Sunday, September 26, 2021
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Laurie gives his thoughts on the Springfield Househill/Nairn East development proposal to the Highland Council South Planning Applications committee.
This is a bit confusing at first sight as the development was referred to as item 5.1 but there is no item 5.1 on the agenda listed on this page that directs you to the relevant video segments.
The idea of bringing this pre-application notification to the committee is (we assume) to raise relevent substantial issues before the real and more detailed planning application is received. Laurie had to interevene to ask when he would get his opportunity. Presumably his comments will be noted in the minutes even if the existence of item 5.1 is hard to verfify if you were using the webpage above as your main source of information.
Laurie asked for quite a lot of things to be considered really, traffic studies and flood prevention work to be completed and for a footbridge over the Auldearn Burn to the retail park, he speaks at 00:06:45 and 00:07:30. The video below will open up with Laurie speaking.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Latest on Sandown Common Good Land sale constitution in the Inverness Courier - a must read for all serious students of this matter
The latest on the poisoned chalice that is the Sandown Lands over on the Inverness Courier website:
"Sandown Lands consultation in Nairn said to be 'dishonest' after results of first consultation 'not listened to' by Highland Council"
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
Get yourselves a strong cuppa or a dram folks and watch this. Here at the Gurn we think the officials said a lot more than the councillors, anyway, more consulation is on the way. Not doubt the town's two Community Councils will have thoughts on this latest development.
Monday, September 13, 2021
Nairn High Street is so cool when it is full of people - Let's do it more often - and thank you @NairnBID and @Nairn_Festival for all the recent life and colour in our town centre
Really, we still have quite a lot of shops and businesses in our town centre and it is quite a good place for a blether and to eat or buy stuff etc at any time of the year but it really takes a step up when the colour and music and activity start. Let's have more of it please.
OK full pedestrianisation would not really be a goer because of the layout of the High Street and how people need access to their homes etc but maybe 3 or 4 times a month we could have interesting things going on if we all get behind the organisations that now have the capacity to organise things?
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Cllr Peter Saggers CCTV survey request to Community Councils - NWSCC " puzzled by the apparent urgency and this unreasonable deadline".
CCTV OPERATIONS IN NAIRN
On 3 September you emailed me and Hamish Bain as the Chairs of Nairn’s two Community Councils, forwarding the outcome of a survey of CCTV coverage which had already been conducted by the BID; and you asked for the community’s views “within a fortnight”.
This was the first and only indication we had received of such a survey. CCTV is an important – and in some respects sensitive and controversial – issue. It can be complex to manage and monitor; and it is expensive. It is right that the local community should be properly and fully consulted. We have always made clear our desire for dialogue, so we are grateful for the opportunity. But we are somewhat surprised and disappointed at the lack of prior briefing and the short notice. As both I and my River CC counterpart have made clear in acknowledging your email, your request – and the two-week deadline – is neither realistic nor acceptable.
We were puzzled by the apparent urgency and this unreasonable deadline. While there have been incidents over the years in various parts of town where CCTV might have played a useful detection or deterrent role, we are not aware of any sudden or disproportionate rise in criminal activity or other worrying behaviour. This has already raised questions about the motivation for the survey exercise at this particular time.
Moreover there are already a number of other aspects of local service-delivery and administration which are of local concern and are regarded as higher priorities. I need not list them all: but in recent months we have had to raise issues such as street-cleaning and drain-clearing, road safety, A96 traffic pollution, public-path signage, and flood-prevention and protection. In addition the post-Covid recovery agenda is substantial, and funding is already under pressure. With these and many other topics already in the frame, the case for adding to the CCTV network is not self-evidently a high priority. In any case, we would have expected to be consulted before any such exercise was launched.
That said, if indeed there is to be a proper review of CCTV, we think it essential that the CCs and indeed other relevant stakeholders should be engaged from the outset. [Indeed this would seem to be exactly the sort of task that the local Community Planning Partnership should be addressing]. We believe that such an exercise should be serious, systematic and properly managed, and accompanied by all relevant explanation.
The recent BID survey exercise unfortunately met none of these basic criteria. For that reason we do not regard it as an adequate basis for further discussion in the CC or with the wider community. For the avoidance of doubt, and because we believe the subject deserves to be taken seriously, we regard the following points as essential.
Preparation. A review of CCTV coverage should be based on prior discussion of the terms of any public survey. There appears to have been no local consultation about the BID questionnaire. It is not clear who devised it. It is limited, partial, selective and inadequate. The questions have inbuilt bias, and other circumstantial evidence reinforces the concern that the exercise was designed to generate specific responses in support of a particular agenda linked to the parking scheme. This is unacceptable. We would ask that a proper and objective survey be devised and discussed. As a local Community Council we are ready – and indeed would expect – to contribute to the development of such an exercise.
Information and costs. It is unreasonable to ask for views on possible changes without describing the existing system. Any survey should be accompanied by a full explanation of the extent and management of current operations. The map provided with the BID questionnaire is incomplete and uninformative. This proved counterproductive (as illustrated by the responses urging CCTV at locations such as the railway station which are already extensively covered). There are other locations which are not mentioned where CCTV is believed to be installed and operational. The survey offered insufficient information about the current arrangements: no indication of the purpose, the duration, the existing monitoring process, and the current costs and budgeting. All these details should be provided as an integral part of the survey, before asking about whether different arrangements should be introduced or additional funding sought.
Objectives. Many people instinctively favour more surveillance, based on the general public assumption that the primary purpose of CCTV is to prevent and detect crime, and to deter anti-social behaviour. It follows that any survey – or options – regarding the possible extension of coverage should set out the reason for any proposed extension, the risks which CCTV might mitigate, the locations or ‘gaps’ that are to be covered, and a professional assessment of the need and the cost-implications. It should set out whatever case there may be for change, and indicate the purpose of any new or extended coverage and the access and monitoring arrangements proposed. It should identify all the options under consideration, with appropriate detail, and in a consistent and objective way to avoid any perception of bias. In this, input from the police and others would seem to be critical.
Engagement. Any survey of local facilities and services should involve all key stakeholders and reflect expert advice. Business-owners who are BID members obviously have an interest. But they have a particular perspective; and a response rate of 40 (in a town with a resident population of around 10,000) is a very limited basis for any decisions. As noted, the police input is fundamental. As elected representatives of the local community, the CCs have a key role to play (and as recently demonstrated in connection with the Lochloy/Balmakeith railway crossing, have the scope to conduct local polls to ascertain local views).
This underlines the message already clearly conveyed – that if CCTV coverage is to be reviewed and perhaps extended, then the reason for doing so has to be properly explained and the community given adequate information and time to comment on all the options, on the priority needs, on the monitoring arrangements and on the cost. The recent exercise did not do so.
If the matter of CCTV coverage is indeed to be pursued, we therefore look forward to the opportunity to provide input into the preparatory work, to assist with the canvassing of local views, and to offering considered responses both on a full range of options and on the justification for any proposed changes. We formally request that this consultation is extended to 31st October 2021.
I sincerely hope we can expect a constructive response and an invitation to further discussion of this important topic.
I am copying this to the Chair of Nairn River CC; to your local Councillor colleagues and the Ward Manager, the Chair of the NNCP and it will shortly be posted on our website and local social media.
A document before the Highland Council refers to the consultation on the Highland Council's plans to sell the Sandown Common Good Lands - a consultation that didn't go down well and received a thumbs down from local residents.
So in a proposal for more consultation the document reads:
"3 Community (Equality, Poverty, Rural and Island) – 98 responses were received to the original public consultation period which reflects only a small proportion of the estimated population of Nairn. The additional consultation period proposed will enable wider public response to be encouraged, and some more targeted work to be undertaken, particularly with those who may not engage through traditional consultation mechanisms within the community, to ensure that the opportunity to comment is given to as many members of the Nairn community as possible. The further period of consultation will also enable the opportunity for further discussion and reflection with the community."
Here at the Gurn we would encourage all serious students of Sandown Land matters to head to this Highland Council webpage here and download Item 4 Nairn Common Good Fund: Proposal to dispose of SandownLands for development – update and additional consultation.
We wonder too if the Councillors will go ahead with further consultation - there are elections coming up in May and public disquiet over the proposal to dispose of the Sandown Lands may not quieten down, in fact it may reach a crescendo by the time we reach the ballot boxes again.
Plan for Seaman's Hall to become community hub - decision on 25K funding by Nairnshire Committee on Wednesday
A proposal from the Green Hive before the Nairnshire Committee reads:
An analysis of what is in the next Nairnshire Committe meeting agenda - thoughts from Nairn River Community Council.
The community council don't hold back readers. On the subject of Nairn Common Good Fund paying for the toilets in Harbour Street to be reinstated:
Friday, September 10, 2021
It was a pity that the Farmers' Show and the Games had to be cancelled again this year. But families enjoyed the 'Showies'; and local residents of Gurnshire will have noticed - and perhaps attended - some of the recent events of this year's Book & Arts Festival, which is a welcome sign of a gradual return to normal life in the town. Other local groups and organisations are also now beginning to plan and organise programmes of activity for the coming months. One such group, the venerable Nairn Literary Institute (founded by Dr John Grigor back in 1875) has just published its programme of public lectures by expert speakers which will begin on 8 October. These talks, which take place on alternate Friday evenings through the winter months in the Free Church on Gordon Street, are open to the public. The first one of this coming season is going to be about "The Royal Burghs". Those in town who think there is a case for re-affirming and reinforcing the status of Nairn as a Royal Burgh might be interested to attend.
The "Lit" website and programme are at http://www.nairnliterary.org.uk/
Wednesday, September 08, 2021
Highland Council - Gaelic Classes Inverness/Nairn/Fort William "This year’s Gaelic classes will be re-commencing during September/October 2021 with a mixture of face-to-face and online classes.
This year’s Gaelic classes will be re-commencing during September/October 2021 with a mixture of face-to-face and online classes.
All Beginner classes will be following the new SpeakGaelic course. This course will be delivered at Level A1 with thirteen topic areas covered over a period of 26 weeks.
This term the team is offering 13 of these weeks with the remaining 13 to be covered from January to May 2022. Additional hours of self-learning will be required to fully complete Level A1.
In person classes –to take place at Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis
SpeakGaelic A1 – Tuesday 7pm to 8.45pm -Tutor Susanne MacDonald. Start 21 Sept.
SpeakGaelic A1 - Wednesday 7pm to 8.45pm – Tutor Diane Bruce. Start 15 Sept.
Post-Beginners - For those with limited exposure to Gaelic such as through Duolingo or having competed another Beginners class. Monday 20 Sept. 7pm to 8.45pm - Lewis Laing
Lower Intermediate – For those developing a greater understanding of structures and vocabulary but want to gain confidence in speaking and listening skills. Wednesday 7pm to 8.45pm - Tutor Susanne Macdonald. Start 15 Sept.
Upper Intermediate -A class at Higher learners level using the Beatha le Buaidh series of texts. Tuesday 7pm to 8.45pm - Tutor Hazel MacRae. Start 21 Sept.
Advanced – Thursday 7pm to 8.45pm -Tutor Diane Bruce. Start 16 Sept.
SpeakGaelic A1 – online - Thursday 7pm to 8.45pm. Alasdair Laing. Start 16 Sept.
Gaelic lower Intermediate -online – Wednesday 7pm to 8.45pm. Des Scholes. Start 15Sept
The programme of classes will start from Wed. 15 September and will run for 13 weeks. Cost £52. Concession for GM parents and HC staff - £26.
Gaelic for Parents online – A class aimed at parents of Gaelic Medium children aiming to cover simple social language, colours, numbers, language around bedtime, washing, and story-time including a look at Gaelic phonics. Starts Wednesday 15 September 7pm to 8pm- Ellen Jack. 6 weeks followed by one face to face class. Cost - £10
Criomagan - online – Bite-size easy Gaelic for parents of babies and toddlers. Starts Monday 13 September for 7 weeks. 7pm to 8pm - Eoina Rodgers.
All Enquiries to Margaret.firstname.lastname@example.org, Gaelic Team, Highland Council.
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
Sunday, September 05, 2021
Saturday, September 04, 2021
"CCTV – does Nairn want more CCTV? 40 BID members say YES. What do residents think? And who pays? Common Good?"
Another interesting post appears on the Nairn River Community Council site:
"Cllr Saggers has given Nairn’s two community councils less than 2 weeks to respond with ‘community views’. This is an unfeasibly short window for us to consult the public, and report back, so we will be asking for more time."
We find the results of the survey of BID members very interesting too. Only 1 in 10 of their members replied - that is to say 40 responses. Here at the Gurn we find one of the questions amusing.
18 BID folk think there should be cameras at the Train Station. There are probably already more cameras than the 40 respondents to this survey - 10 in the car park area alone? Win a year's free subscription to the Gurn - go and count all the cameras at the railway station.
We remember too, a few years ago, when there was a vicious attack on a town centre resident in his home. What helped to catch the culprit was a private camera on the side of a local business. So perhaps BID and Highland Council should also map the private cameras in the town too?
Anyway, more on the NRCC site here.
Saturday, August 28, 2021
We are looking for 2 paid staff to join our group from 7-9pm on Monday evening at the Community Centre Nairn, to support learning disability adults to enjoy a range of activities. This is a very rewarding post, which helps the adults with social interaction with others in the community, enhancing their confidence and independence.
An SVQ in social care or experience working with learning disability adults preferred.
If you are interested in joining this happy friendly group please Contact Georgia on 07929219287 for an application form and job description.
Closing date for applicants
Monday 20th September 2021"
Thursday, August 26, 2021
"Traders in Leopold Street have found the exhaust emissions pervading their premises." NWSCC call for action on pollution from traffic jams
In a letter to the town's four Highland Councillors, Sheena Baker, chair of Nairn West and Suburban Community Council states:
"This CC is concerned at the exceedingly high level of exhaust emissions along the A96 and Leopold Street. This is detrimental to the health of anyone walking, living, or working in the vicinity.
A few years back, Johnny Moran of Scottish Government initiated monitoring equipment being placed by the school. Regrettably, this failed to return any results as those present at his meetings were advised the equipment may have been vandalised!
Time moves on and with the ever-increasing traffic delays throughout Nairn, especially the A96 and Leopold Street, we believe it is now a matter of urgency for the pollution levels to be monitored.
Traders in Leopold Street have found the exhaust emissions pervading their premises. With the warmer summer weather shop doors are left open and the fumes are noticeable in their shops. This is not a healthy situation for the business owners and their staff all of whom are in these buildings for many hours at a time. Customers have also noticed the fumes and whilst they may not be breathing them in as the staff are for protracted times it will still be having a detrimental affect on their health walking along the roadsides with the queues of static or extremely slow moving traffic.
The lights at the Leopold junction clearly need attention as do the Lochloy junction set. If lucky, four sometimes five cars manage to get out of Leopold Street before the lights change again. When the traffic is backed up across the A96 yellow boxes and along the front of the bus station car park sometimes only one manages to get out.
Can I ask the four of you to initiate a scheme to have monitors placed in several locations along the A96, especially near the many sets of lights where traffic is stopped? Likewise, in Leopold Street, either of the area close to Brambles or Hair Dimensions would be good locations."
In their submission to the consultation Nairn West and Suburban Community Council state:
"Whilst we are not the statutory Community Council, we feel we should communicate thoughts on the concept design relating to the original idea first mooted over thirty years ago which has now become an early stage consultation. These thoughts reflect many comments we have heard from residents of Nairn and Lochloy.
We welcome the opportunity to provide input at this early concept stage prior to it progressing to the design and planning phases.
The proposed site has been significantly compromised due to the release of the allocated land to developers and the subsequent building of houses immediately adjacent to the proposed bridge crossing location. On the Balmakeith industrial park there has been a similar occurrence which has been only partially mitigated by the allocation of a gap site for a compliant ramp and the connecting path. We now feel that the current proposed site is now so compromised in reality it is unsuitable for the proposed crossing and that none of the designs made public are suitable or satisfactory.
would suggest a possible alternative would be to move the actual
crossing approximately 500 metres east of the current proposed
location, this alternative location could use the existing landscaped
mound and shrubbery to mask the abutment ramp on the north side and a
straight linear ramp on the south side could connect back to the
original planned gap site. This would benefit cyclists as well as
pedestrians and would neatly link into the existing excellent path
network within the estate. It would also connect up current housing
such as Boath Park and beyond to enable them to walk or cycle to the
King Steps and Culbin Forest areas and further afield.
Whilst possibly outwith this current consultation we would like to suggest that a new road link at the east end of Lochloy linking with the Nairn bypass should be considered during the early stages of the select and concept process. Additionally, we consider that future DCs collected from recent & further development in the area should be assigned and allocated towards a south and east link over the railway.
Developers contributions have been collected from every house built in the now extended Lochloy area. We would urge some blue sky thinking on this aspect at HC to redeploy these collected DCs in the event that a bridge proposal does not go ahead. The use and allocation of DCs for community facilities should reflect local priorities/needs and be based on consultation with the community which needs to be public, open, and transparent. Current DC guidelines 2018 state that contributions will not usually be tied to the delivery of any given project.
If the Lochloy community come to the majority opinion that in 2021 the crossing is no longer relevant or required we would strongly recommend that the funds be reassigned to other local solutions which take account of the changed circumstances and which reflect the current identified transport and community needs.
We in NWSCC are keen that the planned Local Place Plan for Nairn is accelerated and commenced speedily and that issues such as a south and east crossing would be considered in this process.
We trust that you will all reflect on these views and that should any other thoughts or proposal/s be put forward in the consultation or subsequently, HC will consider them positively and will take the opportunity to consult fully with local residents and community representatives."
Monday, August 16, 2021
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.
Tweets by @GurnNurn
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Tuesday, August 03, 2021
Community Council meeting to discuss proposals for the Lochloy Railway Bridge - to be held on Monday 9th of August at 7 pm via Zoom
A Special Public Meeting of the Nairn River Community Council
will be held online via Zoom on
Monday, 9th August 2021 at 7.00PM
"Members of the Public wishing to attend the NRCC Meeting should send an email to: email@example.com including their name and postcode. The invitations will be sent close to the meeting time."
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Sheena Baker of NWSCC tells the Gurn:
"The concept consultation on the proposed railway
footbridge has been extended. I received this today from Steven Grant at
“Having discussed the Community Council consultation process with my colleagues we accept that given the time of year and the complexity of this project and therefore have extended the Consultation Period for Community Councils until Friday 27th August 2021 with a view to attending your Community Council Meeting in September.”
Monday, July 19, 2021
Is getting a flood protection scheme for Nairn more important that getting a bypass? - repost of an article from February 2020 - bearing in mind the tragic flooding in Germany just when will flood prevention work commence in Nairn?
When it comes to flooding though the topic doesn't surface nearly as much as updates on the bypass and in comparison there is no fancy state of the art video of how flood defences might look. In 2016 SEPA published a document as part of it's responsibilities under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. The document called for a study to be undertaken to (among other things): “Reduce risk in Nairn Central from coastal flooding and reduce flood risk in Nairn Central from the River Nairn. In Scottish terms the study had a priority of 49 out of 168 and in local authority terms 2 of 23.
SEPA further adds the following description: “A study is required to focus on direct defences to provide protection from river and coastal flooding. Other actions may also be considered in order to develop the most sustainable range of options.” An indicative delivery date is given as 2016-2021.
Under the title “Economic” SEPA state: “The study could benefit 344 residential and 24 non-residential properties at risk of flooding in this location, with potential damages avoided of up to £7.7 million.” £7.7 million in 2016 terms readers, shall we say that that might be around £10 million in 2020 terms?
The Nairnshire Telegraph reported in its edition of February the 11th:
“The Flood Protection Study for the River Nairn and coastal flood risk had not started due to uncertainty in the Capital Programme, although Highland Council's objective was to complete the Study by 2022.”
So perhaps a study by 2022 readers, and then how long for options to be discussed and then plans – let alone finance. All eyes on the Highland Council Capital Programme budget for this year too then!
It is accepted that sea levels are rising and there are predictions too of increasing rainfall. This work cannot wait any longer, Nairn needs a flood protection scheme urgently. Nairn needs a bypass too but perhaps the former is far more important than the latter.
The dangers that Nairn faces are self explanatory and outlined in the SEPA document, one could be forgiven for thinking that Highland Council acted recklessly in not undertaking this study immediately.
Friday, July 16, 2021
Demand for parking spots close to Nairn beach still increasing this summer.
Could getting across the railway at Lochloy to the Industrial estate and retail park look like this for pedestrians and cyclists in the future?
The Gurn has been forwarded a copy of an e-mail from Highand council that has been sent to the town's Community Councils - concerning crossing the railway at Lochloy - presently at concept stage. The e-mail reads:
"We have been asked to produce concept designs for
a pedestrian and cycle route to link the communities of Lochloy in
Nairn and the A96 retail park via the Balmakeith Industrial Estate. The
route was identified in the Inner Moray Firth Local plan and recognised
the need for a practical link for active travel to the retail park.
There are a number of significant design issues to be overcome in
providing such a facility however the main obstacles re the bridging of
the Main Line Railway from Inverness to Aberdeen and the provision of
compliant ramp facilities for cyclists, wheelchair users and people
pushing prams etc…
Project is funded by the Highland Council via developer contributions
and Transport Scotland via SUSTRANS and their Places for Everyone
number of design considerations including an underpass and lifts were
also considered however ruled out in terms of ground conditions, utility
clashes, maintenance and public safety/security.
consultation exercise is to consider three concept designs and the
views of the public. The designs are presently at concept stage which
means that they have been produced and meet the Design Criteria however
are at a stage by where only Design Principles are set. The design
appearance, finishes and exact dimensions/location may change to suit
future comments, concerns and design issues. It is basically a framework
to establish the design as it progresses.
with most projects of this type it will require Planning Consent and at
that stage we will seek further consultation/comments on a more refined
Please find attached the current plans and visualisations for the Nairn Cross Rail Link project concept designs for your consideration and comment. I would be grateful if you could forward the dwgs to the other members of your organisations and discuss amongst yourself. If you could then forward me, Steven Grant (THC- engineer), any comments or questions in advance, then we can arrange an online meeting sometime during the week beginning the 26th July. If there is something site specific then we could arrange a small site meeting."
Images of options below - click to enlarge each image.
Thursday, July 15, 2021
John Wartnaby, manager of Wheels in Nairnshire, told the Gurn:
"I just wanted to let you know that Wheels in Nairnshire have re-launched the Nairnshire Dial a Bus service as well as operating a volunteer car share scheme in the Nairnshire area.
Wheels in Nairnshire are local charity committed to helping people get about their daily lives and make transport in rural areas easier for those without good transport links. We run two schemes to help make this happen.
The Dial a Bus operates in roughly the Nairnshire county boundaries with a few addition such as Ardersier and Croy. At the moment we are operating it using small cars and this combined with the current Covid regulations means that we can only take one passenger at a time. Unfortunately we cannot operate on route currently covered by public transport with the Dial a Bus. The Bus runs Monday to Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm, and it needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance.
The car scheme is a bit more flexible, it runs at the same time as the dial a Bus, but we can take people to places like Inverness, Dingwall and Elgin for medical appointments etc. The car scheme is staffed entirely by volunteers using their own cars.
Both scheme are run on a Pay What You Can Afford basis, as a guide it costs us about 35p/mile to run either scheme."
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Monday, July 12, 2021
Parking charges on Common Good land in Nairn - 20 Questions for Nairn Councillors, Shane Manning Parking Manager, and Sara Murdoch Common Good Manager Highland Council from NRCC
The Gurn has received a copy of an e-mail that Hamish Bain, Chair of Nairn River Community Council, has written to local Highland Councillors and officials concerning parking charges issues on Common Good Land. The e-mail reads:
Please find attached several questions, as requested by Councillor Heggie at a recent Nairn River Community Council meeting, for your attention. We, Nairn River Community Council, would appreciate a reply as soon as possible.
I have included the Nairnshire Committee special meeting minutes of 20th April 2021 for convenience and the Nairnshire Area Committee - Special Meeting 20th April 2021 agenda where you will also find our questions.
Thank you for your time on this matter."
The text of the attached document to the Council below, you will have to scroll down quite a bit to reach the questions:
"Nairnshire Area Committee -Special Meeting 20th April 2021
Decision by Nairn Councillors to approve installation of ‘ parking charge machines’ on 3 Common Good car parks for initial ‘voluntary’ pilot
The following was tabled on a Supplementary Agenda at a Special Meeting of NAC on 20th April 2021 for approval of Nairn’s 4 Highland Councillors. .
Agenda Item 4 (Nairnshire Area Committee 20th April 2021) ‘Supplementary Agenda’ (Single Item)
Nairn Visitor Management Car Parking ( Proposal for Agreement)
In October 2019, the Council agreed a new approach to considering the introduction of car parking across the area. The approach was paused at the start of the pandemic and it has not yet been possible to re-start.
However, over the summer season 2020, many communities including Nairn experienced significant traffic management challenges as a result of an influx of visitors. It is predicted that the increase in car parking pressures in Nairn with the lifting of lock down measures and increase in staycations will continue for the 2021 season.
To support traffic management during the 2021 season, it is proposed to install charging machines at three sites in Nairn on a voluntary basis. Charges would not be enforced, and signs would be erected to confirm payment was being sought on a voluntary basis to support infrastructure.
The three sites proposed are:
• The Harbour
• Cumming Street
• The Maggot
Officers would implement a tariff structure consistent with the rest of the Local Authority area.
All three sites are Common Good properties therefore the Common Good would be the beneficiary of income as a result of this proposal and this could mirror the arrangements already in place elsewhere in Highland.
It is proposed that this approach is adopted for the summer season 2021 and a consultation would take place later in 2021 to determine the approach going forward. This could consider whether a voluntary scheme of charging is introduced, charging with enforcement is introduced or whether no charging is introduced. Learning from the 2021 season could inform this consultation.
Members are asked to agree to the installation of parking charge machines at Cumming Street, the Harbour and The Maggot in Nairn for voluntary payment only for the 2021 season to support more effective traffic management in the area.
Head of Corporate Governance
We understand that no other supporting papers were presented at this meeting apart from the proposal above.
It is unclear whether Highland Councillors were being asked to approve this in their capacity as Nairn Common Good Trustees which is a role which carries additional and spotentially conflicting responsibilities to the role of elected Highland Councillors.
The proposal was passed and an extract from the Minutes( attached) of discussion points at the meeting is copied below. After this decision, work began immediately for Transport officers to instal ‘charging infrastructure’ on Links, Maggot and Harbour Car Parks which was operational by early June 2021.
At no point prior to the 20th April meeting or before voluntary parking charges were implemented in these 3 Nairn Common Good car parks in June, have Highland Councillors or the Highland Council Common Good Officer provided any briefing information about this decision or its implications to either of Nairn’s Community Councils. The 3 car parks in question are in ‘Nairn River’ community council territory.
This represents a serious breach of the terms of the Community Empowerment Act which requires prior (not subsequent) public consultation on all changes of use or disposal of Common Good Assets.
It seems that Highland Council would have us believe that installing tens of thousands of pounds worth of charging infrastructure is not a ‘change of use’ for Common Good land by citing the ‘loophole’ that charging is not (yet) compulsory.
We understand that Highland Council has also used Scottish Government ‘Visitor Management’ funds to pay for charging infrastructure to be installed on Nairn on Common Good Land. This could have paid for other urgently needed visitor resources but spending has been decided without any local community consultation.
An extract from the minute of the 20 April NAC meeting follows, with a number of focussed ‘public interest’ questions for Councillors and Highland Officers, as requested by Cllr Heggie at our last NRCC meeting on 16th June.
Extract from Minute of Special Nairnshire Area Committee meeting 20 April 21
( full minute also attached)
Bullet point 1
It was indicated that the Council could not legally profit from the Common Good Fund and further information was requested on the legality of Council and the Nairn Common Good Fund equally sharing the income generated from car parking.
Bullet point 2
Confirmation was provided that the purchase and installation costs for the charging machines would be paid by the Council and an indication was provided of the sort of investment costs involved’ It was requested that more detailed information be provided on the costs that would be incurred by the Council.
Bullet point 3
With regard to the tariff structure it was explained that signage would indicate that this is an invite to pay to support local investment. It was indicated that similar systems are operated in other local authority areas and the guide on suggested level of tariff/donation was helpful to visitors.
Bullet point 4
It was suggested that a proactive approach should be adopted to informing community councils of the rationale for implementing the voluntary payment system and the benefits that could be achieved for the local area ie higher income levels for the Common Good Fund and investment in local infrastructure ( eg CCTV)
Bullet point 5
Confirmation was provided that the machines were adaptable in terms of amending tariffs and key data on usage and compliance could be extracted.
Bullet point 6
Confirmation was also provided that Rates were payable on the car parks and these costs were paid for by the Council.
Bullet point 7
In terms of the grassed area of the Links, mixed views were expressed. There was a view that parking on the grassed area was better as it stopped visitors from parking in residential streets. However if the voluntary charging progressed to a compulsory system there was a need to ensure that the traffic order was either extended to include the grassed area, or access to this area was blocked.
Bullet point 8
With regard to motor homes it was reported that early investigations were being undertaken on installing campervan facilities at the Maggot, but it was very unlikely that these would be completed for the current season.
In regard to Cumming Street although it was recognised that no specific problems have been encountered, Members welcomed continuation of the Council’s policy of prohibiting overnight parking for motorhomes and their proactive approach to visitor management. It was highlighted that Nairn was supported by a number of campsites and motorhomes should be directed to these dedicated areas. It was also highlighted that income could be reduced if carparking bays were being used for longer periods by motorhomes
Bullet point 9
It was important that Members received regular updates on the ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the traffic management measures and if necessary the arrangements could be reconsidered. It was indicated that this should comprise of factual data/evidence of usage which could then be used to inform future policy
20 Questions for Nairn Councillors, Shane Manning Parking Manager, and Sara Murdoch Common Good Manager Highland Council
From Nairn River Community Council on behalf of the local community
Councillor Heggie requested some ‘focussed questions’ on this matter at NRCC meeting on 16th June when Common Good parking charges were discussed and diverse concerns raised by members and public present.
There are 20 questions here.
We expect that once this is in the public domain the people of Nairn will have more questions of their own about why they have been ‘bypassed’ in this manner.
The legality of this decision by Councillors at NAC on 20th April.
Q1 Why have Nairn Councillors made a decision with such significant implications for Nairn Common Good assets without first verifying the legality of what is proposed?
Q2 Why have Nairn Councillors ignored their ‘Common Good Trustee’ legal responsibilities by taking a decision affecting Common Good Assets without any prior public consultation?
Q3 Can you provide details of any other parking scheme on Common Good Land where less than 100% of net revenue is returned to the local Common Good Fund
Q4 Will Nairn(shire) residents (who already pay Council Tax to Highland Council) be exempt from paying parking charges on Common Good Land which was gifted to the town for their sole benefit?
The use of Common Good Land is of concern to all the people of Nairn.
To ‘suggest’ that Community Councils are informed after the charging scheme is operational, and infrastructure has been installed on the site, as this minute notes, is in clear breach of Community Empowerment legislation.
Engaging with community councils is not a ‘suggestion’. It is a legal requirement.
Transparency and the requirement for public consultation
Q5 Who decided to adopt a ‘policy’ of non engagement with the local community until after this parking scheme was operational?
Q6 Who decided to ‘delegate’ public engagement on this matter to Shane Manning the Parking Manager, rather than Councillors or the Common Good Officer communicating directly with Community Councils.
Q7 Please confirm what arrangements are in place to give the community a full say in all future decisions on how this charging scheme operates and how income is used if it goes forward
Q8 Why has there also been no prior public consultation on how Scottish Government ‘visitor management’ funds were to be invested in Nairn? ‘Charging infrastructure’ was certainly not the only option with local public toilets in disrepair.
Q9 If the Nairn Community vote to remove parking charges in future, who will remove the equipment and who will pay for this?
Q10 Why are HC already proposing ways to spend revenue from parking charges on CG land not yet consulted upon by the local community, never mind agreed?
If the community agree to parking charges on their land, it is for them to decide how the money is used. CCTV may benefit THC but may not be what local people want.
Q11 Will Nairn Community Councils from now on receive regular written reports on income and usage data along with comparative data from other Highland sites?
We are particularly keen to see detail of the ‘£1Million raised for Portree’ mentioned by Shane Manning at a recent NWSCC meeting.
Q12 Please provide full detail of how this ‘pilot scheme’ is being monitored, what defines ‘effectiveness’ and what data will be shared routinely as part of proactive information sharing with Community Councils (as mentioned in the minute above)
We note inconsistencies in income figures quoted so far in public (on social media and at recent CC meeting). Shane Manning has stated that a single day’s income of £1252 represented a 40% uptake of paid parking. Then he reported that the total income for the first 5 weeks was £5300 for all 3 car parks which is closer to 7%.
That represents £25 income per car park per day for Nairn Common Good as a 50% share of total revenue, and will likely drop once summer is over. This does not sound like ‘best value’ for either HC or Nairn CG if initial outlay on infrastructure to implement charging has already cost around £75000. (according to Cllr Saggers)
The ‘business case’ and financial arrangements for this ‘pilot’
Q13 Please confirm actual costs of charging set up and implementation to date.
Q 14 Please provide full detail to Community Councils and the public of the 50/50 ‘split’ of revenue between THC and Nairn Common Good which was agreed to by Nairn’s Councillors on 20 April for these 3 car parks.
Q15 As previously requested in 2018, for public transparency, please supply a full ‘business case’ for proposed parking charges with cash flow projections to show that net income would provide a surplus for Nairn Common Good once all set up and running costs are factored in. Please also specify which running costs are to be paid for by THC and which by Nairn Common Good going forward.
Q16 Please provide evidence of other car parks in Highland where Rates are being paid for routinely by the Council, as suggested here.
Q17 Please provide detail of how revenue and usage projections for Nairn prepared for this current pilot compare with actual spend and car park income so far.
Q18 If grassed areas of Common Good land at the Links are to be fenced off with barriers to limit parking, and may need to be removed and replaced for Games Day and the Showies, can you confirm whether these extra costs will fall to the Nairn Common Good Fund or the Council
Q19 What plans are in place for signage to direct visitors with motorhomes from the seafront and Nairn Town Centre to appropriate private facilities at Parkdean and out of town
Q20 Will Highland Council have to compensate Parkdean who already pay rent for Nairn Common Good Land, for loss of motorhome income if HC is proposing to provide a rival facility at the Maggot?"