Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nairn County Supporters set off on the first part of their West Highland Way journey

The first group of 11 Nairn County FC supporters left Nairn this afternoon on board Ken's luxury coach heading to their base at Crianlaraich.  They will meet up with the other 4 walkers along the way.

Tomorrow they will all set off on the first leg of the West Highland Way, let's hope the weather is favourable and the midges are missing!

Nairn 6 Keith 1 - Pictures by Kenny MacLeod

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Seaman’s Hall goes to the Festival – New Highland Contemporary

The Seaman’s Hall has come out of its summer slumber to participate in the Nairn Book and Arts Festival 2014. It’s worth a visit folks, we are lucky that so many people have done so much hard work to lay on a series of exhibitions across Nairn for the Festival and it is a thrill just to see the Seaman’s Hall in a new guise, one of its secret selves perhaps, with people moving around doing what they do at exhibitions. Another underused space is transformed for the Nairn Book and Arts Festival. What a pity there couldn’t be this much of a buzz about the hall several days a week all year round. At least the Referendum will fill it for another day later in September.

A lot of interesting stuff to look at then and my favourite of the night was “The High Priestess of Holding Hands” by Charis Edward Wells. A “mixed media installation with photography, film and performance.” Over in a corner it draws you in, looking a bit of an orphan perhaps, away from the other works all by itself. 

The artist Charis Edward is quoted: “In between, the reinforced structures and our own realised concepts in the space to play; the questions. Why do we walk on pavements and not over walls? Why do we feel ungroomed when we grow our body hair? Why do we see with our eyes and not our noses? These questions in a very simple way are scientific play time experiments. Experimentation and exploration of thought is intrinsic to my practice and since the subject can vary dramatically in my work, the medium can vary too. In saying this there is one consistency: I must be in the work. I believe the most effective way in which to present the sincerity of the work is to be present within it and for the audience to experience it directly.” 

More from Charis Edward in the handout that guides you around the hall and plenty more from other third year students too. A lot to look at and a lot to read in the guide too. You can do the reading whilst walking around or perhaps when you take the sheets of paper home but it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to sit in a comfortable armchair and set about that task that way. You can’t have everything though. 

There was a link on Charis Edward’s work to his website. Here’s another piece of writing from the artist. A slightly different vein perhaps:

“I have a friend who is a sex therapist. He has worked in many places. He informed me that the North-East of Scotland is more sexually repressed that Bible-Belt US. My thoughts wandered. Cerebrally, I took a jaunt through the history of sexual repression and peered at other cultures who seem to have avoided the suffocating effects of a life of continual self-repression, like the Baltic people who still use sex magic and ritual as a part of everyday life. What if Elgin, my hometown, had avoided the repressive Victorian values and looked at sex as the special, mystical and vital thing it is. How could that have happened? The High Priestess is the myth I wish we had.” 

Entry to New Highland Contemporary is free at the Seaman’s Hall, Harbour Street, Saturday 30th August - Sunday 7th September 10am to 4pm

Nairn County 6 Keith 1 Pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here. 

Cruising on sunshine - Nairn 6 Keith 1

There was a chilled, and obviously sunny, feel about the afternoon at Station Park, the dark clouds had literally just parted and light filled the sacred spot that is the Wee County's home. There was really no doubt that the improved performance of Wednesday night would lead to a victory today, it was made to happen today and it came to pass. Mild euphoria in sunshine but in the knowledge that there is still a considerable task to do but once again it looks possible. Three goals for Conor Gethins and one apiece for Adam Naismith, Sean Webb And Robbie Duncanson. 

Image below and more images here on the  Gurn Flickr pages

The overnight queue for a home in Nairn!

The scene this morning in the Springfield Properties show house car park up at Lochloy. Potential home owners desperate to live in Nairn shared their experiences of camping out overnight in their vehicles to be first in the queue for 16 new plots going on sale this morning at 11.30 am.

The possible  Lochloy residents were sharing a cuppa and braving the showers this morning.  What a great way to get to know your future neighbours.

Nairn 1 Cove 1 - pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nairn CAB bag packing fundraiser at Sainsbury's this Saturday and Sunday

Pamela from the CAB tells the Gurn: 

"We have loved seeing all your Ice Bucket Challenge videos on Facebook. Now Nairn CAB would like you to help fill our buckets! We are having a bag packing fundraiser at Sainsbury's in Nairn this Saturday and Sunday. Come along and help support your local bureau whilst you shop. Hope to see you all there."

Co-op to feed the County Fans on West Highland Way expedition

Ali Nichol and his team of fifteen County Fan colleagues will be leaving on Sunday to head for their West Highland Way base at Crianlaraich. The squad will be raising money for the Station Park Ground Improvement Fund and will be transported to their destination and ferried to the start and finish points daily by Ken Finnerty and one of his 24/7 taxi vehicles. 

Meanwhile the Co-op have contributed to the fund-raiser and provided a large substantial quantity of supplies that should help keep the boys fed and watered during their five day expediton. The fans tell the Gurn they would like to thank Michael Boylan and Kenny Nicol at the co-op Nairn for donating the provisions. More about the West Highland Way Walk and Great Glen Kayak Challenge that will take the Centenary Baton all the way back to Nairn here. 

Video - Festival exhibitions open next week - "Bronze in Nairn" and "Nairnshire" - and others

No death by powerpoint with some visiting quango or council worthy in the Courthouse tonight but instead the magnificent building was at its living, breathing best at a crowded preview of the “Bronze in Nairn” and “Nairnshire” parallel exhibitions. A few images from tonight here and below a video of Nairn Book and Arts Tanera Bryden saying a few words of thanks, then a short speech by Mo Farquharson of Black Isle Bronze, followed by the awards for the photography competition announced by the Camera Club’s Dave Freeman.

The exhibitions are delightful and, once again, demonstrate the fantastic potential of the indoor civic space that is the Courthouse. Get yourself down there if you can the venue will be open Tuesday 2nd – Sunday 7th September 2014 from 10.00am – 4.00pm. More details on

Traffic Lights - Cllr Colin MacAulay: "I think we have the right people around the table"

Dick Youngson Chair of Suburban Community Council said at the joint meeting of the Subbies and Westies at the Academy on Tuesday night:

A96 Traffic problems are hellish at the moment, absolutely hellish. It’s never been worse and it’s not just peak time. It can happen at any time the traffic lights system we’ve got and pedestrian crossing is just not working and really I think we should have BEAR back in and discuss with them what we can do. We can’t put up with this all winter. It’s taking people the best part of three quarters of an hour to get in from Delnies into town. 

John Mackie said: “Are BEAR the people we should be talking too, Transport Scotland were instrumental in putting traffic lights up in the wrong place so surely they should be addressing it.”

Dick agreed. A little later Graham Vine said: “Every single time we’ve raised these issues at ward fora or wherever the Highland Council officers and councillors have said we’ll talk to BEAR about it, and as you rightly say BEAR’s job is to make sure that the pressure cushions work and that the light bulbs go on and off and that’s it! They have no say or want to have any say on where the lights should be or how they should operate. I was poo-pooed a little while a go but I’m going to raise it again: I think we should try officially shrouding nearly all of those lights and see if the traffic gets better or worse. 

Alastair Noble then joined the discussion: “The traffic assessments have just been the biggest load of cobblers, we’re still at Nairn South with people saying there’s no problem with the A96, it won’t make any difference. So hopefully sanity will prevail and I know this sounds maybe a bit harsh but the planners keep recommending that these developments go ahead. We suffer from their daft decisions. Thankfully the councillors overrule them and don’t actually vote with them but we’re still in the enormously daft position of so-called professionals , transport and planners, saying that it will be all right and I can only echo Brian; I can’t believe how difficult it would be, or it is, to get into the centre of Nairn. You think twice about going shopping in Nairn.” 

Colin MacAulay (one of our Highland Councillors) responded: “I think we have the right people around the table. We have Transport Scotland here. We have a new area manager in terms of roads north and have the attendance of the high heid yins – Glasgow coming up to meetings now. We’ve taken it all the way to the minister, we’ve...we live here as well, we’re as exasperated as every taxi driver and every white van man and everybody that wants to go from Mossside to Balmakeith. Again it’s back to this thing in terms of a major part of the issue has been Lochloy, the failings and refailings in that light and you then get a fault back from that. You then get the congestion around several lights and back around Leopold Street there. [...] Transport Scotland have been using BEAR to make improvements and you can see it actually, sometimes the traffic is extraordinarily heavy and it flows beautifully and there are other times when the traffic is not heavy and it’s got jams from Delnies right through to Lochloy but at Lochloy you can see that the traffic is absolutely moving smoothly heading eastward from there. We’ve got a problem in the centre of town and as a lay individual you feed that in. I have to commend folk like Andrew MacIvor and Stewart Stanfield because they are on the money, they’ve assessed the situation, they’ve given their advice to BEAR, to Siemens and to Transport Scotland. I think they’re finally listening.”

Brian Stewart then continued with another contribution : “Since we are all perhaps to be hopeful that we have a new chap here or a meeting coming up but point one is it shouldn’t hinge on personalities or individuals. The second thing here and what is important to put on the table at whatever meeting now is; is this a minor problem of technical tweaking and fine tuning the wires in the road and the bulbs in the lights or is it a major problem of traffic management. For the last two or three years the reaction and the approach has essentially been it’s a minor problem of tweaking these lights or those lights or the Lochloy lights or the Albert Street junction or the Leopold Street sequence. I think that the experience of the last two or three years and particularly of recent months and the reaction there has been is that it is more than just a minor problem.”

UPDATE: Cllr Liz MacDonald has stated this morning on the Facebook page "Remove Nairn Traffic Lights":

"Fergus Ewing was in Nairn on Wednesday and we were discussing the possibility of removing some of the traffic lights. We have also raised this concerns several times with Transport Scotland on a regular basis. The best way to improve traffic movement within Nairn is to get the By-pass delivered as quickly as possible and it is currently 2 years ahead of the rest of the A96 dualling east of Nairn."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One for the many serious students of Nairn's traffic lights - A report submitted to Nairn West CC in 2011, based on an examination of Highland Council documents under a Freedom of Information request

Further to the report of the traffic lights discussion at the joint Community Councils meeting on Tuesday night (more to come from that yet) click here to see a copy of a document submitted to the Westies in 2011 entitled:

Did Highland Council (and Transport Scotland) get the planning right?  

 - it is a forensic examination of how we got so many traffic lights in Nairn, a bit complicated in parts perhaps but worth sticking with - it doesn't hold back by the way - some bed time reading perhaps? 

Nairn 1 Cove 1 Images from Kenny MacLeod

Individual images here.

Community Development Company to take forward wetlands and facilities on Sandown with former Tradespark Hall charity cash

At the combined meeting of the Westies and Subbies CCs on Tuesday night, Dick Youngson, in his usual modest way, delivered a short statement on something that might fundamentally change the way we go about things in Nairn: (see Gurn comment after article). 

Dick said: “Many of you will remember the old Tradespark Hall. The asbestos clad hall which was sold and demolished and houses built on the site. Well the proceeds from that went into what was an existing charity. It was the Delnies charity, they enlarged it to call it the Delnies and Tradespark Hall charity. So there is quite a bit of cash in that. 

It’s managed by trustees and a local lawyer. We’ve approached them and the money has to be spent in that part of Tradespark. It has to be spent for a specific purpose. It can’t be put into anything, it has to be spent on community facilities and sporting, recreational facilities. So it is quite specific. Now we have approached them and the trustees along with the lawyers are meeting next week [...].
The trustees are now more than happy to transfer that money to us, to a development company and we can use that to set up a little enterprise group to take on the development of the parkland, wetland and the community facilities.”

Dick was then asked: “how much are we talking about?”

He replied, “about 180,000 at the present time and remains to be seen whether that actually, by the time the investments are sold. We’ll see what we get at the end of the day. But it’s about that, it’s a little bit more perhaps. But it’s quite enough now to act to engage a project manager and to apply for matched funding and some of the larger grants.

It’s something which we will ....with Colin and the Council and we’ll look at a plan, we’ve already had a plan [...]. It’s actually in the plan, it’s already in the Sandown plan anyway, so it is something which we will develop along with the social housing. This area adjacent to Sandown Road which can be actually used for very attractive (and it has to be very attractive social housing). We don’t want flats or anything like that. So that’s where we are at present. We’ll know in a week or two how it’s going and then we’ll start sort of discussing it with the Council, Colin, Liz and the rest of the ward Cllrs and we’ll form management committee of the main players here again. The Woodlands and Wetlands Association, ourselves, the Cllrs and people that are quite au fait with this project. "

Gurn comment

Dick Youngson is an exceptional man and we are lucky to have him working for the Common Good of us all. He has a proven track record of delivering for the community. This recent article on the Nairn Allotment site, records his formidable success as chair of that group and the successful projects that have reverberated far beyond Nairn. Good luck to his ideas on how to take the wetlands and housing forward on the Sandown Lands. This is the kind of community control we need or our assets. 

There are others like Dick with the skills and willingness to work on such projects, and give their services for no payment, for the benefit of our community (the Common Good). We need full control of the Nairn Common Good fund from Inverness to achieve this effectively but in the meantime if it means setting up what would virtually be another Common Good fund but under community and not Highland Council control then Godspeed to Dick and those that will assist and facilitate it for him!

End Glenurquhart Road Direct Rule – Freedom for Nairnshire!

How Nairn got the traffic lights and the present day environmental and economic penalty paid by residents and business

The “hellish” delays that can be caused by the Nairn traffic lights were discussed at the joint meeting of the West and Suburban Community Councils in Nairn Academy on Tuesday night. We’ll return to the substance of those discussions but in the light of recent facebook activism by local residents perhaps this is an opportune moment to quote Cllr Brian Stewart of the Westies who gave a short briefing on how we got so many traffic lights in Nairn.

Brian said: “I think the origins of it all are quite clear, a team of consultants run by Colin Buchannan produced a report for the Sainsbury’s development proposal because they were required to. Which was tabled to Highland Council and that incorporated traffic studies which led to or which included recommendations for traffic lights. Highland Council as the local planning authority agreed those proposals as part of the package that went with the permission to develop Sainsbury’s . Highland Council as the planning authority were required to get Transport Scoltand’s endorsement or acceptance of traffic lights because the A96 is a trunk road and Transport Scotland endorsed and accepted them and BEAR Scotland’s job is simply to make sure that the electricity, that the lights work, so BEAR Scotland have no policy responsibility.”

John MacKie of the subbies then made an intervention: “When the traffic lights were being put in we approached the local councillors and not one of them had any knowledge of this – the lights going in. They all deny any knowledge, they were never approached about the traffic lights.”

Delays of up to 45 mins have been reported on Social media recently
Brian responded: “Well there is documentary proof on Highland Council’s files of what was recommended and what was put to Transport Scotland. It is not for me to comment on whether the Highland Council officials presented that clearly and accurately to the elected Council members but there is clear evidence on the Council’s own files on how that set of traffic lights, that sequence of traffic lights came to be. That’s all water under the bridge, that’s all for the past history now. 

The issue now, in a sense, given the range and the extent of the problem, and it has to be said, the environmental, economic and other consequences of the problem. There is an issue here. There is an issue of environmental pollution and all of that with lots of traffic standing static and spewing out exhaust fumes. There is an economic cost to every white van man, to every tradesman, to everyone that needs to come and go through Nairn. There is an economic penalty for those such as bed and breakfast owners and other businesses and hotels and shops that rely on people coming easily to or into and out of or through Nairn. And there is obviously a penalty by every commuter and every resident who has to use that road. Now that’s a pretty damning list on the down side and while it is our fervent hope, all of us, that the magic solution of the bypass will sweep all this away. We’re all realistic enough to realise that we’ve got another 2, 3, 5, 8, 10 years before we are into this brave new world of a bypass.”

A little more of this debate from the subbies/westies meeting on Tuesday night when time permits. Dick, Brian and others had more to say and the only Highland Councillor present (poor Colin, he can get hammered at these events but at least he’s there) also made a contribution.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Annoyed resident tells the Gurn he will remove untidy posters in town centre

Annoyed resident Iain Fairweather tells the Gurn:

"I'm getting increasingly annoyed by the number of people who plaster and disfigure our town with notices. There is no excuse, however valid the cause, for adding to the dilapidated appearance of the town centre and plastering empty spaces with rubbish. Most shops will display a poster if asked. Please people, kindly desist and show a degree of responsibility. I'm going to start removing them!"

Below some pictures of the notices that have upset Iain.

Images - County Centenary Baton (a work of art) that will travel the West Highland Way and kayak the Great Glen back to Nairn

The baton was created from an Alder branch by David Walker of the Kayak club. The branch was donated by Greens Nurseries.  Individual images here (click on each one on that page just to see what a beautiful work of art the baton is) Full screen slideshow here. More information on the walk here. Video interview with Steven Bain and Ali Nicol here. 

The 15 walkers set off on Monday next week (1st September) from Milngavie and will reach Fort William on the Friday after 96 miles on the way. They will be joined by another 14 fans from Uncle Bob’s Bar for the final session. A back up vehicle for the walkers has been provided by Ken’s 24/7 taxis and Heather of Uncle Bob’s is providing a minibus for the walkers on the final day. Then the baton will be handed over to the Kayak club for the rest of the journey. 

The final part of the baton’s homecoming will be celebrated in a parade from the harbour to the Bandstand (site of County’s first ever competitive game) on Saturday September the 20th and all Nairnshire is invited to march behind a pipe band for a photo opportunity at the bandstand. Just wear something yellow and black and c’mon down. Details of the event here.

The walk and the marathon Kayak session is to raise funds for the County Fans Ground Improvement Fund and the Nairn Kayak club – if you would like to sponsor either the Fans GIF or the Kayak club please contact and we will forward your details.

Green bin rubbish uplift to be reduced to once every three weeks?

Chair of River Community Council Tommy Hogg has already gone on record with his opposition to the proposal by Highland Council to reduce the bin collection from every two weeks to three. He his quoted in a Courier article here.  A massive flood of criticism from members of the public has been voiced on that article’s webpage.

Last night at the joint meeting of the West and Suburban Councils heard further opposition voiced. The discussion on the frequency of the green bin service was raised after the subject of household rubbish being dumped in the Tradespark Wood was aired.  Rubbish has been found at several points in the Tradespark wood and the police have been involved after bills with an address were discovered in one of the bags. Whether the dumping is an element of someone’s lifestyle choice or because they have no room left in their green bin is unknown but someone has been spoken to by the police.

Ian Knox then said: “Is there any truth in the rumour that I’ve been stopped and asked about changing the green bins from 2 weeks to 3 weeks? I  thought we were actually trying to get it back to one week again?”

Dick Youngson replied: “I don’t know if we’ll ever get that but there are all these options being looked at.”

Graham Vine pointed out to Highland Councillor Colin MacAulay (the only authority member present – Liz and Michael had sent apologies) that if someone was away when a three week collection was made that would make it six weeks and that in the summer months would in the summer months just be a horrible festering mess.

Dick was also worried about rubbish spewing out of the top of bins. He added: “Strictly speaking the refuse collectors shouldn’t handle that bin if the lid doesn’t close.”

Colin then said: “These are pros and cons. More bin collections, you know we are trying to recycle more and one of the moves in that direction of smaller and fewer bins and different bins. And I know that’s a hassle factor for society but it is one of the things in terms of a kind of social engineering kind of a way that does do what we all want to do which is waste less and recycle more. “
Martin Ashford said we should have more comprehensive recycling, picking up glass etc.

This observer pointed out that the whole bin collection system can go haywire in areas where bins are uplifted together in areas like the High Street. An offending object might be placed in a bin after you have placed it in the uplift area (a piece of polystyrene in a blue bin for example) and an innocent householder will not have their bin emptied and get a sticker telling them why on the bin. People have been known to give up recycling after this treatment and simply put everything in the green bin again.

Murd Dunbar called for a skip outside the recycling centre because if people go up and the centre is shut they will not take the rubbish home but just dump it. Murd said their argument against that was that it might not be “landfill” material but he said that surely it would be better there than dumped around the Country.
Ian Knox called for consultation before anything happened. Colin MacAulay then said:

“A whole range of ideas have come into the Council about how to save money, so that will be one of the ideas and we will do some financial crunching on the pros and cons and what the savings are. It will then come back to us as either as a firm proposal or not. It’s not in the offing imminently and I guess what I can try and do is flag up whenever it is and take a view in terms will be a saving when it comes through. It’s a case of if we need to make a saving what do we make the saving on? I’ll try when it gets to that budget setting stage and what kind of proposals are there, I’ll try and bring it back so folk can give it a good airing anyway.”

John Mackie said he could have understood it if it was going to be the blue bin but not the green bin.

What do you think Gurnshire? Could you cope with a three weekly green bin uplift? Do you think Colin has the right attitude or should he simply say to his political colleagues “my constituents will not accept this, it shouldn’t even be a cost saving proposal going forward”? 

Another nearly frosty morning

The sun rises above the Lochloy estate and reveals a heavy white dew on the Dunbar golf course. The temperature was zero again this morning but no frost. Inevitably one autumn morning the grass will turn white and crispy but not this time. Meanwhile a -1.6C with ice on the thermometer has been reported at Cawdor on Monday morning. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Patients Group further statement "The Practice has not been prepared to place in writing the issues they have articulated to us nor have they provided evidence to support their claims. "

Recently we published information from Nairn Health Care Group in response to concerns raised in the public domain by the Patients Group - what the practice said can be found in this Gurn article here "Nairn Health Care statement - clarification of communication to Patients Group."  The original Patients Group statement is here "PPG promise to keep patients informed." That too, in its turn, was also a response to a response by the NHS and the healthcare group . 

Now another press release from the Patients Group has been published on their website. Here's a paragraph from the latest missive: 

"Overall, the PPG has been disappointed in the approach of the Practice in dealing with issues, especially when we were prepared to postpone public meetings and make efforts to provide a new partnering agreement. The Practice has not been prepared to place in writing the issues they have articulated to us nor have they provided evidence to support their claims. It is also disappointing that they have not even considered mediation to repair this ‘breakdown in trust’ between the Practice and the Chair. We can only conclude that they were not happy with the way that they were being portrayed in the press and have not had a effective strategy to deal with the press and public. What is even more disappointing is that the PPG could have helped the practice in these matters and indeed offered in private to help. "

More information on the PPG site here including links to copies of documents they have sent to the practice. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fancy doing the West Highland Way 1st - 5th September - accommodation and supply vehicle provided - one space on County fans fundraiser avaiable

Due to unavoidable circumstances one space has become available on this NCFC fans ground improvement fundraiser - more details here. Contact asap if interested.  

Nairn Branch of Legion march to Parish Church for World War 1 service

Image from Murray MacRae - more of Murray's pictures here. 

Cricketers get a result at Buckie

As we reported earlier this weekend, not much joy to be had for Nairn County FC through in Buckie on Saturday. The Gurn is delighted to report the following cricket result however:

"Nairn County Cricket Club 2nd XI (Reserve League) played Buckie today.

Nairn 91 for 9 wickets
Buckie All Out for 53"

Scores and image below courtesy of RGIV12


Nairn Gardening Club veggie competition winners

The winners pictured by Murray MacRae in the Community and Arts Centre on Saturday after noon with their champion veg. 

Allie Isles from Nairn and John Martin from Kinloss.

Buckie 2 Nairn 0 images from Donald Matheson

Individual images here

Remove Nairn Traffic Lights - activists form facebook group

The frustration with Nairn's traffic lights has boiled over into the social media with a facebook group calling for their total removal being formed. You can see what Nairn folk have to say about their forest of traffic lights here on "Remove Nairn Traffic Lights."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Disappointment returns for County - Buckie 2 Nairn 0

After the midweek success at Wick, worried County fans were hoping that the club had turned the corner. It was not to be though and now the club have only 3 points from their opening 5 matches. 

Iain Fairweather's images of the Nairn Games 2014

Can be browsed in a photovision album here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Spring barley suffering near Nairn"

"Hamish Forbes has barely started cutting spring barley at Lockdhu Farm, Nairn, Morayshire, and is extremely concerned that quality is starting to fall.

“The weather has been really bad – we managed to cut a neighbour’s spring barley on Saturday (16 August), which was the first time we’d got on since the tail end of Hurricane Bertha, and now it’s raining again,” he said."  

Closer to a renewables future for the Port of Ardersier - 'super-hub' plans get full backing of Scottish Government

"A renewables jobs boom for the Highlands moved a step closer as the Port of Ardersier secured the full backing of the Scottish Government for plans to turn the former oil fabrication yard on the Moray Firth into a manufacturing ‘super-hub’ for offshore wind.

In what Chief Executive Officer Captain Steve Gobbi described as a ‘major milestone’, the 400 acre facility has been given the green light from the government and its regulators Marine Scotland and Transport Scotland.

The vacant site now holds a marine licence and a harbour revision order, together with full planning consent from Highland Council secured earlier this year, paving the way for a potential jobs boom for the Highlands.

“This is a major milestone for the Port of Ardersier,” says Captain Gobbi. “There are few, if any, vacant sites of this scale in the northern North Sea offering deep water access and the potential to undertake manufacturing, assembly, operations, maintenance and decommissioning from a single location. We now have the all-clear to commence site works and undertake major dredging which will see the port open for business next year.

“We now have a compelling offering to offshore wind consortia, manufacturers, tier 1 suppliers and operations and maintenance contractors – and have been in discussion with a number of major firms which can benefit from this vast, dedicated and unrestricted site with superb access to major offshore wind zones."

Nairn Health Care statement - clarification of communication to Patients Group

We received the following from the manger of the practice, Barbara Graham, in relation to the article we published on Tuesday entitled "PPG promise to keep patients informed"

"There has been a great deal of interest in the media about recent events concerning our PPG. We have already indicated that we feel that some of the reporting has been inaccurate. To help clarify the exact nature of the last communication from the practice to the PPG which precipitated the events thereafter, I now attach the communication that was given to the entire PPG membership on 15th July 2014. 

We remain wholeheartedly committed to constructive patient engagement and will continue to explore a variety of ways of achieving this."

And the text of the communication Barbara refers to:

"Dear PPG

As stated at our meeting of 2nd July, the practice is committed to a productive and constructive relationship with our patients, and feels that a highly functioning PPG would support us in achieving this. This needs to be a long term relationship built upon trust and mutual respect, which will take time to build.

We discussed fundamental differences regarding the role and purpose of the group which have emerged under the current Chairmanship. We also noted that, despite efforts on both sides to resolve this, there has been a breakdown in personal trust between the Practice and the Chair. Our position on both points remains unchanged.

Given the high level of expressed emotion at the meeting in July the practice feels that a significant period of reflection would be beneficial for all parties.

The issues regarding the Chair remains unresolved. We hope that in due course we can once again work in partnership with a PPG that shares our aims and objectives.

We would like to thank you for all for your work and time to date regarding the PPG. We very much appreciate the effort that has been taken in looking at a revised constitution.

Once again thank you for your interest and commitment.


Nairn County's season finally gets underway Wick 0 Nairn 1

In tough conditions at Harmsworth Park last night the Wee County put the recent run of bad form behind them and took three points with a goal in the second half from Conor Gethins. Match report available here on the Highland News. 

Nairn and District gardening Club show Saturday 23rd August

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Will local democracy remain in the bin regardless of the YES or NO outcome?

We've put this post to the top again - interesting comments coming in, including one from prominent local YES campaigner Cllr Colin MacAulay.

One of our correspondents tells us that they are not very impressed with the quality of the Independence debate so far at local and national level. They are particularly unimpressed by lack of a mention of what either outcome might mean for local democracy – something that has been in serious decline in recent years. To this observer this democratic deficit was illustrated again (albeit in a very small way) up at the Cawdor Community Council meeting last week. There was a call for a litter bin at the football pitch. There followed mention of erratic collections and how this service had declined. One of the councillors said to Highland Councillor Roddy Balfour that they would accept any sort of bin that they council would offer as long as somebody was going to empty it. Roddy replied: “That’s the trouble - getting someone out here to empty them.”

One of the Cawdor community councillors is already emptying the bin at the church themselves and was reluctant to accept responsibility for another. There was a suggestion that it could be tied in with the school bins but it was said: “getting rid of rubbish at Cawdor School is quite complicated and not an option.” As the Chair Tim Smith said emptying the bins was “the difficult part of the equation.” 

Now rewind Gurnites to the days of the Nairn District Council. Characters of the calibre of Chrissie Ellen would have simply gone to see the official responsible and it would have been sorted. In the past Councillors had the power and the influence to sort such small things without such ridiculous carry-ons. We have several officials in Inverness earning salaries well in excess of a £100,000 each yet there appears to be no one that could empty an extra litter bin. Maybe there simply is no money left, after all Highland Council is on schedule to notch up a billion pounds of debt in the near future. Maybe the labyrinth of administration is far too complex. It makes you wonder what is the point of a veteran, councillor with the experience of Roddy Balfour even going to meetings if he can’t even get someone to come and empty a bin. It’s hardly asking for a new footbridge across the River Nairn or something like that is it? 

So let’s look at this democratic deficit again. And for this we steal directly from a blog post by Green Activist Andy Wightman in which he details why he thinks the recent Commission for Strengthening Local Democracy’s report believes the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Bill will only tinker with the symptoms of the problem. Here are quotes he has lifted from the report: 

"The case for much stronger local democracy is founded on the simple premise that it is fundamentally better for decisions about these aspirations to be made by those that are most affected by them…

.after decades of power ebbing away, for many people it has become increasingly inconceivable to think that local communities could be in charge of their own affairs.

In the end, all of our thinking has come down to seven fundamental principles that we believe must underpin Scotland’s democratic future.

We have also concluded that the evolution of Scotland’s democratic system across the past 50 years has more or less undermined or inverted all these principles, albeit often with good intentions.

The principle of sovereignty has been so inverted that it is now routine in public policy to talk about governments and local governments “empowering” communities rather than the other way round. The principle of subsidiarity has been undermined by the progressive scaling up of local governance, and central control of local resources and functions. The transition from over 200 local councils in 1974 to only 32 “local” councils in 1996 is one of the most radical programmes of delocalisation that we can identify anywhere in the world. Moreover, Scotland’s local democratic structures can be changed at will by any national government with a majority. That the Scottish Parliament is in exactly the same position with respect to Westminster illustrates how “top down” the whole framework of democracy is."

Andy Wightman’s blog post "Time to rebuild Local Democracy" is here and the Commissions’ final report can be downloaded here

We have a long way to go in getting acceptable local accountability back and it would be healthy to hear more from YES or NO activists on why they believe their particular outcome would lead us to a better democratic deal for local communities – because there are people out there that believe that places like Nairn and Cawdor are stuffed whatever happens at the ballot box on September 18th if centralised administrations continue to cling on to their powerbases without devolution down to communities.

In a newly Independent Scotland would new political parties spring up to campaign on these issues or would allegiances be with the existing structures such as the one at Glenurquhart Road and their preservation? This observer feels personally that it would be easier to campaign for a better local deal in an Independent Scotland but there are some out there not so easily convinced of that. It is a shame that the subject doesn't feature more to the forefront of the debate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Golden Oldie Awards 2014 - Recognising the Service and Achievements of Older People

Do you know of any resident of the Nairn area over the age of 60 deserving of an award for their achievements or contribution to the lives of others or the wider community?

If so, now is the time to nominate them for one of the Golden Oldie Awards 2014.

The Golden Oldie Awards is a new initiative being promoted by the RCOP Highland Project (Reshaping Care for Older People). There are 10 awards in total covering all aspects of local life:

· Most Caring Golden Oldie
· Most Active Golden Oldie
· Most Talented Golden Oldie
· Most Enterprising Golden Oldie
· Most Influential Golden Oldie
· Most Inspiring Golden Oldie
· Most Adventurous Golden Oldie
· Golden Oldie Carer of the Year
· Golden Oldie Community Group of the Year
· Golden Oldie of the Year 

Anyone over the age of 60 living in Nairn or any of the surrounding settlements, including Ardersier, Auldearn, Croy, Cawdoretc can be nominated for an award. Nomination forms can be picked up from the community centre, library or health centre and once completed should be returned via postboxes in the same locations. Alternatively forms can be obtained by contacting Roy Anderson on (01667) 455620 or by emailing Nomination form also available online here. 

“You can nominate as many folk as you want for the various award categories. All you need to provide is their name and reasons why you believe they deserve the award,” said Roy Anderson. “We are particularly anxious to recognise the achievements, service and contribution of the many unsung heroes out there, who put others and the community before self. The nomination form itself provides a more detailed explanation of the type of person we are looking for in each category.”

The closing date for nominations is Monday 15th September, after which a small panel will meet to choose a short leet of three award nominees in each category. The individuals (or groups) chosen will then be invited to a glittering Awards Ceremony on the afternoon of Sunday 5th October in Nairn Arts & Community Centre. Representatives from many of the local community groups and organisations, providing services and activities for older people, will also be invited to the Award Ceremony. On arrival guests will enjoy a nice afternoon tea and be entertained by local musicians. 

The date chosen for the event, 5th October, is now recognised nationally as Silver Sunday with events organised across the country to celebrate old age and the contribution of older folk to the community.

Fresh search into disappearance of Guide Dog Tess takes place in Nairn

We reported earlier on a possible sighting of Tess - please see this thread. And here's some news on the publicity team from the Guide Dogs organisation that were in Nairn on Games Day. 

Over 20 Guide Dogs' staff and volunteers led a new attempt to find missing guide dog Tess in Nairn, the site of her disappearance, on Saturday 16 August.

Staff and volunteers dressed in #FindTess t-shirts knocked on doors around Nairn and handed out 1,200 leaflets to people around the town centre who were gathered for the Highland Games.
Wendy Rankin of Guide Dogs and Tess's owner Fraser Stevenson hand a flyer to a Nairn Resident 
Saturday’s activity prompted new calls to the hotline and Guide Dogs staff will now be following up these fresh sightings.

Tess, a black curly coated Retriever has been missing since 23 July and despite searches by Guide Dogs staff, volunteers and members of the public, appeals for
Guide Dogs Fiona Fraser in Tess t-shirt
information on social media, a poster campaign and local and national media coverage, she is yet to be found.

Fraser Stevenson, Tess’s owner, said: “I am so grateful to everyone who turned out in support of the search on Saturday. We managed to speak to lots of local people and everyone is on the lookout. I hope that people will continue to watch out for Tess, and report any possible sightings that could help to bring her home to me.” 

Terry Thorpe, Mobility Team Manager at Guide Dogs who led the operation, said: “I would like to thank the people of Nairn for taking the time to speak to Guide Dogs staff and volunteers on Saturday. The
Find Tess t-shirts
support we have had in the town since the day Tess went missing has been overwhelming.

“We're following up on all leads that could help us to reunite Tess with Fraser and we're still urging people to continue to come forward with any possible sightings by calling 0800 6888 409.”

Multi-million contract for A96 dualling detailed design work including Nairn Bypass published by Transport Scotland

Transport Scotland state on their website today:

"A contract worth at least £30 million to take forward the detailed design work for the first section of the Scottish Government’s ambitious A96 dualling programme is up for grabs.

Transport Scotland today published the contract notice to begin the process to appoint a multi-disciplinary consultant to take forward the development, assessment and promotion of the preferred option for A96 Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) scheme.

Details of the preferred option are expected to be announced this October.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said:  “The Scottish Government has given a clear commitment to dual the A96 by 2030, delivering around 86 miles of upgraded road between Inverness and Aberdeen. This contract when awarded will be worth at worth at least £30 million, and reinforces our determination to invest in this road and all of our city-to-city roads to bring them up to full dual carriageway standard.

“Dualling the A96 is a significant undertaking which requires careful, in-depth planning and design to ensure that we deliver the right scheme to help tackle congestion and provide better journey time reliability and road safety for all users.

"In addition to the preliminary work we are undertaking on the whole of the A96 corridor, we are currently progressing the route option assessment work for the 30 km Inverness to Nairn including Nairn Bypass scheme, and expect to announce a preferred option for this scheme later this year when our plans will go on public display.

“The contract notice being published today will allow us to appoint a design consultant early next year to develop the preferred option and look to publish draft orders for the scheme in 2016.”

As the scheme is progressed, individuals, communities and businesses affected by the work will be kept fully informed and their vital feedback taken into account"

Transport Scotland site is here. 

County drawn away to Vale in Scottish Cup - Saturday September 13th

PPG promise to keep patients informed

The Patients Participation Group have said in relation to statements made by NHS Highland and Nairn Healthcare Group:

"The PPG committee, elected at the AGM of April 2014, feels it has a duty to continue to act as a forum for patients of the practice and to represent patient views. We acknowledge the issues raised by the Practice and following the meeting of 2nd July proposed a plan to achieve a mutually constructive way forward. The Practice nevertheless has made it clear that it is not prepared to work with the PPG in the form elected and confirmed in April.

PPG has had enormous public support, through attendance at its full meetings, interest in the Facebook page and correspondence in the local press and social media. 

With this in mind, we have already spoken with NHS Highland and the Scottish Health Council to explore options by which the people who have supported us can continue to be involved in learning about, contributing to and improving the healthcare of patients in the area. We expect to meet with SHC in the next month and to have further discussions with NHS Highland soon. We would be very happy if Nairn Healthcare Group joined us in shaping this way forward.

In the immediate future we will continue to keep patients informed through our website, Facebook pages and Twitter. We will be delighted to hear from patients interested in taking an active part in our development."
The PPG site is here.

Looking ahead to August 2015 and a major International orienteering event in Nairn

The Scottish Orienteering Association tell the Gurn: 

"On 1st August 2015 the opening race of the World Orienteering Championships, a Sprint Relay, will be staged in Nairn. Over the course of the week competitors from over 50 Nations will take part in this exciting athletics competition with other venues including Forres (Sprint Qualifier and Final); Darnaway (Middle Distance and Relay) and Glen Affric (Long Distance). The biennial Scottish 6 Days event will run in parallel with these Championships, and are expected to bring in nearly 5,000 participants.

Immediately after the Sprint Relay we anticipate upwards of 1,000 competitors of all ages taking part in an additional orienteering sprint race around Nairn, testing themselves against the times set by the world’s best orienteers. Last year’s Scottish 6 Days (badged Moray 2013 but three events staged in Nairnshire) had a major positive impact on the local economy and next year will be even bigger. Hopes for Team GB in the World Orienteering Championships are high on “home” terrain. 

Assistant Event Director for WOC 2015 is the Scottish Orienteering Association’s Professional Officer Colin Matheson based in Nairn. There are significant opportunities for local businesses and suppliers to get involved in what will be one of the biggest events ever staged in the area. The number of “runs” over the week is close to total numbers participating in the London Marathon."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sighting of missing guide dog Tess in Sluie Walks/Logie steading area says Fraser Stevenson

Tess's owner Fraser said on his facebook page yesterday evening (Monday 18th August):

"PUPDATE – 18/8/14 – There has been a SIGHTING!!! Near Sluie Walks/ Logie Steading, about 2 or 3 miles west of Forres, the sighting was on Saturday afternoon. It is a credible sighting as the young lady called Sophie, who is in her late teens, early twenties, she is a horse rider, who treks around that area regularly, plus her mother is a dog trainer, so she knows breeds of dogs. She recognised Tess from Facebook, on the Missing Dogs in Scotland page.
When Sophie saw ‘Tess’ she got off her horse and watched as ‘Tess’ ran across a road and started to eat something, I think ‘Tess’ was sizing her up, as she just looked at Sophie, who did try and coax her over. ‘Tess’ then ran back across the road and into some dence undergrowth, and disappeared again. Here’s the kicker, Sophie phoned the O800 number and left a message.

I was to meet a local Boarder, and two other volunteers today to do some more postering, but when I got in the car, Isobelle told me that Mike GDI, was at Sluie Walks, as there was a credible sighting, so we headed there this afternoon, and managed to meet up with Sophie who took us to the spot where she had been seen, with no luck today, we called her and blew the whistle, but could not see or hear anything.

If there are people on here from Nairn, Foress or the surrounding areas, I am
putting out a call to either search or keep an eye out in the Logie Stading/Sluie Walks area, she could have moved on again, so West Forres is also a good area to try.

Please help in any way you can, I’m not sure how she will be, she may be wary of people, having felt abandoned and on her own for nearly 4 weeks, just try and coax her with food. I will be speaking with Glasgow and Edinburgh GDs tomorrow to see what their next step is, we’re getting closer…….i hope…… Thanks everyone."

Fraser's facebook page here. Guide dogs news page here. here. 

The Kitty Black Band performing at Reunion Sunday on the Links - 17th August 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nairn Highland Games 2014 - images by Murray MacRae

Individual images here, full screen slideshow here. 

Nairn Highland Games 2014 - pictures by Kenny MacLeod

Kenny captures the entire day. Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here.

Rat-run overload

The popular St Ninian Road rat-run today looked as jammed as the A96

And another eyewitness account: 

Meanwhile Sunday jams again on the A96

Standing room only in the beer tent for the Rev Steve's Reunion Sunday service

The open air service planned for 11.00 a.m. down at the Links moved into the beer tent. The Rev Steve was his usual self, moments of comedy and serious anecdotes to make us think deeply about ourselves and our relations with others, particulary at those stormy moments in life. 

One moment Steve Manders will be telling you that he does a £5, £10 or a £100 service and what would you like? He says he usually counts the collection before deciding. Then he will tell you a wee story like the time he worked in a hostel for men seriously ill and dying from HIV/aids. They had two attitudes, half of them thought they deserved it and the others that they were merely human beings experiencing suffering. He said that there was one auld wifie that would regularly bring sweets and tablet. He asked her one day why she came, a family conection perhaps? She simply  said that they were all some mother's son. 

A remarkable, inspiring moment or two from the Rev Steve then and you don't need to be particularly religious to appreciate his craic too - what he has to say can apply to our lives whether we are believers or not. A reminder that the Games are not all about drams and chat, an opportunity to take a moment or two for reflection on more serious matters that effect us and the community  - the good and the bad, the stormy and the calm, the way many lives are. 

Now it's music until 5.30 p.m. The giant kites are out and there's a chance to shake off that sore head and have another bit of a blether. "Pain in the rain or fun in the sun - it'll be a mixture of both today. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Congratulations to the organisers and all the volunteers at the Nairn Highland Games 2014 - another fantastic event

The weather was perhaps kinder than predicted and the sun even shone at times too as large crowds enjoyed the 2014 Nairn Highland Games. 

Tomorrow (Sunday 17th) there is also a large programme of events as the Games weekend is extended with a music festival, the showies will still be there too. Details here: 'Fun in the Sun or Pain in the Rain, either way, it’s going to be a great Nairn day out' - Reunion Sunday - 17th August

Individual images here.

Wildnight Comedy’s Reunion Sunday photo competition

Enjoy the games Gurnshire and if you are going to the open air music festival that Will be Reunion Sunday then if you take any pictures post one of them in this Wildnight Comedy thread. The best picture of Reunion Sunday will win you two tickets to the Wildnight Comedy show on Saturday 6th September during the Nairn Book and Arts Festival. 

Further details of Reunion Sunday here – a lot more than the music, also in this week’s Nairnshire Telegraph and in this Gurn article: 'Fun in the Sun or Pain in the Rain, either way, it’s going to be a great Nairn day out' - Reunion Sunday - 17th August

Wildnight are also looking for jokes in another wee competition that they are running for the Show on Saturday September the 6th - details here. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dick Youngson's remarkable eight years as Chair of Nairn Allotment Society

Dick stepped down as Chair of NAS at the Group’s AGM in the Community and Arts Centre on Wednesday night. During his 8 years in the job plotting in Nairn has gone from a state of near oblivion to be at the forefront of a resurgence of the past-time in the Highlands. The group are also renowned for their approach and have been a source of help and advice to others beyond the Highlands. From those 18 plots at Sandown which faced extinction in a development scheme the Society now administers over a hundred plots. At one point two thirds of all plots in the Highlands were in Nairn. 

Dick Youngson addresses the 2014 AGM of NAS
On Wednesday night Dick spoke of the days when the plots were moved from Viewfield to Sandown in 1988 and he said that there were still a few of those original Sandown plotters still in the group. He went on:

“It has been a very good year again for the Society. We’re much admired in the allotment system. When I was down in the conference in June in Dunblane they couldn’t get over the fact that we have a hundred plus plots, independent really of Highland Council. We manage our own affairs, there’s been no problem in doing things. Many of these other areas are fighting hard for sites, many of those that are on the waiting list have been on the list years and years with very little chance of getting a plot. We are right down to a waiting list of thirteen or so and we’ve got a pretty rapid turnover of people taking up plots. People really aren’t on the waiting list for very long. They can’t really get over, here we are in Nairn – we had to fight like mad to keep Sandown, because they wanted it for development, they wanted to sell the whole of Sandown for development and that’s when we set up our Society.

Our Society isn’t a very long established group, we set it up to make sure that we have a strong voice and we managed to keep the 18 plots and then we managed to get Mill Road and then we managed to get the next bit of Sandown. Hence the reason we have grown from 80 plots up to a 100 plus. The way we have actually designed our different sites leads to a lot of the other sites in the Highlands coming to us and seeing what we’ve done and how we’ve done it, and they’ve picked up a lot of our rules and regulations and the way that we actually manage our system. Unlike many of them we do everything from allocating plots to setting the rentals and taking in fees for plots. They’re also very interested to come and see our composting toilet because they are all wanting toilets on their sites. They feel that having water in a toilet block leads to all sorts of problems in the winter time and having to drain off, of course with a composting toilet there’s no problem, it’s there throughout the year. And with all these plots now with families and little ones, some of them aren’t very close to home or close to public toilets and they have to have a toilet and a composting toilet is one way round it. [...]

At the moment in Highland Region we’ve got 25% of the total number of allotments. There are a lot of sites coming on stream That percentage will shrink in the next few years. I’ve had Kinguissie on the phone quite a lot, they’ve got a super site which they got through an enterprise company because Highland Council’s land and it was part of the old heritage site. [...]There’s a new site as well in Inverness coming up in Milton of Leys and it’s not Highland Council’s ground it’s private ground and they’ve got 40 odd plots coming on stream there.  They’ve come to see us as well about how to run it. It’s going to be again privately run independently of Highland Council and they will keep a waiting list. We keep all these records, the waiting list,  a list of plot holders and if they ask for it we can produce it similarly we’ve got the annual revenue sheets absolutely nailed to the last penny. There’s a lot going on North.

The SAGS (Scottish Allotments and Gardens) conference which was in Dunblane, it’s always very well attended, it tells us a lot about what is going on on the Scottish Scene. I was really speaking at it on experience on training and having allotments in the community garden for groups of people, children as well and people with all sorts of health problems or otherwise. Really this is something that is coming into all the allotments no. There has to be provision for disadvantaged groups coming in and getting the best out of plots or areas within an allotment site. It was quite interesting and quite well received. A chance down there to exchange information. Lesly Riddoch chaired it, she is working along similar lines on areas for communities to get involved in all sorts of things a bit like this.

And the last thing, is really the allotment legislation which is slowly going through committee stages in parliament. It’s been run by Derek MacKay MSP and he and his team have been gathering up a lot of information and this is the bill which is the Community Empowerment Scotland Bill and they’ve tacked on allotments for some reason. Sorting out all the allotment legislation that went back to the 1880’s, 90’s. [...] Most of it refers to Councils it doesn’t necessarily spell out what private allotment sites have to do. [...]We’ll see before the autumn’s out what they’ve got for us."

Dick concluded and then after a treasurer’s report officer bearers were elected. The new Chair of NAS is Billy Milne who will be assisted by a new Vice Chair, Mandy MacKenzie.
Mandy MacKenzie makes a presentation to Dick
Dick was presented with gifts and a selection of home-made produce form the membership. His tenure of office has been remarkable; he has been an incredible leader and an example to all the plotters. Under his stewardship the plotting in Nairn has moved from near extinction, experienced remarkable growth and has become an example of the way forward in the Highlands and beyond.