Thursday, January 31, 2013

Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting

Last night, I was minute-taker at the latest Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting at which we had a really productive discussion about activities in 2013 that will include:

* Supporting and helping to fund playground improvements at the Roseangle playground.   We are keen to engage with parents and children about the play improvements they would most like to see.

* Progress with lighting improvements on the Green.

* A Spring Members' Newsletter.

* Promoting Friends of Magdalen Green in local shops and other venues using our new membership leaflet.

* Fundraising activities for the coming year.

* Continuing participation in the West End Community and Sports Hub.

Friends of Magdalen Green is a really good local community group working in the West End.  You find out more about joining with us here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Riverside Drive at Riverside Approach

Riverside Drive at rail bridge
A West End constituent recently contacted me regarding his concerns about safety in respect of vehicles coming down Riverside Approach onto Riverside Drive then using the slip lane to cross the carriageway to head west along Riverside Drive.    He wrote:

"Has consideration ever been given to closing the crossover under the Tay Rail Bridge?  I consider it a junction waiting for an accident to happen, especially with vehicles crossing the eastbound carriageway of Riverside Drive from Riverside Approach and hoping to squeeze into a limited space.

For instance I was driving east on the offside lane one day when someone emerged from Riverside Approach to enter the reserved area beneath the bridge with a view to turning west.  In one sense the manoeuvre was conducted with time to spare but the other party failed to address the issue that there was already a car in the reserved area and I was presented with a vehicle sitting across my lane.  I just managed to stop in time."

I raised the matter with the City Council's Head of Transportation who advised:

"The closure of this crossover was considered in 2011/12 following the bridge strike and as part of the considerations for the traffic management changes that followed.  It was assessed that the closure of the crossover was unnecessary in design terms and that there was not an ongoing incidence of vehicle collisions.  Therefore the crossover was retained which allows continued route flexibility for road users.

I would add that the introduction of the 40mph speed limit along this section of Riverside Drive will assist vehicles and pedestrians crossing Riverside Drive."

I am advised that, having completed its consultation and legal process, the speed limit reduction planned for Riverside Drive west of Tesco is imminent and is likely to be in place in the next couple of months, but I would welcome the views of constituents about the specific issue raised by this constituent about the 'Riverside Approach to Riverside drive heading west' maneouvre - just e-mail any views to riverside@frasermacpherson.org.uk - many thanks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blackness Primary School Parent Council

Earlier this evening, I attended a very productive meeting of the Blackness Primary School Parent Council.   

Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, gave a very positive and comprehensive report on school activities that includes the school's fundraising efforts for the city's Haiti Appeal, sports and other activities for pupils and the recent well-attended "open afternoon" at the school.

The Parent Teacher Association is soon to be renamed "Friends of Blackness" - a good move that emphasises that all with a connection to the school are welcome to participate.

From Friends of Wighton ...


Saturday 2nd February, 2.30pm at the Creche, Central Library - Concertina class.  £5 - £3 concessions

Following a very successful Come and Try event, a weekly concertina class, tutored by John Bagnall, begins on Saturday 2nd February.

John Bagnall has been playing the English Concertina, invented about 1829 by Sir Charles Wheatstone, for about 40 years.

John learned to play while living on Tyneside, which as well as being a centre for traditional music is home to some great concertina players, notably Alistair Anderson who has done so much to popularise the instrument.

John has been to a large number of Alistair's workshops over the years and learned from his teaching methods, centred round traditional tunes.

He likes to play many different types of music on the concertina, including Northumbrian and Scottish tunes, American, French, Breton and Irish tunes, and also aspires to the more complex classical or semi-classical music from the concertina's heyday in Victorian Britain.   Playing with other musicians is a special pleasure, and John plays regularly in pub sessions on Tayside.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tonight's rather disastrous council committee meetings


Having just returned from tonight's City Council meetings, I can only say that it was not the SNP administration's finest moment.    The behaviour of the SNP group tonight at Policy and Resources Committee was playground politics and marked a new low in terms of the debate at the council.   

To move an amendment saying other councillors are responsible for a so-called “cynical dereliction of duty” simply because they don’t agree with the SNP, says a whole lot more about the SNP group than it does about anyone else.    

This sort of politically motivated and destructive type of amendment is hugely counter-productive and simply gives local politics a bad name.

Oh dear ...

Getting things done ... Lochee Road

Constituents have contacted me to point out that the traffic light in Lochee Road opposite Dudhope Terrace - on the north boundary of the West End Ward - is not aligned properly and drivers cannot see the actual lights - see right.

I have asked the City Council to have this repaired.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

West End view ...

A wonderful West End view today in Beechwood Terrace, off West Park Road - photo taken when visiting constituents.

Improving school transport for St John's High School's West End pupils


On numerous occasions over 2011 and 2012, I raised with Dundee City Council the continued poor transport provision for West End pupils who attend St John’s High School.

The issue was initially highlighted in 2011 when National Express Dundee withdrew the 4S school bus that took St John’s pupils from the West End to the school and back every school day.    

Although, after the campaign to improve the situation, there was some movement - in particular in relation to a service at the end of the school day, albeit convoluted via Ninewells Hospital - travel to school arrangements for West End pupils attending St John’s remains highly unsatisfactory.    The recent wintry weather has highlighted this really unsatisfactory situation for pupils who all live within the St John’s catchment area.

I have continued to campaign to have the City Council recognise the need to provide a mini-bus service as a long-term solution to the problem.  The council owns a significant mini-bus fleet and as the council is now looking vehicle fleet management in a more corporate way, it has it within its resources to assist St John’s pupils in the catchment area.

This month, I asked the council’s Corporate Fleet Manager for an update on progress.   He has now advised:

“I have been through to Perth & Kinross and gathered a lot of good information on how they have taken pool minibuses forward.  I have also held initial informal meetings with some of the main minibus users in the council to try and gain an understanding of their needs and requirements.

We are now at the stage to set up and formalise a working group across the council to look at developing an implementation plan in relation to minibuses.”

This is useful progress but I do feel it is vital that a minibus solution is in place for the St John’s pupils by the start of the new academic year in August.   With the decant of Harris Academy pupils to Rockwell in August and the transport provision that will rightly be made for pupils who then have some distance to travel to Rockwell, it would indeed be unacceptable that arrangements are made for pupils of one of our schools but not for another.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winter maintenance in sheltered housing areas

A new constituent I met yesterday
Over the past few days, I've assisted numerous constituents regarding winter maintenance issues.   

One issue that a number of residents have raised is the priority given to getting pathways and pavements cleared in sheltered housing areas.   I feel this should be given priority, having been very concerned during the really bad winter in 2010 of the number of elderly folk who found it really difficult to negotiate snowy and icy paths.

Having highlighted the issue with the Roads Maintenance Partnership Manager at Tayside Contracts as a result of queries in the Blackness area earlier this week, he has advised me as follows:

"With reference to your enquiry with regards footway priority, the footway treatment is split into priority and secondary clearance.   These have been completely reviewed and updated this year to provide a more effective clearance process. 

As agreed with the Chief Executive the criteria for priority footway treatment is based on education establishments and significant retail areas. The secondary routes then deal with all other footways giving appropriate consideration to sheltered housing, social work etc.   To carry out the clearance of secondary routes effectively it is not possible to carry out clearance of sheltered housing and then social work etc in sequence due to the large amount of double travel. 

Based on the new routing and coverage within geographical areas, the priority routes can all be treated within 3 hours and the secondary routes treated within another 8 to 10 hours. Blackness Road is on a priority route as it services the schools and shopping facilities. Corso Street and Abbotsford Street/Place are on the secondary route and are treated following the completion of the priority routes.

Internal paths at sheltered housing locations are treated by the Environment Department based on historical agreements.   These are being reviewed between the Roads Maintenance Partnership and Environment to ensure all those identified for treatment in Red Alert scenarios are also identified for treatment in Amber Alert."

The following links will be of interest:



Friday, January 25, 2013

Friends of Wighton invite you to come and try the Concertina!

From Sheena Wellington at Friends of Wighton:

Saturday 26th January, 2.30pm, Crèche, Central Library: 

As an introduction to his new weekly class, John Bagnall invites those interested in learning to play the English concertina, who want to brush up their skills, or who just want to learn more about this tuneful instrument, to come along and give it a try! 

There was a strong Scottish tradition of concertina playing and the English Concertina was a popular instrument in Scotland up until the 1920s, regularly played both in the home and in public in social and religious settings.  

John Bagnall has been playing the English Concertina, invented about 1829 by Sir Charles Wheatstone, for about 40 years.

He learned to play while living on Tyneside, which as well as being a centre for traditional music is home to some great concertina players, notably Alistair Anderson who has done so much to popularise the instrument. 

John has been to a large number of Alistair's workshops over the years and learned from his teaching methods, centred round traditional tunes.

He likes to play many different types of music on the concertina, including Northumbrian and Scottish tunes, American, French, Breton and Irish tunes, and also aspires to the more complex classical or semi-classical music from the concertina's heyday in Victorian Britain. Playing with other musicians is a special pleasure, and John plays regularly in pub sessions across Tayside.   He also plays the mandolin a little.

If anyone has a concertina in the attic it is well worth getting it out and reviving it - it is a wonderful and versatile instrument!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Getting things done ... Sinderins junction

Yesterday, I received constituent concerns about the length of lights sequence at the Sinderins junction.

The concern was that whilst vehicles sitting in Hawkhill going west into Perth Road have a long period of “green” and many vehicles get through on green, vehicles heading the same direction but leaving from Perth Road (shopping area) to continue along Perth Road get an inadequate time with only 4-5 cars getting through on green.   

The result was build ups along Perth Road eastwards into the shopping area.

I brought the matter to the attention of the City Council's Head of Transportation who advised me:

Lights being repaired at dusk yesterday
"Thank you for advising of local concerns over the operation of the traffic signals.

We are aware of this problem and there is an intermittent detector fault which is affecting the performance of the junction. 

The UTC team and the maintenance contractor are trying to isolate the fault and action a repair."

I was pleased to note late yesterday afternoon that the matter was being attended to on-site by engineers - see photograph (right).

Save weekly bin collections


I have criticised proposals by Dundee City Council’s SNP administration to switch from weekly to fortnight bin collections in the city.

The SNP fortnightly bin collection proposal will be deeply unpopular with residents and will without doubt lead to problems of refuse build up in streets and in back areas of flats.    The council administration does not seem to have grasped the point that Dundee has a high density of flats and tenement accommodation much of which has limited refuse storage space, so their proposal to move away from weekly bin collections is bound to lead to problems of build up of rubbish.

The council’s SNP environment convener mentions that councils across the UK have moved towards fortnightly collections but he seems to have missed the point that the move away from weekly collections has proved so unpopular that south of the border the Local Government Secretary is giving financial incentives to English councils to retain or switch back to weekly collections.   

The Dundee City Council proposal is flying in the face of all the evidence that fortnightly collections are unpopular and cause problems with accumulated refuse and environmental issues.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blackness traders' meeting

Blackness Road shopping area
Last night, along with representatives from Tayside Police, NHS Tayside and the City Council (including Community Safety Wardens) I attended and chaired a meeting of traders from the Blackness Road area, where we discussed a number of local issues including concerns about drugs-related behaviour and local parking.

I am grateful to everyone who attended for their positive input and we agreed to meet again informally to discuss local issues later in the spring.

Pennycook and Sinderins Courts - Residents' meeting

Yesterday, I attended the latest meeting of the residents' association for the sheltered housing at Pennycook and Sinderins Courts that took place in Pennycook Court - see right.

There were a number of issues discussed including garden maintenance, cleaning and the excellent financial outcome from the coffee morning held in November.   I also updated the committee on action to tackle two areas of overgrown foliage the group had highlighted.

Marion Adams, the Association Chair, reported the sad news that Grace Haskett, a long-standing committee member has sadly passed away.   Grace was a lovely, cheerful lady and will be sadly missed.

Getting things done ... Abbotsford Place


I have welcomed news that the City Council’s Street Lighting Partnership will review street lighting at Abbotsford Place, following concerns raised by me on behalf of sheltered housing constituents that the lighting in this street is significantly lower than on nearby Blackness Avenue.

A number of sheltered tenants in the Abbotsford Place have pointed out to me that the street lighting is at a lower brightness level than in nearby Blackness Avenue and the lighting Abbotsford Place appears quite dim in places.   Given that this is an area of sheltered housing with a large number of elderly people, I was anxious that the City Council’s Street Lighting Partnership reviews lighting levels in the street with a view to improving this.

The Street Lighting Partnership has responded:

“I have carried out a lighting calculation for Abbotsford Place and would say it is a lower end of the lighting class for the area. at present all funding has been allocated for street lighting improvement for this financial year. 

I have ongoing a rolling programme of electrical testing my intentions is to test these columns in the next financial year, assess the condition and carry out remedial works if necessary including up grading the lighting where required.

I will also check with our Roads Maintenance section and try to coordinate works in line with their footway works.”

I welcome the commitment to test lighting columns and upgrade where necessary in Abbotsford Place to ensure that the street lighting here is satisfactory.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday's City Council committees

After my two Monday ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and at Harris Academy yesterday, I attended City Council committee meetings at which:

* At Development Management Committee, the planning application for the new Dundee Railway Station was discussed and approved.   West End Community Council had been denied a deputation request as they had not submitted an objection but I was permitted to raise with the Director of City Development their questions about traffic management and the public consultation process.

* At Policy and Resources Committee, I commented on the draft local fire and rescue plan and questioned performance indicators about injuries arising from fires.   I also asked about the police response to domestic housebreaking that had seen an increase during 2012.   The police are taking a very proactive approach in combating house break-ins through the "After Dark" initiative.

Getting things done ... safety barrier damage

Residents have complained to me that the safety barrier at the junction of Bellfield Street and Hawkhill that was damaged some time ago is still not repaired and the temporary barrier has fallen over - see right.

I took up the matter with the City Council and have been advised as follows:

"The Road Maintenance Partnership inspector for the area has arranged for this temporary barrier to be set upright. An order has already been raised for the permanent repair of this section of barrier and the provisional timescale for this work being carried out is late January."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Getting this done ... lining works across the West End

On behalf of constituents, I recently raised the need to have white lining renewed at several locations across the West End:

* Junction of Saggar Street with City Road :   The council has responded - "The Road Maintenance Partnership inspector has advised that these junction lines were re-done 17-1-13."

* Give way lines at the junction of Perth Road at Riverside Drive (north of the Botanic Garden) :   The council has now advised - "For information, the Road Maintenance Partnership inspector has advised that these give way lines on Perth Road at the junction of Riverside Drive have now been re-painted."

* Junction lining of both Abbotsford Street and Abbotsford Place with Peddie Street :    The council has responded - "The Road Maintenance Partnership inspector has included the worn junction lining in Abbotsford Place and Street in the next lining order and this will be done weather permitting as soon as resources are available and previously identified priorities have been dealt with."

I also queried with the City Council's Road Maintenance Partnership why the promised yellow box relining at the junction of Logie Street with City Road has still not been carried out.     The response is as follows and hopefully means this lengthy delay in having the yellow box repainted is coming to an end:

"The proposed patching to be done at the City Road/ Logie Street was further delayed because of planned works on Ancrum Road by Scottish Water. These works have now been carried out and the carriageway patching and subsequent re-lining of these junctions, is provisionally programmed for early February 2013."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter maintenance in the West End

The winter scene to the north of Blackness Road
With the snowfall yesterday and likely to be continuing over the weekend, it is important that roads and footpaths across the West End and right across Dundee are kept safe.

Yesterday, I was contacted by elderly residents in a number of parts of the West End, including Corso/Abbotsford and Pentland.   In the latter case, I received a very prompt reply from the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership as follows:

"I have been advised that a mini plough was sent to Pentland Avenue and Housing internal footpaths this morning to deal with these and surrounding area."

The City Council has advice on winter maintenance available at www.dundeecity.gov.uk/winter.    If I can be of assistance to any West End constituent on winter maintenance matters, please call me on 459378 at any time or e-mail winter@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

Friday, January 18, 2013

V and A at Dundee - public consultation event

The V&A public consultation event at the University of Abertay Library continues today and tomorrow and you can read further information here:

On Wave 102 News ... on proposed "Dundee West" rail station

I was on Wave 102 news yesterday about the proposal by TACTRAN, the regional transport body, to create a "Dundee West" rail station to replace the station at Invergowrie.   Click 'play'  below to listen:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

SNP Council administration making all the wrong choices


As I indicated yesterday in an interview on Radio Tay News, I have criticised Dundee City Council's SNP ruling group for making all the wrong choices in terms of the cuts they are proposing in the City Council’s 2013/14 revenue budget.

I am particularly incensed that the SNP propose to axe the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service that is a vital lifeline for elderly people in the West End and across the city.    The SNP axing of the Friendly Bus reminds me of an earlier failed SNP policy of axing visiting PE and music instructors in our primary schools that they forced through last year.    

In both cases, the overall saving is minimal in terms of the overall revenue budget, but the detrimental effect upon communities is large.    

Perhaps if the SNP had saved more during the current year they would have more room for manoeuvre now.  Their recent decision to have two new civic cars against opposition advice is a prime example of SNP waste.   When Lord Provost Bob Duncan parks himself on the leather seats of his new luxury civic car, perhaps he can reflect on the fact that Dundee sheltered tenants and other pensioners will no longer have their bus service to help them go shopping.

Last year, I proposed to council transportation officers that they should register the Friendly Bus service with the Traffic Commissioners.   As a registered service it would have provided an income stream through the concessionary travel scheme that would have helped keep the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service as a financially viable service.    The SNP administration has simply let a vital bus service for older citizens go to the wall.    The SNP claim they will look at a service alternative.   I will not hold my breath.

I do support one SNP cut – that of councillors having a reduced mileage rate on their expenses.    I do not claim any expenses and never reclaim any mileage I do on council business.   Perhaps instead of self-congratulating themselves on proposing a reduced mileage rate of 25p per mile for councillors, SNP councillors should follow the example of making no mileage claim at all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Presentation to Eilidh


Yesterday, I was delighted to take part in a presentation at Blackness Library to Eilidh Van Aalten aged 8, winner of a competition run by the West End Christmas Fortnight in the run up to the festive season.   Eilidh lives locally and attends Blackness Primary School.

All local school children from the four West End Primary Schools were all invited to participate in a window spotting competition around the Perth Road district shopping area.   They were tasked with following a trail of clues in shop front window displays, and from the 50+ correct entries, Eilidh’s emerged out the hat at a recent meeting of West End Community Council, where the draw took place.

Eilidh wins a year’s Family Membership of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden that was presented to her by Frances Tait, Chair of the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden, and a cash gift that I presented.    Eilidh, Frances and I are pictured (right).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jericho House Support Group


Earlier today, I attended 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 important facility in the West End Ward that assists those recovering from alcoholism.

It was good to hear that the Jericho House play is taking great shape and will have its public performances in late February or early March, taking place at the Steps Theatre.  We also discussed possible future fundraising activities.

You can read more about Jericho House at www.jericho-addictionservices.co.uk/jericho-dundee-alcohol/.

Tay Rail Bridge Centenary plaque

Further to the recent article on this blog and updates in the Courier and Evening Telegraph about vandalism to McGonagall's Walk, constituents have contacted me to ask that, when the walk is cleaned in the spring, if the Tay Rail Bridge Centenary plaque - see below - can be cleaned at the same time as McGonagall’s Walk.

I have asked the City Council if this can be done.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday meetings

Today, I had the pleasure of holding two West End surgeries jointly with Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland.    These took place at the Mitchell Street Centre and at Harris Academy.

Alison and I also attended the latest meeting of the cross-party Remploy Action Group that took place at the City Chambers.   Alison and I are pictured (right) prior to the meeting today.

This evening, I attended City Council committee meetings at which:

* I proposed that changes proposed to the Hospital Fund and Johnston Bequest do not go ahead.   Having read the last will and testament of Robert Johnston (1639) and the detail of the Dundee Churches and Hospital Act 1864, it is quite clear that these funds were left to give maintenance to "the poor" (Hospital Act) and "the aged and impotent people" (Johnston Bequest).   The proposal before councillors tonight was to henceforth use the funds for a welfare rights service.   However well-intentioned, this proposal does not meet the terms of the bequests and that much is obvious to anyone who has actually read these terms.

* I was elected to serve on the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board.

* I welcomed progress to provide modern apprenticeships and asked for the detail as to when these can be delivered.

Getting things done ... Improving Riverside Drive

At the end of last month, I again highlighted concerns about the deteriorating road condition of Riverside Drive - see right.

The City Engineer has since advised me:

"The Roads Duty Inspector inspected the road as noted below and arranged for a number of actionable defects to be repaired at that time.

The road will continue to be inspected regularly and any actionable defects that may arise will be repaired as appropriate."

I have also been advised by roads engineers that:

"There are actually two significant potholes.   The first one is approximately 100m east of the rail bridge;   the second approximately 100m further on - both eastbound, in the nearside lane."

I previously asked the City Engineer to consider resurfacing the bad parts of the Riverside Drive road surface - this really needs attention.    He has responded:

"We are currently in the process of considering the road maintenance schemes to be carried out in 2013/14.

Once that has been completed I will be able to advise you on the position with Riverside Drive."

Let's hope this results in real improvements in the road condition of Riverside Drive.  It is a major route to the city centre and badly needs improvement.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Community Jobshop

A high-quality PDF of this poster can be downloaded here

Saturday, January 12, 2013

High time Dundee biomass decision takes place


Two years after Dundee City Council first considered the biomass application for the city, I have said it is high time the matter is finally resolved and that the biomass proposal is rejected once and for all.

Almost exactly two years ago, I seconded an attempt at the City Council to oppose a biomass application on the River Tay in the east of Dundee, on the grounds of the adverse impact on air quality, the impact of the plant on visual amenity and the effect of heavy goods vehicles passing through residential areas to service the facility.    

The SNP administration moved to simply defer consideration pending more information on air quality.   This was, in my view, an unsatisfactory response, but was narrowly carried.

There is a real need now to end the uncertainty on the matter and I recently sought a further update from the City Council’s Director of City Development on the issue.

By way of background, in July 2012, the City Council's Director of City Development advised me:

"The Forth Energy Biomass application and accompanying Environmental Impact Assessment were submitted to the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit who are the consenting authority for this development.

As a statutory consultee, the Council advised the Scottish Government of the decision of the Policy and Resources Committee of January 2011 that their decision on the application should be deferred to allow comprehensive air quality information to be submitted demonstrating that the development will not have an adverse impact on air quality and public health. The  Scottish Government have agreed to this deferral and once the appropriate information has been gathered it is a matter for the Scottish Government to decide how the application will proceed.  However, they have indicated that they expect the additional information to be submitted in the form of an addendum to the application and the EIA and that the consultation process will recommence when it is received.

Once the Scottish Government consult the Council (along with other consultees) on the additional information, a report will be prepared for the Council so that it can decide what its consultation response to the application should be.  It is anticipated that this information should be available by Autumn so that the Council may be in a position to consider it in late 2012/early 2013."

The Director of City Development yesterday (11th January 2013) further updated me:

“There was a delay in collating the necessary data on air quality.  It has now been collated and an Addendum Report to the EIA should be submitted to the Scottish Government shortly.  When it is, it will be advertised in the press and made available for public comment.  Once it has  been submitted and the Council has an opportunity to consider the information, a report will be brought before the Council within 2 to 3 months.”

As one of the councillors who was very concerned by the Biomass application when it was first considered by the City Council and called for an immediate Public Inquiry over the matter, I feel that the SNP administration’s non-decision to simply defer the application pending air quality tests has simply led to 2 years of uncertainty.  

The sooner the matter is determined the better and this uncertainty and concern can end.    I agree with calls for the air quality tests to be made public.  Speaking with constituents, there is also a great deal of concern over other aspects of the biomass proposal – visual amenity and large number of additional vehicle movements being examples.   It is high time this uncertainty is ended.

Ronnie McIntosh - 1950-2013

Played at Dens Park, after Ronnie's funeral:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pavement reconstruction query

Earlier this week, a number of constituents contacted me to query why a section of the pavement in Shaftesbury Road has been dug up and is being resurfaced - see right.

Its a reasonably short length on the south side.    The City Council has advised me:

"This senior engineer who visited the Shaftesbury Road yesterday has advised that this section of footway was identified as the only granolithic concrete constructed section of footway on Shaftesbury Road and had been highlighted from inspections as being in poor condition and requiring upgrade."

No-one is more keen than myself to see the many poor conditioned pavements in the area upgraded, but as constituents have pointed out, the section of pavement here really wasn't in that poor condition at all when compared to many other stretches of footpath and there are numerous worse conditioned pavements in the immediate vicinity and in the wider West End.   The Community Council Chair who lives in the street made exactly the same valid point at West End Community Council's meeting earlier this week.

The constituents who have contacted me have made the point that, in times of limited budgets and many priorities, it is important that the worst-conditioned pavements in the West End are tackled.  

Remembering Ronnie

As reported in tonight's Evening Telegraph, I have given my strong support to the paper's campaign to have Caird Park Stadium renamed in memory of Ronnie McIntosh, who passed away earlier this month.

I have already had constituents contact me to support this proposal which I think is an excellent one.   Ronnie was a truly inspirational Dundonian and it would be a fitting way to remember him.

I have been in correspondence with the City Council Chief Executive who has advised me that "... the officers of the Council are now looking into the matter.”   

I think the proposal is something everyone in Dundee can get behind.  You can read more on the proposal and show your support on the Facebook page the Tele has started - it has already over 400 'likes' giving a clear indication of the public's strong support.   

First 2013 update from Friends of Wighton


Instrumental and Gaelic song classes:

Friends of Wighton instrumental and Gaelic song classes restart for 2013 from Saturday 12th January.

Gaelic song, tutored by Wilma Kennedy, runs from 10 am until 11am in the Wighton Heritage Centre.

Fiddle Class for improvers is from 11 am to 12 noon, while the beginner fiddle class   is from 12 noon to 1pm.   Both will take place in the Library crèche on the lower floor and the tutor is Karen Hannah.

In the Wighton Heritage Centre, Helen Forbes will take the whistle class from 12.30pm until 2pm and Simon Chadwick's medieval harp class runs from 2 pm to 3.30pm.

Classes are open to all and cost £5 per session;   £3 concession. 

Mary Mac at the Wighton:

Mary Mac will be performing in the Wighton Centre, Dundee, on Saturday 19th January.

Her Cappuccino Concert will start at 10.30am with complimentary coffee and newspapers and the music will be from 11am to 12 noon.

Mary Mac is a versatile and talented singer songwriter, with presence, charm, and character.  She has a wealth of experience in the music industry and has recorded three albums of original material and one of Jazz standards.   All her albums have been well received after radio and TV appearances.   Graeme Scott, of Leith FM, described her appearance there as "one of the most delightful session guests ever."

Mary has worked with most of the top jazz musicians including Kuma Harada, Tim Bailey, Brian Kellock and Mario Caribe.   She performs as part of a band and as a solo singer.    She will be playing her favourite covers and original songs, with flavours of jazz country, blues and folk.

A recent testimonial:   "Her voice is smooth and mellow with that sultry edge that sometimes reminds one of Joni Mitchell and at other times of Claire Martin but make no mistake, Mary's an original voice."

Admission is £5. 

The Wighton Centre is upstairs in Dundee Central Library.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vandalism of McGonagall's Walkway


I have slammed vandals who have damaged part of the stonework on McGonagall’s walkway on Riverside Drive.    The letter “G” in the word God in part of the inscription has been badly defaced - see right.

I have asked the City Council for necessary repairs to be carried out and also for the stonework to be cleaned, which badly needs done.

The City Council’s Director of City Development has informed me:

“The letter 'G' has been deliberately vandalised. This would be difficult to repair with resins or cements and would not look convincing or last.  A proper job would be to replace the slab and this is being investigated although I fear it will be costly.

In terms of cleaning, it is proposed that this is done in early spring.”

It is very disappointing to see this vandalism take place and I hope that the walkway can be both repaired and cleaned in the near future.

Presentation to Lydia

On Tuesday, I had the honour of making the presentation to Lydia Dorward, a stalwart of the West End Community Council, as Lydia retired as a community councillor.

With thanks to Alan Young, who took the photo, and Lydia for giving permission to use it, here's Lydia and myself at the presentation:

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Jericho House celebrates as new minibus arrives!

This morning, along with my ward colleague Cllr Richard McCready and other members of the Jericho House Support Group, we attended a photocall to celebrate the charity taking possession of a new minibus that will transform the lives of the service users who are being helped by the very worthwhile Jericho House charity.   

Jericho House Dundee is an Alcohol Recovery Unit,  that provides a clean and safe environment in which men have the opportunity to address their alcohol problems.  Unfortunately, in 2008, the minivan that the Dundee charity had came to the end of its useful life and had to go to the scrap yard.   There were no extra funds available to buy a new minivan.  Jericho Benedictine Society headquarters kindly advised David McEnroy, the Manager of the Dundee House, that if they raised £7000, this amount would be matched by the Trustees of the Society.

Since then and with the help of a newly-formed small support group of volunteers from St John the Baptist Scottish Episcopal Church, Albert Street, Dundee, a sustained fundraising effort has taken place to raise the necessary funds to get the charity a new minibus.   This has included sponsored walks over the Tay Bridge and along part of the West Highland Way,  a Disco and Karoake night and a large raffle.   The service users and staff also wrote, produced and acted in two plays with the proceeds going to the minibus fund.

The new van can now take the men to meetings and on outings together.  Service users and staff will now have annual breaks together, one 5 day trip to country house in Inverness and a long weekend at Jericho House in Girvan to join other recovery groups.   The minibus will now also support their West Highland Way adventure.

The various fund-raising projects have also played a vital part in the men’s recovery giving them targets to achieve and helping them co-operate with each other, as well as enhancing their social and personal skills, and all together giving us all a most marvellous sense of achievement.

Here's a couple of photographs from the photocall this morning, together with my interview on Radio Tay news this morning on the event:
Cutting the ribbon!

David McEnroy, Jericho House Manager, interviewed by STV News

Oakland Community Link Service


The Oakland Community Link Service provides support to people over 65 years old or have dementia, to access services in their local community.

A trained and experienced support team can offer short term support to older people and people with dementia, who live independently in the community. 

Examples of the type of support are:

accessing community facilities or activities
independent travel
meeting new friends
building confidence
increasing well-being

The short term service is free of charge.   However there may be costs if a person requires ongoing support to use some other services or facilities.

Finding out more is easy.   To arrange a visit and informal chat, phone 435900 or e-mail oakland.centre@dundeecity.gov.uk.