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Nairn Community councils to boycott meeting called this week to discuss second consultation into possible sale of Sandown Lands

By Donald Wilson

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Plans are being discussed for the possible sell-off of land on the outskirts of Nairn.
Plans are being discussed for the possible sell-off of land on the outskirts of Nairn.

The community councils have been in disagreement with Highland Council since it resurrected plans to potentially sell off the land for housing.

A previous consultation on the possible sale of Sandown Lands, held as part of the Nairn Common Good Fund, saw respondents overwhelmingly oppose marketing of the site to potential developers.

Of the 98 responses received only three were in favour of a sell-off and over 85 against.

But Highland Council decided to run another consultation, saying there were limited respondents and too few community groups had participated.

This angered Nairn West and Suburban Community Council (NWSCC) and Nairn River Community Council (NRCC) who are also unhappy at the setting up of a "short-term reference group" drawing from members of the Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership (NNCP).

They say such a group has no validity, nor does a a second consultation because the outcome of the first was conclusive.

The meeting on Thursday has been called by the council's Nairn area manager.

The two community councils were invited to attend, but after a lengthy debate last night both agreed they should not attend.

They have accused Highland Council of running the second consultation "simply to get a different answer" and maintain it is insulting to the public and community councils who had spent many months researching the issues and took the trouble to respond first time round.

Monday's meeting of NWSCC was also attended by some members of NRCC.

NRCC member Mandy Lawson said: "We are being played along by Highland Council.

"Why have we not been e-mailed any papers in advance, as a briefing in advance of this meeting?

"When we ask for something they don't reply.

"We are equal partners and we are there to make sure the Nairn Common Good is not abused.

"They have organised this meeting on the basis they have ignored the previous consultation.

"This is a crucial crossroads."

NWSCC chairman Alastair Noble said it was clear it was the position of both community councils that they needed to take back control of the Common Good and have it controlled by the people of Nairn.

"We need this sorted out before we take any decisions (on Sandown)," he said.

NWSCC member Brian Stewart said he believed accepting the invitation to Thursday's meeting would be handing back the initiative to Highland Council who he said have so far failed to respond to a joint letter by both community councils on the second consultation and other issues surrounding Sandown.

Treasurer of NWSCC Bill Young suggested they simply send a "short, sharp letter" setting out exactly why they are not attending with a later fuller letter of explanation to be circulated to the community.

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