Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Big Slide latest from the Westies and the Subbies

Tonight saw the meetings of the West and Suburban Community Councils in Nairn Academy. They got through quite a lot but a subject still embedded in the community consciousness is the Big Slide and it seemed to this observer to be stealing the show again and reference was even made back to it whilst other items were debated. 

At this rate the Gurn will need to create a separate website to follow all the elements fanning out from the this contentious issue that refuses to die. 

There were claims now that the removal of the hill is allowing sand straight onto the Links on windy days. Rosemary Young read out a series of Freedom of Information requests that have been sent to the Highland Council from her opposite number on the Subbies, Dick Youngson.  There were those present who seemed as though they will not rest until the Big Slide and the brae are returned - there were many who were quite vociferous in their demands for information and procedures and meetings behind closed doors to be put into the public domain. 

Catharsis could be on the horizon however as Michael Green insisted that all relevant information will eventually enter the public domain. He was asked if he knew that the slide was to be removed - his very interesting response and more from the evening's Big Slide and other debates tomorrow if time permits. 

The amazing Nairn Kayak Club - Loch Ness world record breakers - video from Ross MacLean

If we got one of these at the Courthouse would all be forgiven over the Big Slide?

Anyone else for one of these?

Stephen Fuller to contest Nairn ward Highland Council byelection for SNP

The Gurn understands that local SNP party members have chosen Stephen Fuller to contest the vacant seat in the byelection that will take place on May 7th (the same day as the General Election). The former Millbank Primary and Nairn Academy pupil will perhaps already be a familiar face on the doorsteps to many Gurnites who have seen him out and about on recent evenings or weekends canvassing for the SNP Parliamentary candidate Drew Hendry. 

Pyramid system timescale imposed by SFA on Highland League has meant lost revenue at the turnstiles

Peter Mackintosh, chairman of Nairn County Football Club ruminates on the SFA's new pyramid system timescale that has meant that Highland League sides have had to play important and potentially crowd-pulling games on Wednesday nights instead of Saturdays, he states in his spring message: 

"The impact on every Club has been significant this season insofar as lost revenue income at the turnstiles"  More from Peter Mackintosh on the Wee County website. 

Nairn - Highland Council byelection - who's standing then?

The Gurn understands that today could see the announcement of who will be the SNP's candidate for the contest caused by Colin MacAulay's recent retirement from front line politics at Glenurquhart Road. The SNP have been holding hustings and an ballot of its local membership to chose their candidate. Elsewhere the Gurn also understands that efforts have been made to inspire an Independent candidate to come forward but it may be that as the byelection will take place on the same day as the General Election that any Indy minded souls might feel that this contest will basically only be seen by the voting public as a purely "political" event and thus mitigate against candidates without a party label. 

Meanwhile the only confirmed candidate is the Lib Dem Ritchie Cunningham.  Anyone aspiring to fill the vacancy has until tomorrow afternoon to deposit their nomination papers with Highland Council. Will there be any surprises?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Danny gets out there

The first official day of the General Election campaign and Danny was in Nairn. It's going to be a tough fight for the Lib Dem candidate though - here's what the bookies think of his chances. Is it all done and dusted? Only one poll that matters though and that's on May 7th. 

Housebreaking theft Nairn High Street 05:46 hours on Sunday 29 March 2015 - Police appeal for information

At approximately 05:46 hours on Sunday 29 March 2015, police received a report of a theft by housebreaking from a dwelling on the High Street in Nairn.

As part of an ongoing inquiry into the matter, police are looking to trace a man who was seen in the vicinity at the time of the incident. He was described as white, approximately 5ft 7in tall, slim muscular build and short dark brown gelled hair. He was noted to be wearing a designer black jacket; which featured writing across the back, and dark trousers.

Two musical instruments were removed from the property but were subsequently recovered and returned to the address.

If anyone has any information about the incident they are encouraged to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/. No personal details are taken information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Orange Sunset through Mist - Nairn snapshot wins 3rd Prize in Scottish Nature Photography Awards Photographic Competition 2014

Dave Shillabeer wins 3rd prize in the Urban Greenery Category of the Scottish Nature Photography awards, he told the Gurn:

"It was taken on a dreary, misty morning in November last year. I was walking the dog and had just turned into the Achareidh Path from the A96. The dog was off the lead and I had just passed the woman walking in the opposite direction. I turned around to see where my dog was and the red light of a misty sunrise was just appearing through the trees. I got my pocket camera out and waited for the light to develop and the woman to walk forwards into the light. The moral of the picture. You don’t need all singing and dancing SLR camera’s. It’s the operator who makes the picture, not the camera."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sandstorm at Nairn Beach - pictures Dave Shillabeer

It was blowing down on the beaches today too. Thanks to Dave Shillabeer for the pictures below. Individual images here. 

Removal of BIg Slide from Nairn Links - Gurn Freedom of Information Request to Highland Council

We've been meaning to send in an FOI request to Highland Council over the Big Slide goings-on for some time now and early on Saturday night is as good a time as any. Here's our four parter FOI below that hopefully might provide a bit more clarity as to how things came about. 

i) Was the decision to remove the Big Slide from Nairn Links a summary decision taken by officer(s) or a decision taken by councillors?

ii) Was the removal of the brae that supported the Big Slide a summary decision taken by officer(s) or a decision taken by councillors? 

iii) Was the removal of the brae part of the original decision? (A Highland Council operational support officer is quoted in a communication that has entered the public domain – “I cannot comment on the flattening of the hill as this was not part of my involvement with the project” which strongly indicates to many observers that this was not part of the initial action of removing the Big Slide. 

iv) If the original decisions or decisions outlined in questions i) and ii) were taken by Councillors where can minutes recording these decision(s) be found.

Nairnshire topsoil blowing 28/03/15

It's nothing unusual for this time of the year and it depends on which fields around Nairn have been ploughed but it can be unpleasant if you get caught in the dust storms that rage when the wind lifts the light Nairnshire topsoil. 

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here. Also some images from Bratach here.

Another video here

Traffic wardens active in Nairn again

One of our regular readers reports a team of traffic wardens in town yesterday. Park sensibly gurnites you could take a hit.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nairn 4 Turriff 0 - pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Nairn Healthcare News April 2015

Reproduced below is the latest newsletter from Nairn Healthcare Group

Nairn Healthcare News April 2015


Nairn Healthcare has said goodbye to long-serving Practice Nurse Kathy Gaffney who retired in February however we will be welcoming a new nurse and healthcare assistant in the upcoming weeks.

Our two GP registrars, Dr Clark and Dr Milton, are currently working at Raigmore Hospital and on maternity leave respectively but we hope to see them both return in the near future.

Step Count Challenge

Twenty members of NHG staff are giving the National Step Count Challenge a go. We will be counting our daily steps for 8 weeks and hopefully will reap the benefits that walking entails. Walking at a moderate pace is ideal and active people live longer and healthier lives. Walking reduces the risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression and reduces blood pressure. Not only that, walking lowers the risk of strokes, improves mood and manages weight. As the staff are in four different teams, it gives us a bit of healthy competition too.

Visitors from Spain 

Nairn Healthcare welcomed two GPs from Castelldefels in Catalonia on Monday 23rd March to our Practice. Dr Antoni Peris i Grao (Director General) and Dr Ionut Chirac visited to share ideas and to discuss projects. We discussed digital health developments in both Scotland and Catalonia and identified common areas of interest and opportunities for future collaboration. Alongside Donna Henderson (Service Development Manager, Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare) and Elaine Mead (Chief Executive, NHS Highland), Dr Adrian Baker, Dr Andrew Evennett and Tanya Allan (Assistant Practice Manager) compared and contrasted primary care and community based services in Highland and Catalonia.

We will welcome Norwegian visitors to the Practice again in April.

New Physio Service

There is a new NHS 24 service available to patients over 16 who suffer from a muscle or joint problem and are seeking to access NHS physiotherapy. The MATS (Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service) was launched on 12th January 2015 and is a centralised helpline based in Scotland. Patients will speak initially to a call-handler and if necessary, a trained physiotherapist for support. Initially, this will be telephone based, with additional information sent by post. If MATS feel that a further referral is required, patients will be referred to the Physiotherapy Department in Nairn Town and County Hospital and patients should be seen in 4 weeks (a waiting time target); often this is quicker than a GP referral which can take up to 12 weeks.

To get in touch with MATS, please call 0845 604 001 between 9am – 6pm, Monday- Friday. For more information about this service, you can visit www.nhsinform.co.uk/msk.

NHG Statistics


Every month, we hope to give our patients an insight into how many patients we see and treat on a monthly basis. This month we looked into home visits for the month of February.

The Healthcare Assistants do regular home visits on a Monday and Thursday for those who are unable to attend the Practice. In February alone, they visited 35 patients. 

The GPs visited 158 patients at their own home plus an extra 113 visits were carried out to the nursing homes. Another 18 visits took place out-with the surgery opening times.

Home visits are available for patients who are unfit to travel to one of the surgeries. The visit requests are handled by the receptionists who will ask for a little information to pass onto the Duty GP.

Bowel Screening

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Each year, approximately 4,000 are diagnosed with this condition. However, if found early, bowel cancer is highly treatable. The best way to detect the early stages of bowel cancer is to do a home screening test. Everyone aged 50-74 is sent one every two years. If you haven’t done a test in the last two years, please get in touch by calling 0800 0121 833 or visit www.bowelscreeningtest.org.

Postcards with a Nairn connection

One of our regular readers sent a message on twitter pointing us in the direction of an interesting site that has articles concerning postcards with a Nairn connection. The first postcard begins:

"Postcards #1 - Banff

My Great-Grandparents (my mother's, mother's parents) had a collection of postcards. They date from 1909 until about 1920. My Great-Uncle remembers them being in a photo album on the coffee table in their living room when he was growing up. "

The postcards are either sent to addresses in Nairn or from Nairn, the historical family details that accompany each postcard are fascinating. At the bottom of each page is a link to the next postcard. More on the site "Renaissance Woman". 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Album launch announced for Bandstand Beer Festival

Nairn 4 Turriff 0 - Nairn all but won the League for Brora last night - pictures Mashy Young

One of the most impressive displays of the season at Station Park last night as County demolished an initially confident Turriff side and all but ended their hopes of catching Brora at the top of the league. It was a refreshing  performance that lifted the spirits of the faithful, especially those who made the disappointing journey to Harmsworth Park on Saturday. Match report here.

Individual images here. 

In the Highland News today: "Nairn barman's brain injury only spotted after sixth hospital visit"

Details on this Highland News webpage here but the full story by Donald Wilson in the paper today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Talking town centre themes and proposals

Last night saw a discussion session in the Courthouse to top up the day’s consultation event on the town centre action plan – copy available online here. Present were community councillors and representatives of groups such as NICE (Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise and NEI (Nairn Economic Initiative) in the town with previous and ongoing interests in town centre development. There was also a power-point presentation from HIE. 

There was then discussion around three tables on three questions: 

Which projects could the community take forward?

Who could work in partnership to deliver the projects?

Which projects will be most difficult to achieve?

The conversations around these questions then went ahead under three themes with their own lists of proposals, they were: 
1. Improve High Street environment and expand activities.
2. Make better use of area between King Street and the High Street. 
3. Improve walking and cycling links between the town centre and surroundings. 

Gurnites would be familiar with many of the elements of discussions that this observer heard and participated in. It is hard to know just what we can achieve in this time of austerity and just where enthusiastic volunteers might come from to put their shoulders to the municipal wheel along with some of the long-serving usual suspects who have been hard at it for years in an effort to take forward some of these proposals. A bit of inspirational momentum is now needed but sadly if felt at times last night that the consultation wheel was being spun one more time to see if any magical solution popped out of the ether. This observer doesn’t doubt the sincerity of all involved but something needs to happen fast to give impetus to the whole basket of wish-lists – Colin MacAulay’s micro brewery/distillery perhaps? There was still optimism though but of the subdued variety. Who knows we might actually get somewhere this time instead of coming back for more of the same in 12 months time?

You can read the town centre action plan here. HISEZ (a new one for some perhaps) will be holding a networking event at some point in the future for all those groups involved in taking forward the proposals. So far the only proposal that seems to be going ahead full steam without any further input necessary is the redesigned shop front scheme that will enable High Street businesses to access the Sainsbury’s cash designated for makeovers – this time it will be a lot easier for the shopkeepers to jump through the hoops thanks to a new process drawn up by Highland Council’s area manager Liz Cowie. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Common Good delays - all the latest in today's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph (lots more including "Desperate Dan" editorial)

Today's edition of the Nairnshire splashes the front page with information that came into the public domain at the recent meeting of the Highland Council area committee. Available at a newsagent's or one of Nairn's many Co-op stores.

Another good read in the paper is Iain Bain's erudite editorial that analyses Danny Alexander's prospects and strategy. The title "Desperate Dan" gives the idea. Iain also muses on the drift of the election in general and suggests: "But the danger is that the demonisation of the SNP which appears to be going on all over British politics at the moment might go over the top and be seen as an attack on Scots in general." More in today's Leopold Street Thunderer.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Courier getting it wrong about how Kyle Wilkie left NCFC ?

This is what the Courier is putting out on twitter as a taster for an article they are publishing tomorrow:
Meanwhile over on the Nairn County site Les Fridge states:

"Nairn County FC wish to announce that Kyle Wilkie has left the club on loan to Berwick Rangers FC. Kyle had an agreement with Nairn that if a senior club made an approach and an offer NCFC would not stand in his way, to gain a promotion in his career. We wish him well and thank him for his efforts with our club and assure him of a warm welcome anytime at Nairn."

County fans were a little mystified as to the whereabouts of Kyle on Saturday up at Wick but this observer detected no animosity towards the player from the Station Park faithful who made the fruitless trek north. It will be interesting to read the Courier account tomorrow however. 

Draft action plan for Nairn town centre - have your say - tomorrow Tues 24th 2-5 in the Courthouse

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nairn Kayak Club - Loch Ness crossing world record breakers

The Nairn Kayak Club's record breaking crossing of Loch Ness end-to-end has officially entered the Guiness Book of records:

"The fastest time to kayak the length of Loch Ness, Scotland, UK, from Fort Augustus to Dores (a distance of 17.9 nautical miles, 20.59 miles, 33.15 km) is 3 hours 42 minutes 7 seconds, achieved by the Nairn Kayak Club on 7 September 2014."  More details and picture here. 

Provost Laurie Fraser said: "It is an outstanding effort and what the Kayak Club have done is wonderful. It has put Nairn back on the map for kayaking and
places it as the kayak centre in the Highlands."

The Chairman of the Nairn Kayak Club, Jaime Walker said: This amazing feat clearly shows that all the hard work and dedication from the four team world record holders has been rewarded and recognised."

On of the record holders Michael Surmon said: "It is an absolute hounour and a privilege to have been able to be part of the effort to raise the profile of Nairn Kayak Club, and at the same time, Nairn, our lovely home town.

The efforts of Steven Bain made it possible for us as a club and a team, to complete the whole of the Great Glen waterway/Caledonian Canal. As an added bonus, the performance team managed to break the world record. 

What made the effort more worthwhile is that the Nairn Kayak Club joined fores with Nairn County Football Club in making a noise for Nairn. A great example of a community coming together in a great way. "

Ian catches the spectacular in the sky this evening

Highland League Cup Wick 2 County 1 Pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

The eclipse seen from Littlemill

Another Nairnsire photographer captured the eclipse last week - images here on David Clark's flickr pages. 

Back to Politics - a two horse race that is interesting national meejah

The other candidates hardly seem to get a mention in the many national press articles that are outlining the contest between Danny and Drew. The SNP are the big time favourites with the bookies but Danny could still be in this if his personal vote holds up significantly. 

Here's the Independent's latest analysis of the contest.  Meanwhile out on the streets of Nairn is seems to be the SNP that are managing to get teams of activists out and about.  Anyone else out there campaigning in Nairn please feel free to send us pictures/details of your activities.

Seagull Pride rampant - as the "Scorries" take the Highland League Cup semi-final Wick 2 Nairn 1

Disappointment for County fans who headed north with optimism after their side's recent run of good form. It wasn't to be though as Wick made the best of it in the second half and scored two to destroy County's hopes of injecting some excitement into the final part of the season. That's the way it went despite a cracking header from Paul MacLeod which found the home net in the first half. 

By the time the fans bus had reached the Berridale Braes they had started to come to terms with the crushing blow and philosophical approaches were being taken - it was still a big downer however. More on the game later.

Norrie the Scorrie was celebrating yesterday afternoon

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Station Park faithful heading north today

The tweet says it all. This observer will soon be heading to the luxury departure lounge at Uncle Bob's Bar prior to leaving on the fans special service to Wick at 10.30. More later...que sera, sera, County gu bràth!

Losing the light at Lochindorb - pictures from Dave Shillabeer

In parts of Nairnshire there were glimpses of the eclipse. Lisa published pictures from Lethen and Dave Shillabeer caught a glimpse at Lochandorb. In town too there was the odd break in the clouds, we hear that the eclipse was visible for a while in Tradespark. What everyone witnessed though was the eerie falling of the daylight darkness. Here's Dave's images from Lochindorb in the slideshow below. Individual images here.

How the planners think Nairn should grow in the future - what the Scottish Government's reporters thought about the IMFLDP

It's been a while but the  Highland Council's Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan has been analysed by Scottish Government Reporters and they have made their recommendations (which the Council will have to follow). Gurnites will recall that there were many critics of the plan locally, including the Community Councils and some specific zoning projections for development received considerable comment from residents. The Council then replied to the submissions and the whole package went down the road to the Scottish Government's officials who have the final say. 

A copy of the Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals document is available on their site. Here is how you get to it in the DPEA's own words.


On entering the website, click on the tab “Examination Report” in the middle of the page and then under the “Document Name” tab, click on the blue highlighted “Report” document. The report will then download and you then click “open” to read the report.

The pages relevant to Nairn are 272-344. The reporters conclusions start at 331 and the recommendations start on 342.

The document will also be posted on the Highland Council's site. It contains details of the residents and CCs responses to the plans, the Council's position on the responses and the conclusions and recommendations of the DPEA reporters as far as Nairn is concerned. Here are the recommendations:

"It is recommended that:

1. Paragraph 4.34 be replaced with the following: ‘The town centre, lying to the west of the river has declined in recent years. Its regeneration to serve the needs of the growing town is a high priority. The council will work with the local community to implement the Town Centre Masterplan published in 2011 through development of an action plan to highlight options and mechanisms for funding and delivering regeneration of the town centre, harbour and waterfront areas.’

2. The last sentence of paragraph 4.39 be ended at ‘……settlement’ and the following additional sentence added: “Whilst capacity exists currently, the cumulative impact of all proposed development within the overall plan on shared treatment assets makes it necessary for early engagement to take place between developers and Scottish Water, to ensure any additional capacity demands in the future can be delivered in line with development.”

3. The following sentence be added to NA2: Requirements: ‘The required traffic and flood risk assessments may impact on the capacity of the site reducing the housing capacity below the currently projected capacity of 90 houses. 

4. The following sentences be added to NA3: Requirements: ‘Constraints to development identified by the masterplan will have a significant effect in  determining the numbers of houses able to be accommodated on the site.’

5. The last sentence of paragraph 4.37 be replaced with ‘Longer term development options at Nairn South are largely dependent on developers agreeing and delivering suitable improvements to the local road network.’

6. The requirements text for site NA8 be replaced with the following: “The Council will prepare a new Nairn South Strategic Masterplan that the Council may adopt as Statutory Guidance, setting out physical development considerations and requirements including transport requirements in terms of vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access to both the Town Centre and the wider area; connectivity within the site; green network and footpath/cycleway connections; phasing; open space provision and developer contributions. Applications only to be considered following adoption of the revised masterplan. Developers will be required to produce a transport assessment addressing deficiencies in the transport network in line with the adopted masterplan. Further requirements notably include landscaping; flood risk; provision of a recreational access management plan; consideration of potential heritage impacts; and the avoidance of any adverse effect on the integrity of the Inner Moray Firth SPA/Ramsar (see para. 4.40).

7. Site NA9 be deleted, and excluded from the settlement development area."

No doubt there will be much for those that made submissions to consider amongst those pages and they will be working out just how far the Reporters have aligned themselves with the council's vision and just how much they have listened to local concern. If time permits we hope to have a further browse of the conclusions later this weekend. 

Tip: the recommendations and the whole document is littered with the "NA" numbers, these refer to sites around and in Nairn and reference to the Council's IMFLDP Nairn map below (click to enlarge) may be helpful for those serious students of these matters. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Clips of the eclipse from Lethen

And a couple of images - all on Lisa's flickr pages. 

The train now standing at the East Beach will soon be departing for the Links?

A Highland Council official recently stated: "I can confirm that works at the links are not yet complete and further play equipment will be installed over the coming months to supplement what is currently in situ which I believe will lead to a more positive and fulfilling play experience for younger residents and visitors alike." Further details here. 

Councillor Michael Green recently stated publicly that Highland Council would learn from its mistakes and indicated that there would be more consultation. This observer would suggest that more details about what sort of equipment could be heading for the Links might need to be put urgently into the public domain - in the febrile atmosphere surrounding the Links Slide debacle it is possible that rumours might crop up - in fact one already has: one of our regular unreliable sources indicates that he is certain that there could soon be a departure from the East Beach railway station. 

Disability awareness day for schools 2015 - Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Yesterday saw the annual Disability Awareness day for schools in the Community Centre. It was a remarkable event to witness. Pictures below in slideshow and individual images here.   

Also Yesterday Steve Clelland of Highland Highlife was present to accept this year's accessibility award from the Nairn Access Panel's Liz Bow.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Big Slide anger resurfaces - Gurn analysis of latest developments

A picture that appeared on-line showing Highland Council workers taking away another layer of the high bank that supported the big slide and also acted as a wind brake at the Links play park prompted another round of irate but well considered comments on the social media earlier this week. As always the popular "Nairn when you were a bairn" facebook pages were the epicentre of citizens’ concerns. One member of the site posted the following comment which contained information from a Council official.

“Councillor Liz Macdonald asked Iain Reid, operational support officer, Highland Council to answer my questions that were originally directed to herself and Laurie Fraser, have patience here is his reply to me:

'Comments relating to the area in general and a desire for this site to be aimed towards younger children in particular (up to age 10 to 12 years old approx) have been received over a period of time by way of parents raising the matter with Highlife Highland and also directly with Members. Via discussion between members and the old transport, environmental & community services dept (now community services) as part of the councils ongoing assessment of assets, a strategy was in place to make any changes reflect facilities for younger children at this site (older children have facilities available at the putting green play area). You will appreciate members are elected to represent and act on behalf of their constituents and do so on a day to day basis, as they have done in this instance.

The slide had defects relating not only to the unit itself but the access steps which were in poor condition. Parents had contacted the council voicing concerns.

Funding was available within this years budget for some improvements to the play area but this funding could not be guaranteed in future years and so there was a one off opportunity to not only make the site safer but also take a step towards the goal of providing a much better play experience for the younger children.

I cannot comment on the flattening of the hill as this was not part of my involvement with the project.

I am disappointed that there has been negative publicity regarding the improvements carried out at the links and the putting green sites over the past few years as there has been a sustained effort to improve play facilities here. I can confirm that works at the links are not yet complete and further play equipment will be installed over the coming months to supplement what is currently in situ which I believe will lead to a more positive and fulfilling play experience for younger residents and visitors alike.”

The comments from Iain Reid are worthy of analysis in the light of the public outrage that has surfaced in recent weeks over this issue. It is ironic that sometimes issues that can define political careers can come out of nowhere but our local councillors should have been more sensitive about the Links and this problem is of their own making. One of our regular readers told us recently: “Some people may think a row over a slide is a storm in a teacup. But is symptomatic of a much wider and deeper problem with the way the Council does things and it’s not the only example!” There are many that would agree with that. This issue has struck the public consciousness in a way that others often fail to do and it could have unforeseen consequences in the long term for local members. A large number of local residents (probably the majority) feel deeply offended by the way that Highland Council have gone about spending public money on the recent Links play area “developments". Anyway, below the image are some Gurn thoughts on what Mr Reid has to say.

Big Slide no more and now Big Brae no more 
i) He says that comments were made by parents to HighLife Highland and to Members. Where is the evidence of this? How many comments/complaints? Why did none of this ever appear in any printed or online outlet or on Twitter etc (after all, Highland Council is now very social media savvy and almost any other local issue of concern appears on these platforms)? Why did it never come up at Community Councils (after all, the Tradespark playground and the Riverside skatepark have been raised at CCs). 

ii) if it were the case that the slide and its access steps had "defects", then the obvious question arises - why not just fix or refurbish instead of demolishing and removing? Doesn't exactly square with the notion of value for money in tough times.

iii) he says that the "strategy" to remove and replace equipment was decided by discussion between Members and the former TECS, now community services officials. Why no public discussion? Why no mention in the Nairnshire, or by Members at CC meetings? Why no Ward Forum meeting to discuss this and other local issues? This is a compelling argument for Ward Business meetings to be open to the public - or at least for the minutes/action notes to be published.

iv) the suggestion that the playground equipment be reorganised or replaced in such a way as to have one area for little kids by the paddling pool and a separate area for older kids over in the leisure park area has already been shot down in flames as a stupid idea by parents on the "Nairn when you were a bairn" site, who point out quite rightly that most families have kids of various ages, and separate playparks make things more difficult for parents to oversee kids and for families to have an outing together...

v) the reference to funding being available in this year's budget (but perhaps not next year's) blows the notion of a "strategy" or a systematic plan out of the water. In the absence of information in the public domain it could make some feel that this was indeed a "rabbit out of hat" project done without thought and at short notice simply to get rid of some spare money before the end of the financial year – the Council need to put more information out there on the process that led to the project. 

vi) again in the absence of other information the remark that Iain Reid was unaware of and uninvolved in "the flattening of the hill" is very interesting. Not only does it very strongly suggest that this was not part of the original plan but will feed, rightly or wrongly, the suspicion that this was the Council's retaliation against public criticism and a way of making sure the big slide could not be reinstated. That hill was also a pretty good shelter belt. It seems to us the public has a right to ask who decided or authorised the removal of the hill, and to hold that person to account. 

vii) Michael Green said publicly that the Council would learn from their mistakes over this. We note that Mr Reid refers to plans for further play equipment to be installed. A foregone conclusion? We don't see any reference in his message to the prospect of any public consultation over what further equipment and where.....Just what other surprises might Nairn residents find when they take an early morning stroll on the Links?

The Gurn feels that Highland Council should call a public meeting  to explain their decision making processes up to this point; put their hands up with a sincere apology; put all the costs of this project in the public domain and then seek the blessing of the community for anything else that might be planned for the Links. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fundraiser top auction for Nairn Football Community Coaching

Ali Nichol told the Gurn:

"I am doing this latest auction for the newly formed Nairn Football Community Coaching group.
Aims of the group is to help develop boys and girls from primary three to primary seven. All the
coaches are PVG certified and have a vast knowledge of the game. Courses for this start in April. Coaches include ex Nairn County Manager Jim Walker, Lee Early Walker, Wayne Mackintosh, Andrea Colletto, Marc MacDonald, Glenn Main, John Davidson, Steven Willox and Louise Walker. 

Monies raised from this auction will be put towards the coaches training gear including waterproofs, shorts tops etc. I think this is a brilliant initiative with the guys giving up their free time to help develop youngsters in the Nairn area. 

Back to the auction this Celtic away top from 2003 is signed by Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton, Lubo Moravcik, Didier Agathe, Tom Boyd, Rab Douglas, Jonny Gould, Paul Lambert, Neil Lennon, Jackie McNamara, Alan Stubbs, Joos Valgaeren, Alan Thompson, Rab Douglas and Tommy Johnson.

Auction will end next Saturday 21st of March at 6pm. Top comes with a certificate of authenticity. As always please bid on We Believe or if you wish to remain anonymous PM me."  

Bid HQ just now is the Nairn County Fans We Believe facebook page. Top bid at the moment is £260 - if you would like to bid and don't have access to Facebook then please contact us at info@gurnnurn.com and we will forward your bid to Ali. 

Nairn Lochloy Holiday Park now open for business for the 2015 season

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nairn - Highland Council by-election

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Nairn 3 Clach 1 pictures from Kenny MacLeod and Mashy Young

Kenny MacLeod's individual images here and full screen slideshow here.

Mashy Young's individual images here and full screen slideshow here.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Nairn River Enterprise proposal and worries for local Highland Council staff discussed at Community Council meeting.

At last Wednesday’s meeting of Nairn River Community Council in the URC Church Hall Simon Noble gave an update on the organisation’s proposed Nairn River Enterprise offshoot. 

The NRE has three ambitions; they wish to take over the maintenance of the open areas in the town, regenerative work along the riverside and also create a recycling project. Simon said:

“What we have been finding with the open grounds maintenance, typically known as grass cutting [...] with that project we have not progressed as fast as we would have like. Highland Council have yet to provide us with any documentary supporting information in relation to what the value of the services might be. We have got an indication of what the specifications may be for jobs – cutting this area, maintaining this area etc, etc. So we have got an idea of what potentially we might pitch for. However there are a number of complications. It’s very clear that the Community Challenge Fund which the Highland Council set up a couple of years ago. Highland Council have discovered a number of complications with the Community Challenge Fund which is making it very difficult for them to actually follow through on pitches that are being made by local communities. Not just in Nairn but elsewhere as well.

In our case what we are...what we have discovered is that the Council has not had any form of discussions with their staff about potential implications of transferring services which is really quite concerning from our point of view. Apart from anything else because we are in the business with this enterprise we have got of creating employment and the situation at the moment is that we have certainly picked up that staff are really worried about the prospects for them of our proposals. We do not want to follow through on proposals which have an impact on their jobs. So at the moment we are not clear what the value of transferring services may be and until we are not in a position to make any judgement or recommendation to the community council about whether or not we should actually go forward and agree some kind of transfer of service. Some of the indications are that actually we may have to bid in open competition for some of the work which was not what was envisaged in the Community Challenge Fund and it is certainly not what we envisaged when we expressed interest in the first place.”

Nairn 3 Clach 1 Pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here. Full screen slideshow here. 

And here's a wee Gurn video showing a few moments from a sunny Station Park. 

Down at the car wash

Pictured above the scene at Nairn Fire Station around 2 p.m. today as the volunteer firefighters held their annual charity car wash event. They told the Gurn that it had been non-stop since they started at 9 in the morning. 

Up for it at Station Park this afternoon

Nairn County have had an incredible unbeaten run so far in 2015 and have knocked in an amazing 16 goals in their last two games away to Rothes and Deveronvale. Today is the annual derby at Station Park when the Merckinchers come to town - Clach will be wanting to stop the County charge up the table and an exciting encounter is in prospect. Stuck for something to do today? Why not pop up to Station Park?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Saturday 14th 10-12 a.m a search for missing dog Finn - meet at Crook Road and also the Howford Bridge

UPDATE Friday 10.47 SEARCH CANCELLED - Finn has been found details sketchy so far but amazingly good news!

If anyone has a little time on Saturday morning then if you can please get along to the search for Finn the missing Scottish Terrier. He went missing in the woods along the Crook Road at Househill on Monday. Anyone who wishes to help on Saturday but is unsure of the areas concerned please contact info@gurnnurn.com for further details.The "Nairn when you were a bairn" facebook page has been search HQ since the alert was raised earlier this week and tonight the message reproduced below was posted on the popular site by Donald Graham tonight. 

"There is to be a search for Finn the lost dog, on Saturday 14th March at 10am
image of Finn
for 2 hours.

We will cover 2 areas, one will be where he was lost in the wood on the Crook Road, and also around the Howford bridge.
His owner will be at the Crook Road wood along with Jacki Graham to show where he went missing.
I will go to the Howford and meet people there.

If you are able to help out for the 2 hours, or even 30 mins, then please come along.
Parking will be limited at both areas, and I would advise you to dress for the weather.

In advance, I would like to thank everyone from the owner for their help, and kindness. She has been overwhelmed by it all.

Please help find Finn."

Deveronvale 1 Nairn 7 pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Praise from colleagues for Colin MacAulay as he bows out as a Highland Councillor today

Suspicious behaviour around the Classroom restaurant - police appeal for information.

Police in Nairn are appealing for information relating to a reported incident of suspicious behaviour around The Classroom restaurant, Cawdor Street, Nairn, thought to have occurred over the weekend of 7th/8th March 2015. Damage was recently caused to the rear of the building.

Anyone who has witnessed any suspicious behaviour in the area recently or who has any information is asked to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Meanwhile over in Banff

A fantastic night out for the County boys through at Princess Royal Park. After knocking in 9 on Saturday against Rothes that brings the total within five days to 16. County are now on top form looking to the visit of Clach to Station Park on Saturday.

Lost dog - Help find Finn - please read the details on the poster image

Canary found - anyone know who it belongs too?

Auldearn post office have posted a picture of a tame canary found near the Newton Hotel. Any information that might help this birde get home can be added to this facebook page here. 

Surely it's not the bird that poses for the LibDem literature is it? Danny? 

Links School Studios go ahead - "meet the needs of creative people" and "a social space"

The uncertainty over the former Links School building appears to be over. The WASPS website announces:

"We are really excited to announce that Wasps has purchased its first building in the highlands!

Wasps have been keen to expand the network into the Highlands for some time and will now set to work on our latest studio project in the Links School building in Nairn.

Our new development in Nairn will offer 10 studios and a social space that will meet the needs of creative people working locally. It will be a place where people from different creative paths can work under one roof to share ideas, skills and collaborate."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Still searching for Finn (lost Scottish Terrier) in the Crook Road woods

Yesterday we posted the following message we received :

 "Lost dog alert: Scottish Terrier Finn aged 3, lost Nairn woods Househill area may have made way back towards nairn has bell on collar is micro chipped was on a long blue lead but hope this has come of details at Nairn vets and police station."

The Gurn understands that despite searches of the woods in question there has been no sign of Finn yet. Below is a picture of the wood where Finn went missing, the yellow X marks the spot where there is a layby and an entrance to the wood. Also a picture of Finn on the right of this text.

Please keep an eye out for Finn especially if you are a regular dog walker in the area concerned. 

Getting it right for the Sandown Lands - What the community needs to discuss!

Following on from the Gurn report of the latest meeting of the Suburban Community Council where the subject of housing on Sandown was raised (or as Dick Youngson suggested, what might feature soon in talks between the CCs and Highland Council “the need for housing, the market and who we’d like to produce all the property for”) the Gurn think tank has been looking at issues surrounding the Sandown Lands and what any community debate should encompass. 

There are many questions that the community has to resolve. We have already stated that it is essential that a debate about the future of our Common Good should be be fully transparent and open to members of the public. It should involve all interested parties – elected Councillors, Community Councils, and residents of the town. 

Consideration of the future of the Sandown land will have to take account of the existing Sandown Development Brief drawn up by Council planners. This development brief came after the Charrette organised by Sandy Park back in 2012 (a copy can be downloaded here). Drawings of how the outcomes might look on the map also appeared as part of the process. Images taken by the Gurn can be seen here. The Development Brief didn’t give precise outcomes for the future however, here’s para 2.3 in its entirety:

Sandy Park launches the Sandown Charrette in Feb 2012
“A consensus was not reached on the precise boundaries of any development areas. Indeed, written comments received since the Charrette have emphasised disagreement on the extent of development south of the A96. Similarly, the field south of the expanded allotments proposal attracted disparate ideas for: a farmers’ showfield, an events space, a football club pitch and a farming let. One neighbouring household disputes the requirement for housing at Sandown or Delnies.”

So fast forward to 2015 and where are we now? Well we cannot see any debate about the Sandown Lands as simply being about what kind of housing is built there, or the nature and scope of the Wetlands plan. There is much more to consider.

Two factors are key. One is that Sandown is the biggest and most important asset the Nairn Common Good has. So the question of its future use is crucial. Equally important is how it could or should deliver revenue into the Common Good Fund (as a one-off lump sum, or ongoing income stream?). The other is that we are not starting from a blank sheet of paper. There is a current lease (details still not in the public domain). There are allotments. There is an existing development plan (however inadequate). So any debate has to take all this into account.

So then, wider strategic choices to consider on the back of the development brief - to develop or not? Sell off or lease? More allotments? Housing or Wetlands? What kind of tourism facility - and could any community initiatives such as the wetlands and visitor centre “wash their faces” financially in the current climate)? How much housing, and of what kind? Should space be set aside for a recreation venue, a new showfield, or a business park?. These should not be instant or short-term decisions. What sort of timescale should the planning be based on? 

All these options really have to be looked at alongside the draft Investment Strategy that Liz MacDonald has told us is being prepared by officers for the Nairn Common Good Fund. Here’s what we wrote last December:

“Liz and Colin and their colleagues on the Area Committee point to the forthcoming “investment strategy” and whatever may be coming down the tracks in the form of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill which may have specific instructions on Common Good funds. There has been acknowledgement that the community should be consulted on this investment strategy – this would be useful, there will be people in Nairn with the ability and background to cast a critical eye on any investments proposed by the Highland Council.”

Highland Council acknowledges the mistakes of the past and having put their hands up they promise a better deal for the future. There are those who are worried that whilst work is being done on an investment strategy there is no engagement with the community on how the Common Good is run with all debate in that direction being sidelined for the time being. 

Surely too this “investment strategy” will not be all that grand. Nairn Common
What next for Sandown?
Good has very little in the way of available capital funds which might be "invested" in the way the Inverness millions are invested in income-generating stocks and shares. Nairn's Common Good has assets in the form of land; and a very small amount of annual income from rents etc (Caravan park, showies etc). So what would officials suggest we do with the Sandown Lands as part of this strategy? Will they deliver a series of options to the Community and will Nairn residents have a veto (via the Community Councils) on anything they consider inappropriate? 

In advance of any discussions, here are a few ideas and suggestions that we believe have already been talked about in the local CC ether at various times:

· hang on to the land, let it appreciate as a capital asset, and use it as collateral for raising money to spend locally;

· build housing as the overriding priority - either sell Sandown off to a developer to build commercially (didn’t work well at the last attempt), or form a local trust to build cheap housing on that land for locals-only;

· develop it gradually for diverse mixed use by subdividing it (even creating and selling-off individual plots) and allowing phased development by local builders, businesses, amenity-providers, etc over - say – a 20-50 year period;

· use it as a long-term source of continuing income, as Inverness does with the Longman estate, by leasing the land to business/industry/whoever while retaining title and ownership, so as to have a continuing and increasing rental-revenue stream for 99 years or whatever;

· keep it as largely undeveloped green space with allotments, a new Showground for the farmers, and - yes - wetlands, both to retain views/tranquillity/tourism amenity and equally important, to ensure a "green lung" for the town over the next 50 years as Delnies and beyond gets built up.

There are many other possible variations on those themes. We would suggest that the point is that there has never been any strategic thinking, never mind policy-option studies, about how to manage and/or develop the most important asset the Nairn CG has, for the long-term benefit of the people of Nairn and their descendants. 

Decisions have to be made but whatever happens to Sandown has to have the blessing of the community and past experience proves that will only happen if all discussion is had in the public domain.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Lost Dog Alert - Woods in Househill area of Nairn

"Lost dog alert: Scottish Terrier Finn aged 3, lost Nairn woods Househill area may have made way back towards nairn has bell on collar is micro chipped was on a long blue lead but hope this has come of details at Nairn vets and police station."

Cat missing in Achareidh area

Please check sheds garages etc if you live in the Achareidh area.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Keeping Nairnshire Colourful 2015 Competitions - Design, Grow or make a scarecrow

The BIG club in Nairn wins its second award

Brigitte Valance of the Beginners Internet Group tells the Gurn:

"the BIG club in Nairn has won its second award, again for the intergenerational aspect and for its community connections. We won the award for best New Project and you will see the other winners in the link. It is great that this BIG club, funded by RCOP and support by Nairn Academy has proved so popular in the Nairn community. Special thanks to Nairn Academy students who have done their community proud again! And also thanks to Liz Main 'get well soon Liz we miss you!' who volunteers and supports the BIG club every week, it would not be the success that it is without her."

More details on this "Generations working together page".  

Cameron kilt required urgently

Murd puts out an appeal: "When I was A boy I wore my Cameron Kilt with pride. Now the wee boy by my side (not so wee now) would like one like it. Has anyone got one? Would go to a good home and be worn with pride once again"

Formal joint meetings of Nairn’s Community Councils now banned?

At last week’s meetings of the West and Suburban CCs in Nairn Academy Dick Youngson (chair of the Subbies) told those present that there had been a meeting with the Highland Council ward manager, Liz Cowie concerning the amalgamation of the Westies and the Subbies and that the meeting went “really quite well” and that they had received confirmation from her that it was now all acceptable but that it had to go to the full Highland Council meeting. This will probably be in June, he said:

“Apart from that there is no restriction on us amalgamating after we get the approval of the full Council and therefore it will probably be at the time of our elections in November when the merger takes place.”

Dick went on then to discuss something else that cropped up at the meeting with Liz Cowie:

“The other thing we have liaised with her on was our joint meetings. She is trying to stop our joint meetings taking place as formal joint meetings of community councils. What she wants us to do if we do get together; they are going to be discussion forums and any decision that’s made – any formal decision currently put forward as a joint decision by the community councils that took part, which really makes it, perhaps there’s a motive there, which almost makes it pointless having joint meetings to make actually decisions around what matters – new roads and things like that, that is the whole point of all our community councils getting together. So I’ve written round all the community councils involved and laid out the proposal that Liz and Highland Council want us to have an association of Community Councils which means setting out a full committee, Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, a bank account and the funds would be drawn from the existing Community Councils – the money from Highland Council and so we would all have to chip in. It becomes so unwieldy and unworkable. There is an equivalent association in Easter Ross and they’re working but I haven’t had any information on how well they are working. And as we mentioned there is a large association in Edinburgh but they’ve got a large number of all the community councils actually in it. Which is rather different, it is a big city one, it’s very useful. So I think, in fact, I feel it is not worthwhile forming an association and going through the rigmarole of having to set up, virtually, another big body which is then scrutinised by Highland Council."

A little later in the discussion Brian Stewart of the Westies said:
“There are at the moment seven community councils, three in the town and they are basically saying: “if there is anything that requires a formal decision, the bottom line is anything that actually has to be voted on, then action of some specific kind and there needs to be a vote. Then they need to seek that each community council has separately agreed on that action. There is no reason why we, River and Suburban can’t separately discuss issues to do with the town bypass or whatever and if we wanted to we could each agree on a course of action but what the Council is saying is that in order for it to be legally valid, each of the existing constituted community councils, if they are going to make a formal decision, has to make a formal decision in their own right. They don’t mind us getting together and talking about things, arguably that is a good thing, but we can’t, as it were, reserve, pass resolutions, take a vote on action as a collective group of two or three because at the moment we haven’t got the constitutional cover to allow us to do that. They are being very precise about the legal requirements.”

Gurnites will recall that there have been many joint meetings of Nairn and sometimes all the Nairnshire Community Councils in recent years in response to the major issues facing the community. Earlier this week the Gurn spoke to a senior member of River Community Council who seemed quite shocked by Highland Council's action - perhaps the situation  will be up for discussion at the River CC meeting next week.