Sunday, December 26, 2021

Christmas on the riverside - picture from Murd Dunbar


Scene up the Riverside by the Christmas tree that is so familiar with walkers at this time of the year. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr nuair a thig i - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes - Have a great one Gurnshire

Bah humbug factor just about faded totally out and Christmas spirit kicking in. Another mad year nearly in the bag so here's hoping that simple things like group coffee and cake scenes at the alloments can return to something resembling their previous sense of carefree abandon (compared with plague life today). But hope has to be eternal and thoughts out there to everyone out there in Gurnshire and wishing you and our world a better time of it in 2022 when it comes. Have a great one folks


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Happy Solstice Gurnshire!

 Not much light about immediately this morning but hey ho, that's midwinter for you.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Council’s Nairn finance office for sale soon?

Up for discussion at a recent meeting of the Highland Council were a whole host of properties that the Council are having a look at. This kind of thing goes with the name of “Redesign Board – Property Asset Rationalisation.”

One of our regular readers sent us a link to the relevant document and below is a screenshot of the information provided in the report which includes a building that many folk here will instantly recognise.

This observer wonders what will happen to the staff that work there if the building were to be eventually sold when the process eventually concludes? Would their jobs stay in Nairn? Is there room in the Courthouse for them all? Is Highland Council considering to continue with home-working after we get clear of the pandemic? It’s a magnificent building and hopefully it will have a happy future whatever the outcome.


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Sandown - second sell-off consultation - Community Councils write joint letter outlining a wide range of concerns around the actions of Highland Council.

A copy of the joint letter from Nairn West and Suburban CC and Nairn River CC has been obtained by the Gurn - if you have been following the controversial issues surrounding the potential sale of the Sandown Lands for development then it is worth getting a cuppa or a dram and taking the following letter into account. If you are unable to enlarge the images then a copy of the letter can be read here. 

 The CCs talk about a "reference group" working with Highland Council. Does anyone know who makes up the membership of that reference group? Given this is the family silver we are talking about shouldn't everything be in the public domain? The Gurn is going to write to Highland Council and ask for details of the reference group and any minutes of their meetings. 

Click on images to enlarge

Friday, December 10, 2021

Christmas trees display, raffle and charity collection in the former Big Bloomers shop on the High Street.

The collection at 47 High Street, old Big Bloomers shop, is in aid of 6 charities, Nairn Rotary, Nairn Museum, Marie Curie, Riding for the Disabled, Erskine and Keeping Nairn Colourful. There is a raffle too, which will be drawn on the 24th. Runs to 28th December, most days 11-4, except Sundays.


Lost Cat Mossside/Tradespark area

Caitlin's cat, Willow, has been missing in the Moss-side/Tradespark area for over a week now.
If you live in or around the Moss-side/Tradespark area, could you please take a moment to check your house, garages, sheds, greenhouses, conservatories, etc, in case she has got shut in. If you see her please pm  Viola Jan MacPhee or Caitlin Roberts on her Nairn Rocks Facebook  post.


Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Elections Modern Apprentice Opportunity - an interesting post with Highland Council

Highland Council say: "We have a Modern Apprentice Post advertised at the moment in our Elections Team are currently looking to hire a motivated individual to work with them in the Inverness area."

Further Details available on the My Job Scotland site.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Nairn Dunbar Golf Course submit application for tree felling.

The felling proposal is out for consultation on the Scottish Forestry website and can be viewed here. 

Below is a screenshot of the total trees they wish to fell over a period of time up to April 2026. On the application you can see comment from Nairn Dunbar and also from Scottish Forestry re restocking. Nairn River Community Council and Highland Council's Forestry officer are statutory consultees. 


Nairnshire Committee Meeting 1st December 2021 - including our four Highland Councillors discussing Draft Development report.

It goes forward now for further consultation and eventually approval or otherwise by the Scottish Government. It includes 20 houses for the Showfield, 30 for Achareidh, 150 for Sandown and 250 for Nairn East. There was also discussion of a letter received by the South Nairn development consortium. 

Auldearn is discussed at 33.38 minutes into the video. Nairn at 35.30 and Cawdor at 43.44. At 45 minutes in the Councillors ask questions of officials before making their decision to approve the current status of the document.

Well worth making a cuppa and having a look at what Nairn's development future might soon look like. 

Council to consider support for households living in fuel poverty: 33% of households in Highland are experiencing fuel poverty compared to the national average of 24% and 22% of all households in Highland are facing extreme fuel poverty, which is nearly double the national average, at 12%."

Highland Council Press Release:

Proposals to provide almost £3m to help households in fuel poverty in Highland this winter will be considered by members at the meeting of full Council on 9 December.

If agreed, a payment of £180 would be made to around 16,440 eligible Highland households where residents are in receipt of means-tested council tax reduction.

33% of households in Highland are experiencing fuel poverty compared to the national average of 24% and 22% of all households in Highland are facing extreme fuel poverty, which is nearly double the national average, at 12%.

The significant recent increases in fuel prices will place even greater pressures on an increased number of Highland residents.

On 29 October 2021, the Scottish Government announced a £41m Winter Support Fund for low-income families which includes £10m nationally to help those struggling to pay their fuel bills. Highland Council is proposing to use an allocation from this fund together with £2m from reserves in order to mitigate the fuel challenges faced by Highland residents this winter.

Leader of Highland Council, Councillor Margaret Davidson, said: “In the light of the clear concerns about extreme fuel poverty in Highland communities, it is imperative that we take immediate action to relieve some of the worst impacts this winter. In the longer term, this dire situation clearly demonstrates the pressing need for a UK wide, strategic review of our energy supply, market and infrastructure.”

Depute Leader Alasdair Christie added: “Living with fuel poverty has far reaching impacts, particularly on health and wellbeing, as well as learning, employment and social networks. I would encourage anyone affected by the stark choices of heating or eating, to seek help and support for a number of providers.”

The Welfare Support Team provides free, impartial and confidential support on fuel insecurity concerns, in addition to offering assistance to check eligibility and submit a claim for all benefits and entitlements. Getting in touch with the Welfare Support Team is the first step to maximising your potential income and managing your money well. They can be contacted by phone on 0800 090 1004 or by e-mail

In addition, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has a specialist team of Energy Advisors who can undertake a range of energy checks which are designed to help with reducing domestic fuel bills. CAB Energy Advisers can be contacted on 01463 237664.

Funding is also available from the Scottish Government, Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Warm Homes Fund for those looking to implement energy efficiency measures within their home such as adding loft, cavity or External Wall Insulation to reduce heat loss and save on annual energy bills. Enquire through (external link)
for more information.

Warm Home Discounts equivalent to £140 per annum off household energy bills are available from some energy suppliers for those on low income. Households are advised to contact their energy supplier to check eligibility.

Monday, December 06, 2021

Christmas isn't a wonderful time for everyone: "More than one in three people in Scotland find energy bills unaffordable"

Recently we published comment from local MSPs on the potential of the Scottish Child Payment to help tackle poverty and we know that the 23% of children live in poverty in the Highlands. The recent research by Citizens Advice Scotland shows just how much deeper money troubles go for many people however and Nairn will be no different from anywhere else - people in our community are struggling and inability to pay bills is no fun at any time of the year but even worse as we head into the pressurised festival of spending that is Christmas these days:

"More than one in three people in Scotland find energy bills unaffordable, according to new polling for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) by YouGov.

The research found 36 per cent of people couldn’t afford their fuel bills. Of these, 80 per cent cited rising energy costs as a reason, with 65 per cent saying the rising cost of living was a problem. Meanwhile, 40 per cent said low incomes was an underlying problem, with 24 per cent stating their home being hard to heat was a factor."

Significant outbreak of COVID-19 linked to event in Nairn

 NHS Highland Press Release:

NHS Highland’s Health Protection Team has identified a significant outbreak of COVID-19 linked to a music event held at the Royal British Legion in Nairn on Saturday 27th November 2021. A small number of those cases have now been identified as cases of the newly identified Omicron variant.

We are keen to provide all those that attended with advice. If you attended this event and have not yet been contacted by NHS Highland’s Health Protection Team or contact tracing team, please self-isolate immediately and contact the team on 01463 704886. 

Enhanced contact tracing has been carried out in keeping with guidance for the management of a new variant. The Omicron variant is a new COVID variant which we are still learning about. Until more is known about it we need to be cautious and do everything we can to prevent spread. As such, the current isolation advice does not apply and close contacts will be asked to isolate for ten days irrespective of their vaccination status and PCR test result. Their households will also be asked to take additional action in order to try to reduce transmission within our communities.

We are working very closely with the staff at the Royal British Legion who have been supporting the outbreak investigation. 

We’d like to remind everyone to follow the guidance in place to keep you and others safe -

Wear a face covering on public transport and in all indoor settings for food and retail; open windows especially if you have people visiting at home; keep washing your hands regularly and thoroughly.

In order to reduce your level of contact with others, please work from home where possible; take regular lateral flow tests – especially before mixing with others outside your household. If you have symptoms, self-isolate and take a PCR test. We would be really grateful for your ongoing support in trying to minimise the risk of spread across Highland

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Today will Nairn's four Highland Councillors approve changes in the Development Plan? "Now the council says in its next 10-year plan that it could allow 290 houses at Nairn East. In total, the recommended development sites in the draft council plan also include Achareidh (30), Farmers’ Showfield East (20), town centre (20) and Sandown (150)."

 More information about the Development Plan meeting of the Nairnshire committee today here on the Courier website and more here on the NRCC site about the position of the Community Councils and the letter they have written to Nairn's Councillors with their concerns about the plan. 

UPDATE: Very interesting debate on this topic on the Nairn our Town Facebook page here. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Nairn Academy pupils publish baking book

Pupils from Nairn Academy have cooked up a storm by creating their own recipe book which is set to go on sale next week.

Over 40 pupils have been involved in the creation of Book of Bakes which was inspired after a baking club was founded at the school

Pupils have been testing recipes, whilst others sought sponsorship towards publishing costs and senior pupils from the Technology department have worked on its design.

Jacky Davidson, Pupil Equity Fund Skills tutor who has been co-ordinating the project said: “I was helping in the hub during lockdown, and we were doing baking and really it just grew from there. Nairn Academy is brilliant at supporting its pupils and the staff go that extra mile for all the young people. The baking club has gone from strength to strength, and we now have over 30 pupils regularly involved.”

S2 pupil Tyler MacPherson (13) said being involved in the group as inspired him to consider a future in cooking or baking.

He said: “I really like the whole process of baking and it really cheers me up. I have been taking some of the baking home and have shared it with my neighbours. I think it has inspired me to go into baking when I leave school.” 

April Forbes and Tyler MacPherson


The final design of the 60-page book was create by S5 pupil April Forbes.

The Graphic Communication class all came up with design concepts, but it was April’s design that won the vote of staff and fellow pupils.

April said: “I researched other cooking and bakery books and took inspiration from that. I am really looking forward to seeing it in print.”

The foreword for the book has been written by S2 pupils Amber McClatchey. She said: “We spent a lot of time in the baking club trying to decide how best to share our recipes. One of the reasons we decided to do the book is that we held an afternoon tea for all the staff and lots of people were asking for the recipes.

“We have learned so much from producing the book, from costing it all out, to organising sponsors, to trialling the recipes and the design. My favourite bit though has been doing the baking, it’s been really fun.”

Money from the book will be used to fund the continuation of the baking club.

They cost £6 each or two for £10 and will be available from December 11 from the Co-op at Tradespark or by contacting the school on 01667 453700.


Monday, November 29, 2021

Highland MSPs comment on doubling of Scottish Child payment to £20 - potential to tackle poverty in the Highlands?

 Here at the Gurn we were saddened to see previous information recently  from MSP Ariane Burgess indicating that 23% of children in the Highlands were living in poverty. It brought back a memory of something Doctor Adrian Baker from Nairn Health Care had to say at this time of year almost exactly seven years ago: 

 “There was the End Child Poverty report which was reported quite widely showing that Nairn had 24% of children living in poverty. That’s ranked third in Highland. That may come as a bit of a surprise to some people but not to us delivering health care on the front line. The Highland average is 19%..."

 So the Highland average has gone the wrong way. This observer wonders what the current figure is in Nairn?  The Gurn understands that figures are only available for Council areas and constituencies. If anyone does know please let us know.

Here's what MSPs Ariane Burgess and Emmar Roddick had to say:

"Ariane Burgess MSP: Doubling payment will tackle child poverty across the Highlands

The Scottish Child Payment is to be doubled to £20 per week in the forthcoming Scottish Budget it has been announced, a move that Highlands and Islands Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess said would be pivotal to tackling child poverty across the Highlands.

Commenting, Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess said:

“With rising inflation, energy costs soaring, a Tory national insurance rise, and the recent cuts to Universal Credit, action to tackle child poverty has never been needed more. I’m therefore delighted that we will see the Scottish Child Payment doubled in the forthcoming Scottish budget.

“The Scottish Greens are continuing to deliver on key commitments made in the cooperation agreement with the Scottish Government that make a real difference to families across the Highlands. That is why we are introducing free bus travel for young people, extending free school meals, and have ensured government contracts pay the real living wage. We will continue to work towards a fairer, greener Scotland.” "

And comment from Emma Roddick MSP

“I am grateful to the First Minister and look forward to seeing all of the good that this will do”. "

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council this evening 7.30 pm via zoom

 Anyone wishing to attend can get the Zoom address via their contact page on the NWSCC website here. 

 The agenda is available here and the draft minutes ( a very good read for anyone with a minute or two to spare) here. 

Is a fruity Nairn possible?


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Sad to see this larch down along the riverside path, myself and Mrs Gurnmeister had a tradition of walking either side of it when it used to be in the centre of the path.

Gurnite riverside walkers new and old will be familiar with this larch just up past the playing field on the right bank of the river. Now sadly down after Storm Arwen. It used to stand in the middle of the path but the path was realigned a good view years ago. I remember there was a plan by officials to fell it a good 20 or 30 years plus ago? The late Chrissie Ellen in her role as Councillor put in a plea for it though I believe - she was a great campaigner for the Riverside and its wildlife in her own indomitable way.

The scene on the High Street at 7 am this morning as a few flakes of seasonal snow whizz past the stalls laid out for the Christmas Market.

 A lot of fingers crossed this morning for the Christmas market and the events planned for today. Will the weather be kinder later today?

Friday, November 26, 2021

"There are children living in poverty across every council area in Scotland, including 23% of children in the Highlands”

 That figure came to the Gurn in the following press release from the Scottish Greens. It's pretty grim isn't it that so many children are having their lives blighted by poverty?

"Children in the Highland Council area to receive attainment challenge funding for first time

Schools in the Highlands will receive Attainment Challenge funding for this first time, following a change to the way the cash is distributed.

£43million of ‘Challenge Authority’ funding was previously directed at nine council areas with high levels of child poverty but will now be distributed amongst all thirty two councils based on child poverty rates in their area. The fund is intended to provide additional support which will close the attainment gap between pupils from the most and least advantaged backgrounds.

The Scottish Greens have welcomed the change, pointing to the number of children living in poverty across every council area, not just the nine previously eligible.

Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess MSP said:

"There are children living in poverty across every council area in Scotland, including 23% of children in the Highlands”

This new way of distributing Attainment Challenge funding is a welcome recognition of that reality and means children in the Highlands can benefit for the first time.

“The majority of children experiencing poverty don't actually live in what we would recognise as deprived postcodes, so whilst geographically targeted approaches are sometimes useful, in this case the previous Challenge fund was missing a majority of the children it was set up to help. That will no longer be the case. This comes on top of £20 million in additional funding this year to help the most disadvantaged pupils recover from the effects of the pandemic."

Thursday, November 25, 2021

MSP Welcomes 10K funding boost for Nairn

MSP Emma Roddick in Nairn recently

“This kind of action reinforces the SNP’s determination to support Nairnshire as we recover from the pandemic – helping make sure we create a fairer, healthier, greener, inclusive and more sustainable economic recovery.”

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Lots of stuff in the Community Council Shop - including a proposal from Provost Laurie Fraser for a future Nairnshire Council - all on the High Street in the Democracy shop window

It's really worth a look citizens, especially the material from Laurie. Hopefully NRCC will put copies of the relevant documents on their website for those that can't get down the town. 

An NRCC spokesperson told the Gurn that the shop would be shared between Rotary, NICE and 2 Nairn CCs.

Infrastructure first before development is the key message and a Local Place Plan rather than the top down way that things are done at the moment. All in the window for your information. It's looking a bit revolutionary to this observer and all just in time for Christmas. 

Serious students of local issues may wish to see images showing the other information currently in the shop window - available on the Gurn Flickr pages here. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Ariane Burgess MSP: Highland Council should scrap plans for Longman incinerator

“I’m encouraged to see that additional funding from the Scottish Government has been assigned to Highland Council but I will always be pushing my Green colleagues and the Scottish Government to go further”


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Music Nairn - Daniel Ciobanu - Saturday 13 November 7.30 pm


"Size of Highland Council suits nobody" says MSP

MSP Emma Roddick

“Nobody can reasonably claim that the Highland Council is a genuinely “local” authority and I will continue to press for a solution.”

Latha a’ Chuimhneachaidh / Remembrance Day

"Chan fhàs iad aosd,
mar a dh’fhàsas sinn’ a th’ air ar fàgail aosd:
Cha bhi iad claoidhte agus a’ seargadh le aois.
Aig àm dol fodha na grèine agus anns a’ mhadainn,
Cuimhnichidh sinn orra."

"They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them."


Tuesday, November 02, 2021

COP26 – Fancy “flagging up” your dreams for the future – this Saturday (6th November) on Nairn Beach for the Global Day of Action?

Folk that were involved in the Beach of Dreams flag installation for the Nairn Arts and Book Festival are getting the flags out again this Saturday to spell out the words COP26 on the Central Beach. They are then asking people to write out their dreams in the sand.

Here at the Gurn we would urge our regular readers to support this initiative – it is our chance to register our concern for the threat to the planet’s future that is climate change. We have to mobilise and demand change from leaders and this Saturday we have a chance to do something.

The organisers are looking for people to carry flags and march down from the square opposite the Classroom restaurant at 12 midday am this Saturday 6th November. You can find out more on this thread on the popular Nairn our Town Facebook page.

Hopefully there will be a good turnout. Nairn Beach is no stranger to enviromental protests. Perhaps some of you will remember the S2S protest back in December 2016 (images here). – we got results locally with that one. Let’s do what we can folks.

Climate Scotland - COP26 Message to Leaders - including a contribution from Nairn's Joe Telfer

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Nairnshire edition of the Courier on the ball again with two very good articles this week.

We would recommend all serious students of Sandown, planning, flooding dangers and sewage infrastructure issues to have a look at these two Courier articles here and here.

Earlier today there was a serious overflow of sewage up at the latest part of the Lochloy developments in the Kingsteps area. The Gurn understands that a Courier reporter was there interviewing a local resident and that a report should appear in next week's edition. A video of the sewage flooding appeared on the popular Nairn Rocks social media site.

Watson's Place car park lights - investigations continue

One of our regular readers informs us that they have been informed by Highland Council that the car park lights have now been fixed but sometimes fail due to an underground cable fault. The Council's lighting team have asked SSE to look at the things again. .

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Smauin na maidne from the Gurnmeister - thought of the day - Get your family, friends and neighbours out to vote in the Highland Council election (Thurs May 5 2022) and let's kick over the tables.

 We need to reach a situation where it is Nairn that decides what gets built in and around our community. 

I think most people want to see more housing - especially social housing for those most in need of a home in our community but enough of the 4-5 or 6 bedroom luxury homes for now. 

We have to get to a point where Highland Council listen to us and that is not going to happen until our Councillors do what the community want. We have to elect people who will explictitly state in their manifestoes that they will not allow Highland Council to get away with this anymore. 

The next election is scheduled for Thursday 5 May 2022. - save the date and get all your family, friends and neigbhours out to vote. If you thinking of standing in the election let the public know and if you are willing to kick over the tables in the Glenurquhart Road temple of planning dictatorship you will get support.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Springfield Plan for Nairn East - has there been enough discussion of the impact on Auldearn?

An interesting intervention from Gavin Cobb on the popular Nairn our Town Facebook page. His specifics points re Auldearn and Nairn itself from the impact of the proposal have initiated discussion. You can find the article here. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Councillor Tom Heggie mention in the Courier: "He added that some time in the future off-street parking charges in the town centre may have to be considered but the CCTV plans had nothing to do with any parking charge considerations."

So it looks like parking charges in the town centre could still be very much on the agenda despite massive public opposition and anger at previous proposals. Full Courier article here.

If you are a Facebook user then the idea that parking charges may return has generated a lot of angry comment on the Nairn our Town page today - you will find that here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The chimes of democratic debate will ring out once again at the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting online via Zoom on Monday 25th October at 7pm - what's going down in Nairn? Your chance to find out and have input!

Meeting Agenda

Nairn West & Suburban Community Council

Monday 25th October 2021, at 7pm

Virtual Zoom Meeting link available from NWSCC website Chairperson: Sheena Baker

  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 – 27th September, 2021 circulated

only persons at the meeting can adopt

Proposed by Seconded By

  1. Matters Arising from those minutes

Signage/Bridge pinch point – Update SB

CCTV and Flood prevention Letters SB

Proposed Reference Group SB

Developers Contributions letter SB

  1. Treasurer’s Report WLY

Proposed by Seconded By

  1. Motorhome Parking - Shane Manning letter 1st October 2021 WLY

  1. Sandown Land - Extended period of Consultation SB

  1. NICE – Update on current projects AN

  1. Springfield – Househill proposal JF

  1. Co-option/s to Community Council SB

  2. Request for verbal Update from Councillors – Councillor

Leisure & Recreation spend – fair share PS

Common Good – Update – PS Meeting with Council Officials 25th October PS

The New Academy Update TH

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

  1. AOCB –

The Chair may add to or re-arrange the agenda on the night

Date/Time of the next scheduled meeting – Monday 29th November – 7pm

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Flooding issues in Nairn(shire) - Community Council letter a useful source of information for residents

The copy of the NW&SCC letter below will get you up to date on what isn't happening re flooding dangers in Nairn:

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council

4th October 2021

Ch Insp Jen Valentine,

Chair, Nairn & Nairnshire Community Planning Partnership

c/o Police Scotland


(sent by email)


We were pleased and encouraged that in the discussion of this subject at last week’s Partnership meeting, you undertook to pursue follow-up contacts with SEPA and other local authorities to add momentum to the necessary action on flood precautions, and to involve Community Councils in that process.

You will be aware that certain areas of Nairn are highly vulnerable to flooding especially when heavy rainfall and high river-levels coincide with high tides in the Moray Firth. There have been several serious flooding episodes in recent years. The pattern of climate-change suggests that the risk will increase and flooding become more frequent.

The Police and Fire and Rescue Services (and indeed the health and welfare agencies) are all heavily involved in contingency planning for the response to flooding incidents. We appreciate and support this – although we obviously hope that such incidents are rare and that emergency action will not be required.

Our role as Community Councils has been to address the wider context and to press for appropriate prevention measures to reduce the risk of damage and disruption caused by flooding. You might find it useful to have a brief outline of the efforts we have made – and continue to make – and to draw attention to this in your dialogue with the relevant authorities. Our focus has been on two areas for action.

Local infrastructure

First, the problem of infrastructure capacity within and around the town. Much of the drainage and sewerage network especially in the older parts of town is Victorian, of limited capacity and in need of maintenance and replacement. At times of high rainfall and run-off, there is a particular problem with the discharge of storm water, ‘grey’ water and untreated sewage through Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) directly into the river Nairn, and with ‘burst’ draincovers for example in the Merryton/Maggot area. This in turn raises pollution levels in the river and affects the water quality at the beaches. There are also ongoing concerns about the capacity of the drainage network and the efficiency of the waste-water treatment works by the East beach, especially with the massive expansion of housing development at Lochloy and Kingsteps in the past decade.

Between about 2014 and 2017, faced with compulsory EU directives on bathing water quality, SEPA convened a local “stakeholder group” to address the failure of Nairn’s beaches to meet the required standards. The CCs participated along with Highland Council, SEPA and Scottish Water. Regrettably our efforts to persuade the two agencies to bring forward investment in upgrading the networks, preventing CSO discharges, and implementing flood-prevention measures in the upstream catchment areas, fell on stony ground. Once SEPA had instituted a water-testing programme and installed electronic warning signs about water quality at the beaches, they disbanded the local working group. Meanwhile the problems of infrastructure capacity and indeed sewage overflows and bathing water quality remain.

Flood prevention measures

The second area for our efforts has been around the delivery of the agreed official government strategy for flood prevention. SEPA are the lead agency for the analysis and strategic planning of flood prevention measures. They published a national strategy in 2012, a further updated document in 2015, and a speciific Flood Risk Management Plan for this area in 2021. These all identify and task the local authority – Highland Council – with the responsibility to lead the implementation and delivery of actual measures.

Nothing much has happened. No precautionary and preventative studies are being undertaken, and no new measures are being planned or put in place in the Nairn catchment area. No physical works have been undertaken in any of the three Potentially Vulnerable Areas (Nairn West, Nairn Central, and Nairn East/Auldearn) - all of which are assessed by SEPA as being among the highest-risk in the entire region.

The contrast with the action taken in recent years by Moray Council in Elgin, Forres and elsewhere, and with the substantial works recently completed along the River Ness, has not passed unnoticed in Nairn.

As community councils we have repeatedly raised the issue with our Councillors. Representations have also been made by local residents to our local MSP. Those living in Fishertown and nearby flood-prone areas continue to fear further flooding. Residents of the newer Lochloy housing estates continue to raise concerns about water and drainage problems. The recent evidence of developer ambition to build further large-scale housing on two or three sites in Nairn underlines the need to address both infrastructure capacity and flood-risk mitigation.

NW&SCC wrote formally to the Chair of the Nairnshire Area Committee (Cllr Heggie) in January 2020. He did not reply; a response from a Council official said that there was “the intention to progress studies” but that there was no budget or allocated funding to do so.

The two Nairn CCs jointly made further representations on 25 July 2021. The letter was copied to you at the time, but I attach a further copy for ease of reference. That letter sets out very clearly the nature of our concerns. The Area Committee Chair acknowledged receipt, and undertook to respond “when back in harness”. We have had no such response.

We therefore hope that as NNCPP Chair, as well as in your Police Service role, you will be able to reinforce to the relevant agencies (SEPA and SW) the need for early progress and investment in upgrading and improving the capacity of the town’s infrastructure based on reliable and up to date analysis of the risks in the local PVAs; and that you will be able to persuade Highland Council to assign greater priority to the local flood prevention task and to allocate funding and engage in practical action rather sooner than they appear to be doing at present. We will be ready to provide whatever support or further information we can to assist you in this task.

Yours sincerely,

Sheena Baker

Sheena Baker

Chair, NW&S CC


Cc: Cllr Tom Heggie, Leader, Ward 18 Highland Council, Cllr Laurie Fraser, Cllr Liz MacDonald, Cc: Cllr Peter Saggers,

Cc: Fergus Ewing - Scottish National Party -

Cc: David Haas in the absence of Acting Ward 18 Ward Manager,

Cc: Ariane Burgess - Scottish Green Party -

Cc: Hamish Bain, Chair Nairn River Community Council

Cc: NW&SCC – Community Councillors

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Sandown Sale - second consultation, Community Councils write joint letter to Councillors and send copies to MSPs: "A further round of consultation is unacceptable, manipulative and intellectually dishonest"

All those serious students of Sandown Common Good matters may wish to make a cuppa or pour a dram and have a browse of a letter from the town's two Community Councils that has appeared in the public domain. Copies have been sent to all the area's MSPs too:

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council

4th October 2021

Dear Councillor and Trustee of Nairn Common Good

By email:


At our regular meeting on 27 September, the Community Council discussed the latest position regarding consultation about possible disposal of the Sandown Lands.

It is widely accepted that decisions on the management and use of the Sandown lands, the largest and most valuable asset within Nairn’s Common Good, are hugely important for the town and the community. As a Community Council we are acutely aware of the significance of the decisions being made. For that reason we have reflected very fully on the present situation and the proposals that are now being put forward.

We are firmly convinced that a further, or “additional” consultation exercise is inappropriate, unjustified and unacceptable, especially if it is to be steered, managed and directed as proposed.

This letter sets out the basis for our carefully-considered view.

1) The consultation already conducted was fair, and conclusive

It is on record that both Community Councils expressed concern about the holding of such an important consultation at a time last winter when the community and the whole country were under Covid-related restrictions, public meetings were prohibited and normal social contact not possible. However when the Council decided nevertheless to go ahead, we did our utmost to ensure that the information was disseminated as widely as possible; and we welcomed the decision to agree our requests to extend the period for responses.

The consultation conducted over 15 weeks from Nov 2020 to Feb 2021, in line with the requirements of the Community Empowerment Act (CEA), was a well-publicised, widely-reported and extensively-discussed exercise. It was publicly announced and promoted and given significant coverage in the press, on websites and in social media. Briefing material was circulated and posted online. The subject was vigorously debated at online community council meetings and in other forums. So there was ample, full and fair opportunity for all sectors of the community and all local residents to reflect and respond.

The response (for a survey-exercise of this kind) was substantial. The outcome – set out in Council report NC/12/21 – was unequivocal. 86% (85 out of 96 respondents) were opposed to disposal, with 10 making comments for and against, and just 3 in support. Equally relevant, in reviewing the report at their 23 June meeting, Councillors accepted the validity of the exercise:

“….. Members highlighted that this was a very comprehensive consultation with a good extension of time to it that allowed as many people to participate in it as possible.”

In our view, this is a conclusive result. It has delivered a clear verdict (not, for example, a close-run 51/49% split which might justify a re-run). It has been endorsed by Councillors as allowing and reflecting comprehensive participation.

2) A further round of consultation is unacceptable, manipulative and intellectually dishonest

Against that background, the subsequent proposal to conduct a second round of consultations is not only unjustified: it implies – contrary to the evidence and Members’ own views – that the exercise already conducted was somehow unsatisfactory. More seriously, it gives rise to concerns that the proposal is a cynical exercise motivated by a desire to secure a different verdict.

The arrangements now proposed for a further round of consultation are fundamentally undemocratic. The essence of a consultation is that there should be a level playing field: an open opportunity for all, on the same basis, without fear or favour, and without any selective prompting, to offer their views freely. This was indeed the approach last year, and it produced a clear outcome.

The approach as now outlined – in report NC/15/21 and in further official briefing at the recent Community Planning Partnership (NNCPP) meeting – is clearly intended to manipulate the process in particular ways. It represents a deliberate strategy to mobilise and encourage comment for the proposed disposal plan by prompting and soliciting feedback from selected and targeted groups who have thus far shown neither knowledge nor interest. This is selective and discriminatory. It is profoundly disrespectful of all those – including the Community Councils – who devoted thought and time to understanding the issues engaging with constituents, and responding to the consultation in December 2020. To assert that people “misunderstood” is a patronising insult.

As a matter of basic principle, it cannot be right to target or canvass for views on a matter of community-wide importance from particular groups on the basis of social or economic status, personal circumstance or indeed any other such criteria. The rationale for choosing whose views to seek, and how, is unclear. The idea (in Council report NC/15/21) that “...trusted individuals…” might be expected to “… assist with the completion of responses…” is quite extraordinary. And it is particularly inappropriate to identify specific client groups of the Council (such as tenant associations) or of the CAB, or schools and nurseries (!) as having a privileged or preferential right to comment.

Scrutiny of this notion reveals how absurd it is. It could reasonably be asked why other groups or categories of local residents should not be similarly targeted – whether care-home residents, commuters, retirees and pensioners, schoolchildren, shift workers, churchgoers, social security claimants, university students, second-home owners, Gaelic speakers or any other arbitrarily-chosen sector of the local community!

The only credible alternative to an open, free and fair consultation such as that which has already taken place, is to arrange a mandatory, compulsory, referendum vote in which all residents irrespective of social or economic status and personal circumstance, are obliged to respond. This has indeed already been mentioned by one Councillor. It is however unrealistic in both political and practical terms. It would not only be a major logistical and administrative exercise, and expensive in time and resources; it would also be at odds with the principle of democratic expression and freedom of choice which underpins our political system and is embodied in the Community Empowerment Act.

3) the NNCPP has no remit on Common Good matters

The suggestion that somehow the NNCPP should provide the mechanism for conducting or advising on this further extended and selective process – by means of a ‘reference group’ whose membership and terms of reference are totally undefined – is entirely inappropriate.

The NNCPP has no remit to manage, intervene in, or administer any matters relating to Common Good. It is not qualified to do so. It is not an elected body. Its members are appointed or ex officio representatives – mainly of service-delivery public agencies and funding bodies. Most of its members are not residents of the burgh of Nairn. The idea that a ‘reference group’ involving people from outside the burgh should manage, direct or “massage” the process of local consultation about Sandown or any other Common Good matter is a nonsense.

4) the invocation of the 2013 development brief is misleading

The argument that people should be consulted or asked to respond on the basis of the 2013 development brief for Sandown is misleading and dishonest. The question that was – and is – being posed in the consultation is only on the principle of disposal of the land. Nothing further. The consultation does not set out (and cannot ensure) specific uses. Nor does it present options for comment on how the land might at some point be developed or by whom.

The 2013 development brief is indeed on the table. But it is out-of-date. Moreover it has no legal or binding force. It is not a “manifesto” or a policy document. It is no more than guidance for potential developers, and is susceptible to change. So to imply that the consultation is seeking consent for what is outlined in that development brief is wrong. It is only one illustration of development potential. To use that document to incentivise people or promote a specific response is political arm-twisting. If the land is disposed of, there is no assurance – and certainly no guarantee – that whatever is indicated in any development brief will in the event be realised.

It would perhaps be reasonable – and desirable – to have a wide-ranging public debate about how the Sandown Lands might best be used, managed and developed for the benefit of the people of Nairn. But this has not happened. And it is not what the current consultation is about.

The consultation seeks an absolute and simple “Yes or No” answer to the core question as to whether this “inalienable” land should be disposed-of. It seeks to grant the Council absolute power and discretion to apply to the Sheriff Court to dispose of the land as and when they see fit at some unspecified time in the future and at whatever price and for whatever purposes they choose. Effectively it is giving consent to the Council’s appropriation of the asset. It amounts to granting Councillors a ‘blank cheque’ . That is unacceptable.

If indeed a further consultation were to be launched, and if the aim is to promote debate and collate views on the eventual use of the land rather than just its disposal [by sale], then this would have to be a new and separate exercise. It could include – but should not be limited to – the elements indicated in the 2013 development brief. If change of use is envisaged, court consent would be required. But any such exercise should as a very minimum set out, objectively and dispassionately, a full range of possible options – each one supported by a carefully worked-out business case.

These could range from retention as a capital asset, to long-term lease to generate an income stream (as with the Inverness CG land at the Longman Estate), to partial and phased disposal for specified community facilities, to creation of a recreational area, a wetland reserve, a green corridor, a range of housing units, or indeed any other possibilities that the local community might regard as beneficial. But this is an entirely different proposition which would have to be tackled separately.

5) ConclusionOur view is clear: the consultation required by the CEA has been carried out. A clear outcome has been delivered. There is no case for a “re-run” or a second round, or further canvassing of particular sectors or categories of residents on a selective or arbitrary basis. We therefore oppose any such proposal.

There is one more point which emerges from this and previous discussions:

6) The need for a proper, local, representative, Nairn CG management structure

This entire saga has underlined the case, which we have long argued, for a properly representative, inclusive, local Common Good management group or committee – consisting of elected representatives from community bodies within the burgh of Nairn. It should have a formally-defined responsibility to comment, advise and make recommendations on all aspects of the management and administration of Nairn’s Common Good. It would not be an “economic” entity. Nor is it about delivery of services. So the idea that the NNCPP, or some kind of ill-defined or self-appointed “reference group” within it might fulfil such a role is misguided.

There are models and examples of best practice elsewhere in Scotland. We therefore also urge early action aimed at establishing such a group.

This letter is copied to relevant Council officials; to the Chair of the NNCPP; and to our MSPs. It will be published on our website as a record of action decided at our 27 September meeting, and so will be available to the press and the wider public.

Yours sincerely,

Sheena Baker Hamish Bairn

Sheena Baker Hamish Bain

Chair, NW&S CC Chair Nairn River CC


Cc: Cllr Tom Heggie, Leader, Ward 18 Highland Council, Cllr Laurie Fraser, Cllr Liz MacDonald, Cc: Cllr Peter Saggers,

Cc: Fergus Ewing - Scottish National Party -

Cc: David Haas in the absence of Acting Ward 18 Ward Manager,

Cc: Sara Murdoch,(Corporate Finance)

Cc: Alison Clark, (Policy and Reform)

Cc: Ariane Burgess - Scottish Green Party -

Cc: Donald Cameron - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party -

Cc; Rhoda Grant - Scottish Labour -

Cc: Jamie Halcro Johnston - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party -

Cc: Edward Mountain - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party -

Cc :Emma Roddick - Scottish National Party -

Cc: Hamish Bain, Chair Nairn River Community Council

Cc: NW&SCC – Community Councillors