Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nairn County EGM report now on club website

Details of the Wee County shareholders meeting here. 

Meanwhile down at Ardersier another day of action for the Stop the Waste Water Treatment Plant campaign

Still dreaming of a coastal path between Nairn and Inverness

At the recent re-launch of the Nairnscotland.co.uk website it was mentioned that the coastal path between Nairn and Inverness remains on the Nairn Economic Initiative’s wish list but it is not a high priority. Maybe it is considered a bit too ambitious in the current economic climate and the lack of a specific individual to take it forward was mentioned too. 

Why we at the Gurn think it would be of great benefit to the town if this “missing link” footpath could become a reality was outlined in an article back in February of 2015 entitled: “The “missing link” coastal path between Inverness and Nairn – Highland Council accused of no action over last 18 months - a project with potential economic benefits going nowhere?”

We don’t want to have a pop at the Nairn Economic Initiative folk though, they are working hard on many fronts and can’t do everything. A line apparently exists for the Nairn-Inverness footpath however and thus, perhaps it is our Highland Councillors who should have kicked a few backsides to make it happen in the recent past when money was still around. But hang on a second one of our regular readers sends us a link to information that demonstrates that there is still money out there for paths if you get your action plans or bids or whatever right. Our correspondent tells us:

“Crianlarich (population 200) creates a £200k local path network and picnic area as a project organised by their local Community Development Trust and funded by the Big Lottery and the Forestry Commission. If they can do it, can Nairn (population 10,000 and with not one, not two but at least three community development groups - NICE, NEI and River Enterprise) do something similar?”

So how did this come about? Over to a site called “Nick Wright Planning”, he states:

“Crianlarich is an inspiration for other communities who are thinking of putting the Community Empowerment Act into action. Everybody involved should be justifiably proud of the transformation that they’re delivering in Crianlarich. But remember – behind those smiling faces last Friday was a lot of hard volunteer work. “ You can read the full article by Nick Wright here. 

The Gurn understands that some NEI folk are going to visit one or two communities that have been successful in getting larger scale initiatives off the ground. Maybe they should drop by Crianlaich too – Crianlarich gets £200K with 200 people in their community, just how much should we be due pro rata?

Fred, Peanut and Lemmy, still missing - have you seen any of these cats?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Celeb endorsement for Ardersier anti-sewage works campaign

Dame Helen Mirren has joined the campaign started by residents of Ardersier and Petty against the proposed Waste Treatment Plant that Scottish Water wish to locate near the village. More on the campaign facebook page here.

Police investigate car theft in Nairn

Cawdor Community Centre almost a victim of its own success?

Last Monday night saw the AGM of the Cawdor Community Association who run the Community Centre building. The association is made up of the user groups that use the centre and there was quite a good turnout. 

The committee is desperately seeking more volunteer help however, as the tasks involved in running the centre are taking up more and more time for the office bearers.The committee will review the situation in six months, and the options if no more volunteers can be found  could eventually include handing the building back to Highland Council or employing someone to take on some of the work. Handing the building back to Highland Council would most likely result in much higher charges being implemented but it had to be an option given the lack of volunteers coming forward.

The meeting heard how the centre had had a very healthy year and there had been something on in the building almost every night of the week. The charges for the use of the building were very competitive and it was felt that it was time to raise the charges (this would be the first rise for 3 years) and even with the new rates the Centre would still be very competitive and some cash would be available if the committee decided to go down the employment route. 

Chair Jenifer Walker told the Gurn: "The community centre in Cawdor is unique in that any monies raised through rentals is retained by the volunteer committee to reinvest in the centre, local school and community.

We have a very enthusiastic committee made up of locals who manage the bookings, accounts, and arrange local events such a the highly successful “ Cawdor does Christmas”.

"We would welcome any offer of help, please feel free to meet us for a chat with absolutely no obligation. For further information please contact 01667 404702."

Readers can see a copy of the very competitive charges for use of the Cawdor Community Centre here. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fifth new face in a week for the County Board

According to information posted on the Companies House website NCFC have appointed a fifth director this week. It's former youth player, club PR man and co-author of the club's Centenary history book, Graeme MacLeod.
Graeme MacLeod centre, his co-authors Donald Wilson on the left and the late Bill Logan on the right

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lost cat - can you help?

Nairn County FC appoint four new directors

According to the Companies House website NCFC yesterday appointed Ian Finlayson, Alexander MacDonald, Gillian McWilliam and Shona Devine as directors.

In another development it has been reported that Donald Matheson will be appointed interim Chairman from the 1st June. 

Moray Firth Orcas could be at risk from ship-to-ship oil transfers says John Finnie MSP

Today we received the following Scottish Green Party Press release:

The pod of orcas that enchanted Moray Firth ocean-watchers last week could be put at risk if controversial plans to allow ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Firth are given the go-ahead, MSP John Finnie has warned.

The Green MSP, who has been campaigning to stop the proposal, pressed the Scottish Government for details of the dangers posed to the orcas by oil transfers. He urged the new Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, to make the Scottish Government’s position clear.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority has applied for a license for the risky ship-to-ship procedure, in which oil is transferred between vessels in the open sea rather than secured in a harbour. The application is presently being considered by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The orca pod, known as the Northern Isles community, migrates between Iceland and the Moray Firth each year. It would be vulnerable to any oil spill in the Firth resulting from ship-to-ship transfer operations.

The Scottish Greens have a strong track record in protecting coastal communities from ship-to-ship plans. A three-year campaign by Green MSPs to halt similar plans in the Firth of Forth ended in victory when Forth Ports PLC dropped their proposal in 2008 [2]. John Finnie launched the Save Our Dolphins campaign in response to the Moray Firth plan in January this year; his petition at http://bit.ly/SaveOurDolphins has received over 3,700 signatures.

Mr Finnie said:

“The sighting of these extraordinary animals is a reminder of how precious the environment of the Moray Firth is, both for its wildlife and for its people.

“Oil transfers are already carried out safely in the relative shelter of Nigg harbour; there’s no need to put our Firth in danger with risky ship-to-ship transfers in the open sea.

“I’m trying to find out whether the Scottish Government understands the threat to the orcas and the whole Firth ecosystem. If it does, I hope new Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham will break the silence that her predecessor inexplicably maintained on the issue, and join the opposition to the proposal.

“The Moray Firth is one of Scotland’s most important marine habitats. As well as orcas and our iconic bottlenose dolphins, it is an important area for seabirds, wading birds, seals and otters. It’s a vital fishery and a centre for the production of shellfish. It’s an excellent location for windsurfing, kayaking and other water sports. All that is in danger if we allow oil transfers to go ahead.

“Greens MSPs have beaten ship-to-ship plans once before, in the Firth of Forth. With your help we can do it again: please sign the petition at http://bit.ly/SaveOurDolphins.”

Update: BBC article with image here

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Campaign against Ardersier Waste Water treatment plant steps up a gear with petition and social media action

The citizens of Ardersier are getting into action. An online petition reads:

"The Ardersier & Petty area is fast becoming the place for tourists to visit in Highland. It is a beautiful village with lots of small businesses and a fantastic environment next to the Moray Firth. It has beautiful walks, places for many activities including increasing amount of people using the Moray Firth for water sports. We have a large amount of wildlife here that return year after year to breed and who are safe here. For example: foxes, badgers, increasingly differing species of birds, dolphins, insects, marine plants and life etc which are not found in many other areas."

The change.org page goes on to cite lack of consultation, loss of habit, pollution and other factors concerning the proposed sewage works. It is only natural that the campaigners seek the support of friends and colleagues etc in Nairn. But if we have a look at the Sandown Development Brief  which became  supplementary planning guidance in 2013 (you can download a copy here) you will find a very illuminating paragraph under the Access and Servicing section:

"7.4. All foul water will require connection to the public sewer. Nairn’s existing sewerage network has limited capacity both in terms of its network and the receiving sewage works at the east beach. Later phases are likely to require new sewer connection to the new sewage works north of Ardersier. The central green spine should act as the principal surface water drainage area within the site because its levels allow for gravity-based drainage and this could assist in wetland creation / retention. Adequate long term maintenance of the area as a surface water drainage device will be required."

So once development gets well underway at Sandown it looks like a lot of the sewage will have to be sent to Ardersier - presumably the Delnies output too, if it went ahead, would have to have sewage pumped over to Ardersier as well. It's not only Nairn's future waste, we asked the campaigners via twitter if development in the airport area was the reasoning behind the proposal and they confirmed it was. 

The Ardersier campaign Facebook page is here and the petition is here.

Gurn Comment: Sending Nairn sewage west to Ardersier would solve some of our problems but it is unfair on the receiving community. Is a better solution possible for Nairn and Ardersier?

Nairn County Fans meeting called for Weds 1st of June in the Legion at 7 p.m.

Ian Finlayson stated on the fans "County til I die" fundraising page this evening:

"As promised Im calling a Fans meeting to be held in the British Legion a week tonight, Wednesday 1st June, at 7pm. Myself and Donald Matheson will be there to bring you all up to date on the current situation, answer as many questions as we can and help assist with any fundraising ideas. I can't emphasise enough that everyone is welcome. "

It's the big one folks, get yourself along to this very important meeting if you can. More on the County fans fundraising page here. 

Don't forget on the Tuesday night 31st May there is a shareholders meeting to be held in the Newton Hotel also at 7 pm. More details here on the Nairn County Facebook page. 

Multi-million pound offer in for former McDermott's yard

The P&J state this morning:

"A multimillion pound deal is on the brink of being struck to breathe new life into a huge Highland fabrication yard.

Talks over the sale of the former McDermott Yard at Ardersier – which once employed thousands of workers – are at an advanced stage."  More here. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

First water quality test of the year by SEPA and both Nairn beaches looking very, very good

SEPA have published the results on their website. Here's the East beach ones.

DateEscherichia coli
Intestinal enterococci
18 May 20163010

And here's the Central beach
DateEscherichia coli
Intestinal enterococci
18 May 20163020

Thanks to Greg for pointing this out to these results out in a comment thread on another article.

Greg added: "which is well under the limit for an "excellent" classification (250   and 100cfu/100ml respectively)." That is correct Greg but the problem is we have to be within those limits 95% of the season's tests to achieve that.

Anyway looks perfect at the moment for a dip. No doubt the SEPA pages might get quite a few visits from Nairn residents this year. 

Sepa pages with more info Nairn East here and Nairn Central here

BMX Track makeover looking good

Les Fridge leaves Nairn County FC

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fancy reading a 241 page document - A Nairn South "Transport Appraisal" - a wee bit of consultation that might just crack you up completely

The consultation paper that suggests how traffic changes could be made to the road network to enable the Nairn South development to go ahead is now online and Highland Council are seeking your comments. 

This observer followed the link that a local councillor had posted on Facebook and went to look at the document. 

It's a 241 page document and a PDF you have to download - it is a bit user unfriendly too in that you have to adjust the size regularly to flit from text to looking at maps- how are members of the public supposed to find the time to look at this let alone attempt to decipher it? Parts of it need someone to translate it into language that people use in real life. Even people that normally attempt to pay attention to this kind of thing will be p***** off with this. It's all a bit too much folks. 

How about a room with maps and interpretors like they had for the A96 Nairn bypass? Give us a chance please!  After all the document that Nairn's four councillors discussed before it went to this stage was only 25 pages long!

Anyone with the nerve to go and get themselves a copy of the document can do so here. 

Council seeks talks on improving water standards at Nairn Beach - "Nairn remains very much open for business"

The Highland Council has called a meeting with SEPA, Scottish Water and other partners to seek clarification on water quality notices issued by SEPA for Nairn Central and East Beaches.

Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: “We are seeking clarification on SEPA’s advice and will be looking for urgent action to address any issues which could potentially have an impact on the economy of the Nairn area. We will be looking for an immediate short term plan of action to achieve a sufficient or higher standard of quality as soon as possible and to maintain higher standards throughout this year’s bathing season. It will then be necessary to look at a longer term plan of improvements to ensure that the water quality is improved for future years to come.”

Chair of the Area Committee, Cllr Michael Green added: “I want to give some reassurance to the local community that the Council is taking this matter very seriously. Our stunning beaches are a precious asset to the economy of Nairn and the surrounding area. If swift action is taken, we can turn this around very quickly so that our beaches and the waters are of an improved standard for the coming season. 

“The good thing is that the SEPA signs will give real time information on the water quality on a day to day basis. I also want to ensure that regular monitoring reports are made available so that residents can see that any remedial action has been effective and that substantial improvements are being made.

“Meanwhile Nairn remains very much open for business. Nairn is set in the heart of the Highlands on the shores of the beautiful Moray Firth, with easy access to air and rail routes, wonderful walking routes, outdoor activities and wild life and some of the best scenery in the world.”

Saturday, May 21, 2016

County Crisis - fans rally round on social media

The fans fundraising machine that raised a massive 70K for the construction of the New Cowshed at Station Park looks as though it may be swinging back into action as a funding crisis looms with the coming departure of the main sponsors Narden at the end of this month. 

Former player Ali Nichol has started a think-tank fundraising page on Facebook were fans are floating suggestions. If you have any ideas please head over to the Nairn County TID Fundraising Page. Maybe you might be lucky enough to have quite a bit of spare cash? If so a new sponsor is needed and the club would no doubt be glad to hear from you. 

An EGM of the shareholders has been called and will take place on Tuesday May 31st (7.00 pm) at the Newton Hotel. The Gurn would humbly suggest that some way be found of making that meeting open to the general public there is no time to lose and the more information that is put in the public domain before that meeting the better. 

Nairn Coastguard in action today

Wee storm rocks Nairn

Just after one o'clock this afternoon quite an extreme weather event passed through Nairn. Fortunately it only lasted about 10 minutes but it caused difficulties for anyone outside and was extremely hazardous for motorists too. Images below of what it looked like on the met office weather map and a view from the East Beach as the storm moved towards Nairn.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Wildnight Comedy change of MC for tonight Sat 21st

The Gurn understands that due to Billy Kirkwood being stuck in the U.S,  Wildnight Comedy have the brilliant Jo Jo Sutherland standing in as MC. There will be tickets available on the door for people who have not bought already.  More information here. 

County Crisis - "The severity of the situation the Club now finds itself in cannot be overstated"

EGM for County shareholders coming up on Tuesday May 31st

Bathing Water Quality - "Very worthwhile meeting with Maree Todd MSP" says Visit Nairn's Iain Fairweather

Iain posted the following on one of the town's social media pages earlier today:

"Very worthwhile meeting with Maree Todd MSP. VisitNairn, Assoc of Nairn Businesses, Nairn Residents group made a clear case for dealing with poor water quality. Complete agreement that problem must be solved now. Meetings with SEPA, Highland Council and Scottish Water planned soon."

Highland Council leader calls for swift action on Nairn beaches water quality issues

Representatives from local businesses, community council and tourism organisations in Nairn, are set to meet with The Highland Council, Scottish Water and The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to discuss a long-term action plan to improve the quality of water at two Nairn beaches.

The problem came to light after SEPA issued water quality notices for Nairn Central and East beaches.

The Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, Loreine Thompson of the Nairn Residents Concern Group and The Leader of the Nairnshire Area Committee, Councillor (Cllr) Michael Green attended a meeting held on Thursday at The Highland Council to discuss the issue.
Michael Green and Loreine Thomson

Speaking after the meeting, Highland Council Leader, Margaret Davidson highlighted the need for swift action to eradicate the problem: “We are seeking clarification on SEPA’s advice and will be looking for urgent action to address any issues which could potentially have an impact on the economy of the Nairn area. We will be looking for an immediate short term plan of action to achieve a sufficient or higher standard of quality as soon as possible and to maintain higher standards throughout this year’s bathing season. It will then be necessary to look at a longer term plan of improvements to ensure that the water quality is improved for future years to come.”

At the meeting it was agreed that short term remedial action was essential and that a longer term multi-agency plan was also required. The Highland Council, Scottish Water, SEPA, The Association of Nairn Businesses, Visit Nairn, and a Nairn Community representative from the River Community Council will now work together to developed a long-term strategy to resolve the issue.

Chair of the Area Committee, Cllr Michael Green was keen to emphasise the important role the community would play and underlined the need for transparency in tackling the problem: "This is the most serious challenge Nairn has faced since I was elected in 2012 and needs to be addressed with the utmost vigour and urgency. In my role as leader of the Nairnshire Committee, I will be working as a catalyst to bring together The Highland Council, Scottish Water, SEPA and Visit Scotland with Nairn Community representatives, namely: River Council, Association of Nairn Businesses, Visit Nairn and the Nairn Resident’s Concern Group. While the first priority is to agree and initiate immediate remedial works, we can only engineer a long term solution by creating an effective and transparent working partnership, that has the confidence of the people of Nairn."

A meeting of all the parties concerned is due to take place next week

A bit of work needed down at the harbour?

Local photographer Murray MacRae has sent us some pictures of one or two spots down the Harbour that look as though they badly need some work done to stop further deterioration.


Individual images here.

Nairnawaits awaiting your feedback

The Nairn Economic Initiative would like your feedback on the recent revamp of the Nairn Scotland.uk website. If you have any thoughts or suggestions for them please contact hello@nairnscotland.co.uk.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Le Weekend - un petit morceau de confusion! C'est Vedredei 27

Seamus tells the Gurn:

"Confusion reigns over Cinema Nairn’s next film! Well, here it is – and it is on at
the Community & Arts Centre on Friday 27th May at 7:30pm.

 Please do not go to the Community Centre on Friday 20th expecting to see the film! The comedy drama Le Weekend, stars Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent revisiting their honeymoon destination in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage.

 Hard hitting, great fun, and Paris! See you there."

Councillor believes gas works on High Street caused local recession

Michael Green told the Gurn this week that he thought that the work on the High Street to replace the gas main took so long and created so much disruption that he believes it caused a local recession in the town's shopping area. 

Michael went on to say that it is the six months after a recession that are the most difficult and High Street businesses need help. He said that the Scottish Gas compensation scheme was unbelievably user unfriendly, complicated and onerous for traders. He said: "businesses have struggled and will continue to struggle and we need to step up and help."

Michael wants any business that suffered due to the works to contact him or Michael Boylan of the Nairn Business Association. 

Did work on the High Street gas main cause a recession for town centre businesses?

Take care if eating outdoors in bus station area - seagulls now stealing sandwiches

One of our regular readers sends us this image of the aftermath of a seagull snatching a sandwich from his wife at the bus station. 

Our correspondent told us earlier this week:

"I have just come in from work to find that my wife had been attacked by a vicious gull today while eating a small sandwich while waiting at the bus station for a bus into Inverness. She had just finished work & was having a quick bite to eat before going shopping & had just gone to take a bite of the sandwich when it swooped to grab the sandwich without warning & as a result she now has a badly bruised cut on her bottom lip."

We had an update today with picture, our Gurn regular added: "she had to go and get a tetanus shot and is now on antibiotics."

Please be aware Gurnites if having an al fresco snack in some of the current breeding hotspots because you may be putting temptation Salty's way and yourself perhaps at risk. There was a discussion about seagulls at last Wednesday's River Community Council meeting and the situation remains the same - the Council will not remove nests from private property. 

Nairn Health Care news May 2016

Information below supplied by Nairn Health Care


Nairn Healthcare is sad to say goodbye to GP Partner, Dr Malcolm Simmons who will be leaving us on the 27th May for a new post in Forres. We wish Dr Simmons all the very best. 

Dr John Pitman has been with the Practice as a locum GP since the end of 2014 and we are delighted to announce that he is now a permanent member of the NHG team.


Nairn Healthcare would like to recommend to patients with internet access to try out ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland). Almost like a search engine, ALISS lets browsers search for groups and clubs within Nairn and the surrounding areas. So if you are looking for an exercise class, something for relaxation or would like to join a friendship club, ALISS is able to tell you of your options. Please visit www.aliss.org to make use of this worthwhile website.

Home Fire Safety Visit

Did you know that every hour of every day there is a house fire in Scotland? It is important to know how to reduce the chances of fire happening in your home and if it does, how to protect yourself.

Cooking accidents, overloaded sockets, faulty appliances and smoking are just some of the reasons why there are so many house fires in Scotland.

Fire can happen to anyone however, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service offer a FREE Home Fire Safety Visit and FREE Smoke Alarms to make sure your home is as safe from fire as it can be. The visit takes around 20 minutes and can be organised at a time that suits you, day or night. To book a free Home Fire Safety Visit, please call 0800 0731999, text “CHECK” to 61611 or visit www.firescotland.gov.uk. Information booklets are available at Nairn Healthcare’s reception desk.

Loch Ness Etape

The Practice wishes to congratulate Dr Jonathan Ball and Dr Adrian Baker on their fantastic effort in the Loch Ness Etape.

The Loch Ness Etape is a 66-mile cycle around iconic Loch Ness supporting Macmillan Cancer Support. They completed the course in 3hrs 2m and 3hrs 13m respectively.

Sun Protection

Recently, the UK has been experiencing some of the hottest days of the year so far. Although it’s great to have some sun shining, we still need to protect our skin with suitable clothing, seeking shade and applying sunscreen.

Sunscreen should be suitable for your skin type and block both UVA and UVB radiation, at least SPF15 should be applied and the product shouldn’t be applied if after its expiry date. 

Children and babies have more sensitive skin than adults so please take extra care to protect them. Children under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight. There are sunscreens available that are formulated for children and babies, these are less likely to irritate their skin. 

If you do happen to get sunburnt, paracetamol and ibuprofen will ease the pain by helping to reduce inflammation. Sponge the sore skin with cool water and apply aftersun lotion. If you feel unwell or the skin swells or blisters, please seek medical help and stay out of the sun until all redness has gone.

For more information on sun protection, please visit www.nhs.uk/livewell/travelhealth/pages/sunsafetyqa.aspx

Home Visits

Requests for home visits should only be made if you are unfit to travel to one of the surgeries. Home Visits are at the Doctor’s discretion and are not a patient entitlement. Visit requests are handled by the receptionist who will ask for a little information to pass onto the Duty GP

During the month of April, GPs visited 129 patients that required to be seen in their own home. They also saw 110 patients who are cared for in one of the local care homes and the health care assistants visited 41 patients requiring blood tests who can’t come into the surgery.

If possible, please request a home visit before 10.30am

Murd puddle joy as Liz fixes Firhall Bridge path pond

Conor Gethins leaving Nairn County

Good luck Conor with whatever you do next and thanks for some magnificent entertainment - best wishes from gurnnurn.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sheena Baker praises Michael and Liz on their Nairn Beach bathing water standards efforts

The new classifications caused by a change in the way that Nairn's bathing water quality test information is graded under the EU Directive continues to make waves. Sheena told the Gurn specifically in response to a previous article here in which Liz mentions information that will appear on SEPA's new electronic signs that will appear on Nairn's beaches:

“Well done Liz and Michael. At least two of our Councillor’s are taking the matter seriously which is the correct thing to do.

We are a tourist town and the biggest jewel in the crown is the miles of beautiful sandy beaches and the possibility that folks may choose to go for a dip!

If we have to have this electronic signage then surely there must now be some real impetus from all the organisations responsible to try and get a proper resolution to this ongoing problem. During all the many years I have lived in Nairn I have heard reference to the fact that when the river is in spate normally following heavy rain the sewage works cannot cope and the inevitable occurs.

Earlier this year I had to gingerly walk across Merryton Bridge at 8.55am. Sewage was pouring into the river from the Fishertown emergency exits and the trap on the Lochloy side of the bridge was also pushing water and other unmentionables out!

This needs sorting, yes it needs Capital investment BUT someone or a combination of organisations need to urgently put their heads together and “pool” (intentional) their thoughts into forming and agreeing the necessary action plan to correct this once and for all.

This outflow of sewage occurred years before the Lochloy and other new housing schemes were built. They have now been built and are adding more output into the sewage plant thus reducing the ability of the plant to cope when a deluge or spate occurs. These houses all pay water rates so the income to Scottish Water etc has greatly increased. Let’s see some of it being spent and re-invested in Nairn sorting out this problem.

The town centre businesses have suffered greatly as the recent Gas works deprived them of footfall. Let us not add to the agony of any further loss of business by turning tourists off coming to this beautiful area and it’s many amenities. If they do not come then it will not just be the town centre businesses that will suffer. All the bed providers will also be affected.”

Anyone wishing to comment on the EU Directive's latest bathing water classifications for Nairn please write to info@gurnnurn.com. Small pieces for publication as articles most welcome. 

Democratic accountability - a personal view from Iain Bruce

Since the heady days of the IndyRef and all that public participation there's been
much talk about the democratic deficit. Fifty six SNP MPs, willing and eager wentsouth and what can they really achieve against the Westminster odds? And there's all those apparently wasted votes of the List voters in the recent Holyrood
election. Unless, that is you're prepared to accept that that's just the balancing effect of the D'Hondt system.

A lot closer to home there's an even more glaring democratic deficit with that of
the people's representatives on Highland Council, specifically ward 19. In the not too distant past, the community lost its distinctive big slide due, it was claimed to 'health and safety issues' and the accompanying hill, great as a summer afternoon wind break was mysteriously bulldozed. Not us said the people's representatives.

More recently we have seen the anaemic response by Highland Council to the ship to ship oil transfer by people across the firth who would have no responsibility whatsoever for cleaning-up Nairn's fabulous beaches if things were
to go wrong. Not us said the people's representatives, officials did it between
Council meetings.

The continuing saga of Nairn South, the granting of consent to dig up the High Street for an inordinate length of time and now the disastrous EU 'brown flag' for
our bathing water quality. What bigger knife could be pierced into the Community's fragile economy than to render those glorious beaches worthless
even without the risk of oil spill. Not us said the people's representatives, officials  told the sign contractor to put the signs up.

Why, oh why does Nairn constantly have to suffer the inanities and indignity of
Highland Council officers leading and the elected Councillors following and
always too late?

It's in May next year that there'll be a scramble to make sure that the people cast
their votes for the people representatives, sometimes known as Councillors and
not Council Officials.

It would be funny wouldn't it if the ultimate democratic deficit was for the people
to say, Not us... get your officials to vote for you.

Iain Bruce

Sheena brush power on the Brae

Liz on the EU Directive bathing water problems created by the new classifications for Nairn's beaches

Cllr Liz MacDonald told the Gurn that Fergus can't make his surgery this week in Nairn as he is being appointed as  Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity on Friday morning.

She said:" I shall be standing in for him, and I intend to go and speak to Fergus on Friday afternoon at this office in Inverness, other Nairn Councillors are also invited."

On the topic of the new EU "poor" classifications for Nairn Beach, which Nairn tourism representatives had indicated that they wished to speak to him about, she continued:

"I received a useful briefing from Calum McPhail, Environmental Quality Manager SEPA. The electronic information signs are to better inform the public, so folk know when the water quality is fine for bathing, which will be the majority of the time. The poor water quality notices will just come on, on occasion and it'll be up to individuals to decide or themselves if they wish to swim or not.

The European Directive is now 4 times more difficult to pass than before and Calum is keen to come to speak to stakeholders. He has agree to come to a future ward business meeting. It is important all public agencies, SEPA, Scottish Water, Highland Council, agricultural interests, tourism representatives and community groups take an active part trying to find a positive solution.

SEPA teams already regularly monitor the flow data from the River Nairn, and although I'd asked what practical measures could be taken to improve our status, future levels will be based on this years and the 3 previous years samples, so let's hope for a good dry summer, as heavy rainfall has a detrimental effect on our results. Meanwhile we must do all we can, working together to try to improve our environment, so folk again have confidence in our water quality."

Nairn Bathing Water - EU Directive Water Quality classifications changes impact - Statement from Michael Green

The Gurn obtained a comment from Michael Green this morning on the ongoing situation concerning the possible impact of the EU Directive change in Water Quality Classifications that came into full effect this year and will mean warning signs for bathers according to press reports. He told the Gurn:

"This is critical for a town like Nairn, this could have devastating repercussions. The change in the EU Directive Classifications was not flagged up internally within Highland Council. Nothing has changed with the test results over the last four years but everything has changed in the way the EU Directive now interprets them. 

We as local councillors need to work with our officials, SEPA, MSPs and others involved to mitigate the effects in the short term and to find a solution in the long term. 

I have arranged a meeting for Nairn's Councillors with Fergus Ewing before his normal surgery on Friday."

Nairn Bathing waters probs - Courier article quotes Provost

The difficulties that new EU Directive classifications for the Central and East beaches might create for Nairn's tourism industry have been highlighted in an article in the Tuesday edition of the Inverness Courier. Yesterday we highlighted how Fergus Ewing has taken this up as an urgent issue (see article below). 

Anyway the Courier quote Provost Laurie Fraser in relation to new bathing warning signs that may have to appear under EU rules. According to the paper he said:

"They are just signs that are going up giving additional information to bathers. We have to move with the times and we have to do what the EU wants."  More in yesterday's edition of the Inverness Courier. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fergus acting fast on Beach Water Quality concerns - local tourism reps heading to his surgery on Friday

This morning a tweet from Visit Nairn appeared online.
The Gurn understands that there has been considerable activity today from local residents involved in the tourism industry and a tweet from Rosemary Young also appeared urging folk to get along to Fergus Ewing MSP's surgery on Friday. 

Fergus has been quick to respond  and has  tweeted that he is making urgent inquiries.

Shock News from Station Park as Chairman and Directors of Football resign

The news as seen on the Wee County's Facebook page

The resignations coincide with the 40th anniversery of Nairn County's legendary play-off win against Fraserburgh at Borough Briggs that saw the side win the Highland League. Another post from the Nairn County Social page here.

UPDATE: Resignation announcement was not meant to coincide with 40th anniversary of title win. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nairn Awaits - Optimism for town’s future abounds as Nairn Economic Initiative launch revamped Website

A good turnout of Nairn’s business community tonight at the Dunbar Golf Club as the revamped nairnscotland.co.uk was re-launched in an effort to sell Nairn’s attributes to the world in an innovative concept designed by some talented teenagers from Nairn Academy. 

The gathering listened to short presentations from Sheena Baker, Gemma Hill, Steve Westbrook, Gregor Munro and the Michaels (Bolan and Green) and of course the students from Nairn Academy and their IT instructor Sharon Sharkey. 

Some of it was a bit familiar when it came down to Nairn’s pluses and minuses but it was the desire to go forward and “go past the talking into the enabling” which was palpable tonight. In the past it has been easy to come away from such events shell-shocked by “death by powerpoint”  presentations as the worthies read the script and the wheel gets reinvented – this time cynicism cells just didn’t stir – it felt good and added to the other initiatives out there in Nairn where a whole new wave of people seem to be willing to step forward for the Common Good of all it may be that we have finally turned the corner and are really heading down the launch pad at last. Much will rest on the proposed Business Improvement District that the two Michaels are driving forward and that one too could be in the skies in early 2017 if all goes to plan. 

You can get onto the revamped website here. Images from this evening below.

Individual images here. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Miscellany

A week with a few sunsets and a lot of pictures on social media such as in this tweet here. The black and white stuff returned to the Rosebank zebra crossing. The election is over but here and there an odd political poster lingers – will we soon see a spate of Leave and Remain posters or is everyone already scunnered with the goings on from both sides?

The swans have had a new brood, six cygnets this year with eight eggs laid but only the half dozen hatching. Picture from Joe Telfer and more swan info here.

On Wednesday there was a short service held at Nairn Cemetery to celebrate the lives of Hamish Dunbar and his wife Joyce. Regular readers will remember some of Hamish's contributions. In February we posted this article when we sadly heard of his death. 

This observer was delighted to meet Hamish’s son Keith, he gave a remarkably moving account of his parents lives. Visions emerged of a young Hamish making his way to school with a devoted dog called Help who would make his own way home once his charge had been delivered. Memories of the hard times of Nairn during the Great Depression that he had been told about by his father. And who could fail to be moved to hear of the chance encounter between the young sailor Hamish on his way to a ship and a young woman called Joyce who worked at the now famous Bletchley Park installation: they spoke to each other on Waterloo Station one day in 1943 and went to a cafe for a blether. They remained in contact during the conflict and married after the war. Remarkable people and remarkable lives. 

Keith has given me some more information about his parents and we’ll do something with that in another post when time permits, more about  Hamish and Joyce to follow. 

Hamish's brother Murd told the Gurn: 

"A Nairn lad and his wife have returned. Hamish was born in Nairn went off to war after after the war he married and settled in Surrey and was in the Fire Brigade until he retired. Although 93 he had a fanastic memory and often corresponded with the Gurn to pass on things about Nairn before the war and would correct some of the statements made about the town.

And a few dates for you:

Sunday 12th June in Viewfield the Patron’s Lunch picnic

Nairn 10 mile and Fun Runs Sunday 5th June in aid of Glasgow Children's Hospital,Charity and Calum's Cabin supporting sick children from all over Scotland

Nairn Rocks Fun Day Saturday 9th July 10.00-16.00

We’ll have posters for all three events over in the sidebar on the left as soon as time permits

River CC looking for suggestions for Community Payback Scheme in Nairn

If you have any suggestions pop over to the NRCC facebook page or e-mail secretary@nairnrivercc.org.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

"Do not swim" warning coming for Nairn Beaches according to National Newspaper

The Scottish Daily Mail today published an article stating that EU warnings are to be posted at 17 beaches in Scotland including Nairn Central and East. 

According to the paper this is because of EU health rules and that the beaches
A page in today's Scottish Daily Mail 14/5/16
concerned have had their water quality measured as poor over a four year period. 

The journalists who wrote the article spoke to Visit Nairn's Iain Fairweather who said:

"I can't argue against a legal ruling, but I think people will struggle to understand why it is unsafe. I would like to see the criteria for which they judge a beach unsafe - it may be that more stringent controls are being applied now."

A slightly different article in the UK edition of the Daily Mail is available on line here and the full content of the Scottish article appears to be available on this "Press Reader" app here.   

A story that combines the EU, Nairn tourism, our beaches and an overloaded sewage and/or storm drain system that dumps offending material into the river and the sea at times of stress?  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"Shock as Highland Council’s debt soars towards £1billion"

A P&J report here about the shock figures. Regular readers may recall a Gurn article from February 2014 however, entitled: "Highland Council on course for a billion pounds worth of debt by 2016/17?" We reproduce it here - not quite so much of a shock really.

"This observer has been looking at the documents attached to the agenda of yesterday’s Highland Council’s Finance Housing and Resources Committee and more specifically item 8 of the agenda which was a Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Investment Statement – 2014/15. 

Below is a screenshot of page 17 of that document (click to enlarge). The capital financing requirement for 2016/17 is a real biggie at £1,013.4 million – you can see from the legend that borrowing is involved in that. 
The bottom row gives figures that seem to be pure borrowing however – “Treasury Position This indicator shows the expected borrowing position, net of investments.” An estimated figure for 2016/17 is £937.4 million. 
Figures on the page then and daunting perhaps for those not of an accounting mind. Worrying too? The Gurn today asked Councillor Michael Green what he thought of these projections. Michael told the Gurn that he was very worried and he thought the figures were “unsustainable”."

Gurn Opinion:

And now there's no money at all it seems, River Community Councillors were told last night that there is no money to fix the puddle at the bottom of the steps at the Firhall Bridge - still money out there however for a plan to knock down the First Steps Nursery building at Rosebank to put a car park in its place and our Highland Councillors appear to be totally powerless to stop officials taking that plan forward. It really is a case of a puddle too far folks

"Le Weekend" begins on Friday 27th May at 7.30 pm

Cinema Nairn continues its very successful film season on Friday 27th May 7.30pm when we're screening 'Le Weekend' (15)

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star in this bittersweet drama about an older couple who are trying to rekindle their relationship with a return trip to Paris where they spent their honeymoon. Writer Hanif Kureishi pulls no punches in laying bare the disappointments and unfulfilled dreams of a long marriage, while celebrating what holds the couple together. This honest, intelligent and perceptive film set against the wonderful backdrop of Paris provides no easy answers or glib endings!'

How Citizen Murd would fix Station Brae traffic dangers and some official reaction he has received

Like so much community conversation these days it is taking place on social media. To see what Murd has to say head over to Nairn our Town our Views. 

Also Murray MacRae would like to see a road safety measure introduced at the entrance to Boathpark - you can find out more about that on the River CC facebook page here. 

If you don't do facebook then here are the "how they answered" bitties from Murd:

"How they answered

1 Remove the offending Islands allowing all the rd. to be used and drivers can use their discretion when passing foot path users. This would also apply going under the bridge as was the case before the dangerous islands were installed and people getting injured. 

This would not work due to height restrictions and bridge being arched and new widening of footpath. One of the main previous concerns before the changes from the public was vehicles being on the wrong side of the road and footpath under bridge being narrowest part of footpath 

2 Install traffic monitoring lights to allow traffic out of Balblair Rd safely. same system at Moss-side Rd adjoining the A96. 

There would have to be further traffic lights on B9090 to allow this to work 

3 The steps from the station could be made redundant or at least A warning indicating the danger of traffic at the bottom of the steps. They can't be used by disabled. Make an Exit at the end of the platform onto George St. Safely access at the moment can only be accomplished by using Balblair road with no pavement. Exit on to George St will be user friendly for all. 

I have heard this discussed before and there could be merit to this scheme, however it would have to be led by Network rail and consideration for their issues on safety. There would also have to be extension to platform and linking footway provided."

Giant kites to return to Links this summer after issue raised on popular NWYWAB Facebook page

Fears were raised recently on the popular Nairn when you were a bairn pages that the giant kites would not be returning to Nairn this summer due to cost implications of a permit etc. Michael Green was quick to take on board what the Bairnites had to say and he told the Gurn yesterday:

"The kites will be appearing at the Links on the following dates, 13th July, 27th July, 24th August due to a small grant from the Association of Nairn Businesses that was secured at last night's AGM."

For more on the kites latest head over to NWYWAB.

Kites will return to the Links this summer

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Nairn River Community Council regular meeting Weds 11th May 7.30 pm - tea and coffee available from 7pm - down in the Little Theatre

Nairn River Community Council
Comhairle Coimhearsnachd Abhainn Narann

Regular meeting, open to the public
Weds 11th May
at 7.30 pm
in the Little Theatre

Tea and coffee available from 7 pm

Any issues bothering you? – contact secretary@nairnrivercc.org

Folk are now highlighting issues to Nairn River CC via their facebook page  too. The NRCC Facebook page can be seen here.  

Why not go down to the Little Theatre tomorrow night and have a blether with the NRCC folk and you often see a full squad of Highland Councillors at these meetings too - a good opportunity to raise your concerns. 

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Gurn opinion: Let’s build Council Houses on Sandown and let’s get on with it quickly!

The Community (in the shape of the Community Councils and the majority decision of the Nairnshire Area Committee) remains resolutely against the development proposed for Nairn South given the difficulties development in that part of town would present to the already dangerous road situation on the Station Brae. The first paragraph of the front page of this week’s Nairnshire Telegraph details Nairn West/Suburban CCs feelings on the matter:

“A community council has described infrastructure recommendations in a Transport Appraisal for Nairn South as a “dead duck”. The watchdogs have also written to Nairn’s four ward councillors to say it has no confidence in Highland Council’s planers, including the director of development and infrastructure, Stuart Black.”

Around 30 members of the public attended the last Nairnshire Area committee in the Courthouse when the matter was discussed. A decision was made to put the matter out to more public consultation and Nairn South will come back to the committee in September for a final decision. What was noticeable was the age of those who went to lobby the councillors however. This observer believes that the age of the youngest member of the public present was 42. Younger people are against the traffic implications too, you can see that from comments on social media – they are, however, the ones more likely to consider the proposal in the light of the amount of “affordable housing” that would have to be built on Nairn South though and it is generally younger people that are in desperate need of housing in this area. So although the majority view is definitely against Nairn South there are those who will mention the desperate need for housing that exists in the town as a reason for allowing development at Nairn South.. 

So if the narrative is that we don’t want Nairn South under any circumstances at all then fine but let’s get on and change the agenda: young people need homes – let’s build them on Sandown! There’s plenty of room on those three fields. The town owns the land in the shape of the Common Good Fund. What seems to be emerging from Highland Council now is that things take time and there is a lack of staff after the cuts. OK then, the town owns the land and there are also architects and builders that live in Nairn, let’s use them and keep the whole thing moving round in our own economic environment if the Council can’t provide the resources to get things under way anymore. 

Let’s not forget that we have four councillors that earn a wage too – maybe they can pick up the slack and get on with some out of the box thinking that could see Council or “social housing” built on Sandown. People on the housing list have had enough waiting – time for action! Come on you guys build some homes on Sandown and tell the planners where to go with their ideas for Nairn South! You aren’t just there to tell us why we can’t have things – people expect you to lead and come up with initiatives. How about coming up with a plan before the elections for the Council in May of next year? Go the extra mile - get creative, kick **** if necessary and set something up outside of the existing structures if you have to. Just saying nothing can happen because of cutbacks will not be acceptable.

People are willing to get off their backsides and campaign against inappropriate development so now it is time for similar campaign action to enable more of the younger generation to enjoy the benefits of having their own home. So this observer suggest that every time we tell the planners where to go over Nairn South let us be equally vociferous in calling for public housing to be built on Sandown!

UPDATE: 20.51 Sunday 8th May 2016 - Interesting comments coming in including contributions from Citizen Murd. 

Scottish Rock Garden Club - recent show in Community Centre - report

Thanks to David Shaw for the following report.

A very good show by members of the Scottish Rock Garden Club was held in the Community Centre of Saturday 30th of last month. As well as local members exhibitors came up from the Central Belt and Lothians to make the centre seem even brighter than the sun outside. Whilst the exhibitors from south of the Grampians included some of the clubs most experienced growers, local members managed to hold on to all but two of the trophies available for competion. The most prestigious award is the Forrest Medal and awarded to the best plant in the show. For the second year running this was collected by ‘local’ Margie and Francis Higgins from Berridale who showed a beautiful example of Benthamalia patagonica, a very difficult plant to grow, let alone flower, from the mountains of Patagnia. Small but absolutely delightful could describe Tina Finch’s, Nairn, Primula scotica being judged the best plant in Section II. A Certificate of Merit indicates that a plant is of high quality but not quite up to the standard of the Forrest Medal plant; Tina was awarded two such certificates, one for the Primula and a second for a Ranunculus amplexicaulis.

As well as a colourful display of plants in the show hall there were plant of plants to buy in the sales area and visitors were seen leaving with large bags full after enjoying the teas and bakes provided by the sports club. Visitors came from near and far to enjoy the show, from Nairn, Aberdeen, Perth and Alaska. Yes, I did mean Alaska; an SRGC member over in Scotland for business/pleasure made the trip. Altogether a satisfying day for the local club who ran the show. Many thanks to all our helpers and visitors and also to The Community Centre and the Gurn for publicising the event.

Some pictures from David below.