Four organisations have joined forces to create a powerhouse which will work to regenerate Nairn town following the Covid 19 crisis.
Nairn BID, Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise (NICE) and the town’s two community councils believe by pooling their resources they can get the seaside town back on its feet with a series of initiatives.
Representatives from each of the groups have developed a strategy for recovery which will involve engaging with Highland Council and relevant public agencies and others to mobilise resources.
The key aims of the group are to take forward projects which will support enterprise and job creation, to retain local workforce and skills and to promote Nairn as a place to live and visit.
Speaking on behalf of the collaboration, Bob Ferenth a member of the Nairn BID board and convener of the group said: “There are many projects that we can develop as a collective working group and have identified several that should be progressed to help revive and improve the town. By working collaboratively, we will have a stronger voice. The effects of the downturn are already evident, but the community wants to move quickly to plan for and build a more resilient local economy for Nairnshire.”
He added: “During the lockdown, businesses adapted and found new ways of operating, but these were short-term responses to the immediate crisis. The local economy now faces the threat of a substantial rise in redundancies as the furlough scheme winds down. Some local businesses are not yet confident of reopening. Guest bookings are uncertain. Almost all the major annual events that bring visitors have been cancelled. What our collective approach has done is identify key areas such as encouraging visitors, regenerating the town centre, enhancing the amenities at the Links, and improving access and travel routes into and around the town to name but a few, that will help Nairn recover from what has been catastrophic for the local economy.”
Speaking specifically about tourism, Michael Boylan, chairman of Nairn BID said: “Our collective aim is to limit and alleviate the impact of the current difficulties and find ways of encouraging the tourism, visitors and footfall which so many businesses depend on. The beach is still there as are the golf courses and there are plenty of outdoor recreational options. We want to persuade people to visit and enjoy what Nairn offers and contribute to the revival of the local economy.”
Work has already begun on a new children’s splash pad which was a jointly funded project between charity Team Hamish, NICE, Nairn Common Good Fund and Highland Council.
Alastair Noble, Chair of NICE said this is evidence that collaboration can lead to positive outcomes: “The entire community responded to the Team Hamish vision. The partnership shows that cooperation can work. We now need to extend and reinforce that approach on a much more ambitious scale to deliver the kind of measures that will keep the local economy going and sustain local employment.”
Led by NICE, the group has already submitted an application to the Scottish Government, with the support of Highland Council for funding to restore and repurpose a historic building as a visitor centre and business hub which is intended to encourage greater footfall into the High Street.
Sheena Baker, chair of Nairn West and Suburban CC said: “We are already making waves and in this time of adversity, it is more important than ever the people of Nairn pull together.
“We are counting on our elected councillors to join in these efforts and to back the proposals and projects which we are proposing. Public money will be needed.
“The Council is meeting on Thursday (June 25) to consider the challenges of regeneration and recovery. We are keen to collaborate in action which will make a real and sustainable difference to the economy, will create and protect jobs, and will enable us to find a way out of the present difficult situation.”