Tuesday 30 January 2007


Currently sitting in London City Airport (having spent the last two days on "day job" business in London) - awaiting the ScotAirways flight to Dundee - 135 e-mails to get through, so next update tomorrow!

Sunday 28 January 2007

Steps at Benvie Road and Botanic Gardens ...

I have received complaints about the poor state of the pathway and steps leading from Benvie Road (see right and below) to Lochee Road, and have contacted the Planning & Transportation Department of the City Council about this.
I have also written to the Secretary of the University of Dundee expressing concern at news reports (for example, click on headline above to view) about the future of the Botanic Gardens. Having previously lived next door to the Gardens (at Vernonholme) , I am only too well aware that they are a great asset, not just to the West End, but to the City as a whole. It would be a massive loss if they were threatened. You can read more about the Botanic Gardens by following the links below :

Saturday 27 January 2007

Rail Noise update

Update from Network Rail regarding noise disturbances at the north end of the Tay Rail Bridge (note Palmers are their contractors):
"As you are probably now aware Palmers have been working hard at building additional “sound- proofing” around 2 machines in the yard.

"They are both being used to deliver/recover grit and air to/from the bridge.

"Palmers have also carried out fairly thorough sound level checks which are all very low.

"Perhaps the most important factors to be aware of however are the following :

"Palmers have commissioned a single super silenced machine to replace the “normal" machinery currently on site (this is a new venture for the equipment manufacturer in response to the perceived needs at the Tay Bridge location).

"The current arrangement of machinery is due for replacement in approx 6 weeks time.
Palmers shall continue to monitor the noise levels and ensure that the machines are turned off whenever they are not in us.

"We shall collectively re-consider “best location” for the new extraction unit.

"I hope this gives you enough re-assurance to revert to your constituents."

Friday 26 January 2007

Blackness Area Residents' Association Film Shows

If you click on the headline above, you can see details of the Big Screen Film Showings BARA is doing at the Corso Street sheltered lounge from 31st January to 21st February.

Sinderins and Recycling Update

Following yesterday's site visit to the Sinderins junction (pictured right) - see story immediately below!- I was advised last night that the Planning & Transportation Department arranged for the detector at Shepherd's Loan to be replaced yesterday afternoon and the new, different style detector, is functioning much better.
Pleased to also advise that a new waste bin has been placed at the Ryehill Lane/Perth Road junction following a resident mentioning this need to me and my raising the matter with the Waste Management Department.
Waste Management is also progressing a resident's suggestion I passed on to them that bollards need to be placed round the recycling site at Roseangle to improve access. And whilst we are on the subject of recycling, following a resident's enquiry to me about improved household recycling arrangements needed in Magdalen Yard Road, a positive response from the department :
"There is currently a review being undertaken by the dept to assess areas of Dundee where there are currently no wheeled bins provided. The aim is to introduce wheeled bin collections wherever possible (including for paper and garden waste). I have received confirmation that Magdalen Yard Road will be assessed as part of the review. Unfortunately I am not able to provide a date by which the review will be finalised (Management Services are currently re-programming their work load) but it will be complete by the end of this year."
I will continue to press the case for improved recycling facilities right across the West End.

Thursday 25 January 2007

Sinderins, Roseangle, Newhall Gardens and Pennycook Lane

Attended last night's Blackness Area Residents' Association meeting and this morning, along with local residents, met on-site with Planning & Transportation Department officers at Sinderins to look at the operation of the junction following an accident involving a local resident here before Christmas. Changes to the way that vehicles "trip" the lights sequence at the top of Shepherd's Loan were agreed. Additionally, alterations to both exits from Pinegrove (better signage at Shepherd's Loan exit and alteration to the 'stop' line at Perth Road exit) were agreed.

Have also reported dangerous area on pavement in Roseangle caused by a dripping pipe from a derelict building (see right), need for a grit bin at the west end of Newhall Gardens, and secured a promise that the company which operates the clothing recycling bin at Pennycook Lane will empty it more frequently.

Wednesday 24 January 2007

Latest West End Issues ...

Yesterday, met with a local resident and Waste Management/Environmental Health & Trading Standards Department staff about a refuse problem in the Seafield Road area; both departments have been really helpful in attempting to resolve the issues.
Today, a deluge of complaints from residents in Roseangle and Bellefield Avenue about the extent of noise coming from the rail yards/rail bridge area - as one resident put it - "The noise - a dull ringing sound and ongoing vibration - is incredibly irritating for those of us who work from home. "
I have spoken today to the Rail Bridge Manager and he has promised swift and effective action.
Pleased to say that the promised handrail at Pennycook Lane should now be provided before this winter is over; this will be a boon for residents walking down the slope next to Pennycook Court just north of Perth Road.
Residents have complained about missing street signs at Almond Place and Glamis Drive - I have brought this to the attention of the Planning & Transportation Department.
A grid on the footway on Perth Road (near Ryehill Lane) is missing, a resident advised me. The City Council has promptly confirmed that a temporary repair has been undertaken and an Order has been made for a new grid. Nearby, the Waste Management Department has promised to progress my complaint that the litter bin at the Ryehill Lane/Perth Road corner is missing.
Many thanks to everyone who has contacted me following the delivery of the latest West End FOCUS; I'm grateful for all feedback. Many residents have commented about the operation of the "revised road arrangements" at the Riverside Drive/Perth Road junction (just up from the Botanic Gardens). I have been in correspondence with the City Council about this issue.

Adult Learning Courses in the West End

If you click on the headline above, you can read download some of the latest details of courses being run by local Adult Learning Workers with the Community Based Adult Learning Team in the West End!

Monday 22 January 2007

Planning, Pinegrove, Hyndford Street, Glamis Drive and more ...

Today started with chairing the City Council’s Audit & Risk Management Sub-Committee, followed by a meeting with the Council Leader. After dictating a lot of letters, I had my weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School.

At tonight’s Development Quality Committee, I moved refusal of a planning application at Richmond Terrace that had been subject to objections from local residents and the West End Community Council. With the support of Bailie Neil Powrie (who seconded me) we won 13-11.

You can read the report by clicking on the headline above.

Other matters today:

* Fast feedback from the City Council about the flooding issues at Pinegrove and West Port/Temple Lane – as follows – “It looks like we will have to carry out a dig up of the polychanel at Pinegrove - I will raise an order today and ask Tayside Contracts to give it priority. There is already an order in the pipeline for Temple Lane - I will chase it up.” I have also raised the issue of flooding on part of Riverside Drive.

* A missing footway grid on Perth Road at Ryehill Lane has been temporarily repaired pending replacement.

* The leaves I reported in Glamis Drive have been swept up.

* I have raised – with the Planning & Transportation Department – the footway condition in part of Hyndford Street.

And, lastly, following the photograph in the Evening Telegraph last week at the Roseangle Recycling Launch, here’s a couple of more informal ones (with thanks to Ann!) – I think you can tell it was a wee bit cold!

Sunday 21 January 2007

FOCUS, flooding, TV reception and other matters ...

This morning we were again out delivering FOCUS newsletters in the West End; already had lots of feedback - including flooding at West Port (below right) and at Pinegrove (below left), comments on the operation of the Riverside Drive/Perth Road junction (a story in FOCUS), speeding in City Road/Logie Street and TV reception (problem with the Tay Bridge transmitter analogue reception over the weekend) - I have contacted the BBC about this.
And, talking of TV reception, the Head of Public Affairs at Digital UK has e-mailed me following complaints that some constituents in the West End who (according to the Freeview website) CAN get digital terrestrial TV reception but once they buy the Freeview equipment find that, in fact, they CAN'T get reception. So, here's the feedback from Digital UK:

"Thank you for your email concerning the postcode checker and the displayed anomaly between the results of the checker and actual reception.

"The Digital UK postcode checker is an important tool for indicating the likelihood of digital coverage for a particular household. Although it is based on third-party data, which we do not originate, we believe it provides a very high level of accuracy in determining which digital options are available at a particular address. As such it is a useful tool for visitors to our website and call centre.

"The postcode checker results page includes a disclaimer making clear that results are indicative. Terrestrial broadcast signals are subject to many interfering factors, which make it impossible for a national database such as the postcode checker to provide exact coverage information for each of the UK’s 25m TV households. That would require knowledge of the exact location and shape of every building, hill, tree, bush and receiving aerial in the country.

"Similar knowledge would be necessary to provide 100%-accurate coverage information for digital satellite, which covers the entire UK but requires a line of sight from the receiving dish to the sky at a specific angle. Local landlord and planning restrictions for erecting satellite dishes are another factor that may exclude the satellite option; unfortunately the postcode checker cannot account for this.

"The checker also provides coverage information for cable, based on cable operators’ own databases. This is the best information available to us for indicating cable availability.

"As a rule, if a good analogue picture is received now, a good digital picture should result through the existing aerial after switchover. If Freeview cannot be received now and our postcode checker says the household is in coverage, the aerial used may not be capable of receiving the full signal. In this instance it is advisable to contact an aerial installer, ideally one who carries the ‘digital tick’ logo (a Registered Digital Installer), or else a member of a recognised trade body. Some indoor aerials will work, but some will need replacing. Again, if it provides a good analogue signal now it is likely to receive digital after switchover.

"Switchover will extend coverage of digital terrestrial television (Freeview) from around 73% of households to 98.5% of households. All planning has been designed to replicate coverage of the existing analogue signal (98.5%). Switchover will therefore benefit those homes which are currently outside the range of existing digital terrestrial television (DTT) by extending the signal coverage to areas currently receiving an analogue signal.
"The current digital signal is carried on 81 transmitters nationally, of which Angus is one. These transmitters cover 73% of the country. During switchover all remaining relay transmitters, including Tay Bridge and numbering 1,154 across the UK will be upgraded. It could be the case that during initial installation the aerials in the homes affected were aimed at the transmitter with the strongest signal. As this may be a relay transmitter, the upgrade to a digital signal will not yet have occurred.

"Digital UK will launch a new postcode database next year which will enable individuals to check which digital TV services are available to them now and after switchover. "

Saturday 20 January 2007

Newsletter delivering and leaves ...

Well, it has been a lovely day for delivering my FOCUS newsletter. Although a bit windy, the weather held and I'd like to thank all of my team who delivered thousands of copies today.
Already feedback on a number of issues by e-mail and phone. One concerns a request to remove the dead rotting leaves that are lying on the pavement on Glamis Drive. The problem lies mainly between the top of Hazel Drive going west towards Invergowrie Drive. Leaves are lying in elongated piles and take up most of the pavement in places.
I've passed on this concern to the Head of Waste Management asking for the leaves to be removed ASAP.

Friday 19 January 2007

Wighton update and FOCUS deliveries!

Good progress with delivery of latest West End FOCUS today; being continued over weekend along with other editions across Dundee.
Latest news on tomorrow’s Friends of Wighton event from Sheena :-
Advance interest has meant that tomorrow’s Friends of Wighton (www.friendsofwighton.com) illustrated talk by renowned singer Anne Lorne Gillies has moved to Dundee Central Library’s Steps Theatre.

Anne’s talk, liberally laced with song, will focus on her prize-winning book “Songs of Gaelic Scotland” and the event starts at 2pm sharp and will be followed by a book signing. Admission £5 (£3 FoW members) on the door.

Thursday 18 January 2007

Snow, flooding and budgets

Well, half the day was wasted in trying to drive to Stirling, failing to get much past Perth and then trying to get back to Dundee!
When I finally did get back to Dundee, contacted Planning & Transportation regarding renewed flooding at Pinegrove's Perth Road entrance. Also reported that the grid at the bottom of Ryehill Lane is missing again.
This evening had a useful administration meeting on budget matters. Now ploughing through too many e-mails. Starting delivery of latest West End FOCUS tomorrow (Edition 55) - weather permitting!

Wednesday 17 January 2007

Last couple of days and Anne Lorne Gillies!

Yesterday included dealing with a lot of constituent enquiries and 'day job' activities, followed by an evening meeting in Kirkintilloch (East Dunbartonshire Council) with LibDem colleagues.
This afternoon we had the official opening of the new recycling centre in the Roseangle car park, followed by a very helpful meeting at Magdalen Green on steps to be taken to address the flooding issues. That said, very, very cold afternoon - still thawing out! Photo from photocall will appear on blog in due course!
And lastly tonight, a Friends of Wighton update :
The famous singer Anne Lorne Gillies is coming to Dundee next Saturday to talk about Gaelic songs, sign copies of her book and sing a wee song or two!

The event, part of the Friends of Wighton Saturday Talks Series, will be held in Dundee Central Library at 2pm. Tickets will be available on the door for £5 (or £3 for Friends of Wighton members)or you can reserve places by emailing David Kett(

Monday 15 January 2007

NCR, Magdalen Green, Surgery, Council meetings

It is nearly 11.30pm and, having got back from council committees at 8pm to spend three hours on mainly day job related work, am seriously tired, so I'll keep this fairly short.
A good turnout at this morning's Friends of Magdalen Green meeting - it was agreed to have a February meeting on 'practical' issues such as the damage to the Green (and do resident consultation on temporary actions that can be taken to alleviate the situation) and thereafter have a formal public meeting to launch the group. Together with two residents, I am meeting with a member of Leisure & Communities staff on Wednesday on the Green to look at the flooding issue.
At lunchtime, along with my colleague Cllr Helen Dick and many other local politicians, I met Nicol Stephen MSP (Deputy First Minister and Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning) at NCR to discuss the situation. I was genuinely impressed with Nicol's commitment and the willingness of all present - whatever their political persuasion - to agree to work together. Click on headline above to view more.
My surgery at Blackness Primary School tonight was rudely interrupted by a fire alarm! At council committees tonight, spoke at Leisure & Arts Services Committee, welcoming the provision of an "Ultimate" pitch at Buckingham Point, south of Magdalen Green. The Department has delivered a good result very promptly - good stuff!

Sunday 14 January 2007

West End FOCUS Edition 55

It has been a hard going weekend with LibDem campaigning across Dundee, starting in Lochee, then Coldside and Maryfield. Ok, tired, but loved every minute if I am being honest! The MP3 player is rather superb for doing leaflet deliveries, you sort of live in a world all of your own...
Sunday afternoon was spent writing the next West End FOCUS newsletter; loads to report back on, but rather too much to say for the space available ... !

Friday 12 January 2007

Blackness Avenue

Back in September (click on headline to view) I complained to the Planning & Transportation Department about a damaged street sign in Blackness Avenue (half of it missing actually!)
Send a reminder about this recently as it was still not sorted. Please to advise of following feedback today:
"Thank you for your email regarding the broken street name plate on Blackness Avenue at Hyndford Street. Unfortunately, this defect has been overlooked. Apologies for this but please be assured that it will now be forwarded to the contractor for repair."

Speeding issues and NCR latest

Firstly, my colleague Cllr Helen Dick & I are (along with elected representatives across the political spectrum) meeting Nicol Stephen MSP, the Enterprise Minister, on Monday about the NCR situation - read more by clicking the headline above.
I have today been advised about initial results with regard to the speed survey I had asked for on City Road (south of Cleghorn Street) following residents' concerns about speeding vehicles. The results are not yet fully complete and the radar detection equipment is back on site so I hope to update residents on the full findings soon.
At the start of December, I raised with the Planning & Transportation Department the issue of the difficulties crossing Blackness Road near the Kelso Street steps (an area many Harris pupils cross the road at). I had asked that consideration again be given for a proper pedestrian crossing here. The Depatment require to speed survey the road here to see if a crossing can be provided and I have now had the following response - I will let residents know of progress as it happens:

"This survey has been identified and is on the list. In an effort to obtain a quicker result I will arrange a peak time manual count, say 8 -9am and 3.30 -4.30 pm, when staff resources are available, and I hope to get back to you soon."

Thursday 11 January 2007

A Dark Day for our City

Got positive feedback today regarding flooding issues at Magdalen Green and intend meeting with Leisure & Communities staff next week on-site to see the detail of action taken and proposed to resolve matters. Additionally got feedback in relation to an unrelated flooding issue in part of Nethergate.
Today has been dominated by the devastating news of 650 job losses announced at NCR in the city. I am not the only politician in Dundee not just seriously concerned but really angry at the way a highly skilled workforce has been treated.
I have already spoken with Nicol Stephen MSP, Deputy First Minister and Enterprise Minister (who has been in all fairness very reactive, concerned and coming to Dundee on Monday to visit NCR and ensure the taskforce team is in place) and also to Cllr Jill Shimi, our council leader. I spoke on Radio Tay this afternoon (see http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/news/000413.html) and made the points that its vital that there is swift and positive support for the workforce.

Wednesday 10 January 2007

Peddie Street, Riverside Drive

Pleased to say news today that:
* Dundee Contract Services has been given an Order to clean off the huge (green and pink) graffiti on the pavilion building on Riverside Drive.
* Assurance that a tree in Peddie Street area causing overshadowing into residents' windows will be trimmed.
Spent part of the morning with colleagues delivering notices about next week's meeting about Magdalen Green to local residents; later on in Edinburgh at LibDem Campaigns and Candidates Committee. Long day, tired, off to bed!

Tuesday 9 January 2007

Dumped Rubbish Sorted, 72 bus service

Productive Community Council meeting in the West End tonight with useful presentations from Tayside Fire & Safety and Tayside Police. And good to see that the Community Council proposal for an "Ultimate" field has been agreed by the Leisure & Communities Department, subject to approval at next Monday's Leisure & Arts Services Committee.
Pleased to learn today that the rubbish dumped at the back of a Perth Road tenement (see story from 27th December by clicking headline above) has been removed.
Concerned that, due to changes to the Number 72 bus service (linking it to the service to Tayport) it failed to run this morning because the road bridge was closed. I have e-mailed the Planning & Transportation Department about this; this is no reason the "Dundee leg" of the service should not run in such circumstances and the people who called me (all of whom live in the Millhall Crescent/Newhall Gardens area) rely on this bus service. Will advise of feedback.

Yesterday ... and Community Council update

Busy day yesterday with meetings including with the Council Leader and Finance Officers. Council committees back last night although a very uncontroversial evening!
A few meetings today on local issues including West End Community Council tonight (click the headline above to read my latest update to the Community Council).

Saturday 6 January 2007

Sinderins Junction

Before Christmas, a local resident was very unfortunately involved in an accident at the Sinderins junction (a pedestrian crossing near Shepherd's Loan).
I have already been in discussion with the City Council about the operation of the Sinderins Junction (Perth Road/Hawkhill/Blackness Avenue/Shepherd's Loan) and have requested a site visit with road safety staff.
I will keep residents advised on this issue, as always.

Friday 5 January 2007

City Centre Bus Changes from Monday

Received an update from the City Council this afternoon regarding changes to public transport in the City Centre starting Monday (8th January 2007) due to the Scotland Gas Networks Main Replacement Scheme. You can view this by clicking the headline above.

Also from Monday, the bus stops in Dock Street will be suspended for approximately 11 months to facilitate rail tunnel strengthening works.

Wednesday 3 January 2007

Good news on local graffiti

Been advised this morning that the offensive graffiti on a utility box on Perth Road I recently reported to the City Council following a resident's complaint has been promptly removed.

Monday 1 January 2007

Happy New Year everyone!

Firstly can I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and a prosperous 2007!

And to start off 2007 a bit of good news from the City Council's Planning & Transportation Department I received just before the New Year break. Residents in the Invergowrie Drive area have complained to me that when the footpaths were made up to adopted standard during 2006, the pavements in the cul-de-sacs were missed out. I contacted the department about this and am pleased to advise the response is as follows: "Will be considered for inclusion in the future as part of the unadopted footways programme."