Sunday, January 31, 2021

Concern raised about 28K town centre cash going to Nairn BID – CC claims of no consultation – comparisons of how cash was dispersed in other Highland communities

 At the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council online meeting last Wednesday, the Chair, Sheena Baker, spoke on the subject of £28,000 Scottish Government town centre cash coming to Nairn. She said that she was concerned herself and had also received e-mails. She read information from Nairnshire ward minutes:

“Alan Webster, after consulting Nairn Cllrs did a desk-top exercise because there were no suitable shovel ready projects:”

She asked why Community Councils and other organisations were not consulted before a desk-top survey. She said that it was clear from newspapers that other communities were consulted. She went on:
“If it happens elsewhere, I have to ask, are we second class citizens if we don't get consulted. I am certainly not aware, as a CC chair, of being consulted or told there is 28K coming Nairn's way and have you got any ideas for it or anything like that.”

She went on to comment on Beauly refurbishing their toilets and whether this money could be used for Nairn toilets either at the Links or Harbour Street. She also said that Fort William and Lochaber local councillors had insisted on a public meeting of area committee before making decisions.

Cllr Tom Heggie replied: “We were led do believe that town centre was town centre and we were advised that if we spoke with the BID we could involve local stakeholders and as far as we are led to believe, we spoke with representatives of the BID prior to Christmas and asked if they would be interested in acting as our agent (if you like) to develop a project. This is capital funding money which has then ongoing revenue costs perhaps or not. We were given the advice it was a relatively small amount of money for the town centre.”

Tom indicated the process was continuing through the Nairnshire committee.

Sheena then asked if the BID were the only people that had been consulted

Tom responded:
“We spoke with representatives of the BID not just in that short term, we've had quite a while Bob Ferenth and Peter, and were invited to consult others around projects to do with the High Street. There is very, very clear parameter that this is a capital sum of money and has to be committed prior to the end of March.”

Gurn Comment:

As the BID attracts public money, and hopefully it will bring in considerable sums in the future, then it begins to engage in projects that have an effect not only on businesses in the town but on the community in general. It would be good for future transparency then if they would make their minutes available to the public for those projects that impact on us all and not just the business concerns in the town. It would be a shame if things would become too opaque.

Rightly or wrongly it does appear that there was more consultation elsewhere. Should the BID have consulted the Community Councils if they were acting as the agent for Highland Council with this funding?