Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"I look forward to inviting you down to the first cruise ship coming to the new harbour in Nairn"

Outwardly you could be forgiven for thinking that the document that went to Highland Council last week entitled Scheme of Delegation Revisions for the new Local Committees presented very little of substance for The Nairnshire Local Committee – a committee that we will see emerge next year once the divorce with Badenoch and Strathspey is complete. Words like "scrutinise, consider, approve, monitor, review," will shine through at anyone who has the courage to read the report. At first reading it doesn’t seem the stuff of a brand new powerhouse that would restore the democratic deficit to Nairn. One could imagine the new concept being the same fare as the pervious larger area committee where councillors sat there and approved or noted reports from officials. There will be further discussions in March however when it seems that the Community Services budgets may be handed over to the local committees, something that would be a major step forward if it were to happen. 

Councillors expressed a range of views from despair to optimism. The only local member to speak was Michael Green and he came just after a Lochaber member Brian Gormley who seemed on the verge of despair with the new proposals. It might be interesting for Gurnites to compare what Brian Gormley had to say with Michael’s thesis, our local member sees a bright future coming out of this document. 

Cllr Brian Gormley was despondent. He said: “I’m having great difficulty seeing how this will improve local democracy as it is perceived by the people I represent”

He then made reference to Fort William Community Council disatisfaction. A recent press article here will shed some light on why he chose to do that. He went on to say that he thought that it seemed to be weaker than the previous scheme of delegation and he suggested that the local committee wouldn’t have any powers and be “Granny’s knitting circle.” He continued:

“And that is the way that people will see them and those in our outlying areas throughout Lochaber and I suspect Caithness and Sutherland as well who believe that they are denied local democracy by the structure of Highland Council and who believe passionately that Highland Council should be torched [...] they will be persuaded that a pan-Highland Council is useless to them. This will really strengthen those arguments.”

Michael Green, speaking directly after the Lochaber member, radiated waves of optimism in comparison. He welcomed the report and thanked the official for her work. He said:
Michael Green speaking last week 

“It’s down the road of localism and it’s given us cards to do things just now.”

Highlighting a part of the document he went on:

“Freeing up the Common Good, which will not allow us to do anything we couldn’t do if we bring it to the full council and it will give us the flexibility to move things forward quicker, so we will have the building block cash and the flexibility to do something.”

He went on to mention BIDS (Business Improvement Districts):

“I’m in the process of setting up a BID and in a year from now we’ll have one which will be mandated, which will give us the capacity to take projects forward. So I welcome that aspect as well. 

Looking at another section of the report, he went on:

“To agree a local community engagement where we will have a mechanism set up where we will have the people of Nairn who will give us a mandate which has not always been the way in Nairn. So while Cllr Gormley is knitting, while Cllr Phillips is cogitating, while Cllr MacKay is looking at different cultural structures around the Highlands; we in Nairn in ten years time – I will be inviting Karen (HC official) down to the new harbour when the first cruise ship pulls in because you’ve given us the building blocks here and I look forward to inviting you down to the first cruise ship coming to the new harbour in Nairn.”

Gurn comment: 

More of the same or a time of great optimism and opportunity? It would be nice to think that the new local committee could see us a further step on the road to getting democracy back to Nairn but it all comes at a dangerous time. The Highland Council is about to be convulsed by a £40 million cuts apocalypse and there are those that argue we don’t get our equitable share of local government funds as it is – what if we get more than our equitable share of cuts if attempts are made to preserve jobs at Glenurquhart Road at our expense? Just what will be left of Nairnshire’s local government services once the cuts are through? And the Independent administration will it too be convulsed by the cuts as communities discover what will go and start the inevitable action campaigns? Knitting circles or local powerhouses – will they get far off the drawing board after the dust from the cuts settles? Could the Indie regime and Glenurquhart Road crash and burn or will it be cohesive enough to implement brutal cuts and then go on to juggle remaining resources and find the will to give real power to area committees?

You can listen to what was said at the full council meeting last week by heading to this Highland Council webcast page and clicking on item 15 to watch the debate. A copy of the Local Committee report can be downloaded here (item 15i).


DRoss said...

So Cllr Green recons we will have a new harbour & cruise ships docking in Nairn in 10yrs time? Just shows he has little knowledge of the sea floor & civil engineering!

He does have a track record of hare brained schemes.

If we get more money for Nairn lets spend it on something useful like bringing ALL the roads in Nairn upto the standards they should be, sorting bad junctions, bottlenecks etc!!!

Graisg said...

Hi David, left a bittie out of your comment - it is Christmas :-) Have a good one yerself.

Nae brains said...

I can just picture it all now. Nairnites stepping down to the new harbour, waltzing along the five mile jetty to climb aboard their luxury cruise liner that will transport them to the Caribbean. In the distance the quiet roar of motorbikes that now race every summer weekend on the east beach attracting gridlocking crowds to the town. In the clear blue sky above a space shuttle from nearby Moray blasts it's happy passengers out of earth's atmosphere. BID has allowed the big players to take over the High St so it's now just one big corporate shop with no small players anymore. The paddling pool is long gone. There was enough money to grass over the site but that's it. The swimming pool was privatised and the library is but a distant memory, try Amazon if you want a book

Me, I'm just happy with my knitting

Anonymous said...

How big is a hare's brain?

Anonymous said...

Oh ye of little faith.
If Councillor Green says it will come to pass then .......
Pass me another Port toddy
Just how we get an Aqualand in place of the paddly pool

The Tufty Club said...

So we can build a new harbour but can't afford to repair or renew our paddling pool

D Ross said...

To Graisg, I did suspect it would be edited!

However I do wonder if Cllr Green means the old rig yard, but that is Whiteness head, & would never be named Nairn Harbour, due to an existing Nairn harbour at the mouth of the river Nairn.

If he does mean Whiteness head, then his suggestion still has flaws as one of the reasons the previous marina development failed was due to the MOD having their firing range with a danger zone covering the entrance to the deep-water harbour there. The MOD stating they need to close the area down for exercises, & a busy cruise ship dock would suffer the same fate, as the marina, ie no go unless you want to get in the way of the MOD!

Also there would need to be money spent on bringing the harbour back into commission again, & dredging.

IF & I do mean IF it did go ahead the tourists would do the usual tourist places of Loch Ness, Fort George, Cawdor Castle etc, but I very much doubt they would visit Nairn. If they decided to could the main roads through Nairn with the traffic jams cope? I doubt it, because when a couple of thousand people disembark from one of those ships they require quite a few coaches!

Graisg said...

Flashback two years and an extension of the east pier on Nairn harbour was discussed by NICE

"Much concentrated on some tlc for the existing harbour infrastructure and for regular dredging of the river and harbour basin, Alistair Noble said: “If we don’t do something over the next 10 or 20 years the harbour will fall into the mouth of the River Nairn.” The feeling was to go beyond repairs however and to extend the east pier a quarter of a mile into the Firth, the possibility of a second basin being created too was floated. Mention was made of how boats heading for the Caledonian Canal would prefer to stop at a place like Nairn rather than head straight for Inverness."

Graisg said...

Thanks for that anon 17.02 but we have decided not to publish. Good point however.

Anonymous said...

Well said Michael

Far out man said...

"I look forward to inviting you down to the first cruise ship coming to the new harbour in Nairn.”

I so wish I was on whatever he's on

Graisg said...

@ Far out man, Optimism and a desire to to the best for Nairn - perhaps a few more people should get into some of that :-) Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

My glass is always half full but if the new harbour fit for cruise ships is a few years behind the schedule of the vision of a Louisiana Gallery ...... then it might be 11 or 12 years. Or am I being too "bah humbuggy"?

murd said...

I think there is more chance of a ramp being installed at the firhall bridge? than cruse ships ever entering Nairn. so it looks like we are on the same cloud.
A ramp would be of more benefit to those who cant cross the bridge every day than the fantasy cruse shipe in the harbour.

I saw three ships said...

Many years ago small passenger ships did stop at Nairn, but that was before the bay silted up with millions of tonnes of sand blown across from the Culbin. This movement of sand is not going to stop so any new harbour would require frequent dredging. A new harbour to accommodate cruise liners would have to be on a massive scale if it were to afford shelter to the vessels and would Nairnites really enjoy the vista of such ships with all the inherent noise and diesel fumes. Take a trip through to Invergordon next time a cruise ship docks and see what you think

Personally I think someone had one too many mince pies

Anonymous said...

Both guesses at cost but ramps for Firhall bridge, £20,000, the cost of a jetty long enough to accomodate cruise ships which would need be in the region of 1/2mile long due to the vessels draft, got to be in the hundreds of millions!!!! Mr Green certainly has some political spin about him, next stop "Holyrood", he should fit right in.
I'm with Murd on this one, he's done all the leg work I just wish a councillor would back him on it, the advantages to Nairn would far outweigh a "fantasy".

murd said...

LIZ and my self met with the army rep at the bridge. The army offered to build A RAMP as A training exersise The saw mill offered to assist with the supply of timber. The army required A update survey to ensure the bridge was SAFE to install the ramp. Highland Council quoted it would cast in the regain of £9.000 and had no money for this. When I asked is the bridge and asked for conformation that it was SAFE for people to be crossing. REPLY they have never said it was not. So why will not confirm that statement to the army. ???

Anonymous said...

Because the Council are a Barmy Army!