(For publication in its entirety – you should seek permission to publish extracts)
Nairn River Community Council represents more than 53% of the population of the community of Nairn. (Nairn West represents 12%, Suburban,35%).
We are concerned for the future development of the town and thus the people and businesses which form the pillars on which this will be built. We
are clear that the needs of Nairn’s people are yet to be fully addressed. Too many are without work or have to travel or move to get work. Too many need the support, however temporarily, of Highland food boxes. Too many are struggling to find the permanent home they seek.
Having looked into the current legislation and the key principles of community development we are convinced that significant opportunities exist for the people and businesses of the town to take the initiative for action aimed at safeguarding and growing the town’s future. A key tool in this is the community right to buy enacted in legislation introduced by the Scottish Government. With a total population of less than 10,000, Nairn is very well placed to take advantage
of this. Further legislation anticipated in the next few years could prove even more advantageous.
However, this right to buy is only a means to an end. Our first priority is the development of Nairn’s economy. We want to create the opportunity for local businesses and business start-ups to benefit from committed local support to help us build a reputation for prosperity which attracts other
businesses, draws investment and brings visitors to the town. This way we can grow long-term employment and permanent housing for the inhabitants of the town.
We firmly believe in the skills, experience and enthusiasm of local people and we are confident we can call on the expertise of local businesses large and small and locally represented national business such as Sainsbury's and the Co-op. We think there are lessons to be learned from other small Scottish communities who have already taken such steps. Seaside towns like West Kilbride in
North Ayrshire, where a crumbling high street has been transformed into a thriving themed economy rewarding local businesses and drawing visitors not just for the benefits of the sea air but for its own sake.
At a special meeting of the Community Council on 24th September we had the benefit of a presentation from representatives of NICE, newly constituted as a Community Development Trust, which outlined the plans this company has developed for acquiring land and property in and around
Nairn. As we have said, we believe that the community right to buy is an important tool for enabling the development of Nairn. However, we think it crucial that this is a tool which is used by and for the people and businesses of Nairn.
We understand that the Board of NICE is made up of concerned individuals who have taken considerable trouble to develop their ideas. We believe that the time is right for NICE to expand its vision and embrace the empowerment of the community and its businesses. NICE has approached individuals in the Community Council inviting them to join. We feel the issues at stake and the requirements of the legislation demand a clearer commitment to local representation, so invite NICE
to formally appoint to their Board a proportional number of Directors from each of the Community Councils – three from NRCC, two from Suburban and one from West.
We believe that the Board would benefit from the inclusion, or co-option, of a representative of Highland Council’s executive team as well as nominees from Sainsbury's or the Co-op, major local businesses such as Gordon’s or Asher's and enthusiastic small businesses. We believe it is vital that NICE convincingly step aside from its historic antipathy to the local council and develop a sound
working relationship with Highland Council’s officers. Plans for regeneration of the town will lack substance and longevity without the contribution of expertise from the business sector. Without such a rejuvenated Board we fear that NICE will not enjoy the support of the local community that is crucial. It is clear that the current Board’s membership cannot.
Nairn River Community Council
9th October 2012