Getting things done – Balgay Hill #dundeewestend

In the past few months, many residents have expressed concern to me about unofficial bike trails that have been created on Balgay Hill.

Leaving aside their unauthorised nature and damage to the hill, the other concern is the health and safety of mountain bikers using these.

I have raised this with the council’s environment team who are tackling the issue and have recently placed some sensible signage about these and suggesting better and safer places where mountain bike skills can be practiced.

Balgay Hill road safety – an update #dundeewestend

Residents will recall that I recently had a meeting with a senior member of environment management at the City Council and with two Balgay Park regular users about safety concerns about the speed of some vehicles using the road up to the observatory.
I have now received feedback on actions council management has taken thus far following this meeting :
“Cleaning and signage,
The roads have been mechanically swept and the speed limit is clear to see from road markings and vertical signage. However to compliment this I still intend to add new signage at the entrance providing awareness and educational message. 
Following discussion with Leisure and Culture Dundee (LACD),  I also confirm that we plan to work together to improve directional signage leading to the observatory.
Barrier security, 
Due to operational requirements LACD employees open the barriers when they arrive for duty which is in advance of the public opening times as they have other duties to fulfil in the observatory, unfortunately it is not practical for members of staff to open and secure/close barrier as they come in and then have to come back to re open the barrier for the public opening times. Following discussion with my colleague at LACD I am in agreement that this most practical option available and I am happy to confirm most recent opening timings once received.
Speed bumps, 
Our officers have met with City Development engineers to gain advise on the type, placement and costs for the potential installation of speed bumps and await a response.  
Blocked areas, 
Upon inspection 2 locations which should have rock armour in place and had been moved for operation work requirements, these shall be replaced to ensure the area is blocked off to vehicles.  
Speeding/driver behaviour,
Information received regarding the vehicle speeding etc was passed to our LACD colleagues and understand this has been addressed.
I hope you find this information helpful and will come back to you once I have more information relating to the speed bumps.”
I have fed back some very useful feedback from park users to this response and welcome further feedback.   It is important that the safety issues are comprehensively tackled.

Getting things done – Greater Balgay #dundeewestend

I have had numerous concerns recently about the frequency of grass cutting and maintenance in Balgay Park, Victoria Park and Lochee Park and also the need to attend to overgrown bushes at the Victoria Park boundary with Jedburgh Road.
I took this up with the council’s Service Manager – Environment and he has now responded as follows :
“I can confirm that the grass at Victoria Park has now been cut. 
In terms of Lochee Park, to ensure the pitches are kept in a suitable standard for football we always endeavour to cut these weekly, the remainder of the park is cut on a fortnightly basis hence the grass is a bit longer in the non football areas cut rather than being of excessive length.
The hedge in Jedburgh Road is cut annually and is scheduled to commence at the start of next month.”

Friends of Balgay Autumn Meeting & AGM

The presentation at the Friends’ AGM yesterday
I was delighted to attend the Friends of Balgay Autumn Meeting & AGM yesterday afternoon at the Mills Observatory.
Liz Houghton from the Scottish Wildlife Trust gave a fascinating talk about urban wildlife, complete with a superb photographic presentation.
Its always a good sign when the turnout requires extra chairs to be found for all the attendees!    
I wish the Friends of Balgay committee every success in the forthcoming year.

Busy Saturday!

Yesterday, I was delighted to attend the Summer Meeting of the Friends of Balgay that took place at the Mills Observatory.
Robert Law of the observatory gave a very interesting presentation on the history of the observatory, followed by a tour.
The photo (right) is from the presentation and shows Robert at the telescope.
I was also delighted yesterday to attend the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Sheltered Housing Coffee Morning at Pennycook Court – and, despite a little rain, was very well attended with excellent stalls – see photo below :

Balgay Stakeholders’ Walkabout

Earlier this evening, I attended a walkabout round Greater Balgay by the Balgay Stakeholders’ Group, which brings together local councillors, council parks/Neighbourhood Services staff and representatives from the Friends of Balgay – to look at issues related to Balgay Park and its surrounds.
We had a very useful walk round Greater Balgay, and discussed proposals for improvements in the forthcoming year or so which include :
• Improved directional and road safety/vehicle speed limit signage
• Removal of the unused bowling green at Lochee Park to incorporate it into the main park (but maintaining the remaining bowling green)
• A welcome new overspill car park in Lochee Park and the lining of the main car park into bays
• Repair of the Serpentine steps in Balgay
• Significant upgrade and improvement to the Victoria Park tennis courts, hopefully taking place this summer
• Upgrade to the playpark in Victoria Park 
• Ask Community Payback to repaint the railings at the bandstand – see right
• Look at ways of improving areas like some of the hedgerows
• Some alteration to the Rose Garden to maintain its lovely appearance but improve its grass cutting regime
• Some solar lighting on paths
• Upgrading of Balgay Cemetery paths
These are very positive developments and I will continue to keep residents advised of progress.

Friends of Balgay meeting

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Spring Meeting of the Friends of Balgay, which took place at the Mills Observatory.
The guest speaker was Kate Treharne, Dundee’s community allotments officer, who spoke eloquently about community gardens in the city.    Kate has done great work across the city and her passion and enthusiasm shines through!
There was a display on “Balgay – then and now” at the meeting which was very interesting :

Tuesday meetings

Yesterday, I had a number of meetings including :
* A site visit with council officers at Blackness Library to look at the best way of improving safety at the entrance steps when it is dark.   Officers are considering the options and I will be discussing them with West End Community Council and residents to get views on the best way of achieving the best outcome.
* The AGM of of the Bonnie Dundee group, at the City Chambers.   Bonnie Dundee encourages improvements to the Dundee environment and helps local groups who keep Dundee’s parks, open areas, streets and gardens in good shape.   In addition to discussing the city’s involvement in the Beautiful Scotland Awards and the It’s Your Neighbourhood Campaign for 2016, there was also an excellent presentation on community garden initiatives across Dundee.
* A meeting of the Balgay Stakeholders’ Group, which brings together local councillors, council parks/environment department staff and community representatives – in particular Friends of Balgay – to look at issues related to Balgay Park and its surrounds.   We had a good discussion on a number of initiatives including planned roads resurfacing in the cemetery, improved drainage in Lochee Park and tackling speeding issues and better signage across Greater Balgay.

Pedestrian safety at Balgay Cemetery, Hill and Park

One of the roads running through Balgay Cemetery
I have recently received a number of constituents’ concerns about pedestrian safety at Balgay Cemetery, Hill and Park.    The following comment from a local resident is typical :
“I would … like to tell you about the speeding cars in Balgay Cemetery and the road leading up to the observatory, as I often walk in both places.   These drivers need to be more careful as there are children about.”
I raised this with a senior manager in the Environment Department of the council who has responded positively as follows :
“I can see how there are concerns from park users particularly if the have young children present. 
We can certainly look at improving the signage.   I  will copy this to both the Head of Transportation to see if he has advice on traffic calming measures and also Leisure & Culture Dundee in terms of a view to see if there is a message we should be sending to visitors. 
Finally I will also copy this to the area supervisor and we will remind staff of the need to repeat speed limits and generally look out for visitors to the park and cemetery.”

With specific regard to the road up to Mills Observatory, Leisure & Culture Dundee, who operate the observatory, has also responded, stating :
“We are presently looking at directional signage for The Mills to replace existing which is tired and in need of updating.
It might be worthwhile looking at incorporating something which indicates a speed restriction or advises caution for anyone in vehicles.”

Friends of Balgay AGM

Ken Neil
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Friends of Balgay AGM and Autumn Meeting at the Mills Observatory.
The guest speaker was Ken Neil, Red Squirrel Officer for Tayside and Ken gave an informative and interesting talk about red squirrel conservation and his work in the Tayside area in that regard.   You can read more about the project here.
At the AGM, the committee was re-elected although Hamish Mackay stood down as Secretary, after years of dedicated service to Friends of Balgay.    Hamish was presented with a gift in recognition of his great contribution to the work of the Friends.

Balgay Stakeholders’ Walkabout

Earlier this evening, I attended a walkabout round Greater Balgay by the Balgay Stakeholders’ Group, which brings together local councillors, council parks/environment department staff and community representatives – in particular Friends of Balgay – to look at issues related to Balgay Park and its surrounds.
We had a very useful walk round Greater Balgay, with a number of improvements agreed by the Environment Department representative.   This included agreement to tidy up the area round the bandstand, including a repaint of the bandstand itself and tidying up the flower beds.

Litter pick at Lochee Park and Greater Balgay @DunFestVol2015

This morning, a great number of volunteers turned out to help rid Lochee Park and the Greater Balgay area of litter.
The event was organised as part of the Dundee Festival of Volunteering and folk from Community Spirit Action Group, Bonnie Dundee, Tesco and local residents all helped.   Many thanks also go to Community Payback.
Here’s a few photos from this morning’s successful litter pick :
Some of today’s volunteers
At the side of Balgay Hill
With some of the rubbish collected this morning

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.

Friends of Balgay Spring meeting

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Friends of Balgay Spring meeting, held outdoors on a beautiful afternoon on Balgay Hill.
In addition to an informative talk from Jay Grant from the City Council’s Environment Department on the subject of improvements in Greater Balgay, there was the unveiling of a new plaque at Balgay Bridge (kindly funded by the Hugh Fraser Foundation) and a memorial plaque and bench in memory of the late Dr Hilda Spear.    Hilda was for many years the Chair of the Friends of Balgay and passed away a year ago.
It was good to see such a good turnout at yesterday’s event – some photos below :
Balgay Bridge new plaque
Good turnout yesterday
Bench in memory of Hilda
Plaque in Hilda’s memory