Thursday, September 30, 2021

Gurn twitter account - usually a lot of interesting stuff

We're old media now too, most news in Nairn breaking over on Facebook these days but we still have our moments from time to time. And don't forget that the Tuesday edition of the Inverness Courier carries a lot of Nairn news too from local journalist Donald Wilson.

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. 

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.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Grants for updating smoke detectors - Thanks to NWSCC for forwarding this important informaiton.

Grants for upgrading smoke detectors
This from the direction of Sheena Baker of NWSCC:
"There are grants available for lower-income, older and disabled homeowners for fitting smoke detectors to the new standard.
This is the link to information on the new legislation on Scottish Government website."
There are quotes from the Housing Secretary, SFRS, and Care and Repair Scotland (including the criteria for requesting assistance from them) - https://www.gov.scot/news/changes-to-fire-safety-laws/
Questions and answers regarding the new legislation are at this link - https://www.gov.scot/.../fire-and-smoke-alarms-in.../

 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Zen and the art of Sandown Common Good Land disposal consultation - the video

 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

Massive thanks to the BID and the Festival folks this (end of summer) for the occasions when we've had fun in the High Street. A Games Day feel to the Links too with Storm yesterday. It's just so fabulous when there are lots of people doing things in the High Street and around the town. 

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".

In a reply to Councillor Saggers, the Chair of Nairn West and Suburban Community Council, Sheena Baker, writes:

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.

Yours sincerely,

Sheena Baker


Sandown - more consultation proposed

 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."

Looks like the desire to sell is still there though:

"3.5 Risk – There will always be a risk of volatility in the market and this, combined with the current impact of Covid, is why the proposal is not seeking disposal of the land now. The consultation and Court application process is lengthy and, as a result the Council cannot act quickly to take advantage of short term improvements in market conditions. However, by seeking approval for the disposal in principle, the Council would be able to react quickly to changing market conditions to ensure best value for the Nairn Common Good Fund."

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:

"As the Covid-19 pandemic gradually comes under control, this is a plan for how the trustees of Green Hive and the Seaman’s Victoria Hall would like to create a vehicle for Nairn’s recovery, establishing fresh purpose for a building with proud local heritage and capitalising on the community impact and support of a respected local charity. Seaman’s Hall was described in 1890 as a “centre of good not only to the lower part of the town but ...to the whole town”, but has been struggling to fulfil its original purpose in recent years. Green Hive is an environmental charity with a robust track record of successful engagement and collaboration with volunteers and partners in the community. 

This plan envisages the establishment of a new community hub at Seaman’s Hall which not only offers a wide range of activities in itself but also provides a route to opportunities to volunteer, escape isolation, to do good for the community, learn new skills, prepare for work and for some, ultimately find employment. Through these activities, the hub will provide the town with a substantial route to achieving effective climate action, making Nairn Net Zero Nairn. The hub will achieve this because of the public sector stakeholders who support and use it, because of Green Hive’s experience in engaging volunteers in activities which benefit the town and its environment and because it will provide a vital link to work and the local economy through Green Hive’s Balmakeith recycling workshop (which is to be expanded to 7-day use) as well as to local business partners."

The Hive also envisage a terrace coffee out the back overlooking the River Nairn:

"What Seaman’s Victoria Hall can mean for Nairn 

The importance of Seaman’s Victoria Hall for community heritage and its prominent location on Harbour Street will provide a high profile for the community, volunteering and environmental opportunities available through Green Hive to Nairn townspeople and beyond. Our e-bikes being stored by day outside in the patio area streetside and the extended meeting/community cafe space on a riverside terrace at the rear of the building will draw people to the hall."

Among the activities and facilities envisages are a community larder, retail and volunteer recruitment. To see the full proposal you can download the report before the Nairnshire councillors which contains the full Green Hive proposal here on the Highland Council website. (It's item 5 at the bottom of the page).

Decision Time for Nairn’s 4 Councillors Nairnshire Committee preview

 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:  

"This is all the more surprising in a context where £2.4 million Visitor Management funding has already been spent across Highland this year ( everywhere it seems except Nairn) on improving public toilet facilities, with another £1.5 million available for next year. Here in Nairn the only spending from the Visitor Management fund we have seen has been £25,000 on controversial ‘Charging Infrastructure’ for 3 Common Good car parks."

Friday, September 10, 2021

"The Nairn Lit" launches its winter lecture programme

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

A public meeting of the Nairn River Community Council will be held online via Zoom on Wednesday, 15th September 2021

Details available here.

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.

Online Classes

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.mulholland@highland.gov.uk, Gaelic Team, Highland Council.

 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Lochloy Residents say No to foot/cycle bridge to Balmakeith and Yes to a road with active travel across railway (and some community facilities please…)

 Details on the Nairn River Community Council pages here.

"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.