Sunday, November 30, 2008

A cold St Andrew's Day!

With thanks to River Crescent Residents' Association, I had a thoroughly enjoyable time today at their afternoon tea at the Botanic Garden - as you can see from the pictures, a bright but extremely cold day!
The rest of the weekend has been spent on "day job" work as I am running a large conference during the forthcoming week, plus catching up on constituents' phone calls and e-mails following the couple of days away I had at Dumfries last week.

I spoke
on the "Tay Talk In" on Radio Tay this morning, partly to thank Ally Bally for switching on the West End Christmas Lights last Wednesday but also to speak about the concerns raised regarding Travel Dundee bus service changes introduced earlier this month. I am hoping to meet the new Managing Director of Travel Dundee about this in the very near future.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Latest update

I've spent the last couple of days in Dumfries with the "day job" - including the now infamous annual Chinese Karaoke night - as you can see (below), my photographic skills were at their absolute best on Thursday evening!
Before leaving on Thursday, I was delighted to attend the Friends of Magdalen Green's visit to meet the Lord Provost to promote their super charity calendar. You can read the "Evening Telegraph" report of the event by clicking on the headline above and there's more detail about the calendar at http://www.magdalengreen.btik.com/p_Photo_Competition.ikml

Tomorrow is St Andrew's Day and the various event on Dundee are listed at http://www.scotland.org/standrewsday/around-scotland/dundee.html.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cleghorn Street

I am advised by the City Council that traffic will be prohibited on Cleghorn Street between Benvie Road and Lochee Road next week due to Scottish Water valve replacement works.

The road closure will start on Monday 1st December for a maximum of 5 working days and the alternative route is via Benvie Road, Fyffe Street and Polepark Road.

This won't
affect pedestrian access and further information can be obtained from the City Council on Dundee 433168.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A video clip from the Christmas Concert tonight!

video

Christmas Concert and Lights Switch On - a great night in the West End!

A super turnout of around 300 residents for the West End "Lights On at Dundee West" Christmas Concert and Lights Switch On and Fireworks Display tonight - here's a few photos from tonight!
Above : Fraser - fake police officer for the night - the organisers had to wear fluorescent jackets!Above : A large attendance at the concert!
Above : Fireworks!
Above : Mains of Fintry Pipe Band play at the concert!
Above : Another photo of the Pipe Band!

Offensive graffiti removed

A committee member of the Community Spirit recently mentioned to me his concerns about offensive graffiti daubed on the City Road boundary of the Friary.

I reported
this to the City Council's Waste Management Department and was pleased to learn today that the graffiti has been removed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tomorrow's Christmas Week Events!

Just a reminder that tomorrow (Wednesday) sees the West End Christmas Lights being switched on in Dundee.

At 6.15pm in Dundee West Church, this year’s West End Christmas Concert – “Lights On at Dundee West” - takes place.

There will be musical contributions from all local primary and secondary schools. A welcome to the Concert will come from Lord Provost John Letford and the Concert will be hosted by Rev Andrew Greaves.

At 7pm, the West End Christmas Lights will be switched on at Seabraes by Ally Bally of Radio Tay, ably assisted by Dame Trott and Fairy Twinkletoes from the Downfield Musical Society Pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk”. A fireworks display will take place thereafter.

We are also delighted that the Mains of Fintry Pipe Band will play and there will also be Christmas Carol singing from the DARE students’ choir.

There will again be a spectacular fireworks display after the lights switch-on – and we would like to thank the West End shops and other businesses whose financial support has made the fireworks display possible.

This is the eighth year we have run a West End Christmas Week and we are all looking forward to the events. It is really good that all the local schools are taking part and we hope local residents will come along to the activities.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Glamis Road east footpath

The footway in Glamis Road on the east side - adjacent to Balgay Cemetery - is in poor condition.

I have received complaints from residents about a problem of the surface erosion from rain here, and at the corner of Glamis Road and Elliot Road, it is exacerbated by the fact that rain water runs out of the cemetery gate at this location.

I have
been in touch with the City Council about the issue and am pleased to note that this section of Glamis Road is in this year's unadopted footway programme with an expected start date early in the new calendar year, although this may be brought forward dependant on winter service commitments.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

West End Christmas Week launched!

This morning, I firstly attended the Dundee West Church Guild Christmas Coffee Morning - see above - extremely well attended and a great atmosphere!

Thereafter, at 11am, the Lord Provost officially opened the West End Christmas Week, at the Community Safety Event at Blackness Fire Station - with input from numerous organisations including Tayside Fire and Rescue, Tayside Police, Trading Standards, West End Community Council, Community Spirit Action Group, Community Safety Partnership and others. A couple of photos from the event are below.



Don't forget - on Wednesday at 6.15pm in Dundee West Church, this year’s West End Christmas Concert – “Lights On at Dundee West” - takes place.

As well as musical contributions from all local primary and secondary schools, there will be a welcome to the Concert will come from Lord Provost John Letford and the Concert will be hosted by Rev Andrew Greaves.

Later, at 7pm, the West End Christmas Lights will be switched on at Seabraes by Ally Bally of Radio Tay, ably assisted by Dame Trott and Fairy Twinkletoes from the Downfield Musical Society Pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk”. There will then be a super fireworks display and musical contributions from the Mains of Fintry Pipe Band and Christmas Carol singing from the DARE students’ choir.

All residents are very welcome and we look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Affordable Housing

Following his visit to Dundee earlier this week during which he visited a housing association project, Tavish Scott has criticised the Scottish Government’s record on housing, urging Ministers to take real action rather than relying on spin.

Tavish said, “Affordable housing is in short supply in Scotland. But this SNP Government has slashed Housing Association Grant (HAG). Ministers brag about a multi-million pound funding boost for affordable housing, but have only allocated a tiny fraction of what they promised. They will not meet housing targets or the needs of people in Dundee and across Scotland.

“20,000 jobs are at stake if the Government doesn’t change its mind and get the investment moving.

“It’s time the SNP got serious about housing. Spin simply isn’t good enough. It won’t put a roof over people’s heads or save jobs.”

I am pleased that Tavish is highlighting
this issue - the SNP government slashed HAG for Dundee Housing Associations by millions this year - by 46% to be precise - and this shows the SNP's claims about increasing funding affordable housing to be spin rather than reality.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

West End Christmas Week Next Week - all the details!

This year’s West End Christmas Week takes place next week and will be launched this Saturday (22nd November) with a West End Community Safety Event, taking place at Blackness Fire Station on Blackness Road between 11am and 3pm.

This family safety event is hosted by the West End Community Council and Community Spirit Action Group and all local residents are invited to come along.

Next Wednesday, 26th November, at 6.15pm in Dundee West Church, this year’s West End Christmas Concert – “Lights On at Dundee West” - takes place. There will be musical contributions from all local primary and secondary schools. A welcome to the Concert will come from Lord Provost John Letford and the Concert will be hosted by Rev Andrew Greaves.

At 7pm, the West End Christmas Lights will be switched on at Seabraes by Ally Bally of Radio Tay, ably assisted by Dame Trott and Fairy Twinkletoes from the Downfield Musical Society Pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk”. A fireworks display will take place thereafter.

We are also delighted that the Mains of Fintry Pipe Band will play and there will also be Christmas Carol singing from the DARE students’ choir.

There will again be a spectacular fireworks display after the lights switch-on – and we would like to thank the West End shops and other businesses whose financial support has made the fireworks display possible.

There is a children’s window spotting competition and a Shoppers’ Prize Draw, along with a whole host of other activities.

This is the eighth year we have run a West End Christmas Week and we are grateful to everyone in the area who has helped and contributed – it will be a great week and we hope local residents will support the events taking place.

You can download the flyer about Christmas Week by clicking on the headline above.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Scottish LibDem Leader visits Dundee Housing Projects

I accompanied Tavish Scott MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, during his visit to Dundee yesterday afternoon to view two innovative housing projects in the City as part of his national focus on the need to invest in affordable housing in Scotland.

Tavish visited Servite Housing in Kirkton and Dundee Sun City House in Whitfield.


He is pictured (right) viewing the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system at the Servite Housing Development.

The development, which takes in mainly Keswick Terrace and Ashmore Street, consists of a total of 34 units, ranging from flats which are designed for both general and wheelchair use to two-storey detached villas with garages.

The CHP system gives far superior use of fuel as it produces energy along with the normal production of heat. Any excess energy goes into the National Grid and accreditation is given. This means that tenants’ fuel bills are reduced because of the improved efficiency of the system and the savings on energy costs. The new development also incorporates the use of solar panels which further help to cut both costs and the environmental footprint.

Tavish also visited the highly impressive Dundee Sun City House, where he was interviewed by both STV and Radio Tay.

The Sun City House provides a focus for demonstration, education, advice and information about domestic scale renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable construction to households and the general public in Dundee and throughout central and north east Scotland.

Unlike most “eco-house” type demonstration projects, the Sun City House is not new build, but a major refurbishment and remodelling of a poorly constructed and thermally inefficient janitor’s house built in the 1960s.

It aims to showcase technologies, materials and methods of construction that can be retrofitted to existing housing stock, where the major challenge lies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the domestic sector in the UK. It acts as a shop window to offers ideas to everyone, on every income, to help them reduce their home’s impact on the environment, be it low energy lighting, a solar water heating system or a sun space extension.

Two tremendously interesting and informative visits and good to see Tavish back in Dundee so soon after his previous visit to Dundee last month.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

West End Christmas Week approaches!

Yesterday saw the erection of the West End Christmas Tree at Seabraes, in preparation for the Lights Switch On on Wednesday of next week! See photo right.

I'll be writing an update on all the West End Christmas Week planned activities later this week.

We are having our
final planning meeting tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bus Service 2A - an update

On 7th November (see http://www.dundeewestend.com/2008/11/further-bus-concerns.html) I mentioned that I had asked the City Council's Acting Head of Transportation to meet with Travel Dundee regarding concerns raised with me about the 2A bus service. Today's Courier gives an update on the situation - click on headline above to view.

The 2A service has had its route altered, now missing out Blackness Avenue for example, and not only do the various route changes mean that numerous pupils no longer have the service passing near to their homes, parents have also complained to me that the bus is now failing to reach the school in time for the start of the school day.

Parents have complained that because the bus is not getting to the school until around 9.10am – too late for the start of registration classes – pupils on the 2A now have to get off the bus at a stop closer to the Stack Leisure Park and walk from there to the school, crossing a busy street at the peak of morning traffic, and they are lucky to get to school just on time before the bell rings. The previous 2A service reached the school in plenty time for the start of the school day.

City Council officials have now raised the concerns with Travel Dundee at a meeting last week. The company said it was monitoring the situation but I feel that early action to revert to the old route and timings is vital.

I am now making arrangements through the City Council’s Acting Head of Transportation to meet with the Managing Director of Travel Dundee to discuss this service and also learn of progress the bus company has made in terms of its response to the numerous councillors’ concerns about services across the City that were raised at a meeting with the bus company last month.

Travel Dundee did promise feedback in relation to these concerns and I am anxious to see what progress the company is making in terms of addressing these.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Latest on Local TV

Back in September (see http://www.dundeewestend.com/2008/09/future-of-scottish-public-broadcasting.html) I lamented the impending demise of Border TV, with Ofcom appearing to accept that the ITV proposed merger between Border and Tyne Tees news should go ahead.

As I said at the time,

"For ITV, of course, read ITV England and Wales, and the suggestion of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway getting its 'local' news from a studio in Gateshead is unacceptable.

No wonder people in the Borders are up in arms about the proposal. Borders LibDem MP Michael Moore said the recommendations were 'made by people stuck in London offices who fail to understand the importance of regional news and diversity.'"

So, it is good to see the people of the Borders fight back by moving forward with their own local television provision. Last weekend, the Herald covered the news that,

"When the analogue television transmitter in Selkirk was turned off last week, there was one local group with a better reason than most to celebrate the change to completely digital television.

And that was the small group of Borderers that plans to take the free signal, or spectrum, cleared up by the death of analogue television and use it to set up its own television station.

... rather than be left in the lurch with a second-class service - and driven on by the fact that the region has just seen the very first of all the analogue transmitter turn-offs as the UK moves towards complete digital television in 2012 - a group of local people has decided it can do the broadcasting job perfectly well itself.

Alasdair Hutton, Convener of the Scottish Borders Council - and head of the local television steering group - said it has received a warm response from the Westminster secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Andy Burnham. He said he has also had meetings with the head of Ofcom Scotland, Vicki Nash, and has received an equally enthusiastic response from the regulator."

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

Here in Tayside & Fife, we have a similar local TV campaign, in which I have taken an active part (see www.fifetaysidelocaltv.com) and I am delighted to see progress in the Borders. The switch to digital provides a unique opportunity for the future of local television output and I hope the opportunity is not missed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden - Winter Talk

The first talk of the winter season entitled "Change in the Tay Estuary and its catchment" will be given by Professor John McManus, Emeritus Professor of Geology, University of St Andrews who, when he was at the University of Dundee, did an extensive study of the Tay Estuary.

The talk is open to
all and will be held in the Education Centre at the Botanic Garden on Wednesday 19th November at 7pm (note change of starting time).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Airport bird scaring noise complaints

I was interviewed on STV news tonight about residents' complaints about the noise from Dundee Airport, caused by bird scaring activity. The Courier featured the story this morning (click on headline above to read this article).


I have spoken with the airport manager about the issue and he has assured me that the bird hazard control at Dundee Airport will be carried out so as to cause the minimum disturbance as possible. He e-mailed me as follows:

Bird Hazard Control at Dundee Airport

As part of our commitment to be a good neighbour I am writing to advise you of the bird hazard control measures that we are undertaking at the airport.

Airport staff are now more proactive with regard to bird scaring duties on and around the aerodrome. Bird numbers of certain species are seasonally on the increase and are a potential hazard to aircraft and the safety of those onboard. It is therefore important that we take appropriate steps, in line with our statutory obligations as the aerodrome licensee, to mitigate this risk.

The measures being taken to deter birds from the airport include personnel using a bird scaring pistol, acoustic scaring devices and bird scaring rockets.

We are conscious of the proximity of residential areas to the airport and our staff are instructed that scaring operations should, wherever possible, be carried out so as to cause the minimum disturbance as possible. However, due to the hours that the airport operates and the type of equipment that is necessary for this task some disturbance is inevitable.

I therefore ask for your understanding in relation to any disturbance you experience. Our aim is to ensure the safety of the travelling public using Dundee Airport in line with our statutory safeguarding duties as the airport operator.

Yours sincerely

Graeme Bell
Airport Manager

Thursday, November 13, 2008

www.dundeeadvice.org

I thought it would be useful to highlight the very useful www.dundeeadvice.org site - an extremely useful way for people to find details on the various agencies - including the City Council - offering benefits and money advice as well as contact details and the services they offer.

It is good to see a co-ordinated approach to letting Dundonians have access to information about new and existing services using a straightforward search facility.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday update

A bus Tuesday which - apart from a long day on 'day job' activity (I'm running a Conference this week!) - included:

* A meeting with one of the Council's solicitors regarding finalisation of the City Council's Statement of Case in relation to a forthcoming planning inquiry (where I moved refusal of a planning application which was not in the interests of the West End).

* I attended the Remembrance Day commemoration service in the City Square.

* I attended a meeting of the Balgay Stakeholders' Group which includes Friends of Balgay, Leisure and Communities staff and West End councillors - it meets quarterly to look at issues around protecting and enhancing Balgay Hill and Park.

* Lastly, I attended
the monthly West End Community Council meeting and updated the meeting on how our (now advanced) planning for the forthcoming 2008 West End Christmas Week is going.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hawkhill - north footpath

Some months ago, I highlighted to the City Council the need for footpath repairs to the north side of Hawkhill, a bit east of the Sinderins junction. It is near to a bus stop and residents, especially elderly bus passengers, were concerned about its condition particularly when alighting when alighting from the bus.

I am pleased that these
repairs have now been carried out; a minor but welcome improvement.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Invergowrie Drive - temporary road closure

I have received from the City Council the following temporary road closure notice. Having spoken with the Planning & Transportation Department about it, I am assured that, although it is for a maximum of four days, it is hoped that, weather permitting, the works will be completed in a maximum of two days. During the temporary closure, the 69 bus service will have to be re-routed via Glamis Road :

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 tree felling works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in Invergowrie Drive (between its junction with Perth Road and the South Side of its junction with Menzieshill Road), Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Tuesday 11 November 2008 for 4 working days.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained on the west footway only of Invergowrie Drive at the area adjacent to the works.

Access to premises will be maintained where possible.

A diversion route is available via Perth Road/Glamis Road/Glamis Drive/Invergowrie Drive.

For further information contact (01382) 433168.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

West End Community Council Update for November

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

Subjects covered include :

• Riverside Avenue/Drive Roundabout

• Union Place

• Hogweed

• Invergowrie Drive

• Dog Bin : Seymour Street

• Further Bus Service Concerns

• Pavement adoption

• West End Parking Update

• West End Christmas Week 2008

• Airport Noise Complaints

The Community Council meeting takes place this Tuesday at 7pm at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall.

You can download a copy of the update by clicking on the headline above.

Remembrance Sunday

We Shall Remember Them

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Congratulations Ros!

Delighted at Ros Scott's victory today in the Liberal Democrat Presidential campaign. The votes were as follows :

Ros Scott 20,736 votes (72%)
Lembit Opik 6,247 votes (22%)
Chandila Fernando 1,799 votes (6%)

Ros takes over as Party President on 1st January 2009 and I've no doubt she'll be a super, dynamic President of the Party.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Further bus concerns

There has recently been considerable concern raised across the City by changes to Travel Dundee bus routes and timetables, introduced on 2nd November.

As City Council Planning & Transport Convener, I recently chaired a meeting of City Councillors and a representative of the bus company at which councillors from across the City highlighted constituents' concerns about various services. In the West End, the route of Service Number 14 and cuts to the frequency of Service Number 2 were raised.

I have this week been contacted by parents in the West End, whose children attend St John's High School. Their complaint is about Service Number 2A in the morning, immediately before the start of the school day. The bus is now missing out Blackness Avenue and arrives later at the school - not in time for the start of school.

I have raised this issue with the City Council's Acting Head of Transportation, who will be raising the matter with the bus company at a meeting on Monday.

No they can't

Wednesday's "Daily Telegraph" :

'Mr Salmond, the SNP leader, who has visited the campaign trail 13 times, has seized on Barack Obama's campaign slogan insisting: "Yes, we can win and, yes, we will win the Glenrothes by-election."'

I am no supporter of the Labour Party but delighted that the SNP has finally been stopped in its tracks. Alex Salmond's arrogance has blown up in his face.

What makes the nationalist government so dreadful is that it lives for the following day's newspaper headline; it does not plan for the future of Scotland.

The electorate has seen through them. For Alex Salmond and the nationalists - the only way is down. That is good for Scotland.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tonight's Evening Telegraph - more on new funding for Dundee

Tonight's "Evening Telegraph" also features an item about the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund and my comments welcoming the funding coming to Dundee. You can read the item by clicking on the headline above.

On Wave 102 ...

video

I was on the Wave 102 news this morning about the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund allocation to the City. Click on the 'play' button above to listen.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Facelift for Dundee's vacant land

The City Council issued the following news release today with good news about how the vacant and derelict land fund will improve sites across our City :

Landscaping to improve the appearance of a former factory in Kingsway East, better access for pedestrians to the rear of Lochee High Street and a nature park at Riverside are set to benefit from a £5m cash boost.

Members of Dundee City Council's planning and transport committee will be told that the schemes, along with 26 others, will be carried out in the next three years using cash from the Scottish Government's vacant and derelict land fund.

Committee convener Fraser Macpherson said: "Money from this fund has already helped the council to clean-up a number of empty and neglected areas around the city, and this boost will mean that work can be extended into other plots of land that need attention.

"I am particularly pleased to see landscaping and improvements at the former ABB factory in the plan. It is high-profile site on one of our ambassador routes into the city, and will benefit greatly from a face lift."

Members will consider a report by director of planning and transportation Mike Galloway that highlights the objective of improving and removing a significant amount of existing vacant and derelict land to make it more useful and marketable.

The planned measures will be carried out to make the sites more economically viable and attractive to potential developers or to become improved sufficiently that they can be considered meaningful urban parkland.

Mr Galloway's report concludes with a reassurance to elected members that the delivery plan will be regularly monitored to ensure that maximum benefit can be achieved from the £5.25m available to Dundee for the next three years through the fund.

The Planning and Transport Committee will consider the report at its meeting on Monday (November 10).

Obama wins




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US Presidential Election today

Whoever wins the US Presidential Election today - and it has to be said, I'll eat my hat if it is McCain - I think all should breathe a great big sigh of relief that the George W. Bush presidency is in its dying days.

Back in 2004, Gary Kamiya wrote :

"In years to come historians will likely judge the Bush presidency one of the worst in the history of the republic - an amalgam of arrogance, radicalism and folly so egregious it's almost laughable.

"Abandoning common sense in foreign affairs, weakening the rule of law, handing the nation's wealth over to the super-rich, and squandering the friendship and sympathy of the world in rigid pursuit of a chimerical dream of a world that cannot threaten us, the Bush presidency has betrayed the nation's deepest principles, both liberal and conservative. "


I couldn't agree more.

The final opinion polls look exceptionally good for Barack Obama - I'm keeping fingers and toes crossed for him today.

Hogweed along rail line - Magdalen Green and westwards

A number of residents, and Community Council representatives, recently expressed concern to me about hogweed growth near to the rail line, in the ground owned by Network Rail.

I brought this to Network Rail's attention and they have now responded as follows:

"The Hogweed was planned to be part of the spraying programme and should have been done. I will pass on the information to our Off Track Department."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Marmalade Pot Roundabout

On 24th October, I mentioned that overgrown shrubbery on the roundabout at Riverside Avenue/Drive was to be tackled, following my request to the City Council. Click on headline to view the earlier story.

I am pleased to say the work was carried out yesterday. A constituent has since e-mailed me to say he's pleased this has happened - to quote him :

"I will now be able
to cycle to Tesco and see the oncoming traffic at the island."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Post Offices - queuing concerns

Yesterday's 'Courier' covered my concerns about the deterimental effect on queuing at the GPO following the closure of 4 Dundee Post Offices, including those at Lochee Road and Nethergate. Click on headline above to view.

Early yesterday morning, I got a call from a lady in the Paton's Lane area to complain that she had had to wait 45 minutes in the queue at Perth Road Post Office last week. You are not trying to tell me that Post Office Limited properly researched the effects of their Post Office closures on adjacent Post Offices!

Here's the news release I issued about the issue :

NEWS RELEASE : Councillor slams Post Office Limited over erroneous claims about Post Offices

Dundee City Councillor for the West End, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, today said he has written to Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, criticising 'completely misleading assurances' that the Dundee's General Post Office had the capacity to deal with increased customers as a result of Post Office Limited's recent closure of four other Dundee Post Offices and calling for the Post Office's evidence that customer waiting times would not be detrimentally affected to be made public.

Cllr Macpherson was reacting to constituents' complaints about the length of waiting time in the GPO during peak hours. Cllr Macpherson said, "The staff at the GPO do an excellent job but the bottom line is that the Post Office's assurances that closing Post Offices in Nethergate and Lochee Road would not result in longer waiting times at Ward Road has been shown to be false. It appears that increased staffing at peak times has not been provided - no-one should have to wait the length of time constituents are rightly complaining about.

"Dundee City Council has recently been advised by Consumer Focus, the successor to Post Office watchdog Postwatch, that Post Office Limited "submitted a detailed action plan ... demonstrating how the alternative branches would cope with an influx in custom" and I think its about time that this so-called 'evidence' was publicly available, because it is clear from what has actually happened since the Post Office closures, that there are increased waiting times at the GPO. Post Office Limited gave us assurances that this wouldn't happen but the reality is that it has. I want to know what the Chief Executive of Post Office Limited is going to do to ensure that customer waiting times at peak hours are improved. Constituents have complained about 25-35 minutes waiting time, which is completely unacceptable."

Cllr Macpherson said that the City Council had written to Postwatch to attempt to stop the Post Office closures, as Postwatch had powers in terms of a Memorandum of Understanding with Post Office Limited allowing it to request a suspension of closures where Post Office Limited had not fully considered all evidence presented against a proposed closure. The City Council had made clear that there had not been transparency from Post Office Limited on whether or not it fully considered the information on potential for customer growth at one Post Office - Nethergate -and in light of that, a suspension of the closure should have been sought by Postwatch.

Cllr Macpherson continued, "The City Council sought a review of the consultation exercise and also a fuller statement of reasons from Post Office Limited that properly addressed the substance of the relevant and material issues raised by the Council's representation. Unfortunately, Consumer Focus, the successor to Postwatch, has been unwilling to do this because it says 'We are reassured that with appropriate staffing ... the alternative post offices can accommodate the anticipated additional customers.' The assurances given to Consumer Focus have proved to be pretty worthless - the lengthy waiting times are proof of this - and it is extremely disappointing that the so-called "Post Office Watchdog" has proved to be so toothless in reality.

"By being unwilling to act to suspend Post Office closures, Consumer Focus is failing to protect customers from increased waiting times."

Cllr Macpherson said that, following the feedback from Consumer Focus received by the City Council, he has met with Council legal officers to see if separate legal action by the Council should be pursued, but, having reviewed the legal position, the Council's solicitors have advised that this would be unlikely to bear fruit, in part because of the lack of supportiveness by the watchdog but also, specifically, given the situation that the Post Office, once part of the public sector, has been recreated by Government as a limited company, rendering it highly unlikely that any judicial review of its closure decisions would succeed.

Cllr Macpherson continued, "The Council's legal officers have reviewed other legal attempts to stop Post Office closures, including an attempt by the Greater London Authority and the London Mayor, and concluded that there were no reasonable prospects of successfully challenging these decisions. The whole consultation process lacked transparency and Post Office Limited has given assurances to Postwatch's successor that have been shown to be inaccurate.

"I have therefore contacted the Chief Executive of Post Office Limited asking what steps he will be taking to ensure waiting times at the GPO are cut to be satisfactory at all times of opening. I think that is the least we can reasonably expect from Post Office Limited, especially given the complaints from the Dundee public about waiting for around half an hour to be served."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Channel Fife

As an enthusiast for local TV, its great to see a local TV spin-off from the Glenrothes by-election.

Fife has a new on line Web TV channel with the launch of CHANNEL FIFE.

The new station is being launched as a pilot during the Glenrothes By Election and will see four dedicated TV news teams reporting stories from across the Kingdom.

Webcasting from yesterday, the other programming will include a daily 'breakfast style' show and documentaries and drama. The Channel is being launched by MiMAC-Rushes who are already involved in media and access services across the region. It's a co-production with other Fife companies including Art Attack Films, Colmar Video, AV Artworks and Glass Bullet Productions.

Graeme Campbell, Director of MIMAC says 'Local TV for Scotland has been a long time coming and the on going campaign to persuade OFCOM to free up transmitter space at Digital Switchover continues. In the meantime the internet offers the best opportunity for communities to grab air space and get our views on screen.'

Channel Fife has recruited TV and radio reporters who've come from Radio Clyde, BBC Scotland and MTV.

To see the team and schedules, please click on the headline above.

For more on local TV in Fife and Tayside, the digital switchover, Ofcom and what local TV means for media, business and community go to
http://www.fifetaysidetv.com/.

Blackness Primary pupils help planting effort at Western Cemetery

Was delighted to attend an event organised by the Western Cemetery Association (WCA) yesterday - Primary Six pupils from Blackness Primary School helped the Association’s work in encouraging biodiversity by helping to plant bulbs in the cemetery - see photo of the pupils busy with the bulb planting effort (right).

Western Cemetery is part of the Tayside Green Kirk and Graveyard Initiative. Already the WCA has planted a long lavender hedge and beds of fuchsias at the entrance, which have been attracting bees and butterflies all summer. The children added crocuses in front of the hedge to brighten the area next Spring.

Also yesterday, I helped the effort to organise West End Christmas Week by delivering flyers to local shops giving details of how local businesses can participate in the forthcoming Christmas Week's events.