Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hogmany sunrise - image by Morton Gillespie

Morton  tells the Gurn: "Nairn has been experiencing some amazing skies as 2014 draws to a close." 

Thanks for the image Morton here's hoping for some more interesting horizons in 2015. Wherever you are in Gurnshire tonight have a good one folks. 

Knot a lot - Nairn Birder captures remarkable images

Many Gurnites and visitors to Nairn will be familar with the large flocks of knots that gather on the sandbanks close to Nairn Harbour. The Knots are regular stars of Nairn's rich environmental background and we have featured images before from local enthusiasts and here are some from yesterday - The Nairn Birder said: 

"I always said I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time for a decent photo - well, after spending there hours waiting for these little buggers to fly, I think I should now claim to be at the right place....after loads of patient waiting!"

More images and details on the Nairn Birder pages.

Alastair Noble becomes a MBE in the New Year's Honours list

"For services to Health, Social Care and Conservation in Nairnshire" details the 2015 New Year's Honours list.

Gurnites will know that Alastair Noble has been a tireless champion for the Common Good of the Nairnshire Community for many years. Congratulations Alastair.

Congratulations too to Fiona Sellar, principal music teacher at Nairn Academy, also now an MBE for services to education, music and charity in Nairn.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tha cruaidh fheum again air Lidl ann an Inbhir Narann

Cha bhi sin fada tarsainn stairsneach 2014 nuair a chìthear iarrtas dealabhachaidh a-steach do Chomhairle na Gaidhealtachd son oll-mhargaid Lidl aig Baile Mac Càidh.  A-reir nam planacihaean bidh aonadan eile agus pub le tigh-bìde. Gu pearsanta tha mi coma mu dheidhinn nam aonadan eile agus a’ phub ach rud a dh’fhaodadh sibh a bhith cinnteach às agus ‘s e sin gu bheil fìor chruaidh fheum again air Lidl sa bhaile seo. 

Bidh fhios aig an fheadhainn a tha fortanach gu leòr a dhol gu Lidl ann an Inbhir Nis no Forrais gum faigher mòran rudan aig prìs nas saoire ann an Lidl. Chanainnsa nach biodh dad car le beagan a bharrachd co-fharpais do Sainsburys agus na Co-ops again ann am baile far a bheil 24% de chloinne beò ann am bochdainn. A bharrachd air sin dh’fhaodadh tu a ràdh gum bi a mhòr-cuid mhuinntir a’ bhaile air a shon ach a dh’aindeoinn a leithid taic a bheil e buailteach tachairt?

Tha am Buidhean Gnothachas Inbhir Narann (ANB) air cur an aghaidh Lidl aig Baile Mac Càidh agus iadsan làidir den bheachd nach e an t-àite ceart a tha e. Bidh iadsan airson làrach aig teas mheadhann a’ bhaile. Nach ann an sin ach aisling a bha iomchaidh do na 80s agus 90s nuair a bha a leithid cothruim ann? Ghluais cùisean air adhart ge-tà agus chan eil àite ann a nis air cul na prìomh shràid son an lorg coise a bhiodh aig buth Lidl àbhaisteach. Bidh feadhainn a’ cumail a mach nach ann aig an seasamh aig an ANB ach dòigh gus Lidl a dhiùltadh.

Tha eagal air an ANB gum dèan Lidl sgrios air slainte na prìomh shràid ach cha do thachair sin nuair a thig Sainsbury’s agus nach eil airgead aig an luchd-obrach sin gus a dhol sìos dhan phrìomh shràid le beagan nam phochaidean?

A-nis de a nì na chomhairleachan againn? An tèid iadsan leis an ANB no aig beachd a’ mhòr chuid? Thoir sùil air An Gearastan far an deach Chomhairle na Gaidhealtachd le parc bhùithtean beagan taobh a-muigh. Saoilidh mi ma gabhas comhairlichean Inbhir Narann an aghaidh Lidl bidh buaidh nach bu bheag air an cuid cliù – gu h-àraidh nuair a bhios iad a’ lorg bhòtaichean a-rithist.

Ma tha muinntir Inbhir Narann son Lidl fhaicinn feumaidh iad fhathast beagan spàirn a dhèanamh; ma chuireas gu leòr dhiunn litir taic a-steach no beachd air e-planning nuair a thig an t-iarrtas dh’fhaodadh sin a’ chùis a dhèanamh.

Someone forgot the little black bag on the riverside this morning

Our Riverside correspondent Murd Dunbar came across this impressive jobbie this morning on the riverside path. If dog owners have to pick up the mess their animals leave behind then shouldn't those in charge of horses have to make the same effort if they use the riverside paths?  Time for the doggie jobbie warden to step up and take in the next size too?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Turkey Trot 2014 pictures

Individual images here.  Also pictures from Kenny MacLeod here.

Local Artic Convoy veteran Bill Shand meets up with some of his Russian counterparts at Inverness Town House

A delegation of the Russian Arctic Convoy veterans and guests from Russia visited Inverness Town House on Christmas Eve for an event organised by Eugene Kasevin of the Russia House Ltd, London.

The veterans with Provost Alex Graham, Bill Shand just to the right of the Provost
Guests were welcomed by Provost of Inverness Alex Graham and young piper Elizabeth Reid from Nairn who played tunes at the event. Only one local Arctic Convoy veteran, Bill Shand from Nairn, managed to come along to meet the Russian veterans. The Highland-Russia Connection Charity Chairperson Elena Reid had the privilege to speak to several veterans from the North of Scotland prior to the event inviting them to attend, but unfortunately due to ill health or transport arrangements on Christmas Eve they were unable to travel to Inverness.

There were a lot of tears of happiness and sadness in eyes of the veterans,especially when they shared their war experiences.  It was a unique experience for all, especially for two youngsters from Nairn, Elizabeth and Anna Reid, who were able to understand all the guests and even did some interpreting from Russian to English and vice versa. Anna also entertained the guests with some Highland dancing and Elizabeth finished the event by playing Auld Lang Syne on the pipes with all guests joining in. Other performers included violinist Litsa Tunnah from London, Tonya Clement from Dingwall on piano and 7 other musicians from traditional music classes in Inverness. The RACMP ( Russian Arctic Convoy Museum Project ) from Wester Ross were also present and contributed a lovely display that added to the occasion. The Town House was very busy with local councillors, Navy association representatives along with Bishop Mark Strange and Highland Council Convener Jimmy Gray also attended. As it was Christmas eve The Highland-Russia Connection also organised Santa to attend and present gifts from Scotland to the guests.

Elizabeth (15) and Anna ( 11) pictured with the Russian Convoy veteran Lidia Ananeva from St Petersburg, who was involved as a mechanic on board Russian Convoy vessels in the war when she was only 14
Russian Veteran Alexander Lochagin asked the Highland-Russia Connection Charity to assist one Moscow school with setting up pen pal friends from Scotland.If any school in the Highlands would like to make a link with the school please contact the charity chairperson Elena Reid on 01667456245.

County v CanCans kicked into touch by the frost

One of the season's big crowd pulling games has fallen victim to the weather. The seasonal fixture between the two local rivals generally pulls in a few hundred extra spectators but Station Park will be empty tomorrow. All eyes now to the return end of the double-header to see if the fixture at Mosset Park on Jan 3rd goes ahead. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Nairn Hospital A&E Christmas Day closure 1 - 7.30 pm - NHS Highland issue statement.

Due to severe staffing pressures, NHS Highland regrets that it will have to close the A&E Department at Nairn Town and County Hospital, Nairn, from 1pm-7.30pm today (Thursday, 25th December).

Anyone who requires A&E treatment is urged to go instead to the A&E Departments in either Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, or Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin.

Dr Adrian Baker, NHS Highland's clinical lead for the Nairn and Arderseir Locality, said: “This is not as decision we have taken lightly but we have been unable to secure sufficient staffing cover and have to close the department for part of the day as a contingency measure.

“We regret any inconvenience or difficulty this may cause.”

Nairn Town and County A&E shut from 1 pm until 7.30 pm Christmas Day - reports MFR

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Liz welcomes new tenants to Viewfield Appartments : " I hope there will be many more new Council houses in our area in years to come"

The flats on the site of the former bus station garage are now becoming occupied and one family that has recently moved in had a couple of special visitors to mark the occasion:

Councillor Liz MacDonald Leader of The Highland Council’s Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee, and fellow Nairn Ward Member Councillor Laurie Fraser, recently welcomed tenants Amy Davidson and Keiran Gallagher and daughter Lily to their new home at Viewfield Apartments in Nairn. 

Leader MacDonald presented the couple who now live in their first home at King Street with a bouquet of flowers marking the latest new council houses to be let in Nairn since those at Corsee Gardens. 

The 12 new two-bedroomed and 4 one-bedroomed council homes in the 4-storeyed flatted development have been constructed on the disused site of the former bus station garage north east of the fire station. 
Cllrs Liz MacDonald and Laurie Fraser welcome Amy, Keiran and daughter Lily to their new home.
Speaking at the housewarming, Leader MacDonald said: “I am delighted that Highland Council has been able to complete this development of new homes for Nairn and I am especially pleased that the many of the tenants taking up the leases are local people who have been on the waiting list for some time. 

"As well as moving into homes built to a very high standard, the new tenants will be living in an excellent town centre location with many amenities close by.” 

Councillor Graham MacKenzie Chair of the Council’s Community Service Committee added: “Highland Council is committed to working with the Scottish Government, Housing Associations and the private sector to help deliver 5,000 new homes by 2017. This new development in Nairn is an excellent example of how we are striving to meet the Council’s Programme of delivering at least 688 Council houses and other affordable homes within this overall housing commitment.” 

Leader MacDonald said: “There has been a long waiting list in Nairn for affordable rented housing, and it is greatly encouraging to see first-class houses becoming available. It is heartening to see local people moving into these excellent brand-new homes, and I hope there will be many more new Council houses in our area in years to come.”

Heating and ventilation is provided by mains gas boilers. The completed properties have been built to energy efficient standards and incorporate with a whole house ventilation system, designed to improve ventilation and air quality. 

The completed homes were built by Upland Developments Ltd. and contractor William Gray Construction on land owned by the Council. The project was funded by the Council as a part of the agreed Council House Build Programme with grant assistance provided by the Scottish Government. 

The properties, which are being provided for affordable rent, are owned and managed by the Council.

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr nuair a thig i - Merry Christmas and a happy new year when it comes

Wishing all Gurnites all the best for this festive season. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Highland Council tribute to Ronnie Watson - Courthouse Saltire to fly at half-mast tomorrow

A Highland Council press release from this afternoon:

Following the sad news that Mr Ronnie Watson, former Councillor and Provost of the Royal Burgh of Nairn had died, the Council’s Area Leader paid tribute to his years of service and commitment to the community.

Mr Watson was presented with the Freedom of Nairn during a special ceremony in the town held on Saturday 6 December 2008 which included a March Past by the Nairn and District Pipe Band. This prestigious honour, which is rarely presented, was granted by The Highland Council in recognition of his many years of service to the community of Nairn.
Ronnie Watson 

Chair of the Area Committee, Councillor Liz MacDonald who was Provost of Nairn in 2008 and took part in the Freedom ceremony said: “I have known Ronnie for many years and I was delighted when he was given the Freedom of Nairn and few years ago. Ronnie and his son Alan are represented in Nairn Museum in a terrific painting by Jason P Walker in 2008. It is with deep regret that I note his passing, he was a stalwart and ambassador for Nairn.”

Mr Watson was first elected as a Town Councillor for Nairn in May 1953 and participated in the Moray and Nairn Joint County Council, becoming Provost of the Burgh in July 1973.

As well as representing his community in local government, Mr Watson was president of the Nairn Pipe Band for over 30 years and holds the record of being the town’s longest serving Justice of the Peace.

As a mark of respect and in recognition of Mr Watson being a recipient of the Freedom of Nairn, The Highland Council Convener, Councillor Jimmy Gray has given his special permission for the flag on the council offices in Nairn to be lowered for the funeral tomorrow.

Requests for Highland Council to fly Courthouse Saltire at half mast to show respect for Ronnie Watson's service to Nairn.

Considerable momentum is building out in Nairn social media circles for the Courthouse flag to be lowered to half-mast to show the community's respect for former Provost Ronnie Watson  and his service to the town. The Gurn understands that there have also been phone calls made to Highland Council. More on Nairn when you were a bairn facebook page and also on twitter.  

Picture above of Ronnie through in Banff on May 14th 2011 when County fan Ronnie saw the Highland League Cup (the Morganti Cup) come home when Nairn County beat Fraserburgh in the final of that competition.

UPDATE 14.10: Received an e-mail response from Liz who tells the Gurn:

"I have requested the flag be lowered to Convenor Jimmy Gray, and hope it will be able to do. Ronnie had received the Freedom of Nairn a few years ago and I really think he deserves this show of respect."

UPDATE: 19.36 The Gurn understands that Provost Laurie Fraser personally lowered the flag late this afternoon after returning from council meetings. It will remain at half mast until approx 4pm tomorrow when the council workers will reinstate it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Issues that haven't gone away - 2. The traffic situation under the Cawdor Road Bridge

It isn't fun for motorists and even worse for pedestrians, especially on the dark mornings and evenings when children are on their way too and from school. There will probably not be any real improvement until a bypass is built. It is a very dangerous spot and local campaigners warned the planners and the developers that this bridge simply couldn't take major development on this side of Nairn but their views were ignored. It took the Scottish Government's reporter to spell it all out succinctly when he refused the appeal to build 320 houses at South Nairn. The planning inquiry team took a look at the Cawdor Road situation during the rush hour whilst they were in Nairn to hear evidence in June.

The South Nairn planning hearing decision was published in October. Read below to see what the Reporter had to say in his conclusions. 


60. There is a proven requirement for additional housing land supply in Nairn. The principle of mixed use development on the appeal site has been established through the Nairn South development allocation set out in Policy 18: Nairn South in the adopted Highland-wide Local Development Plan 2012 (HwLDP). However, the proposal fails to meet 4 key requirements for development to proceed which are set out under Policy 18. 

61. Firstly, the policy states that Phase 1 will be mainly residential use but with localised employment opportunities as part of a mixed use masterplan for the area. The appeal proposal covers part of the Phase 1 area and includes only residential development and so fails to meet this mixed use requirement and, instead, relies on the provision being met on land outwith the appeal site. 

62. Secondly, I do not have confidence in the appellants’ transport assessments and projections. The appellants have not provided a comprehensive transport assessment that is based on robust, relevant and up to date surveys and data. I find that it is very likely that the transport assessment upon which the appellants rely has underestimated future traffic flows on the local road network. In addition, the assessment has not taken full account of local conditions along Cawdor Road and, as a result, it is likely that the capacities of Cawdor Road and the Cawdor Road / Balblair Road / railway bridge junction to accommodate future traffic levels have been overestimated. Because of these deficiencies, I cannot rule out the possibility that the Cawdor Road / Balblair Road junction would be unable to cope with peak hour traffic flows on completion of the proposed development in 2020/2021. 

Murd's Firhall Bridge Christmas update

Murd told the Gurn:

"Highland Council have stated: “We can confirm that the Council has reviewed a range of options that could be considered in relation to the Firhall Bridge, and in doing so has engaged with local elected members and other interested parties as part of that process. However, none of the options identified can be progressed without financial resources”

My reading of this would suggest that there was no support for the disabled. Or is it that the bridge is in the wrong place especially when the improved access was going to be built free by the army. Gordon sawmill had offered to supply timber. So any cost to the council would have been minimal. 

Strange how money can be sourced for other things when they want! Money was found to demolish a building to create a car park also money was available to make a ramp for horses to get onto the beach and there seems to be plenty of money for legal fees to remove a gate to allow access for cars at Kingsteps,Lochloy. Other things that have been suggested include a coastal path, building a brewery, landscaping the putting green - and there is the suggestion of dredging the harbour so people can get out to play with their boats. Is there not money that was left for improvements from Sainsburys (i.e.painting shops for businesses) that was never used?

And to top it all when N.I.C.E held out the begging bowl they were given considerable sums from the Community Councils and as far as I know have achieved nothing. Some of the comments made to me: “Why are you bothering you can cross?”-“If you don't need something it has nothing to do with you”.-"Why don't you give it a rest there's nothing we can do?”

There you go, to the attitude appears to be tough luck for the disabled or anyone who wants to cross but can't access the steps (by the way the steps do not meet today’s safety recommendations). Overall I think that the attitude from some in elected positions in Nairn is very disappointing. 

Judging by the attitude of the authorities you can bet your last dollar if there is any “planning gain” money forthcoming from any future development at Balmakeith it won't go in the direction of improvements to the access at the Firhall Bridge. 

For those who can't cross I will always try to get a ramp for you as you can gather I do consider others and do not give up as easily as some."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Solstice - Latha nan Trì Suipeirean sona dhuibh

Good morning Gurnshire. Behind the clouds the solstice sun is up. Headlong downhill towards summer now. 

Nairn 5 Huntly 0 pictures Kenny MacLeod

Nairn set themselves up well for the forthcoming home and away holiday fixtures against Forres and after that the Highland League cup tie against Fort William. Fans were away home with a dose of Christmas cheer. Match report here.  Individual images from Kenny here. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Issues that haven’t gone away – 1 The Nairn Common Good Fund

Nairn Common Good Fund and its assets - they belong to Nairn but they are controlled by all 80 members of the Highland Council. They generally do what the four local members want but that process is not guaranteed, however we do now seem to be moving into a period of more effective management. Recently they paid up the £187,000 that the fund had lost over a considerable amount of time due to poor management so we could be entering a new era.

Despite this there is still a call from the usual suspects and others for reform and the subject has been a major topic at many community council meetings held in recent years. Cllr Michael Green has become the Community’s spokesperson for change and he also has a vision to turn the Common Good Fund into an engine room for further economic growth in the town – basically to do what it says on the tin and further the Common Good of the citizens of Nairn. 

Liz and Colin and their colleagues on the Area Committee point to the forthcoming “investment strategy” and whatever may be coming down the tracks in the form of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill which may have specific instructions on Common Good funds. There has been acknowledgement that the community should be consulted on this investment strategy – this would be useful, there will be people in Nairn with the ability and background to cast a critical eye on any investments proposed by the Highland Council. 

Gurnites may wish to read a recent letter from West Community Council to the Chief Executive of Highland Council which calls for reform of the Common Good Fund and details the missed opportunities in recent years where community involvement would have been useful. The letter is full of detail that will be useful to the many serious students of these matters.  Readers can see the letter here. 

To this observer it has been evident for many years that when it comes to galvanising the talents of those in the community who are willing to work for the common good then the Highland Council is not the ideal vehicle. The flow of power towards Inverness over the years would suggest that Highland Council remains a major obstacle to this community fighting its own corner in a rapidly changing world and now also in a landscape where austerity cuts will affect the most vulnerable in our society. So what else could we do if allowed to?

There have been two major opportunities in recent years that gave a chance for the community to take control, one has come and gone and another may be slipping away. There was the chance to create a single Community Council for Nairn a few years ago but although those that responded to a consultation were heavily in favour of such a move it was brushed aside by Highland Council on the grounds of low numbers. Such a Council – The Burgh of Nairn Community Council would have had the gravitas to claim control of the Common Good Fund and even perhaps the Courthouse and make it once again the seat of Nairnshire power and not of the ruling Inverness based administration. Not enough people jumped up and down and asked for a single CC at the time so we remain with three community councils (perhaps Nairn and Suburban will amalgamate soon though) with differing agendas. For anyone that still thinks that a single Community Council would be good for Nairn then this companion campaign site created by the Gurn in 2010 contains useful information. 

Another chance we still have but perhaps on a shoogly peg are the ambitions that came out of the 1,000 plus member community organisation NICE (Nairn Information Community Enterprise). Their desire to develop the old Social Work Buildings remains on the table but there is a school of thought that hope is fading fast there. The Chair of NICE Alastair Noble stated in his annual address to the organisation:

“Everywhere else in Scotland and elsewhere in Highland a Community Enterprise body with over 1000 members would be regarded as a great starting point. Normally the statutory bodies would work with the charity to develop capacity and help raise extra funds from all the sources open to the charity.” Full NICE AGM report here

That is not an upbeat assessment of the state of play at all. Obviously more support is needed from the local authority. Perhaps NICE could have gone about it differently though? Maybe those 1,000 members could have been activated into workshops and sub groups that could have delivered small projects in the community. A thousand members will have all sorts of skills and abilities between them that could have galvanised others in the community to participate too. Has it all been a bit too top down? NICE is still there however and remains a potential vehicle for the kind of Common Good vision that Michael Green and others have and the success or failure of any initiatives for the Social Work building will determine whether NICE has a future or not. 

Time will tell but the prospects for Community engagement in the running of Nairn’s Common Good Fund still seem to be some way off and control rests firmly in the hands of Highland Council and as long as it remains like that dissent will continue.

Friday, December 19, 2014

River CC's Social Enterprise plan meets criteria but a number of outstanding matters including potential transfer of staff

It wasn’t all Christmas sing-a-longs and cuts at Glenurquhart Road yesterday as the full Highland Council met. One of the other items that went through (at breakneck speed if you watch the webcast) was the approval of the Community Challenge Fund Applications Panel’s minutes. Gurnites will be aware that Nairn River Community Council hope to set up a Social Enterprise company that would take over their patch’s grass cutting responsibilities with funding from the Community challenge Fund. Last week Chair of River CC Tommy Hogg was not upbeat about the continuing process and dismayed with Highland Council. He said: “It’s getting bogged down, the same thing happened the last time when the original application went in about this time last year. It just seems to hit a brick wall and everything stops." More here. 

Well the minutes of the Community Challenge Fund panel that were approved yesterday stated: “Nairn River Community Council – this project met the criteria; an Application should be requested once officers were satisfied that a number of outstanding matters had been resolved, including in relation to the potential transfer of staff from the Council.” 

It looks like, therefore, that River CC would perhaps be taking on Highland Council staff. That would be no small affair. Instantly the inquisitive mind would be wondering how a small enterprise company would cover for sickness, holiday, ongoing pension contributions etc, etc. There would need to be a small bureaucracy put in place too or an external agency employed to manage these responsibilities. Could all that be done cheaper than it is at present through the Highland Council apparatus? Funding would come through the Community Challenge Fund and River CC might be able to find other funding streams but how sustainable would they be? And how sustainable is the Challenge Fund? Could the Council be forced to cut it in the face of the ongoing cuts apocalypse facing the public sector

Last month Simon Noble of River CC told the organisations regular meeting that the social enterprise plan would make no threat to local council jobs “but create opportunities for training and routes to employment for people who may be long-term unemployed at the moment.”

Another River CC member, Mike Henderson wanted to know more about who would be employed by the company. Simon replied:

“It will depend on what we can develop as a larger business plan and what we can get funding for. It’s difficult to predict. It’s likely to be a mixture of potentially somebody to run the enterprise on behalf of a board and then supplement it by jobs, some of which may be self-employed people rather than employing them.” He went on to say that any council workers transferred over would be covered by the rules of TUPE.

Mike Henderson persisted making his point however and claimed that the issue was creating potential uncertainty for existing Council employees.

It does seem to this observer that if the community is to take charge of its own grass-cutting affairs it looks like it has to set up its own bureaucracy and go out and look for funding. Already a consultant has been employed by River Community Council. Would it not be much easier and cheaper all round to simply give real control of the grass cutting budgets etc to the Area Committee and invite the community councils to sit at the top table when decisions are made? Either that or stop messing about and give Nairn its District Council back. Should River CC succeed on proceeding down what seems an increasingly tortuous route, will there be any saving to the public purse by the time consultants and others with the necessary skills are recruited?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nairn Museum no more?

We speculated recently about the effect of the existing cuts going through the system and the reports that the public sector has only seen 40% of cuts yet with 
the rest (60%) coming down the tracks after this lot. Previous Gurn article "

Nairn Museum Ltd Chairman Iain Bain is quoted in the Nairnshire Telegraph this week: “Our immediate response was to tell the Provost  that if the full extent of the cuts was imposed we would have to begin planning the closure of the museum.” 

Tomorrow Highland Council will vote on the first of the cuts. We are fast moving towards a world where it will be a choice between things like museums, libraries, community centres and schools, bin collections, old folks homes etc. Awful choices will have to be made. Councillors will simply become the agents of austerity cuts from central government. When you elect a councillor you will simply be electing someone to implement pain on your community.  If you haven’t ever been to Nairn museum perhaps you should go within the next year or two because there is a good chance it may close its doors within that time.  

Nairn Golf News via twitter

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nairn Youth Alliance's plans for the Skateboard Park

This week the newly created Nairn Youth Alliance feature on the front page of the Leopold Street Thunderer - all yours for 45p in on of Nairn's many Co-ops or even a newsagents near you. Following on from the media exposure the NYA have published an article on their webpage complete with video on how they wish to proceed with the Skateboard park. More details here. 

The Youth Alliance are also holding a meeting in the Community and Arts Centre between 1 and 3 p.m. this Saturday 20th December for all those who may be interested in participating in their activities. 

The King Street Geyser

Thanks to Iain for this remarkable picture from earlier this morning. Our Correspondent reports: "Some excitement this morning as workmen went to work on a mains water valve."

Ecohouse under construction in Wilson Street

The crane arrived at first light and by midday the floor was in and now the walls are being installed. The Gurn understands that it should be done and dusted with the roof on on Friday if the weather holds. For more about the ecological principles behind the entire process that involves the construction of this type of house have a browse of the Makar site

Plans for the house can be seen here on the Highland Council site. More pictures here and we hope to add to that Gurn Flickr file with another visit planned later this afternoon. 

UPDATE: Weds 17th - a few more images today. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Highland Council "dragging their feet" over River CC's social enterprise grass cutting proposals says Tommy

Last week at a regular meeting in the URC hall, Simon Noble gave an update to his River CC colleagues on the organisation's plans for Nairn River Enterprise – an initiative that would hopefully one day take over the grass cutting in their patch of Nairn that is presently done by contractors to the Council. The plans for the social enterprise set-up also include recycling and riverside regeneration. Simon said:

“The expression of interest in the Community Challenge Fund was submitted by the third of November. We will not know formally whether or not that is going to be approved until after it has gone through an officers’ group meeting, a members’ panel. We understand we are likely to hear sometime after the 17th of December. If it is approved there it will then go through to formal approval at the Council. The next stage from our point of view is to try and agree a set of terms with the Council and then develop our business plan on the basis of that. However at the moment we are waiting for Highland Council’s officers to come back to us with some detailed responses to our declaration of interest.”

Simon went on to describe the current work of River CC’s consultant, “So we can’t take that part forward. What Alison is doing on our behalf is taking forward research into available grants to seek match funding, to be able to both, hire equipment if we need to and to employ a coordinator for the enterprise. She is also taking forward work to identify the exact vehicle, entity that we need to set up for the social enterprise.”

Chair Tommy Hogg then said: “Can I just say on that, talking about waiting on the Highland Council coming back; myself, personally I’m pretty disappointed with the way they’re dragging their feet with this. We were basically assured there would be a quick response to some of our enquiries but up until today there’s been no communication at all really has there?” 

Simon responded: “Well there’s been some communication but the communication has basically summarised that they haven’t been able to pull the information together.”

Tommy came back: “It’s getting bogged down, the same thing happened the last time when the original application went in about this time last year. It just seemsto hit a brick wall and everything stops."

A pothole for Christmas

The latest (and huge) pothole at the Lochloy junction on the A96
One of our pothole watch squad sends in his latest Gurn, here's what Billy reports: 

"Hi, just to say pot holes on A96 just across from Bridgemill and quite a big one. The roundabout at King Street has still to be done - man hole covers sunk.  The road all the way through the town is bad, including manhole cover near the Regal. I think this is only going to get worse unless something is done to the road surface. It looks just like a farm track in parts."

Thanks for that Billy, the pothole above is indeed in a bad position, drivers have to concentrate going through the lights and then there is the hazard of parked cars on the left of the road - the last thing you need to add to that is a pothole this size. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

River Community Council to make £350 donation to local foodbank

At their regular meeting on Wednesday night in the URC hall the River Community Council members decided to donate 10% of their current bank balance (rounded up to £350) to the Highland Foodbank.  Members expressed a desire that they wished to see their contribution used exclusively in Nairn and Chair Tommy Hogg was mandated to discuss this with the foodbank. 

Christmas Politics - looking crate

Isla O'Reilly of the Scottish Green Party, one of several speakers outside the Courthouse yesterday morning
Yesterday the Nairn Yes Alliance had a range of speakers at a wee rally outside the Courthouse, there were short contributions from the Scottish Socialist Party, the Scottish Green Party, the SNP, Youth Alliance, Women for Independence and the Common Weal, Independent MSP John Finnie also took to the crate for a moment or two. 40 bags of donations to the local foodbank were collected from those attending and a local business also made a large cash donation that brought a simultaneous cash collection for the foodbank up to £120. Video of the speeches here (note sound and camera get sorted one minute into video).

Elsewhere, Labour’s Mike Robb has been round the doors in Nairn  Recently. The Tories Ed Mountain has noticed the fuel prices in Nairn and Danny Alexander apparently had a busy time at his regular surgery up at Sainsbury’s according to one of our regular readers.

The SNP are still selecting a candidate to stand against Danny and that process alone is playing out to packed hustings meetings across the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency and images have been published on line here of one of those meetings in Inverness. Undoubtedly politics will kick off to a flying start in this area early in January and will not slow down until 10.00 p.m. on May 7th. 

The campaign for Gaelic subtitles on Gaelic TV

A campaign to have an option for Gaelic subtitles on the Gaelic television Channel BBC Alba is gathering momentum in the Gàidhlig speaking and learner community. Spearheading the campaign is the website Gàidhlig TV. This observer will testify (as a Gaelic learner) that it doesn't help the learning curve at all to have the English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. There are also claims that many of the programs on the Gaelic Channel have more English than Gaelic in their content. The campaigners state:

"Established in 2008, a great deal of the channel’s programming for adults contains English language content – a deliberate policy decision by broadcasters - with no Gaelic subtitling/captioning, dubbing or voice-overs. English language subtitles are imposed on the majority of programmes for adults, with no opt-out opportunity. Gaelic subtitles - for the very language the channel is supposed to represent - are not provided as an option, therefore limiting access service provision for fluent speakers or learners of the language (learners are a key target audience for the channel also). English language audio is systematically and regularly included in programming. The very high level of English language content has prompted a variety of commentators to question the channel’s purpose. There have been cases of ‘Gaelic’ programmes being conducted almost entirely through the medium of English."

The on line campaign is also active on twitter where regular analysis of English content in so-called Gaelic programmes is analyzed. 
It does seem entirely appropriate to this observer that money intended for Gaelic television should simply be for that - to promote the Gaelic language and that means Gaelic subtitles too. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Santa was at Sainsbury's

A cracking picture and details of the sum raised for Nairn Churches' fight against poverty on this Nairn Rotary Club facebook page. 

Snowy Nairnshire morning captured

Lisa regularly publishes remarkable pictures from the Nairnshire Countryside on twitter. You can follow her if you have a twitter account or simply bookmark her twitter page. The Gurn also has a twitter page.  A lot of local businesses and organisations post regularly on twitter too - here's a list of the ones we know about.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Highland Council Christmas cuts meeting - options outlined in the Courier - but beyond that much more to come

It isn't cheerful Christmas reading but the Courier has a large spread today on what Highland Council services are about to diminish and what is going to cost you more. They say:

"Councillors will decide next week where the axe will fall for the 2015/16 budget to save 17.9 million. We look at some key areas which could have an impact on you, your household and community and how much money will be saved." 

It isn't happy reading Gurnites, if you take the Courier you'd better sit down before reading today. If you want the full-on experience however, you can go to the Council's website and read the agenda 11 items, including the consultation report, Booklet A and Booklet B parts 1&2 if you prefer to browse such things in official language rather than the helpful translation from Donna MacAllister and Olivia Bell. 

We are entering the first year of a four year programme of cuts and some of the minutiae seem a bit optimistic to this (non-expert) observer. There are impact assessments too and phrases like "deliverability and risk" jump out at the reader. There can be no easy way of cutting into the bone though and it will not be fun for the Councillors, there can be few of them who will relish the task of implementing pain on communities - nobody could have promised to do that when going round the doorsteps. It isn't the whole story though, there is still an additional £13 million cuts to be found over and above those to be implemented on Thursday. The Council budget leader states in a press release: 

Budget Leader, Maxine Smith said: “We have been open and transparent about the difficult choices we have to make and we have done our very best to enable people to have their say and explain the impact the proposed cuts would have on them. We are not alone in these challenges, but we, like other local authorities, have no choice other than to deliver a balanced budget. It is impossible to find £64 million in savings without having any impact on services and on people. However unpleasant, we have no choice but to decide where to make the necessary cuts to balance the budget.

“The biggest share of the Council budget is spent on Care and Learning and where we can mitigate the impact on education, we will do so. Having listened to the concerns of the public regarding proposals to reduce the primary school week, the Administration group decided to remove the proposal from year 1 (2015/16), to allow further work on the detail and to minimise any impact on schools.

“We will also seek to delay any cuts to services such as swimming pools and libraries and community grants, so that more time can be allowed for them to plan and prepare for future leaner years.”

She stressed that where cuts cannot be made, the savings must be found elsewhere. “This means we still have a big gap of nearly £13 million in our 4 year budget and we must identify where that money is going to come from. The future remains challenging, with the need for all services to manage demand within a reducing level of resource.” Read the full press release here. 

Worrying isn't it but there is more - over and above this mammoth 4 year cuts exercise at Highland Council though there are still another predicted 60% of austerity cuts for the public sector to come beyond those going through the system now. An ITV news article was one of many that publicised this recently: 

"Mr Osborne has a ten-year plan of "fiscal consolidation" to eradicate the budget deficit he inherited in 2010. According to the OBR, we will have seen 40% of his intended cuts by 2015, meaning that we are set for another 60% over the five years of the next Parliament."  Full article here. 

Incidently MSP John Finnie stated at the Gurn referendum debate back in May that there were still another 60% of cuts to come - he wasn't far off the mark was he? It is difficult to imagine the kind of devastation that those type of cuts will have on jobs and services in the Highlands, not just in the Highland Council but beyond that in all parts of the public sector. Dr Adrian Baker was recently sounding the alarm bell for Health Care when he spoke to the meeting of Nairnshire Community Councils. 

Inverness is a regional centre and a lot of public sector jobs are based there so to implement the cuts that are already underway and an additional 60% would mean that our society could change beyond recognition when it comes to the services delivered by the public sector that we take for granted. The resulting unemployment would also have a knock on effect into the local economy. The Christmas lights are on again but the future is bleak as the road map of cuts stretching into the austerity years ahead starts to materialise.

Coastguard search overnight for possible missing person at Harbour area

It was a terribly cold night but local coastguard volunteers were out helping the police. A report on the Coastguard facebook page states:

"Nairn Coastguard and Inverness Coastguard were paged at 0240 this morning to reports of a missing person posible in the water at Nairn harbour river area we carried out a comprehensive search of the area,also in attendance police and ambulance. Rescue 137 called to assist as well, the person was located in the Nairn area 
A big thank you to all involved with this incident on a very cold icy morning." 

And a big thank you from the community, I'm sure, to those prepared to go out in risky inclement situations for the benefit of their fellow citizens.  More on the Coast  Guard facebook page, including pictures. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Information Board in Castle Lane Square - has anybody seen the key?

The informationless board in Castle Lane Sq is now into its 4th month without information since its installation earlier this year. The first Gurn report on this topic was published in early October.  In November we reported on how River Community Council had agreed to a Highland Council request to take over the administration of the board. Since then Chairman of River CC, Tommy Hogg, has tried his best to gain access to the board and tells the Gurn that he has a thick pile of notices to go in. Unfortunately there is no key to the board available from Highland Council. 

Tommy told his colleagues at their regular meeting in the URC hall tonight that he had received an e-mail from Highland Council telling him that the key had apparently become detatched at the time of delivery. It isn't just any old key however, it is a special type. In the Courthouse they don't know who made the information board and are to investigate with the TECS department so once the manufacturer is identified they can order a new key. Perhaps anyone out there who knows who made the information board could phone up the Courthouse and save a bit of time here. It'll all be over by Christmas?

Fin speaks on the behalf of the fans this week on his P&J "View from the terraces" column

Read Fin's column here: "Two sad losses".

Monday, December 08, 2014

Christmas Comedy Capers at Community Centre

The Nairn Community and Arts Centre once again proved itself to be the ideal venue for the latest event in the Wildnight series of comedy gigs on Saturday night. A large crowd enjoyed the now familiar tradition of MC plus two other comedians and a chance for an interval drink from the well staffed centre bar. There were a few groups making a Christmas night-out out of it and had either taken advantage  of the special deals with local pubs and restaurants before or were going to do so afterwards (or perhaps both). The comedians were Vladimir McTavish, Junior Simpson and Gordon Southern.

A simultaneous event was taking place in the Mosset Tavern in Forres, and Junior and Simpson were ferried in the opposite directions during the interval – two men appearing in two towns on the same night. Another eclectic mix from the Wildnight Comedy team and the trio did the business – another successful night in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre and another satisfied crowd of Wildnighters. Some images of the Centre and the comedians below.

Individual images here.

Interview - Fraser Stevenson and new guide dog Remy - plus update on search for Tess

Further contact details etc, in this Gurn article posted earlier today.

Wards closed at the RNI, Inverness and Nairn Town and County due to diarrhoea and vomiting

A ward at the Royal Northern Infirmary (RNI), Inverness has closed to new admissions and visitors are being asked to keep visiting to an absolute minimum while staff deal with several cases of diarrhoea and vomiting.

Ward 2 at the hospital, which was closed to new admissions today, has eight patients currently affected with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. Although it has not been confirmed this is being treated as norovirus.

The virus, which causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, spreads in the air where someone has had diarrhoea or vomited and is extremely infectious. It is important that everyone plays their part in reducing outbreak risks.

A ward at Nairn Town and County Hospital has also been closed to admissions as a precaution, following the development of diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms in two patients. Whilst investigations are undertaken visitors are being asked to keep visiting to an absolute minimum until further notice.

Fraser Stevenson and new guide dog Remy - plus update on search for Tess

Fraser Stevenson, whose guide dog Tess went missing in Nairn on Wednesday 23 July while exercising off lead, is now embarking on a new partnership with guide dog Remy.

Fraser, Remy and Niall Foley from Guide Dogs Scotland earlier today
The months since Tess disappeared have been a very troubling time for Fraser. Matching him with a new guide dog was a key part in helping him to lead an independent and full life again.

Fraser and Remy (a female Labrador retriever cross) are in the early stages of their partnership, but things are going well.

“With Remy by my side I have begun to get out and about and again live a more independent life,” said Fraser. “Of course, I’m still really upset about Tess and concerned for her whereabouts and safety.”

Guide Dogs continue to take Tess’s disappearance very seriously. From the day she went missing we have carried out a significant programme of activity to try and find her. Unfortunately, despite our dedicated efforts to find Tess, she has not been found.

“We ask that anyone who sees a dog that they think could be Tess to take a picture and email it to ,”said Terry Thorpe, Glasgow Mobility Team manager.

“We are continuing to investigate possible sightings with staff, volunteers, and local agencies on the ground.

“We remain grateful for all the support we’re receiving in our efforts to try and find Tess.”

Coming later a short audio file of an interview with Fraser and Niall

Gritting priorities map for Nairn

Yesterday's bad weather prompted Highland Council to publicise their gritting priorities. You can download a PDF format map in the link in their tweet below.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Nairn 1 Buckie 2 - pictures from Kenny Macleod

Individual images here. 

Nairn 1 Buckie 2 pictures from Donald Matheson

In a game that included a catalogue of extended goalmouth tussles this mid-table trial of strength went the way of the men from the east but they failed to knock County off their mid-table perch due to the home side's superior goal difference. 
All eyes now turning towards the Forres double header over the Christmas holidays when we will have a chance to catch up with the Can-Cans.

Individual images here. 

Riverside Christmas trees update

Murd reports that the intrepid riverside Carol singers that take a yearly seasonal hike to Cawdor were back at the left bank tree today and added a few bits and pieces and  then sung a carol or two.  

Murd apologises for the quality of the picture but the inclement conditions including lack of light made it difficult for our riverside correspondent. Murd adds that sadly a Santa has vanished again and a couple of baubles too but generally decorations on the tree have increased since last weekend.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Small business Saturday - why not visit Nairn High Street?

It's small business Saturday so why not pop down to Nairn High Street or if you are passing through to the big city park up (it's free) for a while here and enjoy a stroll. 

The brae is looking quite interesting just now, Concept Gifts have reopened, there is a Santa's Grotto in the crafts shop further down (bookings 115 High St, 01667 451823 ) and you can also get County football related gifts at the town barbers.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Christmas lights fun in Auldearn

It was Nairn's turn last Friday night and this week big crowds for the fun in Auldearn. Individual images here. 

It's a County Christmas at the Town Barbers

A few football related stocking fillers available from the County Town Barbers.

Looking for something to do tomorrow night? (Sat 6th December)

Sponsored article

Wildnight Comedy have a show in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre tomorrow night starring Gordon Southern, Junior Simposn and Vladimir McTavish. Doors open 8 pm and there is a licensed bar. You can see more details on the poster here. 

There are a number of special offers with local restaurants and bars, including free entry to the Playhouse after the show on production of your ticket. More details on the offers here. Wildnight look forward to entertaining you tomorrow night.

Despatch from riverside reporter - Dangerous tree at Whinnieknowe being felled by tree surgeons

The Gurn's riverside correspondent Murd Dunbar reports that tree surgeons are busy taking down the dangerous tree that was overhanging the path below Whinnieknow. There wasn't much holding this one up and a good fall of snow might have brought it crashing down onto the path.

A minute's applause for Innes MacDonald at Station Park 3 p.m. this Saturday (6th December) prior to the Buckie game

Nairn County supporters  will pause for a minute at 3.00 pm this Saturday to pay respects and honour the man who engineered NCFC's one and only League Championship in the clubs history. 

Read Donald Wilson's tribute to Innes MacDonald on the club's website here.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Author Daniel Gray's impressions of Nairn

"The early evening high street is a soothing place to be. The air is crunchy and smells of young bonfires and the coming winter. This high street is sprinkled with independent shops of the sort that make standing and looking-on like watching a 1970s sitcom. Nairn: now in Technicolor. I half expect to see Frank Spencer zooming past Burnett and Forbes clothes store on rollerskates, ..."  More on Daniel Gray's This is Scotland site here. 

Appeal for information following reported assault in Nairn on 11 yr old boy

Police in Nairn are conducting enquiries following reports of an assault on an 11 year old boy in Nairn. 

The assault has been reported as taking place at around 1600 hours on Friday 28 November 2014 on Waverley Road, near to its junction with Lodgehill Road.

The suspect attempted unsuccesfully to steal the boy's unicycle before running away in an unknown direction.

The suspect is described as male in early to mid teens, around 5'5" in height with short dark hair, wearing a blue top.

Anybody with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555111."

Bird mannie now out of hospital

Joe Telfer is now out of hospital and he says he "nearly COPD it". Joe gives the full details on Simply Superb Swans. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Dr Adrian Baker of Nairn Healthcare Group appeals for community support in order to be able to continue to deliver services

Dr Adrian Baker of the Nairn Healthcare Group spoke to the combined meeting of Nairnshire Community Councils in the Community and Arts centre last night (Tuesday 02/12/14) and outlined the services that are provided to the community by the hospital and the practice at the moment, the fragility of those services and the dangers those services face. Adrian made an appeal for the community councils to support efforts to retain services. The threat to health care as we know it in Nairn comes from a perfect storm of staff recruitment and retention problems, increasing workload and a very dangerous funding crisis. We hear often in the media of cuts that are coming but it is very sobering to hear first hand from the head of the local practice just how serious things are and what is now appearing on the horizon. Below is what Dr Adrian Baker had to say, please find the time to read it if you can. 

“I’m just going to start off with an overview of what is happening around the UK and then look at Scotland, then Highland and then specifically Nairn itself as well. In the last 12 months we’ve been visited by people from Premier Health Care associated with the west coast of New Zealand. We’ve had visitors from Norway come to see us as well. We’re regularly visited by people from the Scottish Government in Edinburgh and other parts of the UK as well.

It’s worth reading if you get a chance, it’s relatively short and sweet: the Commonwealth Fund did a report earlier this year ranking Health Care in the world and globally, they looked at 11 developed nations including Austrailia, New Zealand, Candada and the USA and European nations and Scandinavian nations and the UK was ranked 1st on most areas including quality, access, efficiency and equity. And this is really, really important when we come back to some of the things that Alistair will be adding later. We get £2,173 per person to look after everything in Health Care. Only New Zealand spends less of the nations we were talking about and the USA is ranked last with the Commonwealth Fund and spends five and a half thousand pounds per person. So we’re spending £2,100 per person and America is delivering worse for more than double the cost. Why’s that? 

With taxation, it’s free at point of delivery, it’s the foundation of the NHS and also in my view general practice acting as the first point of contact acts as a pretty important clinical gate-keeper if you like. Whereas this is not as well developed in the United States and other countries I’ve already mentioned. General Practice in the UK is currently in crisis and that’s not me saying it, that’s the Chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs. There are 8,000 GP practices in England, 500 of which will close in the next few years mainly due to retention problems. GPs in their 50s and older are going to retire which will leave 500 practices without GPs in England. We’ve had a funding reduction from what was 11% of the Health Service budget down to about 7 and a half % over the last 7 years or so and there’s a campaign underway at the moment to bring Health Service spending on General Practice back up to 11%. It doesn’t sound much but it’s absolutely massive when you are looking at billions of pounds invested. 

Scotland: there’s about a 1,000 GP practices in Scotland and we are just one of them. 45 practices in Scotland stopped accepting new patients onto their lists last year. So they closed to new patients, so patients who want to register with the practice have to go to another practice. There’s significant workload pressures and 54% of Scots agree there’s a waiting time crisis in General Practice and I’m sure all of you who have waited more than a week or two to see the doctor of your choice at our practice as well. 

In Highland there are significant problems with recruitment and retention. There are over 20 GP vacancies around Highland at the moment. So practices do not have a GP or have locums around and that’s stretching from Thurso down to Campbeltown, includes Alness, Inverness and everywhere in between. There’s a massive advertising campaign. I don’t know if you have caught up with that [...] 

It’s complicated work, it’s complicated decision making, it’s balancing risk, deciding whether the sore throat is a sore throat or whether it is something a lot more serious like cancer or a serious infection. In 2000 when I came to Nairn we would have about 3 contacts per person per year. We measure the workload now, we now have 9 contacts per person per year. Our contact rate has trebled in 15 years. So the workload rate has increased dramatically and in the UK that’s also reflected 5 years ago with 340 million consultations last year in general practice. It’s 40 million more than 5 years ago. So there’s a very, very significant increase in demand there. 

We’ve got GPs retiring; we’ve got recruitment problems, an increase in demand and guess what there’s a funding crisis. OK, so three inter-linked important things that are going on UK-wide and that is also happening in Highland. Highland borrowed 2.5 million pounds from the Scottish Government last year and those of you who have been following the news, the audit report was unfavourable and was delivered to the Holyrood audit committee last month and there’s now a severe squeeze on to try and make sure that the legal requirement not to overspend again is achieved. So there’s at least eight million pounds of savings to be made before the 1st of April. So lack of money, difficult to retain and recruit staff and that’s not just GPs and also an increase in demand which brings us to Nairn. There was the End Child Poverty report which was reported quite widely showing that Nairn had 24% of children living in poverty. That’s ranked third in Highland. That may come as a bit of a surprise to some people but not to us delivering health care on the front line. The Highland average is 19% - 24% of children live in poverty. 22 and a half % of our population are over 65 and over 75 10% of population. So we’ve got about one and a half thousand people are over 75. It really means we are very successful in looking after people but by the time you get to 75 you start to collect the odd illness or two and by the time you are 85 you will collect more than 2 illnesses in most cases. 5% of our population here are over 85. So we’re got deprivation, we’ve also got quite an elderly workload as well. Put that in perspective with some practices in Inverness who’ve got 4% of their patients over 75. So there’s quite a disparity in workload.

As you know, we’ve got an A&E here, we provide 24hr cover. We’ve got a local inpatient facilities, we’ve got 20 beds. We work with the voluntary sector, with Arthritis Care, with the local sports club, Citizens Advice, for example. We’ve got X-rays. We deliver specialist services from our fantastic facilities that were open in 2010 and we’ve got a very comprehensive service. This allows people to have access to services locally which don’t exist further along the A96 for example, or in other similar sized towns. Just to illustrate that really we are able to look after our 70% of our population locally for end of life care. If you are coming towards the end of your life then there’s a very good chance you will be looked after and I think Nairn takes a tremendous amount of work from GPs, from primary care from community nursing, occupational therapy, home care, co-ordinating this and delivering this type of service is extremely rewarding but it is also a huge amount of work as well. To put that into perspective with the UK average, roughly 75% of people are dying in a large hospital. So we’ve reversed those numbers here thanks to the comprehensive care that we are able to deliver. We get a lot of positive feedback from many aspects of the care that we deliver here so we have a huge amount of personal and positive feedback from people. 

Given what I’ve already said with recruitment and retention problems, financial problems and also the sort of rising tide of demand we need your support. We need your support to be able to continue to provide these services locally in Nairn, Ardersier and the surrounding communities. Without your support some of the services that I’ve described will cease or be centralised in Inverness. So that’s where we are at at the moment. An example of that was the A&E closure for two nights last month at the end of October. We’ve got a very small A&E team. It doesn’t take much sickness to allow a gap to form. We’ve also got a very small team running the ward, community nurses, occupational therapy, physiotherapy - all of these teams are fragile, relatively small and it doesn’t take much for something to happen. So all I’m here to do this evening is really just to ask your support in an attempt to continue to deliver services to you locally and comprehensively. Thank you.”