Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jemma Tweedie and other local talent to perform at Wee County fans gig - 1st June

Nairn Swimming Pool gym improvements 200K

"Nairn Leisure’s existing gym space will more than double in size; extending into the current pool viewing area with the current viewing area being re-sited. All the external windows will be replaced, internal space will be remodelled and a variety of improvements to mechanical and electrical equipment will be completed. The total value of the works is in the region of £200,000. " More on the Highland Council site. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Essential reading material - reasons why construction of "Nairn South" without a by-pass in place is a really bad idea! Gurn masterclass session.

Another two interesting documents entered the public domain at the Suburban Community Council meeting last night. The Subbies are usually great ones for giving members of the public copies of the latest stuff that is zipping around CC cirlcles. Why not have a read of them? Get yourself up to speed. You too could become an overnight expert on what needs to be done before the construction of hundreds of houses at Nairn South should be allowed to go ahead. 

1) Warm up session - Read the West CC's covering letter to Malcolm MacLeod, Head of Planning at Highland Council. Letter available here. 

2) Masterclass session. Start with the preamble then get a cuppa or a dram and familiarise yourself with the detailed reasoning behind West's detailed comments - views that are echoed by River and Suburban Community Councils too. Here it is.  

Oidhche mhath a chàirdean.

Quote of the week from a "usual suspect"

"When you are on a Community Council, the moment you start taking yourself seriously it is time to pack it in."

Broadhill Street Lights out

One of our regular readers in Broadhill reports that the street lights are presently out. 7.30 p.m. Also the riverside path lights are out on that side of the river.

Are Highland Council suggesting that some employees might have to give up their social media profiles?

It's a tricky one for many people, their social media existence and their work place. Quite a lot of folk on twitter tend to say what they do and then add "views are purely my own" or similar. A regular reader has sent us a link to a document that went before the Finance Housing and Resources committee at Glenurquhart Road today so it is all  done and dusted now. Anyway, the document is all about the Council and its staff's use of Social Media.
There were some appendixes listed for approval. This observer was particularly interested in the first part of section 5


"5. Using Social Media for Personal Use
As the use and popularity of social media grows, the lines between what is public and private, personal and professional have blurred. The Council respects their employees‟ right to personal use of social media out-with the workplace.
However, staff should be aware that actions in and outside work that affect their work performance, the work of others, or adversely affect the Council‟s reputation, may become a matter for the Council.
Considering the following points may help avoid any conflict between personal use of social media and an employee‟s employment with the Council:
     

If staff already use social networks or blogs for personal use and have indicated in any way that they work for the Council they should remove these. The personal image projected in social media affects an individual‟s reputation and may affect the reputation of the Council. Criticising the Council, even on a personal blog can be damaging. By identifying themselves as a Council employee within a social network, they are connecting to their colleagues, managers and even Council citizens." Read the entire document here. 

There were other points under item 5 but is this observer alone in finding the above paragraph a bit disconcerting? We have the word "may" in the second paragraph and then the word "should" in the third para.
"Should remove," are we to take that to mean remove the social network or simply any references to your work? If you are a Council employee how do you keep the fact that you work for the Council from people you've known all your life, or all the residents in your town or village that will cross your social network path? If you say you are a teacher and live in the Highlands for example, then are you not giving away the fact you work for the Council? Is the above paragraph too intrusive? The day is done however, and the above material will either have been agreed or thrown out.

Birds in Moray and Nairn 2011 - free download.

A remarkable document full of information and pictures of local bird life.

Crime detection rate in Nairn area now up to 72.4%

At Suburban CC's meeting last night a monthly police report to the town's Community Councils was distributed to all in attendance. The report was signed by Inspector Murd MacLeod stated:

"The updated detection rate to the end of December was 72.4% for the Nairn beat of the Area Command."

Notable incidents during December were listed thus: 

• A break-in at a retail premises on High Street, Nairn, reported on 10 December and another attempted break-in at the same shop on 19 December. An 18 year-old is the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal in relation to the attempt break-in.
• Theft of motor vehicle on 23 December, which was found burnt out in rural Nairn. A report is to be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
• An assault within a town centre bar on 27 December, which resulted in the victim requiring a number of stitches to a facial wound.
• Two drink drivers caught in Nairn during the Festive Drink Drug Driving Campaign in the month of December.
• Nine domestic crimes reported to the Procurator Fiscal during the National Anti-Violence Campaign (Domestic Abuse) during the month of December.

Described under Challenges ahead were: "Thefts of plant, trailers and fuel have spiked in the past month. Whilst rural premises in Strathspey appear to have been disproportionately targeted rather than Nairn, there is no room for complacency. Police have responded by increasing anti-crime patrols in areas which have been victimised. Farm Watch alerts have been circulated. The public are advised to secure property and report suspicious activity to the police."

There have been some comings and goings at the station too: "Area Commander, Chief Inspector Ian Bryce, retire at the end of December 2012. His replacement has yet to be identified. We welcome recently arrived Constable Yvonne Scott and anticipate the arrival of Constable Lindsey Baldie in January."

Essential reading material on Nairn matters - keep up to date with the "Usual Suspects"

We have already featured some material from the large public meeting held by the Nairn Community Councils in the URC hall last week. Last night at the Suburban CC's meeting in the Academy a copy of the minutes of that meeting last week was put into the public domain. 

So more on South Nairn planning issues and other important material too. Someone recently asked the Gurn what Michael Green had been up to since elected. If you read the (very concise) minutes of the meeting you will find out under the title "Nairn Summer Events Programme."  Also town centre stuff, Coastal Defences, A96 Traffic Management  and Nairn Buses. 

It was a meeting attended by nearly 60 people according to the attendance sheet and, to this observer and many others, it was a very constructive event. Read the minutes here. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

NICE cash if you can get it! - £500 from Suburban and West CCs going their way but none from River

Suburban Community Council tonight decided to give £500 funding to Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise. At their meeting in the Academy tonight, Chair Dick Youngson said: “They asked us for a contribution and along with West, with Rosemary we thought that £500 each out of our funding. That’ll give a thousand and that will also benefit from matched funding of another £1,000.”

Back in December River CC decided unanimously not to give any money to NICE. Details of their decision here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tough times for the hotel trade?

Last Friday the Inverness Courier ran an article about the sudden closure of the Windsor Hotel. They spoke to one or two people but didn't really get any closer to the specific reason or reasons for the closure. They did speak to folk about the history of the hotel though, details which make the closure of this landmark of the town's tourism and social scene even more poignant. 
The Courier spoke to former owner Rosemary Young who sold the hotel in 2008. Rosemary has her finger on the tourism pulse and perhaps we should be very concerned about a comment she made. She told the Courier: "It must be a sign of the times. There won't be any hotels left in Nairn at this rate."

Firhall Bridge - depends who you speak to at the Council?

Last week the P&J were speaking to Murd about his Firhall Bridge campaign again and, subsequently, an article appeared in the paper. Murd is perplexed by the following sentence that appeared however: "The Council claims the bridge cannot be made accessible to all without being demolished and rebuilt." Murd had thought that the point that a ramp can be added to the existing structure had permeated to all levels of the Council. Liz seems to be well aware of this now, this is what she said last Wednesday night at the Community Councils meeting:
"I think one of the issues that was raised was that they were wanting a whole new bridge but I was saying that was not what we need. We just need to make the bridge more accessible and that has been taken on board by officers and I thank you for bringing in up again Murd."

It seems certain that the bridge will be included in a list of core path improvements when developer contributions from construction materialise. Either someone in the Councils is not up to speed yet or the P&J were using old information. 

Community Councils want to see Nairn on a long distance coastal path network – tourism, environmental and recreational benefits to be had they say!

Last Wednesday night the combined Community Council meeting in the URC hall, under the Chair of Tommy Hogg River CC, decided to investigate the possibility of extending the Moray Coastal Path through Nairn, westwards to join up with the Great Glen Way that finishes in Inverness. An initiative that would see Nairn placed on a major walkers’ network that already exists from Peterhead to the Culbin Forest. The potential to attract walkers the other way from Inverness is obvious too.

Cllr Brian Stewart said: “In terms of tourism, environment, of access to the outdoors and all the rest of it, if it were possible to promote and encourage, not just the rebuilding of our little bit of path but a joined up approach which actually ends up with a Coastal Path all the way along the Moray Firth and the boost that that would give to tourism and those who would like to bird watch or whatever would be significant.[…] If Grampian can do it, if Aberdeenshire can do it, if Buchan can do it and Moray can do it, it seems to me no obvious reason why Highland can’t."

Brian’s thoughts found unanimous support from the Councils and the fifty odd members of the public in the hall. Since then the Gurn understands that Colin MacAulay has provided the councils with information about an existing plan for a coastal path. It is a very interesting document but it hardly has a high profile. Maybe the political or organisational will hasn’t existed before to take this forward but now an initiative has come forward from the town’s Councils that should put this project right up the agenda. It is interesting to contrast the Highland Council wish list document (you can download a copy from this page) with the reality in Moray. Have we been slower off the mark as a community to ask for this sort of thing or have the authorities not really bothered with it?  Perhaps a mixture of both really. There is cash available as this HM Treasury page proclaims. 

Gurnites who are long distance walkers will appreciate how the large numbers that can be attracted to this genre of path spend cash in the communities they visit. Walkers will treat themselves to comfortable beds and wholesome meals at each stop and a whole infrastructure grows up to support them – services to take bags on to the next B&B etc. It goes without saying that Nairn is a perfect natural stop on such a coastal walk. This observer supports the Community Councils (the Usual Suspects) who wish to make this path a reality and hopefully the business association, the local tourism sector and local politicians all the way up the pecking order will support them in their worthwhile efforts.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A mannie, once in the loop, asks a question?

Oor Graham used to know stuff like this but now he's asking a question or maybe just thinking out loud.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Yes campaign in Nairn - video interview with Colin MacAulay

Yes campaign stall on Nairn High Street

Brisk business for the Yes campaign this morning on Nairn High Street as supporters, undecided and nos all stopped for a wee blether. More pictures here.  Coming soon a video interview with Yes campaigner Colin MacAulay. 

Saturday February the 9th - the big match - 500 Wick supporters coming to Nairn?

The twitter feed is in from Station Park - frozen pitch - game off. Another fixture to add to the increasing pile up. Hopefully the weather will be better for February 9th when the massive game between Nairn and Wick will take place. 
Wick currently top the league and have a massive support. Predictions that they would bring nearly a thousand fans to the North Cup final against Nairn at Grant Street Park last year proved correct. Talk in North journalistic circles is of about 500 fans making the trip down the road on Saturday the 9th Here's a comment from Facebook: 

"Wick Academy are expecting to take 500 fans to Station Park for the league game with Nairn. A lot of their fans are coming down for the Celtic game the same day at Inverness and taking in both games. Can we match it and pull in the first four figure crowd at Nairn for a league game in many many years?"

If it looks like that prediction will materialise too, then perhaps local supporters will turn up in equal numbers for the occasion and the town will have a chance to put on the welcoming hat for the Wickers. If more definite information about numbers coming to Nairn on the 9th emerges the Gurn will update. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

" The first thoughts were, well, everything ends up down under the railway bridge" - community objections to the South Nairn plan - 3

On Wednesday night in the URC hall at the combined Nairn Community Council meeting with over 50 members of the public present, Tommy Hogg the Chair of the meeting and of River CC, gave his thoughts after Brian and Dick:

"What Dick has summed up is just exactly what Nairn River CC thinks. We’ve actually been engaged from the very start and originally when the application came up the first thoughts were, well, everything ends up down under the railway bridge. At the moment its nigh impossible to be thinking of another 520 houses to be going down there and the pressure put on that area is just going to be tremendous. The other thing we feel very strongly about is the fact that the bypass won’t be in place at the time so we find it very, very difficult to see how things are going to come out." 

It was a very impressive meeting and it conveyed authority, it conveyed the thoughts of the community. It had the air and the importance of the sort of meetings that were held by the Nairn District Council in the Courthouse.  After the three councils had spoken the debate was opened to the floor of the meeting.The planners were left in no doubt about the Community's feelings. 
More from this meeting later if time permits. 

"We really have to tackle the bypass first. It can’t be pushed back into the never-never"- Community objections to South Nairn plan - 2

On Wednesday night in the URC hall after Brian, Dick Youngson the Chair of Suburban Community Council spoke. He said:

“I think we echo quite a lot of Brian’s comments, we really going back five years or more when we started discussing this particular scheme in great detail and this as a community, as Nairn. We really have reached general agreement on the planning or layout of, especially the 1st scheme, which was the three: Scotia, Barratt and Robertsons. There was a lot of discussion and a lot of two-way discussion at that time. We’re still dependent though, as Brian has said, on access and the access through Cawdor Road under the pinch point of the railway bridge. And going further north into the town, into Cawdor Road, the Leopold Street junction, into the High Street will be quite chaotic with the number of houses and the number of, hence, vehicles which will be created. So we really haven’t tackled the town, and it is the impact on the town which is going to be of most concern to most people in Niarn.

The crossing or bridging of the Railway is another main point.

"In other words the development should not just be another extensive housing estate" - Community objections to South Nairn plan - 1

First up after the planners spoke at the Combined CC meeting at the URC hall on Wednesday night were West Community Council. Chair of the Westies, Rosemary, introduced Brian. (Rosemary Young and Brian Stewart, for those unacquainted with all the Gurnshire usual suspects)

Brian Stewart thanked Malcom MacLeod for engaging with the community. He said, “ I think Malcom was right to say that the people interested are the landowners and Gordons sawmill, the other people who have an interest are the community of Nairn, which I think is really why it is excellent that you have engaged and want to take the community’s views into account. I notice also that the document that went to PED last week is labelled as an interim document and that the revised or final one will take on board the results of this process which is good. 

We recognise and accept that the eventual development of the area described as Nairn South, is part of the organic expansion of the town and that certainly we welcome the recognition which is already clear in the document of the interest in safeguarding the sawmill. We have a number of specific and detailed comments which I am happy to submit in writing between now and the deadline.

I can summarise them by saying  our overriding concern is that development should be proportionate, should fit into the landscape, and should deliver benefit to the town in terms of amenity, sustainable employment and diversified local economic activity.  In other words the development should not just be another extensive housing estate.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Nairn South meeting, the three Chairs listen and then respond to the Planners

The meeting on Wednesday night was very well attended with around 50 people inside the URC hall to listen to the Planning Department's Malcolm MacLeod and Brian MacKenzie. They listened and then they made their views known.
Tommy, Rosemary and Dick - the three chairs - at the coalface of local democracy in Nairn

Tonight we'll give you what the high heid yins from Glenurquhart Road had to say about it all and then tomorrow hopefully the unanimous reaction of the three chairs. After that plenty more to chose from and also debated on Wednesday night were an interesting set of proposals from Micheal Green. Maybe some of that if time permits. OK here we go, the wisdom of Malcolm MacLeod and Brian MacKenzie of the plannning department. First up was Malcom, the Development Planning Manager, he said: 

"The reason we are here is to try and gauge the reaction of the three community councils to the proposals of the work that we have been doing at Nairn South. That work we’ve been over the last nine months but this actually goes back more than three years for the development interest in Nairn South. So what we are here tonight to talk about is the work that took place after the Highland wide local development plan was approved. What that plan did in very simple terms,

A recycling centre for Nairn?

Information received from Tommy Hogg, Chair River CC

Anyone interested in working towards establishing a recycling centre in Nairn is invited to attend a meeting in
the Seaforth Club, Nairn 
on TUESDAY 5th FEBRUARY at 7.30 p.m
Hopefully a small steering group will be formed to progress the project.

10A bus from Nairn to Inverness at 5.48 on weekday mornings - does it work fine for you? Information needed.

Jim asks the Gurn: "The first 10A bus from Nairn at 5.48 on weekday mornings comes through from Elgin, and runs via Ardisier and the airport to arrive in Inverness bus station at 6.40 am, according to the timetable.

This seems to be in reasonable time to allow a short walk to the railway station, for the first morning train to Perth and Edinburgh at 6.50 am.

I would be glad to hear if anyone has used this bus to catch the southbound train sucessfully, or if a regular user can tell me that the bus often runs ten minutes late, in which case I expect I'll have to book a taxi for the trip!"

"Undecided? Come along for some straight answers"

The title of this post is part of an invitation from Colin MacAulay published on his facebook page today. He is inviting all Yes folk and undecided folk to go along to the Yes campaign stall outside the Courthouse this Saturday at 11.00 a.m.
I wonder if any of the Better Together folkies will go along for a wee blether. 

Reversing not recycling - Could we get it together in Nairn to follow this model?

One of our regular readers, a committed environmentalist, who has been following the debate about a possible recycling initiative in Nairn sent us a link to an article on the Co-operative News site (not the shoppie but a world-wide info site for Co-ops in general). You can read the article here. It looks a bit like Moray Waste Busters but a hypermarket perhaps compared to the Forres corner shop? We've embedded the video as it demonstrates what is possible when people get together.

The Gurn understands that River CC will soon be calling a meeting to facilitate the formation of a recycling group in the town. Hopefully enough concerned residents will turn up to get an initiative of some kind underway. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could one day aspire to such a facilty as the one shown in the video? Surely the concept hits all the right start-up funding buttons in this new millennium?


Reverse Garbage from Bespoke Press on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Liz: "just to let you know we’ve not forgotten about the bypass"

At the joint Community Council meeting tonight (Wednesday) in the URC hall a couple of high heid yins from the Highland Council planning department were taking soundings on South Nairn from the councils followed by a question and answer session for members of the public. Very interesting it was too and we hope to bring you snippets from the highly charged, but calm, debate over the next few days. For tonight however, here’s something interesting that Liz said during the proceedings:

“I’d like to come in just about the by-pass issue. I’d said to Iain Ramage when he interviewed me last week about the development. He said: “Could it be possible that the development may start before the bypass is there?” And you know, anything is possible but, however, our TECS officers are going down tomorrow to speak in Edinburgh about the bypass. So hopefully in the next week or so I will be able to report back an update from that. But just to let you know we’ve not forgotten about the bypass, we’re still trying to pursue it but the bottom line is I can’t promise people there will be a bypass before the development starts. I just wanted to make that clear because the headlines were we’ve forgotten all about the bypass or whatever it was. That’s not the case at all. We’re still pushing for it, it’s still very important for the town and, just to clear that up and our officers are meeting tomorrow down in Edinburgh with Transport Scotland.”

This week the article Liz refers to appears on the front page of the Nairnshire and is entitled “Long wait for the bypass.” Surprise anyone? The article also quotes comment from Michael Green who is concerned that the infrastructure is not there to enable South Nairn to go ahead. Michael’s view is shared by the town’s three Community Councils and their views were laid out in front of the planners tonight. More about that in future articles this week. Liz was perhaps stung by the paper’s editorial more than anything that emerged on the front page. Iain Bain titled his latest hebdominal musings  “Bypass off the boil” and he began:

“It is disappointing that Nairn Provost Liz MacDonald now considers that Nairn’s bypass project may not take place until housing development including south Nairn is on the ground. It is perhaps a measure of how priorities are changing in the SNP dominated Highland Council and Scottish Government.”

In response to that Liz obviously wanted to lay out her stall and state that the bypass is still very much on her agenda. Iain Bain went on to state in his editorial that it “had become almost an axiom of local development – that there should be no substantial development until a bypass was in existence or at least very definitely in plan.”

As we stated above the  three Community Councils earlier tonight said they didn't want development until there is a bypass but against a possible appeal one day by a developer, who might have been turned down on those grounds, would that be a viable position to take? The planners didn't seem to think so tonight - again more on that later this week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nairn's last shoe shop - a business opportunity?

It may be that another company out there is considering taking on the DE shoe shop in Nairn High Street. But if not, is there someone out there with expertise in shoes and marketing in the current retail environment who might be willing to take on the shop as a going concern? That is the thought that has been crossing the mind of River CC’s Simon Noble recently.
When the News of DE Shoe’s difficulties broke the Gurn spoke to the Company MD Robert Sinclair and he said that he would be willing to consider opinion/input from community representatives, obviously he is in no position to make any promises but yesterday however, he spoke to Simon. Simon believes that Robert Sinclair is effectively saying that most of the individual shops are going concerns and it’s the centralised costs which are making it difficult for the chain to trade.

Is there some entrepreneurial individual out there that could work round that, with community support, to make a go of the shop on Nairn High Street? Maybe the community could find some way to have a community enterprise element or some other device to the affair in order to keep a shoe shop on Nairn High Street? Can we do more as a community? Is this the sort of thing we could achieve or are we all simply just caught in the headlights as Amazon, e-bay and a few others take over our shopping habits and the world? Is it worth putting the message out there that people with the expertise/experience should feel they could get local support to get the funding they might otherwise lack? Community Councils/NICE/HC/HIE etc could be galvanised into doing something if there was someone out there ready to make a go of it.
Plenty of questions today but surely there might be a way we can pass from reflection to action? Any thoughts?

Highland League Cup draw - Nairn v Strathspey

County avoid first round action in the draw and get the Speysiders in the 2nd round. The game will be played on the 16th of March. Full draw here. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Burns open-mic charity night - the Vic - 24th January

The Victoria Hotel management told the Gurn:

8pm is the time, Thursday 24th January is the date and the Vic is the place!
We are holding an Open Mic Night to celebrate the 'Bard' Robert Burns.

You can join in or if you are shy just listen.
The night is being hosted by Dave Godden who will also be performing with his band.

Haggis, neeps and tatties for only £3.00 and the proceeds going to MFR Cash for Kids. Come along and enjoy a night of entertainment.

Wednesday night Joint CC meeting – all the makings of a good night out? South Nairn up for discussion.

The Future South Nairn - Inbhir Narann a Deas. Frozen today but could the area generate some heated debate on Wednesday night? 

The joint meeting of Nairn’s Community Councils will be held in the URC hall on Wednesday night at 7.30 p.m. with Tommy Hogg in the chair.
On the agenda are Nairn South, a summer events programme, the town centre, coastal defences, A96 traffic management and Nairn buses. 

The first item has the potential to pull in a few punters. With two rival developers on the starters blocks and the proximity of Gordons Sawmill plus the Firhall residential accommodation, there could be a large turnout just for that one. The Gurn understands that high heid yins from the Highland Council’s planning department will be in attendance and they usually attract some pointed questions from sections of the usual suspects. Will Joan and Alistair Noble have some difficult questions for them this time round too? Any forum that debates Nairn planning matters can get quite heated and it will be interesting to see if antipathy towards the Highland Wide Development Plan still extends beyond “the old Sandown lags” or whether a feeling of resignation has crept in.  

The last time a planning application went in for South Nairn the residents of Firhall penned dozens of objections. It may be that the geographical concept of a village at Firhall was doomed from the start in terms of location – the town is just a field away and was bound to extend in that direction one day. Is it going to come sooner than many anticipated however? Highland Council think that a considerable amount of construction could go ahead on existing traffic models. Here’s a quote from a document that was approved by the Council last week: “2.2 The main issues that were highlighted and agreed were: and that item is “that a maximum of 320 houses could be built as supported by existing traffic impact assessment”. The Gurn understands that River CC’s position is that there should be no development until the by–pass and other infrastructure is in place. That is a view that the planners could quiet easily brush aside given past performance however.

Anyone with any thoughts on South Nairn might wish to get along to the Joint CC meeting on Wednesday and express their feelings.

Michael Green will be present too to discuss a programme of Summer Events for Nairn. Before the end of last year he spoke of how he envisaged a programme of events that would generate cash that would enable further ideas to reach fruition and, in their turn, generate increasing visitor numbers thus benefiting local business and employment. It will be interesting to see what progress he has made and what new ideas, or information have materialised. The concept of a self-financing initiative that will not have recourse to the public purse will be attractive to many and the games day Beer Tent demonstrated the potential.

The first two items will take up a lot of time but there will be the other matters to discuss. Take Coastal Defences for instance. The recent storms showed us one or two spots along the seafront that could do with some additional defences. If sea levels are rising though, what are the areas that should receive priority for protection? Will golf courses have to be left to their fate for example if funds are needed to protect habitation? Perhaps that is not the direction that the meeting will take but both national and local government might have to take some difficult decisions about what to protect in the cash-strapped future that lies ahead of us. 

The town centre is on the agenda too, could there be further friction here between River CC members and the NICE folk? River, including the Chair Tommy, have been critical of NICE recently and decided not to give them any further funding. The ranks of the other CCs are not short of NICE members, could there be friction here? 

There will probably be no time for AOCB and it is a pity to see that the proposal for a Recycling Centre is not on the agenda but it is fair to say that so often, good proposals that would benefit the community get talked about, then talked about and then talked about a bit more and then forgotten. Maybe the recycling issue can break the mould and Tommy or someone else will call a public meeting devoted to recycling to see if there is enough interest, beyond the usual suspects to take the idea forward, and, among other things, create two or three jobs in Nairn.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brora 3 Nairn 4 - a few more pictures


Another 160 pictures or so that tell a bit more of the tale - available here on the Gurn flickr pages.

Moray and Nairn Family History Society - new publication.


The Moray & Nairn Family History Society would like to announce its latest publication – Monumental Inscriptions from Auldearn Church which is a transcription of the gravestones from the churchyard as well as from the Victorian and later extensions. They note in detail the complete inscription from each stone. Over 700 gravestones were recorded by members of the Moray & Nairn Family History Society between 2011 and 2012 with a plan being made of each stone’s location and an index of surnames. The publication of this work was aided by a donation from Nairn Rotary Club. This work by the Moray & Nairn Family History Society follows on from the completion of the monumental inscriptions from the churchyard at Ardclach conducted in 2010.
Both these publications can be purchased through Yeadons Bookshop, Elgin and the Nairn Bookshop, Nairn.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

So, so massive! Walking in a County Wunderland – escape from the Dudgeon with 3 points – pictures

Brora 3 Nairn 4

To some of the faithful it felt slightly incredulous that this fixture was on today, but sure enough, the twitter feeds came through almost immediately after the pitch inspection at 8 a.m. in Brora. The further north we travelled on Ken’s yellow submarine the further the snow line went up the hills. A wee drop on the top of Ben Bhraggie though, (through a zoom lens you can almost see how some folk have been chipping awayat the controversial monument at the top). It’s usually this part of the world that gets the worst of a cold spell while we bask in the heat but role reversal today as two games were playable on north pitches. Eventually we reached our destination and some pre match craic in the Social Club.

Having come from a weather zone where you need a pickaxe to get leeks out of the ground just now it was surprising to see the green, green turf of Brora. It might have been soft underfoot but the wind-chill kicked in and we soon felt at home so to speak.

Initially, maybe the County showed Brora too much respect or perhaps it was just the effect of this stop-start season but Brora’s Zander Sutherland (latest of the megabucks signings) goal off a Golabek rebound had the unfortunate air of inevitability. Four minutes later (28 into the game to be precise) he got his debut second. It looked grim until Connor slotted a penalty reply just before half time.

We went for a cuppa slightly dazed and hopeful Les would perform some dressing room magic. But it was to be a hat-trick for the home side’s new boy straight after the start. Philosophical tones spiced the conversation now amongst the Wee County contingent in the enclosure. Conor Gethins was again about to put Nairn back into this game with a delivery onto John Cameron’s head in the 53rd minute. We began to dream of our favourite result (à la Scottish Cup), that is to say classic, dramatic, 3-3’s. Around the 80th minute our dreams came true and a draw from the jaws of defeat looked a possibility with Craig MacMillan’s goal, even though Brora still were capable of dangerous moves. So the vocal mass of the County supporters made their way to the back of the Brora goal (convenient for an exit to the Social Club before the trek home). Joy of joys was to come as Craig MacMillan got his second courtesy of today’s goal maker Conor Gethins. Ecstatic scenes as the visiting support voices filled the park.

It was beyond superb, it was a great escape, it meant so much, it felt better than the 6-0 at home, it felt better than the draws against higher league teams in the cup. This was our calling card to the league – NCFC are still in the title race. Bring on Lossie next Saturday!



Pictures from club photographer Donald Matheson. Individual pictures here. 

Brora v Nairn game on!

One game that has survived the bad weather. One day-return to Brora booked on Ken's minibus. Depart Uncle Bob's midday. C'mon the County! With so many former Nairn players in the Brora side it should be an interesting game.

The Cemetery Issue

An article in the Press and Journal states today: "Highland Council is to review their cemetery provision after concerns that the north is running out of burial space."

The paper goes on to state that plans to extend burial grounds at Tain an Portree are at a standstill. No mention of Nairn and a newspaper article doesn't always give you all the facts but we know that Nairn is running out of space. Here's what Laurie said in his election leaflet last year: " In the very near future decisions have to be made on the siting of a new cemetery as our existing one has only about a year's supply of land left."

We don't need a review, we need a new cemetery and the only site in the frame is along at Granny Barbour's road. At the River CC meeting last week, Liz again indicated that and said that it needed to be moved along quickly. Again one has to ask why the machine that is Highland Council have not moved this along quickly during the time of the last regime. The cemetery has not filled up very suddenly - officials must have known this problem was coming along. Let's hope it can indeed be moved along quickly and although this problem originates with a previous administration it is the present crop of Councillors that will be judged by how long it takes to ensure that there is adequate cemetery provision in Nairn.
Here's a flashback to the hustings last April when the lack of future provision was discussed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Windsor Hotel closes


In what may well be another sign of the difficult times facing sectors of the local economy a single sheet of A4 paper on the door of the hotel gives information to callers.

Oor Graham now on the list of Gurn local politics sites


Oor Graham never really used his twitter account much when he was a councillor. It looks like he has made a new year resolution to use the micro-blogging service more however. We're still seriously underwhelmed but think he might yet have potential, so we've decided to put him in the wee list in the sidebar of local political persons with an active social network presence. You can follow his tweets here. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Clinic appointments - phone conversations with doctors - opinions divided in Gurnshire

Gurnites will recall that this week's Leopold Street Thunderer has a splash entitled "Telephone Trials" and an in-depth article about the new appointments system with the practice and most patients now in favour according to statistics. Here's two comments we have received that show both sides of the argument from patients' perspective.

John told the Gurn: 
"Over recent times there have been a number of complaints about the new Doctors appointments system. Becaue of my chronic condition I have to attend the practice and my own doctor on irregular times.
I have to commend the new system as on just under half of these occasions a chat with the Doctor that morning with the option of an update on my prescription was sufficient. I know of no one who actually enjoys attending the Clinic although it is sometimes necessary but sometimes a chat with him a short time later is sufficient to put my mind at rest Change is difficult and not always like but I find on this occasion it is a very positive step."

Gilyan had a different view: "
"Good for Dr Stanfield having the courage to publicly state that the new system at Nairn healthcare is badly flawed. Nairn cannot afford to lose any doctors particuarly those that have practised here since the 80s.
Whilst most of us now involve ourselves in on line shopping and such like on line medical care will only always be second best in terms of patient care
We used to live in the south and they introduced an out of hours telephone triage type service which was similar to the one being introduced here. As with this service distance medical advice and diagnosis is only ever as good as the patients ability to articulate and was in the end abandoned."

Gurnmeisters note - we checked with Gilyan her use of the word on line and it is just a play on words meaning telepone line.

Provost posts the news herself

Liz tweets the news herself. Money still in the system for Nairn it seems despite cuts.

Mad train fares

Start Crowther reports on the STV Forres site: "... for Forres to Aberdeen passengers booking in advance would pay an astonishing £29.60 for a return journey, nearly £13 more than the cheapest fare from Nairn where passengers using the same trains are charged £17."

The £17 deal for an advance return from Nairn to Aberrdeen is quite a good deal and a train trip to Aberdeen is about twice as fast as the bus and comparable to a car journey. It is insane that such a fare costs so much more from Forres however. As Stuart reports MSP Richard Lochead is on the case. Let's hope the train company doesn't respond by making Nairn residents pay £29.60 as well.  More on the Forres STV site.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Third break-in at Partay Patrol

The Gurn understands that there was another break-in last night at the controversial shop on Nairn High Street. It seems the crime took place shortly after 7.30 p.m.

Graham tweets bus station thoughts

Chilly economic winds blow down Nairn High Street again - Blockbusters in Administration

Blockbusters in Administration - could another store vanish from the High Street? More on the BBC site. 
Time to show a video made three years ago in the Nairn store - perhaps it'll be a reminder to future historians of the way things used to be?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NICE but out of touch/ not up to date?

The Gurn understands around 25 County fans meeting tonight at Uncle Bob's to plan a major fund raising campaign for ground improvements at Station Park were less than impressed (to put it mildly) by the NICE display in the library window just now. A picture and text similar to those shown below were displayed. 
In the NICE document entitled "A vision for Nairn" there is a suggestion that Sandown could possibly be a new home for Nairn County FC. A shame then that NICE are not au fait with latest developments at Station Park. The Board and the fans are committed to a future for the club at Station Park and as we reported above a major fundraising effort to improve the ground is now underway. Here's one way that you can become involved.  Watch the Nairnshire, the local blogs and facebook for news of other initiatives in the coming months.

PS Vodka jellies - the Gurn also understands that the Star has so far raised £490 for the ground improvement fund with the sales of Vodka jellies and that this is an ongoing initiative.  Well done the Star! Why not enjoy a Vodka jelly on your night out and raise funds for the Supporters Ground Improvements Initiative?

UPDATE: Iain Fairweather of NICE has acted quickly and removed the relevant page from the display, he told the Gurn: "I covered it over yesterday. The banners were prepared for the Vision for Nairn meeting - long before the new plans for Station Park were revealed. Now that these plans have been declared, the banners should no longer display that as an option."

Kingsteps Clean-up

There were reports last week that the Kingsteps car park was in a bit of a mess with litter and doggie poo baggies everywhere. There's been a bit of a makeover however.

Gurnites may have read a letter in the Nairnshire this week from Iain Thomson who referred to the anti-social behaviour of some dog owners who leave jobbies and even jobbies in baggies lying around. He stated:
"At present, there are over 40 of these vile bags in the immediate area of the carpark. It is a disgusting practice, offensive to others, perpetrated by those who give all dog owners a bad name."

 Mr Thomson sees CCTV as a solution: "If access is to continue, Highland Council should consider installing CCTV to monitor the carpark area with the determined intention of prosecuting those who behave in a manner so contemptuous of the rest of us."

The editor of the Nairnshire points out that he understands that the council have installed refuse bins at the Kingsteps car park. On Wednesday night are the River CC meeting Liz stated: "We're going to put the bin back down, that was removed because residents wanted it removed but I think it should be left there until we found out the final outcome of this court case."

It is entirely obvious to this observer that the users of the carpark did not understand why the bin was taken away and in an a gesture, similar to putting two fingers up, to whoever removed it they showed their disapproval for by placing rubbish, including doo poo baggies, in the spot where a bin once stood. Perhaps then CCTV soon and what about a hidden speaker in the bushes? "Winston Smith pick up that dog poo!."

An image of a cleaned up carpark has been posted by Liz on twitter here. 

Good news for the Claymore Dairy

"Dairy proves it has the white stuff for growth," says the Inverness Courier this morning. The Dairy is also now in the black, making a profit last year. More in today's Courier.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Work starts at the Bus Station site

Contractors now on site and cleaning up the interior. Just behind the cabin several very large bags of pigeon poo could be seen. The Gurn understands that more than fifty bags have now been filled and more bags are on their way. Several seagulls could be seen sitting in their normal positions on the roof enjoying the sunshine. Soon they could all be homeless. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nairn shopping in the twenties and thirties

An article by Hamish Dunbar (first published on the Gurn on Sunday 7th Sep 2008):

Until recently that I spent a holiday in Nairn each year. Whilst walking down High street I could not help but note the changes that had taken place since my childhood days in the twenties and thirties and then recently in A Gurn From Nairn I read that some 80% of local residents travelled either to Inverness or to Forres to do shopping. This made me trawl through my memory and I came up with the following :-

More notes from the River CC meeting on Wednesday – home-grown powerpoint, funding, houses, cemetery, enigmatic invitation, social club hours extension

Quite a lot happened on Wednesday night that we haven’t had a chance to post yet, so here goes. The meeting started with a powerpoint presentation. The talk lasted over an hour but at least it was of local provenance (instead of the Glenurquhart Road variety) and was a guest appearance of local resident Sam Eccles at the request of Councillor Simon Noble. It was a follow up to Simon’s presentation when he discussed possible projects for the Council. See here for more details on that one.
Sam spoke about Community Consultation and how to go about it in innovative ways. She showed images of places where folk had got their act together to improve their communities. West Kilbride was once place that featured in her talk.. She then made suggestions on how to get funding for projects – e.g. up to 10K from awards for all. Gurnites may recall that NICE recently were awarded 10K from them for a study on the old social work buildings.

On a personal level this observer feels that Nairn is no way as far down the pan as some other far more unluckier locations, where such community consultation has been necessary and had a positive impact. Here we have four Highland Councillors and is it nearly thirty community councillors representing the town? If they don’t know what people want or would like to see done then we are lost. I can’t see any voluntary or full-time paid facilitator being any better than the combined worth of our elected representatives, 30 assorted CC watchdogs  and other activists that are working for the community out there in our town. Yes, we should do everything we can to keep things as they are and improve on them but we need action not talk. For instance, can the community councils organise a public meeting please to see if enough people want to get together to try and set up a recycling centre à la Moray Wastebusters? Anyway, perhaps some good funding initiatives that might create work will come out of River CC’s deliberations here.

Stephanie Whitaker, River CC secretary, had received notice of a meeting of all the seven Nairnshire community councils to be held on the 30th of the month in the form of a letter from Dick Youngson. The meeting is to discuss “locality planning”. There was some discussion about what locality planning actually meant. The river folkies decided that they would seek clarification about what the meeting was about and decided that they they would ask for more information at the joint CC meeting on the 23rd. Regular readers will recall how River CC reacted badly to a proposal to extend a regular meeting of the town's three CCs to include the four country councils, more here. A member of the audience googled the phrase "locality planning" and found a link to the NICE website. Mike Henderson asked if NICE had called the meeting. Tommy said, “We can bring it up on the 23rd and we can get a straight answer there. I think that’s the best way round it.”

Fred Holmes asked Liz if there had been any progress on the provision of a new cemetery. She said no but that Granny Barbour's Road was the only site being considered and that it needed to get moved on quite quickly. 

The Council discussed the planning application for 24 affordable houses at Lochloy. Tommy said that he had no problem with the application. Stephanie Whittaker said: “I’ve no problem with the houses but that it extends the amount of cars that will be coming out on that road. And when we spoke to the men from BEAR, Transport Scotland, they had no idea of the amount of houses that are in Lochloy, they didn’t know[…] and originally it was just a little country road.”
Simon Noble, a Lochloy resident spoke too: “It is part of the development which is almost laid out ready for the buildings to go ahead. There’s no shock about it. The only thing I would say is that there was always an intention to do two things that looks as though they have vanished into the ether. One was there was always the intention to be a school.”
Tommy then interjected to point out that a space for a school was still on the plan.
Simon then continued: “OK, and the other thing was there was always intended to be a bridge over the railway to connect with the roundabout at Sainsbury’s." 
There was then some talk of the need for this bridge and conditions on historical planning points that were found on archive plans of how the bridge was to only have been of the pedestrian and cycle variety.
The river folkies agreed to write to the Highland Council that they had no objections to the houses but were concerned at traffic levels in the area.

River CC also had no problems with the licensing extensions for the former Social Club buildings.

The importance of improved access at Firhall Bridge for future path networks in South Nairn and beyond.

First a note for local planning students. Here at Gurn HQ we have been browsing a document which will go before the Planning, Environment and Development committee in Inverness on Wednesday. The document is a draft strategic masterplan forphases 1 & 2 of Nairn South. Students of South Nairn matters may wish to browse this document and the recommendations and details prefacing it from Council officials. Here is one little gem:from the prefacing spiel, the fifth item on the list from 2.2 The main issues that were highlighted and agreed were: and that item is “that a maximum of 320 houses could be built as supported by existing traffic impact assessment”.

Plenty there to digest then.  Back to the Firhall Bridge and now we wish to refer to a map on page 8 of the draft masterplan. The map shows the network of paths proposed across South Nairn. The rights of way along the bottom and side of Firhall would be improved and there would one day be a path further along that side of the river. There would be paths across the new developments. This would give all the folk living in the present western suburbs the opportunity to cross the railway via a new bridge and walk down to the river through South Nairn and the rights of way. Firhall Bridge wouldn’t simply be one end of a circular walk it would be a pivotal junction in a large network of paths. You could come from South Nairn or the other side of the railway and head for Cawdor or in the direction of other improved paths on that bank of the river. An investment in a ramp now would make much of this accessible to the maximum number of existing and future residents of the town in the next few years, should building start at South Nairn.  Have a look on page 8 of the Council document here to see the map that shows proposed and existing paths and roads in the area. 

NB earlier this week we posted a press release from Charles Allenby's agents listing his concerns about the South Nairn draft masterplan. Many Gurnshire students of planning matters have already digested it but if you haven't seen it yet here it is

NAIRN County FC supporters are getting mobilised...

... for a big fund raising drive this year to support the club’s ambitious plans to carry other further improvements to Station Park. It was hoped to distribute leaflets at Saturday’s home game inviting fans to a meeting at Uncle Bob’s Bar on Tuesday 7.30pm. But of course the weather intervened and the game was cancelled. Please come along if you feel you have something to contribute. (a message from a supporters spoksperson)

Rear windmill man

Friday's windmill convoy pulling away from the Sainsburys roundabout with a vigilant rear look-out still watching the angles. Picture Murray MacRae - more pictures here. 
Pictures of the first convoy of the season were posted earlier in the week and are available here. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fishertown and Fisherfolk - a talk by Alan Barron - 18th January - Free and open to all


Game off - more soccer starvation for the Wee County faithful


View  an image of  frozen Station Park here. Still minus three outside at nearly 10.00 a.m. so the prospects for the Saints derby against Forres Thistle must be bleak too. A day that should have promised a soccer feast with fans being able to get to see most of two games looks pretty bleak. County is off but no word on the Saints fixture at the Showfield yet however. Que sera, sera, here's hoping for a return of mild weather for next week's intriguing encounter up at Brora as County will take on the side that has so many ex-Nairn players. 

Legal highs - River CC discussion on Wednesday night

On Wednesday night there was more discussion on the situation of the sale of legal highs in Nairn. There was strong  representation from a concerned mother who was present at the meeting. It seems that the authorities are busy behind the scenes looking for any possible means that could hinder the sale of such substances. Members of River Community Council again voiced their fears on the matter.

Liz told the Gurn that she had been speaking to Fergus Ewing MSP, she said: "Fergus has already made representation to Westminster to try to get drugs classification based on the effect the drug can have on people (hallucinogenic, mind altering, long term affects etc) rather than the chemical make up of the substance. He is looking further into the issue and shall be following up with Rosanna Cunningham."

Courier upping news coverage on Nairn matters?



In recent months the Inverness Courier's coverage of Nairn matters has been rather sporadic. Are they now paying more attention to Nairn events however? After last Tuesday's major spread on the Wee County's fans fundraising activities the Courier followed up on Friday with two other big articles on Nairn news items. There was also considerable Nairn material on the sports pages. There is also an enigmatic message to tempt readers into buying the forthcoming Tuesday edition. "Jobs boost for Nairn? Could we soon see politicians tilting at Ardersier windmills? Or perhaps they've got wind of the predicted metamorphosis of the old social club in Church Street which will, according to a usual very unreliable source, be opening at the end of February and will, no doubt, need bar staff.

£85,000 storm repairs underway in Nairn - picture

Not long after the storm Council Leader Drew Hendry (SNP) told the Gurn on twitter that all damage would be looked at. He kept his word and repairs are underway across the Highlands. It is estimated that the total damage might exceed £2.5 million pounds. (further information here on the Highland Council site).  The picture above was taken earlier this week and shows a squad of contractors busy below the Golf View hotel. Before long the prom will be back to normal and ready for the tourist season. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Graham's car park comment

Graham is tweeting in a big way today. More here. 

NICE reach a 1,000 members

NICE have proclaimed their achievement of reaching a membership of 1,000 on their facebook page. On the website however they have only received two comments on their proposals for the old social work buildings and are looking for input there. Of those two comments the one from Mandy Lawson offers some good suggestions around the  "Transition Town" initiatives that are finding favour and a measure of success on the Black Isle and along the road in Forres: Mandy said:

"For instance what kind of public information messages might we want to communicate to tourists re Nairn as a waste aware ‘green town’, how will public toilets minimise energy, water and paper use( eg use of hand dryers) , will the proposed restaurant promote locally produced food, and thoughtful recycling , plus could outside landscaping include a community garden, edible plants, recycle bins and well designed cycle parking to encourage people to leave the car at home ( or even ‘Nairn bikes’ for hire- as they have in some cities – which the tourist office could help promote)"

It looks like Highland Council are set to work with NICE to try and find a new future for these buildings and surely we must all welcome this (even those with reservations about the organisation). This observer did hear one gurn that might become a sticking point however. One of our regular commentators suggested that if a restaurant were to be put into a building that was restored with public money then would that restaurant be receiving unfair help and then competing on an unlevel playing field with other restaurants in Nairn? Of course we have quite a lot of cafes and restaurants in the town. Some people think we have too many but isn't it better we at least have warm and inviting cafes rather than empty buildings? Good luck to Nairn's cafe society - long may they all stay open! Maybe we can promote ourselves as the ideal A96 stop for a bite to eat? Perhaps one more in the old social work buildings would even add to the profitability of the ensemble?

NICE state that document going forward to the Council on the 30th of this month will suggest approval of the initiative: " The paper will also suggest that the Council develops a partnership approach with NICE over the use of part or all of the footprint (detail to be further discussed with Nairn Elected Members) and that part or all of the footprint be offered to NICE on a ‘Right-to-Buy’ basis. The statutory period under ‘Right-to-Buy’ is 6 months, therefore the paper will state that NICE be given up to the end of July 2013 to prepare a detailed business plan."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fishertown bus service to end but Tradespark to hospital route back on

All change from the 21st of this month. The Fishertown service will be no more due to the lack of people using the bus. Liz revealed at the River CC meeting last night that the town service number 20 will be pulling out the Fishertown stops and reconnecting a direct link between Tradespark and the hospital again. Success there then for the lobbying over the past year or two from Suburban Community Council. Now it's time for the Tradespark folk to "use it or lose it". 
Tommy asked Liz if it was possible for the bus service to extend out to Firhall. She said that had been looked at and it would have added in too much time and the only way that Tradespark could be fitted in was by dropping out the Fishertown.
The new bus service - timetable takes effect from Monday 21st January 2013.

Charles Allenby - South Nairn concerns

The Gurn has received a press release from Muir Smith Evans, Charles Allenby's advisors. The considerable number of students of all things planning in Nairnshire will be most interested: 

Proposed development of Nairn South

CONCERNS EXPRESSED AT COUNCIL’S DRAFT MASTERPLAN

Concerns have been expressed following the recent publication of the Highland Council’s draft masterplan for development proposals at Nairn South. This plan is due to be considered by the Council’s Planning and Environment Committee on 16th January.

Muir Smith Evans advise on some of the largest and most complex development projects across Scotland, and are acting on behalf of Charles Allenby, the owner of part of the land encompassed by the masterplan. They are concerned that the proposals fall short of the requirements laid down by the Scottish Government Reporter following the Public Examination in September 2011 which were subsequently enshrined in the recently adopted Highland Wide Local Development Plan.

The key areas of concern include the number of houses proposed in the first phase of development and their density, the lack of consideration of existing landscape features and how the development will fit into the landscape, the phasing of the development and the inappropriate siting of a new foot and cycle bridge connecting the new homes to Nairn Academy, the station and the town centre.

Since this land was originally earmarked for development Mr Allenby has given very clear instructions to his planning team that any proposals should leave a lasting legacy for the town, be based on the capacity of the land to absorb development rather than ownership boundaries, form a natural extension of the town and allow for expansion of the sawmill, an important local employer.

The meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee on 16th January is a critical point in the planning process for Nairn South. “The masterplan will govern the future of this sensitive area to the south of the town. It is vital that we get it right and that the Scottish Government Reporter’s findings as well as government advice on fitting new developments into the countryside are fully embedded in the masterplan.”

Muir Smith Evans also enclosed a briefing note with the press release. It may be far too esoteric for some but again there are many serious students of these matters locally who will easily digest the material. Click the read more tab below to read the briefing details.

A Campaign to save Nairn’s only shoe shop?

This observer was speaking to a shopkeeper today who thinks that the loss of such a key retail outlet such as the DE shoeshop could have a devastating knock-on effect on other businesses in the town, as consumers would have one less reason to visit the High Street. The trader told the Gurn that they felt that there should be a campaign to save the store.

Liz and Colin have written to the Managing Director of the company, Robert Sinclair. Colin said on Facebook today: “We've already written to DE Shoes (Dundee HQ) asking if we can help. Sadly I'm not hopeful - although the fact that they are the only shoe shop must work in favour of retaining our branch.” The Association of Nairn Businesses have also stated that they will try and help DE Shoes. It is very difficult to know what can be done. Maybe if we highlight the fact that this is Nairn’s only shoe shop on a still viable High Street perhaps a potential buyer might consider including the Nairn store in an acquisition list.

DE Shoes are only one of a number of companies in difficulties but they have stores in a number of Scottish communities that are some distance from bigger shopping centres. The Gurn understands that DE shoes are the only shoe shop in Buckie too and perhaps this situation is mirrored elsewhere. A quick Google reports that other stores under threat include Ft William, Thurso, Wick, Orkney, Shetland, Oban, Stranraer, Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas. All over Scotland communities like Nairn are facing a similar challenge and a threat to their High Streets. The situation with DE Shoes brings it sharply into focus. Have we reached a point where towns with a population of 10,000 plus like Nairn can no longer support a Shoe shop?

River Communty Council meeting - it was good!

But not classic, however still interesting. Lots to blog about but perhaps post match discussion in the Seaforth was much, much, more stimulating for this observer's ageing brain cells. Co dhiù, que sera, sera. More to come later (following the principle of never blogging too much  immediately after a dram - sin agad e bhuamsa a-nochd, bidh mi air ais aig an aon àm a-maireach). 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Wee County fundraising fans make headlines

County panel beater fundraisers with Director of football Michael Mackintosh (picture, club photographer, Donald Matheson) Bigger picture here.

A fundraising initiative from the terraces at Station Park (originating in the very heart of the famed Asylum Seekers Hill) has received the blessing of the NCFC board and yesterday hit the front page of the Leopold Street Thunderer this week.  The initiative also received a big spread on the inside pages of the Inverness Courier. 

The aim of the fans is to raise up to £60,000 over the next two years to upgrade the stand with new metal panels, install new dugouts and possible rebuild the cowshed - "A cowshed fit for the new millennium," said one fan recently. You can read all about the NCFC Supporters Ground Improvement Fund in the Nairnshire or the Tuesday edition of the Courier this week. Each pound raised will be matched by the Scottish Football Partnership, so for instance, if you were to donate to the Station Park Panel Beater initiative, your £20 (price of a panel to clad the stand) would become £40. 

A whole range of fund-raising activities are already ongoing or ready to be launched. Perhaps you might want a County mouse-mat or a coaster or a phone-sock? A vodka jelly at the Star perhaps? Well done the Star - over £310 raised for the fund so far! You can find out more about the fund raising activities on the "Nairn County - We believe Facebook" page. On Facebook? Ask one of the faithful on the social network to add you to the group.  If your business could help the fund please e-mail info@gurnnurn.com and we'll forward your details to the fans fund-raising group.

There will also be a meeting for all fans interested in helping the fund-raising in Uncle Bob's bar on Tuesday the 15th of this month at 19.30. Ideas welcome.

"This club is very much part of the Community. We are hoping everyone will recognise what we are trying to achieve is not good just for Nairn County but good for the town.
The whole economy benefits from a strong football team and we look forward to maintaining the high standards both on and off the field which we promised when the present board took over."   
Peter Mackintosh - quoted in the Inverness Courier, Tuesday January 8th 2013.