Tuesday 30 June 2009

West End Surgeries

With the school year ending on Thursday afternoon of this week, my weekly surgeries are now ended until the commencement of the new school term. This starts on Wednesday 19th August and therefore my surgeries recommence on Thursday 20th at Blackness Primary School at 6.15pm prompt.

Meantime, I am available via my e-surgery at any time - esurgery@frasermacpherson.org.uk - or call me at home - 01382 459378 - many thanks!

Monday 29 June 2009

Congratulations to St Joseph's Primary School

After a long day including a meeting in Dalkeith (day job), followed by surgeries and the City Council's Development Quality Committee tonight, I have been going through my mail and, having received a copy of the St Joseph's Primary School Follow-Through Inspection Report from the Director of Education, it is very heartening indeed to read such a positive report.

All at the school deserve congratulations for such an excellent report and I have sent mine to Marion, the Head Teacher. Well done to all at St Joseph's!

Sunday 28 June 2009

Mail deliveries in the West End

I have arranged to meet Royal Mail representatives later this week to discuss the many complaints I have receieved from constituents about mail deliveries in recent weeks - particularly about the extensive delay in items constituents know have been posted to them actually being delivered.

I have received numerous complaints from constituents from different parts of the West End and am aware that the complaints are also coming from other parts of the city too. There have also been a lot of concerns about real difficulty getting through to the Dundee West Sorting Office by phone.

I therefore approached the Dundee West Sorting Office Manager who has agreed to a face-to-face meeting to discuss the complaints on Friday of this week.

I am hoping to be given assurances that Royal Mail is tackling the delivery problems and prepared to give clear timescales as to when my constituents who have experienced mail delivery problems can expect to see matters improve.


Janet & I have had a great weekend away - it wasn't very far away - Crieff Hydro - and the weather wasn't up to expectations - but it was good to chill out and the company was excellent.

Many thanks to Helen & Murray for looking after Bunty (our puppy; we've not been away from her before but she has had a great time - tired puppy ... zzzzzzz!)

Of course, the drawback of being away is the large list of phone and e-mails messages to follow up on return!

, here's a couple on photos taken on my phone from our room at the Hydro ...

Michael Jackson : Rock With You

In all the sadness of the death of Michael Jackson, there's been loads and loads about the best of his hits. The consensus is that the "Thriller" album was ultimate Jackson, but for me,"Off the Wall" in 1979 was Michael Jackson at his best, and best of all - 'Rock With You'

Friday 26 June 2009

Scottish Liberal Democrats on Twitter!

For those of you into Twitter, as today is #followfriday I urge you to follow the brand new @scotlibdems

Thursday 25 June 2009

TV issues - surgeries well attended yesterday

The meetings with Digital UK that I chaired at some of the sheltered housing complexes in the West End yesterday, to allow constituents to raise complaints and concerns about TV reception - and on the issue of the digital switchover - proved extremely successful with over 120 residents attending. Actually 123 residents and a lovely, well-behaved dog! See pictures below.

I am indebted to Alan Cowie, the former Grampian TV presenter - who spoke at the meetings. Alan is assisting Digital UK’s effort to liaise with people to ensure that their TV and digital questions are addressed and answered. He is excellent at covering the issues and engaging with the audience. Many elderly people in particular had questions about how they ensure they continue to receive television reception after the switchover and it was appropriate to hold these meetings at sheltered housing lounges in the area.

Digital UK are the experts regarding the digital switch-over and what I found particularly useful for the explanation of the Digital Help Scheme which aims to help those aged 75 and over and persons with disabilities get digital equipment and installation at little or no cost, a scheme being led by the BBC. It seems like a very good scheme for elderly and disabled people and it is important that residents are given full information about it in advance of the switch-off of the old analogue television signals in summer 2010.

As a result of the meetings today, I have taken up some individuals’ TV reception complaints and am - as always - pleased to assist any other West End residents with them.

Above : Alan speaking to Pennycook Court residentsAbove : Morven Terrace Sheltered Housing meetingAbove : The meeting at Blackness CourtAbove : The doggie audience!

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Significant concerns over child protection report

The HMIE report on child protection services in Dundee, published yesterday, made very concerning reading. As reported in last night's 'Evening Telegraph' and today's 'Courier', I made the following comments:

Dundee City Council Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, today said that he was very concerned by the conclusions of the HMIE report on child protection services in Dundee.

Cllr Macpherson said, “The report’s conclusions are of significant concern, highlighting ‘major weaknesses in the identification of children who needed protection.’ Eight indicators showing that child protection services are weak and one unsatisfactory indicator is without any shadow of a doubt requires immediate improvement.

“A cross-party meeting of councillors to meet with the inspectors has already been agreed. The inspectors’ report is to be considered by a Council Committee on 1st July. It is vital that immediate action is taken to improve services and an action plan agreed to allow this to be achieved as soon as possible.

“The Council Leader has already been asked by opposition councillors to arrange a meeting of City Council Group Leaders with Adam Ingram, the Children and Early Years Minister. I agree with the Minister that the findings of the inspection show child protection services in Dundee are ‘simply not good enough’ but we urgently need to hear from Mr Ingram how Scottish Government is to help in real and practical terms.

“Scottish Government has a role to play here, particularly in providing additional resources. Service improvements will undoubtedly require increased resources over and above the additional £1.3 million the City Council has earmarked for 2009/10 and we need assurances from government that it will fund any additional services and resources needed to ensure that the action plan the City Council will hopefully swiftly approve can be fully implemented.”

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Road works in the West End next week

The City Council has advised me of the following road closures next week, from Monday 29th June for a maximum of 5 working days:
  • Cleghorn Street (between Benvie Road and Lochee Road) - due to Scottish Water maintenance works

  • Seafield Road (from Number 54 to the Roseangle junction) - due to electricity cable laying works
I am advised that pedestrian access will be maintained throughout.

Further details can be provided by the City Council - phone 433168.

Monday 22 June 2009

New Commons Speaker Tory MP John Bercow

Rather pleased at the result, if only to see the glum looks amongst Tory MPs! Don't quite understand why Bercow was ever selected as a Tory candidate, but there you go ...

I'd have voted for Ann Widdecombe - don't normally agree with a word she says, but she is forthright and honest and genuinely connects with the public.

Anyway, the good news - Michael Martin has gone!

Meetings about television issues

Following a deluge of complaints about TV reception from constituents and many questions about the digital TV switchover, taking place in the summer of next year - as reported in tonight's "Evening Telegraph" - I have organised six meetings on Wednesday of this week at some of the sheltered housing complexes in the West End.

The meetings will allow local residents to raise complaints and concerns about TV reception and on the issue of the digital switchover with John MacNeil, Digital UK’s Assistant National Manager for Scotland. Many elderly people in particular have questions about how they ensure to continue to receive television reception after the switchover and it seems highly appropriate to hold these meetings at sheltered housing lounges.

I am grateful to Digital UK for taking part in the local meetings this week. Their expertise will help residents with any TV reception and digital switchover issues they wish to raise. Digital UK are the experts regarding the digital switch-over and will be there to provide advice to any resident with questions about the impending changes and help that is available.

There have been many TV reception issues raised with me recently and I felt it would be helpful to allow residents in the West End to speak with the experts directly.

The meetings take place this Wednesday (24th June) at the following locations:

10.15am Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge
11.00am Pennycook Court Sheltered Lounge
11.45am Blackness Court Sheltered Lounge
12.30pm Paton's Lane Sheltered Lounge
1.15pm Tullideph Sheltered Lounge
2.00pm Corso Street Sheltered Lounge

Sunday 21 June 2009

River Crescent Residents' Association AGM

I had the pleasure of addressing the Annual General Meeting of the River Crescent Residents' Association this afternoon at the Botanic Garden. A great turnout from residents - particularly impressive given the glorious weather!

In my address to the Association, I covered a number of updates, including :
  • Airport Noise Issues

  • Speed limits

  • Potholes tackled

  • The bridge condition on Riverside Drive

  • WestFest 2010 - the proposed West End Festival

  • Digital TV

  • Postal delivery concerns

  • Proposed Riverside Nature Park

Saturday 20 June 2009

Concern about Tay AM

Last year I met with Bauer Radio/Radio Tay following concerns about the Tay FM evening output (see http://tinyurl.com/radiotay). There has recently been more concern about the decision by Bauer to amalgamate much of the AM programming of its Scottish stations (as Bauer put it “in light of the continuing economic climate, we are looking to reshape some of our local teams") but the loss of much local programming is very disappointing.

Radio Tay has become part and parcel of our community since 1980. I still remember listening to Tay on its opening morning -while getting ready for school! The YouTube clip above brings back happy memories.

I therefore feel real sadness at the loss of presenters like Ward McGaughrin, Terry Cumming, Jenny Farrish and Murray McGregor. I'm pleased that Dave Price has been snapped up by Wave 102.

I concur with the comments by Jamie McIvor of the BBC who writes :

"Only time will tell if the changes to Bauer's medium wave stations will be successful.

But their transformation into a Scottish network in all but name marks the end of a chapter in the history of Scottish radio."

Friday 19 June 2009

SNP failure on schools building programme

Tonight's "Evening Telegraph" covered my concerns about the Scottish Government's delays over the school building programme. I reproduce below two news releases this week from the Scottish Liberal Democrats on this subject:


Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott attacked Alex Salmond over massive delays to the school building programme at this week’s FMQs. After two years of delay, the First Minister was still unable to say which schools are in line to receive funding for vital upgrades.

“The Government has wasted two years failing to get the Scottish Futures Trust to work – two years of blind alleys, garden paths and dead ends.

“The announcement yesterday could have been made two years ago. Instead we had paralysis from the SNP.

“After two years of delay the First Minister should have been able to answer the basic questions about which schools are in the programme.

“In eight weeks time, 180 children will start their first day at secondary school at Inverurie Academy . But the First Minister, their MSP, was unable to say whether any of those children will have a new school built for them in Inverurie before they sit their Highers.”


Commenting after the Education Secretary was forced to admit following questioning by Liberal Democrat MSPs that the SNP will delay the school buildings programme for almost a decade, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Margaret Smith MSP said:

“We have dragged the Education Secretary’s cat out of the bag. The SNP is forcing most councils to delay building new schools for up to a decade.

“The money starts to dribble down to councils next year and the final payments won’t arrive until 2018.

“The SNP is rushing to get some token bricks built by polling day. There would have been less of a rush if there had not been the two year Hyslop-gap and paralysis in planning.

“Most of the pupils studying in crumbling buildings will have left school and could have children of their own before these new schools are built. Thanks to the SNP’s mind-boggling delay, an entire generation of schoolchildren have been let down.”

Thursday 18 June 2009

New schools - real or a myth?

At the Glenrothes by-election, the First Minister made himself look foolish over his "Yes we can" sloganising - the voters there decisively decided "no they can't." Another example of SNP "Yes we can" claims turning out to be little more than hot air has been the nationalists' promise of replacing PPP capital funding for schools building projects. The SNP government has wasted the last two years in inactivity as new school building projects across Scotland have slowed - as LibDem Education Spokesperson in the Scottish Parliament, Margaret Smith MSP, called it "the two-year Hyslop gap and paralysis in planning."

Yesterday, the SNP government announced that it was planning 55 new schools, but what was abundantly clear from Tavish Scott's questioning of Alex Salmond at First Minister's Questions today is that the detail is sketchy to say the least. Just as Alex Salmond can provide no reassurances for his own constituents about funding a new school for Inverurie, there is no detail as to if and by how much Dundee will benefit from such additional funding and the speed with which funding will be delivered. Schools like Harris Academy desparately need this funding to provide facilities fit for 21st century teaching.

I reproduce below a news release I issued today following my contacting senior finance staff in the City Council about the issue :

NEWS RELEASE : Councillor raises questions over Scottish Futures Trust

Following yesterday’s announcement by Scottish Government over schools funding, Dundee City Council LibDem Group Leader, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, has written to the City Council’s top finance officers seeking clarification as to if and how quickly Dundee can benefit from any further capital funding to undertake further improvements to Dundee’s schools estate.

Writing to the Council’s Depute Chief Executive (Finance) and Head of Finance, Cllr Macpherson asks, “Is there any indication of the method by which Scottish Government will choose the schools to be included, a bidding process and criteria and if level playing field or similar support is to be offered?”

Cllr Macpherson said there was significant concern that it had taken the SNP government two years to get this far with the Scottish Futures Trust which has thus far funded nothing, and he was very critical of the delays that had held up capital building projects. He said, “It is now vital that we finally get some clarity as to the detailed working arrangements for the Scottish Futures Trust, the extent to which Dundee will benefit from further capital investment and which schools can be improved and how quickly.

“There has been far too much delay and we need to see clarity and action from government as soon as possible,” he concluded.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

West End Festival 2010 - first public meeting

Text Colour
An excellent first public meeting of the Dundee West End Festival 2010 this evening - and a very good turnout of local residents and organisations. Thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and great to hear the enthusiasm of all who who attended.

good ideas for the proposed 2010 festival came forward and a committee was elected. You can follow updates at http://www.dundeewestfest.com.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Tavish Scott on the Calman Commission

Yesterday, the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution published its final report. It runs to some 300 pages and makes substantive recommendations on the powers of the Scottish Parliament, including financial powers and accountability, strengthened relationships between Westminster and Holyrood, and radical changes to the working procedures and rules of both Westminster and Holyrood.

The report is unanimous. It is a remarkable achievement.

When it was established many commentators said that nothing would come of it - that no agreement was possible with such a broad range of participants. They have been proved wrong.

Liberal Democrats were right to press for the formation of the Calman Commission and to provide the radical impetus to its work. Without Liberal Democrats, the work of the Steel Commission and the personal drive of Calman Commission members Jim Wallace and Audrey Findlay, Scotland would not have been presented with such a radical vision of change.

When the Calman Commission was founded the SNP and the Scottish Government said that it would not get anywhere and would not propose radical change. But it has.

The opportunity and the appetite for stronger devolution, with more powers for the Scottish Parliament, is with us.

The challenge now for Labour and the Conservatives is to embrace the proposals for radical change contained within Calman. We need to see a commitment from them to create legislative time at Westminster to make the changes to the Scotland Act.

The changes require legislation and rule changes at Westminster and Holyrood. The Scottish Government should give its political support and release the practical expertise of their civil servants to help. They have the opportunity to help make change happen. Now is the moment for those in the Scottish Government who want to see more powers for the Scottish Parliament to be part of these plans that give more powers.

The proposals from Calman can be reached by clicking on the headline above.

You will see that Income Tax affecting 2.5 million people and a new borrowing ability for the Scottish Parliament are big issues along with more powers over matters such as air guns and road traffic offences.

Calman makes clear that this is not the end of the journey. The report makes it plain that it is a direction of travel and, once the initial changes have been achieved, there will be scope to go further.

This is good news for the Liberal Democrats. We have advocated the strongest possible Scottish Parliament – a true Home Rule settlement. We have everything to gain from making a success of the radical changes proposed by Calman and using them as a base for further powers in the future.

The other parties have accepted my proposals for a steering group to deliver the changes. I will keep up the pressure on them - and the SNP - to work together to deliver more powers. The challenge now is to make this blueprint a reality.

Best wishes,

Tavish Scott MSP
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Monday 15 June 2009

Postal deliveries - meeting sought

As reported in tonight's "Evening Telegraph" (click on headline above to view), I have sought a meeting at the Dundee West Sorting Office with the sorting office manager – over continuing concerns over the quality of mail deliveries in the West End.

I have continued to receive many complaints from constituents about mail delivery delays and inconsistent service.

When I was last
speaking with Royal Mail’s public relations department, I received assurances that whilst there had been some build up of mailsort deliveries – mainly advertising mailshots - the problems were being tackled and that constituents should be experiencing a normal mail service. However, since then, I have continued to receive a steady stream of complaints about mail deliveries from residents in various parts of the West End. I am also aware of similar concerns in other parts of the city.

I have therefore spoken with the Royal Mail’s Dundee West Sorting Office Manager requesting a visit to the sorting office and a meeting with Royal Mail management to discuss the issue. The manager has confirmed that she will be back in touch with me regarding possible dates and times for such a visit this week.

It is very clear to me that there are delivery issues that Royal Mail management have to tackle and I therefore think it important that I discuss my constituents’ concerns with them as soon as possible.

The Lady Provost

I was very saddened to learn that Betty Letford, the Lady Provost, has passed away after a short illness.

Betty was a very friendly lady who did a great deal of charitable work. On numerous occasions, she accompanied the Lord Provost when they attended West End Christmas Week events - the photo (right) is from the 2006 Christmas Week.

Betty was a great ambassador for Dundee and she will be very sadly missed.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Family BBQ

Janet's cousin and her husband are across from their home in the Netherlands at the moment and my sister-in-law arranged a family BBQ yesterday (after the West End Fun Day!) Here's a couple of photos ...

Fun Day success!

Yesterday's West End Fun Day on Magdalen Green was a huge success, with a great turnout of local residents. Congratulations to Ancrum Road Primary School who won both the P3-4 and the P5-7 football competitions! Here's a few photos from yesterday's event :
Above : Harry McGregor opens the Fun Day!
Above : Beat the Goalie with Tony Bullock, Dundee FC goalkeeper!
Above : Football tournament action!
Above : Janet and Pat with Bunty!
Above : A great turnout of local people!

Above : Dundee Instrumental Band!

Above : P3 & 4 football winners from Ancrum Road Primary School!

Above : P5-7 football winners from Ancrum Road Primary School!

Above : Dundee Rep's Loadsaweeminsingin!

Saturday 13 June 2009

Fun Day - and Festival 2010

The West End Fun Day starts on Magdalen Green later this morning - at 11.30am - see you there!

Next year, we hope to have a full Festival for the West End :

Would you be interested in seeing a summer festival in the West End of Dundee in 2010?

Would you be interested in taking part in a festival?

Would you be interested in helping to organise a Festival?

If the answer to any one of these questions 'yes' then you may also be interested to know that there will be an inaugural public meeting to set up a festival committee with the aim of having the West End's first summer festival.

Meeting details are:

The Memorial Hall

Logie St John's (Cross) Church
Shaftesbury Terrace
on Wednesday 17th June 2009 at 7pm

website: www.dundeewestfest.com

email: westendfestival@rocketmail.com

There is more information on the website. If you are interested in being involved but can't make the meeting please contact the festival group directly at the email address above.

Friday 12 June 2009

Overgrown weeds and grass concerns in the West End

Above : Weeds at Blackness Road

Above : Ninewells Avenue/Perth Road roundabout

Above : Ninewells Avenue at the hospital entrance

I have welcomed reassurances by Dundee City Council that overgrown weeds and grass in the West End are now being tackled.

I have had numerous complaints from West End constituents about overgrown weeds on pavements and roadways and badly overgrown grass on verges and roundabouts in numerous locations in the West End. As a result, I contacted both the City Engineer and the Director of Dundee Contract Services about the concerns.

The Director of Dundee Contract Services has responded as follows:

“The grass cutting of areas of central reserve etc with the daffodil panels is to commence on Monday 15 June. Weather permitting, this will take around two weeks to complete across the city. This is about the normal start time for this work but the combination of rain and heat experienced in May has led to vigorous grass growth of late, perhaps making the situation appear worse than normal.”

The City Engineer has confirmed that the West End and Ninewells and Menzieshill was scheduled to be started this week (commencing 8/06/09) for weed killing.

Last year, there had been numerous complaints about the weedkilling effectiveness and it is important that this is fully tackled this year. The City Engineer has assured me that the strongest permitted weedkiller will be used this year and weedkilling and street sweeping of channels will be coordinated so that they occur at appropriate discrete times.

I am keeping a very close eye on this, in response to residents’ concerns.

Thursday 11 June 2009

New evidence of public support for local television

As regular readers of www.dundeewestend.com will be aware, I have been actively involved in the campaign to progress local television provision across Scotland, something that becomes possible because of the digital switchover. See more at www.fifetaysidetv.com.

Dr Dave Rushton of the Institute of Local Television (on behalf the Scottish Local TV Federation) has recently drawn to my attention the findings of two public surveys conducted in the Spring indicating the character and extent of interest in receiving local TV from Scotland. The surveys - one in the south of Scotland, the other Scotland-wide - show strong support from the public for local TV, which is extremely heartening and it is to be hoped that both government and Ofcom react positively to that demand.

These surveys confirm the demand identified independently in the TNS System Three survey 'Public Attitudes to Broadcasting' conducted in 2008 - this can be downloaded by clicking on the headline above.

Victoria Park upgrade - thanks to Jericho House

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the folk from Jericho House, who are kindly upgrading the play area in Victoria Park, giving the railings, seating and play equipment a much-needed fresh coat of paint.

This initiative, with the support of West End Community Council, has been organised by Jericho House and the Leisure and Communities Department. My photo (above) shows some of the folk at the play area.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

West End postal deliveries

Last night's 'Evening Telegraph' covered my continuing concerns over postal deliveries in the West End.

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

Tuesday 9 June 2009

West End Community Council - June Update

I have this morning launched my June 2009 update to West End Community Council.
Subjects covered include :

* Bulky Uplifts
* Wheelie Bins
* Graffiti
* Potholes
* Bus services
* Blackness Road at West Park Road/Kelso Steps
* Unadopted Footways Programme

The Community Council meets tonight at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm.

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

Monday 8 June 2009

From Tavish Scott MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Today I am writing my congratulations to George Lyon who has this morning become Scotland’s new Liberal Democrat MEP. We have, once again, confounded the media commentators and our opponents who said that we could not hold on to any representation because of the reduction in seats in Scotland.

I am particularly pleased that we were able to win whilst remaining true to our party’s important principle that we are “stronger together and poorer apart” when it comes to the European Union. Our campaign showed the practical action that can make our country safer from international crime, more effective against climate change and stronger is the face of the global economic challenge.

The result across Scotland shows some real strengths in the constituencies we already hold at Westminster or hope to gain at the next General Election. Some of our target seats won their best ever results. And it was great to top the poll in the Highlands and - as we would expect - in the Northern Isles!

My thanks go to everyone for their hard work for this campaign. Our margin of victory was not huge, so every hour spent on the campaign trail made a difference.

A lesson that we should take away is that our campaigning is “stronger together”. All of our candidates, MPs, MSPs and councillors need to be strongly and actively committed to each other’s election campaigns. Not only does it add real depth to our work but it helps all of our elected representatives to stay in touch with the electorate in their constituencies. Liberal Democrats at every level of government can’t afford to sit in our offices. We need to be active, out and about in our communities, speaking to voters and listening to their voices not just every four years for their own elections.

I should also remark that the other parties did not live up to their own expectations. The SNP did not gain the extra seat they had convinced the media they were on course for, their vote share was lower indeed than they achieved in 1994. And last Thursday you may have seen that they lost two of their council seats in by elections – to Labour of all people. The Conservatives did much less well that they told everybody they would do, got a lower share of the vote than in 2004 and have one fewer MEP in Scotland than they had before. The Greens published an opinion poll last Wednesday predicting they would win 18% of the vote. They were out by a factor of nearly three. And Labour? Well we have all seen the remarkable destruction and self-destruction wrought on that Party. The call for a General Election can surely only get louder. Our Party in Scotland is up to the challenge of gaining seats from Labour whenever it comes.

a big “thank you” for all the work. I look forward to George being a colossal asset to our Party and Scotland over the next five years.

Best wishes,

Tavish Scott MSP

Sunday 7 June 2009

West End Fun Day!

I've been out today delivering flyers around Magdalen Yard Road and Roseangle advertising next Saturday's West End Fun Day, taking place from 11.30am on Magdalen Green. Delivering hundreds of advertising flyers to households has been a real team effort by the committee members of Friends of Magdalen Green.

Fun Day is a joint venture between the Friends and West End Community Council. There's a whole host of events taking place at the Fun Day - various community group and information stands, children's competitions, a five-a-side football competition for local Primary Schools, Beat the Goalie, Dundee Instrumental Band, Dundee Rep's Loadsaweeminsingin and Canine Partners to name a few.

Click on the
headline above to read about the Fun Day on the Friends of Magdalen Green website.

Saturday 6 June 2009

English Local Elections - and the European Election

I've been in Belfast with the day job since Thursday - got back earlier today - so catching up on the English County Council Election results. The LibDem County Council results in England - the disappointing south-west apart - showed good, solid progress. In the BBC projected vote share, we are 5% ahead of Labour - 28% to 23%, with the Conservatives on 38%. We are up 3% on last year, Labour down 1% and the Conservatives down 6%. It is our best share of the vote this Parliament and although there is no denying the Tories had a good day - in actual votes, they were well short of their 40% target and the 'inevitability' of a Tory General Election win is no way a foregone conclusion.

The superb result in Bristol, where we won 15 of the 23 seats up for election - and took control of the Council for the first time - showed the LibDems are the main players against Labour in most of the cities across the UK (and I mean UK - Aberdeen, Cardiff, Edinburgh - not just in England).

The media spin is of a Conservative clean-sweep, but that is inaccurate. In many of our key parliamentary battlegrounds across southern England we have done well, holding our own and making small gains against the Conservatives. We made net gains from the Conservatives in, among other places, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Cumbria, East Sussex, Dorset, the Isle of Wight, Warwickshire and West Sussex.

In the north of England, the LibDems are clearly the challengers in much of Labour's traditional heartland, with particularly spectacular gains in Burnley and Ashfield and - with net gains in Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire - the party is gaining right across the Midlands.

- off to the European Election count at the Caird Hall tomorrow night!

Footnote - given the 'invisible' European Election in Scotland (and England and Wales), it was rather heartening to drive through Belfast on Thursday and see election posters everywhere.

A very different election in many ways, with the key question being - will Sinn Fein top the poll for the first time? Interestingly, I note the Official Unionists are standing as "Conservative and Unionist" and their posters use Cameron's "Vote for change" slogan and logo. Perhaps not the best year for them to link up with the Tories, with the Unionist vote split between the DUP, UUP with added fake Dave, and Jim Allister MEP's Traditional Unionist Voice, who I suspect will give the two main unionist parties a run for their money.

A thoroughly enjoyable time (as usual!) in Belfast, with glorious weather.

Friday 5 June 2009

People and Parliament: Jo Swinson MP's response

A very informative response by Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson's via YouTube to the House of Lords Information Committee's People and Parliament Inquiry. Jo in particular talks about how Parliament make use of online tools to reach out and consult communities across the UK.

Former Homebase site and the railway station

I recently wrote a response to a concern raied in the "Evening Telegraph" by a visitor to the city about eyesores on entry to the city by train - including the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive (covered in graffiti) and the railway station's condition.

My response is in tonight's edition and you can read this by clicking on the headline above.

McManus Collections

The McManus Collections Unit at the former Barrack Street Museum is the new permanent home for Dundee’s History, Archaeology and Natural History Collections.

The relocation
of these Collections to this facility will give more space to the main McManus Galleries and Museum in Albert Square for improved exhibition and visitor facilities when the main galleries and museum reopens.

I recently had a walk-past the Albert Square site with the City Council’s Director of Leisure & Communities and it is clear that good progress is being made with its refurbishment.

There are tours of the collections at Barrack Street today and tomorrow – click on the headline above to find out more.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Wednesday 3 June 2009

European Election : Stronger together for Scotland

Tavish Scott MSP, George Lyon and the Scottish Liberal Democrats are working hard to make Scotland a better place to live and work in.

Many people across Scotland are using the elections on 4th June to send the Labour and SNP governments a message that their handling of the economy is not good enough.

Only the Scottish Liberal Democrats are offering a stronger team for Scotland, real change for Scotland in Europe, wanting to work alongside other countries to boost trade, creating new jobs as well as getting stronger action on international crime and climate change.

We need to be positive about what Scotland and Britain can achieve by working with other countries.

3 reasons to back the Scottish Liberal Democrats on 4th June:

· George Lyon and the strong Scottish team have a record of action and will keep up this good work when elected as our MEP.

· Liberal Democrat MEPs will fight hard for you, to secure action on international crime, creating new jobs and on climate change.

· A vote for the Scottish Liberal Democrats will send a strong message to Gordon Brown and the Labour Party that enough is enough, it's time for change.

The photo above is George Lyon and myself; he's running a great campaign and will stand up for Scotland in Europe.

Logie Residents' Association

Last night, I attended the monthly committee meeting of Logie Residents' Association. The association represents all residents in the Logie Estate.

It is holding its
AGM in the Lime Street Sheltered Lounge on Tuesday 7th July at 7pm, and all residents of the Logie area are invited to attend.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

New safer speed limit

Last night's "Evening Telegraph" covered my comments welcoming the newly introduced reduced speed limit on the furthest west part of Perth Road and two immediately adjacent streets, pointing out that it provides for a more appropriate speed limit in a residential area.

The westmost part of Perth Road – west of the Invercarse Hotel – plus a short section of Riverside Drive adjacent to the Botanic Garden and a stretch of Ninewells Avenue – has had a 40mph speed limit for over 40 years and residents have pointed out that this was inappropriate as all the adjacent residential streets have a 30mph limit. The newly introduced limit is now 30mph, in keeping with the rest of the residential area.

There seems no doubt that the previous 40mph speed limit was an anomoly, going back to the time when this section of Perth Road was part the main route out of the City Centre to Perth, before Riverside Avenue was built.

There was absolutely no logic to having the speed limit on Perth Road west of the Invercarse Hotel a different limit to that east of the hotel.

Following a public consultation exercise which resulted in no objections to the speed limit reduction to 30mph, the new limit has now been introduced.

Signage indicating the new limit has been put in place to advise drivers.

Monday 1 June 2009

Litter on Magdalen Green

As reported in today's 'Courier', over the weekend, I was contacted by residents who were angry at the litter mess on Magdalen Green had been left in by some people picnicking on the Green in the warm weather.

The Green was a fair mess, particularly on Saturday morning, and although the majority of people using the Green in the good weather were very responsible, unfortunately there’s a minority who appear not to care and left the green covered in litter. I think everyone likes to see Magdalen Green well used by people as it’s a lovely place to visit, but we would ask that all act responsibly and pick litter up behind them.

One resident contacted me to express his concern in the following terms :

"I am utterly shocked and disgusted at the rubbish strewn liberally around Magdalen Green. This is an ongoing problem exacerbated by the recent good weather when groups of irresponsible people bring their food and drink to the Green and abandon all thought as to cleaning up afterwards. I have seen it time and time again as a resident overlooking the Green.

"I of course have no objection to people using the Green for leisure activities such as this. There are in fact barbecues provided. Unless however there is a curb to this sort of irresponsibility, I am afraid it will continue to spoil the joy of the Green for the residents and the majority of people using it.

"The area around the bandstand this morning looks like a public dumping ground and there are numerous plastic bags blown into the fencing next to the railway yard."

I had recently asked the City Council’s Leisure and Communities Department for more litter bins – particularly at the south side of the Green – and bigger ones as I feel the current litter bins are too small to cope with the amount of litter.

The response from the Council on 14th May was that they said they were continuing to “monitor” the litter situation on the Green and, in response to the request for more litter bins, I was told ‘we are conscious that finance is still tight at the moment.’

I have now written again to the City Council saying that more litter bins are vital, that the cleaning regime over warm weekends needs looking at again and there’s a need for better attention to the Green in terms of park rangers’ time.

It is great to see Magdalen Green being well-used but residents’ complaints about the litter mess are very valid and I am hoping for a positive response from Dundee City Council to their concerns.

Above : Some of the litter mess on the Green on Saturday morning

Above : One of the many overflowing bins earlier this morning - rather proving the point about the need for more - and larger - bins on the Green