Monday, October 31, 2016

A positive petition of support for the Nairn Bypass to Fergus Ewing - by dropping the contentious Auldearn-Hardmuir section now and getting the rest done ASP?

"This petition is for people living in Nairnshire, Highlands of Scotland and for those who travel the A96 through Nairn. We need in excess of 2,000 signatures fast!

Serious consideration is being given to a proposal that is currently in the hands of Fergus Ewing MSP. The proposal is to hasten completion of Nairn Bypass and save tax payers’ money. Mr Ewing would like to know if this has support in Nairnshire.

At present, the design of Nairn bypass ends at Hardmuir, four miles east of Nairn. This is different from what was originally planned, which was that the bypass should end at the east of the town, just past Sainsbury’s.

The new, and rather surprising, preferred route that came into being in 2014 also bypasses Auldearn to the north of the village before ending at Hardmuir. This is causing a lot of concern to local people as, if allowed to go ahead, it will rip up prime farmland, potentially putting farms out of business, people out of jobs and ruining homes. This means that there will be lengthy public enquiries and legal challenges, at a high cost to the tax payer. The result will be a delay, of several years, to the start of Nairn bypass. "  

You can read more of Elaines suggestion of how to speed up the bypass process  by droppin the contentious section for now here on the petition page she created.

Nairn Health Promotion Afternoon Wednesday 9th November 2016

Nairn CAB is hosting another annual ‘Big Energy Savings Week’ running Monday 31st October to Friday 4th November.

People will be shown how to check they’re on the best tariff for their needs or if there’s a cheaper deal with a different supplier. They will check whether energy
customers qualify for the suppliers ‘Warm home discount’ of £140 that is credited to their electric. The will also be assisting energy customers research grants and schemes for measures such as boiler repairs/ replacements. For more information, contact Mairi at Nairn Citizens advice bureau on 01667 456677

Police in Nairn are carrying out enquiries into damage caused to a car on Granny Barbour Road Nairn, between 3 pm and 10 pm on Sunday 30th October 2016

Green light from The Scottish Government for Tom nan Clach Wind Farm redesign

Earlier today the Gurn received the follwing press release from Infinergy:

Tom nan Clach, a project of renewable energy company Infinergy has been given the green light by the Scottish Government on appeal for its application to ‘repower’ the consented Tom nan Clach Wind Farm on Cawdor Estate. This new proposal is a redesign of the consented scheme, which will utilise recent technology gains to help increase the predicted renewable energy output from the site by 26% with 4 fewer, slightly larger turbines.

Tom nan Clach Wind Farm was consented in 2013 comprising 17 turbines, each with an installed capacity of 2.3MW, but a grid connection date no earlier than 2018. Wind turbine technology and design principles have evolved and improved a great deal in the last couple of years and so, given the time available between consent and connection to the grid, the site has been subject to further research and environmental studies. An application to ‘repower’ with 13 slightly larger turbines, but the same overall installed capacity of 39MW was made to The Highland Council in August of last year. 

Esbjorn Wilmar, Managing Director of Infinergy commented: “We are delighted with this decision. The redesign will increase the renewable electricity generated on the site by approximately 26%, using fewer turbines and their associated infrastructure. We started construction of the wind farm’s access tracks this summer and we are thrilled that it will be the better project that gets to be built on this fantastic site for wind energy.” 

Mr Wilmar added: “Maximising output from the site will make an important contribution to the renewable energy targets that have been set by the Scottish Government as part of policy to ensure greater diversity and security of electricity supplies as well as providing the Government’s recommended £5000 per megawatt to the surrounding communities, investing almost £5 million pounds over the life of the development and I am delighted that The Scottish Government has recognised this opportunity.”

Last year following the first allocation round of Contracts for Difference in the UK, Infinergy secured a contract for its 39MW Tom nan Clach Wind Farm, providing the company with the necessary security to build out the development and construction work for the wind farm started this summer.

Fraser Grieve, Regional Director at the SCDI commented: “the SCDI welcomes investment in projects in Highland. Such investment brings benefits in the form of employment and opportunities for local sub-contractors and others providing goods and services. This decision is hugely positive not just for this development but for the wider economy and drive to harness the renewable potential we have here.”

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cuts in funding to Nairn Community and Arts Centre - a stay of execution?

A motion at the Highland Council Education, childred and adult services committee last Wedneday (26th October) that would have seen a bunch of grants to community organisations severly cut across the Highlands has been put back for further review. Following complaints from councillors that the process that led to the cuts was not “open and transparent” the whole batch of cuts to Funding for 3rd sector culture and leisure services was put back for further consideration. 

A stay of execution then for funding to Nairn Community and Arts Centre which would drop from the current £65,252 to £38,064 in 2017/18 and to nothing at all in 2018/19. There was some mention from the Council Leader Margaret Davidson about finding an alternative means of funding the Community Centre however, but it is not clear how that would work although Liz MacDonald welcomed the Convenor's consideration. 

Cllr Laurie Fraser spoke up for Nairn Museum but the Chair pointed out that that was now dealt with by Highland High Life. Laurie then raised the issue of the cut in funding for the sports club. 

Councillor Stephen Fuller initiated an amendment to the the cuts proposal that called for the further review, he eventually allowed his amendment to pass in favour of a similar amendment from a LibDem Councillor. 

Stephen told the Gurn: “I was one of the members who sat on this working group. Ahead of the ECAs meeting a number of members (including some from the independents group administration) had mentioned that they were unsure of the criteria used to determine these cuts and have not seen minutes from all three working group meetings. These minutes were also not provided at ECAs to accompany the report where members were being asked to approve the decisions. These kinds of hard decisions should not be done behind closed doors, it is important that we remain open and transparent with a level of accountability, that is why I felt that this should be looked at again and done properly.”

Gurnites can watch the debate about 3rd sector culture and leisure services funding cuts on this Highland Council webcasting page here by clicking on item 7.

UPDATE: Cllr Richard Laird tells the Gurn on twitter tonight: "Important to point out that the cuts will only be put back for further consideration if the Council votes to."

Nairn 2 Lossie 1 - pictures Donald Matheson

Individual pictures here.  Match report here.   Also a very good result for Saints yesterday too as they beat Spey Valley 4-3. Details on Saints Facebook page here.  

Grass cutting coming back "in house" to Highland Council?

A document going before the Community Service Committee next Thursday (3rd November) will recommend that an in house set up is created for the grass cutting. The bold decision to put it out to the private sector several years ago has been roundly criticised since its inception and now the Council is set to reverse that policy. 

If it is accepted by the Council it will mean that they will have to recruit extra summer staff. The document reads:

"Bringing grass cutting in-house, if agreed, will require the recruitment of up to 90 seasonal employees between now and the end of March 2017. A new operational structure will also need to be implemented, both geographically and in terms of front-line management, to reflect the increase in the size of the workforce and the Council’s aspirations for the service. A training and development programme for both existing and new employees will need to be developed to address these issues. However, we are confident that an in-house grass cutting service can be established, operating to the required standard, by the end of March 2017."   

Is this the way then in this time of uncertainty?  

"The current financial climate for the Council is one of uncertainty, and it is acknowledged that this will continue for the foreseeable future. The Council must therefore have sufficient control over its resources to allow it to deliver its priorities whilst ensuring that financial efficiencies continue to be achieved."

The recommendations to the councillors in full are as follows:

"Members are invited to agree that: 

• the Director of Community Services establishes an in-house operation that can provide Amenity Services, including grass cutting, throughout the Highlands for Financial Year 2017 / 18 onwards; 

• a revised management structure within Amenity Services is prepared to position the service appropriately to respond dynamically, flexibly and positively to the changing National, Council and Service priorities; and 

• a new performance management system is identified and implemented to improve scrutiny and decision-making for Amenity Services throughout the Highlands."

There we go folks grass cutting is coming home? Perhaps just in time for the forthcoming Highland Council cuts apocalypse?  Gurnites can read the full paper going before the committee by going to this page here and clicking on item 7.

Another World War 2 Explosive detonated on East Beach this morning

Friday, October 28, 2016

Highland Council cuts apocalypse should be sorted by February? But will the sound and fury simply pass the majority of the electorate by?

After seeing this tweet by Cllr Richard Laird yesterday this observer went and watched the full council meeting pre-budget statement debate when it was posted online later in the day.

This observer can only wonder why anybody would want to be a Highland Councillor in the current environment: 10% was taken out of th budget last year and the same again looks likely to happen to "unprotected services" this next financial. A lot of jargon in that debate but one wifie said that one of the unprotected services was Community Services which is all the guys that go round in the yellow vans etc and do the stuff that is perhaps the most visible and the most valued by the community.

And it gets worse over the next three years with more to come on top of that, here's what one paragraph in the document before the council said: "In the scenario outlined ‘unprotected’ services would have to deliver a 23% reduction on their current budget over the three year period, with a 10% saving required in 2017/18 alone."

23% could go out of what remains from previous cuts butchery.

It seems councillors are  (courtesy of austerity) simply there now to inflict cuts in services on the population. The only arguments in the debate seem to be about how you do that and the Convenor, Margeret Davidson, called for everyone to come to an agreement on it all by February.

So loads of cuts to services to come and more again still in the years following. We have elections for the Council too in May. No doubt there will be a lot of sound and fury as battle commences over the blame game but will sufficient people care? Last time only 48% voted in Ward 19 Nairnshire and this observer wonders if, even with such cuts, will the noise generated by hostilities between the Indy administration and the other parties prompt more people to go to the ballot box? This observer doubts very much if it will.

If you are one of the 48% that voted last time and are considering going to the ballot box again you might want to watch the webcast yourself and see what you make of it. Go to this page and go down and click on item 11. Pre-Budget Statement / Buidseat Teach-a-steach. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Relieft Library Assistant required

Whinnieknowe bus stop given the go ahead and now awaiting work date. Murd delighted.

Community campaigner Murd Dunbar tells the Gurn that the bus stop for Whinnie knowe is on the way, he has received an e-mail telling him that housing association that runs Whinnie knowe has given permission to Highland Council to go ahead. 

Murd is very forthright in his comments to the Gurn, he tells us:

"Another achievement by trying and not accepting the answers given as to why it could not be erected. Now we will have something that will benefit the community that use the bus stop at Whinnieknowe. Next on the list is something that I have received answers to that I do not accept is for a bus stop at the hospital

This proves if you want something you have to just ask the right people.
Lets hope the Hospital Stop shelter will get the support from all those who represent the community and I am not left to do it all on my own but if needs must then that is what I will do. Highland Council are sympathetic but they say the hospital will have to grant permission Before it can go ahead."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Local politicians welcome Heathrow expansion

This observer heard the Mayor of London speaking on the radio this afternoon, he spoke of the harmful effects to the health of Londoners that would result from Heathrow expansion. You can read similar comment from Sadiq Khan on the Evening Standard website here.  If he is correct then it won't be very good for folk in that part of London at all. 

On top of that hundreds of homes will be raised to make way for the airport extension. The Financial Times states:

"Plans by Heathrow Airport Holdings, the private company that owns the airport, to build the third runway, include invoking compulsory purchase orders on 750 homes and giving another 3,750 households in the area the option of selling their homes to the airport." More here. 

Well we all like to fly don't we and let he without sin cast the first stone but does that level of compulsory uplifting of people sit well with our claim to be a democracy? The Scottish Government supports the Heathrow expansion though. The P&J states on the 11th October:

"The Scottish Government has backed the building of a third runway at Heathrow over an expansion at Gatwick.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said yesterday that increased capacity at the west London hub would be the “best deal for Scotland”. More here. 

It isn't all over yet though. Drew Hendry too welcomes the intent of expansion of Heathrow but makes reference to "dithering"  - a byelection caused by today's resignation of the Tory MP Zac Goldsmith on the Heathrow issue will perhaps cause quite a bit of dithering too depending on the result. 

Drew Hendry states on his website:

"Years of ‘Ditter and delay will continue to frustrate businesses & travellers’

SNP Transport spokesperson Drew Hendry MP has said the decision to increase airport capacity in the South East of England is welcome but that businesses and travellers alike will be frustrated that there is at least a year before there is a decision in parliament to finally go ahead and that will just mean more ‘dither and delay’.

The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced that Heathrow is the preferred choice and that a new runway is the best option.

Drew Hendry MP commented:

‘’It is of course welcome that we finally get a decision – but true to form – the UK government’s indecisiveness and muddle which we have witnessed for years on this, continues.

‘’There is still a long way to go before parliament even gets to vote on it – and the Tories are deeply and bitterly divided about it -so for businesses and travellers there will still be frustration.

‘’Whilst expansion at Heathrow can and must benefit Scotland, there will be disproportionate benefit to the South East of England and London. The UK government must ensure that when this does eventually get approval Scotland gets a fair deal from the process. We should see a commitment on route investment, guarantees to Scottish cities and an equitable share of any public spending that might be accrued coming to Scotland.

‘’For the wider benefit they must also make a proper commitment to supporting new airspace plans, bio fuels for aircraft and the use of carbon reduction technology.

‘’The long soap opera over airport capacity seems set to continue – so, as welcome as today’s announcement is – there is no room for yet more dither and delay."

Labour MSP David Stewart also welcomes the Heathrow expansion, he says:

"Highlands & Islands (including Moray) MSP, David Stewart, said “ I welcome the UK Governments decision today, it means that the new runway could be open by 2025. That means we could connect the whole of the UK to global growth, creating up to 190,000 new jobs and £147bn of economic growth across the country – 60% of which is forecast to take place outside of London & the South East. It also confirms that Heathrow expansion would create new slots for Scottish services.”

“UK plc was falling behind other European destinations due to lack of runway capacity. Now we can expect better connectivity to the rest of the world with better options from those flying from or two the Highlands and Islands in particular and better opportunities for business, tourism and the leisure industry”.

Well then, good for Scotland and the UK in general according to popular political thought but to this observer it seems a bit shitty for the people that live in the 783 (?) homes that will have to go. Perhaps Scottish politicians should have spoken up for them? Some of them will perhaps be happy to take the money and go but put yourself in their situation, would you be happy?

More Heathrow links following expansion - a ticket for more Scottish participation in the world wide economic fairground or just another leap further into a spiral of unsustainable madness?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Music Nairn Press Release William Howard (piano) Saturday 29th October 2016 7.30pm Nairn Community and Arts Centre

William Howard, who plays for Music Nairn on Saturday 29th October, is one of Britain’s leading pianists, enjoying a career that has taken him to over 40 different countries. He performs solo recitals, concertos, makes guest appearances with chamber ensembles and instrumentalists, and regularly tours with the Schubert Ensemble of London, Britain’s leading group for piano and

His solo career has taken him to many of Britain’s most important festivals, having performed many times in the Wigmore Hall and South Bank in London, and he broadcasts regularly for BBC Radio 3.

He recently launched his ‘Love Songs’ project, with release of a CD and a composing competition. In association with this theme, his recital programme for Saturday is unashamedly lyrical, with Liszt piano transcriptions of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Schubert songs bookended by a Mendelssohn Capriccio, and Chopin’s well loved Sonata 3 in B minor.

Winning pieces by David Matthews and Cheryl Hoad from the competition complete an unusual and most appealing programme. 

The concert starts at 7.30pm with tickets on sale from Nairn Community and Arts Centre in advance or on the night.

Cinema Nairn Press Release - Healing (12) Friday 28th October 7.30pm Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Cinema Nairn’s next screening is an award winning Australian true story of healing and redemption. Set in a long stay prison for hardened criminals, the inmates for the main have lost hope and interest in the outside world, making rehabilitation very hard to achieve. However an imaginative case worker with an interest in rehabilitating injured birds of prey sees the similarities in loss of freedom and respect, so starts a project to try to connect with the men through caring for the birds. An amazing film with Yasmine the wedge tailed eagle the undisputed star.

Nairn Angling Association - ten years of trapping North American Crayfish in the Geddes Burn comes to an end

No more Sunday morning excursions up to the Geddes Burn for the anglers. Ten years ago they decided to do something about the invasive North American Crayfish that have been colonising the Geddes Burn this side of the millennium. They have been doing their best to keep numbers down since then having caught over 3,500 of these devasting creatures in that time. 

Their work has been invaluable in obtaining data on the Crayfish, they have kept meticulous records on each week's catch and the sex and size etc of the Crayfish which will aid research into finding a means of coming to a more permanent solution to the problem. The Gurn understands that comprehensive research involving an Aberdeen University Phd student is continuing into the problem in the Geddes Burn.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Highland Council pre-budget report - "The financial environment is very challenging"

Doom and gloom on the horizon in the pre-budget report published last week by Highland Council

"The Highland Council is anticipating it may have to make savings of £47 million to £72 million over the next 3 years, with a budget gap of some £26 million next year (2017-18)

The financial environment is very challenging, with an unprecedented degree of uncertainty which makes planning very difficult. There will be a very short timescale to react and provide options for budget savings once the Scottish Government settlement is made known on 15 December. It is expected that the budget will be for only one year.

If the grant settlement is a cut of around 4% again, this would result in recurring real reductions in funding and the Council will need to reduce or stop doing functions. Our choices of where to make savings are very much restricted by the Scottish Government. For example, a quarter of our budget is in teachers’ salaries and we have been required to maintain teacher numbers. 

Every 1% reduction in grant equates to approximately £4.4m less funding. Taking into account anticipated levels of funding, budget pressures and a council tax rise of 3%, savings required are forecast to be between £47m to £72m over the next 3 years.

Budget pressures include inflation, pay and pension uplifts, additional legislative costs, or the inability to deliver all of the previously agreed savings. Budget pressures are estimated to be around £14 million next year and around £10 million in subsequent years.

The Council will be allowed to increase Council Tax by up to 3% from 2017-18 without incurring penalties. However, the Scottish Government plans to change the Council Tax multiplier. The changes to properties in Bands E to H will affect 27% of properties in Highland. It is anticipated that this will raise around an additional £5 million in Highland which could be redistributed across Scotland to reduce the attainment gap. This could mean a net outflow of resource of a potential £2.4 million of Highland taxes going to other areas in Scotland if this approach is decided by the Scottish Government.

The Council took action earlier this year in setting up the Redesign Board and this is delivering a programme of redesign with cross party and staff involvement. This approach is intended to achieve efficiencies, and generate additional income.

Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: “This is really is the most worrying financial situation. Local Government is undoubtedly shrinking. £10m came out of our revenue budget in February 2016 and we expect to be 25% smaller in 3 years’ time.

“Our hands are very tied by the constrictions imposed by the Scottish Government. This will mean that budget reductions will be much higher for services which are not ring-fenced or protected by Scottish Government policy. Unprotected services could have to find 23% savings. We will need to discuss options with communities and we want to offer communities the opportunity to help themselves to provide some services locally, where the council can no longer do so.”

She added:

“The scenario which I find most unpalatable is that taxes raised locally in Highland may be taken from us to be spent elsewhere in Scotland. This would be the first time any government in Scotland has raised taxes locally and taken them away for national purposes and I will be bringing a motion to council to challenge this proposal.

“The current budget situation and future scenarios is an issue for all political groups and all 80 members have a responsibility to balance the budget. The Administration will be continuing to work together across the chamber to find consensus on the way forward in what is the most dire financial situation the Council has ever faced.

Budget Leader Cllr Bill Fernie added:

“The next three years are likely to be the most challenging ever faced by Highland council. Never in past years has there been such a sustained period of reductions from central government to local councils. The last few years have already been difficult and the next years come with reductions that will mean some very difficult decisions for all councillors. 

“Myself and the budget team will discuss options and try to suggest the places that will let us retain as many of our frontline services as possible, but this will inevitably mean that non frontline services will bear the biggest impact of not just cuts, but total cessation. This is not a position we would ever like to be in but we must balance the budget or the consequences will be even worse. Wherever possible we will try to give notice to allow changes to happen.” "

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nairn County stunner in SFA twitter vote poll for best goal of first round of cup

You need to be on twitter to vote though :-)

Westminster boundary changes - Nairn getting slung out of the Highlands?

Just a quick look at the map in the facebook post by Drew Hendry seems to indicate that that is the case. We are going to be part of Moray now for Westminster purposes?

Highlands and Islands Growers annual horticultureal day 2nd November Nairn Community Centre

HIG's Annual Horticultural Day is on 2nd November this year. It's actually only half a day, starting at 1pm with lunch included in the ticket price. There's three fascinating talks on subjects dear to the hearts of people who love growing plants, fruit and vegetables. Bugs and Beasties, Propagation and a talk on the revitalised Walled Garden at Gordon Castle in Fochabers by the head gardener himself, John Hawley. Find out more on the brand new HIG Facebook page

Childhood flu vaccine at Nairn Health Care Group

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Community Councils "a brave last stand for local democracy or a wasted effort"

A few years ago one of the usual suspects sent us a copy of the Scottish Community Alliance's newsletter and a very interesting read it was too. This observer subscribed and subsequent issues have been full of stories of communities moving forward and getting things done. We don't seem to be so lucky here, through one form or another we seem to hire consultants on a regular basis, get a list of assets and things that need doing (sometimes complete with a very nice map or two) and then nothing happens. However, there are great hopes that Michael Green and the business community's BID will brake the cycle but that remains to be seen. 

Anyway the Scottish Community Alliance has also been following developments on the localism front at Holyrood and they haven't been shy in pointing out some of the dangers they see looming up. Here's the headline paragraph from their latest newsletter:

"Dear Reader,

Opinion is divided over Scotland’s 1200 community councils – a brave last stand for local democracy or a wasted effort on the part of thousands of local people? Back in 1973, when local government was being restructured into much larger, more centralised blocks of administration, setting up community councils was a sop to those who cried foul at the dismantling of local democracy. And twenty years later, when local government stepped even further away from its roots after yet more ‘reorganisation’, community councils, invested with neither resources nor responsibilities, were left to wither on the vine. Except they didn’t wither. Despite decades of official neglect, thousands of local people have stayed committed to this most local tier of democracy. While the new community empowerment legislation studiously avoided any serious mention of community councils, the next two pieces of legislation lined up by Scottish Government – a new Planning Bill and a Decentralisation Bill – would be scarcely credible if they were to follow suit. This moment has been a long time coming and whatever the outcome, we can be assured there will be as many again it as for it. One thing is certain though, it’s make or break time for community councils.

best wishes

It probably is finally make or break time here in Nairn folks. Many of the usual suspects are growing tired of the cycle of nothing ever happening after initiatives to try and get our community more say. Michael Green is calling for Community Councils to be given more say on the new District Partnership but reporting in the Nairnshire this week indicates that it is not even known yet if the new body's meetings will be open to the public.

Are we finally heading to the new dawn or another generation of the crushing boot from Glenurquhart Road? Remember it emerged at a recent local CC meeting that it will be Inverness that will be setting the 50p (?) charge for the use of the public cludgie and local members will be powerless to do anything about it.

More and more people await the outcome of the potential of local democracy returning to Nairn with weariness and increasing disinterest unfortunately. The Highland Council elections are coming round in May so you might see our four local members in the shop window a bit more soon but things will have to get slightly more exciting and they need to generate an air of hope if the turnout next spring is to be more than the whopping 48% it was last time round. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Nairnshire's digitally deprived speak up at Cawdor CC meeting

Last week’s Community Council meeting in Cawdor also saw the issue of lack of superfast broadband in some rural areas debated. Recently too there was discussion in East Nairnshire. Attending the Cawdor CC meeting were Highland Councillors Michael Green and Liz MacDonald. The meeting heard from Felix Spittle of Community Broadband Scotland which is part of HIE and has been set up to try and get the service to the 5% of the country where normal provision isn’t going to reach. 

He said that the fibre option for superfast would reach 84% of the Highlands by the end of the year by that he meant speeds above 30mbs. For the areas that were currently going without he outlined the options. CBS could provide 89% of the capital cost of infrastructure and also help with the scoping work. Communities could pay BT to put in more of the green cabinets (an expensive option but some communities were going down that route). There was the 89% funding option from CBS which could include wireless or satellite services.

The meeting heard from a resident of Regoul Geddes who had been part of a delegation that recently had meetings with Fergus Ewing. Fergus had told them that it was SNP policy to get 100% coverage in Scotland by 2021 and that a new study would be starting by the middle of next year. Felix Spittle was of the opinion that this study, he called it an “open market review” would begin within the next couple of months and may lead to different methods of delivery of superfast broadband. 

Liz MacDonald suggested that a survey was done to indentify the needs in the village such as had been done up at Geddes. She also suggested that perhaps the future Tom nan Clach community benefit wind farm cash could be used to help upgrade the service. 

Felix Spittle stated that there was a big corridor of difficult places for Superfast Broadband south of the A96.

The meeting heard from one resident who said that there were issues now with the school requesting pupils to do homework over the internet. People in rural areas were being turned into second class citizens he claimed. It was expressed that there was a sense of unfairness and there should be equality of cost for what was becoming an essential service. 

It is obvious that this all remains a hot topic in rural Nairshire areas and there are people that are finding it difficult to keep up with the modern world without a superfast connection. In digital terms some folk are indeed becoming second class citizens and as we move more and more into a digitally dependent world – you keep up or get left behind. The SNP have promised full coverage by 2021 but with the speed technology moves there may be some people that get left a long way behind unless specific solutions are found for their locations. Compared to the towns and cities though the digitally deprived find their influence in the greater scheme of things to speed things along is diminished by their lack of numbers. 

On the brighter side though, across Scotland there seems to be a lot of action through a mix of possible solutions though as the community in Ullapool have shown - article in the National here. Big or small there seem to be options for the digitally deprived but the onus is on them to get organised and take them - should politicians be doing more?

Previous Gurn articles
"Superfast Broadband and mobile reception - Margert Davidson, Leader of Highland Council outlines levels of frustration and expectation rising every month throughout the Highlands" here

"Broadband issues in East Nairnshire - Big noise coming down the line soon?" here. 

Recently Fergus Ewing hit back at criticism of the Superfast roll out in rural areas. Article in the National newspaper here. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

"We're equals wanting to win together."

Seen a quote on social media from County player Glen Main's interview with the Courier following the amazingly entertaining 4-4 draw with local rivals Forres on Wednesday night at Station Park. He told the paper:

"There's fans that haven't come for years that are coming back and there's more of a buzz around the place. We were winning when Narden were here but it feels more of a community club: "There's great spirit about the club and everyone's fighting for each other. We're all in it together now and there's no big egos. We're equals wanting to win together.

"I'm a local boy and leaving never really crossed my mind. There's a brilliant feel about the club and it's just 11 boys on the field that do everything for the club. Guys on the bench do their bit and there's fans raising money all over the place. It's a good place to be just now."

Good for you Glen and your colleagues too - spot on comment. The good vibes seem to be extending all across the Nairn football spectrum too with everyone willing to assist each other for the benefit of football in the town. There was a fans charity game on Sunday up at Station Park and also across at the Showfield Nairn Ladies played a County youth select in another charity fundraiser. Saint Ninian are doing well too. It all seems to be coming together as the community gets behind soccer at all levels in Nairn. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Arts and craft exhibition on Saturday 29th October in the United reformed church from 10am-3pm.

Nairnshire S.W.I. are holding a arts and craft exhibition on Saturday 29th October in the United reformed church from 10am-3pm.£2.00 entry and tea, coffee and cakes included and there will be a tombola.

Scottish National Orchard Inventory Survey - do you have an orchard?

Nairn Allotments Orchard Group are helping with the Scottish National Orchard Inventory survey. If you have five or more fruit trees that meets the criteria of an orchard you can submit details online at

or contact the orchard group via

There is also an excellent article in the Nairnshire this week describing the ongoing work of the Nairn Allotments Orchard Group and their success in establishing an orchard at Sandown. 

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Official opening of the Davy Johnston enclosure Station Park Nairn 8th October 2016 - video

An amazing, emotional and entertaining afternoon at Station Park. If anything could have put the seal on the new dawn at the Wee County then it was this, the honouring of the legend Davy Johnston. The community club that is NCFC was at its wonderful wholesome best today and a great display by the young talent on the park too following the ceremony. Que sera, sera, NCFC gu bràth, gu bràth.

George Street access to Railway Station coming soon?

Murd tells the Gurn that he had a good meeting with our four councillors and a Scotrail rep earlier this week and the prospects of access to the railway station from George Street becoming a reality in the near future are very favourable. 

Such access would especially benefit the disabled and also those who have to use the steep steps down onto Balblair Road. Well done community campaigner Murd Dunbar!

Friday, October 07, 2016

Tomorrow (Saturday 8th October) marks the official opening of the Davy Johnston enclosure at Station Park - "A memorable Journey"

Kenny MacLeod has compiled a video showing some of the many moments along the way as the community got behind the County Fans fund raising efforts.

Ardersier and Culloden Council by-election win by the LibDems - real winner the 70% who voted for nobody?

The Highland Council website states: "Trish Robertson - Scottish Liberal Democrats has been elected to serve Ward 18 (culloden and Ardersier) following the death of Councillor John Ford."

In a very poor 30.51% turnout no candidate went past the quota mark on the first count and it went all the way to the 7th PR transferable count where the LibDems just edged ahead of the SNP. Number crunchers can download a spreadsheet here to see how it went. Interesting point perhaps to see the Scottish Labour Party beaten by the Greens in the first count of ballot papers by 163 to 180. Will Scottish Labour be doing the most greeting tonight?

Thursday, October 06, 2016

World Orienteering Championships & Scottish 6 Days Orienteering win Scottish Event Award for 2015

A major accolade for the 2015 World Orienteering championships that took place in Nairn and Moray. Below is a tweet from the event ceremony in Glasgow.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Broadband issues in East Nairnshire - Big noise coming down the line soon?

Much discussion tonight in the Old Schoolhouse up at Glenferness where local community council members were articulating their fears that they are to miss out on an upgrade to broadband. Michael Green was the only Highland Councillor present and he made a suggestion or two - echoes here of the comments by Margeret Davidson at the Nairnshire Committee recently - more here if anyone missed the Gurn article. 

The East Nairnshire CC folk look ready to go on the broadband warpath and were urged by one of their members to make "a big noise". 

Good news from Michael Green though he informed the meeting that the Achnagour bus stop turning point is set to finally become a reality. He told the Gurn that he was delighted that after three years of chasing the issue up it was finally becoming a reality. 

A pretty active meeting tonight up the road and Michael Green was again telling another of Nairnshire's CCs that he wishes to see Community Council representation on the new Community Powerships that the Council has to set up as Scottish Government localism policy becomes law. 

In the Gurn article we quoted the Leader of Highland Council Margaret Davidson speaking at the recent meeting of Highland Council. She like, Lesley Riddoch, writing in a National article we also referred to, was also critical of the Scottish Goverment's superfast broadband role. Fergus Ewing has since then responded to the Lesley Riddoch article, in a article that is entitled "Minister hits back at digital plan critics" which is available on the National site here. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Online petition to Designate tidal River Nairn area As wildlife sanctuary / Haven

A petition has been launched by local swan mannie Joe Telfer and reads:

" Designate River Nairn Area As Wildlife Sanctuary / Haven"

"The Tidal area of the river Nairn is home to over 200 water birds, Mainly Swans and Ducks. They need a safe area free from fishing tackle injuries, dog attacks and disturbance from human water sport activities. People get a huge amount of pleasure from the existence of these birds on the river. They are also a big attraction to the tourists who visit Nairn. "  More here.

The petition will eventually be delivered to Provost Laurie Fraser. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Official opening of the Davy Johnston enclosure Saturday against Rothes 2.45pm

Built by funds raised by the Community the new Cowshed gets its official naming at Station Park on Saturday. It was incredible how so many groups, individuals and organisations rallied round to help fund the project. The Gurn understands there will be more details about the ceremony in a local quality weekly newspaper that is usually available in a Co-op near you later on on a Monday evening. 

Local author Donald Wilson told the Gurn:

"Six years ago I had this book published as a tribute to Nairn County's greatest ever player. I never thought we be here today with an enclosure named in his
Donald with a copy of the book six years ago
memory. The official opening is on Saturday against Rothes 2.45pm. Davy made his debut for County against Rothes in November 1958 just days after his sixteenth birthday. Let's make sure we recognise the occasion in style. If you are free get up to Station park early on Saturday. Arguably this has been the most important infrastructure development at the ground since the original stand was built in 1937 and then refurbished in 2014.

Cawdor Bonfire November 4th

Jennifer Walker told the Gurn: 

"There will some parking with in the school grounds but we would kindly ask that those who are
fit and well park up in the village and walk down.

There will be a raffle at the dance following the bonfire in aid of the Cawdor School Christmas Carolling Night. 

The Bonfire has received sponsorship from Cawdor Estate, Forbes Kildrummie, Nairnshire Farmers Society, Cawdor Tavern, Cawdor Community Assoc and Cawdor & West Nairnshire community council and the Classroom, Nairn."

Sunday, October 02, 2016