Lochee Swim & Sport Centre – official reopening

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the official reopening of the Lochee Swim & Sport Centre, following its recent major refurbishment.
The centre has been very well upgraded and is well worth a visit – more information about facilities and opening times are available here.
Here’s a few photos from today’s opening event :
The Lord Provost cuts the ribbon!
The historic pool has been rightly retained but the pool area given a freshen up
The new sauna
The fitness centre

Tonight’s Council Committees – and Old Dundee

At council committees tonight, the committee I chair, Planning & Transport, had very positive agenda items on the regeneration of Lochee and Stobswell, together with a tree preservation order being confirmed, to protect trees and screening of industrial units on Riverside Avenue.

At Policy & Resources Committee, I spoke on a couple of items:

  • Fairer Scotland Fund – to express concern at the £230 000 reduction in funding Dundee is receiving this year – funding that is targeted at the least affluent communities. Both I and Council Leader Kevin Keenan asked for all-party consensus to persuade Scottish Government to increase funding to the City in this area .

  • Scottish Futures Trust – The Scottish Government’s “non profit” suggested alternative to PPP capital funding. I made the point that although I have no problem in principle with a not for profit model, the bottom line is – will the Scottish Government come up with the Level Playing Field support the previous Scottish Executive funded? Without it, Alex Salmond’s claims of meeting previous capital improvements in schools “brick for brick” will fall flat on its face.

On another matter entirely, if you click on the headline above, you can see an excellent resource on “Old Dundee – People and places from a Victorian City.”

Political Diary …

Any of us who actually live in the real world read with a certain amount of incredulity and a whole lot of laughter the article in “Political Diary” in the Courier yesterday which claimed Dundee LibDems “were certain of coming of coming second and had a decent chance of winning” the Lochee by-election.
This is simply not true. I think we can all work out Steve’s “source”, who undoubtedly deserves a tartan P45. If Steve’s source seriously believes we thought that, from less than 7% of the poll back in May, we were going to win the seat, they are living in cloud cuckoo land.
Our aim all along was to increase our share of the poll (we increased by far more than any other party and indeed Labour and Tory fell back) and put ourselves in position to have a decent chance of picking up one of the 4 seats here in the next Council STV elections. Mission more than accomplished and all credit to Chris Hall, the LibDem candidate who ran a dynamic campaign. A great future lies ahead for Chris.
Steve says Nicol Stephen visited four, perhaps five times. Err, actually three times. It is not tremendously difficult to ask Nicol to visit Dundee as he drives through the city numerous times each month between his constituency in Aberdeen and the parliament in Edinburgh!
The SNP and Labour poured huge resource into the by-election. SNP candidate pictured with Alex Salmond, Kenny McAskill, Nicola Cheerful … you get the picture. Labour threw everything including the kitchen sink into the by-election – I came across two Labour MSPs delivering leaflets in Charleston the Saturday before polling day and bumped into Cathy Jamieson and large Labour Team on a very wet Monday before polling day sheltering from the rain at Tesco in Lochee. Despite all the Labour effort (they had an army out on polling day) Labour fell back, the LibDems moved forward. As an aside, you get a really good value breakfast in Tesco Lochee!
Some haven’t done the maths – but the party feeding the inaccuracies to the Bargeton column has. A LibDem increase of 3.9% of the poll across each ward in the City next Council elections means 2 LibDem holds plus LibDem gains in at least two further seats. The Salmond honeymoon is ending, the SNP promises galore are broken and the Dundee Liberal Democrats have never been in better shape to move forward right across the City.

Lochee outcome!

Attended the Lochee Ward by-election count this morning after a dreadfully cold polling day yesterday.
The Dundee LibDems are delighted at our progress, with an increase in our share of the overall poll of almost 4%, more than any other party (and Labour and the Conservatives both fell back).

My personal thanks go in particular to Chris Hall, our excellent by-election candidate, who worked exceptionally hard during the campaign. Chris is pictured with Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland and myself (above right) during the campaign!

Wet day in Lochee and planning concern

A very wet Monday in the rain in Lochee campaigning at the City Council by-election. Here’s Nicol Stephen MSP, Chris Hall (Lochee candidate) and myself in the cafe at the Lochee Tesco store, escaping the rain!
Tonight, at development quality committee, I moved refusal of the extension of a 24-hour take-away at the Peddie Street units, given residents’ concerns about noise, etc. A disappointing result (I lost 22-2) and in my view detrimental to residential amenity.

Sunday in Lochee … and great West End photos!

Our Lochee campaign team has returned home, damp, sore legs, but a great day in Lochee Ward! I have just worked out how much extra custom the Tesco cafe at the Stack is getting from the by-election… The SNP did make an appearance today in Menzieshill, but the LibDem team was in Menzieshill, Charleston, Beechwood, Dryburgh … you get the picture!
Anyway, away from damp clothes and worn-out legs – click on the headline above to see some great West End photographs (South Tay Street; Nethergate) and also some of St Andrews.
Nicol Stephen MSP back in Lochee Ward tomorrow afternoon – busy day ahead!

Lochee Latest!

If I ever had to appear on Mastermind, I think I’d choose “the geography of Dundee’s West End” as my specialist subject. Having organised the delivery of over 60 newsletters to update residents in the West End over the past six and a half years, I honestly think I know every nook and cranny of the West End, every controlled entry service button, every cul-de-sac, every dog behind the letterbox.

Over the past eight weeks or so, I feel I could expand the specialist subject to include Lochee. My colleagues and I have canvassed and delivered newsletters extensively for Chris Hall, the Lochee Ward Liberal Democrat by-election candidate and he’s worked extremely hard, not just in the past weeks, but over a period of many months.

Having spent some nine hours in Lochee today, I have sore feet, but it has been a brilliant day, meeting many residents – and also the Labour Party and the Tories (the latter finally made an appearance today – just a few months late guys). Strangely no sign of the SNP anywhere in Lochee today – but judging by residents comments about SNP broken promises (school class sizes, police numbers, grants to first time home buyers, writing off student debt .. etc, etc, etc, etc) I suppose that’s not too surprising.

Direct Debits … and Lochee!

This morning I attended the launch event of the City Council Finance Department’s “Pick up a prize” promotion – aimed at encouraging more Dundonians to pay their Council Tax by Direct Debit.
A prize draw campaign will run for 3 months until 31st January 2008, with the prizes being drawn on 29th February 2008. The draw gives the chance for Direct Debit payers to win a number of prizes (donated by local businesses) and, in case any of you are wondering – in response to a point made by the Council Leader that he’d be deeply embarrassed if he won a main prize, it was confirmed that City Councillors and Council Chief Officers will not be included in the draw!
For more details of the prize draw offer, click on the headline above.
I asked a question about encouraging the banks to offer basic bank accounts to citizens who do not presently have a bank account and was pleased to be informed that the Council is in discussions with the banks about promoting basic bank accounts – this will be particularly important given the move to Local Housing Allowance within the Housing Benefit Scheme next April, which will see many private tenants get their benefit paid to themselves rather than direct to their landlord in future.
This afternoon, Nicol Stephen MSP paid a second visit to the Lochee Ward by-election and spent time speaking to residents in both Charleston and central Lochee – see photo below of Nicol, candidate Chris Hall and some supporters pictured earlier at the Stack (I’m not in the photo – guess who took it!)

Nicol Stephen MSP in Dundee

Earlier today, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Nicol Stephen MSP, visited Dundee to meet with Chris Hall, our Lochee Ward by-election candidate and with myself and the City Council about the future of the Cities Growth Fund (see also the story in tonight’s Evening Telegraph by clicking the headline above).
Despite the rain (and there was plenty of that!) we had a good walkabout in the Lochee shopping centre meeting many local residents.

Lochee … and Benvie Road

Had a thoroughly enjoyable day in Lochee Ward (despite a bit of rain!!) with our Lochee Ward by-election candidate Chris Hall, Alison McIness MSP, and a great campaign team. Chris, Alison & I are pictured (right) at Ninewells Hospital.
An update on my request for an improved road surface in Benvie Road – update from the City Council :
“We are still continuing to investigate this. A company that carries out proprietary works is coming to look at the area next week to see if their system is suitable.”