Getting things done – Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing

I had a meeting with residents of the Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing just before Christmas at which residents asked when the external stairwells would be repainted as part of external cyclical maintenance (ECM) works.    Tenants also asked about possible insulation improvements.
The council’s Housing Investment Manager has since updated me as follows :

We are planning to commence ECM works at Ancrum / Morven at the tail end of the 17/18 Financial year and I would confirm this will include a repaint to the stairwells and landings. Unfortunately this development is of a traditional build so is not a priority for External Insulation as it will have received cavity insulation in the past.

I have since been in correspondence with him regarding the properties’ Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing ratings to ensure all properties meet current standards.    
All properties meet minimum standards apart from two properties where old electric heating has since been improved with the provision of new gas central heating.  I am particularly concerned to ensure end terraced properties have efficient insulation as a number of tenants here have highlighted end terraced properties appear to be less warm.

Ancrum Place/Morven Terrace sheltered housing – stairwells repainting

A number of the sheltered tenants at the Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing (see right) have mentioned to me that the external stairwells are badly needing painted.
I asked the Housing Department when the external cyclical maintenance programme that covers such repainting will next take place.
I am pleased to advise that I have now been informed that :
“Please be advised that the sheltered housing at Morven Place/Ancrum Place will be included in the 2016/2017 ECM Programme.” 

Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing meeting

Yesterday, I had an excellent and enjoyable meeting with the tenants of the Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace Sheltered Housing.   
I am very grateful to the three council officers who attended to update the attendees about the current housing rents consultation and on the consultation on 20mph speed limits in residential areas.
There was a lively question and answer session and a number of other local issues were discussed and I am following up any problems raised that need attention.

New Post Box promised for sheltered tenants

Following my request to Royal Mail for an additional post box near to the Morven Terrace/Tullideph Road junction to benefit the elderly sheltered tenants of Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place, Royal Mail has confirmed that this will be provided.
The Deputy Head of External Relations at Royal Mail Group has advised me :
“I have raised your enquiry (on behalf of your constituents at Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing) about additional posting box facilities in the Dundee  area with our postbox strategy team. 
I am pleased to advise that after having taken into account all relevant factors, including the number of posting boxes in the area at the moment and the balance of economy against service provision, that we have decided to start the process to install the additional box requested.
As you might imagine with an installation of this type, there are several stages we need to go through before the box can be set up and this may take a little time. However, we’ll do all we can to ensure the process is completed as quickly as possible.”
Currently the nearest post box for residents in in City Road at Saggar Street and the tenants at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing asked if it might be possible to get Royal Mail to provide a new box closer to the sheltered housing.   
I am therefore pleased at the positive response to my request from Royal Mail.

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!

Meetings at Tullideph and Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounges

Following on from Monday’s meeting with the tenants in the Corso Street/Abbotsford Street/Abbotsford Place area to discuss rent options for 2015/16, yesterday I had the pleasure of chairing meetings at the Tullideph and Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounges at which two members of staff from the Housing Department discussed with tenants the rent options for 2015/16.
We had very useful discussions on the rents issue, the sheltered housing charge and service and also other matters such as bin collections, grass maintenance and house energy efficiency/insulation.

Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge improvement

An improvement at the Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge (that serves the sheltered tenants in Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace) was amongst a number of upgrades that were approved at Housing Committee on 13th January 2014.
The work that is being carried out at Morven Terrace Sheltered Lounge involves an upgrade to the toilets, making them fully accessible to those with disabilities.
Work at the sheltered lounge at Morven Terrace started on Tuesday 25th February and is due to complete week ending Friday 21st March.    The lounge remains open during the works as only one WC is affected.

Amenity housing issues

Last Friday, along with other Dundee City Councillors, I took part in a briefing on the subject of amenity housing, organised by the council’s Housing Department.    Amenity Housing is being considered for a relatively small number of sheltered housing that the department is finding hard to let and is offered (without warden services) to persons over the age of 50.
This proved to be a useful briefing and exchange of views.    Last month, I expressed concerns about the decision to decommission two sheltered properties at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing without advising the sheltered tenants or local councillors.   Following a meeting I organised with the tenants at which senior housing department attended, I have sought reassurances on behalf of tenants about the situation.
These concern the need to exhaust all possibilities to get new sheltered tenants before any conversion to amenity housing, clarity on the right of existing sheltered tenants aged under 75 to their sheltered TV licence, the position re 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.
I have now written to all tenants at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing updating them on these issues.
It is vitally important that sheltered tenants are reassured on this matter and that any questions or concerns they have are addressed.   I am pleased that the housing department has held a briefing for councillors across the city as it allowed for all the issues and questions we have to be discussed.

Last couple of days …

Yesterday, after my two Monday weekly ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and the West Park Centre, I attended City Council committee meetings.
At Policy and Resources Committee, I again raised concerns about the extent of Fire and Rescue service resource being drained by unwanted fire signal calls from non-domestic properties.    I was pleased that the Fire and Rescue Service is working on an action plan to hopefully address this.
I also commented, in a debate over the unfortunate reduction and removal of police counter services at several police stations in the city that the ability of councillors to influence this matter locally was removed by those who supported the removal of local police forces like Tayside Police that had locally accountable police boards to ensure the needs of citizens locally were paramount.    I warned back in 2011 that the centralisation of police services into a single police force would have detrimental effects and the loss of local police counter services now highlights this.
This morning, I had a meeting with the Director of Housing and senior housing staff regarding my concerns and those of the sheltered tenants at Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place about the Housing Department’s decision to ‘decommission’ two sheltered properties and turn them into “amenity housing” (non sheltered housing for the over 50s).   
I highlighted the tenants’ concerns and the lack of consultation over this at Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place and, this afternoon, at a packed meeting of tenants I organised, the City Housing Manager and the Team Leader in house letting met with myself and the tenants to discuss all the concerns, give the tenants assurances and ensure the Housing Department responds to tenant concerns.
This evening, I attended a lengthy and positive meeting of Harris Academy Parent Council.   Mr Thewliss, Head Teacher, gave a detailed report on the very encouraging 2013 examination results, a discussion on the school’s website, and I updated the Parent Council regarding school crossing patroller provision.

Improved pavement at Ancrum Place

Earlier this year, I advised that I was pleased to have been informed that the pavements of Ancrum Place were to be brought up to good standard and adopted by the City Council this financial year.
I am pleased that this work has now been carried out – see right – and residents have told me how pleased they are with the finished result.
Back in 2007, I insisted that the City Council increase its funding on unadopted pavements two and a half fold to £500 000 a year.   This was agreed and is making a real difference to poorly conditioned pavements in the West End.

Proposed West End pavement improvements in coming year

I have welcomed news that, as part of the Unadopted Footways Upgrade Programme, a number of streets in the West End area will be brought up to good standard and adopted by the City Council over the next year.
These include Arnhall Drive, Ancrum Place, Grosvenor Road and Magdalen Place and one new upgraded pavement will also be provided for Whitefauld Road and Middlebank Crescent.   
These improvements are to be welcomed and will see more of the very poor pavements in the West End finally brought up to standard.   Back in 2007, I asked the council to improve funding to tackle this problem of really poor unadopted pavements and this was agreed – an increase from £200 000 per annum to £500 000 per annum.   This has made a huge difference in terms of tackling the issue.
However, there are a number of important omissions in the West End in the 2013/14 list and I have queried this with the City Engineer.

Tuesday in the West End …

I had a very busy Tuesday with West End Ward activities yesterday including :

* A meeting with the sheltered tenants in Tullideph at the sheltered lounge in Tullideph Place, where we discussed a number of local issues, including the punctuality of local bus services.

* Attending the latest meeting of the Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court Residents’ Association, at which one of the local community policemen for the area also attended and we discussed local issues around the sheltered housing area.

* I thereafter attended the latest meeting of the Jericho House Support Group at the base in Artillery Lane.   I have recently been assisting the group, who assist men with alcohol-related problems, over funding and benefits related issues and, after discussion yesterday, will be discussing these further with the Social Work and Finance Departments of Dundee City Council.   The staff and service users at Jericho House recently took part in the large West End litter and graffiti clean-up I assisted with the organisation of, and we were most grateful for their help.

* I also held a meeting with the sheltered tenants at the Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace and we had a good discussion about many local issues including lighting in the sheltered housing complex and overgrown trees.   As with all the other meetings I attended yesterday, I am taking forward all issues raised by residents with the appropriate organisation or council department.

* Last night, I attended the final meeting of West End Community Council of its present session, before its summer break.   There was a detailed and highly informative presentation by the Dundee Airport Manager as well as an update on local policing matters by the community police officer covering the western part of the West End ward.   I was able to update the Community Council about a road safety matter at Sinderins and on local litter issues and forthcoming events as part of WestFest were also mentioned.    The Community Council next meets after its summer break on the second Tuesday of September.

Getting things done … Morven Terrace

At my meeting with the sheltered tenants at the Ancrum Place and and Morven Terrace last month, residents raised the poor condition of the pavement in Morven Terrace near to the Tullideph Road junction.

Yesterday, I had a site visit with the roads inspector for the area, who has kindly agreed to my request for footpath repairs – see right.

I am very pleased at this as the pavement is currently in a poor state.

Friendly Bus Sheltered Shopping Service – new timetable

The Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service is a great – and free – service for elderly folk to get to local supermarkets, have a good period of time for shopping, and get the bus back home.

Having campaigned for the inclusion of Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing and Richmond Court to be included in the service, I was delighted that they were added to the timetable last year.

There are new timetables in operation from week commencing 5th March – Tuesday remains the day that the West End is served.   You can download the new timetable by going to

Getting things done … Morven Terrace

At the recent sheltered housing tenants’ meeting I held with the residents at Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace, the residents raised their concerns that the “SLOW” markings on the roadway in Morven Terrace, coming in from Tullideph Road were badly worn.

I contacted the City Council’s Head of Transportation regarding this, pointing out that the SLOW markings are important in an area where there are many elderly pedestrians, and he agreed that the markings should be repainted.

I am pleased that this has been done very promptly – see above right.

Tuesday in the West End …

This morning, I had a very productive meeting with the Tullideph sheltered housing tenants at the sheltered lounge (see right).   We discussed numerous local issues included safety on the pathway from Logie Street to Tullideph Street/Tullideph Place, local bus services and graffiti.

This afternoon, I had a similar and equally useful meeting with the sheltered tenants of Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace.    Issues discussed included pavement repairs that are needed, grass/flower bed maintenance in the area and kitchen/bathroom upgrades.

I have raised all issues mentioned with appropriate council officers.

After a meeting with constituents at teatime, I attended tonight’s West End Community Council meeting, at which there was an interesting presentation from Craig Bartholomew of ADAPT, Dundee CAB‘s money advice service, that is doing great work in helping local people deal with debt and financial hardship.   At the Community Council, there was also discussion on numerous local issues such as graffiti and the state of local roundabouts.   Tayside Police representatives also gave an update on local policing issues.

Wednesday meetings …

Dundee Remploy factory
Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of visiting the Dundee Remploy factory, to meet the Operations Manager and the GMB Shop Steward.

Dundee’s Remploy factory provides employment for 43 local people, most with disabilities.   They produce high quality materials, mainly for the Ministry of Defence and also for police, fire services, the Home Office, and others.

There is much concern over the future of Remploy, following the Sayce Report, on which a consultation exercise has recently ended.

I had a tour of the Dundee Remploy factory yesterday.    Most of the staff have given many years of loyal service to the company and produce goods of the highest precision and quality.    Dundee’s Remploy factory must be supported.   

What is clear speaking with the local management is that if Remploy Dundee is to survive and prosper, it must now look to bid for work in the local procurement market.   To that end, I have contacted economic development staff at the City Council to ask that all support – from the City Council, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise – is given.   I am most impressed that the City Council’s Head of Economic Development has already been in touch with the Operations Manager at Remploy Dundee to offer advice and support, following my e-mail to him requesting support.

Later yesterday, I had a site meeting with the local Housing Officer to look at guttering repairs needed at the Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace sheltered housing and thereafter had a very productive meeting at the Lochee Police Station on West End policing issues.

Busy Tuesday …

Sinderins Court
In addition to a number of visits to constituents earlier today, I have :

* Attended an open meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents’ Association, where I discussed a number of local matters at a good gathering of the sheltered tenants.   These included an update on progress with the Pennycook Lane seating and planting project, bin collection issues, noise concerns and the damaged (missing) bus stop on Perth Road near Step Row (I have reported this to the City Council).

* Taken part in the latest Jericho House Support Group meeting at which good progress on the dance event and the play planned by Jericho House was discussed – both will run during West End Christmas Week.   We also had a useful update on Jericho House’s work in the local community.

* Chaired a well-attended meeting of tenants from the Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing, at which a member of the City Council’s Environment Department was present to discuss grass maintenance and related issues (and we had a useful walkabout round the grass areas after the meeting to look at maintenance issues).   At the meeting, we also discussed a number of other local concerns – fencing, guttering repairs, heating/bathroom/kitchen replacements and overgrown hedging to name a few.

* … and this evening I chaired the latest West End Christmas Week committee meeting.    Good progress is being made on the 2011 planned celebrations that run from 26th November to 3rd December.

Changes to the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service

From Monday 15th August, there will be changes to the Friendly Bus – the shopping service for sheltered housing residents.

The service will still run on a Tuesday in the West End (and on other days in other parts of the city) but the good news is that at last Richmond Terrace/RichmondCourt finally has some bus provision – this will be a boon to several elderly residents there – and the Ancrum Place/Morven Terrace sheltered housing will now also be covered by the Friendly Bus.    

I have a meeting with the tenants at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing area on Monday and it will be a good opportunity to update residents about the service – whilst discussing a number of other issues of concern to the tenants – fencing and maintenance of the grass areas in the estate being amongst them.

You can download a copy of new Friendly Bus timetable for the West End by going to

Ancrum Place – good news!

Earlier this month, I highlighted residents’ concerns about the state of the car park and roadway owned by the Housing Department at the end of Ancrum Place, behind the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing. The issue was also highlighted in the Evening Telegraph.

I am pleased to report good news I received today from the City Council’s Housing Strategy Manager :

“Dear Cllr Macpherson

I refer to your previous correspondence on the poor state of the car park at Ancrum Place.

In order to address the problems residents are facing here a contribution from the risk management fund has been made to enable Housing to carry out repairs to the car park.

These repairs will now be instructed via City Engineers. I will keep you updated on the timescale for completion of the repairs.”

As the car park and road area is in very poor condition, I have been concerned about this, particularly as it is used by elderly people who live in the nearby sheltered housing.   I am therefore very pleased that the Housing Department has responded positively to the request that the car park area be improved.

Ancrum Place – dire roadway and car park

Residents from the Ancrum Place/Morven Terrace sheltered housing last week highlighted in the Evening Telegraph the absolutely shocking state of the road and car park to the rear of the complex – at the back of Ancrum Place. I completely share their concerns.

As reported in Friday’s Tele, following residents’ complaints to me about the state of the car park and road, I contacted the Area Housing Manager in June 2009 about it (the Housing Department own the ground). He advised that costings had been requested for repair. Fourteen months later and we appear to be no further forward.

I have now received this e-mail from a senior member of Housing Management :

“… the land is held on the HRA since it is unadopted. The Department owns considerable areas of such unadopted land. There are no resources identified for the maintenance of such areas.
Funding within the HRA is extremely pressured with around £130M required to 2015 to meet SHQS standards on the housing stock alone. Meeting SHQS by 2015 is a legal requirement and so we must concentrate resources accordingly.

Given the state of these areas I have contacted the Council’s risk management department for funding but have been unable to secure any such funding.

… the Council is looking corporately at how best to deal with addressing these issues more effectively going forward.”

I have responded to him as follows :

“Thank you for this. Of course I appreciate the pressures on the HRA but can I remind you that on 23rd June 2009 I was advised :

“costings have been requested for these works meantime”

and I hadn’t heard anything further whatsoever since.

Were these costings obtained and what were they?

Also can you advise what is actually being done “corporately” to find a solution and the timescale for feedback on any possible results of this?    Thanks.”

I am meeting the officer concerned and the Director of Housing about another matter this week and will be discussing the matter further with them then. The bottom line for me is that it is not acceptable that this area is left in this extremely poor state.

Housing concern

Although in Stirling for most of today with the ‘day job’, I was in contact with the Housing Department regarding my concern about the continual breakdown of Mr John Melville’s heating system.

Mr Melville, who lives in Ancrum Place in the West End Ward, has suffered continual heating breakdowns since December 2007 and both today’s Courier and Evening Telegraph covered the issue. You can read the Tele article by going to

As I said to the Tele :

“I was most concerned to hear of Mr Melville’s situation.

“I will be making enquiries to the housing department as a matter of urgency to find out exactly what has gone wrong on this occasion and to ensure that whatever problems are pinpointed are fixed permanently.

“For a pensioner to suffer without heating in the winter is totally unacceptable.”

I received the following feedback from the Housing Department this afternoon by e-mail :

Central Heating Defects

Arising from the press article contained in today’s Courier this report outlines the background and the current action being taken to deal with the defective heating system.

A new central heating system was installed in Mr Melville’s home in June 2007. Initially the heating system was working satisfactorily.

Between December 2007 and March 2008 Mr Melville experienced difficulties with the system, there were 6 reports of either no heating or no heating/hot water. In each instance repairs were completed as necessary.

In September 2008 Mr Melville began again to report difficulties with the system and over September to December 2008 there were 7 reports of no heating or no heating/hot water and 1 report of a leak. Again repairs were completed as necessary, including an investigation of the central heating radiator pipework for leaks.

However, due to the difficulties being experienced with the system and the frequency of these the problem was referred to the boiler manufacturer Ferroli in December 2008. Apparently there were problems in Ferroli making access arrangements which has delayed an inspection report on the boiler and effective remedial action being implemented. This has led to Mr Melville continuing to report another 3 instances of no heating/hot water in January 2009.

In view of the persistent problems Mr Melville has experienced with the heating system and the inconvenience he has suffered a new boiler will be installed immediately and Mr Melville has been offered alternative accomodation until Monday 26th January whilst the new system is being fitted. In addition Mr Melville will be compensated for any additional heating costs as a result of having to use electric heaters.

We will continue to pursue the problems with the boiler manufacturer Ferroli.

Elaine Zwirlein
Director of Housing

Whilst I am relieved at the action now finally being taken to get Mr Melville a new boiler, alternative accommodation whilst it is fitted and compensation, I am very concerned that the matter has dragged on for such a prolonged period. It is of the greatest concern that an elderly person has been left without adequate heating.

I have immediately responded to the Director of Housing stating given that her own report states there were some 13 reports of either no heating or no heating/hot water from December 2007 to December 2008, I am very surprised that it took a year to refer the matter to the boiler manufacturer Ferroli and would like an explanation as to why this was the case.

It is not only very important that Mr Melville’s heating is resolved fully very urgently but that the City Council ensures that no other elderly tenant is ever in this situation of prolonged heating breakdowns.

As the City Council’s Administration Group met tonight, I took the opportunity to speak with both the Housing Convener and the Director of Housing about the issue and seek assurances that a repetition of this cannot occur.