Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nairn Town Centre regeneration - "crumbs from the table"

The Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee met in the Courthouse earlier today and they had an update on the Nairn Town Centre Action Plan. 

There was another bit of consultation recently, organised by an organisation called HISEZ. Here’s how it all appeared in the document that went before the councillors today (warning if you don’t like reading councilspeak then just zip down past the next two paragraphs:

“The follow-up meeting led by HISEZ was held on 12 May 2015 and was attended by representatives of all three Nairn Community Councils, Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise (NICE) and Nairn Economic Initiative (NEI) as well as Elected Members and residents. The event looked at ways of developing more effective partnerships to improve the prospects of seeking and securing funding for regeneration. It highlighted that there was a major opportunity for the various community groups in Nairn to work collaboratively to deliver improvements and these groups are understood to be considering how to put in place the appropriate arrangements for partnership and governance.

In terms of the TCAP document, feedback from the consultation and follow-up events are now being considered and later this year the Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee will be asked to consider a final Nairn Town Centre Action Plan for adoption as non-statutory Supplementary Guidance.” More here on a Highland Council PDF document. 

The agenda stated “The Committee is invited to note the position” and they duly did so, that is really all the Area Committees can do, they have no executive power or budgets of their own. There was some debate however. Michael Green said:

“We’d a very positive meeting, we had NICE which is the social enterprise; we had the Nairn Economic Initiative which was led by Sheena Baker and for an individual to achieve so much she’d done remarkably well. We’re now coming together with the Town Team which is superb and we can address all the problems as they come up, short term problems like the seagulls and various things that will need done longer term: we can address the town centre regeneration and the harbour which are the main projects for Nairn. 

But the point I want to make about this is that there is something intrinsically unfair about what is happening because we set up a town team with a lot of individuals and officials are putting an awful lot of time a lot of time and resource into something which is not resourced. We’ve all these great ideas and we have to wait for, I quote, “funding windows to open” or not or largesse from Leader 2 and Europe. We have to wait. Now I look about me and compare and contrast with the vibrancy of what is going on in Inverness. Now it’s fabulous and I take my hat off to Inverness and I think what is going on there is superb and we should take as a template, as a role model. Academy Street, there’s many, many projects going on there and they do not seem to have had to wait for funding windows as we are. I look east and I see money being poured in there almost non-stop. They are very, very well resourced and this is coming through HIE. I asked the question why HIE are so involved in Moray but that’s another question. 

The point I’m making which is a valid point: is that we seem to be getting, you can effectively say, crumbs off the table. We are not getting from HIE what I would say is our fair share. What we do receive, which is very little, is completely arbitrary and there is no rhyme nor reason, It’s completely, as I say, completely arbitrary. What we need to be able to take these projects forward is a commitment from HIE, which I will be discussing elsewhere, a commitment from HIE over several years to resource the projects that we have got. We are entitled to our fair share and unless we have a mechanism where we are getting our fair share then I don’t think the system is going to work. And I wrote down there just before I started to speak that “taxation without representation is what led to the US revolution”. Now I’m not advocating a US revolution but the same spirit is abroad in Nairn and change is afoot. So unless we can get a commitment to resource these projects I’m afraid there’s an awful lot of hard work going on from people for very little result. 

Liz then said:

“Thank you for your comments Michael, I do think, we had a presentation from HIE at a previous area committee and I think that perhaps we need to have an update to see what else they are doing. I’d like to thank the Highland Council officers and all the staff for their involvement in Nairn over the last year. They have facilitated some events that have brought the community together and we’ll hopefully have more positive working in future and break down some barriers that we’ve had in the past. So I think, moving forward we’ve got to do all we can to involve our community andI accept what you say, your criticism of HIE but I think if there were community groups and we can work together then I think we will get a better outcome for Nairn. That’s the bottom line for me.”


Anonymous said...

more usual mumbo jumbo,and expenses claimed
waste of time,,just close Nairn altogether

jumbo the elephant said...

@Anon of 11.12am.

It wasn't all the usual mumbo jumbo. The point made by Michael Green was very clear and specific: there is little point in the Council or others facilitating meetings and promoting discussion, and little point in local groups mobilising, if neither the Council nor HIE, as the two principal sources of serious funding and policy support, don't step up to the plate and provide resources and backing.

The mumbo jumbo came from the Chair: ".... we've had one presentation from HIE, perhaps we need an update...... thanks to Council officials [for what exactly?]..... moving forward, let's work together...... yada yada yada.....". Not what you'd call clear leadership focused on defined objectives.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the town team will get funding and then hire a consultant to see what other funding they can get and then perhaps there will be a survey and some consultation.

Anonymous said...

Yaaaaay, that's what we need! More consultants who can consult on what the last lot of consultants and the lot before them consulted on and then come up with........, well, what do they ever actually come up with? Lets have more steering groups, more focus groups, more charettes, more action plans, more strategies, more action points more agendas, more partnerships, more workshops, hell, lets definitely have some more Powerpoint presentations - they always go down a storm but, god forbid, let's not actually get any bloody thing done!

Anonymous said...

So Michael and Laurie are now in the "Leadership" of the Council and "calling the shots". The last time the Independents were in charge they did away with the Nairnshire Area Committee. Until the LibDems threw their toys out of the pram, Liz and the SNP were proposing that Nairn should move towards a distinct Committee incorporating the District partnership - and that is the right direction of travel.
However, we need real local government back with Councillors directly elected to a proper Nairnshire Council - not a pretendy Community Council amalgam.
Anything less than that is not and can never be true "local government".

Anonymous said...

Well said Michael, but you have to ask whose side Liz is on......

Anonymous said...

Liz is on the "side" that brought this area Committee back to Nairn.
Michael is on the "side" that centralised all control in Inverness.
Both are on the "side" that believes Nairnshire should become a proper Council once again.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the Highland a Council should switch to talk talk as their network provider - as that's all they do Talk Talk / note reports and commission consultants reports - Let's see some action on worthwhile community projects - perhaps the new Council administration will be the catalyst for change but I doubt it!

Anonymous said...

Can we not go back to Basics? Nairn High street is a disgrace and embarrassment, just look at all the weeds growing out of the gutters and buildings crumbling, just look up and you will see it, further more the pavements look disgusting moss, seagull mess pigeon mess etc, what happened to the High Pressure cleaning that happened before? Do we really want to portray ourselves as a Tourist destination?? SNP do something as after all you are nationalists??