Saturday, July 31, 2010

Former Lawrie's Nursery site

Back in May, I mentioned that I had raised with the City Council's Planning Enforcement Officer the state of the former Lawrie's Nursery site on Perth Road, west of the Botanic Garden, and she had written to the owners seeking a tidy-up.

Thus far, her letters to the owners have not resulted in action by them. I have therefore been back in touch with her asking that the matter continue to be pursued.

If necessary, the council can serve a Wasteland Notice on the owners to effect a tidy-up. It is disappointing that some ten years after the site planning brief for this site was approved, the area is in such an overgrown state, particularly given that it lies in such a pleasant residential area.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Somewhere Only We Know

Irrelevant Friday post ...

Council budget and services

The "Evening Telegraph" tonight covered the challenging situation facing Dundee City Council in relation to its future budgets.

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, July 29, 2010

Temporary Road Closures - A90 Swallow Roundabout

This morning, the City Council published the following public notice :

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."

Update on encampment at Riverside

As reported in tonight's "Evening Telegraph", I have been in touch with the City Council's Chief Executive and the Director of Housing about the travellers' encampment at the Riverside Business Park, following on from my letter to them earlier this week.

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."

What is SiDE?

With the permission of Marianne Dee at the University of Dundee's School of Computing, here's an update on the SiDE project and a request for participants :

"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.

Researchers want to understand the ways in which technology is used in people’s lives. They are interested in all technologies so the research might be studying the use of the microwave oven, the use of remote controls or how cars and driving have changed over the years. They will also be looking into newer technologies, for example, using email and computer use. They do want to hear from people who don’t use new technology as well as those who do. They will also want to talk to all generations of people over the age of 50. No one is too old to take part in this work.

The population of older adults is growing rapidly and new technologies are developing at a fast pace. There is a real danger that older people may lose out on the benefits of technological development simply because the technology is not user friendly. It does appear to be targeted at the younger generation as gadgets become smaller, faster and multi functioned.

Our research aims to find out what older adults find useful and what they find difficult or unhelpful so we can inform and advise the technology industries.

All we need, to begin with, is the contact details of willing participants to keep on record; we then contact people and describe current research studies and ask them if they are happy to take part. There is no obligation to take part if it does not suit the person at that point in time.

Each time people take part in a piece of research they will receive a gift voucher as a thank you for their time.

Anyone wishing to help us with our research can contact Marianne Dee in any of the following ways:

Freepost RSGT-KRJX-JHBS (No stamp needed)
University of Dundee
School of Computing,
Dundee DD1 4HN

Email:
mdee@computing.dundee.ac.uk

Tel: 01382 388237 – leave a message if I am out and I will return your call."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Freshen up!

From time to time, I freshen up the look of this blog - the mirror site http://www.westendblog.org.uk/ had a bit of a makeover a few months ago, and today I have launched a new look for http://www.dundeewestend.com/. For the first time in a long time, I have changed from a three column style to two columns - I think this is less 'busy' and therefore easier to read.

I have saved the old template just in case everyone hates the new version!

11/12 bus service - meeting with National Express Dundee agreed

I welcome today's commitment from National Express Dundee that it is willing to review recent controversial bus service changes in the city.

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.

We are anxious to get back a bus service for Pentland, Tullideph and Ancrum that is fit for purpose.

Dundee supporting the people of Gaza

As reported in today's "Courier", yesterday, along with two of my West End constituents who had contacted me about how the City Council can further support the people of Gaza, and Ali El-Awaisi, who was on board the Mavi Marmara when it was illegally stormed by Israeli commandos, I met with the Lord Provost, the City Council's Chief Executive and the council's Legal Manager.

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, July 27, 2010

Caravans at Riverside

Tonight's "Evening Telegraph" highlighted the continuing issue travellers' caravans in unauthorised sites - the latest being at the Riverside Business Park, west of the airport.

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.

Best regards

Fraser

Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the West End
Liberal Democrat Group Leader - Dundee City Council

Harris Academy - water damage repaired

Following constituents raising concerns about water damage to part of the Harris Academy building, following heavy rain, I raised the matter with the Education Department to get assurances that all would be well in terms of room condition by the start of the new term next month.

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, July 26, 2010

Dundee Travel Active - latest update

From Dundee Travel Active today :

"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.

Commemoration to Caroline Martyn

Earlier this month, the Courier published an article about the fascinating life of Caroline Martyn, a leading social orator of the late Victorian period, who, having achieved much in the cause for the social and political advancement of working people, sadly died at the young age of only 29 whilst visiting Dundee, and was buried in Balgay Cemetery. On her death in 1896, Keir Hardie wrote that she was the leading socialist of her day, with 'a power of intellect and moral-force that was unmatched.'

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.

This was a touching and fitting commemoration of the life of Caroline Martyn and it was a pleasure to meet Vivienne and the others who attended today.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Digital TV - how many channels will you get?

Yesterday's "Courier" highlighted the intention on the part of the Arqiva, the owners and operators of television transmitters, to re-site the Campberdown transmitter in the adjacent Lochee Ward, as it currently sits on one of the Menzieshill multi-storeys being demolished.

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 :

http://tiny.cc/freeviewlite1
http://tiny.cc/freeviewlite2

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?

"I think this is unfair as we all pay the same licence fee, so we should all get the same amount of channels. They have had years to upgrade the tay bridge transmitter and I dont feel that this is right."

I totally agree with his points and there's need for Ofcom to revisit this matter.

The mosaic outside the Rep

The mosaic outside the Rep in Tay Square is needing repair - and this has been reported to me by residents and my good friend and party colleague Depute Provost Willie Wilson of Perth and Kinross, who noticed the need for repair during a visit to Dundee!

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 :

"Fraser

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, July 24, 2010

Riverside Avenue - oh so overgrown!

At the Technology Park, there's a hugely overgrown strip of grass on the north side of Riverside Avenue just east of the Swallow roundabout. Residents have complained to me about the state of it - it is a really bad advertisement for the city as its the first part of the city you encounter by road travelling from the south towards the City Centre.

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."

I have asked SET to keep me updated - and hopefully we will see the area properly maintained in the near future.

Pentland Crescent potholes - repairs promised

I have recently had complaints from residents in Pentland Crescent about potholes on the road and I raised this matter with the City Development Department of Dundee City Council. The road surface is in poor shape and particularly potholed at its junction with Saggar Street - see photo (right).

The City Council has updated me that the Area Inspector has raised an Order for repair (dated 16th July) and the work should be undertaken within 28 days of that date.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thomson Street again

Further to my update yesterday on the impending works in Thomson Street, tonight's "Evening Telegraph" covers the matter, including comments from local residents.

I have spoken with a number of Thomson Street residents today about the matter and am pleased to raise any issues and concerns - contact me at home on Dundee 459378 or by e-mail at thomsonstreet@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

11/12 bus service petition - photocall

Last week, I highlighted the campaign by Community Spirit, local residents' group for Ancrum, Pentland, Tullideph and the Cleghorn area, to seek improvements to the 11/12 bus service. I have since spoken with many local residents who rightly believe that a bus service that doesn't run after 3pm on weekdays and has no service at all at the weekend is a really poor service and not fit for purpose.

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.

Local councillors and Community Spirit wish to present the petition to National Express Dundee during August - and at the same time discuss the concerns with the bus company.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Temporary Traffic Order - Thomson Street

The City Council published the following Temporary Traffic Order today :

Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating 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.

I have had various discussions with the City Council regarding this work being undertaken by Scottish Water (a new water main - this works will be undertaken first - starting 23rd August and likely to take until around 19th September) and then Scotland Gas Networks (a gas renewal scheme, to start immediately Scottish Water complete their work. SGN's gas renewal scheme is likely to take until 14th November).

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.

Speaking to the City Council again this morning, I am assured that the utility companies will be writing to residents shortly and I will be pleased, as always, to raise any concerns residents highlight during what will be significant gas and water works in Thomson Street in the coming months.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

200 000 - not out!

Today, my 'visitor counter' on http://www.dundeewestend.com/ reached 200 000 - not bad, I feel, for something that started off as a bit of an experiment four years ago and an addition to the regular West End FOCUS newsletter from the local Liberal Democrats.

I'm now just shy of 2 000 blog posts and amazed at the response to the blog - so very many thanks to all who read the blog and get in touch as a result! It is appreciated.

Ryehill Lane - many thanks J C Decaux!

Last week, I reported that residents have mentioned that the seating area at the Perth Road/Ryehill Lane junction needed tidied and the weeds removed.

The Regional Operations Manager for the owners of the site (J C Decaux UK) promised me action - and he has been as good as his word - with the seating area now looking substantially better - see below.

Perth Road to Paton's Lane pathway

Yesterday, I received concerns that the pathway from Paton's Lane to Perth Road was badly needing tidied and the street lighting repaired.

I have passed on my thanks to the Street Lighting Partnership who repaired the lighting - and to the Waste Management Department who cleaned up the pathway - both within hours of my request.

The photo (above right) is of the now tidy pathway.

Bus shelter electrical faults - an update

Back in February, I mentioned of electrical faults affecting about 70 bus shelters across the city. As a result the real time bus information service had to be 'switched off' pending repairs across Dundee.
As constituents have asked when the electronic timetable facility will again be fully operational, I asked for an update on progress from the City Development Department and have been advised as follows :

"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).

We had to change around 900 paper based timetable displays and the schematic bus maps for the 27 June 2010 changes."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Opening of Blossom Studio

Late this afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the new "Blossom" yoga and pilates studio at the Hawkhill Medical Surgery.

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.

Wishing the new Blossom Studio every success!

West End residents' parking - latest

Tonight's 'Evening Telegraph' covers the issue of West End residents' parking and includes some views from local residents and traders, together with my own comments arising out of my recent blog update highlighting delays in moving forward proposals to improve parking in parts of the area.

You can read the 'Evening Telegraph' article at
http://tiny.cc/tele-parking.

Beautiful day in the West End - view from Pentland

Monday, July 19, 2010

Residents' parking proposals - diappointment at delayed start

Earlier this year, I updated residents on the report that had been discussed at City Development Committee about improving residents' parking in areas of the city where there are particular problems, including parts of the West End, particularly approximately east of Sinderins and south of Blackness Road.

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, July 18, 2010

Zac Goldsmith's expenses


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.

Support Florence and Precious Mhango

My LibDem blogger colleague Caron Lindsay has blogged recently about the plight of Florence and Precious Mhango - a mother and her 10 year old daughter from Malawi - who are currently living in Glasgow. Her blog article is well worth a read.

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.

It is to be hoped that the Home Secretary will act in a compassionate way and allow Florence and Precious to have a safe an secure future in Scotland.

Community Learning in the West End

Amongst the community learning events taking place in the West End later in the summer/early Autumn in the Mitchell Street Centre are :

* "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, July 17, 2010

Sunday Band Concerts on Magdalen Green

Tomorrow, Sunday 18th July, the Tayport Instrumental Band will play on the bandstand at Magdalen Green from 2pm to 3pm.

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 Berridge

There's an appreciation of the life of West End resident John Berridge by David Torrance, in today's Herald - see http://tiny.cc/berridge. John passed away last month and the obituary in today's Herald (together with an earlier one in the Scotsman) highlights his distinguished academic career, his significant contribution to Scottish devolution, and his many interests, including painting and birdwatching.

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, July 16, 2010

Latest West End updates ...

RYEHILL LANE/PERTH ROAD JUNCTION : Residents have mentioned that the seating area here needs tidied and weeds removed. The Regional Operations Manager for the owners of the site (J C Decaux UK Ltd) has advised me "I will have this attended to this week and will ensure it is kept in good condition."

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, July 15, 2010

Latest on West End buses ...

As I have previously updated, residents in the Pentland, Ancrum and Tullideph areas are strongly against the National Express Dundee bus service changes in the area as these are highly detrimental to the local community.

The residents’ group for the area – Community Spirit Action Group – has raised a petition that is being distributed to local shops and I have set up an on-line petition in support of Community Spirit’s campaign. The on-line petition is available at : http://tiny.cc/communityspirit.

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.

Transportation of drugs - an update

Last month, I covered concerns about the transportation of drugs between Ninewells Hospital, Perth Royal Infirmary and Royal Victoria Hospital by public bus. I have since has various exchanges with Professor Tony Wells, Chief Executive of NHS Tayside, on the matter.

This morning, we had a useful discussion about the matter. Professor Wells has agreed that once the NHS Tayside Chair, Sandy Watson is back from leave, he’ll put to him my request that the policy goes before the NHS Tayside Board for discussion. He says the Chair may prefer that it goes to the appropriate committee of the board. I have no problem with this given that their deliberations have to be reported to the Board in any case.

I also asked that consideration be given to retention of records of drugs transported by bus be kept for longer than a week (as they currently are) to allow for proper scrutiny of these records should, for example, a Freedom of Information request be made. Professor Wells indicated that he is prepared to consider that and will respond to me in due course on both aspects in writing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

‘Hoaxer dumped clothing by Tay’

The headline in tonight's 'Evening Telegraph' highlights the irresponsible actions of an individual who, according to Tayside Police, maliciously dumped clothing by the river's edge last night - on Riverside Drive near to the Riverview Station Restaurant.

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.

Logie Residents' Association - disappointing news

I am saddened to report that at its latest meeting last night, because of limited active membership, Logie Residents' Association decided to propose, at a special general meeting in early August, possible dissolution of the Association.

I am anxious to ensure that the people of the Logie Estate continue to have an active residents' voice and the loss of the association would be really deterimental to this. On her return from annual leave, I will be speaking with the Director of Housing about ways to ensure Logie residents have an active voice in the future.

Tavish TV : NHS bureaucrats


Tavish Scott discusses NHS bureaucrats after raising the issue at First Minister's Questions last week.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Steering group meeting at St Francis' Parish Church

Tonight, along with a fellow ward councillor and others, including Rev George Robson, Minister of Balgay Parish Church, I addressed a well-attended meeting of around 100 parishioners of St Francis' Parish Church, following the recent announcement of the proposed closure from 15th August.

The announcement of the Friary's closure has been greeted with great sadness, not just within the local church community, but across the city.

A committee is to be formed to act as a voice for parishioners and I wish them every success in their endeavours.

Blaze at Roseangle today

The serious fire earlier today at 60 Roseangle has been a great shock to all the residents in the block and it’s a relief that they escaped serious injury, particularly given the extensive damage to the top-floor flat.

We are indebted to Tayside Fire & Rescue for their speedy response to the emergency.

Ken Buchanan, The Tartan Legend, supports West End Boys' ABC!

Further to my recent update on the growing success of the West End Boys' Amateur Boxing Club, I was really pleased to hear the news that boxing legend Ken Buchanan is helping promote the club and encourage new membership.

Here's a photo of Ken (right) with Emilio from West End Boys (below).

I did warn you ...

A few holiday photos ...

Above : In Naples, Italy

Above : Villefranche, France
Above : Cocktails on the ship
Above : Livorno, Italy

And a holiday video!


The waiters and chefs from the "Voyager of the Seas"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cycle Path - Roseangle to City Centre

Following complaints from residents about broken glass on the cycle path that runs through the former goods yard area and now, in part, digital media park - from the City Centre at South Marketgait/Greenmarket to Roseangle - I raised the matter with Scottish Enterprise Tayside, who replied today as follows :

"I am advised that the path will be cleaned of glass by our contractor this week."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Seekers - 5 (and last!)






"Circles" - last of the New Seekers series!

Been on holiday ...!

Updating this site has been a bit of a challenge this past week, relying on the dubious quality of internet access from a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. The photo below is of me, smiling through, despite a connection speed that was horrendously slow! This update is coming from Barcelona Airport as we fly home tonight (internet speed here superb!) I will bore everyone with a few holiday photos on this site over the next few days. Super holiday, by the way!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weeds on West End streets - an update

I recently highlighted residents' complaints across the West End about the extent of weeds on some streets - for example, Blackness Road and surrounding area - and I have received concerns about this issue from some other streets, such as Bankmill Road.

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.”

I welcome the fact that the way weeds spraying across Dundee will be reviewed as clearly the current arrangement means some streets in the West End have badly overgrown weeds in them before weedkilling is undertaken.

New Seekers - 4




"I get a little sentimental" from TOTP during the week of my 11th birthday!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Retro Dundee Latest

Last month there were super updates on Retro Dundee with photos of shopping in Dundee in the 1980s!

New Seekers - 3



The rather superb "You won't find another fool like me"

And ... more on that photo competition!

Further to yesterday's item about the WestFest photographic competition, the folk at WestFest advised me today that the deadline has been extended to 31st July. More details about the competition are available at http://tinyurl.com/westfestphoto.