Saturday, May 31, 2008

Alison McInnes MSP on climate change


Was pleased to see North East Scotland MSP (and Scottish Liberal Democrat Climate Change spokesperson), Alison McInnes, last week call for the Scottish Government to take real action against climate change, so that Scotland takes a leading role in tackling this global challenge.

Alison said, “Just over a year ago the First Minister outlined his new Government’s priorities. He devoted a good deal of time to talking about the environmental challenges, the need for a Scottish Climate Change Bill, and the all-encompassing nature that action against climate change must take. But, 12 months on, every day it seems more and more as though the First Minister’s words were just that – words, and nothing more.

“We cannot, however, accuse the Government of doing nothing since they have come to power. Ministers have found the time to ditch their manifesto commitment to binding annual reduction targets of 3 per cent. They have committed to a huge increase in spending on roads, while at the same time delivering budget cuts to public transport. They have cut funding for sustainable travel initiatives and turned down planning applications for wind farm developments, while at the same time proclaiming that ‘coal is King’.

“For all the rhetoric, we have yet to see evidence that the Government has any substantive policies that will help meet the Bill’s targets. Setting an emissions target is important, but actually taking action that will allow that target to be met is where the real work lies.”

· Liberal Democrats want to see 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050 and binding annual emissions reduction targets to set a clear trajectory towards an 80 per cent reduction by 2050. Liberal Democrats in Westminster have set out plans to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.

· The Scottish Government must end its prevarication and inconsistency and come forward with substantive policies to tackle climate change. The Budget – with its simultaneous cuts to public and sustainable transport, increased spend on motorways and relatively low investment in green energy – offers no clarification. The Government’s astonishing delay in coming forward with a comprehensive energy strategy is also damaging. Scottish Renewables say the bill will be “meaningless” without a clear energy action plan. Ambitious targets are not in themselves sufficient. Targets are easy, delivery is hard.

· The Government doesn’t need to wait for the Climate Change Bill before it takes steps to curb harmful emissions - a year has passed without concrete action on energy use and sourcing, travel and transportation, waste production and disposal, estate management, and procurement of goods and services. The Scottish Government and the public sector could take the lead right now.

You can read Alison McInnes’ speech to the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday by clicking on the headline above.

Friday, May 30, 2008

West End forthcoming events

Mills Observatory
Mills Observatory's Summer Programme includes the following :

Wednesday 2nd July : Water Rockets
Wednesday 9th July : Constellations
Tuesday 15th July : Solar Systems
Tuesday 22nd July : Space Models
Tuesday 29th July : Planet Trail
Wednesday 6th August : Story telling

All take place between 2pm and 4pm and are aimed at children aged 8 to 11 years (admission £2 per person) - click on the headline above to view the Observatory website.

... and Sunday Bandstand Concerts ...

There will be the annual (and absolutely brilliant) Sunday bandstand concerts on Magdalen Green from 2pm to 3pm on :

Sunday 15th June
Sunday 22nd June
Sunday 29th June
Sunday 6th July
Sunday 13th July
Sunday 20th July
Sunday 27th July
Sunday 3rd August
Sunday 10th August
Sunday 17th August
Admission free, as always!

Post Offices - news update

Following the meeting between Dundee City Councillors and Post Office Limited yesterday, I've now written to the other West End City Councillors suggesting a West End cross-party campaign to co-ordinate efforts to save the threatened Post Offices at Lochee Road and Nethergate, Dundee.

I was pleased that all four West End Ward councillors had attended the meeting with Post Office Limited and that there had been an excellent cross-party and cross-city turnout of councillors.

All four West End Councillors have made clear our total opposition to the loss of these Post Offices and I have taken the step of writing to my colleagues suggesting we meet next week to discuss a joint approach to maximise the effort to save the Post Offices in our area. I have no doubt we will all wish individually to make our own representations to Post Office Limited, but a co-ordinated effort is really needed in terms of the campaign.

Post Office Limited made clear that it would listen to any hard evidence and therefore I have already been in touch with the City Council Assistant Chief Executive requesting he provide evidence-based information that we can use to make the case to retain the Post Offices.

I believe there will be clear evidence that comes forward to support retention of these Post Offices. For example, the Nethergate Post Office is sited in an increasing busy cultural quarter, with the new Alliance Trust UK Headquarters to be shortly completed nearby – a £12m investment, bringing many new workers into the immediately adjacent area. It is also adjacent to the University campus, Dundee Contemporary Arts and Dundee Rep – an area with an increasing, not reducing, customer base.

In the case of Lochee Road Post Office, it is clear that Post Office Limited has failed to take into account the challenges that would face the large elderly population close by – for example from the Tullideph sheltered housing – as the “alternative” Post Offices they claim people can use are neither close by or easily accessible for the citizens who presently use Lochee Road.

I have also been in correspondence with Postwatch Scotland, and append the latest exchanges below :



From Postwatch to me :

30 May 2008

Dear Councillor Macpherson

Network Change Programme

Thank you for contacting us about the proposed closure of Nethergate and Lochee Road Post Office.

Postwatch Scotland is pleased that you will be forwarding a copy of your formal response to us in due course.

Postwatch Scotland's focus will be on whether Post Office Ltd's proposals meet the newly introduced minimum access criteria for post offices which aim to ensure communities are within a reasonable distance from a post office.

We will also check that local factors – such as public transport arrangements, pertinent topographical features, demographics and the impact on the local economy – have been properly considered. However, I should make you aware that Postwatch Scotland does not have the power to overturn Post Office Ltd's final decision on any closure.

Any information that you provide regarding these proposals will help to influence our final response at the end of the consultation period.

If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Yours sincerely

Emma Swithenbank
Postwatch Scotland Administrator

My response to Postwatch :

Thanks Emma; I have already been in touch with our City Council Assistant Chief Executive asking him to look for evidence-based information that we can use to make the case to retain the Post Offices in my ward.

I believe there will be clear evidence that comes forward to support retention of these Post Offices.

For example, the Nethergate Post Office is sited in an increasing busy cultural quarter, with the new Alliance Trust UK Headquarters to be shortly completed nearby – a £12m investment, bringing many new workers into the immediately adjacent area.

In the case of Lochee Road Post Office, it is clear that Post Office Limited has failed to take into account the challenges that would face the large elderly population close by – for example from the Tullideph sheltered housing – as the “alternative” Post Offices cited are neither close by or easily accessible for the citizens who presently use Lochee Road. Pertinent topographical features make, for example, Blackness Road Post Office difficult for the elderly and less mobile to get to from the Lochee Road area.

It is clear from the meeting elected members in Dundee had with Post Office Limited yesterday, that there is a great strength of feeling amongst city councillors of all political persuasions that the proposals are unacceptable and would lead to significant problems for the communities involved. I am very grateful, therefore, for Postwatch Scotland’s close interest in this issue.

Best regards

Fraser

Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the West End
Convener of Planning and Transport - Dundee City Council

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Waterfront - and a dynamic city

With thanks to one of the City Centre & Harbour Community Council folk (a community council I used to work closely with, but the local government boundary commission regrettably put paid to that) ... if you click on the headline above, you can see Dundee Waterfront (and more) featured on the "skyscrapercity" site.

Furthermore, the photos on flickr are great - see :

Recycling paper and cardboard - an update!

I recently made enquiries on behalf of constituents about the recycling of cardboard - previously not available from the kerbside blue bin collection.

One resident mentioned to me that although she had noticed cardboard in her blue bin was now collected, any overflow left neatly adjacent to the bin was not collected.

Here's the response from the Waste Management Department (below). I am pleased that larger blue bins are now being made available and that cardboard is now collected - all helping Dundee's recycling effort.

"We recently carried out a trial in selected areas of Dundee collecting cardboard along with paper in blue bins. This was based on our contractor now being able to accept paper and cardboard mixed for recycling and sufficient collection capacity being available - all households in trial area received a leaflet advising them of change and offering them the option of a larger blue bin (to deal with introduction of cardboard).

"The trial has been successful and we are now in a position to collect cardboard in all blue bins collection routes. We are currently assessing the best way of promoting the acceptance of cardboard. The recycling calendar issued to residents for 2009 will confirm this change, but we are also considering taking immediate actions to promote the change. This will likely be either advertising in local newspapers or direct mail. We will be updating our web site very shortly to advise of the acceptance of cardboard in blue bins.

"The reason I suspect that the resident had material left was not because it was cardboard but because it was side waste that was not in a bin. We would recommend that if a household has additional cardboard they take it to one of our Recycling Points or request an additional recycling bin if this is a frequent occurrence."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There's a whiff of insurrection in the air ...

Nick Clegg MP, LibDem Leader, in today's "Daily Telegraph" :

The fuel protests hammer home a clear message. After the 10p tax rebellion, the local elections, and the Crewe by-election, no one can doubt the mood of the country any more. There is insurrection in the air. The British people are ready for change and they don't believe Labour can deliver it.

So the next big question is: what kind of change do people want? And which opposition party can make it happen?

The Conservatives have painted an image of a brave new world, where the sun shines and David Cameron charms the birds out of the trees. The Cameroons have started to believe their own hype: insisting on their right to enter Number 10 without working out what they'd do once the door closed behind them.

Their strategy is simple enough: why bother choosing policies when the Government is shooting itself in the foot? Cameron's speech on tax last week was a case in point: he made a virtue of the fact that he will make no further specific commitments on public spending or tax. They are elevating policy evasion to an art form.

Cameron cries crocodile tears for the poor families affected by the doubling of the 10p tax rate, but his one and only tax policy is to cut inheritance tax for the richest six per cent of people. He has supported calls for "food security" - code for protectionism - but also lectured the World Trade Organisation on the importance of free trade.

He tells us to "go green", but won't commit to specific policies to help us. He has preached about personal privacy, but wants to abolish Data Protection laws. Like Labour, he promises to decentralise, but steers clear of explaining how or when.Tory policy makes about as much sense as a Turner prize entry.

Currently, this incoherence is the Tory party's greatest strength: they can't be pinned to anything people don't like. But it's no serious programme for government. It offers nothing to people concerned about knife crime, or worried about higher fuel bills. The public has been promised the moon on a stick by Mr Cameron. Soon they will start to ask how he'll get it for them - and a gleaming smile won't be enough.

Politics is about choices between competing ideas, not just agreeing with everyone. It's because we understand this that the Liberal Democrats speak in detail about how we would deliver a more liberal Britain. We are the only party committed to cutting taxes for low and middle income families at the next election. We're committed to fair pensions for women, and the immediate restoration of the earnings link - while the other parties just talk about doing something for pensioners, possibly, some day.

We'll change the school funding system so children who need the most help, get the most help, and we'll put together a financial plan to pay for every penny. Everyone, no matter their background, will have a patient guarantee, so if the NHS can't treat them in time, the government will pay for them to be treated elsewhere.

We don't just talk about protecting the environment. We'll make polluters pay, so we can cut taxes for ordinary families, charge a toll for lorry road journeys so we can invest in a high-speed rail network, put fair charges on air travel, and support local recycling and green energy.

Policy details are seldom much interest to voters. But people deserve to know what a party will do if it wins. Without detail the public has no sense of the values of a politician, still less any evidence that they'll stand by them.

The Conservative Party has convinced itself that it deserves power but that it's safer not to tell us what it would do with it. But as the election closes in, people will see that they have been promised nothing dressed up as everything.

With the Brown Government circling the drain there is the chance for a genuine new direction for the country. Not just a change of prime minister, but a real change of direction. That calls for a party that doesn't just talk about the idea of change: it makes change happen
.

Save our Post Offices!

Like many residents locally, I am extremely dismayed to learn that - of the 4 Post Offices announced as to be closed in the Dundee City Council area - two are in the West End Ward, one in Lochee Road - the other being the Nethergate Post Office.

Having received the very bulky recorded delivery mailing from Post Office Limited this morning about their so-called "Network Change Programme" (for that read "Network Closure Programme"), it is clear that the number of customers in both Post Offices is very significant (750-999 per week at Lochee Road Post Office and 1000-1499 per week at Nethergate Post Office) and their loss will have a significant deterimental impact on the communities they have served so well over the years.

I am in the Nethergate Post Office in particular frequently - it is always busy and suggesting it should be closed to my mind makes no sense. I totally concur with the comments of the postmaster Mr Baig that the decision to close Nethergate Post Office is a strange one. Furthermore, it is open for longer each week (at 51 hours) than the next nearest Post Offices some distance further west in Perth Road, and in the City Centre at Meadowside.

I have already commented to the media that I hope all people locally will campaign to save our Post Offices. That includes - I hope - Dundee West Labour MP Jim McGovern, whose party's record in office with regard to the Post Offices has been extremely poor.

The Labour Party’s policy is one of managed decline, developed in response to their own plan to require the Post Office to be commercially self sufficient, while at the same time withdrawing huge chunks of revenue through the decision to pay benefits where possible through bank accounts, and develop direct and online channels for vehicle and TV licences.

By the end of the current closure programme, Labour will have overseen the closure of almost 7,000 post offices – 11 offices for every single week in power.

Labour Ministers are now expecting Post Office Limited to return to profit by 2011. Yet despite the size of that task, less than £90m per year is going to be available for the investment essential to turn the business round.

There is a clear need nationally for a costed and credible set of proposals to keep existing post offices open and, where necessary, to open others. I sincerely hope that our Labour MP in Dundee will help in the campaign to save Post Offices in the City. Everyone can help the campaign by e-mailing
consultation@postoffice.co.uk criticising the proposals.

Hird Bridge reopens in Balgay Park

Was delighted to attend the reopening of the Hird Bridge this morning in Balgay Park - beautifully restored. A great turnout from the local community.


If you click the headline above, you can read the article in the "Evening Telegraph" from two years ago, when the announcement of the restoration project was originally made. It was great, therefore, to see the excellent finished result at the end of this project.


The photo above shows the bridge just before the ribbon was cut and the photo (above right) shows the piper and some of those who attended to opening ceremony.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back from Stornoway ...

I was in Stornoway yesterday with the "day job" addressing a group of the local authority's elected members - a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but a very long day (up at 4.30am; back home 10pm and playing "catch up" today!)

It was a beautiful day in Stornoway as you can see from the photos - Stornoway Harbour (top), the airport (right) and Lews Castle (below). The castle - built for Sir James Matheson in 1847 - is situated in extensive wooded grounds overlooking Stornoway Harbour. There's an interesting website about the castle (click on the headline above to view).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eurovision 2008 - voting farce as usual ...

No real surprise that the UK came joint-last. The song was absolutely dreadful.

That said, no matter how awful the song, Greece can always be relied on to give a maximum 12 points to Cyprus and Russia will vote for the Ukraine.

The Eurovision Song Contest has long since become as famous for political skulduggery as it has for its musical content!

Terry Wogan said at the end of the "performance" last night that the Eastern European power blocs are so strong, West European countries now have little hope of winning and questioned why Western European countries are continuing to participate.

That said, some Western European countries have been as guilty of voting for their neighbours - who on earth would vote for that awful Spanish entry?! And - as I allude to below - didn't the entry from Portugal bear a bit of resemblence from the old Army of Lovers classic, "I'm crucified"?

Personally, I thought Norway was the best this year, but the winner - Russia - in all fairness was way better than our own entry. C'est la vie!

Army of Lovers - Crucified

The entry from Portugal at last night's Eurovision didn't half bear a resemblence to this from Army of Lovers.

GoNorth 2008

Good to see the fact that Dundee will play host to one of the most exciting events in Scotland's musical calendar - GoNorth 2008 - on 5th and 6th June 2008.

The acclaimed music industry convention and new music showcase will include live performances by over 60 unsigned bands and solo artists from all over the UK and Europe, and also brings high-level representatives from the creative and digital industries to a packed programme of seminars, workshops and panels.

In addition, there will be an exciting film programme celebrates music and the movies, with documentaries, the world premiere of The View live at the Caird Hall and the BAFTA premiere of the Russian feature film, '20 Cigarettes', which features GoNorth bands on its soundtrack.

The inDundee Blog has listings (click on headline to view) or go to the main website at www.gonorth.biz

Saturday, May 24, 2008

City of Discovery video

From the City of Discovery website :

Dundee - City of Discovery is the jewel of North East of Scotland.

In a setting on the banks of the River Tay described by actor and raconteur Stephen Fry as 'ludicrously ideal', Dundee offers a peerless quality of life.

Modern Dundee is a city of discovery, diversity and dynamism, qualities encapsulated by world leading research in the life sciences, a burgeoning digital media sector, a vibrant arts and cultural life and a successful local economy.

Capital infrastructure projects

Further to my blog entry earlier this week regarding Claypotts Castle Primary School and the issue of the funding of capital projects across Scotland, the Scottish Government has now unveiled its much hyped plans for a "Scottish Futures Trust" to pay for major infrastructure projects, such as new schools and hospitals.

The reaction to the Scottish Government's proposals is sort of summed up by the Scotsman - "Warning SNP's finance plan may be illegal" (click on headline above to view the full story).

For once, Wendy Alexander got it right - calling the proposals "legally incompetent and financially illiterate."

Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesperson, Liam McArthur MSP, scorned the proposals, pointing out that a year on from the Holyrood elections the only thing about the Futures Trust which the SNP has not changed is the name.

Liam said,


“After a year of effort, the announcement today finally admits that the main SNP manifesto promise is ‘not possible’. The only thing about the Scottish Futures Trust which they haven’t changed is the name.

“One year on from the election and the first recommendation is for a further review. As a result, planning for new schools has stalled across Scotland. The pace of building is set to slow down when the SNP run out of inherited projects.

“There are so many questions about the Scottish Futures Trust which the SNP cannot answer it is no surprise that they have shied away from facing Parliament with their proposal.”

Friday, May 23, 2008

Donna Summer - Last dance

Totally irrelevant stuff again ... ITV2 tonight (why is anyone reduced to this?!) but its the American Idol final and a total blast from the past (well, my past ...) on comes Donna Summer. Say what you like - superb, classic.

The Gladys Knight "Midnight Train To Georgia" bit was superb too!

And ... Friday!

A busy Friday, mainly on the "day job", but useful meetings on refuse collection and transport matters and also a useful meeting with the new Police Inspector for our area (and a very good appointment - she was a few years ago an extremely effective sergeant in the area).

At the latest meeting of the Beacon Management Group - organised by Tayside Police - we got a very useful update on "Little and Lost".

This city centre scheme helps young children find their parents quickly if they become separated while out shopping .

‘Little & Lost’ builds on the links developed between retailers, police and city centre management through the Dundee Co-ordinated Anti-Crime Network (DUNCAN) to ensure that lost youngsters are reunited quickly with their parents.

‘Little & Lost’ has already proved a success, and if you click on the headline above, you can see its new website, just launched.

All shops in Dundee are involved in this excellent initiative.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday Updates ...











A very productive site visit at the Benvie Road steps this morning. It had been previously agreed to upgrade the steps and I met with the Waste Management and Planning & Transportation Departments to look at the issues and agree solutions.
Agreed :

  • Waste Management to remove paint on the steps and remove weeds, etc. As you can see below (photo I took just before my 5pm surgery at Mitchell Street) the work was started straight away.
  • Planning & Transportation to re-point the steps and remove any trip hazards (see above right)
  • I am writing to the adjacent owners about the fallen fencing to the west (see above left) - the City Council will remove the exisiting damaged fencing - but I have asked the owners to provide replacement fencing.
  • I have asked Waste Management to provide paint to remove the last of the graffiti to the east of the steps (most already removed by the department, following my request) - I have also asked the Rapid Response Team to remove the fallen fencing to the west of the steps.

Later this morning, I visited Barnetts Motors on Riverside Drive to see their recent improvements - very impressive - and pleased that Barnetts has kindly agreed to sponsor the team strips and track suits for the new West End Under 10s football team.

Lastly, the Dundee Forum (click on headline to view) asked if I'd like to participate and, having agreed, the West End Forum is now arranged. A number of my City Council colleagues are also participating - The Ferry Ward, Coldside Ward, East End Ward and Maryfield Ward thus far.

Parking issue again

The "Evening Telegraph" contacted me recently following residents' concerns about the parking situation and a report appears in tonight's edition - click on the headline above to view.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday

A busy day today - this afternoon, after a couple of site visits about traffic issues in the West End, I attended the first meeting of the Magdalen Green History Group which is meeting in Blackness Library on Wednesdays 1.30pm-3pm until 25th June. It was a good start and many useful ideas raised for future activities. The photo (right) shows some of the resources available today. Click on the headline above to read more.

Earlier on, I was delighted - along with two of my fellow City Councillors, the Council's Chief Executive and others - to view the new Claypotts Castle Primary School, which opens to pupils in the next few days - see photo below. The facilities are absolutely fantastic, and everyone was very impressed. And ... a case of PPP projects delivering real schools and on budget.

I watched John Swinney on "Newsnight Scotland" last night - an able and highly competent Minister fail to convince anyone that the Scottish Government's plans for PPP replacement in any way stands up to scrutiny. The Herald today sort of summed it up : "SNP trust for public projects launched into storm." The bottom line is that well-delivered PPP projects have resulted in quality improvements in the public sector infrastructure - as Claypotts Castle Primary demonstrates. What is not so clear is - will the SNP so-called "Scottish Futures Trust" deliver anything?

Alex Salmond claimed he'd match the previous government's building programme "brick for brick"; thus far not a single brick delivered.

Friends of Magdalen Green

A well attended public meeting last night at Dundee West Church Hall, and a very interesting and entertaining talk by Andrew Gray on his participation in last year's Special Olympics in China.

The winners of the Friends of Magdalen Green Photography Competition were announced (more details about this are on the Friends' website - click on the headline above to view). The winning photographs will for the 2009 Magdalen Green calendar in due course!

There was a good discussion about other matters affecting the Green, including parking, litter and community wardens.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Couple of updates

A couple of updates on issues from earlier today :
  • The bin collection for part of Seafield Lane finally got done this morning - a day late - thanks to badly parked cars causing an obstruction. What residents find really annoying is the vehicles don't belong to local residents. I'm pleased that, through the residents' parking consultation exercise - now underway - and proactive action by Home Scotland at this particular location (Home Scotland own the residents' car park here), there are steps in hand to resolve this sort of problem. Anyway, many thanks to the Waste Management Department for its perseverance.
  • Further problems for the Friendly Bus sheltered housing service today because of the roadworks on Perth Road - but this time for Muirlands Sheltered Housing off Seafield Road. The bus did eventually manage to get access, but the good news is that the excavation at the top of Seafield Road is almost finished, so hopefully plain sailing next week!

From Help the Aged ...

Dear Councillor Macpherson

We’re very grateful for your support of our Just Equal Treatment campaign over the past year, and keep a regular eye on your blog for updates you may receive following your letters to ministers.

As the forthcoming Equality Bill looms closer, we’re intensifying our campaign, and have launched a viral video to highlight just how ridiculous leaving ageism legal would be. I hope you find it amusing, but more importantly, a powerful statement on how much we need to move forward.

You can find the video by clicking on headline above, and to accompany this we are asking the public to email their MP to demand action from Gordon Brown –
www.helptheaged.org.uk/takeaction.

Thank you for your ongoing support of older people’s issues.

Emerson Povey
Online Marketing Executive

Monday, May 19, 2008

Friends of Magdalen Green - update!

Two upcoming events from Friends of Magdalen Green!
The first is the public meeting tomorrow - Tuesday 20th May - at 7pm in Dundee West Church.


The evening will include a talk by Andrew Gray, the local swimmer who took part, very successfully, in the Special Olympics in China.


The results of the photo competition will be announced at the meeting - and a big thank you to everyone who took part, we received 68 entries with lots of lovely views of the Green.


In addition we will be selling Friends of Magdalen Green t-shirts, £8.25 each - see photo (above right).


The second event is the start of the History Group which will meet in Blackness Library on Wednesday 21st May 1.30pm-3pm and will run for five consecutive Wednesdays.


If you can't come to all the meetings please come to those you can manage - they are all free of charge.

Overgrown grass at Technology Park

I've received complaints from residents about the overgrown grass at the Technology Park (particularly in Riverside Avenue to the front of the technology park) and immediately east of West Loan in Perth Road - opposite Clovius Duveau Drive.

I have been in touch with Scottish Enterprise and Dundee Contract Services about both areas - asking for the grass to be cut and tidied up.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

CCTV in the West End

Following the incident at Londis earlier this week (click on headline to view), I have now written to the Chief Constable in the following terms :


Chief Constable John Vine BA MCIPD
Tayside Police
P O Box 59
West Bell Street
DUNDEE
DD1 9JU

Dear Chief Constable

Provision of CCTV - Perth Road west of Roseangle

Following the recent armed robbery incident at a store in Perth Road, I have again received concerns from residents about the lack of CCTV provision west of Roseangle on Perth Road.

Although I understand the store concerned does have its own CCTV system, the incident has again highlighted that most of the district shopping centre in the Perth Road area is not covered by CCTV and is an extremely busy shopping area both during the day, evening and night.

I have written to Tayside Police regarding this matter on a number of occasions in the past and have been assured that the area is a priority for future consideration (amongst others) and I would be grateful if you could update me as to the current position.

With grateful thanks.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Convener of Planning and Transport
Councillor for the West End

SNP shambles on PE targets

During last week’s FMQs, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, Nicol Stephen MSP challenged the First Minister to provide clarity on the SNP’s mixed message for physical education targets in schools.

"In March, a Government spin doctor said that the guarantee of two hours of physical education had been dropped, but the First Minister issued a clarification and said that that was not true.


"This week, the Minister for Schools and Skills said that the two-hours target included walking to school, but yesterday the First Minister issued a clarification and said that that was not true. The Scottish National Party manifesto said:

"'We will ensure that every pupil has 2 hours of quality PE each week delivered by specialist PE teachers.'

"Was any of that true?

"The First Minister seems relaxed about all this. I wonder whether all the radios in Bute House have been confiscated. Has the First Minister not heard what has been going on?

"His promise was made in two parts: not only would two hours of PE be delivered for every child, but those hours would be delivered by specialist PE teachers. The Minister for Schools and Skills, Maureen Watt, was asked on the radio:

'Good quality. Does that mean specialist teaching?'

"She replied: 'Well, it needn't mean specialist teaching.'

"The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Fiona Hyslop, was asked on the radio:

"'You promised that, didn't you? You said that you will ensure that every pupil has two hours.'

"She replied: 'I can't be in every single school detailing the timetabling.'

"That is two ministers over two days each walking away from half of the promise.

"We are fed up with the evasions and contortions, so will the First Minister tell us simply when all children in Scotland will have two hours of PE every week with a qualified PE teacher? That was the SNP promise; when will it be delivered?"

You can read the full exchange by clicking on the headline above.

Perhaps the most telling aspects of Nicol's intervention at FMQs last week were two fold :


  • Maureen Watt, SNP Schools Minister, despite having obviously been given the "smile at all costs" remit (sitting beside Salmond at FMQs), looked extremely uncomfortable throughout. A Minister totally out of her depth - actually makes Fiona Hyslop look good.


  • When Nicol said "We are fed up with the evasions and contortions" the noises of support for that comment were audible right across the chamber. Salmond's government never gives a straight answer to a straight question and that point is no longer lost on anyone.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Ross Finnie MSP, added :

"The SNP is all over the place on physical exercise targets for children .... we discover that the Schools Minister is utterly incapable of expanding on the target. She was unable to give any details about how the two hour target would be delivered during the school day, preferring instead to remind the interviewer that physical education could be delivered before and after the school day."

Maureen Watt? A pretty hopeless Minister, really.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Riverside Drive

Pleased to see the resurfacing I asked for in Riverside Drive (south of Vernonholme; immediately north of the bridge up from the Marmalade Pot) has been carried out - see right.

Ancrum Road Primary School

Prior to the creation of the West End Ward, there were three primary schools in my former Tay Bridges Ward - Park Place, St Joseph's and Blackness.
Over the years, you get to know the schools well - and realise how lucky the West End is to have such excellent primary schools, with dedicated staff. Their assistance with community events - such as the West End Christmas Week - is invaluable.

With the creation of the new ward last May, another primary school was "added" to the ward area - in the shape of Ancrum Road Primary School. The Head Teacher invited me to visit yesterday and I had a thoroughly enjoyable morning seeing round the school and meeting the staff. I'd like to thank the two Primary 7 pupils who gave me the guided tour - they are a credit to the school, and you cannot help but be left with the impression that Ancrum Road is a superb, warm, achieving school community and a credit to the Education Department.

One feature of Ancrum Road PS is its Victorian classroom (see below) - an educational tool used not just in Dundee but with visits from neighbour authorities' schools too.

The school has an excellent website (click on headline to view) and, in the best of traditions, a blog too!

The school's Summer Fete and and Fun Day is on 31st May and I have no doubt will be well supported by the local community.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wendy Moten - Come In Out Of The Rain

OK, its Friday night, Janet's out with her mum, my younger son's been round, but now I'm reduced to the Smashhits! channel on Sky as I create a marketing brochure (day job) ... and then this comes on. So 90s, but brilliant!

Dundee Waterfront - The Future

With thanks to the City Council's Economic Development Department, who gave me the CD, here's a glimpse of Dundee's Waterfront of the future. As Planning & Transport Convener of the City Council, I am a member of the Waterfront Board, and am taking a very close interest in developments. You can access the Waterfront website by clicking on the headline above.

Residents' Parking Scheme Extension: Public Consultation

Councillors in the wards where the consultation on residents' parking is taking place have been updated by the transport consultants who are carrying out the work on behalf of the City Council.

As residents' parking is an issue raised by many people in the West End, I have been taking a very close interest in driving forward this exercise and, as Planning & Transport Convener, I met with a representative of the consultants on 28th April to discuss the process.

Here is part of their communication to councillors :



As you will be aware the council has been receiving a growing number of complaints from residents in areas adjacent to existing schemes that they finding it increasingly difficult to park outside their home.


"To take this matter further the Planning and Transport Committee on 22 October 2007 approved plans to carry out public consultations in five areas of the city to gauge support for an extension to the Residents' Parking Scheme (Report No 460-2007 refers). We have now completed the on street parking surveys in the five areas concerned (Dundee West End, Dudhope, Hilltown, Princes Street and Invergowrie Drive).

“Colin Buchanan (transport consultants) are carrying out this work on behalf of the council. To keep you informed with regard to developments and be prepared for any queries from constituents you should note the following.


“From week commencing 19 May 2008 we will begin issuing the postal questionnaires as follows:

* a postal questionnaire survey of all householders in each zone

* a postal survey of all businesses in each zone

“These are to be returned by 2 June 2008.

“This will then be followed by:

* a postal survey or representative stakeholder organisations with an interest in the zones

* five stakeholder consultation meetings (one in each zone)

* a report of the key findings with recommendations for further action

“It is important that this process is successful in measuring public opinion and in this respect we are very keen to ensure that everyone with an interest in the issue has an opportunity to contribute their point of view.”

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Under 10s Football Team Launch

Currently the West End area does not have a youth football team for Under 10 boys.

Thanks to the offer to establish and run one by a member of West End Community Council – Paul Johnston – and the kind assistance of the City Council’s Leisure and Communities Department and the University of Dundee’s Institute of Sports and Exercise, an “Open Day” for boys of the appropriate age (Primary 4 – going into Primary 5 in August) together with parents/guardians is being held this Saturday (17th May) from 10am to 12 noon at the University of Dundee’s football facilities at Riverside.

Paul has great experience of running youth football and I am most grateful to Barnetts Motors for their interest in sponsoring the team, once established.

The four local primary schools (Ancrum Road, St Joseph's, Park Place and Blackness) have kindly distributed details to parents/guardians - and we are hoping for a great launch on Saturday! Click on headline above to view more.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Londis robbery

As I indicated on Radio Tay news at 5pm, the West End community has expressed great concern at the armed robbery early today at the Londis supermarket in Perth Road.

Everyone hopes that the Dundee public to do all they can to assist Tayside Police with their enquiries into the matter. I have already spoken with our local community policeman about the matter.

Thankfully the Londis store has a good CCTV system, which will undoubtedly help the Police, but I am taking the step of writing again to the Chief Constable pointing out that an extension of the general CCTV provision west of the Roseangle junction along the district shopping area in Perth Road is now vital.

Burma

I spoke this morning with the Lord Provost about the deteriorating situation in Burma and this is a matter of great concern to both of us and millions of others across the world.

I asked the LP if he can make a public appeal locally
for the people of Dundee to help the people of Burma. He is very willing to do so. Dundonians always rally to help in circumstances like this and the Disasters Emergency Committee has a website where donations can be made : http://www.dec.org.uk/donate_now/

Also on the subject of Burma, I received this yesterday :


Dear Councillor Macpherson,

Your blog about the crisis in Burma has been widely read and appreciated here in HelpAge International’s (HAI’s) office in London. You may wish also to be aware of our response to this tragedy. (Click on headline above to view website)

HelpAge International produces a wide range of publications and briefing documents on matters relating to older people overseas. In particular, we produce two newsletters - ‘Ageways’ and ‘Ageing and Development’.


Ageways exchanges practical information on ageing and development, particularly good practice developed in the HelpAge International network. It is published twice a year for project staff, carers and older people's groups.


Ageing and Development discusses news and analysis highlighting ageing as a mainstream development issue. It is published twice a year for policy makers, programme planners and researchers concerned with development and poverty reduction.


With best wishes


Anne Grant


for


The Communications Team


HelpAge International

HelpAge International has a vision of a world in which all older people fulfil their potential to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. HelpAge International is a global network striving for the rights of disadvantaged older people to economic and physical security; healthcare and social services; and support in their caregiving role across the generations.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Car park proposal and the sea wall

Two items from today's Courier. Firstly, if you click on the headline above, you can view the story of residents' concerns about the sea wall at Riverside Drive and my making clear that the City Council takes seriously any concerns about the safety of the retaining sea wall and these concerns must be investigated immediately.

I've been away in Edinburgh with the "day job" today and a West End Community Council meeting this evening immediately on return, but, having just got back home, the following feedback had been e-mailed to me by the City Engineer :


"An inspection of the sea wall was carried out yesterday. There is no public safety issue with the sea wall but pointing repairs are required.

"The sea
wall is inspected on an annual basis and was last inspected in September 2007 as part of a wider Dundee coastal flood study. This highlighted that pointing repairs are required and these have been programmed to be carried out in the near future.

"The findings of the Dundee coastal flood study are still under consideration and will be reported in due course."

Also in today's Courier, was the report (below) on the very positive debate at Planning & Transport Committee last night (the City Council committee I chair) on the proposed multi-storey car park and retail space at Hunter Street :

"£7m car park plan ‘will boost cultural quarter’

"By Brian Allison, local government reporter

"PLANS FOR a £7 million car park off Hawkhill will ease congestion in the area and help promote Dundee’s burgeoning cultural quarter, city councillors heard last night.

"The planning and transport and policy and resources committees backed proposals for a 430-space multi-storey at Hunter Street which would also provide retail units at ground level and commercial development at the west end of the site.

"In a report, planning and transportation director Mike Galloway said the estimated cost of the car park would be in the region of £7.35 million.

"He said there was a very high and growing demand for quality parking in the Hunter Street area.

"The existing surface level car park has just under 140 spaces— not sufficient to meet the demand created by the adjacent university campus, new student housing and business developments in the cultural quarter.

“There is a growing need to satisfy the daytime commuter and retail parking demands as well as the growing demand arising from the vibrant evening economy,” he said.

“In support of the council’s primary objective to create a thriving economy through growth of the financial, leisure and retail sectors —which will occur mainly in the city centre—there is an urgent requirement to provide a retail development site for the purposes of relocation of an existing retail outlet in order to allow the proposed extension of the Overgate centre to progress.”

"Following committee approval the council will now advertise for a partnering contractor to undertake the development.

"Planning and transport convener Fraser Macpherson said the project would help alleviate the considerable parking difficulties for staff and students and the public.

"In response to a question from councillor Will Dawson, the convener said the department would be mindful of the need to maintain the traffic flow when the project was being constructed.

"Councillor Richard McCready said there was a need for the council to promote the use of public transport, but it must also recognise that many people would continue to use their cars.

"The new car park would help address parking issues as well as promoting the vibrancy of the cultural quarter."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Liberal Democrats - the effective opposition

Following the astonishing meltdown of the Labour Party this week, Nicol Stephen, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, said that the Liberal Democrats are offering the only effective opposition to the SNP Government.

"The past week has proved beyond any doubt that the Liberal Democrats are the only party providing effective opposition to the SNP.

"Annabel Goldie's Tories have made life more than easy for the SNP over the last year. The Tories have consistently cosied up to the SNP, even supporting the nationalist's budget. They must share the blame for the ensuing cuts to frontline services that almost every council in Scotland has had to make.

"Labour has disintegrated. Wendy Alexander’s flip-flop on the independence vote and the subsequent failure of the Prime Minister to support her position has plunged the party into chaos. Nobody knows what Labour stand for anymore and they’re shown themselves as totally incapable of holding the SNP Government to account.

"Week in, week out at First Minister’s Questions and at the key debates in the Scottish Parliament, only the Liberal Democrats are providing the real alternative to the SNP Government."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 2008 Update to the West End Community Council

I have today launched my May update to West End Community Council.

Issues covered include:

* Perth Road - gas main replacement works
* Youth football
* Dundee airport - helicopter noise
* Homebase site - update
* Riverside Approach - site visit with Network Rail

Click on the headline above to read the update.

The Community Council meets this Tuesday at 7pm - location : Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall.

Review of the last few days

Wednesday


* Met with the new acting Managing Director of Travel Dundee, and raised the concerns of residents about the re-routing of the 9X bus service – this no longer serves the Ninewells Avenue area. She promised to review this.

* Attended the Deaf Awareness Open Day at the Central Library, organised by the Sound Sense project. It was good to see a number of organisations promoting their services to deaf people locally and the event was extremely well-attended.

* Attended the “Community Spirit” group evening meeting at Mitchell Street Centre. “Community Spirit” is the new residents’ group for the “north” of the West End Ward – including the Pentland, Cleghorn and Ancrum areas. Another good attendance and an interesting discussion on local issues.


Thursday

* A site visit with Scotland Gas Networks, Turriff (their contractors) and City Council Planning & Transportation at Perth Road to review road management issues, signage and other issues arising out of the continuing gas main replacement works on Perth Road.

* Along with my LibDem council colleague, Cllr Helen Dick, I attended the Best Bar None accreditation scheme 2008 awards launch at the City Chambers. This is an excellent scheme – recognising customer safety and good practice in Dundee’s licensed premises. Click on headline to view the full story in the “Evening Telegraph.”

* After a busy three surgeries at Mitchell Street Centre, Harris Academy and Blackness Primary School, I attended the evening board meeting of Dundee Contemporary Arts. A very positive review of the past year at DCA was presented, showing excellent visitor figures.
Friday
* A helpful site visit with Network Rail to Riverside Approach to allow me to point out graffiti and fly-tipping problems. Pleased at Network Rail’s willingness to tackle these issues, raised with me by West End residents.

* As one of the City Council representatives, I attended the opening of the Winston Churchill exhibition at the University of Dundee, making the 100th anniversary of Churchill’s election as Liberal MP for Dundee. An excellent and entertaining speech by Churchill’s daughter, Lady Mary Soames, who opened the exhibition and unveiled a plaque, commemorating Churchill’s connections to the City.

The event was extremely well-attended and it was good to see my former City Council colleague Neil Powrie (pictured at the event – right) and also my LibDem colleague Willie Wilson (Depute Provost of Perth and Kinross).

You can read the BBC news item on this at :


and the Churchill Centre web pages are very interesting :

http://www.winstonchurchill.org

And, lastly, here’s a photo from the event, during Lady Soames’ speech, showing that I have no photographic skills whatsoever.

Bring on the clowns

The "Sunday Times" today -'Bring on the clowns - Wendy Alexander's referendum U-turn' (click on headline above to view) - along with the other Sunday papers, sums up the depth of the disaster of Wendy Alexander's week.

Nicol Stephen MSP, speaking at First Minister's Questions on Thursday, said Alex Salmond could not believe his luck over Alexander's ridiculous u-turn on the referendum issue.

Nicol said, "First he had the Tories cosying up to him on the budget, now we have the farcical floor show of the Labour Party offering him his lifetime's ambition on a silver tray."

Now it appears Wendy is under pressure to make a u-turn over the u-turn.
Scottish Labour has totally lost the plot.

You'd suggest they ditch Wendy, err ... but exactly which towering giant from the Scottish Labour contingent in the Scottish Parliament would replace her? Ooops, sorry - there isn't one!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Help the Aged : Please give to the DEC Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone Appeal

From Help the Aged :

On Friday 2nd May winds up to 150mph struck Myanmar (Burma). Cyclone Nargis created a 3.5 metre high storm surge, inundating coastal areas.

Tens of thousands of people have died and up to 1 million are believed to be homeless. We urgently need your help.


A state of emergency has been declared and there is a desperate need for food, water, shelter and basic healthcare.


An estimated 170,000 older people are affected, many of whom have lost their homes, families and livelihoods.

Cyclone Nargis has created unprecedented damage in Myanmar (Burma), and aid agencies are only just reaching the worst affected areas to provide relief.


Older people are particularly vulnerable during emergencies, but are often sidelined during relief efforts.

Help the Aged and HelpAge International are co-ordinating an emergency response team to ensure that older people across the worst affected areas are not forgotten by the aid effort.


We are often the only organisations focusing on the needs of vulnerable older people. We have the staff and expertise to help, but need your donation to help save lives.


How you can help?


Please donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal. Click on the headline above to do so. Any amount you can spare will help.



  • £25 could provide mosquito nets for ten people protecting them from malaria in the aftermath of the cyclone


  • £50 could pay for clean water and water purification tablets for one family for three months


  • £100 could provide Household Kits for ten families, giving them the basic items for survival


Hundreds of thousands of older people are without food, shelter or medical supplies.


Please take the time to help them today.


Thank you.