Tuesday 30 September 2008

Dunfermline Press ...

OK, it is not often I mention the above newspaper on the blog - readership in Dundee rather small, I suspect - although the Dunfermline Press has, to its great credit, shown good interest in the local television campaign.

However, it is for an entirely different matter that I mention that newspaper today - its about the online poll it has been conducting about the forthcoming Glenrothes parliamentary by-election. Results thus far :

Which party do you think will win the forthcoming Westminster by-election in Glenrothes?

Poll Ends: Wednesday, 1st October, 2008 12:30, the results so far are:

Conservative 1.8%

Labour 21.3%

Liberal Democrat 32.7%

SNP 43.9%

Any other 0.3%

There's been a lot of spin that its a Labour/SNP two horse race and STV failed in their duty of impartial, fair coverage of the by-election in last week's 'Politics Now' programme by only featuring the SNP and Labour candidates (that said, their performances were so dire, it probably helped the LibDem and Tory candidates more than them!) If the above online poll is anything to go by - just like Dunfermline and West Fife before it - reality on the ground is rather different from media spin.

Labour is in free-fall - it will be an extremely interesting contest.

Monday 29 September 2008

Al-Maktoum ... and Transport Conference

Busy day today, starting off with a useful meeting this morning with Professor Malory Nye, Principal of the Al-Maktoum Institute For Arabic and Islamic Studies, regarding the proposal for a cultural centre on the former Logie Secondary School site. Although the project has run behind schedule, I was assured of Dubai's commitment to the project and it is hoped to see progress in future months. Meantime, I was pleased to hear that a further clean-up of the site will be organised in the next few weeks, including tree trimming where these are impacting on adjacent properties in Rosefield Street.

After that, I chaired a
meeting at Gleneagles of Regional Transport Partnership Chairs, with Stewart Stevenson MSP, the Transport Minister, about (rather obviously) Scottish transport issues. Thereafter, I attended the first couple of sessions at the Scottish CPT Conference (Confederation of Passenger Transport UK) and, on return to Dundee, held two surgeries - at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy. A long, but productive day!

Tories bring on zzzzzzz........

From Harry Wills' Fighting for Fife website yesterday :

"The Conservative party conference opens today in Birmingham but there is little hope of their message getting across to Scottish voters. As the conference starts, just down the road Britain's first Snoring Boot Camp is helping people to get a good night's rest. Fitting, as the Tories message makes Scots voters want to seek the comfort of sleep.

Six snorers will be put through their paces at the army-style Boot Camp complete with a Sergeant Major. They will take orders from a leading Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, a professional personal trainer and a diet expert, in an attempt to combat their snoring problem for good.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrats said: "There is a good chance that there will be many more people snoring in Birmingham by the end of the week. While David Cameron seems to think he is Tony Blair mark two, parading to power as the Government crumbles, his effect in Scotland is soporific.

"A recent poll shows that Scots are less than convinced by Cameron's all too smarmy soundbites. While the Tories may be dreaming of success, the Liberal Democrats are determined to save people from the nightmare of Conservative rule, one that decimated Scottish communities in the 80s and early 90s."

I watched the toe-curling question-and-answer session on devolution at the Tory Conference on the BBC Parliament channel yesterday. My goodness, if anything creaked, that did! Auntie Annabel Goldie, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the Tories were the only politicians who could save the Union. Funny that ... I thought the Tories were the people propping up Salmond's minority government by voting for the SNP budget.

Sunday 28 September 2008

The future of Scottish Public Broadcasting

Last Thursday, Ofcom published its second consultation into the future of Public Service Broadcasting (there's a good summary of the recommendations, including those for Scotland, on the Ofcom website -click on the headline above to view).

The proposals for Scotland
have some concerning aspects. Firstly, Ofcom accepts that the ITV proposed merger between Border and Tyne Tees news should go ahead. For ITV, of course, read ITV England and Wales, and the suggestion of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway getting its 'local' news from a studio in Gateshead is unacceptable.

No wonder people in the Borders are up in arms about the proposal. Borders LibDem MP Michael Moore said the recommendations were "made by people stuck in London offices who fail to understand the importance of regional news and diversity."

There's one glimmer of hope for the south of Scotland offered in the Ofcom consultation - (to quote Ofcom) -

"In the Evolution model, our proposals mean there could be a single channel 3 licence for Scotland in future. Any Channel 3 PSB licence after 2014 would be likely to cover the whole of Scotland – the Scottish part of the Border region would be incorporated within an all-Scotland service, possibly regionally split into North, Central and Borders."

This seems a sensible route forward but Ofcom floats this as a vague possibility "in the long term."

Meantime, there are other concerning aspects to the Ofcom consultation. Ofcom proposes a reduction for STV of its minimum requirements for non-news programming from 3 to 1.5 hours per week from 2009, a highly deterimental step. As the Scotsman said yesterday (see http://news.scotsman.com/latestnews/Green-light-for-STV-to.4531067.jp) :

"The watchdog recommended halving the minimum output of non-news public service broadcasting (PSB) to 90 minutes a week and reducing day-time news bulletins. It is likely the moves would see programmes such as the late-night current affairs show Politics Now axed. The recommendations prompted sharp criticism from the Scottish Government and other politicians."

The comments made by Vicki Nash, the Director Ofcom Scotland, were around how to "sustain public service broadcasting in the new economic reality of the digital television age." To quote Ofcom:

"In all models additional funding will be necessary to maintain news provision on commercial PSBs. In order to maintain STV’s services at or close to their current level, extra funding from public sources at the UK or Scottish Government level will be needed."

So, the question is - Does Andy Burnham MP, the Labour Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport have the future of public service broadcasting in Scotland uppermost in his mind? Doubtful methinks, but the proof of the pudding will be how the Westminster Labour government reacts to sustain public service broadcasting. Similarly the SNP government in Edinburgh.

Robert K. Avery said of public service broadcasting:

"Public service broadcasting is based on the principles of universality of service, diversity of programming, provision for minority audiences including the disadvantaged, sustaining an informed electorate, and cultural and educational enrichment."

In the environment of the digital age, public service broadcasting faces great challenges and governments must react to protect, preserve and enhance it. Can we trust the London Labour government or Salmond's SNP administration to grasp this particular nettle?

Further comment on Patsy Cline ...

With thanks to Paul Walter of 'Liberal Burblings' (http://paulwalter.blogspot.com) for this further comment about Patsy Cline:

"I agree that Cline's "Crazy" is a great song. I first encountered it when I was forced to present a Country music show on a radio station about thirty years ago. It was one of the few oases of sanity in the programmes!"

Saturday 27 September 2008

Couldn't agree more ...

E-mail just received :

"Loved hearing "Crazy" on your blog - one of the greatest songs of all time"

Balgay and Victoria Parks

Firstly, had a recent complaint that the building in Victoria Park (right) has been graffitied again - a pity as it had remained unvandalised for some time. I have contacted the Leisure & Communities Department about this and have had the following prompt reply :

"Will get that dealt with ASAP"

This afternoon, I attended a packed Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Balgay, which took place at the Mills Observatory. The City Council Engineer who took charge of the Balgay (or Hird) Bridge refurbishment project, gave a highly interesting and entertaining presentation about the project.

You can read about the
re-opening back in May by clicking on the headline above. Below is a photograph of the unrestored bridge and below it a photo I took on the day of its reopening.

Patsy Cline - Crazy

Another irrelevant blog entry … but an all time classic, from the late Patsy Cline.

Friday 26 September 2008

Station Walkway - last part to finally be removed

Have received the following update from the City Council about this long-standing issue; good to see it finally resolved :

Station Overbridge

The first phase of work on the Central Waterfront re-aligned South and West Marketgait in 2005. As part of this phase the pedestrian bridge that ran from the station to the Nethergate Centre was removed on16 & 17 Aug 2005. The pedestrian crossing at road level that is now located at the south end of Union St replaced it. This works well, is more convenient and is far better for disabled people or those with pushchairs and luggage heading for the station.

Part of the overbridge was not removed at that time and remains attached to the station building, where it has become a bit of an eyesore. Additional permissions from the rail companies were needed. At last all the arrangements are in place for the dismantling of this piece to occur over the weekend of 27th and 28th Sept. A large crane will be positioned in the road way that forms the taxi rank and it will lift the bridge off in sections and place it on the ground where it will be cut into large pieces capable of being removed by lorry for complete dismantling elsewhere.

There is preparation work required prior to the crane arriving and then afterwards some re-instatement work. From Monday 23rd Sept to Friday 3rd Oct this results in minor alterations to pedestrian access to the station and to the taxi rank being temporarily positioned on the south side of the station towards Riverside Drive. Access to most of the public car park will still be possible.

Thursday 25 September 2008

Politics Now ...

Having just watched the Glenrothes Labour and SNP candidates' utterly dire performances on STV's "Politics Now" - I make the obvious points:

* Oh dear ... who was worse, less prepared? Well, the Labour candidate, but that's hardly to say that the SNP candidate did well ... really poor stuff. Colin Mackay summed it up - "They are not Jim Sillars, are they?" Correct.

* Err ... where were the Tory and Liberal Democrat candidates? Unimpressive, STV, to exclude the other main party candidates. Harry Wills, the LibDem candidate, is so much more impressive. I would say that, wouldn't I? But it doesn't make it anything other than accurate, nonetheless!

Ofcom initial response on phone box removal lack of consultation

I received the following response from Ofcom this afternoon; I await further feedback with interest!

"25 September 2008

Dear Councillor Macpherson

Thank you for your email to Ofcom dated 24 September 2008.

As part of its Universal Service Obligation to supply basic, fixed line, telecommunications services across the UK, BT (along with Kingston Communications in the Hull area) is obligated to provide Public Call Boxes.

By way of some background, BT is required to ensure adequate coverage of public call boxes (PCB). During a review of Universal Service Obligations in 2005/06, Ofcom concluded that adequate coverage is best determined at a local level with district (or equivalent) councils holding the local veto. BT must follow rules set by Ofcom when they wish to remove a PCB from a site. ‘Site’, in relation to a PCB, is defined as a walking distance of 400 metres from that PCB. This means that if there are two phone boxes within 400 metres’ walk of each other, BT can take one away without following our rules. However, if they want to take away the last one as well, they have to follow an agreed process.

Our rules state that BT cannot remove the last PCB from a ‘site’ unless they have displayed a notice on the call box to notify the public, written to district council, metropolitan, unitary or equivalent council and have not received any written objections within a 90-day period. If the local body does make a written objection to BT within the fixed 90-day period, BT must not proceed with the removal or re-siting of the PCB. Where written objections are made, reasons must be given for the objection. Although we do not lay down rules on how local district councils (or equivalent councils) should go about testing local views, we would expect them to consult other public organisations, such as parish/community councils or local community groups.

We are naturally concerned if the two PCBs to which you refer are in fact PCBs that BT must consult on in accordance with our rules and if BT have subsequently failed to inform Dundee City Council about the proposed removals. We are, however, unable to comment further at this stage without knowing the intricacies of the case. We have taken up this matter with BT and will write to you again when we have further information.

I hope this information proves useful.

Yours sincerely

::Charlotte Cullen
Central Operations
Telecoms Team"

Phone Box Removal - lack of consultation

Yesterday, I issued a news release regarding the fact that British Telecom has decided to remove two telephone boxes in the West End without actually bothering to consult anyone first - something I consider bad practice - whatever the merits or demerits of removing the boxes. I print the news release below.

In response, BT has said to the Courier that it wrote to the City Council about removing boxes back in April. A case of spin over substance, I'm afraid, because the City Council’s Head of Planning had advised “… we were consulted on the removal of kiosks at the beginning of April and neither the kiosk at City Road or the one at Seafield Road were on the list supplied and therefore not passed to Cllr Macpherson for comment.”

It is simply good practice to consult with the community before taking action to remove phone boxes. It is clear, from what I have been advised that BT did not, contrary to the spin, consult on the removal of these particular boxes.

Personally I don’t think it is acceptable that there are any circumstances under which BT can simply avoid bothering to consult on phone box removal and I have therefore asked Ofcom to review BT’s practice of only consulting on the removal of some phone boxes and not others.

NEWS RELEASE : City Councillor's concern over removal of phone boxes without any consultation

Dundee City Council’s Convener of Planning & Transport and councillor for the West End, Fraser Macpherson, tonight expressed concern about a practice by British Telecom of deciding to remove Dundee phone boxes without any public consultation whatsoever, calling it “extremely bad practice.”

Cllr Macpherson said that the situation had come to light in the case of two phone boxes in the West End Ward – at City Road and Seafield Road – where BT is removing two phone kiosks without recourse to the City Council, locally elected councillors or the public.

Cllr Macpherson said, “The removal of a phone box in City Road came to light only when I contacted BT recently about repairs required to the phone here, and in the case of the phone box in Seafield Road, the removal came to light only when BT wrote to Dundee City Council and West End Community Council saying the red telephone kiosk could be considered for the “Adopt a Kiosk” scheme after it is decommissioned by BT.

“I think everyone accepts that phone box usage is lower than before, given the number of households with phones nowadays and the advent of the mobile phone, and indeed some phone boxes have been subject to vandalism. However, it is extremely bad practice for BT to undertake removal of phone boxes without any public consultation.

“Where there is a proper consultation, it at least allows the local authority and local councillors to speak with local people about their views on phone box retention or otherwise – unfortunately in this case the BT approach is a “done deal” – no public consultation whatsoever.”

Cllr Macpherson, having complained to BT about the matter, has now written to Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. In his letter, Cllr Macpherson writes:

“My complaint is that – whatever the merits or otherwise for their retention or removal – BT has failed to undertake any consultation with locally elected representatives, the local authority and the community about these proposals.

“The proposed removal of the City Road phone box only came to light when I reported a repair required to BT. In the case of the Seafield Road box, it only came to light when BT mentioned it to the City Council in relation to the “Adopt a Kiosk” scheme.

“I am deeply concerned that BT is removing these boxes without any consultation whatsoever. I would ask that you request BT immediately review this bad practice and I look forward to your response.”

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Brown despondent at Ruth Kelly resignation

I'll shed no tears at the departure of Ruth Kelly, easily the worst member of a dire Labour Cabinet.

Clearly, Gordon disagrees
and was utterly despondent at Kelly's 3am resignation ...

tactranliftshare.com - a massive hit!

As Chair of the regional transport partnership, TACTRAN, I was delighted to see the report of the growing success of TACTRAN's liftshare scheme - tactranliftshare.com - in today's Courier - click on headline above to view the full story.

Along with TACTRAN's Director, Eric Guthrie, I recently took part in a discussion on Tay AM's "Business Matters" programme, about TACTRAN's role and the success of the partnership's liftshare scheme.

You can access the Dundee part of the liftshare scheme at http://www.dundeeliftshare.com/.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Gordon's speech today - err, listen to the expert

Gordon Brown did his best today but the plaudits should really go to his wife. My favourite politician is Vince Cable, gravitas, substance and everything that 'new' Labour has long since lost. Judge for yourself.

West End Christmas Week Update

At City Council committees last night, Christmas lights displays across the City this festive season were agreed. I'm pleased to say that the Christmas trees and lights for the West End - at both Seabraes and West Port - are again included.

At last week's Christmas Week meeting, the committee agreed that this year's West End Christmas Week will run from Saturday 22nd November to Saturday 29th November. The week will start with a Community Safety Event, with the Annual Christmas Lights Switch On and Fireworks on Wednesday 26th November. There will be numerous other events, culminating with the Christmas Fayre at Blackness Primary School on Saturday 29th November.

It will be a great week
- if you are interested in helping, please e-mail christmas2008@frasermacpherson.org.uk - many thanks!

Monday 22 September 2008

Surgeries, Tait's Lane and Benvie Road/Fyffe Street ...

Apart from two surgeries at teatime and City Council meetings tonight, I met with residents in Tait's Lane about road issues this afternoon.

Also, pleased to see the road resurfacing in Benvie Road and Fyffe Street commences tomorrow (see right & click on headline above for the background).

Seymour Avenue

One of the streets in the West End whose pavements are unadopted are those in Seymour Avenue. Following a recent visit to residents about a utility repair, I have now raised with the City Engineer the priority given to Seymour Avenue, in relation to the Unadopted Footways Programme.

Given the number of elderly persons in the area,
I have asked for this to be reviewed, and the City Engineer has confirmed he will have the 'scoring' of the street reviewed.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Another West End sports initiative

For someone who knows the square root of nothing about sport, it is ironic, I suppose, to be assisting a second local sports initiative in just a few months!

The Riverside Boys' Under 10s Football Team is going from strength to strength - although we are looking for a second sponsor - many thanks to Barnetts Motors for sponsoring the team strips. We are now looking for a track suits sponsor.

I was recently contacted by local resident Emilio Places-Rey, who is currently attempting to establish a local boxing club. I have managed to put Emilio in touch with City Council staff with whom he is meeting next week to see what assistance/advice can be offered.

If any resident is interested in assisting Emilio or would like further information, please e-mail Emilio at epr-888@hotmail.co.uk - many thanks.

Support for the Michael Buble version!

Janet & I would like to thank Jackie who e-mailed with her comments and is happy they appear on the blog, in response to the Elvis Presley video uploaded last night!

To Janet,

I am so sorry to disillusion you, my dear, but if you play them all side by side, there is no doubt that Michael Buble's voice, style, passion, phrasing and absolute love for the song he is singing cannot be outdone. Just hearing those velvet tones, much less watching him feel every note is what wins you over heart and soul. Truly, every fiber of his being sings every note of every song and his respect for the original writer, as well as performer, just adds to the beauty.

Michael has commented on several occasions that it is easier to write and perform your own songs because people have no one to compare them to, whereas, when covering a song that has been sung by many others, you have to do all that you can do to make the song your own and add a new dimension to it, hoping that your audience "gets" what you are trying to say. His passion for this music alone sets him way above the rest, past or present.

Jackie Faught

Saturday 20 September 2008

You Don't Know Me - Elvis Presley

We have had a bit of a debate about this - so Janet's competition of the week. Best version:

* Elvis Presley
* Willie Nelson
* Leon
* Michael Buble
* Ray Charles
* Dinah Shore
* Anyone else you care to think of - the song is brilliant and loads of people have recorded it

Votes on a postcard to my wife - janet@frasermacpherson.org.uk - she thinks the Elvis version is best, but some of us think Willie Nelson is rather superb.

Friday 19 September 2008

Doors Open Days - Dundee Waterfront Animation

As part of Doors Open Days on today and tomorrow, Dundee Contemporary Arts is screening a new short animation that shows the developing plans for the Dundee Waterfront.

Screenings will take place on today and Sunday at approximately 12.30pm, 2.45pm and 5.40pm and admission is free.

Union Place, West Park Gardens and www.dundeewestend.com!

Just back from a 'day job' day in Tillicoultry to a load of phone messages and e-mails to follow up!

On the way home, visited Union Place, where I have had complaints about a badly sited grit bin and the pavement condition caused by poor utilities' repairs (see latter, right). Have reported this to the City Council. It is actually the second complaint about poor utilities' restorations this week, as I have also reported residents' complaints about a similar situation in West Park Gardens.

The "Evening Telegraph" tonight in its 'Civic Scene'
feature mentions the huge numbers of hits on the Dundee City Council website (nearly eight million last year) and the large response this blog has had (from all parts of the world!) to the Dusty Springfield video I uploaded recently. www.dundeewestend.com has now had over 147 000 visits - most grateful to all regular visitors!

Thursday 18 September 2008

Bournemouth 2008: Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg's Keynote Speech to the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference.

New Course at Mitchell Street Centre

A new course is starting next month at the Mitchell Street Centre for all interested in environmental and related issues.

The course will cover global and environmental justice, with participants learning about important global issues, discussion about where these fit into the picture and what we can do to make a difference.

The course will start on 22nd October and will be held on Wednesdays from 10am to 12 noon. For further information, please call Dorothy Potter on Dundee 435827.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Wednesday ...

Apart from a whole load of 'day job' activities today, I had the pleasure of attending the fascinating guided walk at Western Cemetery, ably led by Ann Prescott of the Western Cemetery Association and Iain Flett, Dundee City Council Archivist. An excellent turnout - here's a couple of photos (above).

Later I attended the City Council Housing Working Group, of which I am a member. Good presentations and discussion on tenant participation and housing investment.

Tonight, I attended the Harris Academy Parent Council - both interesting and informative.

And ... now home to recordings of 'Coronation Street' and 'The Restaurant'!

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Bournemouth 2008 : Tavish Scott

Tavish's speech to the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference - good stuff!

Fest 'n' Furious 2008

A superb programme for Fest 'n' Furious 2008 including :

Session A9

The Young Trad Tour


Concerto Caledonia

Duo Lisme

Mick West Trio

You can read more by clicking on the headline above.

Monday 15 September 2008

McInnes issues Dundee tax cut challenge

Issued by my colleague Alison McInnes MSP today :

Alison McInnes, Lib Dem MSP for the North East is backing Tavish Scott’s call to the other political parties in Scotland to work with the Liberal Democrats to cut the income tax rate by two pence in the pound.

Mr Scott, the newly elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, believes that as families across Scotland have to tighten their belts because of the current economic climate, the Government should do the same.

Under the Liberal Democrats’ plans, around 50,000 workers in Dundee, could save money. The average earner in Dundee could save £298.

Liberal Democrats have identified areas where the Government is wasting or misdirecting public money. We think that this money is better back in peoples’ pockets. We are absolutely committed to protecting schools and hospitals, which is why none of the savings will come from these frontline services.

Commenting, Mrs McInnes said, “It’s the measure of a political party that it can respond to urgent new demands. That’s why this Party needs to be ready. People are hurting now. The British economy is in meltdown. People want to hear what we can do for them.

“People in Dundee are tightening their belts. It’s right that Government does as well. Families are feeling the pinch. They have to make sacrifices just to make ends meet. We Liberal Democrats will respond to that.

“Families in the North East are being hit hard by rising prices. Energy costs up by half, food costs up by 30 pounds a month, inflation the highest for 16 years. We can't let this go on. We can’t turn our backs. We've got to find ways to help people out.

“We have to say what can be done to put money back into peoples’ pockets. We should use the Scottish Parliament’s power to cut income tax by two pence in the pound. This could save 50,000 workers in Dundee money. The average earner in Dundee could save £298 a year. Putting money back in the pockets of people who need it most is our practical ambition.

“The Scottish Government’s Budget comes out in a few days time. That Budget cannot be ‘business as usual’. It has to cut the cost of living. It has to put families first.“So this is our challenge to Scotland’s other parties. Are they up for helping people across Scotland? Are they up for helping people in Dundee? Do they support hard pressed families at this tough time? Will they work with us to make it happen?”

Sunday 14 September 2008

Nice Sunday ...

Spent the morning delivering letters to residents in a couple of streets (Thomson Street and Kinloch Park) about local issues and also to traders in Nethergate and Perth Road about the forthcoming Christmas Week meeting.

A lovely afternoon at Sheila Roy's 70th birthday party at Discovery Point. Sheila is one of the great stalwarts of the West End - Chair of Friends of Magdalen Green, a long-standing community councillor, key person in organising community events including the West End Festival and numerous West End Christmas Weeks, and fundraiser for various charities. Great to see so many people celebrating Sheila's birthday.

The picture below is of Sheila cutting her birthday cake, ably assisted by grandsons!
Happy Birthday, Sheila!

2008 Good Egg Awards

Many thanks to Liberal Burblings for including this blog in its 2008 "Good Egg" Awards! To quote Liberal Burblings:

"These awards are for LibDem blog authors who have kept up frequent and regular high quality postings this year.

"Cllr Fraser Macpherson - A very lively campaigning blog which is particularly insightful on Scottish affairs."

Saturday 13 September 2008

Labour's Iain Gray tries to defend Wendy

Congratulations to Iain Gray, winner of the poisoned chalice. Oh dear.

Liberal Democrat Federal Conference 2008

The LibDem Federal Conference is starting today in Bournemouth.

The centrepiece debate of the week will be on ‘Make it Happen', the party's ‘vision and values' paper. The document highlights key areas of focus for the party, including plans to:

* Deliver big tax cuts for people on low and average incomes paid for from taxing pollution and closing tax loopholes used by the rich

* Invest more in the education of the most disadvantaged children

* Deliver on an ambitious green agenda, including forcing energy companies to pay a large share of their windfall subsidy to help homes use energy more efficiently

* Protect civil liberties, scrapping ID cards and introducing a Freedom Law to get government off people's backs and keep personal data private

* Clean up the political system and bring an end to the influence of big money on politics

Click on the headline to read more, including details about all the policies being debated and full reports on the key speeches.

Christmas Week 2008 approaches ...

Hard to believe that the 2008 West End Christmas Week is approaching already, but it takes a lot of planning, so the first meeting of the Christmas Week Committee takes place this coming Thursday.

If anyone wishes to attend or find out more information, please e-mail me at christmas2008@frasermacpherson.org.uk or call me on Dundee 459378 - many thanks!

Friday 12 September 2008

SNP revisionism

You'll recall my blog entry about "spin" on the SNP website about their Dundee West parliamentary candidate. Last week the SNP said about him :

"He increased his majority in Logie in 2003 and in May 2007, was elected for the West End multi-member ward at Stage 1 with the highest number of votes of any of the candidates. "

And now it reads :

"He increased his majority in Logie in 2003 and in May 2007, was elected for the West End multi-member ward where the SNP gained the highest number of first-preference votes."

Thank you to Dundee SNP for correcting the inaccuracy.

News release from Alison McInnes MSP

News Release from Alison McInnes
Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland

McInnes dismayed by radio jobs threat

North East MSP Alison McInnes has contacted the owners of Radio Tay after plans emerged for standardising evening and overnight broadcasts across seven Scottish stations.

Bauer group anticipates redundancies or reduced hours as a result of the decision to centralise broadcasts between 7pm and 6am. As a result, listeners in Dundee will be listening to Clyde FM’s Glasgow-based broadcast, rather than the local programmes currently aired by Tay FM.

Mrs McInnes has written to Bauer group urging them to rethink the proposals. She commented: “This decision seems short-sighted. My immediate concerns are for those staff who will be made redundant because of this decision if it is allowed to stand.

“I also wonder how the decision will play out in terms of Bauer’s audiences. Evening and night-time shows have dedicated followers and in the era of online radio where so much choice is available, it seems strange to reduce the local distinctiveness of stations such as Tay FM.”

Dundee West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson added: “Radio Tay provides an excellent local radio service for Tayside & North Fife and any drop in the amount of local output would be a regrettable step. I am hoping that Bauer, the station’s owners, will reconsider this decision.”

Thursday 11 September 2008

Seabraes and Seymour Street

Good to see the work to upgrade the footpath at the south end of Seymour Street starting yesterday (see my news release below). I'm also grateful to the Waste Management Department's Rapid Response Team who, following my request, have cleaned off graffiti (some offensive) at Seabraes.

NEWS RELEASE : Improvement to popular pathway in West End now started

Dundee City Councillor for the West End, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, said today that he was delighted that upgrading works on an area of pathway which is extremely well used by residents in the West End, but currently in very poor condition, has now started this week. The thoroughfare from Shaftesbury Road to Perth Road, adjacent to Seymour Lodge is owned by Tayside Police and Cllr Macpherson congratulated the Police on their positive response to his request that the Force upgrade it.

Earlier this year, two representatives of Tayside Police met Cllr Macpherson on-site, and it resulted in agreement by Tayside Police to upgrade and resurface the west side of the thoroughfare, adjacent to Seymour Lodge, a building in the Force’s ownership.

Cllr Macpherson said, “The pathway has deteriorated badly over the years and resurfacing it and creating a proper pavement edge will be a boon to local pedestrians. I am grateful to Tayside Police for its positive response on this matter.”

Wednesday 10 September 2008

BBC, Community Council, local TV and Bus Timetables!

I was contacted by the BBC yesterday following the decision of the Planning & Transport Committee of the City Council on Monday evening to undertake a £150 000 study into protecting the city from flooding - you can read the report of this on the BBC website by clicking on the headline above.

Last night (despite the heavy rain!) there was a good attendance at West End Community Council for its monthly meeting and Annual General Meeting.

I have now received from Stagecoach Strathtay full bus timetables for the 69 route across the West End (replacement for the old 72) and the "new" 72 route (the reduced route only as far west as Windsor Street) and had these available at the community council meeting. I'm most grateful to the community council member who is ensuring these will be available at both Perth Road Post Office and Blackness Library. If you would like me to send you copies, please e-mail me at
bustimetables@frasermacpherson.org.uk - many thanks!

Lastly, with the recent publication of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission Report, the Fife & Tayside Local TV group has updated its website with the latest news, including :

* Scottish Broadcasting Commission - recommends a Scottish network - potentially good for local TV

* 7th Mux - what is that? Why it means local TV for all instead of just 1 in 3

* Ofcom DDR consultation - Fife Tayside TV submission now submitted

You can read more at : www.tayscreen.com/page.cfm?page_ID=27&menu_ID=1

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Roseangle Update

Further to my earlier blog entry about flooding at the bottom end of Roseangle (click on headline to view), I have now had the following further feedback from the City Council:

"The Roads Maintenance inspector for the Roseangle area has confirmed that the gullies in Greenfield Place and outside the shop on Roseangle were all checked (and cleaned if required) by Tayside Contracts last week. The gully outside 22 Roseangle was finally cleaned out at 6am on Friday 5th September following a couple of unsuccessful attempts due to parked cars."

Monday 8 September 2008

Busy Monday!

A busy day with :

* Two surgeries (at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre)

* Council committees tonight, with a packed Planning & Transport Committee agenda

* Dundee Waterfront Board

* Meeting with Scottish Water and a resident regarding pavement reinstatement issues

* And ... good to visit the Dundee Housing Associations' Money Advice Show at Dundee West Church. See photos! A great initiative - will also be at Balgay Parish Church Hall this Friday (10.30am to 3pm)

Sunday 7 September 2008

West End Community Council Update

I have just uploaded my latest update to West End Community Council - please click on the headline above to view.

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

Political Spin of the Day!

A constituent has pointed out to me this classic bit of SNP spin from their Dundee website:

"Cllr Jim Barrie - SNP Candidate for Dundee West

Jim Barrie is well-known – and well-respected - as a Dundee Councillor. He has represented the West End since the Logie By Election in August 2000 when he won the seat with a large swing from Labour. He increased his majority in Logie in 2003 and in May 2007, was elected for the West End multi-member ward at Stage 1 with the highest number of votes of any of the candidates. "

Err ... so what were the first preference votes of the four elected candidates from last year's election?

Fraser Macpherson (Liberal Democrats) : 1693 votes

Richard McCready (Labour) : 1331 votes

James Walker Barrie (SNP) : 1326 votes

Donald Hay (Conservative) : 738 votes

Oh dear, SNP spin machine a bit faulty it appears!

Saturday 6 September 2008

Jimmy Helms : I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse

Another irrelevant blog entry but brilliant nonetheless!

Tackling West End flooding concerns

Following the flooding concerns raised with me by residents arising out of the torrential downpour on 21st August, I have had feedback from the City Council about issues at a number of locations.

I am meeting with residents and a city council engineer shortly about the issues at two of the locations (Osborne Place and streets around West Park Road) and with regard to the lower end of Roseangle, I have been advised as follows:

"To address the specific complaints in your email the area inspector for Roseangle will check the road gullies at the locations reported and arrange for them to be cleared if required."

I have been further advised that the Roads Maintenance Section operates a maintenance programme which is both planned and reactive. Planned maintenance involves the gullies being serviced twice a year although in reality this is not always achievable because of obstruction from parked cars/skips/scaffolding. Reactive maintenance takes place on an ad hoc basis as required in emergency situations/following weather events.

Friday 5 September 2008

Next Monday's Planning & Transport Committee

I'm just back from running a conference in Crieff (day job!) which explains the lack of blog entries during the last couple of days.

There's a packed agenda for Planning & Transport Committee next Monday (8th September) - the council committee I chair - and the City Council has issued three news releases about some of the major items, as follows :

Accidents in the City (you can read more in the Press and Journal at : http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/820321?UserKey=)

Less people were killed and seriously injured on Dundee's roads in 2007 than in previous years, but the cost to society was still somewhere in the region of £10m.

New figures to be reported to Dundee City Council's planning and transport committee next week show that there were 44 people killed or seriously injured last year on the city's streets.

Councillors will also be asked to approve £180,000 of road safety measures at a number of sites across the city.

Fraser Macpherson, convener of the planning and transport committee, said: "Although significant reductions have been achieved, 44 people killed or injured on Dundee's roads in 2007 is still way too many.

"Excellent progress has been made on many fronts to help reduce the number of people whose lives are lost or blighted by road accidents and work done by Dundee City Council, Tayside Police, NHS Tayside and Tayside Fire and Rescue has contributed to this ever more positive outcome."

A report to the committee, which meets on Monday (September 8) reveals that initiatives in the fields of engineering, enforcement, education and encouragement have all played a part in bringing casualty figures down in recent years.

Traffic management and calming as well as accident investigation and prevention have been used to try to build in safety to the city's roads network.

A further 16 locations across Dundee have been identified as part of this process and new or additional road safety measures will be put in as part of an on-going programme of works.

According to the report, by director of planning and transportation Mike Galloway, enforcement of traffic laws plays a crucial role in maintaining and improving road safety, while education initiatives including the theory part of the driving test and work with school children have also helped to cut the number of people killed or seriously injured.

Other road safety initiatives which have encouraged cyclists to use helmets, drivers to use proper restraints in their vehicles for children and pedestrians to wear bright and highly visible clothing have also played their part.

When compared with the average number of people killed or seriously injured between 1994 and 1998 there was a 72% drop in 2007.

Dundee Bus Shelters

Bus shelters in Dundee that are repeatedly vandalised could be removed as the final sanction in a new policy to be considered by councillors next week.

The ultimate penalty will only be imposed after a series of other measures have been taken to try to reduce the £81,000 a year repair bill.

Convener of the planning and transport committee, Fraser Macpherson said: "It is simply not fair on the council tax payer of Dundee for us to continue to spend their money on a programme of rapid repair when some of the shelters involved are targeted repeatedly by a small but persistent unthinking and uncaring section of the community.

"Some of the worst hit shelters are attacked between 10 and 15 times a year, and less than seven percent of all the shelters in the city account for more than half of the repair bill."

Members of the planning and transport committee, which meets on Monday (September 8), will be asked to agree a new policy to encourage the communities where shelters are worst hit to help protect them by reporting all incidents of vandalism.

If it is approved a series of measures will be brought in as part of the new policy, which recommends that:

· where more than 80% of glass panels are destroyed in one incident, every glass panel should be replaced with polycarbonate;

· where more than £1000 worth of damage is done in any 12 months all glass panels should be replaced with polycarbonate;

· where polycarbonate is damaged within two years of installation it could be replaced with galvanised steel mesh or removed altogether; and

· where repeated acts of fire or electrical interference happen, the shelter should be completely removed.

Councillors will be told that a new shelter costs £12,000 to install and £300 is spent every year on cleaning and maintenance, excluding vandalism repair costs.

According to the report by director of planning and transportation, Mike Galloway, Dundee City Council will continue to work closely with Tayside Police on crime reporting, incident investigation and other joint working, as well as with other groups on offender rehabilitation.

Flooding study (You can read more about this in the Press and Journal at : http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/821429?UserKey=)

A £150,000 study that will look at ways to protect Dundee from flooding in the next 50 years is to be considered by councillors next week.

Members of the planning and transport committee will be told that a recent investigation found that while there are no immediate dangers, a combination of global warming, coastal erosion and deteriorating or ineffective protection measures could leave parts of the city vulnerable.

Committee convener, Fraser Macpherson said: "This report, which was completed before the most recent heavy rains hit the city, is the first in-depth look at how various factors could impact on the Tay Estuary up to 2057.

"It would be reckless and irresponsible of us to simply leave the protection of Dundee to future generations and not spend time and money now commissioning a report that will tell us what we can do to ensure the safety and continued prosperity of parts of our city.

"That duty of care extends to two projects that we have also started now, and members will also be updated on them at the committee."

City council engineers have recommended work at the sea wall at Riverside Drive and adjacent to the new Douglas Terrace/Stannergate walkway after investigations showed serious damage and erosion.

Dundee Contract Services are already at work in Riverside Drive on £82,000 worth of repairs to the retaining wall, while contractors Torith, who have been working on the improvements to the walkway for more than a year, will carry out work to build the new sea wall at Douglas Terrace/Stannergate.

The river is attacking the natural sea defences in the area, and experts are concerned that if these are breached the new walkway and other parts of the shore could be inundated.

More than £300,000 will be spent on the emergency works to build the new sea defences.

If councillors approve the study at their meeting on Monday (September 8) it will look at what needs to be protected and the cost and environmental impact of doing so.

Bids for the cash to fund any future flood defence schemes for Dundee will have to be made to the Scottish Government.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

New CCTV provision for Dundee's West End

After years of campaigning for improved CCTV provision in the West End, I am pleased to report progress has now been achieved, with agreement to provide an additional CCTV unit covering the Sinderins area.

At the moment CCTV provision only extends along Perth Road as far as the Roseangle junction and I have over a long period of time received requests from residents and local businesses for the CCTV provision to extend westwards.

We have a busy and vibrant district shopping area along Perth Road right up to Sinderins with a significant night-time economy with restaurants, pubs, etc, and having CCTV towards Sinderins would be greatly welcomed by the local community.

I recently discussed the matter at a meeting I had with new Chief Constable Kevin Mathieson who indicated that progress was being made on an extension of CCTV provision to Sinderins.

I have since received full details from the City Council and TACTRAN, the Regional Transport Partnership.

TACTRAN is funding this new CCTV provision through the bus punctuality improvement partnership primarily to improve traffic management and efficiency of the signals at Sinderins (as well as a similar project in Broughty Ferry) using pooled capital funding.

I have been advised that the high spec camera will also be suitable for police purposes as well as traffic. As the area is a conservation area, there will be a consultation period before installation but it is hoped to have the new CCTV camera in place later in the autumn.

I am very pleased at the progress with news on CCTV here although there will remain other parts of the area that would benefit from similar improvements in the future.

Monday 1 September 2008

Litter tackled

Last week I had a number of litter complaints and I'm most grateful to the City Council's Waste Management Department for its swift tackling of these, including:

* Around the Kelso Street steps from Blackness Road - already swept.

* At the far west end of Perth Road/Riverside
Avenue - litter mainly in bushes and ground in Scottish Enterprise ownership. Dundee Contract Services is in discussion with SE about taking over grounds maintenance here and I am pleased that the City Council Waste Management Department's Rapid Response Team has kindly agreed to do a litter pick here this week to improve the situation.