Tuesday 27 February 2007

Hawkhill Flooding and planning matters

Following concerns about flooding on Hawkhill, I have had the following feedback:
"After further investigation we have discovered that these gullies exit into an interceptor on the Hawkhill itself. We will require to contract a specialist clearing company to clean out this chamber as the equipment Tayside Contracts have is not large enough to cope. We will try to keep the area clear until such time we can have the chamber cleared."
At last night's Development Quality Committee, I moved an additional refusal reason in relation to the application in respect of Listed Building Consent 12/18 Whitehall Street, where unauthorised works have badly damaged the stairwells:
Additional Reason for Refusal for 12 & 18 Whitehall Crescent - 06/01076/LBC:

1) The introduction of the new door at 1st. floor level of 12 Whitehall Crescent adversely impacts on the appearance and character of a Category B listed building by virtue of detracting from the symmetry of the original openings located within the communal stairwell. The proposal is therefore considered to be contrary to Section 14 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 and Policy 60 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005. There are no material considerations that would justify the approval of the new doorway contrary to the terms of Policy 60.
I also moved refusal of an application for a housing development at High Mill, where there were various concerns including loss of privacy, parking, etc. Here's this motion:
Reasons for Refusal for 06/00991/COU - High Mill, High Mill Court:

1) The development is contrary to Policy 1 and Policy 4 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 as the proposals fail to provide the required amount of associated off street car parking and the environmental quality of the adjacent occupiers to the south will be prejudiced by virtue of overlooking, a reduction in privacy and noise created by new south facing windows and extraction flues for the proposed units. There are no material considerations that would justify the approval of the application contrary to the terms of these policies.

2) The proposal is contrary to Policy 60 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 and the requirement under Section 59 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 due to the adverse impact on the architectural and historic character of the Category A listed building through the introduction of additional openings on the main elevations of the property. There are no material considerations that would justify the approval of the application contrary to the terms of this policy.
I am pleased to say that both of these were unanimously approved by Committee.

Monday 26 February 2007

Benvie Road and Western Cemetery

Another useful meeting of the group aiming to set up a "Friends of" group for Western Cemetery this morning. Spent much of the day going through a huge lot of issues raised by residents - many about refuse and others on roads/pavements in the West End.
Have had feedback from the City Council about the condition of the Benvie Road steps I had raised earlier following residents' complaints (click on headline above to view earlier story and photograph). The steps have been inspected and found to be safe but the inspector "was however concerned about the paint which could be slippy in certain conditions as well as looking untidy and he arranged for the Rapid Response team from Waste Management to clean this off."

Tuesday 20 February 2007

Council Tax Frozen

Long day today with my Institute's AGM in Grangemouth followed by our setting the Council Tax for Dundee in 2007/8 tonight (my speech as Finance Convener can be seen by clicking on the headline above).
A huge load of West End issues raised by residents following issue of my latest FOCUS newsletter; will advise of progress on these in later blog entries.

Sunday 18 February 2007

Weekend News

Following the worrying incident yesterday in McDonald's in Reform Street in my ward in which an 11 year old girl was shot with a pellet gun, the Courier has asked me for a comment - please click on headline above to view.
I missed party conference in Aviemore this weekend (which is very unusual for me as I always like to attend Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference). Reason was that a large team of colleagues were campaigning across the City and I felt it only right that I should be helping too - especially as some of the work was in my own West End area. Anyway, a super weekend's campaigning in both Dundee East and Dundee West and thanks to all who helped.

Friday 16 February 2007

Street Signs

I recently highlighted:
* Residents' complaints about a graffiied street sign at McGonagall Square
* The very worn street sign at the east end of Abbotsford Street
I have received the following feedback today from Planning & Transportation:
"Thank you for notifying street name plate defects at Abbotsford Street and McGonagall Square. These will be checked and I will update you as to timescales in due course."

Thursday 15 February 2007

Speed limits - west end Perth Road and Riverside Drive

A longstanding issue for many residents has been whether or not the speed limit on Riverside Drive east of the Marmalade Pot (50 mph) and on the Perth Road west of Invercarse (40 mph) is appropriate; very many residents feel it is too high.
Given the lower 40 mph limit at the east end of the City (between Balgillo and Dobbie's Garden Centre) introduced fairly recently, I have raised the issue of the speed limits on Riverside Drive and Perth Road with the Director of Planning & Transportation again. I'll also be asking for residents' views in the next FOCUS newsletter.
Here's initial feedback from the Director today :
"I have urgently asked for speed surveys to be carried out on both roads and for all other available information such as accident histories etc.. to be collated so that a full engineering assessment can be made.
Once all this information is available I will contact you with regard to a recommendation."

Wednesday 14 February 2007

Recycling progress; Community Council

Today, had good news that the residents in Gowrie Street will be given the option next month to get brown (garden) and blue (paper) recycling bins.
Also, good to get promises that the lack of a street sign on the south side of Almond Place and the very worn sign on Almond Place’s north side will be addressed - I have been promised that these will be replaced within the next 4-5 weeks.
Well attended West End Community Council meeting last night where the new STV electoral arrangements were explained. Also strong support for saving the Botanical Gardens.

Monday 12 February 2007

Magdalen Green, Council Committees

This morning we had another very productive meeting of the Magdalen Green group; one issue that emerged from it was that of blocked drains on the west side of Windsor Street - have reported this to Scottish Water.
Following a busy surgery at Blackness Primary School tonight, it was council committees, including a useful report on protecting the Post Office network.

Sunday 11 February 2007

Public meeting - City Centre & Harbour Community Council - Thursday 15th February

Dundee City Centre & Harbour Community Council’s meeting on Thursday 15th February will give local residents a chance to raise waste management and environmental issues with Council officers.

Jim Nicholson from Waste Management and Alex Henderson from Environmental Health will talk about their work and there will be a question and answer session.

A Community Council spokesperson said “Excessive noise, seagull nuisance, uncollected waste, graffiti and litter affect the quality of life for all City Centre residents. The officers are coming to tell us how they tackle these and other problems but are also looking for input from residents with particular concerns.”

The meeting starts at 7pm in the Boardroom, Reference Library Floor, Central Library and all local residents are welcome. Tea & coffee will be served.
You can read the Community Council website by following the link above.

Council Tax, Wet Weekend, Tom Spiers, Trees again ...

Much of Friday was spent on City Council budget matters (with Council Finance Convener hat on) - click on headline above to view more about this. We have spent a very wet weekend campaigning in various parts of the City; intend thawing out tonight!
A resident contacted me Thursday about a vandalised young tree, in Blackness Road close to the Elliot Road junction. Having contacted the Council's Forestry Officer, he advised me it would be inspected, tied or restaked on Friday and pleased to advise that the tree is now sorted.
Have received an e-mailed assurance from owner of the untidy area on Shepherd's Loan/Weaver's Yard (north of High Mill) that he would get the grass cut. He has e-mailed me again today to say : "I have requested that this gets done as soon as possible weather permitting , I will advise you when it has been done."
Lastly - latest update from Friends of Wighton:
"Tom Spiers will be giving the Saturday afternoon talk at Dundee's Wighton Heritage Centre on Saturday 17th February.
"It starts at 2pm and admission is £5/£3 for Friends of Wighton members. The subject will be The Fighting Scot and Tom will cover songs by, for and about Scottish soldiers over the last six centuries.
"Tom Spiers was a member of the renowned Gaugers and is currently with the excellent Shepheard, Spiers and Watson. He has a wide knowledge of North East folk song, a fine voice and manages the difficult art of accompanying himself on the fiddle!"

Thursday 8 February 2007

Wednesday and Today!

The noise problem near the rail bridge raised its head again yesterday and Network Rail swiftly undertook noise surveying yesterday afternoon; hopefully matters will be satisfactorily resolved very soon. A meeting with City Council Environmental Health, Network Rail, Police & others takes place tomorrow.
I understand that the public inquiry in respect of the Tay Rope Works planning application (of which I moved refusal, with considerable backing from local residents) will take place over three days this June.
With regard to the damaged pole in Paton's Lane I reported earlier (click on headline above to view original story) I had the following feedback from the City Council's Planning & Transportation Department yesterday:
"The road inspector for the area confirmed that the pole was removed yesterday (06/02) and the footway repaired. The pole will not be re-erected as the "No Waiting" plate is not required to enforce the double yellow line parking restrictions."
And ... good news received by e-mail also yesterday on Commercial Street trees! :
"This is a quick e-mail to let you know that trees seem to have popped up overnight outside the Children's Hearings Centre at the bottom of Commercial Street. Thanks again for all your campaigning and endless letter etc. to the utilities companies!"

Wednesday 7 February 2007

Latest Community Council update ...

If you follow the link above to my website (click on the headline!) you can read the story about my latest Community Council update and download the update itself.

Tuesday 6 February 2007

Last couple of days ...

Yesterday, had a useful meeting with other elected representatives (parliamentary and council) and the Chair of the NCR Task Force about progress the group is making; in the evening attended a meeting of the River Crescent Residents' Association, where issues discussed included the Riverside Nature Park, car speeding and maintenance of a local pathway. I am following up a number of issues for the Association.
Following complaints from residents about graffiti on the Kwik Fit building in Perth Road at Westfield Place, I contacted the company about the matter and have had the following positive feedback:
"This is an ongoing problem as soon as it is removed or painted over, new graffiti appears. I've asked our Operations to see what can be done to remove it or paint over it."

Monday 5 February 2007

Riverside Flooding Update

Following raising the issue of flooding at Riverside towards the end of January with the Planning & Transportation Department, I have had the following response today:
"The high tide levels on 20 January 2007 combined with strong winds led to overtopping of the sea wall in this area. The gullies in the parking area discharge directly into the river and given the conditions that day they did not function properly and sea water may well have backed up the pipework. The gullies have subsequently been cleaned out and it is proposed to fit non-return flaps to prevent water flowing back up the pipes in the event of high surge levels. We will now monitor the situation.

"From a flooding perspective, it should be noted that a coastal flood study has been commissioned and part of that study is to examine the impact of overtopping of the existing coastal assets including the sea wall at Riverside Drive. The study is due to report by the end of March 2007 and following a review period it is anticipated that a report will be brought to Committee.

"With respect to surface water drainage of the road and footpaths along Riverside generally, the surface water does discharge directly into the river.

"I have been advised that the missing lifebelts were replaced on 31 January 2007.

"The missing boat hook is on order and will be replaced shortly.

"For your information, the safety equipment along Riverside Drive is inspected weekly and orders placed with suppliers for any missing equipment."

Sunday 4 February 2007

Busy Weekend!

This weekend Janet and I (and what seems like an army of Dundee LibDems!) have been delivering FOCUS round Strathmartine for Helen. That said, this afternoon I was round the West End meeting constituents about a number of local issues. Many local people are rightly concerned about the Botanic Gardens situation. I am continuing dialogue with the University of Dundee and others on this issue.

The Courier covered the Network Rail noise issue yesterday and, as I said to the paper, the situation appears to have improved in the past week.
Two further issues today - the "No Waiting" sign pole in Paton's Lane near Tayfield Place has been hit (presumably by a vehicle) -see below- and nearby the street sign in McGonagall Square has been graffitied. I have reported both of these to the City Council's Planning & Transportation Department.

Friday 2 February 2007

City Centre Roadworks Update

Latest information from City Council on roads situation in the City Centre:

The gas main replacement works in Nethergate are on schedule for completion by Sunday 4 February followed by the next phase which requires the closure of Union Street from Monday 5 February for 8 weeks.

Thursday 1 February 2007

Upcoming Events!

With thanks to Sheena Wellington, here's news of a couple of upcoming events:
On Wednesday, 7th February, Barbara Dymock one of Scotland’s most respected singers is the guest at the Friends of Wighton Lunchtime Recital. The recital in the Central Library’s Wighton Heritage Centre starts at 1.15pm and admission is free.

A doctor to trade, a fly-Fifer by birth, singing is Barbara’s main hobby, passion and interest. She literally learnt Scottish and Irish songs at her grandparents’ knees, but until joining Dundee University Folk Club in the 70s, didn’t realize anyone would want to listen to her singing them. With friends made at that club she formed the all-female a cappella group Fair Game. Barbara was also a founder member of the band Ceolbeg, one of the finest traditional bands to emerge in the late 70’s.

For a while Barbara’s singing became limited mostly to lullabies, nursery rhymes and children’s television themes due to the arrival of 3 sons. As work and childcare permitted she had a couple of brief forays into 2 other bands in the 80s and 90s, Rathlin and Fon a Bhord - with a selection of very weel-kent Scottish traditional musicians.

Now the kids are all grown up rugby players, currently Barbara sings solo, or with a cappella divas Palaver, and occasionally in a duo with tradition-bearer Maureen Jelks. She’s a bit of a musical hing-oot and enjoys singing with anyone who asks really. A brand new venture is the duo Sinsheen with Christine Kydd. Christine is best known for her groundbreaking work in the duo Janet Russell and Christine Kydd, harmony group Chantan and more recently with Calluna.

Legend is not always loud, particularly in the beneath-the-radar substreams of Scottish folk music. Barbara who? She’s been hiding her light under a bushel for a while, but holds a unique position as a fresh veteran of the Scottish music world (is that an oxymoron?).
Her innovative airings of traditional songs; merging dynamism, power and grace, delivered with fun, passion, pedigree (and maybe a bit of bodhran) are sure to enhance her growing reputation.
A Dundee Celebration - Caird Hall, February 9th, 2007, 4pm- The University of Dundee will begin a year of events to mark its 40th anniversary with "A Dundee Celebration", a special ceremony recognising the key links formed with the city and honouring some of its key figures.The event in the Caird Hall on February 9th marks four decades of partnership between the city and the University.
It will see degrees bestowed upon some of the people who have shown Dundee at its best in sport, academia, science, civic duty and the arts.Those receiving honorary degrees are Liz McColgan, Lord Provost John Letford, Michael Marra, Baroness Clark of Calton, Bishop Vincent Logan, Professor Sir Philip Cohen, Russell Reid and Norman Robertson.
"It is entirely appropriate that a year of celebrating the University’s 40th anniversary should begin with an event that highlights the close and growing relationship between the city and the University," said Sir Alan Langlands, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee.
"We enjoy an excellent relationship with the city and its people, and the 40th anniversary is a chance to celebrate that."I am delighted that we are also able to honour a group of people whose achievements have brought recognition to the city from all corners of the globe and who have all contributed greatly to the life of Dundee. I hope many of the people of Dundee will join us in celebration on February 9th.
"The event, which will feature a performance from the Dundee Rep Women's Choir "Loadsaweeminsingin", is open to the public and tickets are available from the City Square Booking Office, the reception desk at the University tower building on Nethergate, or by e-mailing events@dundee.ac.uk. The event takes place at 4 pm on February 9th.
As Sheena says, "This will be a graduation like no other! Do come along and spread the word to friends – there’s plenty of seats in the Caird Hall!"

Back from London and back to backlog!

The theory of course was that I'd do a post on the blog yesterday but only two and a bit days away in London and there was a massive amount to catch up on yesterday (and today!)
London consisted of meetings and one nice Dinner really but I did take a short walk from the hotel in Bloomsbury and, as you can see (right) it was awfully near the Post Office Tower!

OK, then, back in Dundee, and spent much of the last two days catching up on phone calls to constituents and responding to e-mails. I have had quite a number of people contacting me about the Dock Street tunnel works and also concerns about the Botanic Gardens (I have now had a response from the University Secretary on the issue and will continue to emphasise how vital the Botanic Gardens are for the West End and the City as a whole).

Additionally, pleased to see the launch (tomorrow, Friday) of a new family support network ("Babes and Co") for the West End. You can read more about this by clicking the headline above.
This afternoon, along with the City Council Leader, Education Convener and Director of Education, I was at Blackness Primary School to see the "Writer's Craft" project in action with Primary 7 pupils. Aimed at improving pupils' literacy skills, it was brilliant to see the enthusiasm and ability of the pupils - a great credit to Blackness PS.
Lastly, met a resident today about the state of the pavements in Balgay Road - have raised this with the City Council.