Friday, September 30, 2011

Dundee's universities - an update

As readers of www.dundeewestend.com are aware, I have made clear my opposition to the merger of the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee, and I therefore welcome the apparent reassurance made by Alex Salmond at First Minister's Questions yesterday that there would be "no forced merger" of our two universities.   Let us hope he is as good as his word.

Today, along with the City Council Group Leaders on the City Council representing the Conservative, SNP and Labour parties, as Liberal Democrat Group Leader, I signed a joint letter to Alex Salmond on this matter that can be summed up by its final sentence :

"Much can be gained by mutual co-operation;  much can be lost by a merger."

This evening, along with colleagues from Dundee Liberal Democrat Association, I met with the Secretary of the University of Abertay Dundee's Branch of the University and College Union.   We had a most productive meeting at which we agreed that the continued independence of our two universities in the city must be real and demonstrable.    

I am sure all realise this matter is not, as yet, fully or properly resolved.

Harris Academy's first annual Macmillan Coffee Morning

This morning, along with one of my ward colleagues and many other invited guests, including from the Harris Academy FP Association, I had the pleasure of attending Harris Academy's first annual Macmillan Coffee Morning.

It was extremely well attended, the coffee, sausage rolls and cakes were lovely and it was great to chat with everyone who attended, including local residents. And ... it also raised funds for one of the country's most worthwhile charities.

A great debt of gratitude is owed to the school's Home Economics Department, all other staff involved, the school captains and all other pupils - including the school's very talented musicians, who provided the musical accompaniment.

Grampian Television's 50th!

Had it not been 'rebranded' as STV North, Grampian Television, the regional TV service for the north and north-east of Scotland, would have been celebrating its 50th anniversary today.

Some of us campaigned against the removal of the Grampian brand back in 2006 and regret the passing of a great regional television service - immortalised by TV greats such as Ron Thomson, Jimmy Spankie and Alan Saunders.

STV North has, to its credit, produced an excellent Dundee and Tayside segment in the STV News at Six each evening, but I regret the passing of Grampian, a genuine regional and much-loved television station :
Bring back Grampian!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wasps Creative Pop Up Weekend


Kirsty Joanna Doig of Tissywu Sculptural Art & Design writes :

"This Weekend (1st and 2nd October from 12pm - 5pm - both days) local artists are having a Wasps Creative Pop Up Weekend event, held in 3 different locations.

One of them is in my lovely new studio, which is located on the ground floor of Meadow Mill, West Henderson Wynd, Dundee, DD1 5BY.

This is an opportunity for you to experience what goes on inside artists studios and of course to buy art directly from us or have a privately created commission.

The other two locations are in Douglas Court ... just around the corner from my studio and also at 18 Airlie Place, Dundee.

They'll be plenty of exciting art for you to see, and remember ...  Art goes fast so don't leave it until the last minute!" 

Wednesday activities ...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Celebrate Age Network's  Information Fayre in Logie and St John’s (Cross) Church - see right.   

It was a very well attended event, with lots of local residents visiting the many information stalls.   The Celebrate Age Network is taking part in the West End Community Fayre as part of Christmas Week late November to further highlight its activities.

Later yesterday, along with the other City Council political group leaders, representatives from Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce and senior council officers, I participated in the council's Local Economy Monitoring Group, discussing the current economic and employment situation locally and specific projects such as renewables, the V&A and Dundee Waterfront.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roseangle Car Park

A number of residents have now contacted me regarding the deteriorating state of the Roseangle Car Park - the pictures below indicate (right) the poor condition of much of the car park and (left) the poor condition of much of the bay lining, which is meaning some inappropriate parking obstructions and a lack of enforcement.

At residents' requests, I have contacted the City Development Department of the City Council requesting improvements at this busy, well-used car park.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Busy Tuesday ...

Sinderins Court
In addition to a number of visits to constituents earlier today, I have :

* Attended an open meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents' Association, where I discussed a number of local matters at a good gathering of the sheltered tenants.   These included an update on progress with the Pennycook Lane seating and planting project, bin collection issues, noise concerns and the damaged (missing) bus stop on Perth Road near Step Row (I have reported this to the City Council).

* Taken part in the latest Jericho House Support Group meeting at which good progress on the dance event and the play planned by Jericho House was discussed - both will run during West End Christmas Week.   We also had a useful update on Jericho House's work in the local community.

* Chaired a well-attended meeting of tenants from the Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing, at which a member of the City Council's Environment Department was present to discuss grass maintenance and related issues (and we had a useful walkabout round the grass areas after the meeting to look at maintenance issues).   At the meeting, we also discussed a number of other local concerns - fencing, guttering repairs, heating/bathroom/kitchen replacements and overgrown hedging to name a few.

* ... and this evening I chaired the latest West End Christmas Week committee meeting.    Good progress is being made on the 2011 planned celebrations that run from 26th November to 3rd December.

Monday, September 26, 2011

City Council meetings tonight

At a lengthy session of Dundee City Council committees tonight:

* At Education Committee, I asked questions about the proposal to move to a standardised 33 period week across the city's secondary schools.   Specifically, I asked about the provision of physical education should such a proposal be implemented and I also sought assurances relative to the proposed Harris Academy decant - due from 2013-16 - to enable the Harris rebuilding project.

* At City Development Committee, I sought assurances that the Hunter Street car parking improvement project - that would create additional parking facilities near to the University of Dundee campus - thus relieving car parking problems across the West End - will go ahead.   I also welcomed use of the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund to create the long-awaited pedestrian bridge from Seabraes to Riverside - something I have long campaigned for.     I also asked questions about improved gully cleaning operations across Dundee and had a question about improving winter maintenance operations.

* At Policy & Resources Committee, I presented the following motion :


"Dundee City Council notes, with concern, the request made last week to the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee, by the Scottish Funding Council, that the two universities commence talks to consider the possible merger of the City’s two universities.
The City Council recognises that it would be highly detrimental to the City of Dundee if the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee, were forced to merge.  
The City Council further recognises that both our universities are dynamic institutions but their focus is rightly different and they complement one another.   That would be lost by a forced merger, with a detrimental impact on the availability and diversity of course provision.   
The City Council also notes, with concern, the potential for job losses caused by such a merger.
Dundee City Council makes clear its outright and unequivocal opposition to the merger of the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee.   
It therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Mike Russell MSP, and to the Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, Mark Batho, making clear the City Council’s outright opposition to a merger of the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee."

An excellent deputation representing students at the University of Abertay made an excellent case against the merger proposals.   They made the point that councillors should put party politics aside in the interests of higher education in Dundee.   

In that spirit, the Labour Group motion and mine were combined and we were also grateful for the support of the Conservatives and the Lord Provost.    The SNP ignored the request to put party politics aside and moved a motion critical of the Westminster Government - an unfortunate approach as the moves to merge Dundee's two universities is entirely driven by Scottish Ministers, Alex Salmond down.    

But the SNP City Council Group motion did say they strongly support the continued status of both universities as independent and autonomous institutions.   They will be held to that and perhaps they might like to let Mike Russell, SNP Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, know that they support the independence of our two Dundee universities as his actions last week suggested that he does not.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning

Information about the upcoming Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning :

Sunday song ... Rupert Holmes

I spent part of last week in Telford at my Institute's Annual Conference.    A long car journey was much improved by the pure entertainment provided by Radio 2's Steve Wright in the Afternoon.   I go back far enough to remember Steve Wright on Radio 1!   And on came an old favourite from 1980 ...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Call to stop any merger of Abertay University with the University of Dundee

I am quoted in today's Courier indicating my concerns that the SNP government is trying to bulldoze Dundee's two universities into a merger and there are significant detrimental implications from such a merger in terms of course availability and staffing.   

It would indeed be a sad day if the number of universities in the city dropped to one.  Both our universities are dynamic institutions but their focus is rightly different and they complement one another. 

I would add that not only would a merger of Dundee’s two universities would be bad news for the city, I am asking exactly where did this proposal figure in the SNP manifesto at May’s parliamentary elections?   Of course, it did not feature, and the SNP has no mandate to force a merger of Dundee’s two universities. 

It should be stressed that the Scottish Government has failed completely to make any sort of business case for merging the two universities.   I am highly sceptical that there is any benefit to Dundee by the merger of the University of Dundee with Abertay University and I call on the two Dundee SNP MSPs to disown the merger proposal as it is clearly not in Dundee’s interests.

There is already a Save Abertay University Forum on Facebook and an e-petition against any merger has, in a very short space of time, already attracted nearly 400 signatures.   You can sign the petition by going to http://tiny.cc/abertay

Pentland road resurfacing

Having taken up a number of concerns from residents about the state of the road surfaces on the roads in Pentland, I was pleased to be advised recently by the City Engineer of a proposed surfacing programme planned for early next year :

"It is proposed to apply a proprietary thin surfacing treatment to Pentland Crescent, Loganlee Terrace and Colinton Place in March of 2012.  For your information it usually takes less than a day per street to apply this treatment with road marking works to follow."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Missing street sign to be replaced

I recently received a constituent complaint that the street sign in Marchfield Road on the east side at the top end of the street is missing.

Having reported the matter to the City Council, I have been advised as follows :

"The missing street name plate will be checked within the next week and any replacement sign ordered thereafter. Replacement signs are normally erected approximately eight to ten weeks after the order is raised." 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrate Age Network

The Celebrate Age Network Forum is organising an Information Fayre in Logie and St John’s (Cross) Church on Wednesday 28th September from 1pm-3.30pm.  

There is an opportunity for older people to get involved in the planning of the event – if you would like to attend or know of anyone who might want to get involved, please ask them to get in touch with Susan Gunn at Dundee Voluntary Action - telephone 305745. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wheelie Bins


Further to the concerns I raised last year following a wheelie bin fire at 97 Peddie Street, I am pleased to see the City Council now introducing a two-month trial of removing the wheelie bins here (north end Peddie Street plus a small number of properties in Annfield Street, Corso Street and Abbotsford  Place) and replacing them with a Eurobin communal waste service.

Although in most streets the wheelie bin collection system works well, the problem of some wheelie bins sitting out permanently on the street exists in a number of streets in the West End (and in other parts of the city) and last year's fire in Peddie Street highlights the danger this can cause.   In addition, wheelie bins left out permanently on the pavement cause an obstruction that is a particular concern for blind and partially sighted people, for parents pushing prams and for those in wheelchairs and motorised scooters.

I was therefore also pleased to learn recently from an officer in the Environment Department of the City Council that :

"I am currently undertaking a survey in the West End Ward identifying tenemental/flatted locations where wheeled bins are sitting permanently kerbside. Once this information is collated, letters will be issued to households and landlords requesting that they adhere to guidelines surrounding the presentation and return of wheeled bins. Once letters are issued I will periodically monitor these areas to assess the level of compliance following the letter drop. The letters will be issued in the coming weeks."

Harris Academy Parent Council AGM

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Annual General Meeting of Harris Academy's Parent Council.    

It was a well-attended meeting at which we discussed a number of matters, including the school rebuilding project, the situation arising out of the destruction of the school minibus and the City Campus.

The Parent Council does excellent work and Jim Thewliss, the school's Head Teacher, gave an eloquent vote of thanks to the parent volunteers who serve on the Parent Council.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Councillor Blog!

Further to my recent item about the Total Politics 2011 Blog Awards, I was delighted to learn today that I have topped the poll in the "Top Councillor Blog" category and I can only repeat my thanks to all who voted for me this year.

In addition to some excellent Liberal Democrat councillors' blogs, there was strong competition from excellent councillor bloggers from other parties including Rupert Reed (Green), Steve Tierney (Conservative) and long-standing councillor blogger Luke Akehurst (Labour).

And great to see my long-standing friend from Angus Council, Cllr David May, entering the Top 35 Councillor Blogs for the first time.

Balgay Stakeholders' Group

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the latest meeting of the Balgay Stakeholders' Group, which brings together local councillors, council parks/environment department staff and community representatives - in particular Friends of Balgay - to discuss issues related to Balgay Park and its surrounds.

Matters discussed yesterday included :

* Tree pruning work recently undertaken.  
  
* Impending work to improve the lighting in the park - from the Scott Street entrance right along to the entrance at Glamis Road - this includes new lighting columns but also repair of a major fault at the Scott Street side.   This impending work is really good news as it will restore lighting to parts of the park that have been without lighting for some considerable time.

* Friends of Balgay will be undertaking planting of Alpines in the park's Rose Window during the second half of October, thanks to an award from Barney's Fund.

* The Friends of Balgay AGM will be on Saturday 22nd October at 2pm at the Mills Observatory.   The guest speaker will be Murray Nicoll of the Tay Valley Family History Society.

Thomson Street - road safety

Yesterday, I met with with a group of residents and a road safety officer from Dundee City Council in Thomson Street to discuss road safety concerns residents have raised regarding this extremely narrow road.

Concerns discussed included inappropriate use of the road by some large vehicles such as HGVs, the need for residents to sometimes reverse in the street when meeting on-coming traffic and whether or not a one-way operation of the road may help that, and the possible use of "Twenty's Plenty" in the street to emphasise its very residential nature and narrowness.

The City Council will now give consideration to the points residents made at this constructive and useful meeting.

Call for City Council to act now over school bus axe

I have today called on the City Council to look urgently about ways of filling the gaps caused by the loss of the 4S school bus.    The school bus was axed by National Express Dundee at the start of the new term, leaving pupils with no direct bus from the West End to the school and in many cases a long walk of over 40 minutes to get to school.

I have spoken again to National Express Dundee at the end of last week and – despite earlier hopes - it is now clear that the bus company is not going to re-route other services to fill the gap.   Given this, the City Council must now act fast – before the winter bad weather and dark mornings and late afternoons come in – to provide a proper means of transport for the 40+ children directly affected.

It is very clear that the so-called "alternative" bus services simply do not work in terms of getting pupils to school on time and the return journey is meaning pupils getting back very late - as late as 5.15pm.  Some pupils have been forced to give up after-school sports as they simply can’t get to them in time.   In the mornings, pupils are often getting to school late as the convoluted bus arrangements simply do not get them to school on time.

It is completely unacceptable that pupils living in the St John's catchment area have such difficulty getting to and from school.

This matter must be resolved properly - and soon – and it is about time the City Council took action.  I do think the City Council should be considering how best to either provide some form of tendered bus service or look imaginatively at other solutions.  For example, the City Council is in ownership of a fleet of mini-buses, some of which are not in use at the start and end of the school day.   Use of such a resource should be considered.   What is not acceptable is a “do nothing” option.    This matter must be resolved properly as quickly as possible.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ground at the Technology Park

I have highlighted complaints from constituents about the state of the ground on Dundee’s Technology Park at the entrance to the City, having received many concerns about the untidy state of the ground running along Riverside Avenue, just east of the Swallow Roundabout.   It is important that it is tidied as it is a prominent entrance to Dundee and in its current state looked unsightly.

I have been in touch with Scottish Enterprise who own the Technology Park regarding the state of this ground.    The most prominent untidy area is adjacent to the now empty former Aviva offices (Norwich Union) and Scottish Enterprise has indicated that, although it is responsible for maintenance of some parts of the technology park, some is the responsibility of tenants.   The bottom line for me is that this strip of very prominent ground at the entrance to the city is very overgrown and unsightly and it really needs a decent tidy-up.

A Scottish Enterprise official has advised me :

“Scottish Enterprise in the past has written to the individual private land owners within the Technology Park highlighting the areas of landscaping, that they themselves, are obliged to maintain. Scottish Enterprise are planning on writing to the individual owners again to raise awareness of their obligations.

With respect to the area along Riverside Avenue, I would be happy to meet with you and a representative from the City Council Lands Maintenance Department to discuss the issue of grass cutting/maintenance at this location, as Scottish Enterprise are also keen to see the entrance to the Park being maintained as well.”

I welcome this and hope that the matter can be progressed very soon.   There are parts of the Technology Park that are very overgrown and need attending to and this prominent site should be tackled as soon as possible.

Friends of Magdalen Green - latest news

I was 'minutes taker' at the recent committee meeting of Friends of Magdalen Green, at which we discussed a number of issues affecting the Green, including litter bins, the new cycle path and the BBQ tables to be installed in the near future.

We also decided upon the winner of the Friends of Magdalen Green Christmas Card competition.    There was an excellent standard of entry and many thanks to all who entered.   

We will announce the winner of the competition at a presentation during our forthcoming coffee morning at Dundee West Church Hall on Saturday 22nd October - more details of the coffee morning to follow.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday song ...L'amour est bleu

Love is Blue was the superb Eurovision 1967 entry by Luxembourg, performed by Vicky Leandros, and pipped at the post by the UK's Puppet on a String by Sandie Shaw.   However patriotic one is, its a bit of a no-brainer as to what was the better song.   Vicky did win the day, however, in the 1972 Eurovision, with the winning song Après Toi :

Total Politics Blog Awards 2011

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted for www.dundeewestend.com in the recent Total Politics Blog Awards for 2011.

In the Scottish category, I have made the Top Ten for the first time (18th last year;  28th in 2009) and in the LibDem category, I have also made the Top Ten (18th last year;  31st in 2009).

I was 9th in the Councillor category in 2010 - the result in this category has yet to be announced.

I'm awfully grateful to all who have taken the trouble to vote for this blog - very many thanks!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Later today ... Tom Wilkinson's harpsichord concert in Dundee

From Sheena Wellington :


On Saturday 17th September, the Friends of Wighton's monthly cappuccino concert in Dundee will be performed on harpsichord by the organist of the University of St Andrews, Tom Wilkinson.

Tom Wilkinson joined the University of St Andrews as University Organist and Director of Chapel Choirs in 2009. Born in 1985, he studied at St Mary's Music School, Edinburgh, going onto become Organ Scholar of Truro Cathedral, Cornwall. In 2004, he took up the Organ Scholarship at The Queen's College, Oxford, and graduated with a first-class degree in 2007. In the same year, Tom took the Fellowship Diploma of the Royal College of Organists.   From 2008-9 he held the position of Assistant Director of Music at Chelmsford Cathedral.

His organ teachers have included Matthew Owens and the late David Sanger; he has also played in masterclasses with Marie-Claire Alain, Jennifer Bate and Nicholas Kynaston.

As an organist, Tom has performed throughout Europe and in Africa, Asia and the USA.    Within the UK he has performed in St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the cathedrals of Coventry, Salisbury and Wells, and the Usher Hall, Edinburgh.   He has also made several broadcasts on BBC Radio 3.

The concert will start at 10.30am with complimentary coffee and newspapers, then the music begins at 11am and runs for an hour.    Admission is £5 on the door.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tackling vandalism

Tonight's Evening Telegraph highlights the issue of vandalism and includes my comments about the serious financial and emotional implications for local communities.

As I indicated in the Evening Telegraph, our local police service takes the problem very seriously and significant effort is put in to dealing with the issue.

It is important that residents continue to report anything that appears suspicious.  The Tayside Police non-emergency number is 0300 111 2222.

Friday's tune ...

Julio Iglesias CD from 1986 found in my garage recently!  (Absolutely true!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

High Mill

I recently received complaints from residents about the overgrown state of the grass area north of High Mill at Steven's Yard, adjacent to Shepherd's Loan.

I am very grateful to the City Council's Planning Enforcement Officer who, at my request, contacted the landowners to get the very overgrown grass cut.    As you can see below, the owner has now taken action and the area is now looking much better.

Aberfeldy

Early this morning and along with my Dundee LibDem colleague Craig Duncan, I was in Aberfeldy to help our party colleague Victor Clements, who is standing in today's Highland Ward by-election on Perth & Kinross Council.

As you can see, it was a beautiful morning!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Travellers return to West End site

I have received numerous concerns over the past 48 hours following around 40 travellers' caravans now again illegally occupying former Scottish Water grounds on Riverside Avenue, west of the junction with Riverside Drive.

I have been in contact with Dundee Airport who have concerns about the close proximity to the airport runway, where there would be safety concerns should rubbish from the site blow across aircraft flight paths.   I have also been in touch with the City Council's Chief Executive regarding the need for the land owners (a Manchester-based company) to take necessary legal steps over the matter.

The council’s housing department has advised that the travellers arrived Friday evening at Charles Bowman Avenue in the Claverhouse Industrial Estate.    A notice was served on them on Monday morning at 11.00am advising them that Dundee City Council will take legal action to remove them from the site.

They moved from there to Riverside late Monday evening and steps have been taken to alert the landowner.

The airport operators have legitimate concerns about the site being adjacent to the airport.   Last time there was a real lot of rubbish left blowing about and that’s a safety concern for aircraft.    I am pleased that the council has moved swiftly on this concern.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

West End Community Council tonight

At this evening's West End Community Council meeting, I gave a presentation on the preparations for this year's West End Christmas Week.

Winter maintenance briefing

Earlier today, along with a number of my councillor colleagues, I took part in a further briefing on winter maintenance preparations for next winter.   This was a follow-up to the debrief that I participated in at the end of  February that looked at lessons learned from last winter's severe weather and the City Council's response.

Today's meeting was lengthy and detailed and I raised a number of issues of concern to West End residents.    The council is now looking to use some additional resource (external contractors, farmers and the building trade) to supplement existing resources for winter maintenance.   This is to be welcomed but I did ask questions about greater use of council drivers to make greater use of council gritters for additional hours in severe weather.

Amongst other matters, we discussed salt stock levels, grit bin provision, public information and participation, keeping priority roads clear of abandoned vehicles and possible alternatives to the use of salt in very low temperatures.

Council staff have put significant effort into the review of winter maintenance policy and it is important that all effort is made to assist all Dundee citizens in the forthcoming winter period.

West End Community Council

West End Community Council meets again tonight (7pm at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall) for the first time since its summer break.

I'll be giving a short presentation on preparations for the 2011 West End Christmas Week and I have also prepared an update on local issues covering parking in the West End, school bus provision in the West End and the Crichton Street Royal Mail Collection Office closure.

Monday, September 12, 2011

City Council committees

Following my weekly surgeries this afternoon at the Mitchell Street Centre and at Harris Academy, I attended tonight's City Council meeting and various committees at which :

* At the City Council meeting, I praised the work of the Dundee Youth Council that has hit the ground running in  representing young people across Dundee.

* At the Policy and Resources Committee, I sought assurances that the overspends in Social Work and City Development would result in a review of budget provision in 2012-13.

* At the same committee, I also sought assurances that the planned rebuilding project at Harris Academy would give local contractors a real opportunity to bid for the contracting and sub-contracting work.

* I also asked questions about a review of welfare rights provision and about changes to the Education Department staffing structure.

Olympic Torch Relay - come on Dundee!

The Sunday Post yesterday reported my comments about the low number of nominations thus far from Dundonians for the Olympic Torch Relay.   

With over 600 nominations across Scotland, to date only 19 come from the Dundee area and in the Sunday Post article yesterday, I urged Dundee folk to put themselves forward to carry the Olympic flame.

You can read more about nominating a torchbearer, through the scheme promoted by sponsors Bank of Scotland, by going to http://tinyurl.com/olympicsdundee.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Balgay Cemetery - more dreadful vandalism

As reported in yesterday's Courier and Friday's Evening Telegraph, I have condemned the mindless vandals who have pulled over 23 headstones in Balgay Cemetery.   Their actions were extremely destructive and very upsetting for the families involved and come on top of previous vandalism a couple of months ago.

The police have promised high-visibility patrols in the area and that is to be welcomed.  I have been in touch with the Inspector for the West End also requesting that mobile CCTV be used as a deterrent and in detecting those responsible.

Yesterday, I visited the cemetery to see the vandalism for myself - its appalling and I hope Tayside Police will apprehend those responsible as soon as possible.   Anyone with information should contact Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

West End schools building project - an update

As residents are aware, the construction of the new St Joseph's Primary, Park Place Nursery and Park Place Primary Schools is now well-advanced and the building beginning to take shape.    I have raised with the Education Department a constituent concern about construction noise in the early mornings.

The contractor, Robertson Construction, has now issued two newsletters to adjacent householders in the Blackness Road, Abbotsford Street, Glenagnes Road/Logie, Rosefield Street and adjacent areas that you can download as follows :

May 2011 edition :  http://tinyurl.com/may2011edition 

Saturday song ...

A couple of years ago, I featured the great version of Ain't no Mountain High Enough by Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye.    Here's a beautiful high quality version of the video, shot in Montreal in 1967 :

Friday, September 09, 2011

City Council meeting with Royal Mail


Along with another eight Dundee City Councillors and the council’s Chief Executive, I today met with senior officials from Royal Mail in the hope of persuading Royal Mail to think again over its closure of the Crichton Street Collection Office.    Unfortunately, there was no willingness shown by Royal Mail at the meeting to reconsider the closure decision.

It is disappointing that Royal Mail is unwilling to reconsider the closure of the Crichton Street facility.   All nine councillors who attended the meeting – representing wards right across Dundee - highlighted the many concerns raised by customers that, given that the Crichton Street Office was a very central facility in the city and the alternative facilities are not located in the city centre, this closure is having a detrimental impact on customers, particularly those who rely on public transport to visit Royal Mail facilities.

It was a lengthy meeting but at the end of it, what was very clear is that Royal Mail is not going to reconsider the closure or look for alternative City Centre facilities and that’s a deeply regrettable situation.

A number of us also highlighted the ridiculous result that residents in parts of the West End who live very close to the Edward Street collection office but, because their postcode is DD2 rather than DD1, have to go all the way to the remote Baird Avenue collection centre to collect their item.    It would make far more sense that this part of DD2 did not have to travel to Baird Avenue, given the distance and the extremely poor public transport links.

The Royal Mail officials did agree to look again at the disabled access at Baird Avenue and signage at the office and also indicated that a pilot was being introduced elsewhere in Scotland that, if successful, would widen the re-delivery opportunities for customers.   However, although all the councillors present stressed the loss Crichton Street’s facility was a real loss to Royal Mail customers, it is clear that Royal Mail officials are not willing to reconsider the decision.    This will be greeted with dismay by the large number of West End residents who have expressed concern about the loss of the long-standing City Centre collection office.

St John's High School Parent Council meeting

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the latest St John's High School Parent Council meeting.    Parents of pupils affected by the loss of the 4S school bus spoke eloquently about the problems this is causing their children getting to school on time and I hope that the Education and City Development Department officers who were also present last night take their concerns on board.

As if to emphasise just how unsatisfactory the so-called alternative buses are, the 26 service that should leave Perth Road at Step Row at 8.05pm was 20 minutes late, making the possibility of any pupil getting to school on time impossible.

It is imperative that this situation is properly resolved before the darker winter days arrive.

Been away ...

I've been away much of this week at Crieff Hydro running a conference with the "day job" - here's a photo of me there (below).
Was back in Dundee last night just in time to attend last night's St John's High School Parent Council meeting - and have spent much of today catching up with constituents' calls and e-mails.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Dundee Russian School - latest update

The Dundee Russian School at Harris Academy on Saturdays that I had the pleasure of visiting in June during its Day of Russian Culture is now again open for the new term.

The school has put together a short video (click 'play' below to listen) and more details of the school are available at http://dundee.russianedinburgh.org.uk.  


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Consultation event for deaf people

The City Council has advised me of the following forthcoming event for deaf people locally :

"Dundee City Council Social Work Department would like to invite you to attend a consultation event on Tuesday 27th September 2011 at the Central Baptist Church, 9a Ward Road, Dundee, DD1 1LP.  You can give us your views about social work services for deaf people in Dundee and tell us what services are important to you.

There will be two different consultation events, each event will be for two hours.  One event is for people who are hard of hearing and who do not use British Sign Language - this will start at 10.00 am.  The second event is for people who use British Sign Language and will start at 2.00 pm.  You do not have to come to both events – you only need to come to one event.

An independent BSL interpreter and notetaker will be there at both events.  The venue has disabled access and an induction loop system.  If you have any additional requirements, please let us know.  

If you are cannot come to the event in Dundee, there will be other consultation events in Angus on Wednesday 28 September and in Perth on Friday 30 September.  If you want to go to one of these events please contact us at the above address or text us on: 07960 241 042.

If you are unable to attend the consultation event or you would rather give your views in writing then we can send you a questionnaire.  This will ensure that your views can be taken into account.  Please text using the above telephone number or write to us at the above address and we will send you out the questionnaire.

Your views will help us to improve services for deaf people.  Thank you for your help."