Saturday, January 31, 2015

Highland League Cup (Morganti Cup) Nairn 4 Fort William 0 - pictures from Kenny MacLeod

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here.

Saturday Politics - a wee blether with SNP Westminster candidate Drew Hendry

Last Saturday we caught up with the Labour candidate who was in the Tradespark area and today there was a chance for a brief chat with Drew Hendry who was in town for a meeting of the local branch of the SNP in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre. Three in a row next week? Are you a candidate and coming to Nairn? Video of the interview with Drew in the tweet shown below. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Getting the best for Health and Social care in our area – a Suburban CC initiative

Dick Youngson speaking at the meeting of Nairn Suburban Community Council on Tuesday night in Nairn Academy told those present how his organisation had sent a letter to both Highland Council and NHS Highland outlining their desire for a model for integrated community care locally. A copy of the letter is available here (it was circulated widely including to the relevant MPs and MSPs.

“Something that can be managed here by all of us,” said Dick. “It is the way now that the Scottish Government is approving and suggesting.” 

The theory behind the initiative from Dick and his colleagues with this approach is that decisions and Health and Social Care issues are decided locally with an appropriate level of funding for the area’s size of population. 

Alastair Noble then spoke. He said, “I think the really important thing is that we had a very good meeting with Dr Baker and obviously there are ongoing discussions with the practice. I think it is absolutely essential that we acknowledge that it won’t work if the practice and the people of Nairn are not singing from the same hymn sheet and we need facts, we need details. 

My views on this are well known we should know what our fair share allocation is. We should know what has been spent we should know what the activity is, we should know where the activity is. If there are repeated difficulties in home care or physiotherapy, locality capacity the whole point of this integrated bill that the Scottish Government has put through is that the strategic commissioning process will deliver locality capacity. I think we are in a position where we have a fund of knowledge, a fund of experience. We’ve had very good working relationships with the Council, with NHS Highland, with the Community Councils and historically we have a community care forum with the users and the carers and the practice has always been very involved in that. 

I think given the recent problems there’s been it’s absolutely essential that we move back to a position where we openly and frankly can discuss what’s going on and to do that we need the data and the information and a locality planning process. It’s absolutely essential that we move this forward and we have a willingness from the practice to take part in that and a willingness to share the data and I think that puts us in a very strong position to help NHS Highland and Highland Council with their integration board and their strategic commission role. I just think we have to keep the pressure on because the alternative in my opinion is just not acceptable or sustainable or in the best interests of any of us who could either be patients or need services in the communities. I think it is really important we get this right and I think we have to keep pushing on down this road.”

Liz MacDonald then asked if there was any way that Suburban CC could put their questions to the District Partnership. This is a discussion group that meets in public where health and social care issues are raised. Liz said that putting forward the issue of separating Nairn and Ardersier from Badenoch and Strathspey would “give it a meatier agenda and may find some positive resolutions”. 

Dick replied that that was possible but they didn’t see much affinity between the area here and Badenoch and Strathspey. He then said, “It’s one of these unfortunate little linkages that isn’t perhaps as helpful or as appropriate as it should be. That’s one of the reasons why we see this particular area from Ardersier, Croy, Cawdor and eastwards here to the boundary with Moray as being a very logical area.”

The debate continued and Liz repeated the invitation. The next meeting of the District Partnership happens to be in the Courthouse on Thursday the 5th of February at 10 am and is open to the public. You can read the agenda here.

Increase of complaints to police regarding illegal or inconsiderate parking in Nairn town centre

Highlands and Islands Police Division report on their facebook page. 

"Police in Nairn have recently received an increase in complaints regarding illegal or inconsiderate parking in and around the Nairn town centre area.

Police Scotland would like to remind motorists to ensure that when parking their vehicle, they avoid obstructing carriageways, footpaths or pedestrian crossings and that they comply with the requirements of the Road traffic Regulation Act 1984. Parking violations can carry a £30 non-endorseable fixed penalty fine.

Police Scotland are committed to keeping people safe and promoting road safety awareness and, together with our Traffic Warden colleagues and other partner agencies, have commenced an operation to tackle these issues through a period of education and enforcement.

Police and partners will also proactively engage with the various businesses and retailers in Nairn to ensure that, where possible, deliveries are made so as to reduce any unnecessary obstruction or congestion.

Residents are encouraged to promptly report any parking issues to the local authority or to Police on 101 if instances of dangerous or obstructive parking should occur."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Will the Westies and the Subbies get to the Church on time?

On Tuesday night in Nairn Academy there were two Community Council meetings held very separately but the main players from each watchdog team (West and Suburban) were there to listen to and witness each other's meetings. 

The West Community Council and their Suburban counterparts are ready and willing to go to the altar to be joined in municipal matrimony and hope to be joined as a couple by the time the Community Council elections come round in November 2015.

The Gurn understands that before that however they have to submit details of the reasoning behind their intention to unite to Highland Council - a detailed prospectus and other details of the impacts etc. It may be perhaps that the ward manager Liz Cowie that will perform the ceremony once everything has been checked or maybe the heavyweights from Glenurquhart Road may wish to officiate at the happy event. 

It still seems that River Community Council are not up for the  ménage à trois that would give Nairn a chance to recreate something along the lines of the Old District Council but it seems there are moves in the background to set up an official association of Nairnshire Community Councils in the same way as has successfully implemented in Easter Ross and other parts of Scotland and this is a potential organisation that could lobby Highland Council and others on matters that were mutually beneficial to all community councils in the area.

Nairn Dunbar - Golf Yearbook's Scottish Club of the Year 2015

More details and picture here on the Nairn Dunbar twitter account.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Windsor Hotel worries for the westies

Secretary of Nairn West CC, Brian Stewart, told those assembled for his organisation's meeting in Nairn Academy last night of concerns continuing from around Christmas time of residents worried about the empty Windsor Hotel and the possibilities of people gaining entry and also of a potential fire risk. He told the meeting that the Police and fire brigade were on the case. 

Rosemary Young, Chair of West CC then spoke. “When we were speaking to the police about it, it came on the back of one of our residents ringing me about the worry that people were breaking in. [...] Where they were getting in, must have been an absolute bonanza for kids, and having parties, has been blocked off and there’s some police tape over there and the police are satisfied nobody is getting in because the tape hasn’t been broken since.” 

Rosemary was then asked whether the building could be put back into a hotel or put to other use. She replied: “I think it would be quite difficult to get it up and running without a lot of money being spent.”

On whether a developer could turn the former Windsor into luxury apartments Rosemary added:

“I think it is unlikely. This is me speaking as the previous owner. It think it is unlikely you could turn it into luxury flats because of the way all the four buildings have been cobbled together there. [...] I think it’s destined to be pulled down eventually but that is purely a personal opinion.”

Liz MacDonald also added that the licence for the hotel had not been renewed.

Nairn Football Community Coaching

"Nairn Football Coaching In The Community is all about coaching children of different abilities about football in a safe and fun environment. We will be starting with boys and girls from primary 3 to primary 7. All our Coaches will be PVG certified and have vast knowledge of the game. Coaching Will start in April. Page will be updated with more information as we go along." 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Now a bridge too far - Kingsteps long-standing construction and repair team reluctantly stand down

Recently we heard from Morton, one of the Kingsteps bridge-building brigade. Gurnites will probably remember previous article here

Morton told us : “As a follow up to the recent post advising of the latest loss of the Kingsteps “rickety” bridge I can report that a perfectly amicable meeting was held on site with the RSPB site manager and The Highland Council’s Access Officer and two representatives of the Kingsteps bridge builders. The purpose being to explore opportunities of reinstating the bridge following the RSPB’s intervention on Health & Safety grounds. 

It is clear that the reinstatement of the former “rickety” bridge is no longer an option and will not be permitted by the RSPB (should perhaps be The Royal Society for the Prevention of Bridges!). The only alternative would be for a properly engineered bridge which would fully comply with the standards required by the numerous public bodies, each of whom would require to be consulted and their approval obtained (these include but not limited to RSPB, The Highland Council, SEPA, The Marine Conservation Society etc.) even then it is unlikely that the RSPB would take on the maintenance and liability of such a bridge. An alternative would be for a Community Trust to be formed which would fund, maintain and take on the liability but again it would be subject to the approval of the various interested parties.

The bridge builders are rightly taken aback by this turn of events as the bridge has been in place for a good number of years without any objections from the RSPB. They have been undeterred by the regular loss of the bridge to storms and tides and have happily rebuilt it on at least four occasions in recent times. However whilst the forces of nature have failed to stop them in their endeavours they have reluctantly decided to step down in the face of the overwhelming forces of bureaucracy and today’s health and safety regime. 

The venture was always intended to be no more than a bit of fun – fun for the bridge builders and fun for its many users both locals and holidaymakers who enjoyed the crossing as reported below by one of the many holiday visitors who much appreciated its challenge:

“On the return we came across the "makeshift bridge". A quirky little bridge that would make any cub scout proud. ” 

And by another visitor to the area

“Had a fair bit of fun on this bridge. Took me back to my Girl Guide and Venture Scout days.”

The Gurn also asked the RSPB for their reaction to the outcome of the meeting and their site manager Steph Elliot told us:

“I met with Tom and Morton on Friday morning, and we had a very friendly meeting. I explained that, under the Occupiers Liability Act, we have a duty of care to ensure the safety of our visitors. Whilst the bridges that have been variously built at Kingsteps over the past few years are certainly feats of engineering, they do not meet the safety standards that we are expected to provide for visitors. Regardless of who erected such structures, it would be the RSPB who would be held responsible for an accident resulting from using the bridge, and so I respectfully asked that no further bridges be built.

We discussed whether it would be possible to build a bridge that would meet the expected standard here. I think all agreed that the ground is a very dynamic system here – hence why all previous bridges have been washed away in storms or very high tides. The route of the channel changes regularly, and the dunes have eroded in winter storms giving less protection. It would be difficult build a ‘safe’ bridge across this channel – it would require a wide span with concrete abutments to ensure stability. It was also need to be much higher in order to avoid the highest tides. All this engineering would require consent from SNH due to the international protections afforded to Culbin Sands, and probably also licences from SEPA and possibly Marine Scotland. Those consents would not necessarily be given. We are probably talking thousands of pounds for such a construction, resources that the RSPB does not have. And I think that we all agreed that such a structure would not be in keeping with the wild nature of Culbin Sands, which is what we all enjoy the area for. 

Whilst I am sure this is not the outcome that the ‘bridge builders’ had hoped for, they agreed that a bridge in this location was a convenience rather that a necessity.”

Gurn Comment: we are where we are in this new millennium some will say that the Health and Safety culture has gone too far and others will point to other, darker times, when no such legislation existed and compare the improvements in working conditions and public safety. Perhaps some could be forgiven for thinking though that we have passed completely into a world where there is no turning a blind eye to the sort of activity the Kingsteps bridge builders were engaged in. They made sustainable use of materials that were literally washed up where they were needed. People in positions of authority are of course now under every obligation to act when they become aware of a situation that contravenes rules and regulations. To be fair to the RSPB the weight their responsibilities arising from situations like this one have reached the point where to turn a blind eye would just not have been possible. The precautionary principle is sovereign. Where does it leave the likes of the altruistic volunteers from Kingsteps who stepped in to fill a need and have a bit of fun at the same time though? Have we legislated ourselves into a world where proactive behaviour for the common good is on its way to becoming totally outlawed unless sanctioned by a host of public bodies and other organisations?

Police appeal for witnesses - vehicle collided with mobility scooter on Cawdor Raod, Nairn 12.30 15th January

Police are appealing for information in relation to a road traffic collision that occurred in Nairn on Thursday 15th January 2015.

About 1230 hours on Thursday 15th January, a vehicle travelling along Cawdor Road, Nairn, in the direction of the hospital, collided with a mobility scooter that was travelling on the path in the same direction.

The driver of the scooter - an elderly male - was taken to Raigmore Hospital for treatment.

Anyone who witnessed this incident please is encouraged to contact Police on 101.

Monday, January 26, 2015

“Has your town been given any of Westminster’s £6.5million funding for North of Scotland?”

So states an article on the Press and Journal website. That article is about this year’s windfalls for communities across the north from the Coastal Communities Fund. To give you some idea of the amounts that can be accessed here is a short paragraph from the article:

“Major investments include £712,775 for a new “community hub” at Sleat on the Isle of Skye, £698,568 to install pontoons at Castlebay Harbour on Barra and £450,000 to turn derelict buildings at Portsoy into tourist accommodation.” 

Has our town been given anything? The answer is nothing is mentioned on the P&J site and nothing too on an interactive map accessible via a Westminster Government web page which contains more information about the funding Scotland has received. Let’s just take a look at one of the projects marked on the map in Findhorn just along the road from us. 

“£167,437 to refurbish the existing Victorian style hostel based in Findhorn in Moray to modern, energy efficient standards, upgrading heating, insulation, windows, kitchen and living space to extend the length of the letting season.” 

Not bad, 167K would go a long way in a building such as the old social work buildings wouldn’t it? Or towards the creation of a coastal path between Nairn and Inverness - the missing link in a potential route from Aberdeenshire to the Great Glen and beyond that to the West Highland Way - a project that is on the Highland Council's books but one that has gone into apparent hibernation? But Nairn hasn’t received any funding however, so that means either no applications to the Coastal Communities Fund were made or if they were they were unsuccessful. Could it be that we just do not have any oven-ready projects that we could put forward for funding? Maybe there are problems with having to have ownership of a property like the old social work buildings or questions about finding matching funding. It isn’t as if we haven’t had opportunities over the years for projects to come out of the charrettes and public meetings a-plenty that the local authorities and other groups have put on. 

This observer is minded to think back to November 2013 and a meeting in the Sailing club with members of the local authority present, NICE and reps from the Kayak and Sailing club and others. A lot of radical ideas for the harbour and seafront were discussed and some of those look as though they would have fitted the top end of the sort of awards that the CCF has dished out. Yes it’s a long way from the drawing board to the JCB’s turning up on site but it seemed at the time that the will to engage in some remarkable projects was in the air. Perhaps something could still emerge from this direction? 

Earlier this evening one of our regular readers had a quick browse of the interactive map and came up with a few observations. Our correspondent says that Harbours, piers, slipways and sailing feature a lot. The Thurso Harbour Centre idea would resonate perhaps with those who were at the November 2013 (mentioned above) in the sailing club in November 2013 Elsewhere, harbours etc at Tobermory, Carbost and Ulva on Mull all got funds, and all are run by community trusts or charitable companies (ie like NICE). Skye Sailing Club got an award to upgrade their premises. Whilst In Findhorn and over near Applecross money has gone to hostel-type/adventure training places run by charitable/community bodies. Just a few from examples that Gurnites can browse if they wish on the map here. 

There are lots of examples out there of what can be done. Perhaps the next round of Coastal Community Fund awards might see something coming our way?

Lochloy lights out - traffic appears to be running smoothly

This observer had a look at the lights this morning. It appears they have been out all night according to a tweet from Traffic Scotland. Drivers were behaving cautiously and courteously in the wet and dark early morning conditions and it was quite busy as usual around 8.25 a.m. Picture below and video to follow. 

UPDATE: video from approx 8.25 a.m. Mon 26th January

Monday Morning Miscellany

Good morning Gurnshire. Presently some very heavy showers seem to be passing through the area, adding to the damp feel left by the recent thaw. The recent spates on the river have had quite an effect on parts of the river walk up to Cawdor. Rows of large alders lie berthed by the random forces of nature waiting for the next big spate to send them further down to the town and Nairn beach. Get the chainsaws ready? Images of the Cawdor path here. 

A large display of artwork and poetry from the pupils of Rosebank and Millbank schools can be seen in Sainsbury’s if anyone is going there this week. Image here in a tweet from Graham. Elsewhere three ride-on lawn mowers taking part in a charity event to raise money Chrons and Colitis UK are looking for free camping/parking in Nairn in July as they race round Britain over a week-long period. Perhaps they could stay on the links as long as they cut the area for us? If anyone can help here is the website with details. 

Moira of the Friendship club has sent us the latest poster for the group’s activities in February (on display in the Gurn sidebar). She tells us that the club is going very well. They are looking for volunteer drivers for the community minibus (free training provided) and also for entertainers for some of their sessions. If anyone can help let the Gurn know and we will forward your details to Moira. 

Disappointment for the County fans this weekend as the Scottish Football Partnership indicated that they will not be providing matching funding for a new “cowshed” at Station Park. The fans still have the £50,000 they have raised in the pot however and are in discussions with the club chairman Peter Mackintosh about the best way forward to realise their ambition of a new stand in the club’s centenary year. More details here on the County site.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“We need to stop arguing amongst ourselves”?

Gurnites may have noticed that this week’s edition of the Leopold Street Thunderer featured the recent fact-finding visit to Alness by Michael Green and a handful of Comunity Councillors on the front page. A deeper analysis of what Nairn might or might not learn from the Alness experience featured on the editorial page however with the heading “Apples and Pears”. Iain Bain says a little into his missive:

“Early on in the decline of the oil industry Easter Ross and its villages like Alness were regarded as economic and social basket cases. What Nairn’s representatives observed on their tour was the result of years of sympathetic treatment by local government and agencies. Credit may be due to Cllr Wilson but it also has to be paid to her predecessors in Easter Ross who fought very hard to get resources flowing into their area and not into places like Nairn which have consistently regarded as basking in the economic glow of the Inverness area and much less deserving.”

Perhaps Iain is a little hard on the accomplishments of Carolyn Wilson, this observer would suggest that at least the continuing success of Alness High Street as a healthy economic retail trading block with a vastly improved appearance is down to the hard working group of locals that she has led for at least a decade. Anyway Iain is totally correct to say that Nairn is perceived as much less deserving. For example, Nairn’s apparent opulence and upmarket hotels, golf courses etc, mask the recently revealed fact that 24% of children in the town live in poverty. To return to Iain Bain's editorial:

“Cllr Green and his colleagues ought to look very hard at Easter Ross; not for the apparent improvement of Alness as an individual place, but for the way in which the area has fought its corner in Highland Council and the former Regional Council. They might consider how it is that a town like Dingwall is the base for some regional functions where Nairn, nearly twice its size, is regarded by planners as a suburb with an increasingly geriatric population. They might also consider that what they saw in Alness may be a transient state about to change as the recession bites.”

Have our elected representatives fought our corner over the last 20-30 years? Civic power has definitely been ebbing away in the direction of Inverness over that time. There has been the recent creation of the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee which is meant to be the template for future reform and the restoration of the democratic deficit to our community. There are those however that criticise this area committee as a toothless talking shop for the launch of press releases about expenditure and initiatives that would have to be made anywhere.

It’s not only Nairn though, there can be no doubt that the whole of Scotland suffers from supersized councils and consequently disempowered communities. Lesly Riddoch writes in her book “Blossom:what Scotland needs to Flourish” :

“If self-determination is good enough for Scotland, it’s good enough for Scotland’s communities too. If power and responsibility can renew Scotland, then a democratic stimulus can also give a leg up to capable, active communities. Instead they are being micro-managed badly from on high while politicians bemoan punter apathy. Wrong-sized layers of governance allow power to be hovered upwards by the nearest quango or distant council not devolved downwards to the nearest competent community unit. Scotland needs smaller, more meaningful, democratically accountable units of organisation before the big policy gains will follow.” 

This observer was speaking recently to one of the usual suspects who suggests that there will be opportunities for communities in the form of the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Community Renewal and Empowerment Bill which will have devices which will enable communities to do just that - “empower” themselves if they wish to. To do that though a community would have to get its act together. With that in mind let’s turn to the last paragraph of Iain Bain’s editorial:

“Nairn has become noted as a hotbed of contention and argument but that may be a reflection of the size of the place. We need to stop arguing amongst ourselves but that seems unlikely with the inability to achieve a single community council for the town and the developing rivalry between NICE and the Nairn Economic Initiative. 

Despite the near universal acceptance locally that Nairn has received a bad deal from Invercentric Government for many years are we doomed to get more of the same simply because of the divisions between us?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Scottish Labour activists hit the icyTradespark doorsteps

Mike Robb (right of picture), the Labour candidate for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey seat currently occupied by Danny Alexander was canvassing with colleagues earlier today in Tradespark. 

The Gurn had a wee blether with Mike and committed some of that to video for posterity. Apologies for some of the iffy sound (this observer was messing about with audio settings to reduce background noise and it didn't work out too well.

 Here at the Gurn we hope we will be able to give you occasional details of what the candidates get up to when they are in Nairn between now and May 7th. Regardless of the political leanings of the Gurn team we hope to be fair to all as our readers are obviously drawn from across the political spectrum. 

So if you party or candidate is doing anything in Nairn please send us details or pictures. We're not interested so much in the macro picture but more interested in what the candidates think they can do for Nairn and would be delighted if they wish to impress our readers with their knowledge of the main issues affecting our community and what they think they can do to help us resolve them. 

Here's Mike Robb speaking to the Gurn: 

An icy start to Saturday morning (24/01/15)

The heavy overnight showers of rain, sleet and snow have frozen this morning and despite the mercury going up above zero it is still tricky underfoot in many in not all parts of the town today. The Highland League Cup game between Nairn and Fort William has also fallen foul of the weather with Station Park failing a pitch inspection at 8 am this morning.

UPDATE: take care on the Cawdor Road B9090 - overturned van by Piperhill turnoff - image here. (that tweet posted online just after 9 am) 

Friday, January 23, 2015

"e-inclusion" and "Unity in Community" - Stuart Davidson opens the Meeting Place in Harbour Street Nairn - video

Earlier today we posted a few details about yesterday's opening ceremony here. Now here's a video of the Stuart Davidson opening the facility and some more images from yesterday afternoon ( 22/01/15) on the Gurn flickr pages here. 

The Meeting Place opens in Harbour street - promoting and facilitating IT, multi-media and e-inclusion

The Meeting Place promotes and facilitates IT, multi-media and  e-inclusion for adults with learning difficulties and complex learning needs The new facility in Harbour Street was officially opened yesterday afternoon by Stuart Davidson, former Youth Convenor on Highland Council. Stuart has been a volunteer with the Meeting Place in Inverness, he is now in the third year of a law degree at Edinburgh University and took the time out to come north yesterday to officially open the new venture. 

The Meeting Place have a website here and a facebook page here which demonstrate the remarkable results achieved so far by this organisation. We will be publishing more images from yesterday's opening ceremony when time permits and also a video of what Stuart had to say - he has strong feelings about the need for e-inclusion in this modern day society of ours. Here's wishing every success to the Meeting Place as they continue and expand their work in Harbour Street. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Alexander Brodie tells the Gurn that the Kingsteps gate is to be closed at night for a trial run

Yesterday Highland Council abandoned their action against Alexander Brodie concerning the gate at the access to the Kingsteps car-park at the Court of Session in Edinburgh - details here. Earlier today we published a statement from Highland Council here. 

Tonight Alexander Brodie told the Gurn: "The gate will be closed, but only at night. I will do this as a trial run. See how it goes. This will hopefully stop the worst antisocial behaviour that has been plaguing residents; while at the same time not antagonising those who, for some reason, do not like the Council's official car park by the caravan site." 
The access to the Kingsteps car-park this evening (22/01/15)

Kingsteps gate case abandoned by local authority at Court of Session - Highland Council statement

Details of yesterdays events in this post here. We asked the Highland Council for a reaction and a spokesperson said:

"The Council is under a duty to uphold access rights. When access to the car park was obstructed, the Council took appropriate steps, in the public interest, to uphold access rights. These steps were successful and access was reinstated.

Mr Brodie put himself forward as the owner of the access track (he had installed the gate preventing access), therefore the court action was raised against him.

The Sheriff referred the court action to the Court of Session at Mr Brodie’s request, despite the Council resisting this. Counsel’s Opinion obtained by the Council suggests that, while the Council’s prospects of success are good, the duration of proceedings in the Court of Session is likely to be protracted and therefore very expensive.

It is not considered appropriate to incur the expense of having the Court of Session determine the action, there are more cost effective options open to the Council."

That final paragraph seems to indicate that although the court action will cease the story itself is perhaps not over. We have also asked Alexander Brodie for comment. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thanks to CM Design for this one - a view you don't see every day - from the top of the Rosebank Church

The Gurn asked if there was any chance of a picture from the top and CM Design  came up with the goods. CM Design website here.

Alexander Brodie can claim legal expenses in Kingsteps gate row

The Kingsteps Gate row went to the Court of Session in Edingburgh today and it certainly took a surprise twist. The BBC reports:

"A clan chief has been allowed to claim expenses in a legal dispute with a council about a gate allegedly blocking public access to a beauty spot.

Highland Council was found liable to Alexander Brodie of Brodie, the 27th Clan Chief of Brodie, for costs in the case at a hearing in Edinburgh.

The dispute about Nairn's Kingsteps has been running for two years.

Highland Council has sought to abandon its legal action against Mr Brodie, but may raise fresh proceedings."  More here on the BBC site.

Perhaps Highland Council will make their reasons for their abandonment of its legal action against Alexander Brodie public - after all taxpayer's money must have been spent along the long and winding legal road to Edinburgh. Maybe the Council will clarify its position in a press release in due course. 

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

A five month delay but the Castle Lane information board finally goes live

The Highland Council have finally obtained a key for the snazzy information board installed in  Castle Lane five months ago. The key is now in the hands of River Community Council Chair Tommy Hogg. Speaking elsewhere he said:

"I have the keys now and will be keeping them secure. It was decided the Community Council would take it on for the sake of convenience. It had become almost comical"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Beautiful scaffolding

Bear battle Nairn's crazy green men again

This evening we heard reports at Gurn HQ of the traffic lights at the library carpark and up at Sainsbury's behaving badly - very badly indeed with the Sainsbury's lights just allowing about six seconds of a green light before extended red periods. After a snooze in front of the telly this observer headed up for a look. It was after midnight but traffic was still passing through town to be held up by the misbehaving green men. 

Bear turned up on the scene and their workers soon had the Sainsbury's lights back in action. It looked like a button jamming there - possibly due to the low temperatures? The Bear boys then headed into town to tackle the other set of lights but didn't seem to have the same instant success achieved on the eastern edge of town. Hopefully they will get it sorted before the morning rush starts. 

Bear workers arrive to fix Nairn traffic lights again

Here's a video of the situation earlier which demonstrates how the pedestrian sequence was doing its own thing at both locations.

UPDATE: 06.30 20/01 The lights at the Library carpark are now off. Presumably efforts to fix them earlier failed and a decision must have been made to enable traffic flow through the town by turning the lights off until a solution could be found. Signs have been put in place to warn drivers that the lights are off.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2 Common Marmoset monkeys stolen from a garden in Balmakeith Drive Nairn on Saturday 17th January Between 16:30 and 22:50

Please have a read of the following police appeal and see if you have any information which might help solve this crime. 

Between 16:30 and 22:50 on Saturday 17th January 2015, 2 Common Marmoset monkeys were taken from an external, insecure enclosure located within a garden in the Balmakeith Drive area, Nairn.

The theft closely follows an unknown male attending at the property offering to carry out gutter cleaning services and thereafter expressing an interest in purchasing the monkeys, which was declined.

The male is described as: white, late 20s, short, medium build, roundish face, no glasses, no facial hair, well presented with no distinctive accent.

The monkeys were aged 12 months and 11 weeks respectively, with the older one being approximately 8” in height with distinctive white fur markings on the tips of the ears and the younger monkey approximately 3” in height, darker in colour with no white markings.

Although bred as domestic pets, the monkeys should be considered wild animals which require specialist care and feeding. The older monkey can and will be aggressive if handled and this may result in scratches and/or serious bites occurring. The SSPCA advises members of the public if you come across the monkeys not to handle them and to contact them in the first instance on 03000 999 999

Police are appealing for anyone with information as to the whereabouts of these animals or those person(s) responsible for their disappearance to contact them urgently on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Drew Hendry has been selected to stand for the SNP against Danny Alexander

Drew is the leader of Highland Council and an interesting contest is now under way. Mike Robb is the Labour candidate and Edward Mountain will be flying the Tory flag. The Scottish Green Party is still in the process of deciding whether to contest the seat.

Drew is obviously hard at work already and so is Mike Robb as the tweet below from one of his colleagues shows.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Progress report for Councillors on two major Nairn planning applications this coming Tuesday (20th Jan)

Going before the Highland Council South Planning Committee in Inverness on Tuesday are updates on the Cawdor Maintenance Trust plans for Delnies and also the Charles Allenby proposal for South Nairn. The recommomendation to Councillors is: "That the current position of these applications is noted."

The Cawdor Maintenance Trust details are: "Mixed use development of 300 houses; tourism and heritage, equestrian and ecological centres; hotel and conference facilities; championship golf course, clubhouse and golf academy; community woodland and country park with associated infrastructure."

And under the progress heading: "At its meeting on 27 March 2012 the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Planning Applications Committee were minded to grant permission subject to prior conclusion of a S75 legal agreement. This has been drafted and the terms generally agreed. In September 2014 the applicant submitted an amended access to the site; substituting a right hand turning lane for a roundabout. Neighbours were re-notified and the amended scheme was re-advertised on 03 October 2014. A decision will be made in early 2015."  

The full details of this application can be browsed here.  Once on that application's main file page those serious students of local planning matters will be able to browse a number of objections from local community councils and individuals to the change from a roundabout to a right hand turning lane. 

Now the Charles Allenby application. This application was in fact a rival one to the Scotia consortium bid that was rejected after a hearing with a Scottish Office Reporter. It is detailed as:

"Mixed use development including community facilities/local neighbourhood centre including Class 1/2/3 uses: 250 houses, open space, railway bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, landscaping and landscape buffer, access and transport improvements, associated infrastructure and land for business and industry including sawmill expansion area."

The progress of this application is detailed as: "Written to applicant to advise that they may wish to withdraw the application in light of Reporters decision in respect of the adjacent development at Nairn South. Applicant has advised that it wishes to address the matters raised by submission of a new TA. No suggestion made on how to progress other matters previously raised. Proceed to determined the application rather than await further information - likely to be determined prior to end February 2015."  

The full details of this application can be browsed here. Regular readers will need no reminding of how South Nairn planning issues have caused outrage in recent years in Nairn which culminated with a major protest when the planning committee came to town in September 2013.

A chance to keep your brain healthy...Starting Jan 27th

Sunny Nairn January 2015

A sunny January day captured by Kenny MacLeod here on Youtube.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ten years of gurning - plus ça change...

The Gurn first emerged on January 17th 2005. There was considerable output during 2005 including in-depth investigative coverage of the story the authorities wished to keep under wraps – migratory killer sofas in the River Nairn! Perhaps we are far too serious ten years on? 2006 and 2007 were pretty thin as far as articles go but from 2008 onwards the volume steadily increased and over the years we added the Gurn Flickr pages, Youtube vids and the Gurn twitter account to provide a multi-meida service on anything Gurnshire we came across. We’re still here and will continue whenever anything happens and/or time permits. It’s been a bit of a learning curve but great fun. Thanks to everyone in Gurnshire that has helped or participated over the past 10 years – it couldn’t have been done without you.

 For our birthday we reproduce our first post which might bring on an ironic smile or two as we wonder if somethings just keep going round and round - the rumours of Lidl are a little more concrete now though.


Well the shelves are emptying fast of bread, milk and a few other things in the Co-op as a few folk have been caught out by Morrisons shutting and changing into Somerfield (hopefully somebody will remember to take down the Safeway logo). Anyway it stays closed until Wednesday when we'll see what is on offer.
An urban myth has sprung up that Lidl are coming to town - now that would be good news if that fantasy were to materialise. What chocolate they sell - just delicious.

The months slip by and now in 2005 the town centre redevelopment still has to get off the ground. Will it ever happen?

For good measure we add the first comment ever made on the Gurn - was the prophetic "iright" on the ball with his vision of the future?

"What a shame that some folk just drift to oor co-opie when the 'main' supermarket is closed. The Co-op Society is just that, a co-op. It supports charities, fair trade, non-GM food & farming. I am sure to most people it just seems a crap supermarket compared to Tescos but if you are going to spend money on food at least look at who's pockets you are lining.

The 'street' in Nairn is fast becoming the shopping centre of the elderly, those without cars, others just shopping for a few items, rather than being the main shopping outlet for our community. There are only so many charity shops we can support (eBay?); beyond that will we see shops being turned into flats (as at the harbour). Nairn is fast becoming the place to commute from, not only for work but also for consumer spending. Those left behind will find a poor selection of shops, for the future surely is Inverness or stay at home and order from the Internet?"

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hughes and McIntyre experience helped me - Nairn goalkeeper Antell | Inverness Courier | Sport | Football

Background article on the talented keeper Calum Antell who has been gracing the Station Park turf this season:

Hughes and McIntyre experience helped me - Nairn goalkeeper Antell | Inverness Courier | Sport | Football

LeBlanc LeBlog: Thoughts on moving so far...

Nairnite and stateside blogger Pam is moving soon from Tennessee to Seattle - her thoughts on this in her latest post:

LeBlanc LeBlog: Thoughts on moving so far...: Thankfully I'm used to moving every couple of years from our time in the military.  It's actually enjoyable for me to declutter and ...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mother Nature strikes again - Kingsteps Bridge no more - appeal for rebuild assistance

Morton Gillespie tells the Gurn:

"It’s my sad duty to report that the latest “new” Kingsteps rickety bridge has once again succumbed to the forces of nature. The latest bridge was effectively destroyed by last Fridays storms and is no more.

Despite the best efforts of the Kingsteps Pensioners Bridge Builders this is the third time their bridge building efforts have been destroyed – the latest bridge having survived for a couple of months through the winter which is a testimony to their engineering skills.

Our own “Brunell” of Kingsteps, octogenarian, Tom Wright remains undeterred despite this latest setback and he has already undertaken a dismantling operation and salvaged the main components of the bridge despite the recent atrocious weather. The components now lie neatly secured and Tom is already planning the rebuilding of the bridge once the weather relents.

The bridge provides an essential link from the East Beach to the Culbin woods and is well used and appreciated by many walkers.

Courtesy of the Gurn I would lay down a challenge to the youth of Nairn, local businesses, the Highland Council, Community Councils and all Community organisations to rally around and provide much needed support (pun fully intended) for the building of a new bridge which will withstand nature’s storms. This can be in the form of labour, materials or financial assistance."

UPDATE 21.40 15/01/15:
There has been an intervention from the RSPB who tell the Gurn that they are concerned about the bridge being rebuilt as it is on the RSPB Scotland's Culbin Sands nature reserve and as there are " are important legal issues around liability and health and safety". They do however add " We would very much like to work with the local community and especially with local walkers to explain the situation and look at possible alternative solutions." In the meantime they state that they propose to remove the materials concerned on Monday.

Gurn comment: for a long time (at least twenty years now?) there has been some sort of bridge in that area for the benefit of walkers, a bridge that has been rebuilt several times after various storms. Hopefully the RSPB can come to some sort of accord with the Kingsteps pensioners' volunteer brigade for a new improved access that provides an ecological and sustainable solution fit for the health and safety concerns of the new millennium.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gritting - did a couple of spots get overlooked due to pressure of workload and cuts

One of our regular readers Brian made some observations this morning. 

He told us earlier: "traffic is struggling to get out of Lochloy Road at the moment, as that small incline to the A96 is covered with ice – many cars just cannot pull out once on the incline. The traffic jam to get onto the A96 now extends the length of Lochloy Road to the new flats."

Brian also stated that he felt that Duncan Drive hadn't been adequately gritted too and there and elsewhere cars were litterally skidding out onto the A96. Obviously there are priorities and the Council cannot get everywhere at once when there is an extreme overnight frost on top of snow/sleet/rain but are the cutbacks kicking in already?

Anyone lost a Yorkshire Terrier in Nairn?

Sarah tells the Gurn:

"Yesterday evening (7pm) I found a male Yorkshire terrier straying near my house in Montgomerie Drive. I asked some of our neighbours but no one seemed to know who owns the dog and I was told it had been outside alone since the afternoon. It was wearing a red glittery collar with silver and black spots on it but didn't have a name tag. I wasn't able to find the owner so handed it over to the police station who were keeping it overnight. "

UPDATE: Dog now reunited with its owers

Grantown's happy and gearing up for a big birthday

"The beautiful town of Grantown on Spey in the Highlands of Scotland will be 250 years old in June 2015. We will be celebrating its history, and its present in June 2015 with a series of exciting events in the town square..."    There is a facebook page set up by the Grantown community to focus on this year's forthcoming celebrations. 

Any excuse coming up for Nairn to have a bit of a party? How about the world orienteering championships? There is an opening ceremony on Saturday August 1st in Nairn starting at 1645.  The town will be busy - that might be a good day for anyone planning a summer event to put it on and benefit from the proximity of such a prominent world championship?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rock Club talk Wednesday night (14th January) cancelled due to bad weather

David Shaw told the Gurn. "Please note that Wednesday night's talks at the Rock Garden Club have been cancelled due to the weather. A good number of regular members come in from the surrounding areas and the Convener felt it necessary to cancell in plenty of time."

Good news as dog missing in the Culbin for 8 days turns up at Dyke

Gurnites may remember the post last Friday which showed a picture of Suki the boxer who had gone missing in the Culbin. Well she was spotted today in Dyke and reunited with her worried owners. 

Analysing the Alness experience

Michael Green led a small delegation of Nairn Community Councillors and a rep from Keeping Nairnshire Colourful on a visit to Alness yesterday. After exploring the range of shops and businesses available on the High Street and surrounding area and inspecting the many environmental improvements made over the years the group met up with Alness councillor and retailer Carolyn Wilson. They heard first hand of the remarkable changes that have occurred in Ross-shire's biggest town over the past twenty years. 
The visitors chat with Carolyn Wilson (right)
It started with a small dedicated bunch of individuals who decided to do something about the vandalised, graffiti ridden landscape that, in those days, contained 12 empty shops - today there are no empty shops on Alness High Street! Many hours of hard work were to follow over the years as the volunteers just got on with the job, having to find cash and resources themselves. Britain in Bloom success was one of many positive outcomes for the community. Now Alness is a destination for shopping and even attracts Invernessians up the A9. 

According to Carolyn creating a clean, attractive and safe environment for shoppers is the key and once they enjoy the experience they will come back with friends and family. It was a miserable wet Monday afternoon when the visitors arrived but the High Street looked busy compared to what you might expect in Nairn - the fact finding mission was told that it was actually a quiet day by local standards. 
Alness High Street
The Alness improvements were not achieved overnight, people acted when they could and with whatever was to hand but momentum eventually was achieved and the situation was totally turned around by some remarkable people. The visitors headed back down the A9 with quite a lot to think about. 

Dance and Movement Group Nairn - video

Short video made for Bodysurf Scotland in 2014 is available here

Any Gurnites in the mood for videos today may wish to browse these Gurn efforts - another wee look at the recent beach extension and a glance or two at the River Nairn in spate as it passes through the town. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Meanwhile over into Moray and along the coast a little - it's New Year's Day all over again

Bliadhna ùr paganach Torr an Dùin 10 Faoilleach, Losgadh a' Chléibhidh 2015. Pagan New year Burghead 10 th January Burning of the Clavie 2015.

Saints 3 Grantown FC 4

Lots of action as Saints lose to Grantown at a slippy Showfield with the visitors bagging a controversial penalty towards the end of the game.

Deveronvale v Nairn County off due to waterlogged pitch

County would have been very much looking forward to this encounter after their commanding New Year start against Forres but the fixture has fallen victim to the recent storms. 

Would you like to become a plotter? A small number of allotments maybe become available soon

Nairn Allotment Society may soon have a small number of plots available for lease at either the Sandown site or down at Mill Road. If you would like to apply for a plot please send details to

Cinema in Nairn - Annie Get Your Gun! kicks off the 2015 season

Cinema Nairn's 2015 season kicks off with a Monday Matinee on 19th Jan with a
dance down memory lane to the Oscar winning Annie Get Your Gun!

Betty Hutton stars as the great sharpshooter, Annie Oakley in this toe-tapper that will have you humming your way home to tunes like ‘Anything You Can Do…’ and ‘There’s no Business Like Show Business’. And remember - tea and home bakes will follow the screening - and all for only £2.50!

Take a look at the Cinema Nairn Blog for details of the new Programme for 2015, and look out around town for the Cinema Nairn flyers, giving full details of all the films to come in 2015.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Lost dog Missing since 05 January 2015 from Knab of Moy Farm near Culbin between Forres and Nairn,

After the storm - pictures from around town

Nairn harbour sandblasted by overnight storm

Another video here and some images here on the Gurn flickr pages. A considerable amount of sand blew into the harbour overnight to add to the many hundreds of tons that must have blown across from the West Beach in recent years.

There are reports of minor damage and trees/branches down from various parts of the town. Electricity is off in parts of Nairnshire too. Hope everyone is safe and well out there.

Ardersier Surgery closed due to power failure today (Friday 9 Jan) Patients advised to report to Nairn surgery

Message from the local healthcare Group

"Ardersier surgery will be closed today due to a power failure. Could patients please report to Nairn surgery.

The practice phones are currently down and unfortunately we have no timescale of when this will be back up and running. BT are currently working to resolve this issue."

UPDATE 1400: the phones are now back up and running. Ardersier still remains closed.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

News from just across the border - Dyke Landward Community Council back in action

Dyke Landward Community Council (DLCC) lies beyond the eastern border of Auldearn CC and covers the area between the River Findhorn and Nairnshire county boundary.

At the community council elections in 2013 DLCC failed to attract enough nominations to form a quorum and so became defunct. This state of affairs was corrected in December 2014 when a new community council was formed with six of the seven available seats filled.

At the moment DLCC does not have a designated Secretary, for the time being David Shaw ( is Acting Secretary. He told the Gurn:

" I know that a number of residents of West Moray follow ‘A Gurn from Nurn’ on a regular basis and, should any of these feel interested enough to take on the role of Secretary, DLCC would very much like to hear from them."

In memory of Jack Stark - a tireless community champion

Sad to see the passing of Jack Stark in today's Nairnshire. He was my predecessor as Chairman of Auldearn Community Council; a tireless worker and champion for his community and a man who always conducted himself in an efficient and positive fashion but unfailingly courteous and well regarded. In partnership with Sandy Park and his fellow councillors he oversaw many local improvements ; the refurbishment of the two village halls, new paths around the village and the establishment of the Auldearn Trust. He was always ready to help and advise and will be sadly missed.Service to be held on Fri. 9th 12-30 at the U.R.C.

Roger Milton Chaiman Auldearn CC

County Fans Ground Improvement fund new enclosure project passes £50,000 mark

Donald Wilson tells the Gurn:

 "Delighted to announce we have passed through the £50,000 barrier (in the bank) for the new enclosure. In two years we have raised £66,839 - £11,500 has already been donated to the stand refurbishment and £5,293 for the publication of the centenary book. Latest income has been from Graeme MacLeod's calendars and book sales. Well Done Graeme, Tez Watson and Kenny MacLeod and all involved in the calendars. Ali Nicol also has bids of over £500 for two shirt auctions and Donald Graham's merchandising continues to generate income. Also hoping to have a centenary book with a goodwill message from a TOP English Premiership player in the very near future for auction. Next stop £51,000!"

Club merchandise can be seen in the shop window at the town barbers on the brae. 

Nairn Riverside and Broadhill from above

The third in a series of airborne videos from David Clark.

Teams wanted for Welfare League football

Forres and Nairn Welfare League are preparing for the 2015 season and are holding a meeting on Sunday 18th January where all teams wishing to participate are invited. More details online here. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Je suis Charlie - all thoughts to the victims and their families

Some ongoing issues for the year ahead

Prior to the end of the year we covered two topics under the heading "issues that haven't gone away". They were (1) the Common Good, and (2) the traffic under the Cawdor Road railway bridge. Time is a bit short at the moment so rather than examine other issues in detail here’s a brief look at some ongoing subjects of concern. 

Remember the town centre charrette? Wasn’t there meant to be a town centre action plan drawn up by Highland Council officials? It would be useful if our squad of Highland Councillors could give the community an update on how this project is coming along. 

Coastal path project. One of our regular readers asked recently: “Any sign of activity or progress in the planning or implementation of the Coastal Path between Nairn and Inverness (set out in the suite of plans for A96 Corridor and "Green Networks" some 8 or 9 years ago)? Folk point to the plans, which are precise and detailed. HC officials accept they are responsible for action to implement it. The issue is not at present about budgets or money but about those officials negotiating with landowners to secure right-of-way consents where they don't already exist.”

A coastal path between Nairn and Inverness would certainly be a win-win project for Nairn. Walkers are good for local economies. Just look at the numbers that use the West Highland Way and the infrastructure that has grown up to support them. Presently walkers can use the Aberdeenshire and Moray Coastal paths and trails in the Culbin but the missing link is Nairn to Inverness. An opportunity to walk the through Aberdeenshire, Moray and Nairnshire and into Inverness and then onto the Great Glen Way would exist if the missing link could be filled. Not only would extra visitors be attracted to Nairn but another amenity would also exist for local people who are keen on walking. 

It’s all gone very, very quite on the former Links School. Does anyone know what is happening there? This was the subject of public campaigning in Graham Marsden’s heyday. Is there any sign of progress behind the scenes? Could it still become an Art Studio

What are the chances of anything happening with the old social work buildings? Will this be the year that NICE’s aims and ambitions finally get off the ground with the transformation of that neglected building so prominent by the edge of the A96 through town? 

Another empty building causing concern in Nairn is the former Windsor Hotel. The Gurn understands that local residents have been in touch with West Community Council and the police about potential break-ins and vandalism and the fire risk that the empty building presents. Maybe the local authority could have a pro-active role in finding a solution to the long term future of this former star of the Nairn tourist industry?

Dog poo and seagulls of course haven’t gone away as issues and despite the prominent visits of a big white van with the legend “Dog Warden” written on the side there are still plenty of places in Nairn where you can step in a turd left by irresponsible dog owners. It would be interesting to know how many on the spot fines have been issued and whether any local MSPs have ever pondered a change in the law to take away the anonymity for such fines? A risk of a £40 fine seems to be risk that some folk are willing to take. Obviously the odds against getting caught are low. Having your name published in the local press along with the fine might be more of a deterrent however. 

Seagulls hit the pages of the Leopold Street Thunderer again as this topic has done at least once a year for at least the last 25 years. Removing nests, piercing eggs etc is labour intensive and costs money. There are plenty of articles on the Gurn too, detailing the debate from previous years. The issue was a football between the Scottish Government and local authorities even in times of plenty so the chance of anything happening in a landscape of austerity must have diminished tremendously. In Inverness the wealthy Common Good fund assists – our Common Good fund just wouldn’t last long if that were to happen here. Liz told the Nairnshire that the Nairn Economic Initiative could look at doing something along the Inverenss lines if the businesses were prepared to help fund a scheme.” This would presumably be through the creation of a BID (Business Improvement District) as in Inverness. BIDs are quite complicated structures and cannot be set up overnight and probably not in time for the coming nesting season and this observer witnessed a meeting in the Courthouse where local business folk seemed to have no appetite to become involved in such a structure. When you think about it too, yes some seagulls nest on local businesses but others are very much at home at other locations all over town on top of homes and other structures. It looks like seagulls will have another generally happy nesting season when the time comes. 

The bypass. The route is designated and final discussions are continuing between the Scottish Government reps and land owners and others affected by the route. Does anyone share this observer’s concern however that the project for a Nairn bypass might not make it through the oncoming cuts apocalypse, regardless of the outcome of the May 7th general election?

A landscape soon to change or will austerity cuts stop the Nairn bypass?

Traffic lights. The money extracted from Sainsbury’s by the authorities for their ongoing traffic light experiment continues to bear bitter fruit in public perceptions and a running commentary of delays and other issues can be found on the pages of the facebook group Remove Nairn Traffic Lights. 

Football, Will Nairn County beat resurgent Fort William in the Highland League cup tie at Station Park on January 24th.