Thursday, 30 June 2011
This evening, along with the Lord Provost, the Convener of Education and the Leader of the Labour Group, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dundee Youth Council at the City Chambers on a number of issues including involving the Youth Council in wider decision making - including engagement with the City Council and Local Community Planning Partnerships - the City Campus, and the forthcoming Dundee Youth Council consultation with young people right across the city.
Dundee Youth Council has hit the ground running and it is important that the City Council works well with the Youth Council, a view echoed by my council colleagues this evening.
With the school summer holidays fast approaching, this evening at Blackness Primary School (pictured right), I held my final surgery until the new school term begins in August. During the summer break I can be contacted as follows :
Home telephone number : 459378 (any time)
Office telephone number at Tayside House : 434985 (office hours Monday to Friday)
E-surgery : email@example.com (any time)
Further to my recent update about the West End Community Council website, here's a couple of further West End updates :
* Community Spirit, the community group for the northern part of the West End (Pentland/Ancrum/Tullideph/Cleghorn and surrounding areas) has a new site at www.dundeecommunityspirit.org.uk. The site will be an excellent way to keep up to date with news in this part of the West End.
* The Western Cemetery Association has a new blog at http://dundeewca.blogspot.com. The blog will be a great resource to keep in touch with the Association that exists -
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
The City Council recently approved a food waste recycling trial. I'm really supportive of this initiative and have been updated by the council's Recycling Projects Officer as follows :
"I am writing to inform you of the forthcoming food waste collection pilot scheme which will be running in your ward.
The scheme, which was passed before the Housing, Dundee Contract Services & Environment Services committee on 9th May (ref. 229-2011) is being run in response to anticipated regulatory changes in Scotland's waste management. Following the publication of Scotland's Zero Waste Plan in the summer of 2010, a draft consultation on the proposed regulatory framework required to deliver the Zero Waste Plan objectives was issued in February 2011. This consultation outlined proposals for two new statutory instruments, designed to drive source-segregation of recyclable materials & introduce phased bans on certain materials into landfill & energy from waste (EfW). Food waste is specifically targeted within the regulations due to the environmental benefits of managing bio-wastes separately, and the draft regulations therefore require Local Authorities to collect food waste separately from all other wastes with effect from 2013.
In anticipation of these draft regulations being passed, it is important that a proactive approach is taken & therefore that a trial of separate food waste collections is run in Dundee during 2011/12. The trial will be offered to approximately 2800 properties, covering a mix of property types & areas. The trial will be subject to ongoing monitoring & evaluation to enable any problems to be overcome immediately. The results of this pilot scheme will be used to inform future decisions regarding city-wide phased rollout of this service in line with the draft regulation timescales.
Areas were selected for participation in the trial based on a number of key factors, including geography, property type, ward, areas with current kerbside recycling provision & those without amongst others. Flatted properties were not included in the trial at this stage as collection container types have yet to be determined for these.
Within your ward the following area(s) will be offered the chance to participate in the food waste collection pilot scheme:
- Clayhills Drive, Glamis Drive (34, 40, 43 & 45), Invergowrie Drive, Menzieshill Road, Perth Road (391 - South Lodge only), Whitefauld Road - 234 properties in total
Residents will shortly be receiving an information leaflet, advising them that their area has been selected to take part in the trial. If they wish, residents WILL be able to opt-out of the scheme & full details of the method of doing so & the deadline for this (12th August) will be included on the leaflet which will be hand-delivered by our Recycling Advisors who will be able to answer any queries residents have at that point. Alternatively, a telephone number, web-link and e-mail address are provided to enable residents to access further information on this scheme.
All residents who do not opt-out of this scheme will then receive a detailed info pack along with their kitchen caddy, compostable liners & kerbside container during late August ready for the first collections to begin in early September."
As I recently advised, I have had constituents express concern about a proposal to have a taxi rank at St Andrew's Cathedral in Nethergate.
I was pleased to learn earlier today that the City Development Department has indicated that :
"Due to the high number of objectors, the decision has been made that the proposed taxi rank clearways in both High Street and Nethergate will not be progressed at this time."
A sensible outcome.
"Due to the high number of objectors, the decision has been made that the proposed taxi rank clearways in both High Street and Nethergate will not be progressed at this time."
A sensible outcome.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
The entrance to Milnbank Gardens is a real mess - very overgrown - and I have received many residents' complaints about this. See photo - right.
I have been in contact with the City Council's Planning Enforcement Officer for the area, who has contacted the developer who built the housing and has asked that the agreed planting maintenance be undertaken.
Monday, 27 June 2011
|Road safety improvements welcomed|
Tonight saw the last City Council committee meetings prior to the summer recess and there was a substantial amount of business on agendas.
At City Development Committee, I welcomed the proposal that the Blackness Road/Blackness Avenue/Balgay Road junction (see right) will be subject to road safety improvements over the next year. Many constituents have mentioned what a difficult junction this is - very busy and many vehicles making right turns - so the proposal to improve the junction is good news. At the same committee, I asked questions about a possible Business Improvement District for the City Centre and I also asked about roads condition in Dundee.
At Policy and Resources Committee, the Liberal Democrats supported a Labour amendment that tried to stop the City Council moving its postal arrangements away from Royal Mail. This was defeated by the SNP administration, who have moved council postal services to a private sector operator. It is ironic that the SNP regularly express concern over the future of Royal Mail, then undertakes its own little version of mail privatisation.
At the same committee, I also asked for assurances over a corporate review of council charges to ensure that low paid workers receiving Working Tax Credit receive concessionary rates as well as others on low income.
Yesterday afternoon, I was delighted to address the Annual General Meeting of the River Crescent Residents' Association, held in the Education Centre of Dundee Botanic Garden (pictured right).
I gave an overview of West End projects and local issues and residents raised a number of matters, including vehicle speeds on Perth Road, Ninewells Avenue and Riverside Drive.
River Crescent has a vibrant residents' group and it was a real pleasure to speak with local residents at their AGM yesterday.
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Last year, unfortunately, the Logie Residents' Association disbanded. The group did valuable work in promoting the interests of the people of Logie and the West End City Councillors have been keen to ensure that there is an opportunity for residents in the Logie area to be kept up-dated on local issues and also have the opportunity to raise any issues or concerns, in the absence of the Residents' Association.
A meeting has therefore been arranged at the Lime Street Sheltered Lounge at 2pm next Friday (1st July 2011) to allow all Logie residents who are able to attend the opportunity to come along and discuss local issues.
Jim Fenton, Housing Manager for the area, will address the meeting, and I will also attend along with one of my ward colleagues. There will also be refreshments available. All Logie residents who are free next Friday at 2pm, are very welcome to attend.
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Earlier this year, I mentioned the Dundee Russian School, an excellent initiative taking place at Harris Academy on Saturdays.
Earlier today at Harris, the school held a Day of Russian Culture, and I was pleased to be asked to say a few words of welcome to the audience, along with one of the Vice-Consuls from the Russian Consulate General in Edinburgh and Dr Andriy Sukhodub, head teacher of the Dundee Russian School.
It was good to see all the children taking part, enjoying themselves, whilst progressing their knowledge of the Russian language. Here's a couple of photographs from the event :
|Some of today's audience at the Day of Russian Culture|
|The Vice-Consul addresses the event|
Friday, 24 June 2011
Earlier this month, I mentioned the airport runway resurfacing works underway and a noise complaint I had received. With the authority of the airport manager, I give below an update he has now given me following his attending a project update meeting on Wednesday :
· The contractor confirmed yesterday that they are approximately 65% complete on the project.
· Unfortunately due to the recent bad weather spell and a few mechanical issues they have not completed as much as they had anticipated.
· As it stands just now we probably have 3 nights surfacing left on the runway and 2 nights surfacing left on the apron area.
· They are having a rest weekend this weekend so no works will be completed from Friday through until Monday night.
· The re-surfacing is being re-scheduled to be completed on Friday 1st July.
· The contractor has also employed further measures to minimise the noise by swapping some machinery and also using a traffic light system with torches instead of using vehicle horns as they normal would do.
· The work left to complete is more at the bottom side of the runway towards Invergowrie, so they are moving further away from the residential properties.
· The civils work is also starting to being undertaken and this are should not produce any noise. The completion of this is around 7th July and at this point it should more or less complete all the works on the airfield.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
The former seating area at Pennycook Lane opposite the entrance to Blackness Primary School looks very tired as the photo (below) shows. So well done to the Pennycook and Sinderins Court sheltered housing Residents' Association who have secured over £1000 of funding to get new seating and have some environmental improvements too.
We had a site visit there yesterday with the Dighty Environmental Group, who have kindly agreed to undertake the work and I have asked Blackness Primary School if it can get involved in maintaining the plants we want to put in planters adjacent to the new seats.
It will make a real difference to the area to have it tidied up and improved - and the sheltered tenants will enjoy the new seating close to Pennycook Court.
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
* I had a very useful and productive meeting today with the Head of Transportation and the Sustainable Transport Team Leader at the City Council to discuss local bus services, including the report going to the City Development Committee on Monday on the outcome of tendering for local bus services. It looks promising that there will be improvements to the current 69 bus service in terms of timetable - good news for those parts of the West End covered by the service. It is also hoped to see improvements to the Friendly Bus shopping service serving sheltered housing.
I also discussed with the Head of Transportation parking issues around West Port, the speed limit on Riverside Drive and traffic speed in residential areas.
* This afternoon, I attended the City Council's Job Creation Working Group, at which employment initiatives in the city were discussed. This group provides a good opportunity for council group leaders, council chief officers and Chamber of Commerce representatives to discuss the employment situation in Dundee and related matters. I asked questions on a number of matters, including progress with the refurbishment of the Dundee rail station.
* Over the past few days, I have had constituents express concern about a proposal to have a taxi rank at St Andrew's Cathedral in Nethergate. A number of the concerns have been resolved by confirmation that the rank will operate only between 11pm and 6am, but, on behalf of residents, I have sought assurances from the City Council's Director of City Development to ensure arrangements with Waste Management are in place for any litter to be removed before the Cathedral opens in the morning and that any possible alteration to the taxi rank timings in the future would require full consultation before any implementation.
* JC Decaux has agreed to tidy up its advertising area at the corner Perth Road and Ryehill Lane, following my contacting the company on behalf of residents.
* The West End Community Council has updated the design of its new website at www.dundeewecc.co.uk - its well worth a visit and has a crisp, professional look.
* Late this afternoon, along with colleagues from Friends of Magdalen Green and the West End Communities Officer, we met with a parks representative from the council's Leisure and Communities Department on the green to discuss where to site BBQ tables, following our recent consultation with residents.
The outcome of the consultation showed residents strongly in favour of BBQ tables (these will reduce damage to the grass from disposable BBQs) but residents did not want the new tables near housing or where they would not be used by residents. After discussion, we agreed to a site to the west of the bandstand, sheltered by trees. See photo below. We also agreed to more litter bins (and bigger ones!) with Friends of Magdalen Green helping with funding of them.
* Tonight, I attended a walkabout in parts of the north of the West End Ward, along with representatives from the Community Spirit Action Group, the communities officer for the West End, our Community Police Officer and one of my ward colleagues. We looked at various issues affecting the area that we will these take forward with appropriate council departments and others - examples below :
|Polepark Road - damaged wall|
|Larch Street - road damage|
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Tonight I attended the latest committee meeting of River Crescent Residents' Association, at which I gave an update on West End local matters, including the launch of WESHA, the success of WestFest and the forthcoming Blackness Fire Station Open Day.
We also discussed the need for 20mph zones in residential areas, an issue I am to be discussing with the City Council's Head of Transportation tomorrow.
The Parent Council at Blackness Primary School has suggested zig zag yellow markings near the school to aid pupil safety. At the last Parent Council meeting, I promised to find out a timescale from the City Council regarding the provision of such markings.
The City Council's Head of Transportation has now advised as follows :
"I refer to your email dated 25 May regarding road markings at Blackness Primary School.
The order for the lining work has been issued to Tayside Contracts as part of a very large volume of similar works. Progress on this type of work has been hampered by many similar requests for new and refreshing existing lines. These have suffered badly from the past two severe winters. The lining crews have been further hampered by the need to remove a lot of loose grit spread during the winter whilst trying to keep the network open.
I would hope that these Zig Zags will be completed during the summer holiday period."
Monday, 20 June 2011
Last month, I attempted, at the City Council's Development Management Committee, to stop ugly BT Openreach 'utility' boxes being placed at three sites in Conservation Areas in the West End.
Tonight, at this month's committee, I moved refusal of two more of these unsightly boxes being placed near Blackness Primary School and in Taylor's Lane. The residents in Taylor's Lane near to the site of one of these boxes are very unhappy about this being placed adjacent to their homes, but unfortunately I lost the vote 16-8. I again make the point that BT Openreach should provide appropriate and sympathetically designed utility boxes in Conservation Areas, rather than saddling the community with large, ugly and unsightly boxes.
I am sure no-one is against improving the broadband services that these boxes service, but housing the equipment in these ugly boxes is a blight on our conservation areas. A bit of community concern on behalf of BT Openreach would be welcomed.
Sunday, 19 June 2011
|Secretary of State for Scotland Mike Moore addressing the event|
Its been a very busy Sunday - starting off with the Scottish Liberal Democrats' Members' Forum in Edinburgh (or - for me - half of it!)
Its been a difficult time of late for Scottish Liberal Democrats but what was so very encouraging about today was the large turnout of members, their robust input and the positive views about the way forward.
I spoke during the debate stressing the importance of the 2012 local elections and the need for the party to be fully prepared.
Via St Andrews to drop off a LibDem colleague, I was back in the West End to take part in what has been a superb WestFest Big Sunday.
Here's a few photos and a video from Sunday on Magdalen Green :
|Some of the Friends of Magdalen Green team - Pat, Angela, me, Mary|
|A superb day on the Green!|
Saturday, 18 June 2011
Later this morning, the Riverside Nature Park was officially opened and there was a large turnout of local people at the event.
Having long campaigned to see the nature park area opened to the public given its superb views across the Tay Estuary and its rich natural heritage, it was a real pleasure to attend today. Alan Young, immediate past Chair of West End Community Council, undertook the official opening and it was good to see Albert A'Hara's contribution recognised - no-one has campaigned harder than Albert over the years to see the area opened to the public.
Here's some photos from the event, together with a short video of Alan's official opening speech:
|The Bird Hide|
|Large crowd for the opening|
|New seating area. Tremendous views even on a day of dull weather|
I was delighted to attend the Tayside Recyclers' Open Day this morning and was very impressed at the progress with the Backyard Container Vegetable Garden.
The vegetable garden is looking great, as the photo below shows!
Friday, 17 June 2011
The newly-launched West End Sports and Heritage Association will be represented at the Friends of Magdalen Green stall at WestFest Big Sunday. With thanks to Angela Mehlert, Chair of Friends of Magdalen Green and the newly appointed Minutes Secretary of WESHA, the flyer above will be available on Sunday. Full details of Big Sunday are available at
Two well-known and well-respected West End residents recently passed away, Dr Harry Leadbitter and Frankie Falconer.
Harry and Sheena Leadbitter were neighbours of ours when we lived at Vernonholme, near the Botanic Garden. Dr Leadbitter (right) had a distinguished medical career, but also did a huge amount in the community, through the Children's Panel, Dundee Rotary Club and Dundee United Football Club.
Sheena takes a real interest in the local community and is always a pleasure to speak with. My thoughts are with her and her family at this sad time. There was a very fitting tribute to Dr Leadbitter in the Courier.
Frankie Falconer died at the tragically young age of 48, following a heart attack. Frankie was a well kent face on the Dundee music scene, but I knew him as a constituent who took a close interest in local issues affecting his area of the West End Ward around Palais Court, West Port and South Tay Street. He would be regularly in touch about local issues and concerns. The area - and the music scene - will be so much less without him.
Thursday, 16 June 2011
The road safety charity Brake has again highlighted the need for slower traffic speeds in residential areas. This is an issue I have recently raised with the City Council again, following discussions with residents. Although the city has 20 mph speed limits outside schools when school children are coming to/going from school, there is a paucity of "Twenty's Plenty" zones in residential areas in Dundee and I feel this should be addressed where there is resident demand for safer speed limits in areas of residential housing, children out playing and elderly residents.
I have received the response below from the City Council's Head of Transportation regarding one residential street in the West End that is a large cul-de-sac and, in the view of residents there, would be an ideal candidate for a lower speed limit to emphasise its residential nature. In light of Brake's recent campaign, I have highlighted their views with him and will be discussing the matter further with him in the near future. I have also contacted Brake about the issue.
Feedback from the City Council's Head of Transportation :
"I refer to your email dated 25 May 2011 regarding council policy on 20mph speed limits and home zones. There is currently no local policy on 20 mph limits and the Home Zones trials has certainly led to design standard that achieve the Home Zone principles for 'traffic calming' / shared space at new build stage - the 20 mph speed limit issue (aside from part time outside schools) is fairly embryonic and a few urban areas are progressing city wide or area specific schemes but there is an element of a watching brief throughout the UK to gauge effectiveness. I am aware of groups of the community that are very vociferous in favour of the default urban speed limit being reduced but I am yet to see this transferring to the predominant view (although I believe this is only a matter of time).
With particular reference to River Crescent it is quite possible the perceived speed of vehicles in this cul de sac may seem inappropriate but as is often the case on small residential streets the actual recorded speeds usually found from 7 or 14 day automatic surveys are well within the 30 mph national urban speed limit. I would be very surprised if anything unusual would arise in this quiet / low traffic cul de sac.
As indicated above there are no recorded policy documents relating to Twenty's Plenty in Dundee. I believe the Twenty's Plenty installed at Gowrie Park was part of a national pilot scheme. The only current policy on 20mph speed limits is that for part time operation around schools as referred to in agenda note AN159-2008. This agenda note refers to the accepted P & T committee report on Making Schools Safer on 24th January 2004. City Quay is the only other 20 mph order within the City which I recall was related to the need to maintain low speeds owing to the proximity of the docks (and is an engineered solution with regular speed bumps curtailing vehicle speeds).
Dundee City Council approved the Home Zones consultation report by Government in P & T Report No. 39-2002. This report supported the use of residential streets for multiple use with vehicles a necessary but not dominant feature of the area, as indicated previously this relates to new builds from that point in time on.
I anticipate that in the coming years this will become an issue discussed widely around Dundee, Scotland and the UK, however at this current moment in time there is no provision to create a 20mph limit in this street and ultimately any traffic concerns are very likely to be local and as is often the case best resolved through neighbourhood efforts."
Here's the latest press release about the fund that gives details of how to apply for funding :
Local charities, community groups and worthwhile local projects are set to receive a boost to their fundraising efforts this year with the help of Barnetts Motor Group’s new Barney’s Charity Fund.
The Barney’s Fund Committee are now accepting applications and would like to invite local charities, community groups or projects to apply for a small donation or grant to help support their existing fundraising efforts in 2011.
Barney’s Fund Committee’s Chairperson Councillor Fraser Macpherson said “We are keen to support groups or charities who demonstrate an active role in worthwhile community based projects or events and are looking for applications to include some background information, details of any upcoming events and current fundraising efforts as well as future plans.”
Please send an application letter to Barney’s Fund Committee, Barnetts Motor Group,
Riverside Drive, Dundee, DD2 1UG or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date for applications is 5th August 2011.
Carole Phillips, Barnetts Motor Group
Direct Line: 01382 647842
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the
Office : 01382 434985 - Home : 01382 459378
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
It was a very interesting and enjoyable evening at DCA tonight where the West End Sports and Heritage Association was formally launched. Matthew Miller was elected Chair (I've agreed to be Secretary) and Matt did a great job in chairing the evening and covering the sports aspects of what WESHA hopes to achieve for the West End community.
Thanks also go to Angela Mehlert, Chair of Friends of Magdalen Green, who gave an overview of what WESHA wishes to achieve for the green, including restoration of the iconic bandstand - and to Pat Campbell (Chair of Friends of MacRosty Park, Crieff) and Andrew Driver and Sue Allen (MacRosty Park project technical consultants) who gave a very helpful and interesting overview of the hugely successful regeneration project in Crieff.
The WESHA team - covering various sports and the Friends of Magdalen Green - are very enthusiastic and will be working hard for environmental and sports improvements in the West End in the months and years ahead.
|Audience this evening|
|Matthew gives his presentation|
From Sheena Wellington :
Arbroath musician Mark Spalding will return to Dundee's Wighton Centre on Saturday 18th June.
The morning Cappuccino Concert, hosted by the Friends of Wighton, starts at 10.30am with coffee and newspapers, and the music begins at 11am. Admission is £5.
Mark will perform a solo recital on harpsichord and piano, which will include historical music by William Kinloch, as well as more contemporary compositions for piano by Ronald Stevenson and Morris Pert.
The Wighton Centre, upstairs in Dundee's Wellgate library, is a beautiful performance and study space, built to house the Wighton Collection, an internationally important collection of over 700 old books of Scottish music. The collection of rare antique volumes was assembled by Dundee Merchant Andrew Wighton, and donated by him to the City after he died in 1866. The centre is also home to a very fine French two-manual harpsichord, which will be used for Saturday's recital.
For more information please visit http://www.friendsofwighton.com or phone 07792 336804.
|Mark Spalding at the Wighton Harpsichord, at a recent recital in the Wighton Centre as part of Dundee Keyboard Festival|
As reported in yesterday's Courier, there is a proposal by the City Council to stop using Royal Mail to handle its second-class mail from 1st July and to use TNT Post, the largest private postal sector operator in the UK instead.
As I indicated to the Courier :
"Everyone accepts that, in the current financial climate, the council needs to get best value wherever possible but we must also be confident we're getting a quality service and that correspondence will be delivered promptly.
"I suspect the decision is more about securing best value than in response to the problems experienced during the introduction of the Royal Mail's new delivery system."
I raised the issue of quality of proposed service and the City Council's Corporate Improvement Manager has advised me that :
"This report is very much about making a saving without any detrimental impact on service. A pilot was undertaken to ensure that the process of using TNT was sound as it involved changes to how mail was prepared for issue and also to establish what savings could actually be realised. There were no issues in the handling of our mail by them. TNT however do not deliver the mail to our citizens that is still undertaken by Royal Mail.
As a result of the success of the pilot and savings possible, the above report is being brought forward to roll out the service Council wide."