Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Nairnshire edition of the Courier on the ball again with two very good articles this week.

We would recommend all serious students of Sandown, planning, flooding dangers and sewage infrastructure issues to have a look at these two Courier articles here and here.

Earlier today there was a serious overflow of sewage up at the latest part of the Lochloy developments in the Kingsteps area. The Gurn understands that a Courier reporter was there interviewing a local resident and that a report should appear in next week's edition. A video of the sewage flooding appeared on the popular Nairn Rocks social media site.

Watson's Place car park lights - investigations continue

One of our regular readers informs us that they have been informed by Highland Council that the car park lights have now been fixed but sometimes fail due to an underground cable fault. The Council's lighting team have asked SSE to look at the things again. .

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Smauin na maidne from the Gurnmeister - thought of the day - Get your family, friends and neighbours out to vote in the Highland Council election (Thurs May 5 2022) and let's kick over the tables.

 We need to reach a situation where it is Nairn that decides what gets built in and around our community. 

I think most people want to see more housing - especially social housing for those most in need of a home in our community but enough of the 4-5 or 6 bedroom luxury homes for now. 

We have to get to a point where Highland Council listen to us and that is not going to happen until our Councillors do what the community want. We have to elect people who will explictitly state in their manifestoes that they will not allow Highland Council to get away with this anymore. 

The next election is scheduled for Thursday 5 May 2022. - save the date and get all your family, friends and neigbhours out to vote. If you thinking of standing in the election let the public know and if you are willing to kick over the tables in the Glenurquhart Road temple of planning dictatorship you will get support.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Springfield Plan for Nairn East - has there been enough discussion of the impact on Auldearn?

An interesting intervention from Gavin Cobb on the popular Nairn our Town Facebook page. His specifics points re Auldearn and Nairn itself from the impact of the proposal have initiated discussion. You can find the article here. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Councillor Tom Heggie mention in the Courier: "He added that some time in the future off-street parking charges in the town centre may have to be considered but the CCTV plans had nothing to do with any parking charge considerations."

So it looks like parking charges in the town centre could still be very much on the agenda despite massive public opposition and anger at previous proposals. Full Courier article here.

If you are a Facebook user then the idea that parking charges may return has generated a lot of angry comment on the Nairn our Town page today - you will find that here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The chimes of democratic debate will ring out once again at the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting online via Zoom on Monday 25th October at 7pm - what's going down in Nairn? Your chance to find out and have input!

Meeting Agenda

Nairn West & Suburban Community Council

Monday 25th October 2021, at 7pm

Virtual Zoom Meeting link available from NWSCC website Chairperson: Sheena Baker

  1. Chairperson-Welcome,

Attendees and apologies -

Notification of meeting being recorded

Introduction of NW&S Community Councillors and Office Bearers

Declaration of Interests a requirement of personal interests in any matters being discussed tonight

  1. Chairperson-Minutes of Previous meeting – 27th September, 2021 circulated

only persons at the meeting can adopt

Proposed by Seconded By

  1. Matters Arising from those minutes

Signage/Bridge pinch point – Update SB

CCTV and Flood prevention Letters SB

Proposed Reference Group SB

Developers Contributions letter SB

  1. Treasurer’s Report WLY

Proposed by Seconded By

  1. Motorhome Parking - Shane Manning letter 1st October 2021 WLY

  1. Sandown Land - Extended period of Consultation SB

  1. NICE – Update on current projects AN

  1. Springfield – Househill proposal JF

  1. Co-option/s to Community Council SB

  2. Request for verbal Update from Councillors – Councillor

Leisure & Recreation spend – fair share PS

Common Good – Update – PS Meeting with Council Officials 25th October PS

The New Academy Update TH

  1. Chairperson- Questions or Contributions from Members of the Public

  1. AOCB –

The Chair may add to or re-arrange the agenda on the night

Date/Time of the next scheduled meeting – Monday 29th November – 7pm

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Flooding issues in Nairn(shire) - Community Council letter a useful source of information for residents

The copy of the NW&SCC letter below will get you up to date on what isn't happening re flooding dangers in Nairn:

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council

4th October 2021

Ch Insp Jen Valentine,

Chair, Nairn & Nairnshire Community Planning Partnership

c/o Police Scotland


(sent by email)


We were pleased and encouraged that in the discussion of this subject at last week’s Partnership meeting, you undertook to pursue follow-up contacts with SEPA and other local authorities to add momentum to the necessary action on flood precautions, and to involve Community Councils in that process.

You will be aware that certain areas of Nairn are highly vulnerable to flooding especially when heavy rainfall and high river-levels coincide with high tides in the Moray Firth. There have been several serious flooding episodes in recent years. The pattern of climate-change suggests that the risk will increase and flooding become more frequent.

The Police and Fire and Rescue Services (and indeed the health and welfare agencies) are all heavily involved in contingency planning for the response to flooding incidents. We appreciate and support this – although we obviously hope that such incidents are rare and that emergency action will not be required.

Our role as Community Councils has been to address the wider context and to press for appropriate prevention measures to reduce the risk of damage and disruption caused by flooding. You might find it useful to have a brief outline of the efforts we have made – and continue to make – and to draw attention to this in your dialogue with the relevant authorities. Our focus has been on two areas for action.

Local infrastructure

First, the problem of infrastructure capacity within and around the town. Much of the drainage and sewerage network especially in the older parts of town is Victorian, of limited capacity and in need of maintenance and replacement. At times of high rainfall and run-off, there is a particular problem with the discharge of storm water, ‘grey’ water and untreated sewage through Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) directly into the river Nairn, and with ‘burst’ draincovers for example in the Merryton/Maggot area. This in turn raises pollution levels in the river and affects the water quality at the beaches. There are also ongoing concerns about the capacity of the drainage network and the efficiency of the waste-water treatment works by the East beach, especially with the massive expansion of housing development at Lochloy and Kingsteps in the past decade.

Between about 2014 and 2017, faced with compulsory EU directives on bathing water quality, SEPA convened a local “stakeholder group” to address the failure of Nairn’s beaches to meet the required standards. The CCs participated along with Highland Council, SEPA and Scottish Water. Regrettably our efforts to persuade the two agencies to bring forward investment in upgrading the networks, preventing CSO discharges, and implementing flood-prevention measures in the upstream catchment areas, fell on stony ground. Once SEPA had instituted a water-testing programme and installed electronic warning signs about water quality at the beaches, they disbanded the local working group. Meanwhile the problems of infrastructure capacity and indeed sewage overflows and bathing water quality remain.

Flood prevention measures

The second area for our efforts has been around the delivery of the agreed official government strategy for flood prevention. SEPA are the lead agency for the analysis and strategic planning of flood prevention measures. They published a national strategy in 2012, a further updated document in 2015, and a speciific Flood Risk Management Plan for this area in 2021. These all identify and task the local authority – Highland Council – with the responsibility to lead the implementation and delivery of actual measures.

Nothing much has happened. No precautionary and preventative studies are being undertaken, and no new measures are being planned or put in place in the Nairn catchment area. No physical works have been undertaken in any of the three Potentially Vulnerable Areas (Nairn West, Nairn Central, and Nairn East/Auldearn) - all of which are assessed by SEPA as being among the highest-risk in the entire region.

The contrast with the action taken in recent years by Moray Council in Elgin, Forres and elsewhere, and with the substantial works recently completed along the River Ness, has not passed unnoticed in Nairn.

As community councils we have repeatedly raised the issue with our Councillors. Representations have also been made by local residents to our local MSP. Those living in Fishertown and nearby flood-prone areas continue to fear further flooding. Residents of the newer Lochloy housing estates continue to raise concerns about water and drainage problems. The recent evidence of developer ambition to build further large-scale housing on two or three sites in Nairn underlines the need to address both infrastructure capacity and flood-risk mitigation.

NW&SCC wrote formally to the Chair of the Nairnshire Area Committee (Cllr Heggie) in January 2020. He did not reply; a response from a Council official said that there was “the intention to progress studies” but that there was no budget or allocated funding to do so.

The two Nairn CCs jointly made further representations on 25 July 2021. The letter was copied to you at the time, but I attach a further copy for ease of reference. That letter sets out very clearly the nature of our concerns. The Area Committee Chair acknowledged receipt, and undertook to respond “when back in harness”. We have had no such response.

We therefore hope that as NNCPP Chair, as well as in your Police Service role, you will be able to reinforce to the relevant agencies (SEPA and SW) the need for early progress and investment in upgrading and improving the capacity of the town’s infrastructure based on reliable and up to date analysis of the risks in the local PVAs; and that you will be able to persuade Highland Council to assign greater priority to the local flood prevention task and to allocate funding and engage in practical action rather sooner than they appear to be doing at present. We will be ready to provide whatever support or further information we can to assist you in this task.

Yours sincerely,

Sheena Baker

Sheena Baker

Chair, NW&S CC


Cc: Cllr Tom Heggie, Leader, Ward 18 Highland Council, Cllr Laurie Fraser, Cllr Liz MacDonald, Cc: Cllr Peter Saggers,

Cc: Fergus Ewing - Scottish National Party -

Cc: David Haas in the absence of Acting Ward 18 Ward Manager,

Cc: Ariane Burgess - Scottish Green Party -

Cc: Hamish Bain, Chair Nairn River Community Council

Cc: NW&SCC – Community Councillors

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Sandown Sale - second consultation, Community Councils write joint letter to Councillors and send copies to MSPs: "A further round of consultation is unacceptable, manipulative and intellectually dishonest"

All those serious students of Sandown Common Good matters may wish to make a cuppa or pour a dram and have a browse of a letter from the town's two Community Councils that has appeared in the public domain. Copies have been sent to all the area's MSPs too:

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council

4th October 2021

Dear Councillor and Trustee of Nairn Common Good

By email:


At our regular meeting on 27 September, the Community Council discussed the latest position regarding consultation about possible disposal of the Sandown Lands.

It is widely accepted that decisions on the management and use of the Sandown lands, the largest and most valuable asset within Nairn’s Common Good, are hugely important for the town and the community. As a Community Council we are acutely aware of the significance of the decisions being made. For that reason we have reflected very fully on the present situation and the proposals that are now being put forward.

We are firmly convinced that a further, or “additional” consultation exercise is inappropriate, unjustified and unacceptable, especially if it is to be steered, managed and directed as proposed.

This letter sets out the basis for our carefully-considered view.

1) The consultation already conducted was fair, and conclusive

It is on record that both Community Councils expressed concern about the holding of such an important consultation at a time last winter when the community and the whole country were under Covid-related restrictions, public meetings were prohibited and normal social contact not possible. However when the Council decided nevertheless to go ahead, we did our utmost to ensure that the information was disseminated as widely as possible; and we welcomed the decision to agree our requests to extend the period for responses.

The consultation conducted over 15 weeks from Nov 2020 to Feb 2021, in line with the requirements of the Community Empowerment Act (CEA), was a well-publicised, widely-reported and extensively-discussed exercise. It was publicly announced and promoted and given significant coverage in the press, on websites and in social media. Briefing material was circulated and posted online. The subject was vigorously debated at online community council meetings and in other forums. So there was ample, full and fair opportunity for all sectors of the community and all local residents to reflect and respond.

The response (for a survey-exercise of this kind) was substantial. The outcome – set out in Council report NC/12/21 – was unequivocal. 86% (85 out of 96 respondents) were opposed to disposal, with 10 making comments for and against, and just 3 in support. Equally relevant, in reviewing the report at their 23 June meeting, Councillors accepted the validity of the exercise:

“….. Members highlighted that this was a very comprehensive consultation with a good extension of time to it that allowed as many people to participate in it as possible.”

In our view, this is a conclusive result. It has delivered a clear verdict (not, for example, a close-run 51/49% split which might justify a re-run). It has been endorsed by Councillors as allowing and reflecting comprehensive participation.

2) A further round of consultation is unacceptable, manipulative and intellectually dishonest

Against that background, the subsequent proposal to conduct a second round of consultations is not only unjustified: it implies – contrary to the evidence and Members’ own views – that the exercise already conducted was somehow unsatisfactory. More seriously, it gives rise to concerns that the proposal is a cynical exercise motivated by a desire to secure a different verdict.

The arrangements now proposed for a further round of consultation are fundamentally undemocratic. The essence of a consultation is that there should be a level playing field: an open opportunity for all, on the same basis, without fear or favour, and without any selective prompting, to offer their views freely. This was indeed the approach last year, and it produced a clear outcome.

The approach as now outlined – in report NC/15/21 and in further official briefing at the recent Community Planning Partnership (NNCPP) meeting – is clearly intended to manipulate the process in particular ways. It represents a deliberate strategy to mobilise and encourage comment for the proposed disposal plan by prompting and soliciting feedback from selected and targeted groups who have thus far shown neither knowledge nor interest. This is selective and discriminatory. It is profoundly disrespectful of all those – including the Community Councils – who devoted thought and time to understanding the issues engaging with constituents, and responding to the consultation in December 2020. To assert that people “misunderstood” is a patronising insult.

As a matter of basic principle, it cannot be right to target or canvass for views on a matter of community-wide importance from particular groups on the basis of social or economic status, personal circumstance or indeed any other such criteria. The rationale for choosing whose views to seek, and how, is unclear. The idea (in Council report NC/15/21) that “...trusted individuals…” might be expected to “… assist with the completion of responses…” is quite extraordinary. And it is particularly inappropriate to identify specific client groups of the Council (such as tenant associations) or of the CAB, or schools and nurseries (!) as having a privileged or preferential right to comment.

Scrutiny of this notion reveals how absurd it is. It could reasonably be asked why other groups or categories of local residents should not be similarly targeted – whether care-home residents, commuters, retirees and pensioners, schoolchildren, shift workers, churchgoers, social security claimants, university students, second-home owners, Gaelic speakers or any other arbitrarily-chosen sector of the local community!

The only credible alternative to an open, free and fair consultation such as that which has already taken place, is to arrange a mandatory, compulsory, referendum vote in which all residents irrespective of social or economic status and personal circumstance, are obliged to respond. This has indeed already been mentioned by one Councillor. It is however unrealistic in both political and practical terms. It would not only be a major logistical and administrative exercise, and expensive in time and resources; it would also be at odds with the principle of democratic expression and freedom of choice which underpins our political system and is embodied in the Community Empowerment Act.

3) the NNCPP has no remit on Common Good matters

The suggestion that somehow the NNCPP should provide the mechanism for conducting or advising on this further extended and selective process – by means of a ‘reference group’ whose membership and terms of reference are totally undefined – is entirely inappropriate.

The NNCPP has no remit to manage, intervene in, or administer any matters relating to Common Good. It is not qualified to do so. It is not an elected body. Its members are appointed or ex officio representatives – mainly of service-delivery public agencies and funding bodies. Most of its members are not residents of the burgh of Nairn. The idea that a ‘reference group’ involving people from outside the burgh should manage, direct or “massage” the process of local consultation about Sandown or any other Common Good matter is a nonsense.

4) the invocation of the 2013 development brief is misleading

The argument that people should be consulted or asked to respond on the basis of the 2013 development brief for Sandown is misleading and dishonest. The question that was – and is – being posed in the consultation is only on the principle of disposal of the land. Nothing further. The consultation does not set out (and cannot ensure) specific uses. Nor does it present options for comment on how the land might at some point be developed or by whom.

The 2013 development brief is indeed on the table. But it is out-of-date. Moreover it has no legal or binding force. It is not a “manifesto” or a policy document. It is no more than guidance for potential developers, and is susceptible to change. So to imply that the consultation is seeking consent for what is outlined in that development brief is wrong. It is only one illustration of development potential. To use that document to incentivise people or promote a specific response is political arm-twisting. If the land is disposed of, there is no assurance – and certainly no guarantee – that whatever is indicated in any development brief will in the event be realised.

It would perhaps be reasonable – and desirable – to have a wide-ranging public debate about how the Sandown Lands might best be used, managed and developed for the benefit of the people of Nairn. But this has not happened. And it is not what the current consultation is about.

The consultation seeks an absolute and simple “Yes or No” answer to the core question as to whether this “inalienable” land should be disposed-of. It seeks to grant the Council absolute power and discretion to apply to the Sheriff Court to dispose of the land as and when they see fit at some unspecified time in the future and at whatever price and for whatever purposes they choose. Effectively it is giving consent to the Council’s appropriation of the asset. It amounts to granting Councillors a ‘blank cheque’ . That is unacceptable.

If indeed a further consultation were to be launched, and if the aim is to promote debate and collate views on the eventual use of the land rather than just its disposal [by sale], then this would have to be a new and separate exercise. It could include – but should not be limited to – the elements indicated in the 2013 development brief. If change of use is envisaged, court consent would be required. But any such exercise should as a very minimum set out, objectively and dispassionately, a full range of possible options – each one supported by a carefully worked-out business case.

These could range from retention as a capital asset, to long-term lease to generate an income stream (as with the Inverness CG land at the Longman Estate), to partial and phased disposal for specified community facilities, to creation of a recreational area, a wetland reserve, a green corridor, a range of housing units, or indeed any other possibilities that the local community might regard as beneficial. But this is an entirely different proposition which would have to be tackled separately.

5) ConclusionOur view is clear: the consultation required by the CEA has been carried out. A clear outcome has been delivered. There is no case for a “re-run” or a second round, or further canvassing of particular sectors or categories of residents on a selective or arbitrary basis. We therefore oppose any such proposal.

There is one more point which emerges from this and previous discussions:

6) The need for a proper, local, representative, Nairn CG management structure

This entire saga has underlined the case, which we have long argued, for a properly representative, inclusive, local Common Good management group or committee – consisting of elected representatives from community bodies within the burgh of Nairn. It should have a formally-defined responsibility to comment, advise and make recommendations on all aspects of the management and administration of Nairn’s Common Good. It would not be an “economic” entity. Nor is it about delivery of services. So the idea that the NNCPP, or some kind of ill-defined or self-appointed “reference group” within it might fulfil such a role is misguided.

There are models and examples of best practice elsewhere in Scotland. We therefore also urge early action aimed at establishing such a group.

This letter is copied to relevant Council officials; to the Chair of the NNCPP; and to our MSPs. It will be published on our website as a record of action decided at our 27 September meeting, and so will be available to the press and the wider public.

Yours sincerely,

Sheena Baker Hamish Bairn

Sheena Baker Hamish Bain

Chair, NW&S CC Chair Nairn River CC


Cc: Cllr Tom Heggie, Leader, Ward 18 Highland Council, Cllr Laurie Fraser, Cllr Liz MacDonald, Cc: Cllr Peter Saggers,

Cc: Fergus Ewing - Scottish National Party -

Cc: David Haas in the absence of Acting Ward 18 Ward Manager,

Cc: Sara Murdoch,(Corporate Finance)

Cc: Alison Clark, (Policy and Reform)

Cc: Ariane Burgess - Scottish Green Party -

Cc: Donald Cameron - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party -

Cc; Rhoda Grant - Scottish Labour -

Cc: Jamie Halcro Johnston - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party -

Cc: Edward Mountain - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party -

Cc :Emma Roddick - Scottish National Party -

Cc: Hamish Bain, Chair Nairn River Community Council

Cc: NW&SCC – Community Councillors