Sunday, January 25, 2015

Temporary Traffic Order : Westfield Place

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 Scottish Water repair works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in Westfield Place, (from Roseangle to approx. 30 metres north), Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Monday 2 February 2015 for 5 working days.

The one way order which relates to Westfield Place will be rescinded for the duration of these works.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.   Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Perth Road / Roseangle.

For further information contact 433168.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bonnie Dundee 2015 AGM

The Bonnie Dundee Annual General Meeting will take place at the Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee, on Tuesday 24th February 2015, starting at 6pm.

There will be a talk on "Pollinators on Blooms" by Dr Christopher Connolly and the AGM will also include an update on Dundee's entry into Britain In Bloom, as a UK Finalist in the City Category.

All welcome.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friends of Wighton - Cappuccino Concert - Saturday 24th January

Mark Spalding
From Sheena Wellington :

Tomorrow sees the first in this year's series of Cappuccino Concerts will be held in the Wighton Centre, upstairs in the Central Library.

These popular Saturday morning events are held every month, with coffee and newspapers served from 10.30am and the music performance from 11am to noon.  Admission is £5.

For January, the Friends of Wighton are pleased to welcome back Mark Spalding, who will perform a programme of unusual and exciting music on the piano and also on the Wighton harpsichord - a delicious 18th century style instrument that is kept in the Wighton centre.

The programme will include some music themed around burns night, as well as showcasing some items from Mark's latest project to mark the 40th anniversary of Stockhausen's "Tierkreis" (signs of the zodiac).

Mark said, "This is Stockhausen's most popular and accessible piece:  very tuneful, each of the 12 melodies has a definite tonal centre".

Mark's playing on the beautiful harpsichord is sensitive and expressive and is always a hit with Wighton Centre regulars. This unusual programme of piano and harpsichord music should prove to be a very enjoyable morning.

For more information please see www.friendsofwighton.com

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Getting things done - River Crescent

Last August, at my request, the council responded to constituents' requests to fill in potholes in the roadway of River Crescent - see right.

At the time, I said, given the deteriorated state of the road, it required a more permanent improvement.    

I am pleased to say that the council's Roads Maintenance Partnership has now advised me that the street is imminently programmed for extensive structural patching.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Adult Learning in the West End

The City Council's Winter Adult Learning newsletter is now available and can be downloaded here.  

Courses in the West End Ward at the Mitchell Street Centre are given below including a new "Options and Choices" series starting tomorrow :

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Damaged fence across pathway at Benvie Road

A damaged fence from the rear of a property in Lochee Road has blown across the pathway leading to Benvie Road from the Benvie steps.   See below :
I have asked the City Council's Rapid Response Team to have the panel moved safely off the pathway and the Housing Department's Private Sector Unit to speak with the landlords concerned about having the fence repaired.


Monday, January 19, 2015

V&A Museum of Design Dundee : bring in independent auditors

I have formally requested that the City Council’s Chief Executive David Martin ask the Auditor General to engage Audit Scotland to independently investigate the full circumstances of the budget problems affecting the V&A project.

As I indicated on Friday, the huge increase in V&A projected costs is a shocking indictment of the poor project management skills of the SNP administration with regard to the V&A project.   When the Chief Executive and Chief Officers met with myself and two other opposition councillors about the situation on Friday morning, I was shocked when we were informed that the costs have shot up to £80.11 million.    The SNP administration has kept opposition councillors completely in the dark about the soaring costs.   

The Chief Executive has promised me a full investigation as to the detailed reasons behind the huge increase in cost.    However, as I have said to David Martin, given the concerned reaction I have received from many constituents, I have no doubt that, if public confidence is to be maintained in the project, any investigation has to be independent of the City Council.   Therefore Audit Scotland must be called in to do that.

If the City Council fails to formally ask the Auditor General to undertake an independent investigation, I will make such a request of the Auditor General myself.

The V&A project is vital to the city’s economic growth and absolutely has to be delivered but the public purse cannot be used as a bottomless pit.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mosaic in Tay Square - repairs agreed

Just before Christmas, I highlighted deterioration to the mosaic at Tay Square - see right.

At the time, I had contacted the City Council about this seeking repairs.

I have now had the following response from the Head of Planning :

"We have now completed the investigation.  Works will be undertaken to address the existing problem areas as well as other areas that have the potential to deteriorate in future.  

The materials to be used require temperatures to exceed 10ÂșC.  Therefore, the works are likely to be undertaken in the spring."

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Glenagnes Street

Residents have complained to me about an area of overgrown weeds next to the pavement on the south side of Glenagnes Street - see right.

I have taken this up with the Environment Department and have asked for this to be tidied.

Friday, January 16, 2015

V&A Museum of Design Dundee : budget concerns

The City Council's Chief Executive and Chief Officers met with myself and two other opposition councillors about V&A budget this morning.   You could have knocked me over with a feather when it was announced the costs have shot up to £80.11 million.    

The SNP administration has kept opposition councillors completely in the dark about the soaring costs and it is a shocking indictment of the poor project management skills of the SNP administration with regard to the V&A project.  

The Chief Executive has promised a full investigation as to the detailed reasons behind the huge increase in cost.   

The V&A project is vital to the city’s economic growth and absolutely has to be delivered.     

I think a more cross-party civic approach to its delivery will now be vital if it is actually to be achieved.

High Mill Open Gallery Project

Yesterday, I had a productive meeting with Mark Munsie, Operations Director and Gill Poulter, Heritage & Exhibitions Director, both of the Dundee Heritage Trust, regarding the High Mill Open Gallery Project.

I had previously met Mark back in September 2013 soon after the announcement of the Heritage Lottery Fund being allocated £1.48 million to the project and it was good to learn of the good progress that has been made with the project, with the restoration work on time and on budget.

The High Mill Open gallery will open to the public in late summer 2015 and will be a fantastic new facility in the city.

The photo below shows the external scaffold of High Mill at present :

mono 68 launch

An update from the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee :

Today sees the opening of mono 68 in the Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee.

The exhibition features striking black and white photographs of Dundee in 1968. 

The photos were all taken in one month by artist Phil Thomson whilst a student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. 

Phil is now a design lecturer at Birmingham City University. 

He explains, “The images are a snapshot of Dundee and its inhabitants, in transition from the post-war austerity years to the brave new world of flyovers, shopping centres and tower-blocks.  I was aiming to capture the social and urban characteristics of the period – a pronounced gender divide in the workplace, the street as playground, graffiti as an emerging means of expressing identity, personal transactions rather than digital interactions and the nature of inner-city transport.   They give a distinct feeling of a lost world, almost a sense of lost innocence.”

Phil decided to re-examine the photographs in 2014, and thanks to social media has been trying to track down information about the people and places he captured. Visit the mono68 Facebook page to see some of the images.

The exhibition will be launched today with a free talk by Phil about the work, which will take place in the D’Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre on the ground floor of the Tower Building at 5.30pm.

Everyone is welcome and there is no need to book.    Following the talk, refreshments will be served in the gallery 6.30-7.30pm.   Anyone unable to attend the talk is still welcome to come for the reception afterwards. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

X7 hospital bus problems - meeting with Stagecoach agreed

Further to my recent article about concerns from residents regarding the problems the bus type is causing on the X7 hospital bus service between PRI and Ninewells Hospital, my colleague Cllr Willie Wilson of Perth and Kinross Council has issued this news release on behalf of his council colleague Cllr Alexander Stewart and myself :
A meeting date has been agreed between Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor, Willie Wilson, and Councillor Fraser Macpherson to discuss the accessibility and suitability of the type of coaches used for the new X7 service from PRI to Ninewells Hospital and Aberdeen.  Councillor Willie Wilson is the Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for Perth South in the City of Perth and Fraser Macpherson is the Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for the West End Ward in the City of Dundee.  Councillor Alexander Stewart, their Scottish Conservative and Unionist colleague for Perth City South, has also been invited to attend the meeting.  

Stagecoach have now agreed to a meeting to be held on Thursday, 22 January 2015.  As well as the local councillors and representatives of Stagecoach, the meeting will be attended by representatives of the Public Transport Units of Dundee City Council and Perth and Kinross Council.  

Complaints have previously been received regarding the new service about accessibility and suitability for a whole variety of passengers.  The new coaches only have one space for a wheelchair, have no dedicated built-in access ramp and the amount of seating on the lower deck is restricted to only two cramped seats immediately behind the driver.  There are no facilities for buggies and prams to be taken on the coach apart from them being dismantled and loaded into the boot.  

In addition, if a wheelchair ramp is required it has to be taken out of the boot by the driver in all weathers, put in place and then replaced in the boot once the wheelchair passenger has been secured into the space at the front of the bus.  The stairs on the coach are particularly difficult to negotiate if anyone suffers from visual impairment or orthopaedic injuries.  In addition, passengers with heart conditions and those who find it difficult to negotiate the stairs on a moving bus find the coaches very difficult to handle.

Councillor Willie Wilson said:

“The buses are three quarter million pounds each and appear to be designed for inter-city travel, not inter-hospital work.”

Councillor Fraser Macpherson said:

“We need to have this meeting to emphasise to Stagecoach the unsuitability of the types of vehicles that are provided on this service, particularly between Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary.”

Councillor Alexander Stewart, who has always taken a keen interest in anything to do with Perth Royal Infirmary, said that he added his support to the efforts to have the type of coaches reviewed:

“I welcome this meeting and hope that it will lead to a serious review of the type of bus which is provided on the route, whilst the improvements to timetabling and frequency of buses will be greatly welcomed and it would appear that the company have chosen the wrong type of coach for inter-hospital travel.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Schools consultation information

Further to the decision taken at the City Council's Education Committee on 8th December to consult on a proposal to close Menzieshill High School from the end of the 2015/16 school year and the Harris Academy catchment area be increased to include the Dundee part of the Menzieshill High School catchment area, the Director of Education has written this week to consultees as follows :

On 8 December 2014, the Education Committee gave the Director of Education approval to consult on the following proposal:

The closure of Menzieshill High School and redelineation of the catchment area of Harris Academy to include Menzieshill High School’s existing catchment area within Dundee; and to transfer that part of Harris Academy’s catchment area, which comprises the catchment area of Rosebank Primary School to Morgan Academy’s catchment area and make Morgan Academy the associated secondary school of Rosebank Primary School; and to make Baldragon Academy the associated Dundee secondary school of Longforgan, Inchture, Abernyte, Auchterhouse, Birkhill and Liff Primary Schools from August 2016.

The principal implications of the proposal are that:

 Menzieshill High School be discontinued at the close of the school session 2015/16. It is proposed that the changes in the rezoning also take effect for all applications for school places at Harris Academy, Morgan Academy and Baldragon Academy for the school session 2016/17 onwards. Menzieshill High School’s existing catchment area within Dundee will become part of Harris Academy’s catchment area;

 All enrolled pupils in Menzieshill High School will be entitled to transfer to the new Harris Academy at the commencement of academic session 2016/17. Any pupils who wish to enrol at another school would be entitled to make a placing request for that school;

 Perth and Kinross primary schools (Abernyte, Inchture and Longforgan) and Angus primary schools (Auchterhouse, Birkhill and Liff) which were all formerly associated with Menzieshill High School would become associated primary schools of Baldragon Academy;

 The part of Harris Academy's catchment area, which comprises the catchment area of Rosebank Primary School, would become part of Morgan Academy's catchment area; and Rosebank Primary School would become an associated primary school of Morgan Academy;

 the Dundee associated primary schools of Menzieshill High School, (Gowriehill Primary School, Hillside Primary School and Camperdown Primary School) would become associated primary schools of Harris Academy; and

 Invergowrie Primary School will remain an associated primary for Harris Academy.

Consultees should note the following points in relation to the proposal and consultation process:

1 The consultation begins on 12 January 2015.

2 Full details of the proposal and a copy of the proposal paper are available on the Dundee City Council website www.dundeecity.gov.uk from this date

3 A copy of the Proposal Paper may be obtained from your school office or from Customer Services, Ground Floor, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee.

4 Electronic representations to the proposal should be e-mailed to education@dundeecity.gov.uk

5 Written representations on the proposals may be submitted to Mr Michael Wood, Director of Education, Floor 2, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee, DD1 1NL.

6 Where possible, an acknowledgement will be sent to confirm receipt of all representations whether written or electronic. The representations will be used to inform the consultation.

7 The last day of the consultation period is Friday 27 February 2015. This is the last point by which representations must be received for the Council to take them into account.

8 In addition, the following evening public meetings have been arranged to offer you the opportunity to make your views known.

22 January 2015 - Menzieshill High School – 7pm
27 January 2015 - Harris Academy – 7pm
28 January 2015 - Rosebank Primary School – 7pm
2 February 2015 - Baldragon Academy – 7pm
3 February 2015 - Morgan Academy – 7pm

We look forward to hearing from you or talking to you at the above meetings.

Yours sincerely
MICHAEL WOOD
Director of Education

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mary Slessor Commemoration

Earlier today, I took part in the Mary Slessor Commemoration at the Steeple Church at which, on the centenary of the death of Mary Slessor, a commemorative plaque and standing stone was unveiled to celebrate the huge achievements of Mary Slessor during her extraordinary life.

The event outside the City Churches started during a significant snow storm, but, appropriately, as the stone and plaque were unveiled, the sun broke through.

The Mary Slessor Foundation has organised events throughout 2015 and you can read more about these here.

Here are two photographs from today's commemoration :
The unveiling ceremony
Doug Binnie of the Mary Slessor Foundation addresses the attendees

West End Community Council Update for January 2015

UPDATE AT 3.40pm :  Tonight's meeting has been cancelled due to the weather.

I have today launched my West End Community Council Update for January 2015 - you can download this here.

Subjects covered in the update are :  Bin collection and recycling, sight lines at the Marchfield Road and Jedburgh Road junctions with Blackness Road, repairs to the Tay Square mosaic and Electric Car Charging points.

The Community Council meets at 7pm tonight at the Logie & St John's (Cross) Church Hall in Shaftesbury Terrace - all welcome!

Monday, January 12, 2015

City Council meetings

Earlier this evening, following my weekly ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and the West Park Centre, I participated in tonight's City Council meetings.

* At Environment Committee, I stressed the need ensure that there is a fast and efficient response to any implementation problems with the new waste and recycling bin collection arrangements being rolled out in part of the West End.   

Much of this will be from early March (much of the area of Peddie Street and Logie westwards to the city boundary plus some other parts) but a small area in Ninewells Village (the housing in the hospital grounds) and Clayhills Drive was implemented from the start of December.    There has been a problem at one block of flats  and I have been in discussions with the Environment Department in the past week about getting this fully resolved.   The Environment Director has assured me this situation is being closely monitored to ensure the new collection arrangements work well henceforth.

Like other councillors who contributed to the debate, I also stressed the need for good public consultation before new systems are implemented.

* At Policy and Resources Committee, I congratulated all who had played a part in Dundee recently being named UK UNESCO City of Design.    

I also sought assurances about the quality of the housing repairs reporting service going forward (as it is being moved into the council's corporate contact centre), highlighting several recent concerns I have raised about lighting repairs in council houses and on communal stairwells in council flats.

New myjobscotland website launches tomorrow

Tomorrow, Tuesday (13th January), a brand new and improved myjobscotland recruitment website will be launched.

The city's libraries are administered by Leisure and Culture Dundee who advise:

"As it is a completely new website you will need to re-register your details, but don’t panic as you will have 3 months to revisit any applications you have made on the ‘old’ site.   

You may wish to start taking back-up copies of your previous applications now so you have them for your records, and are able to copy them over to any new applications you wish to make.

In the meantime, you can keep applying on-line as this won’t affect current applications or applications made up until 13 January 2015.    However, from this date onwards no new jobs will be advertised on the ‘old’ website."

Anyone not having their own computer can, of course, get access to the at local libraries across the city, including Blackness Library, and also at the Mitchell Street Centre.   Free access further details are available here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Litter pick at Riverside Nature Park

Earlier today, I was pleased to join the Friends of Riverside Nature Park and City Council Environment Department officers in a litter pick of the park.

Despite it being rather rainy, it was less cold than I had expected!    Here's a photo of some of the volunteer team today :

Reiterating the call for 20mph zones in residential streets

Yesterday's Courier highlighted my call for the City Council to again consider lower 20mph speed limits in highly residential areas.   Part of the article is reproduced below :
As residents will recall, last June, I proposed to the council's City Development Committee that the City Council consult communities on where local people feel a 20mph limit would be appropriate.     This failed to get support at committee by a single vote, due to the failure of SNP councillors to support a consultation exercise.

As I indicated in the Courier yesterday, the sort of locations I feel these may be appropriate are narrow streets in highly residential areas, particularly where there are large numbers of elderly people or children out playing.    Examples in the West End where residents have indicated support include the Perth Road lanes and the Logie area, both of which have very narrow streets and areas of sheltered housing.

The reason that lies behind my renewed call is new Transport Scotland guidance, published on behalf of Scottish Government, that is far more supportive of 20mph zones in appropriate areas than the previous 2002 guidance.    City of Edinburgh Council is now introducing 20mph zones over wide areas of residential streets and Glasgow City Council is also moving this road-safety measure forward too.    

I have written to Dundee City Council's Head of Transportation pointing out that the City Council's policy to oppose consultation on 20mph zones and implement them in appropriate streets is now at odds with government guidance - and what's he going to do about that?

There is significant evidence that 20mph limits in residential areas has a positive impact on road safety.   The road safety charity Brake has a useful car stopping distances calculator which highlights how much longer it takes to stop at 30mph and higher compared with at 20mph or under.

I think its important to explode a few myths about what I am proposing.    There is no suggestion of imposing lower speed limits without public consultation - 20mph should be introduced only where residents want it.    There is no suggestion that 20mph limits would be followed by calls for even lower limits.  Also, 20mph zones are only appropriate for residential areas - I am not suggesting major routes become 20mph.

It is clear, from the large amount of feedback I had from residents around the time of last June's committee decision, that there is significant public demand for this road safety measure.    If the City Council continues to hide its head in the sand about the new Transport Scotland guidance, I will take the matter back to committee, and will continue to do so until sense prevails.    

At this stage, all I am asking for is proper public consultation on this matter with communities across our city.   What exactly does Dundee City Council fear about that?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Through Smoke and Flame: WWI Propaganda Posters by Frank Brangwyn

In commemoration of World War I, the McManus Galleries’ Annual Winter Works on Paper is drawn from the city's collection of sketches, posters and prints by artist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956).

This is currently taking place through to 25th January and you can read more about the exhibition here.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Connected Baby Film Night at Al-Maktoum College

Looking for something interesting to do in the New Year that will be both fun and educational.     Are you interested in human connections?    Then come to Film Nights with connected baby, and you'll get to see connection in action.    The event takes place on Tuesday 13th January 2015 at 6.30pm at the Al-Maktoum College.    

Connected Baby Film Nights Series hosts screenings of little known films that offer insights into the power of human connection.     This is the first film series event in Dundee, in partnership with Help For Kids.   

What better film to kick off with, for the 2015 series, than the one that started the whole journey: the connected baby?     We are treated to in-depth scenes of babies playing jokes on their siblings, being scared by their image in the camera lens, sticking tongues out at their parents, and keeping track of their mum while she searches for a new nappy.   

We hear from a range of leading infant psychologists, who help us to understand the significance of babies behaviour and especially to see how communicative they are, right from birth.    It turns out that babies are more socially skilled than most of us have realised.    The implications of that insight are astounding, for it speaks to the very core of what it means to be human.

The screening will be followed by a discussion - because insights are better when they are shared. Anyone interested in exploring the theme of human connection is welcome to join us.    All proceeds going to Help For Kids.     This is possible because use of the venue, Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, has kindly been donated by its directors.   

Tickets are available from Eventbrite and read more here.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Unleashing Creativity at Dundee and Angus College

Over 30 budding creative entrepreneurs from Dundee and Angus College have been working with Dundee Heritage Trust partners on an exciting range of projects for the new High Mill Open Gallery. The entrepreneurs consisted of 3D designers and interactive media developers.

The 3D design entrepreneurs developed plans and sketch perspectives to illustrate their design ideas for the interior of the new Hill Mills Open Gallery.    These designs were then developed into 2D digital models using specialist 2D software.

The brief for the Interactive Media entrepreneurs was to develop a mobile friendly website for the gallery.    The website allows visitors to access architects drawings and get the latest news and images on the development of the gallery.

This exhibition is open daily at Verdant Works until 18th January and will demonstrate the development phases for both these projects, along with the finished products.   It is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Jim Lee

I was greatly saddened to learn yesterday that Jim Lee, former Managing Director of Travel Dundee (now National Express Dundee), has passed away.

Jim was very approachable and helpful during the time I was the City Council's Planning and Transport Convener - the photo below is of Jim & myself at the launch of a safer travel initiative back in 2007.   He was also a constituent in the West End and a former neighbour of mine - a thoroughly nice man who will be sadly missed.

My thoughts are with Jim's family at this sad time.
With Jim at the Safer Travel Textline launch - 2007

Discovery Days 2015

Tomorrow and Friday sees a real opportunity to hear from the University of Dundee’s new professors newest professors and award-winning teachers and communicators, as they share with us the ideas that inspire them.

Everyone is welcome including school pupils, members of the public and our staff & students.

Discovery Days 2015 will take place on Thursday 8th (1.30pm-5pm) and Friday 9th January (9.30am-4.30pm) at the Main Lecture Theatre, Dalhousie Building on Old Hawkhill. 

You can download the Discovery Days 2015 programme here or see more on the Facebook page here.     Refreshments and lunch are available and the event will close on Friday 9th January with a free wine reception.

Free tickets available from www.dundee.ac.uk/tickets, e-mail revealingresearch@dundee.ac.uk or call 386660.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Works starts on the new Roseangle playpark

Yesterday, work to create the new Roseangle playpark commenced with the start of removing the old play equipment.   There was a feeling of some poignancy at seeing the old playpark being removed but the new playpark when completed in a couple of months will be a fantastic, modern facility for local children.

I was pleased to join Sharon Dickie of the playpark campaign and her children Emily and Daniel on-site yesterday - a couple of photos below and more are available on the campaign's Facebook page :
Sharon, Emily, Daniel & me at the playpark today
Start of old playpark removal

West End Ward surgeries

With the schools returning tomorrow, my weekly ward surgeries for 2015 start on Thursday at Blackness Primary School at 6.15pm.

See poster below and note I can also be contacted as follows :

Phone - Dundee 459378 at any time


Monday, January 05, 2015

Houses in Multiple Occupation policy

Following discussions and meetings with a number of constituents, I have been in correspondence with the City Council's Head of Democratic and Legal Services about the council's Houses in Multiple Occupation policies and concerns about the way policies are working in practice.

He has now advised me :

"Further to previous correspondence, I thought that you would wish to know that the Director of Housing is preparing a report for the meeting of the Licensing Committee on 5th February 2015 setting out the current policy on HMOs (the 12.5% in each census output area limit) and also how this has operated in practice. 

The Committee's instructions will be sought as to whether to retain this policy or to review it. 

If the decision is to review the policy, then a full consultation with interested parties will take place. It is our general practice to circulate consultation documentation such as this to all elected members."

I have posed a series of questions to the City Council about the number of census output areas where the 12.5% HMO limit has been breached, the reasons for this and complaints levels.    I will thereafter be meeting with council officers to discuss the issues further before the report referred to above is presented to the Licensing Committee.

I am pleased to discuss issues around HMO policy with local residents at any time.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Friends of Wighton Lunchtime Recital

Kyle Howie
From Sheena Wellington :

Happy New Year from Friends of Wighton!  

We are getting off to an early and lively start with a Lunchtime Recital on Wednesday 7th January featuring Wighton favourites fiddler Karen Hannah and piper Kyle Howie!

Kyle Howie is one of the finest young pipers in Scotland and he has already travelled the world with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. His pipes have also been heard in two Hollywood movies, Disney's "Brave" and Dreamworks Animation "How to Train Your Dragon2".

Karen Hannah is another well-travelled musician, having been as far afield as South Korea and New Zealand.  As well as being a much in demand player turning up in various duos, trios and ceilidh bands, Karen is a first rate teacher.  Karen's health has not been of the best recently so we are more than usually delighted to welcome her this Wednesday!

The Recital starts at 1.15pm in the Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library - admission is free (donations welcome).

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Graffiti concerns

Residents have expressed concern to me at some recent graffiti vandalism in parts of the West End.    The graffiti has a distinctive 'tag' as evidenced by an example in Fyffe Street - see right.

It is disappointing to see the recurrence of graffiti as there has been relatively little in recent months and I would urge any resident who has seen anything suspicious to contact Police Scotland on 101.   
  
I have been in touch with the City Council's Rapid Response Team about the matter.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On Wave 102 News about council housing lighting repair concerns

Further to my article yesterday about council housing lighting repair concerns, I was interviewed yesterday on Wave 102 News about the issue.

You can hear the interview by clicking 'play' below :

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

City Council council housing lighting repair concerns

I have expressed concern about the unacceptable speed of responses to council housing lighting failure repairs in the run up to Christmas, particularly as the cases involved older tenants the West End.

I have asked the City Council’s Housing Department for an explanation as to why it took from 16th December until 27th December to repair a strip light in an elderly tenant’s kitchen in sheltered housing in the Logie Estate.    

The repair finally happened on Saturday after I contacted the Director of Housing herself.    I am very grateful for the Director’s intervention but the fact that, for days, this elderly tenant’s carers were having to try to prepare her meals in the dark in her kitchen is wholly unacceptable.     I therefore asked for more information about service standards and if these are being achieved.

In another case, where lighting has failed in the back area of a tenement block with mainly older residents in the Abbotsford area, a repair request reported on 12th December was given a target date for repair of 31st December.   The tenement back area and route to the bin store has been in pitch darkness at night.    I have concerns there were simply too few electricians on duty to effect repairs in a reasonable timescale.

I think it is important that such lighting repairs timescales are swiftly improved, particularly where elderly tenants were affected.

The City Council's Housing Strategy Manager responded to me yesterday as follows :

"Where all lights in the communal close are out, this will be dealt with as an emergency (24 hours). 

Otherwise it will be logged as a Quick Fix Repair (5 working days). Staff taking repair requests do not have the authority to change repair priorities, however, when dealing with an elderly/vulnerable tenant (including tenants in sheltered housing) they are encouraged to use their initiative/discretion and they should discuss with the trade supervisors the possibility of having the repair carried out more quickly. 

Communal lighting – this is classed as a Routine Repair (15 working days). However, as above, staff are encouraged to use their initiative/discretion when dealing with an elderly/vulnerable tenant and, where necessary, they should discuss with the trade supervisors the possibility of having the repair carried out more quickly.

If all lights are out in a house this would be regarded as an emergency (24 hours). Otherwise it would be logged as a Quick Fix (5 working days). However, as above, staff are encouraged to use their initiative/discretion when dealing with an elderly/vulnerable tenant."

I have responded :

"What’s not clear from this is whether or not targeted repair timescales are actually being met?    

When my office contacted the department again on 23rd December about Abbotsford Place they were advised (to quote) “the electricians … unfortunately they are too busy and there is only 2 of them.”    In the case of [the tenant in question in Logie], the tenant is clearly elderly and infirm but it took from 16th to 27th December for the kitchen strip light to be repaired during which time the tenant’s carers had to prepare meals in the dark.

You indicate “staff are encouraged to use their initiative/discretion when dealing with an elderly/vulnerable tenant” but this either did not happen in this case or – as I suspect – there was simply no resource available to do the job earlier.

The bottom line is that the speed of response has been unacceptable in these cases and I would ask if you can confirm if you monitor if targets are actually being met, if all staff are actually aware they have discretion to insist on an earlier repair where the tenant is vulnerable [and what actually happens in terms of escalation at (the Environment Department repairs service) if such insistence is made by Housing staff] and if staff resource in the period leading up to Christmas has been sufficient to achieve targets?"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Liberal Democrats choose Dundee West candidate

Announcement from the Dundee Liberal Democrat website today :

Dundee Liberal Democrats have announced that well-known Dundee law student, McManus 2013 Citizen of the Year and Dundee football referee, Daniel Coleman has been selected as Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West in advance of next year's Westminster General Election.

Daniel has been Chair of the Dundee Youth Council, a former Deputy Head Boy at St Paul's RC Academy and student at the University of Dundee, and has represented the city as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Following the announcement of his selection as the LibDem candidate Daniel said:

“I am delighted and privileged to be selected as the LibDem Dundee West Candidate in the 2015 General Election. I am thoroughly looking forward to taking part in the political process and engaging with the people of Dundee West. It is essential we maintain political interest after the referendum and I am determined to work hard for everyone across the constituency.”

Born in St Mary's and was educated at Hillside Primary School, Lawside RC Academy, St Paul's RC Academy and currently the University of Dundee, Daniel is determined to bring in a new, fresh and vibrant face to politics in Dundee.

On leaving secondary school, Daniel became the sole Scottish representative on the British Youth Select Committee at Westminster on Education issues, where he took his experience of the Curriculum for Excellence to discuss issues with a wide UK audience.

In 2011, he was elected to the Scottish Youth Parliament to represent Dundee West and then resoundingly re-elected in 2013. In that time Daniel tirelessly campaigned on behalf of the young people, representing and taking forward their views and concerns. Furthermore, in March 2013, Daniel became Chair of the Dundee Youth Council, serving 18 months making him the longest chair to date. Daniel qualified as a SFA Football Referee in 2011 and has officiated in four cup finals and a Youth Scottish Cup Semi Final.

Daniel has been actively campaigning for the Scottish Liberal Democrats across Dundee West.     Liberal Democrat councillor for Dundee’s West End, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, added,

“Daniel will be one of the Liberal Democrats’ youngest candidates at next year’s General Election but he already has a wide range of experience and will bring a fresh of fresh air and much enthusiasm to the General Election campaign in Dundee West. I am delighted that our members in Dundee have chosen Daniel to be our parliamentary candidate in Dundee West and will be working with him and the LibDem Dundee team in the run-up to May 2015.”

A photo of Daniel with Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and Cllr Fraser Macpherson at the Tay Rail Bridge is below :

Fit for Fifteen

On Friday 2nd January from 11am to 1pm, weather permitting, the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden are inviting Friends and their families to celebrate the New Year with a run, walk, or stroll round the Garden, followed by drinks and nibbles in the glasshouse.   

See poster below :

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pennycook Lane Recycling Centre - an update

Further to my recent update about the overflowing recycling at the Pennycook Lane recycling centre, I have now received the following update from the City Council's Recycling Projects Team Leader :

"I can confirm that the Pennycook Lane Recycling Centre overflowing bin has been emptied. We believe this to be a one-off incident. 

However, I have instructed a member of my team to monitor the site twice weekly to assess whether the collection frequency is indeed adequate."