Tuesday 31 March 2009

City Council administration change

As residents will be aware, the city council Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition administration was defeated last night at the hands of the SNP and the 'former Labour' Lord Provost voting together, resulting in a new administration led by the nationalists. I congratulated Cllr Guild, the new SNP administration leader immediately after meeting, on his party's success.

As I indicated to the press last night and on Radio Tay today :

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, said, “Throughout our service on Dundee City Council, the Liberal Democrat councillors have sought to co-operate with other parties for the good of the city of Dundee.

“Any administration that brings forward policies to improve and protect services for our citizens will find such policies supported by the Liberal Democrats but we would not stand idly by if a new administration sought in the future to make cuts in vital services and cut jobs in the city. We would vigorously oppose anything that detrimentally affects jobs and services.

“I have re-read the SNP Dundee Council manifesto and it is very clear that they made a huge lot of promises. It remains to be seen if and how they will honour them.”

Monday 30 March 2009

West End TV reception complaints

As reported in today's 'Courier', I have, over the past few days, highlighted complaints from numerous residents in parts of the West End over reduced and poor television reception in recent weeks.

I have been contacted by a number of residents who had expressed concern about their recent poor TV reception. Most receive ‘traditional’ analogue services from local transmitters at Tay Bridge or Angus, and residents have said they were concerned that this was because of work on transmitters to prepare for the digital switchover, which takes place in the STV North region next year.

I have
spoken with Arqiva, the company that owns and manages TV transmitters across the UK, and, although they accept that there may be some disruption to services nearer to the time of the switch-over from analogue to digital, they have assured me that there should be no disruption for Angus and Tay Bridge viewers at the moment. There is, however, engineering work on-going at the Craigkelly transmitter, resulting in breaks in service and possible poor reception, although only a minority of viewers in Dundee get their TV signals from this transmitter situated in Fife.

Further details are available on the UK digital website - click on headline above to view.

I would be interested to hear from any other residents who are finding they are getting poor TV signals at the moment because there is something of a pattern with this – and am happy that any resident with such a complaint contacts me at the City Chambers, at my surgeries, calling me on 459378 or e-mailing tvproblems@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

I am continuing to liaise with Digital UK and with Arqiva on this matter.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism

Following the recent Maryfield Ward by-election, I commented in the 'Civic Scene' column in the "Evening Telegraph" that the way by-elections are handled under the Single Transferable Vote system can result in a total distortion of proportionality. The SNP has the support of fewer than half the voters in Maryfield but now has all the seats - so where's the proportionality there?

I have expanded the point in the latest "Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism" item on Liberal Democrat Voice (Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism is a new-ish regular update from LibDem bloggers in Scotland and it was sort of my turn ...) - click on the headline to read more.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Riverside Boys - today's photocall

Regular readers of www.dundeewestend.com will know that over the past year, I have been keen to give support to the Riverside Boys Under 10s football team (click on headline above to view an earlier article about the team).

Earlier today, I was pleased to take part in a photocall to mark the launch of a new association between the team and prominent Dundee Amateur Football Team, Riverside Athletic.

Riverside Athletic – celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – is taking the under 10s team under its wing so that it will become its ‘junior arm’ of the long-standing and prominent Amateur Team.

Riverside Boys Under 10s Team was formed last year by West End Community Council’s Vice Chair, Paul Johnson.

Paul said, “Joining forces with the long-established Riverside Athletic is a great step-forward for the youngsters in our Under 10s team and it will allow the team to go from strength to strength.

“Although our Under 10s team was only formed last year, it has attracted good support from local children and their parents. Prior to it being formed, there was no under 10s team for the West End of Dundee, and the new link with Riverside Athletic will move things further in a positive direction.”

Many thanks to the Evening Telegraph for covering today's photocall - here's a photo from it above.

Friday 27 March 2009

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell - "Ain't no Mountain High Enough"

After a long day with the day job in Edinburgh today, nice to be back, Indian take-away, Coronation Street, then American Idol - Motown Night - but nothing compares to this!

New CCTV for the West End

Residents will welcome the new CCTV provision currently being installed at Sinderins (see above), which will extend CCTV coverage westwards on Perth Road, past its existing end point at the Roseangle junction.

The new CCTV is primarily being provided to improve bus punctuality, but will obviously be of assistance to the Police in terms of crime detection in the future too.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Progress on West End Bus Shelters

As residents are aware, I have long campaigned for more bus shelters in the West End. Earlier this financial year, finance became available for an additional 16 shelters across the City and, as Planning & Transport Convener of the Council, I supported a fair dispersal of these across the city - 2 per city council ward.

The two new West End Ward ones are at Perth Road (south side near Seafield Road/Lane) and Magdalen Yard Road (north side near Servite Housing) - as you can see from the photos above taken yesterday - work is now in hand to build these.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

West End Festival 2010

At the City Chambers today, I participated in an initial meeting to discuss a possible West End Festival next year. Along with representatives of Friends of Magdalen Green, West End Community Council and City Councillors, it was good to see representation from other organisations such as the University of Dundee, Dundee Contemporary Arts and Dundee Rep.

It is a great idea but will take time to plan - hence the June 2010 target date. Meantime, Friends of Magdalen Green is planning a one day Fun Day on the Green on Saturday 13th June (2009, that is!)

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Local TV again

Further to my recent piece about local television, there's an on-line survey on the subject. It takes only 2 minutes to complete and is available by clicking on the headline above.

Monday 23 March 2009

Smell complaints from Riverside Civic Amenity Site

Over the past couple of weeks I have had a number of complaints about the smell coming from the Riverside Civic Amenity Site, primarily - it would appear - because of work associated with the "Discovery" composting operation.

Having raised residents' complaints with the City Council, the Waste Management Department has given its apologies for any smell nuisance - partly as a result of the turning of windrows (rows of hay) and partly as a result of shedding.

I have been assured
that every effort is made to ensure that work of this nature is carried out only when the wind is turned away from the housing to the north of the site.

A council officer advised me that "by choosing a time when the wind in the right direction and by turning and shredding as regularly as weather will permit we are reducing the complaint level. The only trouble is that wind is prone to change direction once operations are underway."

That said
, I have had an assurance that staff on-site will do their upmost to reduce any impact and other solutions are being investigated - although others already looked at were ineffective.

I consider it very important that the Council takes all steps to ensure that any operations at Riverside do not impact adversely on the adjacent community.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Channel 6 - the TV station that knows where you live

As regular readers of www.dundeewestend.com will know, I have long highlighted the campaign for local television made possible by the digital switchover, and I have helped by chairing the Fife and Tayside Local Television working group. (See more at http://www.fifetaysidetv.com).

Peter Preston has an interesting item about local TV/Channel 6 in today's 'Observer' - click on headline to read it.

Seafield Road - handrail

Some months ago, I asked the City Council for a handrail at the steepest part of Seafield Road, just south of Perth Road. This was following requests from residents, mainly elderly people. The Muirlands Sheltered Housing is close by.

Here's me (above) pictured in Seafield Road in the past couple of days. As you can see, the handrail has now been provided and I am pleased at the City Council's positive response.

Saturday 21 March 2009

Former Homebase site - safety concerns

I am pleased that the City Council has responded to my concerns about safety at the former Homebase site in Riverside Drive, following the developer at the site going into administration.

In recent weeks, I have been inundated with residents’ complaints about the mess around the site’s periphery – including graffiti – but also about safety concerns regarding the temporary pathway the developer (Duncarse Residential, now in administration) had constructed on the northern edge of the site to replace the original pathway linking the West End from Riverside Approach to Tesco Riverside and the City Centre.

I was never happy with the temporary pathway – it is narrow and not nearly so open and accessible as the previous access around the former Homebase was, but since the developer has gone into administration, matters have got a whole lot worse, with vandalism of lighting and graffiti all over the site hoardings.

The major concern, however, is that, with no developer proactively building on the site, the potential for this unsatisfactory path remaining there for months – possibly even years – exists and that’s a totally unacceptable situation.

I have met with the Director of Planning & Transportation on a number of occasions recently about my concerns and the matter has also been highlighted at meetings of West End Community Council.

The Director of Planning & Transportation has fully appreciated the situation and is anxious to see the matter sorted as a matter of urgency.

The Director has now written to the administrators of Duncarse Residential – Pricewaterhouse Coopers – requesting that they take steps to take down the hoarding and re-erecting it behind the old footway next to Riverside Drive – that way a safe pathway can be restored pending the future of the site being determined.

I am
pleased this action has been taken and I’m obviously hoping for a positive response from the administrators. Clearly, the council would have to look at its enforcement powers if there is no response or a lack of action, but I feel sure the administrators will appreciate the safety issue here and take steps as soon as possible.

Here's some photos of the site area :

Above : Narrow pathway looking east

Above : Pathway looking west
Above : Me, photographed beside some of the very extensive graffiti
Above : The deserted site compound

Friday 20 March 2009

Why are you a Liberal Democrat?

Tay Square

The south leg of Tay Square will be closed for traffic for one day this Sunday (22nd March) and again for single days the following two Sundays (29th March and 5th April) to enable telecommunications ducting works to take place.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained
throughout and the one-way order relating to Tay Square will be suspended during these three Sundays to enable traffic to exit Tay Square.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Dundee City Council (Tom McDonald Avenue, Dundee) (Prohibition Of Driving) Order 2009

Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the effect of which will be to allow easier enforcement of the abuse at the rising bollard in Tom McDonald Avenue which is designed to only permit buses to pass through. Some other vehicles are managing to circumvent the system.

Full details of the proposals are contained in the draft Order, which together with a Statement of the Council’s reasons for proposing to make the Order may be examined during normal office hours and without payment of fee at Dundee City Council offices, Reception, Floor 4, 21 City Square, Dundee by any person, during a period of 21 days from 20 March 2009.

Any person may within 21 days from 20 March 2009 object to the proposed Order by notice in writing to the Depute Chief Executive (Support Services), Dundee City Council, 21 City Square, Dundee. Objections should state the name and address of the objector, the matters to which they relate and the grounds on which they are made.

Depute Chief Executive (Support Services)

Victoria Park fire vandalism

Today's "Courier" (click on headline above to view) and last night's "Evening Telegraph" (see http://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/output/2009/03/18/story12791515t0.shtm) carried my comments about the fire vandalism near Victoria Park Bowling Green.

Last weekend, some 15 mature conifers were destroyed, as well as some border plants. Tayside Fire and Rescue has correctly pointed out that anyone deliberately starting fires is putting lives at risk.

I have already
been advised by the City Council's Leisure & Communities Department of its replanting proposals. Additionally, although I appreciate that staff cannot be everywhere at all times, I have also asked if an increased presence in the park can be achieved.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Conference Broadcast Spring 2009

... from the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Hyndford Street

I am delighted that the pavement in Hyndford Street has now been brought up to standard and adopted by the local authority. See earlier article about this by clicking on the headline above.

Residents are naturally pleased at the improvement, summed up by the following e-mail to me last week:

"I am sure you will know that Hyndford Street has just been upgraded to an adopted standard.

Thank you for your involvement over the past years ! It has been appreciated.

No more old folk, prams, wheelchairs etc taking risks by preferring to walk on the road."

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Tavish Scott - Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Tayside Police non-emergency number

Last year, Tayside Police introduced a non-emergency telephone number across the Tayside Force's area, to replace localised phone numbers across Tayside for non-999 calls.

However, the "0845" number was not memorable and there are also issues about charges made by some telecommunications companies make in relation to "08" prefixed numbers.

Tayside Police has therefore changed the number to :

0300 111 2222

I think that is a very sensible move and will be welcomed.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Julie Sturrock

The blog has been quiet the past few days because of intense activity at the Maryfield Ward by-election.

On Friday morning, along with hundreds of others, I attended the funeral of Julie Sturrock, our former council leader. Eight years ago, when I was first elected to the City Council, Julie was Council Leader, and I found her both warm and very welcoming. Julie's door was always open and her advice was as friendly as it was sound.

untimely death was a great shock to everyone, but the huge attendance at her funeral was testimony to Julie's huge contribution to Dundee and the causes in which she passionately believed.

Sunday 8 March 2009

Saturday 7 March 2009


Today's 'Courier' covered the news of Scottish Enterprise's £33 million funding announcement for Dundee Waterfront, including my comments welcoming the decision.

You can read the article by clicking on the headline above.

Friday 6 March 2009

Ming in Dundee

Sir Menzies Campbell was in Dundee today, firstly to visit the Overgate Centre and hear the good news that the Centre is thriving despite the current economic situation - and secondly to support my colleague Chris Hall at the Maryfield Ward by-election.

Dundee was rather full of politicians today, starting with the media conference with John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth, at Discovery Point - to announce the further Scottish Enterprise Dundee Waterfront Funding. I attended this (as City Council Planning & Transport Convener) and am delighted at this additional funding for Dundee.

The Labour Conference is also in Dundee so the city wasn't exactly short of political visits! Anyway, here's a couple of photos from Ming's visit (below) :

Wednesday 4 March 2009

City Council News Release today on the street lighting partnership

A Dundee-based street lighting partnership looks set to be extended following a successful initial three-year period.

A report to Dundee City Council's planning and transport committee on Monday (March 9) recommends that the council's partnership with Perth and Kinross Council and Tayside Contracts be extended for three years.

Committee convener Councillor Fraser Macpherson said: "The partnership was set up three years ago and involves an integrated team covering Dundee and Perth and Kinross with many benefits for the councils and Tayside Contracts.

"It has proved to be a very successful and cost-effective arrangement, with reduced staff costs, savings through bulk purchase of materials and lower storage costs. There has also been a significant drop in the average repair cost, from almost £40 in 2002-03 to just under £25 last year.

"The service that the public have received has also been excellent. For example, street lights in Dundee have fewer faults and are fixed faster than in any other major Scottish city. Dundee has only three lights per 1000 not working compared to 10 times as many in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

"The partnership has also gained national recognition, being the only street lighting organisation in the UK to reach the finals of the Association of Public Service Excellence awards."

The report to committee recommends that the partnership be extended to 2012 and that further discussions take place with Angus Council to encourage the local authority to become part of the partnership.

Monday 2 March 2009

Busy Monday

As I have been in Glasgow today at a meeting with John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth (in my capacity as TACTRAN Chair), followed by a Residents' Association meeting tonight.

Little time for a full
update until later, but - below - see two great photos of the lovely view at Riverside last Friday, just before dusk.

Sunday 1 March 2009

Fife Liberal Democrat Annual Dinner

Attended a very successful and well-attended NE & Central Fife Liberal Democrat Dinner last night, with guest speakers Tavish Scott MSP, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Iain Smith MSP. Other speakers included George Lyon, lead LibDem candidate for this June's European Election and ... yours truly, speaking about the Maryfield Ward by-election on 12th March!

A great night - a couple of photos below!