Wednesday 31 October 2007

Digital TV problems ...

I've issued a news release today about my concerns over the initial preparations for the Digital TV switchover from analogue.

Although there is some initial TV advertising by Digital UK it is not at all detailed and doesn't answer many of the basic questions people are asking about how they should prepare for the loss of analogue signals. The information thus far is patchy and confusing for elderly people in particular.

Most people in the West End and others in parts of the southern end of Dundee and the Charleston area had been denied digital terrestrial services in advance of the analogue switch off because the Tay Bridge and Camperdown television relay transmitters are not carrying Freeview services as yet, has not helped in terms of public awareness locally about digital terrestrial television.

If you click on the headline above, you can read the full news release.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Recycling and graffiti ...

Attended the photocall in Blackness Avenue this morning (along with representatives of Blackness Area Residents' Association and councillor colleagues) to mark the installation of the city’s 50th neighbourhood recycling point - see photo (right). You can also read the story in tonight's "Evening Telegraph" by clicking on the headline above.
Further to last Saturday's blog entry about the badly graffitied phone box in Cleghorn Street, pleased to say BT has since advised me it will take steps to get it cleaned up.

Monday 29 October 2007

TACTRAN launches Conference Carshare

Another excellent initiative from TACTRAN just announced! See news release below and click on headline to view more :

Tactran Launches Conference Carshare

Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (Tactran) this week launches a “Conference Carshare” section to their liftsharing website: This unique new feature is being introduced to coincide with and encourage delegates at the annual Roads Expo Conference in Ingliston to travel more sustainably, in line with the theme of the Conference.

The tactranliftshare site which currently has over 1200 commuter journeys registered is now focussing on travel to large events which attract drivers from all over Scotland and the UK. In addition to the regular commuter journeys registered, Tactran hopes conference delegates will consider car sharing to major events as well as for their regular journeys when they head home.

Chair of Tactran, Councillor Fraser Macpherson says: is proving increasingly successful in attracting commuters to share their journeys and offer space in their cars. At present, the site saves 810,000 road miles and 248 tonnes of Co2 annually. By highlighting major events such as the Roads Expo Conference in Ingliston, we hope to see this positive contribution to reducing transport emissions and traffic congestion grow and grow.

If you would like to link your conference to or require further information, contact Merry Scott on 01738 475772.

Blackness Road and Blackness Avenue junction

Recently a number of constituents have raised concerns about the operation of the juunction of Blackness Road/Blackness Avenue and wondered if it would operate better as a roundabout rather than the present give way.
As one resident put it, "The junction is used fairly evenly by all of the routes entering it, so I think it would help traffic flow and further reduce speeding traffic on Blackness Road. I don't know whether this has been discussed before but if not I wonder if you'd consider raising it at some point in the future."
I did indeed raise it with the Planning and Transportation Department who have now responded as follows:

"There is insufficient room to accommodate a mini-roundabout and the junction layout could not accommodate all turning manoeuvres (especially Blackness Road eastbound to Balgay Road).

"A further issue would be visibility. There have been measures introduced (build-outs) to improve visibility at the Blackness Avenue/Blackness Road approach by bringing the giveway line forward. The main disadvantage of a mini-roundabout at this location would be the resulting set back of the give-way marking at the expense of full visibility to the right due to the boundary wall/parking. [The most dominant accident pattern is failing to give way at the Blackness Avenue approach]."

Sunday 28 October 2007

Pathway from Rosefield Place and Bankmill Road

Pleased to advise that the City Council has removed graffiti from the walls here, following my passing on residents' complaints.

Saturday 27 October 2007

Magdalen Green success!

A very busy day today with many of my party colleagues converging in Dundee for a regional party meeting (and my colleague Alison McInnes MSP visiting the Barnardo's shop today in Reform Street to help promote the excellent work Barnardo's undertakes for children).

Despite a hectic day, I did manage to briefly pop-in to St Peter's Free Church Hall this morning to wish the Friends of Magdalen Green every success with their coffee morning today (see above right). Having had a call from Sheila, their Chairperson, tonight, I am delighted to say that the Coffee Morning raised in excess of £800, which will be used to help preserve and enhance the Green - a super result! You can read more about the Friends of Magdalen Green by clicking the headline above.

Lastly, I had complaints at my Mitchell Street Centre surgery last Thursday about the state of the phone box in Cleghorn Street (see right). I got BT to clean off the graffiti here earlier this year, but it is a real mess again, so I have been back in touch with BT about this.

Friday 26 October 2007

Last couple of days ...

I attended the Blackness Area Residents' Association meeting on Tuesday night, and amongst matters discussed was parking difficulties in Corso Street. I have raised this (and a number of other local issues) with the City Council.
Wednesday night saw the launch meeting of the community group for Ancrum/Cleghorn/Pentland and surrounding areas at Balgay Church. I am really pleased that the group is getting off the ground and will be planning a series of community meetings in the future. We had a good discussion about local issues including anti-social behaviour, road repairs, parking and a number of other matters.
A few more issues over past couple of days:
* Constituents have complained that the steel bollard at the east end of the South Tay Street car park on the Marketgait side is loose in the ground - clearly been hit by a vehicle. The City Council has promised me that it will be repaired.
* On the Hawkhill by-pass beside the PDSA, someone has bumped into the bollards. The Council has raised an Order to ensure repair, following my request.
* On the corner of Union Place/Perth Road, there's a dug up an area of pavement and it requires repair. Following my request, Tayside Contracts has been instructed to upgrade the footpath.
* I have been promised that the channel grating on the footpath at Pinegrove on Perth Road will be replaced soon (part of it is currently missing).

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Botanic Gardens

The news yesterday that the University of Dundee's Court has pledged to keep the botanic garden open, ending months of concern about its long-term future, is to be greatly welcomed (click on headline above to view story in the Evening Telegraph).
The City Council (along with the University itself, Dundee College and the Friends of the Botanic Gardens) played an active role in the Working Group set up to put together a workable strategy to secure the long-term future of the Botanic Gardens.
The University will be paying some £75 000 less per annum towards the Botanic Gardens and in this context it is disappointing that the Scottish Government rejected requests for funding from government. This is particularly disappointing given the Scottish Government's willingness to help fund the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.
Nonetheless, we hope there will now be a secure future for the Dundee Botanic Gardens.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Last couple of days and Magdalen Green update

Yesterday I had organised a site visit with Leisure & Communities and Planning & Transportation staff to Hillcrest Road following a resident's concern at the proposal to remove some trees (one is diseased, another causing damage to a resident's wall and the roots from these and four others are causing significant damage to the pavements, creating trip hazards).
It is a real shame to see lovely mature trees having to be felled in this extremely pleasant street and I was anxious that the officers fully explained to both the resident and myself the detail of the survey of the trees to assure us that the minimum number of trees possible would be affected. Apart from six identified as causing damage or diseased, the other trees in the street remain unaffected. I am equally anxious that where removing a tree is absolutely necessary, a replacement is planted whenever possible (although in this particular street, the extent of underground cabling in recent years makes this problematic).
At council committees last night, there was the very difficult decision regarding Bellfield Nursery and I sought assurances from the Director of Education that a nursery place can be guaranteed in the future for all 3 and 4 year olds in the West End. The long-awaited report on consultation on residents' parking schemes for not just the West End but other parts of the city was approved (click on headline above to view the earlier story on this).
This morning I chaired the TACTRAN Board in Stirling (see and will attend Blackness Area Residents' Association this evening.
Friends of Magdalen Green have issued a very useful e-mail update to friends and supporters and, with the permission of Sheila Roy, the Chairperson, I paste it below:
This is the first of what I hope will become regular updates about the Green and "Friends of Magdalen Green".
I would like to thank you for the interest you have shown in Magdalen Green and in our activities - your support is very much appreciated.
Containers on the Green
You may have already noticed that several large containers (the type found on container lorries) have appeared on the Green at the bottom of Step Row. These are there with the permission of Dundee City Council; they are providing a support base/storage facility for contractors renewing the kitchens of the sheltered housing in Patons Lane. It is anticipated that they will be there until early December.
Complaints to the Council
If you see activities on the Green which you feel the Council should do something about or are concerned about Council services you can contact the council directly to complain or make suggestions using their electronic complaints/suggestions system at The Council are good at responding to these complaints, and we have had some success in getting bins emptied and preventing council workers driving across the Green unnecessarily.
Friends Coffee Morning
We are having a Coffee Morning on Saturday 27th October in St Peter's Hall, St Peter Street (off Perth Road) 10am - 12 noon. Entry is £1.50 for adults, £1 for children. There will be cake and candy, craft and cards stalls. Please come and support us - any donations for the stalls will be very much appreciated.
Friends Christmas Cards
We are very grateful to local artist Pauline Murray for donating art work for the first ever "Friends of Magdalen Green" Christmas cards. These will be on sale at the Coffee morning. You can view the cards at the blogspot If you would like to buy cards but can't come to the coffee morning please email your order to
Donation for the Special Olympics
A big thank you to everyone who was at the September meeting, when we raised £100 to support Tayside athletes in the Special Olympics in Shanghai. Andrew Gray from the West End (whose father spoke at the meeting) won a gold medal in the 25 m butterfly with a personal best time and he came 5th in the 100m freestyle, again with a personal best time. The full results for the British team can be found at
Finally if you have any suggestions you would like to make about Friends or about the Green, or if you want to become more involved with Friends of Magdalen Green, please email us at
Best Wishes
Sheila Roy (Chairperson)

On behalf of Friends of Magdalen Green

Monday 22 October 2007

Youth End Poverty

You'll recall I was interviewed some months back by Roars Not Whispers regarding different attitudes to poverty in Dundee (click on headline about about this).
Arising out of this, Yep Dundee (Youth End Poverty) will launch its first public meeting tomorrow (23rd October) at 7.30pm at DVA, The Number Ten Building, 10 Constitution Road, Dundee.
I promised to publicise this on the blog, so here's some of the info about the meeting :
"The meeting will last around an hour, and it will be a chance to meet other people involved with Yep, and to start looking at poverty in the city and what we are actually going to do about it. As well as talking about what you would like to get out of being a Yep activist and what you can get involved with now.
"If you would like to come along to that then let us know too, and we will keep you posted about it. In the meantime you can log onto our myspace or our bebo and add us as a friend, and theres a facebook coming soon too. Also Oxfam have set up a facebook group to get young people from around the country to discuss poverty, and you can watch parts of the DVD they made: 'Are you bothered?' which is a great short film looking at people's attitudes to poverty."

Saturday 20 October 2007

20 mph zones and Germany ...

Got back late yesterday from a couple of days running a Conference in Grangemouth (with "day job") to the usual pile of phone messages, e-mails, etc... Thanks to Janet who stood in for me at my surgeries on Thursday (on basis that I can't be in two places at once!) - photo of Conference (right).

Spent some time today delivering flyers for the folk who are trying to set up a community group for the Ancrum/Pentland/Cleghorn/Polepark area to advertise their public meeting next Wednesday to discuss local issues. Meeting is at Balgay Church on the 24th (6pm for 6.30pm) and all residents in the area very welcome.
Also attended the public consultation event for the West End Community Plan at Dundee West Church Hall this morning - a good turnout of residents and community representatives and good to speak with many local people.

Lastly, you will recall my article on 11th October about 20mph zones around schools in the City (see - well, Marlyn Glen MSP has advised me that (apart from the article about this matter in the Evening Telegraph) it also appeared on a German website! Click on headline above to view. Bizarre.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

West End parking

I'm pleased to say that the report to Planning & Transport Committee to allow for consultation with communities on extending residents' parking is being considered at committee next Monday - click on the headline above to view more.
Having received many concerns from residents in the West End about the parking situation, I am pleased to see this report come forward, and it will hopefully lead to an improvement too in other areas adjacent to the City Centre.

Friends of Magdalen Green and TACTRAN ...

Attended the Friends of Magdalen Green committee meeting last night. The Friends have organised a coffee morning to raise funds on Saturday 27th October in St Peter's Church Hall Dundee from 10am - 12 noon - click on the headline to read about it on their blog.
I'm representing TACTRAN (the Tayside & Central Scotland Transport Partnership) at the official launch of the Kinross Park and Ride facility later today.
The facility was funded by TACTRAN using Scottish Executive Capital Grant which was provided to the Regional Transport Partnership to support the delivery of strategic transport improvements which support emerging Regional Transport Strategy aims and objectives. The project complements TACTRAN’s Regional Transport objectives of reducing congestion, improving accessibility and promoting use of more sustainable options for commuter and other demands.
Anyway, here's the news release :

The new Kinross Park & Ride facility will be officially launched on Wednesday 17th October by Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson.

Councillor Fraser Macpherson, Chair of TACTRAN (Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership), Councillor John Kellas, Convener of Perth & Kinross Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee and Robert Andrew, Regional Director of Stagecoach Scotland, will also be in attendance reflecting the partnership which worked to create the new facility.

The Park & Ride opened on 28 May this year, and provides improved public transport links for car drivers, local bus users and cyclists. Located on the western outskirts of Kinross a short distance from Junction 6 of the M90, the site is ideally situated to offer a convenient alternative for motorists using the M90 to travel to either Edinburgh or Perth, helping to relieve congestion on one of the busiest commuter routes in east Scotland.

Mr Stevenson said: “Situated on one of the busiest commuter routes in east Scotland, this new facility is absolutely vital. I want to see more Park & Ride schemes like this one right across the country.

“If we are to win the battle to tackle congestion, we must offer the commuter real alternatives to the car. We must encourage a change in the mode of transport used by the public to protect our environment and ensure our economy can develop without being constricted by an increasingly congested roads network.

“The new Scottish Government will build new rail lines, improve the bus network, encourage the use of park and ride facilities, and continue to promote cycling and walking as healthier and greener ways to travel.

“Well planned initiatives like this one in Kinross give people a real alternative to the car, helping them to avoid the jams, whilst relieving congestion on our roads network.”

Councillor Macpherson said: “I am delighted that TACTRAN has been able to provide the funding required to deliver the Kinross Park & Ride facility. Development of Park & Ride is one key element of the TACTRAN Regional Transport Strategy.

“Over the next few months we will be working on development of a regional Park & Ride strategy, which will build on and complement existing Park & Rides to deliver a regional network of edge-of-city and urban sites, particularly focused on our main urban centres of Dundee, Perth and Stirling. In taking this strategy forward we will continue to work in partnership with Scottish Government, our Councils and transport operators to deliver effective public transport options which will reduce congestion, improve accessibility and promote the use of more sustainable options for modern travel demands.”

Councillor Kellas said: “Through our Local Transport Strategy Perth & Kinross Council is committed to maintaining and improving public transport services and offering new and innovative alternatives to the car. By providing enhanced public transport links from Kinross to Perth and Edinburgh this facility will be beneficial to commuters and also those visiting the area. It will also take some pressure off our local and strategic roads by reducing car use.

“Certain local bus services in Kinross have also been re-routed via the Park and Ride to allow local residents access to the inter city coach system. With Stagecoach Fife routing Services 23 and 36B to specifically serve the Kinross Park & Ride site, and Service 201 operating to the adjacent supermarket, we hope that local residents will also be encouraged to leave their car at home and make their whole journey by public transport. Travellers can enjoy a more pleasant journey by coach and arrive relaxed without the need to a find parking space”.

Robert Andrew added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with TACTRAN and the Council to provide a local bus option between parts of rural Kinross-shire and the Kinross Park & Ride site. Hopefully many residents will use the bus to reach the interchange point with Scottish Citylink and express coach services, from which two coaches operate every hour to Edinburgh during the majority of the day.

“We are continually monitoring public reaction and feedback to the service and this has led to the recent decision to provide links with Stagecoach Fife Service 747 at Ferrytoll Park+Ride, with through ticketing to/from Edinburgh Airport. We look forward to working in conjunction with the Council and TACTRAN to identify further opportunities to develop the role of the Kinross site and also other Park & Ride opportunities in the TACTRAN region."

Monday 15 October 2007

Liberal Democrat leadership

Development Quality Committee tonight went on for around two and a half hours (ok, I contributed to a fair bit of that so I won't complain about the length of the meeting...) but early on I received a text to advise of Sir Menzies Campbell's resignation as federal party leader.
I am personally extremely sad at Ming's decision to stand down as leader. He's a genuine statesman of the highest calibre and I was proud to support his nomination for leader. The national media, so transfixed on a politics being a beauty contest, has been unfairly negative about an able, thoroughly decent man. The party has lost as its leader someone of great substance and experience.
As for a new leader, Janet says to put a fiver on David Laws ... you heard it here first.

Sunday 14 October 2007


I have received complaints about the condition of the pavement on the north side of Nethergate (around the area opposite DCA) where residents have complained the pavement is untidy and greasy.
I have complained to the Waste Management Department about this, asking for the pavement to be cleaned.

Saturday 13 October 2007

Back from Brighton!

Having spent the last couple of days at my employer's Annual Conference (you can see the brilliant Red Hot Chilli Pipers at the Conference Gala Dinner above) I'm back to loads of e-mails and messages on West End issues - a full update soon!

Thursday 11 October 2007

20 mph zones around schools

Marlyn Glen MSP recently contacted me in my capacity as Planning & Transport Convener of the City Council to ask about the extent of provision of 20 mph zones around schools in Dundee, give the reports to the British Medical Association's annual conference saying that more 20 mph speed limits on routes near schools help tackle the problem of obesity amongst school children as well as making the streets safer for them.
Following discussion with Council officers, my response is as follows:
“During 2004 Dundee City Council began a programme of introducing part-time 20mph speed limits on roads surrounding its schools. These part-time limits are legally enforceable and operate at the beginning and end of the school day and also over the lunchtime period. Currently 47 of the Council's 49 schools have part-time 20mph speed limits operating in this manner. The two schools that are yet to be covered are Braeview Academy and St Johns High School and this has been caused by difficulties in providing the required power supply to the signs. City Council officers advise me that they are confident that this will be resolved within the next month so that all Council schools will be covered by the 20mph part-time speed limits.

“In addition to the Council schools, work is currently on-going with the High School of Dundee regarding 20mph part-time speed limits and this is also expected to be completed within the next month.

“Steps have also been taken to ensure that any new schools opening in Dundee through the PPP initiative will also have part-time 20mph speed limits in place from their first day of opening.

“In addition to 20mph speed limits at schools further work has been undertaken in partnership between the Education and Planning & Transportation Departments to develop School Travel Plans. A seconded post was provided for a two year period within the Education Department to develop an exemplar School Travel Plan pack as part of the Health Promoting Schools initiative. An exemplar pack has been issued to all schools in Dundee with the Head Teacher of each school responsible for implementing their School Travel Plan. These School Travel Plans aim to encourage pupils to travel to school in a more sustainable and healthy manner by encouraging walking, cycling and public transport in favour of car journeys.

“Dundee City Council also works in partnership with Tayside Police and provides resources and professional officer input to assist Tayside Police's Road Safety Officers who regularly take the road safety message into the classroom.

“I trust this information assures you that Dundee City Council has tackled the need for 20mph speed limits at Schools and continues to develop travel initiatives to help improve the health of our school pupils.”

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Latest updates ...

Yesterday included a meeting with the residents organising a community meeting for Pentland, Cleghorn, Ancrum & adjacent areas. They are holding it on Wednesday 24th October at Balgay Church ... more on this later but do please attend if you live in the area.
After an informal meeting about West End Christmas Week matters, the West End Community Council meeting took place, including its AGM and a useful update from the Dundee Airport Manager.
Today, I received the following update about the Tay Street service road from the City Council:
"Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating building works.

The Order is expected to be in force for ten weeks from 22 October 2007. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicles in Tay Street Service Road from its junction with South Tay Street at a point 30 metres or thereby in a westerly direction.

Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises will be maintained.

An alternative route will be available via Tay Square.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, Planning and Transportation Department, Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date. If you have any queries please contact the department on 433168."

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Nicol Stephen MSP in Dundee

Earlier today, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Nicol Stephen MSP, visited Dundee to meet with Chris Hall, our Lochee Ward by-election candidate and with myself and the City Council about the future of the Cities Growth Fund (see also the story in tonight's Evening Telegraph by clicking the headline above).
Despite the rain (and there was plenty of that!) we had a good walkabout in the Lochee shopping centre meeting many local residents.

Monday 8 October 2007

Pavements issues ...

Over the past couple of days, I have received a number of pavement defects complaints.
These include a drainage channel grid missing at the entrance to Pinegrove on Perth Road and further east along Perth Road at Ryehill Lane, a similar grid has fallen and stuck inside the drainage channel.
I've reported all complaints to the City Council.

Sunday 7 October 2007

No general election in 2007

Not Gordon Brown's finest moment ...

Riverside Drive and River Crescent

At River Crescent Residents' Association last Monday, there were complaints about potholes in the roadway in both River Crescent and at Riverside Drive near to the railway bridge south of Vernonholme.
I reported these to the Planning & Transportation Department. I got feedback at the end of last week saying both sites had been inspected and that the potholes on Riverside Drive had been attended to and that repairs are now arranged to the potholes in River Crescent.

Saturday 6 October 2007

Tay Square mosaic

Last year, following my request, the City Council arranged repair of the mosaic in the square, in front of the Rep (click on headline above to read more).
A resident contacted me recently to say bits of the mosaic have broken off and I therefore contacted the Economic Development Department about this. I have now received the following positive response :

"We have now inspected the Square and agree it needs some attention.
We will liaise with the Public Art Officer and ascertain the best method of remediation."

Friday 5 October 2007

Corner of Perth Road and Ryehill Lane

Residents have mentioned to me the fact that the seating area (in front of the advertising hoardings) is looking untidy again and that the seating is in poor shape.
Having contacted the owners (J C Decaux) I have been advised that they will ensure it is tidied and they will see what they can do to improve the seating.

Thursday 4 October 2007

October West End Community Council Update

Click on the headline above to read my October Update to West End Community Council.
Subjects covered include :
  • School crossing patrol survey - Perth Road
  • Appeal Decisions
  • State of former Logie Secondary School site

The Community Council next meets on Tuesday 9th October at 7pm in Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Milnbank Road

I have been advised by the City Council that, due to manhole replacement work, Milnbank Road will be closed to traffic (between Forest Park Road and Rosefield Street) next Monday (8th October) for one day only.
Pedestrians will be able to use the pavements as normal.
If you have any queries, you can contact the Planning & Transportation Department on 433168.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Ancrum Place/Morven Terrace

In the past few months I have had a number of complaints about the condition of the carriageway to the east end of Ancrum Place, immediately behind the Morven Terrace sheltered housing.
Although the footway of Ancrum Place itself is on the Planning & Transportation Department's Unadopted Footways list, I have now been advised by the Department that the carriageway/parking area to the east is the responsibility of the Housing Department, linked to the sheltered housing complex.
The West District Housing Manager has responded to me promising to visit the area to inspect the roadway. I'll keep residents advised of progress.
A busy couple of days, including meetings of the River Crescent Residents' Association last night and Logie Residents' Association tonight.

Monday 1 October 2007

West End recycled jewellery project update!

If you click on the headline above, you can read the item from a couple of months back about Fiona Coull, a fourth year Jewellery and Metalwork student at Duncan of Jordanstone and the jewellery recycling project.
Anyway, Fiona's been back in touch to say that an exhibition of the project work is now open at DCA (until 16th October) and it is well worth a visit!
Pictured (above right) is Fiona's own contribution - a brooch with a pierced out farthing (wren) - and you can also see more on-line at