Friday, April 27, 2018

Parking charges - “Any consultation they do have now will be about how to implement them and how much to charge”

There is a school of thought that the parking charges are a fait accompli and talk of consultation little more than a sham. News from Dingwall today will certainly feed the many suspicious minds in Nairn. 

Today's Ross-shire Journal quotes Dingwall Councillor Graham MacKenzie:
Anti-parking charges sentiment growing in Dingwall

“It was made quite clear at the meeting that the council administration feel that the decision has been made that parking charges will be introduced. 

“Any consultation they do have now will be about how to implement them and how much to charge 

“They are only planning to consult with what they call community leaders and I'm not clear who they are."

Cllr MacKenzie is calling for the plans to be deferred for a full public consultation. He is planning a motion to the full council on May 10. More in the Ross-shire Journal. 

This observer wonders if our councillors will find common cause with others in the Highlands to stop the parking charges. The Gurn has written to Cllr Tom Heggie, Peter Saggers and Laurie Frasre to ask them how they plan to stop parking charges coming to Nairn and what form the promised consultation will take.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

MSP praises Nairn Foundry

Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament today recognising the dedication and commitment of the team at the Black Isle Bronze Foundry on completion of their crafting of the bronze horse ‘Poppy’ which is to be a memorial to all the horses, mules and donkeys killed in WW1.

David said “The horse is the first national memorial to the millions of horses, mules and donkeys from across the Commonwealth killed in WW1. It is testament to the endeavour and work of those involved at the Black Isle Foundry in Nairn, that the construction and sculpting of this life sized model was awarded to them by the War Horse Memorial organisation.

“The finished sculpture will be sited in Berkshire, at Royal Ascot and I understand that the public in the North can get a quick glimpse of the horse at Falcon Square on Saturday 28th April 2018.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Nairn Academy letter to parents - asbestos concerns after closure of some rooms - "the swab tests dust did contain small quantities of Chyrsotile (White Asbestos)"

After recent work on the roof dust was found in some rooms, they were closed but the school was incorrectly advised that the woodwork area could be used.  

Tonight this issue is being discussed by parents and other concerned folk on the popular Nairn Rocks facebook page.

The situation is also developing with comment and criticism from Parents on the Nairn Academy Facebook page. 

How Nairn got all the traffic lights - and with more developments planned, time for a new and up to date traffic study to consider these?

The Gurn has been reminded of the detailed study produced by West CC in 2011 (available here) about the questionable way in which the extra traffic lights were introduced as part of the Sainsburys' development. [It has been suggested to us that the expert studies which recommended the extra lights were deeply flawed and never properly scrutinised]. With the congestion problems still not fully resolved, and three new applications for retail and housing development on the east side of Nairn, it seems essential that a new and up to date traffic study of the cumulative impact of these proposals be carried out. This provides the obvious opportunity to further simplify and reduce the traffic lights system, to look at options for better access to Lochloy, and to improve other junctions such as Waverley/Manse Road and Sandown Farm Lane.
Nairn by night Janauary 2014 

The West CC report contends additional traffic lights were never required or justified as part of the Sainsburys' development and it was only because the goalposts were moved and projected development at Sandown was included in the overall evaluation that the lights were justified.  

This observer remembers a few Community Council meetings from those days and what was striking was how little our then Highland Councillors seemed to know about what was going on and how powerless they seemed to be do anything to stop the lights. And recently of course one set of lights were removed but it took 7 years for that to happen, politicians at a higher level don't seem to have the capacity to move swiftly either. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP David Stewart has stepped back into the saga over traffic congestion in Nairn.

Today we received a press release from David Stewart concerning the traffic lights. David mentions the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland's role in installing the lights in the first place. Here at the Gurn however, we have some sympathy for the school of thought that Highland Council also had some culpability in turning Nairn into a "traffic light toon". Below is the MSP's press release and after that a link to Gurn material concerning the origin of the lights. 

"Highlands & Islands Regional MSP David Stewart has stepped back into the saga over traffic congestion in Nairn.

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 Roundabout (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).

(Note: There was a fatality involving a pedestrian and a lorry late October 2015,at the A96/Leopold Street junction, but this tragic collision was not included in the statistics provided)

“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?'"

“ Let's take Albert Street.

"In a 10 year period there had not been one road collision at that junction, yet it was deemed potentially a dangerous junction and traffic lights were set up there, albeit here they are, some years later and after community and political pressure, 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, even at this junction.

David concluded , “ The public of Nairn, the motorists of the A96 and so many other knew then and know now that there was not a need for this 50% increase in the number of traffic lights along the A96 in Nairn and all that the Government and Transport Scotland did was brought road chaos to the town. Now they need to sort it out and the start has been removing one set of lights they installed against most other peoples better judgement. Already there has been improvement with congestion.I have written again to the Transport Minister asking him to monitor the need for all other traffic light controlled junctions through Nairn."
Now we wish to refer readers to a Gurn article from August 2014 entitled "How Nairn got the traffic lights and the present day environmental and economic penalty paid by residents and business"

The article stated: The “hellish” delays that can be caused by the Nairn traffic lights were discussed at the joint meeting of the West and Suburban Community Councils in Nairn Academy on Tuesday night (22/08/14). We’ll return to the substance of those discussions but in the light of recent facebook activism by local residents perhaps this is an opportune moment to quote Cllr Brian Stewart of the Westies who gave a short briefing on how we got so many traffic lights in Nairn.

Brian said: “I think the origins of it all are quite clear, a team of consultants run by Colin Buchannan produced a report for the Sainsbury’s development proposal because they were required to. Which was tabled to Highland Council and that incorporated traffic studies which led to or which included recommendations for traffic lights. Highland Council as the local planning authority agreed those proposals as part of the package that went with the permission to develop Sainsbury’s . Highland Council as the planning authority were required to get Transport Scoltand’s endorsement or acceptance of traffic lights because the A96 is a trunk road and Transport Scotland endorsed and accepted them and BEAR Scotland’s job is simply to make sure that the electricity, that the lights work, so BEAR Scotland have no policy responsibility.”

More here.

A traffic jam back in 2014 and still a common site in Nairn

Proposed Forres Road development on Morganti land - still the same application?

One of our regular readers informs us that there have been 30 new or revised documents submitted on the Forres road application that showed up on the Highland Council e-planning site on the 12th April. Our correspondent goes on to suggest that given these and all the previous changes then the planning process surely mitigates more in favour of developers than any members of the public that may wish to may submissions - and there was no shortage of individuals that made submissions before the closing date. 

The solution according to the concerned individual who is worried by the many changes would be for the application to be thrown out and for everyone to have the chance to comment on a brand new application. Obviously, however, this is not the way the system seems to work givrn the capacity to accomodate so many changes. 

You can keep up to date with the latest changes to the Forres Road application here.  

In the Press and Journal today with a mention or two for Nairn "Budget-cutting NHS Highland bosses accused of “mismanagement” after £200,000 contract payments were not legally agreed"

"Recommendations were made after it was found that the contract to provide intermediate care at the Nairn medical centre had been in place since 1998 but had not been subject to a formal tender or “value for money” assessment.

The contract, which is now worth about £200,000 a year, was terminated by the board in May 2016 for “unclear” reasons, but it was then reinstated following a complaint by the practice.

A new intermediate care contract was then agreed between the board and the Nairn centre in September 2016, and money was paid to the Nairn facility from then despite the deal not being officially signed off until February 2017 – meaning NHS Highland was paying for a service that was not legally agreed."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday night brings County delight - Nairn 3 Turriff 0

The last home game of the season saw goals for Max Ewan, Dylan MacKenzie and Adam Porritt tonight as the warm glow from Saturday's win against the Broch got a frist class top-up tonight at Station Park.

The evening started with a minute's silence for Mansell Craib - more here on Mansell's incredible contribution to the club on the County website.

Match report here and here's the goals.

Keeping Nairnshire Colourful needs some help to maintain flower beds in the town

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

And in other football news...

A 5-0 win for the Nairn County U20 side at Station Park last night against Forres. A match report here. A short video here of some of the second half action, unfortunatley this observer arrived too late to get any of the first half goals.

Reports of Saturday's win here and Max Ewan signing a three year contract, still a smile on County fans faces this week following that great display and next up is Turriff tomorrow night at 8 pm (Weds 18th) if you can make it please come up for the last home game of what has been a very entertaining season.

Pictures below from Donald Matheson of the action on Saturday including shots of Jordon MacRae heading in his fantastic first goal. Individual images here. 


More of Donald's images of recent games here. 

Saint Ninian, already league winners of the SJFA North First Division (West), were held to a draw 2-2 away at Buckie Rovers on Saturday. More information on Saints here. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Legends day at Station Park Saturday 14th - emotional moment as the heroes of the league winning side of 75/76 go onto the pitch at half-time

And a legend from the present day was at Station Park as well - Jordon MacRae with a hat-trick to make it 3-1 to Nairn against Fraserburgh in the sunshine too - just a perfect day. 

More football news, links to pictures etc, later tonight.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

If Home Bargains get go-ahead at Balmakeith the Co-op want controls imposed on amount of floor space used for sale of food.

In a submission to the recent planning application for a restaurant with a drive-thru facility and a Home Bargains retail outlet at Balmakeith, a Co-op employee has stated the following to Highland Council planners:

"I write in relation to the above planning application on behalf of the Co-op who as you will be aware operate 3 food stores in Nairn.

The conditions of the outline planning permission state that the as yet undeveloped units should be restricted to non-food use - a condition that B and M clearly cannot comply with.

We would urge the Council that should it be minded to approve the above application that conditions are appended to any permission to clearly control the amount of floor space that can be utilised for the sale of food and other convenience goods in order that the potential impact of the new store on the town centre is mitigated.

Such conditions would also prevent a food retailer from occurring the unit in the future without the Council having the opportunity to fully address impact through the planning process."

Riviera Community Enterprise open day now Sat April 21st

David Munro tells the Gurn:

Many apologies but our Open Day is going to be NEXT Saturday 21stApril not Saturday (14th) as advertised last week. Various reasons but we mainly didn’t have time to organise all the things that we want to have in place for next Saturday. So it’s going to be the same time:10am - 4pm
The same place - 8 Leopold Street, Nairn (Opposite ‘Sky Delights’)

And there will be the same opportunity to find out all about our Eco-tourism project – ‘Riviera Rides’ the rickshaws for tourists and the elderly, mountain and electric bike hire, promoting local cycle tourism. 

Also exploring the possibility of using part of our premises as a Visitor Information Centre in the summer months as well as the feasibility of holding regular Farmers’ and craft markets in the summer months behind our premises. We’d especially like to hear your feedback and ideas as well as how you might provide valuable support by volunteering to help develop any of the above activities.

How often do people say ‘Nairn needs something!’ These activities and facilities will bring something new and needed–but with your ideas hopefully a lot more besides. We're looking for 'out-of-the-box' thinkers and doers especially interested in the local environment, local tourism and local sustainability to help us achieve these goals. So if you’re interested in making Nairn a more eco and tourist-friendly place do come along next Saturday and find out more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Get bidding for healthy rivers - online auction to raise funds to safeguard our rivers for future generations

The Findhorn Nairn & Lossie Fisheries Trust has launched an online auction to raise funds to help keep our rivers healthy and safeguard them for future generations.

The FNLF Trust is a charitable organisation which works to conserve and restore our three rivers and their fish populations- they are important natural resources which are under threat. Support the work of the FNLF Trust to research fish populations, restore river habitats and inspire young people to get outdoors and enjoy the rivers on their doorsteps.

The online auction will raise vital funds to deliver practical advice and habitat work, inspiring and helping people to protect river habitats and the wild salmon and trout populations they sustain.

This is an unmissable opportunity to get your hands on some unique, exclusive and even quirky experiences and items. You can bid for fishing lots on exceptional beats on the River Findhorn which are not normally available to salmon anglers- at Cawdor, Dunphail and Corrybrough. Deer stalking on the Coignafearn and Aberarder Estates in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains is also available. If that doesn’t tempt you, then how about two tonnes of beech firewood from the forests of Darnaway- although free delivery is restricted to Forres. There is also a fantastic selection of dining, holiday breaks and cultural experiences to bid for. The great thing about the Findhorn Nairn Lossie Online Auction is that there is something for everyone. Lots start at as little as £10. 

So visit our auction website, get bidding and share with friends. The auction will close on the 7th May 2018.

Bob Laughton, Director of the Findhorn Nairn & Lossie Fisheries Trust said

“We are delighted with the support received from both local businesses and individuals – many of the auction lots are truly once in a lifetime opportunities. We would like to thank all our kind donors, who recognise the importance of keeping our rivers healthy, by offering lots for the auction. The funds generated from the auction will enable us to continue our invaluable restoration work.”

Casting tuition for primary schools

Juvenile fish surveys

Salmon leaping up the River Findhorn

Contact the Elderly to launch in Tain and Nairn

A charity which provides tea, cake and conversation to older people who live alone is hoping to offer a lifeline of friendship in Tain and Nairn.

Contact the Elderly has more than 25 groups in the Highlands, making an immeasurable difference to the lives of more than 100 older people.

Contact the Elderly organises free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties. A volunteer driver collects and older person and accompanies them to a volunteer host’s home. The same group of people meets each month.

Denise Robson, Development Officer at Contact the Elderly, said:

“We have had interest from potential guests and volunteers to launch groups in Tain and Nairn. To bring these to life we need more people to commit to joining our free, informal and fun events which turn loneliness into companionship.

“We are encouraging the communities in and around to Tain and Nairn to help us make these groups a reality. Are you, or do you know, an older person who lives alone who would enjoy a bit of a blether over a tasty afternoon tea? Do you have a few hours to spare once a month and a car to accompany an older person to the tea parties? Do you have a few hours even just once a year to open your home to a group making an immeasurable difference to the lives of older people locally?

“If the answer to any of these questions is yes then please consider getting in touch and helping us expand Contact the Elderly’s outreach in Ross-shire.”

Contact the Elderly is also appealing for more guests and volunteers to bolster its existing groups in Inverness.

To find out more about becoming a guest or volunteer of Contact the Elderly, contact or 01542 285010 or visit

Cinema Nairn A Man Called Ove (15) Friday 13th April 7.30pm - Nairn Community and Arts Centre Tickets at the door

Friday’s film for Cinema Nairn is the 2015 Swedish comedy, ‘A Man Called Ove’. (15)

The story tells of Ove, a grumpy, isolated retired widower, who likes nothing better than to enforce the apartment block rules and has just about given up on life. When Parvaneh and her boisterous family move into the house opposite sparks fly initially, but might it be just what Ove needs? A feel good comedy about finding friendship in unexpected places which was nominated for best foreign language film in the 2017 Oscars.

Film starts at 7.30 at Nairn Community and Arts Centre. Tickets at the door.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Highland Council's Flood Risk Management Team object to proposed retail unit and a restaurant with drive-thru lane at Balmakeith

Here's a couple of extracts from the Highland Council's own Flood Risk Management team responce to the planning officer responsible for the application:

"iii)The site drainage is to discharge into the Auldearn Burn to the south of the site. The Auldearn Burn has a history of flooding downstream in the area around Balmakeith Park and for this reason we require the post development runoff to be limited to the existing 2 year greenfield runoff rate. This has been calculated as 1.5 l/s."

 iv). The current drainage proposals result in post development runoff rates of 2.5, 2.5, and 3.0l/s for 2, 30, and 200 year plus climate change return period storms respectively (taken from Appendix F of the SWMP). These rates equate to an increase in discharge over the existing greenfield rate for a 2 year storm, a slight betterment for a 30 year storm and a betterment for a 200 year storm.

 v). As the current drainage strategy results in increased discharge over existing greenfield rates for the more frequent storm events we are not able to support the current drainage strategy and we raise an objection to the development. 

Please note that submission of further information does not guarantee that the Flood Risk Management Team will be able to support this application. We reserve the right to request additional information in the determination of the application."

You can read the Flood Risk Management Team submission in full and other objections and statements of support on the Highland Council e-planning site here under the comments and document tabs here. 

Gurn opinion: drainage will obviously be a serious stepping stone here for any future development at Balmakeith, the Auldearn Burn can indeed rise sharply during extreme weather events. Below are images from August 2014. 

New retail developments at Sainsbury site, and further housing at Lochloy/Kingsteps and Forres Road - Nairn River Commmunity Council asks planners "to consider all three proposals as interlinked".

More on the NRCC site here. 

Association of Nairn Businesses object to proposed retail unit and a restaurant with drive-thru lane at Balmakeith

In a submission to the planning application currently live on the Highland Council e-planning site the ANB state:

"The ANB objects to this application on three specific grounds: 
• it is inconsistent and in conflict with the existing conditions which were applied to the initial development on this site and have been endorsed by an Appeal Reporter and Ministers. These conditions are a material consideration and and are still applicable in respect of any and all other proposed retail development at this location; 

• if granted, this application will further damage the existing Nairn High Street retail businesses, and thus will undermine the very reasons which led to the original conditions being applied 

• the granting of consent for retail premises at this location would not be in compliance with national government planning policy as set out in the “Town Centres First” approach which is now embodied in Policy 1 of the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan"

They then go on to refer to planning conditions imposed on the Sainsbury's development, including: "4. No part of the development shall be used as a café, restaurant (other than staff café or restaurant), post office or pharmacy."

The submission concludes:

" Our view is not only that the current application directly breaches the conditions already in place on specified types of retail development at this location. The ANB also regards this proposal for a drivein/take-away restaurant and for a Class 1 retailer of non-food products as likely, indeed certain, to inflict further damage on the viability of the existing High Street. To approve this application would thus contradict the reasoning for, and undermine the purposes of the conditions already in place – which are to preserve the vitality of the town centre and the provision of local retail facilities elsewhere in the town 

In terms of broader planning policy, in recent years the Government has adopted the principle of ‘Town centre first’ in terms of development planning. This has been incorporated into the current (July 2015) Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan. Because the present proposal may – indeed in our view will – have an adverse effect on Nairn Town centre, it does not comply with para 2.8 and Policy 1 of the IMFLDP.

 Every developer will make claims as to how their proposals will not result in any net detrimental effects on the local town centres, yet no one seems to be able to cite any examples of out of town shopping areas actually improving the local High Street. What we have seen in Nairn Town Centre since the above development was put in place is a decline in trade with people moving to the out of town location. To combat this the ANB are working with our Councillors and others to develop a BID (Business Improvement District) to enable an upturn in trade within the town through focussed cosmetic improvements as well as enhance marketing and collaborative working, all of which would be put at risk through a further decline in trade"

You can read the ANB submission in full and other objections and statements of support on the Highland Council e-planning site here under the comments and document tabs here. 

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Noel Gallager's Highflying Carpets - The Playhouse 27th July 2018 - NCFC fundraiser for Toilet Block Fund

"There is no doubt that Highland Councillors have become fed up with criticism which gets fed through local community councils and to some extent with meetings being dominated by members of the public grinding axes"

More on page 6 of this week's Nairnshire Telegraph - Ediotrial "New Format".

"It was perhaps just a matter of time before the BID got the the cold shower treatment"

More on page 6 of this week's Nairnshire Telegraph - Ediotrial "No unity".

Albert Street lights to go for good - Transport Scotland press release

A set of traffic lights on the A96 in Nairn is to be removed permanently, following a successful trial.

The temporary removal of the signals at the A96/Albert Street junction began in November 2017. Monitoring of the junction has shown that journey times through Nairn improved during the trial period, with no adverse impact on pedestrians or cyclists.

The decision has now been made to permanently remove the traffic signals, with this likely to take place in late April/ May 2018.

Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf said:

“We launched this trial after the community raised concerns about congestion in Nairn. Road safety will always be our main priority, and we are delighted that the changes improved journey times while maintaining a safe environment for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

“Work will now begin to permanently remove the traffic signals and install a permanent pedestrian barrier so drivers can benefit from faster journey times, while also maintaining safe pedestrian crossing points.

“The success of this trial is an excellent example of Transport Scotland working in collaboration with local councils and community groups to improve the road network within Scotland.”

The trial follows on-going collaboration between Transport Scotland, The Highland Council and local representatives in the Nairn Community Focus Group.

Councillor Tom Heggie, Chair of the Nairn Community Focus Group said:

“The trial removal of the lights have proved to improve the traffic flow in Nairn. The proximity of two sets of lights was, on occasion, confusing.

"We appreciate that there has been a considered and positive collaboration with the community and local representatives leading to this positive outcome.”

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Parking meters have been ordered

Yesterday we contacted Highland Council in connection with a press article that indicated parking meters had been ordered for Dingwall, we asked: "Have any parking meters been ordered for Nairn?"

We had a prompt response this morning, "A Highland Council spokesperson said: “New parking meters have been ordered to support the roll out of charging for parking, as per decisions on parking approved at the Council’s budget meeting of the 15 February 2018.”

Free parking (for now) in Nairn town centre and very hard to find a space this morning 4th April 2018

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Meanwhile in Dingwall (another Highland town threatened with parking charges) there is more than a little bit of concern about an order for meters

"Dingwall parking campaigners have accused Highland Council of a “fait accompli” after it emerged parking meters have already been ordered despite promises of consultation.

A senior councillor last night confirmed the equipment had been purchased – but said it could be used elsewhere if Dingwall avoided the charges.

However, angry locals claim the move shows the council is just “going through the motions” offering to talk before imposing the controversial charges."

This observer is just off over to the Highland Council website to ask the press office if any have been ordered for Nairn.