Thursday, July 31, 2014

100 years ago today Nairn County FC were admitted to the Highland League

"Congratulations Nairn County F.C. Admitted to the Highland League 100 years ago today, 31st July 1914.Photocopies of the original negotiations recorded in the League minute book can be viewed at the exhibition in Nairn Museum. "                                                                                                                       Also, get all your best County gear out of the cupboard and any other yellow and black clothing too - for a forthcoming spectacular planned by the County fans on Saturday September 20th. Save the date more details soon 

Missing Guide Dog Tess taken in by a member of the public?

"A guide dog missing for more than a week may have been taken in by a member of the public.

Tess disappeared after a run with her owner, Fraser Stevenson, near the Old Cemetery in Nairn on July 23.

Guide Dogs Scotland (GDS) have appealed to anyone who may have seen the six-year- black curly haired retriever to come forward.

GDS spokesman, Niall Foley, said: “Our priority is to find Tess and reunite her with her owner

“We believe she is with someone, who may have taken her in for safe keeping, with the best of intentions."   More on the STV site here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Penalty fade-out signals early end to County's 2014 North Cup ambitions - Forres take it 2-4 on penalties

Can-cans keeper saves 1st half shot from Conor Gethins
The North Cup local derby encounter at Station Park between the rival sides was still goalless after 90 minutes and was then decided on penalties. Arguably the most exciting spell in the game. Compared to the skilful performance by the Nairn squad in the friendly on Saturday against Ross County this seemed like a comedown to a less than shining Highland League mid-table encounter. Forres fans in the cowshed were less than impressed too and an air of disappointment hung over the second half as a common thread that united both sets of fans. There would have been no complaints however if we'd taken it but it wasn't to be, Forres played their penalty shots better and took the tie. Goodbye North Cup for another season. 

Nairn Kayak Club receive £1,000 boost from SPAR

Nairn Kayak club members pictured at the harbour one evening earlier this month as a SPAR representative hands over a £1,000 cheque.

Missing cat broadhill area of Nairn

Moray Coast Vet Group have posted details of a missing cat on their Facebook page. Beans has been missing in the Broadhill area of Nairn since Friday afternoon. See image below for further details. 

If you have a facebook account you can share the Moray Vets post here.

Now a Facebook page for What's On in Nairn

New on line today is this page for events in Nairn. There are no shortage of Nairn pages and some are more active than others, the Gurn understands that this page comes from the same stable as the hugely popular "Nairn when you were a Bairn site." 
It will be interesting to see how this type of page develops on the facebook format.

There is also a more conventional (in net terms) events calendar on here and there may be another one appearing at some time in the future from the Community and Arts Centre. 

County strengthen the squad at the back - Friendlies over as Forres come to town tonight in North Cup

Breaking news this morning:
County looked very exciting against premiership side Ross County on Saturday and the result was a very respectable 1-1. Tonight the local rivals Forres Mechanics come to town for a North Cup encounter. The weather forecast is good for tonight, the pitch is in perfect condition - why not pop up for a taste of the centenary year "buzz".

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Referendum on September 18th - make sure you are registered to vote!

Are you YES or NO or perhaps still making your mind up? There will surely be a very high turnout when the polling stations open on referendum day. Are you registered to vote though?

"If you’re not registered, you won’t be able to vote. In October and November 2013, each household was sent two forms by their local electoral registration office requesting the details of all those who will be eligible to vote.

If you have not received your forms or need new forms, you should contact your local electoral registration office. You can get their details by entering your postcode on this website." 

And that on line form is available here. You still have to print the form off and physically post it to the electoral registration office though.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The sun shines in Inverness on Liz's BBC Bias demo

There were some heavy downpours in Inverness this afternoon but the weather improved as Nairn Councillor Liz MacDonald today led a demonstration in Inverness that walked up from the Town House to the BBC Highland premises on Culduthel Road. Image below and more images here. 

Liz's protest coincided with a larger one in Glasgow and she told those present:

"Thank you to everyone who came here today, we’re here to support the protest in Glasgow although we can’t be there we agree with their sentiments. This protest is not about local or Scottish Services but rather about the way Scotland is being treated by London based HQ and Westminster decisions, In 2012 and 2013, 35 job losses at BBC Scotland was a devastating blow for output in news and current affairs across Scotland and we lost many great reporters. Output from BBC Highlands was drastically affected, losing a significant element of reporting staff at Inverness.

With dictatorial control exerted by London we will never get fair reporting. London BBC is all about retaining the Union and the power base in London and by retaining membership of CBI they endorse the no campaign.

According to BBC’s own figures Licence fee money collected in Scotland after costs is £287million but the BBC only spend £205million in Scotland leaving us £82million short changed. We are in the middle of the biggest decision many of us will ever make and the publicly funded BBC is only paying the Scottish Independence referendum lip service whilst touting UK Government propaganda."

Independent MSP Jean Urquhart was also at Liz's demonstration and made a brief speech - see video below:

Are you YES, NO or undecided? Have a Nairn connection and have something to say then let us know - views from both sides or none most welcome - contact

Two Counties encounter - Nairn County 1 Ross County 1 - Pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here, full screen slideshow here.

Also now on the Gurn flickr pages images of the game against Saints from Donald here and some Gurn pictures here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Yes and No at the show today

Highland Cycle ability- cycle to the challenge - fundraiser July 23rd - August 3rd

Jane Harkiss tells the Gurn: 

"Come and help us complete the 296 km between here and the Commonwealth Games Velodrome in Glasgow, on our track! This is a combined effort. We don't expect anyone to cycle the whole distance! Your kilometres will be logged and added to the total. You may enter as an individual or as a group / club. There will be a small entry fee, but great prizes up for grabs. The event will run from July 23rd to August 3rd to coincide with the Games. One lap of the track = 1km added to the total. Kms can be completed on any non motorised wheels (bike, roller skates, wheel chairs) or on foot."

More details here on the event facebook page.

Nairn County 1 - Ross County 1

Not a tale of two Counties at all. Nairn looked impressive and produced quality to deliver a few dangerous moments - Paul MacLeod looked very impressive in aboot the Ross County defence. A very good performance that will set County up for a North of Scotland Cup encounter with local rivals Forres on Tuesday night  (29th) at Station Park.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Stewart can certainly hack it - footpath across the fields to Firhall Bridge passable again thanks to local hero

Recently we reported on the state on the overgrown footpath that cuts across the fields to the Firhall Bridge -  a walk that has been popular for many years with locals but had become overgrown and virtually impassable this season. Outrage had been expressed on social media that the path hadn't been cut this year. 

One public spirited young man Stewart MacLean set aboot the undergrowth himself on Monday but only had limited time due to work commitments. He returned today, on one of the hottest days of the year, to finish the job and the result is pictured below. Congratulations Stewart, you are a credit to the community and a fantastic ambassador for the younger generation. Maybe the powers that be could find some way to give Stewart some recognition for his selfless hard work for the benefit of others. 

Find missing guide dog Tess - please print off and display poster

File available in googledoc format here to download and print.

Search for a missing guide dog - tonight in Nairn - meet 18.00 at joiners yard by old cemetery - details on map

The Highland Dogblog group are organising a search tonight for the guide dog that went missing yesterday - details of dog here.  See map above. Gurnites will remember the dogbog folk organised large searches for Bracken, the dog who went missing in the Delnies Wood back in April.

Saints 1 County 8 - Pictures by Kenny MacLeod

Individual images here.  Full screen slideshow here. 

Aldi coming to Nairn?

Thanks to our regular reader who spotted an enigmatic series of job ads online giving the location of Aldi jobs as Nairn,Nairnshire. Image of one of them below.

Update 17.44 25/07/14 : the Gurn e-mailed the Aldi press office earlier today to find out more information and we are still waiting for a reply. 

Use of mobile phones whilst driving.

Last week the East Nairnshire Community Council heard how some tractor drivers can be seen using mobile phones whilst driving along the country roads. One community councillor told the meeting that she thought it was so dangerous she phones the police when she sees it happening. The ENCC heard too of how traffic, particularly lorries, is now finding its way onto previously quiet roads due to the use of Sat Nav systems. The way our society is organised around motor transport means there will be more of this unfortunately as individuals and businesses look for the quickest way from A to B, finding new rat-runs to avoid the overcrowded rat-runs – even in rural Nairnshire. The desperate need that a lot of us now have to feel connected all the time via digital devices means the temptation to use/answer the phone whilst driving is always there, be it town or country.

In town too there is no shortage of drivers on phones, particularly on the A96 – this observer once saw a lorry driver navigating the King Street roundabout whilst going about whatever he felt it necessary to do on his phone. We live in a state that has a penchant for mass surveillance, the government is capable of accessing all our e-mails or listening to our phone calls if they wish – surely there is some way they could figure out who is using a phone while driving and quickly earn several billion in fines that could be issued instantly by post? A silly thought perhaps on a warm and Thursday morning but we need to hear more in the press of people being prosecuted for thinking they are above the law when it comes to driving and mobile phones.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Urgent - please help find guide dog missing in Nairn

Guide dog went missing yesterday Wednesday 23rd July

Inverness City 0 Nairn 2- Donald Matheson's images from the friendly encounter on 19th July

Individual images here.


Fo rìoghachd nan car

Rinn mi sgriob air baidhseagal an de. Chaidh mi air an treana gu Inbhir Nis agus. As deidh dhomh suil a thoirt air an taobh-seallaidh Ceasaig a Deas ( agus nach buidhe dhomh – da leumadair a nochadh aig an deiradh am a thug mi mo camara as mo phocaid) rinn mi air an canal agus as deidh sin trasainn na h-Eileanan Nis gu rathad Dures. Bha an rathad trang ach mhothaich mi nach robh moran caraichean sa Tescos ur (an treas no an ceathramh fear?) aig an timicheallan far a bheil an cuairt rathadh a’ stad an drasta ann an achadh agus connspaid gu leor. Chum mi a dhol ach saoilidh mi gur e rathad cunnartach a bh’ann gus an robh cothrom an rathad samach eile agus slighe shonraichte cleachadh do Dures. 

Aig an Taigh Osda Dures ghabh mi biadh agus pinnt shandy. Cha robh Loch Nis cho breagha sa b’abhaist dha a bhith le ceo a’ chladaich tighinn a-steach cho fada ris an loch. Ged a chuala mi gur e latha breagha, breagha a bh’ann air an toabh an iar cha robh grian ri fhaicinn air an taobh seo ged a bha Caisteal Urchaidh ri fhaicinn bha coltas doilleir air. Cha do chuir sin cus dragh orm ge-ta bha e freagarrach gus a bhith air baidhseagal. 

Nuair a thill mi gu Inbhir Nis thug mi an cuairt rathad agus bha taighean ura agus moran eile ri fhaicinn air gach taobh. Bha slighe shonraichte an seo son baidhseagailan an seo cuideachd agus bha sin a chord a rium, bha caraichean agus laraidhean gu leor air an rathad fhein. Chaidh mi seachad air an Asda ur agus Sgoil Gaidhlig Inbhir Nis air an taobh eile. Saoildh mi gur e sia no seachd kilometre de cuairt-rathaid a th’ann. Seachad air na buthan mora eile ri taobh an Tesco eile agus mise cha mhor air an rathad dachaigh. Bhithinnsa a dhol suas gu Cuil Lodair agus an uair shios dhan tursachan Clabha agus an rathad ‘1’ ofigeach son baidhseagailan. ‘S e rathad na bu dorra a th’ann ach samhach agus breagha. Ged a tha faisg air deich mile a bharrachd air an taobh sin b’fhiach e, ‘s e eacarsaich a dhith orm cuideach agus mise a deanamh deiseil son Slighe an Gaidhealtachd an Iar as an t-Sultain. 

As deidh timicheallan na-h-Innseachan chaidh mi tarsainn an drochaidh os cionn an A9. Chuir e iongnadh orm de cho trang sa bha na solas-trafaig agus ciuthan caraichean fada, fada air gach toabh dheth, shios dhan A9 agus a-mach a shealladh suas rathadh Cuil Lodair. Fhios’m gu bheil traffaig Inbhir Nis buailteach a bhith craicte sa mhadainn agus air an fheasgar ach cha robh seo ach leth uair an deidh uair. Air an taobh cli bha na toglaichean Oilthigh na Gaidhealtachd a dhol suas gu luath. Fhios agam gu bheil a’ Ghaidhealtachd airidh air a leithid ach de thachras an seo nuair a thig na h-oileanaich agus na h-ollamahan sna caraichean fhein? A bheil na siostam rathaidean Inbhir Nis comasach a deileaghadh ris?
Staing traffaig air Rathad Cuil Lodair Inbhir Nis
Feumaidh mi radh chan eil gainneadh busaichean ann an Inbhir Nis, chunnaic mi moran dhiubh agus daoine air baidhsaigealan cuideachd ach ma th’agad ri rudeigin a dheanamh sa bhaile mhor thog a mhor-chuid an caraichean aca orra. Gu dearbh fhein tha sin uile beo ann an linne far a bheil sinn an eismeil caraichean agus de ghabhas a dheanamh? Saoilidh mi gur ann mar sin a bhios e san am a tighinn oirnn gus an latha a bhios pris ola cus agus an uair sin de thachras? 

Dealbhan bhon sgirob a bha seo ann a sheo air flickr.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are you an unpaid carer? Drop in coffee morning with Connecting Carers on Weds 30th of July

Are you an unpaid carer – if you provide support for a relative, friend or neighbour who can’t manage without assistance then you are a carer. 

If so then come along to Connecting Carers Drop In coffee morning on:

Wednesday 30th July
From 10:00-12:00
Asher’s Café – Wee Blether, 9 High Street, Nairn. 

Tea/coffee and cake will be provided by Connecting Carers and you will be welcome to come for the two hours or just pop in and stay for as long as you want. 

The aim of the ‘Drop In’ is to provide a venue and opportunity for carers to meet, chat and have time togetheraway from their caring responsibilities.

All are welcome. We hope you can come and if you know any unpaid carers please tell them about it and bring them along. 

We will be there to greet you, and look forward to meeting you.

Additional dates are as follows: 27th August; 24th September; 29th October.

Connecting Carers

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jason Maclean in Glasgow to represent Team Scotland at The Commonwealth Games

Elizabeth McDonald, Active Schools Co-ordinator, tells the Gurn:

"Yesterday Nairn lad 17 year old Jason Maclean travelled to Glasgow to represent Team Scotland at The Commonwealth Games. Jason's story is inspirational if not unbelievable as his training only began last year when he hung up his football boots to become a sprinter. Jason will run in the 100M (T37) at Hampden on Monday 28th July at 11am. Jason is an amazing young man who deserves the support of his town at this very exciting time. Lets get behind Jason and share his story to ensure maximum support. Ashers Bakers have been his main sponsor - image here"

Have a good one Jason, Nairn is shouting for you!

Monday, July 21, 2014

First steps going forward for a lasting solution to the Rosebank Church problem!

A solution to the problem of the derelict Rosebank Church has emerged, a solution that could not only save the building for the future but also allow an existing Nairn business to move forward to a secure future. The Gurn has received the following:

"1st Steps Childcare Nairn is delighted to announce an exciting new development which will secure the future of the existing 1st Steps nursery and restore the historic Rosebank Church to its former glory.
Present state of Rosebank Church - image Greg Riddle
Local people will be well aware of the recent furore over the state of the former Rosebank Church building which has lain empty for over 25 years and is currently considered “at risk” on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland.
The existing the 1st Steps Nursery, currently based in temporary buildings leased from Highland Council within the grounds of Rosebank Primary School, is facing the threat of closure when their lease is terminated in summer 2015 to make way for additional car parking.

The Directors of 1st Steps Childcare Nairn Limited have been working individually with various parties since 2009 and collectively since October 2013 to identify and secure suitable child care premises. Most recently, they have been working with the owner of the former Rosebank Church, Sheridan Macrae, on plans to re-develop the building into a high quality child care facility which we will lease on a long-term basis. Heads of terms have been agreed, and they anticipate that a planning application, being prepared by Craig Mackay of CM Design, will be submitted in late July / early August.

Roslin Murdoch, Director of the Company and owner of the existing nursery, said:
“We are delighted to be working with Sheridan Macrae to bring this historic building back to into use, whilst providing an excellent facility which will benefit children, parents and have a positive impact on the town. All parties are committed and working hard to achieve our opening date in Summer 2015.”

The exterior of the building will be sympathetically restored with the only significant visible changes involving creation of additional windows and an external door on the East elevation which is largely hidden from view (adjacent to Leopold Street).

The interior ground floor will be extensively re-modelled to create a suitable internal space for a state-of the art day nursery and out-of-school child care facility. At first floor level the building will be refurbished and retained for future expansion.

The grounds will be landscaped as secure outdoor play area complete with a disabled parking space.

It is anticipated that the impact on existing traffic and parking will be negligible, within the context of a town centre location, and the traffic impact of the existing nursery location and adjacent Rosebank Primary School.

They aspire to create a high quality childcare facility incorporating a day nursery and breakfast/after school child care for school age children. Building on the high standards of care being achieved by the excellent staff within the existing 1st Steps nursery, the new nursery will cater for children from babies to 5 year olds, observing best practice and full compliance with national care standards, tied in to the national curriculum for pre-school education. School age children will benefit from a separate space dedicated to their needs and supporting parental child care requirements out with the school day and during holidays. The capacity of the new child care facility compared with the existing nursery will increase by approximately 35%.

There is a demand for high quality child care in Nairn which is both affordable and flexible, which is set to increase due to Scottish Government policies on the provision of free pre-school education, both in terms of increasing the hours per week, and extending the current scheme to include 2 year olds.

1st Steps will provide an attractive child care option which does not currently exist in the town, although common in Inverness and its environs. This will attract economically active young families to settle in the town, as well as supporting existing families to remain here. The new child care facility will be located in the heart of the community, adjacent to the largest primary school, which will reduce car dependency and promote walking and cycling.

As the existing 1st Steps nursery is losing its current premises it is essential to open the new premises for business in Summer 2015 and there is a tight programme with respect to obtaining planning permission and building warrant, and completing the substantial construction works. Highland Council’s planning officers seem to be broadly supportive of the proposals from informal feedback to date."

Gurn speaks to some Nairn YES voters

After the showing of the film Scotland Yet in the Little Theatre in Nairn on Saturday afternoon the Gurn spoke to some YES voters, see the results of the interviews below.

Are you YES, NO or Undecided and willing to do a short interview with the Gurn?  Contact us on if you are.


Overgrown footpath latest - a local hero emerges!

Earlier today we published a short article on the state of the popular footpath that cuts across the fields at Firhall to the bridge across the River Nairn. Article here.

Since then Stewart MacLean has been out there cutting back the path for the benefit of the community, he said on the Nairn when you were a bairn facebook page: 

"I made a start on this path today As I have work tonight, I have had to stop for now. I will try and do a bit more on Friday, weather permitting." Here's an image of his work so far.

What an amazing difference this young man has made on the mess that had been stopping walkers following one of their favourite routes. Messages of thanks and support are piling into the Nairn when you were a Bairn pages thanking Stewart for his public spirited act. Stewart you are a credit to the community and the younger generation in Nairn, you are to be congratulated for your work to the benefit of others. Top man!

Nairn Ceilidh Group has a night off this Thursday (July 24) at the Royal British Legion

Nairn Ceilidh Group has a night off this Thursday (July 24) at the Royal British Legion due the floor in hte Highland hall being refurbished. Ceilidh stalwart Donald Wilson told the Gurn:

"We had a full house last Thursday, our first of the season and our numbers and income are on a par with last year," said Chairman Donald Wilson. The Legion committee has carried out an ongoing programme of improvements at the Highland Hall and the work on the floor is the next phase. We will be back with our regular weekly ceilidh on Thursday, July 31 when we will be hosting the Nairn Link of chernobyl Children's Lifeline and we are all looking forward to a great evening. The ceilidh is of course open to the public and we would be delight to see people coming along and supporting us."

Overgrown path anger

Angry comments have been expressed recently on social media about the state of the path that cuts between the fields at the town side of Firhall. Some river walkers vary their circuit of the river with a walk along this straight stretch. In past years it has been cut by someone but this year the path is very overgrown making it difficult for walkers, especially in wet weather. In past times the town could have easily have sent someone up with a strimmer for an hour's work but perhaps that sort of flexibility no longer exists in the world where Highland Council delivers the service by the use of private contractors. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lack of public transport in rural Nairnshire “an infringement of human rights”?

There was the odd dash of outspoken material at the inaugural meeting of the newly elected East Nairnshire Community Council in the Glenferness village hall on Wednesday night.

On the subject of the Dial a Bus service there were mixed reactions. David Cook said: “It would be interesting if we actually knew something about the Dial a Bus. It’s one of those great, grey mysteries.”

Heidi Tweedie had a different perspective: “I didn’t know anything about it and a neighbour, when her sister came over from America, had no transport, and she used the Dial a Bus and found it to be incredibly good value and excellent service.”

David replied: "It is if you can get hold of it."

There were further complaints about the Dial a Bus including an allegation of seeming to get  a “runaround” on the telephone. There did seem to be a lack of precise knowledge about the service provided by the Dial a Bus David Cook again:
“It’s another box that has been ticked to excuse the fact that we have no public transport. We were promised public transport when the railway closed, a bus from Grantown to Nairn was going to run regularly to provide transport. That lasted about three weeks.”

There was also discussion about the efficacy of the school bus service. On both transport topics Colin MacAulay, the Highland Councillor was up from the town, said:  It’s a good topic for an agenda item when you do your research in terms of what you’ve got and in terms of what you think should be better.” But Colin had a warning, he added, “But there’s not likely to be funding for an expansion of services.”

A little later David Cook had a further contribution to make: “Older people up here are faced with two choices: they stay here and rely on neighbours and that has always been the way, people have always helped out or they move to the town. Why the hell should they leave the place they have lived in for most of their life just because there is no transport and they are unable to drive?  I think that is grossly unfair – it’s actually an infringement of human rights.”

Margaret Walsh then said she would actually say that it was same for people with younger kids given the cost of fuel etc.

There was then some conversation about the possibilities of car-sharing schemes which might be a solution for some of the community. One other suggestion was that more events be held locally to avoid having to travel. 

Public and school transport exercised the minds of the last East Nairnshire Community Council and continues to be a topic of debate for the new slate of councillors. What the newly elected members can achieve in a time of austerity remains to be seen but perhaps there are some out of the box ideas that might be possible to improve the lot of those who live in the country but find themselves increasingly cut off, simply due to the problems of growing old or the increasing cost of fuel. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Scotland Yet crowd-funded film at the Little Theatre

The crowd-funded film Scotland Yet was shown in the Little Theatre Nairn  on Saturday afternoon. Pictured above are film-makers Jack Foster left and Christopher Silver, in the centre one of the film team Chris.  

The film started by detailing the historical backdrop to the momentous events that lead up to the referendum on September the 18th and then went on to feature some of the artists that participate in the YES supporting National Collective but did also feature comment from the other side such as the high-profile George Galloway. 

After the film tea and cakes along with biscuits donated by MacLean's Highland Bakery were available from the "Aye have a dream" group that organised the event.

Are you organising any referendum related events in Nairnshire? Send us details if you are and pictures of any campaigning too if you wish. The Gurn is happy to publish opinion, videos, etc from any local residents be they YES, NO or undecided. If it's referendum related and happening in Nairnshire please let us know. 

Don't leave your dog in the car in hot weather - "Dogs die in hot cars"

One of our regular readers is concerned that dog owners  should be aware of the dangers of leaving dogs in cars in hot weather. Our correspondent writes: 

"A timely reminder - Dogs die in hot cars.

Don’t leave your dog in a car in this weather, even leaving a window open doesn’t help if the temperature rises. The SSPCA have information on their site here.

There is a very informative video here which gives information on how quickly problems can start to happen and why (note to the squeamish, there are no gory details!). Best thing in this weather would be to leave your pooch at home. It probably won't be for long as, no doubt, normal summer will resume shortly."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Auldearn Cricket Club 1902 - picture

Nairn Cricket Club tell the Gurn they have uncovered many images from club archives and hope to upload them over the coming weeks onto their flickr pagers here. They would like to know if anyone in Auldearn and environs has relatives in the picture above and  also if anyone has any memorabilia from the former cricket club. Larger image here. Cricket Club site here

Watchdogs Communicating with the East Nairnshire Community

The newly elected East Nairnshire Community Council strategy to raise its profile among their patch’s residents will include a newsletter with images and information on who the councillors actually are and contact details. There may even be a little bit of door knocking too as the council goes proactive in seeking the views of the area’s population. Just how best to do that in the large rural area with scattered settlements exercised the new members minds on Wednesday night in the Glenferness Hall. There was a belief among some present that more needed to be done. One member of the public who attended the inaugural meeting of the watchdogs new term of office said:

“I always used to find that I had no clue when there was a community council meeting and when I mentioned it before all I ever got told was It’s in the window. I’m sorry I don’t stop all the time and look in the window. Or it’s in the bus shelter, I’m sorry I don’t wait for the bus over there. I don’t know about anyone else but I think it is very important that it is on...we need to find out where.”

The NECC publicity campaign will include the area’s notice boards too (albeit two of them are vandalised presently – see image below of the notice board at Moyness), a facebook page and a webpage presence and maybe even information in Nairn supermarkets where many East Nairnshire folk will obviously go at times. The next six meetings will be publicised in as many ways as possible.

There were quite a few items on the agenda on Wednesday night and there are obviously very real issues facing the scattered community – more later on what was the NECC discussed when time permits. In the meantime here’s a picture of the Moyness standing stones. Apparently the watchdogs are presently funding some irregular grass cutting there but over recent years whin bushes have invaded the scene. The NECC are to review their arrangements for looking after this spot. 

Yes, No, Undecided? Want to tell the Gurn your feelings?

Want to make a short video for posterity outlining your views on the referendum? The Gurn will be at the event in the Little Theatre tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 19th July - ad in sidebar on the left). Pop down if you would like to give it a try. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nairn Commonwealth Ceilidh by Broadcasting Cottage

A video record of a sensational multi-cultural Ceilidh held in the Nairn Royal British Legion on the 21st of June 2014. Here on Vimeo.

East Nairnshire Community Council back in action

The newly made up CC met in the Glenferness hall last night. The new chairman was Andrew Walsh, the treasurer is now David Cook and the secretary Simon McPherson. Also present were members Heidi Tweedie, Margaret Walsh and Bill Evans. Debbie and David McBean sent their apologies. Highland Councillor Colin MacAulay was also in attendance and enough members of the public to make the small meeting room in the village hall look very crowded. The council debated several topics for over an hour and a half and also set out their plans to build a communications strategy with residents in their area which stretches from the boundaries of the A96 and Morayshire in the north and east and goes inland and uphill to meet the extensive boundaries of Grantown CC coming up the other way. Towards the west ENCC meets the borders of the Cawdor and West Nairnshire area and of course the Auldearn CC patch.

There was debate initially about the Council’s attitude and submission to the Cairn Duhie wind farm application. The watchdogs decided that given the time limit left for a submission the best way to assess public attitudes in their area was to go on the strength of feeling displayed locally at the like of the public meeting held in Glenferness in November of last year. (Gurn videos of that meeting here and here) which was overwhelmingly against the development.

The council intend to deliver a newsletter in the near future and create an internet presence and a facebook page. There was talk about the state of the notice boards in their area, two of them have been vandalised and there were problems about the keys to the boards. Meetings will be held every 2nd Wednesday of every second month starting from the meeting last night (16th July) and will include the use of the Fortnighty hall too.

The meeting also discussed traffic problems, public and school transport, the poor state of broadband in the NECC patch and the possibilities of more effective use of the Glenferness village hall. More from the NECC meeting when time permits. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nasty knotweed now not quite so happy in Nairn town centre?

For several years now the Gurn has highlighted the spread of Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species on the River Nairn, and particularly the riverside walks in the town centre, as this batch of search results will testify. In 2014 Knotweed’s notorious capabilities have gone big time, you don’t have to search online now to find out information about its destructive properties (both to the local ecology and house prices); it’s gone mainstream appearing on television, radio and regularly in the dead tree press. For example, the Sunday Times magazine had knotweed on its cover last weekend; “The plant that ate Britain” and “Matt Rudd on the unstoppable rise of the Japanese Knotweed. Inside six pages on the subject of Fallopia japonica (as the Romans might have said but certainly the botanists that came after them). The Sunday Times magazine states inside to crank the fear levels up a notch: “It’s eating our gardens, destroying our houses and ruining our lives. Can anything free us from the insidious grip of Japanese knotweed?” Terrifying stuff but the impact it can have on housing prices and your ability to sell is definitely real as cases in the Sunday Times illustrate, recently there were other cases of buying/selling knotweed induced misery on Radio 4. 

This observer would think that it hasn’t ruined anybody’s life in Nairn yet but along the riverside it is fairly abundant in patches and in one or two places it could make the leap into gardens in a short number of years. Any potential liability there for Highland Council or the Common Good perhaps? One quality of this plant makes it the perfect alien species to colonise the riparian area of a spate river however and that is its ability to propagate itself. You only need one fragment of stem or root to be brought down and deposited by a spate or some sort of human or animal activity and you will very quickly have a new infestation. 

Can it be beaten? It will take several years of application with herbicide to do the job or there are more expensive methods of filtering and removing soil but theoretically it can be done. River Community Council are on the second year of an eradication programme on the east bank of the river between the A96 and sewage bridges. Here a couple of pictures that seem to indicate that the battle so far is going River CC’s way – it could be a couple of years yet though before Tommy Hogg and his fellow councillors will be popping the champagne corks but the signs so far are good. 

The Gurn understands too that a mysterious individual who one of our regular readers has named as “The Knotweed Avenger” has been going out sporadically during the summer months so far this year and spraying some patches in the town area of the River Nairn. See image below.

The results don’t look quite as good as the year 2 efforts in the River CC project area but the Japanese Knotweed certainly looks unhappy in places. The Gurn understands that the “Avenger” is a qualified volunteer working under the direction of Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fisheries Trust. It’s a start but more needs to be done on the lower reaches of the River Nairn that is certain.

Saint Ninian announce friendly with County for Thurs 24th July

Saints announced on twitter this morning: "We are pleased to say that we'll be playing @NairnCounty_FC in a friendly on Thurs 24th July at the Showfield Nairn 7:15 KO "

The game should be an intersting encounter and a big crowd will probably be up at the Showfield on the 24th. Meanwhile a new recruit to the ranks of the County Paparazzi has published some images on Flickr. You can see Mashy Young's pictures of Nairn County versus Airdrie here. Also images of Jackos v Elgin Thistle here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Baton Q&A for Highland Council on twitter

This prompted this observer to use the same social media to ask a question of Glasgow 2014

The return of the Nairn Seashore Roadshow - this Friday 18th July

"It’s all happening in Nairn this Friday (18 July) with free seashore activities, arts and craft sessions, events and games on the Links at Nairn’s Central Beach from 11am to 4pm.

The free Seashore Roadshow is being hosted by The Highland Council Ranger Service with the support of the RSPB, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Trust, all proud to show off how amazing our Highland Shores are. Supported with the assistance of the Highland Seashore Project, a three-year initiative to get local communities out on their shores and feel excited about our Highland Coasts. All events by the Highland Seashore Project are free; it’s all about getting people out on to the coast.

In 2013 the project worked with local community groups and the Highland Ranger Service and brought six large community Roadshows to venues around the Highlands. This year the Highland Seashore Project is working with the Highland Rangers and local Community Museums, and community initiatives to run Seashore Festivals across the Highlands in eight different venues, celebrating how the Shore has influenced local heritage and culture. Coupled with this was the demand to run the highly successful 2013 Nairn Roadshow again.

Back at the Roadshow this year is the brilliant Bob Pegg musician and storyteller, face painting, walks with marine Biologist Mike Kendall. Ardersier Boat Club will be bringing along their Skiff and a rowing machine and there will also be a chance to make sand sculptures on the beach as well giant seashore creature jigsaws and a kite making workshop. So if you want to start the weekend off well come along to Nairn and join in the fun.

To find out more about the other festivals and events please go to the project web site at and go to the festivals page or the project facebook page at Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project."

River CC cautiously taking forward grass-cutting, recycling and riverside regeneration ambitions

At last week's meeting of River Community Council, Simon Noble gave those assembled an update on the organisation's various potential projects:

“You may recall a couple of meetings ago the community council agreed that we should endeavour to set up a working group to take forward our ideas about the maintenance of the common areas in Nairn. We had made a pitch last year to the Community Challenge Fund to, at that point we were inviting the Council to explore with us the possibilities of the Community Council taking on some of the services currently operated by the Council which they wanted to hand over under the community challenge fund. So that was one project, another one was to take forward some of the work that had been successfully done under leader funding with the river regeneration. The third idea had been to do with the recycling/reuse project that had been floated

The Community Council agreed that we would try and set up a steering group to see how we might take that forward and in the intervening time we have had discussions with Highland Council’s Employability Service because the newly announced Deprived Area Fund some of which has been specifically allocated for Nairn. We had discussions with Highland Council’s ward manager and with Highland Councillors and, as a result, we made a pitch for the deprived area fund money to help us to take the project forward. We would not have the capacity to do it on our own. We made a pitch for that funding and that funding was to help us to pay for someone to project manage on our behalf in the early stages of looking at what is the best way to develop our approach to these three projects. 

We invited a range of people from across the community to come to a meeting on the 18th of June. That range of people included some of our local politicians, two members of the Community Council (myself and Tommy), but also one of the local church ministers, two local business owners and another business manager and the manager of CAB. A cross section of people who are not the usual suspects but also who have good investment in the town and an interest in supporting developments in community enablement if you like.

The outcome of all of that has been that Highland Council through the Area Committee awarded £5,000 through the Deprived Area fund to facilitate this project and to enable us to get started by hiring, in due course, a project manager just to take forward building the ideas, getting in place the kind of legal framework that we will need. Also putting together a basic business pitch for public funding to get the thing moving and also to help us in developing our discussions with Highland Council about the Community Challenge Fund pitch that we had made last year. We were really pleased about that and the group when it met on the 18th gave us loads of sensible advice, not the least of which and probably the best advice was, keep it simple don’t try and get more complicated and clever about everything. So the conclusion of the meeting it was agreed that our priority should be to take forward a development of a social enterprise which will in the first instance seek to get an agreement with Highland Council to take on maintenance of selective common areas in the town. That’s what is commonly called the grass cutting but there is an awful lot more to it than that. 

The object of the social enterprise is, first and foremost, to create routes to employment for local people. So the possibility of training, apprenticeship, that kind of thing. The vehicle would be this common areas maintenance work and the long term aim if that proves to be successful and sustainable to develop something which could then take forward the ideas about recycling and reuse schemes and the river regeneration scheme. At this stage that is as far as we have got. We have a further meeting coming up next month.”

Tommy Hogg said: “I’m quite impressed with the way it is all coming together and when you see what can be done and you see it all set out in front of you. I know there are a lot of pitfalls but I honestly think myself that it can be achieved with sensible ideas and slowly, not just diving in. It’s going to take a lot of business management things that have to be addressed. [...] If it is carefully thought about and we don’t get too ambitious, I think it could actually work.”

Colin MacAulay then said: “This isn’t easy, this is about taking on, effectively considering taking on a contract and all that then entails in terms of responsibilities to staff, employing staff, taking on their training, health and safety. There is just a barrow load – it’s a major commitment and the Council will be very supportive both on the Community Challenge side of things and both on the employability and from the local politicians but is about capacity of individuals in the community that want to take on the role of delivering a social enterprise and that’s a bit undertaking.”

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lochloy - "Sutors" area grass-cutting problems on the way to being sorted?

Last week at the River Community Council’s regular monthly get together in the URC hall Simon Noble revealed that he had recently held a meeting with residents from the “Sutors” area of Lochloy where there have been grass cutting problems in recent times. Simon told the meeting that there were 143 properties in the area and a survey had received responses from around 25% of those. Of those around 20 had given contact details. Those 20 people were invited to a meeting at the Dunbar Golf Club. Present at that meeting were councillors Liz MacDonald, Colin MacAulay and Andrew McCracken from the planning deparment, also invited as an independent representative was Frank Milne solicitor from Donaldson and Henderson and Robbie Barron from RB Landscapes who is one of the contractors that operates in the area.

Simon said: “it was a really good response from those that were invited and a good attendance.” He went on: “To cut a very long story short the residents agreed to form their own group to take forward two possible courses of action. One was that they felt that they wanted to take into their own hands making arrangements for grass-cutting area maintenance, plant maintenance in their own area. It was the only way they concluded that they could ensure that something would actually take place. The legal and historical issues are so complex that it could be a long time before, let’s say, the right answer was arrived at. They decided to take their own initiative and they did that on the basis that they could perhaps attract something affordable and reasonable without having to get involved in really expensive contracts and all the rest of that.”

One of the residents present was elected chairperson; the new group also want to explore the possibility of residents, particularly around the play area where there is a very large squareish space in the middle of the Sutors development, purchasing parcels of the land. According to Simon there is a glimmer of a possibility that they could buy that from the administrators of the now defunct developers.

Tommy Hogg, chair of River CC then said: “My own personal thoughts, I think that they will find it quite difficult to get a consensus from everybody.”

Colin MacAulay then said: “Big thanks to Simon, it’s not been an easy journey for Simon at all but its the first time it has taken a step in the right direction, in a number of years I think. There’ s still lots of wee bridges to be crossed. I don’t know whether there will be the kind of angst. I think it is a case of actually those that want to make the case just moving. I think there will be people that won’t care, when it comes to the maintenance side it will be like all these things, there will be some people that it will be very difficult to get funding out of but that doesn’t stop the majority going ahead.” 

Caley Bar flag at the World Cup

Flying the flag for Nairn at the World Cup are Martin and Yyvonne - image on the Caley Facebook pages here. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nairn 0 Airdrie 2 - Pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here. Full Screen slideshow here. Also images by Kenny MacLeod here.

And images of the clubs players awards 2014 below.

Individual images here.  More details of the awards on the County site here. 

Friday night rescue on Nairn Beach

These two tweets below from the Inverness Coastguard give details of the latest rescue on Nairn Beach. The Nairn Coastguard Facebook page also reported: 

"reports of person in difficulty of Nairn beach also in attendance police and ambulance,casualty recovered and taken to hospital with hypothermia,a bit cold but safe again,thanks to the people who raised the alarm and to all who turned out"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

YES and NO stuff in the town centre today (12/07/14)

There was a YES stall in the town centre today as the pro-Independence campaigners sought to attract the attention of those coming down the street on their way to the popular Farmers' Market - image here. 
Also campaigning today was Nairnshire's best known No campaigner Nigel Hanlin. He made a statement on BBC's Question Time on Thursday night which attracted a fair bit of internet attention and interest from the mainstream media yesterday. One recording of Nigel placed on Youtube has now attracted over 290,000 hits and there are many others clocking up thousands of visitors. 
An image of Nigel on the High Street here - thanks to Murray for this picture. We hear too there might have been an official Better Together stall in town as well - any pictures out there please if there was?

Are you a YES or a NO voter, or undecided? Want to have your thoughts recorded for posterity on a wee video? The Gurn will be at the "Aye, Have a Dream" event on Saturday the 19th at the Little Theatre from around three o' clock onwards. Poster in the Gurn side bar at the moment. Pop down and see us next Saturday if you'd like to tell the world (or at least the Gurnshire part of it) your thoughts on the referendum. Alternatively send us your thoughts for publication to

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nigel update

A lot of coverage today for Nairn’s, now famous, No campaigner Nigel Hanlin. Rumour has it that Ruth Davidson is in town on Monday to speak at a forum venue – a hard act to follow Ruth! There’s probably only one No show in town just now.

Nigel has been tweeted quite a bit on the hastag #highlander. The many video postings of his contribution to the BBC’s Question Time are attracting many thousands of hits on Youtube. There is an extensive article on the Huffington Post. The pro YES site, Wings over mentioned him in a post that has attracted a large amount of comment. The mega political blog “Guido Fawkes, Order, Order” featured him too. Love him or loathe him, he is the media man of the moment. The Scottish Daily Mail has boasted on twitter that they have an interview with him but the Gurn understands that quite a lot of the Highland “meejah” have beaten a path to his door today so in the morning there will probably be another wave of Nigel the Nairn No mannie .In the meantime here’s what the Highland News have to say. What next for Nigel? Big Brother? 

Elgin 2 Nairn 2 pictures from Donald Matheson

Pictures from last night's friendly (10/07/14) from club photographer Donald Matheson.

Individual images here.  Also images from Kenny MacLeod here.

Can Nairn avoid more 'planning drama' ?

At the joint Nairnshire Community Councils meeting in the Community and Arts Centre on Monday night Brian Stewart made a point to the Highland Council’s head of Planning and Building Services, Malcolm MacLeod. His comment will be very interesting to the many serious students of local planning matters and sums up very well the present situation in this observer's opinion. Brian said:

“One of the issues which I think arises with this whole business of local planning is that land designation which from the planners point of view is large scale or strategic, is never the less, for the people adjacent to it, very local and it is that that is generating the kind of reaction that we see on this particular site. I would make a more general which follows on from what Morton said a little bit earlier about the extent to which input delivered in consultation is or is not taken on board and that I think will become a recurrent them. It’s fair to say quite a number of the sites in and around Nairn have been on the books for ten years or more. They featured in the A96 corridor framework, they were rolled forward...I’m talking about Delnies, Nairn South, Lochloy to some extent...they featured in the A96 because they were deemed to be strategically important for that framework vision. They were rolled forward into the Highland Wide Development Plan and comment on them was constrained because they had already been in the A96. They’re being rolled forward now from the Highland wide into the Inner Moray Firth and again there was a constraint on comments because they’d been in the A96, they’d been in the Highland Wide.

One of the features of many of the sites in and around Nairn is, and it is different in each case, we’ve just had twenty minutes about the density proposed or envisaged or indicated for Kingsteps and there is a general lesson here which are under pressure to deliver housing targets, so there is a natural instinct for planners to put what should be the maximum possible conceivable as a kind of upper limit. That then becomes a reference point that upsets people. Even if as you say 90 houses might not end up getting built on Kingsteps but the fact that you have enshrined formally this as a kind of datum point means that it becomes a point of reference for developers; it becomes in effect the baseline around which arguments happen. With local residents saying we want less than 90 and with developers coming along and saying, “Look, unless we can build more than 90 it’s not going to be viable. We had that experience with Sandown.

 My general point is that in each and every of the major areas around Nairn there are particular issues which usually show up in the consultation process and which don’t get taken on board. As a result we have already had two rounds of drama. We had a round of drama with Sandown where the maximum, leaving aside the Common Good issues and the question of sale and disposal, the proposals the developers were putting forward were so far in excess, even of the indicative...Sorry can I just finish my point which is, for each of the sites, Sandown, Nairn South, now we are just talking topically about Kingsteps. There have been particular issues that have been critical to the viability or otherwise of that patch of land. In Sandown it was scale and volume of housing. In Nairn South it was infrastructure, with the Farmers Showfield the issues is to do with green space in an urban context. In Kingsteps ,if it is endorsed as a development site, the issue would be of density.

The point is that each and every and all of these, there have been very clear, very practical, very substantial, if you like, operational arguments and points that have been put forward that need to be taken account of in the planning, they weren’t and as a result the Council the community and everyone else got involved in a lot of embarrassment, a lot of fuss and a lot of headache over consequential appeals. My point is, essentially it is in your interests as planners as well as ours, that what goes forward as the blueprint is as realistic and as locally acceptable as possible. There may be different arguments for each of the sites. I’ve just indicated some of the reasons. The key point in all of this is to try and make sure that the points that are put forward in consultation are then reflected in what is ultimately delivered as the local development plan."

Malcolm MacLeod responded: “Point taken, what can I say? [...] and I totally agree. However, I always come back and say that in this wonderful world of yours where we all agree everything. Every bit of infrastructure or difficulty is sorted out before any developer appears. Frankly is not going to happen exactly as you say so eloquently, it’s just not going to happen. However, have I learned lessons about consulting in Nairn? Absolutely.”

Nigel goes a little bit viral

Prominent local No campaigner Nigel Hanlin appeared on the BBC's Question Time programme last night broadcast from Inverness. His appearance sparked some interest on the social media particularly twitter and this has been picked up and commented upon in the popular news  website Huffington Post and elsewhere. Huffpo article here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Affordable housing and Infrastructure - two more points from the CCs meeting on Monday night (7/7/14)

There were plenty of questions for Malcolm MacLeod, the Highland Council head of planning and building services, at the Nairnshire combined Community Council meeting when he came to town on Monday night. One woman said during the meeting at the Community and Arts Centre:

“Could you please explain why there is all this emphasis on must have houses, we need all these houses. We must build, we can build there, we can build there and we’ve only skimmed over infrastructure. At the moment Nairn is under pressure. The A96 is a disaster, Lochloy Road that used to be a quiet country road is now a danger area and you are proposing more traffic. Try and get an appointment with the doctor because the clinic has too many patients for the number of doctors. I don’t know what the situation in the schools is now but surely infrastructure should be there before houses?”

Malcom MacLeod responded: “Well we try to make sure that developments when they come along are capable being supportive with the infrastructure that is already there...”

“Not before the development up Lochloy!” came an interruption from the lady that asked the question.

Malcolm MacLeod didn’t get a chance to finish his point before someone else joined in with further points, including: “Everybody here, I bet there is not one person that would say we don’t want affordable housing because we have all been young. We all want a house. But you need to build houses nearer the schools, nearer the clinic and the surgery not across the river. Not causing all these traffic problems under the bridge and all the rest of it.  Why can’t you develop affordable housing where it is needed?

“Again I take your point. Unfortunately there aren’t always sites available for housing. We’ve got houses being built on the old bus station which as you recall had a chequered planning history in terms of getting consent.  That’s been built. That’ll provide, how many, 12?” Malcolm turned to Dick Youngson.

“12 ,” replied Dick but there were advances on that to 16 from the floor.

Malcom continued: “For young families right opposite the schools. That’s a good opportunity but there aren’t huge opportunities for these sites to unfold.

“There’s lots of derelict buildings on the High Street,” said another woman.

“And they may come forward for housing and we will support them. Unfortunately I don’t have compulsory purchase powers to march in and buy someone’s house and say...I wish we did in some ways because I think town centres are changing there’s got to be different uses in Nairn, perhaps more of a mix of flats above shops. It’s a perfectly good thing, we’ve put a lot of effort into it in Inverness.”

The meeting continued and we hope to bring you more notes from it when time permits

Gurn opinion:

It is perceived that there is space above shops etc and perhaps sites in the town centre for affordable housing. But life in a flat doesn’t suit everyone. Where do kids play? It isn’t so easy to have a pet in accommodation without a garden either is it? It might not look it but scattered over the town centre there are actually many different types of accommodation – shouldn’t a mix be maintained in the town centre too? Enough flats here for now perhaps? Then there is the infrastructure of the town centre. Take all the recent developments in the town centre affordable or otherwise such as Marine Flats and then consider Colin MacAulay’s “faecal fountains” on Brocher’s Brae comment. Can the town centre sewage infrastructure take much more? People that move into affordable housing are likely to have cars too so they too have just as much right to move into new schemes on the edge of town whether they are of the existing Kingsteps density or of the presently suggested level for the South Kingsteps land.

Today the Kingsteps objectors would probably find a lot of support across town, would that translate itself into another demonstration on the scale of the community’s reaction to South Nairn? This observer thinks that should the proposal for 90 houses on that site come through the scrutiny of a Scottish Government Reporter unscathed and go forward one day to a real planning application then the T-shirts and the banners just might come out again. Give Nairn a bypass however, and it will be a different ball game as access onto Lochloy Road would obviously be far less difficult, one of the major drawbacks would be removed, and accusations of nimbyism could find a target and settle into the public perception. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Planning high heid yin tells Nairn campaigner “I can’t argue with your figures, your figures are absolutely correct”

At the combined Nairnshire Community Councils planning meeting in the Community and Arts Centre on Monday night, Highland Council’s Malcolm MacLeod faced a grilling on many aspects of Highland Council’s planning policy locally. He spent some time in debate with Joan Noble

Joan Noble said: “Malcolm, you talk about housing pressure and I’m going to come right back to growth because the figures are just out from GR0 for 2013: Highland population grew by 0% this year – a big round zero. More deaths than births, 40 migrants. Now the plan is based on 1650 people coming in every year and we had 40. Now where’s this going, we said all along that you based your plan on 2007 when all the eastern Europeans were coming, there’s a housing crash, there’s a bubble. You haven’t budged an inch from that. You’re still working on maximum projections. The projections now are for 600 people a year and a 4.5% increase in the next 25 years. And you are wanting to build 2,100 houses a year for the whole of the Highlands and there’s 800 being built. You are wanting to build a 170 in Nairn and there’s 20 being built. Now this is the level it is at, It’s crackers, it’s absolutely crackers. These huge developments, 550 for Sandown, 300 for Delnies, God knows how many for Whiteness, Nairn South 600 for Nairn South and we are building 20 houses a year for the whole of Nairnshire. No wonder people are up in arms.”

Malcolm, the head of Planning and Building standards at Highland Council, replied “I can’t argue with your figures, your figures are absolutely correct. Obviously just to set the context for others perhaps in the room. We do try and be
Malcolm MacLeod on Monday night
Seated to his right and chairing the meeting
Dick Youngson. 
optimistic in our targets. Most people actually think that’s a good thing to do, to be aspirational about growth in the Highlands, to aim high but what it comes down to always is, and as we’ve talked about long and hard in the past: none of these houses are going to be built if people aren’t coming. You are absolutely right and it is disappointing that our population didn’t grow as much as we projected absolutely, and that’s disappointing, it’s extremely disappointing. Should we stop and say [...]let’s plan to stay as we are, let’s stay as we are? That’s not what our government wants, it’s not what our Council wants and I don’t think people are really, I mean, if I could just point out the other things that you think I have got wrong, but I don’t think everyone in this room, and perhaps everyone is at a certain age, or a lot of people are at a certain age where perhaps, people have moved on or whatever but I don’t think a lot of people in the community want us to say actually we want the Highlands to stay exactly as it is at the moment.”

Joan stressed: “You can’t make it happen by building houses.”

Malcom was quick to respond: “However, your point is very well made about population growth. The projections aren’t as high. Your objections on that basis will be going forward to the Reporter. We are at the moment right now preparing an updated area housing demand assessment which will take into account these up to date, and in some ways your foresight in saying you’re planning too high, you’ve been too optimistic, you’ve been too aspirational – it’s come true. We haven’t grown the way we hoped. So what we are doing, we are preparing as we are required to do, is preparing an up to date area housing need and demand assessment which will inevitably, inevitably, given some of these figures result in a lower growth profile but importantly it will always include a level or aspiration because that is where the council wants to be.
[...]The bottom line is, and this is where people get, people get, not one house will be built, there is no developer in the current climate who will build one house when they don’t have a customer. To say that we are going to have two and a half thousand houses built and stand empty, at the height of the boom in places like Ireland that’s what happened. It’s so far away from where we are now where not one house is built without a developer having a customer for it. “

Joan (left of picture) last September at the
 major  demonstration against the Nairn
South planning application
Joan had more to contribute to the conversation: “Why are you planning for these huge developments why can we not have developments which are in proportion to the town? Why can we not have 20 houses at Kingsteps? Why can we not have a hundred houses at Nairn South?”

“I feel strongly about planning for the long term and that’s what I feel strongly about. Your comments were well made and you’re right about your projections. They will go to the Reporter, we’ve adopted an optimistic approach, an ambitious approach to the growth of the Highlands and we try to make sure that when things happen there are houses available. Because if we wait and things start to pick up and suddenly we’re going “oh hang on a minute we’re going to need some houses” then we are always going to be in difficulty. I understand we’ve got something of a [...] opposed views on this and I totally appreciate where you’re coming from, " replied Malcolm

“Well you’ve planned for eight times as many houses as you are building Malcolm, something is wrong, it is all aspirational.” Joan made another point.

“Something actually is right by providing choice, you don’t actually end up whereby Nairn will be having one site which is coming forward and that is dangerous I think for the housing market,” said Malcolm.

More from Monday night’s meeting when time permits.