Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Positive meeting about future use of Victoria Park Bowling Green

Victoria Park Bowling Green
Earlier this evening, along with representatives from the council's Environment Department, Friends of Balgay, West End Community Council, Community Spirit Action Group, St Joseph's Primary School, Victoria Park Primary School and fellow ward councillors, I took part in a meeting to discuss what can now be done with Victoria Park Bowling Green, following the council's decision to close it.

I was critical of the closure decision, particularly after the council recently spent nearly £23 000 re-roofing the green's pavilion, so I am anxious that positive alternative use is found for the bowling green and its pavilion.

We had a very positive meeting tonight and the upshot is that there's now a proposal to give use of the facility to local schools to use for outdoor activities, school eco and gardening projects during the day, with community use in the evenings.    

Environment Department officers are now to draw up a paper outlining how the proposals could work in practice and a site visit will be undertaken after the school Easter holidays.

Friends of Wighton Lunchtime Recital - Wednesday 1st April

From Sheena Wellington :

Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library - Wednesday 1st April at 1.15pm

Bob Knight, singer/songwriter

Admission free, donations welcomed.

A return visit to the Wighton from Bob Knight, a singer from Aberdeen who has slowly but surely been making a name for himself in the world of folk and traditional music. 

He is well known in North East Scotland folk circles as a singer and writer of songs in traditional style, having performed at most of the local clubs, and festivals, including many events at Aberdeen University's Elphinstone Institute. 

Bob doesn't just confine himself to his home patch though, and has played all over Scotland, including Edinburgh Folk club, The Scottish Storytelling Centre ,(Edinburgh) The Rolling Hills Folk Festival in Melrose, the Portsoy Boat Festival, Dougie McLean's Perthshire Amber festival, and Celtic Connections in Glasgow. 

In August 2012 and then again in 2013, he performed in a series of highly successful concerts at the prestigious Whitby Folk Week, in Yorkshire.

In August 2013, Bob released his second CD, "Songs From My Tradition," this time ringing the changes by recording Scottish traditional unaccompanied songs. 

Future projects include another CD, of Scottish folk favourites, "Fields Of Home," recorded with his brother Willie Knight, and the eagerly awaited third solo album, which will feature Bob's best known and requested original songs. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Guest blog - Stacey Corkhill

I am pleased to publish below a guest contribution for my blog from Stacey Corkhill, a local Digital Communications Assistant and a recent Interior and Environmental Design Graduate from the University of Dundee.   

Stacey's contribution is about tackling graffiti :

Improving the West End: and booting out the vandals

There’s no doubt about it – the West End of Dundee has become a heartland for design, architecture and the prosperity of the city. 

UNESCO awarded us City of Design status; the upcoming V&A museum will see tourist numbers soar; the overhaul of the waterfront will inject millions into the local economy; and the modernisation of Dundee’s train station has made the influx of tourists more easily manageable. 

As the spring season rears its head, things are looking brighter for all of Dundee’s West End. 

Yet from Balgay Hill to the Cultural Quarter, one problem is hitting residents hard – it’s graffiti, and it’s painting problems wherever it’s sprayed. 

Indeed, have-a-go Banksys have always existed in Dundee. But many vandals don’t seem to realise the negative impact they’re having on the community.

A single graffiti council clean-up costs taxpayers thousands of pounds. Imagine that figure multiplied hundreds of times as councils battle to clear up the mess made by these puerile etchers. 

One case in the local area is a perfect indicator of the cost of graffiti in the community. 

An individual who appeared at the Perth Sheriff Court for vandalism offences in 2010, was forced to pay back the cost of the clean-up bill – a sum of £4,206. 

According to STV News, the sheriff said: "This was childish, puerile, stupid, idiotic, immature behaviour which the rest of us find difficult to fathom. How would he feel if someone came up to his property and spray painted it?

"Road signs are of particular significance as they may be related to road safety. I expect him to pay every single penny back to the taxpayer for the damage he caused.

"Why should anyone else have to fork out? Taxpayers in this community have had to pay over £4,000 because of his wanton vandalism.

"He probably never thought he would have to pay the cost of it. It is instructive that that is the cost of this kind of wanton, idiotic vandalism.

"There seems to be a belief this kind of graffiti is art, but it is not art, it is vandalism because you are damaging the property and the public has to pay. Now he has had his comeuppance."

But Dundee’s West End is working hard to fix the damage reaped on properties in the area.

Solutions to the problem :

Several volunteer groups come together at regular intervals to help rid the streets of tags and drawings. The Community Spirit Action Group is a particular champion of these events in the local area. Graffiti removal from private companies is also being utilised across the area for wider scale clear-ups. 

More than this, we recommend reporting any graffiti you see to the appropriate authorities. Graffiti vandalism is illegal under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) 2004.   The culprits need to be taught that their so-called “works of art” are, in fact, a nuisance. 

Dundee’s West End is improving in leaps and bounds – let’s not allow vandals to ruin our progress. 

Blether Tay-Gither March meeting


Tomorrow, Tuesday 31st March at 7pm. 
Madigan's Tea Room and Bookshop - 25 Castle Street.

Blether Tay-Gither will be celebrating its 8th birthday with the theme: '8 or Ate.'

Come along and tell a tale or just sit back & listen.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Harris Academy PTPA Prize Bingo Evening

Harris Academy Parent Teacher and Pupils' Association is holding a Prize Bingo Evening this Tuesday, 31st March at the school in Lawton Road.

Eyes down at 7pm.     Tickets are priced at £1.00.   

All welcome!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Automating council transactions

A constituent recently pointed out that, in trying to obtain a permit to allow him to temporarily site a skip on the roadside during house improvements, he was surprised he could not directly apply on-line via the council's website.

As I am keen that constituents are offered as many services on-line as possible (as well as alternative ways for those not wishing to go on-line), I asked the City Council's Head of Transportation why this was not possible on-line and have been advised as follows :

"The current arrangements are that an applicant can access the form from Dundee City Council's web site and print the form to enter the details.

On the form there are notes for guidance for applicants which explain the application can be made in person at Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee.  The fee charge for the required period is also detailed on the application form.   Alternatively the application form and fee can be posted to Dundee House.

Unfortunately at this moment in time you cannot submit the application form or make a payment on line but Network Management are currently working along with IT Software Development Team and Revenues Team to make on-line payments for skip and scaffold applications available."

The City Council's Head of Information Technology further advises :

"Investigations have been undertaken on this requirement. It is one which touches a number of disparate functions and systems within the Council. This includes City Development, Customer Services and Finance. The complexities of the process measured against the number of transactions which occur are the primary reasons why a solution had not been taken forward so far. Work has been concentrated on delivering automated higher volume transactions.

Discussions with wider business colleagues have enabled us to identify a simpler version of the application form. This will enable us to: 

1. Allow online payments of skips. This was the original requirement demanding change.
2. Make the application form an online process as well.

We have scheduled a mid summer timeframe for delivering a solution on this."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Payment of invoices to the City Council

As there has been focus on the speed of payments to suppliers by Scottish local authorities recently, I sought an update from the City Council's Director of Corporate Services to give reassurance that the council makes every effort to pay suppliers - and, in particular, smaller local suppliers - promptly.

In response, she advises :

"Dundee City Council has a policy of paying all external suppliers within 30 days in line with the majority of other councils throughout Scotland and this is one of our key performance indicators. Dundee has consistently been in the top quartile in terms of performance in this area. In addition to this indicator, the Council introduced its own policy of paying local suppliers within 10 days several years ago and I believe we were the only council in Scotland at the time that operated this arrangement.

The Scottish Government's target of 10 days is to ensure that all local suppliers are paid timeously to ensure cash flow and this is something that we are acutely conscious of and was one of the main reasons we introduced our own local policy.

As at 31 January 2015, the Council paid on average 77% of its creditors within 14 days and 94% within 30 days. Within these totals, the Council paid local suppliers on average 87% within 14 days and 95% within 30 days.

Dundee City Council's figure of 78% quoted as being paid within 10 days would include most of the local suppliers the Council deals with.

There will be some invoices unpaid because of disputes regarding payment, deliveries, quality issues etc. There are also invoices that come into the Council for payment some time after the actual date on the invoice.   This is the date that is input into the system for payment and would therefore show as going over 30 days.

The performance of payment varies between different areas of the Council with the vast majority of invoices being paid within 14 days whether they are local or external to Dundee.    For instance of almost 4,000 invoices from local suppliers processed by Social Work during January, 95% were paid within 14 days and 98% were paid within 30 days.

In order to continue to improve our performance, the City Council has set up a centralised 'Purchase to Pay' Team through which ALL Dundee City Council invoices will be processed using intelligent scanning.   This is currently being rolled out to several departments across the council (ie Housing, Social Work and Education) and this new process should have a marked effect on the time taken to process invoices for all suppliers both Local and outwith Dundee.

Once the new centralised arrangements are fully rolled out, we will be able to review our target payment arrangements."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Earth Hour 2015

WWF’s Earth Hour is a global annual event where hundreds of millions of people switch off their lights for one hour to show they care about our planet.    It takes place this Saturday, 28th March.

It’s about people from across the globe coming together to create a symbolic and spectacular lights out display and asking for change.

It happens every year between 8.30 and 9.30pm, with switch offs starting in Samoa and finishing in Tahiti. 

It’s been growing every year, with more and more countries and people signing up – last year an all-time record with 162 countries took part.

You can find out more here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Solar Cities Scotland

I have written over the past few years about the excellent work of Solar Cities Scotland, and in particular its insulation pilot work in Logie.

The current project has been funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund since July 2012.     It has saved 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over this period - this is roughly the weight of 4 jumbo jets! - 110% of an enormously ambitious target. 

Very sadly, due to funding issues, Solar Cities Scotland is ceasing operational activity as from 31st March.   Whilst the project's board hope to secure future funding to allow for recommencement of the project's work in the future, I have spoken with City Council officers about how it can be ensured that the work and expertise of the project's team is not lost.

Today, the team held an end of project celebration event at the Hannah McClure Centre at Abertay University and, although my visit was short due to a hugely busy diary, I was able to call by to wish the team well and thank them for all their excellent work.

Here's me below with Sharon Bain from Solar Cities Scotland at the event today:

Riverside Drive road safety audit

Further to my February update on the outstanding roads issues affecting Riverside Drive following its redesign and resurfacing last autumn, the promised road safety audit has now been completed and the City Council's Head of Transportation has now advised me as follows :

"The Road Safety Audit and recommended amendments have now been fully signed off and the design engineers are actioning the remedial works.

Summarising the recommendations will see:

An edge of road hatching replacing the temporary coning and end of lane bollards installed to make it clear that vehicles should not use this section of road.  This section of roadway will remain at this moment as there is essential road drainage in place and any removal will have significant civil engineering costs that the current scheme could not absorb
Illuminated bollards will be installed at the Tesco Roundabout
Additional painted arrows to be added to make clear that there is diverging opportunities at Riverside Approach (approaching from east), approaching TESCO from west and approaching the right turn refuge from the east for accessing Riverside Approach
The lighting levels have been checked and are acceptable
Other junction and lining amendments already implemented along the line of the works.
All changes to be completed as soon as possible, aside from illuminated bollard that will require road closure / cabling work s and scheduled alongside other planned works later this year

Outwith the scope of the Road Safety Audit the brightness of the traffic signals has been assessed as standard and acceptable, however Siemens and our engineers are discussing the concerns your constituent raised regarding glare in hours of darkness (ie should there be night time dimming?)"

I have made clear to the City Council that a permanent solution for the coned off areas on the north side, east of the rail goods yard, must be found as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Today's meetings ...

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the AGM of the Sinderins and Pennycook Courts Residents' Association, covering both sheltered housing complexes.

It was a well attended and productive meeting.   I updated residents on a number of matters including the new bin/recycling arrangements for much of the West End, changes to the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service from July and liaison with Home Scotland who own the housing.

Tonight, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Bonnie Dundee group, at the City Chambers. 

This really positive group encourages improvements to the Dundee environment and helps local groups who keep Dundee's parks, open areas, streets and gardens in good shape, and it was a really positive meeting with lots of good initiatives taking place.

Riverside Nature Park - practical conservation

There will be practical conservation work for volunteers at Riverside Nature Park this coming Sunday - 29th March.

All volunteers are very welcome and anyone willing to take part should meet in the nature park car park at 1pm.


Monday, March 23, 2015

City Council tonight

After my surgeries this afternoon at the Mitchell Street Centre and the West Park Centre, I took part in tonight's City Council committee meetings.

At City Development Committee, I welcomed the proposed street names for the waterfront area and in particular the fact the northern boulevard is to be named Thomson Avenue after James Thomson, former City Architect and City Engineer.   I mentioned that James Thomson's grand-daughter Trixie, now in her 90s and still living in the West End, will be delighted at the recognition of her grandfather's huge legacy to Dundee, which includes the Kingsway (the country's first ring-road), Coldside and Blackness Libraries, the City Square and Caird Hall, and the Logie Estate.

At the same committee, I sought assurances about ensuring a sustainable future for the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service in a discussion about a transport public social partnership.

At Social Work Committee, I praised the organisation and achievements of the Community Payback scheme in the city that has achieved good results on projects in the West End.

Mrs Marion Myles

It came as a terrible shock to learn yesterday of the passing of Marion Myles, Head Teacher of St Joseph's Primary School, at the age of only 54.

Marion was a hard-working, approachable and highly professional head teacher.    I first knew her as Marion Lawrence before her marriage and she was a long-serving head teacher at St Joseph's.  Marion was always very supportive of community events such as West End Christmas Fortnight.

My thoughts are with her friends and family at this very sad time.

Muybridge and Animal Locomotion

Eadweard Muybridge
From the Curator of Museum Services, University of Dundee :

Tuesday 24th March, 6pm to 7pm
Muybridge and Animal Locomotion

To accompany the Bodies in Motion exhibition, we celebrate the study of animal locomotion in this special event featuring short talks paying tribute to pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose stop-motion images allowed the movement of humans and animals to be recorded and analysed in detail for the first time. 

Museum Curator Matthew Jarron will give an overview of Muybridge’s work and describe his visit to Dundee in 1890 to give one of the Armitstead Lectures. 

Dr Keith Williams (Senior Lecturer in English) will talk about the cultural impact Muybridge’s work has had, particularly in cinema and literature. Finally, Dr David Booth (Programme Lead for Biological Sciences) will discuss the evolution of animal locomotion and how our understanding has changed since Muybridge’s time, with new insights gained by delving more deeply into the genome. Refreshments will be served after the event. Admission is free and there is no need to book.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Community Awards available

The following update from Kath Torode, Community Champion at Tesco Riverside, will be of interest to local community groups :

The Tesco Charity Trust  Community Awards Scheme provides one off donations between £500 and £2,500 to charities, not for profit groups and schools.

The Community Awards are now open for applications until 24th April.

Please visit www.tescoplc.com/tescocharitytrust for details and to apply for a grant.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Glenagnes Road and Glenagnes Street

Glenagnes Road site
In past weeks, I have highlighted residents' concerns about untidy, unkempt areas in Glenagnes Street and Glenagnes Road.

I am pleased to advise that I have now had confirmation that the Environment Department will be tidying both sites.    

Additionally, at the site in Glenagnes Road (east side south of the West End Campus), the department will also erect a chespale fence where the previous (now removed) fence was, to avoid any further fly-tipping.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Friends of Wighton - Cappuccino Concert - Saturday 21st March

From Sheena Wellington :

Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library  - this Saturday at 11am :

Helen Forbes (tin whistle), with Lou Lewis (guitar) - Cappuccino Concert.

Tickets £5 (includes coffee, available from 10.30am).

Scotland's finest whistle player presents reels, jigs, slow airs and a surprise or two, sensitively accompanied by Lou Lewis on guitar.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ground at the Technology Park

Overgrown area - Summer 2011
In the past, I have highlighted complaints from constituents about the state of the ground on Dundee’s Technology Park at the entrance to the City particularly in the summer months.

Over the past few years each summer, I have received many concerns about the untidy state of the ground running along Riverside Avenue, just east of the Swallow Roundabout.   It is important that it is kept looking good as it is a prominent entrance to Dundee and often looks unsightly in the summer months because of lack of regular-enough grass cutting/maintenance.

In advance of this summer, I again highlighted the matter to the City Council’s Director of City Development who advises:

“The area highlighted at the Technology Park is a matter that has been investigated previously.   It was established that the area where there is a lack of maintenance to the front of the commercial buildings is in multiple private ownership.    A meeting is being organised with the marketing agents for these properties to their consider their future use and the issue of maintenance will be raised.”

Monday, March 16, 2015

New bins and recycling arrangements - Blackness Road update

I previously mentioned the concerns raised by residents in Blackness Road west of Ashbank Road (on the north side and east of Balgay Road) about how the new arrangements are proposed to affect them.  

Eurobins were proposed but this was a stretch of Blackness Road where the current collection arrangements were working well, with few if any bins left permanently on the pavement.

A consultation meeting took place late last month which I and local residents attended and council officers listened carefully to residents’ views.    I am pleased to say that the Environment Department has now revised the proposals here to :

Retention of grey wheeled bins for general waste

Introduction of individual wheeled bins for recycling (blue bin for paper, card, metals and plastics, burgundy bin for mixed glass)

Introduction of an on-street communal food container (small kitchen caddies and liners provided to each household to collect food waste)

Garden waste (brown bins) service to remain unchanged

I am pleased that residents’ views were taken on board and the department is writing to all residents to update them about the revised arrangements.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mono 68 urban planning event

From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee:
Mono 68: One city, One month, One camera
Photographs by Phil Thomson, Dundee, November 1968
Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, University of Dundee

To accompany this highly popular exhibition we have arranged another special event:

Monday 16th March at 5.30pm

The Changing Face of Urban Planning – a series of short talks followed by a discussion exploring how planning has changed in Dundee and other cities over the years. Why was so much of the city demolished and are we more sympathetic towards conservation of the built environment today?

The event will start in the Lamb Gallery then move into Room T4 for four presentations:

Jack Searle of Dundee Civic Trust will describe his memories of planning in Dundee in the 1960s and discuss the decisions made at that time.

Barbara Illsley, who recently retired as a senior lecturer in Town & Regional Planning, will discuss Whitfield as a case study of development, demolition and regeneration.

Deborah Peel, Professor of Architecture & Planning, will discuss how attitudes to urban planning have changed over the years, and the increasing recognition of the value of conservation.

Finally, Gordon Birrell of the Housing department at Dundee City Council will describe the renovation programme for Dundee’s remaining multis.

Please meet in the Lamb Gallery. Attendance is free but places are limited so please reserve a seat via Eventbrite.

The exhibition runs until 21st March and is open Monday to Friday (9.30am to 8.30pm) and Saturday (9.30am to 4.30pm).

Friday, March 13, 2015

Unadopted footways programme : Eton Street

Eton Street appears on the unadopted footways list for future adoption.   Residents have queried with me why it has low priority and, on looking at the scoring for the street (in terms of the scheme's scoring priority), I was surprised at its low points for age of housing.

I raised this with the City Engineer and am now pleased to advise of his helpful response :

"I can confirm that 6 points is given to streets where the majority of housing is built between 1940 and 1965. 

The scoring system for Age of Housing is as follows:

Pre-1919 - 12 points
1920-1939 - 9 points
1940-1965 - 6 points
1966-Present Day - 3 points 
No Houses - 0 points

Please note that the Age of Housing score is given for the majority of houses and that one or two houses built before the assessed time period in a street is not considered sufficient justification for a higher point score.

We have however reviewed the Age of Housing in Eton Street and noted from historic maps that 9 houses out of 15 were built pre-1940 (from 1937/38 Town Plans). Given that, we will increase the Age of Housing score to 9 for Eton Street and include it in the current reassessment of the Priority List."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Harris Academy Parent Council

This evening, after my weekly ward surgery at Blackness Primary School, I participated in the latest meeting of the Harris Academy Parent Council.

Jim Thewliss, Head Teacher, gave a very interesting and useful presentation on various aspects of examination performance.   

Jim recently announced that he will retire from the Head Teacher's post at the end of the current academic year and he will thereafter take up the post of General Secretary of School Leaders Scotland

Jim has made an immense contribution to education in Dundee throughout his time as Harris Academy's Head Teacher and he will leave Harris Academy in excellent shape.

Dundee Botanic Garden Endowment Trust

Gordon and I at the Botanic Garden today
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of meeting with Gordon Ramsay, Development Officer for the Dundee Botanic Garden Endowment Trust.   

Last October, I was delighted to attend the well-attended launch of the Trust and, today, Gordon was able to give me a very positive update about the Trust's progress and future plans.

The purpose of the Dundee Botanic Garden Endowment Trust is to provide an alternative funding source which will benefit the public by:

• Investing in the economic sustainability and future of the Dundee Botanic Garden 

• Inspiring community involvement through the development of activities to promote engagement

• Building financial assets and resources to support Garden operations and development

• Educating and promoting health and wellbeing in the wider Dundee community

You can read more about the Trust at its Facebook page.

Friends of Magdalen Green meeting

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the latest Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting.

It was a really positive meeting and great to hear the success of the recent 'Can't Cook, Won't Cook' fundraising event.    A Dance Night is now being planned for June, with tea dances later in the year.

The Friends of Magdalen Green AGM will take place on the evening of Tuesday 19th May at the Friendship Hall, Dundee West Church.    

The speaker will be Eddie Small, author of the book Mary Lily Walker: Forgotten Visionary of Dundee - pictured right.

Forthcoming event as part of Women in Science Festival 2015


Getting things done ... Richmond Terrace

Residents have rightly complained to me about the poor road surface in Richmond Terrace:
I asked the City Engineer if the roadway can be considered for a future thin resurfacing programme and have now been advised as follows :

"Richmond Terrace will be considered for inclusion in the updated 2015-18 carriageway resurfacing programme which is currently being reviewed."

Meantime, I am assured that current potholes will be attended to by the start of April.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Improving collections at the Roseangle recycling facility

I have previously highlighted problems with the recycling centre at Roseangle overflowing (particularly the plastics bins) and constituents again highlighted this over the past couple of days, as reported in last night's Evening Telegraph.

The centre was serviced and tidied at my request yesterday so is now looking a lot better:
However, the substantive issue is that the facility either requires more bins or more regular servicing.   The Environment Department's Head of Policy and Performance responded to me as follows yesterday on these points as follows:

"With regard to the above issue, the ongoing concern seems to be the amount of plastics waste (bulky, and any bins for this commodity tend to fill a lot more quickly than other commodities). Ideally we would like to reconfigure the amount of bins on the site - but owing to the space constraints there, this could mean removing a bin for another commodity, which would prove problematic in other ways.

Additionally, our collection framework is set up in such a way that carrying out another collection here would be challenging operationally, so we are therefore actively looking into reconfiguring the site to have smaller bins for some of the other commodities, thus allowing more room for additional plastic bin(s). As soon as this is undertaken, a member of the team will advise you."

In response I made the point that expanding the facility to the immediate west may prove viable and had this follow-up helpful reply:

"We intend to try to make improvements to the configuration to better accommodate the plastics volume as our first change - if we could expand the site as you suggest, it would certainly be of value. We will therefore investigate this aspect as well.

Just for noting, the majority of our resources this week are devoted to the container delivery and associated programmes, so it may be a week or so before we can make any potential changes at this site."

Dr Fred Freeman at the Wighton Heritage Centre

Dr Freeman
From Sheena Wellington :

Dr Fred Freeman: A Musical Introduction to the Scots Language

The Wighton Centre invites you to an exciting talk about the Scots language by Dr Fred Freeman.

Friday 13th March 2015 at 2pm at the Wighton Centre, Central Library.

Dr Freeman is author of two books on Scottish poetry and over a 100 articles on Scottish literature, folk music and history. He is a producer and musical director of some 45 CDs, including the 12 volume collection of the Complete songs of Roberts Burns. He has taught at both the School of Scottish Studies and the English Department at University of Edinburgh; and also held postdoctoral posts at Edinburgh and Oxford universities.

This is a free event but booking is essential.

Bookings can be made by contact Central Library on 431500 or central.library@leisureandculturedundee.com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday activities

This morning, I had the pleasure of supporting Shelter Scotland's awareness raising campaign - Illegal Evictions: Know Your Rights, run with the support of Police Scotland, Crimestoppers and the Scottish Association of Landlords.

Shelter is running this excellent campaign to ensure that tenants and landlords know their rights and responsibilities and that illegally evicting a tenant is a criminal offence.   I am pictured below at the Dundee University Students' Association with Shelter and Police Scotland representatives:
This afternoon, I had a very useful meeting with Housing Department officers and a representative of Community Payback about improving the Logie Estate's railings.   We are confident of getting many of the railings desperately needing repainted  attended to over time in the coming months where the support of owners is agreed.

This evening, I attended West End Community Council, where there was an interesting presentation from the Chair of the West End Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP) and the West End's Communities Officer about the LCPP's work in the West End.     As always, there was a good discussion about a variety of local issues as well as an update from Police Scotland.

West End Community Council Update

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

•         Thomson Street temporary road closure   
•         20mph consultation agreed   
•         Seymour Street road repairs   

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

Changes to Waste & Recycling collections : roadshows

Further to my latest update about the changes to general waste and recycling arrangements in a large part (but not all) of the West End, the council has arranged roadshows for residents (and for those in parts of Broughty Ferry similarly affected).

There will be two events at Blackness Primary School - details below - all residents welcome :

Monday, March 09, 2015

Frank's Law supported by Dundee City Council

This morning I had a very useful and productive meeting with the new West End police sergeant about local policing matters and later today I held my weekly Monday ward surgeries at the West Park and Mitchell Street Centres.

Tonight, I participated in City Council committees.

At Policy and Resources Committee, I was delighted that the City Council unanimously supported my motion to call for the adoption of "Frank's Law" following a very moving address to committee by Amanda Kopel, wife of the late Frank Kopel.

Following Angus Council unanimously agreeing to back “Frank’s Law” to recognise the need for free personal care to dementia suffers aged under 65, my friend and colleague, Montrose councillor David May, had contacted me to suggest it would be highly appropriate for Dundee City Council to also back the campaign, given Frank’s long association with the city and the importance of this issue.

Having spoken with Amanda, I was pleased to support her tireless campaign for proper recognition of the personal care needs of dementia suffers aged under 65, and it was excellent to see the strong support support across Dundee City Council tonight, similar to that in Angus Council recently.

I have the upmost respect for Amanda’s work to highlight this hugely important issue.   She has raised the profile of the campaign to improve access to care for people under age 65 who are battling dementia.  Amanda has made her case to the Scottish Parliament petitions committee and to the previous and present Scottish Health Minister.

This is a question of equality, fairness and an end to age discrimination of younger dementia sufferers.   My motion read as follows:
Policy and Resources Committee notes that, currently, legislation enables personal care to be provided free for people in Scotland aged over 65, provided they are assessed as needing it. 
  
Of the 85,807 dementia sufferers in Scotland, 3,201 are under the age of 65 and therefore not entitled to the help.
Committee commends the campaign by Mrs Amanda Kopel – “Frank’s Law” – to request that Scottish Government extend free personal care to under-65s with dementia.
Committee therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the First Minister requesting her to consider the introduction of a ‘Frank’s Law’ so that free personal care is extended to under-65s with dementia.
Amanda, David & I are pictured below just before tonight's committee meeting:
Also, at Environment Committee, I welcomed new regulations that should assist the City Council tackle wheelie bins left permanently on pavements and also welcomed the proposed new South Road skatepark that will benefit Lochee and the wider area including the West End.

At Housing Commitee, a report was considered on the future of council owned lock-ups, which included the recommendation to demolish the Glenagnes Street ones.    

Residents will recall the survey on their future I helped to promote last year.    The lock-ups have almost half the units unoccupied, are in a poor state of repair and the survey indicated little future demand.   

Tonight, I sought assurances that efforts would be made to find alternatives for existing lock-up tenants and also that the Logie community will be consulted on the future of the site - eg possible parking or other possible uses.

Perception of Biology

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

Perception of Biology :   An exhibition in the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

Students from second year HND Contemporary Art at Perth College (University of the Highlands and Islands) present their response to the Zoology Museum. Taking influence from historical and visual aspects of the collection as well as responding instinctively, the 12 students have worked intensively over a four week period, inspired by their access to the fascinating and unique 130 year-old collection. 

The project has been run by Anna Orton, UHI Contemporary Art Lecturer, who promises that “the end result will be a collective body of work that showcases a range of responses, encompassing humour, mark-making, collaged imagery and film work.”

Join us for the opening evening on Tuesday 10th March 5pm to 6.30pm.    

The museum will then be open Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th March from 11am to 4pm.  

Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Councillor salary increase refused - again

With news that councillors in Scotland are to get a 1% increase in their salaries, I have decided that, for the third time, I will not accept the increase and will instead donate my increase to the Dundee charity, the Dundee Festival Trust.

In both 2009 and 2014, councillors received a pay increase and I felt it was inappropriate to accept this at a time when public services are under financial strain so I donated the money to the Dundee Festival Trust which, through its award scheme, supports community groups across Dundee.    

I have now advised the council’s Director of Corporate Services that I’d like to also donate the latest increase to charity.

I will also continue to claim no expenses whatsoever through my work as a city councillor.

I would encourage community groups to apply to the Festival Trust if they are looking for support for any community events they are running.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

'Drink! The Musical' : from Jericho House

Another excellent production ahead by producer Claire Bee with a cast from the service users and staff at Jericho House.

With a cast of 30+ aged from 7 to 81, 'Drink! The Musical' guarantees to bring you fun, laughter, amazing original songs and a heartfelt script.

A snapshot of the emotional journey any of us could face. This diverse cast brings you a performance like no other...filled with high energy and tears along the way.