Saturday, August 31, 2013

X Factor - isn't Hannah Barrett superb!

Speed concerns on Perth Road

Back in 2009, after campaigning by local residents and myself, the speed limit on the most westerly part of Perth Road (west of the Invercarse Hotel) was reduced to 30mph.   There was absolutely no logic to having the speed limit on Perth Road west of the Invercarse Hotel a different limit to that east of the hotel.

Although most drivers adhere to the revised 30mph limit, I get complaints from residents about a minority of drivers who drive at more than the limit.   I have, on behalf of residents, raised this concern with both the police and the City Council's Head of Transportation.    The Head of Transportation has responded saying:

'I use this section of road frequently and can envisage the situation as described, and in both directions not just when vehicle exit Riverside Avenue.

We will look into the provision of one of these speed activated signs whereby vehicle exceeding the speed limit are given a visual reminder that the speed limit in force is 30mph.'

This is a sensible suggestion that local residents will welcome.

Another Roseangle Playpark fundraising event!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Blackness Road - pavement concerns

I have received concerns from a number of local residents about the state of the pavement near the bus shelter on Blackness Road (south side) just east of Abbotsford Street - see right.

I have brought this to the attention of the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership and asked for necessary repairs to be carried out.

Bus stop at Harris Academy/West Park Centre on Perth Road

Earlier this week, a constituent raised the following concern with me:

"When are the Council planning to put a replacement bus stop in Perth Road for the people who want to get off at Harris/West Park Halls?   The bus stop  area  has been fenced off  and the bus stop (which has not been covered as out of use) is well behind their barrier.   Anyone wanting a bus there would have to stand on the road which would not be advisable."

I raised the matter with the Head of Transportation at the City Council who has responded as follows:

"This has been addressed as part of the school demolition / construction programme.

A temporary bus stop sign has been erected on a lighting column opposite Grosvenor Road and the permanent Bus Stop pole will be relocated next week as part of a citywide series of bus stop / shelter works.

With regard to the use of the stop as a timing point, this is a matter for the bus operator but will clearly not be available to take time."

I am pleased that this matter has been addressed as this is a busy bus stop.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The D'Archy Thompson Print Folio

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

A folio of 14 prints created by the Printmaking Workshop at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in collaboration with the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, University of Dundee

D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860-1948) was the first Professor of Biology at University College, Dundee (now the University of Dundee) and his landmark 1917 publication On Growth and Form has inspired generations of artists, architects and designers as well as profoundly influencing scientific thought. As part of an on-going project to explore the visual influence of D’Arcy Thompson’s work, the University of Dundee Museum Services has commissioned 16 of the leading artists at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design to create new print works drawing on Thompson’s ideas as well as the collections held in his Zoology Museum. 

These limited edition prints are current on display in the Tower Foyer Gallery (until 21 September) and will shortly be available to buy either collectively in a high-quality presentation portfolio or individually. All proceeds from sales go directly to support the University’s on-going work to engage artists with D’Arcy Thompson’s work and to facilitate residencies and exhibitions with his Zoology Museum. 

The artists who have contributed to the folio are:

Delia Baillie
Calum Colvin
Dalziel + Scullion
Graham Fagen
Gareth Fisher
Paul Harrison
Mark Hunter
Tracy Mackenna & Edwin Janssen
Jim Pattison
Norman Shaw
Elaine Shemilt
Iain Sturrock
Edward Summerton
Peter Yearworth

The folio is produced in an edition of 12 plus three printers’ proofs. All prints measure 12 x 12 inches and are on White Magnani Litho paper, printed at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design under the supervision and co-ordination of Mark Hunter and Jim Pattison. Seven sets of prints will be sold in a high-quality handmade box including text written by the artists and myself. The remaining five will be available for sale individually.

The full edition of individual prints and portfolios will be available in September - click here for further information or visit our website at www.dundee.ac.uk/museum/collections/zoology/printfolio/

Dundee Doors Open Days - September 2013

Dundee is again taking part in Doors Open Days next month, a great opportunity to visit fire stations, factories, castles, churches, laboratories, libraries, pubs and pools - just some of the Dundee landmarks that will be participating.    Across the city, hundreds of people will be granted access to fascinating buildings not normally open to the public as well as taking part in events, tours and talks for all ages.

Taking place on 14th and 15th September, some of the West End participants include Blackness Road Fire Station, Dundee Central Mosque, The Rep, Maggie's Centre, various University of Dundee buildings including the Zero Energy Building, D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum and a new walking tour, and the Vine.

You can find out more here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Batty at Balgay!

Batty at Balgay is an event organised by Dundee City Council's countryside ranger service and takes place this coming Friday (30th August) at 8pm.

Meet up at the Mills Observatory and find out more about bats!   You can read more details here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Balgay Stakeholders' Group meeting

Yesterday, along with representatives of the Friends of Balgay, two of my ward colleagues and a City Council Environment Department officer, I attended the latest Balgay Stakeholders' Group meeting that took place in the pavilion at Lochee Park.

This group discusses projects and issues at Balgay Park, the Hill, Cemetery and Victoria Park and we had a very productive discussion on a number of issues including repairing the wall damage at the Jewish Section of Balgay Cemetery, proposals to replace the goalposts in Lochee Park and repairing damage to the hedging at the Victoria Park Bowling Green.

There was excellent news that environmental improvements, much needed at the park’s Scott Street entrance, are being scoped in the coming weeks.   This issue – of fence damage and fly-tipping - was raised at a walkabout I participated in back in April, so I am pleased at progress towards a solution.  As you can see from the photograph (right) action to improve the fencing is needed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting things done ... Manhole cover repairs on Perth Road

I have had complaints from constituents about the noise of loose manhole covers on Perth Road (junction with Pennycook Lane/Step Row in middle of Perth Road) and also at the junction with Ryehill Lane (again in the middle of Perth Road).   

It was particularly noticeable when an HGV went over them early morning or late at night.

I raised the matter with Scottish Water, who promised repairs to take place last Thursday so this problem is hopefully now resolved. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Abseiling afternoon ...

As I recently advised, I agreed to take part in an abseil down the University of Dundee Tower Building to help raise funds for the MS Society Dundee Branch - and this happened yesterday afternoon.   Here's a few photos from yesterday with thanks to Mark, Janet, Kirsty and Nick:




There's also some more photos here (thanks Kirsty and Nick!)

The MS Society Team of five are pictured above and volunteers for other good causes also took part yesterday, including people fundraising for the National Autistic Society and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland.

Very many thanks to everyone who has kindly sponsored me, either via my JustGiving page or using the traditional sponsor form.     I had hoped to raise £300 and am delighted to say I'm well over double that already!   Its not too late to support the fundraising effort for this very worthwhile cause - just go to http://www.justgiving.com/FraserMacpherson - many thanks!

On Wave 102 News - Blackness Road resurfacing work

I am on Wave 102 News this morning discussing the impending roadworks in Blackness Road in the stretch between Hawkhill and Bellfield Street.   You can listen to the interview by clicking 'play' below:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

West End Timebanking meeting

Further to my article last month about the proposal to have a timebanking initiative in the West End, I was pleased to attend the first planning meeting yesterday.

There was great enthusiasm from the attendees to move forward with a West End Timebank resource and we will now be setting up a small committee to take this further.

If you would like more information about timebanking in the West End, please contact: 


GillBain@number10.org          or                BarryThomson@number10.org 

Pathway - Bankmill Road to Rosefield Place

I have received complaints from residents that the pathway from Rosefield Place to Bankmill Road is badly overgrown and I have been given assurances by the Housing Department that action is being taken to have this attended to.

The car park/roadway area to the immediate south on Rosefield Place itself is also overgrown (see right) and I have been in touch with the City Council's Road Maintenance Partnership to ascertain who is responsible for tidying this up.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Orienteering Challenge at Magdalen Green

Another great event from the Roseangle Playpark Campaign:
You can download a high-quality PDF version of this poster here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Last couple of days ...

On Tuesday evening, I attended the latest committee meeting of the West End Community and Sports Hub (WECSH) that took place at the Riverside Pavilion.   We had a hugely productive meeting, discussing future management of the pavilion and further improvements to assist sporting activity in the West End.

Yesterday afternoon, I firstly had a site meeting in Wilkie's Lane with Rev Leszek Wiecaszek, Parish Priest of St Joseph's Church, the Chair of St Josephs Parish Pastoral Council and two representatives of the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership.   I recently raised concerns from residents including members of the church about the state of the footpath at the south end of the lane.   We had a useful discussion about the need to improve the state of the path.

Later yesterday afternoon, I chaired a meeting at the Corso Street Sheltered Lounge with residents from Abbotsford Place, Corso Street and Abbotsford Street.   Around 40 residents attended and we had a good discussion about numerous local issues.   Judith Clark of Solar Cities Scotland was guest speaker and gave a very interesting presentation on carbon reduction and steps to reduce your heating bill.

And, talking of well-attended meetings, last night I attended the AGM of WestFest, that took place at the Vine in Magdalen Yard Road.   It was a great night with an informative and interesting talk by Stewart Murdoch, City Council Director of Leisure and Communities, on the Dundee bid for UK City of Culture 2017.   Co-chair of WestFest, Paola McClure, gave a comprehensive and entertaining resume of WestFest's past year and a new committee was elected.

With thanks to Peter Menzies at the Vine for hosting the AGM and the photography on the Facebook page, here's a photo (right) from last night with me pictured bottom right in the photo!

Making an Impact – new print exhibition at the University of Dundee

The Dalhousie Building
From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee:

A new exhibition has opened in the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee, featuring over 60 rarely seen prints from the University’s fine art collections. They include works by major Scottish and international artists as well as staff and students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

The exhibition, entitled Making an Impact, has been staged by Museum Services as part of Print Festival Scotland to accompany the international print conference Impact 8 being held at the University later this month.

Examples of numerous types of print-making techniques are showcased in the exhibition, including etchings, screenprints, lithographs, mezzotints, monoprints and the latest digital printing technology.

One of the most notable inclusions, being exhibited in public for the first time in Dundee, is a recent acquisition for the University, Arch 2 (Winter) by Susan Derges. One of the most acclaimed photographic printmakers working today, the Dartmoor-based artist Susan Derges makes stunning photographic imagery without using a camera. The large-scale work was purchased thanks to a grant from the Art Fund, as part of an on-going project to build a collection of art inspired by D’Arcy Thompson, the University’s first Professor of Biology.

Among the many other artists whose work can be seen in the exhibition are Joan Miro, John Piper, Stewart Carmichael, Eduardo Paolozzi, Elizabeth Blackadder, John Bellany, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Toby Paterson, as well as recent Dundee graduates such as Madeline MacKay, Ashley Nieuwenhuizen and Camila Richardson.


The exhibition can be seen in the main foyer of the Dalhousie Building, the first floor mezzanine area and the ground floor and first floor block 2 corridors. It is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and is on show until 27 September. Admission is free.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Roseangle traffic speed concerns

In the Roseangle area, there are two homes for adults with learning disabilities.    I have received concerns about the speed of some vehicles in the street from one of the homes:

"Our residents ... are really concerned about the speed of some cars on Roseangle as are ourselves.   As you know many of our residents are elderly and are slower at getting around.   To go to their daytime activities they have to cross Roseangle to get the bus.   They also like to go out for walks,to the shops etc.   They are very anxious about crossing as some cars speed.    I witnessed a car doing more than 40 mph tonight.  Anyone walking onto the road wouldn't stand a chance - there was no way this driver would be able to stop in time."

I contacted the City Council requesting a vehicle speed/safety survey and the Head of Transportation has now updated me as follows:

"I will request that Roseangle is added to the speed survey list and there is currently an approximate 8 - 10 week waiting period.

We will report back the findings once they are available."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

City Council committee meetings

After my two Monday weekly ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and the West Park Centre yesterday afternoon, I then attended Dundee City Council committee meetings at which:

Education Committee :    I asked a question about the financial close of the Harris Academy rebuilding project.   One of the teacher representatives on the committee raised a number of concerns about the decant building in Lawton Road and the Director of Education gave a commitment to thoroughly investigate these.   I have since written to the Director in that regard.

Environment Committee :    It was pleasing to note the committee's unanimous approval of a £10 000 contribution towards the playpark campaign.   As Secretary of Friends of Magdalen Green, I was required to declare a non-financial interest and not take part in the discussion.

City Development Committee :   I welcomed the site planning brief consultation outcome relative to Queen Victoria Works and Regent Works that lie to the north of Brook Street but also asked about progress relative to other West End Ward derelict buildings and the council's actions to have them brought back into productive use.   I also asked about the coastal flood study proposals relative to the Riverside area.

Policy and Resources Committee :   I was pleased that the City Council unanimously agreed to change the recycling arrangements at both Riverside and Baldovie to henceforth allow all types of recycling at both sites and asked the Director of Environment how quickly this could take place.    He gave me an assurance that this would hopefully take place within the next fortnight once transportation arrangements were in hand.

Blackness Road (Hawkhill to Bellfield Street) – Carriageway Resurface

From the City Council :

"I wish to notify you that work is programmed to commence at the above location on Monday 2 September 2013, and will last for approximately 10 days.  The Contractor for the works is Tayside Contracts.

In the interest of public safety, a road closure will be implemented and through traffic will be diverted via Hawkhill, Bellfield Street and reverse, in addition local diversions will be in place for residential areas.

Vehicular access will be maintained to residents/businesses, although we ask for vehicular traffic movements to be kept to a minimum, and some minor delays may be encountered during some phases of the works. No on-street parking will be allowed on the section of carriageway being worked on.

Please accept my apologies for any disruption these works may cause. I am sure that you will understand that major road maintenance work is unavoidable and necessitates a degree of inconvenience to road users.

Please note that pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained throughout the works.

If you have any queries regarding this matter, please contact the Roads Maintenance Partnership by telephoning 434000."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Replacement polling station for the Cultural Quarter and University of Dundee Campus

I have welcomed progress towards finding a replacement polling station for the residents of the Cultural Quarter and the many University of Dundee students who live on the university campus, following the closure of the former Park Place Primary School.

Park Place Primary School relocated last year to the new West End Primary Schools’ Campus as the newly named Victoria Park Primary School, where it is sited alongside St Joseph’s Primary School and Balgay Hill Nursery School.      The nursery also moved from Park Place, but it was the former primary school building in Park Place that was used for many years as a polling station.

When the school was relocated, this resulted in the need to look for a new polling station.     The council is now looking at using Dundee University Students’ Association’s premises in Balfour Place, just off Old Hawkhill.   

I think this is a really good proposal, as it is close to residential housing in West Port, Palais Court, South Tay Street and surrounding streets but it is also in the heart of the university campus and I hope this will encourage a good turnout of students as well as local residents in future elections, including the European Parliament election and the Independence Referendum next year.

A City Council electoral registration officer has advised me:

“We met with DUSA a few weeks ago and will be recommending we use the Union.    We will also be recommending changing the Polling District boundary to take in halls at Hawkhill and Seabraes.    With the assistance of DUSA we hope to increase registration levels and turnout.     Ward members will be sent details of all our proposals in the next week or so and the formal statutory consultation starts on 1 Oct with the final report to the Council in January.”

Riverside smell concerns

Last week, I received a number of complaints from residents who live to the immediate north of the Riverside recycling centre and composting operation about the extent of the bad smell coming from the operation.    As one resident put it last Thursday:

"I am appalled at the foul extremely offensive smell I was greeted with this morning on arriving home.
It was the same offensive smell that greeted me on opening the back door before 8am on Monday morning of this week. It is becoming so bad  am sure environmental health may agree it is detrimental to health.  I am finding even the washing I have put out comes in with the smell and I have to wash again (only when the smell is evident). This situation is intolerable and I hope this can be resolved not just for this year but for the future."

A senior member of the City Council's Environment Department has since updated me as follows:

" ... the team on the compost site have been turning windrows this week, and it is likely there has been a smell as a result of this process. Although they check the airport windsock and will attempt to gear the operations around the wind direction, this can change quickly over the course of a day/week.   Unfortunately once the process starts they need to continue.   They are due to finish windrow turning tomorrow, so next week will be carrying out general maintenance on the site, followed by shredding and further windrow turning the week after, so the position will improve.    Unfortunately I can't think of any changes we can take take to eradicate the smell, but do try to minimise it where possible."

This response was also received last Thursday, so this week the situation should be much improved but I am keeping a close eye on the situation in the coming weeks.   Clearly the council has to take care (in terms of wind direction) before any windrow turning works take place.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

North East Scotland LibDem Committee meeting

Today, alongside Liberal Democrat colleagues from across the North East Scotland region, I attended the latest meeting of our regional committee that took place in a sunny Aberdeen.

Kris Chapman, regional committee Chair, has stepped down as Chair following his recent appointment as the party's Campaigns Officer for Scotland, and I was delighted that Craig Duncan, Convener of the Dundee Liberal Democrat local party, was elected as the new Chair.

Kris is a great addition to the party's secretariat in Scotland as we move towards the European election and the referendum next year, and Craig will be an excellent and enthusiastic Chair of our NE regional committee.

Pictured below are Kris (left) and Craig (right) after the meeting:

Roseangle Play Park Campaign - 2014 Calendar Photographic Competition


The campaign is launching a photo competition to create its 2014 Calendar:


In the spirit of community, we are inviting six professional photographers to submit pieces for the calendar and six of the photographs will be chosen from entries received as part of the competition.   Each of the six competition winners will receive the choice of either a six month subscription to Digital Photo Magazine or six copies of the 2014 Magdalen Green Calendar.

Your photo cannot have won other competitions, as we are striving for originality.     Photos must be taken in Magdalen Green (including Roseangle Play Park) and you can send in up to two photographs.

HOW TO ENTER   :   Write your name, address and daytime and evening phone number on the reverse of each photo with a note of where and when your photo was taken and please include a title.

Entries should be sent or delivered to – Friends of Magdalen Green, c/o Blackness Community Library, 225 Perth Road, Dundee DD2 1EJ.


The competition closes at midday on Saturday 14th September 2013.    Entries after the closing date will not be counted and entries cannot be returned.

To read the full terms and conditions please click here.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Recycling - Tullideph Road

I recently had a request from residents in Tullideph Road for an extension of the "green box" household recycling facility.    I raised this with the City Council and have been advised:

'At the time of the green box trial introduction, a range of kerbside-serviced property types were to be included on the trial to assess service suitability\usage etc and as a result, not all streets within discrete areas were included. Also, streets with a high number of flatted properties were left off routes at that time, as the kerbside green boxes were not deemed suitable for communal dwellings. These factors explain why it appears that Tullideph Road has been missed out, with the other streets around it included.

We have no immediate route extension plans - a number of factors for future waste & recycling service introductions\extensions are currently under review, as you are probably aware. We will be determining the most appropriate services for different property types and will obviously communicate with members regarding these factors.'

I am anxious that the review of household recycling facilities that is presently taking place results in a significant improvement of facilities for many West End constituents and I will be keeping a close eye on progress towards this.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Elisabeth Flett : Cappuccino Concert, Saturday 17th August

Elisabeth Flett
Latest news from Friends of Wighton, with thanks to Sheena Wellington:


Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library - Cappuccino Concert

Saturday 17th August,  11am (coffee available from 10.30am)

Elisabeth Flett, violin   : Tickets £5 (includes coffee)                 
Six years after she made her Wighton debut, aged 11, gifted young musician Elisabeth Flett returns to the Wighton on Saturday 17th August, prior to her journey to London's prestigious Guildhall

The daughter of a violin teacher and an amateur viola player, Elisabeth was destined (or doomed!) for a life involved with music. She started playing the piano and violin aged four, and quickly added more instruments to her repertoire. Elisabeth was home educated for fifteen years, which gave her time to expand her musical abilities as well as enjoying hobbies and social activities such as drama, dance, art and creative writing. She studied viola, piano and composition at the Junior section of the Royal Scottish Conservatoire 2006 - 2009 and for the past two years has been attending Dundee College, first as an NQ Theatre Arts student and then as a student on one of the College's Access courses.

Elisabeth has played in an eclectic mix of music groups, including Dundee Symphony Orchestra (viola and violin), St Andrews Baroque Ensemble (violin and recorder), Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra(violin) and a folk group called Three's a Crowd (fiddle, guitar, whistle), and is the leader of the Ferryport String Quartet.

In September 2013 she is heading off to London to study for a BMus in Classical Recorder at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Elisabeth combines Scottish folk music with classical, rock and jazz styles to create a unique sound that will have your toes tapping! She is a dynamic performer and a fresh new talent on the folk scene - we are guaranteed a thoroughly enjoyable hour's entertainment. 

Fundraising for the MS Society's Dundee Branch

On Saturday 24th August, I am helping the fundraising effort for the MS Society's Dundee Branch by taking part in an abseil down the University of Dundee's Tower Building.

I'm extremely grateful to everyone who has already sponsored me and, if I include sponsors who have used the traditional "paper" sponsor forms, as well as those who have sponsored me through my JustGiving page, already £550 has been raised.

If anyone wishes to help the sponsorship effort for the MS Society's Dundee Branch, you can go to my JustGiving page here - many thanks!

Council's climbdown over Riverside recycling restrictions

After months of raising residents' complaints about the restriction on recycling facilities at the Riverside Civic Amenity facility, the City Council administration has finally climbed down over the issue, with the following agenda item being added as an urgent item to next Monday's Policy and Resources Committee:

"10(b) REVIEW OF RECYCLING CENTRES (AN98-2013)

Reference is made to Report No 51-2013 agreed at Policy and Resources Committee on the 14th February, 2013.  The report provided for a reconfiguration of the city’s recycling centres including the closure of the Marchbanks centre in order to achieve revenue savings of £316,000 per annum.  The report also identified restrictions to be placed on the types of materials that can be accepted at the remaining two sites at Baldovie and Riverside and this was based on users taking their materials to the sites where they are processed for recycling and thus achieving savings in handling and transport.

The restrictions on the types of materials accepted at each centre have proven to be very unpopular due to the additional travel distances required, particularly for those living to the east and west ends of the city.  In recognising these public concerns, it is proposed to amend the reconfiguration of the sites to allow green waste to be accepted at Baldovie and mixed waste to be accepted at Riverside.

The changes introduced have to date been successful in achieving the financial savings required.  At the same time there has been no significant impact on recycling levels achieved at the Recycling Centres and in some areas there have been a number of positive improvements. At the same time there has been no adverse impact on the incidents of fly tipping in the city and nor has there been any significant change in the amount of residual waste collected within the grey bins.

The additional costs associated with this change are largely associated with handling and transport costs and are estimated to be £85,000 in a full financial year. The Director of Corporate Services advises that the pro-rata expenditure of £52,000 will be funded from general contingencies in 2013/2014 with provision to be made in future years’ revenue budgets.

Committee is asked to approve this amendment."

Over the past four and a half months, I have been inundated with complaints from constituents about the fact that bulky items and mixed waste was no longer being accepted at Riverside and, whilst the council administration has been very slow to respond to public concerns, I am pleased that, at last, common sense has finally prevailed.

Thursday meetings

Last night, my weekly ward surgeries resumed at Blackness Primary School after the school summer break.   You can get details of all my weekly surgeries here, including the new location (West Park Centre each Monday during school term time).

After yesterday's surgery, I attended the August meeting of the West End Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP) that took place at the Tartan Coffee House on Perth Road.    The LCPP brings together West End councillors and representatives from the council, other public sector bodies, voluntary/communitiy group representatives and the third sector - all of whom work in or live in and have an interest in the West End.

There was a presentation by Gill Bain about the possibility of a West End Timebank (see article on this immediately below), and also an update on the current consultation on Dundee's housing allocation policy).   We also had a useful discussion on a number of West End issues, notably on derelict buildings in parts of the ward, an issue have I campaigned for progress on for a considerable period.

I made clear my view that the City Council must do all it can to tackle this issue and bring empty properties back into a positive use.

The LCPP also discussed how it can better promote its activities with the people of the West End.   With the impending completion of the improvement works at Blackness Library that, for the first time, make the upstairs meeting facilities accessible to people with mobility difficulties, future LCPP meetings will take place there, the next quarter's one taking place on Thursday 21st November.

Timebanking in the West End - planning meeting

Further to my article last month about the possible timebanking project in the West End, an informal discussion meeting is now planned for 23rd August at the Volunteer Centre at 10 Constitution Road.

The focus of the discussion will be about:

Timebanking and how it could work in the West End.

Getting older people in the area together to discuss how they can be involved in their local area.

Please let me know if you are interested in taking part (timebank@frasermacpherson.org.uk) and I'll pass on your interest to Gill Bain, Timebank Development Officer - many thanks.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Perth Road/Nethergate road resurfacing

Further to the current roadworks on Perth Road east of Roseangle and Nethergate west of South Tay Street (see photo right), I have received the following update from the Roads Maintenance Partnership this morning:

"Works are still pretty well on programme although we suffered a slight delay yesterday and could not complete the resurfacing of the Roseangle junction as planned due to the number of vehicles requiring access which was far greater than anticipated.

Surfacing works are programmed to complete tomorrow with road markings being applied on Saturday although currently the weather forecast is not encouraging and therefore rain may delays completion of the works till Monday."

Last couple of days ...

Over the past couple of days I have had a number of useful meetings regarding West End issues, including speaking with constituents on a number of local matters.

On Tuesday morning, I had a very useful discussion on local policing matters with Inspector Alistair Black of Police Scotland, our local police inspector.   I also met with Iain MacKinnon, the new President of Dundee University Students' Association and thereafter, along with Angela Mehlert, the Chair of the Friends of Magdalen Green, I met with Dr David Rodley of the University of Dundee's School of Engineering, Physics and Maths, together with four students.   The purpose of the latter meeting was to discuss progress with the renewable energy lighting project at Magdalen Green, and it was good to learn about progress towards this being installed, hopefully towards the end of 2013/early 2014.

The Friends' Committee met later on Tuesday and Angela and I were able to update the committee on the lighting project progress.    In a very positive committee meeting, we discussed progress with the Roseangle Playpark Campaign, including the upcoming orienteering event and the photographic competition.   We also agreed that the Friends of Magdalen Green event as part of West End Christmas Fortnight will be a Soup and Pudding Lunch at Dundee West Church on Saturday 7th December.  More details to follow!

Yesterday, I had a very worthwhile meeting with a constituent and her family members along with Valerie Busher, Community Fundraising Development Manager at Maggie's Centre.   The issue is the access to Maggie's Centre from Ninewells Hospital for those travelling on foot, particularly for patients and those with mobility difficulties and we discussed matters like improved signage and promotion of the hospital's mini-bus service.   I'm very grateful to Valerie for the time she spent with us yesterday and she is kindly progressing the issues with NHS Tayside.

Last night, I attended the Harris Academy Parent Council Annual General Meeting, the first meeting the Parent Council has held in the Lawton Road site.   It was an extremely well-attended AGM at which Mandy Trickett was elected the new Chair and Lesley Teviotdale was elected the new Vice Chair.   Graham McKay, the retiring Chair was thanked for all his work as Chair.    Harris Academy opens this morning for the first time at its decant site in Lawton Road and I was able to update parents on the bus transport situation.    We had a tour of the school after the meeting and thanks go to all the staff who have put in a huge effort to get the building ready for the 1000+ pupils who will return to school today.

'Discovery Walk' Proposal

I was recently contacted by local resident Kelly Marr who has made what is, in my view, an excellent proposal for Dundee Waterfront.

To quote Kelly:

"My suggestion for the development of Dundee’s Waterfront is a sequence of manhole covers that can be referred to as “Discovery Walk”, similar to the “Writers' Walk” in Sydney’s Circular Quay.

The main difference with Discovery Walk is that rather than focusing on writers, it would be acknowledging famous Dundonians and Dundee’s contributions in the Arts, Sciences, Literature, Politics, and so forth. Obvious suggestions could be Brian Cox, Admiral Duncan, and Mary Slessor.

While I am by no means technically minded, my understanding is that it is also possible to have microchips in or near the manhole covers that allow for one to download an App, giving them more detailed information on the person as they walk over the manhole cover. 

From a planning point of view, it is simply a case of having a lengthy series of standard manhole covers that one by one will be replaced with personalised dedications, which means that it does not require that costly process of digging up pavements when an addition is made.


As an Australian who has lived in Dundee for 17 years, I often find the Dundee sometimes fails to publicly acknowledge the vast contributions that the city has made, and feel that Discovery Walk would go a long way to remedying this."

Having visited Sydney's 'Writers' Walk", I am very impressed with this idea for our city along the lines Kelly suggests - a photo of a plaque from Sydney is pictured (above right).   Kelly and I have met with the City Council's Public Art Officer, who is supportive of the idea.

Kelly has now arranged a meeting at the University of Dundee with a number of stakeholders.   This will take place next month and if any resident is interested in attending, or has any views about this proposal, please contact me at discoverywalk@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Midsummer Fete at the Vine


In aid of ABR Scotland - bringing new hope to children and young adults with cerebral palsy and other brain injuries.

Saturday 24th August from 7pm - only £1 entry (under 5s free).

Roll up roll up for ...  live music/ luxury raffle/ face painting/ transfer tattoos/ vintage clothing £3 sale/ lemonade stand/ massive cake and candy stalls/ bottle ,bear and gift tombolas/ the best games & crazy good prizes/ tasty BBQ/ drinks bar/ special Starbucks stall and so much more!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Harris Academy duplicate buses this week - a sensible way forward

Dundee pupils go back to school at the start of the new term today, but pupils of Harris Academy have two more days' holiday to allow staff to finalise preparations for the opening of the temporary facility at Lawton Road, so, on Thursday, Harris pupils will set off to the new Lawton Road school site at the start of the new term there.

I have previously updated residents about the busing arrangements for pupils.   However, back in June, at the request of parents, I raised the following concern with senior officers at the City Council (I have abridged the content as it was rather lengthy) :

"Following Harris Academy issuing its pack regarding the decant to all pupils to take home ... I have had a steady stream of concerns expressed about the 11S and 12S arrangements.   

As I alluded to at the Project Board, the concern is that, as the 11S and 12S are by far the best route (ie most direct and no need to change bus in the city centre) for pupils from the West End getting to Lawton Road, the potential for pupils not getting on down the route is real.    

(Parents) expressed concern at the advice not to wait for the “school bus” but to set off earlier using service buses – one, for example,  feels his daughter is sufficiently young that she would struggle with and be stressed by negotiating bus changes (presumably 5 to city centre then 1A or similar to Lawton Road area) in a bus city centre and he is naturally concerned that if she waits for the 12S (the school bus that is nearest to home) she may not get on it as it may be full that far east of the start of the route.     I note that at the project board a commitment was given to have a staff member on each “S” buses at the start of term to see that all runs smoothly, but what actually can a staff member do if the bus is full and a child is left behind?     I’m particularly concerned for pupils trying to alight in streets like Brook Street or Milnbank Road where there is no service bus that runs anywhere near to Lawton Road.   

He and other parents are asking the same question I asked at the Project Board – why is there not a “duplicate” service even for the first few days to see the extent of actual demand?    Better that than pupils left stranded at bus stops surely?    I do not buy the argument at all that if a duplicate was provided at the start there would be an expectation of running this long-term.   If demand settles down to less than a bus-full, the duplicate can simply be take off.

I would ask that a re-think on this is undertaken."

After a fair bit of correspondence between myself and officers, I am pleased to say that the Head of Transportation has now advised:

" ... we have arranged for additional vehicles to be available on Thursday and Friday as a contingency.  Pupils making their way to Harris Academy at Lawton Road should follow the advice issued in June 2013.

The transport operation will be assessed on Friday.

We have resourced two additional vehicles to cover both routes."

I am pleased that there will be a temporary duplicate service on both the 11S and 12S on Thursday and Friday so that, at the end of this week, it can be assessed where or not having just one 11S and one 12S service is sufficient.    I have asked to be updated on the situation after the end of this school week.

Dundee City Council meetings

Last night saw the first City Council committees take place following the end of the council's summer recess.

At the Development Management Committee, there were two very positive - and unanimous - decisions - the approval of the V&A building at its slightly revised location and the approval of the new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the rail line at Seabraes.

There were, however, two applications I had concerns about and I attempted to move refusal of both.   Firstly, an application for a licensed off-sales shop in City Road had resulted in twenty valid letters of objection and two petitions against (with 29 signatures in total).   I moved refusal on the following grounds:

"Development Management Committee – Monday 12th August 2013
Item 1 – 116-118 City Road, Dundee, DD2 2PW   (13/00318/FULL)

The proposal is contrary to Policy 1 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 as it is considered that the use of the premises as a licensed off sales shop would have an adverse impact on the environmental quality enjoyed by local residents because of potential noise disturbance and litter from the site and increase in parking and traffic movements.

There are no material considerations that would justify approval of the proposal contrary to the development plan.

Cllr Fraser Macpherson"

The vote was close but unfortunately I lost 13-11 (with one abstention).   The decision means that the unit can be converted into retail use but it would still require an alcohol licence and the Licensing Board will have to give that matter consideration should a licensing application come forward at a future date.

The other application I had concerns about was for an external cash machine on the front of the supermarket at 306 Perth Road.    Although the applicant applied for planning permission on 30th May, he went ahead and installed it without permission on 14th June, and we have already seen an increase in bad parking (such as parking on waiting restrictions and bumping up on the pavement) at this location.    There are already a number of other ATMs in this part of Perth Road (and the supermarket itself already had an ATM inside the shop).    I moved refusal on the following grounds:

"Development Management Committee – Monday 12th August 2013
Item 7 – 306 Perth Road, Dundee, DD2 1AU   (13/00312/FULL)

The installation of an ATM on the front elevation of this property fails to meet the requirements of Policy 1 (Vibrant and Sustainable Communities) of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 as it encourages very short-stay parking of vehicles adjacent to the site to the detriment of traffic safety, pedestrian safety and the free flow of vehicles in this location which is subject to periodic traffic congestion. 
There are no material considerations that would justify the approval of planning permission.

Cllr Fraser Macpherson"

Again, a close vote but unfortunately I lost 14-11.     There will be a real need for parking enforcement by City Council officers and the police here in the future to prevent parking on the pavement and congestion caused by parking on waiting restrictions.

At the Policy and Resources Committee, I asked a question of the local senior officer of the Fire and Rescue Service regarding the number of erroneous fire signal calls from non-domestic properties in the city and how these might be reduced in the future.

I also asked Police Scotland representatives about the intended expanded role for Community Police Officers.    We were advised by a police representative that the number of community police officers in local communities in Dundee will be increased but they will be given additional tasks.   Whilst the increase in the number of officers is to be welcomed, I questioned the type of additional work they will undertake and was given examples including road policing and dealing with domestic violence incidents.   Crucially, assurances were given that the community-based role of officers will continue.

In the West End, we are lucky to have excellent community police officers who have excellent local knowledge.   I am meeting our local police inspector for the West End and Lochee today to discuss the local policing changes in more detail.