Saturday, April 30, 2011
Because of the May Day holiday this coming Monday, my surgeries at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre will not be held.
However, as Blackness Primary School is not used as a polling station, my Thursday surgery at the school will be held on Thursday at 6.15pm as usual.
Friday, April 29, 2011
This morning, I participated in the third of recent 'walkabouts' in West End estates - this time around the Blackness area - in particular Corso Street, Abbotsford Street, Peddie Street and Abbotsford Place.
There were various issues raised including graffiti, a broken gate, a steep drop in a back garden area, and wheelie bins left permanently on the street in Peddie Street (where there is a solution in sight).
I was pleased to be advised that the grit issue I raised with the City Council after yesterday's meeting of Blackness Area Residents' Association is being attended to.
I wanted to email to thank you for the incredible efforts you’ve made over the campaign so far. The thing that drives me forward every morning is the knowledge that thousands of Scottish Liberal Democrat members and supporters are working so hard to get our message across on doorsteps right across the country.
Everyone is already working very hard indeed. But I am asking everyone to join me in doing a bit extra over the final few days to return as many Liberal Democrat MSPs to Holyrood as possible. Think of what a Scottish Parliament would be like without a stronger team of MSPs motivated by our values, our ideals and priorities?
I know how tough this election has been for everyone. But we have to use the last few days to enthuse our supporters and encourage voters to back their hard-working local Liberal Democrat candidates. I know we would all like to spend a bit of time getting away from it all. We can, but not just yet!
We are the only party working to keep our public services local. Only the Scottish Liberal Democrats are resisting dangerous plans that could see 3,000 police officers lose their jobs, and £300 million wasted on centralising control of social care. It is in challenging times like this that a strong liberal voice is needed more than ever in the Scottish Parliament. If we are not around to fight for what we believe in, for what Scotland needs at this difficult time, who will?
Your work, your efforts can really make a big difference. Thank you again so much for your support.
Scottish Liberal Democrats
Thursday, April 28, 2011
This afternoon, I attended the latest committee meeting of Blackness Area Residents' Association (BARA).
In addition to updates about Dundee West Communities Association (a group that brings together tenants' groups in the west of the city) and Dundee Federation of Tenants' Association, we also discussed local issues including parking problems and the continuing issue of grit on pavements (following winter maintenance) - I have raised this with the City Council, both in relation to the BARA area and in many other streets across the West End.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Launch event at the Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library, Wellgate, Dundee on Wednesday 4th May 2011. 1.15pm - free!
Dr Sally Garden, mezzo-soprano and former Historical Musician in Residence at the Wighton Heritage Centre, will give an illustrated talk entitled: Song of the Silent North: a Scottish voice in Scandinavia. The talk introduces Sally's new classical CD release Song of the Silent North, recorded with Donald Hawksworth (piano) and will explore the themes of landscape, language and lyric tradition that have inspired her recent work. Sally is currently Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen.
Sally has donated a number of CDs - these will be on sale at the event price of £15 - all proceeds to Friends of Wighton.
Last night, I was 'minute taker' at the latest Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting, at which we discussed the arrangements for our forthcoming AGM and free public lecture - a talk by Professor Charles McKean - not to be missed!
We also discussed our involvement with WestFest 2011 and the forthcoming launch of our 2011 Christmas Card competition, to be launched at the AGM on 25th May.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Last night saw a lengthy series of City Council meetings at which :
* The Liberal Democrats made the case for the retention of local policing and fire and rescue services. Labour proposed single services for the whole of Scotland; the SNP proposed the merger of forces into two or three so-called 'regional' forces (for 'regional' read one-third of Scotland!)
My LibDem colleague Cllr Helen Dick and I were grateful for the support of the Conservative Group and of Depute Lord Provost Ian Borthwick. Following defeat of the Labour single service proposal, the LibDem motions were unfortunately defeated 15-6.
The LibDem motions were as follows :
POLICE SERVICES :
Dundee City Council, recognising the need for local accountability in the delivery of policing in Scotland and noting the strong concerns of delegates at the recent Scottish Police Federation Conference at proposals to replace Scotland's eight police forces with possibly just one, supports the option of retaining eight police forces and calls for greater collaboration between forces, particularly with regard to back-office functions, to obtain further efficiencies.
The City Council strongly opposes any move towards a national police force in Scotland. It recognises that Tayside Police and other forces across Scotland have already achieved significant efficiencies in recent years and recognises that further efficiencies can be achieved without the need to merge the 8 police forces. One police force in Scotland would see the loss of local autonomy, would centralise power and will give any government the political control of its chief constable.
Policy and Resources Committee therefore instructs the Chief Executive to respond to the consultation exercise making clear the City Council’s opposition to the merging of police forces in Scotland.
FIRE & RESCUE SERVICES :
Dundee City Council, recognising the need for local accountability in the delivery of fire and rescue services in Scotland and noting the opposition of Tayside Fire Board to a merger of fire and rescue services, supports the option of retaining eight fire and rescue services and calls for greater collaboration, particularly with regard to back-office functions, to obtain further efficiencies.
Policy & Resources Committee notes that the Tayside Fire Board is opposed to the merger proposal in the belief that Tayside Fire and Rescue has shown itself to be a lean and efficient outfit that would gain nothing and may lose a lot if it became part of a national service. The City Council therefore strongly opposes any move towards a national fire and rescue service across Scotland. It recognises that Tayside Fire & Rescue and other fire and rescue services across Scotland have already achieved significant efficiencies in recent years and recognises that further efficiencies can be achieved without the need to merge the 8 fire and rescue services. One fire and rescue service in Scotland would see the loss of local autonomy.
Policy and Resources Committee therefore instructs the Chief Executive to respond to the consultation exercise making clear the City Council’s opposition to the merging of fire and rescue services in Scotland.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Dundee City West Liberal Democrat candidate Alison Burns was featured in yesterday's Mail on Sunday.
With a varied career, starting as the first female apprentice at Timex, becoming a lawyer, running a hugely successful artist management company and having a career as a superb jazz singer, Alison has a bit more to offer than run of the mill career politicians
Residents have really warmed to Alison's campaign and she is indeed jazzing up the hustings and adding sparkle to the campaign in Dundee City West!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Following concerns expressed to me by West End residents about possible loss of parking spaces in the busy Roseangle car park, I have received assurances from the City Council's Head of Transportation that loss of spaces is purely temporary and that there will not be any significant loss of parking on a permanent basis.
Following signage about impending works at the car park appearing and the bottom row of parking being blocked off, residents were concerned that that bottom row of spaces was going to be removed altogether to make a cycle path through the car park.
Residents rightly point out that parking in this part of the West End is difficult enough and this particular car park so busy that a loss of spaces would mean more local residents who cannot get parked near their homes.
I contacted the City Council's Head of Transportation, who advises,
"I can confirm that the current works will provide a marked cycle route through the car park thus linking Seabraes cycle path with the path about to be upgraded through Magdalen Green linking through to Windsor Street. The parking bays are currently temporarily suspended to allow the works to proceed.
I have been advised that possibly one space may be lost where the Seabraes path meets the car park- I note your request to try and avoid this but I believe this space was not meant to be available and should always have been left as the route through from the Seabraes path. However, I will discuss this matter with the engineers."
I am pleased to be able to reassure residents that a lot of vital parking provision in this very busy car park will not be lost. However, it remains important that the City Council moves forward residents' parking improvements in this area of the West End as promised as parking is so difficult here.
Following my raising with the City Council, residents' complaints about the state of the roadway in Pennycook Lane near the car park, repairs have been undertaken :
Above : Before
Above : After
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Residents have complained to me that the disabled parking bay near the taxi rank at the shops on Perth Road east of Sinderins is very worn. I raised this with the Head of Transportation who has responded positively as follows:
"All disabled parking bays will be the subject of review and re-marking in accordance with the Disabled Persons Parking Act (DPPA). Hopefully a large part of these works will be ordered and subsequently completed by Tayside Contracts during the summer months of 2011.
The Perth Road disabled bay in question will form part of this review."
Some weeks ago, a resident in the Kelso Street/Kelso Place area contacted me about how to go about getting the City Council to agree to a temporary road closure to allow the residents there to have a Royal Wedding street party. City Council officers have kindly co-operated with this request. Yesterday, the temporary traffic order was published by the City Council - its for a date shortly after the actual wedding date to ensure that it is on a day when as many local residents as possible can participate.
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 a royal wedding street party being held HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in Kelso Street/Kelso Place, Dundee.
This notice comes into effect on Saturday 7 May 2011 for 1 day.
Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.
No diversion routes are available and access to emergency vehicles will be maintained if necessary.
For further information contact (01382) 433168.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Last night, after my weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School, I attended the latest Dundee Contemporary Arts Board meeting.
DCA Director Clive Gillman gave a fascinating presentation on DCA's Annual Review of 2010/11, which covered the varied activities of the facility and showed extremely positive visitor levels, an outstanding year for the cinema including its highly successful live satellite events, the Discovery Film Festival and so much more.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Yesterday, along with one of my councillor ward colleagues, I participated in the second "walkabout" of the week - this time round the Logie Estate, with council officers from the Housing Department, Dundee Contract Services and the Waste Management Department. We noted a number of issues but were also pleased with progress on matters raised at the previous walkabout late last year.
I also participated in a lengthy City Council Scrutiny Committee meeting yesterday. There were many very positive reports on recent inspections - in the West End, Harris Academy, community learning in the Harris Academy Cluster Area, the Whitetop Centre and the Oakland Centre all had excellent inspection reports.
I asked questions on a number of reports including on the issue of mobile phones, where I welcomed actions being taken to address the issues about cost and control, but also suggested that the City Council consider an independent phone audit.
I also asked questions about the continuing worrying situation in terms of long delays letting council houses. The situation is not improving and it is to be hoped that a systems review and evaluation exercise recently completed will implement necessary improvements to allow for much more prompt reletting of houses in the future.
Last night, I attended the final planning meeting for the West End Sports and Environment Hub that we will launch at a public meeting at Dundee Contemporary Arts on 15th June (more on that in the near future!) Following our initial informal meeting last May, we now have the makings of a great community group to take forward sports and environment improvements in the West End - a great example of different groups working together for the benefit of our community.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I have received a complaint that the penguins statues outside Discovery Point are in need of being spruced up. I asked Dundee Heritage Trust who own them if they could have some work done to improve things.
The Heritage Trust has responded positively as follows :
“The penguins are indeed the responsibility of Dundee Heritage Trust.
Due to the severe weather in the winter the penguins paint coatings have suffered serious damage and are need of a complete rub down and repainting. This work has now started and can only be completed when the weather conditions to allow for the paints to cure correctly.
We are as concerned as your complainer about the state of the penguins and will complete the work as soon as possible.”
As can be seen from the photo (above right) taken last night, painting has already started.
Yesterday, I attended the Balgay Stakeholders' Group meeting along with one of my councillor ward colleagues. The stakeholders' group is a quarterly get-together of Leisure & Communities Department officers, Friends of Balgay and local councillors to discuss issues at
, enhancements and improvements. We had a very productive and useful discussion about lighting in the park (with good progress on plans to improve lighting in the park), signage/information boards, footpaths and other matters. Balgay Park
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
There have been various discussions at the Community Spirit Action Group, the residents' group for the north of the West End Ward including Tullideph, Ancrum, Cleghorn and the Pentland area, about the operation of Puffin Crossings.
This has been particularly focussed on the City Road/Tullideph Road lights, where I have met on-site with the Community Spirit Secretary and council road safety officers to discuss the operation of the junction.
The Community Spirit Secretary and I agree that the way the newer-style Puffin Crossings operate needs to be better publicised and a useful handout was available at the group's last meeting on the subject. You can download this by clicking on the above headline or by going to http://tinyurl.com/puffincommspirit.
Following complaints from residents about road surface defects in Morven Terrace, I raised this with the City Council and am advised that a number of potholes will be repaired within the next 28 days.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating works for the construction of water storage vessels for Dundee University. The Order is expected to be in force for twenty six weeks from 25 April 2011. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.
The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Park Place from its junction with Old Hawkhill for a distance of 75 metres or thereby in a southerly direction.
Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible.
As most of the roads immediately south of the junction of Old Hawkhill/Park Place are privately owned then no (local authority) authorised diversions are available.
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 01382 433168.
This morning, along with one of my ward councillor colleagues, I attended a walkabout around the Pentland area with officers from various council departments to look at issues that require action in the area. A number of issues were noted - eg damaged fencing, bin collections and recycling.
Another issue raised was the road condition of streets in Pentland (see photo of Loganlee Terrace's roadway - right) and it was good to get feedback later today from the City Engineer as follows : "Loganlee Terrace, Colinton Place and Pentland Crescent are all to have the proprietary Nimpactocote thin surfacing system applied this year."
This afternoon, I attended the latest Project Board meeting for the West End schools building project for
St Joseph's Primary School, Park Place Nursery School and . Thereafter, following my surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Park Place Primary School , I attended the City Council's Development Management Committee this evening. Harris Academy
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Here's details of the forthcoming Friends of Magdalen Green public meeting and AGM. The poster can be downloaded by clicking on the headline above or by going to http://tinyurl.com/fomg2011.
Following concerns brought to my attention by residents about the vandalism of a wheelie bin in the Black Street play area and some graffiti close by, I have had a very prompt response from the Waste Management Department of the City Council, who have promised action to tidy the area.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the Friends of Balgay Spring Meeting at the Mills Observatory.
It was a very pleasant and well-attended social event. The Friends of Balgay do much to enhance Balgay Park and its great to see the group in such good heart.
Next Thursday night (21st April), Yes to Fairer Votes are putting on a music gig to raise awareness of the campaign and to encourage people to campaign for a YES vote in the run up to the referendum on May 5th.
The gig will take place at Dexter's, 24 Castle Street, Dundee, DD1 3AF from 8pm. Entry is £3 and it is free for students.
Playing and supporting the YES campaign on the evening will be our bands Esperi, What Would Jesus Drive and Zeigler Co.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating carriageway resurfacing works. The Order is expected to be in force for 15 days from 25 April 2011. 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 for its entire length.
Pedestrian thoroughfare is maintained and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible.
An alternative route will be available via Perth Road/Windsor Street/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 Dundee 433162.
The saga of repairing the real time bus information on shelters across the city is now thankfully nearing its end.
The City Council's Sustainable Transport Team Leader advised me earlier this week:
"You recently asked for an update on the repair work to the bus shelters. I think the work will be completed by mid May. We have around 65 shelters (out of 319) to complete and the contractors were aiming to fix 16 shelters per week."
It will be good to see all the real time information displays across the city back in action.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Following residents' complaints about the overgrown state of the seating area at the corner of Perth Road and Ryehill Lane, I have been been in touch with the owners (JCDecaux) who have promised to get their contractor to tidy the area and improve the seating.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tonight, I attended the latest committee meeting of WestFest 2011.
There's been great progress with the many events that will take place between 13th and 19th June.
WestFest 2011 is set to be a week full of great events for all the family!
Last night, I attended the April meeting of West End Community Council at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall.
Following on from my meeting in February with John Logue, Tayside Area Procurator Fiscal, and Chief Superintendent Gavin Robertson of Tayside Police, at which we discussed tackling vandalism, John and Gavin spoke last night to the Community Council on this issue, the work of the Procurator Fiscal and co-operation between the fiscal service and the police.
It was a very useful presentation, followed by a lively question and answer session. The community council also discussed a number of other local matters including parking, the impending opening of Riverside Nature Park and tenement factoring.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Back in February, at the request of Stewart Findlay, who was acting as the local co-ordinator for the Scottish Boys' Brigade Bands Contest, I did an update about this excellent event on www.dundeewestend.com. Stewart has now advised me of another concert - here's the details from Stewart :
The weekend of the 18th/19th June 2011 will see the band of the Ypres-Surrey Pipes & Drums from Belgium visit Dundee for a long weekend. The highlight of this weekend will be a concert to be held in the Central Baptist Church in Ward Road, Dundee on Saturday 18th June from 7:30 pm. The concert will feature our own band and the Belgian band along with the Dundee Strathspey & Reel Society and other acts to be announced. The music will be a mix of both traditional and more contemporary pieces, included will be our medley which saw us win the Boys' Brigade’s Scottish Bands Contest in March this year.
We have fostered good links the Ypres-Surrey band who hail from the West Flanders region of Belgium. Last year we were invited to take part in the 1st Ypres Memorial Tattoo which culminated in a massed band performance under the Menin Gate. The Menin Gate is a memorial to the Commonwealth soldiers who fell in the 1st World War but whose bodies were never found. We're very fortunate to have been invited back again in September of this year to what looks to become an annual event.
The welcome and hospitality in Ypres was excellent and we’ve invited them to come to Dundee so we can hopefully show them the same level of friendship and fellowship. This involves us providing their accommodation and meals whilst they are here, something which I'm sure you will appreciate does not come cheap. Whilst the concert will not only be a great night of entertainment, the proceeds will go directly to defraying the costs of their visit.
The photo below is from a previous concert in the Caird Hall :
Monday, April 11, 2011
As reported in today's Courier and Evening Telegraph, I have queried with the City Council's Chief Executive the astonishingly high number of mobile phones used by Dundee City Council.
Dundee City Council has amongst the highest number of mobile phones handed to employees in the country – some 34% of the workforce have council owned phones, costing over £460 000 in the period 2008-10.
Of course there are staff who need to use mobile phones during their working day – particularly staff who do visiting as part of their work, but the fact that over a third of all employees have a Dundee City Council owned phone seems astonishingly high, particularly given that in many local authorities, the figure is much smaller – for example 5% in Moray, 3% in the Scottish Borders and 10% in Orkney.
Dundee’s use is higher as a proportion of staff than either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
I wrote to the Chief Executive as follows :
“I was honestly astonished to learn from the recent article in the Scotsman that over a third of all our employees have a DCC mobile phone, particularly as our 34% is starkly different to – eg :
Scottish Borders 3%
How do we control issue of these to ensure we do not issue more than absolutely necessary? Is there any benchmarking going on between LAs given the huge discrepancies in the % of staff issued with one?”
The Chief Executive, David Dorward, has responded as follows :
“I share your concern and can assure you that this matter is being fully investigated.
Prior to this article appearing the Council was engaged in a number of workstreams on the use of mobile phones.
Firstly the Council Chief Internal Auditor had a project in the 2010/11 Internal Audit plan entitled "Corporate Mobile Phones" and this report will be considered at the Scrutiny Committee on the 20th April 2011.
Further as part of Changing for the Future programme there a project entitled Discretionary Expenditure Review, and as part of this review we are critically examining our spend on mobile phones. I expect a report on that part of the review to be brought to the Changing for the Future Board before the summer recess.
Finally, one of the problems with the Council's management of mobile phones, is that there has been senior officer responsible for telephony, and in terms of mobile phones this has largely been left to each Department. With the approval of the Organisational Structure report on the 28th March 2011, the responsibility for telephony and mobile phones passes in totality to Ged Bell, Head of IT. I have a meeting arranged (with the Head of IT) to set out how we are going take forward the Internal Audit report recommendations and deal with reducing the level of spend on mobile phones.
I am conscious that with our move to mobile and flexible working, there actually may be a need for mobile phones, and I will be discussing with Ged the need to be aware that we do not take mobile phones away from some staff, and find that we become less effective and efficient because of that withdrawal.
I can assure you that we were investigating this item of expenditure prior to the article in the press, and that has simply confirmed that it was an area of spend and policy worthy of review.”
I have asked to be updated on progress to reduce the cost of mobile phones by the City Council. In challenging financial times it is important that the council looks seriously at ways of reducing this cost, particularly as many other councils seem to manage with much lower levels of mobile phone use.
West End Community Council meets tomorrow night (Tuesday 11th April at 7pm at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall.
I have today published my Update to the Community Council for April, covering :
Blot on the landscape ... : A new large-style utility box at the west end of
Blackness Road at the roundabout with Glamis Road and Glamis Drive
Disabled Parking Bays -
Union Place car park
No 5 bus service
Grit on local pavements
Pedestrian Safety – Hawkhill