Monday, June 30, 2014

Riverside playing fields concern

As reported in today's Evening Telegraph, over the weekend, I received residents' concerns at another travellers encampment, just a matter of days after the one in the Technology Park ended.    This time, it is a group of French travellers who have set up camp on the Riverside playing fields, just west of the pavilion.    It may be the same group of French travellers who set up a camp there in June 2013.

Yesterday, I contacted both the City Council and the police regarding this - clearly whilst this encampment is there, the playing fields west of the pavilion are not usable.     As I stressed to the Evening Telegraph, the City Council provides a fully serviced site for the travelling community at Balmuir Wood near Tealing.

Here is a photo of the encampment on Riverside Drive:

West End Ward surgeries

Now that the school summer holidays are underway, my usual weekly ward surgeries do not take place, but I can still be contacted on any local issues or concerns through my e-surgery - just e-mail esurgery@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

I can also be contacted at home at any time on 459378 and also during office hours at my Dundee City Council office on 434985.

Surgeries commence again in August with the start of the new school year.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Getting things done - Riverside Approach

The public footpath on the east side of Riverside Approach is obstructed by overgrown foliage - see right :

I have asked the City Council if steps can be taken to have the foliage cut back.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Getting things done - Hillside Terrace

Residents have complained to me about the poor state of the road surface in Hillside Terrace - the photo below was taken by a constituent:
I took up these complaints with the City Council's Roads maintenance Partnership who have now advised:

"An order has been raised by the Road Maintenance Partnership inspector to repair the potholes in Hillside Terrace. Timescale for completion is twenty eight days."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Logie residents' meeting

Last night, I had the pleasure of chairing a well-attended meeting of around 30 Logie residents that took place at the Lime Street sheltered lounge.

I am grateful to two senior council Housing Department officers who addressed the meeting about council lock-ups and, in particular, the dilapidated state of the garages in Glenagnes Street, an issue I have raised with the City Council.   It was agreed that a residents' survey to gauge interest in the void lock-ups from potential new tenants and to get views on the lock-ups' future will be issued.

We also had a very useful discussion on a number of other issues such as grass maintenance, parking and bin collections, amongst other matters.

Concern over adult learning cuts

I have expressed concern about Dundee City Council cuts in adult learning provision that has left the West End without a dedicated adult learning worker, which is a highly detrimental move.

The City Council has advised me :
As a result of the savings we have  reduced the number of Adult Learning Teams from five to four with a reduction in our staff complement by  one Senior Adult Learning Worker and two Adult Learner Worker posts.  This follows year on year reduction in staffing, as a result of the savings, and  as such we are no longer able to sustain the level of provision that was previously offered by Adult Learning.  Therefore, we have had to look at a full scale review of the service which involves a reconfiguration of both the staff structure and areas of provision.
There is no longer the capacity within the Adult Learning Section to deliver a universal city-wide Adult Learning provision.  In line with the Prevention Framework for Dundee Partnership, the outcomes set in the Single Outcome Agreement and within the context of the CLD Strategic Guidance, it is the intention to refocus Adult Learning within the Prevention Framework as targeted prevention and early intervention work.  In effect this means geographic targeting at community areas in the 15% most deprived within the following Wards:  Lochee, Strathmartine, Coldside, Maryfield, East End and North East. 
In addition to this target based approach there is the recognition  to retain  literacy and ESOL provision on a referral based approach ; having a central resource at Mitchell Street working in partnership with key agencies/voluntary organisations. 
This means there will be no staff deployed geographically to target communities within the West End area.  However, people from the West End will still be able to access literacy and ESOL services through Mitchell Street and we have given the commitment to support Adult Education Associations, which means if HERA look to re-form once the new Harris premises are completed, then we would help support this development.
The admission that the Adult Learning Section can no longer deliver a universal city-wide Adult Learning provision is a pretty concerning state of affairs.    Adult learning is key to helping people into employment and, for example, constituents have commented how useful courses are, including assisting people for whom English is their second language.     I am particularly concerned at the lack of a dedicated worker to the West End - this is bad news.

I am meeting the council's Adult Learning Manager to discuss my concerns as I feel that it is vital that Adult Learning across the city is not compromised.   I also raised the matter at yesterday's City Council Scrutiny Committee.

I spoke on Wave 102 News yesterday about the issue - you can hear the interview by clicking 'play' below:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting

And - more about Magdalen Green!

Last night, I took part in the latest Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting.    We had very positive updates on the Roseangle playpark campaign - with the (hopefully) final playpark plans having been submitted to Sportscotland yesterday.    These should be made publicly available soon and take into account community input from the numerous consultation opportunities that have taken place, including at the recent WestFest Big Sunday.

We also discussed arrangements for this Friday's Queen's Baton Relay as it passes Magdalen Green on Friday - more details here.

Sunday 29th June's Band Concert - Magdalen Green

This Sunday’s band concert on Magdalen Green features the City of Discovery Brass Band.   

It starts at 2pm on Sunday 29th June at the bandstand.

Further details available here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lighting issue - steps from Scott Street to Pentland Avenue

Steps - Scott Street-Pentland Avenue
Last year, I raised, on behalf of residents, the need for lighting on the steps from Scott Street to Pentland Avenue.   The steps are well-used and often by elderly people and are quite dark at night, relying on what light reaches the area from the adjacent roads.

At the time, the council's Street Lighting Partnership advised :

"… we looked at putting lights on the stairs.   Unfortunately it's just not technically feasible and the costs would not justify since there is a lit route via the end of Scott Street."

However, as I have continued to receive requests from residents for lighting here, I have again raised the matter with the Street Lighting Partnership, who have updated me as follows :

"I have spent some time looking into alternative method of lighting this footpath.    The position on conventional lighting remains the same. 

I have looked at some solar powered lighting by Philips Lighting and was advised that Solar Lighting it not really feasible in the North Hemisphere as there is insufficient sun light to keep the batteries charged for the whole year. possibly as technology moves a more cost effective and easier method of lighting footpath my become available.

I will continue to pursue the lighting industry for a permanent answer to these problems."

With the agreement of the Street Lighting Partnership, I have asked a contact I have at the University of Dundee, who has expertise in solar lighting, to hopefully provide some advice on this matter that could provide a solution.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Call for consultation on 20's Plenty fails by a single vote

Further to my earlier calls for 20's Plenty in appropriate residential streets in Dundee, at tonight's City Council City Development Committee I proposed the following motion :
Committee notes Report 273-2014 by the Director of City Development on 20mph speed limits but does not concur with the conclusions in Paragraph 4 of the report.   
Committee also notes that :
20mph zones and 20mph limits significantly decrease the risk of being injured in a collision

lowering the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph can reduce child accidents by up to 70%
half of people who are hit by a car at 30mph will die and only 10% of people hit by a car at 20mph will die
Committee believes lower speed limits will make streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and car users alike and will encourage people to walk and cycle with the consequential benefits for health and quality of life.
Committee calls for the development of a policy on the implementation of 20mph zones and limits, and, as a first step, the Director of City Development is instructed, within the next six months, to consult widely with community councils, tenants’ and residents’ associations, other representative community organisations and the public across all eight Local Community Planning Partnership areas to discuss their views of where 20mph limits would be appropriate and would be of benefit to residential amenity and road safety in each community.
The Director of City Development is thereafter instructed to bring a report to committee on the outcomes of such a consultation exercise, with a view to thereafter considering commencement of a phased programme of introducing 20mph limits on residential roads from 2015/16 onwards, giving due consideration to the revenue and capital and enforcement implications of such a programme.
My motion had the support of Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors, but was unfortunately lost by a single vote (14-13) as the SNP administration voted it down.   What is particularly astonishing about the SNP's complacent position is that their own party colleagues in Edinburgh have recently been instrumental in introducing 20mph in residential areas there!    No consistency there then.

Many cities are now adopting 20mph zones - bringing a safer environment to residential areas - and the Dundee City Council position on this is years out of date;  completely behind the curve in terms of current thinking.   The case for 20mph in appropriate residential areas is overwhelming and the 20's Plenty for Us campaign has published useful factsheets on this that you can access here.   I would like to thank the 20's Plenty for Us campaign, Friends of the Earth Tayside and Living Streets for their support and to Mr Paton, a Coldside resident, who spoke eloquently at committee tonight about the need for 20's Plenty.

I will continue to campaign for safer speed limits in residential areas, on behalf of constituents.

Tackling air pollution - Lochee Road

Given the long-standing concerns I have raised about air quality in part of Lochee Road (from Polepark Road in the east to Tullideph Road in the west), along with Andrew Llanwarne of Friends of the Earth, I today met with four senior Environment and Transportation council officers to discuss ways that this problem can be further tackled, both specifically at Lochee Road and - wider - at air quality hot-spots across Dundee.

We had a very positive discussion about numerous aspects including trying to reduce car queuing at this complicated series of junctions, other traffic aspects such as vehicle manoeuvres at junctions and traffic levels and the possible future upgrade of the bus fleets to hybrid buses on routes using Lochee Road, something I recently discussed with the Managing Director of National Express Dundee.

The City Council is currently undertaking a scientific review of the air quality modelling work and an assurance was given that briefings will be given towards the end of 2014 on the issue and on further steps to improve air quality at these hotspots, invitations to which will include councillors, stakeholders like Friends of the Earth and residents' and community groups in the affected areas.

I spoke on Radio Tay News about the issue today - you can hear the interview by clicking 'play' below:

Blether Tay-Gither - Storytelling in Dundee

THE NEXT BLETHER MEETING

WILL BE IN THE BURGH COFFEE HOUSE

COMMERCIAL STREET

TUESDAY 24th JUNE
7.00PM - 9.00PM

THE THEME FOR THIS MONTH IS................. SHIFTING SANDS.

HOPE TO SEE AS MANY OF OUR REGULARS AS POSSIBLE....AND SOME NEW FACES MAYBE?

More information about the group can be accessed here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cycling - Riverside Drive

At the end of this year's Bike Week, it is perhaps appropriate to highlight a cycling-related issue.    Residents have asked if, as a result of the proposals relative to the road, north footpath and environment of Riverside Drive, a designated cycle path will be created.

I raised this with the City Engineer, who has advised:

"I can confirm that there is not to be a designated cycle path created as the existing path adjacent to the sea wall is a designated part of the National Cycle Route and is of appropriate width for shared use. As such, cyclists will not be prohibited from using this cycle path but cyclists may use the road if they so wish.

Transportation Division also made the following useful comments:

1. Volume of bicycle traffic is just not high enough for segregation.

2. The average width of the Riverside Drive pathway is 2.5 to 4.0m with a few short sections less than 2.5m in width. No know problems have occurred or been reported. When you combine this width with the volume of pedestrian/cycle traffic then is there is adequate space for give and take pedestrian/cycle movements.

3. If a white line were to be incorporated to form segregation then how is this enforced? Police resources are already stretched and this would fall into very low priority for them.

4. The current widths on parts of the cycleway would not permit segregation as design width could not be achieved for the appropriate lanes. 

5. Links throughout the city joining onto this route have no segregation facilities in place. No such pedestrian/conflict has occurred there.

6. There has to be some level of respect for both users of the path. It is the responsibility of the individual to cycle with respect and due care for other road users/pedestrians in accordance with guidelines in the “Highway Code”. The Tay Road Bridge walkway for example is 2.5m wide and constrained with a 1.5m high barrier. It is promoted as a shared use, is part of the NCN and no segregation line is used. This has work fine for many years and pedestrian/cycle traffic is high on this route compared to Riverside Drive. 

7. Our accident records show no reported collisions between pedestrian/cyclists on this section of cycle route or any other part of the route itself."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Getting things done - Footbridge at rail line, Magdalen Green

Residents have complained to me about graffiti on the footbridge over the rail line between the Riverside Pavilion and Magdalen Green - see below :
I have brought this to the attention of the City Council's Rapid Response Team and asked if the graffiti can be removed.

Getting things done - West Park Road area

Residents have recently complained to me about vehicles parking right on the end of several of the roads that join West Park Road causing sight lines difficulties at junctions - so asked if the transportation team at the City Council could look at yellow lining right at the junctions where appropriate.

The Head of Transportation has advised:
The intention is that in advance of the Harris Academy returning to the Perth Road the parking restrictions around the school will be revisited, along the lines of the wider vicinity previously proposed for parking restrictions but abandoned in light of the impending decant.   I will ask that your constituents' request is included in these considerations.  
All junctions should be protected through the basic rules of the Highway Code with Rule 243 stating that you should not park within 10 metres of a junction.  I realise in reality that this is often abused and the yellow lines are often in place to assist enforce where there are pedestrian / road safety issues.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sunday 22nd June's Band Concert on Magdalen Green - and an update about last Sunday's event

This Sunday’s band concert on Magdalen Green features Dundee Instrumental Band.   

It starts at 2pm on Sunday 22nd June at the bandstand.

Further details available here.

A number of residents complained about the situation that arose at last Sunday's concert where the council inadvertently failed to provide the seating for both the Tayport Instrumental Band and the public - and left the bandstand locked.   All credit to the band who went ahead with the concert and also the residents who kindly brought out some seating from their homes for some of the older band members!

The Head of Environment Management at the City Council has now updated me as follows:

"We have had an internal investigation regarding the non appearance of chairs at Magdalen Green last weekend and it appears that this had been down to a member of staff being off sick and the communication channels not working as they should.

We have taken steps to address this in that all the Duty Officers who are on at the weekend for the next few months have been given a copy of the whole list of the forthcoming Band Concerts. 

In addition to this the information regarding the Band Concerts have been circulated to all our key Staff as a part of our Weekly Briefing process.  Each of the Band organisers, in relation to the accepting letters for the bookings, were given the weekend duty Officers number in case of any problems.  We are sending out letters, again, to each of them just reinforcing this number in case there are any emergencies.

In terms of the weekend duty number this is something we are looking to circulate wider in case there are any other issues that are raised by members of the public etc outwith normal working hours.

Again, I can only apologise for this oversight and hopefully we have taken measures that this should not happen again."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Caravans at Technology Park

Residents have contacted me about the appearance of a group of caravans at the old call centre site in Luna Place (see photo below) :
I contacted the council's Housing Officer/Traveller Liaison Officer who has update me today as follows :

"... we have made contact and the Land owner has been made aware of the encampment and we now wait on the land owner(Graham and Sibbald) to instruct legal action.

I visited both groups of travellers today and provided bin bags and will organise a collection to keep on top of any waste.   Also the dog warden came along checked all dogs and advised accordingly. She also handed out dog litter bags to control dog waste."

City Centre Parking Permits - West Port vicinity

The West Port area has traditionally been part of the City Centre Parking Permit scheme.   However, I have highlighted with the City Council over a considerable period the need to correct an anomaly whereby a small number of households in the western part of the street have been excluded from the scheme, due to an error in the boundary.

I was given a commitment some time ago that this would be addressed as part of the City Centre Controlled Parking Zone review.

I recently asked the council's Head of Transportation for an update on the situation and he has responded as follows :
The City Centre Controlled Parking Zone review is still on-going and the Residents' Parking Zone issues are included within this review.  It is planned to bring this to committee late Autumn 2014 and implement any changes in summer 2015.  In the meantime any previously agreed concessions will be maintained.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blackness Road - temporary prohibition of waiting order

From the City Council :

DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL (BLACKNESS ROAD, DUNDEE) (TEMPORARY PROHIBITION OF WAITING) ORDER 2014

Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating manhole inspection works.  The Order is expected to be in force for one day on 20 June 2014.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic from waiting within that length of Blackness Road, Dundee, between numbers 260 and 270 and extending from a point 30 metres east from the extended east kerb line of Seymour Street to a point 103 metres east of the said extended east kerb line of Seymour Street.

Pedestrian thoroughfare is maintained and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible. 

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, City Development Department, Dundee House, North Lindsay Street, Dundee.

If you have any queries please contact 433162.

Presentation to Dundee Floral Art Society

Later this afternoon, I was delighted to participate in a presentation to Dundee Floral Art Society who have received a welcome donation from Barney’s Fund, to be put towards the cost of arranging a floral display as part of the Commonwealth Games. 

There are 56 clubs in Scotland taking part to put together a beautiful arrangement inside the Glasgow Cathedral based on the theme of roots, shoots and fruits.   This will showcase the heritage and traditions of the local area by focusing on Jute, Jam and Journalism as the roots.  The shoots will represent members of the local community who have gone to explore all areas of the world and the fruits will signify local achievements and cultures.

The Barney’s Fund committee as always is very keen to support local groups and charities and Dundee Floral Art Society are a great example of this, demonstrating the talent and community spirit of the local area.    

Dundee Floral Art Society is a member of the Scottish Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (SAFAS) and recently celebrated the 57th year as a club. They currently have 109 members who meet every 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Queens Hotel in Dundee. The society promotes the idea of friendship through flowers with hands-on workshops and demonstrations where members learn new skills. Dundee Floral Art Society also takes part in local events such as the Flower and Food Festival and gives back to the community by running a flower rota at Roxburghe House. 

Glasgow Cathedral will be open in full bloom on the 23rd and 24th of July for members of the public to visit the wonderful displays by the local clubs from all over Scotland. Dundee Floral Art Society will have their section in Blackadder Isle of the Cathedral, embracing local heritage and achievements which will be a must see. Barney’s Fund is extremely proud to support this local group who will represent our local community on such a grand stage and continue to bring members of our society together through their love of all plant material.

Applications for Barney’s Fund donations are currently being sought.   Local voluntary, community and charitable groups wishing to apply should send an application letter to Barney’s Fund Committee, Barnetts Motor Group, Riverside Drive, DD2 1UG or email barneys@barnettsmotorgroup.co.uk by 31st July 2014.
From left - Andrew McBride and Sandra Myles (both Barney's Fund Committee), Mabel Murdoch (Floral Art Society), myself, Joan McMurray and Pauline Andrews (both Floral Art Society) and Laura Hutt (Barney's Fund Committee)

Roseangle recycling centre - an update

Yesterday, I mentioned residents' concerns about the over-flow of recycling at the Roseangle mini-recycling centre and the assurances I had received from the City Council that clearing up the mess would be swiftly attended to.

I am pleased to note that this has now indeed been tidied up - photo below was taken this afternoon:

West End Christmas Fortnight committee meeting

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of chairing the first 2014 meeting of the West End Christmas Fortnight committee, at Blackness Library.   You might say "Christmas in June!" but the events take months of planning!

We had a good discussion about 2014 events and if any resident or local business is keen to help us with this year's West End Christmas Fortnight, please contact us at christmas2014@frasermacpherson.org.uk - many thanks!

Getting things done - Beechwood Terrace

Residents have contacted me regarding the very poor-conditioned pavement on the south side of Beechwood Terrace - see photo right.

This pavement did not appear to be on the Unadopted Footways List for future adoption, so I can contacted the City Engineer about it.

He has replied as follows:

"I have checked the list and it not listed.    I will therefore arrange to have it inspected, priority scored and added to the Unadopted Footways Priority List for 2015/16."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday activities

This morning, I participated in the latest meeting of the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board, the first at which the new Bridge Manager, Alan Hutchison, took part.    Before the commencement of the meeting, pupils from Pitlochry High School were presented with prizes for winning (and also taking second place!) the West Point Bridge Design Competition, sponsored by the Board.

During the Joint Board meeting, I commented on the external audit report and also sought assurances about value for money for a £300 000+ project for bridge deck surfacing maintenance repair works.

After my ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street and West Park Centres this afternoon, I participated in tonight's City Council Development Management Committee, at which I spoke in favour of a successful amendment by Bailie Derek Scott to oppose an increase in non-food sales at Sainsbury Broughty Ferry, stating that we must protect our district shopping centres.   With regard to a request for Direct Action regarding to non-compliance of an Advertising Enforcement Notice affecting two properties in Perth Road, I queried the necessity to bring these to committee (given the small costs involved) but was assured that there was no significant delay caused by this going through the committee cycle.

Earlier today, I also visited the Roseangle mini-recycling centre, following residents' concerns about the over-flow of recycling and need for more frequent collections.   As you can see below, the complaints are more than justified!  :
The City Council's Environment Department was very swift to reply to my request for action, stating:

"I've asked one of the Project Assistants to look into this & monitor the situation at Roseangle over the next few weeks, making any necessary changes to the uplift frequencies."

However, I have also asked for an immediate uplift of items, given the mess at the site.

City Council's abject failure over Demand Responsive Transport

I have today criticised the City Council's abject failure over Demand Responsive Transport, to fill gaps in bus service provision across Dundee.

Back in 2008, as the then Planning and Transport Convener of the City Council, I discussed with the then Dundee Accessible Transport Action Group (DATAG) bringing in pilots of Demand Responsive Transport to improve public transport both in Dundee and across Tayside/Stirling for those with accessibility problems in terms of existing provision.     

As the then Chair of TACTRAN, the Regional Transport Partnership, I moved forward a consultation exercise for its buses strategy and, within this, specifically, community transport and demand responsive transport.    Two pilot projects were agreed – an urban one for Dundee and a rural one for Perthshire/Stirlingshire.    However, there had been a total lack of progress since the SNP administration took over control of Dundee City Council in 2009 and took the chairmanship of TACTRAN.

Demand Responsive Transport – or ‘Dial a Bus’ – would help bring some form of bus service to those communities across the city that have no or poor services at the moment.   With flexible routing and scheduling of small or medium-sized  vehicles operating with pick-up and drop-off locations according to passengers needs, it would be a boon particularly for elderly people and those with mobility difficulties.

So - here's the promises I have been given about the issue since 2011 - its hugely frustrating to witness the council’s abject failure to achieve any progress on the issue over the past five years :    

2011:

TACTRAN advised me in July 2011 that:

“Dundee City Council is leading on implementation of the DRT scheme, in partnership with TACTRAN.   Revised options are being considered for the delivery of DRT, with the aim of introducing a pilot scheme during 2011/12.    It is anticipated that the scheme will commence in December 2011 at the earliest.    £30,000 is allocated within TACTRAN revenue budget and £125,000 within the joint TACTRAN/DCC Capital budget in 2011/12 to support the introduction of DRT in Dundee.”

2012 :

In August 2012, the City Council’s Head of Transportation advised that:

“The options of community and social enterprise delivered DRT have presented extraordinary challenges in terms of capacity and legal/procurement matters.    We have been looking at further operational models and are looking to bring forward solutions early in 2013.”

2013:

The Head of Transportation updated me stating:

“As you know the issues involved in Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) in the city are wide ranging and complex.  Officers are continuing to develop the concept of DRT, and during the course of this work have taken on board robust stakeholder feedback indicating that the current Taxicard scheme is very popular. Therefore the current focus is on developing an enhanced new generation smartcard based Taxicard scheme. Plans are in hand to design and then procure such a system during the remainder of FY13/14 and this task will be undertaken over the coming months.

When a new taxicard scheme is fully operational the design of a DRT system that meets the needs of the main user groups, while still being deliverable within available resources, will become the main focus of activity.  

As I am sure you understand the task of meeting the diverse range of needs presented by stakeholders provides us with a considerable challenge.  Meanwhile work continues to find out if there is an appetite in the city for developing the concept of a social enterprise or community transport managed system to complement/augment the more traditional in house/contracted route.  I will also be engaging with NHS Tayside colleagues in relation to DRT and the need increase mobility options for people with restricted mobility.    

I am confident that taken together all of this activity continues to maintain progress towards the council's strategic aim of delivering a range of transport networks.”

2014 :

Last week, the Head of Transportation advised me :

“There has been no progress or development work on DRT‎.    The development of DRT will not be progressed for the foreseeable future.”

It is now crystal clear from this that there was a policy vacuum on Demand Responsible Transport from the council administration and a total lack of political will and momentum to see it happen.     The SNP administration has failed time and time again to bring in DRT that would help many citizens in Dundee.

There are good bus services across much of Dundee, but there are numerous communities in the city that have limited or no service.   The taxicard scheme for people with mobility problems is extremely limited in its scope.

Demand Responsive Transport – Dial A Bus – provides a possible cost-effective solution to give these residents a bus option.    It would particularly benefit those with mobility difficulties and elderly residents, but it appears it will take a change of administration in 2017 and a Committee Convener with some drive and enthusiasm before this bus improvement will ever see the light of day.

On a more positive note, I would commend the Community Cars scheme in the city, a service for older people, where volunteer drivers provide affordable door to door transport.   It is not a substitute for DRT but it does show what can be achieved when there's a will to make transport accessible for all.   The video below explains this excellent scheme:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

National Express Dundee Open Day and Harris Academy PTPA Strawberry Fair

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending National Express Dundee's Open Day, a great day with lots of activities and vintage vehicles.   See below:
With Phil Smith yesterday
And ... it was also an opportunity to speak with Phil Smith, Managing Director of National Express Dundee and we had a good chat about bus matters, including my request that, when National Express Dundee next purchases new buses (and particularly hybrid-electric buses) it considers doing so on the 28/29 and 17 routes, given that these very regular services use the air-quality hotspot of Lochee Road.  

I am meeting council officers (both transport and environment) in the near future, along with a representative of Friends of the Earth, to further discuss the air quality issues in that part of Lochee Road (around Polepark Road to Tullideph Road).

Thereafter yesterday, I enjoyed a visit to the Harris Academy PTPA Strawberry Fair.   It was great to see that a good number of residents from the area of the school's current decant in Lawton Road supporting the event as well as parents and carers.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

An update - Fort Street and Richmond Terrace

Earlier this month, I highlighted the poor road surfaces in both Richmond Terrace and Fort Street (see right) and reported these to the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership (RMP).

I have now received a response from RMP as follows:

"An order has been raised by the Road Maintenance Partnership inspector to repair a number of potholes in Fort Street/Richmond Terrace with a timescale for completion of twenty eight days or sooner."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Glamis Road - road lining and resurfacing

During May, the yellow-coloured bus bays (three of them) in Glamis Road between Dickson Avenue and Blackness Road were repainted by Tayside Contracts, on behalf of the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership.

On 1st June, the road was resurfaced with tar and stone chips, covering the newly painted bus bays.

Residents have quite rightly complained to me about the wastage of painting the bus bays and them covering them over.

As one resident pointed out, "It would appear there must have been a lack of communication or, contrary to belief, the council has money to waste."

I complained to the City Council about this wastage and was advised:
With regard to the enquiry you received I can advise that although the bus bay markings were worn and required repainting, the surface dressing works were known to be programmed to be carried out within the month. 
There are some circumstances where it would be appropriate to renew road markings when a road resurfacing is to follow within weeks, ie junction stop lines for which are there for public safety reasons, but mistakes do happen and these bus bays should not have been repainted in advance of the surface dressing works for which I apologise.  
As road maintenance activities are delivered in partnership with Tayside Contracts, this allows us jointly to have the opportunity to consider all future works that are to be carried out by the depot for all clients, to identify conflicts and organise programming of works for mutual benefit and obtain best value.  If the Partnership was not in place I believe there would be more chance of these conflicts occurring.
I believe this to be an isolated incident and am not aware of any other similar issues recently.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sunday's Band Concert - Magdalen Green

This Sunday’s band concert on Magdalen Green features the Forfar Instrumental Band.   It starts at 2pm on Sunday 15th June at the bandstand.

Further details available here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Harris Academy Parent Council

Earlier this evening, I attended the latest meeting of Harris Academy Parent Council.    

Mr Thewliss, Head Teacher, gave a very useful update on curriculum development, including literacy and numeracy initiatives aimed at S1 pupils.    

There was also a discussion about developing the calendar facility on the school's website - now with a wealth of useful information for pupils, teachers, parents and carers - including details of parents evenings, sports events, study leave, Parent Council meetings and other helpful information.

Time2Give Steering Group

This afternoon, I attended the latest steering group meeting of Time2Give, the West End’s Timebank at Blackness Library.

It was a very positive meeting – between full members and pending or new applications, the timebank is fast approaching 40 members.    There’s also been presentations to a number of local organisations and information sessions at the Mitchell Street Centre.

Timebanking is a means of exchange used to organise people and organisations around a purpose, where time is the principal currency.  For every hour participants ‘deposit’ in a timebank, perhaps by giving practical help and support to others, they are able to ‘withdraw’ equivalent support in time when they themselves are in need.    In each case the participant decides what they can offer. 

It is a great, community-based, concept and Time2Give has made a great start.   Find out more here or contact Vanya Zaczek at VanyaZaczek@number10.org.

Harris Academy PTPA Strawberry Fair


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

National Express Dundee Open Day


Busy Tuesday ...

A busy day today on local issues, including :

* A morning site visit to speak with residents in Mitchell Street/Polepark Road/Benvie Road about the recent external cyclical works to their properties.   Council officers from housing and architects also attended.

* A meeting with the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts' Residents Association, at which we discussed a number of local issues.

* A meeting of the Jericho House Support Group.  The support group is a regular meeting at which a number of us discuss fundraising and other projects to support this important facility in the West End Ward, that assists those recovering from alcoholism.   We had a good discussion about funding initiatives to support the House, participation in Doors Open Day 2014 and the new production of a play that the House service users and staff will be participating in.

* Tonight at the West End Community Council, there was a lengthy presentation on bin collection and recycling proposed changes and we also discussed the roads proposals relative to Riverside Drive.

West End Community Council Update @DundeeWECC

I have today launched my June 2014 Update to the West End Community Council.    Subjects covered include:
  • Update on Perth Road Branch of Royal Bank of Scotland closure
  • Roads repairs
  • Blackness Avenue – tree bed
The Community Council meets this evening at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm - all residents welcome.      You can download my Update here.

Monday, June 09, 2014

City Council committee meetings

After my two Monday ward surgeries at the West Park Centre and the Mitchell Street Centre, I took part in tonight's City Council committee meetings at which:

* At Environment Committee, I welcomed a report on the planned improvements to the 11 a-side football pitches on the south side of Riverside Drive (see right) to finally fully resolve the stones problem.   This is an issue that I and the West End Community and Sports Hub (WECSH) have been campaigning for, for some considerable time, and I am grateful to Environment Department Officers for all they have done to progress this and find capital funding for the solution.    On another matter, I asked a question about progress with the contaminated land strategy works that are on-going in relation to the former Upper Seafield Works area.

* At Housing Committee, I spoke in a debate on a report about the council's Sheltered Housing Review.   There are some sensible recommendations arising out of this - for example, a sheltered warden relief pool and the proposed appointment of an activities co-ordinator and the development of a bank of volunteers to help further build the social activities offered at sheltered lounges across the city.    I made the point that elderly non-sheltered residents should also be given the opportunity to participate in sheltered housing social activities.

Getting things done - Playpark area in Polepark Road

Last October, on behalf of residents, I obtained assurances from the City Council's Environment Department that improvements would be undertaken at the Polepark Road playpark area that had become overgrown and untidy in places and where the decorative wall had badly deteriorated.

As you can see below, the improvements have now been carried out and the area is looking a lot better.   I did, however, request that the council remove some graffiti on the artwork and this has now been carried out.
Before
After

Sunday, June 08, 2014

WestFest Big Sunday 2014 - a great success!

It was great to see such a huge turnout on Magdalen Green this afternoon at WestFest's Big Sunday - and we had a great laugh whilst staffing the Friends of Magdalen Green/Roseangle Playpark Campaign stall!    Here's a few photos and videos from the day:
With Peter Menzies!
Community consultation on the Roseangle playpark proposals
Lots of cup cakes on the playpark/Friends of Magdalen Green stall!
Frances and Sylvia on the Friends of the Botanic Garden stall!
But no Big Sunday would be complete without Mary Devlin - Superstar! :