Friday 31 October 2008
The motion, tabled by Tavish Scott, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, praised the Government's initial efforts to tackle the financial crisis but argued the rescue package "has fundamentally changed the landscape."
It further made clear that "losing HBOS corporate headquarters and jobs in Edinburgh would seriously jeopardise the city's position as a financial centre."
Thursday 30 October 2008
The group's website is at : http://www.westend-boys-abc.com/
Wednesday 29 October 2008
Tuesday 28 October 2008
Monday 27 October 2008
“... spoke to the driver he said that he will be at the corner of Lime Street and Logie Avenue at 10:10 on Thursdays. He will approach from the Scott Street entrance into Lime Street.”
I am sure this will be welcomed by local residents.
Sunday 26 October 2008
Saturday 25 October 2008
Friday 24 October 2008
I have today written to the Director of Education and to the Head of Primary Education, congratulating them and the Education Department - the Focus on Achievement Awards are an excellent initiative and it was also good to see businesses and other organisations across the City sponsoring awards too.
Thursday 23 October 2008
Later on, we had another planning meeting for the West End Christmas Week - plans are taking good shape - more on this nearer to Christmas Week, which this year runs from 22nd to 29th November.
Wednesday 22 October 2008
A report to the city council's planning and transport committee on Monday (October 27) states that a Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnership (BPIP) is being developed by the council with Travel Dundee, Stagecoach East Scotland and Angus Council.
Committee convener Councillor Fraser Macpherson said: "Over the last few years the city council has succeeded in attracting multi-million pound investment to improve the local bus system.
"There have been real benefits for passengers and new technology has been introduced to ensure that buses, waiting and information facilities are first class, to encourage greater use of bus travel.
"Now, Dundee will be leading the way with the first BPIP in Scotland and the Scottish Government is supporting the development work to encourage other areas to also set up their own local partnerships."
The Dundee and Angus BPIP will build on the long-established partnership working between the city council and local bus operators, with Angus Council now joining the scheme.
The project will initially focus on routes 13, 14, 22 and 73, with continual monitoring of service reliability and punctuality through the existing real-time passenger information system.
If the initial phase of services demonstrates a success it is intended to roll the BPIP out to all bus services in Dundee.
Tuesday 21 October 2008
RIVERSIDE NATURE PARK
Work is continuing to transform Dundee's former landfill site into a nature park that the public can enjoy.
Dundee City Council will shortly be submitting proposals for the final landscaping of a large part of the Riverside site to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
Over the last few years the council has been carrying out work to transform the 86-acre site from the place where Dundee's waste was landfilled, to an attractive area with pathways so that the public can enjoy a large "nature park" by the river.
The huge task has meant thousands of tons of soil being spread to provide a "top cover" a metre deep as part of the requirement for former landfill sites.
Sepa has to be satisfied that there is a satisfactory way of dealing with any methane on former landfill sites that are to be used by the public and there is currently a council appeal with them about management of landfill gas.
The council has had discussions with Sepa and the Scottish Government and a further site investigation study has taken place. There are very low levels of gas at Riverside and a further proposal on its management is to be submitted to Sepa this month.
City council planning and transport convener Councillor Fraser Macpherson said: "Funding from an allocation of £5.25 million to Dundee from the Scottish Government's vacant and derelict land fund will be available for Riverside and this will help boost development of the nature park, including public access areas and landscaping."
The council's environment services convener, Councillor George Regan, said: "Sepa have to finally approve a formal aftercare and closure plan before the public can be allowed access to the site and the council has been working towards achieving this.
"However, we are now at the stage where we hope further real progress will be made in our aim of providing Dundee with an attractive and valuable nature area where people can enjoy a range of wildlife with no detrimental effect on their habitat."
Monday 20 October 2008
Tonight at the Development Quality Committee, I successfully moved refusal of the planning application at Wimberley Houses, on the following grounds:
Application 08/00540/COU - Wimberley Houses, Glamis Drive
Conversion of Student Accommodation to Private Housing
Reasons for Refusal
1) The proposed development contravenes Policy 4 of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005 by virtue of the failure of the applicants' to provide the required level of private useable garden ground and off street car parking provision within the curtilage area of each new dwelling house proposed resulting in a standard of development that would not be commensurate with the quality of housing located in the surrounding area.
2) The proposed development will result in a significant increase in demand for on-street car parking in the surrounding suburban streets to the detriment of the environmental qualities currently enjoyed by local residents and the road traffic and pedestrian safety of the area.
Sunday 19 October 2008
'An independent Scottish economy would be "awful" in the present financial climate, one of Alex Salmond's key economic advisers said last night. ... Kay, a member of the First Minister's Council of Economic Advisers, criticised the SNP's vision of an independent nation, saying he was not interested in "flag-waving, embassies and armies".'
And Iain Macwhirter in the "Sunday Herald" (not exactly the SNP's greatest critic) says :
'Certainly, the Nationalist government is no longer a novelty, and is getting into the kind of difficulties all governments get into in mid-term - acquiring daft policies like trying to make it illegal for young married couples to buy a bottle of wine at an off-licence. The magic is fading, and policies like free school meals and local income tax are in difficulties.'
Absolutely true. Leaving aside the rather obvious point that Scottish separation from the rest of the UK makes no economic sense, the biggest problem I feel the SNP government faces is that it lives for tomorrow's newspaper headline and does not plan for the medium and long term.
The SNP Scottish Government is getting itself into a bit of a guddle - a few examples :
* It opposes Public Private Partnership capital funding, ends it, resulting in a premature end to much needed further infrastructure improvements to schools and hospitals, but has nothing but a myth to replace it. The Scottish Futures Trust is unreal, it doesn't really exist, and far from matching the building programme achieved under the former LibDem/Labour Executive, the "brick for brick" promises of the SNP have proved to be empty rhetoric. Actually, no bricks at all from Mr Salmond.
* Makes a total guddle of its proposals for a replacement for Council Tax - erroneously claimed to be 'Local Income Tax' but actually a Scottish National Income Tax (or should that not be "Scottish National Party Income Tax"!) And, in true tabloid fashion, in the face of universal criticism of its decision to tax students, the SNP rushes out some media spin to suggest they may be exempted, making a policy already £742 million short of being affordable (CIPFA's figures, not mine) even less affordable. The SNP decision to charge students local income tax in the first place was plain daft, but you'll note that John Swinney hasn't quite worked out how he'll pay for now exempting them.
* Creating a lot of media spin about assisting affordable housing in Scotland, that, behind the spin, has seen little delivery on the ground. Housing Association capital funding in Dundee was cut by 46% by the SNP government for 2008-9. SNP politicians in the city have failed to campaign to reverse this cut showing that either they have little influence with their own government or they haven't bothered to speak up for Dundee.
* The Concordat between Scottish Government and local government is beginning to fall apart as John Swinney washes his hands of any responsibility to help local government meet the financial pressures caused by the local government pay dispute and also to pay for SNP government policies, such as the free school meals for P1-P3, which local government is finding hugely difficult to finance in the current challenging budgetary situation all 32 councils face. Other SNP policies - the class sizes reduction is a prime example - are another media myth - great spin for a press release, but unfunded and therefore undeliverable.
One bit of better news from the SNP in today's papers - to quote the "Sunday Herald" - 'Salmond supports call to rethink HBOS deal' - about time that the First Minister is finally coming round to this realisation, but didn't Tavish Scott call on him to do so back on 9th October? Here's the exchange at First Minister's Questions earlier this month :
Tavish Scott: Yesterday's enormous financial package will be judged on what it does in the real economy: its impact on personal lending, individual deposits, bank credit to business, and jobs around the country. HBOS will now be a taxpayer-supported institution. When the First Minister said three weeks ago that the Lloyds TBS merger with HBOS was "the only game in town", he was right, but that is no longer the case, is it?
The First Minister: I have made it clear that my preferred position for HBOS would be for it to remain as an independent bank. We can speculate that, if the measures that were announced yesterday had been in place some weeks ago, perhaps different decisions would have been made. However, the reality is that there is an offer to shareholders, which the Government supports. The offer will therefore be decided on by the shareholders of both banks.
Where some lead, others follow ...
Saturday 18 October 2008
Friday 17 October 2008
This is the second application I have moved refusal on here and both bore great similarities in terms of the planning proposal. Both were opposed by a number of local residents and, whilst the first Appeal was refused, this one has been granted.
I have been amongst the most vocal of Dundee councillors in expressing concern about the present appeals arrangements and this decision reinforces concern about the current system.
Thursday 16 October 2008
Here's Tavish pictured with LibDem activist and Abertay student Chris Hall.
We had a very useful update on the arrangements at Tuesday's West End Community Council meeting, and it was stressed that all are welcome to attend the events taking place.
Here's an overview of the centenary events :
Monday 20th October : Author visit by Frank Rodgers, with P3 & P4 from Blackness Primary School (1.45pm to 2.45pm).
Tuesday 21st October : Old Dundee Slide Show with Ian Cranmer (2pm to 3.15pm), and a special viewing of works by Art Social (4pm to 7pm)
Wednesday 22nd October : Official Centenary Reception (2.30pm) and Special Baby and Toddler Rhyme Time including Hamish, the Bookstart Bear (2.30pm to 3pm)
Wednesday 15 October 2008
Mr Thompson had been fighting prostate cancer for several years, but despite specialist treatment from the management and staff of the oncology department at Ninewells Hospital, the cancer could not be prevented from spreading. Over the last year, the aggressive nature of his illness required further and debilitating treatments. Despite this, Mr Thompson continued to undertake his duties at Tannadice, continuing to provide personal and financial support to the Club.
In recent months, when it became clear that his health was failing, Mr Thompson re-structured the finances, share ownership and the Board of Dundee United to ensure that the long term future of the Club remained secure with his son Stephen taking on day to day responsibilities as Chief Executive.
Although hospitalised for much of the time in recent weeks, the Chairman was determined to see his beloved Dundee United and, despite his worsening condition, insisted on supporting the team in person as much as possible, both home and away.
Everyone at Dundee United is devastated by the loss of someone who was not only our Chairman, but also a very close and inspirational friend.
Eddie Thompson was born in Glasgow in 1940 and trained as an accountant before moving to Dundee in 1964 to join Watson & Philip plc. He was appointed to the Watson & Philip Board in 1976, becoming joint managing director.
In 1991, he left Watson & Philip Ltd to form Morning Noon & Night Ltd, an innovative convenience store chain. MN&N was one of the first retail outlets to install Bank ATMs, now a common sight in the retail trade. In August 2004, MN&N was sold to Scotmid in one of the largest Scottish retail deals for some years. At the time of sale MN&N was generating yearly sales of £53m with operating profits of £1.8m from 50 outlets and employed some 800 people throughout Scotland.
Eddie was appointed as the first Chairman of the Scottish Retail Consortium in April 1999, and served on the British Retail Consortium's Board of Management. He was President of the Scottish Grocers' Federation and sat on the CBI Council for Scotland. He was awarded the Scottish Grocery Lifetime Achievement award in 2003, and received an OBE in December 2005.
Despite these business achievements, Eddie Thompson will always be best known for his love of Dundee United.
He first started supporting the Club on moving to Dundee and his time at Watson & Philip resulted in the VG shirt sponsorship in the late 1980s. He was always keen to provide the Club with the benefit of his business knowledge and contacts and was a founder member of the Dundee United Business Club.
In September 2002, Mr Thompson acquired a shareholding in Dundee United by purchasing the shares of former Chairman Jim McLean. By the end of that month he had acquired a majority shareholding and became owner and Chairman of Dundee United FC.
True to his word, one of the first initiatives approved by Mr Thompson was the issue of new shares to supporters who wished to make individual purchases. He also assisted the establishment of ArabTRUST, the Dundee United Supporters Trust, for collective share ownership by fans. Outwith the Thompson family, ArabTRUST is now the second largest shareholder in Dundee United.
Since then Eddie Thompson has invested millions of pounds of his own money into the Club and has seen losses reduced from record levels of £2.7m in June 2003, to £498k in June 2007 and turned into an operating profit by June 2008. Never slow to admit when mistakes had been made, he also personally funded exceptional termination costs when required to do so.
His fierce loyalty and financial commitment to Dundee United won him much admiration throughout the Scottish game and he was seen as a "champion" of the smaller clubs on the SPL Board, upon which he served from its inception.
Despite his financial and personal commitment to the Club, he always saw himself as a supporter first and foremost and was always first to acknowledge that the fans were the true owners and most important part of the Club. He was quoted as saying, "You can change your wife, your house, your car, but you can never change your team. Chairmen come and go, Boards come and go, but the fans remain. They are the one true constant. I've just been a custodian of the Club."
He was genuinely moved when one of the stands at Tannadice was named after him earlier this year, following suggestions made by supporters and also when thousands of United fans wore "One Eddie Thompson" tee shirts at this year's CIS Cup Final.
Eddie Thompson is survived by his wife Cath, children Justine and Stephen and four grandchildren.
He will be greatly missed by everyone associated with Dundee United and our thoughts are with Cath and his family at this sad time.
The family would like to thank all the staff at Ninewells Hospital and in particular the staff of Ward 32 who have been fantastic over many many weeks.
This is an extremely difficult time for the Thompson family with the recent tragic death of Mr. Thompson's son-in-law, Ken Mitchell and the family have requested that they are left to grieve in private.
Anyone who wishes details of funeral arrangements should contact Dundee United Football Club on 01382 833166.
Tuesday 14 October 2008
IMPROVED RAIL SERVICES FOR DUNDEE
Fraser Macpherson, Dundee City Council Convener of Planning and Transport and Chair of Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN), has welcomed a planned increase in the frequency of First ScotRail services to and from Dundee.
Due to start on 15 December 2008, the package of improvements for rail passengers on Edinburgh-Dundee-Aberdeen services will see:
* An additional Edinburgh-Dundee service stopping at the intermediate stations in Fife.
* A regular half hourly Dundee-Aberdeen service pattern.
* Reduced journey times between Dundee and Edinburgh of up to 10 minutes.
Councillor Macpherson said: "I welcome these improvements to the Edinburgh-Dundee-Aberdeen rail service which are being supported by Transport Scotland.
"Both Dundee City Council and TACTRAN have been pushing for investment in these services for some time.
"The additional Edinburgh-Dundee service represents a significant improvement with two trains per hour instead of one. This doubling of frequency will see the introduction of an hourly express service stopping only at Leuchars and an hourly service stopping throughout Fife.
"The improvements will make it more attractive for business and leisure travellers to make the switch to public transport."
Note to editors: Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN) is holding a rail forum on Thursday 16 October in Dundee to discuss rail issues of importance to the TACTRAN area.
I was in Liverpool on Saturday, so unfortunately missed the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference, but here's a good video piece from the Herald in which Tavish calls for the Scottish Parliament to use its tax varying powers for the first time.
Monday 13 October 2008
Go to www.littlehooliganz.co.uk - which has been set-up today to counter this vile site."
Sunday 12 October 2008
Salmond went on to say:
'Iceland's government seized control of Kaupthing Bank hf, the nation's biggest bank, completing the takeover of a financial industry that collapsed under the weight of foreign debt.
Saturday 11 October 2008
Subjects covered include :
* Union Place - Road and pedestrian safety concerns
* High Mill
* West End Christmas Week 2008
* Hawkhill crossing concern
* Al-Maktoum Cultural Centre
* Seymour Avenue footpaths
* West End Phone Boxes
The update can be downloaded by following clicking on the headline above.
Friday 10 October 2008
Ofcom seem to think that no consultation is OK (judging by the response below) which I view as detrimental, flying in the face of good consultative practice
Dear Councillor Macpherson
Thank you for your further email regarding the removal of a BT Public Call Box (PCB).
We note your dissatisfaction with the rules set around the removal of BT PCBs, in particular the definition of a ‘site’ under the rules. ‘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 a 400 metres’ walk of each other, BT can take one away without consultation with the local authority.
You may be interested to know that Ofcom carried out a review of Universal Service Obligations in 2005/06 and as part of this review Ofcom consulted on this particular issue of a ‘site’ and invited views from all stakeholders. Previously ‘site’ in relation to a PCB was defined as a walking distance of 100 metres from that PCB. Following the review however, this definition was revised to a walking distance of 400 metres.
At the time of the review, Ofcom’s research was undertaken across a wide age range of consumers, including older consumers. It indicated that there was an urban/rural split in terms of expectations of distance in relation to a PCB. In general, a maximum five minutes’ walk was deemed reasonable in urban areas, and 20-30 minutes’ walk in rural areas. The research also indicated that there had been a growth in mobile ownership amongst the over 65s. During the review, Ofcom asked for views on whether the definition should be extended to 200, 300 or 400 metres. Most stakeholders who responded on this issue supported an increase in the definition. This coupled with changing commercial conditions in the PCB market (increase in mobile phone ownership amongst the over 65s), justified a change in the definition of site to any area within a walking distance of 400 metres from the PCB.
The statement can be found at:
Non confidential stakeholder response can be found at:
Taking your second concern about the rules not taking into account local circumstances, under the current rules unitary authorities handling consultations hold the local veto and, although we do not lay down rules on how they should go about testing local views, we would expect them to consult other public organisations, such as parish/community councils or local community groups. Where written objections are made, reasons must be given for the objection. Factors that should be taken into consideration (although the list is not exhaustive) include: housing type in the area, the number of households in the area, PCB revenue, emergency calls and mobile phone coverage.
I hope this information proves helpful and helps clarify Ofcom’s position on the matter.
Thursday 9 October 2008
OK, I am no fan of the Republicans and I think McCain is simply not up to the job, in extremely difficult times.
As Tory commentator Iain Dale said "Not good. Not good at all."
Obama deserves to win and judging by the polls, he will.
"Blue Peter is evil, Hitler was imaginative and BBC bosses are munchkins - (So claims SNP's Chris Harvie)"
The Scotsman continued:
"His remarks have been described as "loopy" and fuelled claims about how "out of touch" some Nationalist MSPs are."
Best comment of the day on this goes to Margaret Smith, the Liberal Democrat MSP, who later told the chamber:
“Today's was an interesting contribution, which referred to the evil-doing of Blue Peter but the imaginativeness of Hitler.
“One could only guess what Adolf would have done if he had access to sticky-back plastic.”
Anyway, back to the real debate on the SBC Report ...
As I have previously indicated (click on headline to view) for local - and indeed further pan-Scotland - television coverage in Scotland in terms of new channels to be meaningful and successful, the issue is that extra transmitting capacity (the so-called "7th Mux") has been identified in that it means the difference between almost everyone getting a signal and perhaps as low as a third of viewers getting new Scottish & local television output.
The good news is that it was announced in parliament yesterday, during the debate, that the Scottish Government is following up on the 7th Mux issue and will include this in a discussion with Ed Richard, Chief Executive of Ofcom, next week.
Lastly, for today, on this subject, I received a response from Scottish Government today on an e-mail I sent last month about the 7th Mux issue :
MY E-MAIL TO SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT :
From: Fraser Macpherson
Sent: 06 September 2008 21:44
To: Dagg AL (Anne)
Subject: 7th Mux
Dear Ms Dagg
I refer to previous correspondence on this matter, in particular with the Institute of Local Television
As you know FifeScreen and TayScreen is the screen commission for the local authorities of Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth and Kinross. I am involved with an initiative called the Fife and Tayside Local TV Working Group
We have been closely involved in the consultation process being conducted by Ofcom and have made submissions. The most recent submission was copied to your office. We should be most interested in your views on this.
There is strong interest in local TV in the Fife Tayside area considering that there is a record and survey evidence of demand and significant opportunities for the cultural and politicial engagement, social inclusion, the production sector, audience development, and the potential to network content both nationally and internationally.
In the circumstances it is crucial that the 'reach' of local TV should be as wide as possible. It is our understanding that the Fourth Public Service Multiplex (the 7th Mux) would give access to all instead of just 1 in 3.
Consequently, we should appreciate it if you would let us know the plans for consultation with the local authorities within Fife and Tayside.
Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
RESPONSE RECEIVED TODAY :
From: Anne Dagg
Sent: 09 October 2008 10:45
To: Fraser Macpherson
Subject: RE: 7th Mux
Dear Councillor Macpherson
Thank you for your e-mail about local television and the strong support for this in the Fife and Tayside area. I am sorry for the delay in replying.
As outlined in correspondence with the Institute of Local Television, the Scottish Government was keen to receive the report of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission so that the recommendations could be taken into account when considering what Scotland’s future spectrum requirements might be. Ofcom has assured the Scottish Government that none of the options for spectrum have been closed off and we will continue to be in close contact with Ofcom to take this matter forward.
In the meantime, while the Scottish Government considers the Broadcasting Commission’s report, the Scottish Government has written to Ofcom to seek their assurances that they will fully consider the submissions from the Scottish Federation of Local Television regarding the seventh multiplex.
As you may be aware the Scottish Parliament debated the Scottish Broadcasting Commission report yesterday. The First Minister made a statement on the Report which highlights the Government’s priorities for broadcasting. The Official Report of the debate can be accessed on the Parliament’s website at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-08/sor1008-01.htm
I hope this information is helpful.
Culture Division Europe
external affairs and culture directorate
The Scottish Government
When a ship is sinking, we must send out the lifeboats, not argue about who steered the ship into the iceberg. At Prime Minister's Question Time yesterday, I pledged my support for the moves being taken by the Government. Vince Cable and I have been clear that we must do whatever is necessary to halt the downward spiral of the British economy.
Wednesday 8 October 2008
Tuesday 7 October 2008
Monday 6 October 2008
The meeting takes place on Thursday 16th October at 7.30pm at Room 1517 in the University. It is open to the public and attendees should enter the university buildings via the main door on Bell Street, up the stairs and then head along the corridor parallel to the street.
You can download a poster advertising the event by clicking on the headline above.
Sunday 5 October 2008
Saturday 4 October 2008
Car parking charges are to be abolished at NHS hospitals across Scotland, the health secretary has announced.
Friday 3 October 2008
I have spent the last few days in Manchester at my employer's Annual Conference - a short video clip of the rather superb gospel singers at the Institute's Performance Awards Dinner is above.
Whilst I was out of town, there's been some discussion in the local press about parking in the West End. Full marks to the Courier today for its article on the matter which, very fairly, pointed out that I believe it is important to ensure that whatever ends up being proposed has to have the support of residents. (You can read the full story by clicking on the headline above).
Far from a residents' parking scheme being my 'baby' (as some have erroneously suggested), I have sought to ensure that the concerns of residents regarding parking difficulties are fully investigated and that residents are consulted on their views about possible solutions.
The article in today's Courier accurately summed the position in its article :
'Mr Macpherson said, “The bottom line is that we want to be convinced that any proposals help residents and have the support of residents. We don’t want to introduce a residents’ parking scheme unless that’s what they want.” '
Wednesday 1 October 2008
Work ongoing to improve roads
Poll Ends: Wednesday, 1st October, 2008 12:30, this poll is now closed, results were:
Liberal Democrat 43.3%
Any other 0.2%