Saturday, February 28, 2009

South Marketgait - fencing repairs

Following complaints from residents about the state of the fencing in South Marketgait immediately south of the junction with Nethergate - the fence is damaged and some of the poles have been knocked down - I contacted the Council's Economic Development Department asking that the owner be asked to repair it.

The Department
has helpfully replied, as follows :

"I have contacted the company and they have assured me they will repair the fence as soon as possible."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Freedom Bill

I'm pleased that the Liberal Democrats are proposing the Freedom Bill - and here's a selection of the measures it incorporates:

• Scrap ID cards - for everyone.

• Restore the right to protest in Parliament Square.

• Scrap the ContactPoint database of all children in Britain.

• Remove innocent people from the DNA database.

• Reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 14 days.

You can read more by clicking on the headline above.

And - you can use the comment facility to give feedback on how to improve the Bill.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Update on Riverside Avenue works

Last week, I mentioned a Temporary Traffic Order in relation to work to improve the Riverside Avenue approach to the Swallow roundabout in Dundee. Click on headline to view more. The work gets under way on Monday March 9th.

I was advised today
that the City Engineers, who are responsible for this job, have advised that the works are programmed to last for 3 weeks, not 4 weeks stated in the Order. The fourth week is in case of bad weather or any unforeseen problems.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

West End Community Plan

Dundee's Local Community Plans are now available to view on the Dundee Partnership Website, complete with minutes of local community planning meetings and West End briefings.


You can read more by clicking on the headline above.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Still got the blues

Gary Moore … so many great tracks – Parisienne Walkways, Empty Rooms – and this – Still got the blues …

Yet another SNP climbdown?

The article 'Russell admits secession poll lacks support' smacks of yet another SNP climbdown, this time over their much vaunted separation referendum proposal - click on the headline to view the full article in today's "Scotland on Sunday."

Meanwhile the "Sunday Times" reports 'SNP backs down over drinks curbs' - another SNP policy down the drain, following hot on the heels of the local income tax retreat. Oh yes, and £2000 to every new home buyer, dumping student debt, etc, etc ...

Personally, I'd welcome the SNP Government abandoning its referendum proposal - a total irrelevance in the current economic situation - but it does make one wonder if anyone will ever again vote for a party that has simply binned most of its manifesto promises.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flooding at Pinegrove

There has been a fair bit of flooding again at the pavement on Perth Road outside Pinegrove, and, following residents' concerns, I contacted the City Engineer about this.

I am
pleased to say he has now responded advising that the Roads Maintenance section has confirmed that an Order has been raised for the cleaning out of the polychannel on Perth Road at Pinegrove.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Seymour Street south end

You will recall that, following my request to Tayside Police to upgrade the footpath area beside Seymour Lodge, this was undertaken last September (click on the headline above to view more on this).

Following the upgrading work being completed, I asked the City Engineer if the footpath can now be adopted by the local authority.

He has responded positively as follows :

"I
can confirm that this section of footpath is now in its one year's contractors maintenance period and will be be adopted in October 2009."

He has also confirmed that this end of Seymour Street is now included in winter maintenance arrangements and that a grit bin has been sited at the Perth Road end of the path.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Temporary Traffic Order - Guthrie Street

Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas main replacement works. The Order is expected to be in force for twelve weeks from 9 March 2009.

Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order to prohibit temporarily all all vehicular traffic in Guthrie Street from Daniel Street to West Marketgait.

Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises will be maintained.

An alternative route will be available via Hawkhill, West Marketgait and Lochee Road.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, Planning and Transportation Department, Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date.

If you have any queries please contact the City Council on 433168.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Temporary Traffic Order - Riverside Avenue

Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating road filter lane extension works. The Order is expected to be in force for four weeks from 9 March 2009. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order to prohibit temporarily all eastbound vehicular traffic in Riverside Avenue between its junction with A90 Kingsway West and its junction with Apollo Way.
The works will be carried out seven days a week to minimise disruption.

An alternative route will be available via A90 Kingsway West (eastbound), Myrekirk Road, South Road, Explorer Road and Apollo Way.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, Planning and Transportation Department, Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date.

If you have any queries please contact the City Council on 433168.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mobile phone mast ... unfortunate decision

Last night at the City Council's Development Quality Committee I move refusal of yet another unwelcome mobile phone mast proposal in the West End - this time at Glamis Road.

Here was my motion :

Reasons for Refusal : Application: 08/00839/FUL

Address: Land Opposite Carseview Gardens, Glamis Road, Dundee

Proposal: Installation of 14.2 Metre High Telecommunications Mast

1. The proposed development is contrary to Policy 1 - "Vibrant and Sustainable Communities" of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 as the proposed mast will have an adverse impact on the environmental quality enjoyed by local residents by virtue of its inappropriate design. There are no material considerations of sufficient weight to justify the granting of planning permission contrary to the policy.

2. The proposed development is contrary to Policy 61 - "Development in Conservation Areas" of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 as it fails to preserve or enhance the character of the West End Suburbs Conservation Area by virtue of the inappropriate size, design, location and appearance of the mast. There are no material considerations of sufficient weight to justify the granting of planning permission contrary to the policy.

3. The proposed development is contrary to Policy 78 - "Location of Telecommunications Equipment" of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 as there is a failure to mast share and fully demonstrate that mast share is not a feasible proposition. There are no material considerations of sufficient strength to justify the granting of planning permission contrary to the policy.

4. The proposed development is contrary to Policy 2 "Residential Areas" of Dundee City Council's adopted Non-Statutory Planning Policies in Relation to Telecommunications Masts and Other Apparatus as there is a general presumption against the siting of free standing masts in residential areas.

I lost the vote 14-10, but that doesn't exactly tell the whole story ... prior to the meeting, I asked the Planning Officer to obtain from Vodafone, the applicants, some evidence of the transmission areas of mobile signal at the sites they rejected in favour of Glamis Road. It sort of struck me that the committee was entitled to see the evidence that alternative sites away from residential housing would result in poorer reception, as Vodafone claimed.

Anyway, Vodafone ignored the requests for that information, which reflects poorly on the applicant - there was therefore no evidence presented to show that an alternative site away from residential housing would result a poorer mobile phone reception.

The Committee Convener made the sensible suggestion that planning officers meet the mobile phone companies to impress upon them the need in future to provide evidence to support their claims. Although I think the vote last night was not good for the local area, I welcome the proposal for planning officers to meet the mobile phone companies on this matter.

Alison campaigning with Chris in Maryfield

We had an enjoyable day today at the Maryfield by-election.

Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland was in Dundee today, campaigning for Chris Hall, our Liberal Democrat candidate in Maryfield.

Alison and Chris toured local sheltered housing complexes and also spoke with residents in the Baxter Park and Maryfield areas about local issues. I took the photos!

Alison commented on the warm reception from residents.

She said, "There is keen interest in this by-election from local people and it is clear that people in the area are looking for their new councillor to campaign actively on local issues including road safety, condition of pavements, tackling graffiti and a whole host of other issues.

"I am pleased that my colleague Chris Hall has been campaigning hard on the issues of concern to local people."

Chris is a hard-working candidate and he's making a great impression in the Maryfield Ward.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vince Cable right on not paying bank bonuses

Vince Cable got it completely correct (as always) - on the BBC Andrew Marr Show earlier today he said of all bank bonuses :

“They should not be paid, we should be very clear about that.

“As a general policy position, no bonuses should be paid to banks that have failed and that are dependent on the taxpayer.”

Absolutely correct.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Garden Of Light

The University of Dundee Botanic Garden on 28th February will be transformed with a specially commissioned light and sound event.

For one night only, visitors will be able to explore the garden trails as they've never been seen before.

Areas to be illuminated include the conifer collection, The Evolution Garden, the Larch and Redwoods, North and South American areas in addition to the Birch, Evergreens Oaks and Southern Beech exhibits .....and more.

Coinciding with the recent completion of the Garden Of Evolution exhibit in the garden, you can see this unique celebration of the plants, trees and landscape which make the Botanic Gardens so special.

Tickets are available from the Botanic Garden Reception in person or by telephoning 381190.

Entry times to the gardens will be staggered through the evening from 7pm onwards and the event closes at 10pm.

Proceeds from the event will be used to help maintain the Botanic Garden for future generations of students and visitors.

The Garden Coffee Shop will be open and is taking reservations for evening meals before the opening of the event.

For more information please see www.scotsm.co.uk

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tavish TV - This week at FMQs

SNP should ditch Independence Bill

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Surgery postponed

As City Council schools and other council facilities were closed today at 2pm due to the weather, my surgery tonight at 6.15pm at Blackness Primary School has had to be postponed.

Hopefully
things will be back to normal for next week's surgeries.

Former Laundry Site in Roseangle

Residents have complained to me about the untidy and overgrown site of the former laundry on the north side of Roseangle.

Having taken
up the matter with the Council's Planning Enforcement Officer, I am pleased to have been advised by her that weeds have now been cut back and removed.

Another SNP promise bites the dust ...


There once was a party who made loads of election promises, such as :

* A £2000 grant to all first time home buyers


* Dumping student debt


* Abolishing Council Tax


... then they got elected and dumped the lot.


Can anyone ever again take another SNP promise seriously?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tavish TV - Campaigning with Chris Hall in Maryfield Ward

Tavish Scott in Dundee yesterday campaigning with Chris Hall in the Maryfield Ward.

Temporary Traffic Order - Annfield Road

Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas main reinforcement works. The Order is expected to be in force for four weeks from 16 February 2009.
Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Annfield Road from Hawkhill to Blackness Road.

Parking in Annfield Road will be suspended for the duration of the works. Access to businesses will be maintained for the duration of the works.

An alternative route will be available via Hawkhill, Peddie Street and Blackness Road.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, Planning and Transportation Department, Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date.

If you have any queries please contact the City Council on 433168.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tavish in Dundee

Tavish Scott MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, was in Dundee today, campaigning with Chris Hall, LibDem candidate in the Maryfield Ward by-election.

Here's Tavish and Chris in Albert Street (see above) - you can read more about Chris's campaign by clicking on the headline above.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Elsa Dwyer

My good friend of some 30 years - Elsa Dwyer - passed away at the weekend.

Elsa was a stalwart of the Liberal cause in Dundee, and a lovely, warm person besides.

She will be so sadly missed.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tavish TV - Power for a Purpose

LibDems up 6%

The ICM poll in today's "Sunday Telegraph" (click on headline to view more) shows a dramatic increase in Liberal Democrat support - up 6% at 22% - only a fraction off what the we got at the 2005 general election.

Bearing
in mind that the opinion polls - without exception - underestimate LibDem support after an election campaign by at least 3-4%, this is an extremely positive poll.

For Labour, down to 28% is very concerning for Gordon Brown and his failing government. The Tories may be ahead, but that's more to do with Labour unpopularity than any real desire to see David Cameron in Number 10.

Friday, February 06, 2009

West End Community Council Update

I have today launched my February 2009 update to West End Community Council.

Issues covered include :

• Taylor’s Lane Graffiti
• Planning Decisions
• Lock Up Site – Thomson Street
• Roseangle Play Park
• Street Drains : Minto Place, Strawberrybank, Richmond Terrace
• Bus Stops
• New Schools Proposal

The Community Council meets next Tuesday (10th February) at 7pm in Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall.

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

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Friends of the University Of Dundee Botanic Garden - Winter Talks


Two forthcoming "Winter Talks" events at the Botanic Garden, hosted by the Friends of the Botanic Garden :

Wednesday 18 February : Harry Lawson will give an illustrated talk entitled "Wild Flowers - A Precious Heritage". Harry is a regular Volunteer in the Visitor Centre, usually on a Thursday morning. He enjoys many hobbies, walking, gardening, wild flowers and local history and as well as being a Desk Volunteer he is also a member of the Friends' Committee.

Wednesday 18 March : Paul Miller, Curriculum Leader of Golf Studies at Elmwood College will give an illustrated talk entitled "The Geography of Golf".

Both talks take place in the Education Centre at the Garden, starting at 7pm.

Admission is free and visitors are most welcome to come along.

After the talk there will be a short question and answer session after which tea/coffee will be available.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Budgets - national and local

I am pleased that the Scottish Parliament has finally agreed its Budget - partly, of course, because it lifts the uncertainty that was hanging over the ability of our local authority (and the 31 others across Scotland) in being able to set its own budget a week tomorrow.

The degree of willingness to find consensus
across the parties in the parliament was positive; as a result we now have a Scottish Budget that is better for Scotland than the original SNP proposals.

Tavish Scott has rightly said that politicians need to think beyond tomorrow’s headlines - it is important for people to work hard for long term economic benefits for Scotland, particularly given the challenging economic situation facing the country.

For local public services, the news from the new Budget on school building is positive. The SNP has changed their position on the Scottish Futures Trust. Following pressure from the Liberal Democrats, the government has now agreed to provide a new funding stream to restart school building in Scotland to supplement the limited building possible through conventional prudential borrowing.

Local authorities and the construction industry have heavily criticised the government for paralysing investment and planning for new schools, so moves towards a proper programme of support for school building is to be welcomed.

The SNP has also changed
their position and will now engage with the Calman Commission on devolution. This is the best way to get additional fiscal powers for the Scottish Parliament, which if delivered could allow for major capital projects such as the planned additional Forth Bridge crossing to be paid for without jeopardising every other transport project in Scotland.

Professor John Curtice told the BBC on Sunday that this concession could be the "most interesting long-term consequence of all of this."

The consensus in Edinburgh will hopefully be mirrored on Dundee City Council where it looks increasingly likely that agreement will be possible on the City Council’s Revenue and Capital Budget proposals between the political groups on the Council, making the possibility of freezing the Council Tax in Dundee for a third year in a row becoming deliverable.

There will be a further meeting of political group leaders tomorrow but it is looking very promising that the necessary savings to reach a council tax freeze position may be agreed between the parties, which I think is good news for Dundee Council Taxpayers.

It has undoubtedly been
a challenge to ensure that savings are found that achieve such a position, particularly as I think all councillors want to minimise any effect on the quality of the Council’s services, but it is good that agreement now seems likely.

With the passing of the Scottish Budget today, the potential problem of it not being agreed affecting the date when councils set their Council Tax levels has been removed and it is now certain that the Council Tax will be fixed for Dundee on 12th February.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Scottish Budget - Liberal Democrats gain concessions from Scottish Government

Tavish Scott MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, wrote to party members this afternoon on how the Liberal Democrats have been working positively to achieve improvements to the Scottish Budget. Here is part of what he wrote :

"You may remember that I was clear that the Budget proposed by the SNP was not an adequate response to the economic trauma facing Scotland.

Nonetheless, I indicated that our door remained open for discussions. You may have heard that serious negotiations took place over the weekend. As a result, an agreement has been published today that allows the Liberal Democrats to support the Budget.

We made a series of economic proposals to improve the Budget.

We have been working hard to look beyond "tomorrow". Too rarely do politicians think beyond tomorrow's headlines. But the recession is not going to be over tomorrow, or any time soon. So we have been working hard for long term benefits for Scotland.

We were clear from the outset that everything that the Government does should be focussed on tackling the recession that has hit Scotland.

We proposed an Economic Storm Rescue Plan. Our proposals bring triple benefits: they lock in long term benefits to Scotland and the economy; they will help the Government meet its aims; and they line up the resources for permanent tax cuts for low and middle income earners.

Specifically:

- The SNP have changed their position and will now engage with the Calman Commission. This is the best way to get extra powers for the Scottish Parliament. It will allow, for example, the Forth Bridge to be paid for without jeopardising every other transport project in Scotland. Professor John Curtice told the BBC on Sunday that this concession could be the "most interesting long-term consequence of all of this."
Lord (Jim) Wallace, Liberal Democrat representative on the Calman Commission
said: "I welcome this truly significant and progressive move. As a result of the new position of the Scottish Government there is now assembled a powerful coalition for change."

- The SNP have changed their position on the Scottish Futures Trust. They will now give the quango a funding stream to restart school building in Scotland. Local councils and the construction industry had criticised the SFT for paralysing investment.
Councillor Jenny Dawe, the Liberal Democrat leader of Edinburgh, has welcomed this move. She said today, "A proper programme of support for school building will be a very helpful move. So far, this has been missing from the Government's plans."

- The SNP have changed their mind and agreed to seek a Finance Sector Jobs Task Force to protect the financial services industry in Scotland, which is so important for our economy.

- The SNP have agreed to a new strategic review of Government spending.
This will identify where resources are not being used to support the economy. It will unlock the resources that could pay for permanent tax cuts for low and middle earners.

- The SNP have changed their position and will ask their Council of Economic Advisers to make recommendations on the Budget to help it meet the challenge of the recession."

Monday, February 02, 2009

Tavish TV - Jeremy Purvis on rejection of the SNP Budget

It appears that the SNP Scottish Government has woken up to the fact that it has to take the views of all parties in the parliament seriously.

On Calman, I think Tavish Scott will have achieved the concession from government that will last for the longer term. To quote the Sunday Times :

"Mr Scott wants Mr Salmond to set out his views to the Commission on the argument over whether Holyrood should acquire borrowing powers to help cope with the fall-out from the economic downturn.

While Mr Salmond will have no difficulty with the principle of pressing the case for borrowing powers, he has made it clear in the past that he gives the Commission little or no credibility, preferring to push his own ‘National Conversation' on independence. Indeed, there have been reports that the First Minister has expressly forbade his civil servants from having any contact with the Commission.

If Mr Salmond has agreed to engage with the Commission as part of a deal with Mr Scott, that will be something of a victory for the latter and also a relief for members of the Commission who have been privately bemoaning Mr Salmond's alleged failure to co-operate with them."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Shameful schools

Today's Scotland on Sunday highlights the declining state of Scotland's school estate and the failure of the SNP government to provide its promised alternative to PPP funding to allow the schools rebuilding programme to be kick-started across Scotland. See http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/latestnews/-Scandal-of-Scotland39s-crumbling.4934417.jp.


The editorial states that the SNP Government stands culpable of a breach of promise over schools capital funding, stating:

At the
May 2007 election, the SNP manifesto pledged to match existing school building programmes "brick by brick". Just two months ago, Finance Secretary John Swinney reiterated: "Spending on our youngsters is key to our collective future, and of course the education they receive is central to this... we intend to give the highest priority to capital spending on new and improved school buildings, helping to create a 21st-century environment in which Scottish children can learn."

Unfortunately, it seems that Swinney and his colleagues are letting political dogma get in the way of making real this aspiration. Another SNP manifesto pledge was to end the PFI/PPP deals which the last, Labour/Lib Dem, administration used to embark on ambitious, if costly in the long-term, school building projects. This is one pledge the SNP has kept, but without breathing life into the promised Scottish Futures Trust as an alternative funding mechanism. As a result, school building has ground to a halt in many parts of Scotland, with councils unsure how to continue and headteachers despairing at the prospects for their pupils.

Scotland on Sunday is launching a Save our Schools campaign and it is to be hoped that the SNP government finally gets the act together with its Scottish Futures Trust. I suspect that if and when it finally surfaces, it'll be a slightly altered version of what came before, making the inertia of the last two years all the more pointless.

Here in Dundee, the City Council administration has been proactive with new schools being proposed in the West End, Lochee/Charleston and Whitfield, to supplement the initial rebuilding programme. The latest proposals are being funded using conventional prudential borrowing but the extent to which prudential borrowing can be used is limited. If the Scottish Government can provide a PPP or alternative model together with level playing field support, much more can be done in Dundee.

It is about time the SNP Scottish Government got its act together.