Friday, April 09, 2021

Anyone taken Joe's shovel by mistake?

Joe tells the Gurn: "Someone has taken my round mouthed shovel from beside the Swans Island. I use frequently for shoveling the river stones , repairing the mot area etc. I had it hidden just over the Bank close to the island . Have had that shovel for donkeys years, and it's the only tool fit for the job of shifting stones and gravel.

Whoever took it, if they would be good enough to return it, important for the upkeep of the island moat."

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Gurn twitter account

We're old media now too, most news in Nairn breaking over on Facebook these days but we still have our moments from time to time.

In the meantime 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 box 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. 

Friday, April 02, 2021

Greens call for Highland Council to follow Glasgow by divesting in fossil fuels

Ariane Burgess, the lead candidate for the Scottish Greens in Highland & Islands region has called for Highand Council to deliver real climate leadership by following Glasgow City Council in ending its pension funds investments in fossil fuels.

According to a recent report by Friends of the Earth Scotland and a coalition of environmental groups, Highland Council Pension Fund has £46,148,655 invested in fossil fuels.

Commenting, Ariane Burgess, who is the Scottish Greens’ lead candidate in the Highland and Islands region at the Holyrood election, said:
“Public money should be used for the public good. People in Highland don’t want to see these pension funds exacerbating the climate crisis, particularly when this money could be invested into socially responsible areas like green energy production, house building and public transport improvements.”

“If Glasgow can end its support then so can Highland. Divestment is only the first step to tackling the climate emergency. The Scottish Greens will invest in a green recovery from the pandemic that creates 100,000 jobs while reducing Scotland’s emissions. That’s why we’re asking people to vote like our future depends on it.”


 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme extended

The Highland Council has today (1 April 2021) reopened the Discretionary Grant fund to allow more businesses to apply to the scheme.

Having seen the number of applications received and the fact that extra money was made available to the Council the grant scheme can now support a wider range of businesses and offer a higher level of grant than originally anticipated.

Businesses now have until 5pm on Friday 9 April to apply for grant.

The Council’s Economy and Regeneration Manager Andy McCann explained: “When we first launched the grant scheme we were unsure how many businesses would apply so initially planned to award a grant of up to £2,000 to all qualifying businesses.

“Based on the number of applications and extra funding received we are now able to give grant to all eligible applicants of up to £4,000.”

“The grant scheme remains focused on supporting those businesses who have, for whatever reason, fallen through the funding gaps and who have experienced a reduction in trade. The extra funding available has allowed Highland Council to award grant to those businesses that have seen a reduction in trade of 10% or more due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

The Council urges all affected businesses to go to its website – www.highland.gov.uk/discretionarygrantscheme (external link) take 15 minutes to read the guidance and if they consider themselves to be eligible, to gather the bank and business evidence required and to apply using the online form.

Andy McCann added: “As this is now a larger grant scheme to administer, we ask that applicants bear with us as we process their applications and get payment out to them. We know how desperate businesses are for the funds and we will endeavour to get this money to eligible businesses as quickly as we can. Businesses can help us to do this by ensuring they get their application right first time and give us all the information we need.”

 

Beavers for Sandown and further rewilding exclusive

From our ecological correspondent:

Following his recent relocation from Norway to Inverness, self-proclaimed eco-warrior, Dr Olaf Lirop’s intention to reintroduce Beavers to the Highlands has created some controversy in Nairn. His project team has already set up a Crowdfunding page, SBANS – “Scottish Beavers at Nairn Sandown” – which has received substantial contributions from many locals. Known amongst his fellow eco-warriors as “Tumshy”, Dr Lirop believes that the beavers would soon establish a large pond in the centre of the south Sandown field which would encourage species diversity within the current, wetland habitat, and its currently very frail pool. 

Highland Natural Heritage welcomed the proposal as the first step in a programme to fully re-wild the neighbouring Delnies Woods. They hope that over the next few years a number of previously native species will be re-introduced, including Wild Boar in 2022, Lynx in 2023 and if approved, Wolves before the end of the decade. 

Nairn’s Lord Provost has some reservations about the scheme, but hopes that if it is given the green light, then it could provide a much-needed tourism boost for the town. Local farmers are less keen on Dr Lirop’s intentions, with the Scottish Farmers Union asking for a period of consultation before the 4 breeding pairs of Lynx are released in 2 years’ time.

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council will discuss the matter at their emergency meeting scheduled for this Thursday (1st April).

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Sandown Common Good Land Sale Consultation responses – will they all be published in full?

A lot of people will have made submissions to Highland Council's consultation on that organisation's wish to sell the Sandown Common Good Land to a developer. There were calls at Monday night's Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting for all the submissions to be published.

Cllr Tom Heggie said that the responses were being collated and there had been a significant number. He went on to say that there were a number of consultations in Highland at the moment but the Sandown consultation was now a priority.

Brian Stewart urged that, like planning applications, all responses whether for, against or neutral, should be published in full online in the interests of transparency and because the future of Sandown was vitally important to the community.

Joan Noble said: “The Scottish Government guidance on the consultation over Common Good, their interpretation of the law is that all responses must be published in full as part of an openness so that everybody can see them, this is on the website. It isn't really an option for Highland Council

Tom Heggie said that there was "an agreed process" and that the CC should pursue the matter with the relevant HC official.

Following the meeting Joan Noble circulated an e-mail containing the precise Scottish Government information. Tom Heggie was quick to replay and a copy was also sent to the Gurn. Tom Heggie wrote that he had had a discussion with the official concerned and “I see no conflict between HC arrangements and national guidance.” 

The Gurn understands that Tom has been asked for further clarification on that.

Full publication be the right thing for Highland Council to do and then there could be no doubt about the feelings of the community. A summary of points for and against will not do here, there has to be complete transparency over the nature and volume of community feeling over what should happen to Sandown.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Police Scotland appealling for witnesses following a series of thefts from rural properties in the Cawdor area between Inverness and Nairn.

​We are appealing for witnesses following a series of thefts from rural properties in the Cawdor area between Inverness and Nairn.

Incidents were reported at three separate farms in the area between the early evening of Sunday, 21 March and the early hours of Tuesday, 23 March.

Items stolen include tools, foodstuffs and a small sum of cash.

Enquiries are ongoing and officers are appealing for any assistance in identifying those responsible.

Detective Inspector Andy Bilton said: "We would urge anyone who lives in the Nairnshire area to let us know if they have seen any suspicious individuals or vehicles operating in the area recently.

"If you have private CCTV or dashcam footage then we would ask you to review this and pass on anything which may be of help to our investigation."

Anyone with information can call 101, quoting incident 0494 of 23 March

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Upsetting the Highland Council Sandown development applecart?

With Highland Council putting forward Sandown Common Good Land as their only large preferred development site in Nairn in their Inner Moray Firth Development plan whilst simultaneously running a consultation on whether the said common good land should be sold for development - this observer wonders how it will all come out in the wash now given the Springfield plans for the other side of town coupled with the considerable public concern over selling Sandown Common Good land. The Springfield plans  have come into the public domain via the Inverness Courier today. More information linked below.

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting Monday 29 March 2021, at 7pm

 Details of the agenda available here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Highland Council Community Resilience virtual briefing from 12/03/21

 Thanks to NWSCC for forwarding this to the Gurn

"The briefing provides the usual update on the latest covid position in Highland and vaccination update and this week focuses on providing an update on the different sources of third sector funding that are available and also on the food support that remains available from the Council.  We hope that you will find this useful and do please let us know whether there are particular topics you would appreciate being covered in the weeks ahead."

Monday, March 15, 2021

Holding out for a HERO - A grant of up to £6000 is available from The Highland Council to help businesses with the costs of recruiting and employing a new member of staff.

A grant of up to £6000 is available from The Highland Council to help businesses with the costs of recruiting and employing a new member of staff.

If you are a private or third sector employer with less than 50 employees in Highland you can apply for a ‘HERO grant’.

The fund can cover the costs of employing someone including their wages, training costs, travel or other work-related costs.

Highland Council's Economy & Regeneration Manager, Andy McCann, said: "With the current uncertainty in the economy, the Council is aware of the difficulty’s businesses are facing to make a commitment to employ someone new.

"The aim of this 12-month grant is to take away some of this uncertainty and encourage employers to take on new staff who are unemployed or who have been issued with a redundancy."

Businesses can visit the Council’s website and take the 15 minutes required to read the guidance and to apply using the online form at: www.highland.gov.uk/HERO

The Highland Employment Recruitment Offer (HERO) grant is part of the Council’s Economic Prosperity Fund included in the Council’s 2021/22 budget

B&B’s and Self-catering businesses who pay Council Tax, can now for one week only, apply for grant support from the Small Accommodation Providers Paying Council Tax Fund"

B&B’s and Self-catering businesses who pay Council Tax, can now for one week only, apply for grant support from the Small Accommodation Providers Paying Council Tax Fund.

Applications are invited between 15 and 22 March from eligible businesses. Grants of £2,000, payable every 4 weeks, backdated to the start of January 2021 are available.

Highland Council's Economy & Regeneration Manager, Andy McCann, said: "As this grant scheme has only a very short window of opportunity to apply, we ask that if you are a B&B or a self-catering business who pays Council Tax, to go immediately to the Council’s website and carefully read the guidance.

"Those of you who are then eligible, please gather the bank and business evidence required and apply using our online form.”

“Already, as part of this grant scheme we have written out to those B&B and self-catering businesses who pay Council Tax who secured grant earlier in 2020. The vast majority of these businesses have already replied to us and we have approved payment with grants being paid in the coming days.”

For more information go to the webpage.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Looking to the Aird and Loch Ness Highland Council byelection for clues for what might happen in May? Scottish Labour fading fast in the Highlands?

 The Holyrood election is drawing closer and undoubtedly the pandemic will have an influence on proceedings. Postal voting, for example, may go through the roof compared to previous years. How will turnout be affected? When will the results be known? It's a frosty morning today but spring is on the way all the same and we'll all be out and about a bit more perhaps and time flies, even in lockdowns, so all will eventually be revealed. 

It is interesting to look to the Highland Council byelection on Thursday though. The results were published yesterday although the transfers of preferences will not be available until Monday. 


The first preferences have been published as you can see in the above embedded Highland Council tweet. 

A strong showing from an obviously popular and, eventually winning, Independent candidate obscures things slightly - who can tell where David Fraser's votes might have gone if he had not been standing? The SNP will no doubt be happy to have come just behind him with three votes less at 994, The Tories less so perhaps with 824 but that is a good showing all the same. Then, there's still a few hardcore LibDems about with a showing of 300 - looks like the glory days are well gone for them now though.

Perhaps the story of the day however is at the bottom of the pile rather than the top. The Greens got over twice as many votes as Labour, 272 compared to 133. The Greens will take considerable comfort from that going into the Holyrood election as it puts them close to 8% and representation on the list although the Independent candidate in May, former Green MSP Andy Wightman, might have an influence on how they perform. Labour will find no pleasure at all though out of their performance. Could they be on the verge of losing one or both of their Highlands and Islands list seats in May?  

So there's our non-scientific analysis readers. We're sure however that all the party strategists will be having a keen look at those figures in the cold light of a this Saturday morning. 

For more information on how to vote in May and postal application deadlines etc, then head for this Highland Council page.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Highland Council's Virtual Community Resilience briefing from 5th March

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council have again forwarded us a link to the latest Community Resilience information from Highland Council. 

The information from Highland Council states:

 "This week’s virtual briefing focuses on the budget and is introduced by the Council’s Chief Executive Donna Manson and by Carron McDiarmid, Executive Chief Officer for Communities and Place.  The briefing provides the usual update on the latest covid position in Highland and vaccination update along with focusing on the Council’s budget which was agreed yesterday.  We hope you will find this useful and please do let us know whether there are particular topics you would appreciate being covered in the weeks ahead."

                                                          

Canadian Scottish War Heroes: John Macgregor, a hero in Canada and Scotland - a video by Scottish History tour guide Bruce Fummey of Jock MacGregor VC, MC and Bar, DCM

 You can see more of Bruce Fummey's on his Youtube channel is here. Below is his video telling the story of Cawdor born Jock MacGregor.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Nairn BID Annual report and accounts 2019-20 available for the public to read

Good to see BID documentation in the public domain. Why? Isn't the BID just for business folk? Well in a way yes but the financial health of the community encompasses us all really so it is good to know what is going on and how the BID hopes to create initiatives that they believe will impact positively on our lives. Public money has found it's way to the BID too and that too is another reason to welcome transparency. 

In the post Covid recovery period many eyes will turn to see how the BID perform. The Chair, Peter Gibson states in his report:  "Nairn BID will continue to drive forward the success of ‘our wee town’ in this time of need. We are determined to deliver, and make a difference, and work together with our members in doing so. We are looking forward to a much more prosperous 2021, in which we can all work towards making Nairn a more attractive place to live, work, shop and visit."

Readers may wish to read the annual report and accounts, available on the BID website.

Highland Council's Virtual Community Resilience briefing for Community Councils - video

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council have forwarded us a link to the lastest virtual Community Resilience briefing they have received from Highland Council on Friday. The accompanying text from Highland Council read:

"This week’s virtual briefing is introduced by Carron McDiarmid, Executive Chief Officer for Communities and Place and Derek Martin and Fiona Shearer who are Area Education and Learning Managers.  It provides an update on the latest covid position in Highland, the Scottish Government’s lockdown review and an update on education and the return to school.  We hope you will find this useful and please do let us know whether there are particular topics you would appreciate being covered in the weeks ahead."

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Nairn - Think tank suggests we are the Scottish town with the most people employed in sectors currently shut down due to Covid-19

We repost this article from the 29th of April last year because we fill that the statistics outlined by the Centre for Towns will still be similar. Our local economy is already up against it readers and we will need help long after lockdown finishes. We hope the powers that be understand our particular situation as was outlined in this reasearch. 
 
We start this article with the following tweets from the Centre for Towns organisation:
Here at the Gurn the first thing that came to mind was the methodology used to determine these statistics. We asked and promptly received the following reply:

"The source is the BRES dataset, which is available at small area level. We use our own lookups to convert small area data into towns/cities/communities and aggregate up.
The link for the data resource is here fyi: https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/datasets/newbres6pub "  

We had a look at that site and it is part of the Office for National Statistics set-up. It does contain a caveat about being a prototype however. The study that Centre for Towns did for England and Wales was reported on SKY News here and in other media outlets. Readers may find that report for England and Wales entitled "COVID-19 and our Towns" of interest. 

So no report for Scotland yet but some tables published on the Centre for Town's twitter account.  Readers may also wish to explore the Centre for Town's website which looks into the economic and social dynamics of small towns, they describe themselves thus:  "The Centre For Towns is an independent non-partisan organisation dedicated to providing research and analysis of our towns. Whilst our cities receive a good deal of attention, we believe that there should be equal attention paid to the viability and prosperity of our towns."

Regular readers may have seen the Scottish Government information that we posted earlier today: "How best can the tourist and culture industry bounce back in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, asks Holyrood’s Culture Committee." 

Here at the Gurn we feel that communities such as Nairn that rely heavily on the Tourism and Culture sectors will need substantial and long lasting support when we eventually emerge from this crisis. 

Friday, March 05, 2021

Friday miscellany

One of our regular readers tells us that Highland Council are looking into how to stop further accidents with cars going into the river down at the harbour. He sends us a copy of a response from Highland Council to Ed Mountain MSP.
The Head of the Roads and Transport Department stated:

 “As a result of this incident, our Roads Department, with assistance from our Harbours Department are undertaking a review of the current quay edge protection system at the carpark to identify where practicable measures can be implemented to prevent a recurrence.”

So presumably the brown bin charge went up by a fiver then with the Highland Council budget being passed. The Courier reported:
“Figures obtained by the Courier via a Freedom of Information request show that the £5 price rise to £45 per brown bin for collections of garden waste has increased income, although more than 2000 permits for the scheme were not renewed.” More here.
Times are hard and maybe quite a few folk in Nairn will save cash this year and just put the grass cuttings in the Green bin?

Nairn Bid are going to consider “outside” directors at their AGM this evening. A proposed amendment to their constitution reads: “In addition, the directors may appoint two additional directors who are not BID levy payers nor representatives of a BID levy payer to serve for a term of up to three years.” More information here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Nairn Citizens Advice Bureau Survey "We would like your help to evaluate the knowledge you have about what we do and how we do it, and what we might be able to do in the future."

 Nairn CAB state on their survey page:

"We would like your help to evaluate the knowledge you have about what we do and how we do it, and what we might be able to do in the future.  We would really appreciate it if you could spend a few minutes answering the following questions."

The Survey page is here. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Widened Eligibility for Discretionary Business Grant

The Highland Council today (Tuesday 2 March) widened eligibility and extended the deadline for businesses to apply for its Discretionary Business Grant Scheme.

The Council’s Economy and Regeneration Manager Andy McCann said: “We are pleased to advise, that following extra money being made available to us from the Scottish Government, we have now opened up the grant scheme to allow more businesses to apply.

“When we first launched the grant scheme we only had sufficient money to give a grant of £2,000 for 760 businesses. We have now exceeded this number of applications and the new funding means that we will be able to give grant to all eligible applicants but also now to offer grant support to even more businesses.”

The grant scheme remains focused on supporting those businesses who have, for whatever reason, fallen through the funding gaps left by the UK and Scottish Government grant schemes and who have experienced a reduction in trade. The extra funding provided has allowed the Highland Council to lower the percentage of trade lost from 50% to 30%.

The Council urges all affected businesses to go to it’s website – www.highland.gov.uk, take 15 minutes to read the guidance and if they consider themselves to be eligible, to gather the bank and business evidence required and to apply using the online form.

The Council has also extended the deadline for grants to be submitted by two weeks and are asking businesses to get their completed forms submitted by 19th March. Once staff have assessed all these applications and paid out grant, the council is hopeful that there are residual funds remaining, to provide successful applicants with a top-up grant.

Andy McCann added: “As this is now a larger grant scheme to administer, we ask that applicants bear with us as we process their applications and get payment out to them. We know how desperate businesses are for the funds and we will endeavour to get this money to eligible businesses as quickly as we can. Businesses can help us to do this by ensuring they get their application right first time and give us all the information we need.”

Consultation begins on possible new state of the art Spa facility on the foreshore between the high and low water mark

Nairn Community Spa & Lido


The Directors of the Nairn Spa & Lido Company Ltd are pleased to announce the
launch of their community consultation programme and to minimise the delay
caused by the current pandemic, NCSL are beginning this consultation through
the launch of their website www.nairnspandlido.com. Residents are encouraged
to comment on the proposals and to sign-up to participate in this exciting
venture to safeguard and future-proof the existing swimming pool and exploit
opportunities that could lead to Nairn becoming the jewel in the crown of the
Moray Firth tourist economy.

The project comprises 2 elements:

1. The refurbishment of the existing Leisure Centre to include the replacement of the current 38 year old plant by renewable energy sources.

A new glazed dome containing photo-voltaic and photo chromatic panels to replace the current ‘industrial shed’ envelope and re-create the light and shade of the original Nairn Swimming Baths.

2. The new state of the art Spa facility on the foreshore between the high
and low water mark to include Lagoon pool - an unheated sea level pool with open water swimming depending on the state of the tide, sauna and plant room

Reception, Changing rooms, Healthy eating bistro and the prom extended around the outside of the building

New synchro and hydrotherapy pools

Scented steam rooms and spa treatment rooms run in conjunction with local treatment businesses

Top deck open horizon pool heated to 34 degC with open views across the Firth to the black isle and beyond

To realise this ambition, NCSL is seeking to secure Community ownership of the
existing Nairn Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool via Community Asset Transfer
and using state of the art renewable technologies, create Nairn’s answer to the
Thermae Spa in Bath.

Sustainable development principles incorporating green technologies not only fulfill Scottish Government climate change targets 2 but in replacing the current 38year old oil red plant with renewable energy sources, the proposals future proo fand provide greater security for the town’s swimming facilities in the post- pandemic economic climate. The marine heat pump technology uses a heat-exchanger to extract the energy embodied within the sea in a reversal of the process of the domestic fridge. The technology is tried and tested and operates successfully both in the UK and abroad. With the aid of funding support from the Davidson Trust, a study by Ramboll, an international engineering consultancy has validated the NCSL’s renewable energy approach.

 The business case for NCSL has been subjected to rigorous independent economic and financial assessments by an international consultancy, regional government enterprise agency and a market-leading private sector enterprise.


An economic appraisal undertaken by international consultants Upper Quartile
Consulting and funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in 2016,
concluded that the NCSL project could be ‘a game changer’ for Nairn. 

The project has since been further developed and forecasts a turnover of around
£4m after 4 years and generating an annual sustainable surplus of at least £0.9m
for the bene t o the local community.

Additional spin off in the form of not less than 57 jobs (fte) and income multiplier
e ects create a ‘honey-pot’ e ect further bene t the town’s tourist economy.
Equally important is the all year/all weather nature of the facilities which will
stimulate demand out-with the traditional Nairn holiday season.

This unique proposition has the prospects not only to deliver sustainable
revenue funding to the community but in the process provide multi-faceted
bene ts to future health and wellbeing in Nairn.

Iain Bruce, a director of the company said:

   
“We’re confident that the Nairn community will get behind this exciting initiative
to have a community owned charity deliver not only new income streams for
Nairn but facilities which will be at the cutting edge of the Health and Wellbeing
culture, something which will became increasingly important in our post covid
world.

Despite the community consultation being undertaken against the constraints of
current Covid 19 restrictions, we are exploiting the power of social media and
are con dent we will achieve representative participation to enable us to
proceed with the process.”

The Spa and Lido company also have a Facebook page here.

Community Council meeting brings in a points of order blizzard

Last night Nairn River Community Council met online again. Half of the council including the Chair thought that the meeting should not have been taking place. It went ahead however and there were multiple points of order and words such as "governance" and "scheme of establishment" were very popular.

There was a huge debate about whether members should turn on their cameras when voting so that there would be proof  that that individual was really at the meeting. A series of three papers were to be voted on. We stayed to witness a six-all draw in the first vote to which the Chair added his casting vote - however there was some reaction from the losing six about procedure. Highland Councillors Peter Saggers and Liz MacDonald where there too and added their contributions to what was, frankly, little more than a highly confusing mix to this observer.

There was, once again, a good turn-out of members of the public who made some quite animated contributions via the Zoom chat. We lost our nerve readers and went out in search of the Aurora after an hour or so.  

Stooshie level assessment - up to around 3.5-4 unfortunately

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Sheena Baker: "This Consultation offers no monetary figures, is totally open-ended and tries to give HC unfettered discretion to dispose of Sandown Lands"

The Gurn has received a copy of Sheena Baker's submission to the consultation on the Highland Council to sell the Sandown Common Good Lands. Tomorrow is the last day of the consultation, if you wish to make a submission yourself there are details of how to do that on the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council website.

Anyway, here's Sheena's contribution:

 

CONSULTATION ON PROPOSAL TO SELL LAND AT SANDOWN, NAIRN

I am writing in a purely personal capacity and not in my role as the Chair of Nairn West & Suburban Community Council. This is my personal representation to the above consultation.


Introduction


I am of the firm belief that this is not the time to be conducting a consultation on such an important part of Nairn’s Common Good Assets whilst the country is in a pandemic situation resulting in national lockdown.


1. I firmly believe that the timing of this consultation is fundamentally wrong and that it should be withdrawn. How HC can believe that they are fully meeting the need under the CEA to properly engage with Nairn residents on this proposal during a pandemic is beyond my comprehension. A local Councillor reported that a HC Officer had advised that the online responses were higher than normal. I would sincerely hope that that is correct. Both Community Councils, local and Inverness press and social media outlets in Nairn have all put a considerable effort into engaging with residents and urging them to respond. This is still a totally unsatisfactory state of affairs because the ability to hear and question other views has been severely limited by the lack of open to all public meetings during this consultation. Under Covid regulations any public meeting is banned and Zoom meetings do not allow reactive conversations to easily take place and allow everyone to join in. Many residents do not have computers or iPads let alone the facility to use Zoom and there are others, particularly those of the older generation, who do not have broadband connections to their homes. To my knowledge this proposal has not been on public display at our local council offices, public libraries, or the community centre as none of them have been open due to COVID restrictions. All this consultation legally does is allow HC to be able to state “we engaged with the Nairn public” It is, as far as I am concerned, a pure tick box exercise and needs to be recognised as such! This land has been part of Nairn’s Common Good for some 430 years, surely this could have been postponed until the pandemic was behind us and the matter could be openly publicly debated. What makes the rush even more unseemly is that the HC say there is nothing actively being planned. If that is true, there is no need to have a consultation!

2. The Legal situation

3. On 24th November,2020 I submitted a letter to the Nairn Councillors as Trustees of Nairn Common Good. They immediately passed it to Highland Council and after several requests I eventually discovered it was on the desk of HC’s Legal Manager.


4. On 17th January,2021 I chased a response from him and on the 18th received an acknowledgement that he was dealing with it. Since then I have had no further contact from him or any other HC Officer on the matter.


5. I mention this correspondence as I had hoped it would have been resolved and I would then not have to refer to it in this response, regretfully the dilatory way my letter has been dealt with has left me with no other option but to include it.


6. I laid out all the background to my belief that Highland Council have illegally transferred £344k of the Sandown Lands (or a pro indiviso share to that value) to the Council General Fund Balance Sheet. Sandown Lands are inalienable and to have legally taken the action that HC did, they would have had to have received Sheriff Court confirmation before acting.


7. We are left with an illegal act and it is clear that Highland Council need to rectify this immediately by reversing the actions they took in earlier years.
What exactly is the reason for the Consultation?


8. The “mantra” the Council has steadfastly been denying is that there is any developer waiting in the wings to buy this parcel of land. That is patently incorrect. FOI’s and latterly Ward Minutes clearly show that from 2017 to date HC Officers have been actively engaged with ongoing correspondence with two major developers. Both are developers, and both have clearly indicated an interest in acquiring this land. Either the HC Officers have been economical with the truth with our four local Councillors or the quotes made to the press have been disingenuous. If there is any truth in either scenario then that is a very unsatisfactory way for a Regional Authority as big as HC to be conducting affairs relating to Common Good Assets. Officers do not have any legal responsibility in relation to Common Good Assets and their disposal, Trustees however do.


9. If there truthfully is not a development being planned then, I say again, withdraw the consultation. We are told in the statements released by HC Councillors that there is no potential sale in the offing (the Ward Minutes and emails seem to scotch that). If that is true why, oh why have the Four Nairn Trustees and Councillors agreed to this action which from the minutes has clearly been initiated and encouraged by one or two Officers of Highland Council? This appears to being driven solely as a cheap fix for the HC housing waiting list. There is a statutory obligation on Local Authorities/Councils to home people, there is no such obligation relating to Common Good land or assets.


10. If this was to go ahead against the wishes of many in Nairn, and the land is disposed of, it is pie in the sky thinking to believe that any developer, other than HC or an arm of a HC housing Association, would build a development of affordable houses. It is more likely, as has been the way of recent years, that private developers would build and sell the private housing first to maximise their profits then towards the latter stages build some affordable housing. Private developers would look to acquire the land at the lowest price, this is hardly likely to be a good long-term deal for the Nairn Common Good Fund.

ALTERNATIVES

11. The BID working with the NW&SCC compiled a list of many first-floor empty properties in and around the High Street that could easily convert to good quality one- or two-bedroom flats. This helpful suggestion appears to have been hastily sent to the bottom of the in tray of the HC Head of Development. The suggestion clearly did not fit his/HC ideas and timings. This all helps to suggest that there is an agenda being closely followed by HC Officers and the Nairn Common Good land at Sandown is the easiest fix to meet this agenda. Not good enough!


12. I realise that there is a need to find land for development in Nairn but am incredulous at the suggestion in the new IMFLDP that only the Sandown lands have been preferred out of the many other identified and proffered Nairn sites. How convenient that here again HC is judge and jury! The site proffered at Househill would clearly be an excellent site especially now we understand that the Nairn Bypass will be completed. Househill should also be a preferred site on the new IMFLDP thus providing an alternative option.

13. Next Actions and moving forward. Before HC can do anything with any of the Sandown land, they must purify the title by reversing the illegal action they took with this undoubtedly inalienable land. If there is to be development, then the best site would be the area next to the allotments on the north of the A96. It is the only completely dry site and has good access to the necessary services. This site properly marketed, bringing in maximum long-term gain for Nairn’s Common Good Fund, could be developed in a manner allowing for the needs of both private and affordable housing to be built. It could easily accommodate a mix of Housing Association, some individual built sites, and some developer site. This would only necessitate a small portion of Common Good land being disposed of. Let us openly discuss that suggestion in a public forum unlike the decision formulated behind closed door leading to the SHIP proposals for 2021 -2026 which only cites Sandown.

14. Learn from the past - back in 2012 meaningful engagement with Nairn residents took place and due attention was taken to the views of the town. Yet again that was another waste of public money as it now appears that the outcomes of that Charrette have been firmly kicked into the long grass by Officers of HC.


15. Why did HC and the Trustees of the Nairn Common Good not decide to start with a decision to hold meaningful engagement and discussion with Nairn? I proffer the answer – it would not have allowed them to do what THEY have DECIDED IS BEST for Nairn!


16. Over the years I have heard quoted from HC Officers that Nairn is the town that likes to say NO! I am sorry that this is the impression HC has. After all, if we are saying No it is purely because HC keep TELLING rather than asking Nairn what its needs are going forward. Communication is a wonderful thing – why do HC Officers not start with that way of working and maybe then we can all move forward in harmony!


17. This Consultation offers no monetary figures, is totally open-ended and tries to give HC unfettered discretion to dispose of Sandown Lands. If it were to progress it would result in Common Good land, which has been part of the Royal Burgh for some 430 years, being sold off for the equivalent of sweeties. Nairn would be being robbed of its long-term inheritance to fix a hole in HC’s depleted finances.
CONCLUSION – Highland Council should remove this consultation from the table. As always, I would encourage meaningful ongoing engagement from both our local Members and Highland Council with the town, its Community Councils, landowners, and other interested groups such as NICE and the BID. This would allow for an acceptable route map for the agreed future development of this town and its Common Good Assets and Fund.

Sheena Baker
24th February 2021

The Nairn Ward Community Resilience Fund is open for applications

"Have you formed a group or are you a member of a group supporting your community in response to the Covid 19 pandamic? Apply now for funding to support your group's efforts. Grants available up to £1500"

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Highland Councillor Peter Saggers: “ I believe that the reason why Easter Ross and the West Coast may get more attention is because the political background there is more amenable to the powers that be. I think Nairn is seen as a different kettle of fish[...]”

A conversation about playing fields and play facilities in Nairnshire took place last night at the regular meeting of Nairn West and Suburban Community Council. Bill Young started the ball rolling with a call for a general review of playing field provsion and how adequate or inadequate the facilities in Nairn are. We hope to return to this part of the meeting when time permits as Tom Heggie had one or two interesting contributions.

It was some ten minutes into the conversation however when Highland Council member Peter Saggers said something that quite surprised, even shocked, some folk present. It's best to start perhaps with the contribution from Joan Noble that precipitated his comment.

Joan drew herself to the attention of the Chair Sheena Baker and then spoke: “ I think this links in to the work that Peter is progressing about having a proper chair of the Leisure and Recreation budget. I really don't think that voluntary groups in Nairn should be raising all this, be given the responsibility for raising money and maintaining and this and that and the next thing. When, in fact, our Leisure and Recreation budget is actually laughable in Nairn. We have all these figures of comparative spend and Nairn has way, way below the spend of any other area in Highland. Now that is absolutely not right and I would really ask yourself (Joan was speaking to Tom Heggie) and Peter and our other two councillors to start questioning why we don't know what our per capita Leisure and Rec budget should be and why we are not getting a Leisure and Recreation budget. I mean basically, we get a fraction of other areas.

Now I don't think the volunteers and PTAs and Nairn Play and everybody else should be expected to get the funding and do all the spade work and everything else for facilities that are a statutory duty of the local authority. I feel that very, very strongly, I mean it can't be a case we haven't got the money we are not going to do it. The money is actually sloshing around, Easter Ross and the West Coast and all sorts of places and they are getting lots and lots of Leisure and Rec spend.”


Joan then noticed that Peter seemed to be amused and said she would send him the spreadsheet. She continued: “we know exactly where it is going, and that's our money that is going to other areas while we are being asked to form voluntary groups to do this and that and the next thing, and I mean you are talking about the Riverside, the swings there have been chained up, well they've disappeared for two years. Nobody's put in a couple of swings, now for goodness sake. Surely we can afford a couple of swings. This is the sort of thing that is just shameful. It's absolutely not right and it has to be sorted out we need a fair share budget of Leisure and Rec spending for Nairn and I would ask all our Highland Councillors to be on a campaign for that because it is very, very unfair for folks in Nairn, especially the youngsters.”


Sheena said she was seeing a lot of nodding heads and asked Peter if he wished to respond. He said:

“I was smiling a minute ago because I believe that the reason why Easter Ross and the West Coast may get more attention is because the political background there is more amenable to the powers that be. I think Nairn is seen as a different kettle of fish and we do need to make sure that we endeavour to get the proper funding. And the area which I am looking at at the moment is the question of the amount of money that the Highland Council charges the Common Good Fund for grass cutting and such like. That is a work in progress at the moment.”

Gurn opinion. For many Peter's comments will simply confirm the belief that Nairn does not get its fair share from Highland Council and is even discriminated against by the local authority. Thank you Peter for your insight into how things really work at Glenurquhart Road.

Funding for Covid resilience grants in Nairn - Limit now upped from £500 to £1,500

 From the Nairn Our Town Facebook page:

"The limit has now been changed from 500 to 1500 pounds and in the last month more have applied then the previous 3 months Cllr Peter Saggers stated at last nights Nairn west and suburban community council meeting , a couple have been rejected and lots have been accepted payments to be made soon and a couple have just fallen under the guidelines so are getting help from the councilors to help them meet the criteria if possible." 

 More applications are welcome and further details over on Nairn our Town. 

Police in Nairn are appealing for information following a number of vandalisms overnight on the 21st of February 2021

Police in Nairn are appealing for information following a number of vandalisms overnight on the 21st of February 2021. 
 
Sergeant Steven Maclennan of Nairn Police Station said;
 
“We responded to several vandalisms of car windows and property windows in area including Park Street, Harbour Street, Cumming Street, Lochloy Road, King Street, Riverside Court, Firth Street and Glebe Street. 
 
We would ask anyone with private CCTV in these areas to check accordingly and if anything suspicious or of note, please contact Police. 
 
These incidents have caused great upset to the local community and it is disappointing to see that so much damage can be caused in one night, and I would urge that anyone with information to contact the police."
 
Anyone with information in relation to these incidents can contact Police on 101 or via the Police Scotland website. 
 
Anonymous reports can be made to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Ref PS-20210221-3426 / NM/278/21

 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Alastair Noble: " I am registering my strong objection to Highland Council attempt to sell all of our inalienable Common Good land at Sandown."

The Gurn has received a copy of Alastair Noble's submission to the consultation on Highland Council's proposal to sell the Sandown Common Good Lands. You still have time to have your own say on the proposed sale of the entire Nairn Common Good Sandown lands for development. Closing date is now Friday 26th February 2021. More details on the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council website.  

 Here's Alastair's submission:

Objection to Highland Council’s proposal to sell all of The Royal Burgh of Nairn’s inalienable Common Good land at Sandown.


I firstly declare an interest as my wife and I own an adjacent property.


My objection is on the grounds of inadequate consultation; no financial options or choice of alternatives to sale of the whole; the foolhardiness of selling at this time of impending economic meltdown; loss of community control over community land and no community control over what will happen to the proceeds of the sale. In addition there is uncertainty about the title due to an illegal appropriation of Sandown land by HC in 2013.


Notwithstanding these objections, my main interest is in the historic Scottish principle/ownership and use of the Common Good.


We as inhabitants of the old Royal Burgh have owned this land for over 400 years. The Nairn Common Good has some amazing property in its portfolio. It includes the lower section of the River Nairn and its banks, The Maggot, Nairn Dunbar Golf Club, Parkdean Caravan site, the Links, the Foreshore, Sandown, Viewfield and a lot of the Town centre. These taken with other small pieces of land are worth their weight in gold in environmental, green and sustainable terms alone as we move forward to addressing climate change and Scottish Government policies.
These policies include Community Empowerment, Place Planning, Place Principle, Place based investment, linking Community and spatial planning, Town centre first, local resilience, water, sewage transport etc, with above all an infrastructure first approach.


We are also facing enormous financial challenges in as a result of the Corovid 19 pandemic. These Common Good assets are the basis for Nairn Tourist economy. They also make Nairn and Nairnshire a very desirable place to live and work. We should be building them into our economic regeneration recovery plans and helping Nairnshire, the Highlands and Scotland to be financially viable going forward. We need to deliver as speedy an economic recovery as possible.
Some extremely basic questions /philosophical arguments need to be addressed first.


What is in the Common Good? Well for over 4 centuries the good people of our Royal Burghs have answered that by preserving all this valuable land in the Common Good.


Who decides what is in the common Good? This is obviously the question raised by this attempt by Highland Council to sell our Common Good. The fundamental conflict of interest this has raised shows the fundamental weakness in the system at present. No Highland Councillor can meet their obligation as a trustee of the Royal Burgh’s Common Good and their financial and other responsibilities as Highland Councillors. We therefore should use Nairn as a model to fundamentally address and solve this. We must have clarity on this issue before any decisions can be made.


Who decides what is the best use of our common good assets? Again, it is obvious that all the Highland Councillors cannot and should not take this conflict of interest position on themselves and leave themselves personally exposed to any financial risks as trustees of the Common Good and its assets.


Andy Wightman in his Common Good book titled The Poor had no Lawyers sets out what has happened in the past to a lot of Scotland’s Common Good land where robber barons have taken over. The difference here is thanks to the careful custodianship of our forebearers we can have access to due legal process.


The obvious answer is to halt this process now and use our shared knowledge base to sort out a sensible and sustainable future for all of Scotland’s Common Good. Nairn is very willing to contribute and assist this process.


I do not think we can look at Sandown in isolation and would strongly support Highland Council withdrawing this proposal and working with the inhabitants of the Royal Burgh, jointly approaching the Scottish Government to achieve lasting legal clarity about how we maintain our custodial role of the Common Good and pass it onto future generations in as good or better shape than what we inherited.


If Highland Council decide to play the robber Barron role, I reserve the right to use any or all of the submissions from Nairn West and Suburban CC, Nairn River CC, Nairn Resident’s Concern Group and their supplementary submission in any Court Action before a Sherriff as well as this submission.


In conclusion, I am registering my strong objection to Highland Council attempt to sell all of our inalienable Common Good land at Sandown.

Dr Alastair L. Noble MBE
21/February/2021

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Nairn Common Good Chronicles, Part 2: Sandown is not the only asset that could be “disposed” of soon?

The Sandown Common Good lands are certainly headline news these days. The consultation about selling off the Sandown land, launched before Christmas, has  been extended.  Nairn West & Suburban CC have put out a useful guide giving an explanation of exactly why Common Good matters to the town. The recent comments of Provost Laurie Fraser, echoing considerable concern in the town, also bring the whole subject into greater focus.

Just before Christmas the Gurn research team revealed evidence that local Councillors, urged on by Highland Council officials, had been considering and planning the sale for over a year.  

But it emerges that Sandown is not the only asset whose disposal our Councillors are contemplating.  The records of Ward Business Meetings during 2019 and 2020 reveals that list of sites in the frame is rather longer – see attached copies of extracts from those records, now publicly available.

Among the other assets potentially up for grabs is the Viewfield Stables building.  Back in December 2019 Ward Councillors decided that in the light of enquiries from “a community group lingering in the background” officials should look into the practicalities of marketing the property for lease or sale.  Official advice was that “…[As] the property is seriously dilapidated, an outright disposal would seem appropriate”.  Since the building is a Common Good asset, consultation for change of use or disposal would be required.

Viewfield Stables have of course been useful for local community activity.  Part of the building has been used to store equipment. Green Hive have had a small tool store there for some time. More recently the enthusiasts of the Coastal Rowing Club spent many months using the Stables as a workshop where they could construct their skiff.  This observer was however under the impression that the stables were part of the curtilage of Viewfield House and so a Category B listed building.   

As one Councillor observed, there is however no strategy for the management of Viewfield.  While the Sports Club and the St Ninian Bowling Club have lease agreement for their sites on Viewfield, and pay rent into the CG Fund, Green Hive created a  community orchard where Councillors feel there is no need for a lease or a rent agreement*.  It is hard to imagine that the Common Good trustees would agree a similar rent-free arrangement for the entirety of the Stables for any interested group or individual.

Other assets which our Councillors seem set on getting rid of include the property and yard in Grant Street in Fishertown, which Green Hive was  looking to take over.  In March 2019 the previous Ward manager was to pursue discussions on this, and in April the plan was apparently to arrange a ‘Licence to Occupy’ pending a possible Asset Transfer request. It is not clear what has happened since.

Also on the list is The Maggot.  This substantial area of Common Good land beside the river is used for recreation, and there is also a car park there.  The WBM meetings reveal that at their February 2020 meeting Councillors decided to dispose of land at the Maggot by a 25-year lease to the Athletics Club.  Any lease over 10 years is regarded as a disposal and so requires public consultation.  The Maggot has of course long been used as an area for sports training.  The records do not reveal what the likely terms of any lease might be, nor what rent arrangements are proposed.  The question also arises as to whether the lease would give the Athletics Club exclusive use and thus preclude wider public access.

This observer feels that Nairn is very lucky to have such extensive and potentially valuable Common Good land and property.  It is a pity that almost all the discussion so far about possible use and disposal of the Common Good has taken place in unreported Ward Business Meetings.  The people of the burgh ought perhaps to know, and have a say, in what happens to the assets from which they are supposed to benefit.

 Update 27th February 2021 - additional information from a Green Hive direction:


It says in paragraph 6 “Green Hive has occupancy of their community orchard site rent-free and lease-free”. The factual description of the position is this: The community orchard is open to all members of our community (the Common Good if you like). Green Hive, with support from a number of local groups and individuals, including your Orchard Group, Annie Stewart’s KNC and Michael Barnett’s Mens’ Shed, negotiated the conversion of the space with Highland Council, sought out funding from the Pebble Trust, commissioned a local business to erect the rabbit fence, commissioned Mens’ Shed to install wheelchair friendly picnic benches and organised volunteers to do the planting. As the sign at the unlocked gate to the orchard says, the orchard is for everyone to enjoy. Many members of the local community have enjoyed the space, attending events, volunteering to maintain it and picnicking during their lunch hour. The orchard is not occupied by Green Hive but belongs to the community . Self evidently Green Hive has enhanced a small part of the Nairn's common good.

One update to the position regarding the Grant Street Yard. Green Hive has no interest in taking on this yard which has been disused for many years. We conducted an appraisal of its potential in 2019 and concluded at the time that it would not enable us affordably to deliver the benefits to the community that our constitution requires.

 

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

"Nairnites! You still have time to have your say on the proposed sale of the entire Nairn Common Good Sandown lands for development. Closing date is now Friday 26th February 2021"

 Reproduced from Nairn West and Suburban Community Council Website.

"Nairnites! You still have time to have your say on the proposed sale of the entire Nairn Common Good Sandown lands for development. Closing date is now Friday 26th February 2021

Click here for the Sandown Lands Nairn Consultation Document.

Get involved and have your say by submitting your comments by e mail to commongood@highland.gov.uk

or post to Sara Murdoch, Highland Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5NX.

If you want to know what NWSCC thinks then read our submission and supporting documents below but remember your own opinion counts so even if you agree or disagree with our submission make your OWN view known to Highland Council.  This is your chance to get involved in shaping Nairn for the future."

More information here

Monday, February 15, 2021

Agenda Nairn West & Suburban Community Council Ordinary Meeting Monday 22 February 2021, at 7pm

Meeting Agenda

Virtual Zoom Meeting

Chairperson: Sheena Baker


Agenda

  1. Chairperson-Welcome,

Attendees and apologies -

Notification of meeting being recorded

Introduction of NW&S Community Councillors and Office Bearers

Declaration of Interests a requirement of personal interests in any matters being discussed tonight


  1. Chairperson-Minutes of Previous meeting – 25th January 2021circulated

only persons at the meeting can adopt

  1. Matters Arising from those minutes

Speeding restrictions –R Porteous SB

Participation Request – issued to Common Good Trustees/Councillors SB

The Sandown Land Highland Council Consultation-online veiwing request SB

  1. Treasurer’s Report WLY

Proposed by Seconded By

Zoom licence decision whether to pay for a full licence

Proposed by Seconded By


  1. Membership – Co-option  SB 

    Proposed by Seconded By


  1. Developer Contributions – accounting update per TH TH

CC next actions SB

Proposed by Seconded By


  1. IMFLDP Consultation – decision to respond

Proposed by Seconded By


  1. Request for verbal Update from Councillors – Councillor

Covid Funding/Assistance – Ward 18 – PS to advise if more uptake PS Highland Council recovery plan – update on meetings locally with CC’s & groups TH

Covid update for Nairn TH

  1. Chairperson- Questions or Contributions from Members of the Public


  1. AOCB Due to time restrictions using Zoom the Chair may add to or re-arrange the agenda on the night


Set the Date/Time of the next meeting

Monday 29th March 2021– 7pm - Zoom

For an invite & link email:

info.nwscc@gmail.com

 


Small electrical fire in a rear storeroom at Nairn Leisure Centre

Highland Council Press Release

Highland Council today confirmed that High Life Highland and Council staff were called to Nairn Leisure Centre on the afternoon of Sunday 14 February by a fire alarm activation around 2.40pm.

It has been confirmed that a burst pipe had caused damage and reached an electrical board within the building which resulted in a small electrical fire in a rear storeroom.

Water and electrical supplies have been isolated from the mains supply while the damage is assessed, and remedial work to the engineering services has now commenced on site.

Cllr Tom Heggie, Highland Council’s Chair of Nairnshire Committee who is on the Board of Directors of High Life Highland said:

“We are very grateful to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who were on the scene within minutes and made the building safe.

“We are naturally disappointed that this has happened and would like to reassure customers that we are working hard with partners to assess the causes and extent of the damage and will initiate full reinstatement works as soon as possible.”

Friday, February 12, 2021

Some worrying Universal Credit statistics for Nairnshire

Last April there was research from the Centre for Towns organisation that suggested that Nairn was the town the most likely to suffer from Lockdown restrictions given the make up of the businesses in the local economy. We were compared with Newquay in Cornwall but not in a good way at all - that town was also predicted to take a big hit. Readers can find that article here: Nairn - Think tank suggests we are the Scottish town with the most people employed in sectors currently shut down due to Covid-19. 

We see today an indication that the contraction in the economy may have been the worst since 1709 on the BBC Business pages.   So whatever the extent that our local economy suffers it may be at the top end of an already very bad scenario.

This week's edition of the Nairnshire Courier printed  a table of movement in the take up of of Universal credit. The worst stats are in Inverness with four districts with over a 100% increase. Here in Nairn things are as follows:

The figures are December 2020 claimants as compared to March 2020

Nairn Rural up to 236 from 127 an increase of 85.83%

Nairn West up to 264 from  154 an increase of 71.43%

Nairn East  up to  440 from 270 and increase of 62.96%

At some point things will get going again but it looks like the support networks and the willingness to help others are going to be needed long after we get free of the worse effects and restrictions that Covid brought to our lives. Let's  look out for each other Gurnshire  - a strong supportive community will be very important in the months and possibly years to come!

Nairn River Community Council meeting on Wednesday night - still problems but the best one for a while as the stooshie level drops dramatically

On Wednesday night at their online meeting NRCC agreed on an honorarium of £375 to the previous secretary. They also agreed on a submission to the consultation on the Sandown Common Good Land sale (with some abstentions, notably Vice Chair Peter Gibson and Secretary Simon Noble). The document they are submitting was not available for public viewing but it would be surprising if they did not share some of the concerns of their counterparts at Nairn West and Suburban. They also agreed to give a donation of £750 to the cost of the Nairn Academy Duke of Edinburgh awards team buying a paratrekker. 

That was the first half of the meeting and the Zoom session shut down after 40 minutes and was restarted. Unfortunately this observer had a prior engagement and could not attend the second half of the meeting. 

Correspondence we have seen indicates that things didn't go too perfectly in the second half and a number of items did not reach a satisfactory conclusion. One Community Councillor has even called for  the meeting to be  declared void and no decisions of the night's meeting to be carried forward because of procedural issues.

Stooshie level assessment on a scale 1-10 - 2.5?


Highland Council trying to sell off Nairn's family silver?

 Oor Laurie quoted it the Nairnshire Courier:

"I believe what's  happening here is the council trying to to sell off Nairn's family silver."

Provost Laurie Fraser was speaking about Highland Council wishing to sell the Sandown Common Good Land for development and the ongoing consultation which he believes should be postponed until after Covid restrictions are lifted.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Gurn Sandown poster competition

Please send your posters to info@gurnnurn.com - winners will all receive a year's free subscription to the Gurn. Here's our first attempt.



Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Sandown sale of the Century in trouble now - Oor Laurie speaks out !

Oor Laurie speaking about Sandown Common Good Fund in today's Nairnshire Courier

The Provost said this would be the third time that officials from Inverness have tried to have the fields sold and and developed.

“On each occasion it has ended in failure, and sometimes at great cost to the Nairn Common Good Fund or the Council's finances,” he said.

A must read, get yourself a copy!

Finnie celebrates Swanson’s Food in Parliament

Green MSP John Finnie has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament celebrating the transfer of Inverness based food wholesaler Swanson’s into employee ownership.

Operating since 1991, Swanson’s supplies fresh locally grown produce throughout the Highlands and now also has depots in Nairn and Elgin.

Despite receiving an offer from a larger wholesaler, managing director Magnus Swanson decided to pursue employee ownership and more than 40 staff now have a stake in the business.

John Finnie said: “The transfer of an established and successful Highland business to employee ownership is to be celebrated and I congratulate everyone at Swanson’s on the momentous occasion for the company.

“Employee ownership can provide secure jobs and contribute to a fairer, more sustainable, economy by ensuring that every worker has a stake in their business and share in it’s successes.

“The fact that Swanson’s works with local producers and sells to independent Highland businesses means this is good news for the entire region.

“I sincerely hope that other businesses in the Highlands follow in the footsteps of Swanson’s, and that Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government are willing to support them in that journey.”

Rushing out to buy the Nairnshire Courier - Looks like Oor Laurie breaks ranks from three other Highland Councillors in Nairn who wish to sell Nairn Common Good Land to a developer

Nice one Provost! 



Monday, February 08, 2021

It's nearly that time again - Oor Fergus launches re-election campaign website

Holyrood elections only three months away and the incumbent Fergus Ewing has a campaign website up and running. Realistically it will be very hard to see anyone serious challenger from the other parties threatening his seat so will it all simply be about the size of his majority? 

 Results in this constituency in 2016 were:

"The turnout for the Inverness and Nairn constituency was 57.8%. Votes given were as follows:

  • Carolyn Ann Caddick - Scottish Liberal Democrats (5,445)
  • Fergus Ewing - Scottish National Party (SNP) (18,505)
  • Edward Mountain - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party (7,648)
  • David Stewart - Scottish Labour Party (6,719)" 
  • More on this Highland Council page. 

Perhaps more interesting for election geeks will be what happens on the list with the second vote if the former Scottish Green Party MSP Andy Wightman stands as an independent.