Walkabout – Blackness area

A foggy Abbotsford Street
Yesterday, along with Housing and Environment Department Officers and representatives of Blackness Area Housing Association, I took part in a walkabout around the Blackness area – in particular, Corso Street, Abbotsford Place, Blackness Road, Peddie Street, Blackness Avenue and Abbotsford Street – to look at any local issues such as graffiti, road condition, bins collection, buildings repairs and similar issues.

It was a very foggy and rather cold morning – see right! – but a most productive walkabout, with several local problems being highlighted.

BARA AGM and Bingo!

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the Annual General Meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association (BARA) at the Corso Street Sheltered Lounge (right).

There was a good turnout of residents and a presentation by our West End Communities Officer on the new local plan for the West End.

Afterwards, there was a bingo session, with yours truly as bingo caller.    I will not be considering a career move in that direction, but a good time was had by all!

Blackness walkabout

This morning, I participated in the third of recent ‘walkabouts’ in West End estates – this time around the Blackness area – in particular Corso Street, Abbotsford Street, Peddie Street and Abbotsford Place.

There were various issues raised including graffiti, a broken gate, a steep drop in a back garden area, and wheelie bins left permanently on the street in Peddie Street (where there is a solution in sight).

I was pleased to be advised that the grit issue I raised with the City Council after yesterday’s meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association is being attended to.

Blackness Area Residents’ Association

This afternoon, I attended the latest committee meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association (BARA).   

In addition to updates about Dundee West Communities Association (a group that brings together tenants’ groups in the west of the city) and Dundee Federation of Tenants’ Association, we also discussed local issues including parking problems and the continuing issue of grit on pavements (following winter maintenance) – I have raised this with the City Council, both in relation to the BARA area and in many other streets across the West End.


This morning, I attended the funeral of Jessie Gault, a much respected long standing resident of Abbotsford Street and committee member of Blackness Area Residents’ Association.   Jessie was a really lovely lady and will be sadly missed.

This afternoon, I met with John Logue, Area Procurator Fiscal for Tayside, and Chief Superintendent Gavin Robertson from Tayside Police about vandalism issues.   It was a very productive meeting and it is good to hear about the effective co-operation between the police and the procurator fiscal’s office on crimes of concern to local residents.

Jessie Gault

I was very saddened indeed to learn earlier this evening that Jessie Gault, who has made a real contribution to Blackness Area Residents’ Association (BARA) over the years and has been a well kent and well respected resident of the Blackness area, has sadly passed away.

The photo (below) from 2006 is of Jessie (second left in green) next to myself at a presentation to BARA by the Lord Provost.

Jessie will be very sadly missed;  a really nice lady who made a real contribution to the community.

Second estate walkabout of the week …

This morning, along with two of my ward colleagues, City Council officers and members of Blackness Area Residents’ Association, we had a “walkabout” around Corso Street, Abbotsford Place and Street, Peddie Street and parts of Blackness Road and Blackness Avenue to look at any repairs required and issues needing tackled in the area.   

Another useful and productive walkabout – and on a beautiful autumn morning too.

BARA AGM tonight …

This evening I had the pleasure of chairing the election of the new committee (and drawing the prize draw!) at the Blackness Area Residents’ Association AGM.

There was also an excellent presentation on tackling anti-social behaviour and a good debate on this thereafter.    I also had the opportunity to speak with residents after the meeting.

Monday activities …

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of Jim Begg at Dundee Cermatorium. There was a large attendance – it was a very fitting tribute to Jim. Blackness Area Residents’ Association, Home Scotland and the City Council were all represented, along with Jim’s family and many friends.

Later that day, I attended the City Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee and – after two surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy – the main City Council committees took place in the evening – some 4 hours in total – and the main points are :

* The SNP administration is putting up council rents by 4%. The SNP won the vote by 2 against my amendment to limit the increase to 3%. I am grateful for the support of the Labour and Conservative groups and Depute Lord Provost Ian Borthwick in my attempt to stop the SNP imposing an increase that is simply not reasonable. The Retail Prices Index was only 2.4% last month. The consultation with Dundee tenants was flawed – the choice was the SNP 4% or … the SNP 4%. No wonder there were far fewer consultation responses than last year – the SNP “consulted” on a done deal. Non-consultation if ever there was.

* Fairer Scotland Fund. I was very unhappy with the debate on this important issue last night. Following the decisions made by the Dundee Partnership to remove or reduce funding from around 45 Fairer Scotland Fund projects in the city that may result in the loss of around 35 jobs, I have written to the council Chief Executive David Dorward calling for a fundamental review of the transparency of decision making processes within the Dundee Partnership and a review of governance arrangements.

I am gravely concerned about a process that appears to allow the SNP administration on the City Council to take away £1.577 million of monies previously ring fenced in the Fairer Scotland Fund, simply to help balance the council’s own budget. Projects aimed at helping the least affluent and most vulnerable Dundee people have been raided simply to help the council’s revenue budget is a staggering example of the SNP acting as Robin Hood in reverse – taking from the poorest in society, the people most in need of help – simply because the SNP administration appeared incapable of balancing the council’s budget without taking away from Fairer Scotland Funding to the tune of £1.5 million.

At committee, councillors heard directly from representatives of one of the projects – the Dundee Employment and Aftercare Project (DEAP) – about how it is helping large numbers of Dundee people to secure sustainable employment. DEAP conducts 13 job shops across the city in local community centres and has around 2500 clients registered for employability support. In under two years, it has helped secure over 1400 job outcomes for local people. The SNP appeared unmoved by pleas to ensure that DEAP’s funding be restored and that is deeply regrettable.

The dynamics between the City Council and Dundee Partnership lack transparency and democratic accountability and I have suggested to the City Council’s Chief Executive that they be subject to review.

Councillors are accountable to the electorate but there seems remarkably little democratic accountability in the decision making process that resulted in so many valuable projects having their funding removed or reduced.

It appears that the SNP administration can take away £1.5 million of the Dundee Partnership’s Fairer Scotland Funding allocation at the drop of a hat, but that councillors who want to see funding restored to projects are ruled out of order.

There is something very wrong about that and a full review of the relationship between Dundee City Council and the Dundee Partnership is urgently required.

* Changes to Library opening hours were discussed at the Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee (this includes Blackness Library).

* There was a discussion on winter maintenance policy, following the recent very challenging weather conditions. I raised the issues of ensuring gritting of sheltered housing areas and the need to keep grit bins filled.

* I supported a Conservative amendment to ensure councillors do not to attend an expensive Social Work Conference but this was out-voted by Labour and SNP councillors. The council budget is in a difficult position and now is the time to cut out expenditure like this.

Last couple of days

Yesterday, I attended an informal cross-party meeting at the City Council, on the revenue budget for 2010/11, attended by the SNP and Conservative group leaders, the administration’s finance spokesperson, the Lord Provost, the Chief Executive, Director of Finance and myself, representing the Liberal Democrats.

As I indicated to the Courier thereafter, I felt the meeting was constructive, although I have sought clarification of a number of savings that are being proposed.

My greatest area of concern about the 2010/11 budget is the reduction in Fairer Scotland Fund budgets, resulting in the removal of funding from a number of excellent projects in the city. I was very concerned to learn today that one project whose funding has been removed (Dundee Employment and Aftercare Project) has been refused permission to put its case to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee next Monday. I have written to the City Council’s Chief Executive making clear my disquiet at this decision and calling for a rethink. If DEAP is not given leave to speak to councillors at committee next Monday, I intend to move suspension of council Standing Orders to allow DEAP to speak.

On another matter, I had a positive meeting this morning with senior Waste Management officers and the SNP Convener of Housing, Dundee Contract Services and Environmental Services about bulky uplifts policy and charging. It is around 10 years since the council’s bulky uplifts working group reported, and I had suggested that a review of policy should now be undertaken. We met today to discuss this and had a useful exchange of views about the issues, including looking at other authorities’ good practice through benchmarking (for example, some councils have concessionary pricing or free uplifts for some residents, such as those on low incomes, the elderly, etc) and improving the recycling effort.

This afternoon, I attended the council’s Scrutiny Committee, where various Care Commission reports were discussed.

I was greatly saddened to learn earlier today that Jim Begg, Treasurer of Blackness Area Residents’ Association – BARA, passed away this morning after a short illness. Jim was not only a stalwart of BARA but also a thoroughly nice person and he’ll be sadly missed.

BARA tonight

I attended the committee meeting of BARA (Blackness Area Residents’ Association) tonight. The Association, already a recognised tenants’ association with Dundee City Council, has now received similar recognition from Home Scotland.
Given the number of Home Scotland tenancies in BARA’s area – particularly in Peddie Street – this is good news.
At tonight’s meeting, the group discussed an action plan for the next few months, including newsletters to residents and a general meeting in the autumn.

Today’s update …

A busy day today starting with my chairing the TACTRAN (regional transport partnership) meeting at the Angus Council Chamber in Forfar.


Later on, I also chaired a meeting regarding Travel Dundee’s bus service changes, at which a representative of the bus company met with City Councillors to explain the company’s rationale for the changes and listen to our concerns about some of the changes, which commence on 2nd November. You can download a copy of the new bus route guide by going to : http://td.casionwide.com/news/archived/downloads/routemap_download.pdf


Tonight, I attended the monthly meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association at the Corso Street Sheltered Lounge.

A busy week …

A busy few days have passed – including the following!

* I attended a meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association on Tuesday evening. Amongst the matters discussed was the issue of wheelie bins on pavements and I was able to update the group on the steps the City Council is currently undertaking to address the issue.

* On Wednesday, a very useful visit to Scottish and Southern Energy’s headquarters in Perth. The purpose behind this was to see their customer contact centre and, in particular, how they assist elderly and vulnerable people who have suffered a loss of electricity supply. The invitation to visit followed an elderly constituent having a loss of supply recently. It was worthwhile to see how the situation is handled when this happens to a vulnerable person and gave me useful knowledge for assisting constituents further on future occasions too.

* This morning, a photocall to launch new electronic car parking signage. Here’s me at the launch with Eric Guthrie, TACTRAN Director, followed by the City Council news release below (the new signs also got a mention in tonight’s Evening Telegraph – click on headline above to view)

New electronic signage to help motorists in Dundee find available car parking spaces was officially switched on today (Thursday May 1).

The signs provide information about the number of available spaces in 12 car parks around the city’s inner ring road and is the result of funding from the Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN).

The up-dated signage gives “live” information of major car park occupancy which will help reduce unnecessary traffic going round looking for a parking space.

City council planning and transport convener and Chair of TACTRAN, Councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “There were 12 information signs installed about a decade ago and they have now been replaced by 23 new signs at strategic points along the inner ring road.

“They will help motorists by providing them with information about the availability of spaces in the major car parks around the city centre and there is also improved directional signage to ensure direct links between the inner ring road and adjacent main car parks.”

“As well as helping motorists find a parking space more easily, the new information system will contribute to TACTRAN’s Regional Transport Strategy objectives, by helping to reduce City Centre traffic congestion, improving air quality, and assisting public transport operation, through more efficient management of traffic using the City’s transport network”.

The sign legends have been improved with LED displays of the number of available spaces at the nearest car park as well as the cumulative number of spaces should a motorist continue along the ring road.

The system works by detecting vehicular movement at car park entrances and exits, with the information relayed by radio signal from the car park to a control centre at Tayside House. The information is then relayed to the information signs.

* This afternoon, a thoroughly enjoyable visit to Blackness Primary School to the unveiling of the Primary Sevens’ creative window shutters, based on the theme of endangered species. These look absolutely superb (and my photo below doesn’t do them justice!) – a great result for Primary Seven and for Quality Contact who helped with the project.

* Lastly, tonight I attended the Harris Academy Parent Council, which included a very interesting presentation on pupil support.

And … Tuesday!

I chaired the TACTRAN Board today (regional transport partnership – includes Stirling, Perth & Kinross and Angus Councils as well as us in Dundee) – included very informative presentations on Park and Ride, Demand Responsive Transport, Walking and Cycling and other strategies in the regional area.

This afternoon, a useful and productive meeting with one of the local Head Teachers on the West End youth football team initiative, and tonight a meeting with Blackness Area Residents’ Association.

Lastly, a positive response from Dundee City Council following complaints raised by both myself and the Friends of Magdalen Green about inadequate litter bin provision on Magdalen Green.

I’m pleased with the prompt response by the City Council’s Leisure & Communities Department to recent complaints about litter on the Green and, in particular overflowing litter bins and a toilet roll wrapped round the bandstand. I was a bit surprised by the comment of a Council spokeswoman who told the Courier “the bin supply is adequate.”

Although the department empties bins very regularly, it is patently obvious that the existing provision of bins is inadequate. Bins were overflowing yesterday.

I am therefore pleased to have received confirmation today that the department is to “consider an extra few bins strategically placed to accept the overflow” something which I think will be welcomed.

Recycling and graffiti …

Attended the photocall in Blackness Avenue this morning (along with representatives of Blackness Area Residents’ Association and councillor colleagues) to mark the installation of the city’s 50th neighbourhood recycling point – see photo (right). You can also read the story in tonight’s “Evening Telegraph” by clicking on the headline above.
Further to last Saturday’s blog entry about the badly graffitied phone box in Cleghorn Street, pleased to say BT has since advised me it will take steps to get it cleaned up.

Last couple of days …

I attended the Blackness Area Residents’ Association meeting on Tuesday night, and amongst matters discussed was parking difficulties in Corso Street. I have raised this (and a number of other local issues) with the City Council.
Wednesday night saw the launch meeting of the community group for Ancrum/Cleghorn/Pentland and surrounding areas at Balgay Church. I am really pleased that the group is getting off the ground and will be planning a series of community meetings in the future. We had a good discussion about local issues including anti-social behaviour, road repairs, parking and a number of other matters.
A few more issues over past couple of days:
* Constituents have complained that the steel bollard at the east end of the South Tay Street car park on the Marketgait side is loose in the ground – clearly been hit by a vehicle. The City Council has promised me that it will be repaired.
* On the Hawkhill by-pass beside the PDSA, someone has bumped into the bollards. The Council has raised an Order to ensure repair, following my request.
* On the corner of Union Place/Perth Road, there’s a dug up an area of pavement and it requires repair. Following my request, Tayside Contracts has been instructed to upgrade the footpath.
* I have been promised that the channel grating on the footpath at Pinegrove on Perth Road will be replaced soon (part of it is currently missing).

Week Round Up!

An exceptionally busy week both with my day job (as I am running a large conference next week) and with City Council and West End matters, so here’s a brief summary!

* Tait’s Lane : Had complaints about the general tidiness of the lane and the pathway that runs from the lane to Peddie Street and I have had favourable responses from the Waste Management Department and from Dundee Contract Services. The latter are going to tackle the overgrown weeds and I have also asked Economic Development if they can do something about the sadly neglected seating at the grass area in the lane.

* Last Sunday, I mentioned the request I had passed on to the Animal Control Team from residents for a dog bin at the end of the tunnel under Riverside Avenue near to the Invergowrie boundary (see http://frasermacpherson.blogspot.com/2007/08/dog-bin.html). I am pleased to report that I have been advised that a new bin was installed yesterday.

* A very useful meeting at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday with Nicol Stephen MSP, Tavish Scott MSP and my fellow LibDem council group leaders from Scottish local authorities about issues facing councils.

* Along with the other party group leaders in Dundee, we met with the President of COSLA on Tuesday about the future direction of COSLA and challenges facing local government.

* A West End constituent recently contacted me about his difficulties getting an NHS dentist and, as this is a parliamentary matter rather than a local authority one, I passed him on MSP details. He’s let me know the feedback he has received which he felt it might be useful to pass on to others via the blog – “… where an NHS Board considers that the existing NHS general dental service provision is insufficient to meet the demands of the local population, and no independent general dental practitioner is available to fill the gap, the Board can appoint salaried dentists. NHS Tayside already employs a number of salaried dentists, and are looking to approve further such posts. Any constituent wishing to enquire about an appointment with a salaried general dental practitioner should contact NHS Tayside at Ashludie Hospital, Monifieth, Dundee, DD2 4HQ (Telephone number 01382 527861).”

* Yesterday, along with the Public Health Minister, I was delighted to attend the launch of “Get Active Getting There” project at Gowriehill Primary School. Gowriehill is one of eight primary schools and two secondary schools (including Harris Academy) in the west of Dundee participating. It’s a great project to encourage school pupils – and indeed the community as a whole – to make use of the local paths network to walk and cycle.

A pilot project in Edinburgh in 2005 resulted in a 50% increase in walkers and cyclists using local routes and the City Council is pleased to be working with SUSTRANS and NHS Tayside on this new excellent project in the City. You can read more by clicking on the headline above.

* Some time ago, the Blackness Area Residents’ Association asked for better markings at the bus stop on the east side of Blackness Avenue (half way down) to ensure the bus can get clear access to the side of the road to allow passengers to get off the bus safely. Many elderly folk get off the bus here and it’s important that they can alight at the pavement properly. I am pleased to say that I have just had the following positive feedback from the City Council’s Planning & Transportation Department indicating what is to be provided here (hopefully within the next three weeks) :

“A ‘BUS STOP’ box marking 29m long with thick yellow Clearway marking. This will ensure that the bus can park with the door at the boarding point allowing safe boarding and alighting for all. We are about to undertake this exercise across all 900 bus stops as part of the Dundee barrier free city commitment.”

Recycling and wheelie bin refuse collections …

On Wednesday, I attended the August meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association and the issue of the proposed mini recycling units in Corso Street, Abbotsford Street and Abbotsford Place was again raised. Back at the start of July, I attended a public meeting BARA held on the matter (click on headline above to view the details) and since the latest BARA meeting I have received an update from the Waste Management Department as follows:
“I have received confirmation from the P&T department that they agree to the new proposed locations for the recycling facilities. However I have been informed that the piece of land on Peddie Street where we propose to site one of the facilities belongs to a private landowner. We therefore are required to ask permission from the landowner to use the piece of land. Obviously if the landowner refuses we will be unable to use the site.
“… It was agreed … that once we have received confirmation from the P&T department we would letter the nearby households for consultation and depending on response then decide whether to proceed with the installation of the sites. It was my intention to letter the nearby households for all three sites at once. However if there is going to be a delay with the Peddie Street site, we can proceed and letter the other two sites first.”
Hopefully progress towards getting recycling facilities into Abbotsford and Corso on sites acceptable to residents.
I have also been advised that, following the recent refuse wheelie bins extension into parts of the West End (replacing the “traditional” collection), a second phase is about to commence. I list below the streets in the second phase. There were a number of issues residents raised with me when the first phase was introduced and there was much liaison with Waste Management at that time to get concerns addressed. If any resident has any issues or concerns about the latest extension, do please contact me at blogcomments@frasermacpherson.org.uk or call me on 459378. Anyway, here’s the list of “second phase” streets :
Airlie Place (No’s 6,7,8,10,12,14,16,18)
Bellfield Street (St Joseph’s Schoolhouse)
Brook Street (No 82.Above Veterinary)
Cross Lane
Ford’s Lane
Fort Street
Greenfield Place
Mid Wynd (4 flats from 79 Perth Rd, Ryehill. (1E,1F,2E,2F) & Purdom Hse
Minto Place
Nethergate – West Of Marketgait (No 125)
Old Hawkhill
Pennycook Lane
Richmond Terrace
Roseangle (Except No 50 – 60)
Ryehill Lane
St. Peter Street
Tay Square (except No 10 – already has w/b)
Tay Street – South (Nos.43-79 & 56)
Temple Lane
West Port
Windsor Court (140’s)
Windsor Street


Since my last blog post, on Wednesday evening, I met with over 30 residents of Abbotsford Place and Street and Corso Street, together with a member of the Waste Management staff to discuss the proposed ‘mini’ recycling centres for each of the three streets.
The meeting, organised by Blackness Area Residents’ Association (BARA), arose out of residents’ concerns about the siting of these. It was clear the residents welcomed the opportunity to have these facilities, but did not want them at the locations proposed for a variety of reasons including too close to lounge windows and gardens.
I’m pleased to say that an acceptable compromise has been reached whereby the Waste Management representative is to undertake a site visit next Tuesday with two of BARA’s office-bearers to look at the viability of three alternative off-pavement sites the residents would prefer the recycling units were located at. It was agreed that they would be sited there, but only if viable in terms of lack of slope, acceptable surface, etc, but whatever the outcome of this, the unacceptable sites are ‘off the agenda’ and it was clear speaking with residents after the meeting, that they are happy with this.
You’ll recall that, just after the election, I mentioned I’d put in a complaint to the BBC about their handling of an eve-of-poll election broadcast (click on headline above to view original story). Anyway, I received their decision yesterday (pasted below). Given the assurances now given to ensure no repeat of the problem, I now consider the matter closed!
Dear Councillor Macpherson

Scotland Live, Radio Scotland, May 2 2007

I have been asked to look into your complaint about the eve of poll election feature on Scotland Live on 2 May. I’m sorry that you have been unhappy with the earlier response that you have received from the BBC, and I hope I can deal with your concerns here.

We have now had an opportunity to listen to the item in question and we have been in contact with the programme makers in Scotland. We have also reviewed the previous correspondence between you and the BBC.

You may be aware that it is the role of the ECU to investigate complaints to determine if there has been a serious breach of the standards set out in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. You can find these at www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines.

The item in question was a programme made up of series of reports about the campaigning activities of the various parties contesting the Dundee West constituency in the elections to the Scottish Parliament. You complained that the BBC failed to include the Liberal Democrats in the piece and that this was clear bias, whether intentional or not.

As you know, the intention was to carry pieces from each of the main parties which would feature activists on the ground in the final run-up to polling day. The BBC had told the parties that parliamentary election candidates would not be interviewed for the piece. The parties were not told, however, that council candidates would not be interviewed either. In the event, the Liberal Democrat interviewees, including yourself, were both council candidates and the BBC decided at a very late stage that these could not be used. You are quite right, and Phil Wells has already conceded, that this led to serious imbalance in the item. This was compounded by the fact that a Conservative interviewee who was included turned out to have been a council candidate as well, though this was not realised by anyone at the BBC until the item had been broadcast.

There is no dispute that to broadcast the item in this form was a serious mistake and a serious breach of the standards set out in the BBC guidelines on broadcasting during elections. These say:

We should make, and be able to defend, our editorial decisions on the basis that they are reasonable and carefully and impartially reached. To achieve this we must ensure that:
…news judgements at election time are made within a framework of democratic debate which ensures that due weight is given to hearing the views and examining and challenging the policies of all parties.

Phil Wells, the editor of Scotland Live, has already written to you to apologise. He said that “It is our responsibility to check and in this we failed”. Had this apology not been made prior to you complaint being looked into by the ECU, this part of your complaint would certainly have been upheld. However, in the light of Phil Wells’s admission, I have to say that I consider that it has now been resolved.

You have also complained, however, that you have been given “absolutely no reassurances as to how this sort of error will be avoided in future”. We put this to the programme team, and this is the reply we received:

The programme editor spoke to everyone involved in the piece – radio reporters, the producer and the senior broadcast journalist with responsibility for planning. He reiterated the absolute importance of checking the credentials of people appearing on the programme, both when setting people up ahead of time and when meeting them on the day. This is particularly true during election time. He also spoke to the whole programme team at its weekly team meeting to drive the message home. In the future, as editor of the programme, he will monitor any e-mail or interview request which goes to a political party. This should prevent something like this happening again.

This, it seems to me, is the proper response to the errors which were made and should be sufficient to ensure that this or similar errors are not repeated. In the circumstances, I feel that the actions already taken mean that this aspect of your complaint has also been resolved. It would, plainly, have been better to have notified you at the time of what had been done, and I’m sorry that this did not happen, but I’m afraid that a procedural lapse such as this does not fall within the remit of the ECU to address as a complaint.
As your complaints would have been upheld had an apology not already been made and the actions taken not satisfied me that it was resolved, a summary of my decision will be posted on the BBC Complaints website. I will notify you when this has happened. Meanwhile, I hope you will accept my further apologies on behalf of the BBC, and my thanks for giving us the opportunity to look into it.

Yours sincerely

Fraser Steel
Head of Editorial Complaints

Blackness area, Surgeries, Burst tyres, Polepark Playpark ….

A useful meeting with Blackness Area residents last night covering numerous issues including the road surface in Abbotsford Place (I’m arranging a site visit for the Residents’ Association to discuss with Planning & Transportation staff), recycling bins, road lining in Blackness Avenue and refuse presentation issues. I’ve followed up various issues with Council staff today.
Today saw my last surgeries at Mitchell Street Centre, Harris Academy and Blackness Primary School until after the school holidays.
Between Mitchell Street and Harris, I had the joy of a puncture! I am awfully grateful to the community councillor who attended my surgery at Harris and gave me a lift to Blackness Primary! One RAC visit later and all is well again!
During the school holidays, I do not have weekly surgeries but can be contacted at home at any time on 459378.
The Police have contacted me about the state of the playpark in Polepark Road (rubbish strewn – mainly plastic bags, plastic bottles and cans) – I have raised this with the Leisure & Communities and Waste Management Departments.
Lastly there are recent updates worth a look at :
Friends of Magdalen Green : http://magdalengreen.blogspot.com/
Western Cemetery Association : http://westerncemetery.blogspot.com/

Website again, Nursery Schools, TV Licences, Wimberley

Firstly, further to the blog entry yesterday about the Council website, attended the launch of the revamped website this morning along with Council Leader Kevin Keenan (click on headline to view story in Evening Telegraph).
I have now spoken with numerous parents with children at Bellfield Nursery about the Director of Education’s report to next Monday’s Education Committee proposing consultation on a proposed merger with Park Place Nursery School. I have urged all parents to make their views known in writing to the Director.
Had my first Thursday surgeries tonight & first ones at Harris Academy (5.30pm) and the Mitchell Street Centre (5pm). Blackness Primary School (6.15pm) is my original surgery and I no longer have a City Centre surgery thanks to the boundary commission (say no more …)
Later on this evening I attended a very well-attended meeting of residents in the Hillside area regarding the draft Site Planning Brief consultation about the former Wimberley Student Flats.
Recently, the Blackness Area Residents’ Association raised with me the issue of concessionary TV licences. I paste below part of the response I have received from the Housing Department on this matter :

I have investigated the history of Concessionary Licence at Corso Street Complex. Our own internal TV licensing documentation related to Corso Street Complex dates back to 1992. There is no indication that the complex held the concessionary Licence during this period to the present day.

Contact With TV Licensing (UK)

I spoke directly to a representative of TV Licensing Board, who is responsible for regulating the concessionary scheme national, on 5 June 2007 regarding the design of the sheltered housing complex at Corso Street. He informed me that where designated sheltered housing complexes have a mix of sheltered and mainstream units pepper potted throughout a development ( *i.e. similar to Corso Street where the ground and 1st floor accommodation of a tenement building has a mix of sheltered and non-sheltered tenants) would not qualify under the Sheltered Housing Concessionary TV Licensing regulations. It is my understanding that Wedderburn Sheltered Complex does not have this type of pepper-potting of sheltered and non sheltered housing; as a result qualifies for the Sheltered Housing Concessionary TV Licence.

In situations where sheltered complexes have lost their concessionary status as result of the type of *pepper potting described in the previous paragraph, existing tenants under the age 75 affected by this decision would retain the concessionary status but new tenants under the age of 75 moving into the sheltered complex would not (i.e. they would pay the full cost of the licence)

NB All individuals over the age of 75 are entitled to a free TV licence.

The Next Step

To obtain official clarification on Corso Street entitlement to the concessionary licence, TV Licensing representative agreed to forward a Sheltered Housing Concessionary Licensing Application Form to us. Once we receive the form Dundee City Council’s Sheltered Housing Officer for Corso Street, will complete and submit it to TV Licensing on the Council`s behalf. Upon receiving TV Licensing decision on the application, I will contact you directly with the relevant information.

Recycling improvements, Community Planning Evening, Dundee Schools Music Theatre

Last night saw the City Council running an excellent community planning event in the Marryat Hall. It featured the work amongst communities right across the City that has been achieved over the past five years and looked towards the next community planning consultation period. Pictured above right is part of the display from the South West Dundee area, the area that covers the West End.
Also attended the Blackness Area Residents’ Association (BARA) meeting last night. I raised the forthcoming multi-occupancy recycling project. This will see “mini” recycling units for (initially) paper and different glass in areas where there are flats and individual recycling wheelie bins are not practical.
Having met with Waste Management about the project, I am keen to see full consultation with communities on the siting of these recycling points and BARA is keen to participate in this. It is envisaged that there will be recycling facilities in Abbotsford Street, Abbotsford Place and Corso Street, in BARA’s area. In addition, a number of other West End sites are being considered and the West End Community Council will be consulted too.
Good to see more productions by the excellent Dundee Schools Music Theatre taking place this August. This time they are presenting ‘The Boy Friend’ and ‘The Pajama Game’ and you can read further details by clicking the headline above.

Wednesday & Thursday

Attended Blackness Area Residents’ Association meeting on Wednesday evening and been spending much time campaigning across the West End.
Yesterday, met with Housing Department staff at Pentland to look at the parking problems. We agreed that I will now formally request that the department carries out a feasibility study to look at options to improve the situation. There are clearly physical limitations – the steepness west of Saggar Street for example – although we did see scope for extending the turning circle area at the top end of Pentland Crescent & providing more parking. This could be done without a loss of trees.
On Saturday past I reported on the blog the damage to the bus stop opposite Clayhills Grove (see previous story by clicking on headline above) – pleased to receive following feedback from the City Council:
“Further to my last e mail the Elite solar bus stop pole that was damaged in Perth Road has been repaired and checked operational.”

Week thus far …

Had a very busy week thus far with constituents’ queries and issues. At Council committees on Monday night, I spoke on a couple of matters:
  • The summary of the 2006 Air Quality Updating and Screening Assessment for Dundee was on the Environmental Services and Sustainability Committee. The particulate matter concentrations in Union Street were above average. The report to committee indicated this will have been adversely affected by major construction projects in the vicinity. However, I sought assurances that this will be closely monitored and this assurance was given.
  • The Communities Committee included detail of a consultation process on the future of Community Councils, given the new ward arrangements. This is to be welcomed, although I stressed that a “one size fits all” approach would not be appropriate. In some places it may be an exiting Community Council will comfortably ‘fit’ into the new STV ward area. However, in others, a combination of different Community Councils in an STV ward (or other representative organisations) may be the more appropriate way forward.

The Blackness Area Residents’ Association AGM takes place tonight (with bingo afterwards) in the Corso Street sheltered lounge at 6.30pm. The West District Housing Manager is the speaker – on local housing issues.

Rather busy week

Janet and I have just returned to Chez Macpherson after two days away at my Institute’s Scottish Benefits Conference at Crieff Hydro Hotel. Superb couple of days but we are both officially dead beat, really, really tired! And its the launch of the West End Christmas Week tomorrow morning, so this blog entry will be as much pictures as words, so I can get it finished before second Coronation Street of the evening, then zzzzzz …… !

Below : Photo One – Western Cemetery – Chaired a very productive meeting of the steering group towards a “Friends of ..” society on Tuesday – the plan is to have two further ‘planning’ meetings in the New Year – one looking at the “draft masterplan” of works that could be undertaken at the cemetery to improve the infrastructure; the other to look at the practicalities of settting up a formal society. Thereafter, there will be a public meeting to set up the group formally.

And … below : Just before setting off to Crieff, I attended the ‘official opening’ of Blackness Area Residents’ Association’s new film projection system on Wednesday at the Corso Street Sheltered Lounge!

Below : Fraser at the Conference (sorting out exhibition set-up on Wednesday!)
Below : And the Conference Party Night!

And lastly (7 minutes to Coro Edition 2!!) – here’s the news release sent to local media regarding tomorrow’s West End Christmas Week launch :

News Release : Launch of West End Christmas Week!

On Saturday, the 2006 Dundee West End Christmas Week will be launched at 10.30am in the grounds of Blackness Primary School by Lord Provost John Letford and the children of Park Place Primary, St Joseph’s Primary and Blackness Primary Schools.

The children will be displaying their Schools’ Christmas Trees in the Blackness Primary playground and the winners of the schools’ “Wish for the World” Christmas competition will be announced.

The children will also be able to meet Santa and other characters and there will also be a street football competition in the Blackness Primary School Grounds. Dundee Instrumental Band will be playing Christmas Carols!

The West End Christmas Week committee would be really grateful if you would give this advance publicity. West End councillor Fraser Macpherson said, “This is the sixth year we have run the West End Christmas Week and this year’s week will be the biggest and best yet with a spectacular fireworks display next Wednesday.”

Parking and City Centre success!

A very productive meeting of the Central Dundee parking strategy “focus group” this afternoon, looking at improving parking for residents in both the City Centre and also the areas immediately adjacent including the West End.
The Director of Planning & Transportation is now considering some draft proposals for consideration by the group in the weeks ahead. I have emphasised the need for consultation with residents on any proposals.
Whilst at the meeting, delighted to hear that the City Centre & Harbour Community Council has successfully obtained £5000 of lottery funding to help its Hogmanay celebrations activities. With Blackness Area Residents’ Association’s success reported yesterday, what a great week for our local community organisations!

BARA presentation and Beacon Management meeting with Tayside Police

Back on 2nd November, I reported (click on headline to view) the success of Blackness Area Residents’ Association in obtaining nearly £6000 lottery funding to provide an entertainment system for the Corso Street sheltered lounge. The presentation by Lord Provost John Letford took place this afternoon in the City Chambers (see right and I’m third from left!) – it was a jolly event and the LP was on top form!
Later in the afternoon the City Centre Beacon Management meeting with Tayside Police took place. Issues covered included graffiti, traffic concerns in Commercial Street (a very useful update from Planning & Transportation on the current works to improve matters at the junction with Murraygate/High Street) & I raised an issue about traffic concerns in North Lindsay Street, which the Police promised to progress.