Saturday 31 July 2010
Friday 30 July 2010
Today, the City Council’s Chief Executive has confirmed to him that he is to bring a report about the 2011/12 council budget to the City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee on 23rd August.
I had asked Chief Executive David Dorward about the budget situation following this week’s publication of Scotland's Independent Budget Review. He replied today :
“The chief officers have been working quite extensively on preparing for the 2011/12 Revenue Budget and the implementation of the Corporate Improvement Plan that was approved at the Policy & Resources Committee on 26th April 2010.
I plan to bring a report to the Policy & Resources Committee on the 23rd August which will clarify the current financial projection for the City Council and how I believe the City Council should address the difficult financial future we face. I believe that this report will answer the questions you raise.”
I welcome the fact that the Chief Executive is bringing this finance report forward. Although the council’s final revenue grant for 2011/12 will not be known until later, it is important that the council is prepared in order to protect services and jobs.
Thursday 29 July 2010
THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984 : SECTION 14(1)
THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of A90 Swallow/Landmark roundabout carriageway resurfacing works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in
1 Dykes of Gray Road (from its junction with A90 to Landmark Hotel access road), Dundee.
2 A85 Riverside Avenue (from its junction with A90 to Apollo Way), Dundee.
This notice comes into effect on Sunday 8 August 2010 for 5 nights (from 7.30pm to 6.30am).
Only one of these closures will be in effect at any time. Riverside Avenue will not close until phase 1 is complete.
Alternative routes for vehicles are available via:
1 A90 Kingsway West / Myrekirk Road / Liff Road / Gourdie Brae / U328.
2 A90 Kingsway West / Myrekirk Road / South Road / Explorer Road / Apollo Way.
For further information contact (01382) 433168.
I queried if Riverside Avenue itself was being resurfaced again - because it had work on it as recently as August 2007. The City Development Department advises :
"The resurfacing is being carried out on the A90 roundabout by Bear Scotland but affects Riverside Avenue. Riverside Avenue is not being resurfaced."
I also asked the Director of City Development when the planned improvements to the Swallow roundabout area were likely to take place. This had envisaged getting rid of the roundabout, intallation of a signalised junction and a new road layout to improve traffic flow - a project to be advanced through the TACTRAN capital programme. It would be very wasteful to resurface the area of the roundabout only to see it being removed entirely thereafter. The Director of City Development has, in response, indicated :
"The reconstruction of the roundabout is only required once the western gateway proposals are well advanced - ie 250 new houses excluding Liff Hospital. Therefore no works to the Swallow are imminent."
There's been a significant build up of litter and rubbish and, in addition to residents' concerns about the mess, the further concern is that, as the site is close to Dundee Airport, this litter blowing about and the build up of gulls in the area as a result, could pose a threat to aircraft. As residents are aware, the airport already undertakes bird scaring to ensure aircraft can land safely and a mass of extra birds is simply not helpful.
The Chief Executive updated me this morning as follows :
"I visited the site this morning and your constituent is quite correct that the volume of litter is excessive , and indeed is starting to cause a congregation of gulls, which in itself could be a flight hazard. An officer of the council will this morning contact the owner of Riverside Business Park and request that he make a formal complaint, which I am sure will happen. Thereafter we will set the wheels in motion with Police and Housing. I have asked officers to instruct the Rapid Response Team to visit the site today to clear the current level of litter."
The Director of Housing thereafter advised me that :
" ...the Gypsy Travellers Liaison Officer, based in East District Housing Office, is aware of the encampment and has confirmed that the landowner (has) served a 24 hour notice to move on the travellers. This has, so far, been ignored and the landowner has further confirmed that legal action is being pursued."
"SiDE is a research project which is being conducted at four universities across the UK. Here in Dundee, in the University’s School of Computing, SiDE Dundee is building up a Research Pool of 1000 people aged 50 and over who are willing to take part in research studies over the next four years.
University of Dundee
School of Computing,
Dundee DD1 4HN
Tel: 01382 388237 – leave a message if I am out and I will return your call."
Wednesday 28 July 2010
In recent weeks, along with residents, fellow councillors and the Community Spirit Action Group, I have highlighted the deficiencies in the revised 11/12 service in the Ancrum, Pentland and Tullideph areas. Following my approach to the bus company earlier this week, a meeting with their Director, Lawrence Davie, has now been agreed to specifically discuss the 11/12 service. The meeting will take place on 11th August, in order to give all residents a little while longer to sign Community Spirit's petition - available in local shops and on-line - the total signatures now amounting to over 500.
Community Spirit representatives, fellow local councillors and I will be meeting Lawrence Davie to hand over the petition and discuss ways that the service could be improved.
Specifically, my constituents wished to raise the possibility of flying the Palestinian flag in the City Square (or the flags of the countries of all our twinned cities) and the City Council implementing a boycott of Israeli products or services, given the suffering caused by their blockade of Gaza and the illegal action against the aid flotilla that the City Council has already unanimously condemned at its meeting on 14th June. Ali handed the Lord Provost a petition calling for such a boycott. It already over 2500 signatures of local people on it - and more will be collected - showing the strength of feeling Dundee people over this issue.
I am very supportive of my constituents over the boycott issue but appreciate that the officers of the council will have to be satisfied of its legality and conformity to procurement and Best Value regulations. Thus far, the Chief Executive and the Legal Manager have raised issues they believe do not make a boycott permissible, but, given that one of my constituents brought with him information from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign that outlines the legal basis for excluding Veolia from public contracts (this company has a contract with Dundee City Council's Waste Management Department) and a number of other local authorities have now implemented a boycott, it was agreed that the officers would look at the legal basis for excluding Veolia provided yesterday.
It was also agreed that they would informally make contact with West Dunbartonshire Council who unanimously agreed recently to reaffirm its existing boycott of Israeli goods and also two other authorities who have also been approached along with other authorities by supporters of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign on the matter. This will enable the City Council to be acquainted with the approach being taken elsewhere in Scotland – and particularly in relation to legal advice and conformity to correct procedures in relation to procurement and Best Value they have considered.
I have written today to the SNP, Labour and Conservative group leaders and to the Depute Lord Provost to request their support for a boycott. I am anxious that this matter is progressed in a spirit of co-operation between the various political groups and that we recognise the strength of feeling of the people of Dundee, as evidenced by the growing petition.
Tuesday 27 July 2010
I have written to the City Council's Chief Executive and Director of Housing as follows :
David & Elaine
I have received concerns from constituents about the encampment of around 20 caravans at the Riverside Business Park, west of Dundee Airport.
Residents are concerned about the potential for mess being left from this unauthorised encampment and given the issues that there have already been at other locations recently – such as Birkhill Cemetery and Riverside Avenue, I was wondering what steps the City Council might take to encourage the travellers to use the council-owned facility at Balmuir Wood. This obviously provides proper facilities, unlike the site at the business park.
I would welcome your feedback on this and thank you in advance of your responses.
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the West End
Liberal Democrat Group Leader - Dundee City Council
I have now received the following helpful feedback from the Education Department :
"I have contacted the Property Services Co-ordinator about this matter. He has confirmed that the recent heavy rain caused a leak in the roof of the 60's block of Harris Academy and that water seeped into some classrooms.
There was no significant damage, however, and the necessary repairs to the roof have already been carried out. It is not anticipated that there will be any disruption when pupils return in August."
Monday 26 July 2010
"As someone who has taken an interest in the work of Dundee Travel Active and taken part in the project in some way or other we would like you to know that we offer free adult cycle training to residents in Dundee. It would be great if you could spread the word to people in your workplace/group/community.
We can offer up to 4 hours of free one-to-one cycle training to individuals of any ability."
Anyone interested can contact Dundee Travel Active at Unit 31B, Wellgate Shopping Centre or call 0800 111 4510.
Today, I was pleased to attend a commemoration of her life at her grave, at the invitation of Dundee Trades Council. The Trades Council - and, in particular, Mike Arnott, their secretary - deserve great credit for having the grave tidied, the granite column in her memory beautifully restored (see right), and for organising today's commemoration.
Mike gave an excellent and interesting introduction to today's commemoration, followed by a civic oration by Lord Provost John Letford and a contribution from Rev Allan Webster, Dundee Workplace Chaplain. Thereafter, Vivienne Flowers, the great niece of Caroline gave a moving address on behalf the family - see below.
Sunday 25 July 2010
The article highlights that the relocated transmitter will carry a much-reduced number of digital TV channels compared to the main Angus transmitter at Tealing. This is in common with all relay transmitter - only the main transmitters will carry all Freeview channels.
In the past, I have highlighted the drawbacks of the reduced "Freeview Lite" service planned for the Tay Bridge relay transmitter (that serves much of the West End) after the impending digital switchover - as it gives residents only around 22 of the approximate 58 TV and radio channels that others served by main transmitters (like the Angus transmitter that serves most of the north of the City) get. I have raised the issue with Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator. See :
Over the weekend, a Perth Road resident has e-mailed me as follows :
"Hi Fraser. Can you please tell me why, because I am served by the stv north tay bridge transmitter I will only get 18 channels come the switchover but anyone that is served by stv north angus transmitter will get 60 channels?
The mosaic was last repaired, following my request, in 2006.
I contacted the Director of City Development about the latest concerns and have been given the following and positive feedback :
I can confirm that as part of the Public Realm Improvements recently completed in South Tay Street it is planned to undertake repairs to the damaged mosaic paving in Tay Square. An artist has been commissioned to carry out the mosaic repairs and this work is scheduled to commence on Thursday 29 July. It is anticipated that the works will take one week to complete although this is weather dependant."
Saturday 24 July 2010
I contacted Scottish Enterprise Tayside (SET) about the matter and have had a prompt response as follows :
"I'm not surprised that there have been complaints because I agree that it is a mess. Actually Scottish Enterprise don't own this area or in fact very much land at the Technology Park. All of the individual owners of plots should be responsible for their own landscaping. The particular corner plot at the roundabout is owned by Aviva who unfortunately have moved out. Historically SE maintained a lot of these areas but because of budget restrictions and legal advice that in fact we shouldn't be maintaining land that we don't own, we have now stopped.
I can tell you though that we are in the process of trying to get all of the owners to agree a landscaping maintenance plan and we are currently working towards that. I know this doesn't help much in the meantime but as I said we are doing our best to resolve the issue."
Friday 23 July 2010
At lunchtime today, at Ninewells Hospital, I joined with Community Spirit representatives and my ward colleague Cllr Richard McCready at a photocall to highlight the excellent response to the petition - already around 500 signatures (including nearly 50 on the on-line version available at http://tiny.cc/communityspirit). We chose Ninewells Hospital for a good reason - it is impossible for residents who rely on the 11/12 to get to the hospital to visit friends and relatives in hospital using this bus service - as visiting hours start at 3pm. We are grateful to "The Courier" for covering the photocall - to appear in tomorrow's edition.
Thursday 22 July 2010
Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating water and gas mains replacement works . The Order is expected to be in force for eighteen weeks from 23 August 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 Thomson Street from Perth Road to Magdalen Yard Road.
Access for residents will be maintained where possible.
An alternative route will be available via Perth Road , Windsor Street and Magdalen Yard Road.
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 City Council on 433082.
My main areas of discussion have surrounded assurances about access for residents during the work, particularly those with mobility difficulties, and about proper reinstatement of the road thereafter.
Wednesday 21 July 2010
"The first few shelters in the city centre have been repaired and were switched back on on 19 July 2010. The programme is expected to take around 6-8 weeks to complete. Our priority is city centre bus shelters and those on main bus service corridors (like the Perth Road).
Tuesday 20 July 2010
It was good to meet Andrea, Mardira and Lesley and there was a good turnout of local people and the business community in the West End, to support this excellent new initiative.
You can read more about the Blossom Studio at http://www.blossomyogapilates.com, with details of massage facilities at http://www.perfectly-massage.co.uk.
You can read the 'Evening Telegraph' article at http://tiny.cc/tele-parking.
Monday 19 July 2010
At the time the report was approved back in January, it was envisaged that with regard to possible proposals for residents' parking schemes that could put out to public consultation :
The preparation of the detailed design and consultation will take an extended period of up to three years and this will be resourced by secondment of one of the Senior Engineers from within the Transportation Division. This work will follow on from substantial completion of disabled person parking places implementation which is currently progressing and it is likely that detailed design will begin in late summer 2010.
Given that we are now fast approaching the time that detailed design was likely to commence, I asked the Director of City Development for an update and he has responded as follows :
"At present the priority for the Council is to progress with the implementation of the disabled parking legislation. It was highlighted to Committee that progress on residents parking would follow on from this as the Council is compelled by Scottish Government to undertake its implementation. At present we are currently working through this and the work has been more substantial than first anticipated.
Residents Parking will follow on from this and it is likely that it will be later on in the year before progress on the Resident Parking designs will progress."
I responded :
"Given that the report envisaged detailed design work progressing from the summer, it would be helpful if I was kept advised as progress on the disabled parking completion in order to gauge when work on residents’ parking design will actually start. Assuming it starts in the autumn or early winter, what is the revised likely timescale from there, in terms of formal consultation, implementation, etc?"
and was advised :
"Sorry but, at present, I am really unable to say when it would start and what the likely timescale would be."
Residents who have had long-term problems with parking near their homes in the affected parts of the West End will be disappointed at the delay with progress on this issue. I do not doubt that the City Council has had a significant task in relation to implementation of the revised disabled parking legislation, but I will be keeping a close eye on the residents' parking issue as I am anxious that the planned work to improve residents' parking takes place as soon as possible.
Sunday 18 July 2010
I'm frankly astonished by the approach Zac Goldsmith, Tory MP for Richmond Park, took with Jon Snow of Channel 4 news - judge for yourself! I suspect Goldsmith thought that by bringing up irrelevant rubbish he'd talk out Jon Snow, but it comes across dreadfully badly. Awful really.
If he can justify and get away with not declaring the bulk of the cost of election boards to his campaign and off-loading some of the cost to local election candidates when the boards mentioned only one candidate's name (Zac Goldsmith) and one candidate's huge photograph (Zac Goldsmith), with absolutely no mention of the local election candidate and the bulk of cost totally undeclared, then electoral law requires review. The representative of the Electoral Commission seemed to think (judging by his interview on C4 news) that this should be part of the parliamentary candidate's expenses - but don't hold your breath - the Electoral Commission is, in my view, a thoroughly inadequate and useless quango.
The cost of the jackets? A non-issue in my view, but who on earth fails to deliver 60 000+ election leaflets he has paid for?
One cannot help but think that in Susan Kramer, Richmond previously had a rather better parliamentary representative.
Florence and Precious have been turned down for asylum after suffering domestic violence and are nearing the end of the legal process and face deportation despite the fact that if this happens, it’s likely that Precious will be taken by her father’s family and will not be allowed to see her mother again. At the moment she is settled at school in Glasgow and is doing well. Deportation would have an horrific effect on her welfare.
This can end one of two ways – they will be deported to a very worrying future, or Theresa May could decide to use her discretion to grant them leave to remain here outside the immigration rules because of the compelling and compassionate circumstances.
Florence and Precious have the support of church leaders, the First Minister of Scotland, journalists such as former Sunday Times Scotland journalist Joan MacAlpine and a significant cross section of Scottish society.
Tomorrow night there is a humanitarian vigil in Glasgow in their support from 5.30-7pm. There is also a Facebook group to which people can post pictures and messages.
* "Just the Job" - to assist people for whom English is their second language with job-hunting through improving CVs, application form filling and interviewing skills. The course runs at Mitchell Street from 26th August to 30th September and further details are available on 435872 or 436415.
* "Reiki 2" - A follow-up course for those who have attended the first course on Reiki (natural healing) - again more details are available on 435814.
You can read more about adult learning opportunities at http://tiny.cc/commlrng.
Saturday 17 July 2010
Next Sunday (25th), at the same time, the Dundee Instrumental Band will perform on the green's bandstand.
On 1st August, Tayport Instrumental Band returns at the same time and on 8th August, its the turn of the City of Discovery Brass Band, with the Arbroath Instrumental Band on 15th August.
It is great to see another series of summer Sunday Band Concerts taking place on Magdalen Green.
John was one of my politics lecturers at the University of Dundee in the 1980s. Many years later, it was a pleasure to be invited by John to open Dundee Art Society's summer exhibition last year and present the Roseangle Cup and other awards in its schools' competition and its McCartney Awards. John was a past President of the Society and a measure of his painting talent can be seen on their website. The watercolour below - The Red Umbrella - is an example of that considerable talent.
David Torrance rightly describes John as "a genial man who gave willingly of his time and reflections" and he will be sadly missed by his family and many friends.
Friday 16 July 2010
HUNTER STREET : A resident contacted me to say that the bollard on a traffic island has been flattened by a vehicle. The Council's City Development Department advises that, "the street lighting section have recorded this damaged bollard in their defects database and it will be repaired within the next week or so."
GLAMIS PLACE : Following a resident complaining to me that the drainage gully here was blocked, I wrote to the City Engineer asking for this to be attended to - and he has replied - "I am advised that there is only one gully in Glamis Place. Records have been checked and the gully machine has not attended this location in the past few months. The gully has been checked on site and found to be at least partly choked with silt. As such arrangements have been made for the gully machine to attend and clear the debris."
Thursday 15 July 2010
The revised 11/12 service poorly serves the area, with no buses before 9am or after around 3pm and absolutely nothing at the weekends. It is simply not a service that is fit for purpose – particularly for the elderly community. There are no buses to Ninewells Hospital during visiting hours and no weekend bus service at all.
I have been in correspondence with Lawrence Davie, Managing Director of National Express Dundee, who has promised that the bus company will monitor the situation and review the service in the coming months, but action to improve the service is needed promptly, given the concerns from residents – of which the following is typical :
“I am 77 years old and live in the Pentland area and am already missing the regular bus service we did have. I do, like many others in the area, have difficulties when walking any distance. There is now no bus between Ninewells Hospital and Pentland after 3pm when visiting hours start at 3pm”
Elsewhere in the West End, I welcome news from National Express Dundee that it has applied to the Traffic Commissioner to alter the 5A bus service timetable on its eastern leg to Broughty Ferry, to improve timetable reliability across the route. In the Perth Road area, the 5A has been really unreliable in terms of timetable so I welcome the bus company’s steps to address this, hopefully in the very near future.
Wednesday 14 July 2010
As the Tele rightly points out :
"It’s believed the full set of clothing may have been left as a hoax at a time when Dundee is still reeling from four young men having taken their own lives within the space of a couple of weeks.
The costs of the search could run into thousands of pounds."
I commented in the Tele that fundamentally, it’s insensitive and irresponsible given the concerning and upsetting circumstances over the past couple of weeks involving young men in Dundee. But over and above that there’s the fact that the emergency services have had to respond. They need to respond to real emergencies and having their resources used on this irresponsible action is very regrettable.
Tuesday 13 July 2010
Above : In Naples, Italy
And a holiday video!
The waiters and chefs from the "Voyager of the Seas"
Monday 12 July 2010
"I am advised that the path will be cleaned of glass by our contractor this week."
Sunday 11 July 2010
Saturday 10 July 2010
In my earlier article I gave feedback from the City Engineer at Dundee City Council who explained that, traditionally, weeds spraying work by Dundee Contract Services (DCS) was undertaken 'east to west' across the city, rather than it taking place by doing the streets most badly affected first (as I had suggested).
As a follow-up, the City Engineer now reports reports that DCS has advised him :
“We started approx a week later than last year as many of the weeds had not appeared due to the severe winter we had.
As the weedkiller only works on contact with the leaves, starting earlier would have been wasteful. Blackness Road area was all sprayed week beginning 21/06/10.
No matter where we start, some areas are going to be bad before we get to them. Doing the worst streets first is not a good idea as it becomes confusing for the operators.”
The City Engineer himself further advises :
“…traditionally DCS start in the east and head west with their routes planned that way. I will ask (DCS) to advise on the possibility of starting in the west and heading east on an alternative year basis but in fairness we would need to do the same for each area ie north to south, south to north etc.”