Happy Birthday Blackness Court!

This afternoon, I had the great pleasure of attending the 25th Anniversary Party of the Blackness Court Sheltered Housing Complex.    There was a great turnout of residents – see below – and it was a lovely event to mark an important anniversary for the complex.
The event also marked the 25th Anniversary of Linda Webster as Blackness Court’s Scheme Manager.    Linda has been at Blackness Court since 1988 and is a much-loved and hard working scheme manager who has made Blackness Court such a lovely place for the tenants to have made their home.   Linda gave an entertaining rendition of a poem about the past 25 years at Blackness Court – see above right – and was fittingly given a presentation by colleagues at Home Scotland.

Improvements on Blackness Road planned

Last June, the City Council sensibly decided to postpone road resurfacing works on the part of Blackness Road between Abbotsford Street and Blackness Fire Station.    It makes sense to undertake this work after all the disruption to the roadway around the new schools on the former Logie Secondary site has finished.

Constituents have asked when the work is now planned to happen so I asked the City Engineer for an update.   He has responded as follows:

“… the surfacing works were postponed until mid September 2012 to allow for utility connections to be made to the school development.  A road closure will be required to carry out these surfacing works which are proposed to last 6 days.
A letter drop will be carried out to notify frontagers of the proposed works.”

A plan of the works area is given below:
Constituents at Blackness Court have also asked about extending the length of the “bleep” of the Green Man at the crossing near to the sheltered housing as it currently gives the pedestrian the impression that it is not safe to continue walking and this is particularly disconcerting for elderly residents.      

The Head of Transportation at Dundee City Council has responded as follows:

“This pedestrian crossing is planned to be refurbished, ahead of the new school opening, and the UTC team will include an extended ‘beeps’ stage during the daytime.  After 9pm the ‘beeps’ are truncated to minimise noise intrusion to neighbouring residents.”

Rosefield Place

Back in February, I reported that I had spoken with a number of the sheltered housing tenants at Blackness Court about the worn double yellow lines in Rosefield Place. As a result of the yellow markings being so worn, cars park on the pavement edge making it very difficult for elderly folk – especially those on motorised scooters – to get from their homes to the shops.

At that time, the City Council advised me it hoped to repaint them in the Spring, but this has not yet happened – in part because of the rather unusual situation of a world-wide shortage of one of the raw ingredients for the paint that is used for road lining. The Director of City Development has assured me, however, that the council has received shipments of materials in July.

With regard to Rosefield Place, I asked for a specific update from the City Council and have now been advised as follows :

” …unfortunately due to budget constraints and more recently a shortage of raw materials, the work is still outstanding.

However, on a brighter note, (I am advised) that I will be allocated an extra £100k to spend on line refurbishment during the current financial year. This will clear my backlog of orders and I will be instructing Tayside Contracts to refurbish all outstanding work from financial year 2009/10 before they begin with orders from financial year 2010/11. Therefore, please be assured that the wait is almost over.”

Latest news

A few latest updates!

* Blackness Court Sheltered Housing – I have been campaigning for some time to have the footpaths near to the sheltered housing improved. On Friday, along with two residents, I had a useful site visit with a City Council roads inspector who has promised to progress pavement improvements at the Rosefield Place/Blackness Road junction and at the pedestrian crossing used by the sheltered housing residents to cross Blackness Road to get to the Post Office and other local shops.

Residents have also complained that the yellow lines in Rosefield Place are worn and cars park on the pavement edge making it very difficult for elderly folk – especially those on motorised scooters – to get from their homes to the shops. I was pleased to be advised today by the City Development Department as follows : “The lines in Rosefield Place will therefore be refurbished around April/May time along with other long term outstanding orders.”

* Council housing allocations policy – Earlier today, I attended a briefing for councillors on council housing allocations policy. I raised questions about the need for a common housing register and co-ordination between housing association and council allocation policies to maximise allocations of housing for people in Dundee on housing waiting lists.

* Hunter Street Parking Project – I met the Head of Transportation today about my concerns regarding this project being delayed. I received an assurance that the project will be revisited in 2012 and, if the business case holds, the project will go ahead, as promised. I am disappointed at the delay, especially given that there was interest from around 8 commercial organisations to the advertisement in the European Journal. The multi-storey car park – immediately adjacent to the University of Dundee campus, would greatly assist parking problems in the area.

I also had the opportunity to discuss community transport with the Head of Transportation. We discussed the future of the Friendly Bus sheltered housing shopping service that I am anxious to see secured for the long term.

* Tay Rail Bridge Disaster 1879 – memorial – I had an excellent meeting with Stuart Morris, son of the Laird of Balgonie, regarding his suggestion of a lasting memorial to the victims of the 1879 rail disaster. We have agreed a route forward and will meet again with a group of supporters of such a memorial in March.

* Surgeries – Two busy surgeries late this afternoon at Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy.

* City Council Meeting – At tonight’s City Council committees I welcomed an energy efficiency scheme and made some suggestions about ensuring publicity of these (apparently well-received by all sides) and also commented on proposed waiting restrictions in the area around Harris Academy – these will now be subject to public consultation.

Parking at Polepark, Street Cleaning and Heating Charges – Blackness Court and Sinderins Court

Had useful meetings with residents today – one about street cleaning in a West End street, the other about the parking problems in Polepark Road.
Also been in touch with the Courier today following on from the article about the large increase in heating changes at Blackness Court and Sinderins Court – here’s a copy of the news release I have given the Courier:
Councillor’s concern over heating cost hike for sheltered tenants.

West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson today expressed great concern over the heating charge increases being faced by residents in Blackness Court and Sinderins Court and indicated that he has been in correspondence with the landlords Home in Scotland about the issue.

“Residents from Sinderins Court attended my surgery last week to express their worries about the huge hike in charges and I immediately wrote to Home in Scotland seeking an explanation,” said Cllr Macpherson.

“The housing association has replied and said that the fuel charges they pick up from Scottish & Southern Electric and Scottish Gas have increased and they are having to pass this on to tenants. It is deeply concerning as the increases are very significant – in a typical flat in Sinderins Court a previous heating charge of £15.76 becomes £57.34,” continued Cllr Macpherson.

“Although there has been a welcome reduction in other service charges which will reduce the net increase for those who do not receive housing benefit, for anyone on Housing Benefit the situation is particularly concerning as the heating charge that has significantly increased is not eligible for help through housing benefit. I have therefore made arrangements to meet with a Home in Scotland representative next week to discuss the issue further. I am really concerned about this situation, especially as it affects residents many of whom are elderly,” he concluded.