Friday, August 31, 2012

Pleasance Court - Residents' meeting

Last night, I had the pleasure of chairing the latest - and well-attended - meeting of the residents of Pleasance Court.

There was a useful discussion on a number of local issues - seagulls nuisance, wheelie bins, parking issues and security to name a few - and I am most grateful to representatives from Home Scotland, Ross & Liddell, Tayside Police and Community Spirit Action Group who attended and participated in the discussion.

Temporary Traffic Order - Dudhope Roundabout : An Update

I recently mentioned the proposed temporary prohibition of traffic in all lanes of the Dudhope Roundabout and access to North and West Marketgait and Lochee Road from the roundabout for ten days from 10th September.

The City Council advised yesterday:


"I refer to my e-mails dated 9 August and 22 August in respect of the above Temporary Traffic Order.

I would advise that it has been decided that the works will not take place at this time and therefore this Order will no longer be going ahead."

This is a sensible decision, as many students will be returning to the adjacent 
Opal 1 University of Abertay accommodation at the time.   Hopefully the resurfacing work can be carried out later in September/October.



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Harris Academy Parent Council

Last night, I attended a lengthy but productive meeting of Harris Academy Parent Council.

There was a very positive report from Mr Thewliss, Head Teacher, on the examination results.   There was also discussion about initial thoughts on the school timetable when the school decants to the Rockwell site in August 2013 at the start of the Harris Academy rebuilding project and school bus issues.

The Parent Council now has a Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/HarrisAcademyPC.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lecture to mark start of Leonardo exhibition in Dundee


Martin Kemp, one of the world’s leading authorities on Leonardo da Vinci, will give a public lecture in Dundee next Saturday (1st September) to mark the arrival in the city of a new exhibition of Leonardo’s drawings.

'Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration from the Royal Collection' is at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum, from 31st August to 4th November.    It is the only Scottish venue hosting the exhibition.

Martin Kemp is Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford and one of the world’s leading experts on Leonardo. In his public lecture at the University of Dundee on Saturday 1st September, he will explore the ways in which Leonardo’s art and science can both be understood as a remaking of nature on the basis of deep understanding of cause and effect.

In the light of this, he will demonstrate how connections can be drawn between seemingly unrelated works such as the Mona Lisa and the flying machine.

The public lecture is being hosted by V&A at Dundee in partnership with the University of Dundee and Leisure & Culture Dundee.

It takes place at 6pm on Saturday 1st September in the Dalhousie Building, Old Hawkhill.

Free tickets for this event are available from events@dundee.ac.uk, www.dundee.ac.uk/tickets, Tower Building Reception at the University, or by calling 385564 or385108.

A drinks reception will follow this event. Please note that overflow theatres may be in operation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday activities ...

This morning, I had the pleasure of touring the very impressive new entrance to the Matthew Building at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, on Perth Road, and at the invitation of the University of Dundee.    

The new entrance (pictured below) is nearing completion just as the new academic year is about to commence and it greatly enhances the Duncan of Jordanstone entrance.    The next phase of improvements at Duncan of Jordanstone will see the upgrading of the plumbing system and the fire alarm system in the adjacent Crawford Building.
Thereafter, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court Residents' Association, at which a number of local issues were discussed, including noise issues and garden maintenance.

Later today, I had a very useful meeting with Solar Cities Scotland about their Dundee Green Challenge project.   The West End Ward will feature in this (along with the North East Ward) to work with residents on a variety of projects that will encourage 2 600 households to take up low carbon living. 

In addition, there will be a household renewable energy and insulation advice service giving advice on how to improve residents' homes through the installation of energy saving measures and renewable energy technologies.   It is a really exciting project and I had a very useful discussion with the Solar Cities Scotland representative about it.

This evening, along with four other city councillors, I took part in a visit to the Dundee Botanic Garden, kindly hosted by the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden.   It was a very interesting tour and good to see the work at the Botanic Garden.  As a member of the Friends, I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the splendour that is the Dundee Botanic Garden.   Here's a couple of photos I took tonight:


Doors Open Days - Dundee: 22nd and 23rd September 2012

Doors Open Days takes place in Dundee on 22nd and 23rd September and there's many interesting local buildings to visit, some of which are not normally generally open to the public.

In the West End, in addition to various University of Dundee buildings, Blackness Fire Station, Dundee Central Mosque, Dundee Rep, Maggie's Centre, Verdant Works, St Peter's Free Church and the Speedwell Bar, there's a number of new West End participating buildings for 2012 - Dundee Dental Hospital and School, Jericho House and the Vine.

The Doors Open Days website is at  http://www.doorsopendays.org.uk and details of Dundee activities is available by clicking here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Backing campaign against nuisance phone calls

I have today backed a campaign launched by Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart and "The Sunday Post” called “No 2 Nuisance Calls”. 

It is estimated that there are around 50 nuisance sales calls made on average each year to every person in Scotland – some quarter of a billion in total.    Mike’s campaign is calling for government action to increase regulators’ powers to have these nuisance calls stopped.

I am strongly backing this campaign.   So many constituents in the West End tell me that they are fed up with nuisance marketing calls and its about time government took action on the matter.   

The campaign is calling on the Information Commissioner’s powers to be strengthened to take in all forms of unsolicited contact and for there to be a single, simple point of contact for any individual wishing to protect their privacy from unwanted calls, texts, faxes and emails.   This would make a great deal of sense and tackle what is becoming a real irritation for most households.

The website www.no2nuisancecalls.net has an on-line petition where people can express their support for action to be taken to stop nuisance phone calls.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Campaigning in Dundee City Centre : @UK_Together #bettertogether

Earlier today, along with other campaigners from the “Better Together” campaign, I was in the City Centre speaking with shoppers to make the case for Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom.

The team that included Dundee Liberal Democrats, Dundee Labour Party, Dundee Conservatives and people with no political affiliation was part of a weekend-long and Scotland-wide series of events.

We had a very positive response from people and its clear from recent opinion polls that public opinion is strengthening towards Scotland staying in the United Kingdom.   It is good to see cross-party co-operation and people of no party political persuasion all working together.

Choral Concert – The Australian Voices


From St Paul's Episcopal Cathedral:

I write to let you know of a concert in the Cathedral by singers from the vocal ensemble ‘The Australian Voices’ on Wednesday 29th August at 7.30 pm.

This dynamic, young choir have a fantastic reputation for singing of an incredibly high standard; they are currently over from Australia performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before they embark on a tour around the United Kingdom.   Their programme will include beautiful choral classics from Mozart and Bach to Bruckner and Rachmaninov.   Those who buy tickets for the concert also get free entry to a vocal workshop with the singers at 6.30 pm.

Tickets are available online at www.theaustralianvoices.com or at the door on the evening of the concert (adults: £12, concession: £10, student: £8 - and there is a group ticket for 10 people available at £108) and those who would like to take part in the vocal workshop with the choir are asked to register online for that on the same website.

A high quality PDF version of this poster can be downloaded by clicking here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Concern over West End blaze

As reported in the Evening Telegraph last night, the Courier and on local radio and TV, there was a significant and concerning blaze at Victor's Fish and Chip shop and at surrounding flats in Blackness Road in the early hours of yesterday morning.

I visited the scene yesterday morning and talked with constituents, being most concerned for the 26 constituents who were forced to flee their homes.   This was a serious fire and I am just relieved that no-one was hurt.   I’ve been in touch with Tayside Fire and Rescue to thank them for their sterling efforts and professionalism.

Obviously it’s a relief that everyone got out unscathed and I hope all residents can get back into their homes as soon as possible.   Victor’s is something of a local institution, a much loved chip shop and well used by the local community, so we hope the business can have necessary repairs undertaken and be back as soon as possible.

A photograph of the street yesterday is below:
In a separate development, slightly further west on Blackness Road, a water pipe "blew" in the plant room late on Thursday afternoon at the new primary/nursery schools site.    I am assured by City Council officers that the incident was fairly minor in that, although Tayside Fire and Rescue came out with an appliance,  the water was switched off with their stopcock key and there was no need to pump water out.   I am assured that this incident will not affect the October entry date for the schools.  

I spoke about the blaze on Wave 102 news this morning - click 'play' below to listen:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Laser attack at Dundee Airport

As reported in last night's Evening Telegraph, I have condemned a highly irresponsible use of a laser pen last Sunday which was shone into the cockpit of the CityJet aircraft from London City coming into land at Dundee Airport.

It was an incredibly stupid thing for someone to do and, speaking with a police representative at the West End Local Community Planning Partnership last night, I am reassured that Tayside Police is investigating the incident.

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

Friends of Riverside Nature Park - first AGM

The first-ever Annual General Meeting of Friends of Riverside Nature Park takes place on Thursday 6th September at 6pm - details below - all welcome:
A high quality PDF version of this poster can be downloaded by clicking here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday activities

Today :

* I took part in a school/pupil/traffic safety site visit to St Andrew's Primary School (pictured right) as part of the on-going work of the working party on safety outside city schools.

* I held my Thursday weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School.

* I attended the latest - and a very positive - meeting of the West End Local Community Planning Partnership, that took place at the Tartan Coffee House on Perth Road.    Subjects covered included:
  • An update on the proposed consultation on residents' parking that will be launched on mid-October.
  • Details of the Dundee West District Plan by Tayside Fire and Rescue.
  • Tayside Police's tactical assessment for the West End.
  • Useful discussions on recycling, derelict buildings, parking on Magdalen Green, bus services and other local matters.

Temporary Traffic Order - Dudhope Roundabout

From Dundee City Council:


Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.  The Order is expected to be in force for ten days from 10th September 2012.  Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in all lanes of the Dudhope Roundabout, and access to North and West Marketgait and Lochee Road from Dudhope Roundabout.

Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible.  Exit from Bell Street Car park will be via Dudhope Crescent Road.

Alternative routes will be available via (1) North Marketgait via Lochee Road, Dudhope Terrace and Constitution Road, (2) South Marketgait via Inner Ring Road and (3) West Marketgait via Hawkhill, Horsewater Wynd, Guthrie Street, Brook Street and Polepark Road.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, City Development Department, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee, DD1 1LS, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date.  If you have any queries please call 433082.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sheila Fraser

I recently mentioned that the River Crescent Residents' Association AGM that I attended last Sunday was tinged with much sadness as one of its leading members, Sheila Fraser, passed away the previous Wednesday, after a short illness.

Today, at Dundee Crematorium, along with her neighbours, her family and many friends, we remembered Sheila and celebrated her life.   Sheila had two careers - firstly as a police officer in Fife, and later, a school teacher in Dundee - but above all, she was a much loved mother, grandmother, neighbour and friend.   Sheila was always cheerful, positive and smiling - qualities that Rev Bob Mallinson highlighted today.  

Sheila was a lovely lady and we will miss her.

City Council Scrutiny Committee

This afternoon, I participated in the City Council's Scrutiny Committee.

In many respects, the substantive report was in relation to the misappropriation of income and cash from Baldragon Academy.  Although the report before committee today was appropriate in its content, covering remedial action taken as a result of the investigation into the theft and a summary of review work undertaken planned to be undertaken by the City Council's Internal Audit Service, the committee and Chief Officers agreed to my request for a follow-up report covering audit arrangements and spot-checks at council establishments where there is cash-handling.    

This was a very serious misappropriation of school funds and it is important that not only are the proper procedures in place at all City Council establishments; it is also vital that the council is satisfied that these are being administered correctly.

At the Scrutiny Committee, I also:

  • Questioned the reasons behind sickness absence performance figures that show a deterioration in the situation.
  • Queried the deterioration in library visiting numbers (particularly at the Central Library) - although it does have to be said that Dundee's libraries continue to perform particularly well in footfall terms in relation to libraries across Scotland generally.   The Director of Leisure & Communities gave a very comprehensive and helpful response and it is clear that much effort is being made to ensure our libraries continue to attract a large following from the people of Dundee.   There is a Library Festival planned for the city and I warmly welcomed this.
  • I also queried administrative arrangements where employees leave the City Council's employment, to ensure there are no salary overpayments.

Getting things done ... Worn White Lines

Following residents raising the issue with me, I have asked the City Council to repair worn white junction lines at:

Step Row at Magdalen Yard Road 

Riverside Approach at Madgalen Yard Road/Roseangle 

A photograph of the worn white lines at Riverside Approach is given below:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last couple of days ...

Over Monday and Tuesday, I have :
  • Attended a meeting of the Balgay Stakeholders' Group at the pavilion in Lochee Park.   This is a very useful quarterly meeting at which City Council Environment Department Officers, representatives from the Friends of Balgay and local councillors discuss issues affecting Balgay Park.  There was a productive discussion on a number of issues including a new bench for the Poor Ground in Balgay Cemetery, new planting at the Rose Window and flower displays.
  • Had a useful meeting with Housing Department officers about the railings in the Logie estate.
  • Held two ward surgeries - at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre.
  • Attended the City Council's Waste to Energy Working Group.
  • Taken part in a site visit I had arranged with council City Development engineers and representatives from West End Community Council at the Sinderins junction (pictured right) regarding road safety at the junction.  We had a very useful discussion which resulted in positive outcomes - realignment of traffic lights, slight changes to  road markings and action to ensure drivers see the correct signal.
I also attended last night's City Council at which I :
  • Argued at the City Council meeting that new Education Committee members, representing parents and pupils should have voting rights to give them equality with other committee members.   Labour councillors and the independent councillor also supported this approach, but it was outvoted by the SNP and Conservative councillors.
  • Asked questions at Housing Committee about progress towards the Scottish Housing Quality Standard and particularly on the provision of controlled entry systems in council flats.
  • At City Development Committee, I questioned what has actually been done to improve road safety at the Blackness Road/Blackness Avenue/Balgay Road junction and was given a commitment of a site visit to look at the situation there.  I also welcomed proposals to improve safety at the Hawkhill/Brown Street junction, but was less than satisfied with responses about implementation of 20 mph safety zones in Dundee.   This is an issue Dundee City Council has not progressed despite clear evidence from - for example - the British Medical Journal and Transport for London that there are real safety benefits for communities.   As the request of West End residents, it is an issue I will pursue in the months ahead.
  • At Policy and Resources Committee, I expressed concern at a very significant drop in community-based adult learning opportunities across the city.   I have been in correspondence with City Council officers about increasing such opportunities at the Mitchell Street Centre in the West End Ward.

Batty at Balgay!

On Friday 24th August at 8pm, Batty at Balgay takes place!

Meet at Mills Observatory to look for and listen to bats as they emerge into the evening air.

Further details at http://tinyurl.com/battybalgay.


Monday, August 20, 2012

On Wave 102 - pay for parking by mobile phone

I'm on Wave 102 news this morning about an extension to the pilot project in Dundee that allows people to pay for parking by mobile phone - to be discussed at tonight's City Council meetings.    Click 'play' below to listen:

Concern over council's lack of progress on Demand Responsive Transport

I have today criticised the City Council’s alarmingly slow progress with the provision of Demand Responsive Transport, to fill gaps in bus service provision across Dundee.

Back in 2008, as the then Planning & Transport Convener of the City Council, I discussed with the then Dundee Accessible Transport Action Group (DATAG) bringing in pilots of Demand Responsive Transport to improve public transport both in Dundee and across Tayside/Stirling for those with accessibility problems in terms of existing provision.  

As the then Chair of TACTRAN, the Regional Transport Partnership, I moved forward a consultation exercise for its buses strategy and, within this, specifically, community transport and demand responsive transport.    Two pilot projects were agreed – an urban one for Dundee and a rural one for Perthshire/Stirlingshire.    I am disappointed at the slow lack of progress since the SNP administration took over control of Dundee City Council in 2009 and took the chairmanship of TACTRAN.

Demand Responsive Transport – or ‘Dial a Bus’ – will help bring some form of bus service to those communities across the city that have no or poor services at the moment.   With flexible routing and scheduling of small or medium-sized  vehicles operating with pick-up and drop-off locations according to passengers needs, it would be a boon particularly for elderly people and those with mobility difficulties.

I’m frustrated with the City Council’s lack of progress on the issue over the past three years.    There’s a need for some momentum into the process and I don’t see that happening.

TACTRAN advised me in July 2011 that:

“Dundee City Council is leading on implementation of the DRT scheme, in partnership with TACTRAN.   Revised options are being considered for the delivery of DRT, with the aim of introducing a pilot scheme during 2011/12.    It is anticipated that the scheme will commence in December 2011 at the earliest.    £30,000 is allocated within TACTRAN revenue budget and £125,000 within the joint TACTRAN/DCC Capital budget in 2011/12 to support the introduction of DRT in Dundee.”

This DRT introduction has still not happened and, last week, the City Council’s Head of Transportation advised me:

“The options of community and social enterprise delivered DRT have presented extraordinary challenges in terms of capacity and legal/procurement matters.    We have been looking at further operational models and are looking to bring forward solutions early in 2013.”

I have long been of the view that if the City Council could not move Demand Responsive Transport through a community-based model, it should move it forward by tendering for the service to get a commercial partner involved, which would also ensure the DRT pilot was delivered at the lowest possible cost, tendered on the open market.

There are good bus services across much of Dundee, but there are numerous communities in the city that have limited or no service.   Demand Responsive Transport – Dial A Bus – provides a possible cost-effective solution to give these residents a bus option.    It will particularly benefit those with mobility difficulties and elderly residents, but the pilot proposal needs some real momentum behind it.

River Crescent Residents' AGM

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the River Crescent Residents' AGM at the Botanic Garden Education Centre.

The meeting was tinged with much sadness as Sheila Fraser, former Chair of the Residents' Association, passed away last Wednesday, after a short illness.   Sheila was a lovely lady and everyone in the street knew her - she'll be so sadly missed.

Apart from paying tribute to Sheila, I updated the meeting on the Harris Academy decant and rebuilding project, the West End Christmas Fortnight arrangements, the new primary/nursery schools building project on the former Logie Secondary site, bus services, roads resurfacing, the Friends of Riverside Nature Park AGM taking place on 6th September, and WESHA's recent sports funding success.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Getting things done ... Grosvenor Road

Residents have complained to me regarding the state of the roadway of Grosvenor Road - and at the adjacent west end of Shaftesbury Road.    The white lines at the Grosvenor Road junction with Perth Road are also very worn - see below:
I have brought this to the attention of the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership, requesting repairs.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting things done ... Polepark Road

Late last year, at my request, the Housing Department had the back areas of the City Council-owned flats in Polepark Road tidied up.

Residents have complained to me that the areas are again overgrown - see below:

I contacted the City Council about this and the local Housing Officer has now updated me as follows:

"I visited Polepark Road ... regarding the complaint about overgrown bushes and general untidiness of the area. I have issued a line to Enviroment Department to prune back the shrubs at front and rear of the 3 blocks.   I have also issued a line to have the area litter-picked."

Friday, August 17, 2012

West End Christmas Fortnight 2012

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of chairing the latest meeting of the West End Christmas Week Committee, or to be strictly accurate, what should now be called the West End Christmas Fortnight Committee because - for the first time in its 12 year history - we will have a whole fortnight of Christmas events in the West End, running from Saturday 17th November until Saturday 1st December!

We had an extremely positive meeting with good progress being made with the arrangements.    Activities will include :
  • Launch event - Community Fayre on 17th November, with children's activities including face painting and football.
  • Gardeners' Question Time, with thanks to the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden.
  • Arts and crafts events for local children at Blackness Library - hand-print Christmas trees and making a snowman - together with a drop-in coffee morning too.
  • The West End Christmas Lights Switch On, Children's Concert and Fireworks Display - on Wednesday 21st November.
  • Blackness Primary School Christmas Fair ends the Christmas Fortnight on Saturday 1st December.
We agreed to set up a West End Christmas Fortnight Facebook Page and this was done last night - it has already attracted nearly enough "likes" to get itself a decent Facebook Domain name - so please visit it by clicking here and "like" our new page!    Many thanks!
West End Christmas Fortnight on Facebook!

Welcome road resurfacing at Balgay ...


I've welcomed the resurfacing of the whole stretch of road entrance to Balgay Hill and Balgay Cemetery at its Glamis Road entrance.

I have made various complaints about this poor road surface into Balgay Hill and Balgay Cemetery in the past on behalf of constituents so I am very pleased to see the whole stretch now being resurfaced.    It’s not only one of the routes to the cemetery and park – its also the main route to Mills Observatory, so the improvements to the entrance will be welcomed.

There are still some repairs required to the road as its leads up the hill itself but this is nonetheless a very welcome improvement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Getting things done ... Blyth Street

Back in March, I mentioned that I had, at the request of local residents, asked the Community Payback service to spruce up the seating area in Blyth Street.

This has now been done - see photo below - and the seating looks so much better with a paint refresh.

I have asked the City Council to complete the job by:

* Weedkill the area round the seating – it would look a whole lot better without all the weeds growing through the setts.

* Perhaps have a flower display in the centre to brighten the seating area up.

Pupil safety outside schools

Grove Academy, Broughty Ferry
I have previously mentioned the City Council working party I am a member of that is attempting to address the issues of parking outside schools and pupil safety.

A number of school site visits were held prior to the school holidays to look at the issues at particular schools on-site and, yesterday, these recommenced at the start of the new term, with a site visit to Grove Academy in Broughty Ferry.

There was a useful discussion and look at the safety issues at both the Seafield Road and Claypotts Road sides of the school campus and, as a former pupil of Grove Academy, it was good to be given a tour of the school - having not set foot in Grove since I left secondary school in 1980!    

There's something of irony here because, over the 11 years I have been a member of Dundee City Council (and particularly when I was Convener of Education), I have visited most of the city's schools for one reason or another, but, until yesterday, not to the secondary school I actually attended as a pupil.

Of course, the Grove I remember is now home to Eastern Primary School, but it was great to see round the "new" Grove campus with its excellent facilities - the sort of 21st Century quality facilities we will see for our secondary pupils in the West End in the future when the Harris Academy rebuilding project is completed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Supporting West End sport


As reported in today's Courier, I have said it is vital that the City Council supports sport across the city in the wake of the success of the Olympics and said the City Council must support for specific community sports initiatives across Dundee.

I have pointed to a number of ways the City Council can support sporting initiatives in the West End including :

Supporting the West End Sports and Heritage Association’s (WESHA) bid to move forward sport in the West End.    WESHA is looking to take a lease of the Riverside changing rooms and build up their use and the council’s support for moving this forward urgently is vital, as are similar initiatives in other parts of Dundee.   As WESHA's Secretary, I was delighted to hear earlier this week that a joint bid by four Dundee Sports Hubs for funding through a Community Payback Scheme to allow changing rooms and other improvements to take place has been successful.   This is really good news for the West End Sports and Heritage Association’s work to improve sport across the West End and we are delighted.  I am sure this news will also be welcomed by the other three sports hubs in Dundee who bid for the funding and I am grateful to Community Payback and Sports Development staff for all their hard work supporting the sports hubs.

I have been in correspondence this week with the City Council’s Chief Executive and Director of Education about the need for the City Council to support a hockey initiative at Harris Academy, particularly during the school's decant to the Rockwell site during the school rebuilding project.

There is a real need for investment in the parts of the city’s sports infrastructure - an example I'd point to is my long-standing concern about the state of tennis facilities at Victoria Park.

West End Sports and Heritage Association is working hard to improve sports across the West End, in partnership with various sports clubs including junior football, amateur football, bowling, boxing, judo and aquatics.  Its good to see other sports hub initiatives in other parts of Dundee but the City Council must closely support them.

Getting things done ... Ancrum Drive and Pentland

Yesterday, I also took part in a site visit I had organised with Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, to the Pentland and Ancrum Drive areas.

Two representatives from Sustrans, along with a good-sized group of local residents, representatives from Community Spirit Action Group and myself met up to look at possible ways of tackling some of the issues in Ancrum Drive and Pentland - road safety, parking, traffic calming, etc.

Sustrans in Scotland has done some really good work as pilot projects on this type of issue in both Kirkcaldy and Elgin, so their input and advice is really helpful in terms of tackling residents' concerns about parking and traffic/safety issues in Ancrum Drive and the Pentland area.     I'm most grateful to the Sustrans representatives for attending yesterday and to the many residents who came along and gave their views.

Visit to WL Gore - Technology Park

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting the WL Gore and Associates facility in the Technology Park and be given a tour of the facilities of this cutting-edge manufacturer of electronics and medical products.

In addition to a very informative tour, it was good to discuss with staff a number of matters affecting the Technology Park area.


Temporary Traffic Order - Artillery Lane


From Dundee City Council :

Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating new gas supply works.  The Order is expected to be in force for nine days from 3rd September 2012.  Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Artillery Lane from Cross Lane for a distance of 100 metres or thereby in a southerly direction.

Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible.

No diversion routes are available.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, City Development Department, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee, DD1 1LS, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date.  If you have any queries please call 433082.

Friends of Wighton Cappuccino Concert - Saturday 18th August


From Sheena Wellington:

The first Friends of Wighton Cappuccino Concert of the new season will feature the fine North-east singer  Gaye Anthony.

The concert, in Dundee Central Library's Wighton Heritage Centre, on Saturday 18th August, starts at 11am, with doors open for coffee and newspapers from 10.30am.    Tickets priced £5 include coffee and are available at the door.

Gaye Anthony is a singer/songwriter who lives in Aberdeenshire.   Singing is also a bit of a family tradition.

For some years she has been one half of Scottish duo, Gaye Anthony and Trish Norman, usually called G & T, who mostly specialised in singing songs of the sea and the fishing - and Scots songs, traditional and new.

Now Gaye is relaunching herself as a solo singer.   With a warm mature voice, she takes her audience on a journey through the songs that mean something to her.   As well as self-penned material, she sings songs by such prestigious folk singers as the late Jim Reid of Angus, Eric Bogle, John Conolly (Fiddler's Green) and also Burns ballads, Scottish traditional ballads and many more besides.

As well as performing in various National Trust for Scotland properties like Fyvie and Castle Fraser, Gaye has sung in many theatres and at festivals throughout the UK and Europe, including regular bookings at both the prestigious Hull Sea Fever Festival and the Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival. She has even sung on schooners in Brittany, in Poland and has also appeared regularly in the Netherlands at International Festivals of the Sea.

Gaye has also been involved in teaching Scottish song and arranging 'hands on' fiddle, chanter and whistle sessions with traditional musicians for youngsters with no previous experience.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Wave 102 news - good news for West End sport

I am on Wave 102 news this morning about good news for West End sport as the West End Sports and Heritage Association, along with three other Dundee sports hubs, has successfully obtained funding through a Community Payback funding bid.   This will see improvements to the Riverside changing facilities in the coming months and is great news for West End sport.

Click 'play' below to listen:

Getting things done ... Hyndford Street

Residents have recently complained to me about the poor state of the road in Hyndford Street at its junction with Speed Street.

I raised the matter with the Roads Maintenance Partnership who have responded as follows:

"An order has been raised by the Road Maintenance Partnership inspector to repair a dip in the carriageway opposite the junction with Speed Street with a timescale for repair of twenty eight days or sooner."

City Council - Development Management Committee

The City Council's summer recess ended last night, with the Development Management Committee, the committee that determines planning applications, taking place.

There was one application in the West End on the agenda, for a proposed small business development on the west side of Peddie Street.   I asked questions of the deputation that spoke in support of the developer, but - along with all other members of the committee - supported the recommendation to refuse the application.

This development would have had an adverse impact on the residential amenity of adjacent residents - for example by overshadowing and loss of parking.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lessons must be learned over council’s £850k+ spend

As reported in today's Courier, I have criticised the proposed £859 136 expenditure on refurbishing Dudhope Castle for use by City Council staff and said that the City Council has to learn lessons from what is a bad example of the council failing to openly tender for the work to get best value for the council tax payer and also failing to ensure proper decision-making by rushing the spending through at the last minute through a small recess sub-committee.

Following my raising concerns about the way this large expenditure was rushed through the Recess Sub-Committee of the council at the end of last month, I have been in discussion and correspondence with senior officers of Dundee City Council about the way this refurbishment contract has been handled.

Now being aware of the whole background, I have to say I am very unhappy indeed at the failure of council to undertake a competitive tender of the work and simply hand it to the council’s own Environment Department.     The council simply cannot show it got best value for a contract if it fails to go out to open tender in the marketplace.

The excuse given for failing to seek competitive quotes – that the decision was urgent – stands up to no scrutiny whatsoever.   The previous occupants of the property – Abertay University – gave notice to quit back in May 2011 and the council has had all that time to move the tendering process forward.

I am not criticising the decision to move staff out of their present inadequate accommodation.   I think everyone accepts that relocation of staff from their outdated accommodation at, for example,  St Columba’s and Balmerino Road, makes sense.

However, but there has been no proper scrutiny of this large tender – the best part of £1m - and the failure to seek competitive quotes is extremely unfortunate to say the least.

The City Council must urgently review its processes when it comes to tendering for goods and services.   I have already recently met with the Chief Executive about the need to ensure that local businesses get a fair share of the council’s tendered work.   In addition, the council must urgently review the amount of work that does not go to competitive tender.   The City Council has a duty to ensure best value for its tax payers at all times.

Rail Station Consultation - on local radio

Last week, I mentioned the consultation event taking place later today (between 2pm and 8pm at Discovery Point) regarding the proposed new Dundee Rail Station concourse building.   

I am talking about this on both local radio stations' news this morning - Wave 102 and Radio Tay - click 'play' below to listen:

Weekly Ward Surgeries return!

With the schools back later this week, my weekly ward surgeries will start again on Thursday evening at Blackness Primary School.

Full details of these and other contact details are available at http://www.dundeewestend.com/p/contact-fraser.html.