Monday, September 30, 2013

Nairn 3 Strathspey 1 more images from Saturday's game at Station Park

Individual images here.

Traigh Inbhir Narann gad chuir fo dhraoidheachd aig àm dol fodha na grèine

Turas eile ‘s mise cho fortanach gus a bhith air an traigh le camara nuair a chaidh a’ ghrian fodha ann an dòigh annabarach sonraichte. Fhios agam nach eil seo a’ tachairt a h-uile latha ach ma gabhas tu do chuid saor-laithean sa bhaile againn bidh deagh chothrom agad a leithid fhaicinn ge b’e cuin a bhios tu ann , samhraidh no geamhraidh no àm sam bith eile. Tha fhios ‘m cuideachd dè cho furasta a tha e gus dealbhan a thoghail le daoine eadar thusa agus an solas tighinn as na speuran ach mise an dochas gum bi beagan den t-suideachadh shonraichte tighinn thugad as na dealbhan a thog mi a-raoir. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Nairn 3 Strathspey 1 - pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here. Full screen slide show here.

Indoor market for the Ballerina?

There has been little or no activity in the former Ballerina Ballroom since the acclaimed "Cinema of Dreams" that Nairn resident Tilda Swinton organised five years ago.

Gurnites will know that back in the swinging sixties and into the seventies the Ballerina was a regular venue for groups and a few famous ones including Status Quo played there.  A fascinating site here gives anyone interested further details of those days

Signs posted on the door windows this weekend indicated that the Ballerina might be about to take on a new lease of life however. 

Delay in bridle path ramp to the beach project

A lot of Gurnites will know the bridle path that runs down the far side of  the Sandown lands to the beach across the golf course. The Suburban Community Council were hoping to install a ramp on the last section of that path down to the beach but at the meeting last Wednesday night Dick Youngson outlined a problem that the project has encountered. Dick told the meeting:

“I had Stewart Easthaugh, the Access Paths officer, on the phone and it looks as if we’re not going to put the ramp down to the beach at the bridle path this autumn/winter. There’s been some slight hiccup. The funding actually has been set aside and we have to use it by December and I think it is LEADER funding that they’ve got and it would be in our name.

 I think that the golf club have put in, a sort of almost, an objection at the moment and although we met them they were quite happy but there’s been another slight development which is going to delay it. So I understand they’ve to, are going to write to the contractors to say look, if we could sort of hold the tender prices until next year, they we’ll try and get this running and moving again. It certainly won’t be this year now, which is a pity."

Dick added later in discussion on this topic: “At the moment the path down it’dangerous because there are…it’s a loose path, a narrow path, there are some very sharp edges of rocks which are sticking out. Horses can’t use it and a lot of the people that are not as fleet of foot as young fit people, they find it extremely difficult.”

Cllr Martin Ashford asked what was the nature of the Golf Club’s objection.

Dick replied: “Stewart didn’t really say but what Stewart was going to do in the meantime until we can have another go, he was going to ask them to improve the access themselves, the Golf Club, at their expense at the moment to make it safe. It won’t be a proper ramp down to the beach, it will just be, I think, just moving the rock armouring aside. Of course they are worried that if it is not done properly the sea will come in again and start eroding what they’ve got. The fact is that the existing path down is really facing the wrong way and it should be angled up at a sort of north-westerly -  south-easterly direction, south east at the top and that would stop the seas actually breaking in and scouring out. But we’ve had various engineers looking at it and they’ve approved the design which we had." 

The descent to the beach which the subbies are hoping to improve with a ramp

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Problems on the buses for the Subbies

John MacKie told the Suburban CC meeting in the Academy on Wednesday night that he’d had: “one or two folk mentioning some of the Aberdeen, Elgin, Inverness buses running late or not turning up. So I propose trying to do a survey, trying to get information on whether people are finding this a difficulty.”
He went on to mention the impact of late buses those catching connections in Inverness for hospital appointments. He hopes to find out the frequency of late buses so he can tack the issue up with Stagecoach. He said: “they are quite keen for the community council to be involved on this so we’ll take them up on that.”

He went on to say he was still waiting for an outcome on the local bus. John explained: “I understand that the operator is talking to Highland Council at the moment and the idea is that if Highland Council can find the cash then the service will be extended. It’s been extended for two months while these talks go on and we’ll find out hopefully in a couple of months time. I’m hoping we might find the money but if we don’t then the local bus might disappear altogether." 

At the start of the meeting Dick Youngson, chairing, mentioned that in the minutes of the previous monthly get together of his organisation it had been mentioned that overgrown hedges were “causing people to miss buses because they are obscuring the bus stops and shelters.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pollution incident in the Auldearn Burn - A large number of fish killed

On Wednesday regular readers informed us of a pollution incident in the Auldearn Burn on Tuesday. This morning SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) issued a statement to the Gurn.  Many Gurnites will know that the Auldearn Burn contains salmon parr and is thus a very sensitive area.  A spokesperson said:

"“SEPA was informed of a pollution incident in the Auldearn Burn near Nairn on Tuesday 24 September, which resulted in a large number of fish being killed. SEPA immediately attended the incident, and while the investigation is still ongoing, the source of the pollution was located and SEPA officers are satisfied that the environmental impact on the burn has been removed.”

The spokesperson went on to give details of how members of the public can report pollution incidents:

“We would like to take this opportunity to thanks those people who contacted us to report the incident. We strongly encourage anyone who is concerned about a potential pollution incident to contact SEPA as soon as possible, giving us as many details as they can. Getting details quickly will mean we can begin investigations early and take effective action as necessary. You can contact SEPA’s 24 hour report line on 0800 80 70 60. All contact can be treated as confidential.”
The Auldearn Burn just after it emerges from going under the Grantown Road.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday night miscellany

The early birds reported a frost this morning but it was quick to lift. There was a time when you would have been guaranteed a few crispy white mornings by the 26th of September but things are less predictable in these globally warm times.

Plenty of sunshine today and the boarded up windows of the former DE shoe shop looked very pristine in the gentle, warm rays. Elsewhere boards on some of the windows of the empty Alton Burn hotel now but the rear view shows quite a few smashed windows - images here and here.   Out in the Firth no sign of the Petronordic or Petroatalantic tankers but there were two others to take their place  - images here and here.

Jane sends us some information about Music Therapy, more details here and if you enjoyed the Scottish Rock Garden Club's show in the Community Centre in April then you may be interested in a flower show and plant sale they have at their annual conference in Grantown on September the 5th from 10-30 to 12.00. David Shaw told the Gurn that the show is only open to the public for such a short because the stewards and stall holders will be attending lectures etc at other times. Further details on a poster here.  

Sandown Community Garden needs your vote to win £3,000 funding

Nairn Allotment Society Sandown Community Garden has been selected as 1 of 4 groups in the running for a £3k award from Bank of Scotland - in their community awards scheme. There is a voting process and votes can be cast in 3 ways: on line, by text message or in the branch.   
2 of the organisations will be awarded £3k and the other 2 organisations will be awarded £300.

Derelict Alton Burn Hotel still causing concern for Suburban CC

On Wednesday night Dick Youngson stated that at his organisation’s last meeting they had expressed to the police their concerns over children entering the derelict building. He said that the day after that meeting plywood was put on some of the windows. He said:

”But really it made no difference because the back of the hotel was completely wide open and people could still get and they really didn’t, as we suggested, seal off the hotel with the barriers which are there, they are lying there in stacks.
Dick continued, “It’s still a big problem for the community and the police, the police are virtually down there every night.” He went on to say that children were being attracted from other parts of the town to the building.
The Chair then added that the developer had apparently reached agreement with Highland Council over access to the development and payment for the construction of a bell-mouthed junction on Sandown Farm Lane off the A96.

Colin cogitates on the lack of local Democracy

Colin gave a report to the Subbies on Wednesday night on a few items concerning his work as a Higland Councillor. He gave a short briefing on the new Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey area committee. He said that he thought it didn’t go far enough  and expanded on his personal thoughts about the lack of democracy in Scotland:

“Looking at what the Scottish Government’s response to the Island authorities will be in terms of providing them with additional powers and seeing how far this principle of subsidiarity actually does go. I’ve said it from the outset, being part of Highland, you’re part of a sub-national form of government. There’s a new book out called ‘Blossom’ by Lesley Riddoch, there’s a big chapter in there about how we are the least democratic country, basically, in Western Europe in terms of Councils with roles, and with roles that fit natural communities. Those of you that do write to ministers – I think write commending some of these steps as the right ones and I’m not hopeful that they are a year away or 3 years away of 5 years but there is that kind of frustration. Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey, it’s an artificial geography but a geography that fits in terms of five area committees of the Highland Council. It’s about as thin as the resources will allow us to go at the current time."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Good news for Nairn Leisure Centre

The proposed extension to the gym goes through even though the projected costs came in 110K over the budget of £200,000.

“Seismic” events began with a question asked from Leopold Street

“Seismic” was a word used by Colin last night in Nairn Academy in connection with the South Nairn events of last Wednesday the 18th of September. Gurnites will be aware that prior to the notice of amendment that he put to the PED committee Nairn South had gone through without a vote although with some conditions added including a pause and review after 100 houses. That was to be overturned dramatically though after protestors took to the streets last week.

The editorial of this week’s Nairnshire Telegraph states: “It was an inquiry by this newspaper in the wake of the South Planning Committee, made to the vice chair of the committee regarding the ignoring of local community council objections, which kicked off the process leading to last week’s site meeting. However we do not take much pleasure in seeing the council and its planning department getting such a drubbing.”

Another erudite editorial in this week's local paper and well worth reading if you haven't had a chance to do so yet.  

Nairn South aftermath – time for a way forward?

As can be imagined Nairn South dominated the Suburban Community Council proceedings last night in Nairn Academy. Dick Youngson seemed to be offering both an olive branch and a way forward to Highland Council. He told the meeting last night:

“We’re really at the stage of waiting and wanting to speak to Steve Barron about how we can actually link in now. We’ve written to Steve Barron to arrange a meeting or to invite him to a meeting with us, the us is the seven community councils, including Croy and all the Nairnshire ones. The Community Council of Ardersier isn’t in existence at the moment but all the other community councils are keen to actually work with us and work with Highland Council. Now obviously there has been quite a problem for Highland Council, they haven’t really listened to us nor incorporated really what we had in the reports and it looks very much as if the planning system has failed them as well. They haven’t put in accurately or they haven’t been able to access the information which is there but that is something which is Highland Council’s problem.

The result last Wednesday is leaving them in a rather embarrassing and difficult position and I suggested in a letter which we sent to Steve Barron that  really if we could get round the table and the principals – we don’t want a big meeting, it’s really a workshop meeting – the principals of all the community councils together with Steve Barron and perhaps the Director of Planning and his key staff. We can at least plan ahead to make sure that this really doesn’t happen again. “

Dick also mentioned that the CCs wanted a meeting with the four Highland Councillors that represent the area, “because if we get our lines of communication secure and sensible it’ll be a great start.”

In a similar theme we have received the following from one of our regular readers:

“The debacle of Sandown should have been a wake-up call to planners, developers and Highland Council. The Nairn South decision could have been different if they had learned the lessons of the past. Sandown failed because developers tried to squeeze too many houses into the space without due regard to infra-structure. Nairn South was a suitable plan that would have been acceptable to the community - but for the lack of suitable infra-structure. Highland Council planners were whistling in the dark when they thought that their traffic measurement and mitigating controls could get this past the PED. A pinch-point is a pinch-point - period. And of course, if planners had not so clearly mismanaged their last presentation, this could by now be a done-deal.

Highland Council starts too late in its attempts to engage. Why can't Highland Council do what some other councils have done and set up a planning forums that look at a town as a whole - housing; jobs; infrastructure; tourism; built environment, etc? They then bring forward enabling plans to develop and enhance these various aspects of town life. Developers then know the type of plans they can bring to the table, aware they have a chance of success. So let's throw away the straight jacket of the HwLDP, yet within its broader objectives, find something that works for Nairn. We need proposals to be brought forward that are suited to Nairn and can be embraced by the community. It has got the better than developments currently being parachuted in simply to enable HC to meet its housing target rather than to meaningfully develop and improve Nairn.

I don't suggest it's easy, but if developers and planners want to progress on this front then they need to be more willing to involve local people in their ideas at an earlier stage. Perhaps unlike many other towns, Nairn residents are determined to influence their own future. Don't ignore us. If you work with us, development then becomes a joint vision and not something dumped on us from above. Currently, we are subject to the dreams of various landowners with spare land eager to do deals with developers. Isn't it about time you worked with us? That way we might both meet with success and good fortune.

And yes, Colin, something seismic has happened, but with your fellow councillors, please don't take too long trying to work out what happened. It should be pretty obvious - it's high time we worked together and had our voices heard. Yet I'm not so sure that anything has changed in the fundamental mind set of HC.

Finally, let's be aware that we now have only 3 voices speaking for Nairn in planning matters. Our ex-Provost has effectively gagged herself from making any comment because she has competing land in the mix. Not a happy position for someone who wants to speak for the town to be in.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

South Nairn decision - Colin: "I think we are into new territory"

At the Suburban Community Council meeting this evening in Nairn Academy earlier this evening (24th September) Highland Councillor Colin MacAulay joined the debate over the recent South Nairn decision. He told the meeting:

“I think we are into new territory. I don’t know what that new territory is or what it means. We are in a place that the Community Councils haven’t been before, that we as individuals haven’t been before, the Council as a whole hasn’t been before and the planning service hasn’t been before.”

Martin Ashford mentioned that there was some good comment in the Nairnshire this week. Colin then continued:
“Linda mentioned the development plan coming out and it is real now we’ll be entering this six week consultation period and I think that’s... the proof of the pudding I think is going to come through that process and out at the other end.”

This observer then suggested: “But unfortunately Colin, that is in the strait jacket of the Highland wide plan isn’t it?”

“But again I just think that...something shifted, seismic,” he replied. “But I don’t know and it is this bit, I guess none of us know. We don’t know what the developer is going to do I think that is one of the challenges.[...] I think all of us would have seen a kind of,  Lochloy, Sandown, Delnies, South Nairn, something like that kind of order but once something is zoned then the developer can begin, if the developer puts in an application you have to hear the application ”

Surgery, hospital etc, phones now working OK

One of our regular readers informs us that there have been regular intermittent faults with the phones at the Surgery and in that general area since Saturday. A call to the Health Care Group number this evening got through ok though and they say as far as they can tell the system is now back to normal. 

Careers night at Nairn Academy - October 1st - event organised by Parent Council

A new initiative in the form of a Careers Fair is to be held at Nairn Academy on October 1st.

The evening is intended to be like a Mini Trade Exhibition for pupils of S3 upwards and their parents to browse through various stalls representing businesses and professions from the local area.  The event is hoped to broaden the pupils perception of careers/jobs/training available to them in their future choices. 

There are approximately 35/40 businesses and individuals booked to attend the event, some with literature, some with presentations but all present to talk to pupils and parents about different career paths.   Businesses such as Lifescan, Norbord, Technip, Moray Coast Vets, Ashers, Gordons Timber and Johnston and Carmichael to name but a few will be present. 

The Army, Navy, RAF will be represented along with the Police and Ambulance Service.  Various aspects of health care, child care and hospitality will also be represented along with educational institutions such as Inverness and Moray College. Individual professionals such as a GP, engineer, solicitor as well as tradesmen such as a joiner, mechanic and plumber to name just a few.

 The event will be held from 18.30 - 20.30
on Tuesday October 1st
at the Academy.
Contact Nairn Academy on 01667 453700

A vision for Nairn - interview with Alastair Noble

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Nairn's our town!" - Video

Click read more tab to see video

Local Member's Vote - Michael Green: " It worked in our favour and I think it strengthened local democracy. "

At last Wednesday Combined Community Council meeting Graham Vine asked the Chair, Dick Youngson:

“Could I ask perhaps the Highland Councillors to explain, there was something in the Nairnshire about the Highland Council trying to take away the local members vote. I’d like to really understand what was being said.”

Michael Green responded, “On planning matters we are quite unique in the Highlands and that seems to be something that is not desired We have a local members vote whereby ward councillors on a matter that affects them can come along and vote, as did Colin me and Laurie who are not on PED. It worked in our favour and I think it strengthened local democracy. There was a vote at the Council last week and it was decided on balance to take away the local member vote. I voted against that I thought it was vital we retained it but that’s gone. Fortunately it’s not taken away until the end of September so we got one last hurrah.’

A member of the public then asked for an explanation as to why it was taken away. Laurie Fraser then intervened:
“The reason was that officials backed by councillors felt that where you have a local member vote people could misunderstand and would falsely believe that you had predecided the issue before you went into the chamber. I can’t understand the logic, it went to a vote down political lines and we lost.”

Liz then said: “Well it came before the Council at the previous meeting and the Independents asked for a substitute member vote instead, so the paper was redrafted with that in mind and it came back and the Independents changed their minds and wanted to retain the local member vote.

Laurie than interrupted to say they wanted to retain the local member vote from the start.

Liz continued, “I think we are the only council in Scotland that had the local member vote and I think the legal advice was that it would have been, it was, inappropriate and they were saying that we could, there was be a perception that we could be, then already prejudged the application. Because as you go into a planning application you’re supposed to read the reports and do it on the day.”

Graham who asked the question then commented again, “So it seems the Highland Council has got fed up with local Nairn Councillors telling them to get back into their box and with SNP political support has taken away that right.

Laurie then added: “Well it was the LibDems as well, don’t forget, and the Labour.”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nairn County U-15 Youth Cup Glory - U-17 runners up in final

Cup action today as the Under 15s triumphed in the B Division Street League cup final winning 6-1 over Balloan Athletic. The U-17s just missed out in their  Inverness Youth League Division A final yesterday but bounced back today to win 4-2 over Wick. So far this the season they are unbeaten in the league. Pictures below from club photographer Donald Matheson

Nairn County U-17s Larger image here

Nairn County U-15s Larger image here

Unusual colours on the West Beach - picture Murray MacRae

A striking contrast  on the West Beach captured by Murray MacRae. 

Liz anticipated a difficult time

We published comments Liz made earlier this week about the brevity of a forthcoming planning consultation. She made those comments at the combined CC meeting on Wednesday night - that article is here "Liz disappointed Inner Moray Firth Plan wasn't challenged". Over the weekend the Gurn had the opportunity to ask Liz what she though of the APT Sec's suggestion that the previous HwLDP (Highland wide Local Development Plan) will constrain much of what might come from the community in the next round of consultation. It can seem a bit complicated Gurnites but this previous Gurn article is an attempt to explain a bit of what's going on just now. 

Liz not only gave us her thoughts on that she went on to talk a bit more generally about her present situation in being barred from the planning meeting that discussed South Nairn and public perceptions of her own land submission under the "Call for sites" procedure:

"During the process of the HwLDP and prior to my land being put forward in the call for sites I took an active part challenging Tornagrain and Nairn South along with Roddy Balfour and I was assured these are long term proposals, but due to economic climate, developer pressure and Sandown being removed for sale Nairn South has come forward without the infrastructure in place we were assured would be necessary for the development.

The APT Sec is right that the  HwLDP enshrines future policy for the IMFLDP. In my view the  HwLDP was pushed through by an Independent led council against the wishes of many of us.

I knew it would be a difficult position to put myself in and that particularly over the year leading up to the independence referendum things may get nasty for me. A lot of folk don't like my politics, never mind me personally so I am anticipating a very difficult time.

I have to follow the Councillors Code of Conduct and withdraw from major palnning applications in Nairn. Some councillors never participate in planning applications, but the climate in Nairn presently is very focused on planning matters and I don't think I compromised myself highlighting the basic sections of the report to IMFLDP. I was very surprised that it wasn't challenged at all, I had assumed it would have been.

There is a lot more to being a councillor than sitting on planning committee, and I shall continue to work hard for and represent my area to the best of my ability and be open and transpartent in all I do.

I am very glad the vote was won for Nairn on Wednesday."

County's turning point in Inverurie yesterday ? Kenny Macleod was there and here's his images from the game

Inverurie 2 Nairn 5. Next week County are at home to Strathspey Thistle who beat Clach in the league yesterday. Starthspey have a Nairn element in their side too so it promises to be a an entertaining encounter up at Station Park next week as County look ahead to their North Cup final with Brora next month.
Click read more tab to see images

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What on earth is the IMFLDP and why is it worth paying serious attention to it?

Gurnmeister opinion

Planning is a complicated subject, it is clouded in the language of officialdom and reports that are capable of giving the average citizen a headache after two or three paragraphs. It can seem impenetrable but it affects our lives and at many times in recent years it has upset large sections of the local community. It finally led to people taking to the streets earlier this week to express their outrage at how they felt they had been badly treated by the system.

We are about to be consulted on planning again over a six week period this time on the IMFLDP – The Inner Moray Firth Development Plan. This observer will now try and talk about this a little but it is very complicated. Gurnites will know that there is a strong school of thought in Nairnshire that you get consulted and then you get what officialdom wants. The outcome of consultation over the  HwLDP appeared to be like that to many – confusing isn’t it – that’s the Highland wide Development Plan. The application at South Nairn was in the  HwLDP and thus enshrined and hard to dislodge. This video interview with Alastair Noble might help a little to enlighten readers a little to the background of the  HwLDP. It really seems that the system is so complicated that you almost have to do a course to bring yourself up to speed to even begin to seriously consider it and how we arrived where we are today with the situation we have in Nairn. Obviously in the longer term there must be serious questions here for politicians in the landscape of whatever Scotland that comes after the referendum next year. Do we really have to go on like this with such a system? Here’s what our correspondent APT Sec says:

"I am really concerned that Highland have now made planning so complicated that the ordinary person simply turns off.  And, it seems to me, there should not be a situation where the Government and Planning Authorities provide only basic knowledge of the planning system but the reality is that you need far more than that to even attempt to make your voice heard effectively."

Now the HwLDP is already done and dusted and we now have more local consultation under this IMFLDP. But how will what has gone through on the big boy HwLDP affect the consultation of the IMFLDP? The APT Sec is pretty good at going through all this stuff and she is slightly concerned and has spotted something in the report that went before the Council on Weds for the item on the consultation (that was the same meeting where the South Nairn application was turned down). Here is the extract she highlights and I warn you we are going into planning speak now:

‘…4.3 The HwLDP includes some development sites (and corresponding text) that lie within the Inner Moray Firth (IMF) area. These sites have been tested through an independent Examination and so the principle of development has been accepted. The vast majority of these sites have been “rolled forward” into the Proposed Plan with little or no change. It is therefore intended that any Proposed Plan content that was previously approved through the HwLDP should not be reexamined through the IMFLDP process. At the Examination stage of the plan we will ask Reporters to acknowledge that the principle of development of these sites has already been accepted, and that only the Plan content that was not previously approved through the HwLDP should be subject to Examination through the IMFLDP process. Minor changes such as the mix of uses or phasing would be open to comment. Some of the same sites now have an extant planning permission, for example at Delnies, Tornagrain and Stratton. It is intended to take a similar approach to these sites.”

APTSec goes on to ask herself and the Gurn: “Have the Councillors of the PEDC now effectively agreed to close off any further discussion on what is set out on page 51-58 inclusive of the  HwLDP as far as Nairn is concerned with the exception of ‘minor changes’?”
Another acronym there “PEDC” (Planning, Environment and Development Committee). Our correspondent then asks: “Clarification is needed surely?  People are surely entitled to an explanation as to what the implications of this would mean?  How would their consultation comments be regarded; would some be disregarded?  Will this be fully explained upfront?”

This observer wonders too how it will all work. Will we get a map showing us the sacrosanct parts of the Big Boy HwLDP where comment is perhaps of no use and the areas where our input can still be of some value.  How does the community express what it considers acceptable when it comes to how Nairn develops? Are too many avenues of debate now sealed up with No Entry signs by the Big Boy  HwLDP?

You can see debate on this matter from earlier this week at the Highland Council on this webcast on the Highland Council site at 2 hours 36 minutes. 
How will the consultation work? Here’s a couple of paragraphs from the Council’s own report (Liz pointed the Gurn in the direction of these two paragraphs, she is concerned about the six week time frame and thinks it should be longer). See other comment from Liz in this Gurn article. 

“5.1 The Proposed Plan approved by Committee will represent the settled view of the Council for guiding future development in the Inner Moray Firth area. However, the Proposed Plan will be subject to full public consultation. The Proposed Plan has been designed as an interactive document which is easy to navigate and make comments on. An online comments form has been designed to make it easy for users to submit their comments to the Council and to help streamline the consultation process. An updated Environmental Report will be subject to consultation alongside the Proposed Plan.

5.2 Previous stages in the preparation of the Plan have included extensive public consultation and publicity. The Proposed Plan consultation is proposed to last for 6 weeks. It is an important stage as it is likely to be the last opportunity for people to make comments that can be considered in the subsequent Examination process. During the consultation officers will attend Ward Forums to inform the public of the opportunity to comment and to explain the next stages in the plan process. Social media, press adverts and a radio campaign will help to raise awareness of the consultation. The Council is also required to write to every property within a 20 metre distance of the boundary of any site allocated in the Proposed Plan to inform them that the Council proposes to allocate the site for development. These letters will be accompanied by a map of the relevant area or settlement with details of how they can make comments on the proposed plan.”

Did you get this far? Well done! So there it is Gurnites, worth bearing in mind and no doubt the usual suspects will be debating this at their meetings over the next few weeks.

Inverurie 2 Nairn 5 - Pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson

Individual pictures here. Full screen slide show here.

Joy from the east - hat trick for Conor Gethins Locos 2 County 5

The low from Linlithgow has lifted!

Regenerating Nairn town centre - can we get a few tips from Malcolm Fraser's report to the Scottish Government

One of our regular readers has pointed us in the direction of in independent study commissioned by the Scottish Government to look into the future and potential of Scotland's Town Centres. The Report led by architect Malcolm Fraser is now available on line. Our correspondent particularly feels that pages 11 about the importance of events/activity/culture, 12 about the location of public services, and  14 about the unwisdom of promoting edge-of-town developments while allowing town centres to decline are worthy of a read if you are short of time. You can find the doucment here.

There are many in Nairn that want to see things done differently and better, escaping what they consider to be the straight jacket of the present modus operandi of the Inverness based Highland Council. Can the Glenurquhart Road high heid yins approach change radically and give our community a freer hand to make its own decisions? The report states:

"It is central to our work that we create a fertile environment around communities which hands them tools to improve their own town centres, and shows them opportunities to find their own diverse ways forward."

The report is worth a cup of tea and a browse if you have the time, it isn't too long and is refreshing in that it is remarkably free of too much bureaucratic language.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Keeping Nairnshire Colourful - Spring Display Competition

Former DE shop windows boarded up - not a good image for the High Street ?

This morning one of the windows of the former DE store was found to be broken and the pavement was cordoned off around the dangerous shards of glass hanging from the window - see image below from Iain. 
Later in the day all the windows in the property were boarded up. One local shopkeeper told the Gurn that the boarded up windows were not very good for the appearance of the High Street. 
It is obviously a reaction of the property owner or those in charge of maintenance of the empty shop and they  must feel it is in their interest to board up the windows to prevent further damage. However this observer has to agree with the assessment that the boards do not have a positive effect on the commercial heart of the town. 

John Gordon and Son sawmill thank emergency services

Earlier today the Nairn sawmill company John Gordon and Son released the following statement: 

"John Gordon and Son can confirm that no one was injured as a result of yesterday’s fire which was limited to its Round Fencing process. The vast majority of the Company’s Sawmilling operations were unaffected and are open for business as usual. The Company would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the Emergency Services, especially the local Firefighters for their quick response in bringing the fire under control. "

Liz disappointed Inner Moray Firth Plan wasn't challenged

At Wednesday night’s meeting of the usual suspects (aka Combined Community Councils) Liz explained why she couldn’t speak at the planning meeting that considered the Nairn South application. She told community councillors and around 60 members of the public:

”I would just like to mention a point on why I was on why I wasn’t speaking today. At the very start of the meeting I was up seeing the legal advice of the Chair and the Director of Planning and I was advised very strongly not to take part in the application because I’ve got competing land in the Inner Moray Firth Development Plan.

If I had taken part of anything like that it would have made…because it will go to appeal now. The applicant will appeal it. So this is not the end and that is the first step though, and how they structure that appeal will up to how the applicant decides to go to written submissions or to an inquiry or to the reporter so we have to wait and see what way they come forward to process their appeal. And when you mentioned the Inner Moray Firth Plan that was also on the agenda today and as well as that I wasn’t able to be present at that one because I have a financial interest in that because I’ve got land in the Inner Moray Firth Plan.

But however, I was really disappointed that wasn’t challenged at all. We’d just overturned that decision for the Nairn South and I think, it’s out for consultation for six weeks so I think communities must also input into the Inner Moray Firth Plan about how they feel about things and highlight the changes that happened today and try and get them enshrined in the plan..”

Planning victory front page shock waves reverberate from Nairn

This article back to the top - interesting comments coming in

The successful stand made by the people of Nairn on Wednesday  (18/09/23) takes up the front page of the Press and Journal and the entirety of  the paper’s page 5 too. The ramifications of an event that Michael Green has labelled a “pivotal moment”and a “culture change” may spread well beyond Nairn. Last night  there were calls for the Royal Burgh’s Community Councillors (the usual suspects in common parlance) to link up with 
community councils in other parts of the Highlands that have, up to know, suffered a fate similar to Nairn when it comes to planning and other issues of local democracy. The usual suspects and the 60 or so members of the public gathered in the Community and Arts Centre last night were sympathetic to such a move but stated that there were practical difficulties over manpower etc if such a route were taken.

Mention was made of the work done by the Association for Planning Transparency that has made links locally with many community councils, as a potential avenue of further networking.

Whether Nairn CCs actively set up such a network or not there will be those around the Highlands that look to the example yesterday of a victory (for now) against formidable odds and consider their own situation. In the meantime though, the usual suspects have stressed that their priority will be to deal with any reaction from all the players involved in the refused application and other major projects that may come forward soon. West CC’s Brian Stewart stressed that there is a lot of work to be done yet.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gordons Sawmill fire - more pictures from Balblair Road Nairn earlier this evening

Individual images here.

Fire at Gordons sawmill

Earlier this evening a fire broke out in the bark stripping area at Gordons sawmill on Balblair Road. By around 7.30 p.m six fire service vehicles were in attendance. The flames were coming under control by that time too but the Gurn understands that the fire fighters were considering using another appliance to take water across the fields from the Cawdor Road. Balblair Road was closed off at both ends by police and council employees. More images soon. 

UPDATE: thanks to James Main for the pictures below that give the perspective of the fire from the Cawdor Road. More Gurn pictures soon.

Nairn Teenager takes her play to Eden Court

Thanks to the regular reader who pointed us in the direction of an article in the Forres Gazette this week. An article states: "S4 pupil, Caitlin Sherret, is starring in a play she co-wrote. The 'Wavemaker' is being performed in the One Touch Theatre at Eden Court in Invernes." 
More about Caitlin and her play in this week's Forres Gazette.

Sharing the pain - more pictures of Linglithgow 2 Nairn 0

Click read more tab to see the images

Royal Scottish Country Dance Society - Classes in Nairn

Details on this web page. 

What the Councillors said at the South Nairn planning meeting yesterday (Wednesday 18th September)

You can see the webcast recording now on the Council's site here. Michael Green speaks first at 01.14.19 into the video and then others speak up until the moment of decision. There are also a considerable amount of technical questions before Michael speaks from members addressed to the officials. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Michael Green on South Nairn: " This is a culture change. I think this is a pivotal moment for Highland Council"

Michael Green pictured yesterday at the site visit/demonstration on Cawdor Road

Earlier yesterday (Weds 18th) Michael Green made a speech that caught the mood of the Council Chamber in Glenurquhart Road, he set the tone for the eventual result. Coupled with Michael’s explicit reasoning explaining what had made so many Nairn residents take to the streets, the members had to consider too the people power manifestation they had experienced on the streets of Nairn. They took a decision that was a victory for the town’s three community councils and the hinterland rural CCs that supported them too. We hope to publish extracts of Michael’s speech later or at least link to the point in the webcast where he spoke if it goes up tomorrow. There were other councillors that spoke effectively for Nairn too, including an impassioned Laurie and the Inverness Councillor Richard Laird. Others too, more on that tomorrow if time permits. 

Yesterday evening there was a meeting of all the towns 3 CCs in the Community Centre. Around 60 members of the public were present, the mood was initially celebratory but the usual suspects were not resting on their laurels after today’s positive result, they were discussing the next steps in their campaign to see planning democracy returned to Nairn once and for all. The Chair of the meeting, Dick Youngson, asked Michael if he wished to say anything and  once again Councillor Green caught the public mood, he praised the Community Councils for their campaign and their effective lobbying and said:

“Highland Council, I make the point, I hope they learn a lesson from this because this is not just a one off. This is communities representing their views and making it known and if they are ignored then Highland Council reap the whirlwind at your peril. Because that’s what’s going to happen, this is a culture change. I think this is a pivotal moment for Highland Council. They have to realise that local democracy actually means something. It’s not something we put on leaflets, it’s not something we just articulate when it suits us – it’s action today is what  it’s got to be all about."

South Nairn protest - more pictures

See articles below too for images from Murray MacRae and a link to pictures on the Visit Nairn Facebook pages. Below are 311 images from a Gurn photographer. Individual images here and a full screen slide show here. 

South Nairn protest images on Visit Nairn facebook page

Those gurnites with a facebook account should be able to see the images posted on the Visit Nairn pages.

"jist glad after the meeting through in Sneckie that thae saw some common sense"

From one of our regular readers:

"Ach dinnae worry Anonymous there is some awfae fine folkies in The Toon who have a mooths that can dae the talkin, I felt fair chuffed ye ken when I took masel doon tae the railway station this fine mornin & saw ah the folkies githerd roond aboot we there placards & banners,thank gudness I pit something in ma belly before I came oot, as ah the cooncilors turned up late in there big white bus, I dinna think they kent fit tae expect as they came oh the sharabang led be a wee manie wee a beard who moothed oot intstructions to ah the cooncilors, & wiznae chuffed when sumbuddy fae the protesters aked him fits his name wiz help ma boab he wiz fair scunnered & threatened tae pit aebuddy back on thae bus,I wiz prood oh the wifie who asked the question,well done quine, jist glad after the meeting through in Sneckie that thae saw some common sense, the fields are ment for coos nae hooses, Ah the best good folkies."

Murray MacRae's pictures of South Nairn demonstration

Full screen slideshow here. Individual images here.

More images in another article later today.

Demonstration Picture from earlier today as posted on twitter by Stephen

Scroll down for other articles published today gurnites. It is quite a busy day and there's still the meeting of the three community councils tonight yet too.

Other Media coverage on South Nairn Result

Nairn protestors gather as councillors look at development plans again (Courier)
Nairn Development gets turned down. (Courier)
Nairn's Cawdor Road housing project rejected (BBC)

Official Council Press Release - Councillors vote against Nairn housing development (18/09/13)

Following a morning site visit, members at today’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee have refused planning permission for Scotia Homes Ltd, Barratt North East Scotland and Robertson Home to build 232 houses and 87 flats on land at Cawdor Road in Nairn.

The application was reconsidered today by the Committee after a Notice of Amendment was received following the meeting of The Highland Council’s South Planning Applications Committee on 20 August 2013. At this meeting the South PAC granted planning permission but the Notice of Amendment was submitted after comments in the committee report made by Nairn Suburban Community Council were incorrectly ascribed to Nairn River Community Council.

The decision made today went to vote with 8 members voting for the motion to grant planning permission subject to a number of conditions and 13 members voting for refusal based on the following amendment - “That the roads infrastructure will not support the development. The Cawdor Road Railway Bridge Underpass will not accommodate the additional traffic created by the development and Balblair Road is still single track in places.”

South Nairn Planning application turned down by Planning Comittee in Inverness

Victory for Nairn's Community Councils, who early today organised a very effective demonstration  on the Station Brae and later up at Gordons Sawmill, as the Planning Environment and Development Committee voted against their officials' advice and turned down the controversial housing scheme of 320 homes.

The decision may go to appeal but it will be celebration time rather than a wake at the Combined Community Councils meeting in the Community and Arts Centre at 7.30 p.m. tonight.

More details and images too to follow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wednesday 18th of September a busy day - Demonstration and Decision day for the Nairn South application - then a meeting in the evening

The Community Councils are calling for all those taking part in the protest to assemble at the Railway Station around 08.30  tomorrow morning for the site visit of the Councillors who will make the decision on South Nairn. After the demonstration some campaigners plan to go through to Inverness for the decision and debate which will take place around 11.00 at Glenurquhart Road. 

In the evening there will be a meeting of the town's three community councils in the Nairn Community & Arts centre at 7.30 p.m. Top of the Agenda will be the Nairn South Planning proposal. Other items for discussion are Lochloy Planning and Development, traffic congestion on the A96 and Nairn streets, a vision for local democracy in Scotland 2013, the new area committee, Local member votes and the Nairn Common Good fund. 

Gurnites that haven't had a chance to obtain a copy of a Nairnshire yet will find much material related to the subjects above. Headlines in this week's edition of the Leopold Street Thunderer include:

"Fury over Assest Transfer" - Dick wants the Scottish Government to intervene after a Highland Council decision on the Common Good
"Blow to local Influence" - the local member vote has gone and there are claims of "hypocrisy".
"Nairn Councillor silenced on major planning issues" - Liz can't speak at the South Nairn meeting tomorrow because she could potentially be a developer up at Lochloy herself. 
"They've got the T-shirt and are ready for a fight" - an article on tomorrow's demonstration
"The Provost" - an editorial where Liz's departure comes in for a bit of scrutiny and the importance of the position of Provost to Nairn is stated. There is also a suggestion that the role of Political Area Leader held by Liz now is "meaningless" unless...  More in this week's Nairnshire Telegraph gurnites - happy reading. 

Subbies claim South Nairn should be turned down on inadequate road and pavement widths alone?

Suburban Community Council's Dick Youngson wrote to the Director of Planning, Stuart Black recently quoting a recent planning decision where a housing scheme was turned down because the access roadway to the site did not meet the National standards for safety. 

Dick's letter goes on to state those standards and also the results of the subbies going out with their measuring tapes on the pavements and roads that lead to the South Nairn site. Gurnites will be aware of how already the dangers of the present road and pavement infrastructure and the levels of use have been cited by campaigners as grounds for turning the South Nairn application down. 

A copy of Dick's  letter here, which, once again, will be essential reading material for the many gurnites that have been following this issue closely in recent weeks. 

Christmas comes early for the caravan services mannie

And he seems slightly unnerved by it all. More here. 

Work at the entrance to the Harbour

A JCB busy down by, Bratach has published an image on Flickr here.

Whilst on the subject,  an interesting picture from 1963 of "football on Nairn beach" published on twitter here. 

South Nairn – Highland Council Chief Executive had Legal Department interview planning officers over Community Councils’ complaint.

The Gurn has obtained a copy of a letter from Steve Barron, the Chief Executive of Highland Council in reply to Tommy Hogg in relation to the complaint made about mistakes at the previous planning meeting where the Nairn South development was passed. 

Gurnites will know that due to those errors the controversial planning application has to be discussed again tomorrow in Inverness after a site visit by Councillors to Nairn tomorrow morning at 08.30 a.m. when the Highland Councillors will be met by a demonstration led by the Community Councils. A copy of the letter can be seen here. It will be essential reading to the many serious students of these matters.

South Nairn Campaigners say "No to Stuart Black's spot" - picture

The South Nairn Demonstration begins at 08.30 tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at the Railway Station but it looks like local activists have been busy already. The Gurn received the image displayed in this article this morning. "No to Stuart Black's Spot" is a play on the name of the Highland Council Director of Planning, Stuart Black.

The image is taken at the Cawdor Road railway bridge, a pinch point that the campaigners state would not cope with the scale of traffic from the housing developments proposed for the South Nairn sites.

Alexander Brodie Gate case costs mounting and more to come

Donna MacAllistair reports in the Courier today that costs in the legal case over access between Alexander Brodie and the Highland Council have cost the taxpayer over £4,000 up to now and the case has not started yet. 
The cost was wrongly charged to the Nairn Common Good Fund according to the paper. There is a statement from Liz who the Courier now describe as "Nairn's political leader, SNP Liz MacDonald".

Monday, September 16, 2013

Housing and jobs locally - thoughts from Alastair Noble - video

Yes it's Provost Laurie Fraser again!

Back with the municipal bling around the neck is Laurie Fraser. The unscientific Gurn fun poll was correct - Laurie was chosen by his fellow Nairn councillors this morning to once again be the civic head of the community.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Week ahead - A new Provost and a new housing scheme?

Tomorrow morning we will know who the new Provost will be as the four Highland Councillors meet in the Courthouse to pick a new civic leader for the town. Liz is giving the job up because she doesn't want it to be political. She also has a new job as the "political leader" of the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey area. 

Wednesday starts with a demonstration against the South Nairn development that will meet at the Railway Station at 08.30 a.m. and then go up to the site to wait for the bus load of councillors that will come from Inverness. Then quite a few folk plan a further demo as the item gets discussed through in Glenurquhart Road from 11.00 a.m. onwards. A job for our new Provost then to speak out for the people of Nairn on Wednesday or would that be a "political" act? No doubt our local members will have something to say but  one Councillor who won't contributing to the debate will be Liz due to legal advice.

Following the demo and the meeting in Inverness, there will be either a wake or a party in the form of a Combined Community Council meeting of the town's three watchdog organisations at 07.30 in the evening. It will be quite a day. For more information about the South Nairn issue and articles that give more details on Liz's situation etc, have a browse on this page.  The former Provost's difficulty with the South Nairn issue is also outlined in this Courier article here

Sutors Developments - Lochloy grass cutting - an issue that won't go away

Considerable time was spent at last week's River Community Council meeting discussing those areas of the Sutors - Lochloy housing schemes where there are grass cutting issues. Highland Council official Andrew McCracken was present. He had recently been looking at the areas in question and he had some information for the meeting. It seems developers prefer to put in place private maintenance arrangements since councils now charge a lot of money - up to forty times the annual maintenance costs to adopt the open spaces in new housing schemes. He also told the meeting that the council has no right to insist on a particular maintenance arrangement. He said:

"The Councils have no grounds on which to refuse that. It's a very fair criticism to say that we didn't go over the arrangements for Sutors Park with a fine enough toothcomb and spot the flaws in it and the lack of organisation to enforce the requirement, but the fact is that legally that open space is the joint property of the householders in Sutors Park and, whatever people have done to their title deeds since, in the original title deeds there was meant to be a requirement that they all contribute to its maintenance.

Simon Noble of River CC outlined the results of a survey his organisation had done in the area, copy available here. That document will probably help explain the problem a little to readers. The situation remains horribly complicated and River CC again heard from residents in the area about the problems they face over this issue. River CC members seemed to be moving towards helping facilitate a meeting for the residents.

Linlithgow 2 Nairn 0 - Kenny Macleod's images of the Scottish Cup tie

Sewage bridge walkway to be repaired soon?

Gurnites who use the sewage bridge on a regular basis will notice the holes appearing on the walkway across the bridge. Fred Holmes told the River CC meeting on Wednesday night that he'd reported to the service point that both ends of the footway were rotting away.

Tommy reported that Scottish Water owned the bridge and and they had recently looked at it and the matter was being attended too. He said, "the decking's rottted at both ends, the felt's gone so they're going to renew it."

New cemetery - Council trying to negotiate the price with the land owner

Fred Holmes of the River CC asked Liz last Wednesday if there had been any progress on the proposed new cemetery on Granny Barbour's Road. She replied:

"There have been several test holes done there and as far as I'm aware they've all passed and they're trying to negotiate the price with the land owner just now."

Fire Brigade at Nairn Laundry premises on High Street

Two fire engines attended an incident at the Nairn Laundry premises on the High Street this evening. The brigade were at the scene for almost an hour and left just before 7 p.m.

The race to find a new Provost for Nairn - picture of the candidates in action

Opps! Sorry, got the wrong picture. It is, of course, an image of the 2nd wave of Coast to Coasters leaving Nairn at 08.00 a.m. yesterday morning. Here's a set of pictures on the Gurn flickr pages that show the scenes in Nairn early yesterday morning. 

A serious point however, it was suggested to the Gurn by one of the usual suspects that the choice of Provost should be turned over to Nairnshire's community Councillors - the choice would then come from about 40 unpaid citizens who give up their time to serve on the County's Community Councils. Would that be a better way of resolving the issue?

Anyway, under the current system, who will be proudly wearing the civic bling next year to do the honours and start the race? Yesterday was Liz's swansong as Provost as she started the 06.30 and 08.00 races. There is an unscientific poll in the Gurn sidebar that may or may not give an indication of who might be chosen as the next Provost tomorrow morning.