Saturday, May 31, 2014

Don’t be a don’t know! Gurn Independence Referendum Debate this Saturday 31st - 7 for 7.30 p.m Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Readers please note this post will stay pinned at the top of the page until Saturday, please scroll down for latest articles.

Tonight Sat 31st May 7.30 p.m
The image on the left of this post gives you details of the speakers on Saturday night. Are you undecided? According to some polls there are up to 20% of the electorate who are undecided on how to vote in September and many observers feel they will decide the outcome of the referendum. If you have any questions to ask on the subject of Scottish Independence come along on Saturday night to the debate. There will be two speakers from either side and they will speak, debate and answer your questions. Some more about the debate on this Gurn video.

Here are some questions we have received online already.  Do you have any questions too - deadline for submission Thurs 29th 1700. Please send to or submit as a comment to this article. 

The event starts at 7.30 p.m but please feel free to come along at 7.p.m and have a wee blether with the Gurn team and other readers before things get underway. The centre bar will be open prior to the event. 

County in the shop window

Impressive town centre window displays reported on the Nairn County Twitter Account. Also looks like the Rev Steve has kicked off with an additional job and Conor Gethins is Highland League player of the year again. And of course the fans centenary book launch on June 14th. More on County twitter here. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Free Mike Vass concert Nairn Sailing Club Sunday night 8 p.m (1st June)

It's already going to be a big day in Nairn for music with the County fans fish 'n hits show in the High Street on Sunday from 12-5. Information on that here. 

Tonight we hear via twitter than Mike Vass is also giving a free concert as part of his "In the Wake of Neil Gunn" tour. Details below:

Sunday is looking more and more like a great day to come to Nairn. Lots going on, charity boot sale in the morning too (details here) and also along with the fish and hits gigs and bargain meals at the Dolphin chipper there will be 10 mile and fun runs starting and finishing in the High Street - details here.

Great day for the dignitaries to have a paddle on Nairn Beach - sunshine for seaside awards story

Nairn is one of 12 Highland Beaches to win a seaside award this year and there couldn't have been a better day really to have a bit of a publicity song and dance about it.

Nicola MacAlley got a great picture of Provost Laurie Fraser and some other high heid yin seaside award mannie splashing about - you can see it here.  There's a press release with another picture here on the brand new madeover and confusing(?) at first glance Highland Council site. The Highland News has a really nice picture of Laurie shooting the breeze with Fergus here.  Fergus too has tweeted an image. And here's a whole set of pictures on the Keep Scotland Beautiful twitter account. 

Good stuff, hopefully it will all bring a few more visitors too Nairn. Still very warm by the way at five o' clock and a few folk still heading down to the beach. 

Overgrown grass on cycle path no-man's land bittie gets Gurn reader gurning

Gurnites will know the wee triangle on the cycle path from Kilravock Crescent round to Duncan Drive. It has been neglected in the past and once again it is looking overgrown. One of our regular readers who doesn't live a million miles from this spot was raging about it to us recently. Here is an image of the area that has upset our correspondent. 

Wee County fans announce Centenary book launch on Sat 14th June in the Playhouse 2 p.m.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kris King "Coast Hunting 2514 miles around the UK" 22 x 100 mile cycle rides and 12 marathons - in aid of Huntington's Disease Association

A remarkable young man, Kris King, paused for refreshments at Ashers cafe on Nairn High Street this afternoon after cycling the latest stage of his Challenge from Brora, via Inverness to Nairn. He spoke to the Gurn, click on the soundfile below to listen to what he told us. 

More information on these links:
Coast Hunting - for a Cure for HD Facebook
Kris King @coasthunting twitter
coasthunting for a cure on Just Giving site

Make it a day out in Nairn this Sunday 1st of June? - lots going on!

From midday on Sunday there will be quite a festival atmosphere in Nairn High Street as the County fans Fish 'n Hits gets underway with music in Castle Lane and bargain meals at the Dolphin Chipper, all monies spent in the chip shop go to the County Fans Ground Improvement Fund  - details  of Fish 'n Hits on a poster here. 

A little later there will be hundreds of runners taking part in both a 10 mile and a fun run for Cancer Research and the Yorkhill children's charity - details on a poster here. 

Earlier in the day though there will be a car boot sale in the Sainsbury's car park starting at 10.a.m. Of course there's also the beach and the riverside walks, a round of golf perhaps, and restaurants and pubs to chose from. Hope to see you this Sunday in Nairn. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Co-op fun day at King Street Store Saturday 31st of May - fundraiser for good causes

Betty tells us: "On Sat 31st of May The Co-operative are holding a Community Fun Day at King St store raising funds for Nairn Academy Mini Bus & The Fraser Cruickshank Foundation there will be Nairn Fire Brigade, Bouncy Castle, Inside Scoop , tombola, Raffle.& Guess the Weight of the Gorilla. and much more"

Free dog microchipping in Nairn on Tuesday 10th of June

Microchipping: The Dogs Trust will be carrying out free microchipping across the Highlands in a series of events across the  from June 6th to June 10th.  It would be a good idea for anyone concerned about their dog going missing to go along and take advantage of the service.

They will be in Nairn on Tuesday the 10th of June at the Links Car Park from  10 a.m - 2 p.m. 

Donald's wee A96 lights rant

Donald Wilson tells us: "Pleased to hear the Transport Minister Keith Brown promoting a new sooper douper sleeper service from Inverness to London. Last night I was travelling home from the Westerlea folk session at midnight and coming along the A96 before turning up the High Street Brae I observed in the distance the Lochloy Road lights change to red stopping A96 traffic. The interesting thing was, bar me turning up High Street, there was no traffic on the A96. And guess what. I waited. no traffic came out of Lochloy Road or Broadhill either. So Mr Brown, now you've got the nation's luxury rail commuter service sorted, think about the commoners who use your trunk roads in this part of the country and are subjected to interminable delays through the incompetence of agencies in your employ."

LibDem stushie and poll on Danny's chances of keeping his seat in this constituency

Looks like the post euro election LibDem stushie has resulted in more polling results coming into the public domain. Of course the only polls that really matter are those ones when we (those 32% of us who could be bothered at the Euros) head for the polling stations but it can't be much comfort for Danny to know that for the next Westminster election the snapshot is: 

"Of those asked, 32% said they would vote for and SNP candidate and 25% said they would vote for a Labour candidate. Alexander's 16% support is also only four points ahead of the Conservatives, who polled 12%." 

More in the Huffington Post here and the poll itself is available in its complex entirety on line here. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Community Councils Exclusive - Westies and Subbies want to get married ASP!

Back at the beginning of the month we speculated on whether the sound of wedding bells would soon be heard as the Suburban and West community councils continued their whirlwind romance. Details of what we wrote then here

Earlier this evening it emerged that things had gone even further with the two organisations now having sought advice on how they could tie the knot. Dick Youngson of the Westies introduced the final topic on the agenda of the two CCs joint meeting in Nairn Academy and said: “Amalgamation of the two community councils, Rosemary has spoken to Liz Cowie and...” 

Rosemary then began: “everybody knows that I have always wanted to have one single community council. We’ve had meetings going back a few years and River never wanted to be – we’d love to have them actually! But anyway we’ve decided to look at amalgamation between Nairn West and Nairn Suburban. So I put it to Liz Cowie and she has gone away and spoken to the powers that be and they have come back with proposals that we have to, we have to put a statement in to prove that the reasons that we’d like to merge, any relevant background to the merger proposal and if the proposal is for the straight merger of two community councils without a boundary review. We have to outline the benefit of a merge. It’s fairly easy all this stuff. Demonstrate how you have worked together to bring benefit to both communities. Well we have been working together for a long time so we don’t really have to do anything much on that. Show how the combined area would continue to receive equal representation. Well the reason that Nairn West was brought back was because we did not have representation and I am keen that we continue to have representation for Nairn West and it is quite difficult to get people to stand in Nairn West but we need it covered and I think amalgamation would be perfect."

Looks like it might not be long before the Westies and Subbies will be putting on their best outfits for the big day. Anyone that doesn’t like this concept had better move fast: “If any constituent can show just cause, why these two community councils may not lawfully be joined together let them speak now or forever hold their copy of the joint AGM.”

How long before the big day? Will the Westies and Subbies have an ostentatious wedding in the Courthouse? Could public pressure pile up yet and demand a three in a bed show that would force even the reluctant River CC folkies into an everlasting ménage à trios. Who will marry them? Will it be Provost Laurie Fraser or could the Area Political Leader Liz MacDonald grab the limelight and officiate at the wedding of the year? 

Dolphin Chipper prepares for the big event on Sunday - Fish n' Hits 2014

They'll be a lot going on in Nairn High Street from midday on Sunday - in fact it'll all be a bit of a festival atmosphere. More details of the events taking place, including posters, here. 

Police appeal for information in relation to a theft from Cawdor Parish Church

Police are appealing for information in relation to a report of theft from Cawdor Parish Church.

Some time between 12:00 hours on Sunday 25 May 2014 and 20:00 hours on Monday 26 May 2014, an unknown person(s) have entered Cawdor Parish Church and removed a collection box.

Should anyone have any information about this incident or seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area, they are urged to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 111 555.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The day after Games day - plans for "Reunion Sunday" take shape

The Nairn Events Committee held another meeting recently and the form of the attempt to extend the Nairn Highland Games activities into the Sunday after games day took shape. Michael Green told the committee that local councillors had agreed the proposal to organise “Reunion Day” events on the Sunday. It would begin with an open-air church service at 11am, and end at about 6pm.  Activities and entertainment would be organised and provided by different groups, but the committee would need to have an outline timetable.  A commercial business would offer kite-flying and balloons.  Stall holders already present for the Games would be encouraged to remain for the Sunday at a reduced pitch-tariff (25% of the Saturday rate).   The committee will endeavour to encourage the wide range of talented individuals and groups in Nairn to perform at the bandstand. 

Good luck to the events committee in their ongoing efforts. Meanwhile this coming Sunday 1st of June, will be a very busy day in the town centre with two events in the High Street: the County Fans “Fish and Hits” with music in Castle Lane and bargain meals at the Dolphin chipper starting at midday; also in the afternoon there will be a charity 10 mile run and a fun run to raise cash for the Yorkhill Foundation. There will be quite a festival atmosphere in the High Street. More details on this page here. If you are thinking of coming to Nairn for these events you could always take in the Charity car boot sale at 10 a.m. in the Sainsbury’s carpark too and make a complete day of it in Nairn.  

Another view of the vessel "Deep Energy" by Donald Matheson

Donald captured an image of the pipe laying vessel that seemed to be anchored quite close to the shore on Sunday the 18th of this month. Click to enlarge.

Donald also sent us some images of the cricket which you can see here

Petroatlantic - a Nairn backdrop and an occasional long distance commuter

The tankers Petroatlantic and Petronordic are so often part of the local Moray Firth seascape that they are almost now as iconic to the town as the Fisherwifie statue or the bandstand. Sometimes they make trips up north however and are conspicuous by their absence. One of our readers, Bratach, took this image of the Petroatlantic anchored south of Lerwick in Shetland.
Just before she left for her recent voyage the Petroatlantic was parked up with three other ships off Nairn, including her sistership the Petronordic. Also just off shore was this remarkable vessel. 

Euro elections - how people voted in Highland

Although the Scottish vote will not be declared until later today, due to the count in the Western Isles not taking place on a Sunday, like the other euro electoral areas in Scotland Highland Council have published details of the count in their area, they state:

"In Highland, the Scottish National Party (SNP)  topped the poll with 19,810 votes. The Liberal Democrats were second with 12,189 votes, the Labour Party were third with 9,163 and the Conservative Party were fourth with 9,088 votes.
The Highland result of the Election to the Scotland Region of the European Parliament is as follows:
Party/Individual                                           Votes cast
Britain First                                                    755
British National Party                                       435
Conservative Party                                       9,088
Labour Party                                               9,163
Liberal Democrats                                       12,189
NO2EU                                                          294
Scottish Green Party                                     5,615
Scottish National Party                                 19,810
UK Independence Party (UKIP)                      7,818
Rejected votes                136
Total votes cast          65,307
% Turn out                36.3%"

Three things to note from the results in the Highlands perhaps apart from a strong SNP win, the LibDem vote has not evaporated and UKIP are not too far behind the Labour and Tories and there was a good turnout for the Greens. The turnout was up too - 2009 results are here on the Highland Council site.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Gurn Reader's delivery charges rip-off rant

One of our regular readers was inspired to put pen to digital paper and sent us a copy of his e-mail to a company he was about to buy goods from:

"I was nearly going to place an order with you when I found that you charge unbelievable price for delivery to the northern half of Scotland. How can a £19 order be charged £16 delivery. I live 15 miles east of Inverness which is a city on the mainland of the UK which has the main A96 trunk road from Inverness to Aberdeen. Bet they don't get charge silly amounts to post to Aberdeen.I am sorry but will not be purchasing the product from you."

Our correspondent told us: "I am flabbergasted at the cost of delivery and thought this was getting under control because of bad press for companies."

Friday, May 23, 2014

" The people of Lochloy been let down in the past let’s not let them down again." Michael Green

On Tuesday the revised masterplan for the final phase of development at Lochloy was approved. Michael Green spoke in the chamber at Glenurquhart Road and said: 
"I’m supportive of this development. Nairn is sometimes seen as being anti-development but we’re not. I drove round there yesterday and I know the area well, there are some nice houses, these are nice houses that are envisaged. It is a nice area. I do however, have two areas of concern that I want to raise. One of which Councillor MacAulay has touched on, one which he hasn’t. 

My first area of concern is the ability of Lochloy Road with its choke ponts and chicanes, especially at the junction of the A96 and with the dreaded traffic lights, to cope with the increased traffic  that the development will bring. As the transport assessment has been viewed by Transport and Planning and Transport Scotland and has been capable of handing this increased traffic on the ribbon development. However, just a word of concern. We have some very capable people in Nairn who have built up, as you well know, considerable experience in reviewing traffic assessments. So we will be monitoring the traffic situation very closely to see if Lochloy Road can indeed cope with the increased traffic. 

The 2nd point and this is the final phase of a development that has been going on over 20 years. A development that I have to say has been dogged with controversy, mainly involving developers going into liquidation and the problems and the stresses caused as a result of basically unfulfilled promises and conditions. Now we have been promised in the conditions in three clear areas, outdoor sports and recreational facilities. [...] Springfield are a national company, they are very good builders but let’s try this conditions built in early. 
Condition 4, we’ve been promised a tree planting plan that will be implemented in full during the 1st planting season before the commencement of development. Well let’s try and make sure they actually adhere to the plans and that does actually occur. 

The last point I’d like to make and it echoes what Councillor MacAulay said: this is condition 5 and this is of vital importance and that is that no development shall commence until a scheme for the maintenance in perpetuity of all on site green spaces, woodlands, play areas and other spaces and facilities. Members, officers, let’s learn from our shared experience – because it is a shared experience. The Lochloy community deserve it in this instance, especially in the light of what has gone before  - the most diligent oversight and the detailed scrutiny during this final phase of development. The people of Lochloy been let down in the past let’s not let them down again. They deserve better this time. “

Date for your Diary - Scams Awareness Tea Party - Nairn United Reform Church Friday 30th May 1.30-3.30 p.m.

Nairn CAB informs the Gurn: "As part of Scams Awareness month Nairn CAB are hosting a Tea party on Friday 30th May 1.30-3.30 at the URC.  We will have speakers from Trading Standards and hopefully Police Scotland at the event. Plenty home baking too!"

Thanks to Nairn Fire Brigade...

...who got to Gurn Headquarters to extinguish our cooker fire very quickly indeed earlier this evening and stopped any further damage to the property. Great work guys! Deeply indebted to you all. 

Transport Scotland give assurances over traffic flow through Nairn

Nairn Ward Members of The Highland Council were given assurance this week by Transport Scotland that traffic flow through the centre of Nairn will be improved by the Trunk Road Authority. 

Councillors Laurie Fraser, Michael Green, Colin Macaulay, and Liz MacDonald discussed the issues of traffic flow through Nairn at one of their regular transport
Jams again last week in Nairn
meetings with Transport Scotland and Bear Scotland (North East) officials held on Thursday (22 May) in Nairn.

Leader of the Nairn and Badenoch and Strathpsey Area Councillor Liz MacDonald welcomed the talks, she said: “This was a very productive meeting at which we got a very good update and received assurance that Transport Scotland and their contractors Bear Scotland NE are doing all that they can to improve the flow of traffic through Nairn. 

 “We were also informed that Transport Minister Keith Brown is aware of the traffic problems in Nairn and that the Trunk Road Authority is looking into the issues at Lochloy Junction and that they intend to carry out white-lining and re-assess the traffic lights at the junction. The Nairn members are very pleased with the reassurance that the white lining will be carried out in Transport Scotland’s summer programme.”

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cllr Thomas Prag on Lochloy Road: “I’ve never had a problem with traffic there”

Tuesday saw the approval of the revised masterplan for the Springfield Properties site on Lochloy Road by the South Highland Planning Committee in Glenurquhart Road. There is a webcast recording on the Highland Council site should anyone wish to watch that agenda item in its entirety. 

As is normal in these affairs several councillors that live in other parts of the Highlands gave their views on a Nairn issue. Among those who spoke was LibDem high heid yin Thomas Prag. He was very forthright about Lochloy road, this is what he had to say:
“I’ve used that road quite a lot, I’ve never ever had a problem with traffic there, so if traffic experts say it will be all right I’m inclined to believe that but we’ll keep an eye on it of course.”
More from the Lochloy approval debate soon. 

Daniel Moore no more at Nairn County FC - Elgin bound

Rumours have been circulation for some time that Daniel Moore was leaving the club. Confirmation comes via NCFC's twitter account. 

"Volunteer Students help Nairn residents to get online"

and the Nairn Get IT Together folk have been nominated for an award

Polling day in Nairn

A cool start to the Euro Elections polling day in Nairn, chillier than it has been recently and still the threat of rain. In 2009 only 28.5% of the Scottish electorate voted in this election - will the turnout be higher this time round?

Can you help for an hour this Saturday at 09.30 for one hour? Keeping Nairnshire Colourful - removing spring bedding plants

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ashers Bakery are officially the best bakery in Scotland! image of the celebrations as they win the Scottish Bakery of the Year 2014 award.

Ali Asher sends us an image of the joyous scene in Glasgow on Saturday night as the Ashers Bakery team celebrated winning the Scottish Baker of the Year award 2014. (click on image to enlarge).

Ali told the Gurn: "The competition is organised by ‘Scottish Bakers’ and voted for by customers throughout Scotland. We’ve had our busiest year ever due to our partnerships with Scotmid & Spar and a variety of other initiatives so naturally we’re delighted for this to be recognised in this way."

Congratulations it's official, Ashers are the best bakery in Scotland! Ashers have a website here and a facebook page here.

Questions so far from deepest Gurnshire for Independece Referendum debate - Saturday 31st of May - have you got any too?

We asked Gurnshire if any of you had questions for the speakers who will be at the Gurn Independence Referendum debate on Saturday the 31st in the Community and Arts Centre (see image of poster in this article). Here's what we
have so far, maybe other readers out there have some more. We will take questions on the night but we will also refer to these ones too if time permits.

Look forward to seeing you all on Saturday 31st of May – 7.00 p.m for 7.30 p.m. The Centre bar will be open prior to the event starting so feel free to come along for a wee blether before hand. In the meantime perhaps Gurnites might have some thoughts themselves on the following questions.

I work for a company whose HQ is based in England. How will this affect me?
Where will the money come from?
How much will it cost me?
Will I have to pay more tax?
What happens if we get Independence and it doesn't work?
How will we protect ourselves. 
What happens if there is a NO vote?
What happens if there is a YES vote and after the election we end up with a Labour or Liberal or Tory government?
After Independence if I was ill and the treatment was only available down south, would I get it?
If the Unionist Parties decide to give Scotland devo-max (or as the Liberals call it "Home Rule"), what powers really should be retained at Westminster? (Just the entitlement to be compelled to participate in illegal wars?) 
Whichever way we vote, i.e. to stay in the union or to become independent, what are 3 things that will be better for us? 

Euro elections - will you bother to vote tomorrow? - last time only 28.5% of the Scottish electorate turned out

Perhaps tomorrow around 70 % of the voters in Nairnshire may not bother to turn up at a polling station. It could be that with all the recent political activity connected with the Independence referendum more people will bother to vote this time though and maybe there may be a dramatic increase in attendance at polling booths.
Will you be voting? Any thoughts to share? Likewise perhaps you might want to tell us your reasons for not voting if you are that way inclined.

Birds at Nairn Harbour - Images by Murray MacRae

Thanks to Murray MacRae for these images taken at Nairn harbour. Larger images here. 

Nairn online calendar of events coming soon from the Community and Arts Centre

At their recent meeting earlier this month the Nairn Events Committee, comprised of local business representatives, Visit Nairn, NICE, the Book and Arts folk and the town's Community Councils got down to a planning session to help the realise their ambition of an augmented range of events for Nairn throughout the year. 

They heard from Michael Green that an online events calendar could be live by the end of the month. The volunteers heard,  initially – to raise awareness and encourage event organisers to use the calendar, entries would be free;  but thereafter, to ensure the sustainability of the service, there would be a small charge for each entry.  All local organisations would be encouraged to submit details of forthcoming events. It was in everyone’s interest to have a planning facility which ensured that clashes of dates were avoided.

As more and more people access the web from their phones an on-line calendar capable of being screened on smartphones is the aim of the events committee and it is envisaged the calendar would be printer friendly too. More from the events committee later. 

"Nairn Through Time" - launch of Alan Barron's latest book - tomorrow Thursday 22 May in Nairn Community and Arts Centre - 7.00 p.m.

Food and the Champion's League Final

A staggering choice for food in the Playhouse for the Champion's League Final on Saturday night. You can get Indian, Bangladeshi, Traditional Fisn 'n Chips, Kebabs, Burgers, Haggis, Chinese, Malayasian, Thai, Pizzas, Award Winning Pies and Tandori.
Michael Green told the Gurn that he was very pleased to see this new innovation that will support many local businesses: "The great thing about it is that everyone can take part," he said.
The Playhouse will also offer this service in cooperation with the local takeaways for the World Cup, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sunday 1st June - a big day in Nairn High Street - 10 mile Charity run, fun run and County Fans "Fish 'n' hits 2014' music and food

The two posters below give details of what will be happening in Nairn High Street on Sunday the 1st of June. The High Street will be closed to traffic for a lot of the afternoon and with the music in Castle Lane, the bargain meals from the Dolphin and the presence of hundreds of runners and spectators there will be a bit of a festival atmosphere in the town centre. The two posters below give details of the events. 

Liz and Danny Bow are organising the charity run, Liz told the Gurn: "We had a very successful local Nairnshire schools visit by Yorkhill Childrens Charity, and really hope that lots of families will come along and walk or run in the fun run.
The 10 mile race entries are arriving daily, it looks like both our running events shall raise lots of money for Cancer Research UK and Yorkhill Children's Charity.  Fish n Hits and the run will be a great buzz and activity on Nairn High Street, the runs raising money for very worthwhile local and national charities and Fish 'n hits helping boost the County fans ground improvement fund.

Fish 'n Hits 2014 info here on the fans GIF (Ground Improvement Site).
Pictures from 2013 Fish 'n Hits here.  

Various information on the 10 mile and fun run events below

Monday, May 19, 2014

Celtic Squad signed top from 1995 on auction for NCFC fans ground improvement fund

Currently the top bid for the top on the County Fans “Wee Believe” page is £375 but there are still 12 days of this fundraising auction to go. 

The details are: “A very unique top from 1995 when Tommy Burns was the Celtic manager.  This top is signed by the whole squad and includes the late Tommy Burns and Phil O'Donnell. Other Signatures include Paolo Di Canio, Jorge Cadette, Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Andreas Thom, Paul Mcstay, Jackie McNamara, Simon Donnelly, Stewart Kerr, Gordon Marshall, Tosh McKinley, Malky Mackay, Peter Grant, Alan Stubbs, Brian Oneill, Brian McLaughlin, John Hughes, Stuart Gray, Tom Boyd,Morten Wieghorst,Frank Connor and Billy Stark. This top is a Bhoys size large which would look fantastic framed. A few fantastic names on this item. This auction will end on Saturday 31st of May at 7pm. All monies raised will go into the pot for the new enclosure.”

Community Councillor expresses his Charette Concerns

Last week at the regular weekly meeting of the River Community Council Simon Noble outlined his feelings about the recent town centre action plan charrette. On hand to reply were local Highland Councillors Liz and Colin. 

Simon said: “One of the things I remember reading in the Nairnshire which echoed what I had felt at the time was that the charrette was not a good means of consulting with the wider community because, for instance, just me for example, I was unable to attend because of working commitments. So I wasn’t able to put my two pennyworth into the consultation. And I know of a number of other people typically much younger than me. There were lots of middle-aged, grey haired, bearded blokes turning up to the charrette but I am aware of quite a lot of people in their thirties and forties who have got an interest in it and also local business people who can’t afford the time or were not able to allocate time to come along to a charrette. So what is worrying is that the charrette is seen as the consultation but it hasn’t reach large sections of the community. And what is worrying though is that the messages from the charrette are seen as the consultation, the authority if you like to take forward plans."

Liz then said: “I think one of the things we have to do with the planning officers is look at the previous development plans and the outcomes of the charrette in how we meet the aspirations of our community and there were other ways that people could get involved through the internet and there was different mediums that people could put in representations. There were forms in public buildings and so on."

Colin then said: “There was a broad section of representation there and we hope these people represent their community’s views, whether that is from Nairn businesses or..., I think it was an opportunity to try and bring some threads together and I think it did that and [...] there was stuff there that wasn’t really invented on the day it was stuff that had been invented on other days in years past kind of thing, being brought to the fore because it is still the prevailing view. I accept loads of criticism in terms that it could have been better but we were faced with an opportunity of applying for money to allow us to consult. It was absolutely the right thing to do.”

Simon later came back into the debate: “Nobody is consultation and community engagement is an easy thing to do and so of course, it is important to run events like the charrette, but it is a mistake to believe that that is sufficient. There is also a natural tendency to rely on the firmest, clearest bits of evidence when building plans and developing one’s thinking. The slightly worrying bit about the charrette is that it was formulated as a consultation process because some money was made available rather than because the Council wanted to develop the best possible way of consulting with the community. The risk is that the charrette has been successful with the group of people that attended it will then be given considerable weight in any developing plans. I think that risks losing the opportunity to engage the wider community because there are other ways of achieving that. I think it is too easy to tick a box to say we’ve done some consultation because we have done a charrette or we’ve done one or two other things. There are other ways of developing community consultation which can involve people, some of whom have got skills in this town that they can offer to facilitate that."

The conversation continued in this vein for a few more minutes.

Revised masterplan for Springfield Properties at Lochloy recommended for approval

The site that had already been zoned for a large housing development has been redesigned  and the development of 178 houses, roads, footpaths and  cycleway, open space and landscaping is recommended for approval by planners when it goes to the Highland Council South Planning Committee tomorrow. Gurnites can see the details and comments by the planners on a document here (if you only want to see the plans scroll down to the bottom of the document once you have it loaded). There were 13 objectors to the plan, including the Woodland Trust, and 1 for.

Given the ongoing problems with traffic on the A96 junction and many people of the school of thought that it is the lights there that are exasperating the problem it is interesting to read the following information from the planners, more in the document linked above: 

"There is a long standing requirement for the provision of a pedestrian and cycle 
crossing of the Aberdeen to Inverness railway line arising from previous (2000 
application) Trunk Roads consultations, national policy, and safety reasons, 
reinforced by the Access Officer’s comments. Although the transport statement 
submitted by the applicants queries the need for this crossing and suggests 
enhanced bus services as an alternative, this argument is not accepted by 
consultees. The active travel which the crossing would promote and cater for is 
highest in the travel hierarchy. There is an existing Section 75 Agreement relating 
to a previous phase of development intended to provide an income stream to fund  the crossing. A similar agreement is needed to secure contributions from this 
development. Transport Planning have also indicated a possible need for funding 
of an enhanced No. 20 bus service over a 3 year period dependent on the outcome  of a review of the operation of the service."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"A Yes Voter in Nairn" - new local blog on the political block

"A perspective from Nairn" it says on the banner of this new political digital organ that has appeared in the Nairnshire blogosphere. " A Yes voter in Nairn" can be read here.

Is anyone out there locally blogging from the Better Together perspective or on the behalf of the don't know or even the don't give a **** viewpoints? Let us know and we will link to your sites/blogs - (must be Nairnshire orientated or based however).

Sunday miscellany – “Ashers Scottish Bakers of the Year”, County goings on, digital acclaim for local project, traffic and other topics

Ashers are reporting on their facebook page that they won the Scottish Baker of the Year award last night in Glasgow. Congratulations and likes are pouring into their page this morning as fans of the local champion’s delicious products wake up to the good news. The Gurn team add their congratulations too to the local bakery championi - well done!

The local IT Get it Together project has been nominated for a “Digital Leader” Award. Co-ordinator of the initiative Brigitte Vallance told the Gurn: “We are so pleased about this as we are a relatively small area but with a huge commitment to ensure that everyone who wants to get online can.  As you know we run fun, informal and friendly sessions which anyone is welcome to attend.  The impact that this project has already had can’t be under-estimated.  I have seen unsure learners transform into skilled internet surfers.  Learners who didn’t know how to use the internet just a few weeks ago, are now researching gifts for family members, booking tickets online and saving money. We also have so many new learners confidently using Skype and email not to mention become experts at Candy Crush.  Even games like this not only help touch control and hand eye co-ordination, but they also give a sense of being included and learners find they can relate to their Grandchildren in a completely new way.
Our project has had the support of the Saltire Students from Nairn Academy, who have undergone training, and now support our BIG (Beginners Internet Group) every week.  Both learners and students thoroughly enjoy spending time together, and they learn a lot from each other.”

You can vote for the Nairn project here, it is one of those rather long voting forms however with the Nairn group on page 9 – still a massive achievement for the initiative. This observer visited one of their open days and they certainly continue to do what it says on the tin. 

It’s rumour central on the County Fans facebook pages this weekend with potential comings and goings of players being discussed. The return of Paul MacLeod to the Wee County from Saints has been announced in one thread however and this seems a definite. Congratulations Paul, it will be fantastic to see you back on the Station Park turf! A pitch that is apparently been declared, in an SFA competition based on referee’s analysis, the third best pitch in Scotland. Celtic were 1st, Morton 2nd with Nairn winning acclaim in 3rd place. A marvellous achievement for the pitch maintenance squad and the volunteers that turn out for repairs every Sunday after home games. 

Anyone that enjoyed the County Fans “Fish 'n Hits” fundraiser last year which included music in Castle Lane and bargain fish and other suppers at the Dolphin Chipper will be delighted to know that the event will be repeated in a fortnight’s time on Sunday the 1st of June. Music will again be provided by local musicians and the Dolphin will have another bargain menu to feed you with all proceeds going to the NCFC Supporters Ground Improvement Fund. Images of last year’s event here. More details will be published by the Dolphin and the County Fans soon but we can reveal that there will be a set menu of meals all for £3 each from 12- 4p.m. The High Street will also be closed for a lot of the afternoon  as there will be a Nairn 10 Mile Road Race & Fun Run (5K) Sunday 1st June 2014 in aid of Cancer Research UK and Yorkhill Children's charity, starting at With the runners and their spectators plus the music and the food there will be a bit of a festival atmosphere in Nairn High Street on that day. C’mon down on the day and join the fun. 

Yesterday the A96 lights still seemed to be causing problems in town but on a lesser scale to the Friday night rush hour. Our correspondent who alerted us on Friday was out assessing the situation yesterday and has been proactive in writing to the authorities. He told us: “The traffic in Nairn not too bad today but still queues forming east  bound. The lights seemed erratic with 8 second to 30
second on green on A96. There was one pedestrian who crossed the road but it took three changes to get me through from Harbour Street to the Lochloy junction (approx200m) while on way to Sainsbury’s.”

Our regular reader provided us with images of the situation which clearly show that the west bound traffic has no hold ups but the eastbound disappears off into the 
distance. The image on the right was taken before 2pm on Saturday. Gurnites that wish to comment on the traffic situation in Nairn please add comments to the Friday night thread here, there are some interesting suggestions and opinions coming in, including severe criticism of our local councillors. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Yes Nairnshire Campaigners on Nairn High Street, short interview with one activist

This morning the Gurn spoke to YES activist John Gallagher. 
An image of the local Yes campaign stall in the High Street sunshine this morning.

If you have views on the referendum and live in Nairnshire the Gurn is happy to publish them. Please send your thoughts to Similarly if you are doing any campaign work locally for Better Together or YES  let us know or send us images etc. 
If it's referendum related and happening in Nairnshire we are happy to report on it. By the way, doing anything on Saturday 31st of May? 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Selfish and dangerous parking at Millbank School?

Tonight the A96 in Nairn looked like a massive car park, meanwhile one of our readers alerted us to a sign that has appeared next to the gates at Millbank School on a parking related issue. Could it be that the Highland Council education department became so exasperated that they decided an "in your face banner" was the best way to achieve a result? 

Friday night travel in Nairn "28 min from the 3 slash marker at Sandown to get to Duncan Drive"

One of our regular readers reports a very frustrating time trying to get through only one traffic light and home to his residence in Duncan Drive after returning from Inverness. The image is of the delay on the western approach to the town earlier this evening. Are our dysfunctional lights excelling themselves tonight?  There are reports on twitter too of longer than normal delays. Some images from a little later here on the Gurn flickr pages. 

Update: 16.10 17/5 Our correspondent tells us that he sent an e-mail to BEAR and received the following: "Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
I will forward your e-mails to Perth office to emphasise the problem.
Meanwhile we will get SEIMENS Mobility out to check the operation of the traffic lights and rectify any problems there may be."  

Around lunchtime today  however we had a comment in saying it took 20 minutes to travel from Laing Gardens to Househill. 

Police appeal for Range Rover (B8 JOK) reported as stolen from a farm near Ardclach

On Thursday 16 May 2014 between the hours of 00:00 and 06:00, a Range Rover with the vehicle registration number B8 JOK, was reported as stolen from a farm near Ardclach on the A939 road between Grantown-on Spey and Nairn.

The vehicle is described as gold in colour, with an all leather interior, automatic gearbox and after market thick black bull bars and a prominent tow bar of a ball and clevis joint. The vehicle also has a distinctive horizontal scratch on the offside rear door panel.

Police Scotland are requesting that members of the public report any sighting of this vehicle immediately on telephone number 101 or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police would also like to reminder vehicle owners to ensure the security of their own vehicles, especially when left unattended.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"The next generation" - an image of the Nairn Swans by Kenny MacLeod

Highland Council needs to save £63 million from the budget 2015-19 – “It’s not going to be easy the next several years at all” says Colin MacAulay

Whatever the political and economic climate post the referendum in September the uncomfortable realities that Highland Council have to face still have to come home to roost but before there are any cuts the public will be asked for their ideas. The Highland Council website puts a figure on what has to come out of the budget: “Dates have been set for a series of 13 budget events being held by The Highland Council to consult with the public over spending priorities between 2015-2019 during which time the Council has to find savings of an estimated £63 million.”  More details here. 

Local Councillor Colin MacAulay gave a pretty sobering vision of what is to come to River CC members on Wednesday night in the URC hall He said there would be a Nairn Ward Budget Consultation meeting on Thursday the 12th of June in the Courthouse and then stated: 

“We know we are going to have significantly fewer resources, before we are hit with the sharpness of that we want to do a two stage consultation where folk look at it in the first instance. Proposals then come forward and we’ll have a range of ways of working to do that but using the citizens’ panel, using a citizens’ forum kind of thin. Just we can talk about salami slicing, the level of cut we are going to be experiencing in two years time, taking two percent off here and three percent off it – it’s not going to do. We need to do either less or differently and we need that kind of conversation over a period of time.” 

Harking back to the old days and a former consultation by the old administration, Liz MacDonald said with a touch of irony that brought laughter to the room: “ and there’s no proposals in our budget consultation to close the swimming pool.”

Colin continued “This is about folk trying to be creative and thinking, what are we doing in manner A that could actually be done in manner B or get more out of fashion C or whatever else? It’s not going to be easy the next several years at all.” 

Doctor Grigor bound for Castle Square?

At the regular meeting of River Community Council in the URC hall last night a member of the public raised the possibility of moving Doctor Grigor’s statue from Viewfield back to the High Street. Cllr Liz MacDonald then told the

“We were actually talking about this on Monday, about moving the statue because in a couple of weeks at our ward business meeting we’re having someone through from the planning authority to see if we can take the proposals from the charrette forward and one of the things we were talking about was seeing if the statue could go into Castle Square – at the corner so it is at a prominent site and didn’t tie up the whole square so we could still have markets and things in there. So it is something we have discussed so it is nice to hear it being brought up at the community council.” 

Picture shows the Doctor one September morning in 2012 in a more Duke of Wellington (George Square)  type of pose. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Undecided? How about a night out that might help you make your mind up? - Saturday 31st of May - Nairn Community and Arts Centre

More details here.

"Faecal fountains on Brocher’s Brae" - Colin uses colourful imagery in the Glenurquhart Road Council Chamber

Cllr  Colin MacAulay thanked Highland Council officers for their “phenomenal job” on the local plan today in the chamber at Glenurquhart Road:  “It’s impressive, we should all, kind of, praise the officers that have been involved above and beyond to do this. It’s not an easy task and I’m left with this thought and this is the general bit, there’s just something not quite right about having a Highland Wide Development Local Development Plan and an Inner Moray Firth Development Plan. The Inner Moray Firth isn’t local, it’s still the size of a small country. There’s something there that’s not quite right but that I think is a national issue. It’s a local government reorganisation issue. Given that kind of, the structures that people are working with I think they’ve done an amazing, an amazing job.”

Colin then went on to talk about the words NIMBY and NODAM, he explained that NODAM means no other development after mine.  He went on to say that
these issues were very, very personal and to illustrate this he went to explain that the house that he and his wife brought 10 years ago enjoys excellent views – views that were in effect stolen from a neighbour across the road who used to enjoy them before another house was built in front of him.
He then said: “never could I believe three years ago that you go abroad and you would actually think about planning but you do.” He then compared his impressions of Béziers (bad) with Montpellier (good) for the benefit of the chamber and anyone watching the webcast. 

He concluded: “The bit that follows as a development plan, I want officers to use this to challenge developers about the quality of their build. We get platitudes sometimes – Water and Sewage will say sometimes say there’s not an issue or pick that up in terms of capacity but they don’t live, you know, we have faecal fountains on Brocher’s Brae after a downpour. The people that say there’s not an issue there don’t live beside these faecal fountains because the population see them.  Sorry you want an explanation? As the water surges up can google them on youtube. I think we want officers to really scrutinise and challenge on the behalf of the people.  It’s the same when it comes down to the roads, it’s common sense, and the community can sense there’s an issue over traffic and you really do need to challenge a transport assessment that says no problem.” 

Murd's take on the recent town centre charrette

Murd Dunbar wasn't very impressed with the recent charrette that met recently to formulate an action plan for the town centre. He told the Gurn about his experience:
"Let me explain further as to why I walked out. I asked the following: how can you develop and demolish property you don’t own? One of the responses was that we could acquire them by compulsory purchase.

On the subject of making more use of vacant properties my suggestion was to let young couples buy the old community buildings and develop them at their own cost which has a twofold outcome: helping to create housing and still taking in money for the council. That idea received a resounding “no” – those buildings are required for other projects. 

I also asked if someone was to buy it at a reduced price wouldn’t they be the owners of a piece of land in the centre of town worth a lot of money
Why was it necessary to move the bus station? The answer to that was to prevent buses crossing the road and people would not have to cross a busy road. (Do the buses and people only come from one direction?)

I asked if the brae was pedestrianised and there was an accident on St Ninian Road, where would the traffic go? I added that at least one lorry had gone over on to its side at the roundabout in the past. I was told that they could not or would not close the road. 

Can I now point out to the councillor who stated this that this is exactly what happened at Achareidh this week due to an unfortunate accident. 
There are hundreds of cars that go up the brae every week. Has anyone who wishes to close the brae ever bothered to find out where all these vehicles are going and where they would go if the brae was pedestrianised? They would either use the more dangerous option of turning into Gordon Street or cause further congestion at Waverly Road or go down through Fishertown which would not be an option for lorries. 

There may have been some sensible suggestions come out of it but if there is money it would be better spent on the likes of the putting green, paddling pool, etc, for those who do come to Nairn to enjoy what should be made available to them. "

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Suspicious callers in Nairn - Local B&B owner urges folk to be aware

One of our regular readers reports this morning two quite smartly dressed teenagers (our correspondent reckons about 14 or 15 years old) turned up at the back door and asked if they could buy a drink! Our regular reader said no and pointed them in the direction of the nearby hotels and then struck up a conversation; asking how old they were...etc, and they said they were in the area, and by the way did she want a quote for tarmacking her driveway? After the end of this conversation and the departure of the two youngsters our correspondent then went back inside (as they had to tidy up after departing B&B guests) - only to discover that the two lads had walked round and into the open front door and were in the hallway. They apparently claimed they thought this was a "different house".
They were chased off and the proprietor called the police (101). Well worth calling the police if anyone else experiences similar suspicious activity suggests our reader.

Licensing board defers application for Harleys Cocktail and Grill Bar until June 17th meeting

Richard Sharp had his application for a license deferred for a month and he has to supply the board with a noise assessment and smoking management plan. There were dissenting members who wanted to see the application passed today with officers dealing with noise and smoking issues under delegated powers.   The board heard in person from both Richard Sharp and Leopold Street resident and objector Iain Bain.
The discussion on the application should be available on the Highland Council webcast archive within 24hours. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Did the planners listen to your views? Their vision for Nairn’s future development is going for approval by Councillors on Weds (14th May)

The local plan blueprint takes the next step forward this week when Highland Councillors consider whether to approve their planners’ responses to public submissions to the process. Deep in darkest digital Gurnshire this observer read the following assertion today: “With the exception of South Inverness (125 responses), the section on Nairn had the highest number of comments (a total of 103) of any part of the IMFLDP*.  Massively higher than any other town in the area, and three times as high as any other part of Inverness.” 

Now, the suggestion is that that the high lnumber of responses demonstrates the level of anxiety in Nairn about the planning policies of Highland Council. Among those responses was a joint response from Nairn’s Community Councils which was highly critical of the IMFLDP* (the blueprint for the next 20 years of development in Nairn). 

Did you make a contribution? Even if you didn’t do you think the planners represent your views in the their responses to submissions from the community? You can read the planners take on how they see various parts of Nairn developing below  we’ve linked to most of the sections of the response document the councillors have access to and are being asked to approve.

To see the geographical area these numerical designations from the Highland Council a map is available on their initial plan document here. 

*Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan. 

Emergency services in River Nairn rescue last night (Sunday 11th)

Nairn Coastguard have reported on their facebook page: "Nairn team called out at 2150 to a person in the river, police fire brigade and ambulance in attendance the person was successfully taken out of the water and transported to hospital by ambulance."

Shock as Fans Favourite Ally MacLeod steps down as assistant manager of Nairn County FC

County fans favourite Ally MacLeod has announced that he is leaving the club. Full details on the club site here. 

An idea of the depth of the relationship between Ally and the fans can be seen by reading this article "Nairn County Supporters declare they "Believe" in Ally Macleod"
Stunned fans are expressing their shock on the County Fans facebook page but also wishing their hero all the best for the future. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

"Gender Bender" chemical in 20 Scottish Rivers including the Nairn - information in Sunday Herald article.

A page four article in the Sunday Herald states  "Revealed: 20 rivers in Scotland polluted by toxic 'gender-bender' chemicals."

The paper displays SEPA test results and goes on to say that Monitoring by the government watchdog has found traces of nonylphenols - chemicals know to disrupt hormones and cause sex change. They describe the chemicals:
"Nonylphenols are endocrine disruptors, which means they can affect hormones such as oestrogen in the body. Studies have foudn that they can cause the "feminisation" of fish, decreasing male fertility and shrinking testicals."

SEPA have told the Herald however that "of the 20 rivers where elevated levels of nonylphenols were detected in 2011-2013, only the River Irvine breached Sepa's environmental quality standard." A graphic contained in the paper's article gives a figure of 341 average nanograms per litre 2011-13 for the River Irvine whilst the River Nairn average is 186.  The article contains views on the effects of these chemicals and their possible origins from clothes containing the chemical being washed. More online here or in the hard copy in the shops. 

Classic Cars in Inverness - Pictures Donald Matheson

Donald was in Inverness yesterday and took a few pictures of the scenes at the Classic Car event in the City Centre. Something Nairn could try too? Individual images here. 

How the planners see Nairn developing over the next 20 years – What might happen to the Showfield?

In this earlier article here we mentioned how the planners responses to submissions to the local plan will be going forward for approval by councillors on Wednesday (14th May). After approval by the Council the local plan (IMFLDP – Inner Moray Firth Local Plan), the blueprint for the next 20 years of development locally, will go to the Scottish Government’s Reporters for consideration. You can see the full range of responses to concerns expressed about proposals for many areas of Nairn here in this document starting on page 360. In this article we examine the response to concerns over the Showfield.

On the issues raised by residents the planners state: “The site includes land currently allocated for housing development within the current Nairnshire Local Plan, although the extent of the site has been expanded in the Inner Moray Firth Proposed Local Development Plan. Comments received have largely been against the potential for developing the site. Further comments have been received supporting the potential of an excambion with some of the Sandown land for development of a new showfield and retention of NA1 as open space.”
Gurnites can see what exactly the area “NA1” of the Showfield is on page 65 of the original plan document here.

 It looks like the idea of swapping a bit of Sandown for the Showfield might not work however under the auspices of the current Sandown Development Brief. The planners go on to say:
 “The option to deliver a new showfield at Sandown has been investigated during the preparation of the Sandown Development Brief but the adequacy of land available for this purpose was not clearly identified as being adequate for the Nairnshire Farmers Society’s requirements for a new larger showfield. There is merit in continuing to investigate the potential for an arrangement of this nature between the common good fund and the farmers society. In regard to the issue raised on a restriction to title to prevent development on the site, the Council have contacted the Nairn Farmers Society and they indicated that they are not aware of any such restriction.”

It looks like partial development of the Showfield is still very much a consideration for the Council:
“Some comments received to the proposal had generally agreed that a lesser proportion of development would be acceptable subject to a purposeful area of land being retained as open space. This area would have to host a new football pitch and general open space, the provision of which would be a requirement for the developer of the rest of the site. The Council considers that the remainder of the showfield site can still adequately serve both formal and informal recreation needs. The introduction of a requirement for a formal Section 75 agreement for a developer to provide enhancement to the remainder of the showfield may be appropriate.”

Traffic concerns get a small mention: “Traffic issues have also been raised as a concern regarding the development of the land with limited capacity to improve the junction of Lodgehill and Waverley Roads, more broadly there is capacity within the boundary of the site and the wider showfield to make improvements to pedestrian and cycle access.”

And again the council leaning towards development on the Showfield site: “As the potential for a successful excambion of land is not known at this point and that the Farmers Society are seeking development value to facilitate the delivery of a new showfield. It is considered therefore the allocation is retained in the Plan as having development potential for housing subject to the provision of a relocated playing field and landscaping of the remainder of the showfield. The potential for an excambion with land at Sandown should also continue to be investigated.”

Gurnites can see the response to submissions received over the Showfield  here (p366) and other responses  from the planners concerning areas of Nairn that are going forward for recommendation by Councillors next week starting here (p360)