Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tom Heggie fires broadside at Community Councils - get down to the paper shop and read all about it.

The front page of this week's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph illustrates once more the divide between the town's Community Councils and Highland Councillor Tom Heggie. It looks like there is no going back now with Tom claiming:

"I am hearing voices in Nairn which are not present on the Nairn Community Council agendas. Community Empowerment is about hearing those voices."" 

He's got more to say too and there's also a reply from Dick Youngson of the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council. 

For years the Community Councils have been an arena where local folk can go and air grievances about a range of problems - often they will go there as a way of seeking help with things that do concern Highland Council, you get your issue in the public domain and quite often it will be reported in the press. The Community Councillors would argue that the way to get Community Empowerment is to get more power back to make decisions in Nairn - ideally perhaps with the reintroduction of a Nairn District Council or some similar body. Recently though we have had as a result of "Community Empowerment" legislation a body formed called The Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership and it seems this is the way that any "empowerment" will be delivered. There's a previous Gurn article here which examines the opportunities that this grouping may or may not provide Nairnshire:

Tom seems to be placing a lot of faith in the partnership and to be fair to them their survey on issues that are relevant to local people did receive over 500 responses - it's early days though and it remains to be seen if a group of out of town professional folk coming to meet in the Courthouse a few times a year can effectively deliver anything that will address the democratic deficit this community has suffered since the loss of the Nairn District Council. 

As we say though the Community Councils have fought their corner for Nairn over the years and many folk have been grateful that they are there. They have managed to get a few things done but are they now failing to address some concerns in the community as Tom suggests? Here at the Gurn we feel it is a great pity that a state of warfare almost exists now between Tom and the CCs - hopefully there will be a major outbreak of peace and love as we move towards the end of the year and the festivities. 

We would suggest you get a copy of the Nairnshire Telegraph and have a read (including the editorial "Drawing Battle Lines") and then have a think about some of these issues raised and then, why not get involved and have your say? If there are voices in Nairn not being heard and yours is one of them - then shout it out!

No fireworks for Friday night but could Nairn have a St Andrew's Day spectacular instead?

Last night at the regular meeting of the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting the fireworks team of Andrew Randerson and Lorreine Mallison reported that although a huge effort had been made to try and comply with the requirements of event licensing they had been unable to address some safety issues that had occurred. The safety issues were easily fixable however, the meeting heard that they would have to have satisfied a licencing meeting two days before the event was due to take place in one of the fields at Househill. The uncertainty caused by this deadline had reluctantly forced them to postpone the event. 

Failure to satisfy the committee would have meant that the considerable fee for the licensing application would have been lost. With the approval of their council colleagues the CC moved that the application be tweaked with the authorities and resubmitted for an event to take place to celebrate St Andrew's Day at the end of November. A large number of local businesses have promised to support the event and some local traders had planned to attend. The meeting heard that there was still massive support from the business sector and the general public for the event to go ahead and a St Andrew's Day and general Scottish themed event is now on the cards if the re-jigged application is successful. 

Many local cybercitizens have commented on the latest twist to the fireworks efforts on threads on the popular Nairn Rocks and Nairn our Town facebook pages. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

So what's going on with the Links then and just how will we be consulted?

Gurnshire residents will remember the stushie over the decision - for which no-one admitted responsibility - to remove the Big Slide and its hill from the Common Good land at the Links [here is a page of articles that examine that situation as it developed].  Those with longer memories might also remember the fuss over the Council's failure to correctly administer the Caravan Site lease and implement regular rent increases. This resulted in a loss to Nairn's Common Good Fund, and when the oversight became public the loss was reimbursed from Council funds.  It is perhaps unnecessary to refer back to the even bigger controversy a decade ago over the possible sale of the Sandown lands to a developer.

It might be reasonable to think that, against that background, the Council would become a little more transparent in its administration of our Common Good, and perhaps more willing to consult the local community for whose benefit the Common Good exists.  But one could be forgiven for thinking that old habits die hard.  

One or two regular Gurn readers have picked up recent references to the fact that the Council is - apparently - currently conducting a study of how to develop the Common Good land at the Links and along the beachfront.  Certainly plenty of ideas have been put forward locally over the years - the Charlie Chaplin Trail, an enlarged playpark, a new paddling pool or water feature, a sculpture park, and the ambitious scheme for a new "Dr Grigor Lido".  But if the Council is looking into options for the future of the Links, some obvious questions arise.  For example:

  • who is carrying out this study?  Highland Council officials, or outside consultants (and if the latter, how were they selected?)
  • what are the terms of reference, and who decided them?
  • who is paying for this work, and how much will it cost?  Regular observers will recall that the Council decided to create a new post for an official to work on Common Good asset registers.... and to pay for this out of the CG's own funds;
  • have local representatives - notably the two Nairn Community Councils - been informed and consulted about this study, and invited to put forward their views?
  • are other relevant groups being consulted - such as the Highland Games Committee, the Cricket Club, and the Sailing Club (all of which use, and have direct responsibilities and interests in the Common Good land at the Links and around the harbour)?
  • is any wider survey or consultation exercise being carried out in the community, and if so how and by whom?
  • will the recommendations of this study be available for public discussion before any decisions are taken?  
Nairn's Common Good is one of the town's most important assets.  These assets need to be managed carefully for the long-term benefit of all.  The land at the Links and around the harbour and rivermouth is a key amenity for both visitors and tourists, and the land at the Sandown fields is enormously valuable.  Decisions about their possible future use and/or development should be subject to the widest possible debate and the most careful consideration. We feel that the future of our town's Common Good cannot be left to selected individuals, special-interest groups, or Council officials meeting behind closed doors."

Nairn 2 Locos 3 Pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.  Match report here. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Nairn Community and Arts Centre 10th anniversary celebrations Sat 28th October

Nairn Citizens Advice Bureau want your thoughts on an oil club

Nairn Citizens Advice Bureau are doing some research into the barriers/benefits of setting up an oil club. We would welcome input from anyone with experience or interest in this for our data collection. Contact us on https://www.facebook.com/nairncab.org.uk/ or by email: Clare.Jarrett@NairnCAB.casonline.org.uk.

Nairn Coastal Rowing Club - Skiffie folk looking for members

We are on our marks, ready to go. What we need now are Members. We would like Nairnites who are interested in helping us build our first boat and folk to row the boat once we are in the water to get in touch with us.
In case you do not know what it is all about, it is racing and socializing with other communities who also have boats that they have built and are racing, Ardesier, Avoch, Fortrose, Cromarty, Burghead, Findhorn, Lossiemouth and many others along the coast.

The boat design is based on a Fair Isle Skiff, modified to be built in kit form by an internationally regarded designer, Ian Oughtred. The build process is approximately six months on a part time basis, being built by volunteers with various skill levels. It would be great to have our boat in the water by the summer, and engage in some friendly competition with our neighbours.


Contact us on:


Want to know more?


Friday, October 20, 2017

Can you spare a couple of Alpine plants for Cantraybridge College?

What has a new outdoor classroom, a well-known soup company and a need for Alpine plants got in common? No idea? Well the students at Cantraybridge College in Croy could tell you. Cantraybridge College, near Croy, supports young adults with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders to learn valuable life and employment skills. And the College needs your help!

Funded by the George and Ena Baxter Foundation, the college recently had a new outdoor classroom built. The building was designed and built by local contractors, Whytes Sawmill, to give the 70 students opportunities to learn about the environment and how food is produced. In line with the College’s already excellent environmental credentials, the new building will have its roof planted with different Alpine plants. This is where they need your support! Do you have any Sedum, Saxifrage, Aubrietia, Primula Vulgaris, America or any small Alpine plants that you might like to split? If so, the College would love to hear from you. College staff can collect plants from you, or you can drop them off at Cantraybridge. Stop in for lunch at the College’s café if you’re dropping by between 12 and 2pm during the week. The roof will not only look stunning when planted, but will provide insulation and a great habitat for insects, in particular the college’s newest arrivals, a hive of bees.

The college can be contacted on 01667 493500 or email at admin@cantraybridge.co.uk

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"'We went days without eating properly': how universal credit brought misery to Inverness" - Guardian Article

Misery from the benefit changes, the Gurn understands a few folk in Nairn have been hit too as the town was included in the Inverness Universal Credit test area. 

Read the article here. 

Community Planning "has defined communities as one voice among many more powerful voices, mainly from the public sector"

We've had a fair bit in the local press recently about how visions of "Community Empowerment" differ between the newly created Nairnshire Community Partnership and the town's Community Council's. We posted an article last month.   Is it just another false dawn that will result in Community Empowerment simply becoming another centralised service? 

We have to admit that here at the Gurn we are perhaps the most pessimistic we have ever been about the chances of Nairn ever having a proper say in its own affairs and attempting to plan its own future, rather than others coming to town and telling us what has to be done - but maybe we have just grown too cynical and it is time to leave it all to more optimistic and visionary voices out there. We won't go as far to say that "we're doomed" but feel that the present situation is not very far away from that at the moment as far as addressing the democratic deficit goes. 

Serious students of these matters may wish to read an article in the latest newsletter from the Scottish Community Alliance entitled "Let communities Shape their own future" which features an essay from Stephen Maxwell at View magazine; it really does give a deep analysis of the situation in Scotland and describes some of the forces preventing real change in this direction. Here's a wee snippet:

"‘Community' has become one of the most deceiving words in Scotland’s political lexicon. Community planning seemed to promise that local communities would take the lead in the planning of their own services. Instead it has defined communities as one voice among many more powerful voices, mainly from the public sector, in a process led by local authorities.

'Community budgeting' seemed to promise that communities would gain control of a budget of their own to spend on their priorities. Instead it turned out to be a process by which public authorities would disaggregate their spending in local communities to establish the size and bias of the overall spend; a useful ambition but not quite what seemed to be promised by the headline.

'Community empowerment' was the most deceiving of them all. It seemed to leave little scope for misunderstanding; communities were to be given the power to take decisions on their own account along With a capacity to implement them, But it turned out to mean that communities would be helped to contribute their views on local priorities and to present them to multi-sectoral structures, such as community planning partnerships,"

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Highland rail projects may now be hampered by funding cut - Statement from John Finnie MSP

Scottish Greens Transport Spokesperson John Finnie MSP has expressed concern at a move by the UK Government to change the method of rail funding in Scotland over the next five years, thus reducing the funds available to improve the rail network.

The Scottish Government was due to publish its Statement of Funds Available for railways on Friday 13th October, yet the UK Government’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t inform the government of its final offer until the day before. 

The change will mean that a long term agreement between the Scottish and UK Government’s in place since 2005 will become defunct and Scotland will no longer receive funding proportionate to the size of the Scottish rail network.

John Finnie said:

“I am extremely concerned that the UK Government has taken the decision to reduce the funding allocated to maintain and improve Scotland’s rail network. The current funding arrangements have been in place for more than ten years and ensure that Scotland receives a share of railway funding proportionate to its share of the rail network.

“At a time when we know we must reduce harmful emissions to mitigate the impact of climate change it is vital that we increase investment in rail and other forms of sustainable travel. Cutting investment in rail by £600 million is absurd and will only make it that much harder to tackle climate change.

“This cut in funding will have real impacts on communities across Scotland. Only last month the Transport Minister announced he would fund a feasibility study into the Levenmouth rail link in Fife. While there is improvement required on the Highland Main Line, the Far North Line and on the Inverness to Aberdeen route. All of these projects and others across the country may now be hampered by this funding cut.

“I hope colleagues from all parties can put differences aside and match their requests for improved rail infrastructure by joining my call on the UK government to revisit this decision and ensure that Scotland continues to receive its fair share of rail funding.”

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gaelic Class Post-Beginners Starting Weds 1st November Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Gaelic Class
Tutor – Eilidh Shaw
Nairn Community Centre
Starts Wed. 1st Nov. 2017
7.15pm to 8.45pm for 7 weeks .
Registration/enrolment will take place on the first night.

£32/ £16 for HC staff and GM parents.
For further information please contact Margaret Mulholland, Gaelic Team, Highland Council, 01463 703690 or

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Paisley to Nairn the return trip

Stuart told the Gurn:

It was July 2nd this year that I travelled up to Nairn from Paisley to see St Mirren play the hosts, Nairn County FC in a pre season friendly. Leaving the score aside, it was the immediate impression of a well run club run by seriously good people that made my mind up that a return trip was a must. 

But for the passing of young Calum Riddell and the subsequent cancelling of yesterday's SHFL game against Huntly, that trip would have been made yesterday. However after an early departure from Paisley this morning, I arrived outside Station Park for the Calum Riddell benefit match, to be met once again by Andy the gate steward who I was talking to when a gent wearing a yellow Nairn County jacket approached me and said "Stuart, nice to meet you at last. I'm Donald Matheson, club chairman" From that point in time I met all manner of club members, from deputy chairman Ian Finlayson and director Shone Devine to club legend, goalkeeper Richard Konzack of the 1975/76 league winning side. Indeed there were more but one or two of their names have slipped my mind for which I can only apologise. I was flabbergasted by a few people that came up and shook my hand because they follow me on Twitter or saw John Dolan's excellent article in last Tuesdays Nairnshire Telegraph which included a photo I sent him. 

The match itself was well contested with one or two meaty tackles going in but on the whole it was played in a good atmosphere and the final score, a 1-1 draw was the perfect end to an emotional day. 

After the game, club photographer Kenny MacLeod kindly took a couple of photos of me and the chairman standing on the park in front of the stand. I said my goodbyes to a few people and all to soon, I was back in the car and pointing it in the general direction of my home town of Paisley. Sitting at home I am still turning over in my mind everything that happened today. The 390 mile round trip was nothing. I had enjoyed myself immensely and I have very intention of being back at Station Park before the end of the season. Once again I was welcomed with open arms by many that I now consider my friends. 

So thank you all and all the best for the rest of the season. The "Wee County" are my SHFL team. No mistake.

Paisley Branch

Image Cutter Photography

One minute's applause for Calum Riddell at Station Park today

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Sunday's Nairn County v Calum Riddell All Stars match goes ahead at Station Park as planned at the request of Calum's wife and family. Kick-off is at 1.00 pm.

Thanks to recycling centre worker who went the extra mile

Moira tells the Gurn

"Could you give a mention to one of the staff at our recycling centre who went out of his way to help me look for my wedding band which I lost when I was disposing of garden waste. 

Edward Marchi did all he could to try and find it for me and whilst unsuccessful, I was very grateful his kind efforts. Thanks."