Wednesday, March 31, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Upsetting the Highland Council Sandown development applecart?

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

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

 Details of the agenda available here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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

 Thanks to NWSCC for forwarding this to the Gurn

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

Monday, March 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Businesses can visit the Council’s website and take the 15 minutes required to read the guidance and to apply using the online form at:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information go to the webpage.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

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

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

The information from Highland Council states:

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


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

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

Sunday, March 07, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 06, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 05, 2021

Friday miscellany

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

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

 Nairn CAB state on their survey page:

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

The Survey page is here. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Widened Eligibility for Discretionary Business Grant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nairn Community Spa & Lido

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

The project comprises 2 elements:

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

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

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

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

New synchro and hydrotherapy pools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iain Bruce, a director of the company said:

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

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

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

Community Council meeting brings in a points of order blizzard

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

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

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

Stooshie level assessment - up to around 3.5-4 unfortunately