Rather appropriate as today's been lovely thus far ... it appears tomorrow will see rather dreadful weather though!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Along with a number of my councillor colleagues in Dundee, I attended a briefing from Digital UK last week at the City Chambers to update councillors on the latest developments.
I'm pleased to say that Digital UK and representatives from the help scheme (financed by the BBC and aimed at helping elderly people and people with disabilities get assistance to be able to continue getting their TV programmes after the swtchover) will attend the Community Fayre taking place on Saturday 21st November - at the launch of West End Christmas Week.
The Digital UK team is embarking on a series of activities for council wards within the STV North area. Holding at least one event in every ward, Digital UK will stage a mix of drop-ins and public meetings to engage directly with the communities. The team will work with councillors to address the needs of each community and to ensure that everyone knows what they need to do in the run up to switchover next year. Events will be held in Shetland Isles, Orkney, Western Isles, Highland, Moray, Aberdeen and Shire, Dundee, Angus, North Fife, Argyll and Bute (northern part) as well as Perth and Kinross.
STV NORTH GETS SWITCHED ON TO SWITCHOVER HELP SCHEME
FREEVIEW UPGRADE EXTENDS FIVE AND PREPARES FOR HD
Freeview has completed an upgrade to its service to ensure Five is as widely available as the other main terrestrial channels after switchover. Key changes were also made to the network to prepare for the launch of HD services. Freeview viewers were required to retune their equipment from lunchtime on 30 September to continue receiving all channels in their area.
Following the changes, 500,000 existing Freeview homes are now able to receive Five for first time. ITV3 and ITV4, however, will no longer be broadcast from relay transmitters. Viewers in need of advice on retuning can visit tvretune.co.uk or call an automated helpline on 08456 051122.
DIGITAL TAKE-UP RISES AS VIEWERS CONVERT SECOND SETS
Viewers across Scotland are getting the urge to go digital in their kitchens and bedrooms. Latest research from Ofcom (to June 2009) reveals 70 per cent of all secondary TV sets across the UK have now been converted, up 15 percentage points on this time last year. In total, 80 per cent of the UK’s 60 million sets are now connected to a multichannel TV service.
I also had the pleasure in introducing well-known local photographer Alex Coupar, who presented the prizes to the winners of the Friends' photography competition - their entries form the 2010 calendar now available for sale (more information about the calendar, competition and winners can be viewed by clicking on the headline above or going to http://tinyurl.com/fomg2010).
Above : Calm before the storm! All set up, 10 minutes to the start of the coffee morning
Friday, October 30, 2009
This year's Christmas Week is looking great and we are indebted to the many local businesses who have donated towards its numerous activities. Today, I met with Derek McRonald, Tesco Riverside's Manager, who presented me with Tesco's generous contribution (see photo above) and earlier in the week, I received the kind contribution from Barnett's Motors, including a children's party prize.
Businesses - large and small - across the West End have all assisted this year's "West End Xmas Factor" and we are most grateful to all.
I have been in touch with Stagecoach Strathtay about this and have received the following initial response:
I am conducting a investigation into this complaint with regard to the 69 service.
I do understand that there was a breakdown with the bus on this day but the person who dealt with it is on holiday till next week, so on his return I will ask him about this.
In the meantime I can only a apologise for any inconvenience caused due to this and assure you that we are striving to minimise any inconvenience due to breakdowns."
Blackness Road at the Kelso Street steps is a greatly used crossing point by both Blackness Primary and Harris Academy pupils on their way to school and up till now has had no ‘lollipop’ patroller. Some time ago, the road was slightly narrowed with ‘build outs’ to aid people crossing but parents rightly felt that a crossing patroller was necessary, particularly given the very busy nature of Blackness Road, a bus route and a road that sees many other vehicle movements along it, including HGVs.
I contacted the Education Department about the matter and was advised that a traffic survey would be carried out to see if a crossing patroller was possible in terms of the criteria used – which depends on there being sufficient pupils crossing to justify a patroller. I have now been advised that “the crossing point did reach the criteria to support a SCP” and it is hoped to provide a crossing patroller once a recruitment process has taken place.
I am very pleased that the Education Department recognises the need for a patroller at this busy crossing, particularly given the large number of pupils who cross here to get too and from both Harris Academy and Blackness Primary School. The department tells me that it has been experiencing a short-term recruitment problem but it has advertised for new postholders and therefore hopes to have available staff once recruitment is complete and necessary disclosures are undertaken.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Not had a weekly musical theme for a few weeks and driving to Edinburgh yesterday, this came on the radio (Radio 2; station of choice!)
I was a massive Electric Light Orchestra fan when at school in the 1970s, so a few ELO hits to follow ...
You will probably have been as surprised as I was this week to see Labour and Conservative politicians queuing up to say they are worried that the giant mega-banks - supported by taxpayers’ money - are bad for the economy.
You will remember that Liberal Democrats have been arguing that point since the banking crisis first hit. As liberals, we are instinctively fearful when a private corporation starts to look like a monopoly. My priority has been to stand on the side of small businesses and customers against the constriction of competition.
I still remember almost exactly a year ago when Labour and Conservatives combined in the House of Commons to overturn the specific concerns of the Office of Fair Trading and allow the take-over of HBOS by Lloyds. They won the vote 424 to 64. Alex Salmond called it the “deal of the century”.
I met the EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes in the summer. She made it plain to me, as a fellow Liberal, that she thinks that giant banks are bad for business for everybody else – especially when they are being financed by the taxpayer. That’s why I propose to move Bank of Scotland out of the giant Lloyds Group and have it back home in Scotland, lending to soundly-based Scottish businesses. That is the demand I hear from the companies I have been speaking to in high streets and business parks across Scotland.
Still on the economy, our next task in the Scottish Parliament is the Scottish Government’s Budget. My priority is to make sure it tackles the economic reality facing so many individuals and families in Scotland. Unemployment has gone up by 70,000 in the last year. The number of young people leaving school and college this year is the highest for a generation. A fair society would not allow them to become a lost generation simply because they try to enter the world of work at the depths of a recession. Our amendments to the Scottish Budget will be focused on putting Government resources into supporting these people, equipping them with the skills and experiences that will help them get the most from economic recovery when it comes. And, if we have to, we will take money away from the SNP’s vanity projects and quangos to pay for it.
I will be able to touch on these very important proposals for people in Scotland at our conference in Dunfermline on Saturday.
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
The main complaints in the past have come to me from people in Seafield Lane, Thomson Street and in Brown Street - and in the latter Home Scotland development, the housing association has piloted a residents' parking scheme that is properly policed to ensure that only those entitled to park there - local residents - do so.
Following further complaints from Home Scotland tenants in other streets, I asked for an update on the pilot's success and tackling the problem elsewhere and I have today received the following feedback from the Home Scotland Housing Services Manager :
"I am glad at last to be able to advise that we are now in a position to progress the roll out of the parking to other areas. Letters are being issued over the next week to our tenants at the following addresses to seek their agreement to the parking scheme in their area. (We require the agreement of the majority of the residents). This includes:
Forest Park Road
Forest Park Place
I would therefore anticipate the scheme being in place within the next month.
I realise that this has taken a long time to be implemented, but following the success of the pilot in Brown Street , I hope that our tenants see the benefits of the scheme."
I am very pleased to see progress with this - all credit to Home Scotland for taking a proactive approach to help West End residents.
On the wider issue of parking problems for residents in the West End on-street and in council-owned car parks, since the SNP took over council control last March, there has been inaction on moving forward the recommendations from consultants the council brought in to look at the issue and come forward with proposals to improve matters for residents.
I recently met the City Council's new Chief Executive and the Director of City Development to voice my concerns at the delay in progressing parking improvements for local residents and I have been given assurances that the matter will be progressed in the near future. Needless to say, I'll be keeping a very close eye on this!
With regard to last night's update about the traffic lights on Blackness Road, I spoke to the City Council first thing this morning and got assurances about getting the bus stop near Ashbank Road back in action this morning. Here's my subsequent exchange with Scottish Water today :
SCOTTISH WATER'S RESPONSE :
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Today at Prime Minister's Question Time I challenged Gordon Brown over Labour's record on the environment.
Labour's time in office has seen rising carbon emissions, plans agreed for a third run way at Heathrow, more dirty coal-fired power stations and more nuclear energy plants.
This is the shameful record which the Prime Minister will be taking to the major international climate change summit at Copenhagen at the beginning of December.
This afternoon, I met with the heads of the leading climate change campaign groups in Britain to talk about what to expect from the Copenhagen summit. I told them about the distinctive Liberal Democrat policies to tackle climate change in Britain like signing up to the 10:10 campaign, and all developed nations slashing carbon emissions by 40% by 2020.
In the run up to the Copenhagen Summit I will be asking the whole of our Party to spread the word about our radical green agenda. I want everybody who cares about our environment to be left in no doubt that ours is the only mainstream party in Britain that will do what it takes to protect the future of our planet.
You can keep in touch with the campaigns we are fighting on the environment on my website, www.NickClegg.com. There will soon be more news there about the meeting I had today with leading climate change campaigners. You can also learn about our call last week for the Government to sign up to the 10:10 campaign in Parliament, or the One Planet campaign we launched in the Spring.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
"I’m an ex-pat from Dundee. I went to Fintry primary and Liff Road primary. My grandfather was janitor at Hawkhill and Butterburn schools. Can you tell me when and the circumstances around the fire at Hawkhill Primary School?
I (am) asking on behalf of my Uncle Sandy, who now lives in Gibsons, B.C. He lived on Pennycook Lane as a boy and remembered looking out of his house to see the fire."
I took up the question with Iain Flett, the City Council's ever-efficient and helpful archivist and he has sent the gentleman in Canada and myself this :
From Dundee Corporation minutes:
"Works sub-committee of the Education Committee, 11 December 1945.
art.11 HAWKHILL SCHOOL - DAMAGE BY FIRE
It was reported that a fire had taken place at Hawkhill (North) School on 7th December 1945.
The City Chamberlain intimated that the buildings were adequately covered by insurance and that a claim had been lodged with Insurance Company in respect of the damage.
The question of the reconstruction of the school was deferred meantime.
The Director of Education reported that accommodation had been found for some of the classes in Hawkhill (South) School and that accommodation had also been secured for one of the classes in St Peter's Church Hall.
The Sub-Committee approved, and the Town Clerk was instructed to adjust with the Kirk Session of the church the question of the sum to be paid for the cleaning, lighting and heating of the church hall..."
From the Photopolis site - (a major photographic resource undertaken by Dundee City Council with funding from the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network) - 'Hawkhill Public School' from an earlier time (see below).
Reproduced with the permission of the Leisure & Communities Department, Dundee City Council
Following Scottish Water failing to remove them as promised by 5pm yesterday, I received complaints from residents last night about the situation - as the traffic lights remained there for no reason whatsoever.
I contacted Scottish Water’s Regional Community Manager first thing this morning and was promised the traffic lights removal was in hand and I made a visit to the road in the afternoon to check that the lights had been removed and indeed they finally were gone.
Whilst I am pleased the traffic lights are now gone and the road has returned to normal, it is disappointing that removing the traffic lights was not properly co-ordinated with the end of the water main works.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of undertaking the official opening of the new West End Boys Amateur Boxing Club, based at Dundee West Church (see http://tinyurl.com/westendabc) - its great to have another sporting group active in the West End.
The boxing club has now produced a training video and asked if I'd put it on www.dundeewestend.com - so here it is!
If you are interested in the club, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Monday, October 26, 2009
* I thereafter met with three University of Dundee students who are working on a project to encourage those who want to start growing their own fruit and vegetables in Dundee. I'm really keen to support their initiative and it was a very useful meeting.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
"We are very happy to be in the area of the West End of Dundee, enjoying the extra cultural activities that the larger city offers. I thought I’d just drop you a line, however, to voice my observation regarding the books at Blackness Library. A great many of them, particularly the classics, look very tired.
Undoubtedly they have been well used in the past, but although wishing to borrow some, I decided against it because of their very dirty condition."
I wrote to the Head of Libraries, Information and Cultural Services at the City Council about this concern and have received a prompt and helpful response :
"Although we strive to ensure that our book stock is attractive and in good condition there are clearly always areas for improvement. I have had the condition of the classics section in Blackness checked and the feedback I have received is that some titles while still very popular with users would benefit from replacement, particularly since classics are reprinted frequently in a much more modern style designed to attract new readers to these titles.
I have asked the supervisor in Blackness to place an order for new copies."
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I have raised the residents' concerns with the City Council's City Development Department, requesting repairs and provision of a safe walking surface.
Friday, October 23, 2009
"Good Afternoon Cllr Macpherson,
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Parents had expressed concern to me that, with the schools coming back after the autumn holiday this week, there is still no replacement crossing patroller at this extremely busy road and I am pleased that the department has recruited a temporary patroller from the start of next week. I have also been given assurances that a permanent replacement is being sought, which is vital, as it is totally unacceptable that there was no patroller being in place at such a busy crossing.
I have also received assurances that the City Council will be taking a proactive approach in its efforts to recruit new school crossing patrollers.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have placed the party at the forefront of the debate on climate change by putting the most ambitious policy motion to date before the House of Commons today.
WHO’S ALREADY IN?
Cllr Fraser Macpherson (amongst many others)
See : http://38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/1010parliament
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Parents have expressed concern to me that, with the schools coming back after the autumn holiday earlier this week, there is still no replacement crossing patroller at this extremely busy road. Hawkhill is a main route into the City Centre, is a busy bus route and many heavy goods vehicles use the road. Furthermore the crossing is adjacent to the corner with Peddie Street, a very busy road junction.
“ … the individual who had been manning this crossing moved out of the Dundee area just after the school returned from the Summer holidays. A replacement was found from our temporary supply pool. However again this individual was able to secure full-time employment and withdrew their availability to man the crossing.”
I responded to the Council in the following terms :
“I must say I am most concerned about the situation at Hawkhill. There is heavy footfall of children here and the younger ones in particular cannot be expected to negotiate the pelican crossing without a patroller. Hawkhill is extremely busy and a bus route; the crossing is adjacent to the very busy junction with Peddie Street.
I view this as a priority for a patroller facility given the high volume of vehicles and use of the road by many buses and HGVs, given that Hawkhill is a main thoroughfare into the City Centre.
I'd be grateful if every effort can be made to get a replacement as soon as possible.”
I have taken the matter to the Director of Education and have also asked questions about the efforts to recruit new school crossing patrollers. It is totally unacceptable that the school returned without a patroller being in place at such a busy crossing. Late today, my office at the City Council received assurances from the Education Department that the Director would be further briefed on my concerns first thing tomorrow.
Monday, October 19, 2009
THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of carriageway repair works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in West Wynd (north of the hammerhead at No 6), Dundee.
This notice comes into effect on Monday 26 October 2009 for 5 working days.
Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.
As West Wynd is a cul-de-sac an alternative route is not available.
For further information contact (01382) 433168.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I will also email the attached notice to Blackness Primary School ... and arrange for more notices to be distributed to the local shops next week."
TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF PENNYCOOK LANE CAR PARK
As from 6pm on Thursday 29th October 2009 this car park will be closed to the public in order to allow essential maintenance work to be carried out.
The car park will reopen to the public at 6pm on Friday 30th October 2009.
We apologise for any temporary inconvenience that will be caused by the closure of the car park.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
A bit early for David Cameron to be measuring up the curtains for 10 Downing Street, says Nick Clegg
Here's Nick Clegg's comments about Dave Hodgson's superb victory in Bedford Mayoral Election, announced this afternoon.
The Tories have been acting like a general election victory for them is certain but the LibDem victory in Bedford shows that the reality on the ground is rather different. If the Tories can't win in places like Bedford in the south of England, they cannot achieve a Commons majority.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Polling day is on 12th November and our candidate Eileen Baxendale has already been working hard for many weeks.
Eileen has made a commitment to make personal face-to-face contact with as many voters as possible. The constituency will benefit from her years of experience as a councillor and community campaigner.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Be assured that we are aware of a few areas of concern and are identifying measures to help deal with it."
The Help Scheme has launched a television and print advertising campaign to raise awareness of the help available to older and disabled people so they can continue to watch their favourite television programmes after switchover. The Help Scheme will also be running local activity and poster advertising campaigns and Help Scheme events in the lead up to switchover. The Help Scheme is also working alongside Digital UK and with local charities and organisations to spread the word. More information can be found with the recent press release (see http://tinyurl.com/digitalhelp).
Eligible people in the STV North TV region will be offered a Freeview set top box for £40, or free if they also get income benefits. The help also includes installation if requested, a demonstration of how to use the equipment, an aerial check and upgrade if necessary for those that own their own aerials and a free help line to ring for advice while they get used to it.
There are many ways to go digital and additional Help Scheme options are available at extra cost – these are set out in the options guide sent to eligible people. The Help Scheme will write to all those who are eligible, starting with the islands as a distinct mailing burst to allow installers to complete installations within a fixed window of time.
The Switchover Help Scheme has appointed Luke McCullough as its National Manager, Scotland."
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
As I made clear in the article, the City Council’s cleansing services manager had assured me that a short-life working group has been set up on a city-wide basis to look at ways of proactively tackling graffiti problems in Dundee - and an “anti-graffiti group” has also been established in the West End.
The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic Park Place from its junction with Old Hawkhill for a distance of 170 metres or thereby in a southerly direction.
Pedestrian thoroughfare is maintained and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible.
Alternative routes will be available within Dundee University campus.
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 433082.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Yesterday, along with colleagues from Friends of Magdalen Green, I took part in filming of the Friends' activities and plans for the future - the video will be played at the Dundee Partnership Awards Dinner next month.
When we started at 1pm yesterday, it was a lovely, sunny autumn afternoon - by 2.30pm I was absolutely freezing! But great to see the Friends' success in the Dundee Partnership Awards nonetheless!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
* School "lollipop" patrols
* Rail Bridge on Riverside Drive
* Perth Road west of Harris Academy
* West End Christmas Week 2009
"Alex Salmond: I’d back Tories at Westminster
Alex Salmond has been accused of betraying Scotland after revealing he is willing to support a Conservative government in the event of a hung parliament at Westminster.
The first minister said he would co-operate with a David Cameron-led administration on key legislation ...
Last week, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, announced £7 billion of annual savings, including a pay freeze at Whitehall departments and quangos. Holyrood would face a corresponding cut of up to £520m a year, or about £2 billion over four years."
Saturday, October 10, 2009
And looking into the crystal ball I do not own, surely the 2009 winner...
Benvie Road - 26
Rosebery Street - 21 - 29 (odd)
Friday, October 09, 2009
It was an extremely positive meeting. In addition to an update on passenger and aircraft movements, showing real and sustained growth for the airport – particularly impressive given the economic downturn – there were discussions about the security arrangements at the airport, a CCTV upgrade, air traffic control capital investment, the fire safety arrangements and possible new airport hub links for Dundee Airport once the economic outlook has improved.
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) has taken Dundee Airport forward in a very positive way, following the transfer from Dundee City Council ownership. The airport manager, Derrick Lang, and his team have been very approachable in relation to the issues I have raised in past months – particularly around noise complaints – the number of complaints has greatly reduced this year.
One matter that has been raised by a number of residents recently has been the appearance of car park barriers. HIAL has proposals to introduce car park charges from 30th November. I made clear my concern about this – a view echoed by the MP and MSP for Dundee West who also attended today’s meeting. Dundee’s complimentary and easy-to-use car parking at the airport in my view makes using Dundee Airport attractive. I have no problem with charging non-airport users for parking at the airport, but made clear my view that airport customers should not be charged for car parking. The airport manager has agreed to feed back the views of the airport consultative committee members to HIAL on this concern.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Along with the contractor, the Housing Investment Unit arranged for a display container to be on show in Logie Avenue yesterday and today, to allow tenants in the area to see a display kitchen and bathroom - so people can see the standard of work and the different finishes, colours of units, handles, etc that they can choose for their home.
It was organised on a "drop in" without the need for an appointment and local councillors were invited to pop in. I had the pleasure of visiting this afternoon and it was good to see the different options available to tenants on show, with helpful staff from the housing project team and the contractors available to answer any questions.
Similar work has been recently underway in both Kirkton and Douglas and it is clear from speaking with the staff this afternoon that tenant satisfaction with the work and new bathrooms and kitchens has been very high. The past couple of days has been a very good example of helpful consultation with the City Council's tenants in the Logie area.