Monday, March 31, 2014

Great news for the Roseangle Playpark Campaign! @RoseanglePark

It has just been announced that the Friends of Magdalen Green's Roseangle Playpark Campaign has been awarded £62 252 from the Scottish Government's Active Places Fund.

This substantial award, added to funding already secured, including £10 000 from Dundee City Council, will ensure that the much-needed improvements at the playpark can become a reality.

The commitment and hard work by the campaign - and Sharon Dickie and Alice La Rooy in particular - has been superb and this latest funding success is great news for the whole community.

Tay Estuary Forum Annual Conference 2014 @WestParkDundee

You can download the booking form here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Latest Friends of Wighton update

From Sheena Wellington:

Friends of Wighton's Lunchtime Recital on Wednesday April 2nd at 1.15pm will feature John Bagnall (English Concertina and Octave Mandolin) and Paul Blackburn (D/G Melodeon), with Ruth Blackburn (Recorders and Fiddle).

John and Paul have been playing together for over 20 years and share an interest in traditional music from old sources, such as the country dance music books published by Playford, Walsh and many others from several countries.    They will be playing a selection of their favourite tunes, mostly dance music and airs from the last 400 years, some of which are in the Wighton collection.    There may also be some fairly new tunes written in traditional styles.

Paul plays a French Saltarelle 2-row melodeon in D and G and John plays English concertinas by Wheatstone and Lachenal.

The recital begins at 1.15pm in the Wighton Heritage Centre at the Central Library.   Admission is free (donations welcome).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cabinet of Curiosity - an update

Further to my recent update about “Cabinet of Curiosity” - an exhibition of highlights from the Tayside Medical History Museum's collections – here’s a further update from the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee :

"Our new exhibition in the Lamb Gallery, “Cabinet of Curiosity, provides a rare chance to see some of the fascinating instruments, equipment and curiosities from the Tayside Medical History Museum on display outwith Ninewells Hospital. From gruesome surgical tools to early plant medicines and from Victorian x-rays to 1960s nurses, the exhibition reveals the story of Dundee’s ground-breaking role in medical history.

On Thursday 3rd April at 1pm there will be an informal guided tour of the exhibition by retired GP and Tayside Medical History Museum volunteer Dr Jim McKellican - all are welcome and there is no need to book."

Spring in the West End!

Many thanks go to Dr Ann Prescott for the photo below of the daffodils the Bonnie Dundee group has planted at Sinderins - and they have also planted white primroses in front of Blackness Library!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Welcome for proposed pavement improvements in coming year

I have today welcomed news that, as part of the Unadopted Footways Upgrade Programme, a number of streets in the West End area will be brought up to good standard and adopted by the City Council over the next year.

These include Seymour Street, Hazel Drive (east footway), Arnhall Drive and Farington Terrace.    

These improvements are to be welcomed and will see more of the very poor pavements in the West End finally brought up to standard.   Back in 2007, I asked the council to improve funding to tackle this problem of really poor unadopted pavements and this was agreed – an increase from £200 000 per annum to £500 000 per annum.   This has made a huge difference in terms of tackling the issue.

There will be further progress in future years and it is good to see real progress on tackling the outstanding poor-conditioned pavements.

Exhibition of paintings at the Parrot Cafe


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bus changes in the West End - more information to follow ...

With thanks to Suzy Scott of dundeebuses.info for the update, I understand that there will be some changes to the National Express Dundee services from 5th May 2014 that will improve bus access along the Perth Road area, with changes to service 5 and a new X5.

There will also be changes to other services in the West End including the Outer Circle services and the 14 (service is largely not in the West End but includes the Technology Park), 17, 22 and 51 services.

New timetables and full details will be on www.dundeebuses.info from the evening of Monday 31st March 2014, once details are published by the Traffic Commissioners.

Monday, March 24, 2014

West End Events : Dundee University Students' Association Wednesday Cleanups

DUSA is having a further Wednesday Cleanup this Wednesday to pick up litter from campus.   Volunteers are gathering at the Campus Green area in front of the Union.

There is free soup provided for the people participating in the litter picking up.   Prizes for the most collected litter and the most unusual object which is found during the day.    Litter bags are provided.   Just turn up if you can help.   

The prizes of these cleanup are provided by DUSA and Estates and Buildings. They include tickets to The Union on the Saturday of the week.

If you wish, you can sign up in advance on the event's Facebook page here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

West End Events : Dundee Art Society's Spring Exhibition

The Dundee Art Society's Spring Exhibition of members' work is running until next Saturday (each day 11am to 5pm).

It takes place at the Society's Roseangle Gallery - a map to the venue is available at http://goo.gl/maps/w3OMf.

See poster below:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cabinet of Curiosity

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

The latest exhibition in the Lamb Gallery in the University’s Tower Building features highlights from an outstanding medical collection. 

Based at Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, the Tayside Medical History Museum has one of the finest collections in Scotland, including material from Dundee Royal Infirmary, Royal Dundee Liff Hospital, Ninewells Hospital and Sunnyside Hospital among others. The museum opened in 1989 but is currently closed for redevelopment as part of the on-going refurbishment of the School of Medicine. We intend to create a new version of the museum outside the Gannochy lecture theatre at Ninewells, but in meantime, we’re taking the opportunity to get some of the museum’s fascinating material out on show for a wider audience.

Dundee’s more recent medical heroes (such as Sir Alfred Cuschieri and Sir James Black) are well-known, as is the city’s leading role in cancer and diabetes research. The collections on show in this exhibition reveal a much longer history of medical breakthroughs and pioneering treatment. For example, Dundee’s first dedicated cancer research centre was founded as long ago as 1906 thanks to funding from Sir James Caird, with Dr Archibald Leitch appointed as the city’s first cancer specialist.

Other stories include Dundee’s pioneering role in x-ray experiments, which began within months of their discovery in Germany. At Dundee Royal Infirmary, Dr George Pirie undertook numerous experiments, repeatedly x-raying his own hands unaware of the dangers. A bottle of mustard oil featured in the exhibition was used by Pirie to rub on his hands to soothe the pain, but eventually both hands had to be amputated. 

More recently, the exhibition also highlights the ground-breaking research of Dr James Riley, whose work in Dundee demonstrated that the mast cell granule was the major source of histamine in the body, revolutionising the understanding of inflammatory and allergic reactions. Riley's research made him an internationally respected authority, and his original lab equipment is included in the exhibition.

As well as stories of breakthrough discoveries, the exhibition features a wealth of everyday objects from local hospitals and pharmacists, from a 1960s nurse's uniform to an Edwardian necklace that supposedly cured asthma.

The exhibition will be on show until 20th May, Monday to Friday 09.30-20.30 and Saturday 09.30-16.30. Click here to find out more about the Tayside Medical History Museum and its collections.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dundee Partnership - West End Quarterly Update

As part of the local community planning partnership (LCPP) arrangements across the city, council communities officers produce a quarterly e-mail update on activities and in their LCPP area (there are eight of them across Dundee, each covering a council ward).

The West End one is produced by Natalie Mackland, our excellent communities officer, with input from various organisations and the March 2014 one has just been published.

This can be downloaded from the Dundee Partnership website here (along with previous editions from 2013).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On Wave 102 News - free public wi-fi for Dundee

I was on Wave 102 News yesterday about my call for free public wi-fi for Dundee.

You can listen to the interview by clicking 'play' below:

Sally Garden returns to the Wighton Heritage Centre this Saturday

Dr Sally Garden
From Sheena Wellington:

Friends of Wighton Cappuccino Concert this Saturday - 22nd March - at 11am.  (Doors open, coffee available from 10.30am).

Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library.

Dr Sally Garden, the former Historical Musician in Residence at the Wighton Heritage Centre returns with a fascinating illustrated talk:

Mine's a 'double tonic'! - native tradition and the making of Scotland's art music.

The story of how Dvorak, Sibelius, Grieg, and the composers of the 'national romantic', took interest in their native folk music is well known.    But what about Scotland's big story? 

Musician and writer Dr Sally Garden reveals the surprising and inspirational role of national tradition in the making of Scotland's art music. 

Tickets :  £5 at the door.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Free public wi-fi for Dundee?

Recent news that free public wi-fi will be available in Glasgow’s streets and public spaces from the start of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and that Edinburgh city centre could have free open-air wi-fi as early as this summer, has highlighted the need for Dundee to have a similar offering as soon as possible.

As town and city wireless internet access becomes more common, more and more across the world are setting up free town/city centre wi-fi hotspots for their citizens and visitors and its something I am very keen to see implemented in Dundee.    Many cities are discovering it's a good way to attract more visitors.   Already local businesses from coffee shops, hotels and restaurants, churches and bars are among the locations discovering the value of offering free wireless but a city centre wide wi-fi facility would be a boon for our city.

In addition, a free wi-fi city centre zone can be set up so that a 'landing page' is seen by everyone who begins to use the free zone.   Such a landing page can have lots of local information for visitors such as a calendar of local events and activities, a listing of local visitor attractions and other information of interest to visitors, such as nearby restaurants and shopping centres.      A good example of the success of this from a town in Vermont in the USA can be read here.

I raised the need for free public wi-fi for Dundee with the City Council and the Head of Information Technology has responded as follows:

"The Glasgow deployment is funded by a successful bid they made to the UK Technology Strategy Board in January 2013. The funding was for a Smart City Initiative.   The £24m bid also included development of a control room and smart CCTV and lighting.    Dundee made a bid, reached the short-leet stage, but were unsuccessful. 

Edinburgh's wi-fi deployment is a result of an earlier funding award from the UK Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) for large-city broadband deployment.   For information, Aberdeen was subsequently successful in a similar DCMS bid for medium sized cities in late 2012.     We got to the later stages of this competition as well, but were unsuccessful.    The DCMS competitions were mainly around fixed broadband money being awarded, but winning cities also had to commit to awarding a wi-fi concession.    Although we do not know the reasons why we were not selected for the fixed broadband award, it is suspected that we were unsuccessful due to the high penetration of Broadband infrastructure that is already available in the city (mainly due to our predominantly urban area).    To be clear, this is high % availability of broadband cable in the ground, as opposed to high take-up.

However, we are looking at the business case for further city wi-fi deployment.   I am working with (economic development colleagues) to identify how a deployment could be funded, and what type of deployment would meet city needs.     We have had initial discussions with a consultancy, to determine the business model for wi-fi deployment.     It appears that offering a mobile provider the right to mount equipment on council street furniture, in return for them providing a free wi-fi service is the model that most cities are adopting.    However, there are issue around providers taking up these offers (in a competition) and state-aid issues around the wi-fi service having to be 'throttled-back' so as not to impact on service providers paid 3G/4G offerings."

I have been promised updates on progress with this and hope that the city will be able to move forward a free wi-fi offering in the near future.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On Wave 102 News - bank branch closure in Perth Road

I was on Wave 102 News yesterday about my concerns regarding the proposed closure of the Perth Road Branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

You can listen to the interview by clicking 'play' below:

Proposed pedestrian bridge at Seabraes

Artist's impression of the bridge
Back in 2011, I welcomed use of the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund to create the long-awaited pedestrian bridge from Seabraes to Riverside - something I have long campaigned for.

The bridge project is now progressing and has been generally welcomed as improving the link between Seabraes, Perth Road and the wider West End with Riverside and a number of constituents have asked what it is likely to be named.    They have mentioned some suggestions - Seabraes Bridge, West End Bridge, Michael Marra Way, Riverside Bridge and one even mentioned William Topaz McGonagall Bridge.

I asked the City Council's Director of City Development about this and he has responded :

"Over the past few years, the development of the concept and design has had a working title of Seabraes Bridge and the intention is to formally recognise this and name it Seabraes Bridge upon its completion next year.  The area of the former rail yards now has an established name of Seabraes Yard as part of the wider Dundee Waterfront development, the name 'Seabraes Bridge' will help ensure that there is a psychological linkage from Perth Road through Seabraes Yard and on to the Waterfront at Riverside Drive."

Clearly, the finalised agreed name will require council committee approval in due course but it is useful to know the officers' recommendation and allow residents to give their views.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Royal Bank's response over Perth Road Branch closure criticised

Royal Bank of Scotland Perth Road Branch
I have today slammed what I consider to be a ‘wholly unsatisfactory and complacent response’ from Royal Bank of Scotland to my request that it reconsider its decision to close the Dundee Perth Road Branch on 26th June.

I had written to the bank pointing out that the Perth Road Branch remains a popular branch in a busy shopping centre.   

I pointed out that when the bank closed the student branch on the University of Dundee Campus in Balfour Street in 2012, it committed to maintaining “a presence in the local area” at Perth Road, something it has now conveniently forgotten.   Similar excuses were made when the bank previously closed branches in Lochee High Street and at Ninewells Hospital.

The bank is always quick to point out that customers can use online, telephone and Smartphone banking services but many customers continue to want personal banking at their local branch and its now the case that the Royal Bank, with its fourth branch closure in or around the West End in recent years, it has effectively withdrawn all local branch services to local people.

In response to my request to review the closure decision, Les Matheson, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer for Personal and Business Banking said, 
“We keep our branch network under review to ensure that we are serving our customers effectively.    We aim to be there for our customers where and when they need us.    The number of customers using the Perth Road Branch has been dropping since 2011, as more people use alternative ways of banking with us.   As a result, we have decided to close the branch on 26 June 2014.
Across our whole branch network there has been a 30% drop in branch transactions since 2010.   Conversely, an increasing number of customers are using our telephone and online banking services and our mobile banking app.    We also have an arrangement with the Post Office, which allows customers to withdraw cash, check balances or pay bills free of charge.    When the Perth Road Branch closes our ATM will remain in place, and there is a Post Office within 100 meters.    These alternative options will help to ensure that our customers still have access to services locally. 
We will be investing £700m across the UK over the next three years to improve the way we serve our customers.   Where appropriate this will include branch refurbishments and further investment in digital banking and our ATM network.   As an example, we are also investing heavily in the town centre Dundee Chief Office branch to make it easier to use for all customers in the area.”
It is clear that the Royal Bank’s closure plan is not in the interests of its customers.     The bank is closing branches, yet recently announced plans to pay £588m in bonuses despite suffering an £8.24bn loss in 2013 as it slumped into the red for the sixth successive year.   It seems to forget that the public bailed out the bank when it got into difficulties in 2008/9 but the public interest is far from the bank management’s minds as they continue to close vital local branches.  

The bank really does need to recognise that branches like Perth Road are vital to local communities and should be retained.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Getting things done ... lighting in Elm Street

On behalf of residents, I have raised complaints about a street lighting fault in Elm Street - its been particularly between 16 to 22 Elm Street.

I raised this with the City Council's Street Lighting Partnership who have responded as follows:

"I have checked out the maintenance works on the lighting column No. 4 Elm Street I see from our history that there has been several visits to this column it appears to be an intermittent fault. 

I have had the unit checked today and left on test to try and pinpoint the fault. If this fault occurs again I will have all of the electrics replaced."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge improvement

An improvement at the Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge (that serves the sheltered tenants in Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace) was amongst a number of upgrades that were approved at Housing Committee on 13th January 2014.

The work that is being carried out at Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge involves an upgrade to the toilets, making them fully accessible to those with disabilities.

Work at the sheltered lounge at Morven Terrace started on Tuesday 25th February and is due to complete week ending Friday 21st March.    The lounge remains open during the works as only one WC is affected.

Art for All in the West End


Art for All  : Painting on Tuesday with Liz Dulley at Dundee Art Society’s Roseangle Gallery.

Liz offers advice hints and tips to help improve painting and drawing skills. 

Each week, Liz will demonstrate a technique appropriate for individuals in the class.   Students are then free to work on their own painting or drawing or practice the technique demonstrated.   Individual help is offered throughout the evening.    Liz is a watercolour painter but welcomes any media.

Find out more here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pedestrian safety at Ninewells Avenue/Perth Road roundabout

At the request of residents, I raised concerns about the lack of safe crossing points at the Ninewells Avenue/Perth Road roundabout.

I raised this with the City Council's Network Management Team and have been advised as follows:

"... there (are) no plans to provide a controlled pedestrian crossing at this location but there (are) plans to provide a new footway link across Ninewells Avenue linking Tom MacDonald Avenue to Perth Road complete with drop kerbs.

Due to the level difference between the footway and carriageway on the north side of Ninewells Avenue some further design will be required to provide an acceptable gradient between the existing footway and carriageway.

I will arrange for the scheme for design completion however due to the current budget expenditure and near the end of financial year 2013/2014 these works may have to be constructed in early 2014/2015 financial year."

Great War Dundee Children's Book Prize Competition

Dundee Libraries are working with Cargo Publishing to launch an exciting new book competition.   Could you write a book for children aged 9-12 about Dundee during the Great War?   If so, more information about the competition can be found here.

The winning entry, judged by school children in Dundee, will win £2,500 as well as having their book published by Cargo Publishing.   The deadline for entries is 31st August 2014.

For further information or to receive a pack through the post, please contact bookprize@leisureandculturedundee.com.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Union Place Car Parks - disabled parking

Following residents' concerns about the continuing lack of adequate disabled parking facilities in Union Place (particularly in the south car park), I raised this with the City Council's Head of Transportation who advises:

"I have arranged for a further review on the Union Street Council Car Parks.   The north car park has 18no bays and 1no disabled bay.  Normally the ratio is about 6% for disabled bays so 1no would be appropriate for this car park due to the limited total amount of bays.  I will arrange to continue to monitor this car park and give consideration to an additional disabled bay.  The south car park has approximately 35no bays with no disabled bays but it is likely the north car park would have a higher demand to be closer to the private car park and the shops.

For the 6% availability for disabled bays in the south car park 2-3no bays would be appropriate here and we are now giving this further consideration how best to allocate the spaces."  

ScotlandsPeople launch 1885 Valuation Rolls

ScotlandsPeople is a superb on-line source of original genealogical information.    It is invaluable for anyone researching UK genealogy, Scottish ancestry or for anyone building his or her Scottish family tree.    ScotlandsPeople has almost 90 million records available and a new, additional, resource was added last month with the addition of the Scottish Valuation Rolls for 1885.

These 1885 valuation rolls include the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property.    The named person in the roll is usually the head of the household and, in many cases, occupations are also listed.   Since the rolls list every type of rateable property in Scotland, the records include people from all social classes.

There's fascinating information about the West End in 1885 to be gleaned from this resource and ScotlandsPeople highlights the properties in the West End associated with Sir William Arrol, the civil engineer who planned and supervised the building of the replacement Tay Rail Bridge.   You can read more about Sir William Arrol here and view the valuation roll entry covering the property where he was tenant on ground at Tay Bridge Station owned by the North British Railway Company. The entry also includes the address of "47 Magdalene Green", which would appear to be where the site office for the new Tay Bridge project was based.

You can also view the valuation roll entry for a dwelling house at 24 Strawberrybank, where Arrol was also tenant.    This would most likely have been Arrol’s main residence in Dundee during this time.

ScotlandsPeople is well worth a visit and can be accessed at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Getting things done ... Tullideph Street

Residents have brought to my attention the deteriorating road surface in Tullideph Street near its junction with Tullideph Road.

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

The Warp and Weft of Life

A very interesting exhibition highlight the history of the work and life of the Dundee weaver is taking place the Verdant Works Social History Gallery until Sunday 6th April.  

Titled “The Warp and Weft of Life” it was originally displayed a couple of years ago and the current exhibition is giving the public another chance to view a selection of striking framed images from Dundee Heritage Trust’s superb historic photographic collection.

Dundee Heritage Trust also has an on-line collections database covering Dundee's social, textiles and maritime history that you can access here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Countryside Rangers event at Balgay Hill this Friday!

A Balgay Hill Volunteer Day involving a litter pick will take place this Friday (14th March) from 10.30am to 3.30pm.  

If you can help, please meet at the Mills Observatory and take a packed lunch.

Volunteers from Tesco will be volunteering in the afternoon, which is very welcome.

Getting things done ... Road to lock-ups off Ancrum Drive

Ancrum Drive
Residents have pointed out to me that the private stretch of roadway up to the lock-ups off Ancrum Drive is very badly deteriorated.

I asked the factors on behalf of owners Northern Housing Association if the worst of the potholes can be filled.

The factor's representative has responded positively as follows:

"I am trying to have works authorised and carried out.

Once I know what action we are to take I will let you know.

My thoughts are to fill pot holes, level out the area to stop the rain water running down into the garages."

Support #WWF's #EarthHour on Saturday 29th March @WWFScotland

With WWF's Earth Hour 2014 on Saturday 29th March rapidly approaching, you can read more about Earth Hour in Scotland here.  

Across the world, 150 countries are participating and some some 7 000 towns and cities are taking part.

In Dundee, the floodlighting at the McManus Galleries is switching off for Earth Hour along with lighting at Broughty Ferry Castle.    

Here’s a video about Earth Hour 2014:

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Royal Mail still not listening on mail re-delivery

Back in 2011, Royal Mail closed the well-used and convenient Crichton Street Collection Office, something local residents and I campaigned against, as it means that if residents wish to collect undelivered mail in person at a Royal Mail collection centre, those living in the DD2 area are now covered by the Baird Avenue facility, which is nowhere near the West End and is not well-served by public transport.

At the time, I asked Royal Mail if it would allow West End DD2 residents to collect their items at the far more convenient Edward Street facility, but Royal Mail's position is (and remains) that this facility will deal with DD1 mail only.

I have continued to press Royal Mail to consider a minor concession.   For a fee, residents can have mail redelivered to a local Post Office.   For many DD2 residents, the Perth Road Post Office is an obvious centre given its convenient location in the Perth Road shopping area.      However, by about 50 yards, the Perth Road Post Office is in DD1 and Royal Mail's official position is that it will not to redeliver DD2 mail there (despite the fact that DD2 starts almost across the road at Step Row).   Equally, the Blackness Road Post Office would be a useful redelivery office for many DD2 residents, but again, by the skin of its teeth, it is situated in DD1 (nearby streeets like Abbotsford Place are in DD2).

At the time of the Crichton Street Collection Office closure, Royal Mail's then Scottish Affairs Manager agreed at a West End Community Council meeting to look into the viability of this concession, but Royal Mail has not officially introduced this.

As I continue to get regular complaints from residents about the ridiculously unhelpful approach on mail redeliveries on the part of Royal Mail, I wrote again recently to Royal Mail's Director of External Relations about a review of redirection facilities.   She has now replied as follows:
I am sorry to hear that this matter continues to cause concern.   However, we have no plans to change the current arrangements.  I note your suggestion relating to alternative collection points.
As Perth Road Post Office is outside the DD2 delivery catchment area it is not operationally possible for customers from the DD2 delivery area to collect their items from Perth Road Post Office, which is in the DD1 delivery area.
Customers do not need to pick up parcels if they don’t want to.   Royal Mail offers for items to be redelivered free to their address on a preferred day including Saturdays or to another address n the same post code area.   Royal Mail also uses Delivery to Neighbour where the postman can leave customers items (excluding special delivery items) with a neighbour if this is feasible, unless customer wish to opt out of this service.   Full details of the options are available on our website www.royalmail.com.
Customers in the DD2 postcode have the option of having their item redelivered, for a small fee, to the following Post Office branches for collection:
PO 29 Craigowan Road DD2  4NN
PO Muirhead of Liff DD2  5QN
PO 55 Main Street Invergowrie DD2  5BE
PO Lochee Methven Street DD2  3DD
PO 156 Lochee Road DD2  2LD
PO Longforgan DD2  5EW
Leaving aside the sheer unhelpfulness of Royal Mail's position in not officially allowing DD2 mail to be redirected to convenient Post Offices like Blackness Road and Perth Road, it is rather ironic that the "alternatives" listed above include the Lochee Road Post Office that Post Office Limited closed back in 2008!     Other Post Offices listed above - at Liff, Charleston and Longforgan - are clearly totally inconvenient for West End residents.

Royal Mail really does have to consider a more customer-friendly approach to mail redeliveries - the present situation is highly unsatisfactory and will inevitably continue to result in complaints from residents of the West End.

I see you seeing me see you

German artist Kathrin Sonntag’s first major solo exhibition in Scotland ("I see you seeing me see you") is at the Cooper Gallery at Duncan of Jordanstone until 4th April.    

The exhibition celebrates a small town in Germany famous for inventing the prosthetic glass eye.    It also explores the uneasy visual feedback that arises when our gaze meets its artificial double.    The video below gives a preview of the exhibition:
 
Further details, including gallery opening times, are available here.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Blackness Road replacement bus shelter - an end in sight

Ages ago - around Christmas 2012 - a vehicle badly damaged the bus shelter on the north side of Blackness Road, just east of the Glenagnes Road junction and near to the West End Schools' Campus.

On numerous occasions over a prolonged period, on behalf of residents, I have been in touch with the City Council seeking its replacement.   There has been much correspondence about this as there were a number of design and location issues given the congested site close to the schools' campus.

In January this year, I was advised by the City Development Department :

"The reinstatement of the bus shelter on Blackness Road has been particularly difficult.  The original shelter was knocked down in an RTA around 12 months ago.  An order for a replacement is with the shelter supplier and we had been advised to expect delivery this month.  I am still hopeful that will happen.   

However, the location for the reinstatement of the shelter has caused much discussion within the Transportation Division.   (Given congestion at the footway outside the school at 1515-1525) ... traffic colleagues have advised that reinstating the shelter in exactly the same location is likely to worsen matters.  We have discussed moving the shelter down the road slightly (about 5m) so that it sits within or adjacent to an alcove area ... but a street lighting column and BT access chambers present further difficulties for this option.   I'm hopeful however that these issues will be overcome and we will have a successful outcome in a matter of weeks."

I have since been advised:

"There is quite a lot of work required to install the shelter at this site and repair/improve the footway.   Given the proximity of the site to the new West End campus, the engineer has asked for the work to be actioned during the school holiday in April 2014."

Although it has been a long time coming, I am pleased there appears to be a successful conclusion to this saga and that a new shelter will be in place after the school Easter holidays.

Melt - Exhibition of paintings by the Cechr Artist in Residence Jean Duncan

The Tower Building
Until 29th March, an exhibition of paintings by Jean Duncan, artist in residence at cechr (the University of Dundee's Centre for Environmental Change & Human Resilience), is taking place at the Tower Foyer Gallery, Tower Building (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 8.30pm;   Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm).

Jean recently spent time at the British Geological Survey observatory at Virkisjokull, Iceland, and was funded by a Dundee Visual Arts Awards and BGS to make drawings linked to fieldwork.   The observatory site in south-east Iceland is a base for studying the evolution of the glacier and the surrounding landscape and how both are affected by regional climate.   Sensors at the site are constantly collecting climate and seismic data. Repeated high resolution surveys study how both the glacier and land surface, and the deposits beneath, change over time.

Jean worked alongside scientists who were very familiar with the glacier, and became aware of the changes that occurred daily, recording these in sketches and drawings:   'Spending hours in the same area, looking and looking again at the nature of the ice allowed me to focus on the elements that made up the glacier's landscape, most particularly flow patterns in the melting ice, the supra streams and the river water.'

You can read more about the exhibition here.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Traffic Order : James Black Place

From Dundee City Council regarding a temporary traffic order affecting James Black Place in the Ninewells Hospital grounds:

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 Scottish Water repair works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in James Black Place, Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Sunday 23 March 2014 for 1 day.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.

No alternative route is available.

For further information contact 433082.

Director of City Development
Dundee City Council

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Repainting of historic West End rail bridge

I have, in the past, raised residents' requests that something is done to improve the appearance of the historic rail bridge that crosses the rail line at Riverside Drive, just south of the Botanic Garden (see right).

The bridge is over 100 years old (built in 1903) but has not been repainted in a very long time.   When I asked the City Engineer in 2010 what the cost of repainting both sides of the bridge would be, he estimated the total cost could be as much as £65 000 (this included substantial Network Rail possession costs/interface costs of approximately £20,000 to ensure both sides of the bridge were painted) and in the current challenging financial climate this has proved a very challenging project to find finance for.

One bit of good news happened in the past few months.   As part of other works in the area, Network Rail did a splendid job repainting the railings adjacent to the bridge.

I recently approached Community Payback to see if painting the road side only of the bridge might be a project Community Payback might consider, subject to the City Engineer's Department approving the works and providing appropriate paint.    I am delighted to say that, in principle, both the City Engineer's Department and Community Payback have agreed to progress this.

Whilst this cannot be a full repaint including the rail side, it will provide for an aesthetic enhancement on the road side that is very welcome indeed.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

New West End Community Council website @DundeeWECC

West End Community Council now has a new website at www.dundeewecc.com that will help update West End residents about community council activities, including forthcoming meetings and events, minutes of meetings and other news.   Thanks go to Andrew O'Malley, community council vice-chair, for creating the new site.

The new website also links to a Twitter feed and a Facebook page.

Getting things done ... Road safety at Pinegrove

Residents have highlighted to me a road safety concern at the south exit from Pinegrove that exits onto Shepherd's Loan.

The part of Shepherd's Loan that the slip road exists onto is the one-way only (northwards) at the north end of Shepherd's Loan, but there is no 'one-way only' sign on exit.    Vehicles have been noted by residents exiting south onto Shepherd's Loan in error.

I contacted the City Council's transportation division in City Development about this.    It was pointed out that the east footway of Shepherd's Loan (opposite the exit) is very narrow and a sign there would add to street clutter on an already narrow pavement.    However, an obvious solution would be to place a "one way" sign within Pinegrove itself as drivers exit onto the main road.

Pinegrove is a private road and so I contacted the factors (Graham & Sibbald) about seeking permission to have a sign erected within Pinegrove.   Graham & Sibbald has been extremely co-operative and helpful and consulted householders about the proposal - all are supportive.    Representatives from Graham & Sibbald and the council's transportation division are shortly to meet on-site to agree the "one way" sign's precise location.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden event



Professor Michael Tooley will give a talk on "Gertrude Jekyll and the plants she bred at Munstead Wood." 

Admission is £5 and booking is essential. 

Contact Frances Tait on 665719.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Getting things done ... Riverside Nature Park and Recycling Centre

Some weeks ago, constituents highlighted to me concerns about the lack of road markings at Wright Avenue (the entrance road to the Riverside Nature Park and the Recycling Centre) where the entrance to the recycling centre meets the main road to the Nature Park (to its left) and back to Riverside Avenue (to its right).

Given the significant vehicle movements going in and out of the recycling centre (including large council vehicles), the need for proper road markings was obvious and I asked the council to provide these.    As you can see (below) this work has since been carried out:

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Construction of the Tay Road Bridge - a fascinating film!

Dundee crowds at the bridge opening - 1966
As a member of the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board, I was interested to be advised recently by the Bridge Manager that the Scottish Screen Archive has released an on-line version of a film made in 1967 recording  the construction of the Tay Road Bridge.    

There's a link to this fascinating film on the Board's website and you can access it directly here.     It is in full colour and runs for half an hour.

There are a number of other fascinating videos about the construction of the bridge and its opening ceremony, including this below that has a mix of black and white and colour footage:

Dundee SpringFest 2014 @ddSpringFest

SpringFest is a brand new festival for Dundee in Spring 2014, celebrating music on both a local and national level.   
Running from 5th to 29th March, it features a host of superb concerts including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, lunchtime concerts at the University of Dundee Chaplaincy Centre, Children's Classic Concerts, Dundee Chamber Music - and a whole lot more.

You can read the whole SpringFest programme here.