Thursday, November 30, 2017

Finnie Raises Easter Ross Recycling Jobs with First Minister

We're going a little off-piste with this one Gurnites but it just seems so tragic that such a decision by Highland Council means workers in the Highlands getting paid off like this. The details is in the press release from John Finnie MSP which can be read below.

North Green MSP John Finnie raised the plight of 31 workers, who have lost their jobs due to a controversial Highland Council procurement decision, at First Minter’s Questions, this afternoon.

The decision has resulted in the entire workforce at Evanton-based William Munro Construction losing their jobs, after Highland Council awarded a £1.5million recycling contract to a French multi-national company, SUEZ.

The council informed the company by email, less than 2hours before their existing contract expired that their recycling contact would not be renewed.

Subsequently, SUEZ has denied they need to take on any of Munro’s workforce under the TUPE Regulations and the 31 workers now not only have no work but are also, due to their disputed employment status, unable to claim benefits.

This new contract will result in recyclable waste from across the Highlands being transported to Newcastle for processing.

John said:

“It is extremely concerning that the Highland Council have acted in this fashion, essentially pushing 31 employees into redundancy less than one month before Christmas.

“I was pleased to have the opportunity to raise the issue with the First Minister and welcome that she plans to investigate.

“It beggars belief that the council have decided they will transport this waste to Newcastle for processing. They have failed to adequately consider the workers involved, the impact this will have on the local economy in Easter Ross and the wider environmental impact transporting this waste will have and I’ve written them telling them so.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Nairn BID meeting goes very well in the Golf View tonight

Lots of support expressed to the BID team tonight from local businesses. More about the BID here at 

Nairn Traffic Lights Abolition Society celebrate minor victory

"local democracy in Scotland is on life support" say Scottish Community Alliance

Yes a lot of people in Nairnshire think that and, in addition, that our community has been shafted over the years with facilities disappearing to Inverness. Many believe that what the high heid yins through there think is good for us becomes the mantra for officials and elected councillors alike. 

Regular readers may well remember the recent stushie between the Community Councils and the Nairn and Nairnshire partnership. For a long while relations between Highland Council and the CCs too have not been very good either and some of the usual suspects are seeing the recent attacks on CCs by Tom Heggie and Liz MacDonald in this light - perhaps that could be true to a certain extent but here at the Gurn we suspect that there could well be additional parochial matters that have been driving these recent outbursts. 

So it is with all this in mind that we publish a wee extract from the Scottish Community Alliance's latest newsletter:

"Despite being woefully under-resourced and under-powered, routinely ignored by local councils and often maligned by public caricature, the fact that 1,200 community councils continue to meet on a regular basis across Scotland is a remarkable tale of civic durability. It’s 45 years since they were first established – a sop to those who railed against the erosion of local democracy when burgh and town councils were disbanded in the 1970’s – and so what’s about to happen has not only been a long time coming, but it’s likely to be an uncomfortable ride for anyone who thinks the current democratic stasis is acceptable."

Will we ever see a democratically elected public body sitting  in the Courthouse again, deciding all of Nairn's affairs or are we shafted beyond return? Some still hold out hope for such advances in Scotland. Anyone interested in these matters might want to read a bit more here on the SCA site. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Raise your lid, pull out a quid (or two) and support the BID - Wednesday night is the night

Finnie Calls for Radical Overhaul of Drugs Strategy

Scottish Greens Justice spokesperson John Finnie MSP this afternoon (28/11/2017) responded to a ministerial statement calling for a radical overhaul of Scotland’s drugs strategy.

Minister for Public Health Aileen Campbell used the statement to highlight that the Scottish Government will refresh their drug and alcohol strategy in the spring.

Responding for the Greens, Finnie, who is also the Co-Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Drug and Alcohol Misuse, pointed to the unacceptable level of drug related deaths.

Mr Finnie highlighted figures from the Scottish Drugs Forum, outlined in a parliamentary motion last week (1), of an outbreak of HIV in Glasgow with 105 cases identified as of October, with a number of these cases having hepatitis C co-infection – an issue across Scotland. He also referred to the closure of the busiest sterile injection equipment supply facility in Scotland, at Glasgow’s Central Station, has led to a significant reduction in the number of clients accessing such equipment.

Speaking after the statement John said:

“Clearly this is a health rather than a justice matter. The Scottish Government must accept that rather than a refresh of something which is obviously failing, a radical overhaul - including looking at decriminalisation – is required if we are to seriously address this issue.”

Monday, November 27, 2017

Deveron Homes Forres Road Development - " please ensure your true feelings are known" says one of our readers

One of our regular readers, Martin, has asked us to highlight the consultation being held in the Community Centre by Deveron Homes for development of affordable homes on the Forres Road site - more commonly know in the town as Jac's plot or the Morganti land. 

The previous application for 31 homes was withdrawn after significant numbers of objections were received by the Highland Council planning department. 

The consultation is taking place in the Community and Arts Centre from 2-8 pm on Weds 29th of November in the Conference Room. 

So folks if you have strong feelings either way about development on this site you could go along and speak to the developers. There will, of course, once again, be an opportunity to submit comments to the planning department when/if a new application is made. 

We'll leave the final word with the rather partisan Martin who told us: "Hopefully a good turnout throughout the day against this proposal will make the developers change their mind."

Festive winter colour for the town - KNC and others brightening up the town with planting and Christmas trees

A Keeping Nairnshire Colourful spokesperson told the Gurn:

Thanks to the continued support of local businesses, groups and volunteers, Keeping Nairnshire Colourful(KNC) has been able to plant up some of the town with winter/spring colour. Green's Nursery donated some bedding which KNC members and volunteers have planted in the Sainsbury's beds at Balmakeith, the three raised beds opposite Nairn Old Parish Church and the Museum beds. Nairn Baptist Church have adopted the three planters at the steps up to the Community Centre and put in winter colour and bulbs for the spring. 

Georgina Innes at Brambles is continuing to sponsor the Rosebank bed which has been re-planted with a colourful display of Greens' plants. Brambles are also participating in the Charity Trees event for the High Street shops and KNC has decorated mini trees for her window.

Individual images here and more below in the slideshow.

Super, super County - Nairn 4 Buckie 1 - pictures Donald Matheson plus Gurn video

It was a joy to watch as County completed this season's double over last season's Highland League Championi. 6 points from Buckie this season, simply wonderful and what football we played on Saturday - it was a joy, an awesome experience. Match report here.

Pictures from Donald Matheson. Individual images here and full screen slideshow here. 

A few minutes video from the end of the match below

Veronica Wilson speaks to the BBC

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Liz goes all #RiverCCbad all of a sudden

If you haven't seen it yet get hold of this week's edition of the Nairnshire in which Cllr Liz MacDonald accuses Nairn River Community Council of not supporting housing for people on the waiting list. Full details in this week's dead tree edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph (aka as the Leopold Street Thunderer).

This observer must confess that he wasn't at the last River CC meeting so doesn't know what exactly went on  but we do know that members of the CC care passionately about housing and many other social issues in fact many of them get off their backsides and can be seen manning foodbank collection stalls in the High Street and elsewhere. I know them all personally, they want to build a better Nairn and there is no way they don't want to see social housing built in our town - I trust each and every one of them implicitly to act with their hearts and instincts, life experiences and collective wisdom for the best interests of Nairn.

So fellow Gurnites we kind of think that Liz is a little off the mark here. And let's remember quite often what Highland Council want is not what dovetails exactly with the community and River CC are quite within their rights to point out any flaws with Council policies if they think they reflect genuine anxieties from the general public. 

River CC and many others recently objected to a planning application for 31 houses on the former Morganti patch on Forres Road. Now even the developers must have come to the conclusion that this was a bit of an over development and have pulled that application and are going to submit another one with less houses. Was it this objection that has attracted Liz's ire?

Why should people that live in social housing have to live in such over developments. They deserve houses with a bit of space like everyone else. Now over five years ago Highland Council came up with plans for houses at Sandown. Why has no social housing been built there yet? Just what is holding Highland Council up here? The town owns the land so surely with a bit of official imagination some device could be created to ensure that the local community has a say in who lives there and not just the high heid yins in Inverness. 

We would respectfully suggest to Liz that she was a bit over the top with what she had to say to our local paper, please stop having a go at folk who care passionately about our community and give their time free of charge to try and highlight and remedy issues affecting us all. 

Homes for Nairn folk on Sandown please - ASP - get working on it Highland Council!

Top Ten Anti-Gaelic Arguments Demolished

Beagan fiosrachadh an-diugh:

"Here are the top 10 most common anti-Gaelic language arguments and why they’re daft:

1. Scottish Gaelic is an SNP Nationalist plot!

It was the Scottish Secretary in Thatcher’s 1980s Government, George Younger, who began funding Gaelic TV and Radio, with gradual increases supported on a cross party basis from then on. This culminated in the Gaelic Language Scotland Act 2005, introduced by the then Labour and Lib Dem coalition with cross party support. This is the legislation which requires public bodies to produce Gaelic Language Plans, the results of which are increasingly apparent."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Shanghai to Snecky service on the draft timetables but there's other big changes that might affect you - best to have look?

This observer has been having a look at the proposed bus changes that will be up for consulatation on Thursday morning. There will be services from/to Lochloy and Queenspark to Inverness now but it looks like swings and roundabouts with less 11s and more 10s - hard to see if it is an overall reduction but it could be. If you rely on the busses to get you to Inverness and back you'd perhaps better look at the proposed draft timetables.

The 11 no longer will go to Forres and Elgin.

You can get the draft timetables on this page here (scroll down and click on Service 10 and Service 11.)

According to Stagecoach the consultation will be taking place on Thursday 16th November Nairn Bus Terminal, 9am - 12pm

Monday, November 13, 2017

Highland Council's £1.1 million unsecured loan "An appalling situation" Cllr Roddy Balfour nails it

This observer is very impressed with what Roddy Balfour had to say to the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee last Wednesday the (8th November). Sin thu fhéin Rodaidh a bhalaich, 's math a rinn thu!  Oor Liz asked a wee question too. 

Pour a big dram and watch the webcast about a wee loan that Highland Council made to Inverness Airport Business Park Ltd. Was an unsecured loan for 1.1 million pounds a good idea? Have a wee look at the vid and you decide! (after all it's our money).

There is a white start button in the centre of the embedded screen - a bit hard to see but just click on  it to get it going.

You can download a copy of the report that was put to councillors on this Highland Council page here - it's down at item 12.

Application for 31 affordable homes on Jac's former home on Forres Road is withdrawn.

Highland Council planning department have written to those who made representations to the controversial application informing them that the application has been withdrawn. In their letter the council state:

"Should any further application be received for this or a similar proposal it will be necessary for you to write again to advise the Council of any concerns that you may have as comments made on previous applications cannot be transferred."  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ship to Ship oil transfers - Fancy sending a letter to Nicola? Cromarty Rising believe there are at least two things she could do.

Cromarty Rising have a proforma letter prepared that you can print off and sign and send to Nicola Sturgeon the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament. There are two things that they are urging her goverment to do.

Dear Ms. Sturgeon

Proposed Ship-to-Ship Oil transfers in the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation

As the Leader of our Government, it is your responsibility to ensure Scotland’s beautiful land and seascapes are protected for future generations. Marine reports prepared by your Departments explicitly state that ship-to-ship transfers of crude oil could have serious detrimental effects on our onshore and marine environments.

Indeed, you stated in the Scottish Parliament (12/1/17):

“On the basis of the current information, the Scottish Government is unconvinced that ship-to-ship oil transfers can, or should, take place at anchor in the Cromarty Firth without unacceptable risk to the marine environment—in particular the European Union designated area for bottlenose dolphins.”

You also stated regarding concerned constituents:

“I assure them that the Scottish Government absolutely hears their concerns and will continue to do everything we can to make sure that they are heard by those who take the decisions.”

You allude to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, who will determine any new application. But you do not have to allow a non-elected body in Southampton to take control. You and the Scottish Government can do at least two things to prevent such potentially devastating operations in our inshore waters:

You can use your powers to refuse to issue the required licence to disturb bottlenose dolphin and other European Protected Species

You can sit down and talk to the Cromarty Firth Port Authority, and persuade them to stop this. 

You don’t have to let others take this decision. Your Government has the power to make sure people are heard. You can decide to respect the will of more than 100,000 people who have registered their opposition to ship-to-ship crude oil transfers on the 38 Degrees Scotland site.

I respectfully urge you to use your powers to prevent ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth.

Yours sincerely,

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nairn v Forres - a double helping Saints and County entertain visitors from along the road

Friday, November 10, 2017

Nairn Festival looking for a new chairperson - could it be you?

More details here on the Festival site.

Bus consultation event in Nairn November 16th from 9 am to 12pm

Nairn Police hunt fire-raisers

Police in Nairn are appealing for information following a series of recent fire-raising incidents..

Officers in the town have responded to a number of incidents in the last 10 days, which have involved wheelie bins and rubbish being set alight.

Fires have been reported around the King Street and Mill Road areas, Jubilee Park and in grassy areas at the dunes.

Area Inspector Mike Middlehurst said: "Fortunately, none of these fires have resulted in injuries or anything more serious.

"However, it should go without saying that deliberately setting fires is reckless and irresponsible and always has the potential for serious unintended consequences.

"It is also an unnecessary use of resources for the emergency services who may be called to one of these incidents when they could be of better use elsewhere.

"I would urge those responsible to think about their behaviour and anyone with information to contact officers in Nairn by calling 101.

"Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Labour regional MSP steps back into Nairn Traffic Lights row

Davie Stewart has a few things to say about Nairn Traffic Lights:

Speaking today (9/11/17) he said “In 2015, I was instrumental in trying to persuade the Government and Transport Scotland that the congestion in the town was due in part to their decision to increase the traffic lights at the A96 junctions through the town from four to eight, claiming this was as a result of the expected increased traffic from the then new Sainsbury’s store which was opened in 2011.

“I lodged Parliamentary Questions on the issue, wrote to the then Transport Minister and set up an i-petition to try and address the issue. I also lodged a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with Transport Scotland, seeking the junction collision history through Nairn.

“These details were produced and revealed that between 2005 and 2015 there was no road traffic collision at the junction of the A96 with Seabank Road, Nairn. Three slight collisions at the A96 junction with Harbour Street (2005,2009 and 2013), two slight collisions at the junction with the A939,(2007) and two serious and two slight in the last 10 years at the junction of the A96 and Marine Road Rounabout (2006,2007,2008 and 2011).

“There were no road traffic collisions at the junction with Albert Street and three slight collisions at the A96 junction with Moss- Side Road (2005,2008 and 2011).

“On reflecting on these figures, back in 2015, I said at that time ‘In 10 years, there have been 10 slight road traffic collisions and two serious collisions at the A96 road junctions through Nairn. Of course It would be best if there were not any, but I really have to ask if that is a collision history meriting an increase in junction controls from four sets of traffic lights to eight through the town?”

“ Lets take Albert Street. In a 10 year period there has not been one road collision at the junction, yet it was and currently still is controlled by traffic light signals,albeit here they are some years later now thinking of removing them!.”

“ Despite all my efforts at that time, the Government and Transport Scotland advised that surveys revealed that there was a need for this level of traffic control. Transport Scotland advised that they had reconfigured traffic detectors, improved road markings and implemented pedestrian sensors at the A96 junctions through Nairn which were all designed to address the concerns of the majority”.

“I was advised that the then Transport Minister had instructed Transport Scotland to establish a local Focus Group involving Councillors, Community Councillors, and other parties to look at the traffic management through Nairn”.

“ the Government tried to claim that the road safety statistics on this route through Nairn had improved over the previous three years (2012-2015). Strange then that on average there has been one slight road collision at one of these junctions, every year since 2005 and in the years 2012 - 2015 there has continued to be one slight road collision on average each year, so I saw no improvement there. What should have be jumping out at the Government and Transport Scotland was that fact that over a 10 years period there was no real history of road collisions at A96 junctions through Nairn, (10 slight and two serious in 10 years) so on that basis, there was no need to increase the number of traffic light controlled junctions from four to eight when the Sainsbury’s store opened in 2011”.

David Stewart concluded “ As is often the case, the Government and Transport Scotland do not accept that they make mistakes with such matters and as a result the commuters and the communities around the Highlands have to suffer. This Government body seem to at times have blinkers on. Look at the issues with the Kessock Bridge. Look at this issues with the Forres community wanting one pedestrian crossing on the A96 along the Forres bypass, to cater for the increased footfall of pedestrians utilising the increased rail service from the new Forres line and Station. These pedestrians have to negotiate the A96 without a crossing. This is why I come out and ask: why do the Government and Transport Scotland not consult with local communities, listen to their concerns and their views before making some strategic decisions which are at times contrary to what is required for the smooth steady and safe flow of traffic and other road users. In the case of Nairn, here they are, some two to three years later trialling what the majority of road users could see was required back then. I ask why does it take them so long to act?