Thursday, September 12, 2013

River CC: "It is a matter of grave concern that our views alongside those of the other community councils, between us representing almost 9,500 people in Nairn alone, were misrepresented."

This morning we published a link to an online copy of a letter from the Westies (Nairn West Community Council) to those Highland Councillors who, next Wednesday, will make a very important decision that could have profound negative consequences for Nairn's future. You can see a copy of that letter here. The Gurn also has a copy now of a similar letter from the Subbies (Nairn Suburban CC), you can see a copy of that one  here. Both letters are essential reading for the many, many serious students of South Nairn controversy matters.
Also, below is the text of an e-mail sent by River Community Council to all those members of Highland Council that will have such a big say in our affairs next week:

Dear PED Members,

Nairn River Community Council promptly expressed the concerns of constituents regarding the development of Nairn South during consultations on the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan. We have consistently represented these views to our local elected representatives and to Highland Council officers ever since, in writing and in both public and private meetings with individuals at all levels within Highland Council. These views were put unequivocally to Malcolm Macleod, Head of Planning and Building Standards and Brian Mackenzie, Principal Planner,when they attended a joint meeting of Nairn Community Councils on 23rd January this year.

It is a matter of grave concern that our views alongside those of the other community councils, between us representing almost 9,500 people in Nairn alone,were misrepresented.We acknowledge the public apology which has been forthcoming and the commitment to referring the matter to the Planning Environment and Development Committee.

Our observations have encompassed a number of issues. Apart from the question of economic necessity-robust up-to-date evidence of the sense in developing this part of Nairn in the current economic climate has not been set out - our key concerns relate to the density of any proposed development,the crucial need to facilitate the growth of Gordon's Timber (a major employer), the inadequacy of roads and transport directly affected both during development and after and the inadequacy of drainage and services to meet expansion of the kind envisaged.

We recognise the challenges facing the Council in endeavouring to balance the demands of national and regional policy with local need in a challenging economic climate. However,this is no reason to gloss over crucial problems in the interests of pushing forward "grand plans". Development at Nairn South should not be contemplated without first establishing two essential priorities.

1. Infastructure. Given local knowledge we do not believe that the roads, drainage and services infastructure in Nairn South is sufficient to support the development without investment,either by the developer or more likely by the Highland Council.Evidence from the key agencies to refute this view has not been presented,whilst local people can readily cite their experience of the roads,the so called "pinch points" of narrow bridges and single track roads and the impact of heavy traffic during other events, including the period of construction of the new Hospital and Health Centre complex.

2. Planning Enforcement. At the joint community councils meeting in January referred to above,we drew attention to the inadequacies of granting developers conditional planning permission. We made the point that placing obligations on developers to complete infastructure and green-space work at some future point as a condition of granting permission was only effective if monitored and enforced adequately.

At Lochloy,original plans were granted on the basis that a bridge and school or other community facility be provided. Over more than 10 years the development has reached its 6th and possibly penultimate phase and the prospect of the bridge appears permanently lost and no agreement is yet in place regarding the green space or community facility. At the meeting,Messrs Macleod and Mackenzie appeared to take serious note of our request that future monitoring and planning needed to be dramatically more robust if the same thing was not to happen at Nairn South and ideally that this should involve local representatives,rather than rely on hard-pressed council officers based out of the area.

Our fundamental concern is that the community of Nairn is unlikely to benefit even in the medium term from development at Nairn South unless Highland Council takes responsibility to invest in adequate infastructure improvements, in roads, drainage and services and unless it makes dramatic improvements to its performance in monitoring and enforcing its development decisions. We recognise the challenges this represents and so are prepared to play our part in return by contributing to the process of monitoring and enforcement,sshould this be the best way of achieving this.

Tommy Hogg

Nairn River Community Council


Ian F said...

So the CC together represent 9500 people? That's a hellava assumption. They certainly do not represent my views and I don't like them presuming that they do.

Anonymous said...

@Ian F

The potential is there for Nairn CC's to represent you Ian; up to you to decide if you let them know how you feel or not

I take it from your comment in relation to the article that you are 'for' the Nairn South development?

Ian F said...

I have the potential to be an Astronaut but I am not. It doesn't matter if the CCs have `potential` to do anything. In this statement they are claiming to represent the views of 9500 people. They do not.

Boots on the ground said...

They speak for me

Anonymous said...

@Ian F

You’re right (of course). With your declaration that Nairn CCs don’t represent you they can of course only claim to talk for 9,499 people

Good luck with the space flights

Buzz said...

There is always much huffing and puffing of chests when the community councils are involved, rooms full of people who talk a lot but actually do very little but to claim they represent the population of Nairn?
I didnt vote for any of them, I wonder how many of the 9500 people gave them the mandate for such a claim?

Annon45 said...

Well said Ian F
If we take the 2011 result for the Nairn Suburban Community Council results where 35% of the electorate voted for a council and apply that to this alleged 9500 people, then they represent 3325 people. Therefore, 6175 did NOT want them to represent them.

Graisg said...

Morning Buzz, Yes it is possible for Community Councils to be out of sync with public feeling on some issues but in Nairn they come in for a great deal of scrutiny and their affairs are extensively reported. Whenever anything kicks off they are the first port of call for concerned citizens. This observer would suggest that on the South Nairn issue they can rightly claim to speak for the large majority of the town although I would acknowledge that there are some that might be the other way inclined and others still that might not have considered the matter yet.

Graisg said...

Morning Anon, There were elections for West and Suburban and in the River Area there were not enough candidates to precipitate an election so they were elected without a vote - although many of them, including the redoubtable Tommy Hogg and Jeanne Tolmie had been endorsed by the voters in a previous election with considerable majorities.
As I said to Buzz, these organisations are the first port of call for many in Nairn that when something happens that they are unhappy with. Many of those that go along with complaints will not have voted for any of the community councillors as well. As will many that go to Liz and Colin with complaints and will not have voted SNP (maybe ever) in their lives or maybe never went to the ballot box at that election.
The trick for any representitive at any level is to represent all of their consituents properly. Sometimes that is an impossible task and they can only hope to address the concerns of the majority - which is hopefully what Colin, Michael and Laurie will do on Wednesday. Liz can't go for reasons stated in a previous article.

no man (or woman) is an island said...

I thought we lived in a form of democracy whereby when a body or person was voted into power (CC, MSP, MP etc) they represented all the people of that area/constituency?

I could of course be wrong and maybe Ian F has found a way to opt out of elections as a citizen so that whoever's been elected doesn't in fact represent him if he disagrees with policies etc?

Anonymous said...

No, Annon45, it's not a case of "6175 did NOT want them to represent them.", more a case of 6175 couldn't be arsed to vote, or were not interested in what was going on as they think it's got nothing to do with them. As a matter of interest, did any of you lot vote or put yourselves up for election? Have any of you even been to a Community Council meeting?

Couldn't your points not also be made for the local and general elections, how many people vote in those?

Stop muddying the waters and get back to the point in all this, huge decisions are being made which will impact us all in Nairn. If the infrastructure is not in place then we will all be affected with problems concerning roads, sewage, hospitals and schools etc.

Why not have a look at the Alastair Noble tapes on the Gurn, I learnt a hell of a lot from them.

Ian F said...

Boy I didn't know Nairn CCs would be so offended that they don't represent my viewpoint. I'm really quite touched! However last time I looked Nairn Ccs, although I'm sure full of good people, had zilch statutory powers and were at best advisory groups. Some may even say glorified talking shops but I'm not so cruel. This means any election they have whilst entirely democratic holds the same amount of relevance as me being voted Best Haircut of the month in June 1993!

My point being, local democracy is great, local representation is even better, however the Ccs whilst speaking so loudly are empty vessels. If you true my want to change things and be democratically representative of Nairn then stand for the Highland Council and work from within with real statutory powers. Don't stand outside and throw pebbles at the Windows.

Ian F said...

Boy I didnt know the CCs were so bothered about my not sharing their views. Im actually quite moved!

Now then, correct me if Im wrong but,whilst Im sure they are full of good people, CCs have no statutory powers. They are at best advisory bodies. Some might say glorified talking shops but Im not that cruel.

This being the case, whether they are elected or not, whether the UN is studying the results of their elections to make sure they are scruprously fair, whether indeed there is a 100% turnout at every election they ever doesnt matter a jot. I, in winning the vote for Haircut of the Month in June 1993, hold just as much statutory power as a fully elected, fully Community Council....and possibly with a larger mandate!

The point of this whole thing is this. Im with you all the way on local democracy, Im loving your words on local representation. However if you really want to be democratically empowered to represent Nairn stand for the Highland Council and be held responsibile by the electorate. Anything else frankly is the equivelant of a wee boy standing outside throwing pebbles at the windows.

Graisg said...

@ Ian F - two of the same but nice variations - I'll leave them both up.

Anonymous said...

A nice try Ian F, but frankly you will need to throw bricks rather than pebbles through the window if you want change.

Being a Highland Councillor rather than a Community one; two of our current councillors would seem to be gagged by their political party so not much chance of local democracy cutting through there

How are you doing as a space cadet?

Annon12 said...

Annon are you implying that two of our democratically elected Councillors are more interested in party politics than representing the people who voted for them to represent them?

Graisg said...

Lets just chill on this one folks, representing a party and the electorate is obviously a balancing trick for anyone - lets leave it at that shall we. Thanks for all the comments.