Saturday, October 31, 2009

ELO - Mr Blue Sky

Rather appropriate as today's been lovely thus far ... it appears tomorrow will see rather dreadful weather though!

Latest on the Digital TV Switchover

Here's part of the latest update from Digital UK about the awareness campaign for the 'digital switchover' taking place in our area (the STV North region) next summer. It is reproduced below the Digital UK logo (below).

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.

DIGITAL UK TO VISIT EVERY STV NORTH COUNCIL WARD

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

Eligibility for the Help Scheme is now open in STV North. A television and print advertising campaign to raise awareness of help available to older and disabled people in the area has been launched. Eligible people living in the region will receive an information pack that will explain how they can get extra help to convert one TV in their home in time for switchover and will invite people to apply for the help available. It sets out the standard offer which is available for £40, or free, as well as offering a range of other ways to go digital. As part of the programme of activity, stakeholders will be contacted, and TV and radio advertising will become more prominent.

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.

Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning

This morning saw the autumn Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning taking place in Dundee West Church, Perth Road. It was extremely well attended and I was the incomptent part of an otherwise slickly run scone-buttering and washing-up squad!

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).

Here's a couple of photographs from this morning :

Above : Calm before the storm! All set up, 10 minutes to the start of the coffee morning

Above : Calendar competition winners

Friday, October 30, 2009

West End Christmas Week!

Following a very useful meeting today with the City Council about improvements to the Magdalen Green bandstand - including repainting - I chaired the latest meeting of the West End Christmas Week Committee.

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.

69 bus service

The 69 bus service runs across the West End only three times a day on weekdays but it is a very useful service for those residents who live on the streets it serves that are not visited by any other buses. However, I have had complaints about its punctuality recently and, in particular, the failure of any bus to turn up at all earlier this week.

I have been in touch with Stagecoach Strathtay about this and have received the following initial response:

"Fraser,

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."

ELO series continues

With Sweet Talkin' Woman

Hopes for new school crossing patroller in Blackness Road

Dundee City Council has advised me that it hopes to provide a new school crossing patrol on Blackness Road, following my raising residents’ requests for this safety measure. I am pleased about this, coming soon after resolution of the school crossing patroller problem at Hawkhill.

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

ELO - Confusion

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 ...

West End History - Hawkhill School Fire - 1945 : an update

Further to yesterday's article about the Hawkhill School fire in 1945, and with many thanks to the Local History department in the Central Library, if you click on the headline above or go to http://tinyurl.com/hawkhillschool you can see newspaper articles from The Courier and the fondly remembered People's Journal from the time of the fire.

I was speaking with a constituent tonight at my surgery at Blackness Primary School. He's lived in the West End all his life and is a font of knowledge about the area. The fire took place in the Hawkhill (North) School - now demolished and site of today's Hawkhill Medical Centre. What we now know as Blackness Primary School was originally Hawkhill (South) School.

Tavish's letter to Scottish LibDem members today ...

Dear member,

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.

Best wishes,

Tavish Scott
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Improving parking in the West End

I have been in touch recently with Home Scotland, one of the major housing association landlords in the West End, about complaints from residents that the car parks designed for them as Home Scotland tenants were being used by non-residents, simply parking there to avoid parking charges in the City Centre.

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:

Thomson Street
Seafield Lane
Forest Park Road
Forest Park Place
Pleasance Court

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!

Beautiful morning in the West End ... and an update on Blackness Road

I was out and about visiting constituents this morning and as this view from the WL Gore site in Perth Road shows, it is a thoroughly beautiful morning!

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 :

ME TO SCOTTISH WATER :

"I have had a lot of complaints that the lights removal should have coincided with the end of the works and although its good they have now gone, its perhaps something that can be better co-ordinated in the future as constituents were complaining about being kept at a red light for up to 4 minutes for no good reason. Also when the lights were removed, no-one thought about ensuring that the black bag over the bus stop (north side next to Morning Noon & Night) be removed to let the bus stop become operational again & buses were flying past it after the lights had gone. I asked DCC City Development to send someone out this morning to get that sorted so it should hopefully be OK by today but again it really should have been thought about when the works ended. Thanks again."

SCOTTISH WATER'S RESPONSE :

"Thank you for your comments. I appreciate how simple things can cause a great inconvenience to the local community. I have passed your comments to my colleague who will also discuss this with our contractor."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nick Clegg : The Climate Change Challenge

Dear Fraser,

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.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

West End History - Hawkhill School Fire - 1945

Earlier this week, I received the following e-mail from a gentleman in Mississauga, Canada :

"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

The 'pointless' traffic lights have gone - but the bus stop needs attention!

The ‘pointless’ traffic lights in Blackness Road were finally removed today but well after the roadworks caused by work to repair a burst water main had been completed on the road.

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.

However, the much-used bus stop into town near the junction with Ashbank Road was still out of service and I have asked the City Council to ensure it is back in operation as soon as possible.

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

West End Boys Amateur Boxing Club Update

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 info@westend-boys-abc.com for more information.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday activities

A busy day, which, along with 'day job' activities, also included :

* Visits to our four West End Primary Schools (Ancrum Road, Blackness, Park Place and St Joseph's) to deliver pencil cases (a free gift to each P7 pupil from our sponsor) and drawing templates for the 'fireworks safety' colouring competition that primary 7 pupils are taking part in as part of this year's West End Christmas Week.

Each P7 pupil is drawing a fireworks safety sticker and there will be one winner per class (who each win a book voucher, kindly sponsored by Borders Books) and the overall winner will have her or his drawing produced into 1500 stickers to be distributed to all primary-age children in the West End. It is both a fun competition and will help reinforce the 'safety with fireworks' message.

West End Christmas Week - West End Xmas Factor '09 - is taking great shape and we're very pleased at the continued support from our local schools.

* 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.

* Two surgeries late afternoon - Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy.

* At tonight's City Council, there was a debate on the financial challenges facing the City Council and the 2010/11 and future years' budgets. I support all-party co-operation to tackle the very significant budgetary problems the council must tackle. Protecting jobs and public services must take priority over party politics.

* Thereafter, I attended the latter half of the River Crescent Residents' Association committee meeting. The committee does great work for the residents locally and I was able update them on a number of local matters - including the Harris Academy refurbishment, roads condition concern and smell issues from Riverside Civic Amenity Site.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blackness Library book stock

A West End resident, who recently moved to Dundee, wrote to me recently about some of the book stock at Blackness Library :


"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

Bankmill Road - Rosefield Place

The pedestrian walkway between Bankmill Road and Rosefield Place is well used by local residents but a number of them have recently complained to me about its maintenance (or lack of it as the photo below indicates!)
I have contacted the City Council on residents' behalf seeking clarification about maintenance arrangements and have also asked for the pathway to be tidied.

Pavements - Seafield Road

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with residents from Rose Lodge in Seafield Road. The residents recently had a meeting and concerns were raised about the state of the pavements in Seafield Road, particularly given that some of the residents have mobility difficulties.

As the photos (right and below) indicate, the pavements are in poor condition in places - the photo (right) in particular shows how the south footpath (opposite 52-60) has been badly damaged by vehicles mounting the pavement due to the narrowness of the roadway.

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

Two Friday updates

Update 1 : Replacement School Crossing Patroller for Blackness Primary School at Hawkhill - latest from Dundee City Council this afternoon :

"Good Afternoon Cllr Macpherson,

I am pleased to inform you that we have now been able to arrange for the above SCP to be manned with effect from lunch time on Tue 27 Oct. The individual concerned will be issued with his equipment/clothing on Tuesday morning and will receive the relevant training before taking up his post. I should point out that the new SCP has had previous experience as an SCP, which explains how we can have him in place within such a short space of time."

Update 2 : As I indicated earlier today, I had raised residents' concerns about slippy leaves on pavements at Abbotsford Place and Blackness Avenue. By lunchtime, I had received the following feedback from the Waste Management Department :

"Hi Fraser

I have arranged for these leaves to be swept up this morning.

The supervisor reports the job is now completed."

I bumped into one of the Abbotsford Place residents who had complained about the issue in Tesco Metro in the City Centre this afternoon as she was well impressed with the quality of clean-up and the speed of response. The Waste Management Department is extremely responsive, so very many thanks!

Abbotsford Place and Blackness Avenue

Following concerns raised by residents about the extent of slippy leaves on the pavements here, I have been in touch with the City Council's Waste Management Department about this.


The photo (right) shows the pavement at the Blackness Avenue end of Abbotsford Place.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adult learning update

With permission from Dundee City Council, if you click on the headline above (or go to http://tinyurl.com/commnewsltr), you can download the latest adult learning newsletter from the council's Leisure and Communities Department.

The activities featured include those at the Mitchell Street Centre in the West End.

Hawkhill crossing - good news

Further to my article earlier this week about pupil safety concerns crossing the Hawkhill by-pass due to the lack of a school crossing patroller (click on headline above to view or go to http://tinyurl.com/scphawkhill), I was pleased to have received assurances today from the City Council’s Director of Education that a temporary school crossing patroller will be in place from the start of next week, to assist Blackness Primary School pupils get safely to school.

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 on the 10:10 Campaign

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

Virgin Media services in Tait's Lane : an update

At the end of last month, I advised that a constituent in Tait's Lane had contacted me about an anomaly in terms of the provision of cable TV in the area. Click on headline above or go to http://tinyurl.com/taitslane to view the earlier story.

Her block of flats - pictured above - unlike others in the lane - cannot receive Virgin Media services and I contacted Virgin about this. The company promised to look into the viability of extending services to the households currently without access to Virgin services in the lane and yesterday, along with two residents, I met with two Virgin Media representatives in Tait's Lane to discuss the matter further.

Unfortunately, due to the need to cable from Hawkhill to the south along the lane digging up the roadway, Virgin Media is of the view that at present extending the service to the flats concerned would not be commercially viable although the company did promise to review this in the future.

Meantime, I have contacted Fibrecity, currently installing a city wide fibre optic network through the sewer system, to see if it will be possible to provide cable television services through the Fibrecity network for those Tait's Lane residents who cannot receive Virgin TV services at present.

politics.co.uk

Many thanks to www.politics.co.uk for its complimentary remarks about www.dundeewestend.com, especially the bit about the YouTube videos!

Information:

Cllr Fraser Macpherson is obviously extremely busy and this is reflected in his prolifically updated blog.

It's a great resource for local information and, unlike a lot of similar blogs by local councillors, it actually gives opinions and doesn’t just regurgitate press releases.
The blog has a lot going on to hold the interest.

It also wins the 'blog most likely to contain YouTube clips of obscure dance music remixes' award.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hawkhill : primary school crossing concerns

As reported in the Courier over the weekend, I have expressed concern about the safety of Blackness Primary School pupils crossing the extremely busy Hawkhill by-pass, where there is currently no school crossing patroller.

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.

I contacted the City Council Education Department during the school holidays about the lack of a patroller and was advised by the department that :

“ … 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

Nursery School proposal in Seafield Road

Back in 2000, before I was elected to the City Council, a planning application was approved to create a nursery school on the site of the derelict building at 33 Seafield Road.

The applicaton was not progressed at the time but remained valid due to some works within the five year validity period and now Taylor Brothers Limited is taking forward the planning consent.

Seafield Road is a narrow but busy road and many residents have expressed their concerns about traffic management arrangements, loss of trees and other issues.

Having discussed these concerns with residents, I met Graham Giblen from the company earlier today on-site to discuss their concerns. We discussed traffic management arrangements at length - I believe it is important that parents dropping off children do so, safely, off-street. We also discussed additional screening for adjacent residents.
I am pleased to discuss this further with residents at any time and can be contacted on 459378 or at fraser@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

West Wynd : Traffic Order

Received today from Dundee City Council :

THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984
SECTION 14(1)

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

Pennycook Lane Update

As a follow-up to my article on 7th October about the work needed to tidy up overgrown bushes and trees in Pennycook Lane (see http://tinyurl.com/pennycookwork or click on the headline above to view), the City Development Department of the City Council has now advised me that although my request that the work is carried out on a Sunday is not possible because of the work patterns of the contractor and cost involved, steps have been taken to minimise inconvenience to residents and other users of the car park.

The work will happen on Friday 30th October, and I have been assured of an early start - as the officer who updated me makes clear:

"It is therefore likely that an increasing number of cars will be allowed to enter the car park as the day goes on and it is possible that the car park will not be closed for the entire duration of the school and / or business hours (6pm is a conservative estimate)."

He adds:

"I have arranged for (a notice) to be placed on the lamp-posts surrounding the car park and for 2 big notice boards to be placed at the car park entrance and in the car park, advising the public of the closure. These notices will be in place next week.

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."

Here's the Public Notice referred to above :

PUBLIC NOTICE

TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF PENNYCOOK LANE CAR PARK

THURSDAY 29th OCTOBER - FRIDAY 30th OCTOBER

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.

The Council are aware that this may cause some temporary inconvenience to the car parks users, but it is necessary for the work to be carried out. The Council will be working effectively and efficiently in order to complete the work in the most effective time possible.

We apologise for any temporary inconvenience that will be caused by the closure of the car park
.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blackness Road - pedestrian safety concerns

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting with two residents of Blackness Court, the sheltered housing complex at the east end of Blackness Road.

The residents showed me their concerns about the condition of the pavement east of their homes - on the north side of Blackness Road, at the road junction with Rosefield Place and on the road at the pedestrian crossing immediately west of that. The photo (right) is of the poor road condition at the crossing.

The current condition of the road and pavement causes difficulties for the elderly folk in Blackness Court to get safely to the Post Office and shops on the south side of Blackness Road. One of the residents has had a bad fall and another had difficulties getting to the shops on his mobility scooter.

I have raised these concerns with the City Council's City Development Department and asked for repairs to be undertaken.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Healthy eating lunches still going strong!

As the latest meeting of the West End Christmas Week committee took place at Dundee West Church today, we had the opportunity to have our lunch, courtesy of the Dundee West Church Healthy Cooking Co-operative.

Back in 2006, the Scottish Countryside Alliance Educational Trust, who assisted the project in its early days, said,

"Through the amazing work of its volunteers, the Co-operative has surpassed all expectations, attracting approximately 80 people per week, from students to pensioners, all looking for that common denominator – a nutritious and economical lunch, and access to fresh local produce."

I'm pleased to say that lunch today was as packed with customers as ever - and the lunch was as delicious as ever too!

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

From Tavish Scott MSP ...

Yesterday I was in Springburn, Glasgow to launch our campaign for the Glasgow North East by-election.

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.

We have good messages for people in Glasgow North East. Our campaign for a fairer society, for example. Our proposal is for a tax cut of £700 for people on low and middle incomes paid for by closing the loopholes used by the rich to avoid paying their fair share.

That will mean a lot to people in the North East of Glasgow. After all, many people there will remember that Labour betrayed them through the 10p tax band fiasco. And, as our recently published research shows, the SNP Government has used £950million to cut the taxes of the super-wealthy by more than £800 a year whilst leaving those at the bottom end of the income scale better off by just six pounds.

Yesterday's unemployment figures show how urgent action on jobs has become. Scotland's unemployment is rising faster than the rest of Britain.

Our party has significant plans to use the money spent by Labour on the temporary VAT cut to create thousands of new jobs in green industries, provide insulation to schools, hospitals and homes and to give young people the opportunity for paid internships and work experience when they leave school or college.

We must avoid sending a 'lost generation' to the economic scrapheap simply because they graduated from education in the depths of a recession. Mrs Thatcher was guilty of that in the 1980s and people expect the lesson to have been learned.

Tackling graffiti - an update

Further to my article from earlier this week about tackling the growing problem of graffiti vandalism in the West End (click on headline to view or go to http://tinyurl.com/graffitiupdate), a meeting of the informal group set up by the West End Local Community Planning Partnership met tonight and I had the pleasure of chairing what was a very productive hour and a half.

Along with representatives from City Council Waste Management and Leisure and Communities Departments and Tayside Police, it was good that a number of West End residents also attended.

In addition to updates on inter-agency co-operation and taking a proactive approach to tackling graffiti, we agreed to undertake community action initiatives to clean up the most visible graffiti mess in the area.

We are meeting again shortly and are working with other local organisations on tackling graffiti in the area. We were also pleased to hear from the City Council's Cleansing Services Manager that the short-life working group established to look at the city-wide graffiti issues has now met and is looking at matters like ensuring utilities take a more proactive approach to tackling graffiti.

Lastly for tonight, on a different but related matter, at my request (following residents' complaints) the City Council is taking action over illegal flyposting on lots of utilities boxes, phone boxes and other structures in a large area around Perth Road. See the photos below and right. What an irresponsible mess; it has appeared all over the place. If you are going to fly-post at least have the brains not to advertise your meeting at a public venue. Tracking down the culprits will not be difficult for the City Council and those responsible for all this fly-posting will be made to clean it off.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ninewells speeding issue : an update

Yesterday I updated www.dundeewestend.com about speeding concerns on the roads within the Ninewells Hospital grounds (see http://tinyurl.com/ninewellsspeed or click on the headline above to view).

I received very prompt feedback yesterday from Brian Main, NHS Tayside's hospital site manager, about the concerns :

"We have identified specific problem areas and are looking to introduce additional traffic calming measures to combat this. In addition we are continuing to discuss traffic management issues in general with colleagues at Dundee City Council (transport department) and Tayside Police (traffic division) who have both been helpful in the past.

Be assured that we are aware of a few areas of concern and are identifying measures to help deal with it."

STV North TV region gets Switched On to Switchover Help Scheme

Here's an update from John MacNeil, Assistant National Manager - STV North, Digital UK received yesterday regarding the digital TV switchover and the Help Scheme :

"More than 190,000 older and disabled people in the STV North region will be entitled to practical help to switch over to digital. The Switchover Help Scheme is run by the BBC through an agreement with the Government to help eligible older and disabled people to make the switch to digital on one of their TV sets.

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."

The digital Help Scheme's website is at http://www.helpscheme.co.uk/

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tackling graffiti

Tonight's "Evening Telegraph" had an excellent article about the graffiti menace in the city. Go to http://tinyurl.com/telegraffiti or click on the headline above to read the article.

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 West End group meets on Thursday and arises out of a discussion about the graffiti problem at the West End Local Community Planning Partnership. The group will look at all aspects of the problem, including community clean-ups, and it is great that West End residents are participating.

A positive note on this issue today. Following my request, the City Council's Rapid Response Team removed extensive graffiti on the rail bridge at Riverside Drive (just south of the Botanic Garden) - the photo (above right) shows the excellent result.

Temporary Traffic Order - Park Place

Received from the City Council today :

Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas mains replacement works . The Order is expected to be in force for 5 weeks from 2 November 2009 . Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

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.

Ninewells Hospital : speeding concerns

Last night's "Evening Telegraph" covered concerns about speeding on Ninewells Road and Ninewells Drive - the two roads that run through the hospital site.

I made clear in the Tele my own concern about the matter - the Ninewells Hospital site is very busy and it is important that all drivers stick to the speed limit.

I have been in touch with Brian Main, NHS Tayside's hospital site manager, about the concerns.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Friends of Magdalen Green

Last month, I was delighted to report that the Friends of Magdalen Green had won the environment category of the Dundee Partnership Awards 2009. Click on the headline above or go to http://tinyurl.com/FOMGsuccess to read the earlier article.

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

West End Community Council Update

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

Subjects covered include :

* School "lollipop" patrols
* Graffiti
* Rail Bridge on Riverside Drive
* Perth Road west of Harris Academy
* West End Christmas Week 2009

The Community Council meets this coming Tuesday (13th October) at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm.

You can download a copy of my update by clicking on the headline above or by going to http://tinyurl.com/weccoct09.

You have been warned ...

Today's 'Sunday Times' (see http://tinyurl.com/snptory) :

"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

X Factor 2009 - Danyl Johnson - And I Am Telling You - 2009 Live

And looking into the crystal ball I do not own, surely the 2009 winner...

Changes to bin collection arrangements

Back in July, I updated www.dundeewestend.com (see http://tinyurl.com/cleghorn or click on the headline above) - and the Community Spirit residents' group - of changes to the bin collection arrangements in parts of the Cleghorn Street area. This initially consisted of a move away from traditional small bins in some parts of Pitfour Street, City Road, Rosebery Street and Benvie Road and their replacement by wheelie bins - and it was intended to introduce communal 'eurobin' style containers thereafter at other properties in the area, where a wheelie bin collection was not practical.

I am now advised that, with effect from a week on Monday (19th October), communal eurobins will be provided at the following locations :

Pitfour Street - 1 - 23 (odd), 22 - 60 (even)
Benvie Road - 26
Rosebery Street - 21 - 29 (odd)

Letters have recently been issued to residents affected advising them of the new arrangements. The transfer to the new communal bins, which are being introduced on a two month trial basis, should help tackle the long-standing problems of burst bags and strewn litter, and the City Council is helpfully undertaking removal of any rubbish lying in back areas of the properties affected at the time the new collection system comes into effect.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Dundee Airport Consultative Committee

In addition to meetings at the City Council and progressing West End Christmas Week, today I attended the second meeting of the Dundee Airport Consultative Committee.

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

www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk

As part of this year's West End Christmas Week (taking place between 21st and 28th November and called West End Xmas Factor this year) there will again be a fireworks display (on Tuesday 24th November) at Seabraes, the night of the Christmas Concert at Dundee West Church. There will also be a children's carnival, kindly provided by Horne's Carnivals.

Our pyrotechnician, Robin Carstairs, has also set up a website at www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk - to promote the fireworks display and Christmas Week generally.

He has recently updated it and it is well worth a visit. It will be regularly updated as Christmas Week approaches.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Pennycook Lane Latest

Back on 19th September, I reported that the City Council had agreed to trim overgrown shrubbery and trees in Pennycook Lane, following my raising residents' complaints about this with the Council. Click on the headline above or go to http://tinyurl.com/pennycook to read the earlier article.

An officer in the Waste Management Department has now advised me :

"My colleagues in Contract Services have received the work order from City Development but have advised that the Pennycook Lane car park will need to be closed to the public for a full day in order to carry out the required works on the tree root & overhanging greenery."

Given that the car park is extremely busy, particularly once Blackness Primary School is open again after the autumn holiday, I have suggested that a one day car park closure should be on a Sunday, easily the quietest day. That said, it will be good to see the shrubbery tidied.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Kitchen and Bathroom replacements in Logie

The City Council's Housing Department is proceeding with a kitchen and bathroom replacement programme for the Logie Estate - and it has been brought forward to this financial year.

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.