Sunday, October 31, 2010

West End Christmas Week 2010!

The 2010 10th Anniversary West End Christmas week takes place soon – here’s information about some of the events :

Saturday 20th November - Christmas Week starts!

The tenth West End Christmas Week will be launched with a super West End Community Fayre, taking place at the lower hall of Dundee West Church from 10am to 12 noon (enter from Roseangle).

Over 20 local groups in the West End are taking part. Entrance is entirely free of charge and it will be a great way to learn about all the organisations in the West End that are working for our local area. All local residents will be very welcome to come along!

There will be lots to see, including :

* Santa’s sleigh arriving at nearby Seabraes at 10.30am – a great event for the children!

* Children can also see round the new Youth Bus at Seabraes – complete with laptops, music, large screens and lots more!

* Artwork from the Primary 3 and 4 Christmas Decoration Competition and the Primary 6 and 7 Christmas Painting Competition from all our local primary schools will be on display at the community fayre and the overall winners will be announced!

* At 11.30am on Magdalen Green, a 5 a side football competition for Primary 5s from our local schools will take place on Magdalen Green!

We are most grateful to Barnetts Motor Group for sponsoring this year’s West End Community Fayre.

And … also on Saturday 20th November :

 Dundee West Church’s Christmas Coffee Morning also takes place in the church – 10am to 12 noon – enter from Perth Road.

 At 2.15pm in the lower hall of Dundee West Church (enter by Roseangle), Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden are holding Gardeners’ Question Time, with local gardener experts Bob Bremner, Ally Bruce, John Stoa and Trevor Whyte. Entrance is free of charge and all welcome. The event will be chaired by Stewart Murdoch, Director of Leisure and Communities at Dundee City Council.

 McCabaret Night – an evening of quirky Scottish Entertainment, kicks off at Dundee Arts Society’s premises at 17 Roseangle at 7pm. Hosted by WestFest, tickets at £15 include supper and a glass of fizz! Further details and tickets from the WestFest shop at 93 Perth Road or e-mail westendfestival@rocketmail.com.  

Wednesday 24th November at 6pm

Lights On at Dundee West … and a carnival and spectacular fireworks extravaganza!

This year’s West End Christmas Concert – “Lights On at Dundee West” - takes place at Dundee West Church at 6pm. All local residents are very welcome to attend. There will be musical contributions from all local primary and secondary schools. A welcome to the Concert will come from Lord Provost John Letford and the Concert will be hosted by Rev Andrew Greaves. Superb jazz singer Alison Burns will also perform at the concert.

At 7pm, the West End Christmas Lights will be switched on at Seabraes by Ally Bally of Radio Tay.

There will be a spectacular fireworks display after the lights switch-on. Horne’s carnivals will have a super carnival at the Duncan of Jordanstone car park – opposite Dundee West Church on Perth Road – and there will be free “glow spectacles” and sparklers for all children attending the lights switch on and fireworks!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The neglected Hunter Street/Hawkhill roundabout ...

Following complaints I received about the neglected state of the roundabout on Hawkhill at Hunter Street, I raised this with the City Engineer, who has responded as follows:

"The Roads Supervisor has inspected the roundabout and notes that it does look a bit neglected however the shrubs were severely pruned earlier this year to increase forward visibility for the installation of the new pedestrian crossing and there has not yet been sufficient time for the shrubs to regenerate.

The DCS Land Services supervisor for that area is planning to carry out a litter pick/weed treatment on the roundabout as part of the periodic maintenance carried out for Road Maintenance as soon as it can be arranged."

Magic Mary ...

Riverside Drive/Riverside Avenue - timing of roundabout work

Earlier this month, I gave details of the City Engineer's proposal to tidy the roundabout at Riverside Avenue/Riverside Drive (near to the Riverside Inn, formerly Marmalade Pot) and I have now been updated on the timing of works as follows :

"A quick note to advise you that the replanting of shrubs at the above location is programmed to commence Monday 1st November and should take 2 / 3 days.

Work will be carried out during off peak hours with lane closures on all approaches as well as on the roundabout."

Hillside Road resurfacing

In past months, I have, on behalf of residents, raised the need for improvments to the Hillside Road road surface.    I am pleased to note that the City Engineer's Department is now undertaking works here and has written to householders as follows :
 
"No 32 Hillside Road to and including the junction with Hillside Terrace : Carriageway Resurfacing Works

I wish to notify you that work is programmed to commence at the above location on Monday 29 November 2010 and will last approximately 5 days.   The contractor for the works is Tayside Contracts.

In the interest of public safety, a road closure will be implemented and through traffic will be diverted via Hillside Terrace/Hillside Drive and reverse.

No on-street parking will be allowed on the section of carriageway being worked on. Access to properties with driveways will be maintained, though delays will be experienced, especially during surfacing operations. Therefore, we would, however ask that vehicular traffic movements be kept to a minimum, where possible.

Please note that pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained throughout the works.

Please accept my apologies for any disruption these works may cause. I am sure that you will understand that major road maintenance work is unavoidable and necessitates a degree of inconvenience to road users.

If you have any queries regarding this matter, please contact the Roads Maintenance Partnership, by telephoning 01382 433558."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Road safety update - Hawkhill

Earlier this year, I highlighted that, following the opening of Tesco Express at the east end of Hawkhill, numerous residents have expressed concern about parking right outside the store on the busy by-pass.  

I raised the matter with the City Council pointing out a suggestion from the police - extension to the barriers across the store entrance - was the obvious solution.

I have now had positive feedback from the City Council as follows :

"A site visit was carried out on 4 October with representatives of the contractor and developer with regard to remedial works associated with the road construction consent at the above location.

One of the remedial items agreed was to have the length of visirail on Hawkhill extended to meet the pedestrian crossing markings on Hawkhill."

I am to be updated when this work is undertaken but it is good that a solution is in sight.

Travellers - Riverside Business Park

The return of caravans at the Riverside Business Park a couple of days ago has resulted in many constituents' concerns and also from the nearby Dundee Airport.

I was immediately in touch with the City Council's Chief Executive who advises that all necessary steps are being taken to resolve this situation.





Dundee Contemporary Arts - Board Meeting

Last night, after my weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School, I attended the Board Meeting of Dundee Contemporary Arts at DCA in Nethergate.

It was a very useful and productive meeting, including a discussion about DCA's strategic review and Board objectives for the next five years.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meeting with CityJet

Yesterday, I met with the local operations manager of CityJet, operators of flights to London City Airport from Dundee, regarding their proposed winter timetable.

This follows the concerns I have raised about the problems the new timetable will pose for business users.

In a constructive meeting, I asked that CityJet rethink pushing back these flights to later time slots.   It is also clear that the increased landing costs at London City Airport before 9am have not assisted and this is something I am taking up with London City Airport.

Senior City Council officials and representatives from Highlands and Islands Airports, operators of Dundee Airport, and CityJet are meeting tomorrow for further discussions on the matter.

The rent "consultation" that's actually a sham

Last night's Evening Telegraph and today's Courier report my concerns that, having rejected any attempts to offer Dundee council tenants any real choice for the rent increase in 2011/12, the SNP administration on the City Council has turned the so-called "consultation" with tenants on rent levels into no more than a sham.

Earlier this week at the Housing Committee, I attempted to introduce an additional option for tenants - an increase 1% below anything the SNP offered.   The SNP voted this down, so only options favoured by the SNP will be offered for consultation - at 4.5%, 4.75% and 5% - high, even higher and higher still.   The SNP Housing Convener says "the consultation was not a sham because there were three real options being offered to tenants" but in truth, all that is being put before tenants is what the SNP wants to put the rents up by, plus two even higher options to create an illusion of consultation.

Real consultation would have included an option that removes some of the cost burden placed upon tenants - and this could have been done by removing the council's expensive relets refurbishment programme (£554 000 next year).  It would not have stopped the SNP administration from putting its case to tenants for keeping this programme if they really think it is worth keeping, but it would have allowed tenants real choice on the rent increase.   It speaks volumes that the only way the SNP feel they can get the answer they want to the "consultation" is to remove any real alternative, costed, rental model from this "consultation."   

In summary, a sham.

Assurance given on improving West End residents' parking

Further to my article on 11th October and, as reported in today's Courier, I met with the Director of City Development at Dundee City Council yesterday over delays to the start of work on improving residents' parking in the area of the West End south of Blackness Road, along the Perth Road shopping corridor, and in surrounding streets.

The council’s City Development Committee agreed back in January to progress work to improve parking in this part of the West End and in some other parts of the city, but there’s been absolutely no progress since. I therefore met with the Director of City Development to get an assurance that the work to improve residents’ parking would take place, albeit later than envisaged.

The Director confirmed delays are because of work required as a result of the Disabled Persons’ Parking Places (Scotland) Act 2009 has taken longer than expected and the engineer resource needed to progress residents’ parking improvements cannot yet be released as a result, but he gave me a clear commitment that the council will honour the commitment and committee approval to move ahead with the project in 2011.   This is to be welcomed.

I am very keen to see parking improvements for my constituents in the affected parts of the West End and hope to see this project to improve parking start as soon as possible.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Real Time Bus Information - latest update

As residents are aware, I have been anxious that the wiring faults that have put the real time bus timetable information at bus shelters out of action are repaired and the service is back working at all shelters as soon as possible.     As an update to the information I reported last month, I have now been advised by the City Development Department as follows :

"In the West End ward, the bus shelters listed below have been repaired.

Perth Road Opp Patons Lane
Perth Road Opp Roseangle
Perth Road Near Ritchies Lane
Perth Road at Seafield Lane
Perth Road Near Arnhall Drive
Perth Road Opp Riverside Place
Perth Road At Glamis Road
Blackness Avenue Opp Seymour Avenue
Logie Street At Nursing Home

To meet contractual obligations to Clearchannel UK, I had instructed that shelters with illuminated advertising panels are prioritised. I don't think this would include many on Blackness Road. After that, I am asking the contractors to prioritise busy (i.e. well used) bus shelters. If you have any shelters in your ward that you feel are particularly well used, please let me know.

Between 10 and 20 shelters are now being repaired each week. The repair work has proved to be very complex and we still have more than 200 to fix."

I have asked to be kept updated with progress on this matter.    After my request, I have also been advised :

“I will ask the contractors to have a look at the Blackness Road/Harrow Street shelter - and hopefully it will get repaired in the next couple of weeks.”

This is a well-used shelter and it would be good to see the real time information working here again soon.

River Crescent Residents' Association

Last night I attended the latest meeting of River Crescent Residents' Association.  

We had a useful discussion about current issues including bus services, the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Public Appeal Launch and the forthcoming West End Christmas Week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Job Creation Working Group

Yesterday, along with other council group leaders, council officers and representatives from Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, I participated in the first meeting of a working group on job creation in the city.

There were useful presentations amd discussions around the employment situation in the city, renewables, the waterfront project, V&A project and other matters.  

It was a constructive and useful meeting with further discussions planned.

Power cuts in the West End

I have been in touch with Scottish & Southern Energy (Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution) following power cuts in the area today.    I have been advised (in the past few minutes) :

"We have had a power cut in this area today and our Engineers are currently out on site, Harris Academy is now back on. We still have approx 200 customers still off supply, we aim to narrow down the fault location within the next 20 minutes."

West End Boys Amateur Boxing Club Christmas Fundraiser

With thanks to Emilio Places-Rey of the club for the information :

Ken Buchanan, Scottish boxing legend, is guest of honour at a Christmas Dinner at the City Harbour Chinese Buffet Restaurant on Thursday 9th December at 8pm - book now on 07581 430 037.

Dog in control ...

Bunty, having mastered how to work the TV remote control, is now in charge of TV viewing choice in the Macpherson household ...

Monday, October 25, 2010

The SNP just don't get it ...

Tonight, at the City Council Housing Committee, I proposed that the Council consult on a lower rents increase (3.5%) in addition to the 4.5%, 4.75% and 5% increase levels the SNP administration has suggested be consulted upon.   Tenants in the city deserve more than a superficial consultation on a "high, higher or higher still" increase.

My proposal was as follows :

"AMENDMENT BY COUNCILLOR FRASER MACPHERSON

HOUSING, DUNDEE CONTRACT SERVICES AND ENVIRONMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE – 25th OCTOBER 2010

REVIEW OF RENT AND OTHER CHARGES 2011/2012 (REPORT 613- 2010)

I move, as an amendment, that the following additional option be put to the Dundee Federation of Tenants' Associations and City Council tenants for consultation.

"As an additional alternative to the proposed options of 4.5%, 4.75% and 5%, a rent rise proposal of 3.5% should also be considered, which is £2.02 per week on average, subject to a maximum increase of £3.00 (subject to consultation).

Charges for the following should remain as per the report’s recommendations :

· concierge service

· garage lock ups

· underground parking bays

· garage sites

· sheltered housing service

· travelling people's site rents

· heating charges

These increases would also be applied from 4th April, 2011."

A 1% reduction in rents would require a saving of £400,000.

If it is finally decided that the rent rise should be 3.5%, I will ask the committee to agree at the same time as the rent rise is decided that this shortfall should be met by reducing expenditure on the enhanced relet standard by £554,062 as this will require £154,000 increase in the void loss budget."

My proposal would have resulted in tenants being given an additional - and lower - increase choice.   It would not have determined the level of increase, but expanded tenant choice.     However, the SNP administration was not for listening.    I am grateful for support from Labour, the Conservatives and the Depute Lord Provost, but lost the vote 15-12.   So the rent increase choices will be restricted to SNP unreasonably high levels.   No choice there, then.  

At the council meetings tonight, I also :

* Asked a question about the timing of community council elections
* Asked about progress on a Common Housing Register to improve housing allocations across Dundee
* Queried air quality management area changes
* Questioned the proposed rent levels for new-build council housing
* Asked about the capital programme spend thus far in 2010/11
* Queried road safety statistics presented to City Development Committee

Dundee Literary Festival - this week!

Details of this week's Dundee Literary Festival!

Dundee Literary Festival this week! Come and meet the award winning actor David Rintoul, discussing his time as the good doctor.

28th October, Bonar Hall.

12.30pm - Poem and a Piece, Brian Johnstone
2pm - Dr Finlay with David Rintoul
3.30pm - James Robertson 5pm - Norman Watson

Book online - www.literarydundee.co.uk or at the Overgate or DCA.

Call 01382 384413 or email literarydundee@dundee.ac.uk  

Poem and a Piece - Brian Johnstone - 12.30pm to 1.30pm - £5.00

Brian Johnstone - until recently Director of the STANza festival in St Andrews - comes across the river to read from his latest poetry collection, The Book of Belongings. The volume reads like an archaeology of the lost, its pages carefully uncovering and observing what has vanished, died or been abandoned. Visiting former theatres of war, remote landscapes of Scotland, France and Greece, pre-war classrooms and the nightmares of childhood, these poems are not afraid to gaze long and hard at what has been deliberately concealed, erased, or dismissed as worthless - the past with all its demons, its sad domestic litanies.

Dr Finlay's Casebook with David Rintoul - 2.00pm to 3.00pm - £4.00 / £3.00 (concession)

With the publication of a new omnibus edition of Dr Finlay's Casebook and Adventures with a Black Bag, and a new biography of A.J. Cronin, Dundee Literary Festival is proud to present a celebration of Scotland's most famous doctor. With readings from master-actor, David Rintoul, who played Finlay in the hugely successful TV series of the 1990s and discussion with Alan Davies, author of A.J. Cronin, the Man who created Dr Finlay, we remember the quality of the writing, the characterisation and the wry humour of the central figure, Dr Cameron and Janet. Welcome back to Arden House.

James Robertson - And The Land Stay Still - 3.30pm to 4.00pm  - £3.00 / £2 (concession)

James Robertson, Blairgowrie based author, has produced a sweeping epic story, charting the changes in Scottish life - personal and political - during the second half of the 20th century. An ambitious, enthralling and incredibly absorbing novel that has won acclaim and hit the best seller lists.

James Robertson's previous books have won the Saltire Prize and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year, while the bestselling The Testament of Gideon Mack was picked by Richard & Judy's Book Club.

AND THE LAND STAY STILL

Michael Pendreich is curating an exhibition of photographs by his late, celebrated father Angus for the National Gallery of Photography in Edinburgh. The show will cover fifty years of Scottish life but, as he arranges the images and writes his catalogue essay, what story is Michael really trying to tell: his father's, his own or that of Scotland itself?

And what of the stories of the individuals captured by Angus Pendreich's lens over all those decades? The homeless wanderer collecting pebbles; the Second World War veteran and the Asian shopkeeper, fighting to make better lives for their families; the Conservative MP with a secret passion, and his drop-out sister, vengeful against class privilege; the alcoholic intelligence officer betrayed on all sides, not least by his own inadequacy; the activists fighting for Scottish Home Rule - all have their own tales to tell.

Tracing the intertwined lives of an unforgettable cast of characters, James Robertson's new novel is a searching journey into the heart of a country of high hopes and unfulfilled dreams, private compromises and hidden agendas. Brilliantly blending the personal and the political, And The Land Stay Still sweeps away the dust and grime of the postwar years to reveal a rich mosaic of 20th-century Scottish life.

Norman Watson - Dundee's Poet, The Worst Poet - 5.00pm to 6.00pm £3 / £2 (concession)

Norman Watson, local author and journalist, has written the definitive biography of the world's worst poet, William McGonagall, is the remarkable, revealing and compelling story of a one-time Dundee weaver who continues to fascinate the world beyond Scotland a century after his passing. Award-winning author Norman Watson's insightful pen pulls back the curtain on the life of the self-styled 'tragedian and poet' in an important, absorbing and hugely entertaining biography which will appeal to McGonagall fans and general readers alike.

POET MCGONAGALL

William McGonagall is a literary legend and one of the best known names in the printed world. His disjointed verse has been popularised by the Goons, Pythons and Muppets, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman. He is on film and in reference books. His portrait hangs in galleries.

There are McGonagall societies and dinners, ceremonial plaques and websites. Yet we do not know where William McGonagall was born, where he was brought up or, indeed, where exactly he is buried. We do not know if the world's worst poet was Scots or Irish. No one has unpicked his first fifty years before he poured out formulaic rhymes on tragedies, victories, heroic deeds, nobility, clergy and gentry. We do not know how many poems he wrote or pamphlets of unappreciated verse he published.

McGonagall has largely escaped the biographer's pen and no adequate appraisal of his life has been attempted - until now. This definitive biography of the world's worst poet is the remarkable, revealing and compelling story of a one-time Dundee weaver who continues to fascinate the world beyond Scotland a century after his passing.

Award-winning author Norman Watson's insightful pen pulls back the curtain on the life of the self-styled 'tragedian and poet' in an important, absorbing and hugely entertaining biography which will appeal to McGonagall fans and general readers alike.

Literary Dundee
5th Floor
Tower Building
Perth Road
Dundee   DD1 4HN

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tullideph Road/City Road traffic lights refurbished

Last month, I reported that there were plans for improvements at the Tullideph Road/City Road traffic lights.   I am pleased to advise that the City Council has now updated me as follows :

"The City Road / Tullideph Road traffic signal junction is being refurbished at present.   These works will be complete in two weeks time and all previous perceived problems associated with this junction should then be rectified."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another unreasonable SNP rent increase proposed

As reported in the Evening Telegraph and the Courier, I am concerned at proposals by the City Council's SNP administration to consider a 5% rents hike.   The SNP administration – for the second year in a row – is proposing to force council tenants to find increased rent levels that are not acceptable at a time of significant financial challenge for tenants.

When the 2010/11 increase was discussed last year, I moved that the increase be restricted to 3% - but the SNP pushed through a 4% inflation-busting increase.

It appears that, again, the SNP is determined to increase council rents by well above inflation and I question the fairness of that at a time of significant financial pressures upon Dundee tenants. There are areas where the Housing Revenue Account could make further savings – and I question the need for a base budget cost increase for relets of over £550 000.

I hope that this year the administration will actually listen to tenants rather than pushing through an unreasonable increase in rents.

Update : Dundee - London flights concern

Further to my recent article expressing concern about deterimental changes to the CityJet flights to London City Airport from Dundee, the airport manager has responded to my e-mail to him raising the issue and asking that we discuss the matter further at the next meeting of Dundee Airport Consultative Committee, taking place on 5th November :

"... we are starting to getting concerns voiced over the new timetable by Cityjet. We have been and still are in on going discussions with them on this. You have copied Ian Dolderer* in on it which is the best thing to do. We have a meeting on 29th October with Cityjet and Dundee City Council on this issue.

There definitely will be an opportunity for discussion on this at the consultative meeting.

When I have more information on any outcomes I will let you know."

* Ian Dolderer is the CityJet representative on the airport consultative committee.

Tim Farron for LibDem President - latest video

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nostalgia nonsense ...

Not heard this for years but on the radio this week!   Worn well, I think.

Adopted by us in the Liberals in a local election in the 1980s - the candidate's surname was, of course, Beat.   And beat he was (second place;  29% of the vote as I recall!)

On Wave 102 news this morning ...

video
I was on Wave 102 news this morning, speaking about the concerns at the proposed winter timetable for Dundee - London City flights.   Click 'play' to listen.

Friends of Wighton Lunchtime Recital : Wednesday 27th October

From Friends of Wighton :

This Lunchtime Recital is a week early but getting this particular lady was just too good to miss!

Aileen Carr is one of Scotland's best and most respected traditional singers. Born in Coupar Angus into a house full of music, it was hearing singers like the great Belle Stewart at the early Blairgowrie Festivals that honed her love of traditional song. She possesses a voice of sublime richness, a wide repertoire of songs and ballads and a charming and ready wit.

The free recital starts at 1.15pm, in the Wighton Heritage Centre, Local Studies Department, Central Library, Wellgate, Dundee (donations are welcome)!

Logie meeting

Last night, along with my ward colleagues, I met with a couple of the leading members of the now former Logie Residents' Association, at the Lime Street Sheltered Lounge.

We discussed ways the area could be represented in the future - the former residents' association did good work for the area and it is important that Logie continues to have a voice.

As a start, we agreed to have a day-time meeting for City Council tenants in November, at which we will invite the new Area Housing Manager to discuss local issues with them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dundee - London flights concern

As reported in yesterday's Evening Telegraph, I have written to CityJet and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited over concerns by passengers who use services to London City Airport from Dundee, regarding the proposed winter timetable by CityJet.

The new timetable from 1st November 2010 onwards :

Dundee - London City

Depart Dundee 08:30 / Arrive London City 10:00

Depart Dundee 14:25 / Arrive London City 15:55

Depart Dundee 18:30 / Arrive London City 20:00

London City - Dundee

Depart London City 10:30 / Arrive Dundee 12:10

Depart London City 16:25 / Arrive Dundee 17:55

Depart London City 20:30 / Arrive Dundee 22:00

The major area of concern is that for business users, the earliest meeting that a passenger could make in London would be around 11.00am, where as at present the first flight gets in at 8.25am.

Clearly for anyone needing to go to an early morning meeting in London, this would now require an overnight stay and additional expenses or to travel from Edinburgh Airport.

It is important that Dundee Airport and its services retain their attractiveness to the business user and I have therefore written to CityJet who operate the service and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, who operate the airport, about the matter.

The first flight coming the opposite way - London City to Dundee - is also being pushed back and is a concern. What is currently an 8.55am departure for arrival into Dundee at 10.35am is changing, so no-one can get in until after 12 noon.

I that a rethink of these proposed flight times should be undertaken.

WestFest 2011

Last night, I attended an initial committee meeting of WestFest 2011 - it took place at the WestFest shop at 93 Perth Road (right).

West Fest 2010 - the first ever West End Festival - was a huge success and it is good to see planning for 2011 already in progress.

Let's start by saving £5600

In terms of the significant savings required by Dundee City Council to meet its revenue budget targets for 2011/12, £5600 is not a great deal, but every penny counts ...

At yesterday's Scrutiny Committee, I asked how much it cost to print the council's annual Performance Report.   400 copies at a staggering £14 each this year, I was told.    My suggestion is - do not print it all - create a PDF to send to those who normally receive it and send it by e-mail.   Anyone who cannot receive it electronically could be given a copy printed on an office inkjet printer if they requested it.  

£5600 saved.   Simple. 

And this approach could be replicated for other publications - Council Plan, progress reports, Single Outcome Agreement Annual Reports - and all the other rather dull stuff that councils are obliged to produce and few wish to read.   I have now written to the Chief Executive suggesting he takes this forward.

In addition to this matter, I made the following points (amongst others) at the Scrutiny Committee yesterday :

* I welcomed the excellent inspection report on Park Place Nursery School and asked a question about the recommendations.

* I asked a question about data collection regarding school placing requests.

* I asked about improving the council's sickness absence performance (not for the first time).

* I asked a series of questions about the risks associated with and the progress thus far with the corporate electronic records and document management system - an issue on which I have previously expressed concern about in terms of cost versus perceived benefits.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blackness Area Residents' Association

Last night, I attended a committee meeting of Blackness Area Residents' Association.  

Issues discussed included the impending 'rents setting' consultation that Dundee Federation of Tenants' Associations will participate in with the City Council, on behalf of council tenants.

I also updated the committee on refuse collection issues and West End Christmas Week.

Nick Clegg on the Spending Review

Dear Fraser,

The spending review has inevitably been a tough process. We have made the decision to take the hard road - but it is the right road to a more prosperous, fairer Britain. The unavoidable moment of truth came just as we entered government: Labour's deficit had to be tackled. I did not go into government to make cuts. But nor can I be in government and allow us to keep spending more than £100 million a day on servicing our debt - enough to build a primary school every single hour, or triple the number of doctors working in our hospitals.

The spending review is a thoroughly Coalition product. Liberal Democrat ministers have been involved every step of the way. Our values and priorities are written through the review, like the message in a stick of rock. We have had to make some very difficult choices. But the review is one that promotes fairness, underpins growth, reduces carbon emissions and localises power.

The Coalition Government is investing £7 bn in a ‘fairness premium’ to help disadvantaged children; putting more than £1 billion into a regional growth fund; launching a Green Investment Bank with at least £2 billion for low-carbon technology and new jobs; and giving local government real financial freedoms. This Government will be spending more than £700bn on public services - the same as in 2006.

For too long Labour enjoyed the years of plenty and whether they are part of the new generation or old, they put their head in the sand when it came to acknowledging the deficit. They spent beyond our country’s means and squandered the public purse. They quite simply endangered the prosperity of our country and it is now taking two political parties to put Britain on the road to recovery.

Along with Danny Alexander, Vince Cable and the rest of the Liberal Democrat ministerial team I have been working day in day out over recent months to ensure that the Comprehensive Spending Review meets key Liberal Democrat tests.

Liberal Democrat ministers have fought to ensure that the burden of the challenge ahead is shared fairly. On child benefit, capital gains and tax evasion and avoidance - this government is making the well off pay their share. And for those services that matter most to the vulnerable in our society, such as health and social care and early years education, spending is being protected.

We are not taking the decisions today because they are easy or because we want to see a smaller state, we are taking them because they are right. We have a hard road to recovery ahead, but we are determined to ensure it is a road that leads to fairness too.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Violent crime concern - action by Tayside Police

Tonight's Evening Telegraph covers the concerns about violent crime in the Tayside Police Beat 26 area - this includes parts of the West End Ward and extends down to 'night-time economy' areas adjacent to the City Centre.

Any extent of violent crime in the area is of great concern and I am reassured that our local police officers put in very significant effort into the prevention and detection of this sort of crime. It is extremely important that residents live in a safe environment and are given reassurance that the police act swiftly and effectively to tackle each and every instance of criminal activity.

With specific regard to the concern about violent crimes in part of the West End Ward, I am pleased that, from this week, Tayside Police’s Community Engagement Team is being deployed in the West End and Lochee areas and this will provide additional police resources. I specifically asked our Police Inspector for the area for reassurance that this additional resource will be deployed to tackle exactly this sort of criminal behaviour and have had this response :

" ...  this large beat starts at the railway station and stretches to Balgay Hill. I have just done a very quick look during the last 2 months and there have been assaults, but nearly all have been in the 'spine' of the Marketgait.

The C26 beat covers places like the new Gala Casino, West Port and public houses in South Tay Street, which are still part of the city centre and have a large night time economy, due to being popular places to visit.   Alcohol normally is a contributing factor in assaults in these areas. Officers are deployed at peak times at weekends through Operation Centresafe as part of our normal business."

On my request about use of the additional resources of the Community Engagement Team that will supplement existing local police resources, I am assured that this has been passed onto the team, which is to be welcomed.