Thursday, May 21, 2020

Highlands not yet back open for visitors says Finnie

Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands has welcomed the First Minister’s announcement of a roadmap out of lockdown, but warned that for now the Highlands must remain closed to visitors.

The Scottish Government has signalled its intention to begin a phased end to lockdown restrictions on the 28th May, but restrictions on travel, tourism and hospitality businesses are likely to remain for sometimes to come.

The Green MSP has previously issued calls for short-term let operators throughout the Highlands to stop taking bookings throughout the crisis and for people with second homes in the region to stay away for now.

Mr Finnie said: “Today’s announcement from the First Minister provides some light at the end of the tunnel but it’s important to remember that restrictions remain in place and won’t be completely lifted for some time to come. The risk of overwhelming health services in remote and rural communities throughout the Highlands remains very real and would be exacerbated by an influx of tourism from the rest of the country. I would therefore implore those with second properties to please stay away until we can be sure the threat from this deadly virus has passed.”

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Highland Council proposes network of safe walking and cycling routes in response to Coronavirus pandemic - consultation for communities

A Highland Council press release reads:

The Highland Council and NHS Highland have submitted an ambitious bid to the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund seeking support to deliver rapid active travel interventions. If successful, towns across Highland and the city of Inverness will see a roll-out of temporary walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure over the coming weeks and months. The measures will include footpath widening, temporary bike lanes and other works that seek to ensure people can walk, wheel and cycle safely on essential journeys and taking daily exercise.

By delivering safe active travel connections across settlements to link major healthcare facilities and other destinations, the proposals aim to maximise opportunities for social distancing. Importantly they will also provide a necessary springboard for town and city centre recovery and regeneration as lockdown measures are eased and places need to be adapted to be safe for work, business and leisure.

Whilst a rapid programme of work has been undertaken to submit the initial funding bid, the Council considers this as only the start of the conversation and will continue to review, monitor and evaluate schemes and proposals as they emerge.

Communities, businesses and other stakeholders are being encouraged by the Council to get involved. To ensure the council responds appropriately it has set up a consultation ( (external link)) so that people can share their views on the proposed interventions now and as they are implemented. This will enable Highland Council to maximise the impact of measures and respond to the evolving needs of our communities as the current pandemic situation changes.

You can read the full press release here

We had a quick look at the consultation documentation for what is proposed for "Nairn Interventions" and it's a bit minimalist really but as they say above "the Council considers this as only the start of the conversation". Picture from that part of the webpage below. You can participate here. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

River CC online meeting - lots of ups and downs tonight

A lot of disagreement at the latest online meeting of Nairn River Community Council tonight.  It is hard to see how the organisation can effectively proceed with the present fault lines that were apparent tonight. It was quite extraordinary really, this observer is quite sad after witnessing proceedings this evening.

We would anticipate a full report perhaps in next week's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Council support to families in time of need "Help is at hand for bereaved families in Highland who may find the unexpected cost of funerals out of their reach during the COVID-19 pandemic"

Highland Council press release:

Help is at hand for bereaved families in Highland who may find the unexpected cost of funerals out of their reach during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Highland Council has provided funeral directors in the region with information leaflets to ensure that they are aware of the financial support that is available to relatives for some funeral costs in specific circumstances. Depending on the individual circumstances of bereaving families, help may be available through the ‘Bereavement Support Payment’ and ‘Funeral Support Payment’.

Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee Chair, Cllr Linda Munro said: “The Council is acutely aware of the unexpected pain and hardship that the sudden loss of a loved one can cause for surviving relatives and the financial hardship this can cause to surviving relatives especially where the deceased was the main source of income in their home. That is why we are keen to share this information about support that is available.”

To help those most in need at this difficult time, the Council’s Welfare Support Team can assist eligible families to apply for help with funeral costs and to claim all entitlements that may be due because of such a significant change within their home.

There may also be additional benefits and help available on an ongoing basis to help with living costs. For example, a 25% discount from the council tax bill may be available together with a further reduction from the means-tested Council Tax Reduction scheme. Furthermore, some households may be entitled to Pension Credit to top-up their state pension on a weekly basis.

The support is free and confidential, and the Welfare Support Team can be contacted by emailing: or by phoning 0800 090 1004. 

Contact can also be made by completing a secure online form at

"Nairn councillor Tom Heggie called Parkdean irresponsible and said he was writing to tourism secretary Fergus Ewing to ask for his intervention."

More on the Press and Journal website:

Outrage as national caravan operator offers Highland bookings from May 16

Monday, May 04, 2020

Nairn River Community Council online meeting Tuesday 12th May 7.30 pm - public to be invited

The Gurn understands that Nairn River Community Council hope to have a mechanism in place to allow members of the public to attend their online meeting  (Tuesday May 12th). An unreliable source close to senior NRCC movers and shakers contacted the Gurn with this information earlier today. 

Details of how to join the meeting should appear on the NRCC site here soon.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Nairn Task Force Web and mobile app launched

The remarkable Community Resilience organisation that sprung up in Nairn just before Lockdown and has done marvelous work through this crisis have now launched an app to make things easier for those that need help, those that wish to volunteer and/or donate during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Tish Joyce of the Task Force told the Gurn: "This is a really important step forward as it means that the Task Force is largely self managing with minimal
interaction required by myself, Rhona and Nicola. The aim is to reduce emails and phone calls as much as possible, and enable those requesting support or offering support to self serve via a simple app that can be used on the web or on their phone.

I am now looking at how we can adopt this as a Community Tool, on an ongoing basis. It can provides Nairn with a simple tool that can be used in the event of further challenges with Covid-19 or in fact any other threat that requires community members to support one another. It has taken a lot of hard work to design and develop over the last four weeks, and we have been fortunate to have been provided with it as a pro bono offering from Cognizant UK Outreach Team."

Earlier Tish had posted the following message on the group's Facebook Page:

"7 weeks ago today, the idea for Nairn Task Force was born, anticipating a lock down scenario. Sadly it happened, and we've all been on quite a journey. There is no doubt that the spirit and work of the volunteers has really helped our community to get through these times. 
It was hard work to setup initially but thanks to the support of Nicola Mackinlay, Rhona Macdonald and Elaine MacPhail we established a working pattern, that became easier. The intent was always that the Task Force become self managing and the WhatsApp Sub Groups have really helped to make that happen. Today I can announce the launch of the Nairn Task Force App which is now live and enables self service for:
- Volunteers to update their availability and pick up new support request without emailing, texting or calling us
- Those in need to request help efficiently, and track their request, with minimal intervention by others
- Those wanting to make a promise of a donation to do so, and this can then be assigned to a volunteer who can use it to support someone.
I have been working with the UK Outreach Group from Cognizant, as they have designed and built this for us free of charge. We are hugely grateful to all of the team who have worked day and night to build an amazing solution ''ARAM - Aspire to Serve' . Please pass on our thanks Sathish Kumar. Nairn Task Force has been the inspiration for this app, and we are the first users..
Please log into the app today via the link below and update your information, availability to volunteer - it will take just a few moments. If you have a gmail address log in via Google or use your email as user name and mobile number as password. You can then change your password as required and update details. You can do via your phone and add to home screen and this will become an app on your phone or you can access via the web

Go to the app below, you don't need to log in, but you can request help via the I NEED SUPPORT button and we will ensure you get what you need.

Anyone who wishes to make a promise to donate can also do that via the I WANT TO DONATE button. We will be in touch when we can use your promise.

Any new volunteers can also register via the I WANT TO SUPPORT button and we will be in touch.

Thanks again for everything,
You are amazing

How about learning some Gaelic during Lockdown? Three hundred thousand people around the world are already and there's no shortage of learners in Nairn as well!

The Scottish Gaelic Duolingo course (entirely free) has been around for five months now and it already has an incredible 300,000 plus active learners registered.

We had quite a few meet-ups in Nairn  for Duolingo learners and other folk with some or quite a lot of Gaelic before the  Lockdown. We are still continuing online. You can get more details here on this Duolingo events site dedicated to what is going on in Nairn.

During this continuing Lockdown period perhaps you might fancy a go yourself? The Duolingo app suits the times we live in and you can get a few minutes of lessons anytime you have a spare moment or a longer period of time to yourself and a lot of us have quite a bit of that on our hands just now.

You can enroll for the free Duolingo Gaelic course here.  

There are plenty of other resources for learners online too at Learn and of course there are other learners and native speakers in Nairn to try out a bit of Gaelic with.