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.”


penny pincher said...

How much of our council-taxpayers' money has Mr Noble and his River Enterprise been given, and spent, to discover these obvious truths? Was it £5000....or more?

It was clear from the start that the Highland Council had not thought through how the Challenge scheme would work. And it should not have been necessary to hire "expert" consultants to point out that any proposals to transfer functions to local/community schemes would have implications for jobs and pension-rights (under TUPE), which would have a significant impact on cost and feasibility.

So what has Nairn gained from the expenditure of this sum of Challenge Fund money? A Powerpoint presentation and a set of excuses? Not exactly stunning value for money.

Graisg said...

@Penny Pincher - this observer believes that the money spent so far is not from the Challenge Fund but from the deprived area fund - Nairn has pockets of deprivation.
The challenge fund is what would be used to part/wholly fund River Enterprise if it were successful perhaps.
River CC folk will correct me if wrong but I believe £5,000 has been spent so far with another £5,000 to come.

One Man Went to Mow said...

That ten grand could have been used to employ a grass cutter for the summer.

penny pincher said...

@Graisg - you may be right about the source of the funds. But whichever it is, it is still taxpayers' money, and it's reasonable to look at what the £5000, or perhaps £10000, is being spent on.

People might reasonably wonder how paying substantial sums of money to consultants to produce reports on the bleedin' obvious, and for a scheme which might well result in more local Council jobs being cut or outsourced, is helping the deprived areas of Nairn (which incidentally are listed as being Nairn South and Moss-side....)

Graisg said...

All taxpayers money yes - can't deny that - none of the pots of cash are beamed down from a replicator on a starship.

Anonymous said...

This whole carry on and thats what it is needs to stop.The river community council has lost its way,its not there to take over services from the council,its there to make sure the council fullfills its duties.