Friday, October 30, 2015

It's all going to shine in Nairn on Thurs November 5th as Festival of Light details revealed in press release

A SHINE press release

SHINE, a Festival of Light, will be held on Thursday 5th November on the playing fields at Nairn Academy. This new community event, led by staff and pupils at Nairn Academy, hopes to bring members of the local community together to bring in the start of winter by celebrating the work and talent of young people. 

The event will begin with a lantern procession, led by local Nursery, Primary and Secondary School pupils, leaving from Rosebank Primary School car park at 6.15pm up to a bonfire on the playing fields at Nairn Academy. Live music from schools and local groups, visual demonstrations, children’s activities, fun rides and a variety of food stalls will be available on location from 6.45pm.

The emphasis on visual elements will contribute towards a calm, inclusive event for children with varying levels of needs. Lanterns, a bonfire, a suspended illuminated logo, projections of pupil animations and stimulating lighting in and around the marquee will all contribute towards visual stimulation. A generous donation from Nairn Rotary Club has allowed specialist equipment to be hired to project animations onto the school building. 

Staff and senior pupils from Nairn Academy have attended Auldearn, Cawdor, Millbank and Rosebank Primary Schools as well as local nurseries over the past few weeks to lead workshops in creating hand held lanterns which will be carried by each school pupil who takes part in the procession. Larger individual lanterns have been made and decorated to represent each school. Local street band, Penguin Tuxedo, will add to the feeling of carnival by leading the procession.

Elements of the event will be environmentally friendly; pupils are applying creative designs to used plastic water bottles, which they have been asked to bring to school. Members of the public are being encouraged to embrace the ‘green theme’ by walking to the event and taking part in the procession at 6.15pm. For people driving some distance, the main parking will be in the Farmers’ Showfield with a mini bus shuttle service running for those with walking difficulties. Disabled parking will be available in Nairn Academy car park on Duncan Drive.

The entertainment begins at 6.45pm on the playing fields. There will be a variety of live music in the Music Tent including Nairn Academy pupil Marc Britovsek, the Wind Band, the String Ensemble, various Choirs and the Steel Band. Toe-tapping ceilidh music will be provided by the Feis Nairn Youth Ceilidh Band and Champin’ At The Bit then Highland based singer/songwriters Niven & Gavin will share some of their many musical influences with an exciting finale. There will be several children’s fun rides, water zorbing, rodeo bull and face painting. For the more energetic, Nairn Academy Sports Leaders will be running sports activities on the all-weather pitch. 

A selection of food vendors will be in attendance with teas and coffees organised by Nairn Academy’s Parent Council, who have also very kindly sponsored aspects of the event. Nairn Academy is also very grateful to Nairn Rotary Club who will be providing marshals for the lantern procession as well as looking after the bonfire. As public safety is a main focus of the event, S3 First Aid pupils at Nairn Academy have been discussing safety and accident prevention in class and will provide assistance to the First Aiders on the night. We look forward to welcoming as many members of the local community to join us for what we hope will become an annual event for the local area.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Marine Road becomes the A96 after tragic traffic incident in the town centre

Marine Road around 17.15 29/10/15
Following the tragic traffic incident at the Academy Street pedestrian Crossing earlier this afternoon traffic was diverted along Marine Road and through the West End. Long tailbacks formed in the town as the police began an investigation in  to the incident in which, sadly, an elderly female pedestrian died

Police also said that another elderly female has been transferred to Raigmore Hospital with serious injuries.

Serious Road Traffic Collision - A96 Nairn town centre - message posted by Police Scotland 16.19

Serious Road Traffic Collision - Nairn

Emergency services are currently in attendance at a serious collision, involving a lorry and two pedestrians, on Academy Street (A96) in Nairn town centre.

The road is currently closed to all vehicles with local diversions in place. The diversions are not suitable for HGVs or buses so are advised to avoid the area until further notice.

Further details will be updated in due course. From Police Scotland Highlands and Islands Division Facebook page. 

Update 18.00

Update - Road Traffic Collision, Nairn

Police can confirm that following a road traffic collision - involving two elderly female pedestrians and an articulated lorry - that occurred around 3.30pm today (Thursday 29th October 2015) near to the pedestrian crossing on Academy Street in Nairn town centre, sadly an elderly female pedestrian has died.

The other elderly female has been transferred to Raigmore Hospital with serious injuries. The male driver of the lorry was not injured.

The A96 at Academy Street remains closed whilst an investigation into the incident is carried out. Local diversions are in place but are not suitable for HGVs and buses, drivers of which are advised to avoid the area until further notice.

Motorists and residents are thanked for their patience. Anyone who witnessed the incident is encouraged to contact Police on 101.

Tunnagan Inbhir Narann ann and dubh is geal - Nairn ducks in black and white - video

A huge contingent below the sewage bridge yesterday afternoon.

Paddling and putting discussed at West CC on Tues night

On Tuesday evening in Nairn Academy at their last meeting before the merger with Suburban CC the Westies had the subject of the paddling pool on the agenda:

Councillor Michael Green said:

"The maintenance is becoming more and more onerous and we are coming up to making a decision on the paddling pool. I would like to make this decision as part of a wider plan of what the ideas are for the Links. In the interim we have to address this because we don’t want to go through what we did – emergency repairs and the thing closed. My own preference is, I think this harps back to what is happening with James* and the putting green. We currently commission Highlife Highland to carry out the putting from basically the swimming pool. James has very kindly offered to run the putting and that is something that is under consideration. I’m very supportive of that. It’s costing the Common Good to pay Highlife to carry out this function – if James can do it then it is beneficial for him and it is beneficial for the Common Good. 

The second part is the pool maintenance. The pool is such a size that it needs daily supervision. If we can get it slightly smaller and enhance the facility, which we wish to do, we don’t want to make it down to something that is just for washing your feet in. We wish to have a sizeable paddling pool and an enhanced facility. I think it is essential that we have the paddling pool there. [...] It’s pretty straight forward, it needs a very substantial base and I think it needs appropriate material and paint put in. I’m very much in favour, the Common Good is now starting to accumulate money and I think we should invest in an enhanced facility - we need to decide this with consultation over the next few months and just crack on and get that in for next spring. "

Brian Stewart of West CC then said: “I think it is a brilliant move that Liz and now you Michael and others have actually put this out for public discussion and for debate. There’s a huge variety of views as to what is good and what is bad. The good thing is that at least we are having open public discussion about what we think we want, whether or not we can afford it, before the decision is taken that was what went wrong with the big slide saga; where it was sprung upon us from a clear blue sky and people reacted very badly. I think it is actually very good and very helpful that we should have a debate with lots of different views.

*James at the Kiosk.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Church Street/High Street junction will be closed for two weeks from tomorrow 29th October

Dick’s Sandown plan latest - also a Business Improvement District for Nairnshire? – Michael Green “It’s just a new millennium version of the old Nairn Initiative.”

At the last ever meeting of Nairn Suburban Community Council in Nairn Academy last night before they merge with the West CC, the Chair, Dick Youngson, gave an update on his organisations aim to see the south field of the Sandown lands turned into a parkland-wetland facility. 

He mentioned his ongoing communication with the Trustees of the Tradespark Hall fund about the Subbies plans for Sandown that go back to the early 2000’s. He said the Trustees had met and had discussed how to close the fund down and move it to an appropriate trust for raising funds for Sandown. He also said there would be a meeting with Highland Councillors looking at the Common Good land and looking out how the wetland part of that could be utilised. He said that there appeared to be a blockage in the culvert that goes under the A96. 

Dick said that they would be doing a community survey. He said: “we did one before and asking the community what they really want in the way of a parkland/wetland, the facilities that go with it. Because that is a condition of the trust. It has to be used for the community in the way of facilities which would replace the old Tradespark Hall which was used for a number of different purposes. But we don’t need a hall like that, we need different buildings and facilities for the present time. So that is where we are, we will communicate now with the whole area.”

Michael Green then said:

“Just picking up your point on the wetlands. I’d like to put a sense of perspective onto this.” He went on to mention a very positive meeting that outlined the CC’s aspiration and then added: “What came out of the meeting was really that we needed a wider perspective for the whole of Sandown. [...] I’ve been away for two weeks and I picked up a lot of the points in the Nairnshire, everyone seems to be facing these things piecemeal, now what came out of our discussions there was that we wanted to get a broader picture of Sandown and just to put that perspective we want to get a broader picture of Nairnshire as a whole. We want to work together, we want everybody to have their input to the town centre, the harbour, Sandown, because you can’t do any of these projects in isolation. 

So I would just mention that, I’ll look over at Alistair* for this, we’ve been pushing for this for some time for a BID. Which is a Business Improvement District which would give us the capacity whereby we could meet and that’s where we could do surveys and consultations – all that could come and all the various community councils, elected members, agencies groupings would be round that table and that would be the forum to take these things forward and feed these things into. 

So that’s a very exciting development, that is next week and hopefully we will get that up and running.”

Dick said: “That’s something very sensible and something which we have been working for.”

When asked by Martin Ashford about the makeup of the BID for Michael Green responded:

“That’s to be decided the meeting is between myself, there’s NICE and it’s the Association of Nairn Businesses and it’s to bring all the parties together and create a forum whereby we can actually get things done. It’s just a new millennium version of the old Nairn Initiative. It’ll be very, very effective and tailor made for Nairnshire. They’ve got it in Inverness and it’s been very, very successful. These things really, really work.”

*Michael Green was glancing in the direction of Alastair Noble.

Local MP urges people to call Home Heat Helpline

People in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey could save £140 on their electricity bills according to our Westminster Member of Parlianment

With winter fast approaching, Drew Hendry MP is encouraging local residents in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey to call a free helpline to find out what help they may be entitled to with their energy costs.

Launched ten years ago, Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99/0333 300 3366) is a free, impartial and confidential service offering support to anyone concerned about paying their energy bills and staying warm during winter. The help available includes grants for insulation, new boilers, discount schemes and rebate schemes; including the Warm Home Discount which provides eligible households with £140 off their electricity bill.

Drew Hendry MP said:

"I would urge anyone who is concerned about staying warm in the run up to winter to call Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 and seek advice. I would also ask people to look out for neighbours, friends or relatives who may be in difficulty and make sure that they are aware of the Home Heat Helpline and consider calling on their behalf."

Eligible people include vulnerable, low-income households. New figures show that over 450,000 people have used the services in the last decade to help them manage their energy bills and energy efficiency.

Home Heat Helpline’s Lawrence Slade said:

“Winter can be an incredibly tough time for people financially, around the UK, and we are here to help. There are many out there that could benefit from our support that we haven’t yet spoken to. Even if you are not eligible yourself, you may know someone else who is. Our Home Heat Helpline number - 0800 33 66 99 - is a direct and easy way for you, your neighbours, friends or family, to get the assistance needed to keep warm.”

There are also some other simple steps people can take in reducing their energy. For example:

· switch off the heating when you are out

· turn appliances like TVs and phone chargers off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby when they're not being used

· replace normal light bulbs with energy efficient ones which use up to 80% less energy

· move furniture away from radiators and heaters to allow heat to circulate around the room

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

One of those days when you wonder if Highland Council is beyond repair?

Two news stories breaking today out there on line today concerning Highland Council - cleaners look set to be paid off but there is a massive bill for hire cars. The BBC reports:

"Highland Council expects to begin restructuring its cleaning service from next year to save £580,000.

It said the 12% reduction in the service's budget would mean cutting 30 full-time posts and ending cleaning supervisor roles in some areas.

The union Unison said the cuts would affect low-paid female workers." More here.

Contrast that with a story in the Strathspey Herald: "New figures suggest Highland Council spends around £30,000 a month on hire cars for its workers.

The council spent a total of £363,063 on hired cars, including £120,138 on fuel costs for the last financial year.

The local authority defended the costs – saying the council covered the largest local authority area in Scotland." More here.

Update there is a facebook chat with the Convenor of Highland Council starting this evening 27/10/15 at 17.30. Question is:

"The Council has to save around 6% across all services next year. Would you be willing to pay a bit more council tax to protect some services against cuts eg. education, care, roads, voluntary groups etc"  You can participate here. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nairn 2 Wick 2 Scottish Cup action images from Donald Matheson, Kenny MacLeod and Mashy Young

It was an exciting game tie and we are still in the Scottish Cup. A lot could be forgiven at the end of the first half as Toshy drove one home just before the whistle blew. A replay up north next Saturday - the dream lives on. One County fan succinctly summed it up on social media last night:

" It was a strange opening 45 however because despite Wick's dominance they were prone to making bad decisions and in fairness to Nairn even when we were under the cosy during that period we were creating chances. And the breakthrough came with that stunning strike from Toshy. Much better from Nairn in the second half and the defence looked more assured after a scary first period. Honestly though going into the last ten mins it was next goal the winner and when Wick scored their second I thought it was all over. But fair play to the team they dug in and grabbed the equaliser. "

Official match report here

Pictures from Donald Matheson. Individual images here. 

Pictures from Kenny MacLeod. Individual images here.

Pictures from Mashy Young 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rural Crime investigation - eight arrests in Nairn yesterday

In Relation to the police activity in the town yesterday a Police Scotland spokesperson told the Gurn: 

"Police can confirm that 8 men have been detained and are in custody in relation to an ongoing investigation into rural crimes. We would like to thank members of the Nairn Community for assisting us in our enquiries."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Campaign for cycle lanes next to A96 gets reaction from Transport Scotland "Roads agency insists cyclists are not being forgotten in A96 plans"

Regular readers will remember a recent article where we published comment from the Secretary of Nairn West Community Council, he had said in relation to cycling tracks parallel to the A96:

 "Transport Scotland were remarkably hostile, the furthest they would go was to kind of suggest at each end of the bypass where there’s junctions and roundabouts, they might put in crossing areas so that any existing cycle route could then find its way not under or over but across – which kind of misses the point."

 Read in full what Brian had to say, plus Gurn comment and some very interesting points made from readers here. That article was picked up way beyond Nairn as cycling and green observers throughout Scotland noticed it on twitter. 

Now we have some information from Moray published last week:

"DESIGNERS LOOKING AT the dualling of the A96 through Moray are being urged to include provisions for cyclists in their plans.

Earlier this week the Scottish Government announced that they had taken a major step forward in their plans for dualling the entire route of the Inverness to Aberdeen road, offering a design contract worth up to £50million for the section through Moray.

Now local campaigner Neil Jeronim is urging whoever wins that contract to consider the opportunity it presents to create a cycle track at the same time – something that he says Transport Scotland appeared to be overlooking." 
The reaction from Transport Scotland can be read on the Inside Moray site here. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Auldearn Community Council Website

Auldearn Community Council have launched a website - gurnites can browse it here. 

Ardersier patients trying to get to Nairn Health Centre by public transport: Drew Hendry, "it is inconceivable that residents do not have regular transport links to and from Nairn"

The Gurn has received a copy of an open letter to the Residents of Ardersier from the local MP Drew Hendry. Below is the text from the letter.

Drew Hendry MP | House of Commons | London | SW1A 0AA 
22 October 2015 
Reference: ZA0271 

Open Letter to Residents of Ardersier

 I have, today, written to the Director of Community Services to reiterate my calls for transport links between Ardersier and Nairn to be included in the current consultation on the tendering of the school and public bus process.

 Whilst the village remains serviced by Nairn Health Centre it is inconceivable that residents do not have regular transport links to and from Nairn.

 I encourage you to attend the Highland Council’s public and school transport consultation to make your views heard. 

Wed 28 Oct (6:30pm-8:30pm) Nairn Community & Arts Centre, King Street, 

Nairn Wed 4 Nov (7pm-9pm) Kinmylies Church Hall, Kinmylies Way, Inverness

 Further information about the consultation and details of other meetings can be found here.

 I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the work of all those involved in trying to put together community transport solutions. Such as the Croy, Ardersier and Petty Transport Association and Ardersier & Petty Community Council. Work to this end is on-going with local Councillors and progress is being made.

 I will continue to work with all interested parties to press for more to be done. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any further assistance. 

Best Wishes 
Drew Hendry, 
Member of Parliament for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Transport)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Should Highland Council be broken up? The debate returns after Nicola Sturgeon doesn't rule it out

Gurnites may recall that Councillor Richard Laird got into a spot of bother with his party whip at Highland Council when he suggested that Highland Council be broken up and replaced with smaller councils.

Tonight he said on social media: "Some weeks ago, I drew criticism for suggesting that the Highland Council should be dissolved into smaller local authorities. Now, the First Minister has said that the Scottish Government has not ruled that proposal out. I'm looking forward to seeing how this public debate on local democracy in the Highlands pans out."

Let's be prepared for that debate with the strongest call possible to "Bring back Nairn District Council!"

The First Minister's comments can be heard by following the Soundcloud podcast by BBC Highland below. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Views sought on ­­Highland Planning Policies through new consultation portal " Gurn verdict - not for the faint hearted

You can start on this Highland Council news archive page.  Then three clicks later you will find yourself here.  There's a lot of officialise in there folks - that is in the Highland-wide Local Development Plan 2, Main Issues Report - try the Development Hierachy page for a quick taste of what you have to wade through.

Anybody out there with the ability to translate some of this stuff and articulate what those Gurnites who have been so fed up with Highland Council planning policy over recent years should say in response to this mysterious tome?  Any brave soul out there that is even slightly familiar with some of this and would like to give us all a few hints? The Community Councils (about to change over soon) will no doubt be consulted on this stuff too. It just doesn't seem to be the sort of stuff that the everyday citizen concerned about planning issues could find the time and energy to deal with.

Or just maybe there is nothing to worry about and Laurie Fraser, Michael Green, Liz MacDonald and Stephen Fuller will shorty issue a joint statement saying this document offers Nairn and environs a brand new bright and beautiful planning future where the community gets the upper hand? Have no fear and keep clear of the consultation portal?

"Agreement reached to keep Nairn hydrotherapy pool"

"A formal agreement has been reached which guarantees the future of a privately run hydrotherapy pool in Nairn for the next three years." More on the Press and Journal website.

Sustainable graffiti?

Looks like chalk to this observer and to be found in the town centre.

Common Good Issues dominating this week's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph

This week's front page article in the local paper examines the proposed take over of the East Beach car park by the local caravan site operator Parkdean. Their
move to obtain space for further touring facilities for the popular holiday facility is enthusiastically endorsed by councillors Michael Green and Liz MacDonald. The company's rationale prompting this move is outlined by Parkdean's Scottish Regional Director David Key. On page 6 of the paper an editorial by Iain Bain comes out against however with a look at the historical angle of this area of Common Good land and even offers a suggestion for an alternative site in the town.

It will be interesting to see if old arguments outlined in Iain's editorial resurface to any degree or whether the majority of Nairnites will be unphased by the proposal - perhaps there will be discussion next week at the final (pre-merger) meetings of the Nairn and Suburban Community Councils on Tuesday the 27th. Also worth noting is that on the Agenda for Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee meeting on 23rd September was an item "Urgent Additional Item: Nairn Common Good Ground: Parkdean Holiday Parks Limited – Lease Variation." The discussion last month was held in private.

Liz MacDonald's grilling by River Community Council on the future (or lack of it) for the paddling pool dominates page 3 too this week. Get up to date on both Common Good related issues in this week's paper.

Plenty more in the Nainrshire this week including an obituary for Nigel Graham. 

Also extensive sports reporting including the details of 10-man Nairn County going down to a penalty at Turriff. Four trips to Aberdeenshire this year in the league so far and four defeats. County will be looking to the Scottish Cup tie against Wick this Saturday to restore some impetus to their season. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

County fans pay tribute to Bill Logan

The  news of the sudden passing  of Bill Logan has left many in the community in shock. Bill was a life-long supporter of Nairn County Football Club and the Wee County have published a tribute to him on their facebook page, the club's homage to Bill has been followed by many supporters who wish to also praise the life and achievements of a popular man who will be sorely missed at Station Park and throughout our community. 

The club and fans tributes can be read here. 

Bill pictured above on the right next his co-authors  Donald Wilson and Graeme MacLeod at the launch of their book "The History of Nairn County FC" last year during the Club's centenary celebrations. Picture Kenny MacLeod

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Nairn High Street going superfast - starts Monday 19th October

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"

"The stillness and low sun has brought out an intensity of colour that is truly magnificent and day after day we’ve been royally treated to morning skies of pink and gentle mists rolling along the Moray Firth. The evening skies have also been spectacular; pinks and blues sometimes tinged with gold as the sun sets over the hills to the west. And as if Mother Nature has felt that she couldn’t repay us enough for the rubbish summer, she’s thrown in flocks of geese, flocks (or bevy) of low flying swans and jumping dolphins, all merely the warm up acts for her piece de resistance, beautiful starry skies and The Northern Lights. Glorious."

More reflections on this autumn's natural treats on this page here. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Another sunset on Nairn beach - video

A crisp frosty start but a beautiful autumn day in sunny Nairn

Turriff 1 Nairn 0 Pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here. 

Beautiful nights - first gig wasps Links Art Studios - 27th October

"Introducing "Beautiful Nights Nairn" Home venue is the old Fisher Town Links School run by the Kirk right up until the 60's so all the fisher kids got an education. It's now a Arts Studio Collective owned by Wasps Artists' Studios."

First up is David Celia and the Gurn understands that tickets are going really fast. More information here.

Saving money on Energy - starting Monday 26th Big Energy Saving Week - Nairn Citizens Advice

The week beginning 26 October 2015 marks the fifth Big Energy Saving Week; a national campaign by Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to help people cut their fuel bills by getting more energy efficient and switching their supplier.

We know what you’re thinking...Oh no...Not MORE energy jargon...

A Nairn CAB sporkesperson told the Gurn:

Energy costs are an expense we have to pay at the end of the day so if there are ways we can save on them, why not take advantage? Let’s do the earth a favour and be power savers.

Have a look at our plans for the week and pop along if your energy is soaring (no pun intended). We will be at hand to give information and advice plus any follow up action if necessary.

Monday 26th October: 10am-2pm.

Saving money on carbs at Nairn Sainsbury’s...our carbon footprint that is. We will have an information stand in the supermarket along with partner agency ‘Changeworks’ from Home Energy Scotland for energy efficiency advice and referrals.

Thursday 29th October: 11am – 2pm.

We will have an informal meeting in the Conference room in community centre to discuss setting up an Oil club in Nairn. We hope to have various people available to talk about their role in running or being part of their Oil clubs. Open to all.

Thursday 29th October:

Drop in energy advice session in Nairn CAB. Time: 5.30pm-7.30pm.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ali Nicol looking for ideas for his fundraising walk next year.

In 2014 Alistair and a team of fellow County fans walked the West Highland Way and raised over £9,000 towards the Ground Improvement Fund and the new cowshed at Station Park. 

This September Ali and his team got their walking boots on again and walked the Great Glen Way. Nairn Saint Ninian FC and the Nairn Youth Community Coaching both receiving £3,000 from the funds raised and another £3,200 went to Cancer Research. That's a pretty impressive fund-raising pedigree from the former County player and his hiking team mates. And now Ali is looking to 2016 and another fundraising epic.

Ali told the Gurn:

"I'm Looking for some ideas for my fundraising walk next year. Laura on the Nairn Rocks FB page has put a post up on her page looking for some suggestions to help raise some cash for community projects in Nairn. 

I'm looking at a few different walks and haven't ruled out doing the West Highland Way again.

Plan is to have a series of small fundraising events but require a project/ projects that will benefit from the fundraising efforts. 
Some suggestions so far have been

Food Banks
Improving play parks
Revitalising the BMX track
Rosebank Church
Beach changing huts

What do you think Nairn is missing out on, or is there something we already have that needs repaired or replaced?

I'm prepared to help out with all monies raised by the walk for next year together with Laura's ideas to combine to make a difference in Nairn.

I know Laura is planning to hold a meeting locally soon to discuss the proposals put forward but we do require  a specific project/projects to aspire towards.
Please get your thinking caps on folks!"  You can keep up to date with Ali via his facebook page or on Nairn Rocks.

The paddling pool inquisition – debate at Nairn River CC last night (14th October 2015).

After Liz’s opening report to the meeting Ian Gordon spoke on how the paddling pool and the beach go together.

Liz responded: “A lot of people that do come are day trippers that come to the paddling pool.”

Simon Noble then asked: “You said it was open for 44 days, what were the reasons for restricting the number of days open?”

Liz replied: “There was seepage in the pool and then when the water leaks out the chemicals go wrong so that was one of the things, sometimes it was just because of bad weather. There’s no point in having a lifeguard on duty and watching it if there is bad weather.”

Simon Noble’s second question related to the lifeguard: “As things currently stand am I right in believing that the pool cannot be opened without a lifeguard being present?”

“That’s right,” replied Liz. 

Simon continued: “Did you say if the pool was a smaller size it would not require the presence of a lifeguard?”

“That’s what we were told a few years ago as well. If the pool was reduced in surface area then we wouldn’t be a need to have a lifeguard present,” said Liz. “Even then we wouldn’t need to have the cover over it, the net over it, so it could be open all the time you would think if you didn’t need a lifeguard.”

Cllr Stephen Fulller then added that it was also to do with how deep the water level was as well. 

Simon Noble returned to his questions: “Could it not be that part of what would be useful at the consultation would be to know what the water level and the requirements are for not having a lifeguard because it seems to me that health and safety requirements have shifted since I was a kid.”

Murray MacRae then asked: “Can you tell me how much it would actually cost in total to actually fix it and have it up and running? Have any prices been quoted?”

Liz then said: “We were given a price but I wouldn’t like to say it publically just now because...”

Murray interrupted: “Why not, what is there to hide?”

Liz continued: “Well I’m not hiding anything because of commercial confidentiality. If someone gives you a price for something and we say it publically then if everyone that was tendering for that work could then put it in at the same price or a couple of hundred less to get the job. We were given a price and that was just for make the pool sound and even then there wasn’t any guarantee on any longevity. We couldn’t say we’ll cost you this and it’ll last you five or ten years. They wouldn’t give us any guarantees because of the structure that is underneath the paddling pool. It just keeps shifting and that is why we need to keep repairing it.”

Murray asked: “Is it at the stage now where it is beyond...”

“No,” said Liz quickly. “I thought why couldn’t we put fibre glass, because yachts are made out of fibre glass. We couldn’t get anything stronger. Do we need to have something that just works with this concrete base we’ve got? We need to get proper costing and I would imagine that the cost we have been quoted would be much higher than...”

Tommy Hogg then spoke: “You see what is happening is that the chemicals are actually eating through the brickwork.”

To which Liz added: “And the sand is shifting underneath it. It has got an unstable base, it totally needs dug out and a whole new base put in basically.”

This observer then said: “I appreciate Liz’s commercial confidentiality and there is probably no way you can get round that but how can you have a frank and open debate with all the information in the public domain if the public don’t know how much that would cost?”

Liz replied: “If we can look at things. If we can say are we going to make this pool smaller and if people accept that as an option then we can move ahead and do something.”

Ian Gordon asked if it would be a complete different thing to be really cost effective as there was no point in spending money again if next year you were to go through the same process with the bricks deteriorating due to the chemicals. 

Liz again: “I think if we could fibre glass it because I think fibre glass is one of the strongest things we have. Yachts are made out of it and they are battered about all over the place. We need to be open about this. I didn’t want this to sit on a shelf and then next year when the pool didn’t open or something...I think it is important that...”

Tommy spoke again: “The facility there and the setting for a start. Where else would you get a setting like that for a paddling’ll not getting a better setting anywhere in the country”

“I know, it is beautiful,” said Liz. 

“If you throw that away it would just be madness,” said Tommy.

“You don’t know we could maybe have something better. We don’t know. I think we need to look at all our options,” said Liz. 

Simon Noble then said: “but at the same time you don’t want to be spending loads of money repairing something that is going to need it again next year. Plus you don’t want to be spending it on something that you’re dependent on having a member of staff there because that is really expensive. [...] Would it not make sense if you’re going to have a pool sense to make it something sustainable not only in terms of the materials that are used but also in terms of the staffing requirements, in other words nil staff.”

“Yes,” said Liz, “ to meet the requirements that you don’t need staff there.”

Tommy added: “The thing is that the defects that are there, they are not going to get any better they are going to get worse and the way it is going it’s going to be a lot worse.”

Liz said: “We want to be open, we want to get...I don’t want to lose the pool anyway.”

Ian Gordon then said: “I appreciate the thing ofconfidentiality but unless we are aware of all the facts which we are not, how can we really discuss it properly?”

Liz responded: “I think the costs we were given for digging out the whole pool and filling it all in again and making it watertight again with no guarantee of how long it was going to last was significant and I thought...and it would still be for the same size pool with all the same ongoing costs and I think...for me, it just seemed too expensive. But I think we need to be open, we need to look at other options.

Over the course of the summer, there’s a guy there with a clicker and he clicks however many people go through the fence, that was another...we had to put the fence round it a few years ago to keep out dogs seemingly but dogs wouldn’t... They clicked it and they counted 1780 people went through. That doesn’t mean 1780 children, sometimes parents go through. 1780 people went through clickers on that 44 days that it was open.”

When it was suggested that was still a lot of people Liz said: “It’s a lot of people but it is more than £2 per person going through when you think it’s £4,000 just to open it this year.”

The debate continued, more on the Gurn when time permits.

£210K overnight resurfacing work Nairn towards Auldearn starting on the A96 Monday 19th October for four nights

A BEAR Scotland press release states:

Overnight resurfacing improvements will be carried out on the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness Trunk Road to the east of Nairn. The £210,000 investment by Transport Scotland will ensure that the A96 continues to operate safely for years to come. 

The improvements will resurface 750m of both lanes of the carriageway between the new Balmakeith Industrial Estate Roundabout eastwards towards Auldearn. This section of the A96 is used by around 13,975 vehicles every day and it now requires maintenance and resurfacing.

The works will begin on Monday 19 October and are programmed to last for four nights. The improvements will take place each night at 7.30pm and will be completed by 6.30am the following morning. 

For the safety of roadworkers and motorists, the improvements will be carried out using a 10mph convoy system of traffic management during working hours. 

Andy Thompson, BEAR Scotland’s North East Unit Representative, said: “We’ve planned these works to take place overnight to minimise disruption to motorists as much as possible.

“We would however encourage motorists to plan their journeys in advance by checking Traffic Scotland for up to date information.”

Real-time journey planning information can be obtained by visiting or twitter @trafficscotland.

Costs to open paddling pool next year unknown to Councillor - discussion at River CC meeting last night.

At the regular meeting of River Community Council last night in the URC hall, the chair, Tommy Hogg asked Liz MacDonald to enlighten the meeting as to how things were progressing with the Nairn Links Paddling Pool. It emerged that the cost of opening the pool next year is presently unknown until a decision is made on how to proceed: 

Liz said: “I flagged it up at the last Community Council meeting because I think, the last time, at the beginning of this year we had to spend four thousand pounds for temporary repairs and there’s going to be significant costs to next year’s paddling pool. I think it’s only fair we put it out to the community and let them know what the situation is. I can’t actually give you the...I don’t know the details of how much it will cost to do, to open the pool next year but one of the proposals that we've considered a few years ago was reducing the size of the pool. Maybe building a wall across and cutting off a third of it or less than a third of it so as we don’t need to have supervision lifeguard. As well as that the pool was open for 44 days this summer. It’s not been open very much at all. The weather has not been great for it enough but...I do think...nobody wants to lose the paddling pool that’s for sure but I think we need to be open and let the community input to what happens down there.”

Tommy said: “It is an icon to the town I think myself.”

Liz continued: “It’s a very, it’s historical and it’s also a calming soothing place to be. I’ve been down quite a few times over the summer speaking to parents round about the pool, speaking to the business owner down there and I’ve raised it at the community council because I think it is important that it gets thrashed out. It’s an amenity and it was raised actually at one of the groups that we had, parents were saying well we could have something we could use all year round instead if it was going to be a significant cost.

So I mean, it is just airing the thing, nobody said we are going to close the paddling pool. What we said is we are going to consult on it and we are going to take on board what you are saying and bring forward proposals for everybody and a few years ago in 2012 we did have proposals that were drawn up. People have said we don’t maintain the pool but over the years it has cost a lot in maintenance, not only we’ve had to sort the coping stones that were all chipped, get the net, build the fence round it, sort the pump room, paint it just about every year to seal it and you know it hasn’t been a cheap thing to keep going and we’re getting all that costs added up just now by officers. Because the way the information is stored on the Oracle you can’t just get it easy. I thought we would get that information quite easy but it takes a lot of searching about within the systems to get all the costs out. So I think it is just flagging it up and trying to be honest with folk and to give them an opportunity to input what we do before next year. Because if we left it to next year it would be too late. We have to discuss it now and discuss it now and come to an option that suits all those folk. 

There then followed several probing questions and comment from community councillors and members of the public present. The Gurn hopes to publish more from last night’s paddling pool debate over the next day or two.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cowshed concrete is poured!

More details on the official Nairn County Facebook page here. 

Liz on the SNP Holyrood list

Liz MacDonald has been selected by the SNP for a position on the list section of the Holyrood ballot in May next year. She will be fourth on the list. 

In 2011 the SNP won six constituency seats and also gained three list MSPs details here.   The LibDems retained Orkney and also the Shetland seat while on the list there were two Labour MSPs and two Conservative MSPs appointed along with the three MSP members.

The more seats a party gets in the constituency part of the vote the less inclined they are to get members on the lists. In the first elections to the Scottish Parliament for example the Labour Party in the Glasgow area won all the constituency seats with such a large majority they got nothing from the list.

For some voters the temptation to use their second vote for another party they may favour can become very strong indeed if their main choice is doing very well in the polls. It is a bit of a minefield however and there is much debate out there on the political web on the effectiveness of switching for a second vote under the AMS (additional member system). 

Brave baby Layla's story makes it to the pages of the Daily Record

The Daily Record reports:

"LITTLE Layla Henderson was wrapped in cling film as soon as she was born as
her intestines had grown outside her body.

Weeks later, she was struck down with pneumonia and a rare heart infection which left her at severe risk of a stroke.

But despite her grim battle for survival, nothing stopped Layla from learning to smile."  More here. 

The Gurn also featured Layla's story here back in August. On Saturday her parents are doing a bit of fund raising to aid Ronald McDonald House in Glasgow that provides accomodation for parents visiting sick children, aservice that was invaluable for them during a very traumatic time. They also have an on-line fundraiser here. 

Nairnshire Editorial “Cracks in the edifice”

Iain Bain contemplates the future of Highland Council in the light of recent comment by Dave Thomson MSP and Iain Blackford MP. They have ideas about replacing Highland Council with something smaller and although Iain doesn’t agree with their suggestions he believes this represents a crack in the edifice of “political thinking that for a couple of decades or more has been centralist in its objective.” 

Recently too we had SNP Councilor Richard Laird in a spot of bother with his group leader on the council. The Inverness Courier stated:

“THE leader of the SNP in Highland Council has distanced herself from  comments made by her deputy in which he called for the abolition of the authority and the creation of a new body for Inverness.

Councillor Richard Laird, seen as a rising star in nationalist circles, is currently bidding to become a list MSP. The Inverness Central councillor, who has been endorsed by MP Drew Hendry in his bid to become an MSP, believes the creation of a new Inverness city council would help the Highland Capital.

He wants to replace Highland Council with nine other smaller councils, one each for Caithness, Sutherland, Ross & Cromarty, Skye & Lochalsh, Badenoch & Strathspey, Lochaber, Nairnshire, Rural Inverness, and the city.”

That is a prospect that most in Nairn would welcome and many will be hoping that the young Councillor’s views find the ascendancy in coming years. Here we are promised a pathfinder area committee from the ruling Independent group. Regular readers may remember this has been one of Cllr Michael Green’s main policies for some time – previous Gurn article here. Whether this new committee will have enough powers or resources and just how (if at all) it will allow wider community involvement remains to be seen. And as the Highland Council itself tries to gather the nerve to face the oncoming convulsions that traumatic cuts to budgets might cause then observers could be forgiven for thinking that good intentions may be buried by the pressure of unforeseen events that the cuts will precipitate. 

We are moving into the realms of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Act though and this is something that our community councils and the like of NICE and Nairn River Enterprise and others will be looking at. Can this legislation perhaps be used to create devices to bring power back to the community? Will the act provide mechanisms  to allow the Community to develop initiatives that will offer genuine empowerment? The Act doesn’t involve development planning though so it offers no help there in allowing Nairn to decided its own future in terms of where new housing development takes place and the type and density of such development. Most people in Nairn are not against more development but not at the scale and nature that Highland Council planners wish to see and there are serious questions about the local sewage infrastructure's ability to absorb it anyway. Just who will give powers back to communities when it comes to planning?

Iain asks: “At some stage, somebody was going to question the nature of local government and this is it. Are we at the highwater mark of the centralisation process? Is the tide turning? “

He also raises a warning: “We do hark back to the days of yore but those days actually cannot be repeated. There is a lot to be considered and changes should not be a matter of short term advantage.”

Perhaps the biggest question the editor of the Nairnshire asks this week is: “How do we put the community back into local politics.”

Are the times a changing? Will Nairn soon be able to define it’s own future, or will it be more of the same from a diminished but still centralised Inverness based authority? Get yourself a cup of tea and have a read of Iain Bain’s editorial if you have a spare moment this week.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Drew Hendry MP visits Househill Road to hear road safety concerns

Nairn County 5 Fort William 2 Pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Match report here and further statement from the club about the Cowshed here.

Moss-Side Road Junction on A96 traffic lights still out - has traffic flow improved? Video.

The lights at this junction have been out for a few days now and there are strong suggestions on the Remove Nairn Traffic Lights Facebook page that the flow of traffic on this part of the A96 has improved. Although there are those who say it has made it difficult for them to exit from the Cranloch/Tradespark area onto the A96, majority reaction seems to be favourable towards switching the lights off permanently. One resident of this area told the Gurn (just after the video below was taken 18.15 yesterday 11th October) that it wasn't much fun waiting for someone to give way on the A96 to let you out at busier times of the day. Would a roundabout be the permanent solution here? There is certainly enough space. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday morning miscellany

A new website for the Arts Society. “ Find out about membership, classes and workshops. Pop by and paint! “ they tell the world on Twitter. The website is here.

A big test for the Wee County as they take on Fort William today at Station Park. With fan discontent still smouldering on social media and two hefty defeats over the last week every game is massive now and Fort William recently scored three against Brora and although they lost that game who knows what might happen at Station Park tomorrow if the Wee County get off to another bad start. Here’s hoping for good weather for the spectators as there is still no sign of the structure of the new Cow Shed going up yet. There are serious rumblings of discontent in fan circles too about delays in this project. Recently a statement from the club chairman, Peter MacKintosh, appeared on the official site:

“Moving onto the next important project being addressed by the Club. Progress with the most expensive capital investment the Club has undertaken - namely the new Spectator Enclosure to replace the Cowshed - has taken longer than originally programmed. The site demolition completed by the last week of June, was followed in July/August with the initial site engineering works to establish the underlying ground conditions which to our delight proved better than originally anticipated. The opportunity was therefore taken by the structural engineers, along with the contractor, to reconfigure the raft foundation design which during September time has allowed the ordering of all the steelwork materials for offsite cutting and thereafter galvanising in readiness for delivery on site. As additional constraint to contend with is that the site itself is extremely narrow and therefore everything has to be planned meticulously to allow a creeping west to east construction. In the end, it will all be worth waiting for.”

UPDATE: further Cowshed comment now on the County site.

Here's a few images from the heavy defeat on Wednesday night at Pitmeddan. Formartine 5 Nairn 1. Pictures from Donald Matheson.

Another Facebook page out there this week – this time a group of folk aiming to restore the riverside BMX track. Maybe their aims could cross-fertilise with the nascent Nairn River Enterprise? The Nairn BMX renovation page states:

This page has been created to generate interest in renovating the Nairn BMX track. As part of the recently formed cycling group in Nairn, Revolution CT, we want to approach the council and other bodies that could help in funding a revamp of the BMX track AND the riverside area in general. We have ideas for the 'cycling proficiency track' and space nearby but we need backing. If we can show the council that there's keen interest in this then we have more chance of getting somewhere. 'Back in the day' when bmx racing was at its peak there has been near 700 riders in Nairn for National races, thats how good the track was! It would also mean more for local businesses too.”

That BMX page has attracted over 200 followers in a short amount of time. It goes to show that if you have a point of view or initiative you are looking for backing for then Facebook is becoming an increasingly popular and practical tool to use. It doesn't reach everybody but it generates initial momentum that used to take weeks to achieve. Even if you think back to the likes of the "Save McLean court" campaign's use of facebook a few years ago it is obvious that the effect of such pages has increase exponentially. What used to take a few days to build up on social media is now ready overnight for public consumption. The difficult thing is perhaps sustaining interest. 

A headline in the Courier "Treatment Plant blamed for poor water quality at Nairn" examines recent SEPA test results on the beaches. The paper talks to Tommy Hogg and Liz MacDonald; Tommy puts the blame on development while Liz seems to be looking to the heavens. She is quoted:

"Heavy rain has a big impact and the drains overflow, I would like to see more investment in the plant and managing our water in general."

UPDATE: Water Quality article now online here. 

Have a good day Gurnshire, a bit of a cloudy one is predicted but perhaps the Moray Firth will perform again and let a bit of sun through.

Friday, October 09, 2015

When traffic lights break down do things improve?

We've heard a couple of reports of the traffic lights at Moss-side Road being out of action this week. Has that caused problems for anyone or did it improve things? 

One of our regular readers sent us a link to an article entitled: "All FORTY-TWO traffic lights break down at Britain's most-chaotic junction - and guess what happens? The flow of cars IMPROVES." 

More details here in a Daily Mail article.  And here it is in the Independent for all those that don't like the Daily Mail. 

There was music in the cafe at night and the sound of geese was in the air

Singer/songwriter Karl Broadie, Edinburgh born, but now living in Sydney Australia, sang a few songs from his new album this evening in the Putting Green Café and recorded an interview with Rob Ellen that will be broadcast on the Medicine Music site. A few magic moments and nice coffee available too.

Karl has a facebook page here and details of the broadcast will appear on Medicine music here.  A video of part of the evening's music here. 

Geese over the Fishertown - video

The Geese have obviously had a good breeding season this year. There seem to be a lot more of them on their regular evening flight across the town to their overnight spot further east. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

"Nairn hotel with strong links to movie legend Charlie Chaplin put up for sale for £4.5 million"

A scoop for the Inverness Courier, more here. 

No Community Council elections for Nairn River and West and Suburban as one candidate withdraws in each area

No elections as the number of candidates in each area is equal to or less than the number of candidates to be returned. A candidate in each area took advantage of the chance to withdraw which was available until 4 pm today. Your new CC make up in each area is as follows and they will be in position from 18th November. 

"The Path to Cawdor" and the road to rehabilitation for Macbeth?

Firhall resident Brian Lockey has combined his love of photography with his interest in history to write a book about the much maligned former king of Scotland who has endured centuries of bad press due to the spin that Shakespeare put on the monarch’s life. Brian hopes that " readers will learn enough about the real Macbeth to appreciate that his reputation, and that of his wife, have been done irreparable harm by Shakespeare."

“Macbeth” has entertained theatre goers for some considerable time but the truth of the matter is that he was a king who brought a measure of peace and prosperity to his reign. After Brian’s summary of the manufactured myth followed the reality then this observer is tempted to wonder that if Shakespeare
were alive today he would be a Westminster spin doctor? The industry that as grown up around depicting Macbeth as a blood-thirsty monster continues and shows no signs of abating. According to a review of a new film version of Macbeth, it seems there might even be more impetus to darken his reputation: "As a result, Marion Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth is both more sympathetic and more sidelined than one might expect, no longer the driving force behind the bloody deeds, more a damaged partner in crime." More here.

Brian diligently examines the Shakespeare version of Macbeth and then looks into other legends and crumbs of knowledge that we know including the Monarch’s birth in the Moray area– maybe it might even have been closer to Nairn than some think? There are so many gaps in the Macbeth story it leaves us all the chance to fill them in for ourselves and imagine a different time in Nairnshire and even Macbeth going about his business, journeying through this area – maybe he was almost a Nairn resident at one time?

Brian looks at the local connections to Macbeth, the Scottish dimension and beyond; his writing is coupled with quality photographs that catch more than passing attention to add to the informative and pleasurable read. For Brian his book began with a haunting image he took on the footpath to Cawdor that lies just across from Firhall, it inspired him to start writing. It’ll be hard for Macbeth to ever take his true independent place in history given the inventions of Shakespeare that hid the true life but every step on “The Path to Cawdor” will assist that goal.
Brian's book is available on Amazon here. 

The Northern Lights from Nairn Links by Kenny MacLeod

Kenny MacLeod resisted the temptation to go through to Aberdeenshire last night to take pictures of Nairn County in action against Formartine and instead opted to head down to the Links on Aurora Watch. Here's what he saw. Click the image to enlarge

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Grace Lily Lingerie to host iconic fashionable affair at the Newton on Thursday night (8th October)

A leading independent Highland lingerie boutique is getting set to take to the catwalk to coincide with the Highlands and Islands largest fashion event.

Grace Lily Lingerie, which was established in December 2014, and has boutiques in Nairn and Inverness, will host an exclusive lingerie fashion show on Thursday 8 October, at 7pm, at the Newton Hotel in Nairn, as part Highland Fashion Week.

The fashion show, which has been organised as one of the flagship events of Highland Fashion Week, will celebrate female icons with a twist, wowing audiences with gorgeous locally sourced models and showcasing some of the latest fashionable trends in the lingerie industry.

The boutique, which boasts an exclusive territory license in Scotland for the luxury lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur, has also pledged its support to local children’s charity, Children 1st, raising vital funds for the charity on the evening.

Highland Fashion Week runs from 7-11 of October with a fairytale theme and will see five separate events showcase local and national fashion designers, as well as locally sourced models. The week was initially set up to help bring new talent into the Scottish fashion industry, and to 
highlight the range of talents throughout the area.

Grace Lily, owner of Grace Lily Lingerie, said: “Getting involved in Highland Fashion Week again is something we are very excited about. We have a fantastic selection of lingerie in our shops and the fashion show will give us an excellent opportunity to present the gorgeous new lines exclusively to those attending the event.

“Fashion is meant to be fun and playful so what better way to celebrate the stunning lines we have other than with a themed fashion show. Grace Lily Lingerie is all about embracing all shapes and sizes so this year we decided to focus on iconic females which I’m very excited about showcasing in a fun and fashionable way.”

Highland Fashion Week director, Garry James, said: “We are absolutely ecstatic that Grace Lily Lingerie is hosting this event with Highland Fashion Week. This is the fourth time Grace and her team of beautiful models have been involved in the fashion-filled week and it is one of 
our most popular events.”

Standard tickets for the event cost £15 and include a goody bag. VIP tickets are also available for £25 and include VIP seating, VIP goody bags and a glass of prossecco on arrival. Tickets can be purchased from both Grace Lily boutiques or alternatively you can call 01667 454114 or access tickets online at: 

Highland Councillor wishes all the Community Council candidates the best of luck

Stephen Fuller told the Gurn tonight re the Community Council elections for Nairn :

"It is fantastic to see a growing interest in local affairs with so many new names wishing to stand for community council. I look forward to the upcoming election and wish all candidates the best of luck"

Sailing Club and Kayak Club to share boatyard extension?

The Gurn understands that talks between the Sailing Club and the Kayak Club to share an extension to the boatyard are at an advanced stage and plans have been drawn up and discussions held with Highland Council. 

It appears that the new area is in fact simply that piece of land next to the boat yard that has been fenced off over the winter for several years now once the sailing season is finished. The popularity of the Kayak Club has led them to search for premises in the harbour area. The sailing club also need to accommodate the dingy section which has been very successful in recent years. 

This move has been mooted for a wee while now - flashback two years to a Gurn report of a NICE meeting in the Sailing Club:  

A symbiosis seems to be rapidly developing between the dingy training element of the Sailing Club and the Nairn Kayakers. Both expressed their desire to continue training local young people and dispel the myth that Sailing and Kayaking are elitist sports. Presently both organisations are based down at the former McDermotts yard at Ardersier and given the possibility of industrial development there again they both face an uncertain future in that location.

Nairn Kayak Club website here.   Nairn Sailing Club here.