Sunday, April 19, 2015

Friends of Balgay Spring meeting

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Friends of Balgay Spring meeting, held outdoors on a beautiful afternoon on Balgay Hill.

In addition to an informative talk from Jay Grant from the City Council's Environment Department on the subject of improvements in Greater Balgay, there was the unveiling of a new plaque at Balgay Bridge (kindly funded by the Hugh Fraser Foundation) and a memorial plaque and bench in memory of the late Dr Hilda Spear.    Hilda was for many years the Chair of the Friends of Balgay and passed away a year ago.

It was good to see such a good turnout at yesterday's event - some photos below :
Balgay Bridge new plaque
Good turnout yesterday
Bench in memory of Hilda
Plaque in Hilda's memory

Just the Job


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Council Headquarters front entrance doors to be replaced

As reported in yesterday's Courier and Evening Telegraph, after a protracted period of complaining of behalf of constituents about faults to the front entrance doors at the City Council Headquarters, I have received an assurance from the council’s Director of City Development that the council is considering replacing the doors that have been out of action on numerous occasions since the council headquarters in North Lindsay Street opened.

Following the most recent closure in March of some of the doors due to a fault, I wrote to the council’s Director of City Development :

“I have probably contacted you half a dozen times now over the months following constituent complaints about the doors being out of action.    Are we really sure these are fit for purpose given the number of problems that have been encountered?   Given the huge amount of public traffic through them, we really do need doors that can withstand large amounts of public use.    Should we not be looking to replace them?    Have revolving doors been considered?”

In response, the Director of City Development wrote :

“The City Architect and Head of Property are to look at possible alternative doors for the entrance. I shall advise you further in due course.”

I had long since concluded, given the frequent repairs needed to the entrance doors at Dundee House, that better, more robust entrance doors were required, so I am pleased this is now being progressed.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Walkabout - Blackness/Corso/Abbotsford area

Yesterday, along with a representative from the Housing Department and a representative from the Environment Department, I took part in a walkabout around the Blackness/Corso/Abbotsford area.
New improved street
lighting being installed
in the area

The six-monthly walkabouts take place in a number of areas (Pentland and Logie are other examples) and are a useful way to look at local issues and problems and ensure these are taken up and resolved. 

Pavement trip hazard at Peddie Street/
Abbotsford Place junction reported
for repair
Here's a couple of photos of matters discussed yesterday, which also including bins/cleansing issues and overgrown trees in the area.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

West End Community Council meeting

Last night, I participated in a very well-attended West End Community Council meeting.

There was a highly informative presentation by Allan Watt, Dundee Waterfront Project Co-ordinator at Dundee City Council, on progress with the Waterfront project.

There was also a useful update from local police and a discussion about other local issues.

You can see more about the community council's work here.

Jericho House Support Group

Jericho House
Yesterday, I attended the latest meeting of the Jericho House support group, a regular meeting at which a number of us discuss fundraising and other projects to support this important facility in the West End Ward, that assists those recovering from alcoholism.

Following the recent great success of the "Drink!  The Musical" starring Jericho House service users and staff, it was good to hear that an invitation has been extended to the play's team to participate in the Edinburgh Fringe.

There was also a very positive report on activities including assistance Jericho House is getting from Enactus Dundee in terms of producing and marketing its planting projects.

Meeting with National Express Dundee

Yesterday, I had a useful and constructive meeting with Elsie Turbyne, the new Managing Director of National Express Dundee (see right).

In particular, I was keen to emphasise the need for low carbon buses particularly on the 28/29 and 17 routes that cover Lochee Road, given the air quality issues on part of the route.

Ms Turbyne indicated that National Express is investing in new fleet this financial year which will bring in significant new/newer buses in the city.   This will ensure all buses the company uses in Dundee are at least Euro 3 compliant.    

This is a good step forward but I would like to see the low carbon vehicles that are already used on Service 5 also being used on other West End services.

Victorian Animation – make your own Zoetrope

From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee :

Saturday 18th April at 3pm
Room T8, Tower Building

Victorian Animation – make your own Zoetrope

Take a step back into the past and discover one of the earliest forms of animation. 

Create your own animated sequence with a zoetrope and learn about the history of these objects in this fun family workshop. 

Suitable for age 8 and over – children must be accompanied by an adult.   The event is free but places are limited so please book via museum@dundee.ac.uk or 384310.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

West End Community Council update for April

I have today launched my update to the April meeting of West End Community Council that takes place tonight at 7pm at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall in Shaftesbury Terrace - all residents welcome.

The update covers the following issues :

Unadopted footways programme - 2015/16 

Norwood Crescent pavements  

Hillside Terrace - road condition  

You can download the update here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hillside Terrace - road condition

On behalf of residents, I recently raised the deteriorating condition of Hillside Terrace's roadway with the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership and asked if there could be some immediate patching of the worst-conditioned parts but also if the council could consider full resurfacing of the roadway this financial year.

I am pleased to say I have had the following positive response from the Roads Maintenance Partnership :

"This street is classified as having a maintenance hierarchy 4b carriageway which means it receives a formal safety inspection every 32 weeks, it was inspected in mid January and no actionable potholes were identified.  However, a small area of patching was identified for inclusion in a future patching programme.  I have arranged for this street to be inspected today and one number actionable pothole was identified which will be repaired as a Cat 3 within a target of 28 days.

Hillside Terrace is recommended for inclusion in the 2015 carriageway resurfacing programme which has been prepared and issued for review and comment to Senior Management."



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Unadopted footways programme - 2015/16

I have been advised by the City Engineer that, as part of the Unadopted Footways Upgrade Programme, two further streets’ pavements in the West End area will be brought up to good standard and adopted by the City Council over the next year.

These are Whitefauld Road (south footway) and Middlebank Crescent (north footway).

These improvements are to be welcomed and will see more of the very poor pavements in the West End finally brought up to standard.   Back in 2007, I asked the council to improve funding to tackle this problem of really poor unadopted pavements and this was agreed – an increase from £200 000 per annum to £500 000 per annum.   This has made a huge difference in terms of tackling the issue.

There will be further progress in future years and it is good to see real progress on tackling the outstanding poor-conditioned pavements.

I have queried aspects of this year’s list as I had hoped that further West End streets would be covered this year that now appear in the possible 2016/17 list.    I am anxious to see as many of the remaining unadopted pavements in the West End brought up to standard as soon as possible.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Temporary Traffic Order : Paton's Lane

From the City Council :

THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984   :   SECTION 14(1)

THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of gas service connection works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in Paton's Lane (between McGonagall Square and Tayfield Place), Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Monday 20th April 2015 for 5 working days.

The one-way order relating to Paton's Lane will be rescinded for the duration of these works.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.

Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Perth Road/Windsor Street/Magdalen Yard Road.

For further information contact 433168.

Director of City Development
Dundee City Council

Friday, April 10, 2015

Power of Attorney - Start the Conversation

Power of Attorney is a campaign funded by the Scottish Government to raise awareness of the importance of having a Power of Attorney granted to a trusted relative or friend. 

The campaign involves a partnership between NHS Tayside, Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross Councils and local law firms.

Many people are unaware that if they become ill or injured and are unable to make decisions for themselves, no one else can do this on their behalf unless they have legally been given power to do so through a Power of Attorney.

The campaign is encouraging people to talk to trusted family and friends about establishing a Power of Attorney.

Whatever age you are, it is important to think about and make plans for the future. The first step is to have conversations about your wishes, hopes and fears about how you would like to be cared for if you become ill.

If you are in hospital, a care environment or even your own home, no one can act for you to pay bills, manage your welfare or make key decisions unless you have made your plan.

Having a Power of Attorney in place can ensure that your wishes are carried out quickly without prolonged legal negotiations. Your next of kin is powerless without Power of Attorney.

The campaign website: www.mypowerofattorney.org.uk provides valuable help and information.

For further information about the campaign in Tayside download the "With Power of Attorney, the Future is in your hands" booklet.   Hard copies of this booklet can also be obtained by calling 425500.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Logie residents' meeting

Last night, I had the pleasure of chairing a well-attended meeting of residents in the Logie Estate that took place at the Lime Street Sheltered Lounge.

I am most grateful to the Housing Strategy Manager from the Housing Department of the City Council who took part and we updated residents about the issue of improving the railings across Logie (and there’s now a way forward to get them painted, where required) and the lock-ups in Glenagnes Street following the recent council decision about these and other council-owned lock-ups across the city.

We had a good discussion about a number of other issues including bin and recycling collections and speed limits in the area.

Modern Apprencticeships


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Children's clothes recycling scheme

The children's clothes recycling scheme is a Community Payback initiative involving the collection, cleaning and distribution of donated children's clothes is helping families in Dundee.

The scheme involves asking members of the public to donate good quality children's clothes which are not being used or which their own children have grown out of.

Clothes handed into the Criminal Justice Social Work office at Friarfield House, Barrack Street are washed, packaged and distributed to families who need particular types of clothes for young children.

Social workers  identify children who need this additional support and offenders sentenced to undertake work as part of a Community Payback Order wash and package the clothes using a new laundry area which they have developed within the Criminal Justice Social Work office at Friarfield House.

This excellent Community Payback initiative meets the needs many families in Dundee have for good quality children's clothes.   By undertaking  unpaid work, Community Payback offenders are making a positive contribution to supplying much needed clothes to families with young children.

It  provides much needed practical support for children and families who may be vulnerable in Dundee.

There is an opportunity for local businesses to donate unused items of children's clothing or become involved in partial sponsorship of this scheme.

Further information is available on 435001.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Temporary Traffic Order : Blackness Road

From the City Council :

THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984 : SECTION 14(1)

THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of footway resurfacing works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in an eastbound direction in Blackness Road (from Abbotsford Street to Peddie Street), Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Monday 13th April 2015 for 5 working days.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.

Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Glenagnes Road/Scott Street/Milnbank Road/Rosefield Street.

For further information contact 433168.

Director of City Development
Dundee City Council

Monday, April 06, 2015

3D Character Animation presentation

From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee :

As part of the Bodies in Motion exhibition in the Tower Foyer Gallery, University of Dundee -

3D Character Animation

Wednesday 8th April, 3pm in Room G8, Tower Building

Phillip Vaughan will talk about 3D Character Animation, and demonstrate how walk cycles, run cycles and other animations sequences work in relation to Games, Film & TV. 

Phillip is the Course Director of the MSc in Animation & Visualisation at DJCAD and has nearly 20 years’ experience as a 3D Animator and Producer.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

West End Ward surgeries

Now that the school Easter holidays are underway, my usual weekly ward surgeries do not take place, but I can still be contacted on any local issues or concerns through my e-surgery - just e-mail esurgery@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

I can also be contacted at home at any time on 459378 and also during office hours at my Dundee City Council office on 434985.

Surgeries commence again on Monday 20th April – full details of surgery days and times here.

Happy Easter


Saturday, April 04, 2015

Macmillan Walking Groups in the West End

The Macmillan supported Walking Groups advise :

Our walks on Mondays from Roseangle Arts CafĂ© at 11.30am and Wednesdays from Maggies at 1pm aim to support anyone affected by cancer (including people living with and beyond cancer, family, friends and/or carers) to become more active by walking. 

The local, short walks are led by trained volunteers and are suitable for those of any walking ability.   The walks provide a supportive and friendly environment for people to become more active.

We know that physical activity is beneficial to people living with or beyond cancer and can help to reduce the negative side effects of treatment, improve mood, confidence, and enhance quality of life.     Being active in a group can also provide valuable peer support and reduce social isolation to ensure that no one faces cancer alone. 

This has been reflected in feedback from participants who have enjoyed the walks:   ‘The walking really helps my health and I feel the benefits each time but I actually barely notice I’m doing the exercise as I am chatting so much with people.’

If you would like any more information about the walking groups, or know someone who would be interested in getting involved please contact us at Maggies or contact Hazel Ednie on 385177 or email h.c.ednie@dundee.ac.uk.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Pavements in Norwood Crescent

Having had residents' complaints about the poor state of the pavement on the east side of Norwood Crescent, I took this up with the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership.

I have now received a response as follows :

"I ... would advise that the Roads Maintenance Partnership inspector for the area has arranged for several holes to be filled on the grano section from number 1 to Blackness Road."

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum Easter openings

From the Curator of Museum Services of the University of Dundee :

The Zoology Museum will re-open to the public over the Easter weekend, showcasing D’Arcy Thompson’s amazing collection of animals from around the world, as well as fascinating models and other teaching aids and striking artworks inspired by D’Arcy’s work.

This Easter we’re aiming to have a particular focus on family visits, so please bring your kids along to see us! The museum has recently been accredited as the University’s first learning destination for the Children’s University – this seeks to "cultivate the imagination of pupils, as well as motivating them and building their self-confidence” by providing children aged between 7 and 14 with the opportunity to take part in voluntary, out-of-school-hours learning.    This leads up to children’s graduations at real universities – including caps and gowns!    The initiative is supported in Dundee by the University of Dundee and Abertay University.

The D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum aims to provide children involved in the scheme with activities during open hours and special events that will help them build up the credits they need to graduate. We’ll have lots of activities this weekend, and we’re also planning to start taking our collections out to schools and offering activities and workshops to those who are unable to visit the museum. 

Find out more about the Children’s University here.

The museum will be open on Good Friday (3rd April) 2pm to 4.30pm and Easter Saturday (4th April) 10am-12.30pm.     Enter by the front door of the Carnelley Building.

Community Spirit Action Group meeting

Earlier this evening, I attended the April meeting of Community Spirit Action Group - the community group for the "north" part of West End Ward, covering Pentland, Tullideph, Ancrum and the Cleghorn area.

We had an excellent update from Sergeant Laura Wilson, our local police community sergeant, about the new community policing arrangements for the West End.   Laura also highlighted the excellent Police Scotland “Beat Doorstep Crime” campaign to stop residents being the victim of bogus callers and rogue traders.

At tonight’s meeting, I highlighted an assurance I have had earlier today about improving the road surface at the City Road/Tullideph Road junction, a litter pick being planned as part of the Dundee Festival of Volunteering 2015 and the resurfacing of the south side of Lochee Road that I highlighted on this site earlier today.

Lochee Road resurfacing work

I have had a number of constituent enquiries about the proposed road closure in part of Lochee Road (Tullideph Road to Dudhope Terrace - southbound only) from 20th April for road resurfacing.

The Depute Roads Maintenance Partnership Manager at Dundee City Council/Tayside Contracts has advised me of further details as follows :

The works involve the resurfacing of a section of Lochee Road as shown below :
The two areas identified as phases 1 (blue) and 2 (yellow) shall both be completed as part of these works and are programmed to be undertaken consecutively. The areas are assigned individual phase numbers in the attached drawings for the purpose of identifying the area of works relative to the associated diversion route.

Also by clicking here you can see a plan that details the proposed diversion routes for each of the phases of work.

The works are programmed to commence on Monday 20/04/15 and are programmed to be completed by Friday 08/05/15, subject to potential weather related delays. This programme duration encompasses the completion of both phase 1 and 2 of the works.

I can confirm consultation letters shall be issued on the week commencing 06/04/15 to residents and interested parties. Information boards detailing the forthcoming closures shall also be erected in advance of the location two weeks prior to the works commencement.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Positive meeting about future use of Victoria Park Bowling Green

Victoria Park Bowling Green
Earlier this evening, along with representatives from the council's Environment Department, Friends of Balgay, West End Community Council, Community Spirit Action Group, St Joseph's Primary School, Victoria Park Primary School and fellow ward councillors, I took part in a meeting to discuss what can now be done with Victoria Park Bowling Green, following the council's decision to close it.

I was critical of the closure decision, particularly after the council recently spent nearly £23 000 re-roofing the green's pavilion, so I am anxious that positive alternative use is found for the bowling green and its pavilion.

We had a very positive meeting tonight and the upshot is that there's now a proposal to give use of the facility to local schools to use for outdoor activities, school eco and gardening projects during the day, with community use in the evenings.    

Environment Department officers are now to draw up a paper outlining how the proposals could work in practice and a site visit will be undertaken after the school Easter holidays.

Friends of Wighton Lunchtime Recital - Wednesday 1st April

From Sheena Wellington :

Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library - Wednesday 1st April at 1.15pm

Bob Knight, singer/songwriter

Admission free, donations welcomed.

A return visit to the Wighton from Bob Knight, a singer from Aberdeen who has slowly but surely been making a name for himself in the world of folk and traditional music. 

He is well known in North East Scotland folk circles as a singer and writer of songs in traditional style, having performed at most of the local clubs, and festivals, including many events at Aberdeen University's Elphinstone Institute. 

Bob doesn't just confine himself to his home patch though, and has played all over Scotland, including Edinburgh Folk club, The Scottish Storytelling Centre ,(Edinburgh) The Rolling Hills Folk Festival in Melrose, the Portsoy Boat Festival, Dougie McLean's Perthshire Amber festival, and Celtic Connections in Glasgow. 

In August 2012 and then again in 2013, he performed in a series of highly successful concerts at the prestigious Whitby Folk Week, in Yorkshire.

In August 2013, Bob released his second CD, "Songs From My Tradition," this time ringing the changes by recording Scottish traditional unaccompanied songs. 

Future projects include another CD, of Scottish folk favourites, "Fields Of Home," recorded with his brother Willie Knight, and the eagerly awaited third solo album, which will feature Bob's best known and requested original songs. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Guest blog - Stacey Corkhill

I am pleased to publish below a guest contribution for my blog from Stacey Corkhill, a local Digital Communications Assistant and a recent Interior and Environmental Design Graduate from the University of Dundee.   

Stacey's contribution is about tackling graffiti :

Improving the West End: and booting out the vandals

There’s no doubt about it – the West End of Dundee has become a heartland for design, architecture and the prosperity of the city. 

UNESCO awarded us City of Design status; the upcoming V&A museum will see tourist numbers soar; the overhaul of the waterfront will inject millions into the local economy; and the modernisation of Dundee’s train station has made the influx of tourists more easily manageable. 

As the spring season rears its head, things are looking brighter for all of Dundee’s West End. 

Yet from Balgay Hill to the Cultural Quarter, one problem is hitting residents hard – it’s graffiti, and it’s painting problems wherever it’s sprayed. 

Indeed, have-a-go Banksys have always existed in Dundee. But many vandals don’t seem to realise the negative impact they’re having on the community.

A single graffiti council clean-up costs taxpayers thousands of pounds. Imagine that figure multiplied hundreds of times as councils battle to clear up the mess made by these puerile etchers. 

One case in the local area is a perfect indicator of the cost of graffiti in the community. 

An individual who appeared at the Perth Sheriff Court for vandalism offences in 2010, was forced to pay back the cost of the clean-up bill – a sum of £4,206. 

According to STV News, the sheriff said: "This was childish, puerile, stupid, idiotic, immature behaviour which the rest of us find difficult to fathom. How would he feel if someone came up to his property and spray painted it?

"Road signs are of particular significance as they may be related to road safety. I expect him to pay every single penny back to the taxpayer for the damage he caused.

"Why should anyone else have to fork out? Taxpayers in this community have had to pay over £4,000 because of his wanton vandalism.

"He probably never thought he would have to pay the cost of it. It is instructive that that is the cost of this kind of wanton, idiotic vandalism.

"There seems to be a belief this kind of graffiti is art, but it is not art, it is vandalism because you are damaging the property and the public has to pay. Now he has had his comeuppance."

But Dundee’s West End is working hard to fix the damage reaped on properties in the area.

Solutions to the problem :

Several volunteer groups come together at regular intervals to help rid the streets of tags and drawings. The Community Spirit Action Group is a particular champion of these events in the local area. Graffiti removal from private companies is also being utilised across the area for wider scale clear-ups. 

More than this, we recommend reporting any graffiti you see to the appropriate authorities. Graffiti vandalism is illegal under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) 2004.   The culprits need to be taught that their so-called “works of art” are, in fact, a nuisance. 

Dundee’s West End is improving in leaps and bounds – let’s not allow vandals to ruin our progress. 

Blether Tay-Gither March meeting


Tomorrow, Tuesday 31st March at 7pm. 
Madigan's Tea Room and Bookshop - 25 Castle Street.

Blether Tay-Gither will be celebrating its 8th birthday with the theme: '8 or Ate.'

Come along and tell a tale or just sit back & listen.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Harris Academy PTPA Prize Bingo Evening

Harris Academy Parent Teacher and Pupils' Association is holding a Prize Bingo Evening this Tuesday, 31st March at the school in Lawton Road.

Eyes down at 7pm.     Tickets are priced at £1.00.   

All welcome!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Automating council transactions

A constituent recently pointed out that, in trying to obtain a permit to allow him to temporarily site a skip on the roadside during house improvements, he was surprised he could not directly apply on-line via the council's website.

As I am keen that constituents are offered as many services on-line as possible (as well as alternative ways for those not wishing to go on-line), I asked the City Council's Head of Transportation why this was not possible on-line and have been advised as follows :

"The current arrangements are that an applicant can access the form from Dundee City Council's web site and print the form to enter the details.

On the form there are notes for guidance for applicants which explain the application can be made in person at Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee.  The fee charge for the required period is also detailed on the application form.   Alternatively the application form and fee can be posted to Dundee House.

Unfortunately at this moment in time you cannot submit the application form or make a payment on line but Network Management are currently working along with IT Software Development Team and Revenues Team to make on-line payments for skip and scaffold applications available."

The City Council's Head of Information Technology further advises :

"Investigations have been undertaken on this requirement. It is one which touches a number of disparate functions and systems within the Council. This includes City Development, Customer Services and Finance. The complexities of the process measured against the number of transactions which occur are the primary reasons why a solution had not been taken forward so far. Work has been concentrated on delivering automated higher volume transactions.

Discussions with wider business colleagues have enabled us to identify a simpler version of the application form. This will enable us to: 

1. Allow online payments of skips. This was the original requirement demanding change.
2. Make the application form an online process as well.

We have scheduled a mid summer timeframe for delivering a solution on this."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Payment of invoices to the City Council

As there has been focus on the speed of payments to suppliers by Scottish local authorities recently, I sought an update from the City Council's Director of Corporate Services to give reassurance that the council makes every effort to pay suppliers - and, in particular, smaller local suppliers - promptly.

In response, she advises :

"Dundee City Council has a policy of paying all external suppliers within 30 days in line with the majority of other councils throughout Scotland and this is one of our key performance indicators. Dundee has consistently been in the top quartile in terms of performance in this area. In addition to this indicator, the Council introduced its own policy of paying local suppliers within 10 days several years ago and I believe we were the only council in Scotland at the time that operated this arrangement.

The Scottish Government's target of 10 days is to ensure that all local suppliers are paid timeously to ensure cash flow and this is something that we are acutely conscious of and was one of the main reasons we introduced our own local policy.

As at 31 January 2015, the Council paid on average 77% of its creditors within 14 days and 94% within 30 days. Within these totals, the Council paid local suppliers on average 87% within 14 days and 95% within 30 days.

Dundee City Council's figure of 78% quoted as being paid within 10 days would include most of the local suppliers the Council deals with.

There will be some invoices unpaid because of disputes regarding payment, deliveries, quality issues etc. There are also invoices that come into the Council for payment some time after the actual date on the invoice.   This is the date that is input into the system for payment and would therefore show as going over 30 days.

The performance of payment varies between different areas of the Council with the vast majority of invoices being paid within 14 days whether they are local or external to Dundee.    For instance of almost 4,000 invoices from local suppliers processed by Social Work during January, 95% were paid within 14 days and 98% were paid within 30 days.

In order to continue to improve our performance, the City Council has set up a centralised 'Purchase to Pay' Team through which ALL Dundee City Council invoices will be processed using intelligent scanning.   This is currently being rolled out to several departments across the council (ie Housing, Social Work and Education) and this new process should have a marked effect on the time taken to process invoices for all suppliers both Local and outwith Dundee.

Once the new centralised arrangements are fully rolled out, we will be able to review our target payment arrangements."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Earth Hour 2015

WWF’s Earth Hour is a global annual event where hundreds of millions of people switch off their lights for one hour to show they care about our planet.    It takes place this Saturday, 28th March.

It’s about people from across the globe coming together to create a symbolic and spectacular lights out display and asking for change.

It happens every year between 8.30 and 9.30pm, with switch offs starting in Samoa and finishing in Tahiti. 

It’s been growing every year, with more and more countries and people signing up – last year an all-time record with 162 countries took part.

You can find out more here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Solar Cities Scotland

I have written over the past few years about the excellent work of Solar Cities Scotland, and in particular its insulation pilot work in Logie.

The current project has been funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund since July 2012.     It has saved 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over this period - this is roughly the weight of 4 jumbo jets! - 110% of an enormously ambitious target. 

Very sadly, due to funding issues, Solar Cities Scotland is ceasing operational activity as from 31st March.   Whilst the project's board hope to secure future funding to allow for recommencement of the project's work in the future, I have spoken with City Council officers about how it can be ensured that the work and expertise of the project's team is not lost.

Today, the team held an end of project celebration event at the Hannah McClure Centre at Abertay University and, although my visit was short due to a hugely busy diary, I was able to call by to wish the team well and thank them for all their excellent work.

Here's me below with Sharon Bain from Solar Cities Scotland at the event today:

Riverside Drive road safety audit

Further to my February update on the outstanding roads issues affecting Riverside Drive following its redesign and resurfacing last autumn, the promised road safety audit has now been completed and the City Council's Head of Transportation has now advised me as follows :

"The Road Safety Audit and recommended amendments have now been fully signed off and the design engineers are actioning the remedial works.

Summarising the recommendations will see:

An edge of road hatching replacing the temporary coning and end of lane bollards installed to make it clear that vehicles should not use this section of road.  This section of roadway will remain at this moment as there is essential road drainage in place and any removal will have significant civil engineering costs that the current scheme could not absorb
Illuminated bollards will be installed at the Tesco Roundabout
Additional painted arrows to be added to make clear that there is diverging opportunities at Riverside Approach (approaching from east), approaching TESCO from west and approaching the right turn refuge from the east for accessing Riverside Approach
The lighting levels have been checked and are acceptable
Other junction and lining amendments already implemented along the line of the works.
All changes to be completed as soon as possible, aside from illuminated bollard that will require road closure / cabling work s and scheduled alongside other planned works later this year

Outwith the scope of the Road Safety Audit the brightness of the traffic signals has been assessed as standard and acceptable, however Siemens and our engineers are discussing the concerns your constituent raised regarding glare in hours of darkness (ie should there be night time dimming?)"

I have made clear to the City Council that a permanent solution for the coned off areas on the north side, east of the rail goods yard, must be found as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Today's meetings ...

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the AGM of the Sinderins and Pennycook Courts Residents' Association, covering both sheltered housing complexes.

It was a well attended and productive meeting.   I updated residents on a number of matters including the new bin/recycling arrangements for much of the West End, changes to the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service from July and liaison with Home Scotland who own the housing.

Tonight, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Bonnie Dundee group, at the City Chambers. 

This really positive group encourages improvements to the Dundee environment and helps local groups who keep Dundee's parks, open areas, streets and gardens in good shape, and it was a really positive meeting with lots of good initiatives taking place.

Riverside Nature Park - practical conservation

There will be practical conservation work for volunteers at Riverside Nature Park this coming Sunday - 29th March.

All volunteers are very welcome and anyone willing to take part should meet in the nature park car park at 1pm.


Monday, March 23, 2015

City Council tonight

After my surgeries this afternoon at the Mitchell Street Centre and the West Park Centre, I took part in tonight's City Council committee meetings.

At City Development Committee, I welcomed the proposed street names for the waterfront area and in particular the fact the northern boulevard is to be named Thomson Avenue after James Thomson, former City Architect and City Engineer.   I mentioned that James Thomson's grand-daughter Trixie, now in her 90s and still living in the West End, will be delighted at the recognition of her grandfather's huge legacy to Dundee, which includes the Kingsway (the country's first ring-road), Coldside and Blackness Libraries, the City Square and Caird Hall, and the Logie Estate.

At the same committee, I sought assurances about ensuring a sustainable future for the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service in a discussion about a transport public social partnership.

At Social Work Committee, I praised the organisation and achievements of the Community Payback scheme in the city that has achieved good results on projects in the West End.

Mrs Marion Myles

It came as a terrible shock to learn yesterday of the passing of Marion Myles, Head Teacher of St Joseph's Primary School, at the age of only 54.

Marion was a hard-working, approachable and highly professional head teacher.    I first knew her as Marion Lawrence before her marriage and she was a long-serving head teacher at St Joseph's.  Marion was always very supportive of community events such as West End Christmas Fortnight.

My thoughts are with her friends and family at this very sad time.