Monday, October 31, 2011

City Council meetings

After my surgeries at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre this afternoon, I attended a lengthy series of council meetings tonight at which :

* At the Housing Committee, I queried the credibility of assumed land receipts (£13.4 million between 2012 and 2015) that proposed levels of council rents in the next few years rely upon.   In the past year, such receipts have amounted to only £500 000.

* At the same committee, I asked questions about proposals for Amenity Housing and sought assurances for our sheltered housing tenants.

* Again, at Housing Committee, I questioned the rather crude method of sharing out the benefits of the universal home insulation scheme that will see the bulk of the benefit going to Band A houses and made the point that the benefits should benefit households in poverty and those in fuel poverty first.

* At the Policy & Resources Committee, I queried the procurement system used for the purchase of IT equipment (a system now 9 years old) but also praised the huge effort by council IT staff that saw a seemless move of IT services when the new council headquarters at Dundee House opened recently.

Friends of Wighton lunchtime concert - Wednesday 2nd November

On Wednesday 2nd November, the Friends of Wighton are teaming up with Live Music Now Scotland, for this month's Wednesday lunchtime concert in the Wighton Centre, upstairs in Dundee Central Library.

The performers for November's event are the trumpet and piano duo of Tom Poulson and Chris Baxter.

The concert will start at 1.15pm and will run for about half an hour.   Admission is free.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Technology Park landscaping - a progress report

In September, I highlighted residents' concerns about the poor state of some of the landscaping at the Technology Park, particularly on Riverside Avenue, being a key "ambassador route" entrance into the city.

I am pleased to have been given updates from both Scottish Enterprise (who own the technology park) and the City Council following a on-site meeting between the council's Environment Department, Scottish Enterprise and Colliers International, Scottish Enterprise's Property Portfolio Managing Agents.

Scottish Enterprise has advised me, "The purpose of the meeting was to inspect those areas of landscaping and road verges along Riverside Way and Apollo Way and clarify/agree what areas were currently being maintained by the City Council, Scottish Enterprise and private owners based with the Technology Park.

Following the meeting it was agreed that Scottish Enterprise/Colliers would write to the individual landowners again, highlighting their responsibilities in terms of landscaping in and around the Technology Park."

The City Council has further advised, "At the site meeting it was acknowledged the ownership of the various parcels of land has created a fragmented approach to a constant quality of maintenance and Scottish Enterprise was going to write to all the owners re the condition with the objective of improving the overall quality of the maintenance which is the individual landowners responsibility or whether there was an opportunity for a single contract through collaboration.

DCC cut some of the verges and we are having a further meeting with then to formalise this.

Scottish Enterprise was going to get back to direct although I know that they are having difficulty tracking down the actual owners for the ground.

From a Council perspective we see opportunities at the ground next to the Swallow Roundabout which is effectively the gateway into the city and are awaiting details of the ownership. There might be opportunities of a focal point although funding is an issue and we were going to examine the sponsorship route."

I am pleased that there has been some progress on this matter and will continue to liaise with both the City Council and Scottish Enterprise.  It is important that the entrance to the city at such a strategic road looks tidy and there is also the issue of ensuing that the small number of residential properties at the eastern end of the technology park do not have foliage from the technology park impacting adversely on their gardens, something again Scottish Enterprise advise me it is seeking to address.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday activities ...

Yesterday morning, in addition to meeting various constituents, I had a meeting with sheltered housing tenants at Sinderins Court, a City Council Environment official and Home Scotland staff about the waste and recycling bins at the complex - see right.   The current bins are overly large with heavy lids that some of the tenants find difficult to use.   During a very amicable meeting, agreement was reached on smaller communal bins and a more frequent collection.

Early yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of the Cherry Blossom Nursery School in Seafield Road.   The nursery is beautifully build and provides excellent facilities for the local children who attend the nursery.   It transforms the site of a long-derelict property and previously badly overgrown grounds.   The welcoming lighting outside last night (see above right) was very impressive too!

Dundee Partnership Awards Dinner
Later yesterday evening, I attended the Dundee Partnership Awards Dinner at the City Chambers.    It was great to see a diverse group of awards winners, all of whom do a huge amount of good for communities across Dundee.   It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and hear more about the achievements of the winning groups.

Friday, October 28, 2011

WESHA 'visioning' evening!

Back in June, the West End Sports and Heritage Association (WESHA) was formed, to progress sports and environment improvements at Riverside and at Magdalen Green.

Its a great, dynamic group that will make a real difference towards improved sporting provision at Riverside and facilities at Magdalen Green.

Last night, I took part in a "visioning exercise" led by the West End Communities Officer, at which we looked at the group's priorities and challenges.    It was a very useful evening and we welcome the involvement of all interested local residents and community and sports groups.

Douglas Street

From the City Council :


TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997

DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL (DOUGLAS STREET, DUNDEE)
(STOPPING-UP) ORDER 2011

Dundee City Council hereby give Notice that they have confirmed an Order under Section 208 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, authorising the stopping-up of lengths of roads, footpaths and footways situated at Douglas Street, Dundee.

A copy of the Order and relevant plan specifying the lengths of footpath to be stopped up may be inspected at the office of the Depute Chief Executive (Support Services), Dundee City Council, 21 City Square, Dundee, by any person free of charge between 8.30 am and 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday inclusive (except public holidays) during a period of 28 days from 28/10/11.

Any persons wishing to question the validity of the Order or of any provisions contained therein on the grounds that the Order is not within the powers conferred by the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, or on the grounds that the applicant interests have been substantially prejudiced by a failure to comply with any requirement of the said Act or of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992 or of any rules or regulations made under these Acts, may within six weeks from 28/10/11 make application to the Court of Session for this purpose.

DEPUTE CHIEF EXECUTIVE (SUPPORT SERVICES)

You can download the full Order and plans by going to http://tinyurl.com/douglasstreet

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bring a Pound to Work on St Andrew's Day!

An excellent initiative from Wave 102 - you can download the poster at http://tinyurl.com/wave-102 :
 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

City Council Scrutiny Committee

The City Council's Scrutiny Committee met this afternoon.   

I raised questions on a number of issues, including :

* Residential parking permits and ensuring that systems are robust against fraud, misappropriation and error.

* Performance of Pay on Foot arrangements at the Greenmarket Car Park, in advance of the car park payment system being extended to the new car park in East Marketgait.

* Community initiatives to communicate Winter Maintenance arrangements for the forthcoming winter.

* Possible changes to architects' fees arrangements and the effect on council income and capital projects.

* Progress on shared services with other local authorities and public sector organisations.

Meeting with Tullideph area residents

This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking with over 20 residents from the Tullideph area at a meeting I organised at the Tullideph Sheltered Lounge to discuss local issues.

It was a a very useful 90 minutes at which numerous concerns were discussed - including bus services, winter maintenance, roads condition and bin collections.   And a lot of banter too!

I have a 'wee list'  of issues to follow up on behalf of residents that are already in hand.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday latest ...

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the media photocall on Magdalen Green to announce that the Guinness Book of Records has given the world record for the largest piggy back race to the event held at the WestFest Big Sunday earlier this year!

Here's a photo and a short video from a thoroughly enjoyable event this afternoon!
Piggy Back Winners Dominic and Lola Venditotzz receive their Guinness World Records Certificate from Paola McClure, WestFest Chair

Also today, I met constituents and Scottish Water representatives about flooding issues in part of the West End and constituents about housing repairs and roads complaints

Monday, October 24, 2011

Surgeries return ... and City Council tonight

My weekly West End surgeries started again today, with the commencement of the new school term.   My surgery details are as follows :


Mitchell Street Centre (The Base) (click to see map) - Mitchell Street - on Mondays at 4.20 pm prompt (except school holidays).

Harris Academy (Room 407 next to main reception) (click to see map) - Perth Road - on Mondays at 4.50 pm prompt (except school holidays). 

Blackness Primary School (Staff Room on ground floor) (click to see map) - Pennycook Lane - on Thursdays at 6.15 pm prompt (except school holidays).

At tonight's Development Management Committee, I spoke about two planning applications - but there were no West End applications on the agenda this time.

Ancrum Drive site meeting

Me at Ancrum Drive parking
At lunchtime today, along with almost 30 residents of Ancrum Drive, the secretary of the Community Spirit Action Group and a City Council Road Safety Officer, we had an excellent on-site discussion about the parking, road safety and related issues in Ancrum Drive.

Numerous aspects were discussed that will be taken forward by the City Council.   I would like to thank all Ancrum Drive residents for their very productive input today - and to those residents who could not attend today but who have phoned or e-mailed me with helpful views.

Attack on young woman condemned

As reported in tonight's Evening Telegraph, I have condemned the appalling attack on a young woman late on Friday on Lochee Road near the junction with Cleghorn Street.

Attacks of this nature are thankfully unusual in the local area but it is vital that anyone who was in the vicinity between 10pm and 11.30pm last Friday evening and who has any information - no matter how insignificant they think it may be - contacts Tayside Police - see http://www.tayside.police.uk/Contact-Us.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Volunteering Opportunities with Celebrate Age Network Forum


See Off Scams

We are looking for volunteers to help us go out to older people’s groups and let them know what they can do to avoid scams.  To be a volunteer with this project, you will:

·        Enjoy meeting and working with older people
·        Be willing to give up three hours a month of your time
·        Take part in a half day’s training session on how to avoid scams

Newsletter Project

CAN Forum are looking for volunteers to help with setting up a newsletter for older people.  To be a volunteer with this project you will:

·        Have basic computer skills
·        Have access to a computer
·        Be over fifty years of age
·        Be prepared to take part in newsletter production training provided by Dundee College
·        Be willing to give up five/six hours of your time a month

To find out more about either of these opportunities – please contact Susan Gunn on 305745. 

On Tay Talk In today ...

Was on the Tay Talk In earlier today about bus services in parts of the West End - click play to listen :

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friends of Balgay AGM

Mills Observatory
A busy West End Saturday also saw the Friends of Balgay AGM take place at the Mills Observatory this afternoon.

A very well-attended meeting at which Murray Nicoll of the Tay Valley Family History Society and the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Trust gave a highly informative and very entertaining talk about the victims of the 1879 disaster.

Coffee Morning success!

A superb Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning today - extremely well-supported by local residents!    Here's a few pictures from the event :
Coffee Morning in full swing!
Fraser on the dishes!
Some of the Friends of Magdalen Green team congratulate Gerry Lavery (front, right) on winning our Christmas Card competition

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning - ready to go!

Just back from helping to set up for tomorrow's Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning at Dundee West Church - all looking good - see below.
The coffee morning starts at 10am - all welcome!

... and Thursday ...

Logie Estate
Its been a bit of a "walkabout" week!
Following Tuesday's walkabout with council officers round Pentland to look at local issues and problems there, yesterday morning, along with council officials from the Housing and Environment Departments and a ward colleague, I took part in walkabout round the Logie Estate, where, amongst other issues, we looked at railings condition, open plan grass maintenance, damaged or missing street signs and pavement repairs.

In the afternoon, I had a very productive meeting with the City Council's Head of Transportation, mainly about the inadequate bus services in Peddie Street, Pentland, Scott Street and surrounding areas, following the demise of that part of the National Express Number 4 route and the need to promote usage of the council's tendered 204 service with a view to hopefully seeing an improvement in the frequency of the service in the future.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tree work undertaken in Wilkie's Lane

Back in August, I highlighted concerns that I and representatives of St Joseph's Church had about the badly overgrown trees in Wilkie's Lane :  
Before
Following my request, the trees were trimmed back earlier today - the work programmed during the school holidays when there's less traffic in the lane.  

The lane looks much better without several tree limbs overhanging, that were are weak and liable to fail :
After

Wednesday meetings ...

Dundee Remploy factory
Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of visiting the Dundee Remploy factory, to meet the Operations Manager and the GMB Shop Steward.

Dundee's Remploy factory provides employment for 43 local people, most with disabilities.   They produce high quality materials, mainly for the Ministry of Defence and also for police, fire services, the Home Office, and others.

There is much concern over the future of Remploy, following the Sayce Report, on which a consultation exercise has recently ended.

I had a tour of the Dundee Remploy factory yesterday.    Most of the staff have given many years of loyal service to the company and produce goods of the highest precision and quality.    Dundee's Remploy factory must be supported.   

What is clear speaking with the local management is that if Remploy Dundee is to survive and prosper, it must now look to bid for work in the local procurement market.   To that end, I have contacted economic development staff at the City Council to ask that all support - from the City Council, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise - is given.   I am most impressed that the City Council's Head of Economic Development has already been in touch with the Operations Manager at Remploy Dundee to offer advice and support, following my e-mail to him requesting support.

Later yesterday, I had a site meeting with the local Housing Officer to look at guttering repairs needed at the Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace sheltered housing and thereafter had a very productive meeting at the Lochee Police Station on West End policing issues.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friends of Wighton update ...

Latest Friends of Wighton update :

Simon Chadwick
On Saturday, October 22nd, the Friends of Wighton's monthly cappuccino concert will be performed by historical harp specialist, Simon Chadwick.

In the bright and atmospheric surrounds of Dundee Central Library's Wighton Heritage Centre, the event starts at 10.30am with complimentary coffee and newspapers.   Then, from 11am to 12 noon, Simon will perform a selection of rare and beautiful old harp tunes, using a very special replica of the famous medieval Scottish Queen Mary harp.

Simon is the regular tutor of the Friends of Wighton harp class, held every Saturday afternoon in the Wighton Centre. He has done a large amount of research with the collection of old Scottish music books housed in the centre, and his music brings back to life Scottish music from centuries past.

The Wighton Collection of Scottish music books was brought together by collector Andrew Wighton, a Dundee merchant, in the early 19th century.   After his death, it was given to the city and is now housed in display cabinets in the specially built study and performance centre, at the top of the Wellgate library.

Saturday 22nd October, 10.30 for 11 am
Friends of Wighton Cappuccino Concert
Old Gaelic Laments
in the Wighton Centre, Dundee Central Library, DD1 1DB 
Followed at 2.00pm by Simon’s regular harp class
All welcome, admission £5 (£2.50 under 25s)

Pentland walkabout

Pentland, viewed from City Road
Yesterday, along with council officers and a ward colleague, I took part in a "walkabout" around the Pentland area to look at issues in the estate.

The substantive issue discussed was about improving grass maintenance in the area, and we also looked at a number of other issues including parking and road condition.   On the latter matter, it is good that streets in the area will be resurfaced early next year, as I reported last month.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wilkie's Lane lighting

Last night, along with the Parish Priest and another representative of St Joseph's Church, I met with a representative of the City Council's Street Lighting Partnership on-site in Wilkie's Lane.

The south end of the street, adjacent to the church car park, is extremely dark at night.   We discussed the situation and I have now highlighted it with City Development Department officials.

Assault on pensioner condemned

As reported in today's Courier, I have condemned the assault on a 66 year old pensioner in the Nethergate early yesterday.

I am shocked that this man has been attacked in the Nethergate and I do hope he is making a full and speedy recovery from what must have been a frightening experience.    

It is vitally important that the culprit is caught as soon as possible and I urge anyone who was in the vicinity of the Nether Inn around the time to contact the police if they saw anything suspicious.  Tayside Police can be contacted on 0300 111 2222 or at mail@tayside.pnn.police.uk.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Touch Screen Bus Information - Nethergate

A number of residents have contacted me about the new touch-screen bus information facility at the bus stop west of the Queen's Hotel.    The comments by one constituent highlights the issues faced by users of what should be a welcome addition to public transport information services :

"The touch-screen bus info one strikes me as something which may look great and logical to someone indoors at a desk, but actually using it on site is another matter - it took me over 5 minutes to check through services (timing myself to see).

As far as I can see the only advantages over a "paper version" are a spoken facility, better backlighting, and easier to update centrally without changing sheets - but if the information can't be easily accessed in the first place, that's not much use.  Please, let this be improved (and working properly) before it is rolled out more generally."

Having used the facility myself, I agree that getting to the detail of a particular service is convoluted and not user-friendly and there's a clear issue about reliability (the system is 'out of order' at times).

I contacted the City Council's Head of Transportation about this matter, who has responded as follows :

"These units are on trial in Dundee.  We are giving them a soft launch and will be undertaking customer perception testing.  I agree that the units have not been 100% reliable as I have seen them (and reported them) out of action, in particular at Queens Hotel stop.  But this is a trial and this is where we discover issues not known or expected.
 
I suspect that I-Phone / Android / Smartphone technology is overtaking the need for this type of unit - with a paper timetable giving a better and speedier reassurance than the need to touch screen. 

I would not be supportive of any system that requires more data provision.  All our systems that we have worked hard to build up are based on the enter once use many times principles."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dundee Fair Trade Forum AGM

The fifth AGM of the Dundee Fair Trade Forum takes place on Thursday 27th October at 7pm in Room 2522, Bell Street Building, University of Abertay, Dundee.  

The guest speaker for the evening will be Martin Rhodes, Director of the Scottish Fair Trade Nation campaign, who will give an update on Scotland’s bid to become a Fair Trade Nation by 2012.

Betty Driver - 1920-2011

As one of Coronation Street's greatest fans, I was very sad to learn of the passing of Betty Driver - Betty Turpin and Williams to the millions of Coronation Street followers.   A brilliant actress, who looked twenty years younger than she actually was, the vegetarian famed for her Rovers' hot pot, she will be sadly missed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Protect your pipes - be prepared

From Scottish Water's  Regional Community Manager to local councillors :



Scottish Water is launching its new campaign to encourage our customers to ensure homes and businesses across Scotland are protected and prepared for the winter.  Communities throughout the country are being urged to follow Scottish Water’s winter code - a set of simple steps to protect your pipes, be prepared and heat, insulate and protect your home and business.

The campaign, which is being supported by Sean Batty, the STV weather forecaster, is being spread through a range of measures including advertising, leaflets, videos, social media channels and partnerships with a range of bodies, such as landlord and housing associations and plumbers’ federation SNIPEF.

Scottish Water is also implementing various initiatives to ensure it is well equipped to continue to deliver the best service it can in the event of another severe winter.  
Sean Batty from STV weather (pictured above) supports the launch of Scottish Water's winter 2011 campaign.


Scottish Water news release :
Follow Scottish Water’s winter code and be prepared for winter!


We're launching our winter campaign to encourage customers in communities across Scotland to follow our winter code - protect your pipes,  be prepared and heat, insulate and protect your home.   We are also urging holiday homeowners, businesses, agents and landlords to take steps to heat, insulate and protect properties and any vacant commercial properties.


Visit www.scottishwater.co.uk/winter where you can find winter information, films and advice. If you would like hard copies of our leaflet and poster, please feel free to email customermarketing@scottishwater.co.uk details of your request.


Further information can be found online about your pipework responsibilities, visit www.scottishwater.co.uk/responsibility 


Follow us on twitter www.twitter.com/scottishwaterpr and facebook www.facebook.com/scottishwater


We'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe and happy winter season. 

Scottish Water Team

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friends of Magdalen Green Christmas Card ...

Last night, I participated in a very productive planning meeting for the Friends of Magdalen Green Coffee Morning, taking place a week on Saturday at Dundee West Church.

At the coffee morning, the Friends' 2011 Christmas Card will be launched - designed by local resident Gerry Lavery, winner of the recent competition run by the Friends.   Here's the excellent design - below - and cards will be available at the coffee morning, proved £3.50 for 10 :

Thursday, October 13, 2011

WESHA meeting

Further to my recent update about progress with sports improvements for the West End, I attended a very useful meeting of the West End Sports and Heritage Association committee last night at the Vine in Magdalen Yard Road.

We discussed the first WESHA funding bid.  It is looking good (thanks particularly to Steve McSwiggan and Matthew Miller who have written the content) - a step towards improving the facilities at Riverside, for the benefit of sport in the West End.

Thursday tune ...

Old favourite heard on the radio on the way to a 'day job' event in Grangemouth today!

St Paul's Cathedral's Lunchtime Recital


Two of Scotland's finest traditional musicians, singer Sheena Wellington and fiddler Karen Hannah, are the guests at St Paul's Cathedral's Lunchtime Recital on Saturday 15th October. 

Dundonian Sheena Wellington's pure clear voice and extensive repertoire has enchanted audiences in clubs, festivals and concert halls throughout the British Isles, Europe, North Africa and the Far East.  

Karen Hannah is well-travelled young fiddle-player having toured in the UK, throughout Europe and as far afield as New Zealand. As well as being an accomplished soloist she is a member of several duos, trios and ceilidh bands. She is involved in organising music events and is kept busy teaching fiddle at The Wighton Centre in Dundee, in schools and community centres and to private pupils. 

The pair will provide a varied programme of Scots traditional music and song laced with their deep knowledge and sparkling humour. 

The concert starts at 1pm and tickets are £4, £3 concessions and £2 children, on the door.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

West End Community Council meeting

Last night, I attended the latest monthly meeting of West End Community Council.   There was a very informative presentation on the recently launched Local Development Plan consultation period and a good question and answer session afterwards about possible future development in the west of the city.

A consultation event on the Local Development Plan is taking place at the West District Housing Office on Tuesday 25th October between 2pm and 7.30pm and all residents are very welcome to come along at any time during  the event.

The Community Council meeting was also advised that an initial meeting to hopefully form a friends' group for the recently opened Riverside Nature Park will take place in the Education Centre at the University of Dundee Botanic Garden at 6pm on Wednesday 23rd November.   I have already passed on the names of a number of interested residents and all will be welcome at this meeting.   The nature park is looking superb and a friends' group will help enhance and protect the facility into the future.

There's an interesting new flyer about Riverside Nature Park that you can download by either clicking on the headline above or by going to http://tinyurl.com/riversidenature.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

West End Community Council Update

I have today launched my update for the West End Community Council October 2011 meeting that takes place at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall tonight at 7pm.

The update covers bus services, car park improvements, litter in Nethergate and vandalism at Balgay Cemetery.

You can download the update by clicking on the headline above or by going to http://tinyurl.com/weccoct11.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nethergate litter problem

I have received residents' complaints about the amount of litter and other rubbish left late at night on Fridays and Saturdays in particular in Nethergate, near South Tay Street.

The photo (right) is the situation first thing Sunday morning.    I have brought the matter to the attention of the Environment Department of Dundee City Council, at residents' requests.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Discovery Film Festival : 22nd October - 6th November 2011

Scotland's International Film Festival for Young Audiences

Another fantastic programme of world class films for children and young people will begin on 22nd October.    From the opening film, A Cat in Paris, to Steven Spielberg's highly-anticipated Tintin and this year's crop of animated Shorts for Wee Ones, it's shaping up to be another great year.

Saturday 22nd October, 3.15pm - Opening Film: A Cat in Paris 

Ever wonder what your cat gets up to when you're not around?    This charming and visually stunning animation follows the double life of Dino; a loyal tabby to Zoé by day and a cat burglar's accomplice by night.   We'll be joined by a very special guest, Alain Gagnol, the film's co-director and scriptwriter.

The opening event is a great day out for everyone. As well as the film there's the opening of Torsten Lauschmann's new exhibition, Startle Reaction, plus workshops and activities for all ages. A Cat in Paris ticket holders can join us for hot chocolate and French-inspired nibbles at a post-film family reception.

Other festival highlights include laugh-out-loud escapade The Liverpool Goalie, meaningful coming-of-age comedy Aurélie Laflamme's Diary and chilling murder mystery On The Ice. See our whole programme of films, workshops and events at http://www.discoveryfilmfestival.org.uk