Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tommy: “I think it has got to the stage now where we’ve just got to dig our heels in and see what can be made of it.”

Last night was the first meeting of River Community Council after the summer break and events were dominated by the main topic of the night – the controversial South Nairn planning application.

Chair Tommy Hogg told the meeting: “ Things haven’t changed from the responses we put in already but now it just seems nobody is taking any heed of what the community councils are saying, the people’s wishes, so I think it has got to the stage where we’ve just got to dig our heels in and see what can be made of it.
There’s no doubt about it 99% of the townspeople I’ve spoken to personally, and other people telling me, nobody wants it – the application going through. Basically there is no infrastructure in place, the roads are just a disaster as it is. The position of it at the moment is that there’s actually just one way in and one way out. Unless the bypass is up and running it’s just impossible and all your services are just creaking at the seams as it is. To me it just doesn’t make sense, that’s my personal view.”

Tommy then invited comment from the floor of the meeting and the first to speak was his colleague Andrew Purkis who said:
“My worry is that it’s democracy, Highland Council doesn’t seem to be listening to what local people are saying, people who are ratepayers who pay into Highland Council funds. The fact that decisions can be made on large scale developments in Nairn by people who are not connected with Nairn is a little bit worrying”

 Andrew then looked across to Colin and Liz and proceeded by asking them: “Are the planning people at Highland Council taking any notice of you as the local Councillors or are they giving lip service to what you say? We have planners making decisions with councillors not connected to Nairn, the effect we know on the road, we know what it is going to be and the impact on that area. The Highland Council stand to make a lot of money on rates from these developments. Is Nairn just a cash cow? […] I think there’s something wrong in democracy when we come to decisions of such importance that the local community don’t really seem to have a local lot of say in the issue when people come into Nairn and make these decisions.

Provost Liz MacDonald then spoke. (Liz will not be at the meeting in Inverness next week that will discuss the application as she has been given legal advice that she would unduly compromise herself if she took part in the meetings on South Nairn – see Gurn article here). She said:

“I think one of the reasons it is coming back is so that community councils’ views can be considered. They were missed out at the initial stages of the last planning application so that is why it is coming back – so the local views are involved. I think one of the things that is a problem is that it is enshrined in the Highland Wide Local Development plan and when that was going through, for example, I know the letter that came in from Suburban Community Council, they had observations but they didn’t object in principle to that and the planning application is for a similar amount of houses and the same size of footprint. There’s very little difference between what is in the Highland Wide Plan and what the applicants are applying for. So to find planning grounds for refusal … I’ve asked the planning officer and he says there’s really…to get planning grounds to refuse that application would be very difficult to defend as the policy is in the Highland Wide plan”

Andrew Purkis then made an intervention: “We know this plan will happen but there is not the infrastructure for it. There is no road system for it. The impact of that first development and the future developments on that area or the road and the bridge is going to be an absolute mess.”

 Further debate followed which we hope to put in another article if time permits.


Anonymous said...

No need to take anything to planning officials in Inverness, their local representatives in the shape of Liz and Colin are right here, apparently fully supporting Highland Council and not Nairnites interests

Nairnac said...

Is it not possible to re-open the road between Balblair Road and Tradespark Road as an alternative access to this development ?

Anonymous said...

Not sure as to what political hill Liz and Colin are both climbing, but it sure doesn't feel as though it has Nairn's real interests at heart.

We're stuck up a creek with an SNP paddle if you ask me, and I can't see anyway out for Nairn

We need a change said...

It’s not a by-pass in the form of a piece of tarmac that Nairn desperately needs right now, but a way to circumnavigate the stranglehold that the ruling council in Inverness has decided to apply to us, flattening all that remains of local democracy in it’s path

I cannot remember a time when Nairn has been so poorly served by the council administration in Inverness who seems hell bent on enforcing unwanted development upon the town.

Locally we have two councillors who enjoyed the majority of our vote at the last elections (including mine), namely Liz MacDonald and Colin Macaulay, both of whom seem to be complete lackeys to the SNP council and unable to do anything of their own accord for the people of Nairn, this includes showing any resistance to the South Bairn development

MacDonald has recently resigned as our Provost; I would like to suggest that herself and Macaulay consider their current positions and offer the people of Nairn a chance to vote in true representatives, and thus resign their councillor posts.

It might be the case that Nairn needs four Independent councillors who are not affiliated to any political party, as SNP policies would suggest that they welcome development at any cost. Sadly you only have to look along the coast to the Menie Estate to see what happens when all reason is lost, this in the form of the Trump development pushed though by the SNP against local opinion

I very much hope that the stance of the local SNP council does not diminish the support for the Independence vote next year. Folk have to remember that a vote for Independence is not a vote for the SNP, but I appreciate that at times this is hard to square.

What I do know is that Liz MacDonald has gone from being a very popular local politician to one that seems completely tied by the policies of her party and seemingly removed from Nairn opinion, a great shame, and a great loss to Nairn

Anonymous said...

According to the Highland News Liz MacDonald gets a 8,000 pay rise with the new Leader job to take her up to 24,000 per year.

Anonymous said...

The Community Council's views were missed out!?

Just shows that they count for nothing in the eyes of Inverness. I'm not holding my breath for the outcome of the re- run

Anonymous said...

I think it's got to the stage now whereby Nairn's Community Councillors might as well resign, they're unable to get across the views of the people they represent to HC so what's the point?

Anonymous said...

Remember if you don't want Independence you have to vote

Yes said...

@Anon 5:54

Thanks for that. Is that the best UKOK can do by way of a comment?

Anonymous said...

Liz resigns as Provost to allow her to be political. Liz accepts a role on the local area committee for an increase in £8000 per year. Liz will not represent those whom elected her due to "legal advise" regarding an application(?)she and her family have made.
Perhaps a bit of transparency and accountability is needed here?.

Graisg said...

Responses to the Inner Moray Firth Local Development plan"Call for sites" are a matter of public record and thus fully transparent.

Graisg said...

@ Anon 16.29, thank you for your comment. I accept that you may think Liz a "lame duck" councillor due to her inability to participate at the planning meeting next week but in general terms there is nothing to prevent her representing us still on all the other issues outside planning, although planning does take up a fair chunk of what upsets people in Nairn.