Wednesday 31 August 2011

4S bus service - meeting with parents

This evening, along with two of my ward colleagues, I met with around 20 parents of pupils of St John's High School at Blackness Library to discuss their concerns at the loss of the 4S school bus.

It is very clear that the so-called "alternative" bus services simply do not work in terms of getting pupils to school on time (and the 26 service is also proving unreliable) - and the return journey is meaning pupils getting back very late - in one case cited tonight - at 5.15pm.

It is completely unacceptable that pupils living in the St John's catchment area have such difficulty getting to and from school.

Tonight, we had a very useful discussion about how to take forward the campaign for a proper bus service for St John's High School.   I am pleased that the Acting Head of Secondary Education and the Head of Transportation at the City Council are attending the St John's High School Parent Council next Thursday.   I suspect they will hear from many parents about the highly unsatisfactory situation facing pupils.   This matter must be resolved properly - and soon.

Campaign to save Crichton Street collection office continues

I was on Radio Tay news earlier about this - click "play" below to listen :

Shaftesbury Place meeting

Last night, I hosted a meeting at Blackness Library at which residents of the Shaftesbury Place area attended to discuss the extremely poor condition of the street's unadopted roadway.

A senior engineer from the City Council's City Development Department attended to answer questions and provide advice.

Following this meeting, I am now to discuss with the City Council's Legal Manager and the City Engineer ways in which an improvement to this really bad road condition could be achieved.

Christmas card competition - last chance to enter!

Just a reminder that the closing date of the Friends of Magdalen Green Christmas Card Competition is at the end of this week - 3rd September.

If you click on the headline above or go to, you can get full details of how to enter!

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Eid message from Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP

I would like to wish Muslims across the country, and indeed across the world, Eid Mubarak on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr.

Muslims make a huge contribution to British society – in business, in public service, and in enriching our culture too.

The spirit of Ramadan and Eid hold messages about family and charity from which all of us should learn.

The dignity and calm shown by the Muslim community in Birmingham following the tragic deaths of three men during the riots moved the whole country.

I wish you the best for the prayers and celebrations of the coming days. Once again, Eid Mubarak.

Kind regards
Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister & Leader of the Liberal Democrats

10th anniversary!

Proving that a decade can flash past in what seems like a moment, today marks the 10th Anniversary of my election to Dundee City Council at the then Tay Bridges Ward by-election on 30th August 2001.

Can I thank all residents for their support, feedback and involvement over the past decade.   I hope to continue to represent the West End for some time to come and always pleased to help residents on any local issue or concern.

Good news at Roseangle playpark!

Further to my recent article following the site visit I participated in at the Roseangle playpark regarding repainting the swings to a more appropriate colour, in keeping with the rest of the playpark, the swings are now repainted and look really good - see below
Many thanks to the City Council's Environment Department for resolving this matter. 

Monday 29 August 2011

West End Monday

Today, immediately before my weekly surgeries at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre, I took part in a very productive meeting with the Western Cemetery Association and the City Council's Environment Department to move forward the decision of the City Council from May to create a new cremated remains section in Western Cemetery.    It is planned that the new remains section will open later in the autumn.

After my surgeries, I attended a committee meeting of WESHA, the West End Sports and Heritage Association, at which we discussed ways the project will improve sports and environmental facilities in the West End.   WESHA is intending to discuss with the City Council taking a lease of the Riverside changing facilities and is investigating funding sources for improvements.   It was an extremely positive meeting and good that there is real momentum with the initiative.

West End polling places consultation

The City Council is about to launch a consultation exercise on possible changes to polling stations in the City Council.    I am advised by the council that in relation to the West End :
"The boundaries of WBD, WBJ and WAJ will be re-aligned. Electors in WBD (north of Hawkhill) who currently vote at Park Place Primary will vote at the Al-Maktoum Institute, as will electors in the southern section of WBJ (Brewery Lane etc) who currently vote at Mitchell Street Centre.  Park Place Primary is available for elections in 2012 but will no longer be available thereafter.  Following the 2012 elections, officers will attempt to identify suitable premises within the new polling district WBD.   If this is not possible then Dundee West Church Hall which is currently a polling place for electors in WBE can be considered as an option."

I have made clear my view that once Park Place Primary School's current premises are no longer available, it would be good to get a local facility such as DCA or the Bonar Hall for electors in the Nethergate/South Tay Street/West Port area.    Officers may also consider the nearby Dundee House - it is not actually in the West End Ward, but close by.   

Comments are to be returned to the City Council by no later than the end of September and the final proposals will go before the City Council on 31st October in time for the publication of the new register on 1st December.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Help with stair lighting problems

On a number of occasions, I have assisted residents in tenements where the stair lighting has failed.   The council's Private Sector Unit has been extremely helpful in such situations.

I am therefore delighted that the council is now offering one-off awards of £100 per flat to assist with stair lighting repairs.   One of the recurring problems has been in Bellefield Avenue and it is therefore good to see homes there being targeted for funding initially.

Further information is available by calling 436880 or by email -


ASLDC, the Scottish LibDems' Association for councillors and campaigners, held a "Kickstart" event yesterday in Perth - a really useful event in preparation for next year's council elections.

Ace blogger Caron has already done a resume of the day that's rather better than anything I could have written (so have a read of it!)   I enjoyed speaking to the excellent turnout about blogging in a joint session with Caron, in which social networking and microblogging were also covered.

Willie Rennie gave a great speech to round off a really worthwhile day.  
Willie talks to the group
Some of the audience
Me in full flow!

Saturday 27 August 2011

TACTRAN e-newsletter

I was Chair of the Tayside and Central Transport Partnership (TACTRAN) from 2007 and 2009 and maintain a close interest in transport matters across the region.    I was therefore pleased to see the recent launch of an e-newsletter to update on TACTRAN developments with news about the development and implementation of the Regional Transport Strategy and other related activity. 

With the permission of the TACTRAN Director, you can download a copy of the newsletter by clicking on the headline above or by going to

Friday 26 August 2011

Latest on school bus concerns ...

Further to my previous updates about my and parents' concerns about the removal of the 4S bus service by National Express Dundee, the line taken by the bus company and City Council transport officials thus far that "alternative buses" are available was shown for the nonsense that this is when, yesterday, the 26 service (a convoluted route that eventually reaches St John's High School but means pupils have to catch the bus at 8.05am and don't get home before 5pm) left Perth Road over 5 minutes early, failing to pick up any pupil.

I have reported parents' complaints to the bus company and the City Council but the bottom line is that transport "alternatives" to the missing 4S school bus are completely unsatisfactory.

At the request of parents, I have booked Blackness Library for a meeting about the school bus concerns this coming Wednesday evening.

We now have well over 150 signatures on the 4 and 4S petition - including over 40 on-line.   You can sign at

Something for Saturday ...

Just a reminder that "Love in the Pleasure Garden", a Jane Austen inspired concert takes place tomorrow in Dundee's Wighton Centre.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Zig Zags at Blackness Primary School

A couple of months ago, I reported on feedback I had received from the City Council regarding the need for zig zag safety lining outside Blackness Primary School, and it is pleasing to note that this is now in place - see below.

Paton's Lane roadway

Following residents' complaints about bad potholes on Paton's Lane (see below), I have contacted the council's Roads Maintenance Partnership requesting repairs.

Dismay as City Council postpones residents' parking consultation yet again

As reported in today's Courier, I have expressed dismay that, yet again, City Council officials have conceded that there will be yet further delays to the proposed consultation with West End residents in the area around the West End shops and up to Blackness Road for a possible residents’ parking scheme to improve the very difficult parking situation for residents in the area.

The City Council’s Head of Transportation announced to the West End Local Community Planning Partnership last week that council officers were now not going ahead with putting together residents’ parking improvement proposals this autumn as previously promised, for consultation with the community and was now unable to give any precise timescale.   This news was nothing short of disheartening and will be met with a real sense of disappointment by residents in the affected area who have real difficulties parking near their homes.

I contacted the City Council’s Chief Executive to express my concerns about the further delays and was advised :

“I have taken up your concerns with the Director of City Development and the Head of Transportation and they have explained that there are  staffing structure gaps that have impacted on the Department's work programming over the past twelve months.   Traffic Engineering staff have focussed on the Disabled Parking Places Act implementation as well as the need to prioritise road safety areas.  

I am planning that the City Development departmental review will be approved in September 2011,and this will then allow the Transportation Division to have the right staff compliment matched to work priorities.

Assuming staffing establishment is in place by December 2011 I have asked that the Head of Transportation has the design work completed by April 2012 allowing consultation to then commence.

Like you I am disappointed that this matter is to be again delayed, however I am confident that the Transportation Division will pull together an appropriate consultation exercise to gather the opinions of the residents and businesses.”

I have replied to the Chief Executive as follows :

“I appreciate your efforts but must say that I have grave concerns that a committee report’s recommendations approved on 11th January 2010 that indicated that detailed design work would commence in the summer of last year has still not been commenced and the earliest consultation would start is more than two years after the report was approved by committee.   

I cannot recall any City Council committee’s recommendations lying unimplemented over such an extended period at any time in the past.    When I met the Director of City Development in October 2010, the disabled parking legislation was given as the reason for delay – this explanation, 11 months later, is surely wearing a bit thin.

I do think that meantime an interim report updating elected members on the revised timetable must be submitted to City Development Committee given the inordinate delay in us seeing any progress with the committee’s decision.”

During my tenure as Planning & Transport Convener up to 2009, we saw real progress towards parking improvements with the council bringing in professional consultants to make recommendations as to how parking can be improved for residents in the area.   What should have happened thereafter was the drawing up of specific proposals and then a consultation period with residents to get their views on any proposed parking improvements scheme.

Since control of the council changed hands, the foot appears to be firmly off the pedal in terms of getting this properly resolved for the benefit of the West End residents affected.  There seems to be a total lack of any policy direction on this matter from the current administration and they really do have to get the act together.   These continuing details are really unacceptable.   Residents have a right to expect the council to efficiently act to help them with local parking problems.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Dundee's Russian School

Back in June, I mentioned that I had attended the Dundee Russian School's Day of Russian Culture at Harris Academy.

The school, an excellent initiative taking place at the school on Saturdays, has been awarded £6 500 Big Lottery funding to purchase teaching materials and computer equipment to assist the young people who attend the Russian School at Harris Academy.

I am very pleased for the school at this good news and, in particular, Dr Andriy Sukhodub who has put in so much effort to establish and build the Russian School at Harris Academy.

I am also pleased to advise that the children from the school will be taking part in the West End Christmas Week Concert at Dundee West Church on 1st December.

City Council Scrutiny Committee

This afternoon, I took part in the City Council's Scrutiny Committee at which I :

* Raised a question and took part in discussion about incidents of violence on council staff.

* Asked questions about the audit of the management of school transport, a very topical subject given my and parents' concerns about the lack of proper transport arrangements for St John's High School pupils who live in the West End.

* Praised the work of the council's very professional internal audit team.

* Raised the need for the council to adopt the use of encrypted USB memory devices within the City Council's network.

* Asked a question about the speed of processing of planning applications by the council.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Tuesday update

Today, I took part in the Jericho House Support Group latest meeting, at which we discussed and planned events for this very worthwhile project, including a dance during November and also a play Jericho House is planning on the subject of recovery from alcoholism.  It is hoped the play will run during West End Christmas Week.  The recent sponsored walk for Jericho House raised nearly £1000 - an excellent result.

Later on, I attended the West End Schools Project Board - the board set up to oversee the building project on the former Logie Secondary School site on Blackness Road for a new St Joseph's Primary School and Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools.    I mentioned that the City Council must consider the need for a school crossing patroller on Glenagnes Road when the new schools open in October 2012.

Tonight, I attended a meeting of River Crescent Residents' Association at which I discussed with residents a number of local matters, including the possibility of a Friends group for Riverside Nature Park and local roads issues.

This morning's Courier covered my comments about Royal Mail's decision to close the Crichton Street collection office and tonight's Evening Telegraph reported on the 4S bus situation to St John's High School and my concerns at the removal of this school bus.    A meeting of parents about the matter has been arranged for next Wednesday and I have booked Blackness Library for that meeting.

Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

Heard on the radio recently ... the rather superb version of Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever by Nick Kamen, from 1987.   Earlier versions by the Tremeloes and The Four Tops are also superb!

Monday 22 August 2011

Campaigning to save the Crichton Street collection office

At tonight's City Council meetings, I raised concerns at the Policy & Resources Committee about the recent decision of Royal Mail Group to close its Crichton Street Enquiry Office and relocate its functions, from 29th August to the Edward Street Delivery Office for customers living in the DD1 postal area, and from 5th September to the Dundee West Delivery Office, Baird Avenue, for customers living in the DD2 and DD3 postal areas.

I highlighted the many concerns raised by customers that, given that the Crichton Street Enquiry Office is a very central facility in the city and the alternative facilities are not located in the city centre, this will have a detrimental impact on customers, particularly those who rely on public transport to visit Royal Mail facilities.

My motion asked the council's Chief Executive to write to the Director of Scottish Affairs, Royal Mail Group, outlining the City Council’s concerns at the decision to close the Crichton Street Enquiry Office, requesting that Royal Mail Group postpones the Crichton Street Enquiry Office closure pending further discussion with the City Council and invites the Director of Scottish Affairs, Royal Mail Group, to meet with the Chief Executive and City Councillors on the matter.   The motion was unanimously agreed, with an addition from the Convener about the consultation process.   I was pleased to mention that DD One, the City Centre's Business voice, has contacted me, voicing its support for the campaign to save the Crichton Street collection office.

What was important tonight was that the City Council spoke with one voice over the proposed closure of an accessible Royal Mail facility and it was good to see all-party support on the matter.

At the same committee, I asked a question about the sustainability of jobs for Dundee citizens under the Employability Programme.    

At the Housing Committee, I asked about improving tenant satisfaction with the Housing Department's performance and at City Development Committee, I praised the continuing great performance by the street lighting partnership.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Victoria Park Tennis Courts - good news!

Just over a week ago, I mentioned that I had raised with the City Council the poor state of the tennis courts at Victoria Park.

I have already had constituents contact me to say how impressed they were with the council's speedy response to my request for improvements.

I took a look myself this morning (see below) and its good to see the courts in a much better state now, with decent nets and proper line markings - so many thanks to the council's Environment Department for its prompt attention.
At the tennis courts this morning!

Tay Talk In

Was on the Tay Talk In on Tay AM this morning about the bus situation affecting the Number 4 service and the 4S school bus.  Click 'play' to listen:

Saturday at WestFiesta!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending WestFest's WestFiesta BBQ at the Vine.   

It was a well-organised and enjoyable afternoon and good to speak with local residents who attended.

You can see the latest WestFest updates on their Facebook page at

Saturday 20 August 2011

Food recycling project - an update

Further to my article at the end of June about the food waste recycling trial, today's Courier mentions its forthcoming launch this coming Wednesday.   The City Council's Recycling Projects Officer has now sent me some specific information about the West End area's trial :

"I am now writing to update you on the progress we have made & the forthcoming deliveries of food waste caddies, liners & kerbside containers.

During early July, all households in the trial areas received a visit from a Recycling Advisor or member of the Waste Strategy team, hand-delivering the "Teaser card"  advising residents of the forthcoming scheme and of the possibility of opting-out. This gave us the opportunity to address any concerns & answer any queries householders had at that time.  The last day for Opting-Out was Friday 12th August and the details for your ward area are as follows:

Area 3 - Invergowrie and Clayhills Drive (West End Ward): 234 households offered, 27 opt-outs (11.5%). Overall opt-out rate across the 10 areas is 7.8%.

Deliveries of caddies, liners and kerbside containers for all those taking part are due to commence on Wednesday 24th August . First collections will be on Wednesday 7th September and will follow thereafter on a fortnightly basis. 

A detailed information leaflet will be distributed with the caddies & this should answer all questions but telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are provided should anyone have any queries. A link to our webpage which has a list of FAQ's is also included - Also, information sessions will be held at libraries within the ward areas after the trial has commenced."

The West End trial area's information session will take place on  Monday 26th September at Menzieshill Library between 11am and 1pm.

Seabraes flowers

A superb photograph of the flowers at Seabraes, with thanks to Donald Suttie of  Rockwellmedia

Friday 19 August 2011

Campaign over local bus services and school bus goes on

Members of the Community Spirit Action Group, the residents’ group for Pentland, Ancrum, Tullideph and Cleghorn areas, and I met yesterday with Phil Smith, Managing Director of National Express Dundee over the removal of the Number 4 service bus from the West End part of its route and the complete removal of the 4S school bus to St John’s High School.

Although there was useful discussion with National Express Dundee over the issues, it was clear that the bus company has taken a commercial decision on the 4 and the 4S and was not going to review this.    I and Community Spirit office bearers are therefore keen to discuss matters further with transportation officials in the City Council as the loss of the 4 service is a real loss to its mainly elderly passengers particularly in Peddie Street, Scott Street/Logie, Pentland, City Road and Tullideph.

There’s now a 204 service subsidised by the City Council but it only runs off peak daytime every couple of hours on that part of its route and there’s a real need to improve that frequency of service for the area.   We are determined to continue the campaign to ensure the bus service is improved.   We handed in a petition that already has 141 signatures on it to National Express Dundee yesterday and we will be giving a copy to transportation officials at the City Council as well.   Most petition signatures are being obtained on local doorsteps but you can also sign it by clicking on the headline above or by going to

Over 30 parents of pupils at St John’s High School attended last night’s West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting to voice their concerns at the complete withdrawal of the 4S bus service to the school.    

The lack of decent public transport for St John’s High School pupils living on the 4S route is a real worry – the school advises me that 43 pupils are affected and when we get into the darker days and wintry weather, the situation will worsen.   

I have made the suggestion of a joint meeting with the parents/guardians, transport, education departments, elected representatives and the school to find a workable solution and have today written to the Director of Education and the Head of Transportation in that regard.

There are other issues arising out of last night's West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting and I will update residents on these matters over the weekend.

Harris Academy Minibus destroyed

The destruction of the Harris Academy minibus in the early hours of Thursday morning was a real loss to the school and, as I was quoted in yesterday's Evening Telegraph, took place in a quiet, residential area, where vandalism of vehicles is highly unusual.   

I was advised today by the local police that :

"I can confirm that a bus was burned out around 0230 hrs this morning.  It is presently under enquiry and it has not been established yet if anything criminal has taken place.   I will keep you informed of any developments."

Thursday 18 August 2011

Shaftesbury Place

Some time ago, I highlighted the very poor state of the shared roadway/footway of Shaftesbury Place (see right).   It has never been adopted by the City Council and is one of relatively few unadopted roadways in the city (as opposed to unadopted footways of which there are well over a hundred).

When the matter was first raised by residents, I contacted the City Engineer about the matter.   There is no easy solution here because, unlike pavements, there is no "Unadopted Roads Programme" to upgrade them.      I understand the former Tayside Regional Council did have such a programme but Dundee City Council has not operated an unadopted roads programme, no doubt given the very small number of unadopted roadways across Dundee.

I have had numerous discussions with residents and correspondence with the City Council over the matter and have now organised a meeting of residents, hopefully to take place later this month at Blackness Library, at which a representative from the City Engineer's Department has kindly agreed to attend to offer advice on the matter.   

Surgeries return ... and a new office!

With the end of the school holidays, my weekly surgeries that run during term time start again tonight at 6.15pm at Blackness Primary School (staff room on the ground floor).   Full surgery details are available at
Following the closure of the Tayside House Podium block in advance of the demolition of Tayside House, the Liberal Democrat Group has relocated this week to the first floor of 8 City Square.  Our phone and e-mail details remain unchanged :

Cllr Fraser Macpherson - Dundee City Council office - 434985
Home number - 459378

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Friends of Magdalen Green Christmas Card Competition - an update

Further to my article about the Friends of Magdalen Green Christmas Card Competition some weeks ago, and with thanks to the Courier, today's newspaper gives the competition a mention in the "Local Digest" section.

You can take part in the competition up to the closing date of 3rd September and if you click on the headline above or go to, you can now download the entry form and rules.

Update on former Perth Road Nursery site

On a number of occasions in the past, I have sought, on behalf of residents, the tidying of the very overgrown site of the former James Laurie and Son Nursery in Perth Road, west of the junction with Riverside Drive.    Last year, the owners did some thinning of the bushes on the site's edge with Perth Road and replaced damaged "for sale" signage, but the site has remained unused for more than ten years.

Today's Courier highlights that the administrators of the former developers who owned the site have engaged property agents to put the land back on the market at a significantly lower price than previously sought.    The site already has planning approval.

As I indicated in the Courier, any development here must be in keeping with and sympathetic to this highly desirable residential area, but steps to see this overgrown and unused site being brought back into use will be welcomed.

Tuesday 16 August 2011


On Saturday 20th August, the WestFest Committee is running a fundraising event - WestFiesta - at the Vine at the bottom of Roseangle (43 Magdalen Yard Road - opposite the Roseangle car park). 

It will be an afternoon and early evening of fun and music!

Its £10 for adults £5 for under 12s first drink and food free - and silly games, a bar - and a bit of sun hopefully. 

This replaces the BBQ cancelled due to wind damage earlier in the year.    Tickets are available by contacting, Frasers Fruit and Veg shop on Perth Road or call into the reception at the Vine.

Monday 15 August 2011

The Whitehall Theatre

I have spoken with many constituents today in the West End, expressing their concern about the future of the Whitehall Theatre.

As the day progressed, it was reassuring the learn that, despite the difficulties of the theatre company and the liquidation decision, the Whitehall Theatre Trust has signalled its intention to keep the theatre open and that it intends to still run shows like Dundee Schools' Music Theatre's "Me and My Girl", other autumn shows and hopefully the pantomime in the run up to Christmas.

The Whitehall Theatre has provided high-quality entertainment for Dundonians and the wider region for generations and I have today been in contact with the City Council’s Chief Executive to ascertain what steps the City Council may be able to take to assist.  

I have been advised by the council’s Chief Executive that he agrees that the loss of the Whitehall Theatre would be a blow to the city.    He had held a meeting with the Whitehall Trustees prior to the announcement in the press this morning and assured me that he will continue to liaise with the trustees to offer support and advice from the City Council.    This is a most helpful response.

The Whitehall Theatre Trust's determination to carry on must be fully supported and that's echoed by the views of the many West End residents I have spoken with today.

I was interviewed about the matter on Radio Tay and Wave 102 about this earlier today.   You can listen to the Wave 102 interview by clicking 'play' below:

City Council meeting tonight

The City Council summer recess has now ended and council committees started again this evening with the Development Management Committee.   

It was a relatively light agenda but I did make comment on issues surrounding the new right of appeal over Section 75 agreements that the City Council has used responsibly in various ways, for example, to restrict, in appropriate circumstances, the use of new housing from becoming Houses in Multiple Occupation.

I also welcomed the planning appeal outcome at the Tay Mills flats in Brown Street.   I mentioned this on last month and the Reporter's decision was reported to committee this evening.

Tay Square lighting improvements

I am advised by Dundee City Council that, as a result of Dundee Partnership investment in the Cultural Quarter, from 23rd to 28th August Tay Square will be partially closed to vehicles for five days to allow completion of lights embedded into the road immediately outside the Rep Theatre and for resurfacing works.  

The City Council advises me that any disruption to the surrounding premises and servicing will be kept to a minimum during the five day road closure and thereafter the surrounding properties will benefit from a significantly enhanced Tay Square.  

If any residents require any further information please do not hesitate to contact the City Council on 433594.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Balgay Road - road flooding - update

Further to my recent article about flooding across Balgay Road, I have received the following feedback from Dundee City Council :

"The Road Maintenance Partnership inspector has checked the gully at this area of flooding on Balgay Road and has cleared debris from the gully grating which allowed the remaining standing water to drain away.   The gully appeared to be running effectively.   However he will continue to monitor it during his regular inspections."

Kelso Street, Kelso Place, Jedburgh Road BBQ

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time yesterday at the community barbeque in Kelso Street and on the Elliot Road playing fields (with the council's permission) organised by the residents of Kelso Street, Kelso Place and Jedburgh Road and was very grateful for the kind invitation.

It was a great example of community spirit and residents getting together so many thanks to Sarah and the other organisers!