Thursday, February 28, 2013

Friends of Magdalen Green

Last night, I was minute-taker at the latest Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting.   We had a very productive meeting and with three new members now on the committee, there were lots of good ideas about future activity.

We are meeting with council officers in the near future about possible new play equipment for the Roseangle playpark and we also discussed arrangements for our forthcoming AGM in May.

One of our new committee members Alice has kindly set up a Facebook page for Friends of Magdalen Green that you can access here.   Please "like" it if you are on Facebook!

Talk at University of Dundee

My LibDem colleague, Cllr Peter Barrett of Perth and Kinross Council and I spoke with a group of University of Dundee students at the Dalhousie Building on the university campus yesterday.


University of Dundee - Reverse Vending and Green Week 2013


I was very pleased to learn recently from Trudy Cunningham, the University of Dundee's Environment & Sustainability Officer that the university is one of nine companies and organisations across Scotland trialling 'Reverse vending machines' that reward people for recycling glass, aluminium and plastic (PET) drinks containers through a range of incentives such as money back, discount vouchers or vouchers for donations to charities.

'Reverse vending machines' have been installed at four locations across the university campus. Instead of inserting money for a product, recyclers will put suitable items in the machine and receive 5p for each aluminium can and 3p for each plastic bottle.    You can read more about this here.   The new initiative will be officially launched during the university's annual Green Week from 4th-10th March.

You can read more about Green Week below and a better-quality PDF of this poster is available for download here.

Women, Food, Film and Power - an event for Fairtrade Fortnight

The above event, featuring a free workshop and thereafter a double bill of films and discussion takes place at Dundee Contemporary Arts next Saturday 2nd March as part of Fairtrade Fortnight.   You can read more details about this event here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Getting things done ... Union Place car park

I recently received complaints from residents about overgrown shrubbery around the Union Place car park - see right.

I took up the matter with the City Council and have been advised by the Head of Transportation as follows:

"We have investigated the complaint about over grown vegetation and it has been identified  that this area is maintained by the Property Division and my Parking team have notified officers of this request for grounds maintenance."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Perth Road Traders' Association

Over the past year, I have mentioned the progress towards the establishment of a Perth Road Traders' Association.    A traders' group for Perth Road businesses will be a huge step forward in promoting our excellent shopping area.

Earlier this evening, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Annual General Meeting of the Perth Road Traders' Association at which a committee was elected to take the new traders' association forward.   Iain Wilson, owner of the Nisa Extra, was elected Chair, Mohammad Issa of McDermott's Sandwich Bar was elected Secretary and Kirsty Thomson of Utopia Costumes was elected Treasurer.   

In addition, Val Ireland of the Parrot Cafe and Julia McAnish of Indigo House were also elected to the Perth Road Traders' Association committee.

I wish the new association well.    The new committee will meet next week to plan the way forward and to start the job of getting businesses to join up.

West End Skatepark progress

Last year, the West End Local Community Planning Partnership heard from a 10 year old pupil from Blackness Primary School who had contacted me making the case for a skatepark in the West End and a very impressive and articulate young man he is too.  Along with his father, around that time we met with City Council officers to see what options there might be for provision of what would be a great facility for the west of the city.

Earlier today, we again met with officers from the City Council's Environment Department for an update and were pleased to hear proposals for a possible skatepark near the Lynch Centre in South Road.   This is obviously in the Lochee Ward rather than the West End but it is close to the west part of the West End with good cycle and pathway links.    Crucially, regeneration funding is available in the Lochee area that is not available in the West End and that might make provision of a skatepark financially possible.

There is a consultation exercise underway in the Lochee Ward on sports/leisure improvements and a skatepark can be provided only if there is sufficient community support for it, but it is nonetheless good progress towards a skatepark in the west of the city and I'll continue to keep residents updated on this.

Monday meetings

Yesterday, I took part in the latest meeting of the Balgay Stakeholders' group that gives the opportunity for representatives from Friends of Balgay to discuss issues around the park area with local councillors and representatives of the City Council's Environment Department.

It was a very positive meeting with a number of matters discussed, including:

* The "triangle" of ground outside Balgay Park at the Scott Street entrance has been improved and a new shrub bed and trees planted - see right.

* New roundabouts are about to be installed in Victoria Park (and also in the Roseangle playpark).     This is something I asked the Environment Department to do following the removal of the old roundabouts on safety grounds.

* Work on the Rose Garden is nearing completion, which is very welcome progress.   Two ramps are to be installed to allow for ease of access for visitors with mobility difficulties.   The garden is well-used by patients from Royal Victoria Hospital.   It was also good to hear that the Rotary Club has offered to sponsor two new pergolas at the Rose Garden.

* A second bench is now in place at the Poor Ground in Balgay Cemetery.

* A new set of alpines are to be planted in the Rose Window in Balgay Park.

After a site visit to discuss parking issues around the rail station area, I held my two weekly ward Monday surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and at Harris Academy and then I took part in City Council committee meetings.

At City Development Committee, I raised the on-going issues about safe drop-off and parking near the new West End schools campus (St Joseph's Primary School, Balgay Hill Nursery School and Victoria Park Primary School).   I was given assurances by the Head of Transportation that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure any concerns from parents and residents are addressed and I am grateful to his department, the police and the Head Teachers and staff at the schools for the attention they have given to addressing any problems in the Glenagnes Road/Blackness Road area when school pupils are going into or coming out of school.

At Social Work and Health Committee, I spoke in a debate about the proposed running of a revised consultation process with service users of the Kemback Street Adult Resource Centre - and their families.   I made clear my view that the Care Inspectorate had made significant criticism of the previous consultation process and that there was a need for the City Council to act promptly and effectively to address these concerns.    

The Director of Social Work recommended bringing forward a further report next month giving detail of a new consultation process.   The Labour Group put forward an amendment that would have effectively meant no response by way of a fresh consultation to the Care Inspectorate's criticisms until 2014.  That was not something I could support - the council does have a duty to respond timeously to the Care Inspectorate’s criticisms and apparently ignoring it for a year is not an acceptable response.    

The bottom line for me now is that there is a proper and meaningful consultation with all service users of Kemback Street and their families and I’ll await the Director of Social Work’s full report on the new intended consultation on 25th March.

One assurance I got from both the Convener and the Director was that, in bringing forward the detail of a new consultation to committee on 25th March, they accept that no final decision on the future of the Kemback Street facility should be made until every service user has undergone their assessment process, this has been completed and any agreed future service for that person has been communicated to and discussed with the service user and his or her family.

Ryehill Police Station refurbishment

I recently mentioned that the Ryehill Police Station is to undergo a much-needed refurbishment.

Our local police inspector has updated me as follows:

"The work is scheduled to commence the week of the 11th March.   Building contracts inform me that it will take approx. one week to complete;   I would suggest at least two. 

The place is getting a decent makeover, including outside paintwork, lights being fixed, paving slabs being lifted and relaid, the bedding area being planted up, render work being undertaken, etc. and some internal work that is badly needed. 

I will ensure that the West End LCPP is kept fully informed.   

Hopefully this will go some way to addressing some of the issues that have been highlighted and improve the Perth Road area."

Monday, February 25, 2013

City Road/Logie Street - road works

Please see Public Notice below from the City Council regarding work commencing this morning.

The council's Road Maintenance Partnership has advised me that, "City Road/Logie Street junction is to be closed to allow the junction to be resurfaced.  This will require City Road to be closed from its junction with Tullideph Road."     

In addition to the better road surface, the good news is that this will finally allow for the repainting of the yellow box markings at the junction to be undertaken - something I have been requesting on behalf of residents for some time.

THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984 :  SECTION 14(1)

THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of carriageway patching works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in:

1.   City Road (from Tullideph Place to Logie Street), Dundee.

2.   Ancrum Road (eastbound from Tullideph Road to Logie Street), Dundee

This notice comes into effect on Monday 25 February 2013 for 5 working days.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.

Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Logie Street/Tullideph Road.

For further information contact 433168.

Director of City Development
Dundee City Council

On Wave 102 News - West End Clean Up!

Further to my recent article about the impending West End clean up, I am on Wave 102 news today about the event.   Click 'play' below to listen:

Still Game Programme

You can download a higher definition PDF version of this poster here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting things done ... Shaftesbury Place

Residents in Shaftesbury Place have contacted me about the lack of a lantern on a street lighting column at the east end of the street - see right.

I contacted the City Council's Street Lighting Partnership about this and have been advised as follows:

"I have looked into this ... and the column was installed but the lantern was left off because of construction works in the area.    

"Now the construction works are complete I will add this to the programme and have the lantern fitted and the supply connected."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Getting things done ... Black Street

Following complaints from residents that the dog bin in the grass area in Black Street (near to the Cleghorn Street entrance) was lying on its side.

I contacted the City Council about this and am pleased to note it has since been re-erected - see right.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Better Together campaigning! @scotlibdems @UK_Together #bettertogether

I was pleased to take part - along with Dundee LibDem colleagues - in Better Together campaigning this afternoon in Dundee City Centre.    Another good reception from Dundee people - a photo of some of my colleagues in the City Centre today (above).

West End Local Community Planning Partnership

Last night, after attending a meeting with University of Dundee students at DUSA and having my weekly ward surgery at Blackness Primary School, I took part in the latest West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting.

In addition to a presentation on welfare reform, there were a number of local issues discussed.   Of note:

* The Ryehill Police Station will be closed for a short period from 11th March for a much-needed refurbishment.

* It is hoped that improvements to the council-subsidised bus services (like the 204 and 204a service) may lead to an 'outer circle service' to improve evening and Sunday services.   Having long campaigned for bus improvements for areas that require better services (examples being the north side of Logie and also Pentland), I would welcome any improvements that benefit the West End.   Another possibility is a new service that would link the West End and Lochee (as well as Ardler) - again, this would have benefits for many constituents.   A report to the City Council's City Development Committee on this is due by April.

* There is, subject to possible funding through Sustrans, the possibility of a new toucan-style pedestrian crossing on Riverside Drive near to the Riverside Pavilion/Bridgeview Station Restaurant once the new lower 40 mph speed limit is in place.

* I raised concerns that the recent council "wheelie bin awareness campaign" has had no real impact in terms of getting a reduction of wheelie bins that sit permanently on the pavement and I suggested that resources must be directed to addressing this issue, given concerns from constituents.

Getting things done ... Hillside Terrace

I have had complaints from residents about the poor condition of parts of the roadway in Hillside Terrace - see right.

I contacted the City Engineer about the matter, who has advised:

"I have asked the Roads Maintenance Partnership to inspect this area and carry out any necessary repairs as appropriate.

We are currently in the process of considering the road maintenance schemes to be carried out in 2013/14 and Hillside Terrace will be considered alongside all other roads within Dundee. 

Once the review has been completed I will be able to advise you on the position with Hillside Terrace."

Recycling - acceptable items

The City Council has published a useful flyer that gives an indication as to what items can be placed (and which should not be placed) in green recycling boxes.

You can download the flyer here.

Only a minority of West End households currently have a green recycling box (and none at all have a burgundy bin that the leaflet also refers to) and I have made the point to the council's Environment Department that there is a need to improve recycling opportunities in the West End in the future.   

However, this should not be at the expense of weekly general waste collections.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Photocall at the Botanic Garden

This morning, I had the pleasure in taking part in a photocall at the Botanic Garden, along with Phil Smith, Managing Director of National Express Dundee and Frances Tait, Chair of the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden, to mark the fact that, henceforth, Number 5 buses will include in their electronic displays the Botanic Garden as a destination.

On behalf of the Friends, I approached National Express Dundee about this and the bus company responded extremely positively and is also looking to help the Botanic Garden in other ways through garden tickets being made available for sale at the Dundee Bus Shop and also advertising the garden on Number 5 bus timetables from the next re-print onwards.
Frances, myself and Phil at the Botanic Garden this morning

Latest Blackness Library refurbishment update

Further to my recent update on the refurbishment at Blackness Library, the Head of Library and Information Services at Leisure and Culture Dundee has advised me:

"We have been looking at various options for the relocation of the library service during the closure of Blackness Library, and will be in a position to confirm the temporary location shortly.  

I will get back to you with the details as soon as possible. 

Staff on site have reported that the work is progressing well so far and is causing minimum disruption to service provision."

A photograph of the external works is pictured - right.

Getting things done ... Baxter Street fencing

The fencing at the rear of the grass area in Baxter Street along the boundary with Blyth Street has completely fallen over - see below:
The residents who live in the area tell me that the fence was originally erected by the City Council and I therefore contacted the council about getting this sorted.   The fence itself looks sound - it simply needs new posts and to then be re-erected.

I am pleased to say that the City Council has agreed to do this and I am advised, ".. the fence was instructed to be uplifted .. (and we) will be having this re-erected in the near future."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Harris Academy Project Board

This afternoon, I took part in the latest meeting of the Harris Academy Project Board, the board charged with overseeing the new Harris Academy construction project and associated matters including the decant arrangements to Rockwell that takes place from this August.   The board is chaired by the City Council's Chief Executive.

We had a very productive and positive meeting today.  The main issue discussed was the school transport arrangements for pupils during the decant.   The principle of this was agreed today and parents and carers will now be contacted regarding the proposed arrangements and also sent a survey form to allow their feedback.

We also had updates on other aspects of the project, including progress with the actual decant itself.    In terms of keeping parents, pupils and the community as a whole updated on the project and other Harris Academy activities, the new school website is due to launch tomorrow.

West End Local Community Planning Partnership - a further update

I recently posted an article about the forthcoming West End Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP) meeting that takes place tomorrow evening at the Tartan Coffee House on Perth Road.

You can now download here a 2 page leaflet that gives fuller information about the LCPP and also gives the dates of the other 2013 meetings that are planned.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jessie Blackburn

I was saddened to learn of the death of Jessie Blackburn, recently of the Riverside View Nursing Home, and previously of Blackness Court.      Mrs Blackburn was 103.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Blackburn some time ago, to discuss a local issue, and she was a sprightly and hugely pleasant lady.



West End clean up!

On Tuesday 5th March, a group of us are taking part in another clean-up of parts of the West End.   My thanks go to the ever-enthusiastic Trudy Cunningham, Environment and Sustainability Officer at the University of Dundee, for organising the event.

Details below - do please contact Trudy if you are able to take part!
You can download a higher quality PDF version of this poster here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Employment Support Service

Just before the start of the last meeting of the Remploy Action Group last Monday, I had the pleasure of speaking with the City Council officer who happened to be sitting next to me.   She is from the City Council's Employment Support Service and she spoke with great enthusiasm and knowledge about what is a really good service.

The purpose of the Employment Support Service is to provide support to people living in Dundee who face challenges in securing and sustaining employment and it also provides an Advisory Service to local employers, voluntary organisations and individuals, offering information and advice regarding good employment practice.  

You can download further information about the Employment Support Service here.

On Tay AM News - on SNP college cuts

I was on Radio Tay News yesterday about the SNP cuts to part-time places at Dundee College and right across Scotland.   Click 'play' below to listen:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

SNP college cuts damaging the chances of Dundonians wanting to study


Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats have shown that there are over 80 000 fewer part-time places in Scotland’s colleges since 2009.    Answers to freedom of information requests have shown that there are only 8 000 more full time places in the same timeframe.  

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has warned that the £25 million SNP government cut to college budgets combined with the pace of reforms being demanded by ministers could put a further chokehold on opportunities when thousands remain out of work. 

Commenting on the figures, Liam said, “College principals have already warned that the government’s £25 million cut from college budgets next year will undermine the sector’s ability to cope with reforms being demanded by ministers. These figures show that colleges have already cut part-time places in their thousands. With over 80 000 fewer part-time places in Scotland’s colleges since 2009, Scottish Liberal Democrats are concerned about the impact a further £25 million cut will have on students.

“The complexity and pace of the regionalisation reforms are challenging enough.  However, they are made almost impossible to manage successfully by the depth and scale of the funding cuts being applied by Mike Russell. This cut puts a further chokehold on opportunities at a time when thousands remain out of work.

“If we are to build a stronger economy in a fairer society we must provide a range of opportunities which enable people to get on in life. The SNP government’s focus on full time opportunities for young people should not be at the expense of lifelong learning opportunities for all other age groups. 

“In the face of these worrying figures the Education Secretary can no longer afford to ignore the resounding chorus of concerns from the sector. Colleges must be given the funds and the flexibility to deliver courses in a way which best meets the needs of their students and their local areas.”

Commenting on the Dundee College situation, I have pointed out that, in Dundee College alone there are 9 591 fewer part-time enrolments this year compared to 2009, but only 18 more full time students.    There are therefore vastly fewer opportunities for Dundee people who wish to learn.   

This reduction in part-time places could affect Dundee parents, carers and others who find it impossible to study full time.   It is really bad news for the local college sector and SNP bad choices are having a really detrimental effect.

Notes :   We asked: how many students have enrolled in the institution in each of the last three years (2009-2012) broken down by part-time (PT) students and full-time (FT) students?   Dundee College figures below:

Free talk by artist Lindsay Sekulowicz


From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee:

To accompany the exhibition "Drawn from Structures Living and Dead", currently showing in the Lamb Gallery, artist Lindsay Sekulowicz will be giving a talk on Wednesday 20 February at 5.30pm in Room T4, just off the gallery. 

Lindsay was artist-in-residence at the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum during summer 2012, a collaboration between the University of Dundee, the Barns-Graham Charitable Trust and the Royal Scottish Academy. She will be talking about her experiences doing the residency and about her work on show in the exhibition. 

You can find out more about the exhibition here and view Lindsay's website at www.lindsaysekulowicz.com.

The talk is free and all are welcome - no need to book.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Family History Taster course


Monday sees the start of a Family History Taster five week course at the Mitchell Street Centre in which participants will learn how to use the internet to find out about their family and Scottish roots and learn about the world our ancestors knew.

The course starts at 10am but please call the centre on 435872 first thing on Monday if you wish to take part as booking is essential.

A good outcome at Gallagher Retail Park

Last autumn, following a concern raised by a constituent about the need to improve parking arrangements for disabled people at the Gallagher Retail Park, I raised the issue with JP Morgan Asset Management, the retail park owners, who promised to tackle the issue.

All credit to JP Morgan Asset Management - see right.   Drivers with disabilities can now park for up to 4 hours without having to use the ticket machines as long as a Blue Badge is displayed.

A good result.

Harpsichord music in the Wighton Centre this morning


From Sheena Wellington:

Later this morning, Mark Spalding will be performing an interesting recital of keyboard music for the Friends of Wighton's monthly cappuccino concert.

This well-loved event starts at 10.30am upstairs in Dundee Central Library, with complimentary coffee and newspapers included in the £5 admission price.   Then the music is from 11am until 12 noon.

Mark Spalding is a regular performer at the Wighton Centre and he will play old Scottish tunes from the rare books in the Wighton Collection, using the stunning harpsichord which is kept there with the books.   He also plans to perform some music by the local composer F.G. Scott.

Fore more information about the Friends of Wighton and their series of concerts and workshops, please visit www.friendsofwighton.com or call 07792 336804.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blackness Library access and other improvement work begins

The long-awaited improvement works to Blackness Library started on Monday.  The substantive part of these will, for the first time, give disabled access to the upstairs meeting rooms and there are several other improvements planned as part of the project.  

The City Architect has advised me:

"Construction worked commenced on Monday 11th February and will run to 19th August (28 week construction programme as advised by Construction Services).

The closure period as currently identified, is 10th June - 15th July (6 weeks)."

I have sought details from the Director of Leisure and Communities regarding alternative library arrangements and arrangements for groups who use the library meeting rooms - during the time the library has to be completely closed for the 6 week period in June and July.

City Council Budget 2013-14 : An opportunity missed

At yesterday's City Council Budget meeting :

* On the Capital Budget, I proposed not going ahead with yet more new council offices and instead proposed that it be spent on improving Dundee's roads and on further improving the city's primary schools.   Although I had the support of the Conservative, Independent and Labour members, the SNP administration voted this down.  I regret that, in voting through millions on new council offices over schools and better roads, this speaks volumes about the priorities of the SNP administration.

* On the Revenue Budget, I proposed scrapping the SNP education cuts that will result in increased class sizes in S1 and S2 English and Mathematics classes in five of our nine secondary schools.   My rather modest proposals (in terms of a £337m budget) to pay for this would have had no effect whatsoever on service provision but were opposed by the SNP and Labour failed to support them.    The SNP also opposed my proposal to give Fairer Scotland Funding to the West End Ward and the Ferry Ward and, again, Labour failed to support this.

There is a serious point to be made about Fairer Scotland funding.   The council allocates it in an arbitrary way - six wards benefit (with no weighting by size or poverty levels);  two wards get nothing, as if no social exclusion at all exists anywhere in the West End or Broughty Ferry.   Labour and SNP seem to fail to appreciate this point and are failing to stand up for the people of the West End and Broughty Ferry.

I have suggested to the SNP administration that allocating this funding by % of lowest income households per ward is the fair way to allocate these funds in the future.   The ball is now firmly in the SNP administration's court.

I will continue to campaign for fair funding for the West End, just as I have always done over the 12 years I have represented the West End on the City Council.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Harris Academy PTPA update

From the Chair of the Harris Academy Parent Teacher and Pupil Association:


We are holding several fundraising events in the coming months.

Harris PTPA now has a Facebook page which you can 'like' and receive information on our activities. The main objective for current fundraising is to raise money for a much needed minibus.   The previous one was set on fire by vandals. 

The first event is a Race Night to be held in the school on Friday 1st March at 7pm. Tickets are available from the school.

The next one is a quiz in Braes to be held on Thursday 28th March from 7pm to 11pm. All money raised at these events will be donated to our minibus fund.  

We have plans for a large event on 22nd June at Elliot Road.

The PTPA can be contacted at harrisptpa@yahoo.co.uk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

City Council Scrutiny Committee

This afternoon, I took part in the City Council Scrutiny Committee meeting at which I asked questions about an internal audit report about the systems surrounding the licensing of houses in multiple occupation.

I also queried with the external auditor areas of the external audit process concerning valuation of property, plant and equipment and the timeline used by external auditors in reporting findings to the Scrutiny Committee.

Tuesday meetings ...

Yesterday, I attended the latest meeting of the Jericho House Support Group, the team that help support fundraising and other initiatives for Jericho House that does vital work to assist people with alcohol dependency problems.

We had an extremely positive meeting, with an update from Claire Bee who is leading the group of Jericho House service users, staff and others including young people, who are to be presenting their play "Broken Puzzle" at the Steps Theatre on Saturday 27th April.     We also discussed other possible fundraising events for 2013.

Thereafter, I had a useful discussion with trades union representatives about the forthcoming City Council budget meeting on Thursday and then chaired a meeting of the Barney's Fund committee, the charity fund established by Barnett's Motor Group.    In our first tranche of applications for 2013, we had a large number of submissions and were able, after detailed discussion, able to select three very worthy charitable causes for funding awards.

Yesterday evening, I attended the latest meeting of West End Community Council, at which a number of local issues and concerns were discussed.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Concern at Riverside civic amenity site flooding

As reported in today's Courier and on Wave 102 news, I have expressed concern at another closure of the Riverside Civic Amenity and Recycling site due to flooding.    I have pointed out that this was an all-too frequent problem, given another recent closure over the festive period.   See photographs of the flooding yesterday - right and below.

You can listen to the Wave 102 interview with me on this subject at the bottom of this article.

A constituent contacted me yesterday to indicate:

"I went to dispose of some rubbish this morning to riverside recycling centre only to find yet again it's flooded out. Normally not a major issue and I just go to Marchbanks but I realise part of the budget proposal is to close this site. 

"This would be a major concern as it’s a long way and environmentally unfriendly to drive all that way to Baldovie.   This leaves those in the west of the city with a lack of recycling facilities and may increase fly tipping which no one wishes to see.   

"Additionally the road servicing both the recycling centre and the nature park car park is in a shocking state of disrepair. I would urge that the council reconsider the closure of Marchbanks or upgrade the site and road at Riverside to reduce the significant number of occurrences that the site has been closed at short notice."

The council's Director of Environment has advised me:

"Appreciate the comments being made by your constituent and confirm that we have been in discussions with the City Engineer to identify a permanent solution to the ongoing drainage issue and also to consider any physical improvements that might be required to the infrastructure at Riverside to accommodate the proposed new arrangements.

With regard to the current closure, this has taken place following heavy overnight rain and it is hoped to have the site reopened later today."

I welcome efforts to find a permanent solution to the drainage and flooding problems at the Riverside site.   Clearly if the SNP administration's budget proposal to close Marchbanks goes through, Riverside will become the only main civic amenity centre for the west of the city, so it is vital that it is not regularly flooded that results in closure of the facility.

I am against using the Marchbanks site to spend millions on a new headquarters for the council's Environment Department and intend moving a capital budget amendment at Thursday's budget meeting to instead use this funding to improve schools and the state of Dundee's roads.

Click 'play' below to listen to the Wave 102 news report:

West End Community Council Update


I have today launched my February 2013 Update to West End Community Council.    Subjects covered include:

•          Safety equipment and seating on Riverside Drive   
•          Road condition – various locations
•          Glamis Road – bus shelter needed
•          Road safety

The Community Council meets this evening at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm - all residents welcome.      You can download my Update here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday meetings

Earlier today, along with a number of fellow councillors, parliamentarians and others, I attended a briefing on welfare reform, followed by a further meeting of the Remploy Action Group.

Tonight, during City Council meetings, at the Environment Committee, I highlighted concerns about air quality in the two streets in Dundee that Friends of the Earth recently highlighted as being the most polluted in Scotland - details below:


Top 10 most polluted streets for nitrogen dioxide in 2012 (figures in microgrammes per cubic meter, European standard 40): 
  • Glasgow Kerbside - 72.5 
  • South Lanarkshire Raith Interchange - 62.9 
  • Aberdeen Wellington Road - 58.8 
  • Edinburgh St John's Road - 57.9 
  • Dundee Lochee Road - 55.4 
  • Perth Atholl Street - 55.1 
  • Aberdeen Union Street Roadside - 55.0 
  • Edinburgh Queensferry Road - 54.5 
  • Dundee Meadowside - 54.5 
  • Paisley Central Road - 50.7 
Given that one side of Lochee Road at the location of concern (the junctions at Rankine Street/Cleghorn Street/Dudhope Terrace) is in the West End Ward, I asked a number of questions of council officers about steps that require to be taken to improve air quality here.

Call for temporary bus passes to help elderly citizens


I have called on Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to investigate the viability of allowing local authorities to issue time limited temporary passes when elderly citizens who lose their concessionary bus pass.      This followed my assisting a local man in his nineties who had to wait around 10 days for a new bus pass when his original concession pass was lost.

The City Council does as an efficient job as possible in terms of getting elderly people replacement cards as quickly as possible but it nonetheless takes around 10 days for a new card to be in the elderly person’s hands because it’s a national bus scheme.    In a number of recent cases affecting local people, the elderly people waiting for their pass had limited financial means and were unable to use the concessionary bus scheme for around 10 days until their new pass arrived.    For very many elderly people, being able to use the bus is a lifeline for shopping, social activities and meeting friends and family.

I made the point to Transport Scotland who administer the concessionary scheme that, in the case of elderly people who lose their pass, would it not make sense to allow local authorities to issue a temporary pass/letter that is time limited to allow the elderly person to use public transport whilst awaiting their replacement pass?   This would make a great deal of sense.

The response from Transport Scotland is as follows:

“The Scottish Government provides Scotland-wide free bus travel on the basis of presentation of a valid National Entitlement card. This card is required in order to confirm a person’s entitlement and in order for the bus operator to be reimbursed accurately for the journey undertaken.  The card itself, which is printed and encoded at a central production bureau, and not a local authority office, contains a photograph of the cardholder, expiry date and confirms their entitlement.

Where a valid card is presented but does not work on the Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETM) on the bus, there is the option to hand over the card to the bus driver in return for a 7-day temporary pass. The card is then returned to Transport Scotland, to ensure there is an audit trail for the issue of the paper based pass. 

Where a card has been reported lost or stolen there is no provision for temporary passes or letters to be issued and there are no current plans for this to change as this could potentially increase the risk of fraud. There is a service level agreement in place between local authorities and the card production bureau which stipulates that a replacement National Entitlement Card will be despatched within approximately three working days following receipt of a replacement request having been made.  Our experience of this process causes us to believe this schedule is routinely achieved.”

In reality, elderly people wait up to ten days for a new pass given that they are actually produced in Hull and posted from there to the customer.    A temporary letter with a clearly indicated expiry date would not be susceptible to fraud if appropriate administrative arrangements were put in place and it strikes me that there is a real need for Transport Scotland to address the issue.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

West End Local Community Planning Partnership - next meeting

From the City Council West End Communities Officer:

As you may be aware, the West End Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP)  meets each quarter in the Tartan Coffee House, 53 Perth Road.  The next meeting will take place on Thursday 21st February 2013 at 7pm.

LCPPs enable council departments to work together better with partner agencies at a local level with the aim of delivering services and activities in a way which better meets local needs.  The partnership meeting is chaired by the City Council's Head of Transportation and is attended by all 4 local elected members, senior staff from other key City Council Departments and planning partners including the Voluntary Sector, Tayside Police, Tayside Fire and Rescue and NHS Tayside.  Community Representation at the Partnership is drawn from local community organisations including West End Community Council.

Local people, or those who have an interest in the West End such as traders, students and university staff, are encouraged to come along as we are keen to promote an active west end community and ensure that those with a stake in the west end are involved in identifying local needs and developing the local response.  

Below is the agenda for the forthcoming meeting.  It would be lovely to welcome you along.

AGENDA

1. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

2. IMPACT OF WELFARE REFORM – GREGORY COLGAN, FINANCE AND CORPORATE SERVICES MANAGER

3. MINUTE OF LAST MEETING OF 22 NOVEMBER 2012 AND MATTERS ARISING

4. FOCUS ON WEST END LOCAL COMMUNITY PLAN

5. DEPARTMENT, AGENCY AND ORGANISATION UPDATES

6. OPEN FORUM ON ISSUES RAISED BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

7. DATE OF NEXT MEETING :  16th May 2013 at 7.00 pm in the Tartan Coffee House