There was quite a lot on tonight at the regular meeting of the Nairn River Community Council. A large number of members of the public were present and also Highland Councillors Tom Heggie, Laurie Fraser and Liz MacDonald with apologies form Peter Saggers. When it came to the subject of parking charges the Chair of the meeting, Tommy Hogg, asked Tom Heggie to speak. Cllr Heggie began:
"As you are aware there was a meeting last Tuesday and people made their views known and we as councillors made our views known. We were in a situation in the Council that every Councillor was told that if they had a proposal to take something out of the budget they had to have a substitute because there was a need for a balanced budget. The proposals were put through with the proviso that further consultation would take place. All of the Councillors voiced their disapproval.
We accepted that there would be further consultation. We've been doing quite a lot of research. Michael Boylan from the BID and the Association of Businesses, he has offered to pull together people to discuss all the implications with us and we will be having meetings with – in fact- the budget leader sent me an e-mail today saying he's be open to meeting with us to discuss proposals. The toilets should be seen as part of the whole package.
We are looking at , again there's lack of clarity about everything. Where we are at the moment, was I have made a plea to the Council and, that a) we were put in an invidious situation that nobody had valued, nobody had put a sum of money on what this car parking was supposed to generate. Some of the car parking was Common Good and further research indicates that there's a probability that other areas are in the same situation and there's maybe other complications that a head of service or whoever is proposing this hasn't researched properly.
We have the support of Michael Boylan and as a group of councillors we will be looking closely at further developments. Liz who is a member of the opposition and they wish this to be postponed. That was not carried in the Council but the four councillors are bringing information together and it looks as though, because this has not been thought through the proper – who actually owns the land I think would be a fair one. It's not been properly researched, that there is still a case to be made, a strong cast to be made that this should be taken off the table but we are in the early days of negotiating that. That would be our view, that would be our objective and that is what we will be trying to achieve. Having it taken off the table but the other side of that is we also need clarification and there was a great lack of clarification about the whole idea of the toilets and how that can be progressed. In some communities Alness and others in the West they have taken responsibility locally and they have community groups that are talking responsibility for certain activities in the community, quite extensive involvement in quite a number of activities but we don't have that option at the moment. "
Tom was then questioned by Iain Bruce of the Community Council and faced criticism from Sheena Baker too. More when time permits.