Monday, November 30, 2009

Nick Clegg on the launch of the Liberal Democrats Tax plans

Transforming Britain's unfair tax system

Dear Fraser

If you want to know how committed a Government is to fairness, then you need look no further than its tax system.

Labour has created a tax regime where the poorest pay a bigger slice of their income than the richest. Polluters are allowed to get away with harming our environment without paying for the clean-up. And we lose as much as £40 billion a year to tax dodgers.

This has to change.

The Conservatives tell us that we are all in this together whilst promising tax cuts for millionaires and then say that there might be tax rises for everyone else.

So much for their kind of change.

Today, we have pledged to put a transformation of Britain's unfair tax system at the heart of the Liberal Democrat campaign for a fairer Britain.

Our plans will see tax cuts for millions of people, paid for by closing tax loopholes, making polluters pay and introducing a 'mansion tax' on homes worth over £2m.

For more details of our policy proposals, see here. And for a video from the launch, see here.

What we are proposing is a radical rebalancing of the tax system with fairness at its centre. This is a real and genuine change that would make a huge difference to the lives of people up and down the country.

Please help spread the message among your friends, family and colleagues. There's an easy way to forward this email, here.

Best wishes

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable MP
Shadow Chancellor and Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader

St Andrew's Day 2009

Love Scotland - bin the £12 million referendum!

Tavish Scott MSP said, "Polls show support for independence is at a new low, but still the SNP are determined to waste time and £12 million of taxpayers' money on their pet project."

£12 million could be better spent on schools and hospitals.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finale to West End Christmas Week!

With thanks to Dr Ann Prescott of West End Community Council, here's a lovely and different photograph of the Christmas Lights Switch on last Tuesday :

River Crescent Residents' Association

I had a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon with the residents of River Crescent at the Botanic Garden cafe, where the Residents' Association held an informal social event of tea, coffee and cake!

It was good to have a chat with residents including discussing some local issues such as parking and traffic speed.

The cheese has gone off ...

This blog is a wee bit different from your average politician's blog in that its primary purpose is to cover local news and views from Dundee's West End (together with, err..., vital updates on matters like the X Factor ...) rather than simply a daily digest of my views on the politics of the day. Of the latter variety in Scotland, there's a minority that consist of little more than an unfortunate barrage of acid comments about political opponents.

The furore over the SNP Mark MacLachan's blog “The Universality of Cheese” (see article from today's Sunday Herald - click on the headline above or go to
http://bit.ly/6E2jHe) is best summed up by the comments of two Scottish bloggers -

The Green Party's Two Doctors (see
http://bit.ly/8sWHNl)

" ... it mostly damages the reputation of blogging, and more seriously, the reputation of politics in general."

Dundee blogger Stuart Winton's Planet Politics (see
http://bit.ly/801cpC)

"And given the former position of the blog's author the revelations can now only damage the SNP.

Thus perhaps Mark MacLachlan merely desired a little online adulation and saw a blog with a hefty dose of bile and vitriol as a more effective means to that end than a more moderate approach, or perhaps the venom on display provided some sort of personal catharsis.

But whatever he sought to achieve, the MacBlogosphere in general and the SNP's online presence in particular are well rid of the likes of The Universality of Cheese, and it is to be hoped that this latest exposé - following the demise of Wardog last week - will encourage others to adopt a more civilised approach."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

X Factor tonight ...

I am not the greatest fan of Lloyd Daniels on X Factor and assumed that he would be almost guaranteed to go out this week. To be fair, he was a whole lot better this week sort of summed up by the words :

"Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I'm still standing after all this time"

That said, not a patch on the 1983 Elton version.

Stacey Solomon's first song was weak ...

St Peter's Free Church - official re-opening

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the official re-opening of St Peter's Free Church in St Peter Street.

As Rev David Robertson, Minister at St Peter's, said :

"We have developed the building so that it can be used as a conference and concert facility as well. We gave the architects a particular remit – to retain the historical whilst providing modern contemporary facilities."

The councillors present at the re-opening today were invited to say a few words - and I made the point that, having last visited the church during the building works when the church was something of a building site, the finished church building is simply phenominal.

Robert Murray McCheyne's church has been developed sympathically and beautifully, creating a lovely church building as well as a great community resource for the West End.

Blackness Primary School Christmas Fair

The West End Christmas Week ended earlier today with the Blackness Primary School Christmas Fair and West End Shoppers' Day.

As the photo (right) shows, the fair was very well attended and the school very kindly distributed West End Shoppers' Day flyers that Clem Broumley-Young had produced to advertise the many numerous offers that local shops in the West End were promoting today.

Thanks again to all who made West End Christmas Week 2009 such a great success!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Housing improvements - Blackness and Logie

The project officer in the Housing Department's Improvement Unit has updated me as follows :

Logie - Kitchen & Bathroom Replacement 2009/10

I am sure you are aware that we have lots of containers on Logie Avenue.

I would like to reassure you that any damage to grassed area will be made good when containers are removed.

All going well I anticipate that 7 containers will be removed in January with the remaining removed by April 2010.

The contract is progressing well.

I will be updating the residents' group at their next meeting on 1st December 2009.

Blackness Road - Heating, Kitchen & Bathroom Replacement 2010

I can confirm that progress is being made towards starting work in January 2010.

I have made arrangements for a display container to be located at the garage site at the lower end of Logie Avenue on Tuesday 1st December between 3pm and 6pm for tenants to view kitchen/bathrooms and to discuss any particularly issues that they might have.

This particular container will be removed on Wednesday 2nd December.

Dumfries ...

I've been in Dumfries the past couple of days with the 'day job' - including the annual (and now infamous) Chinese Karaoke evening.

A good night was, as always, had by all!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ancrum Drive

The issue of road safety and the congested nature of Ancrum Drive given the extent of parking has been of concern to residents and residents have made a number of suggestions such a provision of off street parking or one way driving in the street as possible improvements. I asked for the City Council road safety officer's input and he has responded as follows :

"The road is approximately 6.5 m wide and the resident parking demand is high.


You are correct with regard to the disadvantages of one-way. The slow bend restricts forward visiblity but removing the risk of meeting on-coming traffic would certainly increase traffic speeds in relation to the restricted visibility - with dangerous consequences.

I have checked the accident database to assess present road safety issues. During the period from 1st January 2006 to 31st July 2009 there has been one damage only accident. There is no evidence of safety issues with the present traffic management.

Recessed on-street parking would greatly improve the through traffic movement but provision of this would be low priority within the current financial climate."

I have sent the feedback to the Chair and Secretary of the Community Spirit group, the residents' group for the Ancrum, Pentland and Cleghorn areas, and the matter will no doubt be discussed further at future meetings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Busy Wednesday ...!

Having spent much of the day in Edinburgh with the "day job" with the dubious pleasure of getting totally soaked in torrential rain, this evening I firstly attended the second meeting of the "graffiti sub group" of the Local Community Planning Partnership in the West End at which we discussed how to tackle the graffiti problem in the West End and commenced planning a day of action at which a lot of graffiti in the area can be cleaned off.

Later this evening, I met with constituents about a traffic issue and have arranged a site visit with the City Council to hopefully tackle the problem residents have highlighted.

Don't forget the photography competition arising out of last night's fireworks display after the West End Christmas Lights Switch On! We have already received entries - go to
http://www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk/2009photocompetition.html to see more!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super night for the West End!

We had a super night tonight with the Christmas Concert, Lights Switch On, Fireworks and Carnival!
Here's a few photos!

Above : The Carnival
Above : The Downfield Musical Society panto stars and a certain West End Councillor!
Above : Very well attended Christmas Concert
Above : Lord Provost John Letford, Ken Macleod, Sheena Wellington and panto stars switch on the lights!
Above : Superb fireworks display!

Thank you time ...


With very grateful thanks to Rev Andrew Greaves, Lord Provost John Letford, Ken Macleod, Sheena Wellington, our local schools and Menzieshill High School, Adrian Milne who masterminded the concert and all the folk at Dundee West Church, Rob Carstairs (also Martina and Robin B) for the fireworks, Horne's Carnivals, Natalie & Jim from the Leisure & Communities Department, the folk from West End Community Council, Downfield Musical Society, PC Bob Forrester and colleagues, Tayside Fire & Rescue, all who helped with the stewarding - and everyone else who helped make this a super night for the West End. And, of course, the hundreds of West End residents who came along tonight!

West End Christmas Lights Switch On tonight!

Tonight will see the West End Christmas Lights in Dundee switched on at 7pm by Lord Provost John Letford, Ken Macleod of Radio Tay AM and characters from Downfield Musical Society’s Christmas Panto “Dick Whittington”.

It will take place at Seabraes (just east of Roseangle, opposite Airlie Place).

There will be a Christmas children’s concert beforehand from 6pm, in which musical contributions from Harris Academy, Menzieshill High School and local primary schools will take place. Guest singer is Sheena Wellington, Scotland's leading traditional singer. All residents are welcome to attend this free event which takes place in Dundee West Church, 132 Perth Road.

After the Christmas Lights are switched on, there will be a spectacular fireworks display plus a carnival from Horne’s Carnivals.

This is the largest West End Christmas Week yet and we are indebted to the local businesses in the West End who have helped make this all happen. We hope that residents will come along to the concert, lights switch on, fireworks and carnival and support this excellent community event.

Dundee Wave of Change event

With the permission of "Go Dundee", I reproduce below some detail about their upcoming event on 3rd December :

Just imagine...

What will Dundee look like in 2020? What will it feel like to be in the City - in your part of the City?

Imagine that Dundee has continued to flourish, has become a fantastic place to live across all parts of the city. What has enabled this? What stories would you tell about how we achieved this together? What has your part been? And what have others contributed?

That's what Dundee Wave of Change is all about. A two to three year project where people gather and creatively describe the story of Dundee's success in 2020 - and we want to engage as many people as possible in imagining this potential, in telling their stories ...

A Dundee Wave of Change - launch event Thursday 3rd December 3-5 pm

Go Dundee has been approached to gauge interest in a Dundee Wave of Change project. On 3rd December at 3-5 pm we will explore how to respond to this opportunity and begin the process of creative conversation. If you would like to take part and can spare a couple of hours on 3rd December, please send us an e-mail using the link below. We'll get back to you with more information - including details of the location - once we have an indication of the number of people wishing to attend.

We would like the widest possible range of people to come along to the Launch event for Dundee Wave of Change. People from all parts of the City, from different organisations, from all age ranges and from all of the diverse communities in the City. Can you click on the 'forward email' link below to forward this email to people you think may be interested and who can help us spread the word and widen the invitation?

Background

A Scottish Wave of Change follows on from the work of Scotland 2020 and Glasgow 2020 which Gerry Hassan led with the UK think tank Demos broke new ground in Scotland, the UK and internationally by developing innovative ways of imagining the future through stories and the concept of 'mass imagination'. The projects produced two books, numerous resources, skills and tools, and even, for Glasgow 2020, a music album.

One of the primary strands of A Scottish Wave of Change is to develop a series of conversations, discussions and events in a number of places across the country over the course of the project. This will allow for long-term relationships to be built and different groups of people and ways of working to be developed.

Dundee Wave of Change would become a distinct strand of work as part of the wider Scottish Wave of Change with a variety of activities including story telling and imagining the future. It could create its own Dundee-specific resources and publications while also being part of a unique Scottish and international project.

For further information please take a look at the following web links:

Monday, November 23, 2009

City Council tonight - council house rents

At tonight's City Council meetings, I proposed that - rather than the City Council "consult" on just one proposed Council House rents increase - the staggering 4% SNP increase (staggering because RPI inflation is currently minus 0.8%) - the Council consults on two levels of increase - 3% and 4%, giving tenants a choice of increase, rather than an SNP fait accompli, which isn't really consultation at all.

Labour's amendment fell flat on its face being ruled incompetent and in a vote between the SNP 4% increase and the LibDem choice of increase, the SNP administration won by a single vote. It is deeply disappointing that Dundee tenants are to be "consulted" on a done deal.

Oh, how different the SNP is in administration to the SNP opposition. And would Labour have tried to move nonsense motions when it was part of the former administration? I think not.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

McCheyne Memorial Church - Council to consider Direct Action

As reported in yesterday's 'Courier', a City Council Planning Enforcement Officer has advised me that, following my requests on behalf of residents to get the owner of the McCheyne Church to tidy the badly overgrown grounds :

"I have tried repeatedly to contact the owner on the mobile telephone number you gave me and left messages but there has been no response.

I have now prepared a draft report for consent to take Direct Action which will hopefully be included on the Agenda for the next DQ Committee in December."

As you can see from the photo (above right) the grounds badly need attention and, should direct action be approved at Development Quality Committee, it will enable the City Council to undertake necessary works and invoice the owner for the cost.

The church building is included in the "Scran" online learning resource base - see
http://tiny.cc/mccheyne

Caring Christmas Trees Scheme

With the permission of Hillcrest Housing Association, I'm highlighting the Caring Christmas Trees Scheme to help support the work of Gowrie Care, who support people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, autism or people who are or have been homeless.

Here's a bit of information about the scheme :

The concept is simple. All profits from the tree sales will go directly to Gowrie Care. By purchasing one tree you could provide people with opportunities. Money raised will be invested in projects to improve the lives of people we support. Previous money has been used to access courses, short breaks, set up a new home, take up a sport and reunite people with families.

It’s easy and convenient too – you buy your tree online at
www.caringchristmastrees.com or by phone on 0845 111 8733. Just choose the local collection point that’s most convenient for you, pick a date to collect it, and tell us what size you want - we have trees from 4ft to 8ft tall. As payment is by credit or debit card when you order, all you have to do when you go to the collection point is pick up your tree. That’s all there is to it.

Do you want to give something back this Christmas? We need volunteers for as little as 2 hours to help out on various collection dates to make Caring Christmas Trees a success – see website for details.

All our trees are Fraser firs, grown in sustainably managed forests in Scotland, and as they’re harvested later than many other Christmas trees, they’ll be of the highest, freshest quality when purchased.

Trees can be purchased via the website or dedicated phone line until December 14th so why not buy a tree now, and help a life this Christmas?

www.caringchristmastrees.com or 0845 111 8733.

The 'fat cat' pay bill in Scotland

Good for Tavish Scott in highlighting at last week's First Minister's questions the burgeoning cost of Scotland’s public bodies to the taxpayer, with the disclosure that at least 1 798 employees in the sector earn more than £100 000 a year.

Six public sector executive board members are paid more than Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister (£197 000) or Alex Salmond, First Minister (£145 000). A further 1 596 are paid between £80 000 and £100 000 — more than a Scottish government minister. The total salary bill for the highest-paid is at least £400 million a year.

If you go to
http://tinyurl.com/fatcatpay or click on the headline above, you can read the Courier's news report about this - and I publish below the Scottish Liberal Democrats' news release about the matter. What is clear is that the SNP government is taking no action to tackle the issue - disgraceful given the financial and economic challenges facing Scotland.

Scott challenges Salmond to cut the fat cat pay bill

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott MSP challenged the First Minister to cut the fat cat pay bill by 2010.

At First Minister’s Questions, Mr Scott revealed that nearly 3,400 people in the public sector get paid more than a Scottish Government Minister does. They receive a total of almost £401 million in pay each year.

Commenting, Mr Scott said:

“At least 3,400 people in the public sector in Scotland get paid more than a Scottish Government Minister. Some even get paid more than Alex Salmond’s three salaries as MP, MSP and First Minister added together.

“They receive a total of £401 million in pay every year.

“All across vital public services people at the bottom of the income scale are being threatened with losing their jobs. Statistics last week show that the number of young people unemployed has never been higher.

“People will not understand why the Government lets this pay chasm between richest and poorest continue.

“The First Minister and his Government are in charge of public sector pay. It was John Swinney who awarded the new Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise her bumper £203,000 salary and handed the Chief Executive of the Scottish Futures Trust a fat £180,000 paycheque.

“I want a fair society where the very well paid are expected to share the burden of tight government spending, not just the poorest and unemployed.

“The First Minister needs to set a target as part of his Budget to reduce that pay bill and spend the money on creating skills and jobs for young people instead. It’s right that the people who get such a vast share of public money should shoulder a fair share of the burden in these tough times.”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Water Is Wide

Antedote to the X-Factor Wham/George Michael efforts ...!

Today's Balloon Launch

With grateful thanks to Rob who has uploaded this to www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk, here's a video of today's West End Christmas Week Balloon Launch for the P1s at our local schools - ably led by local singer Chris Sinclair!

A great start to West End Christmas Week!

The launch of the West End Christmas took place this morning with a Community Fayre at Dundee West Church - at which no less than eighteen community and local organisations took part. The turnout of local people was absolutely superb - a great start to Christmas Week!

On Tuesday evening, the Christmas Concert, Lights Switch On, Fireworks and Carnival all take place - don't miss it!
Above : Community Fayre in full swing!
Above : The Church Christmas Coffee Morning also had a great turnout!
Above : Me making the "Digital UK" prize draw with Alan Cowie of Digital UK! Above : More of the Community Fayre stands!
Above : Balloon launch with P1 pupils about to take place!
Above : Off they go!

Friday, November 20, 2009

STV briefing

Last night I attended an evening reception at the STV studios at Seabraes, Greenmarket, at which Rob Woodward, the company's Chief Executive, gave a very interesting presentation on the future of Scottish broadcasting and STV's broadcasting plans.
The company's proposals in the area of news broadcasting are innovative. However, I asked about what steps STV is taking to ensure that STV viewers on Sky get the correct local version of the STV news as STV viewers via Sky currently get the 'Aberdeen/North version' of the local news as opposed to the 'Dundee/Tayside' local news on STV news at 6pm.

Mr Woodward assured me that STV was in talks with BSkyB to hopefully resolve this.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

West End Schools - Logie site

As residents will be aware, the City Council has sought deregulation from the 1967 School Premises (general requirements and standards) (Scotland) Regulations in respect of the proposal to build new primary school facilities for St Joseph's and Park Place Primary Schools and a new Park Place Nursery School.

A decision by Scottish Government has taken weeks and I recently asked for an update from the Director of Education. Here is his response :

"Dear Fraser

Part of the process for determining whether deregulation should be approved or not is the consideration by the Government to a report by HMIe on the proposal. For some reason, the HMIe report has taken more time than I envisaged or hoped. I have now had an assurance from HMIe that that report has now been forwarded to the Scottish Government. With somewhat bated breath I look forwarded to a decision being made soon. It will also be my intention to contact the School Estates directorate to confirm that the matter will now be dealt with speedily.

Regards

Jim"


I hope that Scottish Government will now advise the City Council of its decision in the very near future.

Street Lighting - potentially good news

Further to my articles from earlier this week, about the policy of not replacement street lights where damaged by motor vehicles and the driver cannot be traced, the City Council Chief Executive called me this afternoon to advise that a report is to come to the City Development Committee on 7th December that will recommend amending the policy.

Although I have yet to see the detail, it is a step in the right direction that the policy is being reviewed. I will be suggesting that all street lamps that have not been replaced across the city are replaced as a matter of urgency, including the street light in Seafield Road I referred to in my previous articles about this issue.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Latest update on West End Christmas Week!

The appearance last week of the Christmas tree at Seabraes (see above) made it clear that West End Christmas Week is about to commence!

As reported in tonight's Evening Telegraph, Christmas Week will be launched at 10am this Saturday (21st November) in Dundee West Church’s Community Facilities (132 Perth Road but enter at top of Roseangle) where a West End Community Fayre is taking place.

Many local organisations are participating and all local residents are invited to attend. Entrance is entirely free of charge and it will be a great way for local people to learn about all the organisations in the West End that are working for the area.

At 10.30am, the Primary One children of Ancrum Road Primary, Park Place Primary, St Joseph’s Primary and Blackness Primary Schools will take part in a massive balloon launch at nearby Seabraes. The balloon launch will be led by local singer Chris Sinclair.

Opening the West End Christmas Week with a community fayre is a new innovation for Christmas Week and it is great that no less than 18 organisations are participating. We’d urge local residents to come along to see all that’s happening in the West End of the city!

Today we announced the winner of the P7s' Fireworks Safety sticker colouring competition - so - congratulations to Steven from Ancrum Road Primary School, whose winning entry is below! There are class winners for all seven P7 classes across Ancrum Road, Blackness, Park Place and St Joseph's Primary
Schools who are all getting books vouchers (with grateful thanks to Borders Books) and Steven will also get a studio tour of the Wave 102 studios to see a live radio station in action and meet the presenters!

My colleague Rob Carstairs has designed a brilliant West End Christmas Week website that you can access at www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk

Reform - or pointless pageantry?

Dear Fraser

Today's Queen's Speech was nothing more than a fantasy speech from a government that has run out of road in a Parliament that has lost people's trust. This Queen's Speech won't give people the help and jobs they need in this recession. It won't solve our economic problems and it won't fix our rotten politics.

Instead of pointless pageantry and empty promises of Bills that will never make it onto the statute book, the Liberal Democrats would have implemented an emergency programme of political reform. A programme which would change our politics for good by bringing in the power of recall to give people the right to sack errant MPs, reforming of the House of Lords and party funding, and introducing fixed-term parliaments and fair votes.

Today was a missed opportunity, proving beyond any doubt that this tired Labour Government just isn't prepared to clean up our politics. It is clearer than ever that ours is the only party that is prepared to do that, and to bring real change to Britain.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

More on street lighting policy concerns

The concerns about street lighting policy I highlighted yesterday on www.dundeewestend.com were further reported in today's Courier (see http://tinyurl.com/lightspolicy or click on headline above to view) and if you press play on the above Blogger Upload you can hear my comments on Radio Tay News today too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Proposed Riverside Nature Park - an update

I last updated http://www.dundeewestend.com/ about the proposed Riverside Nature Park in August (click on headline to view the earlier article or go to http://tinyurl.com/riversidelatest).

The City Council is using approximately £1 million of Vacant and Derelict Land Fund monies between now and April 2011 with the aim of improving the site to allow the maximum possible public access to the area in the future - a site of significant natural interest and with panoramic views across Invergowrie Bay and the River Tay.

Yesterday, I had a very useful briefing meeting with officers from the City Council's City Development Department on progress with the draft proposals. A presentation to the West End Local Community Planning Partnership will take place later this month and there will be consultation with the community including West End Community Council thereafter.

The upgrading and public opening of the proposed nature park is long overdue and it was good to hear of firm proposals to ensure progress in the near future.

Christmas in the West End - further events!

As part of West End Christmas Week, Dundee Contemporary Arts is running “Shorts for Wee Ones” at 12 noon on Saturday 28th November. However, after Christmas Week, there are additional Christmas workshops at DCA, including :

Wrap It Up! : Saturday 5th December

Come along and try out lots of fabulous and interesting techniques on how to make your own unique cards, gift tags, decorations and wrapping paper. Pop in for a while or stay all afternoon. Adults and children welcome.

Syrah Jay – Christmas Felting : Sunday 6th December

Join Dundee based textile designer Syrah Jay for our Christmas Felting Workshop. Using felting and needlework techniques, get creative and make some wonderful jewellery pieces or festive decorations, perfect as gifts or as a treat to yourself! Adults and children over 8 welcome, under 12s must be accompanied by an adult.

No Brilliantly Coloured Birds : Saturday 12th December

Join us for the first of our Bruno Munari inspired workshops, which coincide with the exhibition Martin Boyce, No Reflections, Scotland + Venice. Workshops will focus on the creative ideas of Munari and his wonderful children’s books that have inspired generations of young audiences, artists and designers. Expect lots of colour, imagination and fun! Workshop for children aged 6-12 years old, under 8s must be accompanied by an adult.

Places are limited and bookings can be made (and further information is available) from DCA at 909900.

TV reception problems

Reports in the local press today and yesterday (click on headline above or go to http://tinyurl.com/tvreceptiondundee to read last night's Evening Telegraph) about TV reception and in particular BBC1 analogue reception in those parts of the city served by the Tay Bridge transmitter (including most of the southern part of the West End) has resulted in a number of complaints from constituents.

Given the quote by the BBC in last night's Tele :

"A spokeswoman for the BBC in Scotland said there was not a transmitter problem, but she was unable to shed any more light on the cause of the interference"

it was interesting to hear from a constituent who lives just south of Perth Road and who, having phoned the BBC was told there were engineering works on the transmitter taking place!

I have asked Digital UK if the transmitter owners (Arqiva) has further planned engineering works linked to the digital switchover. It is important that Arqiva properly advises of engineering works before these take place, in the run-up to the digital switchover next summer.

Street Lighting Concerns

I have called for urgent action by Dundee City Council to address changes to street lighting policy that has resulted in street lights in the city not being replaced after they have been damaged by vehicles.

This is a city wide problem, where it has very clear that the policy of non-replacement of street lighting where a vehicle damages a lamp standard and the cost of repair cannot be recovered from the driver, is simply not working.

Residents at the south end of Seafield Road are very concerned at the non-replacement of a street light, which has plunged the street into total darkness.

It is simply not good enough for the SNP City Development Convener to claim that the policy was adopted during the previous administration because the budget was passed unanimously and all aspects were discussed in an all-party setting.

Of the various changes to street lighting policy, it became clear very early on in the new financial year that, in reality, the policy of non-replacement in these circumstances was a totally false economy and I raised my concerns with the City Development Director and the then Chief Executive back at the start of May of this year.

I have been promised time and time again that my concerns are being looked into and the latest is that the new Chief Executive has promised me an update later this week on a report that is apparently being written to review the policy.

This report has taken an age to come to fruition and for the SNP Convener to say he has only become aware of the issue in the past two months is incredible - the concern had been raised with senior officials months ago. I made clear to the Chief Executive that it was vitally important that this matter was resolved before the clocks changed to GMT as this clock change would exacerbate the problem, but the SNP administration appears to be asleep on the job.

The residents in Seafield Road have been incredibly patient but it is about time the City Council acted to resolve the matter.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning applications in Dundee

At the City Council's Development Quality Committee tonight, I expressed concern at the apparent effect of changes made to the scheme of delegation some months ago that has resulted in fewer applications being decided by the committee - with a greater number being delegated to officers to determine.

The rationale for this was sound - changes in planning legislation has resulted in the creation of 'local review bodies' that made it sensible that the council revised its scheme of delegation.

However, it is now the case that it takes some six separate objections to ensure an application is decided through the democratic process at committee. In my view, the 'light' agendas at Development Quality Committee indicates that the objections 'bar' is too high at 6 and should be reduced.

The matter is being kept under review and I will be calling for the number of objections to allow the application to be determined at committee to be reduced when the issue is debated. I think this would be in the interests of all Dundee citizens who have concerns about planning proposals.

West End Christmas Week - West End Xmas Factor!

If you click on the headline above or go to http://tinyurl.com/westendxmasfactor, you can download the West End Christmas Week main brochure! It is also available on the West End Community Council website at www.wecc.org.uk.

The ninth West End Christmas Week will be launched at 10am next Saturday (21st November) in Dundee West Church’s Community Facilities (enter at top of Roseangle) where a West End Community Fayre is taking place.

Many local organisations are participating and all residents are invited to attend. Entrance is entirely free of charge and it will be a great way to learn about all the organisations in the West End that are working for our local area.

At 10.30am, the Primary One children of Ancrum Road Primary, Park Place Primary, St Joseph’s Primary and Blackness Primary Schools will take part in a massive balloon launch at Align Centrenearby Seabraes. The balloon launch will be led by local singer Chris Sinclair and the pupil whose balloon travels furthest will win a children’s party for up to 20 friends, courtesy of Barnetts Motor Group!

A week on Tuesday (24th November), this year’s West End Christmas Concert takes place at Dundee West Church at 6pm. All local residents are very welcome to attend.


There will be musical contributions from local primary and secondary schools plus a guest appearance from pupils of Menzieshill High School, and we are also delighted to welcome leading Scottish traditional singer Sheena Wellington. At 7pm, the West End Christmas Lights will be switched on at Seabraes by Lord Provost John Letford, Ken Macleod of Tay AM and Betty Bampot & Penny Pilic from the Downfield Musical Society Panto!

There will be a spectacular fireworks display after the lights switch-on and – for the first time during Christmas Week - Horne’s Carnival will be at Seabraes with rides for children – and adults!

If you download the brochure you can read the full details!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Liberal Democrat Voice : Glasgow North East aftermath

Liberal Democrat Voice (http://www.libdemvoice.org/) is the best read independent website for LibDems – is run by a collective of Liberal Democrat members, activists and bloggers.

Here in Scotland, we have a small collective of bloggers (if 'collective' isn't too soviet sounding for a LibDem!) who take turns to write articles for LibDem Voice under the title "Haggis Neeps and Liberalism." As 15th November is my latest turn, you can read my article by going to
http://tinyurl.com/haggisneeps or by clicking on the headline above.

I note the Sunday papers are making clear that, far from winning 20 Westminster seats at the General Election, the SNP is on target to drop two seats from 7 to 5, with the loss of their Glasgow East by-election gain and Dundee East. The Sunday Herald points out that "The Dundee Three" (Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Stewart Hosie MP and Cllr Willie Sawers) were brought in to oversee the SNP campaign in Glasgow North East. I suspect that they now have something rather more to worry about and rather closer to home.

Friends of Dundee Botanic Garden 2010 calendar

With the permission of the Friends of Dundee Botanic Garden, I'd like to give a mention of their excellent 2010 calendar, now available.

As the Friends advise :

"The 2010 Calendar is a convenient desk size, and is ideal for posting to family and friends further afield at Christmas time. Or for "first footing" nearer to home.

We are indebted to the combined efforts of Friends who have donated their photographs via the internet site, Flickr, and to Wendy Maltman for her design work."


The calendar is on sale at the Garden Visitor Centre, cafe and via the University of Dundee online shop -
http://tinyurl.com/botanic2010.

Greenmarket

A local business has contacted me expressing concern about the state of the roadway in Greenmarket. See photos below.

It appears that a track was excavated some time ago on the public roadway, adjacent to the Seabraes car park.

Although a temporary repair was undertaken, the promised permanent reinstatement has yet to be undertaken and the excavation here is becoming very deep, presenting a road safety hazard.

I have raised the matter with the City Council requesting that permanent repair takes place before the road deteriorates further.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thomson Street - from the City Engineer

Further to my two recent updates on the smell problem in the roadway in parts of Thomson Street, the City Engineer has now advised :

"The Road Maintenance Partnership has replaced 4 gullies in Thomson Street with new covers, frames and pots. The pots have a water trap design similar to a domestic lavatory and rely on a water seal to prevent sewer gases escaping from the gully grating.

The gullies were inspected on 11 November and were found to all contain water as required for the seal. However it was also noted that the bungs within the gully pots intended to seal a rodding access to the sewer connection were not in place. As this effectively by-passes the water seal, this could well be the reason for the continued smell ... the bungs have now been correctly installed and I hope that this will resolve the issue.

With the correct operation now of the gullies, there is nothing else that can be done from a Road Maintenance point of view. The sewer covers, which are the responsibility of Scottish Water are a vented type and should the sewer smell still be evident, the matter will need to be referred to Scottish Water for resolution."