A really good turnout for the Nairn games this year a few light showers but they didn’t last, overall another great event.
Below are some photos by Paul Oldham hosted on his Flicker Account and further below in the gallery are photos of the SNP stall held at the event.
Having no previous experience or knowledge of working in local government the last two years has been a huge learning curve but during that time I have learnt so much and have built a good working relationship with many groups in Nairn.
**press release from the Highland Council SNP group**
As time passes and the Highland Council approach the eleventh hour with regard to the setting of the budget the SNP Group are pleased to acknowledge that the proposed cuts will be nowhere near what was originally proposed by the Independent Group.
Talking about this, Cllr. Maxine Smith, who leads the Opposition and the SNP Group in Highland Council said, “The Scottish Government will be raising money from the highest bandings of Council Tax, in order to assist local authorities in balancing their budgets. This rise by Scottish Government will only affect the very large houses in Highland and there will be mitigation measures for those living alone or people with little income.
Originally it was thought that this £5m, which will be raised would go directly to schools suffering in the educational attainment gap. However, subsequently the Scottish Government decided to fund this initiative separately so the whole £5m will assist Highland Council with balancing its own budget without being ring-fenced. At the full council the Independents formed a last minute motion to write to the Finance Minister, and now they are claiming it was their letter that effected a change of mind in Holyrood. This I found amusing, as I had told them time after time that the money raised by the “Council Tax multiplier” was always going to come back to Highland, but they didn’t listen! Now they see this was in fact correct.
Further to this some of the media releases submitted by the Independent Administration have been less than genuine. They were looking at a budget gap of over £29m just a few weeks ago, but since being given their grant settlement figure, are now only looking at a gap of £22m. They pontificated about the cut from Scottish Government being worse than they were expecting, when the truth of the matter is that the Scottish Government under the current economic situation, have given Councils a good settlement, as best they could and Highland Council are now looking at £7m LESS cuts than they were a few weeks ago. Surely, this is a good news story?”
Every day there are people in our area who face financial difficulty and struggle to put food on the table. These people have no choice but to turn to foodbanks for help, it is an issue present in our own town, although many do not hear or see of it, the fact is the problem exists. Foodbanks rely on the generous donations of others to continue providing for those most in need, it is important to highlight this issue to generate support for those offering help.
Foodbank use is at an all time high, the Trussell trust is a charity that support Foodbanks right across the UK and publish statistics on an annual basis. This charity gave out over 1.1 Million three day emergency food supplies to those in crisis last year, 3,245 of these were in the Highlands. The number of people who are turning to foodbanks are increasing year on year with the most recent figures showing a 2% rise on the previous year. The number one reason for referral to foodbanks are benefit delays followed by those on a low income. In order to receive a food parcel from a foodbank you need to obtain a foodbank voucher, these are available from local community organisations.
The Highland Foodbank is run by Blythswood Care with centres located across Highland including one in Nairn. With Christmas just round the corner this is the time of year where it is tougher for those in a position with little to no money. SNP Nairnshire will be holding another food bank stall to encourage as many donations as possible to the Foodbank ahead of December. The stall will be held on Saturday the 26th at the corner of Leopold Street between 10am and 1pm, much needed items as well as food products include toiletries such as soap, razors and sanitary towels. Money donations are also welcome, everything collected will go directly to Blythswood.
Let’s all do what we can to give those struggling a good christmas this year.
**press release from the Highland Council SNP group**
Councillors today rejected an SNP proposal intended to enable the public to ask questions of Council leaders in their communities.
Today the Lib Dem Group proposed that members of the public should be allowed to ask a 1 minute question at Full Councils, with the whole session taking no longer than 20 minutes. Councillors debated the merits of this, with the Independent Group suggesting the idea be thrown over to the Re-Design of the Council Board for them to consider. Opponents of this said that this was just “kicking it into the long grass”.
The SNP Group Leader, Cllr. Maxine Smith put forward a further amendment that suggested her Group wanted to engage the public to a greater extent and that the Lib Dem motionb didn’t for far enough. She proposed that the public should be able to ask questions on the Council’s website, and receive an answer, which will be published and filed under a topic heading so that people can easily find it with a simple search. The SNP Group further wanted a question and answer forum to become part of the community planning district partnership meetings going forward.
The Lib Dems and the Independents offered that the SNP amendment be attached to their own, as they both felt it held great merit and was a good idea. However, when it came down to the vote the SNP amendment was defeated, with the Independent Administration winning through, meaning the suggestion would be taken to the Re-Design Board.
Speaking about this debate today, Cllr. Maxine Smith said, “I thanked both Groups for saying that they liked the SNP proposals, but unfortunately they didn’t follow through in voting for it, instead simply voting for their original ideas. The SNP Group feel it is imperative to engage better and wider with the general public when looking at service delivery, as they know what they want and what is important to them. As councillors we do regularly speak to our constituents, but the website idea gives the opportunity for anyone, who wouldn’t normally participate to freely and easily ask a question that must be answered promptly. Furthermore, if we take forward our suggestion that our community planning partnerships should include a public question and answer session, this would be taken at district level which interacts with a wider audience, who are just not city-based. It also offers a chance to do it any time, day or night.
After the break in Full Council, both the Leader of the Council, Cllr. Margaret Davidson and the Convener, Cllr. Isobel MacCallum said they liked both of our ideas and would investigate them further with a view to implementation. So even though we may have lost the chamber vote – we won the point.”
This year’s Games day saw another great turn out and the weather was perfect for it too. The Nairn Games is probably the most anticipated event in our annual calendar and remains free for everyone to enjoy. This year we had a special guest as Carol Vorderman paid us a visit and oversaw the days proceedings.
Our local branch held a stall which was well attended and did a great job raising funds. Fergus Ewing MSP paid a visit and took time to speak to the stalls and visitors on site. Drew Hendry MP held a stall to raise awareness and gain support for the campaign to save Fort George.
Overall another great event enjoyed by many, here’s looking forward to next years 140th Nairn Games.
Children’s play is one of those things we take for granted; the importance of it is often overlooked. Play is an invaluable part of a child’s development, and fresh air and exercise an essential part of a child’s physical and emotional growth. Outdoor play areas provide open spaces to fulfill basic childhood needs such as jumping, running, climbing, swinging, racing, hiding and yelling, which is what childhood is all about! Outside play and recreation spaces have also been shown to have a measurable impact on community interaction, new friendships and community safety. Play provision often acts as a focal point for parents and carers to meet, giving them an opportunity to socialise with other adults. If these facilities were to disappear or become neglected it would impact everyone but especially the most deprived areas of our communities where children are more likely to experience health problems and fall behind in development.
Play is not a luxury; play is a necessity. In February of this year the Highland Council had the responsibility of setting its annual budget, the independent group administration had proposed completely axing the budget set for play park maintenance, this would have resulted in many play areas across the Highlands becoming neglected and slowly disappearing altogether. Thankfully the SNP group put forward alternatives to such proposals and this budget was saved. This is a very important issue to me, and since being elected I have worked to bring together a community group with the focus of improving play facilities in Nairn. After a few false starts, I am now confident that we have established the right group of enthusiastic people to tackle this project. I’ve initiated a new task group Nairn PLAY (Preserve Local Areas for Youth) is now a constituted body and registered SCIO, and is currently focusing on breathing new life into the Riverside play park. This site was chosen due to its central location in the town and because it is an area of common-good land that has a lot of potential.
Nairn PLAY has members from many different backgrounds, with many different skills, including one person with experience in project management who’ll be keeping it all on track. The group has already knocked on the doors of the residents in the immediate area to introduce themselves and gain support. A survey has been made up that’ll be put out to the wider area, and to schools, to gain the views of everyone with an interest. In addition, a number of leaflets have already been handed out. Moving forward, Nairn PLAY will be looking to engage with stakeholders, and more importantly, get children involved with the decision process. They, after all, have the most important view in this project. The overall aim is to create an inclusive and accessible park for children of all ages and abilities to enjoy. We are an open group and any input and new members are always welcome.
If you would like to find out more or be kept up to date on developments, you can follow us on facebook.com/NairnPLAY . Or email us at [email protected]
Our local branch will be holding a food bank stall in Nairn High Street to both raise awareness and support for the local food banks. See poster for full details.
Foodbank use has increased by 13% since last year.
The Trussell Trust issued more than 130,000 supplies of nutritionally-balanced food in 2015/16, up from 117,689 in the previous year.
Of the number of three-day emergency food parcels handed out across Scotland last year, 43,952 went to children.For more information and to find out other ways you can help visit www.trusselltrust.org
A lot of misinformation is spread about the EU, both accidentally and intentionally, but the structures that govern it are straightforward. It’s also not as big as you might have been led to believe — the European Commission employs fewer people than Edinburgh and Glasgow City Councils, but serves 500 million people rather than 1 million. There are 751 MEPs, but that is 65 fewer than there are members of the House of Lords, just one chamber of one member state Parliament (and MEPs are democratically elected).
Yes, there is a lot going on in Brussels, but it is not that complicated.
Central to explaining how the various institutions work is understanding that the EU is not — in structure or intent — a federal country like the USA. At its heart are a collection of sovereign member states who came together to form a single market. A single market needs rules to function, and defining what things are means that trade can be conducted fairly and without discriminating against any individual citizen. Likewise, for Scots and other EU citizens to take up their rights to travel, study, live, work or retire in any other member state, we need to do that on the basis of laws.
These laws are democratically agreed, by
the democratically elected governments and the
democratically elected MEPs. It is absurd that
the EU is described as undemocratic because,
in reality, every step of the legislative process is
If there is not agreement, the law does not happen.
– Extract from the WEE BLEU BOOK by Alyn Smith MEP and Ian Hudghton MEP.