Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Area around Glamis Road/Drive/Blackness Road roundabout - progress on pedestrian safety improvements

Back in February, I reported that a number of constituents have contacted me about how difficult they find it to get across the road in the area around the Glamis Road/Drive/Blackness Road roundabout.     The City Council's Head of Transportation had responded positively to my request for improvements, stating that a site visit would be undertaken to ascertain the viability of providing a central refuge island and drop kerbs.

The good news is that the Team Leader in Network Management has now advised:
The Engineers have now carried out a site survey for this location and have confirmed the carriageway is greater than 9m wide and therefore a central refuge island can be accommodated.

The island design with drop kerb provision will be carried out for this scheme for inclusion within this year minor works and drop kerb programme.

Progress with V&A at Dundee

Yesterday, along with a number of other councillors and council chief officers, I attended a very informative update from Philip Long, Director of V&A at Dundee, and Sarah Saunders, the project's Head of Learning and Engagement, on the project's progress and the development of learning and engagement activity.

Dundee's V&A Museum of Design is making impressive strides forward and it was good to hear of the initiatives to engage with target audiences, including :

Schools – Onsite and digital programmes and resources for pupils aged 3-18, teachers and trainee teachers – local, national and international; group visits.

Communities – Onsite and digital programmes and resources aimed at local communities and access and health and well-being groups.

Outreach – Local and national projects aimed at a variety of audiences.

Families – Local families with children aged 0-13 and national and international tourists visiting for the weekend or holidays.

Young People – Peer-led programmes for local young people and digital activity that reaches young people across Scotland.

Adults – Informal programmes for all levels of ability including group visits, programmes aimed specifically at creative industries and students, professional programmes and Design-led Business Innovation programmes aimed at businesses.

There is no doubt that Dundee's V&A Museum of Design will be a superb asset to our city and bring many new visitors to Dundee.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

North side of Riverside Drive between Tesco and the rail station

Further to my article last Friday about planned improvements to Riverside Drive west of Tesco, I have received residents' complaints about the unkempt look of the road east of Tesco towards the rail station.   Areas are not properly grassed over and there's a fair bit of litter lying about.

I contacted the council's Director of City Development regarding this and he has advised:

"The City Engineer's Division ... recently asked the Environment Department to provide a quotation to tidy up the area at the West end of the Bus lay-by. 

It is also intended to plant grass and refresh the soft landscaping in this area (see plan above). We have also asked that all rubbish in the area is removed."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Friends of Blackness Primary School

Earlier tonight, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Friends of Blackness (FoB), the group that now covers both Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association activities at Blackness Primary School.

It was a well-attended and very positive meeting at which a number of school activities were discussed, as well as the recent competition to choose a favourite FoB banner that will be displayed outside the school to promote FoB meetings and events.   The banner pictures were drawn by pupils and the winner was the picture with the most ‘likes’ on the FoB Facebook page by Easter Monday and will be announced on the page soon.  

The school will also be launching its new website in the near future.

McCheyne Memorial Church - an update

Over the past few years, on behalf of residents, I have raised concerns about the condition of the former McCheyne Memorial Church on Perth Road - both relative to the grounds and to the building itself.

I recently asked the City Council's Director of City Development for an update about the church and have been advised:
With regard to Planning, the owners of the property previously advised that the Vestry within the Church, which was previously in residential use, was being painted and that they intended to stay there when they visited the area.  I am not aware of any other works within the building that would require an application for change of use.
In terms of public safety, in 2011 the owner was contacted following complaints of delaminating masonry.  The owner advised that an inspection would be undertaken and any further loose material would be removed.  A visual inspection of the property undertaken on 16 April 2014 identified no public safety issues.  However, there are a couple of small panes of glass that are broken on the east elevation and I will write to the owners to request they cover up the holes. I do not consider they have any significant impact on the building being wind and water tight. 
In response, I have asked that Dundee City Council ascertain from the owner that he does intend to make proper use of the building - or what his current intentions are.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Progress with the 'Saltire Card'

Back in October 2012, I called on Dundee City Council to be at the forefront in progressing the Scottish Government’s “Saltire Card” by offering to be a pilot site for the proposed Scottish equivalent of the Oyster Travel Card that has been a huge success for public transport in London.   There is a real need to make public transport as accessible as possible and having a card that passengers can use for travel on trains, different bus operators and other public transport is essential to make travel easier and possibly cheaper.

The council took up the role as lead authority in moving the “Saltire Card” forward and I recently asked council officers for an update on progress.   I was advised as follows by the council's National Entitlement Card Development Manager:
The Bursary Travel Product is now live with Dundee College and has been extended to all students wishing to participate who are in receipt of a travel Bursary as well as for those who would like to purchase the product themselves.   The evaluation was very heartening with the headline being " 90% of students said they are more likely to go to college even if they have no money that day."

The National Express weekly smart ticket is also now available to all citizens via the National Entitlement Card and having an NEC makes it easier for them to sign up to this smart product. The partnership working with National Express continues to grow and we are currently hoping to implement smart travel for Modern Apprentices who are entitled to support for travel to and from work.   Anticipated implementation for this is to coincide with National Modern Apprenticeship Week - 19th May.   We are hoping for a joint launch between the council and National Express.   We continue to work with Stagecoach although there has been little progress with this as yet.
All the above fall within the Smart and Integrated Ticketing Workstream of the Scottish Cities Alliance and Dundee City Council continues to lead this, adding more smart travel projects from the wealth of ideas we have accrued.   Other possibilites of course include Staff Travel as well as schools transport.
As an aside we are also shortlisted for an OSCA for the Bursary Travel Project in the Improving Services through partnership working category.
In response, I indicated that the concept of the Saltire Card  was to allow all citizens to have a Scottish equivalent of something like the Oyster card to enable them to use different modes of public transport (I am thinking primarily of trains and buses) and different transport providers using the same payment card.  

The progress is welcome but it’s a long way short of allowing all citizens to use a card as flexible and useful as the citizens of (for example) London have.    I pointed out the flexibility of these cards in cities across the world - a great example being Melbourne's Myki card, which is very easy for visitors as well as residents to use across various modes of travel.

I thereafter received further clarification as follows:
You are correct that the idea is to use the NEC / Saltire Card are the basis for integrated ticketing across Scotland. Transport Scotland's Smart and Integrated Ticketing Strategy is driving this forward from the main transport objective.

The Cities Alliance Smart and Integrated Ticketing Workstream, which Dundee leads, will be the main deliverer of this and has just approved 4 Project Manager posts to roll out smart travel across the City Regions. It is still some way off yet but the good news is that we have proven here in Dundee that commercial products can be added to the NEC and the partnership working gains strength from using a nationally available smartcard for national travel products. The smart application is there - what needs to come now is the integrated part and that as I say lies within Transport Scotland's accountability.
(Their website) provides more details of their plans.
You will see that Transport Scotland is including the development of a visitor card which will be akin to the Myki Card. That will of course need the basis in place on the NEC before that can come and Transport Scotland's role in that is crucial.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friends of Balgay "Sandwiches and a Blether"

At lunchtime today, I had the pleasure of attending the Spring meeting of Friends of Balgay at the Mills Observatory.

This took the form of "Sandwiches and a Blether" and it is always a good opportunity to catch up with West End folk.

The Friends already have a Summer meeting planned, a litter pick (possibly in August) and the AGM in October will feature Jim Crumley as guest speaker.    More details of these events will be on the Friends' website in due course.

Here's a couple of photographs from today's event :
"Sandwiches and a Blether"
Poster highlighting the early days of Friends of Balgay from 1996

Opening of Dundee Museum of Transport @DMofT

Later this morning, I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Dundee Museum of Transport at Market Mews in Market Street.    Having first met with the Museum of Transport team some three years ago, it was great to see al the plans for a transport museum in the city come to fruition today - and what an impressive museum it is!

The opening weekend continues tomorrow (11am to 4pm) and is well worth a visit.   There are more details on the museum's website and their Facebook page.     And there's also a free vintage bus service from the bus station this weekend to take visitors to the museum.    A couple of photos from my visit this morning:


In memory of Sandy and Kim ...

This morning, a large group of us, including the many dog walkers of Magdalen Green and their dogs, gathered on the green for a short ceremony to mark the planting of a new tree on the green in memory of Sandy Emslie and his dog Kim, who both passed away in April of last year.

Sandy lived in Union Place for many years and spent his entire career with the Post Office, beginning as a telegram boy at the age of 15.   Awarded the Imperial Medal for his dedication, he retired in the mid-1980s and remained an active member of Hillcrest Bowling Club.

Sandy and Kim were very well kent figures on the green over many years and it was fitting that some many local folk were present today to remember them.    Some photos below:



Update on tennis improvements for Victoria Park

At the Victoria Park Tennis Courts
Last year, I welcomed proposals to improve facilities at the Victoria Park Tennis Courts, including a new porous macadam surface.

I recently requested an update on timescale from the City Council's Head of Environmental Management, who advises:

"The current plan is to look at upgrading Victoria after Dawson Park is complete; hence the timescale planned is 2015- 16. 

We have remitted the Engineers to provide indicative cost for removal of the existing surface, it's replacement and new fencing. 

We will make sure that the existing courts are to standard with the summer coming up." 

In Britain, in Europe, in work @scotlibdems @georgelyonmep

Last night's Scottish Liberal Democrat European Election broadcast:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Replacement bus shelter in Blackness Road

Further to my most recent item about on the bus shelter reinstatement at Blackness Road near to the West End Schools' Campus, the City Council today advised me that :

"...  the relocated bus shelter ... is now in situ at Blackness Road opp Peddie Street.  Unfortunately, we still have an issue with the electrics and the lights and real time are currently not in operation. We are working to resolve this."

However, I am assured that the contractors just need to extend the ducting and this should not take too long to achieve.
New bus shelter (with thanks to Dundee City Council for the photograph)

Riverside Drive proposals

This morning, along with my ward colleagues, I had a very useful meeting with City Council officers regarding the council's proposals for improving Riverside Drive (area between Tesco and Riverside Approach - see map above) as part of the overall project to improve access to the area on foot and by bicycle that includes the construction of the new pedestrian bridge over the rail line at Seabraes.

The recent headlines about the project focussed on the proposal to reduce the number of lanes on the road at this point from four to two and we spent some time going through the traffic modelling that has been undertaken to ensure that changing the road layout will not result in increased congestion and tailbacks.

The project is funded through Sustrans and at £850 000 is the largest ever Sustrans-funded project that the City Council has achieved to date.

Key points covered today included :

* The road will be resurfaced - which is good news as it is in a poor, deteriorated condition at present.

* Immediately west of the Tesco roundabout, there will be a toucan crossing (to assist both pedestrians and cyclists) and there will be staging in the middle of the road to assist pedestrian safety.

* Although the road lanes reduce to two, the overall road width remains pretty much the same, allowing a hard strip at the road side so cars can pull in in emergency situations. 

* There will be a left turn lane into Tesco/new flats for vehicles coming from the west.    From the east at the "Tesco roundabout", the right lane will become right turn only into Tesco/the new flats.     A new, wider pavement will be constructed to the east side of the flats as well.   

* There will be a welcome improvement to pavement width on the north side of the road both near to Riverside Approach and just west of Tesco (in front of the new flats being constructed at present).    Green space will be created between the footpath and the road to improve matters for pedestrians walking along the pavement near to this very busy road.

* There will also be a pedestrian crossing just east of Barnetts Motors, west of Riverside Approach.    It is also hoped at a later stage to provide crossings further west - at Riverside Nature Park and immediately south of Harris Academy (once the new school building is open) to allow safe crossing for pupils to the playing fields on the south side.

* There will be cycle stands provided at the Roseangle playpark.

* I was particularly keen to see new pedestrian signage to, in particular, let pedestrians know the route to the Perth Road district shopping centre and this will be progressed.  There will also be temporary "new road layout" road signage once the new road layout is in place.

* Project timescales are start August 2014 (after public consultation and committee approval - no work to commence until after the Commonwealth Games period) with completion by October 2014.     During the work, all efforts will be made to minimise traffic disruption (any road closures should they be necessary will be overnight only).    The Seabraes pedestrian bridge will be completed by April 2015.

There will be consultation with West End Community Council and the West End Local Community Planning Partnership.   Any resident with views or queries about the project is welcome to contact me at riverside@frasermacpherson.org.uk.  

No improved parking facilities at Hunter Street anytime soon

Six years ago, the City Council approved a report to provide a replacement car park in Hunter Street at the edge of the university campus.  As the Planning and Transport Convener of the day, I welcomed this proposal.    

The advantages of improved parking facilities on the campus edge are obvious and the facility would also assist residents in the West Port and wider local area, where parking is difficult.   It would also relieve many West End streets from university-related on-street parking.

Back in 2012, I criticised the current SNP administration for quietly ditching the commitment to build the multi storey car park (MSCP) at Hunter Street, despite the fact it was a decision of the City Council to build it and the SNP group had welcomed the plans when first proposed.

I recently asked the council's Director of City Development for an update on 'progress' and here is his response:

"The situation is unchanged from my previous response in October 2012.  While the Olympia MSCP is experiencing a monthly growth in patronage of 8%, currently there is no viable case for a further MSCP at Hunter Street.

I do not have a set timescale for reviewing this issue.  Basically we need to see how/if parking patronage bounces back as we come out of the recession, if it does and we have a resultant shortage of off-street parking, then we would see if a new MSCP was viable."

I will be continuing to press for the long-promised improved parking facilities at Hunter Street, although it appears clear that there is currently a lack of momentum on this from the City Council and its SNP administration.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dundee Technopole

For some considerable time, much of the area of Dundee Technopole south of Blackness Road, immediately east of Annfield Road, has remained undeveloped.    Residents in the area have queried why this is the case and if the City Council is actively marketing the unused the unoccupied parts of the site.

The City Council's Head of Economic Development advises:

"With the economy now picking up albeit slowly, there has been no firm interest in the sites at the Technopole, though we continue to show it to relevant potential investors. 

The overall demand for land remains low.  There is therefore still no evidence that the use conditions are hampering development and the route of seeking dispensation for any non compliant use that does appear remains valid."


Campaign to save RBS on Perth Road continues


I am on Wave 102 News this morning, continuing the campaign against the Royal Bank of Scotland's decision to close the Perth Road branch of the bank.

I have criticised RBS management for failing to provide customer usage statistics when trying to justify its proposed closure.

When I initially contacted the bank to express concern about the proposed closure, the bank’s response indicated that a key factor in its decision was drop in customer usage of the branch and it cited a 30% reduction in branch transactions since 2010 across its bank network.

However, the branch continues to be very well used by customers in the local community, so I replied asking for details of the actual customer usage at the branch in the past five years.   The bank has since had to admit that customer use at the Perth Road Branch has not fallen in way usage has fallen in other branches.”   

The bank has yet to provide any of the actual details of customer usage at the branch, despite repeated requests to do so.    On 7th April, their Senior Public Affairs Manager said to me:

“I’ll look into it further and come back to you if we can provide more data, but I know we won’t be able to go back over a five year timeline.”
    
There has been a total silence from the bank since then, despite a reminder sent by me.

It is disappointing that the bank's arguments for closure stand up to no scrutiny whatsoever.   RBS simply fails to provide any evidence to support their closure proposal.   Please sign the petition to keep the Perth Road Branch of Royal Bank of Scotland - you can access the petition here.

You can listen to my interview on Wave 102 here:
The news bulletin also carries an item about the opening of Dundee Museum of Transport this coming weekend.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Museum lunchtime talks

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

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the University’s public museum service, and as part of our celebrations we are hosting a regular series of short talks focusing on some of our most interesting and unusual objects. The next event will be on Friday 25th April at 1.15pm and will feature 10 minute talks from curator Matthew Jarron and student volunteers Hannah Vickery and Madeline Dow. 

Hannah’s talk focuses on a narwhal tusk in the Dental School’s unique comparative anatomy collection of animal teeth and jaws.    Madeline looks at a gruesome set of trepanning instruments used in the neurosurgery department at Dundee Royal Infirmary, currently featuring in the Cabinet of Curiosity exhibition in the Lamb Gallery. Finally, to mark World Penguin Day (yes, really!),    Matthew will be discussing two stuffed penguins in the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, one presented by legendary explorer Ernest Shackleton and one recently rediscovered and redisplayed having disappeared from the University for 30 years.

The talks take place in the main Museum Services building, Hawkhill House at 5 Hawkhill Place (just behind Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, next to the tennis courts).   All welcome - no need to book but space is limited so seats will be offered on a first-come first-served basis. 

A further set of talks will take place on Thursday 22nd May.

Western Cemetery cremated remains section

Last year, I reported on progress with the proposal for a cremated remains section in Western Cemetery that the Western Cemetery Association has championed, with support from the City Council.

As there has, as yet, been no interments of sales of the lairs for urns, I asked the City Council's Head of Environmental Management for an update on steps the council is taking to ensure local undertakers are aware of the cremated remains section.   

He has advised me that:

"... we have had our annual meeting with the undertakers and the urn area at the Western was discussed.  So they are aware of the opportunity.  Our Bereavement Section will make a fresh effort to raise this with the undertakers through their regular interaction." 

The council provides details of its bereavement services here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

City Council meetings

After some weeks of illness, I was pleased to be able to attend my Monday surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and West Park Centre yesterday afternoon - and many thanks to colleagues who have covered them in recent weeks.

Thereafter I attended a lengthy evening of council committee meetings.   It was kind of the Lord Provost at the start of the City Council meeting to welcome me back to council meetings and I thanked everyone for their kind concern and good wishes during the time I was ill.

At Education Committee, I welcomed an excellent initiative by the Robertson Scholarship Trust to provide up to 20 annual bursaries to assist senior Dundee pupils moving to university.   Starting in September, these bursaries will provide support to talented young people in the city who may otherwise not have access to sufficient resources to enter higher education.

At Policy and Resources Committee, there was a discussion about welfare reform that would have been a whole lot more productive had the SNP administration's motion not predictably gone on about independence.    I agree with the Labour councillor who made the point that Dundee councillors have a job of work to do in terms of the council's own responsibilities and should be concentrating on this rather than debating and splitting along predictable lines on the referendum issue, which is clearly nothing to do with the role of Dundee City Council.

However, I did express concern at the underspend of some £127 578 in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) in 2013/14.    The council should be redoubling efforts to ensure that DHP budgets are fully spent to assist those most needing them and officers did give assurances about doing all they can to ensure maximum spend.

At the same committee, in a discussion on the council's banking arrangements, I supported a motion from my ward colleague Cllr Richard McCready criticising Royal Bank of Scotland's decision to close Perth Road's branch of the bank.    You can sign my petition against the closure here.

At Environment Committee, on the contentious matter of the SNP administration's proposals to move to fortnightly general waste bin collections, I moved the following amendment:
Item 2:   Improvement and expansion of domestic recycling services
Remove recommendations at 2.2 to 2.5 inclusive.
Add new recommendation :
2.2 Instructs the Director of Environment to bring forward a further report that includes an option that proposes improvements and expansion of the council’s domestic recycling services and also preserves weekly residual waste collections to all households currently receiving these. Such a report to include the detailed costs of each option to be considered for each of the 6 phased areas proposed in Appendix 4.
This would have allowed councillors to fully consider all options - as opposed to "fortnightly general waste collections - take it or leave it" which is Dundee SNP policy.     I lost the vote 15-12, having had the support of all opposition councillors - the SNP members all voted for the fortnightly option.    

Another amendment - by the Labour Group - which would have put any change on hold until there is a public consultation exercise - was also lost by the same margin.    Perhaps it was no surprise that the SNP pushed through the policy before there is any consultation as its clear the public simply don't support what the SNP is doing.   The feedback from constituents is strongly against the ending of the general waste weekly collection.    

I am aware of one referendum that has taken place on this very issue elsewhere in the UK (in Dartford) - 95.3% of residents there voted for the retention of weekly residual waste collections.   If the SNP is so sure its fortnightly policy is so popular, put it to the vote and let the people of Dundee speak.     It is also interesting to note that Dundee SNP did not include fortnightly bin collections in its 2012 council manifesto.

At City Development Committee, after hearing a deputation from Balgay Bowling Club, I asked questions about the proposed tree preservation order (TPO) affecting the Fernbrae Hospital site.    The preservation order itself makes sense - there are some lovely, mature trees on the site - but the bowling club is concerned about specific trees and the boundary wall collapse.   I visited the club at its request last year about this matter and sought assurances last night that the TPO would not prevent a satisfactory resolution of the boundary wall concern.   Having obtained this assurance, the TPO was approved.

Mills Observatory - an update

A number of constituents have expressed concern to me regarding the decision by Leisure and Culture Dundee to close Mills Observatory to normal public opening between April and September, concerns also expressed by a number of organisations and Dundee TV personality Lorraine Kelly.

I therefore raised with Leisure and Culture Dundee a number of questions that constituents had made and their Head of Cultural Services has responded as follows:
Please see below in response to the enquiry that you made.       During this process we had consultation with Staff, trade unions, Mills Observatory Advisory Group and Dundee Astronomical Society.   Further discussion with Friends of Balgay and other interested parties took place.  
a) Dates of the closure - The Mills Observatory will not be closing per se.  During our summer opening period from 1 April to 30 September the Observatory will be open to the public on selected targeted dates with a variety of events and activities.  This is published on the Mills Observatory website and is notified through Facebook postings also.   
b) Where are staff redeployed to? - As part of Cultural Services, Visitor Assistant Team staff work throughout the year at the following venues: The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum, Broughty Castle Museum, and Mills Observatory.  The staff who are generally based at Mills Observatory will work between The McManus and Broughty Castle Museum during the summer opening period, but will be based at the Mills Observatory on the selected dates as published above.   
c) Can groups still book the venue (eg Friends of Balgay) for meetings? - Access to the Observatory can be arranged and dates have been confirmed with the Friends of Balgay following a meeting I had with (them).  They have scheduled meetings taking place on 26 April, 26 July and 18 October.  They have also requested their annual litter pick have access to Mills for practical reasons and once this date is confirmed we can make final arrangements.  
Dundee Astronomical Society have also scheduled their series of meetings over this summer period.  The Mills Observatory remains as a wedding venue for the city and we will continue to take bookings as required.   
d) What events were run in 2013 during the equivalent period and will any similar ones be run at the same period this year? - A total of 26 events, including summer planetarium shows, Dundee Astronomical meetings and children's activities, were delivered April to September 2013 with a total of 30 similar events taking place for this period in 2014.   
e) What were visitor numbers in 2011, 2012 and 2013 in the period that is now to be a closure period? - The visitor numbers are as follows: 
April to September 2011 - 3,976
April to September 2012 - 3,647
April to September 2013 - 3,895 
The focus on our targeting of events during this period will be for specific activities and events indicated in response to question d.  I am hopeful that our targeted programming will be at least on par with previous years.   
In addition to the questions you have asked, it would be useful to note that the Mills Observatory is undergoing a number of upgrades to the fabric of the building and some repairs to the dome itself and we are keen to have a refreshed venue ready for the new season starting 1 October when we carry out 80% of our engagement in the winter period.  
I have asked that Leisure and Culture Dundee closely monitors visitor numbers to ensure there is no drop in this and I would also welcome residents' views on the feedback above.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Victoria Park and Lochee Park improvements

A constituent recently pointed out that the litter bin at Victoria Park (see right), although functional, lacks the aesthetic look of the rather nicer "heritage" style bins in other parks - for example at Roseangle.

I asked the Environment Department about improvements and have been advised :

"... we are putting in a couple of new benches at Lochee Park;  there will also be a bin going in too.   As for Victoria Park there will be a new bin replacing the old basket."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Harris Academy Perth Road site - issues addressed

Road at the Harris site
As residents will recall, I have recently raised road safety issues outside the Harris Academy site in Perth Road during the new school buildings construction period that the City Council and the contractor has been swift to tackle and resolve.

Residents have recently raised some other issues - mud and dirt on the roadway where contractors' vehicles enter and exit the site, the height of speed limit signs and the extent of contractors' staff vehicles parked on West Park Road.

The contractor's Site Manager has sent me the following helpful response:
... we constantly monitor the condition of the roads and footpaths adjacent to the site and organise suitable and appropriate cleaning measures accordingly.  We deploy resources depending on the conditions and operations that we are carrying out which will see road brushes being used several times a day if we are carrying out intensive earthworks operations and during periods of poorer weather conditions which can have an impact but we also deploy road brushes in a more general way when we feel that the road needs a general tidy up.  We also deploy operatives with road brushes and power washers to clean pavements around the site to keep them in good condition when required.  We will continue to monitor the conditions and endeavour to ensure that the adjacent roads and footpaths are kept up to an acceptable standard throughout the project.
The 20mph advisory speed limit signs have been installed in exactly the same location and in fact overlaid onto the existing 20mph signs which would have been installed in line with current signage legislation / guidance.
The issue of parking around a construction site is always a difficult one and we advise our contractors when they are appointed that they must show an appropriate level of consideration for the local residents and road users and to ensure that they avoid parking over driveways, on footpaths, to close to junctions, etc and in this particular case to avoid parking on the Perth Road because it is a main commuter route into Dundee and primary route for ambulances travelling to Ninewells Hospital.
In instances where employees do not adhere to these rules we take measures as necessary to remove vehicles, liaise with our contractors to police their employees parking and in some cases we have consulted with the local traffic wardens to target anyone who is not parking legally.  Unfortunately, like any other employer we are not in a position to prevent people from using the legally provided parking areas that are located around the site and I would ask that we bear in mind that these are simply people travelling to their place of work and parking in legitimate parking spaces as we all do.  We will of course do everything in our power to ensure that the workforce is being responsible in their attitude to parking around the site.

Unadopted pavements - Arnhall Drive

Having raised over a long period, on behalf of residents, the need to upgrade and adopt the very poor pavements in Arnhall Drive - see right - I was pleased to be advised last year that the pavements would be upgraded relatively soon.

I recently asked for an update from the City Engineer on timescale, who has advised:
The unadopted footway works at Arnhall Drive were included in the 2013/14 programme but carried over into 2014/15 programme. Works started on site on 14 April 2014 and are currently ongoing. Work should be completed by early May with the exception of the footways (outside two properties) which will be delayed due to structural issues with the boundary walls at these locations. 
With regard to the 2014/15 upgrade programme (which includes the footpaths at Seymour Street, Hazel Drive (east footway) and Farington Terrace), he also advises me:
The unadopted footway programme for 2014/15 programme is still to be programmed with the required statutory notification letters having just been issued very recently. The programme will be carried out on a phased basis over the approximate period September 2014 to March 2015. 

Happy Easter


Friday, April 18, 2014

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Centre opened in Dundee


It is good to see a  new church initiative being launched earlier this month at St Peter's Free Church Offices, where a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Centre has been opened to serve the whole of the city.

Initially, 4 Churches are combining together to make this happen - St Peter's Free Church; Grace Church (Menzieshill); Hermon Evangelical Church (Hilltown) and Broughty Ferry Baptist Church.

Acting in a voluntary capacity, the local CAP Team will be available to befriend and offer direct practical support to people with debt problems. The primary service is to assist them to manage and overcome their debt burden using the free expert resources of the CAP Financial Teams in Bradford. 

Full details of the work of CAP can be seen here and more information is available by calling 0800 328 0006.

The new service is a great addition to the other services in Dundee that are offering debt help and will complement and enhance the overall provision of assistance available to Dundee folk.   It will also be providing CAP Money Courses to help anybody with budgeting and personal money management.  

Dundee Festival of Volunteering 2014 @DunFestVol2014

I am pleased to say that the West End figures prominently in this year's Festival of Volunteering, including Community Spirit Action Group's litter pick, Time2Give's Coffee Afternoon at Blackness Library, Starter Pack's Open Week (Perth Road) and Bridge FM's Open Evenings at Ninewells Hospital.

You can download the full brochure with all the details here.

On Wave 102 News - Bin Collections

I was on Wave 102 News yesterday following my meeting with the City Council's Environment Director regarding bin collections in the city.

You can listen to the Wave 102 interview by clicking 'play' below:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

West End - planned roads and pavements improvements for 2014/15

The City Engineer has advised me that the following pavement and roads surfacing programmes are planned for the West End in 2014/15 :
The part of Perth Road's pavements being improved is rather difficult to make out from the above map, so the one below clarifies :
It is good to see a number of long-standing poorly conditioned roads and pavements being tackled, although there is much still to be done and the requirement for enhanced capital budgetary provision for roads, as I recently highlighted.

Friends of Balgay Spring Meeting


The next meeting of the Friends of Balgay will be held on Saturday 26th April 2014 from 12.15pm – 2pm in the Mills Observatory. 

This is the Friends' ‘Sandwiches and a Blether’ meeting which is always popular and well attended. 

Please come and feel free to bring a friend.
  
Entrance is free for members and £1 for visitors.


Please note the timing is slightly different from previous years.

Calling Coleman! @dcoleman49

In his capacity as Chair of Dundee Youth Council, Daniel Coleman produces a regular newsletter - "Calling Coleman".  

In the latest edition that you can download here, Daniel kindly promotes the petition to Save the Perth Road Branch of Royal Bank of Scotland.   You can sign this here - nearly 80 local residents have already done so.

Also in this edition, Daniel also kindly wishes me a speedy recovery from my recent illness.   I am pleased to say that I am now sufficiently recovered that I will be able to return to council committee meetings and other activities after the Easter Recess, starting next Monday.   I am very grateful indeed to all who have expressed their good wishes - my many thanks.

On Scotland's Talk In - proposals to change Dundee's bin collections

Last Sunday, I spoke on Tay AM's "Scotland's Talk In" about the City Council's proposals to change Dundee's bin collections, that would see the end of the universal weekly residual waste collections.    You can hear the programme here (13th April edition;  my contribution starts just after 1 hour 18 minutes).   I have since also spoken on Radio Tay News about the issue.

Yesterday, I met with the council's Environment Director to discuss the report on this issue, going to council committee next Monday.

Whilst this was a useful and productive meeting and we both agree on the need to improve recycling opportunities, I made clear my view that this should not be done at the expense of the weekly general waste collection that constituents value.   The guidance to councils south of the border to authorities stresses that improving recycling need not and should not be at the expense of weekly bin collections of general waste - and highlights councils that are achieving recycling rates much better than Dundee's but who still have a weekly general waste collection.

What is disappointing about the report going to committee on Monday is that the three "options" before councillors are all essentially the same - all propose fortnightly general waste collections - and that is not a real choice at all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Adult learning in the West End

The new Dundee City Council adult learning newsletter is now available and you can download it here.

The following courses are available in the West End :

Concern over bogus callers

The recent frightening experience of Logie resident Kathleen Killett from a bogus caller at her front door was helpfully highlighted in the local media, including the The Courier.    It is important to spread the message, particularly to elderly residents not to let cold callers into your home and that Kathleen did the right thing by requesting ID from the person who called at her door.

The concerns about bogus callers has been discussed at meetings of West End Community Council in the past.

Police Scotland, on its website, has useful advice to beat bogus callers.