2 months after the sudden death of a community councillor at Xmas 2018, one of our members, Simon Noble, resigned at our February 2019 meeting. We immediately received a letter from Ward Manager Liz Cowie informing us that we must go into abeyance on the grounds that our remaining 5 elected members had fallen below the 50%(6) required to operate, despite having 9 active serving members. Highland Council CC rules at that time stated that our 4 serving coopted members(not publicly elected) did not count in this situation. After a meeting with Highland Council officers David Haas( Inverness City Manager) and Liz Cowie ( Nairn and Cawdor Ward Manager), we were refused any discretion from Highland Council to keep operating, in spite of Highland Council having already agreed to abolish the rule not to count coopted members in the new CC Scheme of Establishment due to come into force in September 2019.
We appealed this harsh decision unsuccessfully with Highland senior officers but were also refused the opportunity to hold an interim public election to fill vacancies and convert coopted members to elected ones. We were thus effectively closed down and ‘silenced’ as a Community Council till the next Highland wide community council elections in late 2019.
This is how the Press and Journal covered our story
Due to errors in the ballot paper public elections in the autumn had to be run twice and were not completed till January 2020 so we were out of action for a full 12 months.
During that period most of the remaining 9 Nairn River community councillors continued to serve our community voluntarily as individuals with several members supporting activities of the West and Suburban CC as non voting Associate Members.
We were however barred from holding our own meetings, operating our bank account or fulfilling Nairn River CC’s role as Statutory Consultee for Planning and Licensing applications during this period, leaving 5600 Nairn residents in the Nairn River patch without proper representation in planning and licensing matters.
We know now from Ward Business Meeting minutes ( not routinely shared with the public by Highland Council but obtained via Freedom of Information requests) that a number of significant developments on Nairn River’s patch were progressed in private by the Highland Council during 2019, while NRCC were in abeyance, without any public input or consultation, including plans to use funds intended for regeneration of existing buildings to build a new 3 storey block of flats in the town centre, and a range of matters concerning disposal and change of use of Nairn Common Good assets.