Wednesday 31 March 2010

Labservative General Election Manifesto

Labservative - more of the same ...

Energy saving advice for tenants

The Energy Saving Trust has some useful advice for tenants who want to persuade their landlord to install energy saving measures in their home - see

The Dundee West Transition Town Group site is at

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Nick Clegg : If you want real change, vote for it

Hawkhill Bus Stop damage - action taken

Following concerns raised by residents about damage to the bus stop on the north side of Hawkhill, east of the Sinderins junction, I raised the concern with the City Council and have received the following feedback from the City Development Department:

"I have asked the contractor to go and check the said bus stop this morning with a view to replacing the perspex. He will also check the issue with the wiring, which I am led to believe is the solar powered wiring from the battery inside the pole. This is not an electrical issue.

I am also hopeful that the new flag replacement will start from next week where all of the flags will be replaced and the numbered tiles will be removed. I have to speak with Trueform today regarding the programme for the flag replacement."

I rest my case ...

Yesterday, I commented on the Audit Scotland Best Value 2 report on Dundee City Council, and I suggested a reduction in the number of committees - specifically :

" ... there be a reduction in the number of committees with the merger of the Audit and Risk Management Sub-Committee and the Improvement and Efficiency Sub-Committee into the Scrutiny Committee. These committees have fairly similar remits and it is all overly cumbersome, top-heavy and bureaucratic. In the current financial climate, the council should be streamlining and should be striving for efficiency."

Today's Improvement and Efficiency Sub-Committee had 8 councillors at it, 14 senior council officers and - despite having 5 agenda items to discuss (and my asking more questions than anyone else) - the meeting lasted just short of only 30 minutes.

There has to be a better way - and a merger of the committees I mention above is the obvious solution.

West Port Roundabout

I have received complaints from constituents about the worn white lines/road markings at the West Port roundabout, that is clearly a matter of concern in terms of road safety. I raised the matter with the City Council and have received the following positive response :

"These deficiencies were identified under a road safety audit and work is planned as new works in the next financial year.

The roundabout was re-textured to improve the surface for vehicles. The renewal of road markings will be complemented by new anti skid surfacing."

Bus ticketing in Dundee : A helpful update from National Express Dundee

I have had quite a number of West End constituents ask about what improvements are planned to bus ticketing - for example, making purchasing bus passes easier and more flexible, in the way the Oyster Card facility in London operates.

I contacted Lawrence Davie, Managing Director of National Express Dundee, about this and he has given me a helpful update :

"Following on from the successful introduction of the new electronic ticketing machines which now accept the smart concession cards NX DUNDEE is looking at introducing smartcard technology to replace its current season cards and multiple journey products.

Managing Director Lawrence Davie said that they had wanted to do this two years ago but had been delayed by problems with the technology for the concession cards. It is now hoped that smart cards will be rolled out later this year and be in use across Dundee within the next twelve months replacing all the other cards currently issued by the customer.

When this happens it will be possible to top up cards online and at points across the city. There will be many other benefits for the public.

The new cards are planned to operate in a similar way to London Oyster card.

The Company is hoping to be able to make a formal announcement with a timetable for introduction by the summer."

I have fed back this to constituents who have raised the matter, and I am pleased to see progress in this by National Express Dundee. Making it easy to purchase bus travel can only help increase public transport usage in the city, so it is to be warmly welcomed.

A welcome report on the digital radio switchover

With thanks to Adam Findlay of Wave 102 who sent me information about a new House of Lords report released yesterday, having had the opportunity today to read this, it is good that it emphasises the need for greater clarity in the digital radio upgrade plan, and it also highlights public confusion and industry uncertainty, with calls for every new radio to contain FM and digital (DAB and DAB+). (See

It also says the government needs to put in place a radio scrappage scheme for old FM radio sets and a fund to help poorer people make the switch.

The report by the House of Lords Communications Committee has warned there could be a danger of a major public reaction when the radio switchover policy is implemented.

It says :

"If the UK is to go ahead with digital switchover, there needs to be the utmost clarity as to what will happen, in order that the consumer and the industry can proceed with confidence.

If current plans for 2015 go ahead, between 50 and 100 million analogue radios will become largely redundant and around 20 million car radios will need a converter. "The Government should work with car manufacturers to ensure that digital car radios are fitted with multi-standard chips as soon as possible and inform consumers of availability and benefits of digital radios containing the multi-standard chip."

The warnings of the House of Lords Communications Committee should be heeded. I have already raised concerns at the government’s handling of the future of radio, particularly that, when radio follows television in moving to digital-only transmission (DAB) by around 2015, many people may lose out in receiving radio reception and many local stations may not be available on digital.

Many local radio stations – for example Wave 102 in Dundee – are not available on Digital Audio Broadcasting. Also, reception of DAB is limited and many people simply cannot get consistent DAB reception.

I am unsurprised at the comments by this House of Lords Committee. It is beyond me that the Westminster Government is moving forward with proposals to switch off FM radio by around 2015 when over 100 local stations still do not have a clear digital migration path and are likely to be consigned to an uncertain future on the analogue spectrum once digital switchover has occurred.

Monday 29 March 2010

Need for "sea change" in Dundee Council scrutiny arrangements

As reported in tonight's Evening Telegraph, I have said that the City Council has to listen to the concerns raised by Audit Scotland in its Best Value 2 (BV2) report just completed - and act upon these concerns quickly and decisively, particularly in relation to current unsatisfactory scrutiny arrangements.

Following previous criticism from auditors about the council’s ineffective scrutiny arrangements, the Scrutiny Committee was established, but its terms of reference are thoroughly inadequate and this had been made clear to the SNP administration by myself and other opposition councillors at the time of the committee’s establishment. However, the SNP failed to take heed of these concerns and had created a Scrutiny Committee that is a bit of a "toothless wonder".

It is no wonder that Audit Scotland has again called for improvement to scrutiny arrangements and it is about time there is a proper and lasting improvement in scrutiny arrangements so that the decisions of the council and its performance in delivering services are properly scrutinised.

So what's wong with the current Scrutiny Committee? Its terms of reference are too limited – particularly the fact that it is not able to “call in” items for scrutiny and the fact that the major areas of inspection – examples being delivery of the housing service and child protection – are not part of the Scrutiny Committee’s remit at all makes the committee far too limited in its scope.

Taking these major reports only to the Policy and Resources Committee, where councillors’ contributions are each limited to 2 questions and 4 minutes of comment makes a nonsense of the concept of scrutiny and has resulted in most of the Scrutiny Committee’s time being spent on HMIE and Care Commission Reports with few areas requiring attention.

At the time the Scrutiny Committee was set up, I also suggested that there be a reduction in the number of committees with the merger of the Audit and Risk Management Sub-Committee and the Improvement and Efficiency Sub-Committee into the Scrutiny Committee. These committees have fairly similar remits and it is all overly cumbersome, top-heavy and bureaucratic. In the current financial climate, the council should be streamlining and should be striving for efficiency.

At the time, the SNP did not listen, but in light of the BV2 report, the time for a radical improvement to scrutiny is needed.

David Dorward, the Council’s Chief Executive, has advised me that he is now undertaking an review of the operation of the scrutiny function and that a report would be placed in the near future before the Policy & Resources Committee. It is vital that all sides of opinion on the council are given the opportunity to feed their views in before such a report is finalised, otherwise the criticisms of inadequate scrutiny will not be properly addressed.

I have suggested to the Chief Executive that elected members be given the opportunity to speak with the auditors about the findings of BV2 and the Chief Executive has indicated that “the Accounts Commission offered to hold a meeting with leading elected members and senior officials to discuss the report and the Accounts Commission’s findings. It was agreed that this meeting will take place in May/early June.” This is to be welcomed.


This afternoon I held two surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy - but my Thursday surgery at Blackness Primary School will not take place, as the school Easter Holidays start with the end of the school day on Thursday.

Surgeries start again on Monday 19th April with the end of the school holidays, but I can in the meantime be contacted at any time at or on Dundee 459378.

Water problems - update

I recently mentioned concerns about the discoloured water supply that occurred during part of last week in part of the West End, including Abbotsford Place - the matter was covered in today's "Courier" including my comments about the issue.

I have now had the following feedback from the Regional Community Manager at Scottish Water, to whom I have given residents' feedback :

"I understand there were operational problems with a service reservoir supplying the Logie area of Dundee. This issue was resolved on Thursday however as the supply returned to normal, it stirred up the sediment that is normally present in the main.

I appreciate the obvious inconvenience caused to customers and during such incidents we advise customers to run their kitchen tap for a couple of minutes until the water runs clear."

Vince Cable on Channel 4 tonight

At 8pm tonight, Channel 4 will be screening the Ask the Chancellors Debate between Vince Cable, Alistair Darling and George Osborne.

The programme will be live on Channel 4 and you can also follow it on Twitter and Facebook.

You can find out more details on the Channel 4 website:

During the debate, Channel 4 will be holding an online poll encouraging viewers to rate the performances of the respective Chancellors.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Local Solutions to Climate Change?

The Community Carbon Exchange is a new project based in Dundee, aiming to radically reduce participants CO2 emissions.

Find out how it works and how you can get involved in this carbon rationing experiment.

Talk by Alistair Macleod hosted by Friends of the Earth and people & planet followed by discussion - this Wednesday 31st March at 7pm in the Dalhousie Building (LT1)

For more information, please contact: or

And - the next Dundee West Transition Town meeting takes place this coming Friday - 2nd April - at 12.30pm at Dundee West Church.

More Photopolis of Perth Road

A fascinating photograph (below) looking west along Perth Road and with Roseangle to the south with what is now Dundee West Church prominent in the photo. The full Dundee City Council Photopolis collection is available at

Saturday 27 March 2010

Abbotsford Place and surrounding area

I have expressed concern that householders in part of the West End suffered a poor quality water supply for three days towards the end of last week. The area concerned included Abbotsford Place where many of the properties are sheltered housing for elderly people.
I received concerns from residents in the area that water in their kitchens and bathrooms was running discoloured brown for three days and I have contacted Scottish Water’s Community Manager about this as I am anxious to ensure that the problem is permanently resolved.

Dundee West campaign continues apace ...

I've been assisting John Barnett's campaign for the Dundee West Westminster seat again today - here's John pictured (below) along with Craig Duncan campaigning in Brackens in the constituency this afternoon. John's proving to be a dynamic and campaigning candidate and I'm pleased to accept his invitation to be his Election Agent for the forthcoming General Election.

Friday 26 March 2010

Friday activities ...

I have been in a very wet Motherwell today with the "day job" but on return spoke with Clive Gillman, Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts, about a competition DCA recently ran that has raised my concerns and those of the other councillors who serve on the DCA Board. The matter is covered in tonight's Evening Telegraph, and I am pleased to say that Clive has assured me that such a competition will not be repeated in the future.

I had a letter in
yesterday's Tele following a resident raising her concerns about the condition of the ground on the east side of Glenagnes Road - and the fallen boundary fencing. I have now received feedback from the City Council's Enforcement Officer as follows :

"I have visited the above site and would advise I shall write out to the owner and advise he tidy the site and make it secure."

And, lastly for tonight, my Dundee LibDem colleague and community activist Allan Petrie has created the following excellent response to that misinformed Travelodge survey that suggested that Dundee was not a place to visit because of "bad weather" :

Thursday 25 March 2010

Thursday ...

Good to see the coverage in today's Scotsman of the meeting we held earlier this week to progress a memorial to the victims of the 1879 Tay Rail Bridge Disaster. This follows on from yesterday's coverage in the Courier, and includes quotes from Stuart Morris of Balgonie and myself. You can read the article from the Scotsman at

Today, I attended the latest meeting of the West End Schools Projects Board (relative to the St Joseph's Primary School and Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools projects) and later tonight I chaired the latest Friends of Magdalen Green meeting.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Skills for Oral History Research

With permission of Dundee WestFest, here's an interesting update on Oral History in the West End :

Are you from the West End?

Are you interested in the history of your local area?

Would you like to learn how to become a researcher yourself and help record the history of the West End for future generations?

Dundee University in partnership with Dundee WestFest are offering a free 8 week course which aims to equip West End residents with the skills required to create an Oral History archive for their local area.

Times: Mondays 2pm-4pm
Dates 26th April to 14th June 2010
Venue: Tower Building, Dundee University

Interested? Telephone Susan on 384809 or email to sign up for the course.

Working for the West End ... latest updates

* I have, at the request of residents, raised street sweeping issues at Clovis Duveau Drive and Blackness Road and have received assurances from the Waste Management Department that these will be tackled.
* Following residents' complaints about graffiti at various locations, I have raised these with the City Council. The Waste Management Department assures me that mess like this in Marchfield Road (above) and graffiti in Scott Street will be cleaned off and I have also raised graffiti issues at Seafield Road. I have also been assured by the Leisure & Communities Department that the mess of graffiti on the west wall of the allotments at Magdalen Green will be attended to.

* The City Council has given me details of the updated footways priority list which envisages the following streets in the West End being brought up to adoptable standard in 2010/11 - Glamis Place, Glamis Terrace and Seymour Avenue. I have raised queries on behalf of residents about some other streets that I view as a priority given their poor condition. I am pleased to note that the upgrading of the footpath on the south side of Perth Road west of the former Lawrie's Nurseries is to commence in the near future.

Another day, another Labour budget failure ...

Responding to Alistair Darling’s Budget, Nick Clegg said:

“This Budget was a political dodge not an economic plan.

“Britain needed a Budget that gave us honesty in spending and fairness in tax, we have got neither.

“Labour is in denial, while the Conservatives are talking tough to cover up that they only offer more of the same.

“The Chancellor is incapable of coming clean about where spending cuts will have to fall.

“Rather than being honest with people about what the Government can and cannot afford, the Chancellor would rather let others indiscriminately shave departmental budgets.

“By confirming the freeze in personal allowances the Government has ensured everyone will see a real increase in their income tax bill – when what people on low and middle incomes desperately need is an income tax cut.

“Rather than forcing the nationalised banks to lend to good British businesses they have chosen to create a feeble quango to arbitrate between bullying banks and their small business clients.

“It says something when the most substantive announcement the Government can come up with is a tax agreement with Belize, however welcome that may be.”

Vince Cable responded to the budget below:

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Collecting now for the Rotary Club of Abertay's Charity Shop!

With the permission of the Rotary Club of Abertay, here's details of the appeal for their forthcoming charity shop :

Brook Street, Broughty Ferry (former Victoria Wine shop)

Monday 29th March to Saturday 3rd April

(Shop stacking Mon-Wed; open for sale Thurs - Sat)

Acceptable items for sale include bric-a-brac, books, music, pictures, toys, sports equipment, garden accessories, soft furnishings and linens, small items of furniture, bikes, CDs, videos, computer games, DVDs, fashion accessories, jewellery, but - from previous experience - no clothes, please.

Telephone Dundee 668355 or email to request collection of donated items.

Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial meeting - and community councils review update

This evening, I took the minutes at the first meeting of an informal group interested in ensuring that there is a proper and lasting memorial to the victims of the 1879 Tay Rail Bridge Disaster. Apart from myself and other councillors, there were representatives from a number of organisations including the Tay Valley Family History Society, Newport, Wormit and Forgan, Community Council and West End Community Council. The meeting was chaired by Stuart Morris of Balgonie.

It was an excellent and productive meeting - we have formed a Memorial Fund committee that I have agreed to serve on and we are looking to establish a Friends of the Tay Rail Bridge Memorial group.

We are meeting again in May and welcome the participation of all interested. If you wish to knwo more, please call me on Dundee 459378 or e-mail - many thanks.

Earlier today, I attended a briefing on the review of community councils. I was pleased to learn that it is not envisaged altering the West End Community Council boundaries - something the community council will welcome.

Monday 22 March 2010

Campaigning, Belfast, Surgeries, City Council ...

A very busy few days - with the Liberal Democrats campaigning across the West End and the Dundee West constituency as a whole. Pictured above is John Barnett, Dundee West Liberal Democrat candidate, in Cleghorn Street yesterday.

I missed much of Sunday's campaigning as I have been in Belfast with the "day job" (photo below!) and returned just in time to attend my afternoon surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy, followed by City Council meetings tonight.

At tonight's Council's committees, I raised questions about the Bike Boost initiative as part of the Dundee Travel Active project, the review of 'out of hours' social work service, and welcomed the decision to give the job brokerage services contract to the Dundee Employment and Aftercare Project (DEAP). The handling of this matter by the Dundee Partnership and the SNP council administration has been unimpressive, the tendering process wasteful and unnecessary and - in terms of the future - I made the point that now is the time for all councillors in the city to get behind DEAP and the excellent work it does to secure job opportunities for Dundee people.

I also raised my concern at the expenditure of nearly £80 000 to change the car parking and access at the East District Housing Office - an office barely three years old. Why is the council spending such a large sum of rent-payers' money changing parking arrangements so soon after the project was completed? The SNP Housing Convener appeared disinterested in the matter and I have written to the Chief Executive of the City Council asking further questions about the concern. City Council tenants are entitled to know that their rent monies are being properly spent.

Sunday 21 March 2010

More from Photopolis - Perth Road

A superb photograph of Perth Road at Mid Wynd and Ryehill Church (now flats) from Photopolis.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Tavish in the Nethergate!

Here's a video of Tavish Scott MSP, along with John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, during Tavish's recent visit to Dundee. You can read other recent Tavish videos - including his visits to Edinburgh and Aberdeen - at

Friday 19 March 2010

University of Dundee Video Competition

At the request of the University of Dundee's here's details of their new video competition!

"The University of Dundee is currently running a video competition, asking entrants to create a short video detailing the discoveries they have made in the city. If you would be able to mention this on your blog, we would be very grateful, as hopefully it would be of interest to your readers and would encourage more entries.

We're looking for videos covering any aspect of life in Dundee where there is a discovery worth sharing. This doesn't have to be anything groundbreaking, but something a prospective student might be interested in (and of course, we have prospective students of all ages and nationalities, so this can be interpreted in many different ways).

Anyone can enter (you don't need to be a student). We're happy to accept:

* Film
* Animation
* Photo montage

The only condition is that it must be short - we're looking for videos no more than 90 seconds long.

There are lots of prizes to be won, including cash prizes of up to £300, and the closing date is 30 April.

Please see our website: for further details."

Police Community Letter Boxes

Arising out of the recent Tayside Police Community Surgeries, including one at Blackness Library, the local Police are now introducing Community Letter Boxes to allow the public to raise non-emergency issues and any suggestions they may have.

The library is the location for the one in the West End, although I have suggested to the Police that another at the Mitchell Street Centre would be a good additional location for the north of the West End Ward.

The Power of Community - How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

The Dundee West Transition Town Group and people and planet are hosting a free film screening of "The Power of Community - How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" on Thursday 25th March at 6.30pm in the University of Dundee's Dalhousie Building, Room 2G14.

It will be followed by a discussion on how we can create a more resilient local economy and sustainable future in the face of climate change and depletion of fossil fuel resources. Starting at 18:30 Watch the trailer of this inspiring film:

Thursday 18 March 2010

Fencing repairs promised - Pentland Avenue

Following complaints from residents about vandalism to fencing at the west end of Pentland Avenue, I have had the following feedback from the City Council's Housing Department:

"Dear Councillor Macpherson

The metal railings at this location are to be inspected for the necessary repair as they are on the Housing Department account."

Working for the West End

The LibDem team was again campaigning in the West End today. Here's John Barnett, parliamentary candidate, in Rockfield Crescent.

Liberal Democrats - working all year round for the West End.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Sonia - You'll Never Stop Me Loving You

Got bored of the telly tonight and reduced to 'Magic' on Sky - but good to hear this 1989 hit by Sonia! Happy days!

Friends of Wighton : Tich Frier

With thanks to Sheena Wellington, here's the latest update from Friends of Wighton :

On Saturday 20th March, the Friends of Wighton are presenting a Cappuccino Concert in Dundee, performed by the well-known entertainer Tich Frier, from Edinburgh.

Held in the atmospheric Wighton Centre, upstairs in Dundee Central Library, the event starts at 10.30am with coffee and newspapers. The music will be start at 11 am and run for about an hour. Admission is £5.

Tich has been singing folk songs for over 40 years, and has shared stages with some of the greats of folk music and taken his passion for folksong half way round the world and back.

Known for his great voice, driving guitar and uncontrollable sense of humour, his repertoire is taken from the tradition as well as from some of the finest writers around, and is continually nourished by new songs from his own pen and often from sources not obviously "folkie".

His performances also feature his unique brand of frequently surreal tall stories.

His most recent CD, "Shanghaied", was released in 2007.

For more information please visit or

Admission £5, includes coffee and newspapers served from 10.30am.

Tickets available on the door, or in advance from Rainbow Music, 35 Cowgate, Dundee - 01382 698397.

Latest updates

I recently mentioned that Stagecoach Strathtay was giving consideration to my request, on behalf of residents, to extend the 69 bus service to cover Richmond Terrace and Richmond Court (see above).

This morning, I took part in a site visit with the bus company and a City Council officer to ascertain if the bus can safely turn to allow it to cover the area. Conclusion - no problem - it can.

The next step is to see how the additional 4 minutes needed in the timetable can be achieved. Stagecoach Strathtay will investigate this and I will update residents when I hear further.

I also participated in today's City Council Scrutiny Committee, at which Care Commission and HMIE inspection reports on educational establishments in the city were discussed.

This evening, I attended the latest meeting of the West End anti-graffiti group, where we progressed our graffiti removal initiative, planned for the last weekend of May. A really positive and productive meeting.

Lastly, it was with great sadness that I learned earlier today of the death of Ann Caird of Thomson Street. A former community councillor and active member of the West End community, Ann will be sadly missed.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Talk on Plant Conservation

Tomorrow (Wednesday 17th March) between 7 and 9pm, Dr Deborah Long, Plantlife Scotland's Conservation Officer, based at the University of Stirling, will give a talk on Plant Conservation.

Taking place at the Botanic Garden, entrance is free.

Monday 15 March 2010

Crossing Blackness Avenue

Following concerns I have received about the "green man" time for pedestrians crossing Blackness Avenue from the library to Hawkhill, I have again raised the matter with the City Council.

I have received the following feedback from the City Development Department :

"The lights at Blackness Library have been modernised and are now of the 'Puffin' type.

The flashing green man appears for 4 seconds with buzzer sounding. It may appear to the pedestrian that it has stopped but traffic will not move until the far footway is reached and that sensor triggered. The inter-green period ie the period when vehicles are stopped is designed to be long enough to allow pedestrian to complete the crossing safely.

The new design of the green man showing on the nearside or demand side of the crossing is part of a design which prohibits the impatient driver from 'jumping' the red light as he cannot see the green man/red man signal."

Nick Clegg: Speech to Liberal Democrat Spring Conference 2010

Sunday 14 March 2010

Weekend campaigning across the West End ...

The Liberal Democrat campaign team was out in force over the weekend in the West End and across other parts of the Dundee West constituency.

The photo (above) is of John Barnett, LibDem candidate for Dundee West, pictured this afternoon campaigning in Dunmore Gardens in the West End.

John said, "I am really delighted at the really positive response the Liberal Democrats are getting right across Dundee West. Nick Clegg is leading the way in showing why fairness should be at the heart of government and politics. It is clear that this is a positive message that is being well-received on the doorsteps."

Nick Clegg : I'm not the kingmaker

Dear Fraser,

I'm not the kingmaker.

45 million voters are the kingmakers.

Today I've used my keynote speech to our Spring Conference in Birmingham to make that one very simple, very important point. Some days the papers say our party is doing a deal with Labour. Some days the Conservatives. But they can't predict the future. I can't predict the future.

Voters should give politicians their marching orders - not the other way around.

We've made it clear how our Party will change Britain.

Under the Liberal Democrats, no-one will pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn. That's the most fundamental change to the tax system for decades.

We will give every child the fair start they deserve, by reducing class sizes and increasing one to one tuition in our schools.

We'll rebalance the economy so that Britain is no longer just betting on things, but Britain starts building things again.

And we will build a clean, open, fair politics.

Things don't have to be the way they are. The coming election is a chance to get fairness and to get change.

Almost 1 in 4 voters chose the Liberal Democrats at the last election. If that increased to 1 in 3, we could lead the next government.

That is what we can achieve together. Thank you for all you are doing to bring it about.

With all best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Saturday 13 March 2010

Recycling facility now in place for Lochee Road area

Last month, I proposed to the City Council that a neighbourhood recycling centre be provided at Mitchell Street/Lochee Road. The Council's Recycling Projects Officer responded positively and I am very pleased to note that it is now in situ.

Liberal Democrats - Federal Party Conference - Birmingham

A message from Vince Cable MP :

Dear Fraser

I have a very simple message for you. We, the Liberal Democrats, were right about the financial crisis. We warned of the dangers and led the debate when the crisis came. And now we have a clear vision for the future of the British economy.

Now the public wants to know who can guide the country out of the present crisis. Who's going to deal with the broken, discredited banking system. Who's going to lead Britian out of the longest recession since the War. And who will deal with the unsustainable level of Government borrowing.

Today in my speech to Liberal Democrat Party Conference I set out the Liberal Democrat answers to these questions. You can read it

The challenges are enormous. We have to be frank with people about the difficulties ahead. We have to be fiscally responsible. But the Tories and their cronies want to create a financial panic to frighten people into voting for them on May 6th.

Only the Liberal Democrats have identified £15bn of savings to make from bloated bureaucracy and unaffordable commitments. We will identify our priorities and debate them publically. That's open, democratic and Liberal.

Only the Liberal Democrats will invest in jobs with a Green New Deal.

Only the Liberal Democrats will change our unfair tax system so that 3.6 million people will no longer pay any income tax at all. Pensioners will be £100 better off and the average person's income tax bill will be cut by £700.

People are desperate to see the back of this Labour Government. But they don't want the same old Tories. And make no mistake, the Tories are exactly the same.

Thank you for what you are doing in the Liberal Democrat campaign to change Britain for real.

Best wishes,

Vince Cable MP
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor

PS. You can read my full speech

Friday 12 March 2010

IoD Scotland & ACCA Scotland Westminster Hustings meeting

This morning, I attended the Westminster Husting meeting at City Quay, organised by the Institute of Directors - Scotland and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in Scotland, and hosted by Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce.

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, spoke and answered questions, along with Dundee candidates from the other three main parties. It was a good opportunity for candidates to discuss issues with the Dundee business community.

John is pictured (above) after the hustings meeting.

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP

Edward McMillan-Scott, MEP for Yorkshire and and the Humber and the longest-serving Conservative MEP in Europe, has today joined the Liberal Democrats. McMillan-Scott, a former leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, has a proud record of achievement in the European Parliament and has taken a sensible stance on the Tories' foolish decision to leave the European People's Party and align itself with politicians like Michal Kaminski, whose politics are, frankly, embarrassing.

The Tories have detached themselves from the sensible elements of Europe's Centre-Right, including the leaders of both France and Germany, and attached themselves to politicians with whom you would not wish to be associated.

McMillan-Scott said, "My reasons for joining the Liberal Democrats are that, in Nick Clegg, they have a leader who I like, admire and respect. They are internationalists, not nationalists. They are committed to politics based the values of fairness and change."

Ken Clarke apart, who is left in the Conservative Party, with a sensible and positive view about Europe?

Thursday 11 March 2010

Thursday news ...

* This afternoon, after a useful meeting about improving liaison between the numerous West End community groups, I attended the latest meeting of the Best Value Review group on Child Protection Services in Dundee.

* This evening, after a busy surgery at Blackness Primary School, I attended the March meeting of the Community Spirit group which does great work for the people in the Cleghorn, Ancrum, Pentland and surrounding areas. There was an interesting update from Liz and Kay from Dundee WestFest, as well as a good discussion on various local issues.

BBC Strategy Review

I am dismayed at the BBC Trust's proposal in its Strategy Review to close BBC Radio 6 Music.

To quote the BBC itself, the station "brings together the cutting edge music of today, the iconic and groundbreaking music of the past 40 years".

Radio 6 Music is distinctive and valuable, and offers a place for exciting new acts to be heard. It provides its listeners with content that no independent commercial broadcaster offers, and has helped artists like Florence + The Machine reach greater audiences. At 3.4 pence per listener hour, 6 Music is also good value for money. Closing 6 Music would generate a very modest saving, and it is not clear that this would be worth losing such a distinctive station.

The future of 6 Music is a decision for the BBC Trust to make after they have consulted with licence fee payers. Whatever decision is made, the Liberal Democrats are adamant that it must be in line with the BBC’s purpose: to make programmes that are distinctive, high quality, and of good value. I am unconvinced that shutting 6 Music would contribute to these goals.

There are two other aspects of the BBC Trust's proposals that concern me. Firstly, the proposal to close the Asian Network is difficult to understand as is the proposal about :

"... not offering any more localised services than the BBC already does – for example, new services for individual towns or cities."

I have given my feedback to the
BBC consultation on the Trust's proposals and you can give your views to the BBC on their proposals by clicking here.

Harris Academy Parent Council

Last night, I attended the March meeting of Harris Academy Parent Council - it was a very informative and interesting meeting - the main item for discussion being the parent survey results.

Both Jim Thewliss, Head Teacher, and I updated the Parent Council on the school rebuilding project. I am grateful to the Director of Education for giving me a progress report in advance of last night's meeting.

The department is meeting with the Scottish Futures Trust tomorrow regarding the project.

Photopolis - Hunter Street

This photograph from Photopolis shows a Hunter Street of old, hugely different to today's Hunter Street 'link road' between Old Hawkhill and the Hawkhill by-pass.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Latest West End Updates ...

* Following residents' complaints about potholes at the junction of Riverside Place and Perth Road, I reported this to the City Council. I have now had feedback as follows :

"An order has been raised by the area inspector for the filling of a number of potholes at the Riverside Place/Perth Road junction and this will be done within the next 28 days."

* A resident pointed out to me that there is inadequate street signage for Hazel Avenue - signs are missing at the junction with Hazel Drive and there is only one, poor conditioned, one at the junction with Perth Road. I reported this to the City Development Department and have received the following response :

"The street name plates at Hazel Avenue referred to in your email below will be checked within the next two weeks.

It is unlikely that any replacement signs will be erected by the end of the financial year however those required will be attended to as soon as possible thereafter."

* I also received complaints about overgrown shrubbery protruding onto the pavement on the north side of Perth Road at its very western end, near to West Loan. The shrubbery is in the ownership of the land-owners, a manufacturing company, and the City Council will request that the foliage be trimmed.

More West End History on Photopolis ...

I recently mentioned the excellent Photopolis on-line collection of historical Dundee photographs. With thanks to the City Council's Leisure & Communities Department, here's another fascinating West End one - the old Harris Academy in Park Place, that opened in 1885 but was replaced by the current Perth Road building in the 1930s :

Lost labours - why I support the LibDems

A message from John Kampfner :

Dear Fraser,

Yesterday, I launched my pamphlet,
Lost labours, with Nick Clegg.

As somebody who has a long involvement with the Labour Party, including editing the New Statesman magazine, I have been able to give a frank and honest appraisal of a decade and a half of New Labour. And in it I explain why I can no longer support them, and am instead turning to the Liberal Democrats. You can read a more condensed version in an article I wrote for the Guardian here.

Alongside one million other voters, I deserted Labour in 2005 in protest at Iraq in favour of the Liberal Democrats, the only party to oppose the war. My decision to back the LibDems in 2010 is based in a more fundamental appraisal of Labour’s record together with a positive assessment of the Liberal Democrats’ platform.

New Labour in office has had one all-consuming purpose: re-election. Since 1997, their every working day was based around the task of prolonging their term of office. It filled in the ideological hollow and justified ever-encroaching authoritarianism and a pandering to the right on criminal justice and other areas of social policy. In contrast, the Liberal Democrat analysis of the failures of the deregulated market has been consistently, and painfully, accurate. Nick Clegg’s tax reform plans, taking four million low paid workers out of tax altogether, are the most redistributive of any party. And the Liberal Democrat approach to criminal justice, human rights, foreign and social policy is close to mine.

People can only for so long be exhorted to hold their nose, to vote for a party they feel has let them down, simply because the alternative is worse. It is deeply damaging to politics to resort perpetually to the double negative. The Liberal Democrats offer a positive, radical and different vision. That is why they have my support.

Best wishes,

John Kampfner

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Tavish in town ...

Dundee LibDems are most grateful to Tavish Scott MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who today spent more time in the West End campaiging with John Barnett, Liberal Democrat Westminster candidate for Dundee West. John and Tavish are pictured above during an interview in Nethergate.

This evening, I met with the team leader of the Street Lighting Partnership and Blackness Road residents about changes to street lighting there (where the old SOX (Orange) lights have been changed to High Pressure Sodium SON lights) and although this should result in improved lighting, concerns from residents about the extent the lighting covers across the road to the opposite footpath. The Street Lighting Partnership will further investigate the matter and report back to me in due course.

I also attended tonight's West End Community Council meeting. There were excellent presentations on Discovery Credit Union and the Hannah's Highway project - it was a very constructive and participative meeting of the Community Council.

West End Community Council Update

I have today launched my March 2010 update to West End Community Council. Click on the headline to read it or go to

Subjects covered include :

• Recycling paper facility at Pennycook Lane :

• Refuse collection - Perth Road near Windsor Street

• Sunken manholes

• Tay Rail Bridge Disaster - 1879

• The Bridge sculpture

West End Community Council meets tonight at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm.

Monday activities

Yesterday, along with other city councillors, I attended a very informative briefing on human trafficking and steps that are being taken to combat this extremely concerning matter.

After two surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy, I attended City Council committee meetings at which I asked a question about Dundee population projections contained
within a report on main issues facing the TAYplan strategic development planning authority, commented on and asked a question about the HMIe interim follow through inspection report on child protection services in the city, and sought assurances that the outcomes of a proposal to introduce an e-book and e-audio book service by the Leisure and Communities Department would be reported back to committee after a period in order that its success can be gauged.

At the City Council meeting, the proposal to temporarily move the polling station for voters in the Tullideph area to Morven Terrace during renovation work on the Tullideph sheltered lounge (
that I mention last week) was approved. I sought - and was given - assurances from the Chief Executive that the change of polling station would be well-publicised for residents in the area.

Yesterday, I also received an update from the Housing Department on the work currently taking place at the lounge in Tullideph Place :

"Following on from a Health and Safety Report and also an Accessibility Audit it was noted that there was some items at the complex which needed attention.

As well as items in these reports it was also noted that users of the facility were having great difficulty accessing the rear patio area and even falling so it was agreed that we should upgrade the access to this area. We are forming a decking area with easy access to the patio and seating area so the clients can use this area during the better weather.

The access to the front, which is on a slope, also proves difficult for some of the clients, particullarly anyone in a wheelchair. There is a door which is quite heavy and a wheelchair user had previously fallen from his chair whilst leaving the building. We are going to make level the access at the front of the building, make the threshold level and fit an automatic door.

The fire exit to the side of the building also needed upgrading as this did not allow anyone in a wheelchair to use this exit if needed so this is being upgraded.

We are also making one of the wc's fully accessible for a wheelchair user.

This work started on Thurs 11/02/10 and it was hoped to be finished by end of March 2010. However there has been a slight delay in the external works due to the extremely cold weather but the internal works will be completed and the complex opened again by the end of March 2010."