Tuesday, 31 December 2013
“I am hopeful for 2014. I’ve been checking the tea leaves and it’s going to be a good year.
I am confident the economy will continue to grow and that we’ll create more jobs, cut taxes further and increase pension higher.
I am also confident we’ll reaffirm Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom family of nations so we can share risk and reward for generations to come. We won’t undermine the progress by splitting Scotland from the UK.
My confidence also extends to a boost to nursery education to give children the best start in life.
And I am confident that there will be critical steps towards more powers through home rule for the Scottish Parliament. Our plans means we can determine our destiny on the domestic agenda whilst sharing with the rest of the UK to benefit from the best of both worlds.
With this progress we are anchoring the UK in the centre ground. Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society so that everyone can get a chance to get on.
We can’t trust Labour to deliver a stronger economy, we can’t trust the Conservatives to deliver fairness and the SNP are too obsessed with independence to deliver either.
Scotland has a shop window to the world with the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and decision on our constitutional future. Rarely will we get such an opportunity to show who we are and how we carry ourselves.
This year we can also discover a bit more about who we are and what makes our country tick.
I think we will show the world we are an outward looking, confident, compassionate and economically thriving nation. That we are proud Scots who want to share in good times and in bad with our friends in Liverpool, Manchester and people right across the UK.
But to make this year the great success we want it to be we need everyone in Scotland to be a part of it. It’s now up to you.”
Monday, 30 December 2013
I am on Wave 102 News today being interviewed on the subject of the Tayside Pension Fund and tobacco investments. You can listen to the interview by clicking 'play' below:
At the start of the month, I reported to the council residents' complaints about potholes in the road surface of Richmond Terrace, near the junction with Windsor Street.
In reply, the council's Roads Maintenance Partnership advised:
"An order was raised on 2-12-13 for the repair of a number of potholes along the length of Richmond Terrace with a timescale for completion of twenty eight days or sooner."
I am pleased to say that the potholes were filled in last Saturday morning.
Sunday, 29 December 2013
I am pleased to say that, yet again, Dundee has had the best street lighting service in Scotland in terms of fewest number of lights out and speed of repair during 2013.
The Street Lighting Partnership does a superb job and has been extremely helpful this year - as always - in terms of lighting repairs in the West End.
For information, the following faults/defects are classified as Emergencies and should be reported immediately to the Council by phoning the following telephone number.
• 0800 232323 (freephone)
• 01382 433063 (if using a mobile phone)
Faults/Defects which constitute Emergency Attendance:
• Street lights or illuminated traffic signage damaged by vehicles.
• Missing column doors / Exposed wires.
• Groups of lights and Single lights out are not normally classed as emergencies and will be passed for repair the next working day.
• Lantern Bowls hanging.
Saturday, 28 December 2013
Earlier today, I was delighted to attend a reception at Discovery Point to commemorate today's unveiling of the memorials to the victims of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster in 1879, 134 years to the day of the disaster in which 59 known victims lost their lives.
Thereafter I attended the Dundee memorial unveiling at Riverside at which a large crowd of people attended. I was a trustee of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Trust in its early days and it was wonderful to see the Trust's work towards memorials in both Fife and Dundee to the victims coming to fruition.
Here's a short video of the ceremony at Riverside and some photographs from today's event:
|Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Trust Chair Professor David Swinfen addresses the reception at Discovery Point|
|Large attendance at the memorial unveiling at Riverside|
|Floral tributes at the memorials|
I have received concerns that there is no "No Through Road" signage at the top end of Blinshall Street (the south end that does not meet Hawkhill) which results in vehicles having to u-turn in the street.
Having raised this with the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership, I have been informed by them that:
"Transportation has ... agreed that erecting dead end "T" signs may be beneficial. Their budget is fully committed at moment so there isn't any scope to fund the erection of new signs by them. Replacement of the existing street name plates to incorporate the dead end "T" would appear to be the most suitable alternative and as such, new signs will be ordered and fixed to the walls at the entrance to the street in due course."
Friday, 27 December 2013
Some years ago, I had a very useful meeting with Dr MacCowan of the Ryehill Health Centre and with the then Head of Environmental Management at NHS Tayside, regarding the health centre's car park (see below).
The meeting resulted in a helpful arrangement where, although the car park is rightly barriered during health centre opening times to ensure it can only be used by patients and staff, the barriers are left up in the evenings and at weekends - a great help to local residents and parishioners of St Peter's Free Church in an area of the West End where parking can be a real difficulty.
Following concerns raised with me recently that the NHS may be reviewing this arrangement, I contacted both Dr MacCowan and NHS Management and I am pleased to say that the arrangement will continue. NHS Tayside's Support Services Manager has advised that although a new barrier is in place, it will be programmed to be left in the raised position during times the centre is closed.
I am very grateful to Dr MacCowan and NHS Tayside for the very prompt response to my enquiry on this matter.
Thursday, 26 December 2013
As a trustee of the Dundee University Student Trading and Innovative Enterprise (DUSTIE, now branded as DRIVE) I was delighted to hear of the project's success in the recent Keep Scotland Beautiful Climate Challenge Fund - Round 16 awards.
The award is as follows :
"Dundee University Student Trading and Innovative Enterprise (DUSTIE) will work with the local community to increase energy efficiency and decrease car use through their 'Carbon Crushers' project. Energy efficiency advice will be provided through a Green Advice Centre and by trained student advisers who will visit homes. The move away from cars towards lower carbon alternatives will be facilitated by activities such as cycle lessons, maintenance classes and hire bike promotion. These measures will help the community to reduce carbon emissions, taking action on climate change while saving money. £59,370."
This is superb news for this excellent project and thanks go to all involved in compiling the bid, particularly Bogdan Handrea, Project Manager, who put in a great deal of hard work.
Wednesday, 25 December 2013
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Further to my previous updates regarding the Tayside Pension Investment Fund’s holdings in companies such as Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco, in terms of concerns about ethical behaviour, I have now been advised by the council’s Director of Corporate Services:
“I would confirm that we have now written out to fund managers to obtain the necessary details to enable us to determine the financial impact of not investing in tobacco funds. Thereafter we will be in a position to also consult with employers on this proposal. I would hope that we will be in a position to report back on this matter at the next meeting of the Pension Investment Sub-Committee on 3 March 2014.”
I am pleased that there is now some progress on this matter. I have long been of the view that the Tayside Pension Investment Fund should not be associated with investments that could be considered in any way unethical. The fund should put its efforts into obtaining returns only from ethical investment.
With regard to fund management, the legal and investment issues are undoubtedly complex so I can understand why council officers have looked at the issue in detail and sought advice from their investment consultant. They are now consulting with employers who are part of the pension scheme before making any final recommendations to the Pension Investment Sub Committee.
This process has taken some time but it now appears the Pension Investment Sub Committee will consider the matter in early 2014.
Further to my recent article about road safety outside the Harris Academy site in Perth Road, I spoke about the issue on Wave 102 News yesterday. You can listen to this by clicking 'play' below:
As we mark the loss of close friends and distant heroes it’s important to take a moment to think and reflect on the year.
Christmas is also a time to make a special effort to reach out to others. Whether it be the distant friend, the estranged family member or the quiet neighbour, Christmas is a good excuse to make new.
It’s also a time to reflect on the year past with its successes and its challenges. It’s no different for me.
The progress with the Liberal Democrats in the last year has been significant.
We’re delivering our £700 tax cut for those on low and middle incomes.
Pensions are rising thanks to the Liberal Democrat triple lock that guarantees decent increases every year.
There’s higher employment with over 1 million new jobs in the private sector.
And the economy is growing with improving prospects for years to come.
We’re building a stronger economy and a fairer society so that everyone can get a chance to get on. Without the Liberal Democrats this would not be happening.
Scotland is heading in the right direction thanks to the action taken by Liberal Democrats in Government. We are anchoring politics in the centre ground.
But we don’t like to stand still as there is so much more to do.
That’s why we are pressing the Scottish Government to improve early education, particularly for two year olds, to match what is being delivered in England by the Liberal Democrats in Government. We know it can change lives for the better.
Despite the Scottish Government’s White Paper we still don’t know what the nationalists’ independence plans will mean. It is no less risky because of the White Paper. And why would we undermine the progress we are making with the UK economy, cutting taxes, increasing pensions and more jobs by breaking up the country. We should share that progress together.
It’s why we’re also making the case for more powers for the Scottish Parliament with the Liberal Democrat Home Rule plans. With more tax and constitutional power we can determine our own destiny on the domestic agenda whilst sharing risk and reward with the family of nations that is the UK. It’s the best of both worlds.
My compliments of the season to all.”
Monday, 23 December 2013
Last Friday, along with other Dundee City Councillors, I took part in a briefing on the subject of amenity housing, organised by the council’s Housing Department. Amenity Housing is being considered for a relatively small number of sheltered housing that the department is finding hard to let and is offered (without warden services) to persons over the age of 50.
This proved to be a useful briefing and exchange of views. Last month, I expressed concerns about the decision to decommission two sheltered properties at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing without advising the sheltered tenants or local councillors. Following a meeting I organised with the tenants at which senior housing department attended, I have sought reassurances on behalf of tenants about the situation.
These concern the need to exhaust all possibilities to get new sheltered tenants before any conversion to amenity housing, clarity on the right of existing sheltered tenants aged under 75 to their sheltered TV licence, the position re council house sales and amenity housing and the possible viability of providing external lifts to the first floor properties at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing.
I have now written to all tenants at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing updating them on these issues.
It is vitally important that sheltered tenants are reassured on this matter and that any questions or concerns they have are addressed. I am pleased that the housing department has held a briefing for councillors across the city as it allowed for all the issues and questions we have to be discussed.
Yesterday, a team of us (see some of us below!) were at Tesco Riverside, fundraising for the Roseangle Playpark Campaign, with thanks to Santa, Dundee 330 Round Table and the generous Tesco Riverside customers!
Sunday, 22 December 2013
With the school Christmas holidays now upon us, my weekly West End Ward surgeries do not take place again until the start of the new school term on Monday 6th January 2014.
Meantime, I can be contacted via my e-surgery - email@example.com - or by phone on 459378.
Saturday, 21 December 2013
Many thanks go to Greggs, bakers in Perth Road, for their very generous donation of 100 Christmas Pies - as part of the West End Christmas Fortnight events - that I collected yesterday and handed in to the folk at Magdalen House in Roseangle.
Here's a couple of photos!
|The lovely staff at Greggs on Perth Road!|
|With the folk at Magdalen House!|
Yesterday at Blackness Library, representatives from the Harris Education and Recreation Association, Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden and I were delighted to present Blackness Primary School pupil William Monk, aged 11, with his prizes for winning this year's West End Christmas Fortnight Window Spotting Competition.
Well done William and many thanks to Harris Education and Recreation Association and Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden for sponsoring the prizes!
Friday, 20 December 2013
Last night, after my last ward surgery at Blackness Primary School before the Christmas break, I had the pleasure of attending this year's Harris Academy Christmas Carol Service at Dundee West Church.
As always, there was a great turnout of parents, families and other local residents.
The Carol Service was a thoroughly enjoyable event - as it is every Christmas - and it highlights the superb musical talents of Harris Academy pupils.
Thursday, 19 December 2013
As residents are aware, with the old Harris building in Perth Road currently being demolished, the stretch of the road outside the school site is narrowed (and will remain so for three years) due to the construction company's temporary site buildings and boundary fencing to the south side. See photo below:
|Perth Road at the site, taken early morning yesterday|
I have suggested to the council :
* Removal of unneeded yellow road lining outside the Perth Road site whilst the school is decanted to Lawton Road.
* Repainting of the white lining in the middle of the road to properly reflect the current road width.
* Ensuring that construction vehicles enter the school site slowly and carefully.
* Imposing a 20 mph zone along the stretch during construction (there is already electronic signage in place for the school and in my view and the view of residents, it would make sense that the 20mph zone is permanently in operation during the construction phase).
Yesterday, during morning rush-hour, the City Council's Chief Executive met me on-site to look at the issues and I am grateful to him for taking the time to do so. Relatively simple measures here will improve traffic safety during the school building project and I am hoping for swift action by Dundee City Council to address the issues.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Yesterday, I had the pleasure, along with Ann Prescott of the West End Christmas Committee, of presenting an award to Dilly Milne of The Rosebud in Perth Road, winner of the best Christmas shop window display in the West End, as voted for by local residents during the recent West End Christmas Fortnight.
Here's me, Dilly and Ann at the presentation and a photo of the excellent window display at night when it is at its most eye-catching!
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Yesterday, I participated in the latest Tay Road Bridge Board meeting, and, later in the day, held my weekly ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and the West Park Centre.
Last night, I attended the City Council's Development Management Committee. I supported a move to bring a new restaurant to the Kings Cross Road area that will bring much needed jobs to the city. Additionally, I moved refusal of a house extension in Invergowrie Drive that I felt was contrary to the council's local development plan as it impacts adversely on the neighbouring property in terms of physical overshadowing. I won the vote on this matter 17-3.
Monday, 16 December 2013
At last week's West End Community Council meeting, we drew the winners of the West End Christmas Fortnight prizes - and you can download the winners' list here.
The poster will also appear on the Community Council noticeboard (outside Nisa Extra, Perth Road) this week.
Sunday, 15 December 2013
Yesterday, I was part of the Roseangle Playpark Campaign bag packing efforts at Asda Dundee West, to help raise funds for the playpark campaign - see below. What lovely, friendly staff at Asda and generous customers too!
Saturday, 14 December 2013
Friday, 13 December 2013
Thursday, 12 December 2013
Earlier this year, in a council committee discussion about the council's winter maintenance policy, I suggested that a useful addition to the council's winter maintenance service would be the addition of a freephone number for the public to report snow and ice problems.
I was pleased therefore to be advised recently by the City Engineer that:
"Just to advise that we have now implemented a Freephone number for customer telephone enquiries for Winter Maintenance.
The number is Freephone 0800 145 6897."
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Yesterday, I had a useful site meeting with the West District Housing Manager and a senior housing officer regarding residents' concerns about the deteriorating state of some of the lock-ups for the Logie Estate that are situated in Glenagnes Street (see below). A number are unoccupied and in poor condition which is unfortunate in an otherwise well-maintained and popular area. I have impressed upon the Housing Department the necessity of improving the condition of the lock-ups and having a strategy of attracting new tenants for the unoccupied ones.
Also yesterday, I participated in the first meeting of the group set up to look at Harris Academy transport issues, which has proved to be a good opportunity for Parent Council representatives, parents, councillors and council officers to meet to discuss and seek solutions to any outstanding issues.
Last night, I attended the December West End Community Council meeting at which there was an excellent, informative address by Professor David Swinfen on the work of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Trust.
This afternoon, I participated in the City Council's Scrutiny Committee, at which I queried complaints about the council to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, praised the improvements in time taken to respond to noise complaints raised by residents and also queried IT back ups, disaster recovery and business continuity arrangements in relation to the computer systems used to administer the Tayside Pension Fund.
From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee:
We're doing our bit for the 50th anniversary Doctor Who celebrations with our new exhibition, Adventures in Space & Time, featuring original science-fiction comics art.
Among the highlights on show are several pages of artwork from Doctor Who Magazine by Dundee-based comics artist Dan McDaid featuring the Eleventh Doctor (or should that now be 12th?). Also included is some stunning Star Wars art by Cam Kennedy; 2000AD art by Duncan of Jordanstone College graduate Colin MacNeil and original pieces from DC Thomson's classic SF comic Starblazer.
The exhibition will be on show in the Tower Foyer Gallery until 1 Feb (closed for Christmas 24 Dec - 5 Jan). See more here.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
At last night's City Council meetings, there were a significant number of issues discussed.
At City Development Committee, I welcomed the news that the tourist information service is to move back to the City Centre as part of the new City Square Box Office facility. I complained to Dundee and Angus Tourist Board when it previously moved the facility out of Castle Street and down to Discovery Point as I feel a main City Centre location is vital, so am pleased with the move to the City Square.
At Education Committee, I commented on proposals to alter the priority scheme for enrolling school pupils at both primary and secondary schools in the city. The rationale for change is sensible, given the growth in primary school rolls, but it is important that all with a view on what is being proposed give their views during the consultation process.
At Environment Committee, I again highlighted concerns about air quality in the Lochee Road/Cleghorn Street/Rankine Street junctions and sought assurances that measures are being taken to address this.
At Policy & Resources Committee, I welcomed news that the West End Ward is to be given £10 000 community regeneration funding through the Fairer Scotland Fund in 2014/15. I have long campaigned for the West End and the Ferry Ward (both previously excluded from the funds) to be given a share of this funding to ensure that no area in the city is excluded, and although £10 000 in 2014/15 is less than I had hoped for, its a start and the West End will make good use of its funding. I made the point last night that funds must be allocated in such a way that it benefits those on the lowest incomes, which is the principle behind Fairer Scotland funding.
From the Hillcrest Group:
The Hillcrest Group is pleased to announce the launch of this year’s Sox Appeal Campaign.
Following on from the success of last year’s campaign we hope again to provide warm clothes, hats and socks to people who are struggling to stay warm.
For several years our Christmas campaigns have helped local people who are vulnerable, homeless or in real need.
By collecting donations for local charities, who can give items directly to the people who need them the most, we are providing practical and targeted support within the community.
Monday, 9 December 2013
Last Friday, along with a number of my councillor colleagues, I was in the City Square to support Shelter Scotland's campaign day where Shelter representatives were handing out Christmas stockings to people who’d like to donate gifts by filling the Christmas stockings and handing them in to the Shelter Scotland shop in Perth Road.
Shelter will be giving the gifts received to children living in temporary accommodation that Shelter works with. I am pictured (above) at the campaign day in the City Square and (below) with my councillor colleagues.
As Shelter advised us, "As part of our Christmas campaign we’re also campaigning for better standards in temporary accommodation. Accessing good quality temporary accommodation is an important part of delivering the 2012 commitment, and it’s the crucial first step away from homelessness.
"For that reason, it is vital that the 10,494 households in temporary accommodation in Scotland, including 4,574 homeless children get a good and consistent service and that time spent in temporary accommodation is a positive move away from crisis.
Unfortunately too many homeless families will be living in poor quality temporary accommodation this Christmas. We’re therefore calling on the Scottish Government to guarantee minimum standards for families in temporary accommodation."
Find out more about Shelter Scotland's work at www.scotland.shelter.org.uk.
I have today launched my December 2013 Update to the West End Community Council. Subjects covered include:
- Funding for the West End
- Speed concern in Roseangle
- Blackness Library
- West End Christmas Fortnight success
The Community Council meets tomorrow evening at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm - all residents welcome. You can download my Update here.
A free talk by Dr Steve Hubbard, College of Life Sciences in the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, Carnelley Building at the University of Dundee
Tuesday 10th December at 6pm
The University of Dundee is now close to having the longest running dataset in the world on the survival of rainforest birds, thanks to the annual Trinidad expeditions for students led by Steve Hubbard.
In this free talk, Steve will describe how this data will allow fundamental ecological hypotheses about the evolution of life history characteristics to be tested, as well as providing a critical insight into the effects of forest disturbance and climate change.
All welcome - no need to book. Please enter by the front door of Carnelley. Latecomers may not be admitted.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Yesterday, the final events of the 2013 West End Christmas Fortnight took place with a really well-attended and enjoyable Soup and Pudding Lunch at Dundee West Church - run by our Friends of Magdalen Green team - and the "Broken Puzzle" play - again at the church - by the Jericho House team, ably directed by Claire Bee.
Unfortunately, our planned Primary 5s football competition at Riverside had to be postponed as the pitches were unplayable due to the cold conditions, but we will be rescheduling this, probably during WestFest 2014.
Here's some photos from yesterday's activities:
|Setting up the Soup and Pudding lunch|
|Soup and Pudding Lunch in full swing!|
|Jericho House's 'Broken Puzzle'|
Saturday, 7 December 2013
Friday, 6 December 2013
Thursday, 5 December 2013
The sheltered tenants at Tullideph have pointed out to me that the bus stops in Tullideph Road nearest the sheltered housing (near the Friary/Lochee Road - both sides) lack bus shelters.
Given the number of elderly folk using these stops, I asked the council if shelters can be considered and I have now been advised:
"We will add this to our list of outstanding shelter requests."
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Bethany Christian Trust has a great social enterprise project that is happening in Dundee this year. The project is called Caring Christmas Trees.
Every Caring Christmas Tree that is bought in Dundee helps to fund vital services which support hundreds of homeless and vulnerable people across Scotland who use Bethany Christian Trust's services.
How does it work?
Buy a Tree - go to the website www.caringchristmastrees.com and pre-order your Caring Christmas Tree today and create a happier, brighter tomorrow for someone in need in our community.
You can select the size, collection dates and location that suits you best. All our trees are freshly cut Nordman firs from a sustainable Scottish tree farm. They’re great for the environment – local, recyclable and for every tree you buys, a new one is planted.
The distribution centre is Double Tree by Hilton Dundee. Order deadline is 9th December - read more here.
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
From Sheena Wellington:
As has become traditional, Friends of Wighton's last Lunchtime Recital of the year will feature the Wighton Singers in a programme of songs with a seasonal touch.
It's been a busy time for the group who meet every Tuesday afternoon. As well as having performed at the McManus on Christmas Light Night and at the Wighton Heritage Centre's 10th Birthday celebrations, they also presented a selection for St Andrews Day in the Central Library foyer last Saturday.
The Lunchtime Recital takes place in the Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library, Dundee on Wednesday 4th December at 1.15pm and admission is free.
Monday, 2 December 2013
Today, along with my colleague Alison McInnes, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson and MSP for the North East, I toured the Dundee Fire Control Room. Alison and I are campaigning for the retention of the Dundee Fire Control Room that has a vital role and must be retained.
I was hugely impressed with the professionalism and local knowledge of the control staff Alison and I spoke with.
Alison is pictured below outside the control room and Macalpine Road Fire Station:
Alison said, "There is a compelling case for retaining fire control rooms in Dundee and Aberdeen.
"Fire control rooms should not be considered backroom assets alongside former HQ buildings. They coordinate and mobilise front line operations with the benefit of a wealth, sometimes decades worth, of local knowledge. That is why they cannot be sold off without impacting upon the ability of the fire service to respond swiftly to emergencies and without eroding the service provided to local communities.
"I am also concerned that a smaller network of control rooms will be less resilient and I hope that the Fire Board will heed these concerns and decide to keep the control room in Dundee open when it considers the matter again in January."
I was interviewed about this matter on Wave 102 News today. You can hear the interview by clicking 'play' below:
CRAFTY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
Creative people urgently required for daily craft workshops in the Wellgate Shopping Centre.
Activities include: Christmas decorations, origami, decoupage, printing wrapping paper, card making, fabric badges and much more.
Experience of craft activities is required and a willingness to learn and teach new techniques to members of the public.
If you are able to give up 2 hours or more per week up until Christmas, contact Skill Share Dundee on:
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Was pleased to take part in Better Together campaigning in Broughty Ferry today with colleagues - nearly 3000 newspapers delivered and good to speak with residents on a lovely winter's day!
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Blackness Primary School Christmas Fair - really well attended as always! - and the staff and service users of Jericho House sang Christmas Carols on Perth Road outside Nisa Extra too! Here's some photos from yesterday's West End Christmas activities:
|The well-attended Blackness Primary School Fair!|
|Trying to guess the weight of the Roseangle Playpark campaign's cake!|
|Jericho House Carol Singing!|