Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Residents have complained to me about the lack of glass in many of the panels and the general poor condition of the box, including graffiti on it.
I have taken up the complaints with British Telecom.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Charlie Cook is the American political analyst who specialises in election forecasts and political trends and whop founded the acclaimed 'The Cook Political Report' newsletter (click on headline above to view his website).
He gave a highly informative and entertaining address, followed by a lively question and answer session thereafter. A thoroughly worthwhile event and another success for the university's Saturday Evening Lecture Series, now in its 85th year, and proving as popular as ever.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Irrelevant blog update!
Originally a 'Carpenters' song, and one of their best - but not most successful - Matthew Sweet (aided by Richard Carpenter) here with a brilliant version of his own.
In a couple of hours, we managed to remove lots (and lots!) of litter in Perth Road, Ford's Lane, Pennycook Lane, Hawkhill and Roseangle.
This has become a regular activity by the Community Council and is very worthwhile.
Friday, April 24, 2009
A nice e-mail from the folk at DCA (where I am on the Board) as follows :
"We were ... having a wee look on your blog, it's really cool and up to date and wondered if you would like a link to the trailer from our website so it can be seen by your constituents?"
The trailer is above but you can read more about the film (the comedy spin off to the critically acclaimed BBC series 'The Thick of It') on the DCA website at :
SNP 556 - 22%
Labour 210 - 8%
Christian Party 115 - 5%
Conservative 111 - 4%
Solidarity 27 - 1%
Turnout 2540 (38.35%)
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The Network Rail Director subsequently addressed a meeting of the full TACTRAN Board and the issue of Dundee Rail Station was again raised.
Earlier this month, Network Rail announced plans for a new roof for Waverley Station in Edinburgh as part of a £130 million overhaul of the station. It comes on top of some £190 million announced last May for Edinburgh Haymarket.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today the Labour Party confirmed that they have run out of ideas and have condemned us to years of unemployment and a decade of debt. Their pick-and-mix budget of recycled announcements will do nothing to get us out of this recession and nothing that will help the poorest who are being hit hardest by it.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives are planning swingeing cuts at the very time that the country is expected to be gradually starting to recover.
The country deserves something better - a Liberal Democrat government, Vince Cable as Chancellor and a tax system that has everybody paying their fair share.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The audio below is me on Wave 102 yesterday (I was also on Radio Tay) regarding the invitation I have sent to Susan Boyle to take part in the West End Christmas Week, later this year.
Susan's performance on “Britain’s Got Talent” was phenomenal and I have already had constituents suggesting to me that it would be great if she was willing to sing at our Christmas Week concert in the West End.
Actually, its not the first time that a talent show success has taken part in West End Christmas Week – back in 2001 at the very first Christmas Week in the West End of Dundee, Sandi McCash, a Pop Idol finalist was our guest of honour and she was really good and very well-received.
I have little doubt that Susan will be extremely busy in the months ahead, but on the basis of "nothing ventured, nothing gained" the invitation is on its way to her!
Monday, April 20, 2009
The decision was unfortunate, given that committee had previously supported (on two occasions) to support my objections to inappropriate planning applications in this area to the immediate west of Magdalen Green. Here is my motion to committee tonight :
Land at Richmond Terrace, Dundee.
1) The proposed development is contrary to Policy 1 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 by virtue of the design, layout and associated traffic movements of the new house being inappropriate in this location resulting in an adverse impact on the environmental qualities currently enjoyed by the surrounding residents. There are no material considerations of sufficient weight that would justify the approval of the application contrary to the development plan.
2) The insertion of a large modern house in the prominent location proposed would not protect or enhance the character or the appearance of the West End Suburbs Conservation Area contrary to the terms of Policy 61 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 and the statutory duty set out in Section 64 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997. There are no material considerations of sufficient weight that would justify the approval of the application contrary to the development plan.
3) That the erection of a new house in the location proposed would have an adverse impact on the existing trees within the site contrary to the terms of Policy 72 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005. There are no material considerations of sufficient weight that would justify the approval of the application contrary to the development plan.
This follows news that the Department for Transport is this week expected to start consulting on new speed limit guidelines across England and Wales and media reports indicate that the Scottish Government may follow suit (click on the headline to read the full article).
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The financial challenges facing our education service, particularly in relation to attempting to deliver costly government policies is of concern to all parties on the City Council and it makes sense that all parties are invited to participate in talks with the schools minister, Keith Brown. I would hope that the Education Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop would also take the time to listen to Dundee’s case.
And resources are the nub of the matter - it is very important that the SNP government clarifies what and how much additional funding was going to be forthcoming to allow the council to achieve class sizes reductions.
I have no doubt that on all political sides, we would agree that class size reductions in P1-3 would be a welcome step, but, thus far, the SNP Government, having announced the policy, has totally failed to fund it. Policies cannot be implemented without the resources to deliver them and so I will be interested to hear - and hear soon - how much additional funding the government will earmark for Dundee.
Furthermore, given the news that John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, has decided to re-examine the government’s priorities for local government service improvements such as SNP manifesto promises on reduced class sizes and free school meals (click on the headline above to view more), I will be seeking assurances that the government is not going to ditch its promises in education but is going to start funding them properly.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I have been concerned about this site for some time and have had a number of residents’ concerns about its poor state and the graffiti that was on it.
"The building has been inspected and the perimeter found to be secure. A chain has been left with the Police to secure the gate when their investigations are complete."
Friday, April 17, 2009
The video I uploaded last Saturday of Susan Boyle's incredible performance on "Britain's Got Talent" has since been removed, so that's an excuse for uploading another.
And the power of the internet? On Saturday evening literally minutes after I uploaded the first video, I received the following e-mail from a couple in Dorset as follows :
"Yours is the only link I can find that works to hear Susan Boyle singing. Please, please, if you have a means to give a message to this wonderful human being, please tell her how knocked out my husband and I are with her rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream' as on 'Britain's Got Talent'. Hers is quite simply the most AWESOME and hair-tingling voice I/we have ever heard and we hope so much that she wins. Good luck, Susan"
Couldn't agree more - one day Blackburn, West Lothian, the next the Oprah Winfrey show!
I have been in discussions this week with Digital UK's Assistant National Manager for Scotland following a mass of complaints about the quality of TV reception and, as a result, the Digital UK representative has agreed to investigate the issues affecting any individual who is experiencing reception problems.
Digital UK's Assistant National Manager for Scotland has now said that where a resident gives me permission to pass on their contact details to him with detail of their reception problems, he is willing to look into their specific reception problems, which is I think is a helpful response.
He is also gathering details for me of impending work on the Angus transmitter in the run-up to the digital switch-over next year which will reduce the strength of the signal temporarily. It is important that there is good public information about this and I am pleased that Digital UK accepts this.
What is clear is that the digital signal is not at full strength at the moment as this would apparently interfere with the traditional analogue signals. I am assured that, after the old analogue service is switched off at the digital switchover, the digital signal strength will be increased permanently. That said, this does not happen until next year, so I am pleased that Digital UK is showing a willingness to look into residents’ complaints now.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Personally, I think this “Homecoming Scotland” advert, particularly the toe-curling 'contribution' by Sean Connery, is utterly dire. However, what is way worse is its cost. The best part of £600 000 it appears. What a total waste of public money by the SNP government, particularly as it has failed to provide funding for so many of its promised policies.
In response to a Parliamentary question SNP Tourism Minister Jim Mather revealed that the cost of production including filming, production, producer and director fees was £233 450 along with a further £299 287 for its broadcast.
The advert was also broadcast abroad on American PBS network, which cost £10,000, while the rights to the song Caledonia, which the artists sing cost £15,000 for its usage over a year.
Not the SNP government’s finest moment …
Liberal Youth Scotland has its own channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/LiberalYouthScotland
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The participants put an awful lot of hard work into their bonnets, making choosing the winner and runner-up a very difficult task!
Here's a couple of photos from the event above, including me with the winners.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
In the eight years I have been a member of the City Council, I have been exasperated at the slow progress that has happened in terms of getting the proposed Riverside Nature Park opened to the public. Whilst I understand that the matter has not entirely been within the City Council’s control in that SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, has involvement in the matter, the progress has been slow.
It is absolutely vital that we now see swift progress on the matter and I must say that I am encouraged by the involvement of SEPA and Scottish Natural Heritage in the working group.
I have asked the City Council how best they can utilise Vacant and Derelict Land Fund resources that were approved in recent months.
It has been a long time coming but I am hoping that we may see real progress at Riverside in the near future.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Issues covered include :
* West End Bus Services
* TV reception issues in the West End
* Riverside – Proposed Nature Park
* Riverside Drive
* Begging complaints
* Dundee Airport – noise issues
* Tay Rope Works – successful outcome
* Sub-station at Magdalen Green
You can download a copy of the update by clicking on the headline above.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
And wasn't she rather fantastic!
Dundee’s bid of £704 000 was not one of the successful bids in the announcement, which covered some two-thirds of the total £25 million fund. The majority of Scottish Councils – some 18 – did not benefit from the announcement. Neighbouring councils to Dundee, such as Fife and Perth and Kinross did benefit and it is very concerning that Dundee’s bid for new houses for wheelchair users has not yet borne fruit.
The bulk of the funding has now been allocated to 14 councils, so there is going to be significant competition between the bids that have not had funding secured as yet for the remaining monies.
I really hope and trust that Dundee gets allocated the funding in the remaining tranche of funding allocation due by the summer.
Dundee has already lost £7 million in annual house building funding thanks to the SNP and I think it is high time we saw Scottish Government take notice of Dundee’s housing needs.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I had arranged to meet Lawrence Davie, Managing Director of Travel Dundee, following concerns expressed by residents over the future of the Number 2 service. The service is a vital one, particularly for elderly folk, particularly in the areas around Peddie Street, the Logie Estate, Scott Street and City Road.
It was therefore good to hear from Travel Dundee that it has no plans to further reduce the service or take it off. Residents were already concerned enough at the reduction in the service last November to hourly. I was also assured that the bus company was working to improve punctuality. They have made the point that the Number 2 service has relatively low usage off-peak – the peak buses are busy – and they are keen to hear residents’ views as to how service usage can be improved – that’s something I will be speaking with local residents’ groups about.
I also again raised concerns raised by West End parents of pupils at St John’s High School about the route and timetabling of the 2A bus service just before the start of the school day. Travel Dundee indicated that it was willing to meet St John’s High Parent Council representatives about the issues to hopefully find a solution. I have let the Parent Council Chair know this.
I also highlighted the issue of the frequency of the 9X service through the West End. Although it is a 15 minute service on the Broughty Ferry leg, it is a 30 minute service during day time on the leg west of the City Centre. Travel Dundee stated it has no immediate plans to improve the 30 minute service to the West End, but it confirmed that it would note my request for a more regular service and keep the service under review.
* Northern Rock nationalisation - it was clear to us that this was unavoidable in November 2007. It took the Government until February 2008 to act.
* Independence of the Bank of England - longstanding Lib Dem policy. First Labour implemented it, over Tory opposition. Now even the Tories support it. Recapitalisation of the banks - Vince Cable was the first politician to call for this. Three days later the Chancellor announced that this would be going ahead.
* Tackling the bonus culture - in May 2008 we were the first party to put forward proposals for tackling the harmful bonus culture in the financial sector. By autumn 2008, ministers and the Tory leadership had realised the situation was indefensible and changed their tune.
* Regulation of 'sale and rent back' agreements - this was part of our '7 point plan' for dealing with personal debt, launched in September 2003. The Government announced on 22nd October that they were finally looking into this.
* New court guidance to make repossession a 'last resort', obliging lenders to exhaust all alternatives first - another measure announced by the Government in October that the Lib Dems had been calling for for more than six months. (Though they have been slow and ineffective at implementing it.)
* Changes to capital adequacy laws to require banks to hold more capital in periods of boom and less in recession - we called for this back in January 2003. It was called for by the Conservatives in 2008 and appeared in the G20 Communiqué in April 2009.
* Ban on short selling of financial stocks - Vince Cable urged this on September 16th (having also raised the issue in July). The Government did not act until three days later, once the Americans had announced restrictions.
* National network of financial advice centres - since 2003 we have been calling for a network of local and generic financial advice, particularly for those on lower incomes, funded by a levy on the financial services industry. In 2008 the Tories announced their support for this too, using almost exactly the same language.
* Curbs on irresponsible lending - a commonplace sentiment now, but we called for "the publication by the Government of strict measures for responsible lending, which lenders must be required to observe" back in September 2003.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
“I have passed this on to our interference team, who will be able to do a possible investigation for you and any information that they may know about this transmitter.”
Paul Hughes at Digital UK has also offered to check out specific postcodes for any localised problems.
I have made the point that the extent of the problems is such that there clearly is an issue with the Angus transmitter – I have had calls from people living as far away as Perth and the one thing virtually all people who have complained about the issue have in common is that they receive their TV pictures from the Angus transmitter, the main TV transmitter for the area, sited near Tealing. I am continuing to pursue the issue on behalf of residents.
I should also add that – aside from this particular reception issue – Digital UK has offered to attend a community public meeting in the West End to update residents on the digital TV switchover as it is now becoming quite close. The organisation has previously spoken to West End Community Council some time ago and I will certainly be taking up their offer as there are clearly a lot of issues residents have with the TV changes that are upcoming.
Ronnie advises :
"I am happy to let you know that the new paintings, digital-collages and film are now on my website. Go to the web gallery to view the paintings and digital-collages.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
I was told by the City Council that there has been extensive negotiations both at a local level and also the Chief Executive has met with Unite's Regional Organiser. However despite this, the Trade Union has refused to allow its members to work on the public holidays. Consequently there are no refuse collection vehicles or street cleansing operatives working yesterday or services including recycling centres and public conveniences.
Whilst I appreciate that the Council is currently in dispute with the trade union concerned and we obviously hope the dispute is resolved very soon, many of my constituents in the West End will not now get their bin collected until next Monday. It doesn’t seem a very satisfactory way of dealing with the lack of collection yesterday. Surely the best way of dealing with this would be to collect refuse a day late?
My constituents in the West End who have had no collection yesterday – there are around 100 streets in the West End alone affected and therefore doubtless many other streets elsewhere in the city affected too – are being expected to wait a full further week to get their bin collected.
I have written to the City Council’s Chief Executive about the matter.
Monday, April 06, 2009
As indicated in the Courier article, it is very clear that there is an issue about the quality of TV signals for many people – particularly affecting ITV1 and Channel 4 reception and, for Freeview viewers who receive signals from the Angus transmitter near Tealing, also some digital channels such as ITV3.
I had previously spoken with Arqiva, the company that owns and manages TV transmitters across the UK, and, although they accept that there may be some disruption to services nearer to the time of the switch-over from analogue to digital, they assured me that there should be no disruption for Angus and Tay Bridge transmitter’s viewers at the moment.
However, it is very apparent from the dozens of calls I have received from local people that there is indeed some form of reduced power problem from Angus transmitter resulting in poorer reception on some channels for many viewers.
I have therefore raised the matter with Digital UK, who are charged with ensuring a smooth switchover from analogue to digital only signals, due in our area next year. Given the extent of the TV licence cost nowadays, at the very least people should expect good quality reception, not continual poor pictures or interruptions in programmes.
Interestingly, having been down in Sussex over the weekend, I had a read of the English edition of the 'Sunday Express' which led on the very issue of poor TV reception caused by the digital switchover - click on the headline above to view.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
Due to Virgin Media repairs works, the northbound side of South Marketgait (between the Riverside roundabout and Greenmarket) will be closed to traffic for one day only this Sunday (5th April)
Due to crane removal works, Brown Street (from Hawkhill to Guthrie Street) will be closed tomorrow for 2 days (4th and 5th April)
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Another example of uploading a track I heard on the radio today - a rather long day including lots of day job activity, visits to constituents and a surgery!
Shakatak scored a number of chart entries, including two Top Ten hits in the UK Singles Chart, "Night Birds" (1982) and "Down on the Street" (1984). Good stuff!
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I was very pleased to be advised this afternoon that the City Council's decision to refuse planning permission here has been upheld.
As I indicated to the media on hearing the news :
“This is a good result as very many people in the local community felt that the application was out of keeping in terms of the inappropriate modern design in a conservation area and use of materials. Furthermore, it was trying to cram too many buildings onto the site.
“Local residents are not against the Tay Rope Works site being brought back into use and indeed would welcome it being used appropriately, but any future application really must be appropriate in both scale and design for this historic site in the West End Lanes Conservation Area.
“I would very much like to thank the many residents who supported the Council’s position on this matter and also to the Council’s legal staff who led the case for upholding the Council’s decision to refuse planning permission. This is very much a victory for local people”