BBC Scotland project – looking for volunteers

Ever wondered how much power it takes to cook a frozen pizza, power a games console, or take a hot shower?  Ever considered using alternative energy to power these appliances, reducing your carbon footprint and your energy bills?
BBC Scotland’s The Day the Power Went Off is an entertaining television documentary that looks at the way we use power in our own homes.
In this fun experiment, a Scottish street will go ‘off grid’ and explore the possibilities of alternative power. However, this is not a step back in time experiment, as the street will continue to use modern gadgets and live their day-to-day lives. With the help of Eco-experts and inventions, individuals will decide on the best way to cook, wash and keep warm in their homes. And they will have to be creative in powering up the karaoke machine and hot tub for the street party! 
We are looking for a Scottish street or collection of houses (north Scotland) who could be interested in this project.   The programme will be filmed in March 2013.
If you would like to hear more about this project, or know of any potential people or streets who might like to take part, please contact Natalie Moss at BBC Scotland: Tel: 0141 422 6342 or

Rule Britannia

This morning’s Recess Sub-Committee of Dundee City Council was a bizarre affair, with the SNP administration pushing through expenditure of £15 000 out of council contingencies to pay for an open air screening of Last Night of the Proms in the City Square, in the face of opposition from myself and Labour councillors.

I say bizarre because, leaving aside the expense to the taxpayer of this proposal at such a difficult time for council budgets, the SNP seemed awfully keen to support non-vital additional expenditure for an event that – if my memory serves me correctly – features such timeless British classics as Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, all to the waving of hundreds of Union Jack flags.   Stirring stuff.

Whilst it may be nice to see what appears to be the conversion of Dundee’s SNP councillors to the merits of Great Britain and the Union, as tonight’s Evening Telegraph states :

“Opposition councillors today blasted a proposal to spend thousands of pounds showing the Last Night of the Proms on a big screen in Dundee City Square at a time when the city faces budget cuts.”
In moving refusal of the expenditure, I pointed out that although I am delighted that the BBC wish to bring the Scottish element of Last Night of the Proms to Dundee, the additional £15 000 to add to the existing capacity of 2000 in the Caird Hall (provided by the BBC) was something the City Council really should not embark upon at a time when the council is facing a huge financial challenge to maintain services and people’s jobs in Dundee.

The financial outlook for the City Council is deeply challenging (like the whole of the public sector) and the SNP administration has been thus far ominously silent about what cuts it proposes to make to balance the books. But it seems like the same administration is living in a parallel universe where non-vital additional expenditure is nodded through by them.

In the good times, having a outdoor event to supplement the event in the Caird Hall would have been a useful initiative, but it is surely profligacy that the council cannot afford at a time when cuts to vital services like education and social work are feared.

My amendment to save the £15 000 and use it to protect services was lost 4-3. It is about time that the SNP administration woke up and smelt the coffee.

Digital Switchover latest!

Yesterday at Tayside House, I had a useful meeting with John MacNeil, Assistant National Manager, STV North with Digital UK and Luke McCullough, National Manager for Scotland for the BBC Switchover Help Scheme, to get an update on how the switchover to digital TV is going – with just a couple of months to switchover in Dundee.

And the answer is that it is going well. Most people are well aware of the digital switchover and are prepared for it.    Further information can be found at :

Digital UK :

BBC Help Scheme :

Digital Outreach :

Last year, along with Alan Cowie of Digital UK, I held digital switchover surgeries at sheltered housing lounges across the West End – these were extremely well attended and I am holding two further surgeries at Sinderins Court and the Lime Street sheltered lounge next month – this time with Colin Scott from the Help Scheme – details to follow!

Here’s me with John & Luke at Tayside House yesterday.

Wednesday update

Following the fallen tree issue in Tullideph Road I mentioned earlier today, I had confirmation this morning from the City Council that it will be removed tomorrow. To quote the Forestry Officer :

“I am aware of this tree and it is programmed along with similar others in the area to be removed tomorrow morning. The main reason for the time taken is the actual high number of damaged trees in last week’s wind when we had multiple trees blown against school buildings, houses and roads and we had to prioritise a programme of works, which is progressing well.”

This afternoon, at the invitation of the West End Boys Amateur Boxing Club, I attended their meeting with the BBC. It was good to see the BBC’s interest in the club that has achieved a great deal in a short time. We talked about improving facilities for sporting and community groups in the West End, something already being discussed with other groups such as the Riverside Boys Junior Football Club and Friends of Magdalen Green.
Tonight, I attended the monthly meeting of the Community Spirit Action Group, the residents’ group for the ‘north’ of the West End – Pentland, Ancrum, Cleghorn and surrounding areas. It was well-attended and good to see the group launching their first ever residents’ newsletter.

BBC Strategy Review

I am dismayed at the BBC Trust’s proposal in its Strategy Review to close BBC Radio 6 Music.
To quote the BBC itself, the station “brings together the cutting edge music of today, the iconic and groundbreaking music of the past 40 years“.
Radio 6 Music is distinctive and valuable, and offers a place for exciting new acts to be heard. It provides its listeners with content that no independent commercial broadcaster offers, and has helped artists like Florence + The Machine reach greater audiences. At 3.4 pence per listener hour, 6 Music is also good value for money. Closing 6 Music would generate a very modest saving, and it is not clear that this would be worth losing such a distinctive station.

The future of 6 Music is a decision for the BBC Trust to make after they have consulted with licence fee payers. Whatever decision is made, the Liberal Democrats are adamant that it must be in line with the BBC’s purpose: to make programmes that are distinctive, high quality, and of good value. I am unconvinced that shutting 6 Music would contribute to these goals.

There are two other aspects of the BBC Trust’s proposals that concern me. Firstly, the proposal to close the Asian Network is difficult to understand as is the proposal about :
“… not offering any more localised services than the BBC already does – for example, new services for individual towns or cities.”

I have given my feedback to the BBC consultation on the Trust’s proposals and you can give your views to the BBC on their proposals by clicking here.