Friday, October 31, 2014

Highland Council's Nairn Common Good 14 year mega mistakes - £187K cash back - what Laurie said plus Gurn opinion

Laurie was even briefer than Colin when it came to commenting on the tragedy that was the failure of Highland Council to implement subsequent rent increases for the Lochloy Caravan site on the behalf of Nairn Common Good fund. This is the final post of four detailing what our elected representatives said in Glenurquhart Road Council chamber yesterday (scroll down the Gurn for the others) as the assembled 80 members and their top officials prostrated their municipal selves and paid public penance eastwards towards our community, Ker-ching a result and £187K into the Nairn Common Good fund till. Laurie said:

“I’ll just be very brief, centralisation, you can’t blame this on the District Council, that’s one thing we know. So I would just...I would want to see the District Council back again and take control of our Common Good in Nairn. “

Laurie was to add a little more but first there was an intervention from Independent Cllr Margaret Davidson, the Aird and Loch Ness member. She asked:

“Has the internal auditor’s report been presented to the Nairn Committee and in public?” 

The reply came that it was a personal report that had been done for the chief executive and it has not been made public.

Laurie then said: “Can I just come back on that. I was always hoping that that report would actually come into the public domain.” 

Jimmy Gray, chairing the meeting said that Derek Yule (the Director of Finance)had offered to discuss the matter with Cllr Davidson. There then followed the unanimous decision to pay back £187,000 to the Nairn Common Good Fund.

Gurn opinion:

In retrospect it is probably better to wait this long time to get this cash, if it had been coming in over the years when it should have been perhaps it might have been wasted in the same appalling way that the fund has apparently been administered in the past. Now our four members have the opportunity to fully consult with the public and work out ways of wisely using this cash to generate more capital for the Common Good and to ensure the people of Nairn enjoy the benefit that the exposure of this appalling episode has rightfully brought to us at last. 

On the matter of drawing a line under this as Liz and Colin suggest, this observer feels that that cannot be done until the report that went to the Chief Executive is in the public domain and the citizens of Nairn can actually find out the full details of how these errors were made.

Highland Council's Nairn Common Good 14 year howler - £187K cash back - what Colin said

Cllr Colin MacAulay was much briefer than Liz or Michael when he spoke to the chamber in Glenurquhart Road as the corporate entity that is Highland Council held its head in collective shame and contrition over the appalling administration of Nairn Common Good funds, he said:

“I was going to begin mine with “least said soonest mended”. I don’t any point in rubbing salt in anybody’s wounds over this. The key issue I think really is to thank the people who unearthed it and to thank the Council for holding its hands up and admitting liability. I really am grateful to Derek and particularly to Louise, Liz and Lyn. Going forward I think the Nairn community need to be confident that basically, common good assets are being given a thorough airing every month at ward business meetings. They are also now being given a very public scrutiny at Area Committee meetings and we should all be embarrassed over this not just the four Nairn trustees. Trustees going back through the years but all 80 of us. We are all the guardians of that. We did let people down and I’m grateful to Derek and hopefully people today in terms of recompensing Nairn. Thanks very much. "

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Red Cross shop to open Thurs 13th November

Work is proceeding well at the new Red Cross Charity Shop on Nairn High Street and the Gurn hears that the shop will probably open around 11 am on Thursday the 13th of November. 


Highland Council's Nairn Common Good 14 year blunder - £187K cash back - what Michael said

When he got his turn in the Glenurquhart Road chamber earlier today Cllr Michael Green said:

"I’ve got three points to make. The first point, I’d like to put on record my appreciation to the way that Highland Council has addressed this difficult issue and especially I’d like to thank Derek Yule and David Hass, they have worked through, they have established the facts and put forward what I think is an honourable and equitable proposal to recompense the Nairn Common Good Fund so I would just like to make that clear that we are very appreciative of the efforts that you guys have put up. 

The second point I’d like to make and there’s only three so bear with me. And some may disagree with this, it’s what I view, this is a serious aspect here, is a failure of oversight and governance by longstanding and existing members of the Council. These are Nairn trustees, there’s some have retired, some are, as I say current members. When I was first elected in 2012 one of the first things I did was to ask our then full time manager, Louise Clark, what were the terms and conditions surrounding the Parkdean lease. A hundred year lease with reviews every seven years in line with RPI and the next review is due in November 2013. [...] Late in 2013 it was not the 10 to fifteen percent uplift I was expecting but a near doubling of the current Parkdean rental. Having been involved with commercial property both as owner and letting I knew exactly what had happened. Several rent reviews had been missed. We’re very well trained here at the Highland Council it’s been one of the more pleasant aspects of the job. We’re very well trained, we’re very well trained in governance. We know what best practice is, we know what to expect – that’s assuming that you turn up for the training. However, the Parkdean lease is our main source of income. It dwarfs everything else, it’s the one thing that dominates the Common Good. I’m not expecting existing councillors over the years to go in for detailed forensic analysis of individual leases although that would be nice but I would expected a degree of curiosity as to why over a period of 14 years our prime source of income had not increased. 

Unfortunately for Nairn Common Good fund and for the citizens on the Highlands who have to pay up – Nairn Common Good is not losing out for this and that’s Highland Council doing the honourable thing by recompensing the Common Good – we are not losing out but the citizens of the Highlands are going to have to foot the bill for the 187,000. That’s the real downside of this.

The third and last point, you will be glad to hear, I’ve retitled “Pandora’s Box”. The reason I’ve put this, I don’t think – well – I likened the old relationship between the Highland Council and the Common Good fund, I used the family analogy that it was an orphan with the role of the Highland Council as a foster parent with Nairn Common Good fund as an orphan. The foster parent is doing just enough to keep it out of the clutches of the authorities who I would see in the role of Audit Scotland. Currently things have improved dramatically, there’s far greater reporting, we are getting monitoring reports. It’s not ideal but it is a step forward in the right direction. [...] However, to get confidence and this is an important point, to get confidence back in the Nairn Common Good fund and to get folk to ultimately make bequests, to leave houses, to actually see the Common Good fund as a transformational vehicle that can build houses, affordable houses for people; that can buy shops; that could take shops on the High Street and let them out to people from Nairn. It can be a vehicle for change. To get there we need a new arrangement. 

And when I say Pandora’s Box, what I mean is we need to look at a new arrangement empowering communities. It’s getting the Community Councils, it’s getting a greater voice for Nairn people in the role of their Common Good as in the life of the town. [...] That we form some sort of forum, a new relationship whereby there is a way that Community Councils and individuals can express their wishes for the Common Good. 

Michael then tried to continue but was cut short by Jimmy Gray who told Michael he had already had three points. Realising his time was up Michael quipped: “We’ll take the cash!”

Highland Council's Nairn Common Good 14 year admin disaster - £187K cash back - what Liz said

Jimmy Gray introduced the item which detailed the Highland Council’s failure and responsibility to pay back cash lost to the fund and then said : “Can we just agree that members?” It wasn’t to be though as Councillors wanted to speak. 

Liz was first up after an official spoke she said: “I think one of the really positive things of having the Area Committee is that we have been able to discuss this matter over the period of the last year at three or four area committees that we’ve had. I think in the past there has been lack of scrutiny and there has been suspicion from the public about how the Common Good funds were being administered. So having the area committee has meant that we have been much more transparent and everything has been done openly. I would definitely like to thank the members of the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey area committee for their patience because lots of sensitive reports have been coming forward and Nairn members in particular were under significant pressure for more information and I’m grateful for their support so the issue was given time and it could be dealt with properly, investigated and that proposals were given the chance to be worked at to the stage that we are at today. 

Our previous ward manager Louise Clark had identified the problem and our present ward manager Liz Cowie and her assistant Lyn Maclennan have been working very hard to sort out the matter and develop practices and procedures to ensure Nairn Common Good has proper record keeping and robust management and scrutiny going forward. Over the year there has been substantial support from Council officers considering the Common Good. From the Chief Exec to the finance, legal, audit and Inverness City manager and I would like to thank them all for their endeavours. It has taken a long time and a massive amount of effort to get us to this point. [...] Today we have to decide which option we are going to support for cash restitution and all the Nairn members support option 1. As Derek mentioned the financial implications for both options are the same for the Council and I would like to propose that we opt for option 1 because this would bring the problem to an end, draw a line under it and we can hopefully move on with more positive management of Nairn Common Good. So I hope we can unanimously agree this proposal and we all have a duty to administer the Common Good funds and there have been significant improvements in the way we carry out this duty in the last year and moving forward it should be much more positive.

Highland Council to give Nairn Common Good £187K cashback - hands up to past mega-failure

It went through unanimously after about 12 minutes of statements from local members; Jimmy Gray chairing the meeting cut Michael Green short, plus one intervention from Cllr Margaret Davidson asking if a background report on the failure was in the public domain - it wasn't. 

Further background in this previous Gurn article.

more later.

County support from the roof of the world - picture from Chris MacKinnon

"Everywhere else in Scotland and in Highland a Community Enterprise body with over a 1000 members would be regarded as a great starting point."

There was a frank and considerably broad soul-searching episode last night at the NICE AGM in the Community Centre. Alistair Noble wished to encourage conversation about progress (or the lack of it so far). NICE will find it extremely hard to move forward until they find a new potential tenant to move into the Old Social Work Buildings – Gurnites will remember that a childcare business set to move into the Social Work buildings pulled out and headed for the Rosebank Church instead. There was much expressed too about the sincerity of Highland Council as a partner to the Community Enterprise body although Cllr Michael Green was present to attempt to soothe nerves and add some perspective from that direction. There were gloomy currents but streams of optimism too – a feeling that success is still possible and that everyone can move forward positively for the benefit of the common good. Over the next few days, if time permits the Gurn will detail some of the opinions heard last night 

NICE now comprises a membership of 1065 (three signing on the night) and there were around 60 members present and 51 others sent their apologies. 

Here is the Chairman’s report from Alistair Noble which set the tone for the evening’s proceedings:

“ I was going to start as a keen gardener by saying we have done a lot of spade work and soon we will be ready to plant and see things growing! But and it is a big but we as directors and a large number of NICE members have to put a lot of time and energy into developing a track record and saying we have delivered proposal x and are working in partnership with all other agencies and the blunt truth is that amount of time and effort is not producing the results we expected. 

Everywhere else in Scotland and in Highland a Community Enterprise body with over a 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. 

Why is that not happening with NICE?

It seems amazing to me that a group of people who have a proven track record of working in many different ways for the Common Good of Nairnshire are seen as being difficult and somehow to be stopped. It will come as no great surprise that I do not think Nairnshire has had its Fair Share of resources in the boom times. I therefore will be arguing along with all of Nairnshire that we should not pay an equal share of the cuts. 

To the Future then and how we make NICE work.

We will work in partnership with all agencies. The work of the combined Community Councils is helping to deliver a new Nairnshire Plan. The bypass is looking realistic at last. We will work with the HC on town centre regeneration. We are in serious discussions with other partners to help this happen. The right to buy again is important as the various schemes progress.

The harbour/river/flooding/sewage needs some serious thinking and expenditure but it has to be done. We will do all we can to make it work.

Sandown and the wetlands are again linked to the best use of the Common Good and wea rea again working in partnership to help deliver these proposals. 

We have always argued that Nairnshire needs to develop and improve to compete with all the other tourist, retirement and places to live and work competition it faces. 

We are helping the Nairn People and the Integrated Health and Social care services to develop the Nairnshire capacity it deserves, with a Fair share budget. 

This is a time of great opportunity for Nairnshire. In thanking my fellow directors for all their hard work I would also like to thank the CC chairs and members for their input. 

We need a frank discussion with our members tonight about the way forward. I look to the 2015 report for a much cheerier future."

River CC update their internet prescence and put "Nairn River Enterprise" documents online

River Community Council have recently added more pages to their website. You can now access all the minutes for 2014 from one page. There is also a page that links to copies of letters they have recently written. A new page too for the nascent River CC creation "Nairn River Enterprise" which contains some documents and minutes of the new organisation's meetings so far. 

Nairn River Enterprise's steering group includes three Highland Councillors, Laurie Fraser, Colin MacAulay and Liz MacDonald, Tommy Hogg and Simon Noble of River CC, the Rev Steven Manders, Archire McLaren of Broadley Garden Centre, Gill MacLean CAB manager, Susan Jardine and Nicola MacKenzie of Highland Council Employability service and Raymond Barton the manager of Sainsbury's. 

It certainly looks like River Enterprise have the active backing and involvement of Highland Council. More details on the River Community Council pages here. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Nairn bypass by 2019 if all goes well?

Early yesterday the town’s Community Councils met up with Transport Scotland and their bypass consultants Jacobs. Dick Youngson, chairing the joint meeting of West and Suburban CCs, told those assembled last night in Nairn Academy:

“We had a very good meeting with them and we really sort of confirmed the route, the timescale and almost the finished date of our section.”

Dick added that they pointed out some of the areas where Transport Scotland could look again, particularly areas where farms where seriously bisected but that really the route has been chosen and that he thought that they would stick with it. Dick went on to say that it was the most cost effective route. 

On time-scale Dick said: “We’re really talking about two years to identify contractors and to get the valuers in to negotiate acquisitions, compulsory purchase orders, settling compensation. That will be done quite quickly. Again crossing the railway, there will be accommodations with Railtrack, again quite quickly, once we know what sections of the that are being upgraded to twin track. That obviously dictates the size and length of the railway bridge. It’ll take them three years to build the section from Inverness to the east end of our bypass so almost from now, from today, five years on, if everything goes well; if everything runs, we’ll have a bypass. That’s what the timescale is.”

Dick added that the rest of the A96 route would be finished by 2030. Graham Kerr added a caveat on funding though, he said: 

“Whether the 3 year contract period will start right away, whether five years will see the back of it – there could well be a gap in the middle whilst the funding has to be found.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The cuts - Time for Highland Council to tell us just what might go from Nairn?

Earlier this week we posted an article concerning a recent meeting for Highland Council workforce members in Nairn. At that meeting the Gurn understands that outcomes concerning potential forthcoming cuts were discussed. Our article: "Threat to Nairn's Balblair Road Council depot" is here. 

We asked the Council the precise nature of that meeting and whether it concerned redundancies. This is the prompt reply we got on Monday morning.

"Staff received a briefing in advance of Phase 2 of the Council’s budget consultation starting later this week. The meeting was about service provision and budget pressures and not a meeting to discuss redundancies specifically. No decisions about changes have been made as Phase 2 of the consultation has not happened."

Tonight STV state on their website: "Highland Council expects to shed 1000 jobs over the next four years as a result of £64m worth of budget cuts." More on the STV site here.

Gurn opinion: In a vacuum rumours will abound. It is now time for the Highland Council to put any information released to the local workforce into the public domain. We have the right to know just how our local services may be affected and then we can digest that information and form an opinion as to whether we think any outcomes are fair to our community and what is the amount of job losses that we might see because once these sort of jobs are gone from Nairn they won't return. 

Sunday was citizens action day - cuts hit the Riverside

The wind had been in the willows overnight into Sunday morning and there were a couple of blockages on the riverside paths. Citizen Murd headed home and swiftly returned equipped to remove the inconvenience for river walkers. 


Nearby, as this picture was taken, another citizen was clearing the riverside of litter. Murd says he often sees people out and about picking up rubbish in these popular areas. 

Cearcall Comhraidh Inbhir Narann - Disathairne


The Community side of gardening and horticulture - events that might interest Gurnshire enthusiasts

Two events that enthusiasts out there may be interested in. Information has only reached us recently and they are short notice but some of the gardeners out there in Gurnshire may be interested.

1) 31st October 2014.  Inverness Community Garden Networking Day (FCFCG in association with Trellis) 9.45am-4pm, Town House, High Street, Inverness. More details here.

2)  Orchard Gathering  2014. Victoria Halls, Dunblane, Fri 7th Nov, 10am-10.30pm. More details here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nairn Common Good - Highland Council's 187K failure to implement rent rises for the caravan site - hands up and pay back time on Thursday?

There is a full meeting of the Highland Council on Thursday (30th October). One of the items on the agenda is "Nairn Common Good Fund, Restitution of Rental Income – Lochloy Caravan"

A report going before the Council can be accessed by clicking on item 18 of the agenda on this page here.

The report states in relation to the Council's failure to implement rent rises in relation to the caravan site: "...As a result £0.187m has been lost in both increased rent and interest as a result of the Council’s failure to meet the standard of administration reasonably expected. £0.147m relates to the loss of rental income; and £0.040m relates to the loss of interest on that money, based on the average rate of interest earned by the Council in each year over the period on other investment funds."

At the end of the  the report (signed by Derek Yule, Director of Finance and David Haas, Inverness  City Manager) their are recommendations made to the Council.

"Council is invited to:

i. Agree to accept that the Council has not met the standard of administration expected in respect of its duty to manage the funds and assets of the Nairn Common Good Fund account under control of the Council.

ii. Agree to pay restitution to the Nairn Common Good Fund Account totalling£0.187m. 

iii. Consider whether the Council should pay a cash settlement to NCGF or write down its investment in the Sandown Lands, as per paragraph 3.2

iv. Note progress with the ongoing review of the Nairn Common Good Fund."

Nairn A&E closed again from 20.30 Sunday (26th) evening though to Monday (27th) morning at 08.30

Nairn 3 Strathspey 0 - pictures from Donald Matheson



Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here.

Threat to Nairn's Balblair Road Council Depot?

The Gurn understands that members of the Highland Council's workforce were called in earlier this week to a meeting connected with forthcoming budget cuts. The Gurn also understands that among possible outcomes may be the closure of the Balblair Road Depot and/or transfer of some employees to Inverness. 


The Gurn has asked Highland Council for more information about the meeting.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Nairn 3 Strathspey 0 - Pictures Kenny MacLeod



Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here. 

A riverside tree to watch out for on these windy days?


Our Riverside correspondent Murd tells us that he believes that the tree pictured above (just below the Whinnieknowe brae and sheltered housing) has shifted a little after a branch recently fell off the supporting tree. The Gurn understands that Murd has alerted River Community Council and hopes they will push his concerns up the municipal chain towards Highland Council.  Larger image of tree here. Worth a look upwards when passing this spot perhaps?

Stunning video of Nairn Beach and Cawdor Castle shot by holidaymaker


"Just a we" video I created after our couple of days away in Nairn. Can't wait to get back next year," said PDG05 on their Youtube page.

A&E at Nairn closed Sat 25th 20.30 thru to Sun 26 8.30

"Highland Council owes Nairn Common Good Fund £187,000 for 14 year old clerical error." says Donna

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chalk drawings on Castle Lane Square

Some interesting chalk drawings on Castle Lane Square today. Good to see this public space used creatively. They might still be there in the morning if the overnight weather is kind. The Gurn understands that it was a fundraiser during the day to raise awareness of Children's mental health issues. 
Click the picture to enlarge. 


Former Blockbuster Store to become Bookies with 2-bedroom flat on first floor? - planning application submitted

A planning application that has been lodged with Highland Council as follows:

" Existing ground floor retail unit by change of use into class 2, betting office. Existing part retail unit, part assembly space on first floor to be converted into a 2-bedroom flat."

Moshi's to go seasonal

The picture is self-explanatory. A bit of a shame it'll be shut over the winter - a good spot for a latte and a blether.


Nairn 0 Wick 0 pictures from Donald Matheson



Individual images here. 

Alex Salmond v Danny Alexander in May 2015?

Last night Alex Salmond hinted on the BBC's Question Time that he may stand for a Westminster seat at the next General Election in May. When asked by David Dimbleby he replied:

"“The answer to your question, David, absolutely, decisively, I can tell you I haven’t made up my mind. So you’ll have to wait and see. But I tell you what, when I do make up my mind, you invite me back on to Question Time and I’ll tell you why I did it."

Interestingly the SNP have not yet selected a candidate for the Inverness, Nairn, Badeonoch and Strathspey seat of Danny Alexander yet. If Alex decides to go for it could it be that he might fancy taking Danny's scalp?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nairn 0 Wick 0 - pictures from @KennyMacleod1

Individual images here. 

High Street retail investment in action


Tons of concrete being poured into the High Street Co-op. Just across the road shopfitters were busy working late too in the former DE shoe shop that is soon to become a Red Cross Charity Shop.

‘Cooking on a budget’ courses for healthy eating

CHANGEWORKS and Calman Trust are working in partnership to deliver an exciting, new H-eat Well Project across Highland. The aim of the project is to enable people to cook healthy food affordably and to better manage their energy use. 

Calman will deliver ‘cooking on a budget’ courses supporting individuals to manage food costs and eat healthily on a low budget. Participants will learn: basic food prep and kitchen equipment skills; how to eat healthily on a low budget and save costs by meal planning; where to shop, food storage, and using kitchen energy efficiently. Participants will be given basic store cupboard ingredients and learn to plan around these and how to enhance nutrition by introducing fresh ingredients. 

The cooking classes will be held once a week over a six week period. The cooking sessions will run in a relaxed, informal environment and the participants will learn to cook a variety of dishes that they can easily replicate at home. 

Calman will deliver the classes in the local community and will engage local Good Food Volunteers to work along- side our Good Food Officer in running the classes. Once the 6 week block is complete the Volunteers may wish to continue running the cooking classes and Calman will encourage and support them in doing so. 

Changeworks, through their Affordable Warmth Advisor, will deliver affordable warmth workshops, home visits and surgeries, providing face to face advice and information so that people feel more in control of their energy use covering a range of energy related issues, for example: how to reduce household fuel costs, how to read fuel bills/meters, how to use the heating system; support to negotiate with a fuel supplier or switch tariff, and support liaising with other agencies and housing providers. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the project including the cooking classes and/or the volunteering opportunities please contact Fiona, the Good Food Officer on: 07730 141512. 

The application form for this project is available on the Nairn Healthcare website – www.nairnhealthcare.co.uk under the “Forms” section or you could pick up an application form from the surgery.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Strategy Plan from NICE for the River Nairn and Harbour area (includes new deep water outer harbour)

Recently Cllr Michael Green criticised NICE on the lack of action over proposals on harbour development - seem more in this article here: "Working in Partnership is a two-way street". It looks like his concerned comments have prompted action.

NICE's AGM will be taking place in the Community and Arts Centre on Wednesday the 29th and yesterday the organisation published a strategy document for the River and Harbour on their website. In it they state a wide range of outcomes they wish to achieve. On the river they would like to see the following:
"No more gravel extraction from river bed.

Careful thought and restrictions on more pool engineering with SNH and SEPA input as well as Fisheries Board.

Walking path to Firhall with new Firhall Bridge.

Flood risk alleviation by extracting gravel at mouth of river /harbour basin

No extra pollution/storm water to be directed into River Nairn from future development"

They have also published a similar set of actions for the Harbour including: "New harbour design with deep water outer harbour to allow for bigger marina/touring Scandinavian / German boats." They also want to see more flooding protection for the Fishertown and action on sewage. More details here.

NICE are also hopeful of "defining a use" for the Old Social Work Buildings at the AGM. They state in another article: 

"We believe that the only way to make progress on the OSWB and town centre development in general is to sit round the table with our four local councillors and draw up an agreed agenda. This we have now agreed to do before the AGM. As a Community Development Trust we can bring certain things to the table that the local authority cannot so it makes perfect sense to work together. We look forward to our meeting and hope we’ll be able to define a use for the OSWB that will see it used for the benefit of the community." More here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Viewfield Stables available for lease

"The subjects comprise a ground and first floor former stable block. The unit has been sub-divided internally at ground floor level although subject to securing all necessary consents, may be reconfigured to provide open plan space."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Developers say feedback shows 91% support for Lidl led retail gateway to Nairn

The development company behind plans for further retail development in Nairn has announced details of feedback received from its public consultation event held in the Nairn Community Centre on 26th September.

A spokesman for Ziran Land said:
"We were very pleased with the level of interest in our proposals and estimate 200 or more visitors to our public exhibition event. From the 110 feedback forms received to date, we currently have 91% support and 9% unsupportive or undecided. We also had a very good attendance at our exhibition preview and we estimate some 20 or so community councillors from across Nairn and other community leaders attended. Concerns over the future of Nairn town centre were voiced and other important considerations including the proposed Nairn by-pass also added to the debate."

Ziran Land's consultants will be meeting with planners at The Highland Council later this month for pre-application discussions prior to the planning application being lodged in November.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Local CAB says: "Nairnshire residents could save £££ if they take control of their heating"

Nairnshire households could save £75 a year

· Four fifths of people believe they understand their heating controls

· Yet HALF misuse energy when they turn up their thermostat

· Nearly 40 per cent of people think it’s more efficient to leave the heating on all the time

· And only a quarter of bill payers have changed energy supplier in the last year

· Campaign launches heating myth-buster and urges customers to switch supplier

Fort William 1 Nairn 3 - Pictures from Donald Matheson



Individual images here. Also images by Mashy Young here. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekend miscellany

One of our regular readers has had a wee gurn about overhanging brambles and vegetation on the brae that runs alongside Mill Road (image here). Our correspondent claims that they are scratching vehicles. And further up as the road ventures into Church Street, another one of our regulars, Murd, tells us that he is surprised to see that the unofficial 10 m.p.h. sign (image here) is still attached to a post outside the Vic. Murd told the Gurn that a local Highland Councillor had told him some time ago that it was illegal and that it would be removed. 

Another warm day and another large intake of holidaymakers down at Parkdean Lochloy, they could be seen venturing out beyond the site and across the Bailey Bridge today as they enjoyed the October sunshine. A gale is promised over what remains of the weekend but still the temperature doesn’t look like it is dropping in the short term. A wee bit about the local caravan site here on the company’s main site blog here – an article that details a recent VisitScotland upgrade for the local site. 

Nairn County pick up three points at Fort William  today by winning 1-3. They are now exactly mid-table. Earlier this week they inflicted a 7-1 defeat on Wednesday night’s visitors to Station Park, Rothes. Perhaps that tally can be seen in another light this evening with the shock news that Rothes beat Forres 5-2 at home today – the Highland League is full of surprises this season. Nairn County will find a true test of their mettle this coming Wenesday night however when the league leaders Wick come to town for yet another mid-week fixture. 

Tommy Hogg, in his capacity of Chair of River CC, gets quoted in the Press and Journal today in relation to developing news about the proposed development at Balmakeith. Tommy told the P&J: 

“We have had the chance to discuss the proposals at our own meeting and a joint community council meeting and I would say most people are welcoming the idea.“Of course there’s a few people who are concerned that it might harm the town centre but I think on the whole it will be a good thing.” 

A recent YouGov poll (drilled down into regions) pointed to Labour falling behind the Tories in Scotland. The Tories were on 20% and Labour on 19%. Quite a drop but only one poll, subsequent polls will see just how deep the defections to the SNP have been and whether this is a permanent move for many folk. The LibDems are on 9%. See the poll details in full here. Scottish constituencies have their quirks however, so maybe things might not be quite so bad for Danny on his home turf. What better place to look than the bookies for immediate guidance – Danny it looks very tight for you according to William Hill but it’s a long way to the finishing line in May.

Re housing, here is a comment we received on this South Nairn thread:

"My husband and I both work in Nairn, our children are at school in Nairn, my husband was brought up in Nairn. We have been on the council list for about 15 years even after he has served his country in the Army. We are not in a position to buy a house. We are homeless in two months. Nairn needs housing at reasonable rents not extortionate private rents with no stability. We have even had to apply to Moray council as they have been building more properties. We dont want to move out of Nairn but may have to."

More evidence, if any were ever needed, that it is time for Highland Council to get off its collective backside and build some social housing on Sandown – or empower/enable the community to do it! It’s Nairn’s land – let’s have houses for Nairn residents  that are on the waiting list and sooner rather than later please.

Sin agad e bhuamsa a-nochd a chàirdean, bidh sinn air ais aig an aon am a-maireach - that's it from us tonight  folks, we'll be back at the same time tomorrow. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Planning application for Lidl and other stores at Balmakeith goes online on Highland Council e-planning site

The plans can be viewed on the Council's e-planning site here. Although the application is now available on line the Council state: "Sorry, we are not currently accepting comments from the public on this application."

Update:
Earlier today we published information from a letter that had appeared on the Council's e-planning file for this application. The Gurn understands that the letter had been erroneously placed on line and was in fact a private communication and has since been removed by the Council. We decided that it would be appropriate for us to remove that information from this article  at this time. 

We also contacted the developers for some clarification. A Ziran Land spokesperson told the Gurn:

"I can confirm detailed negotiations with Home Bargains are advancing as are negotiations with family restaurant operators. I must stress nothing is finalised as yet. We are also talking to other operators interested in coming to Nairn whose size requirement cannot be accommodated within the town centre.

Meanwhile we are very keen to meet with representatives of the Nairn community to discuss direct regeneration initiatives for the town centre that we are considering."

Nairn 7 Rothes 1 pictures from Donald Matheson



Individual images here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Alexander Brodie and the gate affair - update

"A clan chief offered to concede defeat in his long-running battle with Highland Council over access to a nature reserve yesterday.

But Alexander Brodie of Brodie’s concession to allow free passage through the gate on his late grandfather’s estate was rejected by the local authority at a civil hearing at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday."  More on the P& J site here.

Flashback to Dec 1st 2012 and Alexander Brodie installing the controversial gate

Nairn River Enterprise – Social enterprise satellite of River CC – just about leaves the drawing board?

Gurnites will remember perhaps this article back in July when we detailed the £5,000 that River CC had been awarded by the Highland Council Area Committee’s Deprived Area fund to look at ways to take this forward. At the time Simon Noble said: 

“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”

“Nairn River Enterprise” now has a committee all of its own and seems to have a semi-independent orbit out in the community. Simon updated his colleagues at River CC’s regular meeting last week, he told them:

“We have appointed a consultant to support us in setting up a social enterprise. The working title at the moment is Nairn River Enterprise. That social enterprise will be intended to be used as the vehicle for taking over, taking responsibility under the Community Challenge fund for maintenance of grounds in the Nairn area. The consultant is going to help us in our discussions with Highland Council Community Services department to work out what maybe the parcel of work that the enterprise can take on and will also help us with developing a business plan and submission for funds to our advantage to get the enterprise rolling.”

Simon went on to say that they were under quite a lot of pressure to meet community enterprise target dates and the timetable wasn’t clear but the aim was to establish a social enterprise as soon as an agreement could be agreed with Highland Council’s Community Challenge fund. 

Chair of River CC, Tommy Hogg, said to Simon: “I was quite surprised you said it was just for the grass cutting, I was under the impression that it was actually for the benefit of the riverside.”

Simon said: “What we agreed at the River Enterprise meeting a couple of meetings ago, that would be either July or August, was that our first target was to establish the enterprise on the basis of the Community Challenge Fund. Then we would be aiming to move on to expand the activity of the enterprise to include the riverside regeneration project and also the recycling and reuse project.”

Simon Noble was quizzed about the remit of the consultant, when the minutes of the enterprise would be in the public domain and if the consultant was local. There seemed to be a desire on the behalf of River CC members to know more about their first born satellite organisation. Good to know what your bairns are doing out there perhaps?

County calm critics and roll over Rothes with seven goals

An impressive performance at Station Park as the rampant Wee County crush Rothes and placate those fans criticising lack of progress so far this season. A report is available on the Highland News site here. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A fabulous Christmas lights show in Nairn and citizens DIY decorations on the tree a thing of the past perhaps?

Gurnites will remember that last Christmas several citizens set about decorating the Christmas tree themselves as the Council didn't have the cash to do anything with the bare spruce set up on the Royal Bank grass. 

Speaking at the River Community Council meeting last week Michael Green was enigmatic but he promised a "fabulous" Christmas celebration. He said:

"You will be absolutely amazed at Christmas when the lights are switched on." Michael told the meeting that he will be seeking cash help from the town's community councils to help pay for the event. 

He then continued: "I wish I could tell you all about it but I've got to get permission and I could prejudice it if I told you what it was."

Landowners compensation for A96 bypass

Article on line on P&J site here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NICE to work with Nairn Citizen’s Advice Bureau for joint use of the Old Social Work Building?

One of the proposals on the agenda for the NICE AGM on  Wednesday the 29th of October is for the organisation to work with the CAB in joint use of the Old Social Work building. 

Other items include a proposal to establish a subsidiary company to deliver the Sandown Park & Wetlands Project. The Wetlands project has, for several years, been a mainstay of Nairn Suburban Community Council's vision for future use of the Sandown Lands.

Another item states: "Discussion of “Developing a Partnership Approach” with Highland Council in relation to the recent Charrette for the Town Centre." Action on the town centre post-charrette has been very slow. The recent proposal for a Lidl store at Balmakeith has has also brought town centre affairs back into the public arena so it will be interesting to see if NICE develop a position on the issue of a new supermarket and associated development at Balmakeith.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stricken nuclear waste ship - Coastguard apologise to prominent Highland politician over call he received

The coastguard has apologised for an error which exposed a serious failing in its basic knowledge of Scotland’s coastline, according to a prominent Highland politician.

The apology followed the dramatic fire on board a vessel carrying nuclear waste off the northeast coast.

As the incident was dealt with on Wednesday night, Highland Council deputy leader David Alston, watching TV at home on the Black Isle, was shocked to receive a phone call from Aberdeen Coastguard asking: “Is the vessel safely alongside?”

The call referred to the Danish-registered MV Parida which was being anchored off nearby Invergordon after losing power and drifting.

Mr Alston happens to be chairman of a charity that maintains the tiny Cromarty Harbour.

Aberdeen Coastguard had confused the hamlet with the giant Cromarty Firth Port Authority.

Concerned about the future of nuclear cargoes sailing down Scotland’s west coast where there are currently no emergency tugs for towing stricken ships, Mr Alston said: “We’re basically being asked to trust a system that isn’t good enough. They didn’t know the difference between our small Cromarty harbour and the Cromarty Firth Port Authority.”

The fire-ravaged Parida had been transporting radioactive waste from Scrabster to Antwerp in Belgium. After losing power it drifted towards an oil platform in the Moray Firth sparking a precautionary evacuation of the rig.

It was finally towed to Invergordon where police said there was no risk to the public.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “We should emphasise that prior to this call being made to Councillor Alston, the Aberdeen Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was in regular contact with Cromarty Firth Port Control over a 24-hour period, on the correct contact number.

“Having checked the incident log and call records it appears that the call in question was made after an operator incorrectly dialled a Cromarty Harbour contact who provided a further (wrong) number to call.

“This put the operator directly in contact with Cllr Alston. The operator realised his mistake and, after ending the call to Cllr Alston, immediately called Cromarty Firth Port Control.

“Aberdeen Coastguard watch-keepers fully understand the difference between Cromarty Harbour and Cromarty Firth Port Control and this error was purely the result of selecting a number from a general information file, rather than our primary contacts directory.

“We apologise for any inconvenience or concern caused to Cllr Alston by this one-off error.”

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Brora 3 Nairn 0 - Pictures from Donald Matheson and Kenny MacLeod


Individual images here.

Kenny MacLeod's pictures

Individual images here.

Landmark Nairn Mosaic finished – images from opening celebration at the Little Theatre

The mosaic has finally been completed and Fiona Rodger’s creation can now be seen in its full glory on the side wall of the Little Theatre. The mosaic mural is already one of the must see spots for visitors to Nairn  and Fiona tells the Gurn she is looking for another site for the next mural. That would certainly be an idea for the Community Councils, town centre project worthies and other funders and organisations to get behind. We could certainly do with more of this kind of artwork in our public spaces. Congratulations Fiona a brilliant piece of work.
 

Fiona in the Fishertown sunshine yesterday  11/10/14
Fiona asked if any Gurn readers with pictures of the mosaic in progress in recent years could perhaps forward them to her - owing to a digital disaster she lost her record of images of the project. More pictures from yesterday afternoon here.

Lidl at Balmakeith proposal – a view emerging from Auldearn CC?

Auldearn Community Council discussed the Lidl store proposal at their regular meeting in the Dunbar Hall on Wednesday night. 

Roger Milton, chairing the meeting, and opening the topic up for discussion said: “I’ve already been at few meetings that it’s been discussed at and there’s a variety of views.” 

One member of the public who was not against the store said immediately in response to Roger’s call for views: “The roundabout as it is at the moment is not fit for purpose. There have been a lot of near misses; I think that needs to be looked at.” 

Roger then said: “There’s a fair degree of general feeling that the shop itself isn’t a bad idea but there’s a lot of people that feel that it is in the wrong place.”

Talk moved onto a possible town centre site for a supermarket and David Browness (at Sandy Park’s expense) joked: “there’s a gentleman sat at the back of the room who knows a bit about that.”

Roger added: A lot of Sandy’s life was fighting to try and get a supermarket in the centre of town so the difficulties and the resistance that the developers have to doings something like that even if the site is big enough.”

David Brownless then said: “There have been some changes since Sainsbury’s was built it’s now adopted by the Scottish Government the policy town centre first where, in theory, the developer has to prove that it isn’t possible to develop in the town centre before they grant permission out of town. [...] The Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan doesn’t actually zone the area beyond Sainsbury’s which is there at the moment. [...] It’s amazing how many people in the town, even those who in food retailing, have nothing against Lidl coming into Nairn at all but they would much rather have it in the town centre than out of town. I think people will eventually realise that out of town really does not an awful lot for the benefit of the town centre and I just wonder whether by crucifying every single town before the penny finally drops.”

This observer then asked David about town centre parking for a new store. Gurnites will know that sometimes it can be hard to get parked in the town centre. David admitted that that was a problem.

Meanwhile whilst on supermarket manoeuvres again, the Courier stated in an article on Friday that Sainsbury's were trying to get into Inverness:

"Sainsbury’s said any new store would not impact on its £20 million outlet in Nairn, which opened four years ago, and confirmed that it was considering several sites in Inverness.

A spokesman said: "We would like to be in Inverness, as the Nairn store is doing really well." More here. 

Gurn Opinion:

The battle here will be between those consumers that will want to see Lidl on the outskirts of town and those that are proponents of the town centre supermarket argument as promoted in the past by Sandy and previous administrations. The idea of a larger supermarket in the town centre is perhaps the brainchild of a different age now and might have worked in the last millennium but is less than appealing to any developer today. There will be those who argue that saying to Lidl you should go into the town centre is just another way of telling them to get lost. The Ziran Land proposal will eventually find its way to the Highland Council planning department and onto the e-planning site. There has been a trend since that site went live a few years ago for more and more Nairn residents to submit their thoughts on planning applications - no doubt the possible Lidl venture will attract considerable comment too – another Nairn controversy coming up for the planning committee to consider?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Nairn bypass - Auldearn CC consider the effects of the preferred route around the village

On Wednesday night in the Dunbar Hall, Roger Milton, the chair of Auldearn Community Council outlined some of the effects of the Nairn Bypass preferred route that he thought were unacceptable. He said:

"I don’t think the Granny Barbour’s Road should be blocked off. It is a very important thoroughfare. There are many other thoroughfares if you look back across the maps that have been given flyovers or underpasses and are much less important thoroughfares than the Granny Barbour’s road. It is slightly awkward for the design team and I wonder if that’s why they’ve done it. [...]

I feel great sympathy for John MacKintosh in the way that the road is affecting his property. It seems very unfair that it can have quite such a colossal effect on his farm as that and I would like to certainly, in the strongest possible terms, write to ask the design team to look at ways of lessening that effect.[...]

Thirdly the road that runs along from Boath House on the back down to Auchnacloich, that again is going to be another road that is going to be blocked off. It isn’t a road that sees a lot of traffic in particular but it is, and I know many of you use that route as a cycling route and I don’t see why there is any reason why that shouldn’t, in the very least, be designated/reinstated as a thoroughfare. Realistically it is a tunnel underneath to allow access.

[...]I think the area in the way it terms of the way it affects Penick Farm and obviously the effects in the way that the road moves out past Courage. We need to find, I think, ways of getting the design team to look at that as clearly as they can in terms of reducing the effect that that is going to have. "

Gurnites can see these parts of the proposed dual carriageway that Roger referred too here on this Transport Scotland document.

In the discussion that followed Roger was not keen to allow comment from those that thought that the choice of route was not the right option but to focus on the impacts of the preferred route. The effect that the road will have on some residents lives is becoming more apparent as more attention is paid to the route. One resident said that the embankment that would be built after the road came through Penick farm would block everything he could see out of his window. This road is indeed a massive scar across the Nairnshire landscape. David Brownless estimated that the cutting before the road rejoined the old A96 would be 100m wide and 14m deep.

Roger said in relation to timescales for the road. “They are talking about then, basically in 2016 having the plan. Obviously they still consider there will be a public local inquiry because they think some of the statutory bodies will take up... however many agreements they can come to with local landowners [...] but it won’t be just for Auldearn it will be for the whole length of the planned road.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nairn County Chairman speaks out against too many Highland League midweek games - "unattractive to valued match sponsorship as entertainment"

This season the Highland League has fixed several mid-week games at the start of the season rather than inserting catch-up games towards the end of the footballing year's fixtures. Nairn County Chairman, Peter Mackintosh, has outlined his anxieties about this new procedure in his autumn message on the club's website. He says: 

"The impact of forcing so many mid-week games over such a short period has resulted in a devastating effect on Club revenue income generation. Mid-week games are unattractive to valued match sponsorship as entertainment, enjoyment and hospitality is in conflict with pressing weekday business commitments. Equally affected are the town's business community who on Saturday match days generate a lot of foot-fall - flowing from which clubs such as ours directly benefit through advertising and other related income support. Add to this supporter drop off in attendance given their inability to factor in home and away attendance mid-week through a combination of travel restriction or simply, within a Highland context, working away from home."

Peter also thanks the County fans for their Ground Improvement Fund initiative which so far has raised over £60,000. More on the Clubs website here. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The preferred route of the A96 Nairn bypass is published - Auldearn CC explain to the community what comes next

Last nightin the Dunbar Hall at their regular meeting, Auldearn Community Council again made an excellent job of explaining the latest part of the bypass saga to the village community and outlined how things will proceed and how anyone affected can have some more input into the process. Roger Milton gave a description of the preferred route, accompanied by David Brownless who turned the large scale maps on display on a stand to the right of the room and pointed to features described by Roger. After this Roger said:

“Before we go into detailed discussion of this I’d just like to give people a feeling of where we actually are on the overall process to getting a road. This is another chapter on what is going to be a long book.  We’ve already been discussing this for a good while and we have now at least seen, as I say, moving on to a new chapter. We have this route and I’m sure many of you will have discussed it with the people who were at the presentation. This is the route that is going to be developed. I don’t think we’re in a position now of suddenly going back to another route. It is now a question of making this the best possible result for the village and for the people that are affected by it. In the next few weeks there will be a design team appointed to develop that route into a working drawing so that the road can be built. At the moment Jacobs have been the company that have developed it as far as now but they are not certain to be allowed to continue. [...] 

Transport Scotland for their part, they have the powers to acquire the land that is necessary to build this road. They do that through road orders and , if necessary, through compulsory purchase orders. The next 18 months is critical from that point of view in terms of any changes that can be made to the route. First of all there will be a detailed examination of that route. It will be on an ecological basis, an hydrological basis, it’s crossing waterways and as we’ve seen in the last few days that is critical in terms of road waste, and also an environmental basis. This will require subcontractors or people employed by the design team, to go onto those landowners land and drill holes, do surveys and basically make sure that the design that has been made is compatible with the land, there’s obviously all sorts of potential problems. At least at the moment they see no insurmountable problems but if there are certain things that affect it they will change that route to accomplish that.

In the first half of 2015, next year, they will set up a whole series of face to face meetings with those landowners that are affected by the route and discuss how that is going to affect them and explain the purchase and the process and compensation for those people. That is obviously a detailed and complex process.

For ourselves and the people in the room, what is very important is that up until the end of November, until the 28th of November, you have an opportunity, as individuals and obviously we have an opportunity as a community council to reflect the views of the community and put you own concerns back to the design team. Jacobs effectively will still be in place to hand to Transport Scotland. Ideas, clarifications, whatever. [...] You have to get those e-mails and those letters off to those bodies to have a chance of changing that.

Roger then gave a list of some things that he thought were not acceptable or that could be changed. More of that later on the Gurn when time permits.  

Complaints at Auldearn at lack of Highland Councillors attending Community Council meeting

Last night Aulderan CC discussed the A96 bypass and the proposed Lidl store at Balmakeith plus other topics. The meeting was well attended but not packed out like others in the run up to the bypass preferred route option. Of those present quite a few left after the bypass discussion – more of that debate when time permits. Towards the end of the meeting, former Highland Council Convener Sandy Park made a comment from the public benches. Sandy said:
“I’m disappointed that there are not any of our local councillors here. This is the first meeting I’ve been able to come to and there’s not a single councillor.”

Roger Milton the Chair of Auldearn Community Council replied to Sandy:
“There is a slight excuse. There is another community council meeting but having said that there’s enough councillors to at least get one of them here and Colin (MacAulay) was the only one that had the decency to send his apologies. It is disappointing, especially with some of these comments that we’ve just been making towards the end of the meeting here. That’s their job!” 

Roger made reference to another meeting, that was Nairn River Community Council in the URC hall, also last night, Cllr Michael Green was in attendance at that meeting. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Wednesday Miscellany – radioactive cargo at anchor – doggie jobbie watch and River Nairn calms down

Bratach has published an image of the MV Parida at anchor in the Cromarty Firth (as seen from Nairn Beach). The stricken vessel with its radioactive waste cargo was towed there after a fire broke out on board. Details on a BBC news page here. 
  
Meanwhile the river has calmed down a little after the downpour last night. The Gurn understands that 72.2mm of rain fell in the Cawdor area last night.

The Scotrail franchise is to be no more and a Dutch state-owned company are taking over. Transport Scotland’s press release details the forthcoming take over and apparently bicycles were something to do with it? I wonder if we will ever get back to the old days when it was possible to turn up unannounced at a railway station with your bike and just put it in the goods van. These days you have to book 24hours in advance. It would make awaydays from Nairn on your bicycle a bit more adventurous (and spontaneous). 

Much talk recently about Lidl and supermarkets in general and their effect on Nairn High Street recently. One of our regular readers links us to a Guardian article that suggests that supermarkets as we know them could be on their way out. Surely not or is it time to expand the irregular Nairn Farmers Market a little? 

Still not picking up your doggie jobbies? You could be in line for a fine, one of our regular readers reports increased patrols from the dog warden on the Links and the Maggot. 

Our article on the CCs/Murd and housing has attracted quite a bit of comment. Murd has come back in on that thread too with more thoughts. More here.

UPDATE: A Police Scotland statement re the MV Parida:

"The multi-agency partners working together on the MV Parida maritime incident can confirm the vessel has been brought alongside a secure pier within the Port of Cromarty Firth site tonight, Wednesday 8th October 2014.
This is to allow repair work to be completed. There are no public safety concerns with the vessel or its cargo. The integrity of the vessel and the cargo has not been affected by the maritime incident.
The vessel will remain alongside the pier with appropriate security measures until the repair work is completed. Once a final inspection has taken place, a decision will be made on when the vessel can resume its journey."

UPDATE:
Call To Devolve Nuclear Regulation After Ship Catches Fire Off Scottish Coast. More on the Scottish Statesman site. 

Flood warning for Nairn Wednesday 8th October

SEPA state on their website:

"Heavy rain has caused the River Nairn and tributaries to rise during Tuesday night. River levels are expected to remain high during Wednesday morning.

Agricultural land and low lying properties along the River Nairn between Broadley and Fishertown in Nairn are at risk of flooding. Fishertown and low lying areas of Nairn downstream of the railway bridge may be at additional risk of flooding during around the time of the high tide around midday on Wednesday."

More information here. Additional warnings for River Park and Nairn Side (Cawdor) are available too here and here. 

Update 09.47 - parts of the riverside paths in town centre now impassable - take care. More pictures of the river today here. 


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Flu, are you in an "at risk" group and qualify for free vaccination at Nairn Health Care Group? Important information

Dr Adrian Baker of Nairn Health Care Group told the Gurn:

"Influenza is a common seasonal illness, spread by coughing and sneezing, and affects individuals of all ages. However, it is most commonly children, and adults over 65, who are affected by illnesses and infections that arise as a result of the influenza virus. Flu can be caught throughout the year but with the onset of colder weather the virus is spread more easily from person to person. In the UK each year over 600 people die of illnesses brought on by the influenza virus. The immunisation helps to prevent flu and its complications. Injections will be given to those under two years old and over the age of eleven, while children aged between two and eleven will receive the immunisation in the form of a nasal spray.

Symptoms of the influenza virus can include high temperature, sweats, aching muscles and joints, headaches, sneezing, and a dry cough or sore throat. You may also feel drowsy or light-headed. These indicators are usually at their worst after two to three days and in most cases will clear up within a week to 10 days. If you have no underlying health issues, there is normally no need to see a doctor. However, if the symptoms persist or are particularly severe, seek medical attention as these indications can also signal more serious problems.

People with a weakened immune system or long-term medical condition such as diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, heart, kidney or liver condition, as well as carers for the elderly or disabled, and frontline health workers. Pregnant women should make an appointment with their midwife for the flu and the whooping cough vaccine. Vaccinations are available for other members of the public but are not funded by the NHS. These can be arranged privately through an appointment with your GP practice.

The immunisation vaccination aims to prevent the spread of the virus among at risk people and reduce the number of people with complications. The vaccination does not give you flu but helps the immune system to detect and fight off the infection. For every ten individuals immunised against the seasonal influenza virus, between seven and eight people will not get flu. At present in the Nairnshire region, uptake of the vaccination among those at risk below the age of 65 is around 52%, significantly below the NHS Highland average of 65%. Among individuals over the age of 65, immunisation uptake is currently at 71%, again lower than the NHS Highland average of 74%. It is important that more people are immunised to protect them and their friends, families and colleagues.

If you are entitled to a free vaccination, or would like to schedule a private appointment to receive the injection, please get in touch with Nairn Healthcare on 01667 452096. Clinics will run from the end of September and throughout October and into November in the Nairn and Ardersier surgeries."

South Nairn and building houses in Nairn – a dissident’s voice raised at the CCs meeting

Murd Dunbar has long been of the opinion that houses should be built on Nairn South. He isn’t alone in that view of course but he is definitely in a minority as regards the huge development that was planned. Large numbers turned out to demonstrate against the proposed project in September 2013, a demo that forced Highland Council to reverse their decision. There then followed the appeal and the hearing which the developer lost. The combined community council meetings generally speak with a sense of collective purpose, gravitas and perceived wisdom about local development and many other matters. Nairn, West and the Suburban Community Councils feel they have their finger on the public pulse when it comes to development in Nairn and the perception that we have had what could be conservatively described as a very raw deal from Highland Council in past years. It is impossible for the CCs to speak for the entire community though and this observer has encountered others with thoughts similar to Murd in recent years, he does remain in the minority but the question would be just how much of a minority is that? At the meeting of the combined CCs last we he asked:

“It’s a fact of life that Nairn needs houses. I have said at numerous council meetings, [...] where, I will ask the three community councils and anybody else in Nairn where would you build houses in Nairn? Not like I was told at one meeting, my grandchildren could go to Tornagrain. [...] Nairn, they want to stay in Nairn, they were born, bred, brought up in Nairn as I was. They want to stay in Nairn. Where will you build houses in Nairn if you’re going to knock back every suggestion? I’ve been at most of your meetings were you knock them back. ”

Graham Vine replied to Murd:

“I was part of the original opposition to Sandown and I think we made it very clear, and there are a number of people here that were part of that process who may be able to back me up, that we did not say no to Sandown. What we did say is don’t over develop Sandown. If it had been the original 120 or revised 240 houses, fine. It was the 550 that we took exception too. So I would like to reassure Murd that there isn’t an utter opposition to building anymore houses in Nairn. There is an opposition to inappropriate over development, solely driven by developer profit. 

Murd continued: “I’d like to know how many of you sitting in this room need a home, are looking for a home. 95% of you are sitting in your own houses.”

John Hart added a point: “That is entirely the point we are making to Highland Council. If they had the brains to put 120, 150 houses on Sandown. You’d have them now. If they had the brains to put a 100 houses in Nairn South, they would have started.”

To this observer the discussion indicated that we do need some more housing built in Nairn very quickly and it would be better if that housing were somehow part of the public stock and made available to people living in Nairn. Why not Sandown? It is land owned by the community, we can decide how many houses - not the Inverness planners. Surely there is a way we can get houses built on there – maybe in such a way that the rental came back into the Common Good (to enable further projects) rather than be paid to Highland Council? Out of the box thinking is required quickly?