Sunday 31 May 2015

Dundee Garden and Allotment Competition 2015

Your chance to participate in the Annual Competition run by Dundee City Council!

Why Get Involved?

- To encourage the community, including schools, citizens and businesses to take pride and interest in the city. 

- To promote the involvement of allotment gardening and the benefits of growing vegetables, fruit and flowering plants. 

- To make attractive use of floral displays and creative imaginative landscapes. 

- To sustain the diversity of plants and wildlife. 

Who Can Enter?

- Open to all within the Dundee City boundary. 

How to Enter? 

You can download the full details and application form here.

Festival of Volunteering Launch @DunFestVol2015

I was pleased to be at the well-attended launch of the Dundee Festival of Volunteering yesterday in the City Square.

You can find out more about the many activities taking place this coming week as part of the festival by visiting the festival's Facebook page.   Don't forget our West End Litter Pick as part of these activities - next Saturday!

Some photos from yesterday's launch :
Large turnout for the launch day!
Some of the stands setting up in the City Square
With the Bonnie Dundee Britain in Bloom 2015 finalist banner
Graham Cross of the Bonnie Dundee group
Lillian Malcolm and Gordon McDonald of the MS Society's Dundee Branch

Saturday 30 May 2015

Friday 29 May 2015

Open Farm Sunday

Thursday 28 May 2015

TAYplan - Proposed Strategic Development Plan

From the Strategic Development Planning Authority Manager :

The TAYplan Strategic Development Plan and associated documents have now been approved.  

An 8 week period for representations commenced on Monday 11th May and will close on Friday 3rd July.  It is very important that representations are made within that period.  

A questionnaire will be used for representations to be made and online submissions will be encouraged.  The online questionnaire can be accessed here.    A guide is also available on-line.  

At this Proposed Plan stage you will be asked whether you wish a change to be made to the Plan or whether you support it.    You will require to set out what changes you consider should be made and why.   

Static displays are also being arranged in various locations.  These will generally be placed in libraries or other locations ahead of the community drop in events within that town.   TAYplan staff look forward to meeting members of Community Councils at one of these events.   Individual meetings/events with Community Councils will not be possible given the size of the TAYplan area and the limited resources available to deliver this consultation.  

The online questionnaire is easy to use.   Submission of representations must be prior to the 3rd July.  If you require any assistance please do not hesitate to contact the TAYplan office on 307180.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

20mph zones in residential areas - latest news

Following on from the decision by Dundee City Council in February to consult residents across Dundee about where people want 20 mph zones in residential areas, I have sought an update from the City Council’s Head of Transportation about when the consultation I successfully sought will take place.

The council’s Head of Transportation has advised me as follows :

“The issues are still being considered by the traffic engineers and this includes comparisons with other areas' policies and visiting other cities to compare some of the options available.  We are projecting that we will commerce the community engagement, with a draft policy for Dundee, in early Autumn, just after summer holiday period.  The aim for a return to City Development Committee at November or December City Development Committee.

I have been discussing this in various meetings recently and we will utilise the network of community representative fora as noted at committee in February.”

I am pleased that progress towards this consultation is taking place as it is important to ask people across the city where they feel lower speed limits in residential areas would be appropriate.    

In the West End, there have been requests for lower speed limits in areas where there are many elderly residents trying to cross residential roads or where children regularly play.   However a formal consultation exercise is necessary and I am pleased this will be taking place later this year.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

The University at War

From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee :

The University at War

Tower Foyer Gallery - Tower Building, University of Dundee

The new exhibition in the Tower Foyer Gallery explores the effect of the First World War on the University and its affiliated institutions. It tells the stories of staff and students who fought on the front line, or undertook important wartime research. It also describes the effects of the war on those who stayed in Dundee to continue their studies.

As well as University College Dundee, the exhibition also looks at staff and students from the following institutions:

The Conjoint Medical School – affiliated to University College Dundee but jointly run with the University of St Andrews and Dundee Royal Infirmary
The Dundee Dental Hospital & School – founded during the war and affiliated to UCD and the University of St Andrews
Dundee School of Art – then part of Dundee Technical College but now Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
Dundee Training College – then a separate institution but sharing both staff and students with UCD. It is now the University’s School of Education, Social Work & Community Education

This exhibition has been created by the University’s Archive and Museum Services, and is part of the Great War Dundee centenary commemorations. 

It runs until 20th June and is open weekdays from 9.30am to 8.30pm and on Saturdays between 9.30am and 4.30pm.

Monday 25 May 2015

Launch of new hybrid buses on 73 route

I was pleased to attend today’s launch by Stagecoach of its new hybrid buses that from today serve the 73 service that runs through the West End.

The 18 new vehicles feature distinctive branding encouraging the public to 'Go Green' by trying the new hybrid buses which will also feature free wi-fi access onboard.

The 18 electric powered hybrid double deck buses marks an investment of around £5.3m by Stagecoach and as well as being attractive new vehicles, they have a positive impact on the environment as well.

Here's a couple of photographs from the launch :
The new hybrid bus type on the 73 route
From the left - Neil Gellatly (Dundee City Council Head of Transportation), Cllr Alan Ross & myself!

West End Ward Surgeries

Because today is a public holiday, my usual ward surgeries at the West Park Centre and the Mitchell Street Centre do not take place.   

However, my Thursday ward surgery at Blackness Primary School (6.15pm in the staff room on the ground floor) will take place as usual.

I can be contacted at any time  at home on 459378 or via my e-surgery at

Blackness Road/Ashbank Road - council commits to investigate safety concerns

Following recent safety concerns highlighted by residents of the Logie Estate and the Blackness Road area about the crossing of Blackness Road at the Ashbank Road junction, I have obtained an assurance from the City Council’s Head of Transportation that council traffic engineers will assess the area to see what pedestrian crossing improvements can be provided to improve the situation.

This is a long-standing issue that many residents rightly want addressed.   

The City Council’s Head of Transportation has advised me :

“We have undertaken pedestrian surveys at this location previously and the volume of pedestrians was significantly below the threshold that would trigger the provision of a traffic signal controlled crossing.      This is the case along much of the length of Blackness Road where we receive requests for assessment for provision of such facilities.  

However there are very few attractors or desire lines that cause there to be a concentration of demand.  

The traffic engineers are aware of this follow up request … and I have asked them to assess the vicinity to see if additional crossing facilities (non traffic signal) can be considered.”

It is important that pedestrian crossing safety is improved at this busy junction.    Personally, I think there is merit in investigating the viability of a lights-crossed facility but I welcome the assurance I have been given that traffic engineers will fully assess the area to see what improvements can be introduced.

Sunday 24 May 2015

HM Frigate Unicorn - networking tea parties

Details of the HM Frigate Unicorn networking tea parties - next one is on Friday 29th May :

Promising future for the Overgate Centre

Following a constituent contacting me stating, "I was a bit concerned to read that WH Smith is pulling out of the Overgate.   I note that Gap has already gone.   I'm not sure what shops will be moving in," I have been in correspondence with the Centre Manager about planned developments at the Overgate Centre.

He has given me positive feedback as follows :

"We are aware from a customer’s perspective Overgate has lost a few retailers over the last 6 months or so but I can assure your constituents we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure Overgate remains a prime regional shopping destination.

Our current client purchased the Overgate in April 2014 when the centre was approaching 15 years old and a lot of retailers were coming to the natural end of their leases. Since April we have secured the following retailers on long term leases to ensure business continuity within Overgate:

•         Sports Direct
•         River Island
•         H&M
•         Virgin Media
•         Ernest Jones
•         Next

As you can imagine in the current financial climate the retail business is somewhat ‘fickle’ with High Street / Shopping Centre Retailers struggling against online shopping but ... the following will be happening within Overgate within the forthcoming months:

•         Ex GAP Unit – Under Offer from Fashion Retailer
•         Starbucks extension
•         Kiosk opposite Superdrug – new retailer opening soon
•         Lower Mall we have two empty units – those units are under offer for reconfiguring and currently sit with the Landlord for approval
•         Ex La Senza Units – offer accepted and shopfitting plans have been approved
•         Ex First Sport Unit – under offer from national leisure operator, we are currently undergoing our due diligence and feasibility studies
•         WH Smith – they are due to close 10th June.  We then need to carry out any repairs / redecoration but we currently have two offers on this unit being returned to its original shell i.e. two units, upstairs / downstairs.

Since the landlord took possession of the centre we have brought in:

•         MAC
•         Yankee Scotland

Hopefully the above will restore some confidence within your West End Ward and should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me direct."

The Overgate Centre is a vital part of Dundee's shopping offer, not just for Dundee residents, but for the wider region, so it is reassuring that positive developments at the Overgate Centre are taking place.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Blether Tay-Gither - Storytelling in Dundee

Our May Blether will be on Tuesday 26th May at 7pm in Madigan's Food Emporium and Bookshop, Castle Street.

The Theme this month is Dundee.

All welcome!

Friday 22 May 2015

Thursday West End meetings

Yesterday, I took part in tenant consultation meetings at Blackness Court and at Sinderins/Pennycook Courts with Home Scotland representatives, about future scheme manager/support staff posts.   

This was the latest in a series of meetings with tenants I have attended with the tenants since last November and it was agreed yesterday that there will be further consultation meetings towards the end of the year to ensure that the changes to support arrangements are working fine and resolve any issues.

After my ward surgery at Blackness Primary School last night, I attended the West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting at Blackness Library.

The LCPP meeting is a good opportunity for representatives from different council departments, councillors and representatives from other organisations like police, fire and rescue and the NHS to discuss local issues and matters of concern and also let local residents raise issues, ask questions and have their say.

There was an interesting and informative update from the Partnership Manager at Tayside Contracts/Dundee City Council Roads Maintenance Partnership on the work undertaken to improve and maintain Dundee's roads and pavements.

I also took the opportunity to highlight an enterprise initiative by the P6 pupils at Blackness Primary School, who are selling West End "Bag Buddy" shopping bags.   

Costing only £5 each, they have various West End designs (see below) and can be purchased from the school office, the Rosebud, Nisa, Spar, Fraser's Fruit & Veg, Indigo House, West End Gallery, Urban Print and Roseangle Arts Cafe. 

Tomorrow's Friends of Wighton Cappuccino Concert

Dr Margaret Bennett
From Sheena Wellington :

Saturday 23rd May at 11am (doors open 10.30am)

Wighton Heritage Centre, Central Library

Margaret Bennett, Gaelic and Scots song

Dr. Margaret Bennett is a renowned Scottish writer, folklorist, ethnologist, broadcaster and silver voiced singer, equally authoritative in Gaelic and Scots. Her main interests lies in the field of traditional Scottish folk culture and cultural identity of the Scots, home and abroad. 

The late Hamish Henderson, internationally distinguished poet and folklorist, said about her: 'Margaret embodies the spirit of Scotland'.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Riverside Drive (Perth Road to Railway Bridge) – Carriageway Resurfacing

From the City Council :

"Work is programmed to commence at the above location on Monday 25th May 2015, and will last for approximately 1 week.  The main contractor for the works is Tayside Contracts.

In the interest of public safety, a road closure will be implemented and through traffic will be diverted via Riverside Avenue and  Perth Road and reverse for the duration of the works.

Vehicular access will be maintained to residents of Newhall Gardens, Millhall Crescent, Burnaby Street and Vernonholme from the end of Perth Road .    We ask for vehicular traffic movements to be kept to a minimum.    Some minor delays may be encountered during some phases of the works.    No on-street parking will be allowed on the section of carriageway being worked on.

Please accept my apologies for any disruption these works may cause. I am sure that you will understand that major road maintenance work is unavoidable and necessitates a degree of inconvenience to road users.

Please note that pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained throughout the works.

If you have any queries regarding this matter, please contact the Roads Maintenance Partnership, by telephoning 434000 and ask for 'Roads Maintenance Partnership'."

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Getting things done - City Road

Following complaints from residents about graffiti on the utility boxes in City Road near Saggar Street, I asked the City Council's Rapid Response Team to remove this and they have very promptly tackled this :
There is also graffiti on the Friary wall on City Road, which will also be removed after a disclaimer is signed by the owner to grant permission to undertake removal :

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Tuesday West End meetings

A busy day with activity across the West End included :

+ A meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents' Association, at which we discussed a number of matters including issues around the new recycling and bins arrangements and problems needing resolved.

+ A meeting of the Jericho House Support Group, at which we discussed the continuing success of the house's "Drink the Musical!" (soon to be performed in Blairgowrie, with over 160 tickets already sold) and also outreach work and Jericho House's participation in Dundee Open Doors 2015 this September.

+ The Annual General Meeting of Friends of Magdalen Green.   Taking place at Dundee West Church, the guest speaker was Eddie Small, author of 'Forgotten Visionary of Dundee' - the excellent book about the life and work of Mary Lily Walker.    Eddie is a superb speaker - informative and entertaining.    

It was an excellent AGM coming at the end of a very successful year for the Friends.   A couple of photos from the AGM tonight :
Catherine Fairweather, Chair of the Friends, addresses the AGM
Eddie Small giving his talk about Mary Lily Walker
The Friends' Vice Chair Angela Mehlert asked everyone to pause to remember West End resident Ed Thompson, who sadly passed away earlier today.   Ed, a greatly talented writer, whose wife Christine is former Treasurer of the Friends, will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with Christine and family at this very sad time.

Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden Plant Power event

Tackling concerns about discarded needles

Last week, both the Courier and Evening Telegraph highlighted my concerns after the recent case of a young boy finding a dirty needle in a stairwell in the Blackness area.   

I made the point (and reinforced it at the City Council's Policy & Resources Committee) that there was a need to publicise to residents the steps to take if a needle or needles are found.   

To simplify the safe collection of needles there is a single point of contact phone number.  This can be used 24 hours a day for a rapid response to remove the danger and the contact number is 433063.

The Head of Communities at Dundee City Council has now advised me :

"I would add to that we are shortly to launch a Dundee Community Safety Partnership Facebook Page which will also be used to promote messages about the safe disposal of needle litter.  

The Community Safety Manager has been chairing a Needle Litter Working Group and a draft action has been prepared for further development.  I will send you a copy of the action plan once it has been finally agreed."

Monday 18 May 2015

City Council committee meetings

Earlier tonight saw a lengthy session of City Council meetings.

* At the City Council meeting, I spoke in a debate on proposed City Council ward boundary changes, supporting the position that the West End Ward boundaries remain as they are as they follow a mainly logical boundary.   I have, however, written to the Secretary of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland agreeing with one of the Commission's draft proposals in relation to making the boundary a bit more straightforward at the north end of Glamis Road.

* At the Education Committee, I opposed the SNP administration's proposals to change support staffing arrangements in secondary schools.   This will result in a reduction of two people in support staffing at Harris Academy, something I view as highly detrimental.   The SNP's proposal was, however, unfortunately voted through on the Education Convener's casting vote.

* At Housing Committee, I welcomed a positive inspection of the sheltered housing warden service and also applauded Shelter's "Make Renting Right" campaign, something I have already publicly supported, along with several other city councillors.     Unfortunately, there then followed a negative and pointless 'debate' between SNP and Labour councillors over conference attendance.   The phrase 'a plague on both your houses' springs to mind.

* At City Development Committee, I warmly welcomed roofing repairs and replacement at Ancrum Road Primary School - this is long overdue.

* At Policy & Resources Committee, I queried the best value of extending the council's mobile telephony contract and received assurances about this.

Please help the City Road allotments!

From the City Road allotments :

"We have applied for an Aviva Community Fund award as we would like to upgrade our water facilities in the hut and toilet.    Our application was accepted and now we need votes.

I know that you have supported our Open Day before and I was wondering if you would be able to put the link to the voting page on your blog.     

This link will take you to our project but you can also search for Aviva Community Fund 2015 and then search for City Road. So far we have well over 400 votes but as many as we can rally from the local community would be amazing."

You can access the link to help the City Road allotments here.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Roadworks at Riverside Avenue/Drive today and next week

I highlighted earlier this week that the Riverside Avenue/Drive roundabout near to the Riverside Inn (pictured right) would be closed today (9am to 5pm) then overnight next week for four nights.   

Here is an update from the City Council about the work being undertaken :

"This will include a new road surface providing better skid resistance and new improved road markings to assist road users.

The road safety scheme on the roundabout will then be followed up by a road resurfacing scheme on Riverside Drive northbound towards the Botanic Garden."

A Walk in the Woods

Forthcoming walks including at Balgay Hill :

Saturday 16 May 2015

Many thanks Sarah!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the farewell party for Sarah Lewis, Scheme Manager at Pennycook Court and Sinderins Court for the past seven years.

It was a lovely event, although emotional given that all the tenants will miss Sarah greatly.   She has been a fabulous scheme manager, absolutely dedicated and hugely professional.

I wish Sarah every success in her new role with Caledonia Housing Association in Perth.

A few photos from yesterday :
A great turnout of the tenants for the farewell party
Marion Adams, Chair of the Residents' Association, thanking Sarah on behalf of everyone
With Sarah yesterday

Friday 15 May 2015

Ninewells Community Garden Volunteer Day tomorrow

Thursday West End meetings

Yesterday was a busy day with my chairing a well-attended morning meeting with residents from the Tullideph area at which we discussed numerous local issues including home energy efficiency improvements, grass maintenance, dumped items and other matters.

At lunchtime, I attended a City Council briefing on community asset transfer and I thereafter chaired a meeting with residents from the Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace sheltered housing, where issues discussed included bin collections, pothole repairs and graffiti removal.

I am grateful to officers from the City Council's Environment Department who attended both the Tullideph and Ancrum/Morven meetings to discuss garden and open plan area planting and grass maintenance.

After my weekly ward surgery at Blackness Primary School last night, I participated in a very positive meeting of the Friends of Riverside Nature Park at which a number of forthcoming public events were discussed, including a meadow walk on 21st June - more details to follow soon!

Thursday 14 May 2015

Balgay Stakeholders' Group

Last night, along with representatives of the Friends of Balgay, one of my ward colleagues and City Council Environment Department officers, I attended the latest Balgay Stakeholders' Group meeting that took place in the pavilion at Lochee Park.

The group discusses projects and issues at Balgay Park, the Hill, Cemetery and Victoria Park and we had a really good meeting covering a number of positive developments covering various matters around the park from road improvements, cleaning up the cemetery paths and new signage in the park.   I also raised constituents’ requests for seating to the south of the Mills Observatory.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Friends of Magdalen Green AGM

Tuesday 12 May 2015

West End Community Council Update

I have today launched my May 2015 Update to West End Community Council.

Issues covered include cycling along Riverside Drive, road and pavement planned improvements and road safety improvements at the Riverside Drive/Avenue roundabout.

The Community Council meets tonight at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm.

You can download my update here.

Monday 11 May 2015

Road and pavement improvements in the West End

I am pleased to advise of upgrading to several roads, unadopted and adopted pavements in the West End by the City Council planned for the 2015/16 financial year as follows -

Roads :
Adopted pavements :
Unadopted pavements :
A map of the sites and planned work mentioned above can be downloaded here.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Temporary Traffic Order : Riverside Drive/Avenue roundabout

From the City Council :


THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of road safety improvement works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in Riverside Drive / Riverside Avenue roundabout (including all approaches), Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Sunday 17 May 2015 for one day (0900hrs to 1700hrs), then on Monday 18 May for 4 nights (1900hrs to 0600hrs).

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.   Access to Riverside Inn will be maintained.

Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Perth Road / Hawkhill / West Marketgait / Riverside Drive.

For further information contact 433168.

Director of City Development
Dundee City Council

Saturday 9 May 2015

Friday 8 May 2015

Mills Observatory news

If you click here, you can download the brochure giving the summer activities at the Mills Observatory.

The Head of Cultural Services at Leisure and Culture Dundee has advised that, last month, the parquet flooring on the ground floor of the observatory was refurbished and there was also painting the ground floor walls as a refresh as was done with the first floor last year.