Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nearly there - have a good one Gurnshire!

Happy New Year when it comes - Bliadhna mhath ùr nuair a thig i. 

Lots of memories of 2015 to digest and lots ahead for Nairnshire in 2016 - some of it quite daunting if you give it too much thought. Anyway que, sera, sera and here's one of this observer's best memories of 2015, one of the amazing sunsets at the end of September when summer finally turned up. All the best folks!

If it doesn't show up immediately on your device try here on Youtube itself. 

Moray ATMs targeted by thieves

Watch yourselves around ATMs folks, there has been some criminal activity nearby:

"Police Scotland is appealing for information following thefts and attempted thefts from a number of ATMs in the Moray area.

The incidents are believed to have taken place over the course of  Tuesday 29 December 2015. The ATMs were at Spar in the Regent Street area of Keith, Tesco in the Nairn Road area of Forres, Tesco in the Blackfriars Road area of Elgin and Nationwide and Bank of Scotland in the High Street area of Elgin. It is not currently known how much, if any, cash has been stolen.

There have also been similar incidents reported at Boots and Tesco in the Eastfield Way area of Inverness.

Detective Inspector Norman Stevenson, from Aberdeenshire and Moray Division, said: "We are appealing for any members of the public who may have seen anything suspicious or unusual around these areas yesterday to get in touch with us. This can include seeing someone loitering nearby ATMs or if you have had any issues trying to withdraw cash in these areas.

"We would encourage the public to bear in mind an easy acronym when using ATMs: C.H.I.P. C is for Check the machine. H advised you to Hide your pin. I means Inform the Police and the bank. P means Put your cash away. By following this advice, you can greatly reduce the chances of becoming a victim of crime."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"Tuesday 29th December 2015, a man was seen to be acting suspiciously outside an address on Thurlow Road."

More details on the Highland Times site here.

Community decision makers wanted for rural Inverness and Nairn areas

Some of that "LEADER" Euro cash is back on the table. More in a press release from Highland Council:

The Highland LEADER Programme is looking for volunteers to join a new Local Area Partnership (LAP). The Inner Moray Firth South LAP will be responsible for allocating funding towards projects which will benefit communities in Nairnshire and Rural Inverness, excluding Inverness City.

LEADER is an EU Fund aimed at promoting economic and community development within rural areas. Part of the development of the new Highland LEADER Programme, which is expected to launch in March 2016, includes the setting up of seven LAPs across Highland.

The Inner Moray Firth South LAP will have a budget in the region of £400,000 to award to small businesses and communities in the LAP area over the next four years. 

Individuals, groups, organisations and businesses in Nairnshire and Rural Inverness will also have the opportunity to apply for funding for rural enterprise and farm diversification projects with a budget in the region of £1.76m available for projects in Highland. Funding in the region of £880,000 will be available for co-operation projects between Local Area Partnership areas in Highland and for projects between organisations or groups in Scotland, the UK, Europe or further afield.

The work the Inner Moray Firth South LAP undertakes will be supported by Fiona Daschofsky, LEADER Development Officer for Nairnshire and Rural Inverness. Fiona will work with applicants in the area, providing support and guidance from application stage through to project delivery.

Fiona Daschofsky, LEADER Development Officer said: “Applications for the LAP are sought by 31st January 2016 from local people who have experience of working in/with community or youth groups and/or business/industry. LAP Members will help to establish and promote LEADER locally and determine grant applications over the course of the Programme which runs until 2020.”

The Highland Strategic Local Action Group (LAG) is responsible for the overall management and delivery of the Highland LEADER Programme.

Chair of the Strategic LAG, Jon Hollingdale said: “LEADER is community led with decision making on local development priorities taken by local groups. We are keen to hear from people who have a good understanding of the social impact and benefits that different types of projects can deliver. It is important that we have a good mix of people sitting on the LAP so that the views of the whole community can be represented; training on assessing LEADER applications will be provided.”

For an application form to join the Inner Moray Firth South LAP please email: Visit for further information about the Highland LEADER Programme.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nairn's Knots - 8 years to get the perfect picture

One of our regular readers alerted us to the recent appearance of one of Seamus McArdle's (aka The Nairn Birder) image's in the Scottish Ornitholigical Club journal. David told us:

"The SOC is a highly respected national body for birders in Scotland and further afield. It produces just four journals p.a. each with a members photograph on the back cover. This is a prestigious position and, with so many bird photographers among its members it is an achievement to land a picture in this slot."

We contacted Seamus and he was happy to provide us with a copy of the image and also gave us a few details.

Click on image to see full size picture
Seamus told the Gurn:

"I was really pleased to get an email from the Scottish Ornithological Club HQ saying that they have seen my photo of the Knots at Nairn Harbour, and asked if they could publish it on the back cover of their quarterly journal. Of course I said that I’d be honoured – and I now have a copy of it and it looks great!

When asked about how I captured the photo I said that people often say that with bird watching and bird photography you need a bit of luck to be in the right place at the right time. Well, it’s taken me eight years of sitting at the end of the pier in cold winter winds, binoculars in one hand and camera in the other, to get that bit of luck! The sandbars around Nairn are favoured by the Knot in winter, often present in their thousands, moving in and out with the tide flow. They fly in unison, turning and diving and rising as one, and when the low sun catches their plumage the wonderful flashes of light and dark sparkle over the beach. And the noise they make as they fly overhead is fantastic!

I have many photos of them flying across from the east to central beach and back again. This photo was the one I’ve been trying to get all these years: flying directly toward the camera. And luckily I managed to get it in focus! 

I have a website and a blog (which I am hopelessly failing to keep up to date!), where there are more photos of them, among other photos and stories about the bird life around Nairn. They also show some of the Calendars and Greetings Cards that I have made from the photos (and which are available in the local shops). I am working on updating the two sites over Christmas."

Seamus's website is here and his blog here. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas planning

We reported earlier that a new application was in for the Windsor Hotel but here it is again in case any gurnites missed it:

“A new application for the former Windsor Hotel has appeared on the Highland Council e-planning pages: "Alter Hotel to form smaller Guest House, and convert remainder of Hotel, and change use, to 13 flats." Gurnites can browse the application here.

Also back up is a “Ghost Island” proposal from Cawdor Maintenance Trust on the A96 at Delnies. The application seeks to vary the condition which requires the developer to provide a roundabout giving access to the Delnies development site. The roundabout that planners had insisted would go there would have also serviced development on the Sandown site. The application was received by Highland Council on 17th December and can be seen on their e-planning pages here. 

A previous application in 2014 was withdrawn that application received a combined objection from the the town's (then) three community councils. As part of the reason for replacing the roundabout with a ghost island junction the application reads:
Click to enlarge text image
The new restaurant at the harbour has received permission for a turning/delivery point. The application received a number of objections but was dealt with under delegated powers by a council planning officer. It was determined that there were no material considerations that would warrant refusal of the application. Gurnites can see the detailed responses to points made by those making comments under the documents tab on the applications page shere. The existing shelter on the site of the turning point will be demolished and a similar structure will have to be rebuilt elsewhere at a site determined by the Council. 

In Belivat Terrace a newbuild house application has been resubmitted as the level of the building was raised due to poor ground conditions. More details here. 

Air rifle fired at Nairn Coastguard vehicle on riverside?

More details and pictures on the Nairn Coastguard page. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Panorama from the east pier Nairn harbour - Christmas Day 2015 - video

If having trouble seeing video here try this Youtube page

Christmas Day in Nairn and it is wild and sexy

Sad looking dog - abandoned at Mill Road playing fields?

Gurn reader Dave Shillabeer sent us the above pictures this morning. He tells us:

"I was walking my dog down by the river this morning when I came across  this abandoned pooch at the Mill Lane playing fields. I think it could serve well to remind those who have bought a dog for Christmas that it is a commitment for life."

Anyone looking for this animal? Seen this morning down at Mill Road Playing Fields.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year when it comes

No snow this year but at least some nasturtiums still hanging on. Have a good one Gurnshire. There are one or two interesting items still worthy of a mention over the holiday and we will perhaps get around to that if time permits. 

We hope to be out and about too for the holiday photo opportunities including the Turkey Trot on Boxing Day and the New Year's Day Dip fundraiser for CLIC Sargent down at the Golf View: according to a report in the Courier the dippers will be piped down to the beach and it is hoped that many of them will be in fancy dress. 

Best wishes for the holiday and for 2016.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A makeover for the Nairn portal coming but not in time for Christmas

The site was quite the thing in its day and did the business in 2003 when it was launched.  It was jointly funded by HIE and Highland Council. Over the years though it has only sporadically been updated and as it comes quite high up the google rankings it wasn't the ideal advert for Nairn in its moribund state. Google tells you " A comprehensive portal for Nairn and Nairnshire locals and visitors" but once you got there it just had a tired and dusty feel to it. 

The Internet had moved on a bit and the site had got left behind. These days it's also all about what things look like on tablets and mobiles etc. It will be hard for this site to pick up where it started off, so much has changed - including Internet habits of visitors - the google ranking gives it a good chance though. 

Good to see that there is the promise of renewal then. As a visit to the site today suggests:

Concern for birds and dolphins in proposed ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth outside the Sutors

Here's something that one of our regular readers has just alerted us too and it is worth paying serious attention to. David tells us:

" I don't know if you are aware of this but the Cromarty Firth Port Authority has applied for a licence for ship to ship oil transfer in the Moray Firth outside the Sutors. Personally, I am very concerned about the effects of any spillage on the birds and other wildlife of the Firth and I believe that it may be of interest of some Gurnites."

"CAMPAIGNERS fear important environmental sites and popular dolphin communities could be destroyed if plans to transfer nearly nine million tonnes of crude oil a year between tankers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth are given the go-ahead.

Opponents of the scheme are concerned about the impact of any spillage, not least on the Moray Firth dolphins who regularly visit the waterway."

Lots more on a Herald webpage today including:

"The authority’s environment assessment does not rate the risk posed to the environment as serious, but others disagree.

Dr Greg Fullarton, an environmental consultant who lives on the shores of the firth, said it could be disastrous."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"I look forward to inviting you down to the first cruise ship coming to the new harbour in Nairn"

Outwardly you could be forgiven for thinking that the document that went to Highland Council last week entitled Scheme of Delegation Revisions for the new Local Committees presented very little of substance for The Nairnshire Local Committee – a committee that we will see emerge next year once the divorce with Badenoch and Strathspey is complete. Words like "scrutinise, consider, approve, monitor, review," will shine through at anyone who has the courage to read the report. At first reading it doesn’t seem the stuff of a brand new powerhouse that would restore the democratic deficit to Nairn. One could imagine the new concept being the same fare as the pervious larger area committee where councillors sat there and approved or noted reports from officials. There will be further discussions in March however when it seems that the Community Services budgets may be handed over to the local committees, something that would be a major step forward if it were to happen. 

Councillors expressed a range of views from despair to optimism. The only local member to speak was Michael Green and he came just after a Lochaber member Brian Gormley who seemed on the verge of despair with the new proposals. It might be interesting for Gurnites to compare what Brian Gormley had to say with Michael’s thesis, our local member sees a bright future coming out of this document. 

Cllr Brian Gormley was despondent. He said: “I’m having great difficulty seeing how this will improve local democracy as it is perceived by the people I represent”

He then made reference to Fort William Community Council disatisfaction. A recent press article here will shed some light on why he chose to do that. He went on to say that he thought that it seemed to be weaker than the previous scheme of delegation and he suggested that the local committee wouldn’t have any powers and be “Granny’s knitting circle.” He continued:

“And that is the way that people will see them and those in our outlying areas throughout Lochaber and I suspect Caithness and Sutherland as well who believe that they are denied local democracy by the structure of Highland Council and who believe passionately that Highland Council should be torched [...] they will be persuaded that a pan-Highland Council is useless to them. This will really strengthen those arguments.”

Michael Green, speaking directly after the Lochaber member, radiated waves of optimism in comparison. He welcomed the report and thanked the official for her work. He said:
Michael Green speaking last week 

“It’s down the road of localism and it’s given us cards to do things just now.”

Highlighting a part of the document he went on:

“Freeing up the Common Good, which will not allow us to do anything we couldn’t do if we bring it to the full council and it will give us the flexibility to move things forward quicker, so we will have the building block cash and the flexibility to do something.”

He went on to mention BIDS (Business Improvement Districts):

“I’m in the process of setting up a BID and in a year from now we’ll have one which will be mandated, which will give us the capacity to take projects forward. So I welcome that aspect as well. 

Looking at another section of the report, he went on:

“To agree a local community engagement where we will have a mechanism set up where we will have the people of Nairn who will give us a mandate which has not always been the way in Nairn. So while Cllr Gormley is knitting, while Cllr Phillips is cogitating, while Cllr MacKay is looking at different cultural structures around the Highlands; we in Nairn in ten years time – I will be inviting Karen (HC official) down to the new harbour when the first cruise ship pulls in because you’ve given us the building blocks here and I look forward to inviting you down to the first cruise ship coming to the new harbour in Nairn.”

Gurn comment: 

More of the same or a time of great optimism and opportunity? It would be nice to think that the new local committee could see us a further step on the road to getting democracy back to Nairn but it all comes at a dangerous time. The Highland Council is about to be convulsed by a £40 million cuts apocalypse and there are those that argue we don’t get our equitable share of local government funds as it is – what if we get more than our equitable share of cuts if attempts are made to preserve jobs at Glenurquhart Road at our expense? Just what will be left of Nairnshire’s local government services once the cuts are through? And the Independent administration will it too be convulsed by the cuts as communities discover what will go and start the inevitable action campaigns? Knitting circles or local powerhouses – will they get far off the drawing board after the dust from the cuts settles? Could the Indie regime and Glenurquhart Road crash and burn or will it be cohesive enough to implement brutal cuts and then go on to juggle remaining resources and find the will to give real power to area committees?

You can listen to what was said at the full council meeting last week by heading to this Highland Council webcast page and clicking on item 15 to watch the debate. A copy of the Local Committee report can be downloaded here (item 15i).

Kelsey MacDonald secures card for European Tour

More on the Herald site.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday night miscellany

A new application for the former Windsor Hotel has appeared on the Highland Council e-planning pages: "Alter Hotel to form smaller Guest House, and convert remainder of Hotel, and change use, to 13 flats." Gurnites can browse the application here.

Alastair Ramsay from Nairn Academy has been chosen as one of Scotland’s Young Ambassadors for Inclusion.

"Alastair was chosen to represent Highlands as part of the new Scotland’s Young Ambassadors for Inclusion programme developed by Education Scotland.

Through the programme, young people who face barriers to education will be given a voice at a national level to help make a significant impact in raising awareness of the issues around additional support needs and inclusive education.

Alastair met with his fellow Ambassadors for their first meeting on 8 December where they discussed their experiences of inclusive education and how they have benefited from having the right support in place.

The meeting hosted by Education Scotland also provided the opportunity for Alastair to share his views of the support provided by teachers and classmates, their learning environment, and give their perspective on how additional support for learning can be further improved."  More including picture on the Highland Council website.

Nairn Health Care have produced a two page leaflet that gives guidance on looking after yourself. It gives you extensive information on all the health care services in our area and a list of phone numbers. You can see a copy on line here. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Had enough Christmas Craziness? There's always the zombies or Dinosaurs

Advertising feature 

Fed up of the Christmas craziness yet? ESCAPE for a moment, Wrap up cosy and come and spend a quiet hour with our qualified Archery Instructors who will teach you the basics and then help you shoot at Dinosaurs or Zombies or try out the **NEW** WILD HAGGIS range. £12 per adult, £9 per child. 

Ask us about our Gift Vouchers if you are stuck for something! (great for teens!) Situated on the back road between Ardersier and Nairn. 07923 111997 / 07753 426141

Friday, December 18, 2015

Liz's TTIP motion passed at Highland Council

Liz told the Gurn: "Due to the high concern of the public, members of the SNP and politicians at all levels of governance I prepared a motion to go to the Highland Council meeting on 17th December, to raise our fears about the possible negative impact TTIP could have on Local Authority services. This motion was passed by Highland Council"

Liz's motion below:

"The Highland Council notes the ongoing negotiation between the European Union and the USA on the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership [TTIP] and expresses its disappointment that the negotiations are underway in secret and without input or oversight from representatives of local government.

The Council believes that TTIP could have a detrimental impact on public services, employment, and suppliers, and that the proposed Investor–State Dispute Settlement mechanism could be used to undermine the democratic decision-making of local and national government.

The Council requests that the Leader writes to Scotland’s Members of the European Parliament to the UK Government and Scottish Government expressing concerns about the possible detrimental effect of TTIP on local government and raises these concerns at COSLA."

There is a lot out there on the net about TTIP - here's a page of google results if anyone wants to find out more. 

Alastair Noble receives his MBE at Buckingham Palace today

Today Alastair Noble received his MBE at Buckingham Palace from HRH Prince of Wales. The award was for services to Health, Social Care and Conservation in Nairnshire.

Click image to enlarge

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nairn Healthcare News December 2015

The Latest from Nairn Health Care Group


Dr Katie Reid is currently on maternity leave and we wish her well.

Dr Al Holdcroft, GP Partner, will be leaving the surgery at the end of the month after 10 years of service to take up a new post in the oil industry. Dr Holdcroft sends his best wishes to all of his patients in Nairn and Ardersier.  

Appointment System

Nairn Healthcare will be adopting a revised appointment system in January. This will allow more pre-bookable appointments and improve continuity of care. The Practice will continue to offer a range of telephone and face-to-face appointments with the GP of your choice.

Childhood Immunisation Clinic

After a 6 month trial of a drop-in clinic for childhood immunisations, Nairn Healthcare has decided to revert back to bookable appointments. We feel routine appointments saves parents and children from waiting for long periods of time. Please call the surgery on 01667 452096 to book a routine appointment with the Childhood Immunisation Clinic. 

 Christmas Jumper Day

The surgery took part in an annual Christmas Jumper Day on Wednesday 16th December. We decided this year to fundraise for The Archie Foundation. The Archie Foundation supports sick children and their families across the whole of the North of Scotland. We’ll let you know the amount raised next month.

Texting Service

Nairn Healthcare has now launched the text reminder service.
We would like as many of you as possible to provide the surgery with your mobile number so you can take advantage of this worthwhile service. Please call the surgery or email to provide your mobile number.

Reordering Prescriptions

We would like to remind patients to please have enough medication to see them over the festive period.

You can re-order your prescription by handing in your reorder form to the reception team at the desk, on our website ( or by email at Prescription requests take 2 working days to process. 



It’s the most wonderful time of the please follow these tips on how to be safe and healthy this Christmas: 


Vouchers for the food bank are available at Nairn Healthcare. Please speak to a member of the Reception Team for more information. Your request will be treated in the strictest confidence and we have interview rooms available if you wish to discuss this in private. 


Can we just remind patients to drink in moderation and sensibly this Christmas. Research shows that people tend to drink 41% more alcohol in December than any other month. Also, new laws make the legal drink-drive limit in Scotland lower than elsewhere in the UK. So if you wish to have a jovial tipple, please leave the car at home.


1. Make sure the turkey is properly defrosted before cooking. If it is still partially frozen, it could be that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.

2. Keep the uncooked turkey away from food that is ready to eat. If raw meat touches these foods, bacteria will spread and may cause food poisoning.  

3. The turkey is cooked when the meat is steaming hot all the way through. The meat should NOT be pink when you cut into the thickest part of the bird and the juices should run clear when you pierce the turkey.

For more information on turkey and avoiding food poisoning, please visit


Cuts on the Christmas Table at Glenurquhart Road

A Highland Council press release states:

"Although  will take a few days to analyse the full implications, it is clear that the grant settlement to Local Authorities will be cut by at least 3.5% and likely to be over 4%. The grant makes up 80% of our budget, and as anticipated it is a much bigger cut than previously expected, resulting in a gross budget gap of around £40 million next year for The Highland Council.

In the light of the severity of this cut, and the short timescale available to implement it, a Voluntary Redundancy (VR) scheme will be made available to staff, combined with an option for staff to voluntarily reduce their hours. This scheme will be open from Monday 21 December until 29 January.

These measures will go alongside a range of savings and service cuts, which are to be agreed at Council in February, to help the Council achieve a balanced budget.

The scheme will be open to all staff, except for staff delivering NHS commissioned services. Teachers, HGV drivers, staff who work in residential childcare and criminal justice may apply, however it is important to recognise that there is a very limited scope to reduce numbers in certain areas such as these.

Not everyone who applies will have their application approved and cases will be prioritised based on service needs and potential savings to the Council, taking into account any service reductions which may be agreed by Council in January/February.

Chief Executive Steve Barron said: “These are not easy times and I appreciate the uncertainty such measures bring, however we are left with few alternatives. The scheme is an opportunity which will allow staff to consider whether they wish to leave the council through voluntary severance/early retirement. The scheme will be open for a short period of time to allow us to prepare for next year’s budget and to reduce the level of uncertainty as much as possible.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson added: “The Scottish Government’s decision puts Local Authorities in an extremely difficult position. We are already having to deal with the impact of eight years’ of the council tax freeze, and this latest announcement equates to a budget cut of at least a further £16 million.

“We have no alternative but to cut services and to reduce our workforce accordingly. This will undoubtedly impact on performance and staff morale and there is no getting away from that. This is just the first of many unpalatable decisions we will have to make in the coming weeks and I am deeply saddened to see the Council forced into this position.” "

14C in Nairn - globally warm?

The wee thermometer from poundland just outside the door at Gurn HQ agrees with the Internet this morning. The nasturtiums are not dead yet and lavender is flowering again. It's all globally warm or just one of those warm spells that Nairn always used to get?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

'S e àm cunnartach a th'ann gu dearbh ach an e àm dòchais a th' ann cuideachd?

Ann an ùine nach bi fada bidh Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd fiachainn ri gearraidhean 40 milleanan a cuir an gnìomh. Ciamar a bhios sin bualadh air Inbhir Narann, am bi dad air fhàgail de na seirbhisean poblach a tha sinn cleachdte ris an diugh? Gheibhear mòran làidir den bheachd nach eil Inbhir Narann a' faighinn a chuid chothromach sa chiad dol a-mach, 's e “equitable share” sa Bheurla a tha aig feadhainn leis a sin. Mar sin dh'fhaodte na gearraidhean bualaidh oirnn na bu mhiosa na Inbhir Nis agus badan eile air a' Ghaidhealtachd.

Bho 1975 a-mach nuair a fhuair Comhairle Sgìre Inbhir Narann bàs dh'imrich mòran a bh' ann gu Inbhir Nis “Invercentralism” mar a chanas iad. Mar as motha a chaidh sin air adhart 's ann as làidir a dh'fhàs beachd muinntir Inbhir Narann gun robh iadsan os cionn seirbhisean anns a bhaile mhòr dìreach son Inbhir Narann faicinn mar iomall-bhaile.

A-nis chithear iomairt ur tighinn as Taigh an Roid le Bile Cumhachdachadh na Coimhearsnachdan. Le sin bu chòir cumhachd a thilleadh gu bailtean a leithid Inbhir Narann. Tha na Coimhairlean Coimhearsnachd deiseil agus deònach, tha iadsan agus buidhnean eile sa bhaile air a bhi strì an aghaidh iomairtean a tha air a bhith mì-fhreagarrach dhuinn o chionn fhada. Seall air Inbir Narann a Deas mar eisimpleir agus an rannsachadh poblach na chois, rudeigin a tha na planadairean air a bhith sparradh air a' choimhearsnachdan. Chan eil muinntir Inbhir Narann an aghaidh leasachaidh san fharsaingeachd, tha iad dìreach airson smachd a ghabhail os làimh iad fhèin: tha iad ag iarraidh leasachaidh a tha iomchaidh agus seasmhach – agus tha sin a' ciallachadh leasachaidh tighinn as a' choimhearsnachd agus chan eil leasachaidh tighinn bhon na planadairean Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd ann an Inbhir Nis agus luchd-leasachaidh nach eil a fuireach sa bhaile cuideachd.

Tha Inbhir Narann a Deas air tilleadh a-rithist le cho-chomhairleachadh eile air bhog (thoir sùil air an Nairnshire Telegrapah an t-seachdainn-sa). Am bi Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd ag èisteachd ri muinntir Inbhir Narann no am bi againn na sràidean a' gabhail oirnn turas eile? Nach b' fheairrde Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd a bhith brosnachadh leasachaidh aig Buaile na Gainmhich (Sandown) an aite Inbhir Narann a deas leis a gainnead bun-structair ann an sin. Chan eil dòigh ga sheachnadh tha Rathaid Caladair eagalach cunnartach ma tha agus chan eil dòigh ann dad a dhèanamh leis an drochaidh rèile mur a bheil muilleanan agad. A bharrachd air sin 'se talamh coitcheann (common good land) a th' ann an Buaile na Gainmhich agus bhiodh sin math son ionmhais an urrais sin agus na bu choir dleastanas a bhith ach Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd mar urrasairean sin a dhèanamh sa chaid dol a mach?

Am bi aig muinntir Inbhir Narann na sràidean a ghabhail orra a-rithist?

Uill dè dol a thachair? Am bi iad ag èisteachd rinn ann an àrainneachd bhàidheal tighinn as a' bhile a tha a dol tro Taigh an Roid an dràsta fhèin no am bi cuisean nas miosa buileach aig am a tha gearraidhean sgrathail air faire. Am bidh smachd a tilleadh don bhaile bho Inbhir Nis? Gheibhear pailteas daoine a tha deònach an cuid taic a thoirt do iomairtean coimhearsnachd ach sa chiad dol a mach feumaidh fada a bharrachd rian a bhith stèidhichte sa bhaile seo agus chan ann an Inbhir Nis. Dh'fhaodte sinn iomadachd cothrom a chruthachadh nan robh na h-innealan nar làmhan fhèin agus saoilidh mi nach eil Inbhir Narann na aonar san suidheachadh sin.

Monday, December 14, 2015

New term for Cawdor Community Council

Officer bearers were elected tonight in the Cawdor Community Centre as the new CC got underway with Highland Councillor Roddy Balfour in the chair for the first part of the meeting. 

Stevie Webster was elected Chair, Jim Docherty as Vice-Chair, Jenifer Walker Secretary and Gina MacKintosh as Treasurer. 

They quickly moved through business which included reference to the November minutes. Copy online here if anyone wishes to browse debate from the last meeting of the Council. 

It was reported that the Tom nan Clach wind farm proposal had been deferred at a planning meeting earlier in the day until a site visit in January could take place. 

It was reported that a considerable amount of perparatory work was going on in the Whitebridge area.

A pub quiz held recently to raise funds for the 2016 Bonfire had raised £406. A forthcoming fashion show was a sell-out already. 

Jennifer Walker mentioned that she had received complaints about gritting. Roddy Blafour said he would investigate whether it was still Highland Council policy to grit school routes before they opened as there seemed to be conflicting information on that point. 

Meanwhile on Youtube

A stunning video of Lochindorb by Steve Stewart available here.  Other Nairn material on Steve's Youtube pages too.

On the Gurn youtube channel a couple of short videos from Nairn's 2-1 win over Rothes went up over the weekend and for anyone that hasn't visited those pages yet a whole range of mainly local material going back 5 years. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A96 Wetland looking good with a SuD?

A recent study by Scottish Natural Heritage and The Highland Council has found that the ponds in the A96 corridor between Inverness and Nairn are very healthy and supporting a wide variety of wildlife. 

The investigation, carried out by the Council’s graduate research assistant Marcia Rae, aimed to determine the extent of the existing pond network within the corridor and establish how healthy this network might currently be. 
Marcia identified seventy one water bodies in the area. Of these twelve were visited and seven assessed for water quality using the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) method. Five were classed in the “very healthy” category and two were classed in the “quite healthy” category. These two sites were those closest to the existing road.

All three common species of amphibians were found during the course of this work. These are the Common Frog (Rana temporaria), Common Toad (Bufo bufo) and Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus). There are also a number of sites supporting populations of The Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus). All of this suggests that there is already an excellent network of wetland habitat in the area that is successfully supporting amphibians and other wildlife.

This work is important to ensure that this wetland habitat can be preserved or even enhanced with the proposed development in the A96 corridor. Marcia’s work on the Sustainable Drainage (SuDS) ponds in inverness has already found amphibians breeding in the city in SuDS of a similar or lower quality. The new development will have a legal requirement to implement SuDS, providing an opportunity to further support amphibian species, all of which are listed as a priority in the Inverness and Nairn Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP).

Marcia said “The SuDS could work to increase the wetland habitat network that is important for so many species and ensure that urban expansion can work with and for wildlife as well as people.”

Friday, December 11, 2015

A new paddling pool? - Consultation coming in the New Year

At the meeting of the newly constituted Nairn River Community Council in the URC hall on Wednesday night Highland Councillor Liz MacDonald gave the members (old and new) a briefing on the paddling pool situation. Starting by making reference to the recent vandalism she said:

“I was looking back there was vandalism in February 2014 and there was similar, coping stones were knocked off. I think the way to take forward the paddling pool is to totally take that one out and build a new one.” She also added that: “The coping stones being taken off have identified that some of the walls are crumbling.” 

There was then some conversation about safety issues concerning the coping stones themselves before Liz added more:

“The original proposal was to whip out the base and put in a new base in the existing structure but there’s no guarantee that it would seal properly and then we found out that the walls aren’t good so we might as well whip it all out and put in a new one.”

Tommy Hogg said that he agreed that the base was the problem.

David Walker then said: “Would it not be an idea to put in something that could be multi-purpose that could be used throughout the year because that place is only open two months maybe.”

Liz replied: “that is what the debate has been - if there’s going to be a significant financial investment in a paddling pool."

Liz had more a little later she added: “Prior to it opening in the summer, £4,000 was spent to make it waterproof, now that didn’t work and it leaked all summer and that meant adding a lot more additional chemicals into it. That was a temporary repair. The other repairs coming forward, they weren’t going to be guaranteed either because of the finishing of the walls around it. So I think it has had it’s day and I think if we’re going to have a paddling pool we’re going to have to take out that one and put in a brand new paddling pool, let the community know how much it’s going to cost, they’ll be figures coming forward in the New Year. “

Des Scholes then said: “There was mention of consultation Liz and you have a small time frame before you get back to the summer again; to have consultation and maybe even planning permission and then to put a new one in it looks like there may not be a paddling pool this summer?”

Liz replied, “Exactly.” She went on to say that she didn’t think we could realistically have a new paddling pool built by the summer but that the good thing about the paddling pool was that the pump room and the equipment was in excellent condition. 

There then followed discussion about the need for a life guard or an attendant. This took in the size of the pool, interpretation of legislation, the need for a net over the pool and the Blue Flag award.

Drawing debate on the issue to a close, the Chair, John Hume said: "I think we have to wait and see what the Council's new options are going to be. Is there going to be consultation Liz? That's going to be in January?"

Liz replied that there would be consultation in the New Year. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

River CC underway for another session as Highland Council ward manager Liz Cowie gets things up and running

Liz Cowie, assisted by Liz MacDonald got the new set-up underway at River CC in the URC hall last night. 
Office bearers elected were:

John Hume Chair
Tommy Hogg vice-chair
Des Scholes Secretary
Steven Bain Treasurer

After the initial part of the meeting Liz Cowie handed over to John Hume. The newly constituted council then discussed the new session of consultations on South Nairn which the Highland Council planning department wish to move forward. Disquiet at the fact that Highland Council wished to pursue consultation at at time the the community councils had in fact been in limbo and also during the run up to the holiday period was expressed. 

Other subjects debated were

Recent meeting of Scottish Water with Community Councillors.
Common Good leases. 
First Steps nursery. 
Painting the wee bridges on the riverside walk.
Paddling pool update from Liz - time for a completely new one? 
Doggie jobbies - time for stronger bylaws?
A grit bin for the Jubilee Bridge? 
Lochloy - lack of adoption of sewage systems by Highland Council and other problems. 

Things are rather hectic in Gurn HQ at them moment but we hope to bring you more on these topics when time permits. The Nairnshire Telegraph also had a reporter present last night and so news will also emerge by analogue methods next Monday night.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Two Nairn Teens Chosen for National Writing Project

Two teenagers from Nairn have been selected by Scottish Book Trust to work on a project aimed at increasing opportunities for young people to access and contribute to literary culture across Scotland.

Sarah Cairney (14) an aspiring short story and creative non-fiction writer, and Finn Macdonald (15), an aspiring novel writer, applied and were accepted to work with eight other young people on the national What’s Your Story? project. The first nationwide programme of its kind in Scotland, What’s Your Story? will create a two-day creative writing conference in June 2016, a network of young writers/illustrators groups across Scotland, and an online resource to embolden and support Scotland’s teenage writers. These resources will be developed by the ten teen participants, in collaboration with Scottish Book Trust and partners, for other young writers throughout Scotland. The teen participants are also being professionally mentored in their chosen forms and genres, and will be showcasing work completed during their mentorship on the programme at the two-day conference.

Drew Hendry welcomes news of KLM flights to Inverness

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has announced that from May 17 they will fly daily to Inverness from the multi-award winning hub, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Commenting on the announcement Drew Hendry MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey said:

“This is very good news for Inverness and the Highlands and confirms the growing appreciation that both international tourism and business has for what we have to offer here. It is another step on the way to ensure that we have sustainable and resilient links to major international hubs and I'm delighted that the ongoing work is getting results.” 

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Festive period gets underway on the Riverside

Murd and Jock were up bright and early decorating the festive trees on the Riverside walks. By the time this observer arrived onsite the 12 carol singers had moved on for their annual Christmas walk up to the Cawdor Tavern - maybe next year we will manage to get there in time to record their performance for posterity. Anyway, here's a few images of what you can see if you go for a stroll around the river.

Friday, December 04, 2015 a site for "Nairn – the small town with the BIG personality"

There's a new site on the block. The creator Iain Fairweather told the Gurn:

" It was becoming clear that while works very well for tourism, it isn't the best platform for business. The new will provide a clear business focus. Registered members will be able to edit their own business listing There are location map pins and customers can leave Reviews. Rather than just be a directory, the aim is to feature the people behind local businesses and try and reflect Nairn's character and personality under the strapline of "Nairn - the small town with the BIG personality". I'd be delighted to hear from business owners who'd like to share their story."

"24 councillors own up to eating for free" P&J survey of Glenurquhart Road eating habits

Iain Ramage has taken his free dinner investigations further and the P&J approached all 80 councillors to ask them if they took free dinners. 
24 put their hands up. 4 declined to comment. No response from 24. 11 Don't do lunch and 17 paid. 

Last Thursday Michael Green and Liz contacted the Gurn with details of their current lunching details. Michael pays for his lunch, Liz doesn't pay for lunches but doesn't claim travel expenses. 

As for Laurie Fraser and Stephen Fuller - well, not stealing the P&J's thunder for now, you can find out in the big spread on pages  2 and 3 of today's issue.

Gurn comment: we fail to understand that at a time when many Highland residents are having to go foodbanks to eat that councillors cannot see that it is simply toxic for them to take a free lunch. 

A96 in Nairn – 12 years of traffic figures (Part 2 Chewin’ the stat)

In an article earlier this week we produced an image showing Department of Transport stats for traffic point 784 on the map which is the 2.6 miles of road between the B9092 and the A939 junctions (the Ardersier and Grantown turn-offs respectively) . That article is available here and tells you how to download the full statistics in a spreadsheet here. 

Here at the Gurn we are grateful for some thoughts from one of our regular readers. There are those that say stats can be used to say anything you like, perhaps that is a bit harsh but here is what our Gurn think-tank member has to say on these Department of Transport Figures. Click the image below to see the stats.  

Click the image to enlarge 
"Averages can present a false picture – what about peak flow?

Annual averages (which is what these are) even out summer tourist peaks and winter quiet - which a monthly graph would show. Weekly averages would disguise the difference between working-week commuting and weekenders. And - arguably most important of all, even daily averages can be misleading if there is a massive difference between rush hour flows (work and schoolruns), and the quiet inbetween periods of late morning or early afternoon. The point at issue for any road or traffic management is how to cope with peak flow.

Through traffic v local destinations. 

It's a less critical point in terms of the overall picture, but these figures have no way of distinguishing through-traffic from that which starts or ends within Nairn. Of course it all uses the A96. But for planning purposes it will eventually be necessary to have a decent idea on how much of the A96 traffic is through-traffic (since that is your bypass-clientele).

Methodology is the Key

Is this a real, actual count? Is it based on actual totals from a fulltime count of all vehicles (a cable across the road). And is it real data for the whole period of each year? Or are these figures an extrapolation from samples? If we look at the following Department of Transport Road Traffic Count methodology note (available here) we can see that the figures are all estimates. They are the outcome of a selective, limited, "manual" check of traffic on selected "neutral" days, combined with automatic machine-counter readings (cable on road). Then these sample figures are massaged by applying various "expansion factors" and "growth factors" to produce the figures in the table. 

That's not to say they are "wrong". Planning has to use these sort of techniques (at least for forecasts). No doubt the the Department of Transport applies the same methods and factors to all roads and all surveys, so there is at least consistency across the country. They remain estimates. At best a rough indicator. This is not a census. The tables ought therefore to carry a disclaimer or health warning in capital letters.

The impact of the Croy-Cawdor-Auldearn back road "unofficial bypass". 

I can't remember exactly when the sets of additional "Sainsburys" traffic lights were switched on. Was it sometime around 2010? Funny how the total vehicle numbers on this Nairn stretch reached their max in 2010 (12,613) and have declined to the high 11,000-ish in the 4 years recorded since then. To draw any meaningful conclusions from these figures, you would have to do two further exercises:

 (i) look at the figures for the volume of A96 traffic at, say, Hardmuir or Brodie for the same period (where any ratrunning traffic will have rejoined the main A96). If that shows a consistent total figure of 12,600-ish or rising from 2010 onwards, then that captures, and identifies, the scale of the flow which is diverting around Nairn by using the back-road rat-run. Then

 (ii) to test or verify this, you would also have to look at a comparative real-time count (not a sample or a computer model) for that Croy-Cawdor-Auldearn road for the period up to 2010 (or whenever the extra lights went in) and then for the period since 2010. That would - almost certainly - show a rise, and would give a pretty clear measure of the amount of rat-running traffic to compare or correlate with, the "Hardmuir" figures. What chances that Highland Council, which has responsibility for that B-road rat-run, has actually got comparative stats for the traffic volume over the past 8-10 years? The planning conditions and documents attached to the Sainsburys development indicated that the impact of the lights on traffic flows would be monitored by the Council. Has that been done by the Council?"

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Popular swan back on the River Nairn - image by Murray MacRae

The resident  cob is back on the River Nairn with his family. The popular swan had been nursed back to health over the last four weeks by SSPCA experts after he recently became ill and had to be removed to their special care centre in the Central Belt. 

Kingsteps test pits - a much bigger digger but the paths suffer - however "anticipation of further improvements at this popular local spot" say Highland Council

Regular readers will recall the Highland Council press release which stated that further test pits would be dug at the Kingsteps Quarry.

The Council stated: "Once all survey results have been analysed - and if required - appropriate actions will be taken to remediate the area for continued public access. If required, the Council will apply to the Scottish Government for Vacant and Derelict Land Funding to improve the site."

They also said: "The work comprises excavation, by hand and mini-digger, of trial pits across the site..." More details here. 

One of our regular readers, Dave, contacted us, he told us that a 7ft wide road excavator was at work and that in the wet conditions the paths were suffering badly and had turned "into a morass of liquid mud in places". This morning we went for a look, no work was ongoing but a large machine was parked a little into the quarry. See image below.

Further into the quarry it was apparent that the paths had indeed suffered and all indications were that the work had proceeded on a scale larger than that detailed in the Council's press release. More images here. 

We decided to contact the Highland Council for comment and a spokesperson told us this afternoon:

“We have been in further liaison with the contractor regarding works currently underway in Kingsteps Quarry and have given the go-ahead for contractors to continue. The machinery in use has been accepted as the most appropriate for the purpose and contractors are making efforts to minimise damage to paths. Whilst some surface damage is inevitable due to the currently wet ground conditions, funding for the work is time limited and it is not an option to wait for perfect conditions. The excavator is expected to move off site within 5-6 days. 

“Access to the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund has given the Council an excellent opportunity to establish what remediation work, if any, is required to make this former unregulated dump fit for ongoing public access. Unfortunately this is a case of ‘no pain, no gain’ and we would urge the public to be tolerant in anticipation of future improvements at this popular local spot.”

Dave has also told us that he has had a responses from Michael Green, Liz MacDonald and the planning department and they have told him that the Highland Council Ranger service will be keeping an eye on the area and that the contractors will reinstate the path through the former quarry. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

2.6 miles of the A96 through Nairn - "Annual Average Daily Flow" of traffic 2000-2014

One of our regular readers points us in the direction of a Department of Transport site map that gives the Traffic Count points on a map of the Higland Region. That map is available here.  

Click on traffic point 784 on the map which is the 2.6 miles of road between the B9092 and the A939 junctions (the Ardersier and Grantown turn-offs respectively) and you will get yourself a spread sheet to download giving you traffic details between 2000 and 2014. The site says:

"AADF figures give the number of vehicles that will drive on that stretch of road on an average day of the year. For information on how AADFs are calculated, see the guidance on the Traffic Statistics pages on GOV.UK.

AADF figures are presented as: Units = vehicles per day"

So we downloaded the spreadsheet, took out a few columns of stats to try and fit it on a page, copied and pasted it and made it into the image below which if you click on you will see full size. 

Click to see full size image
So we wonder if any number crunchers out there in Gurnshire would like to have a look at that speradsheet themselves and see what they make of it. Obviously some days in summer would be a lot busier than those in winter (you would think) when it comes to average. Obviously the Department of Transport think these figures are useful because they publish them but perhaps some might have other ideas about the statistics. Does it look that the unofficial bypass via Auldearn and Cawdor has been taking the strain off the town in recent years for example given those figures?

UPDATE: We haver received some notes from a member of the Gurn think tank on these statistics and we will publish them in a separate article soon when time permits. 

Council Tax - are you willing to pay no more - 5%more, 10% more or more than that? - poll on Highland Council facebook page now

The Highland Council are running a poll here.

Monday, November 30, 2015

High Street should be reopening tomorrow - things return to normal until 5th January 2016

Michale Boylan of the Association of Nairn Businesses tells the Gurn that the original plan was that was that we would have two clear weeks in the High St and now we have four. He said:

"I’m just off the phone to SGN who have confirmed that they are finished with the High street works for this year recommencing 5th January 2016. I’ve asked for the signage to be removed and this should be done by tomorrow! No disruption for the last month of the year! Great news"

Riverside Walkers Christmas Tree to be decorated 9.30 Sunday morning (6th December)

Murd tells the Gurn that, weather permitting, he will be in situ on Sunday morning from 9.30 am to decorate both the traditional spots on the left and right bank, starting on the left side just past the Whinieknowe pool. Murd doesn't know if carol singers will be available like on a previous year when several ladies stopped by on their annual walk to lunch at Cawdor but he promises good craic regardless. 

Murd welcomes all, including local dignitaries and celebrities if they are available. Gurn photographers will be present to record one of the riverside's social highlights of 2015. Murd also tells us that, at present, no fireworks are planned for this event.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas tree looking very seasonal as snow attempts to lie on Nairn High Street - short video

Update, the snow started to thaw and then froze before dawn. It was a bit crispy down the Links and on the beach - video here. 

Foodbank collection by local SNP members sees a large quantity of food donated plus £370 cash raised.

Local MP Drew Hendry assisted at a foodbank donation stall set up outside the Courthouse yesterday morning. A large quantity of food was collected along with £370 donated by those who visited the stall between 10 am and midday. The food and the cash were later taken to the local Blythswood shop in Leopold Street. More images here. 

Blythswood administer the Highland Foodbank and you can find information about how you can help on their website here. 

Councillor Liz MacDonald was also present and she spoke for a few moments at the end of the two hour collection about the increasing numbers who are going to the foodbank for help throughout the Highlands. She also outlined her worries about how further changes to welfare could impact on Highland residents. She thanked those party members that had organised the stall and also praised the ongoing work by foodbank volunteers across the Highlands to meet the sadly growing demand. 

Earlier this week the Gurn reported on figures that Highland Council had published recently in an agenda document. Here they are again, they illustrate the gravity of the situation in the Highlands:

""Local figures show that, in the first 8 months (Jan-Aug) of 2015, 3,652 people, including 1,097 children have been provided with three day’s emergency food by Trussell Trust food banks in the Highlands. The number of people referred during the 12 month period in 2013 was 4,056 (inc 1,103 children) and in 2014 was 5,254 (inc 1,340 children); an increase of 30% in demand."

The report also states:

"The Scottish Welfare Fund, administered by the Council, also provides assistance to applicants for food when awarding Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants. Since the implementation of the fund on 1st April 2013, £335,860 has been award specifically for food:
• 01/04/2013 – 31/12/2013: £47,156 
• 01/01/2014 – 31/12/2014: £174,202
• 01/01/2015 – 30/09/2015: £114,502"

Nairn 3 Deveronvale 2 Pictures from Donald Matheson, Kenny MacLeod and Mashy Young

Click the read more tab to see the County paparrazi's record of yesterday's struggle against Deveronvale.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

And then there were fireworks...

at the Christmas Lights switch on celebrations.

and then came the Penguin's Tuxedo band

Well done all the volunteers and performers who made this possible, both the familiar faces who contributed to the event and the new wave of Nairn's social media based activists - "a Volunteer Army" is a phrase used by Cllr Michael Green to describe this community activism.

Cutter Photography have posted some images from last night, they are available on Facebook here. When time permits this weekend we will have a browse of the pictures we took last night and see if any of them are decent enough to put online. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nairn Healthcare closed from 1.30 pm on Thursday 3rd December until 8.30 am on Friday 4th December

"Nairn Healthcare will be closed from 1.30pm on Thursday 3rd December for a staff training afternoon. Ardersier branch surgery will close at 1pm. The surgery will re-open at 8.30am on Friday 4th December.

If you require urgent medical attention after 1.30pm, please call 01667 452096 and a member of the Out of Hours team will be available to take your call."

Overnight works start Monday 30 November for two nights on A96 in Nairn

BEAR Scotland state on their website:

"Overnight investigation and maintenance works will be carried out on the A96 through Nairn to help plan for future road maintenance schemes and to carry out essential repairs to the road surface. 

The work will take place over two nights and will be split into two phases. The first phase will involve investigation works planned to take place between Grants Garage and the road bridge over the River Nairn on Monday 30 November for one night, starting at 7.30pm until 6.30am the following morning. 

Phase two will see essential maintenance improvements carried out between Tradespark and the Nairn Showfield overnight on Tuesday 1 December, starting at 7.30pm until 2.00am the following morning.

Due to the nature of the schemes, there will be an element of loud working which need to finish by a certain time to minimise noise disruption, as required by The Highland Council. Therefore, whilst undertaking night-time works to have less effect on the community and businesses using the A96, work needs to start at 7.30pm each night to ensure that the loud operations are finished by the set timescales."

Thursday, November 26, 2015