Friday 30 April 2010

Ming Campbell in Dundee

Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, was in Dundee today (30th April) to visit the headquarters of Alliance Trust in the city and to also support the candidacy of John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West.

Sir Menzies undertook a tour of the company’s impressive headquarters building in the city’s Marketgait and met Mr Douglas Connon, Alliance Trust’s Managing Director - Corporate Affairs

Thereafter Sir Menzies undertook a walkabout in Dundee City Centre to meet Dundee voters.

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, said, “I am delighted that Sir Menzies came to the city to support my candidacy and visit the Alliance Trust offices. The Liberal Democrats have fought our most vigorous campaign in many years and it is clear that support is growing both in Dundee and right across the UK .”

Pictured above are Ming and John with me at the Alliance Trust Headquarters.

Thursday 29 April 2010

John Barnett at Dundee West Hustings

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, today took part in two hustings meetings - one, tonight, at St Peter's Free Church and the other, this afternoon, at Dundee High School.

The audience at Dundee High School voted after the debate and John was the run-away winner with 54.7% of the poll.

John said tonight, "The latest opinion polls in Scotland show the Liberal Democrats second to Labour with the SNP third and Tories last. If you want real change in Dundee West, vote Liberal Democrat next Thursday."

John is pictured (right) at St Peter's Free Church before tonight's debate.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Seafield Road - potholes

Following my raising residents' complaints about potholes in Seafield Road with the City Council, I have now had the following response :

"An order to fill approximately fifteen potholes in Seafield Road was raised on the 9th of April with a timescale of 28 days. The area inspector will check whether this work has been carried out when he is next in the area."

Concerns about the University of Dundee's Book & Paper Conservation Studio

The Book & Paper Conservation Studio at the University of Dundee is an essential regional centre, providing a range of conservation services for paper-based and related materials (documents, art on paper and books).

It has worked for museums, libraries, archives, higher education institutes, trusts, churches and countless members of the public both in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Robert Burns’ family bible, drawings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the 600 year old Bull of Foundation from St Andrews University are amongst the items it has preserved for future generations. Closer to home, its clients include the McManus Galleries and Dundee Central Library.

The university has started a 90 day consultation process and there is concern that this could ultimately lead to the studio’s closure.

I have therefore written to Professor Pete Downes, the University Principal, in the following terms :


I do hope you are well.

I understand that the Book & Paper Conservation Studio at the university is currently undergoing a 90 day consultation process and am aware that many are concerned that this could ultimately lead to the studio’s closure.

The studio undoubtedly supports learning at the university through its work and ensures the preservation of not only original research materials for scholars, but also heritage of local and national importance.

I would be really concerned at any proposal to close the studio and would be grateful for your assurance that this would not happen as a result of the current consultation process.

Many thanks in anticipation of your response.

Best regards


Cllr Fraser Macpherson

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Nick Clegg: Our opportunity to take on the biggest challenge of our age

Not facing up to financial challenges ...

Councillors of all parties – myself included – have been warning about the very significant financial challenges that face Dundee City Council.

At last night’s Policy and Resources Committee, I sought assurances from the Chief Executive about proposals for a voluntary redundancy and voluntary retirement scheme – principally about the possible detrimental effect on service provision for elderly and vulnerable citizens – a point also highlighted by deputations from UNISON and Dundee Pensioners’ Forum.

So, with all the financial difficulties ahead, you’d think that councillors of all parties would be seeking to ensure that the council always achieves best value for money for its citizens. Not a bit of it!

Also last night was an item on the Education Committee proposing that the council doesn’t bother to put out its education removals contract out to tender but simply extends the existing contract to the current provider. The rationale is apparently that (to quote the officers of the council) “it has been difficult to obtain competitive tenders for this type of work due to existing local firms ceasing business or amalgamating” and that the current contract is “considered to represent good value for money to the council.”

I don’t doubt their word that the existing supplier has done a good job, but to fail to put the tender out to the open market is totally ridiculous in the current financial climate. How do we know the council is getting best value for money if we don’t bother to find out through a tendering process? How do we know there aren’t many companies wanting to tender for the work if we don’t bother to tender at all?

I moved that the contract go out to tender and was seconded by my LibDem colleague Cllr Helen Dick. All credit to the Tories who supported us, but we were voted down by Labour and SNP. One Labour councillor actually got on his feet to say he’d like to see a fair chance being given to other small businesses in the future (to quote today’s 'Courier') and then promptly voted with his Labour colleagues to stop other small businesses from getting a chance to tender for the work. Words fail me.

Monday 26 April 2010

And ... at Baxter Park!

With many thanks to Lisa & Cory, here's their very LibDem garden adjacent to Baxter Park!

Tory and Labour attacks on the Liberal Democrats ...

Ghandi said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"

Safe crossings for the West End

This morning along with residents, including parents of pupils at Blackness Primary School and representatives of West End Community Council, I attended a site visit at the Sinderins junction with a representative of the council's City Development Department.

We discussed the safe functioning of the junction and in particular the pedestrian crossing West-East from the library to the Blackness Avenue/Hawkhill junction.

After this, along with the same officer from the City Council, we met with residents of Pennycook and Sinderins Courts to discuss how residents can cross Pennycook Lane at its junction with Perth Road more safely.

Sunday 25 April 2010

John Barnett helps the Dunfermline effort!

Today John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, joined St Andrews Liberal Democrat Councillor Robin Waterston on a day trip to Dunfermline to support the campaign of Willie Rennie, winner of a spectacular by-election in 2006, in Gordon Brown's home constituency.

Speaking to Liberal Democrat activists later, John said:

"There is no seat in which the Liberal Democrats are not able to mount a serious challenge, especially Labour-held seats where the voters have been taken too much for granted. A vote for the Liberal Democrats in Dundee West is a vote for fairness in politics."

Friends of the Earth visit Liberal Democrat HQ

On the day that Labour launched its green manifesto, it seems appropriate to highlight this video. Note the number (non-number!) of blue balloons. So much for Vote Blue Go Green - more like - if you vote blue you won't get green. More Tory spin and fake.

Labour and SNP voters in Dundee switching to the LibDems en masse

In an otherwise negative article about the LibDems in today's Sunday Times, Jenny Hjul comes up with the following anecdote :

Unscientific evidence suggests that in the former Labour or Nationalist strongholds of Dundee, octogenarians charmed by the telegenic alternative to Brown and Cameron are switching en masse. This is very good news for Clegg and Co because the elderly are the demographic most likely actually to go out and vote on May 6.

I have news for Jenny. Those of us who have been chapping on the doors of Dundee households over the past few weeks know it is a wee bit wider than the elderly vote - voters of all ages in Dundee are switching to the LibDems, mainly at the expense of Labour & SNP - and the Tory vote has all but collapsed.

Saturday 24 April 2010

The backroom of election campaigns!

After a day campaigning in Dundee West, it was back to the joy of pasting John Barnett's polling day boards, with Janet and younger son on doing stakes for LibDem poster boards. Oh joy ... but all done now!

If anyone has any doubt about the momentum of the Liberal Democrats - chap on a few doors in Dundee West!

Believe in Fairness

Friday 23 April 2010

John Barnett's campaign galloping across Dundee West ...

The Liberal Democrat campaign in Dundee West is galloping ahead, following another excellent performance by Nick Clegg at the second Prime Ministerial Debate last night. John is pictured above with me and some other members of the team at the Kingsway West retail park today.

John said, "Nick Clegg gave another excellent performance again last night and the Liberal Democrats are continuing to soar in the polls. The response on the doorsteps across Dundee West has been superb."

Liberal Democrats: Say goodbye to broken promises

Disgraceful Tory Smears

Another day, another Nick Clegg triumph - and the LibDem surge in the polls is maintained, despite desperate Tory smears.

I heard Malcolm Rifkind from the Conservatives on Radio 4 yesterday maintain that the Conservative Party would not have influenced the Tory-supporting newspapers to run Nick Clegg & LibDem smear stories.

The truth is now out with the following information last night on the blog of Nick Robinson, the respected BBC journalist. It also shows up the smear story in the Daily Telegraph about Nick Clegg's bank account for the total rubbish it is :

I now learn that political reporters from the Tory-backing papers were called in one by one to discuss how Team Cameron would deal with "Cleggmania" and to be offered Tory HQ's favourite titbits about the Lib Dems - much of which appears in today's papers.

The key personal allegation about payments from donors into Nick Clegg's personal bank account came, however, from the Telegraph's expenses files. Incidentally, the party has now published details of Nick Clegg's bank statements and party accounts showing that Mr Clegg received payments totalling £19,690 from three businessmen (Neil Sherlock, Michael Young, Ian Wright) and then paid staff costs of £20,437.30 out of the same account. According to these figures, Mr Clegg actually paid £747.30 out of his own money towards staff costs.

The Tories should be ashamed of themselves and it is clear they are not fit to run the country.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Thursday activities

Having spent the bulk of today in Perth with the 'day job', late this afternoon I attended the Kingspark Project Board at the new school that will open in the near future. Project Board members were given a guided tour of the new school facilities - these are absolutely superb. It has been a well-managed project and delivered under-budget. A real credit to the City Council and a project of the previous council administration, of which the Dundee Liberal Democrats were a part.

After my surgery at Blackness Primary School, I attended a meeting of the group tackling the graffiti issue in the West End. We are undertaking community clean-up days towards the end of May in the West End - an excellent initiative.

John Barnett campaigning with Sir Menzies Campbell

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, campaigning this week with Sir Menzies Campbell. Ming will be visiting Dundee on 30th April to support John's campaign.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

69 bus - good news!

Last month, I mentioned the site visit to Richmond Court and Richmond Terrace by Stagecoach Strathtay and City Council officials and myself to look into the viability of extending the 69 bus service there.

I have now received good news from the City Council's Sustainable Transport Team Leader :

"Stagecoach told me that they have identified a little slack in the timetable and reckon the Richmond Court extension can be accommodated without having to take out any other parts of the route. They have already done some work to retime the service and we should therfore be able to re-register the service some time over the summer (with an implementation date to coincide with other service changes)."

BARA AGM tonight ...

This evening I had the pleasure of chairing the election of the new committee (and drawing the prize draw!) at the Blackness Area Residents' Association AGM.

There was also an excellent presentation on tackling anti-social behaviour and a good debate on this thereafter. I also had the opportunity to speak with residents after the meeting.

Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden Update

At the request of the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden, here's an update on their forthcoming plant sales :

Charity No. SC011808

Saturday 8 May
10.00a.m. - 2.00p.m.

If you have any named plants to donate for either the Annual or any of the monthly Trolley Sales these can be brought to the Visitor Centre the week prior to Sale marking them “Plant Sale”. Or, can you help with the setting up on Friday 7th May or at the Sale on Saturday 8th May? Should you have a problem re the transporting of plants please contact Frances Tait 01382 665719 or Sylvia Patullo 01382 779734

The monthly Trolley Plant Sales continue on :

Sunday 25th April
Sunday 30th May
Sunday 27th June
Sunday 25 July
Sunday 29th August and
Sunday 26th September

Liberal Democrats riding high ...

The latest polling looks increasingly good for the Liberal Democrats, with the party now leading in two of the major polls :

- Angus Reid for PoliticalBetting: LIBDEM 33%, CON 32%, LAB 23%

- YouGov in The Sun: LIBDEM 34%, CON 31%, LAB 26%

And don't forget ... the second Party Leaders' Debate is taking place tomorrow starting at 8pm on Sky News. Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron will again be going head to head in a TV debate in the run up to the General Election on May 6th, this time leading on Foreign Affairs.

The first half of the 90 minute Election Debate on Sky News will be devoted to Foreign Affairs, with the rest on any topic. The debate comes from Bristol, and will be chaired by Adam Boulton. Sky are inviting questions before the debate, with more information at

You can see the debate live anywhere that you usually watch Sky News: Sky Digital Channel 501, Virgin Media Channel 602 and Freeview Channel 82 and online at Live Video Streaming. BBC 2 will also be showing the debate in full at 11.30pm after Newsnight.

The third debate will take place on the BBC on 29th April at 8.30pm, focusing on the Economy.

Nick Clegg is widely judged to have won the first Party Leaders debate, watched by 9.9 million people, with the ITV/ComRes poll after the debate giving Nick Clegg 43% of the vote. Over the last week, the Liberal Democrats have seen a massive surge in the opinion polls.

There are a number of ways you can show your support for the Liberal Democrats General Election campaign:

- You can download free posters to print and put in your window to support the Lib Dems at

- You can buy an "I agree with Nick" window poster and badge at

- Over the last week, thousands on new members have joined the Liberal Democrats. If you are not already a member, you too can join today online at

Tuesday 20 April 2010

A Highland Tuesday!

A busy day with a very early start attending a 'day job' meeting in Inverness - although it was a sunny but cold day in Inverness, the weather at Dalwhinnie on the road north was something of a return of winter, as the photo (right) shows!

On return, this evening I firstly attended the Blackness Primary Parent Council where the issue discussed was road safety and parking issues near the school. I also updated the Parent Council that the City Council has advised me that the long-awaited new school crossing patroller on Blackness Road should hopefully be in place in the near future as patroller interviews are taking place next week.

Thereafter, I chaired the Friends of Magdalen Green meeting, where, amongst other issues, we discussed arrangements for our forthcoming AGM.

Monday 19 April 2010

Rage against the LabCon machine ... Nick Clegg for PM

Been out in Dundee West tonight with John Barnett and the team - and it is very clear that the move to support the Liberal Democrats is huge - really huge. The old politics is over and the panic amongst the Tories and Labour is palpable.

Liberal Democrats in the Dundee West constituency today formally adopted John Barnett as their candidate for Dundee West in the forthcoming General Election.

Married with two children at school, John has a law degree from the University of Dundee. He has been an active member of the Liberal Democrats since school and has been a campaigner and office bearer in London and Scotland. With experience in institutional finance, management and fundraising consultancy; as well as heritage and educational management in the charity sector, John draws upon a wealth of experience and is currently a member of the University of Dundee Audit Committee.

John has served as a member of the Steel Commission whose Report proposed a workable and sustainable blueprint for Scottish Home Rule within a modernised federal United Kingdom.

John’s particular interests are in the fields of education, international relations, public finance and human rights. Working with the two Liberal Democrat councillors in the constituency, John offers an alternative to the approach of Labour and the SNP by addressing the real issues of concern of local people.

A strong supporter of the project to bring the V&A to Dundee, John believes that serious investment in the transport infrastructure will be needed to support the forecast numbers of annual visitors to the city.

John said today, “The events of the last week and in particular the Prime Ministerial Debate show that there is great momentum behind the Liberal Democrat campaign. More and more people I meet in the constituency are turning to the Liberal Democrats this time.”

For a superb MP for Dundee West, vote John Barnett in Dundee West on 6th May.

Sunday 18 April 2010

LibDems gathering pace across the UK ...

The LibDem campaign across the UK gathers pace ...

Latest West End News ...

Latest West End Updates ...

* One of the safety bollards on the south side of Pennycook Lane has been broken by a vehicle. Following residents' complaints, I raised the matter with Dundee City Council, whose response is :

"An order has now been raised to re-set this missing bollard."

* Corner City Road & Scott Street - a bit of a mess. Following contact with the owners, Home Scotland, they have replied as follows :

" We contacted our contractor and weather permitting it will be deep cleaned this week."

Saturday 17 April 2010

Dundee West LibDem campaign gathers pace ...

As the Liberal Democrats soar in the polls and Labour and Tory fall back, John Barnett's LibDem campaign in Dundee West is galloping ahead throughout the constituency.

Here's John with some of the LibDem team (Munwar, Bill & Chris - with John on the right of the photo above) pictured in Nethergate near to DCA this morning, where John was interviewed by STV News.

Friday 16 April 2010

Nick Clegg Storms First Ever Party Leaders' Debate

The polls following the first ever Party Leaders' General Election debate on ITV are showing that Nick Clegg has won a convincing victory over David Cameron and Gordon Brown. The debate was the first ever Leaders' debate during a UK General Election campaign, and the newspapers and polls are calling it a big victory for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

The newspapers have hailed Nick Clegg as the winner of the first debate. They say:

- Daily Telegraph: "Clegg's star rises in great TV showdown"

- The Times: "Enter the Outsider: Nick Clegg seizes his moment in historic TV debate"

- The Independent: "Clegg comes of age: Liberal Democrat leader is judged the winner of historic television debate"

- Daily Mail: "First blood to Clegg"

- The Guardian: "Clegg the outsider seizes his moment in the TV spotlight"

- Even Conservative commentator and blogger Iain Dale said "I think Nick Clegg won the day"

In summing up the debate, Nick Clegg said Labour and the Tories have made the "same old mistakes over and over again. Despite all the problems and challenges we have, we can be hopeful about the future if we chose something different."

WestFest Fundraiser!

With thanks to Paola for the update, there is a (not too serious) quiz night next week - on Thursday 22nd April - at Braes Bar to raise funds for Dundee WestFest.

Entry is £4 and it starts at 7.30pm. All welcome!

Thursday 15 April 2010

Vince Cable - tongue in cheek, but awfully good!

Nick Clegg - the winner!

An ITV poll of 4000 voters has Nick Clegg as the clear winner of the first TV PM debate.

Clegg was superb - Sun/YouGov poll result - Clegg on 51%, Cameron 29%, Brown 19%.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

John Barnett welcomes LibDem Manifesto

John Barnett, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, today welcomed publication of the Party's General Election manifesto.

John said, “This manifesto is a radical and responsible blueprint for the future prosperity and integrity of our country - a Liberal Democrat manifesto you can trust; a manifesto for fairness.”

There are four key themes :

  • Fair taxes that put money back in your pocket
  • A fair chance for every child
  • A fair future, creating jobs by making Britain greener
  • And a fair deal by cleaning up politics

John added, “This week we have seen yet again the tired old formulas from the Labour and Tory Parties - and witnessed the total irrelevance of the SNP on the margins of the debate. Our fully-costed programme for fairness in government addresses the real future challenges and opportunities in Scotland, England and Wales.

“In Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, we have an able and energetic leadership team. In our candidates we have strong local campaigners. I urge all those looking for real change, for an end to the two party dominance which gives us 'boom and bust' and holds our country back. If you vote for Liberal Democrat, you will get Liberal Democrats implementing Liberal Democrat policies.

“We look forward to the election on 6th May.”

John is pictured (below) campaigning in Grosvenor Road in the West End tonight.

One simple word ...

Dear Fraser,

This morning I have launched our General Election manifesto.

Every manifesto needs to have an idea at its heart. The basic idea that animates this manifesto is something I have always believed. I believe every single person is extraordinary.

The tragedy is that we have a society where too many people never get to fulfill that extraordinary potential.

My view – the liberal view – is that government’s job is to help them to do it. Not to tell people how to live their lives. But to make their choices possible, to release their potential, no matter who they are.

The way to do that is to take power away from those who hoard it. To challenge vested interests. To break down privilege. To clear out the bottlenecks in our society that block opportunity and block progress. And so give everyone a chance to live the life they want.

There’s a simple word for those ideas, and it’s a word this manifesto is built on: fairness.

You can find our manifesto here:

With many thanks for everything you are doing,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Latest West End issues

* Following concerns from residents about flooding at the Seymour Street/Perth Road junction, I reported this to both Scottish Water and the City Council. The City Council has responded as follows :

"The area inspector for Seymour Street has checked the complaint about the flow of water at the Perth Road/Seymour Street junction and has been unable to ascertain the cause of the water overflowing the footway. Scottish Water is to be notified of the problem as the source may be from their apparatus."

* I recently reported the damaged street sign at
Hillside Place. I have received the following feedback from the council :

"I will check this street name plate during this week and include any replacement in the next street name plate order. As yet I don't have a timescale for completion of this but will aim to update you when this information is available."

* I also raised the mess of the grass in Logie Avenue. The Housing Department has responded - the area has been raked and will be re-seeded soon.

Monday 12 April 2010

River Crescent residents

This evening I attended the committee meeting of River Crescent Residents' Association. A number of local issues were discussed and it was good to note that the pavement improvements on Perth Road (south side) east of Riverside Place are now underway - see below :

Last of the Sandy Posey series

From her 1966 album "Born a Woman" :

From Nick Clegg ...

Dear Fraser,

This morning, at our first press conference of the campaign, Vince Cable and I announced the fair tax policy at the heart of our General Election manifesto (that will be launched soon).

Under Labour, the tax system is complex, unwieldy and, most of all, unfair. This has to change. The Liberal Democrats will rebalance our tax system to make it fair once and for all.

Under the Liberal Democrats the income tax threshold will be raised to £10,000, meaning most taxpayers will see their income tax bills cut by £700.

We are setting out where every last pound of the money will come from: clamping down on tax avoidance, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, a ‘mansion tax’ on homes worth more than £2 million and making sure that airlines pay for the pollution they cause. You can learn more in this video that I recorded earlier:

We are proposing the biggest tax switch in generations. A radical overhaul to make sure those at the top pay their fair share in order to put money back in the pockets of people who need it.

We're doing everything we can to get this message across. It's a key part of our campaign. It'll be in our manifesto - we're telling people about it through the media, online advertising, leaflets and letters to voters.

There's a short link to share our fair tax plans around the Internet: Everyone in Britain needs to hear our message about fairer taxes.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Sunday 11 April 2010

Sandy Posey - Single Girl

Second of three Sandy Posey hits!

John Barnett campaigning with Sir Menzies Campbell

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, attended the adoption meeting of Sir Menzies Campbell, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, last Friday.

The adoption meeting took place in our neighbouring North East Fife constituency and, before a weekend of campaigning in Dundee West, John spent time campaigning in St Andrews with Sir Menzies.

Here is John pictured with Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Iain Smith MSP.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Hillside Place street sign

... is not looking too good! As a resident put it - more due to old age than vandalism!

I have asked the City Council to repair it.

Sandy Posey ...

As a bit of a welcome distraction from the general election, a new music theme! And it is Sandy Posey, a superb singer who enjoyed success in the 1960s with singles such as her 1966 recording of Martha Sharpe's composition, "Single Girl." Now 65, she is still performing. We start with a rather better version of "I will follow him" than appeared in 'Sister Act'!

Campaigning day in the West End ...

The Liberal Democrat campaign in Dundee West was in full swing again today - here's Dundee West candidate John Barnett with Chris Hall and Craig Duncan in Forest Park Road this morning. Getting very positive responses on the doorsteps - John is continuing to work hard for everyone in Dundee West.

Friday 9 April 2010

£100 000 of tenants' money well spent?

Today's Courier and tonight's Evening Telegraph highlights my concerns about £100 000 of expenditure by Dundee City Council to alter parking and access at the East District Housing Office - an office only three years old.

I am not against ensuring that access & egress is good as is parking at the offices – the real question is why the obvious problems that have led to the council spending an additional £100 000 of tenants' money were not foreseen at the time the offices were build.

There appears to have been a project management problem resulting in rent payers across Dundee forking out another £100 000, I have asked to meet the council's Chief Executive and Director of Housing to discuss the matter further and this meeting is to take place later this month.

I don’t think in these challenging and difficult financial times the council should get itself in a position where it is revisiting projects only 3 years after completion and spending an extra £100 000 into the bargain.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Mess left in Logie Avenue : action taken

Following the recent housing improvement works in Logie Estate, residents have complained to me that there’s a fair old mess been left on the grass area in Logie Avenue (for example - near Ashbank Road) where the storage containers were – deep ruts in the grass, some debris and the grass area has been left very muddy.

I have therefore asked for remedial action to be undertaken by the Housing Department.

Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign launch : Tories' tax bombshell

The Scottish Liberal Democrats launched our general election campaign today in Glasgow with Nick Clegg revealing the £13.4bn VAT bombshell at the heart of the Tories’ tax plans.

Nick pointed out that an analysis of the Conservatives’ proposed tax cuts or reversals shows that they will cost over £13.5bn a year in 2011-12 prices – yet just £100m has been specifically identified to fund them.

This leaves a £13.4bn black hole, equivalent to a 3% rise in the standard rate of VAT. This would mean an extra tax of £389 on the average household.

The Liberal Democrats have fully-costed plans to raise the starting threshold for income tax to £10,000. This would put £700 back in the pockets of the vast majority of people, and lift around 4m of Britain’s – including half a million of Scotland’s – lowest earners out of paying tax altogether.

It would be funded by ensuring the very well-off pay their fair share, through measures including:

• taxing capital gains as income
• a mansion tax on properties worth over £2m
• giving tax relief on pensions only at the basic rate
• tackling tax avoidance

Commenting, Nick said, “Every Scottish person knows from the Poll Tax that you cannot trust the Conservatives on tax. It was the Poll Tax that drove the Conservatives out of Scottish politics. It is tax that will make sure they never return.

“Liberal Democrats have costed, in full, our proposals for tax cuts. We can tell you, penny for penny, pound for pound, who pays for them.

“We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises. The Conservatives will. Their tax promises on marriage and jobs may sound appealing. But they come with a secret VAT bombshell close behind.

“So if you’re on an ordinary income, you have a choice. If you want your taxes to rise: vote Labour or Conservative. If you want your taxes to fall: choose the Liberal Democrats.”

Here in Dundee, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West John Barnett added, "On the doorsteps, the Liberal Democrat message of fairer taxes is being well-received. People can see through Tory empty and unfunded promises."

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Wednesday update

Following the fallen tree issue in Tullideph Road I mentioned earlier today, I had confirmation this morning from the City Council that it will be removed tomorrow. To quote the Forestry Officer :

"I am aware of this tree and it is programmed along with similar others in the area to be removed tomorrow morning. The main reason for the time taken is the actual high number of damaged trees in last week's wind when we had multiple trees blown against school buildings, houses and roads and we had to prioritise a programme of works, which is progressing well."

This afternoon, at the invitation of the West End Boys Amateur Boxing Club, I attended their meeting with the BBC. It was good to see the BBC's interest in the club that has achieved a great deal in a short time. We talked about improving facilities for sporting and community groups in the West End, something already being discussed with other groups such as the Riverside Boys Junior Football Club and Friends of Magdalen Green.

Tonight, I attended the monthly meeting of the Community Spirit Action Group, the residents' group for the 'north' of the West End - Pentland, Ancrum, Cleghorn and surrounding areas. It was well-attended and good to see the group launching their first ever residents' newsletter.

West End Community Council - April Update

I have today launched my April 2010 update to West End Community Council.

Subjects covered include :

■ Bridge on Riverside Drive

■ Crossing at Blackness Library

■ Unadopted Footways Programme

■ Graffiti cleaned up

■ Road repairs

The Community Council meets next Tuesday (13th April) at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm.

You can download the update by going to

Fallen tree reported

As reported in today's Courier, I have reported to the City Council's Forestry Officer and the Area Housing Manager a fallen tree in Tullideph Road - opposite the shops near the junction with City Road.

The tree has fallen right across the footpath, resulting in pedestrians having to trail through the muddy grass to get past.

I have asked the council to have it removed as soon as possible.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Friends of Wighton : Lunchtime Recital

Whistle virtuoso Helen Forbes is performing in the Wighton Centre, upstairs in Dundee Central Library, tomorrow (Wednesday 7th April) at 1.15pm!

Helen is a regular at the Wighton Centre, teaching the Saturday morning whistle class.

Helen Forbes from Dundee is regarded as one of Scotland's finest tin whistle players. Her father, Peter, a well known Highland piper who later took up uillean pipes, was a major influence on her playing but she was also lucky enough to be taught by Mary Bergin in Spiddal and also by her at the Willie Clancy School in Miltown Malbay. She is a much in demand tutor and a member of the famed accessible to the people of Dundee, Fife and Angus. Mad Parrot Ceilidh Band.

Admission is free and there will be a retiring collection to support the work of the Friends of Wighton in making the treasures of the Wighton Collection

For more info please visit or call 07792 336804.

(Thanks to Sheena Wellington for this update).

Hope for restoration of historic West End rail bridge

As reported in tonight's Evening Telegraph, I am hopeful that, with community support, a historic bridge over the railway in the West End could be restored back to its 1903 splendour.

The bridge in question is the one on Riverside Drive, just south of the Botanic Garden.

Over a period of time, many West End residents had contacted m
e about the bridge’s condition – not so much its structural condition, which is sound - but its aesthetic condition. As one resident pointed out:

"The railings are the old, now rusty but once lovely, iron railings adjoining the ironwork of the bridge itself. Travelling down Riverside Drive from Perth Road, these railings are on both sides of the road as you round the curve.

There is an inscription on the bridge, on the steps side of the road, which reads " Esplanade Extension and Relative Works 1903 provided by the Community for the use of Citizens. Charles Barrie Lord Provost William Longair Convener of Works. William Mackison Engineer."

A sign of the times- in 1903 we could build beautiful esplanade extensions. Now we can't afford the paint to maintain them!”

I approached the City Engineer about this matter and, following his undertaking some quotation survey work, he has responded saying :

“We have obtained quotations for the painting of both faces of the bridge parapets, approach railings and stairway railings as well as resetting some stone coping.

Some of this work requires access to the railway line and would therefore need to be carried out overnight during railway possession periods and under Network Rail supervision.

The work would take approx 28 days to complete at a budget cost of £65,000. The Network Rail possession costs/interface costs are approx £20,000 and are included in the £65,000 figure.

As previously discussed, this is more an aesthetic enhancement of the area and does not deal with the maintenance/structural issues of the bridge. However, it would be good to progress this.”

I am raising this with interested residents and the West End Community Council (whose office bearers I have updated) about the possibility of a community-led project to secure external funding to undertake the necessary work to ensure the bridge is restored to its original condition.

The bridge is now over 100 years old and is a key local landmark. Given its historical significance it would be good to see it restored back to its original condition. I am very keen to hear from all local people with an interest in what would be a most worthwhile project for the local area.

Improvement Service interview

I took part today in a telephone interview conducted by the Improvement Service. They are currently working on a brief blogging guide for councillors in Scotland.

They wanted to (to quote them!) "ask a few questions about your own blogging story and the benefits of using this form of social media".

It is good to see the Improvement Service encouraging more councillors across Scotland to add blogging to the way they update and inform constituents about their activities and I was pleased to assist.

I have always said that blogging isn't a substitute for all the other councillor activities such as ward surgeries, attending residents' meetings, parent councils, local newspaper items and all the other ways we use to keep in touch with residents, but it has, for me, proved to be a useful additional way of updating residents on local issues and inviting feedback of people's views.

Nick Clegg & Vince Cable: Ready for Election 2010

Dear Fraser,

I'm sure you've seen the news by now.

Gordon Brown has finally announced the General Election will be held on May 6th.

This election is a really exciting opportunity. The choice in this election is between more of the same with Labour and the Conservatives or real change with the Liberal Democrats. People have a real choice. That's why this election is wide open.

I hope that you will join me in putting the case for real change up and down the country. We will clean up politics. We will deliver fairness. We will change Britain for good.

With all good wishes,

Nick Clegg MP

General Election called ... John Barnett on Wave 102 this afternoon

Monday 5 April 2010

More on digital radio switchover ...

Following my most recent update about the intended digital radio switchover, there was an interesting and pertinent article in today's Guardian on the subject - see

Graffiti clean-up - latest

I recently mentioned that the City Council's Waste Management Department had confirmed to me that residents' complaints I had raised about graffiti at Marchfield Road, Scott Street and Seafield Road would be cleaned off.

I am pleased to report that this had now been carried out with graffiti at the west end of Scott Street removed, street signage in Marchfield Road cleaned up and a Virgin media box, a wall, a telephone box and a GPO box all cleaned up last week.

The anti-graffiti initiative in the West End continues, with a community anti-graffiti action day taking place next month.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Day trip to Dunfermline!

Along with a number of colleagues including John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, I spent today campaigning in the Dunfermline and West Fife constituency, helping Willie Rennie's re-election campaign. An enjoyable day, despite a fair bit of rain in the afternoon. Willie is clearly running a very professional and well-organised re-election campaign.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Getting things done in the West End

A couple of updates :

* Following my raising residents' complaints about the potholed road surface in Perth Road at the Hazel Avenue junction, I have received the following feedback from the City Council :

"The potholes you reported have been checked and an order for the repair of a number of potholes in the area has been raised. The timescale for repair is approximately one week."

* I also raised a resident's complaint about a trip hazard on the road at the junction of Glamis Terrace and Glamis Road and have had the following response from the council's City Development Department :

"The missing drain lid at Glamis Terrace/ Glamis Road end has been reported to Scottish Water for replacement."

Elliot Road - pavement improvements completed

Some weeks ago, I reported that the works to improve the south footway of Elliot Road had commenced. These are now completed and a considerable improvement on the old footways.
Above : The new pavement on the south side.

Above : The old north footway (damaged by tree roots) has been removed to protect the trees.

Friday 2 April 2010

Friday ...

A very busy day with the 'day job' that unfortunately meant I missed today's Dundee West Transition Town Group meeting, but good to see the good write-up about the group's momentum in tonight's Evening Telegraph.

Later today, I joined John Barnett and team, campaigning in the West End. Here's John and me, pictured in Logie Avenue late this afternoon.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Happy Easter

West End Schools - Planning Pre-Application Exhibition

This afternoon, I called in on the planning pre-application exhibition at Blackness Library - relative to the proposed replacement St Joseph's Primary and Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools.

Given the Councillor Code of Conduct relative to planning applications, councillors can attend but cannot give an opinion or view on the planning proposals in advance of the finalised planning application coming before the City Council's Development Quality Committee.

The exhibition continues at the library on Saturday between 10am and 1pm.