Tuesday 30 June 2015

Crafternoon this Saturday!

Further information available here.

Campus map to find venue available here.

Monday 29 June 2015

Perth Road between Rockfield Street and Hyndford Street

Part of the damaged pavement
Last year, I highlighted the poor footpath condition on the north side of Perth Road - the slabbed area between Rockfield Street and Hyndford Street.

I have continued to receive complaints about its condition and raised the matter again with the City Council.

The council's Roads Maintenance Partnership has now advised as follows :

"The section of slabbed footway on the north side of Perth Road between Rockfield Street and Hyndford Street is not included in the provisional three year footway resurfacing programme.

However, detailed footway scoring is to be carried out city-wide during the summer months and this information used in the preparation of future footway schemes.

In the meantime an inspection will be carried out and anything actionable noted will be repaired."

Sunday 28 June 2015

Mosaic in Tay Square - repairs now complete

Earlier this year, on behalf of constituents, I requested of the City Council repairs to the mosaic in Tay Square in front of the Rep.

The City Council's Planning Officer (Public Art) has now advised me that the repairs are now complete - see below :

Saturday 27 June 2015

Blether Tay-Gither - Storytelling in Dundee

Our June Blether will be on Tuesday 30th June at 7pm in Madigan's Food Emporium and Bookshop, Castle Street.

The Theme this month is :  "Stories from the North West of Scotland."

This theme has been suggested by Wendy from Madigans as this is the part of the world she is from. She has given us a list of possible stories as follows :

  • Stories of Loch Maree from Wendy at Madigan’s
  • Prince Olaf / Vikings
  • Isle of Maree
  • St Maelribha
  • Witches
  • Druid Circle/Bull sacrifices/Pagans
  • Money Tree / Wishing tree
  • Hotel poisoning/botulism
  • Muc-Sheilche
  • Gairloch/Poolewe/Altbea
  • Ghillie Dubh
  • MacLeods & McKenzies

of course these are only suggestions.   All welcome!

Friday 26 June 2015

Safety outside schools, Discovery Walk and Dinner for Jim Thewliss

Yesterday, I participated in the latest meeting of the School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group at which a group of senior council officers, councillors, head teachers and parent council representatives discuss and tackle safety and parking issues at our schools across the city.    

We had a good discussion about a number of issues including risk assessments, safer routes to schools, issues at various schools and the safety planning for new schools projects including Harris Academy.

Thereafter, I attended the latest meeting of the Discovery Walk committee that took place at the University of Dundee.   

I have previously mentioned the proposal for "Discovery Walk" in the new Waterfront area that will initially comprise nine plaques set into the paved area of the Green Space that depict some of the great Dundonians who have made a real contribution to the city in the field of discovery.

Yesterday, following public consultation, the nine initial winning nominees were chosen and will be announced imminently this morning on Wave 102 and in the local press today (so mum's the word meantime!)    

Last night, after my ward surgery at Blackness Primary School, I had the great pleasure of attending the retiral dinner for Jim Thewliss, Head Teacher of Harris Academy, at the Invercarse Hotel.     

There were great speeches by Jim's colleagues, former colleagues, the Parent Council Chair and Jim himself and it was a memorable night and a fitting tribute to Jim and his superb work at Harris Academy over 18 years.

Sunday Bandstand Concert

The latest Sunday Bandstand Concert on the Magdalen Green Bandstand takes place this coming Sunday at 2pm.

The Forfar Instrumental Band will again be playing - more details here.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Well done Blackness Primary School!

Earlier this year, I highlighted the City Council's welcome tidying of one of the areas at the south end of the Pennycook Lane car park.

To the immediate east of this was an untidy area next to the hanging baskets belonging to the local sheltered housing residents' association and I asked Blackness Primary School if it would wish to take it over to add to its gardening initiatives and the Environment Department if this would be allowed.

Both agreed and I am delighted to see the school's pupils already making a difference here:

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Friends of Magdalen Green event this Friday!

Harris Academy Parent Council

Last night I attended a very productive meeting of Harris Academy Parent Council at the school's current Lawton Road base, the school's home during the rebuild programme at Perth Road.

Following on from the decision made on Monday night at the City Council’s Education Committee about Menzieshill High School and the expansion of the Harris Academy catchment area to include the Menzieshill school catchment area from August of next year, the Director of Education was in attendance and answered a number of questions and discussed the appointment process for the new Harris Head Teacher, with the impending departure, after 18 years, of Jim Thewliss (pictured right).

In his Head Teacher’s report, Jim gave an overview of what has been achieved in his 18 highly successful years and the Parent Council thanked Jim for all he has done for the school, its pupils and the community.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Getting things done - Richmond Terrace and Fort Street

Having contacted Dundee City Council back in March to improve the road surface in Richmond Terace - following complaints from residents about its extremely poor surface - I obtained assurances that action would be taken to improve the roadway.

I was therefore pleased last week to note that work had commenced to undertake repairs - see photo below:
I have now also raised with the Roads Maintenance Partnership the need to improve nearby Fort Street, which is in a badly in need of road surface improvement.

City Council meetings

Following a very lengthy discussion last night and representations from deputations, the decision was taken at the Education Committee to close Menzieshill High School and, from August 2016, include the Menzieshill catchment area within the Harris Academy catchment area.

I listened carefully to all the arguments and read carefully all the evidence from Education Scotland, the City Council and the objectors and thereafter spoke in the debate, supported the proposal on educational grounds of ensuring that all pupils get the best possible subject choices and educational experience.   The issues will be discussed further at tonight's Harris Academy Parent Council.   I am, as always, pleased to discuss any aspect with any constituents contacting me about this important matter.

At City Development Committee, I sought assurances about the continued local access to the road safety camera resource as Police Scotland take it over from the Tayside Safety Camera Partnership and I also welcomed the decision to compulsorily purchase a long-neglected property in Roseangle.

At Policy & Resources Committee, I welcomed Common Good funding for a number of good causes including a possible Hogmanay event in the City Centre later this year.

Monday 22 June 2015

Central Waterfront overnight road closures for surfacing work

From Dundee City Council :

You will be aware that Dundee City Council is currently re-developing the Central Waterfront of Dundee. Another important stage of the project, involves the resurfacing work at the junction between Union Street and Yeaman Shore and also the resurfacing of the junction between South Union Street and South Marketgait westbound to Greenmarket car park. 

To ensure the safety of the public and workforce and minimise disruption to the road network while work will be undertaken using two overnight road closures. On street parking will be suspended on both sides of Whitehall Crescent during this period.

The second closure will be at the junction between South Union Street and South Marketgait westbound to Greenmarket car park and all westbound traffic will be diverted via the ring road.

Both of these closures will be in place over two nights between 7pm and 6am on Wednesday (June 24) and Thursday (June 25).

Access to the Railway Station Lay-by at Riverside Drive will be maintained via Riverside Drive during the closure and the taxi rank will remain operational.

To minimise the noise generated by the works, our contractor Sir Robert McAlpine will be undertaking the majority of the noisiest activities at the start of the night closure.   During the closures, the noisiest works to the west of the Malmaison Hotel, will be curtailed by 11pm.   The contractor will be doing everything possible to ensure that noise is kept to a minimum during the night time hours. 

It is hoped that the long term benefits will outweigh the inconvenience during construction.  Further information and updates regarding the work will be available via our website www.dundeewaterfront.com.  

You have any queries or require to discuss the project further please call 433063 or via email - info@dundeewaterfront.com.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Zoology Museum Summer Openings

The D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum is open for the summer season and will be open every Friday afternoon (2pm to 4.30pm) until 4th September.

Come along to see D’Arcy Thompson’s amazing collection of animals from around the world along with models, charts and stunning artworks inspired by D’Arcy’s ideas and collections. Some unusual specimens have been added to the displays this year, including a Tayra and a Rat-Kangaroo. 

We’ve also recently acquired a beautiful etching by D’Arcy Thompson’s daughter Molly (who became an artist and author), which will also be on display. 

There’s also plenty for the kids to enjoy and we’re now an accredited learning destination for the Children’s University, so children doing our activities can pick up stamps for their CU passports.

Please enter via the front door of the Carnelley Building and ask at reception.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Glamis Drive pavements

Glamis Drive
I have again raised with the City Council - at the request of constituents - the poor pavement condition in Glamis Drive between the junction with Hazel Drive and Glamis Road.   I specifically asked, given its deteriorated state, if it can be considered for a future year's resurfacing programme.

I have received the following response from the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership :

"Glamis Drive footways are not included in the provisional three year footway resurfacing list .

However, they have been identified for inclusion in future programmes of work subject to funding and other priorities identified at that time. 

They will of course continue to be inspected on a regular basis and any actionable defects dealt with to ensure safety is maintained."

I will continue to press for pavement improvements in Glamis Drive.

Friday 19 June 2015

Ninewells Community Garden Update

Update from the Community Garden on 19th June :   Many apologies, but the first session (22/6/15) has had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. The first session will now run on Monday 29th June at the same time.

Thursday 18 June 2015

West Henderson's Wynd and Miln Street

I have, in recent months, raised with the City Council, the need to improve the road situation near to Verdant Works.  
My own view is that there is merit in creating a safer pedestrian entrance to Verdant Works by stopping up West Henderson's Wynd outside Verdant Works.    

The advantages of this are obvious - a safe entrance area for this important visitor attraction (whose visitor numbers are going to continue to increase with the new facility opening at the High Mill), a better meeting point in the event of evacuation of the building due to a fire alarm - and there are other adjacent streets for through traffic so no adverse impact on traffic movements.

I was recently updated by the City Council as follows :

"Just to update you on West Henderson's Wynd/Miln Street you will be aware that West Henderson's Wynd, north side of Verdant Works entrance for approximately 25m and a section of Miln Street is currently closed for building operations.

At the previous meeting with Verdant Works management this closure was discussed and it was agreed that this temporary closure would be a good trial for any permanent stopping up section or one way proposals.

As previously advised as part of the development works at Verdant Works they were considering alternative entrance arrangements including people with disabilities and would submit these proposals to Dundee City Council for permission. 

Please be assured we will continue communications with Verdant Works following submission of their proposals."

Sunday Bandstand Concert

The second 2015 Sunday Bandstand Concert on the Magdalen Green Bandstand takes place this coming Sunday at 2pm.

The Dundee Instrumental Band will be playing - more details here.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Tuesday activities

Yesterday, I was able to attend part of the Dundee Economic Summit at the Apex Hotel, with some superb speakers and a very positive narrative about the city's economic development.

Thereafter, I was interviewed by STV News about the opening of the new Seabraes Bridge (see right).   The bridge looks fantastic and is of real benefit to the West End, greatly improving links between Riverside and Seabraes/Perth Road.

In the afternoon, I look part in a very positive and productive Dundee Airport Consultative Committee meeting at the Invercarse Hotel.   

Last night, it was a great pleasure to be a guest at the Dundee West Church Sheila Tennant Awards - in the spirit of Mary Slessor.    Sheila (pictured below left) was a very old friend of mine, who passed away in 2013.   

It was typical of Sheila's generosity that she left a substantial legacy to Dundee West Church, her own parish church, and the church is using a generous part of the legacy for the awards to benefit local good causes and projects.   I was delighted to be part of the judging panel of the Community Endeavour Award, won by St Salvador's Episcopal Church for their excellent Food Cupboard initiative.

The Awards night was absolutely superb, with excellent musical entertainment from Harris Academy pupils and pupils from Victoria Park Primary School and eight awards were presented by Mary, Countess of Strathmore.    It was very well-attended and congratulations go to Rev Andrew Greaves, Vicky Greaves and all at Dundee West Church for such a superb community event.    See photo from last night - below:

Riverside Nature Park - event this Sunday

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Harris Academy Strawberry Fayre

The Harris Academy Parent Teacher Pupil Association is holding a Strawberry Fayre at the school in Lawton Road this Saturday (20th June) between 10am at 12 noon.

There will be coffee and home baking and pupils from the music department will be performing throughout the morning.   There will also be prize bingo at 10.30am.

All welcome!

Monday 15 June 2015

Getting things done - Saggar Street

I have recently, on behalf of residents, raised with the City Council's Housing Department the poor condition of several paving slabs resulting in trip hazards outside some of the flats in Saggar Street - see below :

Computer classes at the Mitchell Street Centre

On Monday afternoons, immediately prior to my weekly surgery at the Mitchell Street Centre, there's a great group of older people who, with the expertise of course leader Jeanette, learn about many aspects of using a PC, laptop or tablet.

The group always welcomes new members, so let the Mitchell Street Centre (phone 435808) know if you are interested in joining this friendly group!

Sunday 14 June 2015

X7 hospital bus link - an update

Cllr Willie Wilson
In the past few months, my LibDem colleague Cllr Willie Wilson of Perth & Kinross Council and I have highlighted the problems the X7 hospital link bus service causes many constituents who are elderly or who have mobility difficulties, given the style of bus used.

Although we secured some concessions from the bus operators Stagecoach at a meeting we held with them back in January, no early commitment to replace the coach type could be given.

I am therefore pleased that Willie has now written to Sir Brian Souter, Chairman of the Stagecoach Group requesting that he intervenes in this matter.   Both Willie and I have continued to receive concerns from constituents about the unsuitability of the coach type for the hospital service.

Here's Willie's letter to Sir Brian - I'll keep residents updated as to Sir Brian's response when Willie receives this :

13 June 2015

Sir Brian Souter
Stagecoach Ltd
Dear Sir

X7 Bus Service – Perth Royal Infirmary to Aberdeen

As you may be aware, grave concerns have been expressed by many users of the above service.  The type of bus provided by Stagecoach is completely unsuitable for inter-hospital transport.  

I am advised by Andrew Jarvis that it is not within his remit to seek replacement coaches within the Stagecoach Group.  Perhaps this is something you could look at personally.  It may be possible to replace the buses with others in a couple of years’ time; however the public cannot wait this length of time for an improvement.  I have received numerous complaints regarding the steep stairs on the bus and the lack of disability access and seating.

Can you please advise if it is possible to exchange the buses on this route for some others that have improved disability and low floor access?

I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully

Councillor Willie Wilson

Saturday activities ...

Yesterday, I was pleased to attend the Summer Fayres at Ancrum Road and Blackness Primary Schools.   Both were really well attended, really enjoyable and really good value for money too - with adult entry at each only £1!

Here's some Saturday photographs :
A busy Ancrum Primary School Summer Fayre
At the Ancrum Road Primary School Fayre 
Blackness Primary School's event was equally well-attended
Always a good sport, Gordon Ferrier was back in the stocks!
City Church on Tullideph Road also had their Family Fun Day yesterday

Saturday 13 June 2015

Jim Petrie: Minnie the Minx and More!

The late Jim Petrie

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

Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, University of Dundee

This is a special exhibition celebrating the work of artist Jim Petrie, who died last year.    A former student of Dundee College of Art (now Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design) and Dundee Training College (now the University’s School of Education, Social Work & Community Education), Jim later became a popular art teacher at Kirkton High School but is best known as the man who drew the "world's wildest tomboy" Minnie the Minx for 40 years in DC Thomson's famous comic The Beano. 

The exhibition will include many of his classic Minnie artworks along with other examples of his comics art and some of Jim's paintings and drawings, revealing the full range of his artistic talents. The show has been created with the assistance of Jim's family and DC Thomson & Co Ltd.

The exhibition is now open and will run until 19th September - Monday to Friday 9.30am to 8.30pm and Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Friday 12 June 2015

Call for mobile phone company to improve phone mast

I have called on mobile phone network providers to take a more sympathetic approach to residential amenity when upgrading mobile phone masts.     

This follows news that one applicant, Wilkinson Helsby, plans to upgrade a mast in Perth Road near to Glamis Road but replace the current mast which is disguised as a telegraph pole (see photo) with an undisguised mast.    

I have written to Wilkinson Helsby asking them to think again about the type of mast to be used and provide one that will not impact adversely on the look of the area.

Because of what I consider to be an unfortunate relaxation in planning regulations, many phone mast replacements and upgrades do not require planning permission from the local authority and this is what has happened in the case of the mast on Perth Road near Glamis Road.    This effectively gives the mobile phone company the ability to put what it likes onsite and replace a phone mast which is well disguised as a telephone pole, tree or similar, with an undisguised pole which is an eyesore.

In the case of this particular site, I have written to the applicant and asked them to have some regard for the local area and replace like with like so a disguised pole is provided.    I rather fear that the planning legislation is not stringent enough and allows mobile phone companies to put undisguised masts in residential areas, which is very unfortunate.

Sunday Bandstand Concert

The first 2015 Sunday Bandstand Concert on the Magdalen Green Bandstand takes place this coming Sunday at 2pm.

The Forfar Instrumental Band will be playing - more details here.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Harris Academy Project Board

Artist's impression of the completed new school plaza
This morning, I participated in the latest Harris Academy Project Board meeting.   The Board oversees the strategic aspects of the new school building project and we had a very positive update about construction progress (which I saw for myself last Monday).

I spoke about two important aspects - getting organised for the provision of community use after the new school building opens in August 2016 and ensuring transport (and drop-off/pick up) arrangements are well organised.

It was an extremely productive meeting with the project going well.

Damaged safety barrier at Blackness Primary School - action taken

Following concerns expressed by residents about the damage to the safety barrier outside Blackness Primary School's Pennycook Lane entrance (see photo right), I raised this with the City Council.

I have been advised in response :

"I can advise that an Inspector has been on site ... and advised that the location is safe (no sharp edges etc) and that he will raise and order to get the barrier replaced."

Wednesday 10 June 2015

West End Christmas Fortnight 2015!

Earlier today, after a site visit to a right of way issue in the West End and a briefing by the City Council/Tayside Contracts Roads Maintenance Partnership, I chaired the first meeting of the year for the West End Christmas Fortnight 2015 - yes, Christmas in June!   

The West End Christmas Fortnight takes a lot of planning so it is sensible to start early and we had a very productive meeting at Blackness Library to start to organise this year's events.

Many thanks to all who participated today and if any resident or local business wants to play a role with West End Christmas Fortnight 2015, do please let me know - christmas2015@frasermacpherson.org.uk - many thanks.

Discovery Walk update

Last August, I mentioned the excellent Discovery Walk proposal, which has now moved forward a long way.   I've been pleased to take part in the committee progressing this and very grateful to the other members of the committee who have put a lot of effort into progressing this excellent proposal.

The Discovery Walk will comprise of nine plaques set into the paved area of the Green Space at the heart of the city's huge new waterfront development to celebrate these contributions in a highly visible and permanent way.  Bronze plaques in the pavement will tell the fascinating stories behind these individuals and their discoveries and inventions.

You have until 24th June to be involved by helping to select the first nine plaques to be placed in Discovery Walk.  On the shortlist are 14 people whose contributions deserve celebration and from the following criteria you can let us know by completing the short survey your top three or whether there are others that should be considered instead.

The Nominees for the walk are Mary Ann Baxter, James Chalmers, Geofrey Dutton, Alfred Ewing, Margaret Fairlie, James Bowan Lindsay, R D Low, George Lowdon, Thomas McLagan, George A Pirie, James F Riley, Walter Spear, D'Arcy Thompson and Mary Lily Walker.  You can check out their stories on the Discovery Walk Facebook page 

The criteria :

1.  The person or people being commemorated must be deceased.

2.  The person or people must either have been born and/or educated in Dundee, or have spent a considerable part of their life in Dundee.  

3.  The person or people nominated must have either a notable/influential discovery of some kind or be noted for some form of exploration - scientific, geographic or cultural.  

4.  Their achievement has happened in Dundee or be rooted or industry specific to the city.  

5.  The discovery can be a group of people.  

6.  Where there are two equally valid subjects, Discovery Walk should favour the one that is less well-celebrated elsewhere.   

Please complete the survey by 24th June by clicking here.

Getting things done - Seafield Road

Following complaints from residents about the poor pavement condition on the west side of Seafield Road, I reported this to the City Council.

The council's Roads Maintenance Partnership has responded positively as follows :

"The Roads Maintenance Partnership inspector for the area has raised an order for grano patching at this location.    There is no timescale for these works at present but they will be done as soon as resources are available and earlier priorities have been dealt with."

Tuesday 9 June 2015

West End Community Council meeting

Earlier this evening, I attended the June West End Community Council meeting at which there was an excellent presentation by Jay Grant and his colleague Sandy Boyd about the work of the council's Environment Department and, in particular, the proposals for schools and community use of the former bowling green at Victoria Park.

There was also a good discussion of a number of local issues.   The Community Council has a summer recess and its next meeting is on Tuesday 8th September.

West End Community Council Update

I have today launched my June 2015 Update to West End Community Council.    Subjects covered include:

Magdalen Green Noticeboard finally returns!

Christmas Fortnight 2015

20mph zones in residential areas - latest news

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

Seabraes Bridge opening

The new Seabraes Bridge
I have queried with the City Engineer when the new bridge at Seabraes will be open to the public.   It is a little behind schedule (originally planned for a 'soft opening' in late May with an official opening in June).

The City Engineer updated me late yesterday as follows :

"Just to confirm that the Official Opening will not take place on 16 June 2015 as the Transport Minister cannot make that date.

Instead the Official Opening will be arranged for August/September after the schools have returned from the summer holidays.

Now, the bridge is currently planned to open on 16 June without anything official happening but we will be making a press release in advance of the opening."

The important thing is to get this new bridge opened so I am pleased there is now certainty about this.   It looks really good and will give a great new link between Riverside and the Seabraes/Perth Road areas.

Tree replacements - Blackness Avenue

The City Council recently crowned a number of trees in Blackness Avenue that were requiring trimming and a small number were removed where the tree had either died off or the roots were causing a significant deal of damage to the footpath.

A number of residents have sought assurances that any removed trees will be replaced.   I took this up with the council's Assistant Forestry Officer who advises :

"I can assure you and your constituents that replacement street tree planting at Blackness Avenue will be carried out with in the next tree planting season. 

The season will likely be between November 2015 to the end of March 2016. 

All trees that have been removed have had their stumps subject to grinding and back filled with top soil to create a tree pit for the new trees to be planted. 

There are one or two areas that are to be patched over, as per the site visit and agreement last year. 

All remaining tree pits within Blackness Avenue will be planted with a new street tree during this next planting season."

Monday 8 June 2015

Harris Academy site tour ... and City Council meetings

This morning, I took part in the latest Tay Road Bridge Board meeting.   Thereafter, along with three other councillors and council officers, I took part in a tour of the Harris Academy new building.    

I am pleased to say it is making really good progress - some photos below :

Gym Hall
Climbing wall in the games area
Community entrance area
After my usual Monday ward surgeries, I participated in tonight's City Council meetings at which I asked questions about work to improve air quality particularly in the Lochee Road area, supported the principle of restructuring council departments proposed by the council's Chief Executive and asked about progress with the proposed Saltire Card for improved public transport arrangements for passengers.