Here on the Gurn we reported what all four of our Highland Councillors had to say in Glenurquhart Road last week when the local authority put their hands up and paid £187,000 into Nairn’s Common Good fund to atone for their past mistakes. Michael Green spoke up for reform at that meeting. Earlier in the week he had gone further, he had outlined his radical vision for the Nairn Common Good at the joint meeting between Nairn West and Suburban Community Councils in the Academy on the Tuesday night. Here’s what he said:
“Going forward, the Common Good, as we get into these harder times, should be doing a wide range of things. We should be building, I won’t use the word “affordable” social housing, we should be building inspirational social housing. Because we own land, we can build absolutely top notch, state of the art, I call it “inspirational social housing. We should be building more houses like Corsee, for older people, single one bedrooms, the same as at Queens Park Gardens. That’s what we should be doing. We should be building self-build plots. The whole spectrum of accommodation. That’s one of the things the Common Good should be doing as we start coming into increasing surpluses and these are the type of decisions we are facing.
We could also be looking at, and I won’t get too much tied up in too much detail, I’m just giving an indication of the range of things we should be doing. We should be buying up properties like was suggested by the Nairn Fund twenty years ago. [...] We should be doing that as the Common Good, buying up properties, taking them over, giving folk from Nairn the chance whereby they really don’t have the sort of commercial covenant that they need to get rental on a property. They could be able to get property from Nairn Common Good and give local folk a chance.
The other thing I will say about affordable housing, we should be providing it for Nairn people. We shouldn’t be some clearing centre for the Highlands. So that’s what we are needing to do now. Moving forward, the only way that we can get confidence, that we can get transparency into it and I’ve started the process, is, I would suggest is we do something like “The Friends of Nairn Common Good” which would be the councillors, community councillors and a selection of 3 or 4 individuals on a rotating basis who would meet quarterly to view, to have a...to examine the process, look at the investment strategy. Just give a local perspective into the Common Good – which is lacking. The Nairn Common Good is not the Inverness Common Good: they’ve got infrastructure, they’ve got capacity, they’ve got a lot of things that we don’t have. We’re not on that scale, we don’t have 20 odd councillors overseeing it and I think the current arrangement with four councillors overseeing it clearly fails because it’s clear in the past the lack of, the very poor governance there and there’s no local involvement.
So I want to see local involvement and the next step I would suggest is that individuals and at meetings like this, lobby my three ward colleagues and to say “are you in favour of setting up The Friends of the Nairn Common Good?”. Because ultimately, if they’ve got confidence in it, they might even start leaving houses, they might even start leaving bequests, if they know it is a well managed entity, that’s what we want.”