Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DisabledGo - Dundee launch event

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the launch event at the City Chambers of the DisabledGo web pages for Dundee.  DisabledGo is a superb resource for all residents who want to know more about disabled access in the area and Dundee joins many other parts of the UK already covered.

The guide, launched in partnership with the City Council covers over 1,000 venues including cinemas, hotels, parks, leisure centres, council offices, high street stores, restaurants, tourist attractions and so much more.    DisabledGo allows people to find out not only whether venues have adapted toilets or parking close by - and also specific details such as whether there are tactile or Braille markings in lifts or on doors, the dimensions of toilets, the positioning of fixtures and fittings and whether they can request information in large print or Braille.

The presentations about DisabledGo last night were really inspiring and I would urge residents to take a look at the excellent website at http://www.disabledgo.com/.

Jericho House Support Group

Jericho House
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the latest meeting of the Jericho House Support Group, a regular meeting at which a number of us discuss fundraising and other projects to support this extremely worthwhile facility in the West End Ward, that assists those recovering from alcoholism.


We had very positive updates on a number of issues including working with Dundee in Bloom to maintain the Dundee West Church garden in Roseangle, other community work including helping an elderly resident with paint work and Jericho House's fundraising walk across the West Highland Way at the end of March for its mini-bus project.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Getting things done ... Blackness Road

On behalf of residents, I recently asked for a bus shelter to be provided on the north side of Blackness Road at Victoria Park.   The site is exposed (see right) and a shelter would be a boon to bus users waiting at the stop.

I am pleased to say that the City Council will be providing a shelter here and I have been further advised :

" … the pavement needs to be 'built out' to accommodate a shelter.   The work has been ordered from Tayside Contracts.  I would like to think a shelter will be in situ in the coming months - by late spring."

Monday, February 27, 2012

City Council meetings

This evening, after my weekly ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy, I attended City Council committee meetings.

At the Education Committee, I supported an amendment to re-establish a working group on parking and pupil safety at schools across the city.     The issue was brought up by one of the Ferry Ward members in relation to Forthill Primary School and the amendment rightly widened the issue to ensure all parking concerns outside city schools are addressed.   

I sought and obtained assurances, however, that the issues at Forthill Primary School would be addressed in early course.     There have been improvements in the situation at West End schools, although, as I pointed out to committee, I do still receive concerns from West End constituents about the issue.   

Although there was a division on the matter tonight (the amendment winning easily with SNP, Labour and Liberal Democrat support as well as one of the three Conservatives, both Independents and a teacher representative on the committee) we all agreed that the safety of children is paramount and I have no doubt that the working group will be a positive way of addressing parking and pupil safety concerns at the city's schools.

At City Development Committee, I praised the work of the Street Lighting Partnership (its record in terms of street lighting repairs is second to none across Scotland) and asked a question about improving pothole repairs on Dundee roads.    I also asked how quickly improvements to waiting restrictions agreed tonight will be implemented.

At Policy and Resources Committee, I requested that there be proper justification of any regradings for council chief officers in terms of increased responsibilities, before these are agreed.   I make no apologies for saying that I was disappointed by the lack of detail in the content of the two reports on this matter that came before committee tonight.   

Marchfield Crescent - good news

Residents in Marchfield Crescent are very pleased that the unadopted pavements in the street are currently being upgraded to a good standard and adopted by the City Council - see right.

Back in 2007, I proposed - and the City Council agreed - that funding on upgrading unadopted pavements be increased two and a half fold.   

This has made a real difference in terms of getting badly conditioned footpaths made up to acceptable standards - both in the West End and across the city.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Getting things done ... Elm Street

At the request of Logie residents, I have asked that the very worn white lines at the Elm Street/Blackness Road junction be repainted - see right.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday song ...

Seventies favourite ...

Scott Street car vandalism

Residents in Scott Street are rightly angry at the mindless vandalism of 16 vehicles in Scott Street overnight on Wednesday/Thursday.

Our local Police Inspector Graham Young updated the West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting on Thursday evening about this disgraceful vandalism of residents' cars and gave assurances that the police putting resources into catching the person or persons responsible.

I spoke on Wave 102 news about the matter today - click 'play' to listen:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Roseangle car park resurfacing

After many months of campaigning on behalf of local residents for proper resurfacing of the badly potholed Roseangle car park, I was pleased to advise last month that the City Council had agreed to fully resurface it and have it properly relined.

Slightly ahead of schedule, the council's contractor, Tayside Contracts, will commence resurfacing works on Monday morning (27th - weather permitting), with the car park closed from teatime on Sunday for 3-7 days - the time taken will really depend on weather conditions.

I have advised all nearby residents of the temporary car park closure and the City Council has also publicised this as has the Courier and Evening Telegraph.    

Bellefield Avenue - SSE work postponed to avoid parking loss
I was very concerned to learn yesterday that, by unfortunate coincidence, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) intended starting electrical work in Bellefield Avenue on Monday that would see a loss of parking in the street for up to three weeks - see right.   

The combined loss of parking between the car park and Bellefield Avenue would have caused residents real difficulty, so I requested that SSE postpone their works until the car park work is completed.   To their great credit, SSE promptly agreed to this - see their response below:


"Councillor Macpherson 

Arrangements are underway to cancel works that were scheduled to commence on Monday 27 February 2012. 

We will discuss with your Network Management department to identify a suitable time to reschedule. 

The works are to upgrade electricity supplies into properties in Bellefield Avenue. This type of work involves excavations to connect a new cable into the property and disconnect the old one."

Riverside Nature Park benefits from Rotarians' generosity

Yesterday, along with council colleagues Cllrs Richard McCready and Bob Duncan, I had the pleasure in taking part in a tree planting ceremony at Riverside Nature Park, with representatives from Dundee and Abertay Rotary Clubs who have kindly donated trees for the park.

Both Rotary Clubs do great charitable work and the new tree-lined path near to the park's east entrance will greatly enhance the park.

Riverside Nature Park is going from strength to strength, with good visitor numbers and a Friends' group getting established.

Getting things done ... Morven Terrace

At the recent sheltered housing tenants' meeting I held with the residents at Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace, the residents raised their concerns that the "SLOW" markings on the roadway in Morven Terrace, coming in from Tullideph Road were badly worn.

I contacted the City Council's Head of Transportation regarding this, pointing out that the SLOW markings are important in an area where there are many elderly pedestrians, and he agreed that the markings should be repainted.

I am pleased that this has been done very promptly - see above right.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

West End Local Community Planning Partnership

After my weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School this evening, I attended tonight's West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting at the Tartan Coffee House in Perth Road.

There was a presentation on the draft local housing strategy consultation for Dundee and I made the point that, in terms of improving privately rented housing in the city (and a lot of it is in the West End), resources must be put into improvements to privately rented housing including controlled entry systems, environmental improvements and proper factoring arrangements.

There was also an excellent presentation by Fiamma Dobson of the Bus Stop Drop In Project at the Gate Church in Perth Road that is providing support - including drop-in facilities - to Dundee folk with addiction problems - see video below :

We also discussed derelict housing in the West End and my proposal to re-establish a Derelict Land Working Group in the city to address this important issue.

University of Dundee Volunteering Fair

Yesterday, Dundee Liberal Democrats took part in the 2012 University of Dundee Volunteering Fair - it was a great event and here's a couple of photos from the day:
With some of the Dundee LibDem Team
Official Volunteering Fair opening

Flooding at Old Hawkhill

Residents have contacted me regarding water flooding down Old Hawhill during the past few days, within the University Campus - see right.

I am pleased to advise that the University Secretary assured me yesterday that the problem has been resolved by their contractor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Welcome decision on nursery school winter maintenance

As reported in last night's Evening Telegraph, I have welcomed a decision by the City Council and Tayside Contracts to give greater priority to footpath gritting beside a busy nursery school close to the West End Ward.

Law Nursery School in Campbell Street is near to the West End Ward, and as a result, children who live particularly in the north of the West End Ward make use of this excellent nursery school.

However, constituents of mine whose children attend the nursery complained that the pavement right outside the nursery in Campbell Street was not a priority route for winter maintenance, although other nearby streets such as Gardner Street are.     I therefore highlighted to the City Engineer the need to ensure that this pavement was given priority in future given the number of very young children using it to enter the nursery and the hilly nature of Campbell Street.

The City Engineer has replied to me as follows :

“I have reviewed this with Tayside Contracts and we agree that that the section of footway outside Law Nursery (ie Campbell Street from Gardner Street to Lawside Road) should be included on the footway priority list for this area and will arrange for this to be added shortly.”

I view this as a sensible decision that will benefit the nursery school pupils and their parents.   Although we have thankfully, thus far, seen a relatively mild winter, in future having this stretch of pavement next to the nursery getting priority winter maintenance will assist in bad conditions.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cutting speed on Riverside Drive and Riverside Avenue : an update

Last November, I welcomed the recommendation by the City Council to cut the speed limit on Riverside Avenue and Riverside Drive, something I have long campaigned for to improve road and pedestrian safety.

The council's Director of City Development has recently updated me on the consultation process as follows :

"It is estimated that the Traffic Regulation Process (TRO) process for the roads identified to change in the speed limit review will start off in about 2 months as this has been added to the list of outstanding Traffic Regulation Orders that have to be progressed.  

As far as consultation is concerned it is likely that this will occur about 3-4 months after the commencement of the process.

Please note that the Riverside Avenue section will require the cooperation of Perth and Kinross Council as the road is shared to the west of Invergowrie Burn."

On Radio Tay news - about Dundee House

I was on Radio Tay news yesterday and quoted in the Courier about the lack of proper public toilet provision at Dundee House, the City Council's new headquarters.

At the HQ that cost Dundee council taxpayers some £36 million, there is only a disabled toilet facility but no general toilet provision.   It would have been a whole lot better if the Dundee public had been given some consideration.    

Although I have been told by the council's Chief Executive that elderly people and young children will be allowed access to the disabled toilet, I have had a complaint from an elderly constituent who lives in sheltered housing that, on visiting Dundee House, he was told there is no toilet provision.

I do think the City Council can do better than this – after all, the Dundee public visiting Dundee House paid for the building!

Click 'play' below to listen to the news report on Radio Tay:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday activities

Following my weekly ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and at Harris Academy, I attended tonight's meeting of the City Council's Development Management Committee at which a planning application for office accommodation at the digital media park in Greenmarket - aimed at the digital media/creative industries sector - was considered.

The application was rightly strongly backed - by 21 votes to 2 - but I did seek - and obtained - assurances about visual appearance and the quality of design.    

Supporting our digital media sector is vital if we are to secure economic growth for our city and it is good to see the future of the digital media park at Greenmarket and Seabraes being secured. 

Wave 102 News - on European Cities of the Future

It was very good news for Dundee that it has been assessed as one of the European Cities of the Future 2012/13 by fDi Magazine.    I spoke about this vote of confidence in the city on Wave 102's news yesterday - click 'play' below to listen:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dundee's West End 1750-1950 - Through the Eyes of an Illustrator

Verdant Works - until Sunday 22nd April - with free admission.

A special exhibition of around 50 ink and colour wash art works by illustrator Keith Walker.

Featuring images of familiar landmarks and locations; some still existing, others gone but within living memory and others much further back in time such as ancient drover’s roads which Keith has recreated. All the pictures are based on meticulous research from old maps, photographs and street directories undertaken in the libraries and archives of Dundee.

Places on show include Roseangle, Balgay, Magdalen Yard, Blackness House, Guthrie Street, Hawkhill, Sinderins, the ‘Blue Mountains’ and the ‘Witches Knowe’.

Keith studied at Duncan of Jordanstone, the old ‘tech’, and then worked as an illustrator for DC Thomson full time for 50 years. He worked on numerous publications including Commando and The Scots Magazine and also worked as a motoring illustrator.

Keith has been interested in Dundee history all his life and this exhibition is the culmination of a personal project that has engrossed him for 50 hours a week for the past 3 years.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friends of Magdalen Green : latest newsletter

Friends of Magdalen Green's latest newsletter is now available in local shops, Blackness Library, local churches and at other community venues.    You can download it here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fiddle and accordion in Dundee

Karen Hannah
On Saturday 18th February, the monthly Cappuccino Concert in Dundee's Wighton Centre will showcase two young traditional musicans, fiddler Karen Hannah and accordion player Alan Small.

Karen Hannah is a well-known fiddle player and teacher whose music has taken her across Europe and as far afield as New Zealand and South Korea. As well as her solo and duo work, Karen plays in several duos and bands, and is fiddle tutor at the Wighton Heritage Centre.  Her recent appearances include two acclaimed concerts at Glasgow's Celtic Connections.

Former All Scotland Accordion Champion, Allan Small, is probably best known as leader of the famous Lomond Ceilidh Band but he is also an inspiring teacher.

The duo provide a journey through the traditional and contemporary music of Scotland in a performance laced with humour.

The Wighton Centre is a purpose built performance and study space in Dundee Central Library, which contains and displays the internationally important Wighton Collection of old Scottish music books. The Friends of Wighton organise regular concerts and classes in the Centre.

The concert on Saturday starts at 10.30am with complimentary cofffee and newspapers, and the music will be from 11am to 12 noon. Admission is £5.

ALSO ...

The next Friends of Wighton Gaelic song class, tutored by Wilma Kennedy is on Saturday 18th February at 10.00am in the Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library, Dundee.   Class fees are £3, £1 for under 16s.

Gaelic song class dates  from now until the summer break are on Saturdays 10th March, 24th March, 21st April, 12th May and 2nd, 16th and 30th June.  

The new Dundee Junior Gaelic Choir will be making their debut at a concert in the Steps Theatre, Central Library on Saturday 3rd March at 3pm.  Also appearing will be the Dundee Gaelic Choir, the Wighton Singers and special guests.  Admission is by donation.

Wave 102 News - on Homebase site redevelopment

I was on Wave 102 News yesterday about the proposed redevelopment of the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive.   Click 'play' to listen :

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday in the West End ...

This morning, I had a very productive meeting with the Tullideph sheltered housing tenants at the sheltered lounge (see right).   We discussed numerous local issues included safety on the pathway from Logie Street to Tullideph Street/Tullideph Place, local bus services and graffiti.

This afternoon, I had a similar and equally useful meeting with the sheltered tenants of Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace.    Issues discussed included pavement repairs that are needed, grass/flower bed maintenance in the area and kitchen/bathroom upgrades.

I have raised all issues mentioned with appropriate council officers.

After a meeting with constituents at teatime, I attended tonight's West End Community Council meeting, at which there was an interesting presentation from Craig Bartholomew of ADAPT, Dundee CAB's money advice service, that is doing great work in helping local people deal with debt and financial hardship.   At the Community Council, there was also discussion on numerous local issues such as graffiti and the state of local roundabouts.   Tayside Police representatives also gave an update on local policing issues.

On Wave 102 news about Blackness Library ...

I was on the Wave 102 news yesterday about the Blackness Library proposed capital investment yesterday.   Click 'play'  to listen:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday update

Today :

+ I attended the latest meeting of the Balgay Stakeholders Group, at which we discussed various issues affecting Balgay Park and Hill and Victoria Park.    I recently raised residents' concerns about the state of the roadway near to Mills Observatory (mud and potholes) and assurances were given about resolving this.   The Conservation Volunteering Day in January was a great success and the next one takes place on Sunday 1st April.

+ I met with Mark Welsh, who will soon become Branch Manager of the new HSBC bank branch in Murraygate.   The new £1.8 million HSBC Dundee Branch is a great investment in the city, coming at a time when other banks are contracting their branch network.   It was good to hear about HSBC's plans for this new facility in Dundee - the branch opens on 19th March.

+ I held two ward surgeries - at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre.

+ I participated in tonight's City Council committees at which :
- At the Housing Committee, I queried progress on the Common Housing Register (to allow Dundee people easier application for housing from multiple housing providers, including housing associations and the City Council).
- At the Environment Committee, I asked about ensuring that new electric car charging facilities are provided for Dundee citizens.
- At the Policy and Resources Committee, I asked about the extent of public access to the City Council's website (arising out of the Annual Consumer Survey undertaken on behalf of the City Council), opposed yet more councillor attendance at conferences by the SNP administration at council tax payers' expense and welcomed progress on the council's commitment to Fairtrade.

Homebase site - Riverside Drive

I recently raised with the owners of the disused Homebase site on Riverside Drive residents' concerns about a gap in the security fencing round the site.

The owners, H&H Properties, responded assuring me that a prompt repair would be carried out and this has indeed since taken place.

H&H Properties also confirmed to me that it is intended to start work on-site in late April or early May, with the piling contractor being on-site during May and June.

Although I was opposed to the original planning application as I feel more could be made of this site with stunning views across the River Tay, the fact that development is to move forward will at least ensure that an unsightly gap site will come into a useful future use as apartments close to the City Centre, cultural quarter, V&A at Dundee and the rail station.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston : 1963-2012

Getting things done ... Windsor Street

Following complaints from residents about the state of the pavements in Windsor Street on its east side (see right), I took up the matter with the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership and have now been promised footpath repairs at both the north and south ends of the street.

University of Dundee Volunteering Fayre

I'll be participating along with Dundee Liberal Democrats in supporting the University of Dundee Volunteering Fayre later this month :
You can download the above poster here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

West End Community Council - my February Update

I have today launched my February 2012 update for next Tuesday's West End Community Council meeting.   Subjects covered include pavement repairs in Windsor Street, the bank branch closure at the University of Dundee Student Union and safety barrier improvements at Hawkhill.


The Community Council meeting takes place on Tuesday 14th February at 7pm at Logie St John's (Cross) Chruch Hall in Shaftesbury Terrace - all residents welcome.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dundee City Council Budget : An opportunity lost

At yesterday's City Council Budget meeting, the Liberal Democrat Group’s amendments to the City Council’s proposed revenue and capital budgets proposed :
* A cut of up to £6 in the Council Tax bills for residents - the Liberal Democrats were the only group to propose a cut in the Council Tax, to assist hard-pressed council taxpayers in challenging financial times.
* A large increase in capital funding for seven primary schools’ improvements (including Blackness and Ancrum Road).
* Removing the cost of one of the two civic cars, cutting out alcohol hospitality budgets and no councillor attendance at conferences.    
* Visiting music and PE specialists posts for primary schools and music instructors posts under threat from the SNP would be saved.  
* An Unadopted Roads Budget (like the unadopted pavements one as badly conditioned roads such as Shaftesbury Place are excluded from the footpaths budget).
* A new fund to allow parking improvements in areas like Pentland.
We were grateful for the support of other groups and one of the independent councillors but unfortunately the SNP proceeded with its cuts agenda, despite proposing a higher Council Tax than the Liberal Democrats.    This will, sadly, see the loss of the music and PE teaching posts.   I quoted from an SNP election leaflet at the meeting :
I agree with the sentiment above.   The unfortunate thing is that the SNP - who wrote it  - don't.   Actions speak so much louder than words.

Getting things done ... Kelso Steps handrail extension

The steps from Blackness Road to Kelso Street (see right) are not only very useful for residents and many Harris Academy pupils travelling to/from the school from the north of the catchment area, they are also well-used by visitors to Royal Victoria Hospital.

On behalf of residents and visitors, I recently raised with the City Council the need for an extension to the handrail on the steps.     I am grateful for the positive response from the council's transportation division as follows :


"An engineer from my team met the blacksmiths on site and I am now awaiting a quotation for the handrail extension.  Depending on quotation received, work load and available budget this will be ordered or retained on file to be ordered in April when new funding is available."

Thursday, February 09, 2012

February West End Community Council Meeting - come along! All residents welcome.

Event at St Peter's Free Church

The Little Things
Naomi Breeze Production

A story about the people who care and how little things make the biggest difference

22nd February 2012, 1.30 pm
St. Peter's Free Church, St Peter Street
FREE OF CHARGE

Have you ever heard people say: "Don't get involved!"
or asked yourself: "Is this my business or is it their private matter?"
or told yourself: "It's probably nothing, I don't need to worry about them".

Come and see what Mary from Dundee does and who to call if you decide to "get involved" after all.

 Age limit 15 years or over. 

Download the full flyer here!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Blackness Library - consultation

Last week, I mentioned that, at the Community Spirit Action Group meeting, there was a presentation by the City Council's Chief Architectural Services Officer on the proposed capital investment on Blackness Library.   


As I indicated, what is proposed will provide proper disabled access to the meeting rooms on the first floor, which is to be welcomed.  However, in my view it falls short of what is really required to create a proper community resource for the West End.   


In addition to the proposals, we really need to see provision of a base for community groups, upgrading of the library and meeting rooms and ease of access to the facility in the evenings and weekends for local residents and community groups.


At present, the large meeting room upstairs can be exceptionally warm on summer days and its impossible, given its glass dome, to show electronic presentations.   Furthermore, the area and the library downstairs would greatly benefit from sympathetic refurbishment that these proposals do not provide for.



I made the point at the Community Spirit meeting and direct to the Chief Executive that there was the need for a proper public display of the proposals and consultation events at the library and I am grateful that he has written to me to agree to this.   Details of this are given in the poster below and I would urge local residents to go along, look at the proposals and give their views:
Late PM on 8th February - updated poster and download as City Council altered consultation times.

Thursday surgery

As tomorrow is an in-service day at Dundee's schools, Blackness Primary School is not open so my ward surgery there cannot take place this week.

I can, however, be contacted at any time on Dundee 459378 or by e-mail at esurgery@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Transition on Tour

As a long-standing and active supporter of the Dundee Transition Town group, I am really pleased that "Transition on Tour" comes to Dundee tomorrow.

You can download a copy of the flyer about tomorrow's activities by clicking on the headline above or by going to http://tinyurl.com/transitiontour.

Wave 102 News - on the LGiU awards

I was on Wave 102 news yesterday about the Local Government Information Unit Awards - click 'play' to listen:

Monday, February 06, 2012

WESHA meeting

Earlier tonight, after my ward surgeries at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre, I attended the West End Sports and Heritage Association (WESHA) committee meeting at the West End Community Base in the Vine in Magdalen Yard Road.

WESHA is making great progress and we are planning an Open Event later in the spring for sporting and other community groups.

If you are interested in WESHA's work to improve sporting and environmental facilities in the West End, please contact us - wesha@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

Problems with parking at Ninewells Hospital

As residents are aware, I have long campaigned for improvements in the parking situation at Ninewells Hospital, including campaigning against parking charges at the hospital (that Scottish Government, despite SNP election promises, has failed to abolish), difficulties getting parked in the Vinci Park-operated car parks in the hospital grounds, and the overspill of cars that impact upon residential streets in the West End Ward to the east and south of the hospital area.

Following a spate of further complaints from staff and visitors (both out-patients and friends and relatives visiting in-patients) about difficulties finding a parking space at the hospital, I wrote to NHS Tayside recently asking if Vinci Park and NHS Tayside are aware of these difficulties, monitor the growth of car usage within the hospital site and have considered future provision of further car parking capacity.

I have received a detailed response from NHS Tayside's Head of Site and Support Services at Ninewells Hospital as follows :


"In respect of the issues around car parking I can advise that we are indeed experiencing our annual/seasonal high pressure on parking at the hospital and we do keep a close eye on the varying demands by close monitoring with the car park contractor Vinci Park.

I have confidence that the changes we mad a few years ago to protect car parks closest to the hospital is continuing to provide the desired effect and by and large these car parks (car parks 5, 6 and 7) do indeed turn over on  regular and frequent basis during the day due to the time restriction control (4 hours). Similar time controls in the disabled car park area also continues to allow ease of access for disabled drivers arriving at site throughout the day.

In terms of staff, we are continuing to review our site Travel Planning approach with efforts to encourage higher use of public Transport, given that we have an excellent bus terminus at our main entrance.  Additionally we will experience an increase in the use of bicycle transport by staff as is normal once the winter period is over. Also at this time of year, there is a generally low uptake of staff annual leave but this increases from February onwards which will reduce the pressure experienced at this time of year.

In respect of Park & Ride, we do already work very closely with TACTRAN and also Dundee City Council and fully support the Park & Ride initiative that is being planned for the Dundee West location.  We fully believe that this will greatly assist with the continuing parking pressures.

In terms of providing additional parking facilities on site, I'm sure you will appreciate that for a number of reasons this is not in our strategic plans.  Likewise we understand that Dundee City Council (supported by TACTRAN) do not consider increased parking provision to be something that can be supported from a planning perspective. 

Out with what is currently our Seasonal high pressure we will continue to closely monitor parking capacity and in reviewing our Travel Plan (with support from TACTRAN) we will continue to focus efforts to try and encourage staff in particular to make higher use of what is already a very good public transport network in and around Dundee along with further promotion of walking and cycling to work, which also has a health benefit for staff."

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Hawkhill by-pass - safety barrier - at last!

Two years ago when the Tesco Express opened at Hawkhill, at its east end, residents expressed concern about parking right outside the store on the busy by-pass. The police were also been in touch with me about the concerns.

The police's suggestion was for an extension to the barriers across the store entrance - a very sensible suggestion in my view.


So I asked the council for this and - through the Road Construction Consent process - the developer of the adjacent site (including the Tesco store and the Casino) was asked to provide the necessary safety barrier.     Protracted negotiations over what I would consider a minor improvement have dragged on and, in short, the developer has been uncooperative in terms of providing the necessary barrier.

So full credit to the City Council's Head of Transportation who has broken the stalemate and advised me :

"To bring this matter to a conclusion I have agreed that Dundee City Council will complete these works as we do not wish to allow the unwelcome parking situation at Tesco to continue and will implement the barrier works in the coming weeks (before the end of March 2012)."

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Dissatisfied with bank's response over Student Branch closure

Following my writing to Royal Bank of Scotland last month following concerns about possible closure of the student branch at Balfour Street, I've expressed disappointment at a response I have received from the bank to reject calls to think again over the proposed closure of its branch at the university’s student union.    

The response I have received from Jeffrey Hartley, RBoS’s Head of Group Customer Relations, confirms the branch is indeed earmarked for closure and it appears the Royal Bank is adamant that it will not reprieve the well-used branch.   

In his letter Mr Hartley says :

“I acknowledge that any news about a branch closure will be unwelcome, but I can assure you that this is not a decision which we take lightly.  As we look to rebuild a sustainable bank, we must ensure that our branches are open where and when our customers want to use them.  Regrettably, the Dundee University branch is not used to the same extent as the other branches in the area, and the branch has seen a substantial decline in usage over the last few years.

RBS will maintain a presence in the local area, with our nearby branches on Dundee High Street and Perth Road continuing to offer a full banking service.  Each of these branches if within one mile of the University.  Additionally, customers can use our online, telephone and Smartphone banking services 24 hours a day.

Over the course of 2011, we came to an agreement with the Post Office which allows our customers to use their systems.  Both personal and business customers can now use their debit cards to carry out balance enquiries and cash withdrawals at their local Post Office branch.”

There’s a certain sense of irony in that response from the bank as they suggest using local Post Offices.    The Nethergate Post Office, very close to the university campus, was closed by Post Office Limited in 2008.

The decision to close the bank branch at the Student Union is really detrimental to the University of Dundee’s students and staff.   Its been a hugely busy branch over the years and it comes on top of the decision to close the Ninewells Hospital branch and the Lochee branch last year.

Despite being largely in public ownership, the bank doesn’t seem much bothered about the public, the customers who rely on local branches.    Coming in the wake of the furore over bankers’ bonuses, I don’t half feel the Royal Bank of Scotland, despite being over 80% in public ownership, is totally out of touch with public opinion.

I have written back to Royal Bank of Scotland criticising the decision and also seeking an assurance that the bank will at least keep the much-used RBoS ATM at the Student Union.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Our budget priorities : Pupils before Council Offices

Cllr Helen Dick and I have now submitted to the City Council Liberal Democrat proposals to improve the council’s Revenue and Capital Budgets.   We will have amendments to both the revenue budget and the capital budget at the Budget Meeting next Thursday but will look carefully at the ideas coming from the other political groups.

In the revenue budget, by using unallocated and not legally committed money in the City Development budget, we propose saving the much-needed visiting specialists in Music and PE in the city’s primary schools and also reversing the proposed cut of music instructors contained in the SNP administration’s proposals.  The feedback we have had from constituents is that they see any proposal to cut music and PE instructors and specialists as highly detrimental to our schools and this should be stopped.

In the capital budget, we say “pupils before council offices” by cutting out over £5m of proposed expenditure on new depots and a headquarters for the council’s Environment Department and spending it instead on improvements in city primary schools.    Since I made clear that we felt that, after spending over £35 million on the new Dundee House and other sums on other council offices, the council should be redirecting its resources to schools rather than yet more money being spent on offices, I have been inundated with local people telling me they agree with this stance.

The Liberal Democrat Capital Budget proposals would also see the establishment of a £100 000 unadopted roads budget and a £100 000 budget to improve car parking in council estates.

Some years ago, the City Council had a working party to look at improving car parking in council estates and then one ‘pilot’ new car park in part of Douglas that has proved a success.  But it has done nothing further to make improvements in other areas.   There are many estates in the city that would benefit from improved car parking and I have highlighted the Pentland area.   There needs to be funding to move this forward.

On unadopted roads, there are a small number of really poor conditioned unadopted roads in the city.    The council already has an unadopted pavements programme but does nothing about unadopted roads – an example is the appallingly badly conditioned Shaftesbury Place in the West End Ward and there are other examples across the city.    In Shaftesbury Place, a resident broke his ankle falling into what I can only describe as a pitted road that resembles the surface of the moon.  £100 000 won’t solve the problem right across the city but it would make a start and recognise there’s a real issue here.