Friday, February 14, 2020

Nairn West & Suburban Community Council meeting for Monday 24th of February

Meeting Agenda
Nairn West & Suburban Community Council

Monday 24th February, at 7pm
in Nairn Community & Arts Centre

Chairperson: Sheena Baker


1. Chairperson - Welcome, attendees and apologies

a. Declaration of Interests

b. Meeting being recorded

2. Minutes of Previous meeting – correction and adoption

a. Matters Arising

3. Treasurer’s Report

4. Secretary - Correspondence

5. Items for discussion:

a. Web site

b. VE Day Nairn

c. Flooding/Flood Protection/River dredging

d. Request for meeting with HC ECO Kate Lackie update

e. Schools and library provision

f. Common Good Identifying tasks for proposed sub-group

g. Parking Consultation document

h. Report on IMFDLP meeting with Scott Dalgarno

i. Empty properties Town centre

j. Town centre regeneration – HC planning application for 12 flats and CAB office

6. HC Update from Elected Highland Councillors:

a. Grass cutting proposal

b. Links

c. Toilet strategy for Nairn

d. Other live matters

7. A O C B

8. Questions or Contributions from Members of the Public

9. Next NW&SCC meeting – Monday, 23rd March,2020, Nairn Community and Arts C

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nairn West and Suburban draft minutes from Monday 27th January now online

They will of course be subject to amendment but anyone wishing to keep up to date on several important issues affected the town may wish to read them. 

Also on tonight is the first full meeting of the new Nairn River Community Council. This observer believes there may be some interesting dynamics surfacing in the Community and Arts Centre this evening. Agenda details of NRCC meeting here.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

12 flats and relocation of CAB to King Street site - plans now in the public domain

At the last meeting of Nairn West and Suburban Community Council on Monday 27th in the Community and Arts Centre Tom Heggie indicated that plans for the proposed CAB move and flats would soon be in the public domain if they were not already. It emerges that a new plan had to be drawn up as the public toilets are Common Good Property. 

That new plan and associated documents are now on the Highland Council e-planning pages here. The existing former social work buildings would be demolished and become a car park with the existing car park that has the dilapidated wooden fence and contains the electric car charging point would be the site of the building containing 12 flats and the CAB.  

Nairn River Community Council have written to the planners asking for an extension of the consultation period as they do not have an opportunity to discuss this application until Tuesday 11th of February.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

River Community Council Agenda for next week (11/02/20)

More details here.

Events this month for Gaelic speakers and learners in Nairn

Next event is another informal social gathering to practice your Gaelic in the Bandstand Bar on Tuesday next week 7-8.30 pm 11th Feb.

All learners and speakers welcome not just the folk on the Duolingo app (although there are 186,000 out there learning some Gaelic and the majority of them in Scotland according to press reports - probably a few more in Nairn we haven't seen yet so please pop down if you can on Tuesday night.  Here's where you can get the free online Duolingo course.

More details of events here.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Parking Charges - more consulation in the "next month or so"

Cllr Tom Heggie told the NWSCC meeting last week that there will be "extensive consultation" within the next month or so and community groups will be invited.

Gurn opinion:  Just how many times does this community have to say that parking charges anywhere in Nairn are a bad idea and unacceptable?

Artwork by Trish Hossack in the foyer at the Nairn Community and Arts Centre. Exhibition runs until 16th February.

Post office may carry out " further local public consultation on another location"

 One of our regular readers sends us a copy of a letter from the post office, it reads?

"Further to my previous communication in which I advised you of our decision to move the above Post Office to new premises located at McColls Retail Group at 39 High Street, Nairn, IV12 4AG, I’m now writing to let you know thatthe new operator has decided not to progress their application to operate the branch. 

The branch will therefore continue to operate from the current location for the time being. However we may carry out a further local public consultation on another location in the near future. In line with our Principles of Community Engagement, any new location proposal would be subject to a further 6-week period of local public consultation."

Could a move to the Co-op be back under consideration?

Monday, February 03, 2020

"Gàidhlig ann an Inbhir Narann ​​ a 'fàs - Gaelic in Nairn is growing" Display in the Library - Taisbeanadh anns an leabharlainn

"Gàidhlig ann an Inbhir Narann ​​ a 'fàs". Taisbeanadh anns an leabharlainn le fiosrachadh mu sgoiltean, clasaichean, buidhnean, Croileagan, tachartasan Duolingo agus tuilleadh "

"Gaelic in Nairn is growing " Display in the Library with information abut schools, classes, groups, playgroup, Duolingo events and more.

An excellent wee display folks. Well worth popping down for a look at all the information available on what's happening with Gaelic in Nairn.  Just started learning or fluent? Whatever your level here's some events coming up where you'll get a warm welcome.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sandown Lands confirmed as inalienable from Burgh Charter of 1589 - Viewfield House and Gardens belong to Nairn Common Good Fund too - implications for past actions at Sandown?

At the NWSCC meeting last Monday night in the Community Centre Joan Noble gave an update on additions to the Register of Assets to Nairn Common Good Fund. These changes come about as the result of submissions by Nairn residents:

Falconers Lane CP. The Parking Area (including the toilets) from the back wall of the Old Social Work building, to the back of the High Street properties has been CG land for 45 years. 

Foreshore. All the beach between mean high and low water marks have been CG from 1589 – from Sandown right of way to line drawn out from Kingsteps. (the Royal Burgh boundary). Status of seabed queried.

Viewfield House and Gardens. Bought for community use in 1949. By definition inalienable.

Promenade. An adopted HC road but is on CG land purchased by the Burgh 1948.

Between Harbour St and river. Site of toilets and carwash is CG land from Charter. Harbour shelter is CG.

Kingsteps car park. Now clarified as being CG. Road belongs to Brodie Estate.

Prince of Wales Walk. The pathways and low land from Nairn Bridge to Auldearn Burn on the E bank of the river.

Monuments: Toorie, Grigor Statue, Poets Well, Merkat Cross, Infantry Stone, 4 Paintings in Courthouse.

Sandown confirmed as inalienable from Burgh Charter of 1589. 

The Sandown issue is very interesting as Joan said: "Sandown has now been confirmed as Inalienable CG land. This entails onerous legal conditions on its disposal."

Joan further explained that "inalienable" means that there there is a legal process and a consultation process to go through before there can be a change of use or disposal. The Sandown Lands had been looked on as having been brought as an investment but it hadn't been brought as an investment. She said "so in effect the Council did not have the right to sell that land yet it was put on the market." 

Bill Young went on to speak and maintained that Highland Council's consequent claim to title over a chunk of that land in lieu of the costs they incurred in the sale attempt is not valid. This was brought to the attention of Tom Heggie and Peter Saggers who were present (it was before their time on the Council but they will now be obliged to follow it up after the issue was pointed out to them by NWSCC members). No doubt there will be much more to be heard on the issue of the Sandown Lands and the past behaviour of Highland Council in the weeks and months to come. 

Joan outlined that there were still one or two other wee issues to be finalised concerning Common Good assets. She went on to say: 

"Our four Nairn Councillors face challenges in this respect. On the one hand, as Councillors they are obliged to pursue and promote the policies and objectives of the Council to deliver public services. On the other, as Trustees of our Common Good (with their 80 other colleagues) they are equally obliged to safeguard the assets of the CG and to ensure best use of them for the local community. As trustees they are ultimately personally responsible for the decisions made and the consequences. Reconciling these two potentially conflicting roles is not easy."

It's the old story - the interests of Nairn and the interests of Highland Council are not always going to dovetail - perhaps there will be discussions soon on how everyone moves on from where we are now. Joan Noble suggested and Sheena Baker asked and got CC consent, to set up a working (sub)group of NWSCC members hopefully with River CC representives too, to continue the research and scrutiny on Common Good matters.

Alton Burn flooding discussed at NWSCC meeting last Monday night (27/01/20) – leads to letter on wider flooding concerns for Nairn - measures "deferred, postponed or abandoned"?

Alton Burn flooding discussed at NWSCC meeting last Monday night (27/01/20) – leads to letter on wider flooding concerns for Nairn

Dick Youngson gave the meeting an update on the damage to some gardens close to the Alton Burn. He reported out ongoing investigations were ongoing with SEPA and Highland Council. Stewart Stansfield of NRCC was also at the meeting and outlined how Highland Council was a substantial landowner alongside the burn and had always taken some responsibility.

Brian Stewart raised wider concerns and reminded everyone how Cllr Liz MacDonald had raised concerns some months previously about the delay to the implement of flood prevention plans for the Nairn cactchment area (being either deferred, postponed or abandoned).

The Community Council agreed to write a letter to Highland Councillors to get things “pushed up the agenda somewhat".

Here is a Gurn article from three years ago that outlines the risks as perceived by the powers that be to Nairn from flooding and the actions that need to be taken: Flood risks in Nairn and surrounding area - what might happen and what needs to be done - A SEPA Flood Risk Management document.

Inverness certainly has had a fair bit of flood prevention work, Forres too - meanwhile what about Nairn?  

Nairn - long overdue some extra flood prevention measures?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Time for Inverness to have its own local authority so the rest of the Highlands can "receive the representation more suited to communities' unique needs".?

This observer suspects that Gail Ross's statement in the Scottish Parliament would find considerable sympathy in Nairn and also Andy Wightman's follow up response on twitter. Inverness now too big to allow effective local democracy elsewhere in the Highlands?

Monday, January 27, 2020

"There's much less clarity over the much larger contributions from housing projects. These add up to much more money than the Common Good Fund has ever had"

This observer went over to the meeting of the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council earlier tonight and it was a fascinating event. Students of the various subjects that have dominated local politics in recent years will be fascinated by some of the comments made tonight. There was talk of where the City and Region deal cash has been spent. An outline of things that are now in the Common Good Asset Register. Where can money come from to get the things that are needed to be done in Nairn. The Alton Burn flooding. The proposed move of the CAB to the former Social Work Buildings. The A96 and will funding for it get through the next Scottish Government Budget. It was a night of facts, figures, hopes and aspirations. If time permits over the coming days we will report on some of what was said. This evening though, here's something that Community Councillor Brian Stewart had to say:

[…] That's the public money, we musn't forget that there is also a hugely significant source of other money. Especially for infrastructure like roads, roundabouts, drains, schools, playgrounds and other improvements like that. There's money for that, it comes from the contributions made by developers when they build and expand housing estates and by new businesses like Sainsbury's when they set up business. And in some areas, sadly not for us at the moment, things like wind farm projects. Over the past few decades there has been a huge amount of such development in Nairn.

You only have to look around. It continues right now at Lochloy and Kingsteps and there's quite a lot of new bids on the horizon for sites at Granny Barbour's Road and elsewhere. But while we know about the Sainsbury's money, part of it went on the High Street, and we know rural Nairnshire is getting some windfall money from windfarms, there's much less clarity over the much larger contributions from housing projects. These add up to much more money than the Common Good Fund has ever had. People talk for example, about what happened to the money that was supposed to be paying for the bridge over the railway at Balmakeith. People wonder about the windfall gain from the disposal of the substantial and valuable site at Lochloy that was originally earmarked for a school. Where's the money for that? Nobody knows.

The Council has acknowledge that there have been difficulties in identifying and keeping track of this money. The point for us, is that it could and probably does add up to millions. Millions which could and should be available to meet the necessary costs of improvements to the fabric of Nairn. The question is what can we do about it?

I think the answer is simple: Transparency, the information and the figures need to be public. We need to know how much Nairnshire chips into the pot in rates and taxes that go to the public purse and we need to know how much money, public money, comes back in the form of funding for public services. And we need to know the amount and scale of development contributions on all of the extensive developments in Nairn over the years. How has it been spent? Where is it at the moment if it hasn't been spent? And what is it going to be spent on? We need to ensure that the developments that the planners promote also can deliver the infrastructure which the town needs.

Brian went on to say that the new management structure of Highland Council and the new Chief Executive has designated and appointed regional Chief Executive Officers to oversee and champion the various different regions in the Highlands. He asked and got approval for the Community Council to ask the new CEO for Nairn to visit one of their meetings outline how she intends to promote and challenge the interests of “this her parish”.

Cuairt-litir buidheann Gàidhlig Duolingo Inbhir Narann - Nairn Duolingo Gaelic Group Newsletter

"Cuairt-litir buidheann Gàidhlig Duolingo Inbhir Narann
Nairn Duolingo Gaelic Group Newsletter

Our first Duolingo event in the Bandstand on 14th January was very well attended and a lot of Gaelic was spoken, we had eight people with a very good level of Gaelic who helped everyone else along a bit. We will be returning to the Bandstand on Tuesday the 11th of February (again at 7pm) to try a little more conversation. We are simply trying to create an environment where people get a chance to use their Gaelic whatever their level of knowledge. We have to help each other along and use our Gaelic – it is up to us to create the opportunities where we can speak Gaelic, be that at more events or simply in the passing in the street or up at Sainsbury's or wherever we come across each other in day to day life. If we are going to learn some Gaelic we might as well use it so please come along and give it a go in the Bandstand on the 11th of next month.
If you didn't see the document (linked below) in a previous e-mail, have a look - it gives a few hints for getting going with conversation if you haven't been learning Gaelic long. It is important to start using your Gaelic as soon as possible and start creating that Beurla-free space that will accelerate your learning.

Please see below for other events coming up, including the regular library sessions and a try at a Wednesday afternoon session to see if that suits anyone who can't make evening or weekend events.
Please let us know what suits you and also if you have any ideas for things we can do to encourage the use of Gaelic in Nairn.
If you have friends who are Gaelic learners or speakers please forward this newsletter to them so they are aware of the efforts of our group. They are very welcome to come along to any of the events.
Le deagh dhùrachd,

FORTHCOMING EVENTS - informal get-togethers and opportunities to use your new language skills!
Saturday, 1st February, 12noon - 1pm, The Library Nairn: join in the weekly Cearcall Còmraidh
Tuesday, 11th February, 7pm, The Bandstand: evening meet-up over a glass of something
Saturday 15th February, 10.30am - 12.30, Sandown Allotments, Bùth-obrach nòdachadh - Grafting Workshop - everything you wanted to know about grafting apple trees!
Wednesday 19th February, 2-3pm, 112 on the Brae: daytime meet-up for those who aren’t free evenings or weekends.
What other events would you like to see? Sky-diving? Knitting? Hill-walking? Singing? Story-telling? Baking? Please let us know!"
Tuilleadh fiosrachaidh an seo - more information here.  

Want to learn some Gaelic? 172,000 other folk are right now for free on the Duolingo online course? 

KIngsteps Road closure - more on how residents should have been informed

The Gurn received the following reply from Scottish Water on twitter concerning the nature of the closure and the works that are planned:

"Where extra sewer capacity is needed to accommodate development, developers are responsible for providing this. The planned work is therefore being carried out by a contractor on behalf of the developer. 
It's important the work takes place so there is no detrimental impact from new connections on our existing customers or the local environment, but SW isn't directly involved in the specific construction / road arrangements which are agreed between developer and roads authority."

So something has gone wrong elsewhere, the failure to inform Kingsteps folk is not down to Scottish Water. The Gurn also understands that Highland Council asked Springfield to inform the Kingsteps residents. 

The Gurn also understands that BEAR Scotland are seeking information on any diversion signage that may be required for the A96. 

In relation to the sewer upgrade it also appears that a number of public interest questions have been sent to Highland Council by one local resident.

Chinese Lion Dance Blessing at Ashers on the High Street this morning

More images here on the Gurn Flickr pages

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Nairn Academy Duke of Edinburgh Gold Group Burns Night Celidh fund-raising sucess

Excellent video in the tweet below too. Well done the Gold DofE group

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Kingsteps residents shocked to find Lochloy Road closing for six weeks

This road sign comes as a bit of a shock to one or our regular readers at Kingsteps. Morton told the Gurn:

"This will effectively cut off Kingsteps and we will now face a major and lengthy diversion to access Nairn

A new sewer is to be laid for Scottish Water.

At the Planning Application by Springfield for its Kingsteps housing development we were assured that the existing sewage system had plenty of capacity and we were never informed of the need to provide a new stretch of sewer.

No one had the courtesy of giving residents prior warning or explanation of this road closure and we only found out when signs were put up today advising the road will be closed from next Tuesday for six weeks!!

I had to contact the local Roads Department to obtain an explanation!"

Conversation in on of the local social media hotspots indicates that residents in the new housing schemes in Lochloy had been consulted and informed but some folk that are nearby and will be affected do not seem to have been contacted at all. 

The Gurn has asked Scottish Water for details of the work and whether a press release is available. There is concern as to whether the emergency services and the like of the school bus have been informed too. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Post office plans cancelled with McColls closing in Nairn

The plan to move the Post Office to McColls is no more. The Nairnshire Telegraph has revealed that the store is now to close. Much debate in Nairn social media circles now about the future of the Cawdor Road Post Office and the services it provides.

More evidence of the turbulent times for many High Street retailers, with fags and newspapers on sale at so many outlets in Nairn it must have been too difficult for the company to justify continuing with its Nairn outlet.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Cròileagan Inbhir Narann (Nairn's Gaelic Early Learning and Childcare Setting) Open Session Friday 24th and Monday 27th January

Gàidhlig - Gaelic - lots going on in Nairn - loads of folk learning with the new Duolingo app

Gaelic in Nairn has been given a bit of a boost recently with the arrival of the new Duolingo Gàidhlig app. According to one article recently about 80% of the learners using the online resource are resident in Scotland. This morning there are an incredible 159,000 folk using Duolingo to learn some Gaelic and it's only been available for seven weeks too!

This observer knows 14 people in Nairn that are using the Duolingo Gàidhlig and there are probably the same again in town and nearby and maybe more too. You can register here - it's free too. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Nairn River Community Council election result and interview with top of the poll Tommy Hogg

The result read out by Depute Returning Officer and Ward Manager Willie Munro

Interview with top of the poll - Tommy Hogg

Monday, January 13, 2020

Scozzesi (male vocal quartet) - Saturday January 18th 7.30pm - Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Tickets at the door.

Chase away the January blues with a fun night of song! Scozzesi, the acclaimed Scottish operatic ‘boy band’ comes to Music Nairn on Saturday (18th ) with a night of favourites from opera, operetta, Gilbert and Sullivan, traditional airs and songs from the shows. Singing both a cappella and with piano, these four young Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduates have delighted audiences all over Scotland with their easy rapport and beautiful singing. The concert starts at 7.30pm in Nairn Community and Arts Centre with tickets at the door.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Nairn Duolingo Gaelic learners getting organised - join the Nairn "Chapter"

Back on the 19th we published an article commenting on how the new Duolingo Gàidhlig app had attracted 100,000 people to learn Gaelic in a little less than three weeks. That figure today is 135,000 and according to one recent press article 80% of the learners are in Scotland. 

This observer knows personally about 15 people using the app in and around Nairn. There will be quite a few more though learning a bit of Gaelic as and when time permits with this app which is just perfect for the way we live our lives and do a lot of stuff on our devices. 

If you are one of those learners you can find out about events that will be organised in Nairn to offer folk the opportunity to use their Gaelic. Tuilleadh fiosrachaidh an seo - More details here.

Quite a lot going on in the Nairn twittersphere these days folks, we'll post anything interesting we see here via the Gurn twitter page

If there's not much being posted here it's worth having a look at the Gurn twitter account. Quite a lot happens in the Nairn twittersphere these days and you can scroll down the wee twitter boxie on the right hand side as far as you like to see what the latest craic is. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either.