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Cllr Babs Jarvie: ‘I want to help Nairn’s people – that’s as it should be’ as the recently elected member says her first few months at Highland Council have been ‘eye-opening’

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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Cllr Barbara 'Babs' Jarvie.
Cllr Barbara 'Babs' Jarvie.

COUNCILLOR Barbara ‘Babs’ Jarvie says her first few months in Highland Council have been ‘eye-opening’ and she loves wondering what will come next.

The Conservative councillor won a convincing victory in the Nairn and Cawdor ward in May.

Asked her priorities for the years ahead, she said she’ll be led by what the community tells her.

“They’re really chatty people in Nairn, and they want to engage,” she said. “There are so many groups I didn’t even know existed who are all doing good and have such strong community spirit.”

For example, Cllr Jarvie recently met with Nairn Access Panel and says they really opened her eyes to little overlooked details, like parking bays and dropped kerbs.

“These people don’t get paid and don’t ask to get paid,” she said. “They just volunteer their time to help people with access. I’m discovering there are all these little voices that aren’t heard enough but making brilliant suggestions.”

Cllr Jarvie lives in Balloch but says she knows her ward well.

“Nairn is not just the town,” she said. “It goes way out to nearly Lochindorb and the border’s so squiggly it kind of goes out to the viaduct and nearly over to Clava. So I’m literally just over from the border.

“I know it well because I’ve worked across Nairn.

“Different areas have different issues. Nairn is a seaside town in a historic, rustic area. I’m told it has the highest elderly population in Scotland. There are lots of people here who have stayed for generations and never moved away.”

This, she says, gives it a special charm and a great sense of community spirit.

It also inspired local members to work cross-party on a recent motion to Highland Council. Councillor Trish Robertson tabled a motion urging the Scottish Government to press on with the Nairn bypass, part of its A9 dualling plan.

The Lib Dem councillor’s motion won support from all the Nairn councillors, including Cllr Jarvie, Laurie Fraser and Michael Green (Independents) and SNP member Paul Oldham.

Cllr Jarvie’s son is Councillor Andrew Jarvie – a fellow Conservative and serving his second council term, this time representing Wick and East Caithness.

It is thought to be the first time a mother and son have been elected to Highland Council at the same time. Last political term, Highland had a husband and wife in Ian and Muriel Cockburn, plus siblings Deirdre Mackay and Karl Rosie.

Looking ahead, Clls Jarvie says she’ll always look to the community to steer her priorities. “My plans are whatever people come to me with,” she says. “That’s as it should be. When you see people who are already helping the community, you really want to help them get it over the line. I just love it.”

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