some ten minutes into the conversation however when Highland Council
member Peter Saggers said something that quite surprised, even
shocked, some folk present. It's best to start perhaps with the
contribution from Joan Noble that precipitated his comment.
Joan drew herself to the attention of the Chair Sheena Baker and then spoke: “ I think this links in to the work that Peter is progressing about having a proper chair of the Leisure and Recreation budget. I really don't think that voluntary groups in Nairn should be raising all this, be given the responsibility for raising money and maintaining and this and that and the next thing. When, in fact, our Leisure and Recreation budget is actually laughable in Nairn. We have all these figures of comparative spend and Nairn has way, way below the spend of any other area in Highland. Now that is absolutely not right and I would really ask yourself (Joan was speaking to Tom Heggie) and Peter and our other two councillors to start questioning why we don't know what our per capita Leisure and Rec budget should be and why we are not getting a Leisure and Recreation budget. I mean basically, we get a fraction of other areas.
Now I don't think the volunteers and PTAs and Nairn Play and everybody else should be expected to get the funding and do all the spade work and everything else for facilities that are a statutory duty of the local authority. I feel that very, very strongly, I mean it can't be a case we haven't got the money we are not going to do it. The money is actually sloshing around, Easter Ross and the West Coast and all sorts of places and they are getting lots and lots of Leisure and Rec spend.”
Joan then noticed that Peter seemed to be amused and said she would send him the spreadsheet. She continued: “we know exactly where it is going, and that's our money that is going to other areas while we are being asked to form voluntary groups to do this and that and the next thing, and I mean you are talking about the Riverside, the swings there have been chained up, well they've disappeared for two years. Nobody's put in a couple of swings, now for goodness sake. Surely we can afford a couple of swings. This is the sort of thing that is just shameful. It's absolutely not right and it has to be sorted out we need a fair share budget of Leisure and Rec spending for Nairn and I would ask all our Highland Councillors to be on a campaign for that because it is very, very unfair for folks in Nairn, especially the youngsters.”
Sheena said she was seeing a lot of nodding heads and asked Peter if he wished to respond. He said:
“I was smiling a minute ago because I believe that the reason why Easter Ross and the West Coast may get more attention is because the political background there is more amenable to the powers that be. I think Nairn is seen as a different kettle of fish and we do need to make sure that we endeavour to get the proper funding. And the area which I am looking at at the moment is the question of the amount of money that the Highland Council charges the Common Good Fund for grass cutting and such like. That is a work in progress at the moment.”
Gurn opinion. For many Peter's comments will simply confirm the belief that Nairn does not get its fair share from Highland Council and is even discriminated against by the local authority. Thank you Peter for your insight into how things really work at Glenurquhart Road.