the new vistas opening up available here. Perhaps best viewed in full screen slide show mode. Maybe opening these spaces up will create economic and social opportunities for the town centre too. Let's hope Highland Council allows Nairn residents to decide what happens next and doesn't impose some quick fix solution to raise some cash for the Glenurquhart Road coffers. Surely the most sensible solution is to use these areas as car parks. 

More pictures of the demolition here from Wednesday, Monday and last Thursday. 

Backlash against Highland News article

A Highland News report detailing a recent incident in the town has upset many Nairn residents. More on MyNairn and E.Maree's blog. 

Hazel's seagull gurn

"Good morning Nairn Gurn....

I have to have a rant and what better than to do through your good self... My gurn is:

(1) Salty seagulls and his/her ever large growing family. My dear husband and I have hardly slept last night because of their intermittent non-stop "chatter" last night and this morning. Yes I know it is the joys of living in Fishertown but this is getting ridiculous... I want to apply for an ASB Order (Anti-Social Behaviour)!!! Understand if more than 3 neighbours complain something has to be done about it.. Who's with me?? OR alternatively .... would be more than happy to contribute to employ a human bird scarer and his "friend" Mr. Eagle Owl or whoever to disperse Salty and his/her friends "humanely". Also re article in this week's Nairnshire "Cull the gulls plea is made"... I was disappointed and disheartened, actually angry, I pay my Council taxes what the heck is it being spent on... ok I forgot its the government and bankers fault 'cos there's no money... Well here's my input/solution to this.... Lets utilise "those" doing Community Service, get them to clean up the street and be human scarers, would I be right in thinking there would be 1 or 2 individuals who committed a "Breach of Peace" in the street? Here's their opportunity to let off steam and certainly do good for the Community! 

(2) have a walk up the High Street when its pouring down with rain and take note of the smell from the pigeon faeces - lovely isnt. No wonder visitors' numbers are "dropping" -sorry for the pun. There you have it. I feel better now and will await with bated breath to see how things progress over the next few weeks!! PS... I love Nairn, its got a lovely beach and riverside walks, I'm just frustrated and in a right gurn!! Thank you for letting me "sound" off. :)"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nairn 0 Ross County 0

Nairn looked very good against a strong Ross County side tonight (Tues) on the top quality surface at Station Park. The fast-paced friendly ended in a goalless draw and the home fans filed out delighted with the Wee County's performance. In the thick of it in the Nairn blue strip was surprise trialist Junior Mendes.

Blue sky where the old Community Centre stage used to be

And a wee gurn from our correspondent Vix Sinex:

"The demolition of the Old Community Centre continues apace. The back wall has been opened up and the reinforced concrete framework is slowly disappearing. Unfortunately

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Superfast broadband event in Nairn - but none for most of the High Street yet!

The Gurn had heard rumours that parts of the High Street area and the business park are not yet connected up to receive superfast broadbrand and this is confirmed by a statement on the ANB site, part of which reads: 
"It is a great boost for Nairn to be chosen as the first in Scotland to be upgraded to the next generation of broadband though, unfortunately, it only covers about 90% of the town. Remarkably the areas not being upgraded in this first stage include most of the High Street and the Business Park. Perhaps someone from BT attending the event will be able to explain the rather bizarre logic behind that decision."

The event looks very interesting however and you will be able to get lots of advice on broadband and IT issues (including security) on Wednesday the 22nd of August in the Community Centre. More details on the ANB site 

Wee County in training

County players training for the game against Premiership Ross County on Tuesday night 17th July  7:45pm K.O at Station Park. More details of pre-season friendlies here. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Breaking news - Links school disposal decision deferral

Liz tells the Gurn that the decision on how to dispose of the Links School will not now be taken next month but has been put back to October 3rd. Liz said, "this was to give interested parties an opportunity to make a business case and work out their plans for the Links School."

Nice work from Liz and this will be good news for River CC members who were calling for such a deferral on Tuesday night.  Previous Gurn article here. 

Big bloomers window display

Bobbi's window displays are quickly becoming legend. Thanks to Billy for the picture. Larger image here. 

Guardian coverage for Nairn's butterflies

Ollie points the Gurn in the direction of a delightful article about the butterflies that can be seen down on the East beach dunes. More here on Roy Collier's guardian article. 

Links school (of Art)?

At Tuesday’s meeting of River CC members heard from local artist Shaun MacDonald (one of the artists that uses the popular Blue Door studio facilities above the Caley) that the charity organisation that has rented that building for 17 years is now seeking to move and has been in discussion with Highland Council about buying or leasing the Links School. The organisation in question WASPS has a website here.

Shaun attended in the light of a recent letter in the Nairnshire Telegraph signed by Graham Marsden, former Highland Councillor, and Tommy Hogg, Chair of River CC, indicating that there seemed to be some haste in Highland Council bringing forward a decision on whether to sell off/ develop the Links school to August when so many people are on holiday. This observer thinks Oor Graham has a bit of a cheek in writing that letter, he had plenty of time as a member of the last ruling administration to secure a future for that building for the community but things just dragged on and on without any conclusion. Anyway Liz told the meeting that the resources committee date had been brought forward due to changes in the way committees were now organised by the new regime and the Council were aware of WASPS interest and that would be considered. 

This observer got the feeling that River CC members sort of felt, “In Liz we trust but Highland Council?”  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens but Liz said: “It’s not just about selling it or leasing it, it’s about seeing what else is available.”  Hopefully the Council committee will accept the WASPS proposal.

This observer feels that a move by the Blue Door studios down to the Links School would be an excellent development. Shaun told the meeting that there was a waiting list for studios in Nairn. The more artists that we could attract to the town then the more that would enhance the town’s reputation for supporting the arts in general. Here’s hoping that the Council go ahead and allow the Blue Door folk to move to the Links school - which incidently already has a blue door too!

Tommy did say that he had been made aware that there was another organisation interested in the Links School, the Richmond Fellowship. Liz was unaware of any formal approach by that group however.

Milk worries

Local dairy farmer Steve Innes features in the Inverness Courier today. He is quoted as saying that if dairies go ahead with a further cut in the price they pay farmers for milk then: “If it goes ahead we would have to reconsider everything completely.”
Steve was down in London recently for a meeting with 1500 dairy farmers from across the UK and he wasn’t impressed with the agriculture minister.
There could be militant action from some farmers in the near future with perhaps blockades and other protests being considered. The future looks bleak for dairy farmers with every litre of milk being produced at a loss. More in today’s Inverness Courier.

Earlier this year it was reported that milkproduction was to cease in Nairn. Now milk goes down the road to Bridge of Allan to then comes back up the way to be sold locally. It all seems a bit bizarre in these days when we are supposed to be thinking globally and acting locally but in sheer economic terms it must make sense to the company concerned.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Charity Challenge Avenue for Nairn Games

Cllr Michael Green is organising a Charity Challenge Avenue for Nairn Highland Games on the 18th of August. Michael has taken over  running and organisation of the commercial area of the Links during the Nairn and is inviting associations and charities to paticipate in the event. In an e-mail going the rounds Michael states:
"By working in partnership with local businesses, whereby they will donate up to 50% of their profits from the event, I am able to offer free space to Charities and Voluntary associations. However, in return for this largesse, the charity/association must, in addition to their traditional activities, come up with a novel and entertaining method of fund- raising and thus help in order to create the Nairn Games’ Charity Challenge Avenue’.

He then goes on to give some examples of what this entails:

Beach gets a clean in time for summer?

One of the Gurn's roving reporters just filed this video and comment:
"Nairn's West beach gets some attention today in the form of a JCB burying the driftwood that's been accumulating since the recent river spates, golden sands again ready for summer?"

Have you uploaded any newsworthy videos onto the net recently? Tell the Gurn we'd be delighted to exhibit your citizen journalism. 

Another demolition day

The scene around 11.00 a.m. in Nairn town centre as the newer additions to the old community centre start to vanish from the landscape. Bigger picture here.

UPDATE: the new perspectives of the town centre starting to show bits of themselves - pictures here. 

Scottish online local media innovation

The buzzword is “hyperlocal” and interestingly out of 165 entries to a competition, three of the ten winners of cash awards to “innovate in the hyperlocal space using mobile technologies” are based in Scotland.
Increasing numbers of citizens are using mobiles to access the web. More and more Gurn visitors are arriving through mobile (around 12% at present) and that seems to be a trend that will continue to go upwards. The growing use of mobiles and tablets will continue to impact on our daily lives.

This observer would recommend that any readers with an interest of how mobile technologies can possibly aid local businesses in defined hyperlocal areas, view the following short videos: Local Edge from Leith and Broughton, Scotland; URTV, Community Television is here; Our town - A fresh approach to hyperlocal. It will be interesting to see how the three projects progress and whether they eventually roll out mobile apps, such as local loyalty cards that could work in smaller communities such as Nairn. 

Lorries parking on pavements "It's got to stop"

Members of River CC on Tuesday night, at their regular meeting in the Community Centre, complained to the police rep present about heavy lorries parking on the pavements in Nairn High Street. "It's got to stop!" said Cllr Ian Gordon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grass cutting problem in Lochloy - residents have to "take responsibility"

As a result of a letter received by David Ramsay complaining about the state of the grass inbetween Sutors view and Sutors Park up in the Lochloy schemes River CC agreed to let their Cllr Simon Noble co-ordinate information from residents and generally investigate grass cutting issues in that area. Liz was also at the River CC meeting and she said:

“They really have to get together and take responsibility because a lot of them have got it in their title deeds to pay for the open grass cutting spaces and if they did that and took responsibility they could probably, they could put in more and make it really fantastic or they could put in less and have just the basic. They would have the option of what environment they wanted to live in.”

The Gurn would suggest that the areas pictures below could be divided up into allotments for anyone in the Lochloy area that would like to grow some fruit or veg, or maybe even a community orchard if residents were looking for something to do with the land. Otherwise, whilst not actually being many people’s idea of the ideal suburban scene, it actually doesn’t look too bad as a wildlife resource to this observer.

Demolition unsettles Salty the Seagull

Apparently a big machine will be coming tomorrow to really get into the demolition of the former community centre. By around lunchtime tomorrow big bits could be coming down rather rapidly at the back of the building. In the meantime the squad on the job decided to do some manual demolition of the tallest part of the former purpose built Free Kirk. Get the bigger picture here

Mill Rd Allotments open day Sunday 22nd July

More information here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New website for Lochloy residents

There's a new site on the block for residents of  the Sutors development, Osprey Crescent,  Spires Crescent, Sutors Park, Fisher Heights (Old Bar), Meadowlea. It's a bit of a blank canvas at the moment. The site states: "Our aim is to provide a forum where you can exchange information, ideas and opinions on what's happening in our part of Nairn. We hope to be able to involve the developers and factors so our community gets the best services and support. Everyone is welcome to contribute, whether homeowner, landlord or tenant."  You can find out more on the site here.  If you live in those areas and have any issues why not contact the e-mail address on the page and see what happens.

There was plenty of discussion at River CC tonight about the various grass cutting arangements in those schemes mentioned above. When time permits we'll get round to reporting on that and perhaps head up for some pictures of the bitties that aren't getting cut just now. A very complicated picture it seems and Cllr Simon Nobe of RiverCC is co-ordinating all the information from residents. Liz has been speaking to the planners too about what can be done. 

Housing future for King Street buildings?

Liz revealed this evening at River CC's monthly meeting that a feasability study is under way for the former social work buildings/ tourist office in King Street. These buildings will be very distinct in the near future with the former petrol station now down and the auld kirk soon to go to. The study will look at housing options plus a retail or office element. 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Highland Council to act on Auldearn Burn Giant Hogweed – but what about invasive species infestations on the River Nairn?

This observer notes from the BBC website: “Highland Council has secured a grant from Scottish Natural Heritage to eradicate giant hogweed on the Auldearn Burn, near Nairn, and Munlochy.” Full article here.

Previous work had been undertaken on the Auldearn Burn but there is still more to be done and according to a Highland Council press release: “At Auldearn the cover has reduced significantly since 2006 but there are still a few plants springing up due to the large seedbed and the fact the seeds can stay dormant for over 5 years, but it is very much under control.”  The press release continues, “In 2012 a further 4 years of funding of Giant Hogweed Control coordination was secured from SNH with match funding from Highland Council. This will continue the work underway in Auldearn and Munlochy. This is a long term project but by acting now, a great deal of money will be saved both in erms of control costs and also reducing any income lost due to this plants impact on local businesses.” Press release here.

That’s excellent news for the native species on the Auldearn Burn but what about the River Nairn itself? Once again it has been an excellent year for the Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed. Gurnites will remember the launch in March by the Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fisheries Trust launching a co-ordinated campaign (see Gurn article here) to eradicate these species locally. So far on the lower river Nairn from the Firhall Bridge to the harbour there doesn’t seem to have been any spraying of these invasive species apart from River Community Council spraying a small section between the A96 and the sewage bridge.Athough it seems one or two individuals have been cutting down the Giant Hogweed before it seeds.

Will there be a co-ordinated attempt on the lower part of the River Nairn this year and who will do the spraying?  It’s excellent that the Auldearn Burn will receive more attention but the native flora and fauna of the River Nairn need protection from these invasive species too.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

How long before the cemetery fills up?

The Nairnshire returned last week to the topic of where the new cemetery will go and how much space is left in the existing Grantown Road site. An interesting article that is worth a read if you haven't seen it already. We would like to contrast the opinion of a council official quoted in that Nairnshire article with a statement made by Laurie in his election leaflet.

"I wouldn't say there's any danger of running out of space." Debbie Maguire, quoted in the Nairnshire Telegraph July 3rd 2012.

"In the very near future decisions have to be made on the siting of a new cemetery as our existing one only has a year's supply of land left." Laurie Fraser in his election leaflet published in April 2012.

This observer is confused, Laurie thinks there is some urgency but one of the Council officials has a different  view. One wonders if the Highland Council would put our minds at rest and tell us how long they think we have until the cemetery fills up? If Laurie was near the mark with his prediction of a year then that it would mean we have closer to nine months space left now. 

Other questions for our Councillors perhaps,  is the money available for the construction and purchase of a new site and is there a ring-fenced allocation in the budgets?

How do you dispose of used fat?

Fat in the drains is perhaps the culprit for the recent spillages of sewage on the riverside walks down by the Merryton sewage bridge, although grit off the roads could be in the frame too we understand from sources close to River CC. 

A regular Gurnite asks: "Perhaps you could do a public service and ask every chippie, takeaway, B+B and hotel in Nairn what they do with used fat?" 

Well we'll ask anyone that reads the Gurn, we don't imagine we reach all parts by any means. So how is it for you Gurnites, how do you ensure your used fat doesn't go down the drain?

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Scottish Government Consultation on the proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill – will our Community Councils participate?

Scottish Government Consultation on the proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill – will our Community Councils participate?

A regular gurnite reader has sent us a copy of this consultation document (available here). Part of the foreword by Derek MacKay, the Minister for Local Government and Planning states : “This consultation marks the next stage of the process in developing the Bill. As a Government we will continue to listen carefully to your views. Your responses to the ideas in this consultation, and your new ideas, will help shape what ends up in draft legislation. I encourage you to get involved in the consultation. This is your Bill and we want to work with you to help us unlock the vast potential that exists in Scotland's communities.”

Yes, consultation is considered a dirty word by many of the usual suspects and other community activists in Nairn. Perhaps if enough community councils and other interested groups were to respond to it, it might go some way to handing political power back to communities across Scotland and, here in Nairn, we could reverse some of the worse effects of the Invercentric moves of past years. It would be nice to think that some good might one day come out of it all as the bill moves slowly forward to eventually becoming law. Could most decisions regarding local government services in Nairn one day be made by a democratically elected body sitting in the Courthouse? Derek MacKay says he’s listening, anyone else think it’s worth telling him what we think?
Below are a few questions from the consultation, there’s plenty more on the document itself and it’s a bit of a haul to go through it but some serious students may wish to.  The Gurn notes that you can fill this form in as an individual and other community groups can also participate (see 3 on the respondent information form). 

So, how would you, as an individual, respond to some of them and how would you like Nairnshire’s Community Councils to respond on your behalf if they felt inclined to participate?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Merryton Bridge inspection results

The results are in.  After the inspection of the Merryton Bridge today the culprit causing the problem has been identified by Scottish Water as their old friend – FAT.  Yes, folks, the finger once again is pointing at what we put down our drains.  It’s a case of every little does not help!  Every tiny drop and globule all adds up.

Tommy Hogg, Chair of Nairn River Community Council, told the Gurn that, as a result of their inspections, Scottish Water reported that they will be working on clearing fat and grit from the pipes running from the Maggot area down to the Sewage works over the next few weeks.

How does the fat get into the system?  Well, the most obvious way is down the kitchen sink with oil, fat and grease either being poured directly down the drain, or indirectly from dishes and utensils or dishwashers.  According to Scottish Water, fat accounts for 55% of sewer blockages, they have a short video here which shows a pipe blocked by fat.  Unfortunately, as well meaning as Scottish Water’s, Save Your Drains campaign is in trying to educate the public to the problems and costs incurred by fat, realistically is it going to stop the situation occurring again?  Cleaning the system is a short term solution, fat will build up over time and, unless there is a regular, ongoing maintenance programme for clearing the pipes and drains, how long will it be before the proverbial hits the pavements again? 

Talking about the proverbial, have a look here for a fascinating insight into the world of human crap.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

More traffic chaos on the A96 through Nairn

A regular Gurnite reports that he engaged one of the Bear workers working by the Police Station in some polite conversation this morning.  He asked if it was possible to switch off the traffic lights and control everything by manual control thus allowing the traffic to run instead of the delays and hold ups currently being experienced.  He was informed that his suggestion wouldn’t be possible because regulations don’t allow for this and Bear have no one qualified to carry out this function.  Apparently, according to the Bear man, Alba would need to supply someone who is qualified (The Gurn assumes he meant Alba the traffic management solutions company, details of some of the services they provide here).

Our regular makes the following plea “Come on Bear! Switch ALL the lights off from Leopold St to Tradespark Road and let someone with some common sense operate the lights manually. You would be surprised at how tolerant MOST drivers are about letting people out into the main stream of traffic. It can't be any worse than it is now!”

It would seem to be a case of rules is rules and common sense doesn't come into it.  So the chaos continues……..

Thanks to Dave Shillabeer for the photos.

Temporary closure of the Merryton Bridge

Tommy Hogg has been contacted by Scottish Water to inform him that the Merryton Bridge will be closed from 07.00 am  until approx 12.00 noon  tomorrow (Thurs, 5th July).  This is for essential maintenance and inspection.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

It's summer, so let's dig up the road!

There was traffic chaos once again today with tailbacks on the A96 through Nairn and gridlock at the junctions coming onto it.  It seems Bear Scotland are digging up the road and temporary, unphased traffic lights are in operation.  Thanks to Dave Shillabeer for the photo.

RAF Tornado's crash into Moray Firth

Over the last couple of day's the roar of Tornado engines have been heard over the area with the aircraft flying over the town and around the Moray Firth out of Lossie.  Unfortunately, it seems that two of the planes have crashed somewhere south of Wick in the Moray Firth.  So far two people have been recovered and flown to Raigmore and a search and rescue operation is underway for the other crew.  RNLI lifeboats from Invergordon, Buckie and Wick are assisting.  Let’s hope all the crew are safe and well.  More information here.
More information on the Tornado's here.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Gurn Jobbie Loch picture enigma - can you see the eerie face in the trees?

One of our regular readers has, can you? One of the unhappy nature spirits? See for yourself here. 

Dick on Development – “It’s not going to happen like it happened over the last 20 years”

Gurnites may be interested in part of Dick Youngson’s address to the AGM of Suburban Community Council last week"

"I think we should really think again about the type of housing we need in Nairn and the type of people that are on the waiting list and how we are going to fund that and develop it and run it because it just isn’t a case now of developers having free reign to put in what they want to make money. It’s really what we want. We want builders who are actually do want to work to us, the “us” being the community as well as Highland Council together . So I think a slightly different approach now is necessary over the next 5-10 years, Because it’s not going to happen as it happened over the last 20 years. Because the only way we are going to get funding and development and movement is by actually spelling out what and where we want a lot of new development. It equally applies to the development of the town and we’ve really got to make an effort to get the town well planned, desireable for traders to occupy property and bringing people in again. Otherwise Nairn as a tourist town isn’t really going to survive as such, it’s going to be very much a tourist town."

Curtis Cup banner on the High Street

One of our regular readers asks if the banner is going to come down now that the Curtis Cup is well past.

Armed Forces Week - Satuday 30th June

Pictures Murray MacRae

Advertise with Highland Council

From the Highland Council site:
"During the budget consultation exercise in 2010 feedback showed that the Council should look to generate more income from advertising and sponsorship. At the Resources Committee in October 2011 it was agreed that a co-ordinated approach would be taken to advertising and sponsorship across suitable Council assets. It was also agreed that this would include tendering for an external partner to work with the Council to assist in maximising the benefit from our assets. That tender process resulted in the Scottish Provincial Press (SPP) being awarded the contract with New Century Publishing Group a subsidiary of SPP handling this, their Highland wide presence and ability to deliver at a local level being key elements in them making a successful bid. The Income from advertising and sponsorship forms part of the budget for 12/13 and is key in terms of the Council in generating income from new areas to support budget pressures."

Will final demands for Council Tax soon come with details of special offers at the local supermarket? More on the Highland Council site.