Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Monday activities ...

Yesterday, I had a very useful meeting with National Express Dundee's Managing Director and External Communications Officer following my raising issues about the recent bus fares increase.   We discussed the reasons behind the increase in some depth and it is clear that a number of the factors behind it are outwith the direct control of the bus operators, in particular the Scottish Government's cuts to the Bus Service Operators' Grant.      Although not linked to the recent bus fare rise, there are also concerns about Scottish Government's cap on funding the concessionary travel scheme and the potential situation for 2013/14.

One issue I had flagged up at the time of the announcement of the fares increase was the disproportionate impact of fares increases on low income working age families and therefore it is good to learn of the Westminster Government's month's free bus travel proposal this month for jobseekers.   More details can be found here and I was pleased to learn that National Express is supporting this initiative.

Later yesterday, I met with the City Council's Director of Corporate Services and with the City Architect regarding both the Olympia and Blackness Library projects.

With regard to the Olympia project, the officers emphasised their commitment to work with the contractor to ensure the revised contract timetable that would deliver the new facility is open to the public by June is achieved.   However, the officers said they feel it is inappropriate, given contractual confidentiality, to comment on the specifics of the reasons behind the delays in delivery of the new Olympia.    I reiterated my view that, whilst appreciating commercial confidentiality issues, the City Council should be open and transparent.

On the Blackness Library project, I was advised that the increase in the project timescale to 29 weeks was largely because of steps being taken to obviate noise disruption when the library is open to the public, keep one upstairs meeting room open for as long as possible during the works and the need to construct parts of the works on-site given the limited size of the site.

I am anxious to ensure that during the six weeks that the library is likely to be completely closed during the works, there are adequate alternative arrangements for the groups who use the facility and alternative library arrangements, whether that be use of the mobile library or a temporary alternative site in the West End.

Also yesterday I was updated by the Director of City Development regarding the remaining work on the pavements of part of the Perth Road shopping area that was delayed over the Christmas shopping work disruption embargo.    He advised:

"The SSE works were suspended as the works entered the Christmas embargo and it became apparent that they would not be completed without causing further disruption on the lead up to Christmas.  The SSE works recommenced today 7 January 2013 and are programmed for completion on Sunday 13 January 2013."

Yesterday, with the start of the new school term, I held the first of my West End Ward Surgeries of 2013.   I hold surgeries every week during school term time as follows:

+  EACH MONDAY AT 4.20pm PROMPT : Mitchell Street Centre (in the Base)
+  EACH MONDAY AT 4.50pm PROMPT : Harris Academy (at the school reception area)
+  EACH THURSDAY AT 6.15pm PROMPT : Blackness Primary School (in the staffroom – ground floor)