Friday 28 February 2014

Excellent inspection report for Balgay Hill Nursery School

It was very pleasing, earlier this week, to be advised of the excellent inspection report for Balgay Hill Nursery School, undertaken by Education Scotland.

The evaluations and key strengths outlined in the report highlight the very positive experience children receive at Balgay Hill Nursery School:

Key strengths of the school

  • Children are actively engaged and motivated in their learning.
  • Staff provide a nurturing, caring and welcoming learning environment.
  • Inclusive ethos in supporting children and their families.
  • Transition arrangements for children transferring to P1.
  • Effective leadership of the headteacher.
More detail of the inspection report can be read here.    Congratulations go to Mrs Cowan, Head Teacher, and her team, for such an excellent outcome.

You can read more about the work of the Friends of Balgay Hill Nursery School here.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Dundee Youth Council @DundeeYC

Dundee Youth Council was established in March 2011 by local young people and is the Dundee City Council recognised forum for representing the wide range of views and issues of the young people of Dundee to the city decision makers.

It does a great job representing the views of the young people of Dundee and I'm pleased to promote their new publicity poster (below):

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Many thanks

Now I am feeling a little better, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kindness during my recent illness.    I am making slow but steady progress, having been discharged from hospital just over a week ago.    It’ll be a bit of time until I am well enough to return to full duties but arrangements are in place to ensure all constituents’ issues and queries can be progressed and assisted with as normal.   I am very grateful to the excellent members’ support staff at the council who are ensuring that service to all constituents continues as normal.

I have to say how impressed I was with the care and attention from the doctors and nurses from the high dependency ward and at Ward 3 at Ninewells Hospital and also at Wallacetown Health Centre.  

I have been really touched by the number of messages of concern, cards and flowers.   It has been very kind of everyone.     

I am looking forward to resuming normal duties just as soon as my health allows it.   Meantime, with kind assistance, I hope to update my blog with West End news when I am able.

Monday 10 February 2014

Getting things done - Blackness Avenue, Hyndford Street and Seymour Street

Residents have brought to my attention that fact that some of the gullies at road edges in Blackness Avenue, Hyndford Street and Seymour Street are full and blocked.   I reported this to the City Council's Roads Maintenance Partnership who have advised:

"Gullies are cleaned on cyclic maintenance with a frequency of approximately twice per eighteen months with particular attention given to gullies at low points. The gullies in the area will be checked by the Road Maintenance Partnership inspector who will arrange for an additional emptying if required. This will be done as soon as resources are available."

Sunday 9 February 2014

Saturday 8 February 2014

Proposal to save Early Year Practitioner Posts in Dundee Primary Schools

I am pleased to say that I have identified alternative savings that can be made to Dundee City Council’s proposed revenue budget that would to save Early Year Practitioner Posts in Dundee Primary Schools.     

My alternative budget savings proposal has been approved by Chief Officers as financially and legally competent and I am now calling for all parties on the council to work together to save these posts that he says provide vital work in Dundee’s primary schools.

The SNP administration has proposed moving these staff to nursery schools in order that the salary costs can be funded from Dundee’s share of the funding Scottish Government is making available to fund extra nursery hours.

The extra hours in nurseries is a good thing and, indeed, my party leader Willie Rennie MSP has been campaigning for this over a long period of time, but it is hugely disappointing that the SNP council administration in Dundee is aiming to provide these hours by taking away a much-valued and needed resource for Primary One children.    Why do they think it is acceptable that Primary One pupils in Dundee should lose out?

My proposals will allow for the continuation of Early Years Practitioners in Primary Schools and the increased nursery hours and I urge all parties on the council to work together to achieve that.     It can be paid for by taking quite modest savings over a variety of areas including hospitality budgets, some furniture and equipment budgets reductions in subscriptions, a reduction in waste funds, advertising, catering and printing.

I hope there will be cross-party agreement to accept my proposal for the benefit of the young people in the city’s primary schools.

Friday 7 February 2014

New West End Curling Group

There's now a new "ice free indoor curling group" that is meeting at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall on Thursdays from 2pm to 4pm.    

It is run by are Reshaping Care for Older People and open to all aged over 50.

It is really good to see this initiative started and I wish it every success!

Thursday 6 February 2014

Area around Glamis Road/Drive/Blackness Road roundabout

A number of constituents have contacted me about how difficult they find it to get across the road in the area around Glamis Road/Drive/Blackness Road roundabout.    As one constituent put it:
"I am an elderly woman who frequently visits friends in Hillside Road off Glamis Drive and am finding it increasing difficult to safely cross the road at the Glamis Drive circle when coming to and from the bus stops in Blackness Road and I'm sure I am not the only one who finds this to be the case. The traffic can come very fast from different directions around the circle."
She wondered about the viability of traffic islands in the middle of the wide Glamis Road to allow pedestrians to cross the road in two stages with a safe place to break their journey mid-way.

I raised this with the City Council's Head of Transportation who has sent the following helpful update:

"I will arrange for an inspection and survey the width of Glamis Road to the north and south of the roundabout with Glamis Drive and Blackness Road. To provide a central refuge island the carriageway should be sufficiently wide enough to provide a 2.0m wide island and provide a 0.5m wide safety zone for construction and future maintenance. In addition 3.25m desirable minimum or 3.0m absolute minimum should be provide in each direction to maintain two way flow. 

Therefore the required total width of carriageway required is 9m absolute minimum to avoid a lane closures for construction or future maintenance of the central refuge island. This will not cause any delays or disruption to the network. 

If the 9m wide carriageway is available I will consider provision of a central refuge island and drop kerbs for inclusion within the future minor works programme."

On Wave 102 News - Road safety measures outside Harris Academy

I was on Wave 102 News yesterday about the road safety measures outside Harris Academy the City Council has agreed to.   You can hear the interview by clicking 'play' below:

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Community Spirit Action Group meeting

Earlier tonight,  I attended the February meeting of Community Spirit - the community group for the "north" part of West End Ward, covering Tullideph, Pentland, Ancrum and the Cleghorn area.   The meeting took place in the Mitchell Street Centre.

There was firstly a presentation by George Gammack of Living Streets, on the advantages of 20 mph zones in highly residential areas, an issue I have long campaigned for, particularly in parts of the West End that have very narrow roads, like Logie, the Perth Road lanes, Pentland and Ancrum Drive.

Thereafter, at my request on behalf of residents and with the kind agreement of the Chair of Community Spirit, a representative of the Environment Department spoke to update everyone about the communal 'eurobin' trial in Saggar Street and the intention, in due course, to review the bin collection arrangements in other parts of Pentland, such as Loganlee Terrace.

I am very grateful to the residents who attended (particularly as it has been a miserable, rainy evening!) to give their feedback on the trial.   Loss of parking through placing the bins on the road edge is a clear issue and I have asked that the council look at the viability of placing the bins off the road and, meantime, the department has agreed to ensure the siting of the bins minimises parking loss.   It will also look at changing the bin lids, which are rather heavy, particularly for older residents to use.

In Britain, in Europe, in work @scotlibdems

Tonight's Scottish Liberal Democrat broadcast:

Blackness Library update

Further to my previous updates last year about the improvement works at Blackness Library that saw the provision of an accessible lift to allow residents with mobility difficulties to access the upstairs meetings rooms for the first time, I requested thereafter that the council's Chief Executive agree to a number of further improvements - in terms of sink provision upstairs and redecoration and I am pleased to advise that this was agreed to.

Leisure & Culture Dundee has now advised me that :

"The two upper floor rooms are (currently) being painted and the adult lending library will be painted during the week beginning 11th February.  

In order to allow this final week of decoration we have reluctantly taken the decision to close Blackness Library from the 7th -14th February inclusive. 

The library staff will remove the books from the shelves, and the shelving will be dismantled to allow the painters access to the walls, radiators and windows. The shelving and books will be stored in the children's library until the painters have finished. The public access computers will be protected by plastic sheeting. 

The library staff will then rebuild the shelving and replace the books and the building will reopen on Saturday 15th February. 

We regret this temporary loss of service and the inconvenience to our readers."

I asked if, during the period the library is shut, if the mobile library service could make a visit to the area.    It already is scheduled to visit the following places on Wednesday 12th February:

Oxford Street / Eton Street
1.50 pm - 2.05 pm
Glamis Road
2.10 pm - 2.30 pm
Teddy Bears / Thomas Wise Place
2.35 pm - 3.00 pm
Naughton Place
3.05 pm - 3.25 pm
Glamis Road / Dunkeld Place
3.30 pm - 3.55 pm
Elmwood Road
4.00 pm - 4.20 pm

Leisure & Culture Dundee has kindly agreed that the mobile library can make a stop that day near to the library - on Shaftesbury Road - between 9.40am and 10.15am.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Road safety outside Harris Academy site, Perth Road - an update

Residents will recall that, back in December, I had a site visit with the City Council’s Chief Executive to the Harris Academy site at Perth Road to look at road safety outside the site during the school rebuilding project.

I had received a number of constituents’ concerns that, with the road narrowed, there is more limited space for vehicles passing each direction on what is a busy bus route and the white lines are no longer in the middle of the road.

I have now had feedback from the City Council’s Head of Transportation following the site visit as follows:
“Whilst technically the lane widths are within the regulations we have agreed to look at repositioning the centre line (so it is centred across the remaining carriageway and the contractor is to investigate the provision of advisory 20 mph signage to encourage people to drive through the area more slowly.

In addition the contractor has agreed to remind all vehicles accessing the site to follow an agreed approach route and signage is in place to deter large vehicles using inappropriate residential streets near by.”
These suggested measures are sensible and I hope the advisory lower speed limit will be introduced given the narrowing of the road at present and the number of construction vehicles exiting and entering the site at this location.

Monday 3 February 2014

Scotswood Terrace pavements

Over the past few years, on behalf of local residents, I have highlighted to the City Engineer the very poor state of the unadopted footways in Scotswood Terrace.   These now have high priority on the unadopted footways list and looked likely to be upgraded and adopted next financial year.

However, the City Engineer has now advised me of some good news that will see the pavement work carried out a little sooner:

"... letters (have been) issued to residents in Scotswood Terrace (to) advise of footway upgrading works proposed to be carried out in 2013/14, ie before 30th March 2014.    Works to date this year on the unadopted programme have accrued sufficient savings to allow other streets to be promoted and added to the programme for upgrade and adoption this financial year."

I am delighted that this work is now about to commence and there should be further progress with some other West End pavements in 2014/15.

Back from Australia

We're just back from Australia, where we had a fab time visiting our younger son, daughter-in-law and grandson, as well as seeing a fair bit of the east coast.    Many thanks to my colleagues who kindly covered my West End Ward surgeries when I was away and to the council's excellent members services staff who were very helpful with constituent enquiries (as always!)

Here's a few photos!
Brisbane skyline
At Cairns' excellent Botanic Gardens
Melbourne's lovely south beach
In Sydney at the inspiration for the Dundee Discovery Walk proposal
Janet with our grandson Henry at Bundoora Park in Melbourne
... and, of course, Skippy!

Sunday 2 February 2014

Latest news from Friends of Wighton

Amy Leach
From Sheena Wellington:

Wighton Heritage Centre (Central Library), Lunchtime Recital, Wednesday 5th February 2014 : 1.15pm-1.45pm.

First Friends of Wighton Lunchtime Recital of the year will feature the fine young singer, Amy Leach.

Amy Leach is from Edinburgh, now living and studying in Newcastle upon Tyne.    She grew up singing through the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin and particularly enjoys singing the muckle sangs. She will graduate this year from the Folk and Traditional Music BMus at Newcastle University - and hopes to sing and write about ballads for the foreseeable future.

Admission free, donations welcome!

Saturday 1 February 2014