Labservative - more of the same ...
Wednesday 31 March 2010
Tuesday 30 March 2010
"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."
" ... 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."
"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."
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."
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
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".
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.
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 email@example.com or on Dundee 459378.
I have now had the following feedback from the Regional Community Manager at Scottish Water, to whom I have given residents' feedback :
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."
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: www.channel4.com/microsites/A/askthechancellors.
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
And - the next Dundee West Transition Town meeting takes place this coming Friday - 2nd April - at 12.30pm at Dundee West Church.
Saturday 27 March 2010
Friday 26 March 2010
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."
Thursday 25 March 2010
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the course.
“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
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 email@example.com to request collection of donated items.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org - 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
Sunday 21 March 2010
Saturday 20 March 2010
Friday 19 March 2010
"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:
* 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: www.dundee.ac.uk/videocompetition for further details."
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.
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
"Dear Councillor Macpherson
Wednesday 17 March 2010
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 www.tichfrier.co.uk or www.friendsofwighton.com.
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.
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
Monday 15 March 2010
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."
Sunday 14 March 2010
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
A message from Vince Cable MP :
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 here.
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.
Vince Cable MP
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor
PS. You can read my full speech here.
Friday 12 March 2010
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.
Thursday 11 March 2010
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.
Wednesday 10 March 2010
"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."
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.
Tuesday 9 March 2010
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.
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.
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."
Monday 8 March 2010
The building warrant to demolish the structure was granted back in October but there were delays in the owner/agent starting the demolition works. I am now pleased to note some progress, with works to demolish starting, albeit that progress is quite slow. See photograph above taken a couple of days ago - part of the building has been removed.
I am continuing to keep a close eye on the situation and liaise with planning officers about the matter. The whole community in the Benvie Road area will be pleased to see the removal of this building.
Charity No. SC011808
TROLLEY PLANT SALES : Resume Sunday 28 March : 11.00a.m. - 2.00p.m.
Donated Plants willingly accepted during week prior to Sale
Trolley Plant Sales will be held on the last Sunday of each month - March – September.
The Annual Plant Sale will be held on Saturday 8 May : 10.00a.m. – 2.00p.m.
Sunday 7 March 2010
It consists of a significant selection of quality photographs from various collections in the Central Library and the City Archives that can be accessed via the City Council's website, allowing easy access to large numbers of historical photographs.
Give the history events taking place in June as part of WestFest 2010, it seemed an appropriate time to feature some of the superb West End photos on Photopolis. As a start, pictured below is Grosvenor Terrace - 307-313 Perth Road - and to quote Photopolis :
"The residents in 1889 included the principal of University College, William Peterson MA, LLD, William K. Bruce, a confectioner who worked for the famed Dundee firm, Keillor & Sons, and W. A. Brown, of whom nothing further is known.
No. 1 was the home of Alexander M. Grimond of the jute spinners J. & A. D. Grimond, of Bowbridge and Maxwelltown Works, with offices in King Street, and great uncles of the prominent Liberal politician, Jo Grimond."