Ward Area Committee, the Plan, parking, more parking, toilets, schools, and bins
Ward Area Committee
Our quarterly Ward Area Committee was held on Tuesday. You can watch the whole meeting here although be warned that the audio quality is poor and the video quality isn’t much to write home about either most of the time. You can also read the papers for the meeting here.
Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan
The item which attracted the most attention and indeed a public audience was, of course, the new Plan. I’ve talked at length about this here so I won’t do so again but just to confirm that we agreed it, subject to the changes we’d had made to protect Nairn which I’ve discussed here before.
Sadly the audience all left after that and they missed some other important items so I’ll go through those now.
Invitation to pay parking
This is the parking at The Links, The Harbour, and The Maggot where you are invited to pay, but don’t have to. This is in effect a rather elegant tourist tax as they tend to pay whereas locals don’t and it’s worked well bringing in significant income to the Common Good Fund: £33,761 in 2021/2 and £21,492 year to date in 2022/3.
Your previous ward councillors planned to have a consultation on whether this should continue but this is not a legal requirement and your current councillors believe that this would be a waste of officers’ time and hence your money as it’s shown itself to be successful.
So we agreed for this to continue for the next four years, although it will come to the Area Committee each year for review.
Permit holder parking alongside the harbour
When this first appeared we were as surprised as anyone and we got queries from the Nairn community councils who, quite rightly, pointed out that this would require a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to enforce it and that Highland Council’s policy is to consult the public before creating a TRO.
So I queried this with the officer who was present and got the following response which you can view here but this is the gist:
We do not enforce it. At the moment it is a scheme to deter people from parking on the access road and to use the actual harbour parking area. To actually enforce that site I would be bringing forward a TRO amendment.
It became clear from further questions that this was something the officer was considering but it would need consultation first, both with members and more widely from the public, as policy demands.
So there you have it: this is being done on the same basis as “invitation to pay” and you can safely ignore it if you need to park there, although the boat owners would clearly prefer it if you didn’t, especially in the summer.
The Harbour Street toilets were closed following a decision taken at full Council in October 2018 regarding rationalisation of public conveniences across Highland. There is no service budget to reopen the Harbour Street public toilets following that decision. Unsurprisingly residents would like them back in operation.
This was discussed in March’s Area Committee by your previous councillors and they agreed that some of the Place Based Investment Fund money would be allocated to commission a feasibility study into potential self-funding operating models for the Harbour Street toilet site so, for example, a cafe at one end whose rent pays the cost of running a public toilet at the other end. The study will also explore the potential to incorporate motorhome waste disposal facilities on the site on a minimal but full cost recovery basis.
This will all take some time and, even if a solution is arrived at, it’s likely to take a couple of years before we have a toilet there again so I suggested, and members agreed, that officers also investigate a “comfort scheme” for Nairn. This is where premises which already have toilets for customers or staff are invited to let the public use their toilets in return for a payment. These sort of schemes are already in use elsewhere in the Highlands and it could, in theory at least, be in place before the next tourist season.
Plans for Sandown
At the last Area Committee it was agreed that a feasibility study would be progressed to explore the potential of developing Community Food Growing on Sandown. This followed public feedback received as part of the consultation on the future use of that land. We’ve now agreed for that to go ahead with a budget of £18,000, which will be paid for by the Common Good Fund, which owns the land.
Common Good Fund
We had a report on the state of the Fund. The Fund has an income in excess of its expenditure which is expected to be in the order of £72,000. The Fund has about £524,000 in investments at the end of September, but of course its main asset is the land it holds around Nairn including Sandown, Riverside Park, Viewfield House and grounds, The Links and the beach, some of East beach, much of the land around the harbour, the camp site, The Maggot, and Nairn Dunbar Golf Club. You can find a full list here.
All parents should hopefully already be aware of this but teachers are on strike this Thursday, 24th November and all schools will be closed. This illustrates yet again the problems faced by Highland Council in that it’s trying to balance its budget while simultaneously paying its staff enough in these inflationary times.
The Garden Waste Collection Service stops for the winter on Wednesday, 30th November and will resume on Wednesday, 1st March. During the winter you can of course take garden waste to your local Recycling Centre.