Monday, June 30, 2014

Museum's Nairn County Centenary exhibition - Bill Logan video from the gathering at the Legion on Sunday - plus other videos from Reunion

At the NCFC centenary reunion in the Legion on Sunday Bill Logan gave a presentation on the Museum's County Exhibition that will run throughout July and August. See video below for details Also more on the Museum website. 

Kenny MacLeod has also published his images of the event on Sunday on his flickr pages now - see them here.   Gurn pictures coming soon too.

Other videos available from the awesome, emotional and inspiring afternoon that was Sunday's Centenary Reunion are:

Nairn Speldings warm up
Nairn Speldings warm up 2
Ian Thain opens the celebrations 
Team of the Century Part 1
Donald Wilson talks about the book "The History of Nairn County"
Ian Thain MC with roaming mike
Team of the Century Part 2

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nairn County centenary reunion pictures from Donald Matheson

Images from club photographer Donald Matheson. Individual images here. More images and videos later.


Video - Ian Thain opens Nairn County Centenary reunion celebrations at the Legion earlier today (Sunday 29th June 2014)

More videos and images later

Awesome afternoon - from babes in arms to 92 year olds - the County family comes together for Centenary reunion

A huge turnout at the Legion this afternoon as Nairn County Football Club met up for the Centenary reunion in the Legion. Legends of the past and legends of the present mingled with fans and reminisced. Memories of yesteryear and memories for the future. Lots of emotional moments as old pals met up again and more again as the results of the team of the century vote were declared.  
An incredible few hours that once again demonstrated the depth of affection that the community has for its Highland League club. Congratulations to Donald Graham for organising such an amazing and successful event. 

A good turnout from the County paparazzi too. More images and video later. In the meantime larger versions of the two images on this post available here and here

Nairn South aftermath- short reflection from Alastair Noble at Community Council meeting.

Alastair spoke on Tuesday night at the combined CC meeting at Nairn Academy he said:

“It does really make you wonder what the planners and Tech Services were doing that this got as far as it got. Now I don’t know the outcome of the thing but certainly the more you went into the whole traffic issue and more you tried to pin down what was in the master plan, which is another very elastic concept, the more worried I think we all got. We certainly welcome the fact that the Council are looking at the role of planning and the role of Tech Services. I think it is quite worrying from our point of view what’s going on. [...]”

Alistair then criticised the “cavalier way” fundamental questions of safety were ignored “around that particular bit of Nairn” and he went on:

“And the idea that that was a typical road that could be used as a typical road was so divorced from reality. We really need to have a really good look. We really look forward to seeing the outcome of the review that Highland Council are doing into the role of planning and the role of Tech Services on these sort of issues because there’s an awful lot of Nairn time and effort been wasted on Sandown and now Nairn South, when we hoped that better planning and better technical support would have solved that before it ever started.” 

Nairn County Reunion - doors open at 12 midday today (Sun 29th) at the Legion - music, food, top prize for raffle

The latest this morning from the reunion organiser Donald Graham:

"The day for the reunion has finally arrived. I hope that those that are planning to attend have a great day and get to catch up with as many people as possible.
Food will be available, cooked by Donnie Macleod, and we are asking if you could make a one pound donation each time you visit the bbq to help cover costs.
The raffle will be drawn at 4pm and dont worry you will have plenty time to buy a raffle ticket at one pound a ticket.

We now have a top prize secured. It is a nights dinner, bed and breakfast in a hotel owned by the Crerar chain. Their hotels can be viewed on 

Many thanks to Kevin Staines for sourcing this prize.
All monies raised go to cover the costs in arranging this event, and any profit will go to the NCFC Youth Development.

Doors open at 12, food available from then. Live music starts at 12.15 and the event will be officially started by Ian Thain at approx 12.45."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rosebank Church "The whole roof is done"

At the combined community council meeting in Nairn Academy on Tuesday night Dick Youngson detailed a meeting recently held between Community Council reps and the Highland Council official (and architect) concerning the Rosebank Church. The appalling state of the building became apparent as Dick spoke. He said:

“She’s making the best of a bad job because nothing has happened with Rosebank Church for the last 20 years. She is now three years in the job, she’s trying to get some resolution which will decide. She was going to call in, at the beginning of last week, actually, a surveyor and the surveyor was going to act for the owner and if he failed to turn up Highland Council were going to actually engage a surveyor to come in and do the same thing – to look at the structure and to look at the potential for doing something with what is left of that building because there is so much rot in the roof – the whole roof is done. There are no slates left, they were taken away and sold [...] The scaffolding inside which is unsafe and the Health and Safety people have banned anybody else from using it and going in and even looking at the building. So it is a real old botch-up. There’s water getting into the wall heads. How safe the whole wall structure is is anyone’s guess. Yet it’s still a listed B building[...]

So we are still waiting, as soon as the surveyor’s report is available and Highland Council have got it then we’ll know and we’ll then discuss what we can do with that site because taking it down, demolition is a possibility. Historic Scotland actually feel it is a possibility. It might come to that.”

Rosemary Young wished to see at least the stained glass window in the back gable saved. She told the meeting: “Some of us, but actually not me, but some of us would like to see it preserved. Others would like to see it pulled down. It is definitely a case, I’m sorry, it’s the Highland Council again not followed up where they should have done.”

Colin MacAulay then added: “Every scenario has huge cost.”

Brian Stewart argued that demolition should be a last resort and the focus should be on action to remedy the defects and preserving and protecting what was an historic building. 

Travel Writer Simon Varwell - presentation in Nairn Community and Arts Centre next Tuesday (1st July) 7 p.m.

Travel writer Simon Varwell has been invited by Nairn Bookshop to do a presentation about his travels and books as part of Independent Booksellers’ Week. It will take place on Tuesday 1 July at 7pm in Nairn Community and Arts Centre.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nairn County Centenary Reunion this Sunday (29th June) in the Royal British Legion

Starts at 12 noon this Sunday in the Legion and promises to be another fantastic centenary event - more details here on the County fans Ground Improvement Pages. 

Reading the consultation tea leaves and visualising the final route of the Nairn bypass?

At the combined meeting of the Westies and Subbies (West and Suburban Community Councils) Dick Youngson gave those assembled his impressions of how a recent meeting between community council representatives and Transport Scotland (plus their consultants) went. This is what he said:

“We had a meeting with Transport Scotland and Jacobs their consultant. It was very interesting and a very useful meeting, we got much more out of the team especially the Jacob’s Consultant than we expected and there are a number of options they put to us which allowed us to comment. Out at the west end, the main junction or hub is going to be in line with the end of the Whiteness Head road and it will be in the quarry site. The quarry owners didn’t really want it in the active part of the quarry and they were quite happy for it to be in the east end of it.[...] And the main dual carriageway will then cross, it’ll skirt the kames SSSI, across the railway line, quite close to the humpy bridge where the Cawdor Station was and then curl right round, cross somewhere between the Howford and Broadley Farm. Perhaps closer to the Howford because if they put it down at Broadley nearer where the pylons are they are going to have to take down the pylons and pay for that; to put all the cables, incorporate them in the bridge. So it’s going to put much more expense again on it. 

The Howford is actually the best area for the bridge, it’s got the height and it’s got firm foundations. The road will then curl right round and come in at Auchnacloich. They haven’t yet, there’s a number of options there – they can follow the existing Auldearn bypass and widen it slightly and they’ll have to put up supporting walls, especially where they pass the church and the graveyard and the ground away from Boath House. The other one is to skirt north of Boath House and instead of cutting Penick in two and ruining the Campbell’s place they will cut back again southwards and come in quite close to where the present A96 is and it will miss, again, taking a lot of ground from the fruit farm. The junction is more than likely to be out on the east side of the fruit farm at the top of the climbing lane coming up from Brodie. That’s a possibility. 

Now to achieve this there will be no other junctions but what they do say; they will build two 2-way roads. The one coming in near where the Scotia caravans is and that will have a stone bridge over the railway, it will curve round by the south side of Balnaspirach and it will then join up with the present Road which will be Balblair Road and it will give access to Gordons Sawmill and to Nairn South for all the heavy goods as well as normal transport. It means they come out at the same sort of junction almost. It’s a brand new road, they’ll pay for it. The other one is they’ll link up the Croy Road with the Cawdor Road. They’ll put a new road there to provide a link rather than doing an underpass or something which doesn’t work and they’ll be no link up or ramp up to the motorway. 

Now at the east end of the whole lot near Penick they’re going to run another new road parallel with on the north side of the new dual-carriageway to give the people that reside on that side of the road access and they’ll actually give them an underpass into Auldearn which gives them a very good road which they link up again with at the new junction out at the east end out at the climbing lane – which will no longer be a climbing lane, it will revert to bean a non-trunk Road. And they will probably do the same thing on the south side of the new dual-carriageway as well. There will be a brand new 2-way road to link in all the farms and properties on the south side. They will go straight into Auldearn and give access for Moyness and places like that, Lethen and they will then come in at the junction at the hub up at that end. 

These are the options and you can see the way they are going. They still haven’t ruled out any of the other seven options. They are still being costed and they will come back to us in the autumn. Almost reading between the lines of what they are prepared to do you can see the options are quite clear and I think that is how it will end up which will actually suit most of the farmers and most of the occupiers and it will give us a clear bypass without an access or on/off and people really from Cawdor and Croy won’t be much inconvenienced. They’ll be able to get back onto the Nairn system one way of the other. "

There was then some discussion with some interesting points raised from the floor - more of that later, and other items from the meeting on Tuesday night, if time permits.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nairn Common Good Fund Sketch – the frustration of the powerless politely boils over again

Talk once again of the Common Good Fund at the joint meeting of the West and Suburban Community Councils last night in Nairn Academy. In the hot seat for Highland Council was Colin MacAulay (the only one of our four local authority councillors present). The brickbats were polite but still laced with anger and condemnatory. Colin enjoys the luxury of being relatively new to the job, unlike Liz or Laurie whose association with Common Good affairs goes back some time now so he does have that to give him a shield from the most stinging complaints. He takes it all, admits the failures, and occasionally comes back with comments about how it might look in the future.

The community councillors present  want more action though and they want it quickly. They point to the greater freedom that the Inverness Common Good Fund enjoys where only the Inverness Councillors have control unlike Nairn where all the Highland Council’s 80 members are trustees. They point too to the seven Common Good funds that became charities in 1975 when a change in local government organisation came along. Obviously some communities had the foresight to set up an apparatus that would avoid the sort of situation we find ourselves in in Nairn today. The watchdogs also want to see proper accountability and want to know with crystal clear precision where the responsibility for failure lies. There was talk of a lack of public confidence etc. It is all very familiar stuff for those who have been serious students of these affairs for some time. It could perhaps have been a meeting from 10 or 15 years ago with just the latest revelation added onto the heap of discontent and anger from the powerless ranks of the community councillors and members of the public present. The discussion continued and amongst the eloquent and articulate condemnations were sprinkled the like of “cock-up”, “asleep on the job”; the desire for recompense for the recent failure which meant a six figure sum was lost to the Common Good was also aired.

Colin was quizzed as to whether he would be willing to propose some sort of motion to the Council that Nairn Common Good Fund be given more freedom and input from the local community. He spoke of what had to be done at this point of time but was saved from being pressed too deeply on the matter by John Mackie who suggested this was a discussion to be had between the joint community councils and the four Highland Councillors at another meeting. 

More to come soon? After the summer perhaps, when yet another report goes to the area committee in September? Ultimately pressure will be focussed on our two Highland Councillors who are senior members of the Glenurquhart Road ruling administration (Liz and Colin) to see if they will put forward some proposal to the full Council to change the arrangements for Nairn Common Good Fund. Will they go that far or would that be too much of a boat-rocking exercise? Ultimately it may all be flavoured by the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Community Empowerment bill that may give some instruction to local authorities on how to behave towards communities whose Common Good Funds they administer. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Armed Forces Week ceremony at the Royal British Legion Nairn

An image from Murray MacRae taken earlier today  of the Armed Forces Week ceremony at the Royal British Legion. Larger image here.

Overgrown footpath anger

Here is a picture of the path from the Mill Road end to the Firhall Bridge. Donald Wilson  posted it on his Facebook page and said: "This believe it or not is the path to firhall bridge. One of the most beautiful stretches of the riverside sadly neglected."

Donald is of the opinion that this path is a council responsibility. These days however grass cutting is contracted out so it remains to be seen whether this path is included in any contracts that were drawn up - perhaps any of our local councillors reading this might be able to find out?

The Inverness Courier had a headline in last Friday's edition that read "Council grass-cut oursourcing was 'poorly thought through' " and read:

"A CONTROVERSIAL decision to outsource grass-cutting in the Highlands several years ago was done for the wrong reasons and poorly though-out, according to Highland Council's new head of roads and transport Richard Evans. 
The works manager's admission came after scrutiny uncovered a catalogue of flaws and found the council's monitoring of the work carried out by the contractor was misdirected and  "meaningless". " 

In Nairn River Community Council have been at the forefront of efforts to bring the grass-cutting back under local control.

Nairn Commonwealth Ceilidh

This observer came across a link to videos of Saturday Night's Commonwealth Ceilidh - really good stuff and they can be found on Broadcasting Cottage's Vimeo pages here and here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nairnshire Challenge 2014 - Images by Kenny MacLeod

Local photographer Kenny MacLeod captured the scene today as the Nairnshire Challenge participants approached Nairn, individual images here. 

Sunday Miscellany

Kenny MacLeod captured the cricket action on the Links yesterday and also the Nairn Pipe Band playing together with the Aussies (Tumbarumba Pipes and Drums). Today (Sunday) is a bit damper but at least a drop of water prevents a total white-out at some strategic locations. Meanwhile parts of the busy Lochloy junction seems to be crumbling once again – time for another one of the regular patch-ups from Transport Scotland and their contractors? 

The Nairnshire Challenge took place today and the good weather earlier this morning didn’t hold out but at least it was cooler for the competitors. This observer managed to get an image of the first few cyclists on the final leg of their journey down to the Links – here they are one, two, three, four – hope we got that right :-). This massive charity event once again was successfully organised by the Rotary Club and they have it down to a fine art now as this image shows. Well done the Rotarians and all the competitors too. 

This interesting page was linked in conversation in the Nairn twittersphere – you can order from Mr Tan online now.  In a few years could it all be online like this and the busy scenes as Nairnites pop down for their take-aways simply a memory of the old days? Finally another chapter in the cycle of Nairn High Street premises has begun next door to the post office

Gurn reader says: "I know the weather was hot recently but apparently we are now on the Mediterranean!"

One of our regular readers was taken aback by information on a Windsor Hotel website which states:

"Ideally situated in the centre of Sliema, the Windsor Hotel is close to the main shops, restaurants and places of entertainment. Only 50 m away from the Sliema's promenade, one of the longest and most picturesque in the Mediterranean."

The site also has information about the Hotel's proximity to Inverness airport. The booking facility on the site has nothing available which is quite good really considering the hotel is closed. 

There was much pleasure expressed in Nairn tourism circles when the Windsor Hotel reopened  last July. Once again however, it is shut and the future of this major part of Nairn's tourist infrastructure is once again uncertain. Hopefully there will be a happy ending one day that will see this building once again providing beds for visitors and jobs for the local economy.

Gurn Reader receives A96 response From Transport Scotland area manager.

One of our readers wrote to Keith Brown, Transport Minister, about the lack of information provided to residents during recent periods of longer than normal delays on the A96 through Nairn. Below is a response (dated 20th June)  that came back via Transport Scotland. If you can't read the text in the image there's a larger one here

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Overhanging hedges on pavements – “West End is a disgrace” claims community councillor

At the recent meeting of River CC Cllr Colin MacAulay put out an appeal for residents to cut any overgrown hedges. He stated:

“It is that time of year where whoever’s got a hedge and wherever is overhanging, it is a good time to get the shears out and stop it being an inconvenience to other people. It doesn’t matter where, if it’s overhanging a pavement, you’ve got people in a wheelchair; you’ve got double buggies and whatever else. People should just get on and cut their hedges, it would be good.”

Fred Holmes then said: “Can I just say I’ve been on to the Council about that. I’ve put in e-mails – I’ve put in two letters, sorry and I’ve put in e-mails now and photographs of some really bad ones and I’ve a letter dated 20th of May saying “we’re looking into this thank you for bringing it to our attention.” And looking there I’ve seen one or two specific areas I’ve mentioned, they’ve cut about two inches off the thing and that’s it.”

The River Community Councillor went further and identified a part of town where he thinks the problem is very bad, he continued: “And can I say now, and I’ll state quite clearly, that West End is a disgrace with overhanging branches, vegetation over the footpaths. The whole area is a disgrace.”

“Which bit?” Asked Colin. 

“The whole of the West End, Thurlow Road, Manse Road and Seabank Road, “was the response for Cllr Holmes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Citizens Advice Bureau outreach at Nairn Town and County Hospital

Launched in April 2014 and funded by the Big Lottery Fund until July 2015 is the new Community Link & Outreach Project .

Working together Lynn Main and Tricia Frazer will work in partnership with NHS Highland, Highland Council and other agencies to support and deliver services where people can benefit from them the most.  Based for 3 days at the Nairn Healthcare Group handling referrals from the GPs, Health Visitors, Community Mental Health Teams, Hospital patients and Social Work, it will enable easy referral of clients whom in some cases can be seen immediately and allows appointments to be made for patients to suit their hospital or health service visits as well as offering a drop in service for anyone visiting the GP surgery.

Strong links will also be formed with the outreach service at the Job Club, Adult Basic Education and Citizens Online.  This will allow Nairn CAB to provide additional resources within the community to meet demand from  those seeking advice and support on a wide range of issues
Lynn Main and Tricia Frazer - CAB outreach at Nairn Hospital 
A Nairn CAB spokesperson also explained the aims of the outreach initiative:

"Our aims 
Work with other organisations and agencies to improve quality of lives
Provide information, support, advice and representation
Increase accessibility to our service
To assist an additional 700 people in Nairn
To provide support to all departments based at the hospital
To promote the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) 
Areas covered include welfare, benefits, debts, energy, housing, financial education and relationships
Signposting into community support groups, and give advice on what is available locally to help people to lead healthier lives 
Maximise incomes and effectively manage money

We are delighted with the results of the project to date and whilst still in its infancy, the project has the potential to become a great success in providing invaluable CAB services to more clients locally. "

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Former Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) mark historic link to Nairn County FC with donation to Ground Improvements Fund

Donald Wilson told the Gurn: "Last night at our ceilidh in the Legion I was approached ed by Lt Col Bob Towns (Rtd.) who handed me a cheque for £100 towards the NCFC Supporters Ground Improvement Fund. The cash was money left over from a regimental reunion at the British Legion earlier this year. A very moving gesture indeed and I share with you the full text of the letter Bob enclosed with the donation: 

"Please accept the enclosed cheque on behalf of the former Battalion Footballers of the Queens Own Highlanders (Seaforths and Camerons). We had a reunion in the Legion earlier this year and had some funds left over. When put to the vote the lads decided to donate it to Nairn County. "Some of our footballers did
Queen's Own to be added to panel beaters board
indeed play a few games for Nairn County. Kenny Urquhart, Dinger Bell, Johnny Bateson and Willie Irving to name the ones I know of. This was around 1962-63. In fact the names of all QO HLDRS, Cameron Highlanders and Seaforth Highlanders who played for Nairn County would be of interest to our Regimental Family if is was possible to list them. It would be appreciated if the name "Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) could be listed as a Panel Beater donation. On behalf of all former Battalion Footballers of the Queens Own Highlanders I wish Nairn County all the best for the forthcoming season." Bob Towns. 

Donald added: "Perhaps Nairn County fans of this era could assist Bob in his quest to get names of former Nairn County players from the regiment. In the meantime I have assured him it will give us great pleasure to acknowledge them on the Panel Beater board as requested. It is just another example of the history of the club and the role it has played in this community. We thank the ex-soldiers sincerely for think of the club at this special time it it's history"

Giant Kites@Nairn Beach 2014 - video

Andrew Beattie of Tug kites is set to become a familiar figure on Wednesdays on the Links at Nairn throughout the summer with his large, inflatable display kites. When we say large – we mean large! Made of rip stop nylon material similar to parachutes and modern tents these things are massive and yesterday the Mantra ray and Tiger could be seen from all over Nairn bobbing and floating in the sky.

Andrew said that the kites need a certain amount of wind and he certainly couldn’t have wished for better conditions for his first visit. Blue skies, a light breeze and the stunning backdrop of the Links and the Moray Firth created ideal conditions as the kites provided a simple but mesmerising and relaxing spectacle with the accompanying gentle rustling and fluttering sound of the kites capturing the wind.  Being by the sea we know how windy it can get but if does get too windy he said he has smaller display kites which he can use, for example the tiger has five cubs which can put in an appearance.

Andrew sells a smaller kite, the Rainbow Delta, and he will have these with him on Wednesdays or they can be purchased online.  Unlike some kites these only have one cross piece and are easy to assemble, and easy to fly.  

You can find more details on Andrew and his kites here.  Some images from yesterday available here on the Gurn flickr pages too. 

Nairn CAB launch Crisis Survival Guide

Nairn Citizens Advice Bureau launched a "Crisis Survival Guide" at the Community and Arts Centre yesterday. The Guide gives you important information about what to do if you have your benefits sanctioned. The guide was launched by Provost Laurie Fraser and Dawn Nicholson, the Welfare Rights Officer at Nairn CAB. Video below and some images here. Copy of the Crisis Survival Guide here. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Police in Nairn appeal for information following a report of damage to a car

Police are appealing for following a report of damage to a vehicle within the east parking area at Parkdean Caravan Park, Nairn.

At about 21:35 hours on Saturday 07 June 2014, a male approached a moving car and caused damage to the passenger window and the windscreen wipers.

The male is described as caucasian, late teens, 5 ft 4 to 5 ft 6, blonde hair, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who has any information about the incident and would encourage them to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Michael Green, interview: Flying giant kites on the Links, Reunion Sunday, Common Good - Video

Apologies for sound quality - gurnmeister forgot muffler for microphone but the wind was helpful for the kites. Another image of the kites here. 

Giant Flying Tiger on Nairn Beach - Picture - as kites@nairn hit town

Amazing giant kites on Nairn Beach today - more images later - in the meantime one more here. They will be here every Wednesday for the rest of the summer. 

Citizen Fin helps to promote Nairn

Another perfect summer's evening goes out to the four corners of the twitterverse, nice image Ian!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Subway job ad wets social media appetites

Talk of a Subway coming to Nairn occasional surfaces on local social network sites but those fans of this particular sandwich shop chain who live locally are pretty certain it is about to arrive soon. Why? - this job ad for a store manager on the Directgov jobs site. 

"The History of Nairn County Football Club" Book Launch - pictures and video

Images from Donald Matheson, individual images here. 

The book (cost £20) is available at Strachans, Nairn Book Shop, The Town Barbers and Iolaire on Harbour Street. All profits to the County Fans Ground Improvement Fund. 
In the video below, if short of time, you can fast forward to listen to 01.00 Donald Wilson, 15.45 Graeme Macleod, 21.00 Bill Logan 24.00 Peter Mackintosh

The next big event for the fans is the Nairn County Reunion to be held at the Legion on Sunday the 29th of June, details here.   Graeme MacLeod recently gave fans an update on their "We Believe" facebook page, he said:
 "The Centenary Reunion will take place on Sunday June 29th at the Royal British Legion where the Team of the Century will be unveiled. A great turnout of current and former players and officials as well as supporters is anticipated. A souvenir programme is also being put together for this event."

Another big day in the fans calendar this year will be September the 20th, and it promises to be quite a spectacular afternoon, again from the "We Believe" page: 

"Future events planned include the Centenary March, which is going to fall on Saturday September 20th to tie in with the end of the sponsored West Highland Way walk and Great Glen Kayak.
Steven Bain, who is taking part in the kayak, explained that all of the kayakers will arrive in Nairn Harbour at around 2.00 pm and the pipe band will lead the kayakers, walkers and all supporters who wish to attend on a march up the High Street to Station Park for the home match against Deveronvale. This will be the final leg of the journey at the start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie to Station Park. There will be further publicity on these plans in the new season as it is hoped as many supporters as possible will attend the march."

Heather at Uncle Bob's Bar is organising a bus for those supporters who wish to meet up with Ali Nicol and his team who will be walking the entire West Highland Way at Kinlochleven for the final section  - details here.  If you want to walk the final leg contact Heather at Uncle Bob's.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Common Good Fund - Michael Green calls for more local control after revelation that caravan site lease was not reviewed

A local weekly newspaper based in the Leopold Street area is suggesting that Highland Council's failure to administer the lease for the caravan site correctly has resulted in the loss of a six figure sum to the Nairn Common Good Fund. On Friday we commented on the Inverness Courier's take on the situation - more in this article here. Cllr Michael Green has also told the Gurn his view on the incredible revelation, here's what he has to say:

"Improvements in governance and administration by Highland Council of the Nairn Common Good Fund are both welcome and overdue. Liz Cowie and Lynne Maclennan deserve nothing but the highest praise forthe results they are achieving in the onerous and ongoing task of updating the NCGF Asset Register. In addition, I welcome the vital scrutiny role carried out by the Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee as regards the NCGF.

 As I was attending the three day Nairn South Appeal, I was unable to attend the Area Committee on Wednesday 11th June.  As outlined in sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the report there has been a serious failure by Council officials in the administration of the Parkdean lease, whereby rent reviews in 1999 and 2006 were not implemented. This has resulted in very substantial losses of income to the NCGF. It is a matter of regret that our Area Leader and/or officials did not see fit to provide more detailed financial information regarding the sums involved.Information which would have provided the people of Nairn with the transparency and clarity the seriousness of the episode demands and which they have for so long lacked.

However, ongoing discussions are taking place between local trustees and Highland Council officials regarding options to recompense the NCGF for the significant monies lost.

Looking forward, the detailed work now being carried out by Highland Council in updating the Asset Register,plus improvements to administration and reporting, will ensure a more robust and open management of the NCGF 

Of greater concern is the lack of scrutiny and oversight by long standing trustees which allowed this situation to develop. The Parkdean lease is the NCGF’s single largest source of income and the financial repercussions of their inaction could be considerable.

I am of the opinion that the people of Nairn need to have a much greater say in determining the role of their Common Good Fund in local affairs. Consequently, I feel this is an appropriate time to start a discussion with the people of Nairn, starting with the Community Councils, as to how they see that role developing."

Nairn South planning appeal hearing reaction - 3 Brian Stewart

Brian Stewart, one of the team members that submitted the paper to the hearing from the town's three Community Councils, the NRCG and Joan Noble, gave us his analysis of how it went last week at the hearing that was held in the Community and Arts Centre:

"I have rarely - in 35 years of working in government - seen such a poor performance as the Scotia team's professional experts put up on the first day.  Their transport expert (who wrote the Transport Assessment!)  seemed incapable of answering the Reporter's simple but forensic questions on his own documents. It is very telling that the Appellants ended up calling in three different transport experts, and eventually a QC, to bolster up what was so obviously shaky supporting material.  It was embarrassing to observe the highly-paid and very clever QC having to explain and protect his technical experts from digging themselves even deeper into the hole they were in.  It was only because we figured that the Reporter could see how threadbare was their analysis, and we could see how exasperated he was by their evasiveness, that we thought it was worth continuing so he could grill them further, rather than - as we could have done - pulling the plug on the whole show because of the way the Appellants [the Scotia team] had attempted to confuse the discussion by tabling different and inconsistent supporting documents.

The site visit (Cawdor Road/underpass/Sawmill etc) was pretty effective at illustrating some of the traffic problems. I am not sure what the Reporter learned from walking over the fields of the actual site.  It was very clear that the proposals for bund and buffer are likely to be inadequate: and Gordons' are right to be worried that they will be very hemmed in.

I'd like to think that the dose of reality provided by the site visit, and the fact that the TA material was such a dodgy dossier and so clearly manipulated to support this particular proposal, will have registered with the Reporter and reinforced an impression that the roads can't cope and that capacity is an issue.  Joan's critique undoubtedly impressed the Reporter rather more than the performance of the "expert" who wrote the transport assessment.  The Firhall representatives made some cogent and persuasive points.  But the time the Reporter spent during days 2 and 3 on discussing the measures to tweak the junctions (lights, pavement
Loreine Thomson and Brian Stewart at the hearing
widening etc) led me to think he was looking at how such modifications might "solve" the problems.  He might go along with the idea of blocking Balblair Road or making some of it one way to reduce the hazard and conflict of HGVs versus other users.  And he seemed to take a relaxed and benign view of all the matters that came up under possible conditions:  none was seen as a showstopper, although the idea of a "pause and review" (if the development is agreed) will undoubtedly be thrown out because it's non-compliant with planning law.

It's a tough call to predict what he (the Reporter) will decide.  Naturally we have to hope he will uphold the refusal. I think there are still very serious questions as to whether the Appellant's application actually complies with the requirements of the HwLDP.  This is being considered separately by the Reporter alone, and we have submitted written representations identifying all the ways in which the Scotia bid does not conform to the local plans.   But I'm not sure which way he'll jump.  A provisional 'yes' is no comfort to us, because if the S75 details are left to be negotiated between the developers and HC planners, the officials will probably agree to whatever the developers want....

We've been through a battle at the Appeal hearings, and we gave it our best shot.  But I'm not sure yet what the outcome will be, and there's a way to go yet. 
The key (but depressing) thought is that we, and Nairn, only have one chance to get this right.  If this development is allowed and it proves to be unsustainable and the roads/infrastructure etc all seize up as we fear, the developers, highly paid experts and government officials won't care.  They will all have taken their profits and their fees and gone back to wherever they come from, and the Council will have met its housing targets.  But we the local community will be left to live with the consequences."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

National Care Home Open Day - Friday 20 June‏ - Carolton Care and Bruach House participating

Roy Anderson, community networker for Nairn and Ardersier tells the Gurn that two local care homes will be participating: "Carolton Care and Bruach House, both in Seabank Road, are holding open days with strawberry teas and entertainment on offer, while St Olaf's in Cawdor Road is holding a World Care high tea party. All will be made very welcome."

Putting Green future debated on Social Media

There has been some conversation recently on local social media about the putting green. It was suggested that all of the flags and arrows are not always put out. All part of a general concern expressed about the state of amenities that both tourists and locals use. Obviously Nairn residents and many others with a connection with the town are concerned for the future of the putting green now that the kiosk has been put on the market. 

You can still use the putting green though and to do that you simply have to stroll along to the swimming pool. In the light of recent discussions on-line we decided to ask Highland Highlife (the arm's length organisation that run the facility for the Council) what the latest situation was. The local leisure and facilities manager, Steven Clelland, was quick to respond and this is what he told the Gurn:

"Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Putting Green at Nairn Links.  To provide clarity on the issues you raised, now that the summer season has arrived the flags for the putting green will go out at 10am and will be taken back in at 9pm Monday to Friday.  On Saturday & Sunday the flags will go out as normal at 10am but come in earlier at 5pm on a Saturday and 4pm on a Sunday.  This is due to the weekend operating hours at Nairn Leisure Centre.  Earlier on in the year the flags were taken in at 5pm each day due to the darker nights but this now changes for the Summer months.  Please be aware that the operation of the putting green is subject to the weather and the flags will not be put out if it is deemed adverse weather conditions which could damage the putting green area.  We currently advertise the putting green on the High Life Highland website and we are in the process of displaying new posters to promote the putting green in the beach display boards now that the summer season has arrived."

Nairn's putting green - open for use, why not give it a go? - rediscover or acquaint yourself with one of Nairn's traditional seaside amenities. 

Nairn Sailing Club open day - pictures Murray MacRae

Thanks to Murray MacRae for these pictures of the events yesterday. Individual images here - full screen slideshow here. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Large turnout at County Fans book launch: "The history of Nairn County FC - 100 years in the Highland League"

A fabulous afternoon for the Wee County faithful in the Playhouse this afternoon as the labour of love by Donald Wilson, Graeme MacLeod and Bill Logan was officially launched at a gathering of the fans. Details on how to obtain a copy of the book  plus more images and a video of the launch speeches soon. In the meantime a quick look at the scene this afternoon as the Fans met up in the Playhouse.

Nairn South planning hearing - reaction 2. Joan Noble

 Joan Noble told the Gurn: '  I am cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the hearing especially on the safety aspects. The site visit on Wednesday morning confirmed vividly exactly what the locals and their representatives have been saying about the underpass and the Waverley Road junction.  These proposals would double the traffic through this bridge when the site is already pretty
The scene on Cawdor Rd on Wednesday morning
dangerous and congested especially for pedestrians and cyclists. It is hard to see how the proposed  traffic lights would do anything other than make things worse.  Add to that the demonstrated impossibility of providing a  crossing for pedestrians at the bridge (because the bin lorries couldn't get round the corner) or at Millbank Crescent because the pavement isn't wide enough, and the 'mitigation' proposed has disappeared.'

Friday, June 13, 2014

Nairn South planning appeal hearing - reaction 1. Loreine Thomson

We've been asking some of the Community's participants in the Nairn South planning hearing for their reaction to the events that took place earlier this week as the Scottish Government's Reporter, Iain Urquhart, questioned the appeallants and the objectors on aspects of the plan for 320 homes. Pictures of the hearing here and the site visit here. 

Loreine Thomson attended the hearing as a member of the team comprising the Community Councils, the Nairn Residents Concern Group and Joan Noble. Here's what she thought of it all:

"My overall impression was that the Reporter came very well prepared to drill down into the Transport Assessment(s).  The Appellants, in my opinion, failed to satisfactorily respond to the Reporter's requests for explanations of methodology/calculations/comprehensiveness and failed to reassure the Reporter that they had taken cognizance of the unique and distinctive constraints associated with the underpass junction and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Using the TRICS database to come up with an average was not credible for this development because it was for these specific reasons that Transport Scotland had declined to allow an exit from the by-pass - the by-pass on which the development of Nairn South was predicated in the first place.

An example of failure to recognise site specific constraints was the QC's comments that Highland Council agreed the junction could cope with the capacity, so what was the problem, why were we here. 

As to which way it will go, I am undecided.  Should the Reporter determine a letter of intention based on him being satisfied that all S75/conditions have been agreed and signed off by the Council and the Consortium, I would be looking for assurance from the Council that they will enforce the conditions/S75 and not allow the Consortium to wriggle out of them by submitting a statement of waiver.  Any changes to the conditions/S75 should be brought before PDI Committee."

Great Duck race tomorrow from the Merryton Bridge and plenty on at the Sailing Club too

See poster further down in the sidebar for details of the Nairn Sailing Club open day. 

Nairn CAB helping out at the sharp end - Crisis Survival Guide launch Weds 18th June

"Council failures cost common good fund thousands" Article and editorial in the Inverness Courier

Donna MacAllister reports on information concerning the Nairn Common Good Fund that came into the public domain down in Strathspey on Wednesday when the area committee met.
She writes in today's edition of the Courier: "A huge error may have robbed Nairn's Common Good fund of thousands of pounds of extra revenue after it emerged that a caravan park's rent did not increase for 14 years." and "Until the blunder was spotted last year there had not been a rental review of the site since 1992 when John Major was still prime minister."

The rent should have been reviewed in line with the RPI every 7 years. The information the Council put into the public domain in a Nairn Common Good Fund update presented to the area committee is as follows: 

"4.2 An issue with the lease review process for the caravan site at Lochloy has 
been identified. The original lease agreement was for 60 years w.e.f. 
01/11/1985. In 1992, in accordance with the rent review provisions in the 
lease, the rent was reviewed in line with RPI. (The lease was extended on 01 
November 1994 for a further period of 99 years.) The rent should have been 
reviewed 7 yearly thereafter (RPI) on 31 October 1999 and 31 October 2006. 

4.3 In accordance with the terms and conditions of the lease, the RPI rental 
increase can be applied from 31st October 2013. The increased rental will be 
reflected in the monitoring report to be brought before Area Committee in 
September. "

The Courier goes on to state in an hard hitting editorial entitled" Lack of local scrutiny proves costly for Nairn" - "Nairnites will still mourn the loss of their own town council. The local area committee may have been recently restored by Highland Council but it has few power and the important decisions are still made in Inverness. 
The ongoing campaign for more devolution can only be strengthened by the debacle surrounding the Nairn Common Good Fund which, it emerged this week, has cost townsfolk thousands, if not tens of thousands of pounds. Exactly how much has been lost is being kept secret, hidden under the smothering cloak of commercial confidentiality." 

Plenty more in the Courier today in the article and editorial including comment from Dick Youngson who also criticises the Council for their massive mistake. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Harley's opens

The former Regal building finally comes back to life and it didn't take long for the first customers to enter and order their meals in Harley's Cocktail and Grill. 

Digital accolade forn the Nairn Getting IT Together crew

Gurnites will have seen various article on the Gurn about the online inclusion initiative that has been running for some time in Nairn. It really has been going from strength to strength and the tweet below alerts us all to a well deserved they have received . Congratulations. 

Courthouse cuts consultation latest

Around the top table in the Courthouse tonight were David Alston (LibDem) assisted by powerpoint display, Michelle Morris (Depute Chief Executive), Liz (SNP) and Jimmy Gray (Labour). The tri-party alliance that runs the Council under the lead of the SNP all represented. 
David Alston cracked a reasonably good joke about a "give blood" sign at a consultation in Wick. He told the dozen or so folk who had bothered to turn out (two of them also councillors) that it was not about giving blood but about giving ideas. Also about "negotiations between us and the community" he emphasised. 

At that point the Gurnmeister was told by the Ward Manager that he could not record the meeting. Recording meetings does help very much in reporting accurately, saves time afterwards, and is also done at Council meetings by representatives of a weekly newspaper not a million miles from Leopold Street and other journalists too (even those with shorthand skills) can sometimes be seen to record meetings in the courthouse. 

The Gurnmeister decided to leave, the sudden revelation that there might be better craic around tables elsewhere in Nairn hit him like a thunderbolt. Liz Cowie did explain outside the meeting that something could have been arranged to allow a recording. That was fine but this observer was in exit mode - done and dusted. These consultations have come and gone before and it saved the need to ask the customary questions such as:

"Isn't this all about deciding which one of your fingers to chop off?"
"We elect councillors to represent us on the understanding that they are fit to deal with anything that crops up - didn't we chose them to make this kind of decision for us anyway?"
"Isn't it wrong for anyone to earn over a £100K at Highland Council?"

And maybe a mischievous one for Area Leader Liz: "Isn't this SNP lead administration simply preparing to implement cuts from Westminster (via Holyrood)? 

And so out into the evening air and onwards to see what the craic was like around another set of tables. 

Cabinet Secretary, Alex Neil at Nairn Town and County Hospital and the primary care centre - picture

Pictured during his recent visit, Alex Neil in the centre, with Doctor Adrian Baker on the left with NHS Highland's Nigel Small on the right.  

Alex Neil, Minister for Health and Wellbeing was shown round the facility by Dr Adrian Baker and Nigel Small, Director of Operations for South and Mid Highland.

It was explained to the Minister that the centre has integration at every level, pre-dating NHSH Highland integrating with the Highland Council, and the Minister also got the opportunity to meet staff from the health and social care teams and learn how it was working for them.

The Minister also got to hear that the average age of admission to a care home in Highland has gone up so we are looking after more people at home but recruitment of care at home workers does remain a challenge.

Mr Neil was impressed with his visit and what the centre does saying that ‘there are lessons here for the rest of the country’ and ‘it should be like this everywhere’.

And according to a health board spokesperson the lasting message from Monday’s visit? "Embrace integration, don’t be frightened of it. There is a real benefit to our service users."

The Nairn Ceilidh Group is back in action for another season

Commencing on Thursday June 12 there will be a warm welcome for ceilidh goers at the popular gatherings in the Royal british legion Hall in Cawdor Street.

The traditional music enthusiasts have raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity over more than three decades and the ceilidh have grown in popularity in recent years proving a big draw for both tourists and locals.

“They are great nights and we regularly attract audiences of up to 100 people from all over the world,” said Chairman Donald Wilson.
“The group has been on the go for over thirty years and we get ceilidh bands from Inverness, Ross-shire and Moray for the public dancing and we have an array of local musicians, pipers and dancers we can call on.
“Everyone plays for fun and it’s probably one of the best home spun ceilidhs in the Highlands.”

The group charges £3 admission to make it affordable for the elderly and young families and after covering expenses regularly disburses nearly £3000 to charities and local community organisations and projects.
One ceilidh date has had to be cancelled this year on July 24 due to the resurfacing of the hall dance floor.

Anyone wishing to reserve a table can contact Donald on 01667 453270 (evenings).

Another year as officer bearers for Tommy, Stephanie and Ian on River Community Council

Re-elected for another year are Tommy Hogg as Chair, Stephanie Whittaker as Secretary and Ian Gordon as Treasurer. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Highland Council budget cuts consultation meeting - The Courthouse Nairn Thursday 12th June 6.30 p.m.

Highland Council are looking for your thoughts about what to cut in the future. The Budget Leader's blog asks: "Can we provide some services less, some less frequently or stop providing some altogether?"  The blog gives other examples about what might be cut - more here.  

Cuts just keep coming round again and again: here's a post from May 2010 and then there was the meeting by the new administration in September 2012. 

The Nairn South appeal hearing site visit - more pictures

Images of the appeal hearing site visit to Cawdor Road this morning. Individual images here.

Progress on Nairn Common Good Issues according to Area Committee

Members of The Highland Council’s Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee have welcomed progress on a review of the Nairn Common Good Fund assets management.

At a meeting of the Committee in the Court House, Nairn members were informed by David Haas, Highland Council’s Acting Head of Community and Democratic Engagement that a full and comprehensive programme of review of the Common Good Fund assets and how they were managed is underway. 

Mr Haas assured Members that the review will ensure that robust processes and procedures and clear governance of the Nairn Common Good Fund continue in place and that reports on the Fund will continue to be made through the appropriate mechanisms within the Council. He said: “We are also preparing an investment strategy and planning ahead to make the best use of Common Good Fund assets.”

Members were also informed that: a lease had been concluded on the former Links Shelter; a management agreement is being put in place with the Scottish Agricultural College for a short term tenancy of the Sandown Fields; an expression of interest has been received for the recently marketed vacant kiosk at the Links Putting Green; and that a rental increase in line with the retail price index for the Lochloy Caravan Park will be implemented.
Leader of the Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee, Liz MacDonald, welcomed the progress on the Nairn Common Good Fund review, she said: “I would like to thank all the staff involved in the review process which will continue to ensure that effective governance arrangements of the Fund are put in place.

Safer cycling and walking to Nairn Academy promoted by Highland Council

Funding for a Safer Routes to School project in Nairn has been approved The Highland Council’s Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee.

Members have approved a project application for the Scottish Government’s Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets Programme totalling an estimated £20,000 for Nairn Academy.

Funds awarded for Nairn employability projects

Three projects in Nairn have been awarded £15,000 Deprived Area funding for employability projects by Members of The Highland Council’s Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee.

£5,000 each was awarded to:

Nairn and District Citizens Advice Bureau to provided additional adviser support to the Nairn Work Club;
Nairn River Community Council to carry out a social enterprise feasibility study; and
Nairn Academy towards a school leaver activity programme running through the school year.
Leader of the Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee Councillor Liz MacDonald welcomed the funding approvals, she said: “I am delighted that we can support these local employability projects through the Deprived Area Fund. Any ways in which the Council can either help school leavers get into work or adults get back into work is welcome for the economy of Nairn and the surrounding area.”

Early start for the Nairn South hearing Reporter as he witnesses Station Brae traffic at 08.30 a.m.

The intimidating ordeal that is an everyday reality for pedestrians and cyclists at the Cawdor Road/Balblair Road junction was plainly visible this morning as the Scottish Government's Reporter, Iain Urquhart led a site visit down the brae from the war memorial. The site visit also included other parts of the Cawdor Road and the Reporter witnessed an ambulance with blue lights flashing having to wait to enter a congested Waverly Road. Later today we will post more images of the hearing's site visit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nairn South appeal hearing – really a crash course taking you to the heart of the Cult of the Traffic Assessment?

And so the proceedings got underway again today with discussion on the appellants original traffic assessment and not the other one that the Community Councils and other objectors had prepared their responses for. There were transport experts among the suits around the tables today and they had much to say about the merits or otherwise of the data relating to the Cawdor Road/Balblair Road junction. There is a school of thought that it all comes down to how the junction and the station brae can cope with increased traffic and given the importance the Reporter is placing on the Traffic Assessment that may indeed be right. Thus anyone walking in off the street would have found the listening to highbrow stuff relating to the assessment that came as part of the South Nairn package.  

So phrases like “headline saturation figure”, “calibrate the model”, “practical reserve capacity” resonated around the main hall of the Community and Arts Centre. It was a crash course in the LinSig and Picady models of traffic assessments (hope they are the correct spellings) and calibrating the models for local conditions. Joan Noble of course was very au fait with a lot of this and her original critique of the appellant’s traffic assessment MK1 came back into the equation. It was heady stuff and sometimes it seemed that even the experts were having trouble following some of it. This observer thought that at times it took some of the experts a bit of time to find the documents that were under discussion, this may have been because the whole exercise had had the goalposts moved or perhaps there was some other reason – but it all looked a bit stressed, laboured and slow at times. 

There was mention of a “magic algorithm” which prompted Community Councillor Brian Stewart to talk of “lifting the lid on the magic black box” and to state “all this magical arithmetic lacks credibility”. Basically this community’s planning future may well boil down to what credibility the Scottish Government’s Reporter Iain Urquhart gives to the elements of traffic assessment science that have been delivered up to this hearing and the critique prepared by citizen Dr Joan Noble who is the community’s formidable self-taught traffic assessment expert. 

When it came to the impact that a road through the potential housing scheme might have on relieving traffic on Balblair Road and Gordon’s Sawmill it became
Scottish Government's Reporter Iain Urquhart
a discussion about the differences between a distributor road or a connection road or a link road and whether the criteria laid out in the Scottish Government’s “Designing Streets” was either the gospel or had been superseded by other mechanisms. It was almost if a document was on trial for its life at one point. 

Well there’s traffic assessment science and there’s real life and somewhere in the ether around King Street today they met for the benefit of Iain Urquhart’s wisdom and considered judgement. It’s democracy in action – or is it? 

Successful day for the Dogs Trust microchipping session on the Links, Nairn - Picture and interview

Above you can hear a brief word from Lisa Cross of the Dogs Trust who spoke to the Gurn this afternoon as the sun was shining down on the Links. Around a quarter to two when they would finish their session they had microchipped nearly 60 dogs. Click the red circle above to listen to Lisa explain a little about the process of microchipping your dog.

Getting the microchip today in the picture below was Jax who also received a complementary Dogs Trust biscuit from Lisa. 

Monday, June 09, 2014

Nairn Young sailors training on East Beach at Weekend‏

Paul Chaplin send the Gurn a few images and told us: "Beach walkers and sun worshippers might have seen some small Dinghies (optimists) out sailing of the East Beach Saturday and Sunday. This was a coaching academy session organised by Nairn Sailing club for local young sailors. National RYA (Royal yacht club) coaches who are experience at international and world levels put the boys and girls through their paces. Lots of fun and we currently have some great young sailors in Nairn. See some of them at Nairn Sailing club open day Next Saturday 14th June." 

"Oh yes, wait just a minute Mr. Postman" - Nairn Gecko?

Thanks to Carol for this image of a Gecko (or big newt)? waiting for the postie to drop by with the latest mail. This creature was basking in the Nairn sunshine today.