Full Council, The Ironworks, and speeding ...
Thursday this week was full council, which started an hour early at 9:30am to allow time for tributes to the Queen and ended at 7pm with only a short comfort break in the morning and afternoon and 45 minutes for lunch. So a long day. Many issues were discussed and you can watch the meeting here if you’re so inclined (you can use the navigation to skip to bits you’re interested in).
Through the day we covered a vast range of subjects. The financial crisis and the consequences for our communities took up most of the morning and we agreed the package of measures I discussed in my last post. I would urge you to read that and note especially the grants of up to £10,000 per organisation which are available. As local ward councillors we are already talking to people about how we might be able to make use of that here and other things we can do.
I’m also pleased to be able to report that during another item councillors agreed to reaffirm the Council’s commitment to the LEIP Phase 2 projects at Broadford Primary School and Nairn Academy - so progress on the Academy can continue.
I know people from our ward go to The Ironworks and it’s been in the news again this week so here’s some thoughts from me as there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as to what’s been going on.
Various people have claimed that Highland Council voted to close The Ironworks but what actually happened is that the owners of the building (who are not the owners of The Ironworks bear in mind - they just rent it) decided they could make more money by selling the land for a hotel to be built. Our job, as councillors, was simply to decide whether the proposed hotel application was valid in planning terms, which it was, so at the planning committee meeting I voted to grant planning permission.
The latest development this week was that at full council on Thursday two councillors brought a motion directing the administration …
… to work with the management of The Ironworks to ensure that this cultural asset is not lost to the Highlands
That sounds fine in theory but as a council we’re not meant to favour one company over another, which is what this could be seen to be doing as I know that other venues are already jockeying to fill the space which will be left by the closure of The Ironworks … although that’s going to be difficult.
So a member of the administration proposed replacing the motion with the following:
Highland Council agrees to assist with the formation of a Stakeholder Group and invite partners and stakeholders to review the creative and cultural importance of music and creative arts in all of the Highlands towards sustainable outcomes.
That lets the council do what it can to help without necessarily tying it to one particular company bringing forward a solution, and also opening the door to the new music venue being somewhere else in the Highlands like Dingwall or Nairn.
I mentioned speed limits in my last post and, blimey, did that provoke a response. I think I’ve had more emails from that than from any other post here.
In summary we’re all agreed that speeding is a problem, and not just around Lochloy either. For example I’ve been contacted by the Chair of the Queenspark Residents' Group who is concerned about speeding in George Street and Mill Road, both of which have 20mph speed limits already, and I’m hoping to attend a future meeting of the Group to discuss this, and other issues.
There’s also problems with speeding through Auldearn which, yet again, has a 20mph limit already. This illustrates one of the problems, which is that speed limits are only part of the solution.
Next week Fergus Ewing MSP and I are meeting with the Local Police Commander, Highlands and Islands to discuss the issue of speeding in Auldearn but I’m hoping to come away from that meeting with some ideas on what we could do to tackle speeding all around the ward.
I should say that I don’t think there are any easy answers as, if there were, then they would have already been deployed, but we can only try.
Nairn Household Waste Recycling Centre will be closed this Wednesday, 28th September, for installation of new compactors.