Sunday 30 September 2007

Western Cemetery Association

Following the recent successful inaugural public meeting of the Western Cemetery Association (click on heading above to view), the newly elected Chair Laurie Edmond has contacted supporters encouraging participation in the Association and its activities. You can find out more by becoming a supporter of the Association - you can join online free of charge at :
The Association has a blog at :

Saturday 29 September 2007

Blackness Primary School - Barrier

I recently raised with the Education Department concerns from parents about the state of the metal barrier outside Blackness Primary School at its Pennycook Lane entrance. It has been badly mangled by a vehicle.
I have now had feedback assuring me that repairs are in hand and I have asked that assurances can be given that the repairs are completed before the start of the new term in mid-October.

Friday 28 September 2007

Back from the Highlands

Having been away in Glasgow yesterday on TACTRAN business (meeting of Regional Transport Partnership Chairs) then on 'day job' activities in Inverness today, I have past scenery a little different than Dundee's West End Ward (see above right!)
Back to over 100 e-mails (never mind the phone messages) on return, but very pleased to note that the City Council's Education Department has agreed to my request to survey the viability of providing a lollipop person facility for Blackness PS pupils at Perth Road east of Pennycook Lane. This follows requests from parents and the survey has been promised for the new term.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Seabraes Mini Bandstand

Pleased to have been advised by Dundee Contract Services that the mini bandstand at Seabraes is to be repainted.
Following residents' complaints that it was scored and faded, I had asked DCS if they could repaint it and I am pleased at the positive response.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Monday and Tuesday

Yesterday included my attending the official reopening of the coastal walk between Douglas Terrace, Broughty Ferry, and the Stannergate - in my capacity as City Council Planning & Transport Convener. Its a super renovation funded by the City Council, SUSTRANS and the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund.
Local resident, Mrs Silvers, did the honours and even provided the ribbon for the ceremony as we arrived to find the official ribbon was locked away in a works' hut!
This morning, I participated in a panel discussion in my role as Chair of TACTRAN (the Tayside and Central Scotland Regional Transport Partnership) at the CPT Conference at Gleneagles. CPT is the voice of the coach, bus and light rail industries. Also participating in the panel discussion (hosted by Louise Batchelor of BBC Scotland) were Cllr Russell Imrie (Chair of SESTRANS - South East Scotland) and Cllr Brian Collins (Chair of SWESTRANS - Dumfries & Galloway).
I think all agreed there is a clear need for partnership working to achieve real improvements in public transport services across Scotland and, in the short time (4 months) in which I have chaired TACTRAN, I have seen the Regional Transport Partnerships as key to this.
Coinciding with the Conference, TACTRAN has announced its Sustainable Travel Grant Scheme (click on headline above to view more).
Back in May, I suggested everyone "Vote Dundee!" to get the City on the new Monopoly board (see - delighted today to see Dundee's success - the only Scottish winner! See "Dundee in Monopoly vote win" in The List at -

Monday 24 September 2007

Fest 'n Furious

Was delighted to be invited to the launch of Fest n' Furious, Dundee's Festival of Traditional Music - the launch is this Friday (28th) with events running through to next Monday.

Unfortunately I can't attend the launch as I'll be in Inverness (with the "day job") but can I wish Fest 'n Furious every success.

You can read more about Fest 'n Furious by clicking on the headline above.

Sunday 23 September 2007

Back from Belfast ...

Having spent the latter part of the week in Belfast, I have been catching up on the local news on my return. There was a very good leader piece in the Courier last week about disquiet about planning appeal decisions by the Reporter – and in particular the imbalance in appeal rights between developers appealing against a decision by the local authority to refuse planning permission and objectors wishing to challenge a decision to grant permission (the former can appeal; the latter cannot).

I have long had concerns about the democratic deficit whereby the planning decisions of local authorities (made by councillors elected by the people) are regularly overturned by a Reporter, not elected but simply appointed by the Scottish Government. My concerns are clearly shared by many other Dundee councillors.

Although pleased at recent appeal decisions to refuse developers’ appeals at Tay Rope Works and land south of Richmond Terrace, the Courier leader referred to the regrettable decision to overturn the City Council’s refusal of a planning application for 20 houses at the former Blackness Nursery (Lawrie’s). On Friday, I was advised by the City Council that the Reporter had refused the appeal for the erection of two townhouses at Steven’s Yard (ground north of High Mill) but there was bad news yesterday when residents called me to say they have received the decision letters about the appeals regarding the planning application and listed building consent for four housing units to be created on the ground floor of the High Mill itself and the appeals have been allowed. Not, of course, that the Reporters’ Unit’s website is very illuminating:-

Appeal type - Planning Permission Appeal
Current progress of appeal - Decision issued by DPEA or Scottish Ministers
Outcome - Decision not available present
Date of decision (DPEA/Scottish Ministers) - September 20, 2007

Decision letter not available

I had moved refusal of these applications (Full Application & Listed Building Consent) as I viewed the impact of the development as highly intrusive in terms of loss of privacy for residents south of the Mill in Patrick Place – the development proposes large windows in the south wall of the Mill, literally facing right into residents’ gardens. I am frankly astonished at this decision which flies in the face of preserving residential amenity.

On another matter, received a complaint today about graffiti that has appeared on the electricity sub-station on Magdalen Green – have reported this to the City Council and Scottish & Southern Electric.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Al-Maktoum Cultural Centre and Western Cemetery Association

Today, I met with Professor Malory Nye, Acting Principal of the Al-Maktoum Institute, about the proposals for a Cultural Centre and, in particular, the state of the site of the former Logie Secondary School. I am pleased that Professor Nye confirmed that a further clean-up of the site will take place in the next few weeks, with construction starting in a few months.
At lunchtime, I chaired the inaugural public meeting of the Western Cemetery Association at Harris Academy (click on the headline to see the article in tonight's Evening Telegraph) and was delighted at the good turnout. The meeting was followed by a tour of the cemetery by the City Archivist.

Monday 17 September 2007

Latest updates ...

Pleased to say that I have been advised that the potholes I had complained about on Perth Road at the Invergowrie Drive junction (following residents contacting me) were repaired last Friday.
I had a complaint that part of the tiling at the pedestrian crossing (Blackness Avenue junction crossing east to west near Perth Road) was damaged. Have had the following feedback from the City Council:
"The plates referred to by the member of the public are stick-down tactile paving tiles to indicate the presence the pedestrian crossing to those with visual impairment. We had checked out the displaced tile and did not consider it to be a safety concern. (This has been) taken this up with Tayside Contracts and the tiles are to be re-installed."
Lastly, following my raising residents' complaints with the City Council, Abbotsford Street is to be given a second 'weeds spray'.

Sunday 16 September 2007

Healthy Eating Course

A course on healthy eating starts on 25th October at the Mitchell Street Centre. It takes place over six weeks - you can view the flyer by clicking the headline above or the poster by following the link below :

West Marketgait

The City Council has advised me that, because of repairs being carried out by Scottish Water, vehicles will not be able to drive northbound on West Marketgait between the Hawkhill by-pass and Lochee Road next Sunday (23rd September) for one day only.
Pedestrian access is unaffected.
If you have any queries, please contact the Planning & Transportation Department on 433168.

Saturday 15 September 2007

Lochee ... and Benvie Road

Had a thoroughly enjoyable day in Lochee Ward (despite a bit of rain!!) with our Lochee Ward by-election candidate Chris Hall, Alison McIness MSP, and a great campaign team. Chris, Alison & I are pictured (right) at Ninewells Hospital.
An update on my request for an improved road surface in Benvie Road - update from the City Council :
"We are still continuing to investigate this. A company that carries out proprietary works is coming to look at the area next week to see if their system is suitable."

Thursday 13 September 2007

Road safety matters ...

Yesterday, along with my West End councillor colleagues, I met with residents and a representative of the City Council's Planning & Transportation Department regarding two West End road safety concerns:
  • Firstly, a useful meeting with the Chair of Logie Residents' Association about safety concerns in Logie Avenue. A speed survery will now be undertaken - click on the headline above to view the full story in tonight's Evening Telegraph.
  • Secondly, following concerns raised about the safety of pedestrians on Blackness Road (including Harris Academy pupils and visitors going to Royal Victoria Hospital), we met with residents who live close to the Kelso steps. The City Council had initially suggested a traffic island here to improve things for pedestrians crossing, but this had the disadvantage of significant loss of parking. An alternative suggestion by the Planning & Transportation Department includes a build-out at the bottom of the steps together with dropped kerbs and white lining (including "SLOW" markings) which has the advantages of creating a more calmed traffic environment and a shorter crossing length, without loss of parking. The unanimous view was that the latter option provided the best solution and it is anticipated that the necessary works to provide this will be undertaken during the current financial year.

Wednesday 12 September 2007

Community Council, Western Cemetery Association, Magdalen Green, West End Christmas Week

A very productive meeting of the West End Christmas Week committee on Monday - things taking shape. The week this year is running from 1st to 8th December, with a launch on 1st December on Magdalen Green and the Christmas Concert, Lights Switch On and fireworks display on Thursday 6th December.
Along with valued help from colleagues, I am distributing the first flyer to local shops later this week (see right).
It's amazing to think that its already the seventh year of the West End Christmas Week, and we have exciting new initiatives this year to keep the week fresh and exciting.
Do let us know if you wish to help!
A well-attended Community Council meeting last night, which included a presentation by a member of the Friends of the Botanic Gardens. An excellent leader article in the Courier this morning highlighting the fact that, whilst the Scottish Government was "happy to toss £10 million to the botanic gardens in Edinburgh", the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead MSP) "is uninterested in helping Dundee." Let's hope we see a change of heart on this and some real support from the Scottish Government.
A couple of other important local events coming up :

Monday 10 September 2007

West End Community Council Update

If you click on the headline above, you can download my update for tomorrow night's West End Community Council meeting.
Issues covered include:
  • Traffic issues - Logie Avenue and Blackness Road
  • Vandalised phone box - Magdalen Green
  • Newhall Gardens pavements
  • Bus Timetables - in the West End
  • Wheelie Bins
  • Parking in the West End
  • Bus Lane markings - Blackness Avenue
  • Step Row - temporary road closure
  • West End Christmas Week 2007

Sunday 9 September 2007

Back from Conference and latest updates ...

We've been away for the past few days running my Institute's Scottish Conference (day job) which seemed to go very well.

Was pleased to note on return that the "To Let" sign at the roundabout on Riverside Avenue (just west of the Marmalade Pot) has now been repaired by its owners, Ryden (see above right). I had contacted Ryden's Dundee office recently following complaints by residents that the sign was damaged and swaying in the wind.
Noted with some hilarity that the Norfolk Blogger (AKA - Nich Starling) has given me a mention in his "Top 50 LibDem blogs" (you can read more by clicking the headline above!) :

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Ure Street

I have been advised by the City Council that, because of water service works, Ure Street will be closed to through traffic (between the mini roundabout near its south end and the link road to Bellfield Street at its north end) from today for a maximum of five working days.
Pedestrians can access the street as normal and alternative routes for vehicles area available via the link roads at either end of Bellfield Street.

Sunday 2 September 2007

The Special Olympics

Many in the West End will be aware that, in October, amongst the 159 British Athletes with learning disabilities and 50 coaches, who will be travelling to China to represent the UK in the Special Olympics World Summer Games, will be Andrew Gray, aged 28, from the West End. Andrew is one of the aquatic athletes. You can go to the Special Olympics Team GB website by clicking on the headline above.

Participation in the games is ‘self funded’ and the Tayside Special Olympics group has been actively fundraising. Already, the Lord Provost and the Economic Development Department have kindly donated Dundee civic gifts to be presented to the host "families" in Shanghai, who will be providing accommodation for Andrew and the other participants.

The Tayside Special Olympics has a considerable shortfall between the projected outlay for the trip and the monies they have managed to raise to date, and I’ve been helping with a wee bit of fundraising myself, along an appeal to the other Dundee councillors, community groups and others, who are always great at helping a worthwhile cause.

It is really great to see Dundee being represented at the Special Olympics and if anyone is willing to consider making a small donation , you can do so by sending any donation to : Andrew Gray, 11 Dunmore Gardens, Ninewells, Dundee, DD2 1PP. (Cheques should be made out to “Special Olympics Tayside”). Many thanks indeed.

Saturday 1 September 2007

Week Round Up!

An exceptionally busy week both with my day job (as I am running a large conference next week) and with City Council and West End matters, so here’s a brief summary!

* Tait’s Lane : Had complaints about the general tidiness of the lane and the pathway that runs from the lane to Peddie Street and I have had favourable responses from the Waste Management Department and from Dundee Contract Services. The latter are going to tackle the overgrown weeds and I have also asked Economic Development if they can do something about the sadly neglected seating at the grass area in the lane.

* Last Sunday, I mentioned the request I had passed on to the Animal Control Team from residents for a dog bin at the end of the tunnel under Riverside Avenue near to the Invergowrie boundary (see I am pleased to report that I have been advised that a new bin was installed yesterday.

* A very useful meeting at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday with Nicol Stephen MSP, Tavish Scott MSP and my fellow LibDem council group leaders from Scottish local authorities about issues facing councils.

* Along with the other party group leaders in Dundee, we met with the President of COSLA on Tuesday about the future direction of COSLA and challenges facing local government.

* A West End constituent recently contacted me about his difficulties getting an NHS dentist and, as this is a parliamentary matter rather than a local authority one, I passed him on MSP details. He’s let me know the feedback he has received which he felt it might be useful to pass on to others via the blog – "… where an NHS Board considers that the existing NHS general dental service provision is insufficient to meet the demands of the local population, and no independent general dental practitioner is available to fill the gap, the Board can appoint salaried dentists. NHS Tayside already employs a number of salaried dentists, and are looking to approve further such posts. Any constituent wishing to enquire about an appointment with a salaried general dental practitioner should contact NHS Tayside at Ashludie Hospital, Monifieth, Dundee, DD2 4HQ (Telephone number 01382 527861)."

* Yesterday, along with the Public Health Minister, I was delighted to attend the launch of “Get Active Getting There” project at Gowriehill Primary School. Gowriehill is one of eight primary schools and two secondary schools (including Harris Academy) in the west of Dundee participating. It’s a great project to encourage school pupils – and indeed the community as a whole – to make use of the local paths network to walk and cycle.

A pilot project in Edinburgh in 2005 resulted in a 50% increase in walkers and cyclists using local routes and the City Council is pleased to be working with SUSTRANS and NHS Tayside on this new excellent project in the City. You can read more by clicking on the headline above.

* Some time ago, the Blackness Area Residents’ Association asked for better markings at the bus stop on the east side of Blackness Avenue (half way down) to ensure the bus can get clear access to the side of the road to allow passengers to get off the bus safely. Many elderly folk get off the bus here and it’s important that they can alight at the pavement properly. I am pleased to say that I have just had the following positive feedback from the City Council’s Planning & Transportation Department indicating what is to be provided here (hopefully within the next three weeks) :

“A ‘BUS STOP’ box marking 29m long with thick yellow Clearway marking. This will ensure that the bus can park with the door at the boarding point allowing safe boarding and alighting for all. We are about to undertake this exercise across all 900 bus stops as part of the Dundee barrier free city commitment.”