Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Affordable Housing" and Liz's recent comments published in the local paper - The text of a response from Edward Andrews

Edward Andrews has made available to the Gurn a copy of his letter to the Nairnshire Telegraph in response to comments on housing matters made by Liz MacDonald and reported in the issue of 24th of July in the local paper. It certainly is a thought-provoking letter. 

"Dear Sir.

I was interested in reading Cllr MacDonald’s comments in the “Nairnshire” about the need for Affordable Housing in Nairn. Does she in fact mean “Affordable Housing”, or housing which people can afford?

There is a difference. So I thought that I wold look at the “Shelter” definition. They give a rough guide tending to say that the cut-off for what’s affordable is 35% of a person’s net household income ( income after tax and benefits). Any more than this and it’s likely that they will have to cut back on something else or will have to borrow or will fall into arrears.

Helpfully Cllr MacDonald tells us that there are almost 400 people on the waiting list for houses in Nairn, what we cannot know is what the economic situation of these people are, and whether or not they can afford to buy from a developer even at an allegedly affordable price.

It is generally accepted that the most socially destructive action of the Thatcher Years were the sale of Council Houses, and this is being reversed by the present Scottish Government with no fewer than 5,992 council houses built in the last parliamentary term. Of the 50,000 affordable houses planned until 2021, some 35,000 or 70% will be for social rent. It is unlikely that these will be built by developers reacting to the invisible hand of the market, and the interest of the shareholders.

Were Nairn to become a no go area for developers, as Cllr MacDonald suggests, this would mean that the demand for land would fall as would the land prices and it might be possible for the community in one form or another to work to meet the needs of the almost 400 people on the housing list, that they would have the kind of houses which they need rather than the £200,000+ houses which seem to be being built by developers.

As Cllr MacDonald says, this area is under delivering significantly on its local quota. The answer is to move on from the failed system where developers build a few “Affordable” houses as part of their building mix, but that the needs of the least able to find housing at the moment is prioritised.

I remain 
Yours faithfully
Edward Andrews"

There will be a site visit by members of the Highland Council planning committee to the Lochloy area on August 8th to see the area (owned by Councillor MacDonald) where a housing development company wishes to build a large number of houses.  The councillors will also meet local residents to hear their concerns about infrastructure, wildlife and other issues. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

For many Nairn folk the building will always be "The Rocking Royal" but a new sign displays its role in this new millennium

And across the road it looks as though the accomodation above the former Brown the Butcher's shop (now Lorenzo's) has been given similar signage. Pictures of the Royal Guest House here on Booking.com. 

Time to re-brand Dalcross as Nairn Airport?

Inverness Airport are doing some twitter research.
Our Gurn backroom staff have been doing some research and according to Google Maps (the font of all cartographical knowledge in this new millennium) it is 9.4 miles from Inverness to the airport but only 9.2 from Nairn to Dalcross. It's a mere 22.6 miles from the airport to Loch Ness according to Google.

It's a no-brainer folks it is Nairn Airport!  More on the Inverness Airport re-branding strategy here on the P&J site.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sandcastle competition Nairn Beach - pictures

A great event down on Nairn Beach this morning folks but it nearly never happened because of bureaucracy. However local businesses and organisations stepped in to help out. Here's what the Courier had to say:

"A SANDCASTLE competition set up by a mum looking for free things to do with her child during the holidays was almost scuppered by council red tape.

Nairn’s Dawn Cowie-Mcinnes (41) was shocked to receive a letter from Highland Council warning her that she needed official permission to host the event on the town’s beach.

She feared there was no way she could complete the lengthy application process in time or find the £559 required for a public entertainment licence. She said: "Everything for kids is so expensive nowadays, I thought we could have some good old fashioned fun on the beach and bring a few families together."

Nairn Yes blogger back

In the old days, before the massive ascendency of social media there used to be quite a lot of blogging in Nairn but these days that has quietened down considerably, we still have a feed in the side bar that has the sites or blogs that put out a regular news feed in the area (the ones we know of anyway and if you have one out there that isn't included please let us know). Back on the scene now is "Yes voter in Nairn".

Friday, July 27, 2018

Library car park traffic lights not working

The lights are still out this afternoon at the time of writing this post (13.15).  Not much fun if you are trying to get out and get your car on the A96 and even worse if you are a pedestrian trying to cross the trunk road. Thanks to Doctor Grigor for the picture below.

August 8th - site visit by Highland Councillors on planning commitee to see site of Springfield housing application on Liz's land

The Gurn understands that preparations are well underway by objectors to receive the planning committee when they arrive in Nairn by bus on Wednesday the 8th of August to see the site and the infrastructure etc. One of the objectors told the Gurn that they would like to see anyone who thinks the Lochloy development is inappropriate to go along and join them on the morning of the 8th in the Lochloy area. 

The Highland Councillors will be here to see an application that has proved to be very controversial locally with both the town's community councils and many others consider to be inappropriate given the current state of the sewage, roads and other infrastructure in the area. 

The Gurn understands that there have been new developments in correspondence on a significant wildlife matter too. 

This week also saw impassioned comment from Liz (that's Cllr Liz MacDonald to anyone that is not a regular reader of these pages) on the subject of housing reported in the Nairnshire Telegraph. Liz is reported commenting on the Morganti Land application on the Forres Road and also on the Springfield application. She takes a pop at the Community Councils too.  More in this week's Nairnshire Telegraph. 

Gurn comment:

No one can deny that there is a lack of social housing in Nairn and once again we have to say that we are concerned that there has been no effort to build any on the Sandown Lands yet, that is land that the town owns in the form of an asset on the books of the Common Good - surely that could facilitate things. Remember we were asked for our views on what should be built on Sandown in a "charrette" at the Courthouse back in 2012. The experts employed for that came up with a few plans (pictures here on the Gurn Flickr pages). Six years on and nothing has happened, it was meant to be done in five year phases - an opportunity for social housing lost?  Why all this emphasis on development out in the east of the town?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Too many Highland Eggs still in the tourism basket?

Overnighting at Nairn Harbour
Earlier this week we noticed the comments of David Richardson of the Federation of Small Business when he made reference to an article in the Scotsman that examined on the increasing numbers of visitors to the Highlands and Islands. 

Here in Nairn perhaps we would still like to see a bit more of that tourism here and the nearest we perhaps get to mass impact is the nightly line of camper vans down at the harbour. Here, close to Inverness we are in a part of the Highlands with a more mixed economy and the options for employment extend beyond tourism for many. Witness the weekly advert from the carvan site operator Parkdean for a range of positions they seem unable to fill this year.

Again David Richardson is concerned about the inability of some businesses to recruit seasonal staff. on this matter he said on twitter “Has many implications, all of them negative.” And Chair of the Association of Nairn Businesses Michael Boylan, also on twitter, said:

“I'm of the opinion that seasonal workers and the ability to recruit, retain and house them is one of the Highland tourism industry's biggest risks. You can't maintain high service levels with less people in the service industry.”

On tourism matters too this week, John Finnie MSP was calling for a tourism tax such as you often have to pay in other countries. The tax would help fund local authority expenditure. I think a lot of Nairn folk would be very worried about getting their fair share of that spent in the area too. Would be a good idea perhaps if we had local accountability restored in the form of something resembling the former Nairn District Council?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Appeal after cars vandalised in Nairn

Police in Nairn are appealing for information after several vehicles were vandalised in the Fishertown area of the town.

At least nine cars have been damaged overnight from Sunday, July 22 into Monday, July 23 and it is suspected that a small number of others parked in the area may also have deliberately damaged.

Incidents were reported around the King Street and Links Place areas.

The damage included various scratches being made to doors and bodywork.

Sergeant Steven Maclennan said: "This has been extensive act of vandalism causing entirely needless inconvenience and financial impact to those affected. 

"Acts like this won't be tolerated and I can reassure the local community that enquiries are ongoing to identify the person or persons responsible.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact police in Nairn on 101, quoting reference NM2172/18 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you would prefer to remain anonymous."

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Nairn Healthcare Newsletter Summer 2018

The latest news Nairn Healthcare


Nairn Healthcare would like to welcome Mandy, our new receptionist, to the team. We have also said goodbye to Dr Andrew Evennett, our GP Partner, who has retired after 5 years with the Practice. We wish Dr Evennett a long and happy retirement.

Cervical Screening

The cervical screening programme is available to all women between the ages of 25-64. Women aged between 25-49 will be called three yearly and those aged 50-64 every five years. Women will be invited for screening via letter at the time they are due.

Cervical screening aims to reduce the likelihood of cervical cancer in women by detecting pre-cancerous cervical changes and we would like to encourage more women to attend for their check-up.

Nairn Healthcare currently has 3,501 women who are eligible for a smear test. 2,783 women took advantage of this opportunity (79.5%). We would like to see this figure rise and ask all women who are eligible to come for their screening. It could save your life.

5,000 lives are saved every year by cervical screening and we cannot stress how valuable this is for stopping cancer before it starts. The current HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV so although the vaccine offers good protection, the combination of immunisation and regular screening offers the best protection.

For more information on cervical screening, please visit: https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/screening/cervical-screening/introduction-to-cervical-screening-smear-test

BBQ and Food Safety

Summer has arrived...and BBQ and picnic season is in full swing. Unfortunately, this is the time of year we seem to see a rise in food poisoning largely due to the Campylobacter bug – the most common cause for food poisoning in Scotland. Eating raw or undercooked meat is one of the most common ways people can get food poisoning.

To avoid the campylobacter bug, avoid cross contamination of raw and cooked meat. Always wash your hands after handing raw meat and use different utensils for cooked and raw meat. It is also safer to cook the chicken in the oven and finish off on the BBQ for flavour. Also, disposable BBQs take longer to cook so remember to check that your food is cooked properly.

Eating al-fresco on a summer’s day is an all-too-rare treat in Scotland and we certainly don’t want food poisoning to spoil this. For more information on BBQ and picnic safety, head to www.foodstandards.gov.scot/news/eat-safe-summer

Sun Protection 

Recently, the UK has been experiencing some of the hottest days of the year so far. Although it’s great to have some sun shining, we still need to protect our skin with suitable clothing, seeking shade and applying sunscreen.

Sunscreen should be suitable for your skin type and block both UVA and UVB radiation, at least SPF15 should be applied and the product shouldn’t be applied if after its expiry date.

Children and babies have more sensitive skin than adults so please take extra care to protect them. Children under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight. There are sunscreens available that are formulated for children and babies, these are less likely to irritate their skin.

If you do happen to get sunburnt, paracetamol and ibuprofen will ease the pain by helping to reduce inflammation. Sponge the sore skin with cool water and apply aftersun lotion. If you feel unwell or the skin swells or blisters, please seek medical help and stay out of the sun until all redness has gone.

For more information on sun protection, please visit www.nhs.uk/livewell/travelhealth/pages/sunsafetyqa.aspx


Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions affecting one in five people at some point in their life and unfortunately, it is during the Summer months that it surfaces. It is an allergy to pollen and the symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes.

There is currently no cure for hay fever but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment to a certain extent. Treatment options include antihistamines which can help prevent an allergic reaction from occurring. Steroids are sometimes recommended to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Most hay fever cases can be controlled with over-the-counter medication from the pharmacy, however if you feel your hay fever is more troublesome, it may be worth speaking to a GP as you may require prescribed medication.
Some self-help tips:

* Wearing sunglasses outdoors to stop pollen reaching your eyes

* Take a shower after being outdoors to remove unwanted pollen from your body

* Apply a small amount of Vaseline to the nasal opening to trap pollen grains.


Nairn Healthcare will be discontinuing the eConsult service from 31st July 2018 due to low usage of this service, however we will be offering online appointments in the near future to book a routine GP appointment.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The wishes of Nairn - ignored by the folk in the bubble?

As controversy still rages over proposed cludgie charges and parking meters - a stay of execution it seems on that perhaps until we know the result of the Nairn BID vote - but then what? There is a school of thought that Highland Council are hell bent on putting in the meters, even on Common Good Land, and that it will eventually be a fait accompli. If we don't want them then it is suspected that we will have to find the projected cash that they are supposed to raise ourselves.

And after that there will be other pressures on the town too as more and more cuts kick in - there are dark rumours of cuts way, way into the bone in future financial years. Will our Common Good funds and assets come under pressure to pay for the continuation of services that Highland Council will want to withdraw from? 

But we are where we are today and that is with little or no say as a Community. The situation was explained succinctly in a recent Nairnshire Telegraph editorial. If you didn't get a chance to read it then here's a screenshot of part of the editorial from the issue of June 26th. There will be agreement with the Editor's thesis well beyond the ranks of the usual suspects.

Picnic in the Park - Viewfield - Sunday 22nd July - take your unwanted plants, garden produce and tools to swap with others

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Sun 29th July - Free sandcastle competition @ Nairn Beach - all ages welcome 10.30 am

Dawn tells the Gurn: "It's a free event and something fun for everyone to do in the summer holidays."

Should be fun folks. Looking forward to seeing all your designs. Gurn reporters will be there. 

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Joint Police and Fire Service patrols to combat fire-raising in Nairn

Police in Nairn are warning of the dangers of deliberately setting fires and the safe use of disposable single use barbecues during the summer months.

Officers will carry out dedicated joint patrols with colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service along the town's beach and links during the school holiday period.

These patrols are aimed at deterring the setting of deliberate fires in the area - and being in a position to quickly tackle any fires which are found.

Inspector Mike Middlehurst said: "Previous joint patrols with our colleagues from Scottish Fire and Rescue have proved very successful and we are pleased to be continuing this during the summer.

"Recklessly setting fires is incredibly dangerous - you have no idea how it may develop, especially given the very dry weather we have been experiencing recently.

"What starts out as piece of fun could very quickly develop into a serious situation putting people and property at risk, as well as causing significant long lasting environmental damage.

"Anyone planning to have a barbecue in the beach area should know how to do so safely and then dispose of them properly afterwards. I would also ask for the support of local retailers to make sure they highlight fire safety to anyone buying a barbecue.

"We would urge people not to interfere with firefighting equipment stored in the in the area of be the beach such as fire extinguishers - the consequences could be very serious if the staff at local businesses cannot access the equipment they need quickly. Members of the public should be aware not to obstruct fire hydrants or access roads.

"We want people to be able to enjoy the beaches in Nairn and do so safely. Our patrols are aimed at keeping people safe and we hope to achieve that with the support of the public and businesses in the area."

Rab Middlemiss, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Local Senior Officer for Highlands, said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has a very clear, zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire raising because it puts our communities at great risk.

“It presents a danger to life, property and the environment – not to mention the potential impact on businesses which are important to the economy.

“We will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to ensure that those responsible are identified and dealt with accordingly.”

He added: “But I must point out that the best fire I ever fought was the one I prevented from happening in the first place.

“That is why we will continue to work hard to engage with our young people and our communities to ensure they are aware of the very real dangers.

“We have seen all too clearly the very devastating consequences of fire and if we can prevent just one person being hurt then it will be worth that effort.”

For more information on how you can keep your home and family safe, visit the Your Safety section of the website /your-safety/safer-summer.aspx

Contact Details

Call 101 for non-emergencies and general enquiries, in an emergency call 999. If you have information about a crime you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Dying to Know 2018 - Thursday 19th July 2018 Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Dying to Know 2018 – Programme

12.30 – Opening

1pm – Lisa Law ‘Wills and Powers of Attorney’

1.45 – Keith Walker ‘Emotional Support’

2.15 – Gill MacLean ‘CAB advice’

2.45 – Derek Brown ‘Options and Choices’

3.15 – John Diffey ‘Cairngorm Natural Burials’

Sunday, July 01, 2018

River Nairn at Firhall drops below lowest level recorded by SEPA

Tonight the SEPA reading from Firhall goes below the previous lowest level on SEPA's record database. Out and about in may areas of the riverbank today you can see large areas of vegetation that have drooped significantly today. In other parts of the town too it seemed like large areas of grass were going fully brown. 

It felt really hot and perhaps might have been just as hot as the previous hottest day on Thursday. No sign of any significant rain for the next week too on the BBC site.  Comparisons are now being made in conversation with the drought year of 1976.

Cause for concern for the Nairn Angling Association, please see below.

Another attack on mature trees at Viewfield

Regulars on the Nairn Rocks Facebook page will have seen the images of and the comments on the damage to a tree in the corner of Viewfield next to the back of the former Windsor Hotel. Today one of our readers informed us of further damage to another tree in that area. 

This afternoon someone had put a handwritten notice at the base of the first tree that had been attacked, it read "Why? Why? Why? You may have killed this beautiful tree". 

Pollution incident on the River Nairn - pictures from the swan mannie

Pictures and more information on the swan mannie's website here.