Latest FOCUS newsletter – special edition

With thanks to all who helped this morning, most of the special edition of FOCUS for the area of the West End Ward around the Perth Road roadworks, was delivered and the remainder is now with those local residents in the area who kindly deliver their street for me.

The FOCUS doesn’t just cover the Scotland Gas Networks issue, but also covers local bus shelter issues, an untidy area in Steven’s Yard (at High Mill) and a residents’ parking update.

You can download a copy by clicking on the headline above.

FOCUS, flooding, TV reception and other matters …

This morning we were again out delivering FOCUS newsletters in the West End; already had lots of feedback – including flooding at West Port (below right) and at Pinegrove (below left), comments on the operation of the Riverside Drive/Perth Road junction (a story in FOCUS), speeding in City Road/Logie Street and TV reception (problem with the Tay Bridge transmitter analogue reception over the weekend) – I have contacted the BBC about this.
And, talking of TV reception, the Head of Public Affairs at Digital UK has e-mailed me following complaints that some constituents in the West End who (according to the Freeview website) CAN get digital terrestrial TV reception but once they buy the Freeview equipment find that, in fact, they CAN’T get reception. So, here’s the feedback from Digital UK:

“Thank you for your email concerning the postcode checker and the displayed anomaly between the results of the checker and actual reception.

“The Digital UK postcode checker is an important tool for indicating the likelihood of digital coverage for a particular household. Although it is based on third-party data, which we do not originate, we believe it provides a very high level of accuracy in determining which digital options are available at a particular address. As such it is a useful tool for visitors to our website and call centre.

“The postcode checker results page includes a disclaimer making clear that results are indicative. Terrestrial broadcast signals are subject to many interfering factors, which make it impossible for a national database such as the postcode checker to provide exact coverage information for each of the UK’s 25m TV households. That would require knowledge of the exact location and shape of every building, hill, tree, bush and receiving aerial in the country.

“Similar knowledge would be necessary to provide 100%-accurate coverage information for digital satellite, which covers the entire UK but requires a line of sight from the receiving dish to the sky at a specific angle. Local landlord and planning restrictions for erecting satellite dishes are another factor that may exclude the satellite option; unfortunately the postcode checker cannot account for this.

“The checker also provides coverage information for cable, based on cable operators’ own databases. This is the best information available to us for indicating cable availability.

“As a rule, if a good analogue picture is received now, a good digital picture should result through the existing aerial after switchover. If Freeview cannot be received now and our postcode checker says the household is in coverage, the aerial used may not be capable of receiving the full signal. In this instance it is advisable to contact an aerial installer, ideally one who carries the ‘digital tick’ logo (a Registered Digital Installer), or else a member of a recognised trade body. Some indoor aerials will work, but some will need replacing. Again, if it provides a good analogue signal now it is likely to receive digital after switchover.

“Switchover will extend coverage of digital terrestrial television (Freeview) from around 73% of households to 98.5% of households. All planning has been designed to replicate coverage of the existing analogue signal (98.5%). Switchover will therefore benefit those homes which are currently outside the range of existing digital terrestrial television (DTT) by extending the signal coverage to areas currently receiving an analogue signal.

“The current digital signal is carried on 81 transmitters nationally, of which Angus is one. These transmitters cover 73% of the country. During switchover all remaining relay transmitters, including Tay Bridge and numbering 1,154 across the UK will be upgraded. It could be the case that during initial installation the aerials in the homes affected were aimed at the transmitter with the strongest signal. As this may be a relay transmitter, the upgrade to a digital signal will not yet have occurred.

“Digital UK will launch a new postcode database next year which will enable individuals to check which digital TV services are available to them now and after switchover. “

Newsletter delivering and leaves …

Well, it has been a lovely day for delivering my FOCUS newsletter. Although a bit windy, the weather held and I’d like to thank all of my team who delivered thousands of copies today.
Already feedback on a number of issues by e-mail and phone. One concerns a request to remove the dead rotting leaves that are lying on the pavement on Glamis Drive. The problem lies mainly between the top of Hazel Drive going west towards Invergowrie Drive. Leaves are lying in elongated piles and take up most of the pavement in places.
I’ve passed on this concern to the Head of Waste Management asking for the leaves to be removed ASAP.

Loans Scheme, Superannuation Matters, 72 bus again and Community Council

Productive West End Community Council meeting last night – was able to update everyone on the progress regarding Magdalen Green and also the West End Christmas Week (the minutes of the latter group can be read on the Community Council website at
I’ve had many requests from residents for copies of the new 72 bus service timetable (following mentioning this in my West End FOCUS newsletter) – but a couple of issues raised too. Firstly, on a few occasions the bus has missed Newhall Gardens out the route in error (or, rather, the driver has) since the 6th November changes to the route. Had assurances from Planning & Transportation at the City Council that this has been raised with Stagecoach who have mentioned to drivers. Other issue is there’s now a longer gap between buses (due to school run bus) in the afternoons which the Council officer concerns says he’ll attempt to progress a solution in the New Year.
This morning, I chaired the City Council’s Superannuation Investment Sub-Committee and on leaving the committee rooms, popped in to wish the new housing associations’ savings & loans scheme well. The launch took place at the City Chambers – click on the link to read the story in yesterday’s Tele. This is a super initiative from our local housing associations to encourage savings and offer loans at reasonable rates to tenants.

Team Macpherson West End! … and Saggar Street Trees

I start today with thanks to all the residents of the West End who helped today deliver my latest FOCUS newsletter for the West End. The superb team delivered thousands of leaflets in just a few hours! A slightly wet start, but a beautiful afternoon. A few of us are finishing the deliveries over next couple of days but certainly a mission well done!
One of the issues covered in this edition is the effect of overgrown trees blocking light into residents’ homes – see above – an example in the Pentland area where I recently had a site visit with a concerned resident and the Housing Officer.
The issue will be less of a problem over the winter months (with leaves off trees) but I met the Director of Housing last Monday (on a number of issues) and made the point that there must be action to trim affected trees next Spring.
Tired legs after our West End deliveries today, but a curry and the X Factor (fav TV prog after Coronation Street and Malcolm in the Middle…) makes all seem right with the world! Janet likes the MacDonald Brothers (err, sorry, not the greatest fan!) – Leona is totally ace, absolutely brilliant, a new Mariah Carey. The winner! Well, let’s hope so. We’ll find out if she’s survived this week – at 8.55!

Mindless vandalism, Lights in Seafield Lane

Was in Clepington area this morning helping my brother-in-law with his FOCUS leaflet deliveries and shocked by the mindless vandalism at bus shelters (see right) – its not the part of the City I represent but I e-mailed into Planning & Transportation to advise them.
Have no doubt however that they will have been advised by more than me … the Courier called me this afternoon (i.e. with “Finance Convener” hat on) about the cost to the City Council of vandalism each year.
Although we deplore this sort of mindless vandalism and work with Tayside Police to tackle it, I am pleased to say that the overall cost of vandalism to Dundee City Council property has halved in recent years. Click on the headline above to read a report from the Audit & Risk Management Sub-Committee from May 2006 for more detail.
Been trying to sort out broken lighting in a pathway at Seafield Lane. The Housing Association initially advised it was a City Council responsibility but its actually their’s. Anyway, looking for a result from them very soon!

Ok, more tomorrow was more Monday than Sunday ..

We had a dreadfully busy Sunday between constituent replies (serves me right for going to Brighton! – backlog now cleared) and finishing FOCUS newsletter delivery (accomplished!) so blog is a day late. I suppose it sums up the power of a blog that the fact you are a day late with the next entry is mentioned by a lady at your surgery tonight!
OK then, chronological order:-
* BRIGHTON – Very enjoyable Institute Conference. Its the day job and it was great to see old friends. Here’s me (second left) with good friends Colin, Bill & Julie – and Julie’s just been elected Institute National Junior Vice President!
* CORONATION STREET – So Rosie and Craig didn’t quite run off into the sunset together (you can tell the Council meetings were not too late tonight!) But the absolutely fantastic news is my inclusion as Corrieblog’s Celebrity Fan (click on headline above!) – many thanks Flaming Nora, editor of Corrieblog!
* BACK TO BUSINESS – Recent issues as follows:
1 No Ball Games Sign missing on Magdalen Green – have reported.
2 Spoken with University of Dundee about shrubbery protruding onto footway on Nethergate just west of Park Place.
3 Missing drain covers in Step Row – reported to Planning & Transportation; also drainage grill on Perth Road near Ryehill Lane getting replaced following my complaint (it keeps falling off!)
4 No electronic information/bus timetables at the Waterstone’s bus shelter/stop in Commercial Street – reported to City Council.
5 More HMO disturbances complaints over weekend; have reported – but forthcoming report to Planning & Transportation Committee will limit or “cap” HMOs – a sensible proposal.
* AND LASTLY – Finance Committee of Dundee City Council (which I chair) tonight agreed a very sensible proposal to extend discretionary rates relief to some charities. Good move.

Back from Brighton!

Been away at my Institute’s Conference in Brighton (more on that later!) and just back so a short post to say we’ve been out delivering my latest West End FOCUS today to constituents – click on the headline above to view the news story about it and to download the on-line edition!