Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year message from Tavish Scott MSP

Dear Fraser

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have ended 2009 very strongly and can look forward with confidence to 2010, which will be one of the most momentous in politics for generations.

In the last month of the year our candidate Ashay Ghai gained the Bearsden South council seat from the Conservatives. It added to the gain of the Conservatives’ fourth safest seat in Scotland earlier in the year by Rosemary Bruce in a fantastic win in Aboyne and Deeside.

Hundreds of people have joined the Scottish Liberal Democrats this year. Our recruitment at universities has been record-breaking. We lead the debate on the campuses of Scotland. And the growing numbers of Liberal Youth members in Scotland are playing an ever larger – and very welcome - part in our work.

We know there must be a General Election in 2010. But nobody knows how that will end or when, exactly, it will be. The polls are all over the place. But they all show the Liberal Democrats in a stronger position in the run up to an election than we have been for generations.

We are the challengers to Labour across Scotland. We have well-resourced target seats that are campaigning harder than ever. We have inspiring candidates who deserve to be part of the new House of Commons. And the choice facing the country at the time of economic recession and the failure of old politics means it has never been more important to break the red-blue-blue-red pendulum of British politics.

Our plans for a fairer society and a sustainable economy have never been clearer. We will take the low paid out of income tax, cut tax bills for middle earners and stop the very richest in the land using loopholes to avoid their fair share. We will reform politics, not least to end an electoral system that has created a culture of a “seat for life” and “winner takes all” that has led so many MPs to exploit the system for their own gain.

We will build a sustainable economy, creating jobs and opportunity for the record number of young unemployed. We will avoid creating a lost generation of young people, as Mrs Thatcher did in the 1980s. Her mistakes squandered the chances of thousands of people. The legacy remains. Poll after poll shows that most Scots still think that the Conservatives are the party for the well off not ordinary people.

In Scotland we have set the political pace on our campaign for a fairer society. We are winning the argument that there needs to be restraint on the pay and bonuses on those at the very top of the public sector in order to keep jobs and services going for those at the bottom of the income scale.

I know that our council by-election gains from all parties in 2009 will be followed by Westminster gains in 2010.

I look forward to working with you to make it happen.

A very Happy New Year.

Tavish Scott

More photos from yesterday's photocall!

With thanks to Dave Martin of Fotopress, who covered the photocall at Barnetts Motor Group yesterday for the Press & Journal, here's three photos from the event, taken on a rather better camera than mine! The article "Why it’s party time for balloon boy Adam" in today's P&J can be read at http://tinyurl.com/pandjballoon.

Hogmanay update

More winter maintenance issues raised by residents over the past day, including the situation in the Pentland area (where the refuse collection could not be made yesterday) and the need for additional grit bins in Thomson Street and Tait's Lane. As always, I have raised all issues with the City Council.

Above : The wintery scene in Marchfield Road earlier today

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Adam wins balloon launch competition!

The photos below are from the photocall I attended today at which a P1 pupil from Park Place Primary School received his voucher for a children’s party for up to 20 of his friends, following his win in the balloon launch competition that marked the start of West End Christmas Week last month.

Every Primary One pupil across the four West End primary schools – Park Place, St Joseph’s, Blackness and Ancrum Road – took part in the massive balloon launch and the balloon belonging to Adam Al-Hussein won, travelling all the way to a village near Falkenberg on the west coast of Sweden.

Adam won his party prize thanks to the generosity of local car business Barnetts Motor Group, and Paul Barnett, Managing Director of Barnetts, took part in the photocall as well as myself. Many thanks to the Courier, Evening Telegraph and Press and Journal for their coverage of today's event.

The West End Christmas Week has featured balloon launches two or three times before but the furthest any balloon travelled in the past was to Norway, and Adam’s is therefore not only this year’s winning entry but has in fact travelled the furthest of any balloon in our various balloon races over the years. The balloon launch was great fun and it was great to see so many primary one children and their parents come along to it.

Anders, from Sweden, who found Adam's balloon, e-mailed us as follows (I have arranged to send Anders some Dundee souvenirs as a 'thank you' for his contacting us about Adam's balloon being found in Sweden) :

"From: "Anders Svensson"
Date: 12/12/2009 09:12PM
Subject: Adams balloon

Hello Adam!
I have found your balloon.
My name is Anders Svensson. I live in a small village called Kinnared, which
is located 40 km east of Falkenberg on the Swedish west-coast.
Last tuesday(the 8:th of december) I was walking in a forest near Kinnared
and then I found a balloon belonged to Adam AC-Hussein 5 years old.
Merry Christmas to all of You."

Above : Adam with myself and Paul Barnett (in a Swedish Volvo, of course!)
Above : Adam sees the distance between Falkenberg and Dundee, courtesy of Google Earth!
Above : Adam in Barnetts' play den!
Above : Anders kindly sent us a photo of Adam's balloon and label!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last couple of days ...

Having said on Boxing Day that normal blogging would resume the following day, it didn't! IT problems I'm afraid, but now resolved. Janet bought me a wireless network audio system for Christmas, a jolly good piece of kit, but getting it to recognise my laptop proved to be a significant challenge. I'll not bore you with the technical details, but the bottom line was that Vista had to be reinstalled on my laptop, together with all programs. All worked out in the end and the audio system is now happily playing my downloaded music from Napster, but oh, what an effort and no e-mail or internet access for 48 hours!

A super and relaxing Christmas & I hope all residents had a lovely Christmas too!

The main issue raised by residents over the past few days has, unsurprisingly, been winter maintenance and I am continuing to raise with the City Council on all issues raised. One specific issue that I agree with residents does need addressing is the lack of gritting at many bus stops, making it difficult for elderly folk in particular to get on and off buses. I have raised this with the City Engineer and the Head of Transportation.

I was speaking with the Courier this afternoon (on an unrelated matter) and was advised that the
Dundee man who died just before Christmas after falling on the station concourse at Edinburgh's Waverley Station has just been named as James Clark of Rosefield Street in the West End. Our thoughts must be with Mr Clark's family at this very sad time.
Above : A very cold but beautiful morning on Madgalen Green earlier today

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bing Crosby - White Christmas

Last of the festive uploads!

Super Christmas; back to blogging tomorrow!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas!

The West End Christmas Lights 2009 at Seabraes

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kelly Clarkson - My Grown Up Christmas List

Another in my little season of festive uploads!

Winter maintenance

With all the snow over the past few days, the feedback from residents is that the Roads Maintenance Partnership has copied generally very well with gritting across the city.

There have been issues about the gritting of some residential streets - inevitable given the 330+ miles of non-trunk roads the council has to cover - and I have raised the concerns raised by residents in a number of streets - such as Shaftesbury Road and Taylor's Lane (in the latter case, the 'top half' of the southern part, possibly because of access problems facing the gritter) - and also the need to keep grit bins filled - an example being at Glamis Place.

I am grateful to the City Engineer and the team in the Roads Maintenance Partnership for their responsiveness on the issues raised.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mary`s Boy Child

Christmas theme continues with the timeless classic from Harry Belafonte.

Temporary Traffic Order - Richmond Terrace and Magdalen Yard Road

Although the following Traffic Order will come with it the inconvenience of temporary loss of parking for a limited time, I am very pleased that Scottish Water is undertaking flood prevention works at Richmond Terrace. I raised the matter with Scottish Water some time ago, having visited residents to see the effect of flooding at their properties. I am grateful to Scottish Water for its proactivity in working to resolve this matter.


Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating Scottish Water flood prevention works. The Order is expected to be in force for nine weeks from 11 January 2010 . Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to temporarily suspend all parking in (a) Richmond Terrace from Windsor Street for a distance of 45 metres or thereby west and (b) Magdalen Yard Road from Windsor Street for a distance of 45 metres or thereby east.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, City Development 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 department on 433082.

Beautiful winter's morning in the West End

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chris Rea 'Driving Home For Christmas'

Next "Christmas Week" upload!

Festive cheer at Magdalen House!

There was festive cheer at West End care home Magdalen House today when bakery chain Greggs kindly donated 100 Christmas Pies to the residents to wish them all a very Happy Christmas. The festive gift was part of Greggs' sponsorship of the recent West End Christmas Week events.

The picture above shows Lesley Christie, Area Manager for Greggs and Nicky Brown, Manager of the Perth Road Greggs shop, holding the pies, together with residents and staff of Magdalen House and myself.

We are very grateful to Greggs for this generous gesture for the folk at Magdalen House.

On Radio Tay news today ...


video

I was interviewed on Radio Tay News earlier today about our photocall at Magdalen House (more on that, plus photos, in a moment ...!) - you can hear the news item by clicking 'play' above.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

Start of my Christmas Week theme!

'Twas the Monday before Christmas!

A very busy Monday!
Apart from my final two surgeries of 2009 at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre and numerous constituent visits, this morning, I took part in an informal group leaders’ meeting on the Council Budget at the City Chambers.

The Chief Executive and Director of Finance gave elected members an overview of where the officers are in relation to finding the necessary savings and accommodate significant cost pressures – particularly in Social Work.

There is no doubt that the task is significant and I - along with other opposition members - asked for further detail about any savings proposed. I also specifically asked for a statement from each Chief Officer about the detail and effect of any proposed savings across the service delivery areas each is responsible for.

It was agreed that a budget volume would be issued to all elected members around the week commencing 11th January and group leaders would meet again on 19th January at which the detail I had asked for from Chief Officers would be made available.

I feel the meeting was co-operative and productive; such an approach is important given the financial challenges facing the city council.

In the run-up to Christmas, I do a lot of visits to constituents, especially elderly residents, and this continued into the (rather snowy!) evening, preventing my attending the Harris Academy Christmas Carol Service. With regard to surgeries, these start again when the schools return in January, but meantime West End residents can contact me at any time at esurgery@frasermacpherson.org.uk or call me on Dundee 459378.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Scottish Futures Trust disaster

I don't much rate the SNP administration at Holyrood, elected on promises undelivered, high on populism and low on any achievement. However, in terms of its long-term legacy of failure, its hopeless management of capital infrastructure financing will cause the most damage. Step forward the Scottish Futures Trust :

• The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has been an expensive failure. It is a political white elephant which has achieved nothing for Scotland. It should be scrapped.

• It cost £23 million in set up costs alone, whilst its budget for this year is doubling to £5.9million and the Chief Executive is being paid £180,000. The CBI has called it a ‘fiasco’ and independent reports say that it is unlikely to be any cheaper than PFI/PPP.

• Despite what the SNP want us to believe, the SFT has no role in funding schools, the Forth Crossing or anything else. Instead, the SFT has caused a major hiatus in the construction industry as the SNP Government have delayed capital projects in order to ‘develop’ the SFT enough to give an impression it has a role – the SNP saving face is not an excuse for delaying the replacing of crumbling schools, nor is it an excuse for cuts to construction jobs and apprenticeships.

• Far from a radical alternative that will revolutionise public investment, the SNP’s much-derided flagship financial policy has turned out simply to be a new quango which will act as an advisory body for the public sector. It has no funding stream and there is no evidence of when or how it will make the promised annual £150 million efficiency savings.

• Projects around the country are being delayed as a result of the SFT uncertainty. In a recession there is a serious need to delivered infrastructure for Scotland’s economy but the SFT is fast becoming a national embarrassment. The SNP must put the Futures Trust in the past and get on with building the schools and hospitals Scotland needs.

The Scottish Futures Trust & School Building:

• The Scottish Futures Trust is not funding school building, despite the SNP’s attempts to pretend otherwise. We are also still no further forward in knowing whether the SFT will ever provide funding for infrastructure development.

• The £800m of direct capital investment announced by the Scottish Government in June could have been made 2 years ago. Councils have been forced to wait while the SNP try to save face over the SFT, which isn’t contributing a single penny to this School Building Programme, or any other infrastructure investment.

• Under the School Building Programme the first primary school won’t be built until 2011, the first secondary school in 2013 and some schools will be delayed until 2018. The SNP pledged that they would match the previous administration’s school building ‘brick for brick’. However, the School Building Programme is only funding 14 secondary schools and 21 primary and specialist schools.

• Despite LibDem calls for the reintroduction of level playing field support for councils which would have helped councils plan ahead with their school building, the Government neither listened nor delivered.

Christmas Number 1

A victory for Facebook but the Christmas number 1 is pretty dire, says the blogger aged a lot nearer 50 than 20!

I think Joe McElderry and "The Climb" is actually pretty good and Joe has a good career ahead of him.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Seafield Road lighting update

Further to my various posts about the lighting issue at Seafield Road recently (see http://tinyurl.com/seafieldlightshere), I am pleased to say the replacement lighting unit has now been installed (see right) and should be fully operational soon.

A Tibetan Terrier Merry Christmas

If there's one thing I have found out over the past year, it is that Tibetan Terriers are real characters!

Bunty's progress ...

In October of last year, I introduced our puppy, Bunty (see http://tinyurl.com/buntypuppy).

Since then, she's grown up! See below ...

Beautiful winter's morning in the West End

Above : The scene this morning across Logie and Cleghorn Street towards the Law.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Freemasons ft. Amanda Wilson - Love On My Mind

Uploaded only because it just came up in conversation tonight! "Watchin'" by the Freemasons is also great.

Victoria Park concerns - feedback from the Director of Education

As reported in tonight's 'Evening Telegraph', the City Council's Director of Education has responded to me about the department's proposals for use of Victoria Park by the schools on the proposed shared campus on the former Logie Secondary School site as follows :

"You are correct that this project will need to come forward as a planning application which will allow for public comment and consultation. As you are aware, the new planning regulations now give easier opportunity for anyone who wishes to make comment. The planning application process for the new primary school in Whitfield was our first opportunity to test out the new regulations in Dundee and this worked extremely well, including two public exhibitions with officers on site to answer questions.

I want to emphasise that no major take over of any of the park space is envisaged. Primary schools in Dundee who do not have dedicated playing fields occasionally make use of park space for events such as sports days and football matches, but their use tends to be rare. I do not envisage the new West End campus requiring anything more frequent in Victoria Park. Because of that, there are no proposals to erect fences, and the statement I have read in the press about a possible all-weather facility is quite simply wrong - no such facility is proposed.

I am intending that the outcome of my discussions with Stewart Murdoch (Director of Leisure and Communities) should be taken to the West End Project Board, which as you know will contain representatives from a number of stakeholders. You will also remember that Chris Ward (Assistant Chief Executive) is chairing that group and intends calling the first meeting in late January.

With regard to consultation, parents are represented on the Project Board and will have an opportunity to express their views. I would also have no objection to an organisation such as Friends of Balgay Park being represented on the Local Implementation Group, the first meeting of which will take place after the initial meeting of the Project Board."

West End Temporary Traffic Orders - Smellies Lane, Ash Street and West Hendersons Wynd; Perth Road

Temporary Traffic Order - Perth Road

Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas main replacement works . The Order is expected to be in force for seven weeks from 4 January 2010. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to temporarily suspend all parking in Perth Road from Airlie Place to Park Place.

Temporary Traffic Order - Smellies Lane, Ash Street and West Hendersons Wynd

Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating has main replacement works. The Order is expected to be in force for five weeks from 4 January 2010 . Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in (a) Smellies Lane from Lochee Road to Ash Street, (b) Ash Street from Smellies Lane to Douglas Street and (c) West Hendersons Wynd from Douglas Street to Brook Street.

Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible.

An alternative route will be available via Lochee Road, Polepark Road and Brook Street.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding either proposal to the Network Management Team, City Development 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 department on 433082.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday activities ...

A busy Thursday. I firstly participated in the City Council's Improvement and Efficiency sub-committee, where I queried progress with the Council Plan and lean service reviews and also gave positive comments about the "Cash in your ideas" employee suggestion scheme - a real success. You can read the committee agenda content by clicking on the headline above or by going to http://tinyurl.com/iecommittee.

Later in the day, we had a useful and productive 'West End Christmas Week' debrief meeting and the overall view is that we had a very successful 2009 Christmas Week but we want to see the biggest and best event ever in 2010 - the tenth anniversary of West End Christmas Week.

Tonight, after my surgery at Blackness Primary School, I participated in the Dundee Contemporary Arts Board meeting. DCA is going from strength to strength and the Martin Boyce exhibition ‘No Reflections’ - now at DCA following a successful showing in Venice reflects this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Budget talks

After the last meeting of the City Council's Policy and Resources Committee, I wrote to the Council Leader suggesting that all-party informal discussion between group leaders on the 2010/11 revenue budget takes place.

I indicated that "as a City Council, facing a significant financial challenge and I think it is in the interests of the city that we all work together irrespective of politics in a productive way to minimise any negative impact on service provision."


I was pleased to learn earlier today that the City Council Leader has arranged for such talks to take place next Monday. The Liberal Democrats have accepted the invitation to such talks from the SNP administration and we hope that all political groups will equally respond positively.

"Awards for All" success for West End sheltered housing complex!

At the request of the Paton's Lane sheltered housing complex, I recently acted as sponsor for their funding application to the Awards for All scheme to get television, DVD and music equipment for the sheltered lounge.

I was delighted to learn of the success of the application and enjoyed a visit yesterday to the lounge to see the new equipment - see photos below. There's already been a "Mamma Mia!" night at the lounge for the residents - and the new equipment is going to be well-used!

Angie and colleagues run many events for the sheltered tenants and do a great job. Wishing all at Paton's Lane and the other sheltered housing across the West End a very Happy Christmas and New Year!

Above : New television equipment!

Above : This year's tenants' Christmas raffle!

More on our photograph competition winner!

As I mentioned yesterday, Shahbaz Majeed was winner our our Christmas Week photography competition, winning a voucher kindly sponsored by Jessops.


I've been speaking with Shahbaz and he's a really accomplished photographer - his site at www.framefocuscapture.co.uk is well worth a look - here's an example - his photograph of St Giles Cathedral. There's lots of superb photographs at his site.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Need for proper consultation over Victoria Park

As reported in tonight's "Evening Telegraph", (click on headline to view or go to http://tinyurl.com/victoriaparkdundee) I have called upon Dundee City Council to properly and urgently consult with park users over proposals to use Victoria Park for playing facilities for the new St Joseph’s and Park Place Primary Schools and Park Place Nursery School.

I have written to City Council Chief Executive David Dorward in the following terms :

“Although the detail of the schools’ project will now come forward as a planning application to Development Quality Committee in due course and this will allow for public consultation on the planning aspects, what consultation will take place with the local community, park users and other stakeholders (Friends of Balgay are an obvious stakeholder, for example) on the potential effect on public access to the park by the proposal?

Also, what steps will also be taken to consult parents and carers on the use of Victoria Park as playing facilities for the schools concerned, given that this was not explicitly part of the original consultation when the schools’ project was first consulted upon?”


The City Council’s confirmation that it wishes to make use of Victoria Park as playing field provision for the new schools had caused disquiet amongst the many park users.

Of course, we wish to see the best play facilities and opportunities for school pupils but it is vital that the City Council properly demonstrates that it has consulted the many users of Victoria Park, over what appear thus far to be sketchy proposals.

Many residents had been in contact with me about their concerns. One Blackness Road resident has written :

“I am a resident of the West End and I am writing to you regarding the recent news on the proposed use of Victoria Park for the new primary school on the former Harris Academy annexe site.

I find it unbelievable that a decision such as this appears to have been made with no public consultation.

The park has been in use as open public space for over 100 years and a change of use of even part of it would be seriously detrimental to its use and to the West End as a whole.

I would like to know why this is the only option being looked at and what other options are available.”

Best fireworks photograph competition!

As well as the Best Christmas Shop Window presentation today, there was also a presentation to Shahbaz Majeed, winner of the best photograph of this year's fireworks competition. See more at http://tinyurl.com/fireworksphoto.


Above : Shahbaz (right) presented with his award by Rob Carstairs, our West End Christmas Week pyrotechnician and www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk webmaster. Above : Shahbaz's winning photograph.

Best Christmas Shop Window - photographs

Here's a few photographs from today's presentation to the Shelter Shop in Perth Road, winner of the Best Dressed Christmas Shop Window in the West End - as covered in tonight's "Evening Telegraph" :

Above : Photocall with Shelter Shop staff and Aimee Henderson who designed the shop window, other local businesses, Liz and Ann who organised and judged the competition, Rob and Shahbaz (more on them later!), and yours truly!

Above : Christmas Shop Window!

Above : Another photo of the Shelter Shop window!

On Radio Tay news today ...

I was on Radio Tay news today (and also Wave 102 news) about the West End Christmas Week "Best Dressed Christmas Shop Window" competition presentation - you can listen to this below :

video

Monday, December 14, 2009

West End Christmas Week Winners!

If you click on the headline above or go to http://tinyurl.com/xmaswinner, you can download the list of winners in the West End Christmas Week shoppers' prize draw.

We had a huge volume of entries this year and we are very grateful to the many West End shops who participated by donating prize draw gifts.

Development Quality Committee

Tonight's Development Quality Committee at the City Council was a brief meeting - and the item on agreeing to direct action to tidy up the grounds of the St Peter McCheyne Memorial Church (on the agenda following my request for enforcement action as a result of residents' requests to have the grounds tidied up) - did not have to be dealt with because the owner had the grounds tidied in the past few days. See my earlier item at : http://tiny.cc/mccheynetidied.

I am most grateful to the City Council's Planning Enforcement Officer, whose efforts has resulted in a tidied area around the former church - but wouldn't it be great to see the church brought back into use?

Christmas in the West End ...


Good to see that West Port's Christmas Tree is now in place and the lights are on!

Act: The LibDem Action Network

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joe wins X Factor 2009

Good result

Seafield Road - lighting update

Earlier this week, I advised of the City Council Chief Executive's positive response to my request that street lighting replacement policy be altered so that streets like Seafield Road - where lamp posts have been removed following damage by motor vehicles - can get their street lights replaced.

On receipt of the Chief Executive's feedback, I asked the City Engineer how quickly the light at the south end of Seafield Road can be replaced, and I have now been advised as follows :

"Due to the need to liaise and arrange with Scottish & Southern for the power supply and to order the materials and programme the work, the streetlight will be replaced within the next 4 weeks."

Elliot Road Update

Further to my article last Wednesday about the footpaths of Elliot Road, I have now been advised by the City Council that the proposed project has (subject to the outcome of resident consultation) been brought forward to wek commencing 11th January 2010.

The City Development Department has advised :

" ... unfortunately there are delays to the approvals with the another project hence Elliot Road being brought forward to the 11th."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The X Factor 2009 Final - Joe McElderry - Dance With My Father

Pleased Joe is in the final; Stacey was very gracious in defeat.

Taylor's Lane - meeting with residents

Yesterday, along with an officer from the City Council's City Development Department, I met with residents in Taylor's Lane regarding their concerns about access in the street, where difficulties causing by some parked cars resulted in the road being physically blocked recently.

There's a balance to be struck in a street like Taylor's Lane between ensuring clear access and not losing valuable parking spaces in an area of high parking demand. I am pleased to say that we had a very constructive meeting and a minor revision to the waiting restrictions on the west side, south of the junction with Patrick Place will be proposed and - in due course - will be subject to public consultation.

Update - West End Schools

Further to my article yesterday about the Scottish Government's to allow the City Council deregulation from the Schools Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967 (as amended), that will allow the St Joseph's Primary, and Park Place Primary and Nursery Schools Project to go ahead on the former Logie Secondary site in Dundee, I received a very prompt response to my request for an early Board meeting from Director of Education Jim Collins today, that indicated :

"I agree that we should try to organise a project board meeting as soon as possible. I shall be discussing that with the Chief Executive and with Chris Ward (Assistant Chief Executive) who, you may remember, was designated as the chair of the project board."

It is very important indeed to consult with all stakeholders - particularly parents and carers and the wider local community - throughout the building process and I see the establishment of the Board and the promised project implementation groups as vital to the process of ensuring good quality consultation and making sure that all views, concerns and issues that may arise during the construction of the new schools are adequately addressed.

Lovely day in the West End!

Janet & I had a nice meal at lunchtime at the Riverside Inn - although it has been a very cold day, it was lovely and the views across the Tay were particularly stunning (unlike my photographic skills!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Great result for the Scottish Liberal Democrats!

Many congratulations to Ashay Ghai (pictured right) on winning the Bearsden South by-election for the Scottish Liberal Democrats. The result was announced earlier today.

Ashay took the seat from Conservatives, beating the Tories by 271 votes. Labour was knocked out in the first round of the count and the SNP was a weak third.

This is the second Tory council seat the Scottish Liberal Democrats have gained this year and I agree with the comments on Jo Swinson MP who said, "There is no sign of a David Cameron bounce in Scotland."

It appears the Tories can't even hold what they have already got.

Tavish Scott MSP added :

"This is fantastic achievement by Ashay Ghai and his local campaigning team, supported by his local MP Jo Swinson. Liberal Democrats beating the Conservatives with Labour humiliated all bodes well for the coming general election.

"People recognise that it is the Liberal Democrats on the side of hard working Scottish families during Labours recession, with the Tories only offering tax breaks for the very richest in our society."

FULL RESULT :
East Dunbartonshire Council - (Ward 3) - Bearsden South
Date : 10/12/2009

LD Ashay Ghai 1110
Con 1261
SNP 783
Lab 626
LD gain from Con

Details:

Stage 1:
Ashay Ghai LD 1110
Rachel Higgins Con 1261
Fiona Grace McLeod SNP 783
Manjinder Shergill Lab 626

Stage 2 elimination of Shergill:
LD 1381
Con 1306
SNP 972

Stage 3 elimination of McLeod:
LD 1770
Con 1499

Earth, Wind and Fire - Got to get you into my life

Last of the E, W and F week!

Seafield Road pavements - an update

I recently raised with the City Council the condition of the pavements in Seafield Road (see http://tinyurl.com/pvtsseafield) and have now had the following feedback.

"The area inspector checked Seafield Road footways following your email and as a result of his inspection identified three damaged dropped kerbs which he proposed be removed and made safe.

In addition he noted eight actionable defects on the footway and raised an order for the repair of these with a timescale of twenty eight days (this work should now have been carried out).

Other than these items he did not note any other actionable defects. Road Maintenance is aware of the condition of the footways in Seafield Road and these have been ranked with other footways as part of the assessment exercise carried out in financial year 2008/2009.

Currently in the three year footway programme there are approximately 150 locations whose footways have been assessed as being in equal or worse condition than Seafield Road. It is not possible therefore to indicate a timescale for carrying out resurfacing works at this location."

Whilst welcoming the defects that have been addressed, I have fed this response back to the residents at Rose Lodge and other local residents who raised concerns about the pavement condition suggesting a site visit with a City Development Department officer to discuss the overall condition of the pavements here, as I consider them to be in real need of resurfacing.

West End Schools - deregulation decision

Yesterday, the Director of Education advised me that Scottish Government has approved the City Council's application for deregulation in respect of the proposal to build two new primary schools and a nursery to replace the current Park Place and St Joseph's Primary Schools buildings and Park Place Nursery, on a shared campus on the site of the former Logie secondary school.

As reported in today's "Courier" I have made the point that the Scottish Government decision has taken some time to be made.

Some time ago the Director of Education gave me an assurance that he would call an initial meeting of the west end schools project board as soon as the decision was known

I hope this can now happen without delay as it is important to consult with all -and particularly parents - as the project progresses. I have written to the Director asking for assurances in that regard.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Go Dundee - some of the amazing things happening in Dundee

With the permisison of Go Dundee, here's a short slideshow, narrated by Lorraine Kelly, put together for the recent 'Go Dundee' event. See also http://tinyurl.com/go-dundee

The speakers at the event included David Dorward, Chief Executive of Dundee City Council and Professor Pete Downes, Principal of the University of Dundee.

The video celebrates the many great things that are happening in Dundee at the moment - including the news regarding funding for Harris Academy.

West End and Broughty Ferry should get a share of regeneration funds

In today's "Courier" I make clear my view that the City Council should ensure that both the West End and Broughty Ferry should henceforth get a share of the Fairer Scotland Funding that goes to local community planning partnerships.

At the moment, the West End and Ferry Wards are the only areas in Dundee failing to attract these funds, but the mainstreaming of the Fairer Scotland Fund from next April means that it is possible for the City Council to ensure all areas of Dundee benefit.

You can read my comments in the Courier by clicking on the headline above or going to
http://tinyurl.com/regenfunds.

West End Christmas Week colouring competition winner!

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of presenting Steven Glen of P7a at Ancrum Road Primary School with his prize for creating the best "fireworks safety sticker" in a competition involving the pupils from all Primary 7 classes across the 4 West End primary schools. Steven wins a studio tour of the Wave 102 studios as well as a book token and all class winners have also received book tokens. You can see Steven's winning entry and all the other entries at http://www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk/2009stickercompetition.html.

Pictured above are (back from left) - Robin Carstairs (West End Christmas Week pyrotechnician, webmaster and competition mastermind!) and Adam Findlay (Managing Director of Wave 102) and (front from left) - Neil Cooney (Borders Books), Steven, yours truly and Dolly O'Rourke (Head Teacher of Ancrum Road Primary School).

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Vince Cable : Pre Budget Report Response

Elliot Road - pavements and trees

The north footway of Elliot Road is in really poor condition, with trip hazards, thanks to tree roots - and the south footway is not adopted at all. The City Development Department recently consulted me and other councillors about a number of options to improve matters and the option described by the department (below) is the agreed proposal. There is now consultation with householders taking place and it is envisaged work will commence on 26th January :

"Elliot Road provides vehicle and pedestrian access to Royal Victoria Hospital and pedestrian access to the adjacent Balgay Cemetery. The street has a tree lined footway to the north and to the south there is a park in the middle with housing at the west end and housing and lock ups to the east. There are not any residential properties on the north side.

The north footway is adopted whereas the south is not. The north footway is in poor condition due to many trip hazards caused by tree roots and the adjacent cemetery hedge which is also causing narrowing to below 1.2m width. The south sections of footway provide access to properties. They have scored highly in the Unadopted Footways programme and were due for upgrade and adoption this financial year.

Preferred option :

Combined Scheme to retain all existing mature trees and relocate the footway to south side of the road. This will address tripping hazards and footway width issues while retaining all 24 mature and healthy trees as well as providing a continuous footway on the south side. It is proposed to convert the redundant north footway into a grass verge so there is minimal residual liability for tripping issues. This footway does not provide access to any residential properties so the retention of it is not thought to be required. A Stopping Up Traffic Order is not required as the footway is to be re-aligned within the existing highway boundary.

The Adopted Footway works are to convert the north footway to grass verge and provide a new footway within the park. The Estates Section of City Development who manage this land on behalf of the Education Dept who own it, have granted approval to construct a new footway as proposed as it will not affect their long term proposals. The Unadopted footway works are to upgrade and adopt the footways either side of the park on the south side of the road.

Tree Implications - Retention of all 32 mature and healthy trees."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Street lighting policy - and Seafield Road

Further to my previous articles about concerns regarding street lighting policy in the city (click on headline above to view - or go to http://tinyurl.com/dundeelights) the City Council's Chief Executive has now advised me of a change in policy with immediate effect. This will reverse the policy of not replacing street lights damaged by motor vehicles where the cost could not be reclaimed via the driver’s insurance policy.


Having first raised concerns about the impact of not replacing street lights back in May, I was disappointed that it seemed to take an age to address the issue, particularly as the darker nights drew in.


However, I am very pleased that the new Chief Executive has responded to my concerns – and those of other councillors – and we will now see the “missing” street lights replaced.


He has advised me earlier today as follows :

"I have been contacted by a number of elected members regarding the practice in relation to replacement of damaged street lighting, which was introduced as part of the 2009/10 Revenue Budget.

The concerns raised by elected members are that the non-replacement of damaged street lights is having an adverse effect on public safety and is not effective.

I have met with the Directors of City Development and Finance and we have agreed that, with immediate effect, this procedure should cease, and this will mean that forthwith all street lighting lampposts that are damaged or need replacement will be replaced.

The cost of this revised procedure is estimated to be £72,000 in the current financial year, and the Director of Finance has advised me this can be met from the Council's Renewal & Repairs Fund. The cost in a full financial year, ie 2010/11 onwards, is estimated to be £130,000 and this provision will be included within the draft Capital Estimates, which will be considered at the Policy & Resources Committee in February 2010."

It is vital that missing street lights are replaced urgently as community safety is paramount. If we take for example the missing street light in Seafield Road in the West End, the area around the missing street light has been plunged into darkness and I cannot stress enough how important it is that it is replaced soon.


I have today written to the City Engineer seeking a timescale for the replacement light for Seafield Road being installed.

Getting more public sector jobs for Dundee

At the City Council's City Development Committee last night, councillors considered a report on the city's attempts to secure more Scottish civil service jobs.

This report was as a result of my motion agreed by committee on 24th August calling for officers to update councillors on Dundee's record in attracting these posts to the City over the past few years. You can read the report by clicking on the headline above or by going to
http://tinyurl.com/dundeecivilservicejobs.

What the report makes clear is that, although Dundee was successful in attracting civil service jobs under the previous LibDem/Labour Executive (243 jobs from 1999-2004) the current SNP government has been a dismal failure in this regard, and what makes this all the more disappointing given the promises previously made by SNP politicians.

I reminded committee last night of the commitment SNP Minister Shona Robison made at a 'Courier' hustings meeting at the 2007 election (see
http://tinyurl.com/ych3eh2) :

"Nearly all of the parties gave their support to the fight for civil service jobs in the city ... Shona Robison was given a rousing hand when she said a fair share would be far more than they were getting at the moment."

I presented a motion to committee last night to instruct the City Council's Chief Executive to write to all constituency and regional MSPs who cover the city calling for their support for Dundee's campaign for more civil service jobs for Dundee. I am pleased that committee unanimously agreed to my proposal. All must be done to secure further employment opportunities for Dundonians and bringing more civil service jobs to Dundee would greatly assist.