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Nairn seeks devolution

By Andrew Dixon

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Dr Alastair Noble
Dr Alastair Noble

CALLS have been made for Nairn to have its own devolved decision-making powers and control of its own Common Good Fund.

Top priority in a range of ideas on how Nairn can achieve its full potential is establishment of a Nairnshire committee — similar to the Inverness City Committee, which is responsible for Inverness Common Good Fund — which would work with bodies such as Highland Council, NHS Highland and the Scottish Government.

“We are at the start of taking our own community and its care back under local control,” explained Alastair Noble, in a statement presented at the inaugural joint meeting of Nairn community councils this week.

“It is obvious that Nairnshire is under severe pressure and needs to improve the democratic input into local, Highland and Scottish political decision making.

“Our first priority must be to establish a Nairnshire committee which puts Nairnshire’s interests at the heart of all it does.

“This must include the four councillors, six community councils and Nairn partnership including business, tourism, health and social care.

“This committee would be tasked with coming up with real solutions to the wide range of problems we have and the financial pressures we are about to encounter.”

He envisages the committee becoming the custodians of the Nairn Common Good Fund and would produce a Nairn Local Plan dealing with the town, surrounding rural areas and proposed development land at Sandown, Delnies and Balmakeith.

It would also look at setting up a Nairn Housing Association and aim to upgrade potential housing above shops in the High Street.

Mr Noble, a retired doctor of Tradespark, hopes his ideas spark lively discussion in the town.

“A lot of it is about what is best for us,” said the 66-year-old, a co-opted member of Nairn Suburban Community Council.

“It is not an anti-development stance, it is from watching Inverness turn from quite an attractive place into quite a shambles and seeing the centre of Inverness dying, which is pretty obvious when things all go around the outside.”

He would like a partial decentralisation of planning processes, including housing and allocation of land, as well as health, social care and education.

Mr Noble has wanted the proposals to be looked at for a while but the first joint meeting — attended by Nairn River, Suburban and West community councils, along with Nairn councillors Liz MacDonald and Graham Marsden — provided the perfect forum.

Held to discuss topics which affect the whole town, Mr Noble’s ideas will now be discussed at the next meeting later this year, when it is hoped community councils for Nairnshire East, Cawdor and West Nairnshire, and Auldearn will also attend, as well as the town’s provost Laurie Fraser and council convenor Sandy Park, who is also a local councillor.

Representatives of nearby Ardersier and Petty, and Croy and Culloden Moor community councils will also be invited.

* Let us know if you think Nairn should or should not be independent from Inverness when it comes to Highland Council decision making in our poll.

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