Sunday, April 30, 2006

Smoking canopies, E-Counting, Back to Moray...


Last Monday was very busy with constituent issues, including a few issues raised at my surgery - graffiti complaints in the West End in particular, which I have raised with both the Waste Management Department of the City Council and with our local liaison policeman. Monday night's Development Quality committee had a very full agenda, including applications for smoking canopies outside a number of public houses (including one in the West End) - all were unanimously refused.

Tuesday evening saw the annual (or thereabouts) meeting of the South West Community Forum, orgainsed by the City Council's Leisure & Communities Department. This is a useful get-together of local community groups, local councillors and council officials to discuss local issues and matters of concern. Issues raised included sheltered lounges (I have since spoken with the Director of Housing about this), bus shelters and it was a good opportunity to highlight the initial arrangements for this year's West End Christmas Week (OK it is early on but these things take a lot of organising!)

Felt I drove round most of Scotland on Wednesday! The Scottish Executive had organised a demonstration of the proposed move to "e-counting" of the votes for next year's elections. It was very illuminating and I must say I am won over - counting the council votes next year with the new STV electoral system would
be a very long process. I certainly felt the arrangements for e-counting seem very well thought-out.

From Glasgow to Inverness (overnight stay) so I could get to Elgin to deliver "Good Morning" leaflets from 5am on Thursday morning at the Moray by-election. A good chat with Nora Radcliffe MSP outside while we were waiting for someone to arrive with the office keys, followed by a morning delivering in Elgin this time. Absolutely beautiful day and was pleased with the 7% increase in the LibDem vote - far more than any other party. LibDem candidate Linda Gorn is pictured above.

Friday was a mixture of day-job work (as has most of the weekend been!) and local council activities. Attended the Workers' Memorial Day event at Discovery Point (see http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/news/148.html) and met with the Council Leader and Finance Officials for our monthly finance meeting (in a coalition situation, I have found it really useful to meet with the Council Leader on finance issues specifically (as well as our weekly meetings on general council matters) as it ensures the administration is fully updated and aware of all finance matters. Also had a useful meeting to progress City Centre festive matters, a meeting with Education Officers, the Education Convener & Council Leader on education matters, plus my Finance Committee pre-agenda meeting.

Have raised another list of constituent concerns with council officers - presently "shadowing" Strathmartine Ward as well as my own as Helen Dick (my sister in law) is on holiday. The volume and type of concerns are similar and its interesting to get a handle on some of the local issues in a different part of Dundee.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sun City and Flowers

Thursday night's City Centre & Harbour Community Council meeting saw a very interesting presentation by Elaine Morrison, Steering Group Co-ordinator of Dundee Sun City. The project has the ambitious target for Dundee to become Scotland's first solar city. You can read more at : http://www.dundeesuncity.org.uk/

Also at the City Centre & Harbour Community Council - there seems to have been a really encouraging response from City Centre residents to the Community Council's recent residents' survey.

I had hoped to make it up to the Moray by-election at the weekend but pressure of work rather overtook this - I have promised to help early morning on polling day next Thursday which means a late night drive from Glasgow northwards!

A good few constituent issues over the past three days from non-functioning controlled entry systems, yellow lining, street lights, litter and a planning enforcement issue in the West End. Despite the workload, I managed to briefly visit the Dundee Spring Garden Show yesterday (see
http://www.dundeeflowerandfoodfestival.com/spring.html).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The week thus far....

Monday's Council committees could have taken ages (there's been none since 27th March due to Council recess so a bit of a backlog) but it was all handled in a very business-like way, so about 15 committees (including City Council) did not take an age. My Finance Committee has nothing of great controversy - main item a useful update of the Council's policy in dealing with housing benefit overpayments.

For me, the two main issues of Monday night were:

* Discussion about the problems caused by seagulls/pigeons - although this appeared at committee because of a Community Regeneration Fund bid for Mid Craigie/Linlathen to help tackle the problem in that area, the general issue was discussed. The Environmental Health & Trading Standards Department undertook a survey of City Centre residents about the issue towards the end of 2005 and positive actions have resulted from this (committee report in February 2006). It remains a serious issue for city centre residents and many other Dundee citizens

* Central Dundee Parking Strategy - very pleased to see this report to Planning & Transportation Committee. Follow-up report coming on residents' parking (a very real issue locally). A Focus Group being set up with the four councillors nearest City Centre plus other stakeholders including Community Councils, City Centre Action Group, etc. Spoke on this too; very important momentum is maintained on this issue. See
http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/reports/agendas/pt170406.pdf

Tuesday started with a meeting the Council Leader and I had arranged with the Hindu Community Centre (in Taylor's Lane) about improvements to the centre. Thereafter drive to Newcastle (day job), meeting & return from Newcastle (long trip!)

Wednesday (apart from a real lot of constituent issues including sorting out a particularly concerning matter - all credit to the housing department for its prompt and positive response). Day job priorities meant I couldn't attend two meetings (including an evening meeting of the Blackness Area Residents' Association - I absolutely hate missing community meetings but this time unavoidable).

Pleased to see Courier featuring Riverside Nature Park - see
http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2006/04/19/newsstory8242298t0.asp - the Courier had kindly called me on Tuesday for a quote but being in Newcastle it was nearly midnight before I could return their call, so a bit late for a quote, but good to see issue featured.

And thanks to the constituent who has e-mailed me re the earlier story re "silent calls" as follows:

"Re the "Silent Calls" - there is something that can be done. If you phone 0870 444 3969 from the telephone number that you want no more "silent Calls" from, this blocks it out.
This is part of the TPS -
http://www.tpsonline.org.uk Specific page for this product - http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/news2.html And yes, surprisingly, it does work."

And time for another long link - my update for the City Centre & Harbour Community Council -
http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/82.165.40.25-4354cb46e84541.81564487/Tay%20Bridges%20Ward%20-%20Various%20Resources/City%20Centre%20and%20Harbour%20Community%20Council%20Updates/*NEW*+City+Centre+Update+-+April+2006+.pdf

Monday, April 17, 2006

Moray and Maps ...

Spent most of Saturday delivering leaflets and campaigning in Lossiemouth for Linda Gorn, the LibDem candidate at the Moray Scottish parliamentary by-election. A really nice day out although a long drive there & back. Campaign appears to be going well and judging by Saturday's "Scotsman", the Tory campaign is in meltdown - http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=572382006.

Spent a lot of Sunday on constituent concerns - lots of e-mails to Council Departments. This included travel cards (the new national entitlement card for elderly and disabled people) - or rather some constituents' lack of them, rehousing enquiries, two anti-social behaviour complaints and a concern about vermin being sighted on one street.

Pleased to see the City Council now publishing a West End Community Map and Information Leaflet (see
http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/publications/westendleaflet.pdf) which is a really good new resource for the area - paper copies available by phoning Dundee 435803.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The past week ...

Off to Moray tomorrow with a few friends to help Linda Gorn at the Scottish parliamentary by-election. It has been a dreadfully busy week, lots of day job activity including a very early start and late return to/from Belfast yesterday.

Going back over the past few days ...

Monday - Finally got an assurance that the handrail promised for Ford's Lane will be installed soon (long story ...) For elderly constituents in the winter months, this will be a boon. Some abandoned cars issues reported to the Police.

Tuesday - West End Community Council meeting and a number of local issues raised. Additionally decision made regarding 2006 West End Christmas Week (it'll be 2-9 December) - now progressing events with the City Council and others.

Refuse issues raised by constituents plus need for further litter bin on north side of Perth Road near Sinderins - taken up with Waste Management Department of the City Council.

Wednesday - Edinburgh - party Campaigns & Candidates Committee - spent the whole meeting putting stickers on Linda Gorn's election leaflets - worthwhile meeting. Met constituent re housing problem.

Thursday - Belfast - 4am start ; 9pm finish - not a short day!

Friday - Pleased to see the Herald newspaper highlighting superannuation investment issue on tobacco I have been campaigning on - see http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/news/141.html

Monday, April 10, 2006

Very sore legs ...

On Thursday had a useful visit with the constituent who unfortunately fell in Step Row - along with an officer from Planning & Transportation - to the area of roadway so as we could fully identify the road defect to ensure the utility concerned repairs it fully & properly. Couple of queries on HMOs and had Finance Committee Pre-Agenda meeting in the morning.

Spent part of Friday at the COSLA Convention at St Andrew's Bay; seconded the LibDem motion on the bridge tolls. Delivery of the latest FOCUS newsletter started in earnest & was almost fully delivered by Sunday (still a wee bit to do, but it was a great team effort getting it delivered so fast). Seriously sore legs after walking up & down what seems like hundreds of sets of stairs!!

Good feedback from residents by e-mail already ...

Put together my update for tomorrow's West End Community Council meeting (see http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/82.165.40.25-4354cb46e84541.81564487/Tay%20Bridges%20Ward%20-%20Various%20Resources/West%20End%20Community%20Council%20Updates/**+NEW+**+April+2006+Update.pdf - another rather long link!!)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Potholes filled, LibDem meeting ...

Really productive Dundee LibDem meeting last night and a new local party secretary elected - Michael Charlton - who'll do a great job and has the added advantage of living in the West End! See http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/news/134.html.

Useful meeting today with a local resident and the Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Team about local problems today and also in touch with Scottish Enterprise Tayside about graffiti on the pillars and steps at Seabraes. Its a real pity there's been vandalism there already - the steps have been finished off really well and have only been opened a couple of weeks. Really prompt response from SET promising their contractor will have damage sorted.

Other graffiti concerns in Paton's Lane. Also a few issues about the quality of road reinstatement in Roseangle (... the saga continues ...) by Scotland Gas Networks. The Council is meeting SGN on-site to review the work.

Pleased to report the Council has now filled in many of the potholes at Magdalen Green - went down this morning to take a look.

Put together latest ward newsletter today - edition number 50 - see
http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/82.165.40.25-4354cb46e84541.81564487/Tay%20Bridges%20Ward%20-%20Various%20Resources/FOCUS%20NEWSLETTERS%20-%20Tay%20Bridges%20Ward/**+NEW+**+April+2006+edition+-+Edition+Number+50.pdf - now that's some length of an address! - at printers; will be delivered over the weekend.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Leaflets in the rain...., Magdalen Green again


Spent a glorious morning in the rain (actually it wasn't that heavy) helping my colleague Helen deliver her ward newsletter in Strathmartine (Kirkton & Downfield). She's enlisted a good few local people to help and I was amazed how quickly it got done, so free this afternoon much to my amazement!

So spent a bit of the afternoon dealing with constituent queries & chasing up e-mails. In particular, sent another request to Leisure & Communities asking that the churned up north edge of Magdalen Green (pictured!) - damage done by vehicles - gets filled in & tidied up. Thanks to Shahbaz Majeed (Yaadein - PhotoBlog -
http://www.yaadein.co.uk/photoblog/about.php) for use of the excellent photograph of the bandstand on the Green

A few further issues include refuse collection in part of Perth Road and "boy racers" problem in parts of City Centre (helpful reply from the Police on this one). Also had a response from Planning & Transportation about missing bus shelters in Perth Road. And response re complaint about another utility "repair" - this time at Seabraes Lane.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

King's Park Triumph! Roads and Council Tax ...

Extremely early start delivering "Good Morning" leaflets in Glasgow on Thursday at King's Park by-election. It was well worth it - our candidate Margot Clark took the seat from Labour by 100 votes, taking the LibDems from fourth to first place. A truly tremendous result and a sign of the times without a doubt. You can see the result by clicking the heading above.

Friday included speaking with the local press on the continuing West End roads issues - in my last blog last Wednesday I mentioned Step Row in relation to roads and pavement issues. Unfortunately one of my constituents had a fall at the top of the road here a week ago - the road has been patched where a utility repair has been undertaken and I have asked Planning & Transportation to progress a better repair with the utility concerned ASAP. See http://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/output/2006/03/31/story8182762t0.shtm - although I should say the additional promised pavement resurfacing is actually Perth Road (north side between Ryehill Lane and Millers Wynd) and Magdalen Place.

The Courier on Thursday carried a story about the City Council data matching salary records against Council Tax to ensure employees are up to date with payments. Although data matching is not new (and is already used by DCC and DWP in relation to benefits claims) the Council Tax aspect follows new IT developments to data match the records.

In today's Courier, the "Dundee Association of Council Tax Payers" is having a pop at me. Now what is this group? Well who knows - membership one man and dog methinks - their only spokesperson is an ex Labour then Tory councillor (conversion on the road to Mrs Thatcher I suppose) and he doesn't even live in Dundee. Anyway, he's claiming that we had refused to do this before, we had the data all along and that I had reacted to "pressure" from them. Not any truth in any of this, but never let the facts get in the way of a good story!