Tuesday, January 31, 2017

" Change in the air " - "Taking the town centre plan forward"

NICE have published a very interesting article on their website - it details have the community might finally have more say in planning; also  coming soon is the fruit of research into how the town centre plan could move forward. 

An epidemic of optimism seems to be breaking out. There's more too, anyone interested in Nairn getting its fair share should pop over to the NICE site for a browse. 

Update: Interesting comments coming in

Optimism for Nairn's future abounds at Nairn West/Suburban Community Council meeting

The strong working relationship that Michael Green has built with NWSCC over his term of office was again in evidence last night as that organisation met for its monthly meeting in the community centre. No other Highland Councillors were present - this observer was late so perhaps they had offered their apologies. 

Both Michael and Alastair Noble had outlined how they see multiple benefits coming to the community in the fields of health and social through effective use of the new Nairnshire Area Partnership which they see as an ideal vehicle in the new era of community empowerment emanating from Holyrood. The CC and Michael Green are most definitely singing from the same hymn sheet and although some of the melodies have been familiar for many years there does seem to be genuine hope that a new dawn is tantilisingly just around the corner now. 

Michael outlined how he sees the community councils becoming more involved in the Partnership with spokespersons on many topics emerging to contribute to the process. He said:

"Because if people know there is a meaningful forum and it can actually feed into the process and see changes and see results then people will start to come along to these meetings and will want to put themselves forward."

Dick Youngson, the Chair of NWSCC said: "We will now make an effort to get the eight community councils together and meet as often as necessary." 

Alastair, who has for many, many years been calling for more powers to be devolved to Nairn was also equally enthusiastic. He no longer seems so weary with the struggle and obviously believes too that there is at last real opportunity. He felt that we should be writing a new Nairnshire plan based on hard facts instead of the sort of things that caused friction in the past such as the plan for doubling Nairn's population.

It chimes well too with the Nairnshire BID development, another initiative to make the most out of current thinking and structures coming from Central Government that makes it easier for communities like Nairn to access cash. 

Coming soon too according to Michael will be a wide range of development proposals for the harbour area that will taken on a consultation road show locally before engaging with Highland Council and HIE. 

As we move to the May Council elections Michael Green looks to be close to the epicentre of proposals that have the potential to alter Nairn's future for the better.

To this observer it looks like our other three Highland councillors have some serious catching up to do. Have they missed the boat in articulating a vision for our community? Do they see their job as stepping out of the confines of the Glenurquhart Road parameters and thinking a bit out of the box on how we can move things forward in imaginative ways? If they do, then to this observer, they have singularly failed to express anything as well as their colleague Michael Green. If any new candidates of any calibre come forward for the May elections then perhaps one or two of them might fall off their perch.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

On the right path? Citizen Murd on the trail of costings, safety, etc, etc,

Murd has been busy following up some research he has been doing on a couple of new paths that have appeared out at Househill. You can follow Murd's latest post on the popular facebook group "Nairn our town" here. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

One of our riverside correspondents reports half a dozen folk with clipboards down by the playing fields

All can be revealed :-)

Nairn CAB "Let's deal with debt"

Still big A96 by pass issues out at Auldearn - Community Council drafts letter to Transport Scotland

You can read a copy of the letter that will be going to Transport Scotland by clicking on the link in the map box below which will take you to the Auldearn CC website. 

S2S Oil transfers in Moray Firth - a chance for the Scottish Parliament to invite Port Authority in and question them?

"How can it be right that a body created by an act of parliament to manage a natural waterway, is above any democratic scrutiny? " 

David Ross's article in the Herald is worth a read for anyone who has been following the issue of Ship to Ship oil transfers proposed for the Moray Firth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Anyone seen Fluffy Puss? - friendly cat in Achareidh goes missing

One of our regular readers is a bit worried about a cat he hasn't seen for a while, he sent us a picture too which is the best he has, anyway here's the story. 

Just wondering if it would be possible to add a missing cat notice to The Gurn? This is a notice with a difference as it's not actually our cat. We are worried about it as it's not been seen for over a week. We've asked around the neighbours and a few who know the cat, but not where it lives, in the area asking the same question as its presence is missed.

What Happened to Fluffy Puss ? 

Do you own or do you know a fluffy black cat (see pic) with a bad back paw / missing toes from the Beech Ave / Wyvis Drive / Lane area?Recently randomly seen with a neon yellow collar. The cat is very friendly and has been a regular visitor to our door, 3-4 times a day, for about 18 months now without fail. It's like a member of the family; except we actually like the cat;)

The cat (we don't know it's name) hasn't been seen since the morning of Sunday 15th. This is very unusual and we're concerned it might have been hurt, killed or locked-in somewhere by accident. *Check your sheds and garages!! We've asked around for days and think it's from the Beech Ave / Wyvis Drive / Lane area, but have had no luck in tracking down its home.

Now it's entirely possible it's absolutely fine, in acattery and it's owners are off on holiday.

Possibly the owners have moved house or something of the sort. But not knowing what has happened and being concerned it's been trapped somewhere is frustrating to say the least.

Is it your cat? Do you know anybody in that area with a cat matching its description?

Any information gladly received. 

If you can help please e-mail info@gurnnurn.com and we can pass on any news.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Tourism "Bid" for Nairnshire - "We must work together constructively as a community. We do think this is the “last chance saloon” for Nairnshire..."

 A big read this folks, make a cuppa or pour a dram and give it a go. 

"Everybody will have to play their part in this – the business community, the statutory authorities, the voluntary bodies, and elected representatives."



Alastair Noble (Chair Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise (“NICE”),  Michael Barnett (Secretary of NICE), Michael Boylan (Chair of the  Association of Nairn Businesses (“ANB”) and Michael Green (Elected Highland Councillor) have been collaborating since November 2015 to investigate whether a “BID for Nairnshire” should be established.  “BID” stands for Business Improvement District.  The work has been fully supported by The Highland Council, and has reached the conclusion that a BID for Nairnshire is highly desirable, if not essential.  Highlands and Islands Enterprise (“HIE”) have also given their full support.  The logic for a BID for Nairnshire is for the reasons we explain below, and is essentially because it is realistically the best opportunity for the community of Nairnshire to come together and work towards the aim of making Nairnshire a destination of choice for visitors.  Everybody will have to play their part in this – the business community, the statutory authorities, the voluntary bodies, and elected representatives.   It will be an opportunity for the great ideas that are out there (eg for the harbour, the seafront, and the Town Centre) to be brought into a structured approach for the regeneration of Nairn and Nairnshire. 

An initial “Seedcorn” grant was secured from Scottish Government in May to fund the first phase of the project, and we have recently received “matching” funding commitments from The Highland Council and HIE.

In this note we explain what a BID is, why we believe we in Nairnshire must work together to establish one, and how the project will proceed.  In so doing we declare our joint commitment to making it happen.


“BID” stands for Business Improvement District.  It is a model operated worldwide, and the Scottish Government has been a particularly strong supporter with a department dedicated to the promotion and support of BIDs.  The ultimate aim of a BID is to generate increased economic activity, which in a tourism area means increased visitor footfall and, with it, increased spending.

A BID is a business-led initiative where businesses work together and invest collectively in local improvements to their business environment.  It should be a partnership between public and private sectors.  A BID is not a substitute for central or local government services, but it is a way in which additional funding can be raised, and has the attraction that the businesses decide how to use that funding.

The BID vehicle is typically a Company Limited by Guarantee whose members are the local businesses paying into the BID; they would choose a Board of Directors, and the company would employ a Manager and support staff to deliver an agreed business plan over a 5 year initial period.  Besides the normal corporate governance issues, an important statutory aspect of a BID is that the legislation requires that the Local Authority collect contributions (“a levy”) from the owners of commercially rateable properties in the BID area.  The levy is in effect an additional amount payable under the commercial rating system.

So, stripped to its essentials a BID is a five year agreed business plan that operates to a budget, and the payers of a rating levy determine how to spend the levy and any other funding that can be secured.  From the research undertaken (see below) the typical annual budget for a town of Nairn’s size would be about £150,000, and the typical small business would pay an annual levy in the  range £150 to £250.  It is not difficult to work out how even quite a modest increase in local visitor footfall will amply repay the annual expense of £250 – perhaps 6 extra visitor nights for a small hotel, and for the area’s service providers (eg butchers and plumbers) a commensurate increase in sales to the hotel owners.  Big businesses (eg supermarkets) would pay an annual levy of the order of £5,000.


For as long as many of us can remember, Nairn has debated with itself what it wants to be, and has rightly or wrongly felt ignored.  Various initiatives aimed at economic regeneration have happened, and typically run out of steam or not been supported by key elements of the community.  The initiatives have focussed mainly on the High Street and tourism.  In one way or another they have all been about increasing visitor footfall, in recognition that without increased and sustainable footfall Nairnshire as a tourist destination will not prosper.  But what has been lacking is a joined up approach, any structure into which the initiatives can fit, no discipline such as a budgeted business plan for a lengthy period, and most fundamentally the absence of a shared vision of where Nairn and Nairnshire want to be positioned.

There are three options for Nairnshire’s approach to its future which almost inevitably will rely on tourism – to go backwards, to do nothing, or to move forwards.  Doing nothing is effectively in today’s competitive world equivalent to going backwards, and it would appear to be a no-brainer that Nairnshire should take steps to go forwards, which as stated essentially means increasing the visitor footfall.  Given Nairnshire’s and the Highlands’ natural assets, the focus must be on tourism in all its forms, and we have to recognise that we are in competition with everything and everybody outwith Nairnshire – the rest of the Highlands and Scotland, the UK and the world.

We must also be brutally frank with ourselves.  There have in recent years been too many separate factions and interests in Nairnshire and an abject failure to work together at all levels.  Time and time again new ideas have been met with negativity and there has been no proper engagement to examine their merits.  That is not fair to those who have demonstrated their commitment to risk and generating ideas, nor is it fair to the community who are denied the opportunity to  express a view.  Continuing to be frank, when we engaged with HIE to seek support, the feedback was that “Nairn must speak with one voice” and that one phrase probably encapsulates the key challenge.

There is no point in looking backwards, let alone apportioning blame, and to go forward to success we must recognise collective responsibility for past failures and resolve to not let that happen again. We must work together constructively as a community.  We do think this is the “last chance saloon” for Nairnshire, because if we do nothing competitors will increasingly take market share, and the pool of unpaid volunteers with the energy and commitment required to change things will steadily diminish.


There are five very good reasons to believe this. 

The first is that a BID offers a structured approach, because it involves a company working to an agreed 5 year business plan and budget.

The second is that the local businesses that own the company pay a levy, they control the company, and it is in their interests that it should work and that they get a return on their investment.

The third is that the company employs people (a manager with support staff) to run the business of the BID to an agenda set by the owners of the BID company.

The fourth is that there is no direct political influence on the BID company, and it is unlikely that factions with their own agendas will be able to influence it. The BID company owners decide what it is going to do and it succeeds or fails by reference to its own efforts and decisions.

The fifth is that Scottish Government and the Highland Council are fully committed to making BIDs work.  There is ample evidence of success across Scotland, and that local BIDs have been real game changers.

Of the above, the third is probably the most significant because it brings a new aspect – local businesses pay people to deliver the business plan they determine. It is also worth noting that BID funding is probably unique in that the levy is a payment determined by statute, but spending the funds raised is entirely under the control of local businesses.


Although it has not received much publicity in the last year, there is a plan for the Town Centre, being the output of two public Charrettes hosted by The Highland Council.  The “Nairn Town Centre Plan” report was published in October 2015, and records that NICE, the ANB and The Highland Council have committed to working together to deliver it.  Through its membership of DTAS (the Development Trusts Association of Scotland), NICE secured a grant from Scottish Government to hire an adviser to take the project forward.  The Highland Council and NICE organised events in April to  share what was planned with local representative bodies, and NICE will be presenting the Charrette conclusions and the recommendations of its adviser for next steps to the community in the New Year..

The point about the Town Centre Plan is that it is a vital element in the regeneration of Nairn.  It is common ground that the town’s centre must act as a “magnet” for visitors, and as a link to the High Street and Nairn’s visitor attractions.  It is also common ground that the King Street building housing the old police cells should ideally be brought into use as a “gateway” to the town centre.  The plan for a micro-distillery regrettably stalled, and it is hoped that the BID will play an important role in making sure the building is put to best use with the object of increasing visitor footfall.


BIDs are administered by a team in Scottish Government and their Director Ian Davison Porter made an initial visit to Nairn in November 2015 and strongly encouraged Nairnshire to seek BID status.  It was recommended that we visit other BIDs, and Highland Council arranged a first meeting with the Loch Ness and Inverness City BIDs.  We then visited Oban, Largs and Crieff, and NICE through its membership of DTAS was able to secure a grant which funded us to do this.  The information gathered was invaluable, and a summary of key messages is attached as Appendix 1.


There is no prescriptive list, but the BIDs we visited have done things ranging from enhancing local services and facilities to promoting events and festivals. Nothing is ruled out, subject to the limitation that the BID cannot replace services that the Local Authority is obliged to provide.


The most obvious is the community cohesion that it brings – a structure through which the whole community can work to deliver what it wants.  Fundamental to this will be establishing a shared vision of the objective, and the BID will be the enabler for this.

From the funding perspective, there is widespread evidence that having a BID provides leverage and opens the doors to other funding streams.  So whilst the annual budget of the BID will not support “big ticket projects’, the fact that the community is working with and supporting the BID gives funders the confidence that there is community commitment, and that the community deserves financial support.  This is one respect that Nairnshire for the reasons mentioned above has struggled with attracting the attention of funders.  We have to recognise that we are in a competitive world for funding, and we have to demonstrate community cohesion to even open the doors.


There is an office in Scottish Government that is responsible for BIDs, and it is clear that they are very “hands on”.  Their expressed intention is that every BID should succeed and they have made it clear that we can expect a very high level of support and assistance from them and from the BID network.  We were invited with other prospective BIDs to an induction event in September and have been provided with templates for matters such as recruiting paid staff.

We have also been offered full support from The Highland Council.  A condition of the award of our Seedcorn Grant was written support from The Highland Council, and this was given (see Appendix 2).  Their officers have begun to work with us, and their experience of the Loch Ness and Inverness City BIDs will be invaluable.  Finally, HIE have confirmed that they will give financial support to the first phase (see below), and that they will always be available for consultation and advice.


There are two phases.  The first is the planning stage funded in part by the Scottish Government “Seedcorn” Grant.  This typically takes 15 months and involves preparing a business plan, consulting the business and wider community, and effectively selling the BID concept to the local business community who of course will be paying for it via the levy.  At the conclusion of this phase there is a ballot of the business community and certain statutory  thresholds have to be exceeded in the vote.  If the ballot fails then the BID is not established.  We will use the Grant and other funding to hire an independent and experienced person to act as the project coordinator to do the work, and key to this will be face-to-face meetings with all local businesses who will have a vote in the ballot.  Most importantly, we will not do the work ourselves.

The second phase is after a successful ballot when the BID becomes a reality and the 5 year business plan has to be delivered.  By then the potential directors of the BID company will have been identified and the BID company will be established and tasked with delivering its 5 year business plan.  We envisage that it will do this in collaboration in particular with voluntary sector groups such as Keeping Nairnshire Colourful, and with tourism related groups such as VisitNairn.  These will benefit by being part of a structured approach that coordinates  their activities with the BID company which will be able to employ people, enter contracts, and raise funding (with the assistance of NICE when appropriate) to deliver and support the activities.


We have jointly taken the initiative to steer the project through the first phase.  NICE as a company, a Community Body and a registered charity has been able to secure the necessary funding, and has the capacity to enter into contracts.  NICE’s role is agreed to be that of facilitator and enabler; the ANB’s Chairman Michael Boylan is the link with business; and Michael Green as a Highland Councillor provides the vital link to the Highland Council and other Elected Councillors.

At a point in time close to the ballot the steering group’s task will have been completed, and it is envisaged that will be when the directors of the new BID company are ready to take the project forward.  It is envisaged that beyond that NICE’s role will be supportive in that as a Community Body it represents the community, and as a charity can access funding for community projects that the BID company as a commercial enterprise cannot.  In other words, joint working for the benefit of the whole community will happen.

Alastair Noble – Chairman of NICE
Michael Barnett – Secretary of NICE
Michael Boylan – Chairman of the ANB
Michael Green – Highland Councillor

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Wick 1 Nairn 5 Pictures Donald Matheson

A very significant result for the Wee County on Saturday. It's never easy for anybody to come away with anything from Harmsworth Park and so for Ronnie's squad to inflict one of the biggest home defeats on Wick in recent years is a highly significant milestone in the new Nairn side's development.

Campaigners: "CFPA have been told by the MCA to “completely withdraw the current application”. "We’ve won the battle, the war still goes on"

Good news for all the campaigners breaking this morning. But no one is standing down yet though. Read the latest via the Cromarty Rising Facebook page via the link below or on their website here.

Campaigners are also continuing to urge everyone to sign the petition to the Scottish Parliament that calls for environmental legislation to stop S2S oil transfers in environmentally sensitive areas and also for a fresh look at the whole set up of Trust Ports. More here. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth - Cromarty Rising Petition to the Scottish Parliament goes live

The Cromarty Rising group state on their website this morning:

"OK folks, this is important. This is our big chance to get the issue of ship to ship oil transfers and trust port accountability heard in the Scottish Parliament – please take a minute to sign the petition, even if you signed all the other ones already – a lot of signatures would send a very strong message. 

You can sign it here: http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/shiptoshiptransfers ; share it with all your friends, family and colleagues wherever they are, put it on social media, print it out and collect signatures on paper – lets send a loud and clear message to our Parliament." 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cinema Nairn New Sound Trial - "Hunt for the Wilder People" Entry £2 Friday 20th January Nairn Community and Arts Centre

While Cinema Nairn has over the last eight years been a great success, bringing 15 films a year to local audiences of sometimes over 100 people, there has been a chronic problem with muzzy sound, particularly the dialogue.

One reason for this is the resonant nature of the community centre multi-purpose hall, but by far the biggest problem has been the inability of the equipment to relay digital sound directly to speakers, and separate dialogue from the other tracks.

Having applied for and been awarded a new HD projector from the British Film Institute, and the Community Centre having purchased a Blu Ray player, the cinema group in conjunction with Centre staff had the opportunity to look at how surround sound and dedicated dialogue might be provided without compromising the existing system for other users.

Local sound buff Ian Macdonald has been extremely helpful in advising how the digital tracks can be separated, providing equipment from his own stock to try out different placements and speakers.

Friday evening’s film ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, a wacky 2016 New Zealand comedy is a live trial of this new set up with a reduced £2 entry fee, so come along and see what you think.

Revised S2S oil transfers application, there will be a second public consultation

Campaigners have maintained that it was monstrously unfair that there would be no public consultation when the revised application for ship to ship oil transfers was submitted. Well it looks like there has been a major change of heart by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. In a recent letter sent out to the many protestors who had written to them they say:
"The MCA has continued to engage with the Department for Transport and CFPA in  order to establish the best way forward once the application is resubmitted. As a  consequence of this the MCA will direct the CFPA to undertake a second public  consultation based on the revised application. In addition, we will seek further  engagement with subject matter experts within UK Government, with Scottish  Government officials and environmental agencies, and relevant wildlife NGOs."

A full copy of the letter can be seen on the Cromarty Rising Facebook page.

Cawdor Maintenance Trust Ghost Island access to development off A96 - appeal refused

Regular readers will recall that the proposal for a "Ghost Island" instead of a roundabout to access development at Delnies became a bit of a saga and has been running for some time now.

The Press and Journal reports:
"It is the latest twist in the proposals tabled by Cawdor Maintenance Trust which have been on the table now for almost a decade.

The developer has outline planning permission for the development – but has been seeking to amend the proposal to build a new roundabout to give access to the site off the A96 Inverness to Nairn road.

However, the application was refused by Highland Council and an appeal has now been dismissed by a Scottish Government reporter."

Serious students of Nairnshire planning matters may wish to read the full 6 page decision document. A copy is available here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Universal Credit - CAB workers moved to tears when explaing to MP the suffering they are witnessing

Drew Hendry MP outlines a recent meeting he had with CAB workers where they were moved to tears explaining what they were witnessing with Universal Credit problems.

More from Drew on universal credit.

 Gurnites may wish to sign a petition against funding cuts to the Inverness Badenoch and Strathspey Citizen's Advice Bureau.

A source close to the CAB told the Gurn: " The main effects will be lack of outreach provision - ie services for those unable to seek independent advice due to illness or disability. There will only be a very basic service. Eg no provision for assistance to appeal benefit decisions etc - which in the face of introduction of universal credit is a huge problem and will increase poverty amongst vulnerable groups in particular."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Two chances to see hit Movie "I, Daniel Blake" Fri 10th and Sat 11th at Little Theatre Nairn

Two chances to see this wonderful heart-wrenching and heart-warming film in Nairn. Tickets by donation £5 (suggested) Tickets will be available in a town centre shop (details to be announced) or on the door on a 'first come, first served' basis for a suggested donation of £5 per ticket. All profits from the event will go to supporting local foodbanks in Nairn

The special screenings of the hit movie will be held at the Little Theatre in Nairn 

Daniel Blake (15) will be showing Friday 10th 7 pm doors open & Saturday 11th 2 pm doors open - crèche available at the Saturday matinee showing but children's spaces are limited so please let us know if you want to book spaces - activities for children will be provided.

I, Daniel Blake (cert 15)

Daniel Blake (59) has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, for the first time ever, he needs help from the State. He crosses paths with single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know, some 300 miles away.

Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land, caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern-day Britain.

More information on Facebook event pages for Friday 10th Feb here and Saturday  11th Feb here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Participatory Budgeting comes back to Nairnshire and goes digital!

Building on the success of the Nurturing Nairnshire event held in March 2016, the Nairn Ward Councillors have again agreed to support the participatory budgeting process for Nairnshire. £20,000 will be made available from the Ward Discretionary Budget for groups to apply for grants from £200 to £2000. Participatory budgeting is the process that lets local communities decide for themselves how funding is spent on what they think will make their local area a better place.

How it all happened last year.

Once again local groups are invited to apply for grants for projects that will make a difference to community life in Nairnshire. In the last round funding supported a wide range of initiatives from developing cycling tracks to growing fruit trees for distribution locally.

A new development for this year’s event in Nairnshire will be the addition of digital technology to support the process. It is hoped that this will be used in the voting process by those taking part on the day, and also in making information available on the applications online before the event takes place.

A spokesperson for the organising group said ‘We are really excited about having the chance to run another PB event in Nairn, especially with the success of Nurturing Nairnshire last year. We would like to encourage as many local people as possible to take part to ensure it brings benefits to the communities of Nairnshire’.

The Nurturing Nairnshire event will be held in the Nairn Community Centre on 4th March from 10.00 to 1.00 and all are welcome to attend to take part in this special opportunity to make decisions locally.

Details and application forms are available from the Nairn Community & Arts Centre, Tel: 01667 453476 Email: info@nairncc.co.uk, from Signpost in Nairn 01667 455234 Email: nairn@signpost-inc.org, and also via Highland Council website www.highland.gov.uk

The deadline for applications is 5.00 pm on the 9th of February 2017.

"Nairn County has one of the best pies in world football. And that is official."

The ship to ship oil transfer application process - how it works - a guide from Cromarty Rising

Cromarty Rising and their campaign Colleagues have produced a table chart guide on how the ship to ship application works and all the organisations that are involved. 

It is handy for anyone interested as it shows the key points where public and political pressure can be brought to influence the final decision. Gurnites who have been following this matter may wish to make themselves a cup of tea and have a browse of this two page document.   

More on the Cromarty Rising Facebook page here.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Murd not happy with Hospital bus stop knock back and vows to fight on

Citizen Murd Dunbar promises to continue his bus stop campaign, fresh from the
The bus stop that can't be used
recent Whinnieknowe success Murd is annoyed by the latest correspondence from Highland Council via Fergus Ewing but vows to continue.

The existing bus stop in the hospital grounds cannot be used because of traffic flow going the wrong way. Murd thinks the solution is to shift the shelter to the side of the Cawdor Road and tells the Gurn: “I'm not pleased with this reply and I'm looking for public support for a sensible working bus shelter located at the hospital. I just can't believe that they are saying it is not used by many and would block the pavement when there is ample room for it in the ground of the hospital as the picture shows. “

Murd also asks of local Councillors: “ If they would fancy stanging for a bus in all kinds of wheather. It is not just people from the hospital that require it. The area is surrounded by sheltered housing care homes.”

Murd promises that he will try and get this on the agenda of the next meeting of Nairn River Community Council. NRCC have been having big turnouts of members of the public at their meetings recently and issues going there tend to get quite a high profile these days both in the traditional media and the online social sphere too. 

Where the bus stop should go on the Cawdor Road according to Murd

Fèis Inbhir Narainn classes starting this week

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Novelist Ian Rankin supporting campaingers against S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth outside Holyrood earlier today - video

Away to Edinburgh today with Cromarty Rising and Friends - follow the trip and protest on twitter #NoS2SHolyrood

Readers may wish to look at the following twitter page from time to time today, a few of the folk going down to the Scottish Parliament will hopefully be posting updates on twitter. 

Last night S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth was discussed at a very well attended meeting of Nairn River Community Council with updates from Iain Bruce who is one of the co-coordinators of the Alliance of Community Councils who are campaigning with Cromarty Rising and many others who are participating in the various initiatives to stop the proposed oil transfers. 

Highland Councilor Michael Green outlined his and his colleagues desire that every thing possible is done from the Council side of things before the present set up breaks up for the May elections.

A desire for unequivocal support from the Scottish Government for Moray Firth communities was also expressed. More about what was said later this weekend if time permits.

Also present were Cllrs Stephen Fuller and Provost Laurie Fraser, Liz MacDonald had sent her apologies. 

Want to get involved, here are a few ideas about who to write to on this Gurn page, follow the Cromarty Rising Facebook page here and also get all the daily updates on the group's website news page here scroll down for the Oil Leaks once you get there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Beinn Artair Piano Trio Saturday 21st January 7.30 pm Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Tickets at the Nairn Community Centre in advance or on the door
For the first concert of 2017, on January 21st at 7.30pm, Music Nairn welcomes back the Scottish based Beinn Artair Piano Trio, who have programmed an appealing and contrasting mix of older and newer music. 

Opening with Mozart’s last piano trio in G major (K5641) which shares its origin in 1788 with a group of his greatest compositions, there follows a trio by Judith Weir. Born in 1954, and now Master of the Queen’s Music, she has a great interest in Eastern philosophy, and the short movements are based on three Zen stories, the first using energetic contrasts of pitch and volume, moving to a ghostly second movement and finishing with a joyous dance. 

Grieg’s Andante con moto from an unfinished trio written in 1878 is undeservedly not often performed, and provides a contemplative space before Arensky’s lyrical and typically Russian Trio in D minor, composed in 1894, brings the concert to an unashamedly romantic close.
Tickets are available in advance from Nairn Community Centre, or at the door.

Strathspey 2 Nairn 2 Pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Movement from Fergus Ewing MSP in the right direction - letter to constituents re S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth

We would still like to hear that the Scottish Government are strongly opposed to this proposal though and that they will submit an objection through Marine Scotland - this didn't happen when the first application went in. Here it is though a mail this observer received from Fergus this morning:

Dear Constituent,

Ship-to Ship Oil Transfers in the Moray Firth

I am writing to update you on the work I have been pursuing regarding the Ship-to-Ship Oil Transfers in the Moray Firth.

As the constituency MSP for Inverness and Nairn,  I have raised these concerns with my Cabinet Secretary colleague Roseanna Cunningham who has responsibility for the environment, including the marine environment.  Obviously our clean marine environment is not only essential for the continued good health of our sea life but is also critical for our tourism. This is vital for the whole of the Highlands and Islands as it is for Nairn.

Many constituents therefore believe, and believe strongly, that these matters are threatened by the ship-to-ship transfer, with the possibility of leakage and pollution, and vehemently believe that the application should be rejected.  The application falls to be considered under the law, which provides that the MCA determine such applications.   

Therefore, as the constituency MSP for Nairn, I have met with Roseanna Cunningham, as Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, where I conveyed to her the strongly held views of many constituents, who oppose the ship-to-ship transfer application. At that meeting I asked that she, on behalf of the Scottish Government, relay these concerns to the UK Government and the MCA.
I reiterated my view that the powers over all these issues be passed to us in Scotland, and not made in Southampton. She is now giving careful consideration to these matters, though of course she and we lack the legal power over them. 

We as the Scottish Government have of course already previously sought to have the legal powers over these matters devolved to Scotland and the Scottish Parliament.  

These requests have, as far as I am given to understand, been refused by the UK Government. 

Therefore, because of that decision taken by Westminster, the MCA remains the body responsible for dealing with these applications.  My colleague Drew Hendry MP is of course pursuing these matters in his work as Member of Parliament.

I wrote to the Chief Executive of the MCA, Sir Allan Massey, on the 12th of December 2016 asking at which stage the consideration of this application is and if information could be provided about what rights individuals have and what regard is given to local objection in the assessment of said application. I have enclosed the response I have now received from the Chief Executive regarding this matter.

Finally, I believe that the MCA should send senior representatives to the Highlands in order to hear the views of my constituents and others on this issue, and be willing to engage with them. They should arrange a meeting locally in Nairn in order to do so, to explain their role, their decision making process, the factors they take into account, and how and when they will take a decision.
I will be discussing the matter this week with the Chief Executive of the MCA, Sir Allan Massey, and will be asking that this meeting can be arranged prior to making their decision and be held by them with the opportunity for the local community to express concerns directly to those who have the legal duty to make the decision on this application.

I shall look to update you again on the situation following the discussions held later this week with the MCA Chief Executive.

Yours sincerely,

Fergus Ewing MSP
Inverness and Nairn  

Head teacher to summon parents if pupils are late at Nairn school

Details on the Inverness Courier webpage linked below.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Connecting older people with arthritis in Nairnshire

Loneliness and isolation are bad for our health and, like obesity or smoking, they can kill. That is why Arthritis Care Scotland has developed a new service for older people with arthritis who live in the Nairnshire area and are socially isolated. The service, called Staying Connected in Later Life, aims to help people over 60 cope better with their condition by participating in a short-term, 1-1 mentoring programme provided by trained volunteers visiting them at home.

Marion MacNeil, the Service Manager for Staying Connected, said, “Not everyone who lives alone feels lonely. But if you live in fear of falling, for example, this fear can affect how you live your life, often leading to isolation. We know that absence of social connections can have a significant effect on a person’s health and recent research suggests it can be as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“This service is aimed at people who no longer attend activities due to lack of mobility, lack of energy, or perhaps lack of confidence. We want to reduce the loneliness felt by many people living with arthritis, and aim to help them gain some control over their symptoms, and their lives.”

The service is currently recruiting volunteers to provide their time for one hour a week (eight weeks at a time) for a minimum of one year. All volunteers will receive training in mentoring, person-centred planning and self-management, plus out of pocket expenses. For more information about volunteering, or about the service, contact Marion MacNeil on 07773 033 695 or email: marionm@arthritiscare.org.uk.

Below are images from the Staying Connected in later life leaflet - click on them to enlarge. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Art is rubbish! Exhibition spin-off from beach and river clean up

Regular readers will remember the beach and river clean up organised jointly by the Sailing Club, Kayak Club and Green Hive - video here. 

Today the fruits of an Art is Rubbish creative workshop could be seen exhibited in the Links Studios. Some pretty good works there - an excellent exhibition, hopefully there will be more of this. Images below.

Individual images here. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

The remarkable difference between Drew and Fergus when it comes to supporting the stop the proposed S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth Campaign.

Drew Hendry MP has written a letter to Margaret Davidson, the Leader of the Highland Council, outlying his opposition to the S2S proposals for the Moray Firth and urging her to support the campaign. The final paragraph of his letter reads:

"Therefore, I hope that, as a statutory consultee, the Highland Council will join me in raising concerns about the environmental and economic impact on these coastal communities. Nairn in particular relies heavily on tourism, particularly focused on the beach and entire water front area."

Gurnites can read a copy of this letter which has appeared on social media here.   Drew also published details of his survey which we featured in the previous post. Nearly 300 constituents have responded and 98% of them are against S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth. This would suggest that a similar percentage of Fergus Ewing's constituents in his Scottish Parliamentary patch would reflect a similar result if he were to run a similar survey on his site. 

Before Christmas Fergus put out a letter to those who had contacted him on the S2S issue, a copy of that letter can be seen here.   In his letter Fergus mentions Marine Scotland - why, why, why did they not put in a strong objection to the proposal?  They were invited by the Westminster apparatus to participate in the consultation but they declined to do so. 

We have heard great disappointment expressed by several of those who contacted him, his response is seen as wishy-washy fence sitting by many including some of his own party members. 

Remember a motion from the Nairn branch of the SNP strongly against S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth was passed unanimously at last year's SNP party conference. This makes it doubly difficult in understanding why Fergus is not jumping into proactive support for the campaign. 

What we need now is the same kind of support from the Scottish Government that Drew Hendry has demonstrated.  And we need the Scottish Government to make sure that Marine Scotland will put in a strong objection when the second application for S2S in the Moray Firth goes in.

Come on Fergus, it is time to say unequivocally if you are for or against the proposal for ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth. Sitting on the fence isn't good enough!

More from the Glenurquhart Road house of fun - floating ecosystems in the river to help sort Nairn's sewage problems?

Start the embedded video below and go to 2 hours 26 minutes in to see Liz launch her motion and the subsequent debate.

Cameo roles from Stephen Fuller and Michael Green with Margaret Davidson stating how difficult in might be to get Scottish Water to invest the cash to improve our creaking sewage infrastructure in Nairn.

Thomas Prag kicks off about it and Donnie Kerr cracks a half decent joke. So did last December's meeting get us any further forward or was it just a glorified gift-wrapped good intention to put on the shelf with all the others? Watch the video and decide for yourself. 

300 constituents respond to Drew's survey - 98% against ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth

First it was Caithness now Barra has a flag - how about Nairnshire then?

We've suggested this before but there seems to be some resistance to the idea amongst our local Highland Councillors. A flag for Nairnshire would certainly help in the battle to retain a distinct identity from the big city nearby and would help sell the area's goods and services. 

Something the Nairnshire BID team and other worthies could do - a competition open to all? We suggested this early last year so here's goes again. 

A search on Google brings up the old red and yellow design that belonged to the old Council according to information online, also the snazzy Caithness flag and Salty seems to get into the act too. 

This observer will suggest it to next week's meeting of Nairn River Community Council and see if there is any positive feedback there.

A few items already on the agenda there, including Ship to Ship oil transfers proposed in the Moray Firth, a request for funds from the River Nairn Swans & Waterfowl Trust and Community Engagement - there was a lot of discussion at the last meeting about getting community feedback and maybe even some kind of social enterprise operation in one of the empty shops.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Inverness Women's Shinty team Loony Dook on Nairn East Beach 3rd January 2017

Individual images here. 

Art is rubbish exhibition Links Studios Sunday 8th January 1.30 to 4.30 pm

Learn some Gaelic in 2017? Go at your own speed with excellent free online resources

There has never been such quality online learning resources available to Gaelic learners.Top it up in the real world too, before long you could be down there on a Saturday with the Gaelic Conversation (Cearcall Còmhraidh) group in Nairn library 12-1 pm.

Nairn 1 Clach 2 Pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here. 

Graduate placement with Head Office of brewery in Cawdor - closing date 4th Jan

Thanks to our regular reader who sent us a link to this Scotgrad webpage. 

"The Orkney Brewery has an exciting 12 month vacancy for a creative graduate to develop and deliver a marketing strategy for their product range. This placement will be based in their head office on the outskirts of Nairn. As part of the placement the successful candidate will review their marketing channels, explore new markets and develop a launch plan for rebranded products." 

Monday, January 02, 2017

S2S oil transfers in the Moray Firth - Campaigners to petition Scottish Parliament

Here's the text of the petition published today on the Cromarty Rising site:

“Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to consider and debate the implications of proposed ship to ship transfers of crude oil at anchorages in the Inner Moray Firth within the boundary of the Cromarty Firth Port Authority. Specifically focusing such consideration and debate on the likely impact of such operations upon wildlife, tourism, local authority funding of clean-up and how it may use its powers within the 12 mile tidal limits to protect the ecology, landscape, cultural heritage, air quality general environment and areas of high conservation value within or having continuity with the Firth.

Furthermore to ensure that environmental legislation within Scotland is sufficient to prevent such transfers of crude oil occurring in environmentally sensitive locations – this aspect was previously highlighted by Richard Lochhead MSP on 24th May 2007 where he said:

“We will give consideration to amending regulation 6 of the habitats regulations, which defines who is to be regarded as a competent authority for the purposes of compliance with the directive. We will also consider possible amendment of part IV of the regulations. As I mentioned, it sets out rules about appropriate assessment of plans and projects but only in relation to a specific list of purposes, which do not include ship-to-ship oil transfer. We will also consider extending ministers’ powers in relation to the overriding public interest test. Finally, we will consider nature conservation order powers as well. At present, they apply only to land and not to parts of the sea or internal waters. We will review those powers to determine whether they should be widened.”

While Mr Lochhead’s reference related specifically to Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994 as ammended, we feel that subsequent legislation should also be considered such as, but not limited to, the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

Finally to ensure that stakeholders of Scottish Trust Ports and specifically those of the Cromarty Firth Port Authority, have the power to hold such bodies to account – whether by means of a Scottish Government appointed independent arbiter to help resolve disputes or other such means as determined by parliament. Currently the only recourse for aggrieved stakeholders after raising an issue with the Port board is legal action which immediately disadvantages communities and other stakeholders without the finances to be able to take this forward.“

Cromarty Rising and friends will be lobbying the parliament in person on Thursday 12th January, a bus will leave Nairn to attend the demonstration. To book a seat send a DM via the Cromarty Rising Facebook page. 

Cop na Mara air traigh Inbhir Narann - Sea foam on Nairn Beach 1/01/2017

Individual images here.