Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Save Nairn Paddling Pool" Facebook group formed

What did we all do before the internet? This morning just before seven we published an article relating the events from last night's Nairn West Community Council meeting in Nairn Academy. In that meeting the option of removing the paddling pool and replacing it with play equipment was seriously mooted by Councillor Liz MacDonald as a discussion that could soon be entering the public domain. Article here. 

At 8.18 a comment was received which stated: "A Facebook page has been set up " Save Nairn Paddling Pool" please like and share!"

We have just let that and other comments go through to appear on the page, it is now 9.39 and the public Facebook group "Save Nairn Paddling Pool" has 109 members - you can view it here. 

The internet certainly speeds up citizen reaction to events that occur in Nairn's civic self by way of Community Council meetings.

Update 18.45 Lots of debate ongoing tonight on the new page. 

Paddling Pool no more? Could an iconic part of Nairn’s seafront go after play-park consultation?

At the West Community Council meeting although time was limited there was quite a lot of discussion about play areas 

Graham Kerr of the Westies gave a report on a recent meeting with representatives of the group in Ardersier that achieved a massive upgrade of the children’s play area facilities in the village. He said:

“The meeting was all about Ardersier’s effort that they put in to get the playpark. Ardersier is two hundred thousand from the Big Lottery to get their playpark up. I think something in the region of 150 was for equipment and the other was for fees and consultations that they’ve done.[...] Their approach was that they’ve done a lot of hard work in the area they have to raise awareness for the project and to get everybody on board and then they have gone through the somewhat arduous task of filling in all the forms, agreeing with the people that were supplying the forms [...] but they just persevered, persevered. What they have ended up with is a very successful play park.”

Graham added that, in Nairn, individual areas of the town would have to do it for themselves but “that it seems the funding is available so long as you go about it in the right way.”

Cllr Liz MacDonald then added:

“Yes I was present as well and the Ardersier group was a group of parents supported by Kate MacLennan the tenant participation officer and he agreed the playground, the principal officer. It took them two years to get them from a having a playground of falling down equipment to their brand, spanking new playground. And I think that the outcome from that consultation meeting was, as well, that there is a group of parents who are prepared, I think it is about twelve parents, who are prepared to get involved in driving forward playground improvements for Nairn; and I think their proposals were for the Links and for the Riverside. [...]

But actually during that meeting when I was speaking to the parents one of them said about the paddling pool and that is the paddling pool good value for money. We know that next year it is going to need substantial money to improve it or would it be better to have equipment in that location that parents could use 365 days a year?”

Liz then held up a large glossy drawing that showed various angles of what the paddling pool area might look like if it were substituted with equipment. She continued: “And I found this in a report that shows you the paddling pool and having the equipment in it rather this is not a proposal, this is just suggestions about what could go in where the paddling pool is and one of them is a big sort of tower with things on it. I just thought, it’s worth flagging that up that the parents that were there were saying well, how good value is the paddling pool and could we have something better there that we could use 365 days of the year.”

Rosemary Young the Chair of the West CC said:

“I think it is a pretty good idea to do that because the one thing that I notice when I’ve been down there when they put the net down and everything; the seagulls come straight in there and sit there, there must be poo going into the water. I’m just thinking it’s not very sanitary [...]”

Liz then said: “I think what we must do is have a consultation on it and be totally open about how much the cost to be to fix the paddling pool and what we could have as an alternative because I know there is a lot of historical attachment to the paddling pool, we’re one of the last ones in Scotland but at the same time the parents are saying let’s give us something we can use all year round.”

Brian Stewart, Secretary of the Westies, then said:
“It’s absolutely right to have a wide range of parents involved but it is perhaps also worth bearing in mind that at least on present evidence the paddling pool, like the Links Tea Room, are heavily used in the summer by tourists and visitors and in any process of policy making or consultation, it hasn’t got to be decided only by a group of local parents. I think it is right to include in the mix (we can’t invite a bunch of tourists to come and join the steering group because, by definition, they are only here temporary) but I think as policy makers, those concerned do need to factor in the tourism function as well as the facility for local residents because it is a part of Nairn’s tourism offering.”

Another night, another amazing sunset in Nairn - video

Perhaps we'll be really lucky and get three in a row this evening. The last two nights have really been stunning. Some pictures here on the Gurn Flickr pages from last night.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Help get the County Cat pitch invader home - do you know anyone missing their animal?

The cat that had to be escorted off the pitch at Station Park by security at the end
of the home side’s 5-1 over Selkirk eventually disappeared over into the hospital area after a very confident stroll on the park. On Saturday Mashy Young took the second picture below and posted it on social networks in the hope of alerting its owner(s). The cat had been seen in the Cawdor Road area all day before going in to take in the Scottish Cup game. 

On Sunday afternoon a similar cat was seen, this time in the middle of the High Street, amusing itself. Some County fans have taken it into safe keeping for the time being. Advice from the Cats Protection League is to release the cat in one of the areas it was seen. The animal’s temporary hosts (they’ve called it Conor for the time being) would like to make a serious effort to find the owners before doing that however and realistically Cawdor Road and the High Street are not sensible places to let a wandering cat loose. 

It emerged later that another black and white cat had been in the Cranloch area on Friday. See the third picture below taken by a resident in that area. Looking at all the photo's we are fairly certain that this is the same cat.
Do you recognise this cat? He is black and white and approx 7 months old. The way it has been moving about it could really come from anywhere in town though. Let’s see if we can get Conor sorted.

Pictures below from Sunday, Saturday and Friday. Please contact if you have any information or leave your contact details in a comment (they will not be published). 

Sunday after being stopped from playing in the middle of the High Street. 

Image taken at Station park on Saturday by Mashy Young

Checking out the scene on a Cranloch doorstep

Nairn Health Care practice will be closed and phone lines down from 1.30 p.m. this Thursday 1st October

More details in posters in Gurn sidebar also click read more to view:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Nairn sunset 28th September 2015 - pictures

As one of our twitter correspondents said tonight "Seems though all the moon and sunset pics have broken FB but this deserves a retweet - stunning!" And it was stunning, it was up there with the best you can get on Nairn beach - at times a 360 degree all-round treat to the senses. 

A few pictures below that we have posted on our flickr pages - individual images here and a full-screen slideshow here.

And some video

Other videos of last night's sunset and moonrise, here, here and here.

And also pictures of last night's sunset from Murray MacRae here on the Gurn flickr pages.

Nairn Groups can pop into the Co-op to learn more about the local fund

Community groups in Nairn are invited to The Co-operative’s King Street store to find out more about how The Co-operative’s Local Fund can benefit good causes.

The Co-op’s Local Fund will provide a £750,000 funding boost across Scotland as the community retailer shares the money raised through carrier bag charges and sales in its food stores.

Representatives of good causes, community groups and projects locally can pop in to The Co-op between 2-4pm on Wednesday, 30 September, to speak to Co-operative Engagement Advisor, Stephen Kelly, to find out more about the scheme.

The community retailer is calling on local causes or community groups interested in “carrying” away a share of the Co-op Local Fund to apply online by Wednesday, 7 October.

It is envisaged that approaching 1,000 organisations and groups across Scotland will receive grants of between £200 and £2,500 from The Co-op Local Fund to make a difference in their community.

In addition to the 5p minimum charge on single-use bags, The Co-op has also pledged to go further and top-up the fund with proceeds from its entire range of carriers, including sales of its bags-for-life and its new woven reusable shopping bags.

Applications can be made until midnight on Wednesday, 7 October. Then, between 16 November and 11 December, the community retailer will give its hundreds of thousands of members in Scotland a chance to vote and have a say, from a shortlist of organisations, on how the fund will benefit local communities.

Michael Boylan, Area Manager for The Co-operative Food, said: “We hope to raise awareness and interest in the scheme to give as many community groups and good causes as possible a chance to apply for a share of the fund, money that will support their work and help them to make a difference locally. The Co-op is a community retailer with a strong heritage and commitment to the environment and to supporting its local communities and we are urging local causes to apply.

“The Co-op shares the aspiration of reducing the number of single-use carrier bags in use. It is also encouraging shoppers to further reduce their reliance on single-use carriers by donating profits from its reusable bags to good causes too. The money raised will enable organisations across Scotland to make a difference in their community - together, we will reduce, reuse, recycle, and reinvest in our communities.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland said:

“Since the carrier bag charge came into force we have seen a huge reduction in single-use carrier bags in circulation in Scotland - around 150 million fewer last year alone. This has been a huge success with people changing their shopping habits to take re-usable bags with them.

“This scheme from The Co-op illustrates how the carrier bag charge is not only benefitting the environment, but it is also making a positive difference in the communities where the money has been raised.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food, and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, said:

“It is fantastic to see the carrier bag charge raising so much money for good causes, as well as achieving such drastic reductions in the number of single-use carrier bags being handed out in Scottish stores. I would like to commend The Co-operative for their support, and to encourage as many projects and local good causes as possible to apply in order for their communities to benefit from a share of the funds”.

The Co-operative has seen an 80% reduction in single-use carrier bags in circulation since the introduction of the charge.

For further information or to make an application visit

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What is the best way forward for the removal of traffic lights? What does the community tell the Scottish Government experts when they come to Nairn?

In a previous post we reported how Fergus Ewing MSP had recently received a letter from the senior official in the Scottish Government Transport Trunk Roads division which confirms that there will now be a fresh consultation with local people on the thorny Nairn traffic lights issue.” 

The senior official concerned states: “Transport Scotland will establish a local focus group involving the community, local councillors, council officials and other parties at which a number of options/scenarios for the traffic signals that the community wish to have examined can be considered, agreed and then progressed to a modelling exercise. Results from this can then be presented back to the group (noting issues like the impacts on trunk and local traffic flows, where delays might occur or be transferred to, impact on ability for school children/pedestrians/cyclists/disabled people to cross the A96 etc).”

So when the community engages with the experts just what do we tell them? What would you replace the traffic lights with? 

Fergus also told the Gurn:

 “This issue has been pursued by me over this period with the Transport officials, and I am very pleased that they have now recognised that change must be seriously considered. The letter confirms that the transport officials will at long last consider alternative options - such as fewer lights, and different locations - and modelling will be undertaken of those options, and the results of that modelling shared, before putting conclusions to my colleague and friend Derek MacKay the Transport Minister. Many different opinions have been expressed to me about the lights. Some say there are just too many. Others argue that they are wrongly situated. The Mobility access panel have pointed out failures to take account of needs of persons with particular needs. And some people have argued all these points!” 

What would you say to the officials? Any Gurnites out there with ideas about what would come after lights were removed? What are the priorities for removal and what could be done quickly and effectively? Very soon it will be time for us to tell the experts our thoughts. 

Scottish Cup Nairn 5 Selkirk 1 - images from Gurn photographers plus Donald Matheson, Kenny MacLeod and Mashy Young

Click on the read more button to see images:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Infrastructure now the biggest obstacle to development in Nairn? Laurie launches out!

On Wednesday this week the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey area committee met and planning officials outlined a route map for a new South Nairn master plan and transport assessment. 

Cllr Stephen Fuller asked if Water and Sewage would be included in the new consulatation and whether the Nairn Sewage works would have capacity to accommodate extra building. This observer hasn't got the energy to go back and listen to the webcast to record the exact response to that but is inclined to say that he got a long-winded yes on that one from officials. 

Then Provost Laurie Fraser leapt in with his take on the roads situation, he said:

"My main concern over the whole thing now over what has occurred over the last few years is that Nairn has really reached the limits of its expansion with the current infrastructure that we have. I’m seriously concerned that we should really be curtailing some of the long term plans because the situation has actually changed in the last few months because...the White Bridge up near Croy is needing replaced, you’re talking of weight restriction and the reality is the existing roads and other bridges in the area just can’t take any serious heavy use if the infrastructure through Nairn starts to break down. 

I’m seriously concerned that although we are looking purely at Nairn here, you need to look at the structure further out. Certainly if you are looking at roads, particularly the roads what the effect is if you have a blockage in Nairn; the delays of actually going through the town, the delays of actually working in the town, it’s getting to the point where the whole thing is becoming stagnated and transport travelling through the town is virtually impossible. I’m seriously concerned that someone is going to come up with another proposal and we are going to have the same problems again in a year’s time on infrastructure. 

So I’m concerned that we are trying to build in something that we may not be able to achieve. We are trying to provide more living space for land owners or for developers and the reality is that we may not be able to provide that facility and I have my concerns about the future expansion of the town. I remember having the debate twenty years ago – has the town grown big enough? And the general view of the Council then, it was the district council, was yes it has. We keep adding more and more too it but we do nothing for the infrastructure. That’s my big concern. "

Traffic Lights latest from Fergus Ewing MSP - Fresh consultation

Fergus told the Gurn:

"I attach a letter recently received from the senior official in the Scottish Government Transport Trunk Roads division which confirms that there will now be a fresh consultation with local people on the thorny Nairn traffic lights issue - and the traffic problems. I am well aware that these, and unannounced utility works over the summer, have created much irritation and inconvenience over a period of years. This issue has been pursued by me over this period with the Transport officials, and I am very pleased that they have now recognised that change must be seriously considered. The letter confirms that the transport officials will at long last consider alternative options - such as fewer lights, and different locations - and modelling will be undertaken of those options, and the results of that modelling shared, before putting conclusions to my colleague and friend Derek MacKay the Transport Minister. Many different opinions have been expressed to me about the lights. Some say there are just too many. Others argue that they are wrongly situated. The Mobility access panel have pointed out failures to take account of needs of persons with particular needs. And some people have argued all these points!

Whilst I am concerned that it has taken too long to secure this agreement, I am pleased that, nonetheless, after many many letters that I have written on behalf of concerned constituents, this undertaking has now been received. It will plainly take time to investigate this consulting with locals, but that is right and proper. "

And here is the text of the letter that Fergus refers to from Roy Brennan, the senior officer of the Scottish Government's Transport Directorate:

"Transport Scotland, the national transport agency 
Còmhdhail Alba, buidheann nàiseanta na còmhdhail 

Dear Mr Ewing

Further to our telephone conversation on 3 September, I can advise that I have discussed our proposal with Mr Mackay who is content for this modelling exercise to be scoped and developed, thereafter involving the local community.

Transport Scotland will establish a local focus group involving the community, local councillors, council officials and other parties at which a number of options/scenarios for the traffic signals that the community wish to have examined can be considered, agreed and then progressed to a modelling exercise. Results from this can then be presented back to the group (noting issues like the impacts on trunk and local traffic flows, where delays might occur or be transferred to, impact on ability for school children/pedestrians/cyclists/disabled people to cross the A96 etc). The findings of this work can then be considered by Mr Mackay for implementation.

I have asked my team to begin work on this matter by developing a brief and then engaging with the local community. This will initially be through The Highland Council local Ward Manager and the Nairn councillors, with whom we have developed an excellent working relationship. Further updates on progress and timings of this work will be provided to you as the project develops."

House Fire in Woodside Crescent earlier today

Smoke from a house fire in Achareidh was clearly visibly across Nairn earlier today. Here is information from a Scottish Fire Service press release:

"The call was received by operations control at 12.10pm this afternoon. Two appliances from Nairn and two from Inverness along with the aerial rescue platform from the city was dispatched.

On arrival crews were faced with a well-developed fire in a semi-detached property. Firefighters in breathing apparatus used two main jets to tackle the fire which was threatening to spread to the adjoining property.

Firefighters are also using thermal imaging cameras to check for hot spots. All persons are accounted for and there was no one inside the property at the time.

The incident is ongoing.

Group Manager John MacDonald, who is at the scene, said: "The crews did an excellent job in arduous conditions and ensured the fire did not spread to the adjoining property. They also carried out a full search to ensure no one was inside the property."

Offers of help for the resident whose home was destroyed by fire are being co-ordinated on the facebook group pages "Nairn our town, our view". 

"The infrastructure is not here to support development" Provost Laurie Fraser

Laurie gets a write up in the Courier today. The quote what he had to say on Wednesday at the Area Committee meeting. Gurnites can catch up with what he had to say on the webcast on the Highland Council site and when we get a moment this weekend we will post his words on the Gurn - quite interesting it was. 

Also in the Courier was Liz gurning about the grass cutting and they also spoke to the owner of the Rosebank Church. 

Developing play projects in Nairn

A Highland Council press release:

"Nairn play is now firmly on the agenda following a meeting of interested parties held recently in the Community Centre. 

Organised by the Highland Council, parents, locals and representatives from the town’s community councils and Nairn Initiative Community Enterprise (NICE) heard about the success of the Ardersier PLAY project from the volunteer committee. The meeting also heard about how to access funding from sources such as the Big Lottery.

Alice Tree, secretary of Ardersier PLAY group said: "We were delighted to be given the chance to share our experiences and to show how we worked through our project. We hope that our experiences will encourage others to go for it too."

At round table discussions, groups then had the opportunity to put forward their ideas for what they would like to see provided in Nairn. Many parents at the meeting signalled their interest in becoming involved and in going on to develop play projects.

On behalf of the Nairn Ward Councillors, Area Leader Liz MacDonald said, "It was great to see so many people attending from across the whole of Nairn. I hope that a follow up meeting can be arranged soon as there is a lot of interest in this subject presently and a willingness to be involved. I look forward to working with parents, Councillors and the wider community on this project."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nairn Healthcare news - September

The latest from Nairn Healthcare


Nairn Healthcare is delighted to welcome our new Nurse, Hayley, to the Practice. Hayley is very experienced and will be a great asset to the team performing usual nursing procedures, assisting GPs with specialised clinics and supporting the duty doctor.

Barbara Graham, Business Manager, has now left Nairn Healthcare and relocated to England. We wish Barbara all the best in her new post.

Phone lines down

Nairn Healthcare will be closed from 1.30pm on Thursday 1st October for a staff training afternoon. On this date, the phone lines will be down for essential maintenance. 

If you have a medical emergency, please dial 999

NHG statistics


As many of our patients are already aware, Nairn Healthcare also operates a branch surgery in Ardersier.

This surgery is open every day between 8.30am and 6pm (closes at 1pm on Thursday) with alternate Wednesdays staying open until 8pm. 

In the month of August alone, there were 625 patients seen at the Ardersier branch either by a GP (400), Nurse (102) including specialist nursing or Healthcare Assistant (123).

Vasectomy Service

Nairn Healthcare’s vasectomy service reached its 1 year milestone on 12th September. The Practice is able to carry out routine minimally invasive vasectomy procedures under local anaesthetic. This year, we have completed 164 vasectomies. So don’t be shy about coming forward if you or your partner feel the need! 

 Immunisations who's eligible for what?

It’s flu season once again and Nairn Healthcare will be offering appointments to those who are eligible for a vaccine. 


The flu vaccine is available to anyone aged 65 and over. If you are under the age of 65, you are eligible for the flu vaccine if you fall into one of the 9 “at risk categories”. They are:

Chest Condition (asthma, COPD, emphysema, bronchitis) 
Neurological Condition (e.g. multiple sclerosis) 
Liver or kidney disease 
Heart condition 

A condition which lowers your immune system or receiving treatment which lowers your immune system (e.g. chemotherapy) 
Carer for elderly, disabled or someone in any of the “at risk categories 


All children between the aged of 2-11 years old qualify for the childhood flu nasal spray which will be available from October. If you child was born on or before 01/09/2013 then they are eligible. Children aged 2-5 years old who are not at primary school will receive theirs at the surgery and children aged 5- 11 years will be immunised at school. The nasal spray is quick and painless and works better for your child than the flu injection

If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and falls into one of the “at risk” categories above, they are also eligible for the flu injection.


The shingles vaccine is a single injection therefore you will only require the jab once instead of annually. It is available for those born between 02/09/1944 – 01/09/1945 (aged 70) and those born between 02/09/1936 – 01/09/1937 (aged 78) only. Please book in with the Nurse for this vaccine. 

All vaccinations will be available by appointment only with the Nurse or Healthcare Assistant at the GP Practice. Please can we remind patients to please book their appointment in advance by calling the surgery on 01667 452096.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Laura van der Heidjen and Tom Poster (cello and piano) - MusicNairn - Sunday October 4th in Nairn Community and Arts Centre

A Music Nairn spokesperson told the Gurn:

"18 year old cellist Laura van der Heidjen has already made a name for herself as a very special emerging talent.

In 2012 she won the title of BBC Young Musician of the Year playing Walton’s cello concerto, the critics praising the intense beauty and expressivity of her playing, and since then she has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the EU Chamber Orchestra.

This season she is developing her playing with orchestral and chamber tours, before continuing her musical studies at Cambridge University.

For her Music Nairn concert she teams up with eminent pianist, composer, arranger and broadcaster Tom Poster.
Tom Poster and Laura van der Heidjen
Tom, having also been recognised very young with his first concerto appearance at age 13, has since appeared multiple times at the Proms, and with the UK’s most prestigious orchestras. His outstanding artistry and versatility as both soloist and chamber musician has been highly critically praised.

Their programme for Sunday night features two of the best loved works of the cello/piano repertoire, Beethoven’s third sonata Op 69, and Rachmaninov’s passionate and yearning Op 19 sonata in G minor. Written in 1901 after a period of depression and creative block, Rachmaninov felt the piece marked him being ‘born again as a composer’

Two lesser known but very engaging works, Glinka’s Viola Sonata arranged for cello, and James Macmillan’s short meditation ‘Kiss on Wood’ complete the programme for what should be a very special night for Music Nairn."

Laura van der Heidjen and Tom Poster (cello and piano)
Date: Sunday 4th October 7.30pm
Venue: Nairn Community and Arts Centre Tickets: Nairn Community Centre in advance, at the door or

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A lot going on tomorrow (Weds 23/09/15) as our Nairn councillors get a fistful of reports to digest and vote on

If you have a moment or two free perhaps you might want to catch a bit of the gig on the Highland Council webcast. A chance to see what your councillors are saying or not saying on your behalf. It starts at 10.30 and is called the "Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee". Will our local members have any criticism of the content of the reports being put before them? 

A lot up for "recommendation" with implications for Nairn - Will Liz, Stephen, Michael and Laurie go with it all or could they express alternative opinions?  Scroll down the Gurn for a bit of analysis of some of the items on the agenda tomorrow. Further details available on this Highland Council page here - just click on the agenda items to download reports.  

Cuts in the winter maintenance service provision but "The savings have limited impact on Resources in Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey area."

Yet another report going before our Councillors on the area committee concerning "Winter Maintenance Priority Network" (this observer is taking a big gamble here and translating that into "gritting") states:

"Highland Council agreed on 18th December 2014 as part of a wider savings review to target £0.48m of savings within the current £5.494m budget."

A little further into the report it states:

"The savings proposal specifically being “provision of a more focused delivery of the Winter Maintenance Policy. Targeting Primary & Secondary routes first and only moving to the lowest category “Other” when the first two priorities have been completed”.

Have a continued browse of this report however and a statistic of 45% of Nairn falls in this "other" category. We have quiet a lot of "other" then that won't get touched until the "more focused" bitties get down - a correct interpretation? This observer estimates that the cut amounts to more or less 11.5% of the budget. Perhaps Gurnites that haven't been in the pub having a wee blether tonight might have a better calculator to hand however. 

More worryingly another paragraph in the report states:

"The resulting savings target across Highland is 12 gritting vehicles plus 12 FTE posts over the financial years 2015/16 & 2016/17.2

Could we be forgiven for hoping that we have a mild winter this year?

And not specifically a rural issue but may have rural implications?

"The re-focussing of the Winter Maintenance provision within the policy may mean that some roads within the “Other” category receive a lesser treatment than has been custom in previous years. Whilst this is not specifically a rural issue, it may have Rural implication in some areas of Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey."

The officials recommend to our councillors: "The Area Committee is invited to agree the Winter Maintenance priority network of Primary and Secondary roads presented in Appendix B for the 2015/16 winter service period."

Will Liz, Stephen, Laurie and Micheal agree with this recommendation tomorrow? Is the "hierachy of priorities" what we as citizens should expect - not specifically rural but may have rural implications - would you vote for that?  Read the report for yourself by going to this Area Committee agenda page and downloading the report to councillors by clicking on item 11. 

Nairn increase in rent arrears indicates poverty kicking in?

24% of bairns locally live in poverty - that statistic was put into the public domain by a local GP. Recently the Citizens Advice Bureau did their best to alert us all to some of the difficulties that a lot of people in our community face. The manager of the Nairn CAB office stated in connection with a visit of our local MP:

"Gill MacLean, Manager of Nairn CAB added: “We appreciated Drew taking the time to meet with us to learn about our experience of the issues which face people in and around Nairn. Low pay, seasonal work, zero hours contracts, expensive public transport and the lack of affordable housing means “in work” poverty is on the increase.”

Nairn may outwardly look prosperous and for many people that are comfortably off it is indeed Disneyland but behind the scenes all is not well. This observer would suggest that a recent increase in rent arrears in Nairn could well be connected with the poverty that many people in our community have to endure. Below is a section of a report going to the Area Committee tomorrow for the attention of our local councillors.

"Eyes down!" It's South Nairn masterplan consultation time again

Tomorrow another document going to Councillors who make up the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Committee concerns the South Nairn area and its future development. 

Gurnites will remember that an appeal by the developer over refusal of planning permission was refused and central to that refusal was the transport infrastructure, most notably the dangerous area around the Cawdor Road railway bridge. A revised masterplan would be needed. Well it's all coming round again.

The document authored by the Director of Development and Infrastructure, Malcolm MacLeod states:

"The Plan makes it clear that no planning application can be considered for the site until a revised masterplan is adopted. Discussions have taken place with local members and Community Council representatives and it has been proposed that a plan of action be but together which must be:

 • set within the context of all housing development sites in Nairn;

• fully transparent, with Community Council involvement from the start; and

• infrastructure led, with a robust and credible assessment of transport and housing need and demand requirements”

And central to all this will be a transport assessment that the Highland Council will undertake:

"2.1 In order to progress the masterplan, the Council will undertake a Transport Appraisal (TA) to inform the necessary transport requirements to be contained within the Nairn South Masterplan. The scope of the TA will be to undertake an assessment of the current performance of the road network in relation to pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular traffic. The assessment will further identify constraints to the future improvement and need for upgrade of the transport infrastructure. 

2.2 The TA will make an assessment of the impact of various phases/scales of development, and also make an appraisal of cumulative transport impacts of development of this site alongside the other development sites in Nairn as identified in the IMFLDP. The TA will consider the opportunities that exist to overcome identified constraints that would support the phased delivery of development with these being identified through a defined list of transport mitigation measures. This will provide clear guidance on the potential development levels achievable on site allied to the measures required to support that level of development. A Project Brief has been prepared to set the scope and expected outputs of the Transport Appraisal are attached in Appendix 2 to this report. Member’s views are sought on the scope of the works.

 2.3 Beyond the preparation of the transport appraisal, the Council will move forward with a new draft masterplan which will be the subject of further consultation with the wider community, landowner and developer interests. This additional work will include an assessment of the housing need in Nairn, amongst many other factors.”

And it's coming up very soon:

"3.1 Between September and the end of the year, officers will continue to liaise with local members, community councils, landowners and development interests in order to work together on a consensual basis on a draft masterplan document. Specifically"

Read the report that our councillors will have to consider tomorrow by going to this Highland Council meeting agenda page and downloading a copy by clicking on item 7 of the agenda.  

If serious students of these matters find anything in the documents that they feel fellow Gurnites might like to be aware of please feel free to share.

Nairn Book Shop crossing over the road to bigger premises

On their facebook page the Nairn Book Shop has said that they hope to be in the new premises by 2nd of November.

Nairn Town Centre Action Plan now called “Nairn Community Town Centre Plan”

“In response to the consultation, the Plan title has been changed to Nairn Community Town Centre Plan,” says a report going before councillors at tomorrow’s meeting of the Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey area committee. The plan lists new issues and actions after the latest round of consultations. It runs to 28 pages and has lots of suggestions as to how things could move forward and has links to sources of potential funding and support.

Hopefully the word "action" was left out for reason of brevity alone (it does reappear elsewhere though). A couple of paragraphs bounce out at this observer on the first look at this plan.
One of them states:

"Although the current economic climate makes it more difficult to deliver many of the plan’s proposals, this document is important as it will put the town in a strong position to compete for funding opportunities that arise. It also enables community groups to lead the regeneration of the town centre, working closely with public sector partners and land owners."

And indeed a “partnership approach” is the way forward it seems. The report states: 

“Successful delivery of Town Centre proposals is likely to involve collaborative action on the part of a wide range of stakeholders, including local community groups, property owners, Council Services, Elected Members and public sector organisations such as HIE and Visit Scotland.”

In the usual modus operandi and language of the Area Committee the officials recommend:

“Recommendation The Committee is invited to:

 • note that the Nairn Community Town Centre Action Plan at Appendix A reflects shared priorities for the future of the town centre, in particular projects that could be delivered should funding opportunities arise;
 • agree that the Plan becomes non-statutory planning guidance and is treated as a material consideration in determining planning applications; and
 • note the comments received during the Nairn Town Centre Action Plan consultation and agree to the recommended Council responses presented in Appendices B and C.”

Gurnites who wish to read a copy of the plan need to go to the page on the Highland Council’s website that gives you the details of the Area Committee’s agenda and then click on item 8 to download a PDF containing the information going before the councillors and also a copy of the Community Town Centre Plan.

Monday, September 21, 2015

River CC aim to launch Social Enterprise this Thursday night (24th September) - video

Earlier this month Tommy Hogg and his colleagues on River Community Council voted unanimously to seek public support for a launch of a Social Enterprise company - details of that meeting here.  If there is enough interest shown River CC will give the new set-up a start-up cash donation. The Gurn spoke earlier today with the Community Councillor that  will be organising Thursday night's meeting. Here's what Simon Noble had to say:

Nairn River Enterprise has a website here and a facebook page here. 

Rosebank Church - First Steps Nursery thanks from Greg Riddle, Sarah Riddle and Roslin Murdoch

Dear Gurn,

We'd just like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has expressed their support, via The Gurn or by other means, following our announcement that the Rosebank Church development will not be completed. We'd just like to make it clear that the existing nursery is not in any financial difficulty, and that we are positive about finding a long term solution. We are meeting local councillors this week to discuss options.

Best Regards,

Greg Riddle, Roslin Murdoch, Sarah Riddle

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday night miscellany

One of our regular readers was quite interested to see that an Ebola alert poster
was still on the door at the hospital. Looks like we are still at alert status locally then.

Thanks to Donald Matheson for the video below from the recent comedy show in the Playhouse starring Cameron Sinclair and his assistants.

Taking you a stage further into the comedy culture that sometimes breaks out in Nairn venues is another video here featuring Russell Hicks and a man from a place that doesn’t exist.

Not many County fans went through to a dreich Mosset Park on Wednesday night. On similar evenings this observer would suggest that x2, x3 or even x4 of the faithful would have made the effort. Forres numbers seemed down too - the magic has gone from the North Cup? 

One County fan labelled it “entertainment vaule 0 but the right team won". Congratulations to Connor Gethins for getting his 150th goal for the club however. County will face Wick Academy in the North of Scotland Cup final on Saturday the 10th of October at a venue to be arranged. Meanwhile next up tomorrow is the visit of Clachnacuddin FC on league business – they will bring through their usual contingent for a day in the seaside town and it will probably all be its normal passionate affair. The following Saturday the Selkirk-Nairn special will leave the borders town bring the Borders fans north for the second Scottish Cup encounter at Station park between these two sides in recent years.

And here are pictures from Wednesday night’s County victory from Kenny MacLeod. Bumped into Kenny tonight too down the beach, did anyone else catch the marvellous sunset tonight?

And finally breaking news - congratulations to Jackos

Boost for childs' play in Nairn

A Highland Council press release:

"Members of The Highland Council’s Nairn Ward Provost Fraser and Councillors Fuller, Green and MacDonald have welcomed the completion of works to install new play equipment at the Nairn Links play area.

Local and visiting children to the area will have a choice of fun new kit to play on including: 2 ‘springies’, a see-saw, rotating platform, 3 trampolines, 3 play panels and a climbing frame. The works totalling £37,248 also included refurbishment of existing swings at the play area. 

Provost of Nairn, Laurie Fraser said: “My Ward colleagues and I are very pleased that these excellent new items of play equipment are installed and ready for use at Nairn Links. We have listened to people in the local community who have an interest in how we provide for our younger people and families and I am confident that both locals and visitors to the area will be delighted with the new facilities.” 

The project was financed by the Council’s Nairn Ward discretionary budget (£23,750) and Community Services Capital fund (£13,498). 

The equipment was chosen after discussion with a local stakeholder group that involved young parents and some of the local nurseries."

Rosebank Church redevelopment abandoned - reaction from Cllr Liz MacDonald

Liz told the Gurn:

"This is very sad news, I heard from Greg Riddle on this issue, they are able to continue in their existing premises until 2016, and we are arranging a meeting to see if there is anything we can do to help. First Steps provide an essential service to parents and families in Nairn and we need to work together to ensure they are able to continue to do so.

It is a blow for the town that the work on Rosebank Church has come to a stand still, this is such an important landmark building and so much has already been done to restore it. We must try to find a way to finish the works and get this building back into use."

Rosebank Church redevelopment abandoned - Community Council reaction - also comment from Cllr Michael Green

Brian Stewart of Nairn West Community Council told the Gurn:

"I'm sure all three Community Councils in Nairn will be disappointed at the news that the project to restore and re-use the former Rosebank Church there has been abandoned. This listed building is in a prominent position beside the main road and is a significant part of the town's heritage. For several years Nairn West CC campaigned, in collaboration with the other local community councils, for the building to be properly maintained and brought back into use. We were encouraged by our dialogue with Council officials and we welcomed the initiative by 1st Steps Childcare.

We hope the nursery succeeds in their efforts to find other premises so that they can continue to offer local childcare services. We also consider it important for the town that a suitable alternative use be found as soon as possible for the historic Rosebank Church building."

Michael Green also told the Gurn:

 ‘ Very disappointing news that First Steps have been unable to complete the re-development of the Rosebank Church. Going forward, we must give every assistance to First Steps to find alternative premises and explore all options to ensure that the work on the building is completed. What cannot be allowed to happen is for the building to once again fall into a state of disrepair’.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rosebank Church redevelopment abandoned - reaction from Association of Nairn Businesses

Association of Nairn Businesses spokesperson, Michael Boylan, told the Gurn:

"I’m disappointed to hear the news as it was great to see such a prominent building working its way back to use. It’s one of a number of buildings in Nairn that could have a variety of options for use and we will offer whatever support we can to anyone who wishes to look at a viable option. We also welcome the news that talks between the education department and 1st Steps Childcare have been positive - For any business community to thrive, quality local childcare is a must."

Rosebank Church redevelopment abandoned - reaction from Drew Hendry MP

Drew told the Gurn:

"I think everyone was looking forward to seeing the Rosebank church building operational again and we were watching with interest as work progressed, so this news is the last thing we would all want to hear. I understand that the council are cooperating with 1st Steps Childcare ltd to ensure that they can continue to provide local childcare and that is to be welcomed. I will offer to meet with 1st Steps to see how I can help and with local councillors and local MSP Fergus Ewing to examine how we can work together to determine both a secure future for 1st steps childcare and a future use for the building"

"Re-development of the former Rosebank Church building will not be completed" - "costs spiralled out of control"

The Gurn has received the following press release from 1st Steps Childcare Nairn Limited:

1st Steps Childcare Nairn is extremely disappointed to inform parents, carers and the wider community that the re-development of the former Rosebank Church building will not be completed.

In July last year, we agreed heads of terms with the owner of the former Rosebank Church, Sheridan Macrae to re-develop the building into a high quality child care facility which we were to lease on a  long-term basis. Work on site commenced in the Autumn, and we received planning permission in December.

Local residents will have observed the impressive scaffolding which has been erected and progress with cleaning up the facades and masonry, as well as the construction of the new roof including supporting trusses. They may also have noticed that the work on site has stalled since early August.

Old Rosebank Church Building, 04 August 2015,  image Greg Riddle.
Meanwhile we have been working hard to increase the customer base of the existing business and generate interest in the new places that would have become available to ensure that the busines swould be successful and sustainable in the long term.

It is now painfully apparent that the programme and budget for delivery of the project were significantly short of what was required.

Due to the poor structural condition of the existing building, and restrictions on construction methods and materials arising from its Listed status, costs have spiralled out of control. The final nail in the coffin was a valuation carried out last month which valued the building at several hundred thousand pounds less than has been spent on the re-development to date. As a result the building’s owner is unable to obtain the funds needed to complete the development.

We have maintained our commitment to delivering this project to through some tough times over the last few months, missing several key programme dates, agreeing to a massive increase in rent and making several offers of an up-front financial contribution. Following a comprehensive review of the financial situation and business case we now have no option but to abandon the project.

The existing the 1st Steps Nursery, currently based in temporary buildings leased from Highland Council within the grounds of Rosebank Primary School, has for the last two years faced the threat of closure to allow for expansion of the school, and the Education Department have up to now been willing to extend our lease on a short-term basis whilst the re-development has been in progress.

Initial discussions with the Education Department have been positive and we will be able to remain in our current premises until the summer of 2016.

There is a demand for high quality child care in Nairn which is both affordable and flexible, which is set to increase due to Scottish Government policies on the provision of free pre-school education, both in terms of increasing the hours per week, and extending the current scheme to include 2 year olds.

The Directors of 1st Steps Childcare Nairn Limited have been working individually with various parties since 2009 and collectively since October 2013 to identify and secure suitable child care premises for an expanded child care provision including out-of-school care, and a specialist unit for children under 2 years old which is not currently available in the town. The existing premises are operating at capacity and there is a waiting list for new places.

Roslin Murdoch, Director of the Company and owner of the existing nursery, said:

“We are very disappointed that the project has had to be abandoned. Sarah, Greg and I have all put a considerable amount of time, effort and energy into this development. We are concerned about the future in the long term, both for the business and for the parents and carers who rely on us to care for their children. Highland Council has continued to give us their support, and agreed that we
can remain in our existing premises whilst we put together a “Plan B”.

We will have to start looking for new premises all over again, and will be speaking to Highland Council, our Councillors, HIE and other agencies to explore all the options. We would also appeal to the local community, businesses, developers and other organisations that may be able to help.”

The Directors of 1st Steps Childcare Nairn Limited are local people who grew up in the area and are raising their own children in the town.

Roslin Murdoch has been the owner of the existing 1st Steps Nursery for over 10 years, and was heavily involved in organising the highly successful Ramage Jazz festival which ran for more than two decades until 2009.

She is supported by fellow Directors Sarah and Greg Riddle, who returned to Nairn in 2008. Sarah has a successful track record in business whilst Greg Riddle has worked in the construction industry for many years. They jointly own and run a consultancy business and have an interest in a bar and restaurant operating company.

UPDATE: Reaction from Drew Hendry MP:

"I think everyone was looking forward to seeing the Rosebank church building operational again and we were watching with interest as work progressed, so this news is the last thing we would all want to hear. I understand that the council are cooperating with 1st Steps Childcare ltd to ensure that they can continue to provide local childcare and that is to be welcomed. I will offer to meet with 1st Steps to see how I can help and with local councillors and local MSP Fergus Ewing to examine how we can work together to determine both a secure future for 1st steps childcare and a future use for the building"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Drew Hendry MP "Poverty robs children of their childhood."

Drew Hendry spoke in the House of Commons yesterday. Gurn readers will remember that in December of last year Dr Adrian Baker revealed that 24% of Nairn children live in poverty so despite the outward appearance of affluence there are many people in Nairn who are having a hard time. Here's some of what our Westminster representative had to say:

"I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Kirsten Oswald) on securing such a vital debate. My constituency is perhaps not the first to come to mind when thinking of areas where poverty strikes, but our enduring challenge is the low-wage economy. Unemployment is low in comparison with many other areas, but low wages are the biggest threat to children growing up there. Indeed, low wages, coupled with the increased cost of living, have certainly played a part in 210,000 children in Scotland living in relative poverty, many of whom come from families in which at least one parent is working. That should quite simply be considered an outrage.

We often hear the UK Government talk of making work pay, yet policy decisions achieve quite the opposite. In my constituency, that means one in five children growing up in poverty, with the figure as high as one in three in some parts. Changes to the tax credit regime will, without question, further worsen the living conditions of over 7,000 children in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, as up to £1,000 a year is taken out of family budgets. "

September 18th 2013! A day that changed everthing - no going back? (That's right 2013)

No, not September 18th 2014 (but there seems to be little argument that Scotland went through a bit of a political transformation regardless of the result of the referendum). Let's be parochial however and rewind a further 12 months  to September 18th 2013 in Nairn. On that day Michael Green said:

" This is a culture change. I think this is a pivotal moment for Highland Council"

Here's what happened as Highland Councillors visited Nairn on a site visit for the unpopular South Nairn planning application that would have had catostrophic implications for road safety at the already dangerous Cawdor Road railway bridge pinch point.

Nairn residents took to the street to protest at Inverness Highland Council rule and to ask for more say in how their town develops in the future. Will things ever be the same?

One young man whose life was eventually to be transformed by his involvement in the events of the following September 18th posted an image of 18/09/13 on twitter.    The Gurn team took a few pictures of the day the worm turned too: more here on "An lath a ghabh muinntir Inbhir Narann na sraidean orra."

Nairn's traffic lights moving up the agenda as we move to Holyrood elections

Details of Fergus Ewing's latest initiative and research undertaken by Labour MSP Dave Stewart are being discussed in the Facebook group "Remove Nairn Traffic Lights".  More here

According to the Nairnshire Telegraph it'll soon be time for "a fresh engagement with local people in order to consider possible improvements". Does anyone remember an initial engagement about possible alternatives when the authorities twisted the supermarket chain's arm to extract the cash for the traffic lights? 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Super Supermarket Cyclists raise £4,346.04 for National Autistic Society local branch

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Links Studios Nairn - Launch Saturday 19th September 2015 - open day 10am - 4pm

WASPS told the Gurn: "We will officially open our latest studio project - Links Studios in Nairn on Saturday 19th September 2015.

Links Studios is our first project in the Scottish Highlands and currently provides 12 artists and makers local to the area with studio space. There is also a space within the building that we hope to rent to a local creative/social enterprise. More details for interested parties here.

This open day will provide the public with the perfect opportunity to see inside the working spaces of some of Nairn's best known artists and talk to them directly about their work. We are delighted to be delivering this public opening as part of Highland Doors Open Days 2015 and Wasps Open Studios 2015.

Artists who will be opening their spaces are as follows: Lynn Barton, Lin Carruthers, Margaret Cowie, Janice Fleming, Shaun Macdonald, Hollie MacNeill, Gilyan Noble, Linda Smith, Steve Smith, Karin Werner, John Wilson,
Mary Wilson."

Local Girl Returns to Home to Open Crafty Wee Birdie Gift Shop of Nairn High Street

Nairn local lass Iona Hampson has returned to Nairn to take over the old Eliza Kate Crafts premises on Nairn High Street. Iona, who left Nairn to attend art school, has worked for the likes of Cath Kidston and already runs her own craft and design business, Crafty Wee Birdie, jumped at the chance to take over the premises when its previous owner decided to leave.

Eliza Kate Crafts had become a popular fixture in Nairn for local producers to
sell their wares, and for local people and tourists alike to be able to find Scottish made goods that they couldn’t find anywhere else. Iona herself sold her Crafty Wee Birdie range in the shop under its previous management and recognises how important outlets like this are for the craft industry.

Crafty Wee Birdie Gift Shop allows crafters and artists to rent shelves or wall spaces which allows the producer to sell their wares in a retail environment without the expense or expansion that selling their items wholesale usually requires. 

Iona is a founding member, and still current co-manager, of the popular and highly acclaimed craft market Aberdeen Ministry of Crafts with co-manager, jeweller Carolyn Anderson Shepherd of knittykittybangbang in Forfar. Through Aberdeen Ministry of Crafts she has formed a vast network of crafters and designers from across Scotland who are eager to fill Crafty Wee Birdie Gift Shop with items previously unavailable as far north as Nairn. 

The shop officially opens on Saturday 12th September. For more information visit the Crafty Wee Birdie Gift Shop Facebook page

Whitebridge campaigners will have a stall at Cawdor Castle Living Food event

"Cawdor & West Nairnshire Community Council and the Whitebridge Support Group will be having a stand at the forthcoming Living Food Event on the 19th and 20th of September 2015.

A spokesperson told the Gurn that it will be a chance for the public to talk to members about the impending 18 Tonne Weight restriction which is to be imposed mid-October."

Fraserburgh 1 Nairn 0 - pictures from Donald Matheson and Mashy Young

Fraserburgh went down to ten men yesterday but still managed to steal a goal and add to Nairn's troubles. Following on the back of the seven goals Brora put in the County net at Station Park on Wednesday night it has been a torrid testing week for all concerned with NCFC.

Partial redemption can be achieved however at Mosset Park on Wednesday night in the North of Scotland Cup semi-final against the Can-Cans. Given the recent defeats and with criticism of the manager now going well beyond the ranks of the usual suspects this match attracts even more gravitas than such a game against the local rivals usually would and thus adds additional layers of tension to what  could be one of the defining games of Nairn's season.

Meanwhile here's Donald Matheson's images from yesterday's game. Indivdual images here.


And images from Mashy Young - Individual images here. 

Update Sunday 13th September County youth U-17 were today in an exciting 2-2 draw with U-17 Clach at the Showfield today. Images from Kenny MacLeod here. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Last night's search - report by Coastguard

Details and pictures here. 

A96 Railyway Bridge Graffiti

Thankfully, graffiti is unusual in Nairn but yesterday a slogan appeared on the railway bridge close to the Grantown road junction of the A96. It reads "Shell get out of the Arctic". There are high-profile efforts ongoing by environmental organisations to draw attention to Shell's activities in the Arctic and according to some media observers this all seems to be having a considerable effect.  This graffiti  however doesn't seem to have inspired anyone to think about that issue if reaction on Nairn's social media groups is anything to go by: people seem to be outraged and concerned with the aesthetic effect and are calling the graffiti vandalism.  One of our regular readers sent us the picture below

Friday, September 11, 2015

Nairn 1 Brora 7 pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.   Also images from Mashy Young here and Kenny MacLeod here. 

Public meeting - playpark renewal Fri 18th September - obtaining community funding - booking for meeting necessary though

One of our correspondents has passed us a copy of a poster and a booking form for a playpark renewal meeting that has been whizzing around the town's digital thoroughfares today.  The meeting will be taking place on the morning of Friday the 18th September in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre between 9.45 and 11.15 a.m. It is about getting lottery funding as they did in Ardersier. Poster below for any Gurnites that may be interested and below the poster a wee bit of Gurn comment. 

Gurn Comment:

Very good now the community has to try and "win" lottery funding. Let's hope we can but in the broader sense of the big slide aftermath does this not seem a bit stable-door-after-horse has bolted to be having a meeting to explore Lottery funding after the HC has spent a lot of public cash demolishing the brae and the slide and putting in new equipment. Why didn't they have a public meeting, discuss options, explore funding, and make the community aware before they set about wrecking what was there?