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.