Getting things done – Ancrum Drive lock-ups #dundeewestend

Last year, at my request, Hillcrest Enterprises as factors undertook a clean-up, graffiti removal, weeds removal and guttering works at lock-ups in Ancrum Drive.
 
I have also asked Hillcrest if it will consider improving the road surface around the lock-ups as it is very potholed and muddy.
 
Hillcrest’s Housing Manager (Operations) has postively responded as follows :
 
“I’m aware the surface at the lock ups is not ideal and this is clearly backed up by the photo you have supplied.    … The cost of tarmac would be prohibitive but we can of course look at some practical repairs and maintenance.
 
I will ask my Maintenance colleagues to gather quotations with a view to having some improvements carried out after the worst of the frosty weather is behind us, perhaps around March. 
 
I will contact you again to outline the work we propose to undertake and give a clearer timeframe in due course.”

Getting things done – Ancrum Drive #dundeewestend

I recently received concerns from residents about the state of the area around the lock-ups in Ancrum Drive.
 
These are managed by Hillcrest Housing Association and, having contacted the association, I have been advised that it has agreed to :
 
• Strim back overgrown weeds around the site
• Remove graffiti from two garage doors
• Attend to leaking downpipe and clean out gutters 

Residents’ meeting – Ancrum Drive

Part of Ancrum Drive
Last night, I had the pleasure of chairing a well-attended meeting with the residents of Ancrum Drive – over 20 folk attended on a lovely summer’s evening.
 
I am most grateful to Sharon Bain of Solar Cities Scotland who spoke with residents about home insulation options and PC McKay, who contributed to a discussion we had with residents about the on-going parking issues in the street.
 
We also spoke about speed limits and bin collection matters.

Road safety concerns – Ancrum Drive at Tullideph Road

Following residents raising concerns visibility exiting Ancrum Drive at the junction with Tullideph Road, I raised the matter with the City Council and have received the following feedback from the Team Leader in the Network Management Team :

I have carried out an initial inspection of this location and from my initial observations there are no sight line concerns exiting Ancrum Drive on to Tullideph Road. 

When exiting there is a bus stop to the north of the junction which will make reduce visibility whist the bus is stopped for a short period for pick up and drop off of passengers. Vehicles would have to pull in behind the bus until it pulls away. 

To the south of the junction there are mature trees in the footway which may affect visibility but I will consult with our Environment Department to clarify if there would be a tree preservation order for these trees. 

I have consulted with our Road Safety Team and there are no records of any safety issues for this junction. 

I will arrange for a more detailed site inspection … for this junction.

Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing

Towards the end of 2013,  I expressed concern about the Housing Department’s decision to decommission two sheltered properties at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing without advising the sheltered tenants or local councillors.   Amenity Housing is being considered for a relatively small number of sheltered housing properties that the Housing Department is finding hard to let and is offered (without warden services) to persons over the age of 50.
 
Following a meeting I organised with the tenants at Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place that senior housing department also attended, there was a view from tenants that there is a need to exhaust all possibilities to get new sheltered tenants before any conversion to amenity housing.   These included clarity on the right of existing sheltered tenants aged under 75 to their sheltered TV licence, the position regarding council house sales and amenity housing and the possible viability of providing external lifts to the first floor properties at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing to make the upstairs flats more accessible [and therefore attractive] to sheltered tenants.
 
On the lifts proposal, the Housing Department has now advised me of the estimated costs the council’s architects have come up with:
Cost per block
 
1. Builder work to form shafts £ 9,900
2. Steelwork, lintels, render etc £ 5,200
3. Roof £ 4,000
4. Lift Car £30,000
5. Power etc £ 4,000
6. Prelims £ 8,000
7. Contingencies (10% as @ budget stage) £ 6,000
sub-total £67,100
8. Fees @8.5% £5,700 
 
Total £72,800
In response, I expressed astonishment at the cost and received the following feedback from the Housing Department:

The costs provided by City Architects are based on tender rates for similar works for recently competitively tendered projects.

These are substantial works including the need for 6.5m high rendered blockwork lift shaft, foundations and pit for the lift motor, the new lift shaft would have a mono pitch timber and single ply membrane roof. Allowances must be made for integration with the existing stairwell and the existing access deck at first floor level. Alterations to the existing access deck would also be required. 

Within the cost there is an allowance for a new three phase electrical supply required to power the lift, also links to telephone line and fire detection.  An allowance has been made for contractors preliminaries i.e. site set up and ongoing site running costs based on current pricing.   An allowance has also been made for contingencies to cover unforeseen costs which is standard estimating procedure. Design fees etc must also be included.

In addition to the installation costs there would be significant ongoing running costs associated with lifts including health and safety monthly maintenance visits, emergency call out response and reactive maintenance. 

There is no capital or revenue budget provision for such works. These are significant costs. Given that there is an overall surplus of sheltered accommodation within the City, from which the needs of those requiring sheltered housing can be met, it seems it would be difficult to justify such expenditure.

I have replied to the Housing Department stating that over £70k per block appears ridiculously high and the council should be seeking alternative quotes from the private sector.   The department has now agreed to do this and I will keep the tenants of Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace sheltered housing updated as I hear further from the department when alternative quotations are received.

Getting things done … Road to lock-ups off Ancrum Drive

Ancrum Drive
Residents have pointed out to me that the private stretch of roadway up to the lock-ups off Ancrum Drive is very badly deteriorated.
 
I asked the factors on behalf of owners Northern Housing Association if the worst of the potholes can be filled.
 
The factor’s representative has responded positively as follows:
 
“I am trying to have works authorised and carried out.
 
Once I know what action we are to take I will let you know.
 
My thoughts are to fill pot holes, level out the area to stop the rain water running down into the garages.”

Parking issues across the West End

This morning, along with two of my ward colleagues and City Council officers, we had a useful discussion at Dundee House about the parking problems residents in the Ancrum Drive experience.    Having already held a number of meetings with the residents of the street and organised a walkabout with residents and Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, around the area, it is clear that there is a real issue to be tackled.    

 
I made a number of suggestions this morning about possible additional parking off-street and involving the local residents group Community Spirit Action Group in terms of moving things forward.   City Council engineers will also undertake some survey work.
 
Also today, Dundee City Council finally got round to launching the consultation on a possible residents’ parking scheme for part of the West End – primarily the area round the Perth Road shopping area (and slightly wider) and as far north as around Blackness Road.     The plan below indicates the area covered by the consultation.   You can download a higher-quality PDF of that plan here.
 
Improving residents’ parking is an issue I have campaigned for for many years.   As the Planning & Transport Convener in the previous council administration, moving on from a report by Buchanan transport consultants in 2008, it was my intention and that of the previous administration to move swiftly to consult with residents on detailed proposals to improve parking in West End given that the Buchanan report indicated there was real difficulty for residents getting parked and possible support for some form of parking scheme.
 
The current administration that took over in early 2009 has moved with all the pace of a snail on taking the matter forward but – more than three years late – at last there will be a public consultation on proposals about the parking issue.
 
I would urge residents to take part in the parking public consultation.    There is no magic simple solution that will resolve the parking problems many in the West End face but getting the views of all local residents and businesses will be vital in terms of bringing forward solutions that the community feel will be of benefit.   A key issue will be cost – I cannot see West End residents accepting an £80 annual charge when Menzieshill residents are charged only £5 a year – clearly equality in parking charges across the city is required.
 
The information given to councillors today about the consultation had some confusion in e-mail return addresses (2 different ones – westendresidentsparking@dundeecity.gov.uk but also westendresidentparking@dundeecity.gov.ukand a web link error on the questionnaire that is going to residents and I requested to the City Development Department that these be urgently resolved.
 
I have been advised by the City Council:
 
“IT have confirmed that both email addresses are live and can be used for this consultation exercise.
With regards to the link at the bottom of the questionnaire, we have arranged that the press release that is going out will include a note that this link is incorrect and that all residents/consultees will be directed to the main DCC web address where the consultation is on the front page.”



You can read more about what is being proposed at 

Tuesday in the West End …

Yesterday, in addition to visits to constituents, I took part in a walkabout round the Logie Estate with council officers from various departments and a ward colleague to look at issues in the area.   An example is damaged fencing (see right).    It was good to welcome the Director of Housing to the walkabout on this occasion.
 
Thereafter, I enjoyed a very well-attended general meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents’ Association at which we discussed numerous local issues including parking, noise and the Association’s forthcoming Christmas Coffee Morning, taking place on Saturday 24th November, as part of the West End Christmas Fortnight activities.
 
I also attended a committee meeting of the Jericho House Support Group and am pleased that Jericho House will be taking part in our Christmas Fortnight Community Fayre Launch on Saturday 17th November.   Over 20 community groups, charities and other organisations are taking part in the Community Fayre at Dundee West Church (10am to 12 noon) and it will feature other activities including face painting for the children.
 
Later on, I had a very useful site visit in Ancrum Drive to look further at possible parking improvements there and in the evening I attended the Blackness Primary School Parent Council meeting.    At the Parent Council, there was a very interesting update from Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, on school building improvements that have recently taken place and a number of school initiatives planned for the new term, including science workshops and co-operative learning for staff.   There’s also a new P5-P7 athletics club which is a really good new initiative for Blackness Primary School.

Getting things done … Ancrum Drive and Pentland

Yesterday, I also took part in a site visit I had organised with Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, to the Pentland and Ancrum Drive areas.
 
Two representatives from Sustrans, along with a good-sized group of local residents, representatives from Community Spirit Action Group and myself met up to look at possible ways of tackling some of the issues in Ancrum Drive and Pentland – road safety, parking, traffic calming, etc.
 
Sustrans in Scotland has done some really good work as pilot projects on this type of issue in both Kirkcaldy and Elgin, so their input and advice is really helpful in terms of tackling residents’ concerns about parking and traffic/safety issues in Ancrum Drive and the Pentland area.     I’m most grateful to the Sustrans representatives for attending yesterday and to the many residents who came along and gave their views.

Recent meetings …

On Wednesday, I had a very useful meeting with the City Council’s Head of Planning, the council’s Conservation Officer and a senior Buildings Standards Surveyor about my concerns regarding the state of the Queen Victoria Works site and we also had a detailed discussion regarding derelict or dilapidated buildings in other parts of the West End and across the city and how the City Council will seek to attempt to work with owners to bring these back into productive use.

In a positive sense, the officers confirmed a willingness to open a dialogue with the owners of Queen Victoria Works about the site’s future.   Clearly the economic downturn after 2008 has made the sale and development of the site more difficult, particularly given the particularly challenging situation for the construction industry, but City Council officers are willing to proactively engage in discussions with the owner over site options and one possible way of assisting is through the development of a Site Planning Brief for the works – this has been a way of encouraging development and future planning applications at other challenging sites across the city.

On the wider issue of derelict and dilapidated buildings in other parts of the West End and across Dundee as a whole, the City Council’s Chief Executive has agreed to my request to re-establish a Derelict Land Working Group to identify such properties and look at ways of bringing specific sites back into use and having them improved.

Also on Wednesday, I had a very useful meeting with two senior members of the Education Department about the new staffing structure within the department.

Last night, along with our local police sergeant, I met with residents from Ancrum Drive at the Ancrum Outdoor Education Centre in Ancrum Road, to discuss progress with parking and related issues in the street.

It was a very positive and productive evening and I am grateful for the Tayside Police input into the meeting. Next month, a representative of the leading transport charity SUSTRANS has kindly agreed at my request to visit Dundee to look at traffic-related issues in particular parts of the West End where there are issues – such as Ancrum Drive and also in the Pentland estate.   SUSTRANS has undertaken an excellent safer streets project in part of Kirkcaldy and the lessons from that project will assist in terms of trying to improve the traffic and parking issues in streets like Ancrum Drive.

More West End Celebrations!

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending another West End Diamond Jubilee Party – this time at the Pennycook Lane Sheltered Housing Complex off Perth Road and involving the sheltered tenants at both Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court.

It was a lovely, friendly and enjoyable afternoon – here’s a few photos:
And – later on – I attended the superb Community BBQ at the Friary on Tullideph Road, organised by City Church.   Well over 600 local folk attended and a great time was had by all – again a few photos:
This evening, I had a really useful meeting with many of the residents of Ancrum Drive to discuss the parking issues in the street.   The meeting should have been in Ancrum Road Primary School, but the council failed to open up (despite a permit they had given me!) so we were all a wee bit cold by 7.30pm, standing talking in Gibb’s Lane.  But – the positive aspect is that we had a good discussion and I am really grateful to residents for their ideas and input to improve the parking situation for residents in the area.

Community Spirit Action Group meeting

This evening, I attended the March meeting of Community Spirit – the community group for the “north” part of West End Ward, covering Tullideph, Ancrum, Pentland and the Cleghorn area.
There was a presentation from Grant Simmons, Manager of the Dundee Food Train.     Grant gave an update on progress with the Dundee Food Train since its recent launch.   Providing an excellent shopping service for elderly people in Dundee, there are now over 40 users of the service and 35 volunteers.    If you feel the service could benefit you or you would like to volunteer, here’s the contact details:


Phone:  459202

Address:  Office D, Market Mews, Market Street Dundee DD1 3LA

After Grant’s presentation, we discussed local issues and I was able to update the meeting about the site visit the Community Spirit Secretary and I had on Monday in Ancrum Drive, with a representative of Hillcrest Housing Association, that should hopefully see some additional car parking bays becoming available for local residents.   Parking is a real problem in the street and some more parking will clearly help.

Ancrum Drive site meeting

Me at Ancrum Drive parking
At lunchtime today, along with almost 30 residents of Ancrum Drive, the secretary of the Community Spirit Action Group and a City Council Road Safety Officer, we had an excellent on-site discussion about the parking, road safety and related issues in Ancrum Drive.

Numerous aspects were discussed that will be taken forward by the City Council.   I would like to thank all Ancrum Drive residents for their very productive input today – and to those residents who could not attend today but who have phoned or e-mailed me with helpful views.

Community Spirit Action Group

This evening, I attended the monthly  Community Spirit Action Group meeting, the residents’ group covering Cleghorn, Ancrum, Polepark, Pentland, Tullideph and surrounding areas. 

Although there was no speaker tonight due to the advertised speaker taking ill, we had a good discussion on various issues, including parking problems, bus services and grass maintenance.

I have arranged a site visit with a council roads safety officer and local residents for later this month to discuss parking and road safety issues in Ancrum Drive.

Ancrum Drive – parking problems and road safety

Over the past few months, I have received concerns from residents in Ancrum Drive about parking problems and road safety issues.    The fact that the new 204 bus service will run along Ancrum Drive from next month could simply exacerbate the concerns.

The matter has been discussed at the Community Spirit Action Group and, at the last meeting, we agreed that I should ask a road safety officer to meet with us in the street in the near future to discuss the issues and possible solutions.

As always, I would welcome views and comments from local residents – ancrum@frasermacpherson.org.uk

Last couple of days …

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the attending the official opening of the Dundee Carers Centre new offices in Argyll House, West Marketgait.  

Later, after a meeting with the Communities Officer for the West End on the new West End Local Community Plan 2012-14, I attended the latest Community Spirit Action Group meeting, the residents’ group covering Cleghorn, Ancrum, Polepark, Pentland, Tullideph and surrounding areas. 

There was an excellent presentation from Ian Treanor of the Dundee Energy Efficiency Advice Project.   Ian’s presentation covered insulation, income maximisation and the price of fuel/fuel social tariffs.

We also discussed numerous local issues including road safety on Ancrum Drive, an issue I have raised with the City Council.

Today, I was interviewed on STV news, in support of a very worthwhile project by the West End Boys’ Amateur Boxing Club that will see a boxing statue commemorating the legacy of Dick McTaggart on Dundee Law.

This evening, after my weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School, I attended the AGM of Dundee West Transition Town Group, now to be known as Dundee Transition Town.  There was a really useful discussion about the structure of the group moving forward, urban food production and other matters.

Thursday …

After a visit to Ancrum Drive to discuss impending works that the City Council will undertake to ensure the flooding problem from Lochee Park into residents’ gardens is tackled, I attended a very interesting briefing on the private sector house condition survey in Dundee, undertaken by David Adamson and Partners.

This contained very interesting information about the city’s private sector housing stock – owner occupied, former local authority sold housing and private rented housing.  Of concern is the extent of investment needed to bring those houses requiring repair up to an acceptable standard (£24.82 million to achieve tolerable standard/visible repairs up to £76.02 million for comprehensive repairs) and environmental concerns – graffiti/vandalism/parking issues/rubbish etc – a concern for some residents in the West End and in other wards, according to the survey.

Later today, I had a very useful meeting with the Head of Secondary Education about the City Campus proposal and progress with Curriculum for Excellence.   Thereafter, I held my weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School.

Ancrum Drive

The issue of road safety and the congested nature of Ancrum Drive given the extent of parking has been of concern to residents and residents have made a number of suggestions such a provision of off street parking or one way driving in the street as possible improvements. I asked for the City Council road safety officer’s input and he has responded as follows :

“The road is approximately 6.5 m wide and the resident parking demand is high.

 
You are correct with regard to the disadvantages of one-way. The slow bend restricts forward visiblity but removing the risk of meeting on-coming traffic would certainly increase traffic speeds in relation to the restricted visibility – with dangerous consequences.
 

I have checked the accident database to assess present road safety issues. During the period from 1st January 2006 to 31st July 2009 there has been one damage only accident. There is no evidence of safety issues with the present traffic management.

 

Recessed on-street parking would greatly improve the through traffic movement but provision of this would be low priority within the current financial climate.”

 

I have sent the feedback to the Chair and Secretary of the Community Spirit group, the residents’ group for the Ancrum, Pentland and Cleghorn areas, and the matter will no doubt be discussed further at future meetings.