Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Confident Alistair Noble presents well attended NICE AGM

Only a few seats left in the conference room in the Community Centre earlier tonight when Alistair Noble presented his Chairman's report and after other AGM business the assembly got down to discussing the organisation's feasibility study for the social work building. The confidence and optimism for the future was palpable and although there were some interesting questions from the floor no one present seemed unduly concerned by comments made by Provost Liz MacDonald that were reported in a front page spread in yesterday's Nairnshire.
We hope to report further on the evening's events when time permits later this week. In the meantime here's Alistair's address to the meeting: 

"This has been an exciting first year of NICE as a Scottish Charity and Community Body.

We have been asked to demonstrate our capabilities by delivering one major project. The development of the old social work building was the obvious first choice. After wide consultation we are tonight presenting our excellent feasibility study. We will now move, working in close co­operation with Highland Council to deliver a business plan in acceptable form to their Asset Management Project Board, seeking approval within 3 months. This is a solid amount of work and I would like to thank in particular Mike Barnett for managing the production of this business plan and ensuring the quality of its content.

The major proposal is for a 'Gateway Visitor Attraction'. Simply put, if we move from 5000 visitors in our existing visitor centre to a realistic 100,000 reached in smaller highland tourist towns we will generate more spend in Nairnshire to the benefit of local jobs and our tourists. We will have spent £500,000 on upgrading this lovely building in such a prominent and visually important site. This again will provide more local jobs, both in construction and retail.

NICE was set up to prioritise the needs of Greater Nairnshire. We live in a competitive financial environment and large payments for example by HIE to Forres and Inverness makes it hard for Nairnshire to compete. This is widely understood and accepted as the fundamental reason for setting up NICE. If you look back at
our Vision Paper we have seen major developments in several of the problem areas we highlighted. Here I stress NICE was set up to facilitate and stimulate not to do everything on our own. Progress is our aim and we are seeing changes such as the old community centre, petrol station, Regal, bus station, Corsee, Barron House and Links school. I am sure that the 4 local councillors welcome that local focus and achievement.

Locality planning with a new emphasis on locality capacity is the way forward. The favoured NICE model is for NICE directors to be non–executive and employ professional staff to rebuild community capacity .We can also develop trading subsidiaries or social enterprise companies backed by the NICE Board but with a lot of freedom to develop .We feel this is the best way of harnessing the huge amount of voluntary support in Nairnshire without overexposing the willing few.

NICE is committed to Fair Share allocations from Local Authority, Health Board and HIE. 'Place Worth' is a simple concept where we all should know the total Nairnshire income and the percentage spent locally and therefore what is leaving Nairnshire. We want to increase our local spend and control. In doing so we believe we will achieve better value for money, more and better local jobs and above all a much greater Nairnshire Common Good in its widest sense.

In conclusion I would like to thank all my fellow directors and our helpers for all their hard work.

I thank our 1050 members for all their support and ideas. In a Scottish context this is seen as massive and valuable support and evidence of real community backing for NICE. Our membership team will be back working to increase the membership over the next 3 months as this greatly strengthens our position and opens even more exciting doors. I am looking forward to next year's progress report with a real confidence in Nairnshire's ability to lead the way in developing sustainable working practices for our future developments."


Joe telfer said...

Perhaps the Gurn and the River Community council should now get fully behind NICE, as they should have done from the word go. No point in gurning about what could or should be done in Nairn, without supporting the men of action who have the best interests of the Town at heart.

Graisg said...

@Joe Telfer - Could you send that via e-mail to confirm it is you. Thanks.

jayteescot1 said...

Des, You are quite safe to publish my earlier comment, I can assure you it is me. You can use my name or jayteescot1, its up to you.

Graisg said...

Thank you for the benefit of your wisdom Joe.
You may recall that this observer was very active in the NICE MkI version in the early days and attended several meetings. Treks in the darkness down to the sailing club and plentiful supplies of tea and biscuits provided by Graham Vine. There was an urgency about it all as the disidents all came together to stop the Highland Council "Berlin Wall" of flats proposal along the A96.

Personally I went rather cool on NICE when they came down on one side of the fence over the Bus Station Flats debate and have, since then, adopted a one thing at a time approach. Good luck to them if their vision for the old Social Work Buildings comes to fruition.
There were some new faces at the top table last night and obviously a wealth of experience in their ranks.
Will Highland Council co-operate and go all the way that is the question that this observer would ask. Recently Liz said at a community council meeting that other community groups were interested in the building so perhaps there is a rival bid somewhere out there?

Not so nice said...

@Joe telfer

Why on earth should the River Community Council and The Gurn now ‘get fully behind NICE’?

Your logic (or lack of it) suggests that all Scots should support the Tory party as the are currently ‘men of action’, or that the whole of Nairn should support your so called bird Trust as you’re the only person feeding the river fowl everyday?

Fortunately we still have a semblance of democracy in our country and both the River CC and The Gurn are allowed to hold and express their own views without bowing to the notion that might is right.

NICE may have a thousand members but that is by no means the majority of the town, and smaller less vocal groups also hold views as to how the town might be shaped in future

A credible voice in Nairn is needed to help residents regain some local control from Highland Council but not everyone is convinced that NICE is the answer, and for the moment that includes both the River CC and The Gurn

We may indeed see more local powers, as this is being put in place as policy from our current Scottish government, or failing that there is still the possibility of one single community council that would give folk in Nairn a cohesive voice to safeguard the towns interests

I also understand that NICE has some active female members so not all ‘men’ of action

Spurtle said...

When it comes to democracy in action, it may well be that NICE doesn't have the support of all of the town, and it would be very unlikely that any group would ever find themselves in that situation....but, they do have over a thousand folks who have joined , and that's more Nairn folk than made the Provost their first choice when voting at the last council election .

And I seem to remember that the gurnmeister himself stepped back from a potential positiion on the River Community Council as there was to be no election held.

As has been discussed previously, perhaps everything that NICE does is not to everyone's taste but at least they are doing something and I've never personally found myself threatened by the stampede of other groups , as they rush to creating something viable and interesting from the former Social work buildings.

Of course it may be that we are simply living in a society where people don't want to get involved in doing such works and that's perfectly acceptable.

It is important though that the people that don't want to get involved don't derail the plans of those that do.

Nairn is presently in a delicate position , where real power has been removed from the town and those that have some vestigal traces of it seem to feel the need to flex their little muscles at times.

We need one Community Council, however much it sticks in crops or chips on shoulders.

We have to all be peeing in the same pot, or the Highland Council will just continue dribbling all over us.

With one community council, working in conjunction with our elected Highland councillors and other community groups such as NICE, Nairn would stand a much greater of getting it's fair share.

The alternative?

Keep on bitching,sniping and back biting and all we'll ever get out of Inverness is the scrapings off the plate.

Joe telfer said...

@ not so nice. I could ask you the same question, why on earth cant the River community council and the Gurn get behind NICE ? I recall RCC pointing out how many votes they had and demanding so many seats on the NICE board for their support. I'm afraid I take a pragmatic view on getting things done in Nairn. For Donkey's years all we ever get in Nairn is gossip and talk, and my vote is BIGGER than yours etc. The community councils should be representing all the People of Nairn and party politics should be left out of it. Personally I think NICE have the talent, motivation and drive, to actually get things done - and should be lauded by everyone who would like to see Nairn Improved for the good of all.
No slight intended on the good women who are members, and involved with NICE.

As to Graisg going cool on the Bus station Flats debate. Fair enough, I was disappointed too with the dropping of the shop idea, and also the height of said flats. However In the main, I think NICE have the right agenda and deserve our support.

Oh No! said...

What does this small town Quango actually do except hold lots of meeting to talk about what they SHOULD do,[...]
And the Birdman of Nairn supports them so its definitely a dubious organisation!

Graisg said...

@ not so NICE - You say: "A credible voice in Nairn is needed to help residents regain some local control from Highland Council but not everyone is convinced that NICE is the answer, and for the moment that includes both the River CC and The Gurn."
I have to state that I have the greatest confidence in Alastair Noble and his wish to do the best for Nairn. I just would like to see a couple of things from the organisation he created, then maybe I'd join too.

1) The minutes published. There haven't been any put up on the NICE website for some considerable time and it would be NICE to see who has made the decisions etc and the twists and turns that have led to the present set-up. There has to be the greatest transparency.

2) More engagement with the membership. It would be NICE to see working groups on a range of subjects like back in NICE MKl when folk were able to have input and make use of their various skills. It all seems to be too much of a top table organisation.

I would be interested said...

Spurtle says "but, they do have over a thousand folks who have joined". It would be nice to know how many of those have an IV12 postcode?

Simon Noble said...

How about some simple facts:
1. According to their articles of association NICE's objectives are
"to benefit the community of Nairn...promoting the improvement and regeneration of the town of Nairn and its surrounding areas for the benefit of the Community and the maintenance and improvement of the physical, social and economic infrastructure of the Community".
2. According to Companies House, NICE has 9 directors, 6 live in West Nairn, 1 in Glasgow.
3. Membership is open to anyone in Nairnshire at no fee (you have to promise to pay £1 if it winds up).
4. For a general meeting of NICE, like the AGM, 10% of the Ordinary members must be present for it to be quorate. If it's not quorate it should not proceed.
5. NICE claims it has 1,050 members
6. According to observers at this week's AGM there were no more than 70 people present.

My thoughts: I absolutely support the objective in NICE's Articles. Who doesn't? I applaud those who want to do something for Nairn's benefit. However, to do something meaningful you need to be clear that what you plan really will deliver on your overall objective and you need to demonstrate genuine support from the community for it. 1000 people signing up to the principle of doing good for Nairn is not the same as 1000 people signing up to convert the old Social Work building....and carrying on with an inquorate meeting...does this mean that any of the published principles and rules are for bending?