New West End Schools – latest contractor’s newsletter

As I have previously indicated, there has been good progress with regard to completion of the new St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Primary School (to be newly named Victoria Park Primary School) and Park Place Nursery School (to be newly named Balgay Hill Nursery School).
The new schools on the Logie site will be opened after the October school holiday.
The contractor has kept adjacent residents updated throughout the building of the new schools and recently issued his seventh newsletter to residents.   You can download it by going to

West End Schools’ Project Board

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the latest meeting of the West End Schools’ Project Board, the group overseeing the project to build the new St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Primary School and Park Place Nursery School.

Construction progress is on schedule with a targeted completion time of mid-September.   This will allow for the pupils and staff to move to their new schools on the former Logie Secondary School site after the October holiday.

The Park Place schools will have new names (as they will no longer be sited in Park Place) – these will be Balgay Hill Nursery School and Victoria Park Primary School.    The Education Department has updated me as to the process used to choose these new names, as follows:

Park Place Primary School

All pupils, parents and staff were engaged in the process.
A survey was carried out on whether or not to change the new name.
Suggestions were sought for a new name.
All were involved in voting their choice from a short list of three (background information was provided for all on why was would be an appropriate name).
Pupil Council counted the votes.
The whole process was discussed at each Local Implementation Group.

Park Place Nursery School

The names were chosen in full consultation with the parents.  The parents came up with five names and these were sent out for them to select their favourite.
The logos/badges were drawn by the children and four were scanned on the one piece of paper for the parents with their children to choose their favourite.  Staff had the same choice.

Trees concern at new school site

Constituents have contacted me to voice concern that two trees have been removed from the Blackness Road boundary of the site of the new St Joseph’s and Park Place primary/nursery schools (new building – right).   It is understood that these trees were originally a gift to the city and looked lovely in bloom, so residents are disappointed they have been removed.

I contacted the City Council’s education capital projects manager about this and have received the following feedback:

“The two trees in question have been removed after careful consideration and with full consultation with the Council Forestry Officer, Planning Case Officer and Team leader.
Essentially the proximity of the artificial playing surface and the retainment around this facility have dictated the need for the trees to be removed.  The actual root ball of the tree would not be materially affected by the installation of the retaining wall.  Unfortunately, however, the root infrastructure for the tree water system would be compromised and this may well have an effect on the trees’ health which could have resulted in it dying over the course of the coming months.
In addition the opinion of the Council Forestry Officer was that the trees have a limited future life possibly another 10 to 12 years and therefore a void may be left in the site even if the watering network of the roots were not compromised.
It is not envisaged at this stage that any further trees along the Blackness Road elevation or other areas of the site will require to be removed.
The strategy agreed with the Council planners is to plant 5 new trees between the Blackness Road boundary and the retaining wall, with a further 4 trees around the corner into the Glenagnes Road perimeter of the site.  Again this has been done in consultation with the Planning Department, prior to making the decision to remove the exiting two trees.
In addition further trees will be planted on site as per the agreed planning permission soft landscaping layout.”

The loss of any mature trees is to be regretted, so I am relieved that no further trees will be removed and that new trees will be planted.

Monday …

Yesterday, I attended the latest meeting of the City Council’s School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group.

Following the initial meeting of the group before the recent City Council elections, a number of site visits to schools have taken place and feedback from these – along with risk assessments of schools’ parking and drop-off facilities across the city – were discussed yesterday.

I was keen to emphasise that drop-off and parking arrangements at the new West End schools project – on the former Logie Secondary site at Glenagnes Road/Blackness Road – must be fully resolved before St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Nursery School and Park Place Primary School move to their new homes in October.    There are a number of matters to be tackled in relation to this but the important thing is that we see much better facilities at the new site than in the current locations in Bellfield Street and Park Place.

After my two Monday ward surgeries (at Harris Academy and the Mitchell Street Centre), I had the pleasure of attending the latest committee meeting of the River Crescent Residents’ Association, at which we discussed a number of local matters including vehicle speeds, road condition, the forthcoming Dundee WestFest events, Riverside Nature Park and local bus services.

New Nursery/Primary Schools progress – latest newsletter

As I recently indicated following a site visit, good progress is being made on the new building for St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Nursery School and Park Place Primary School – due to open in October.

The contractor has now issued another newsletter – his sixth – to residents who live in the immediate vicinity of the building site on Blackness Road/Glenagnes Road.    

This is a good initiative to keep residents informed and you can download the newsletter at

Inside the new West End schools

As I indicated last week, I had the pleasure of attending a site visit around the new West End schools building project at Blackness Road/Glenagnes Road, that will become the new home of St Joseph’s Primary School and Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools from this autumn.

I did not post photos of the internal of the new schools as all participants were specifically asked not to take photographs for health and safety reasons in what is, of course, currently a building site.   Given that constituents are keen to see progress, I requested that Robertsons, the contractor, give us publicly available photos and I am pleased these have now been provided – see below.   It is good to see progress towards excellent new nursery and primary schools provision in the West End: 
Upper Floor Classroom
Kitchen Area
Ground Floor Classroom
Reception Area
Corridor Area

Schools visits

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking part in a site visit to the new West End schools building project – on the site of the former Logie Secondary site at Blackness Road/Glenagnes Road – that will provide the new centres for St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Nursery School and Park Place Primary School – see right.

Progress is good and the schools are scheduled to open on the new site after the October holidays.   Apart from the site visit, I had a useful discussion with council officers about road/pupil safety around the area adjacent to the new schools.

And – talking of pupil/road safety – later the same day, as part of the working group on road safety outside schools in Dundee, I took part in a visit to Forthill Primary School in Broughty Ferry, where there are real concerns about vehicle movements close to the school.   It was a highly informative site visit and – as one of the first ever pupils of Forthill PS back in the late 1960s and whose younger son attended the school in the late 1980s/early 1990s – it was good to revisit the school that has seen significant extension/improvement in recent years – see below.   I am anxious to see this working group result in improvements to pupil safety outside schools across Dundee.

New West End schools progress

Anyone passing the new St Joseph’s Primary, Park Place Nursery and Park Place Primary schools site in Blackness Road/Glenagnes Road cannot fail to notice the significant progress with the building project.

The one issue raised by constituents has been the extent of mud at the site entrance at the top of Glenagnes Road – tackled promptly by the contractor when I raised the concern.

The contactor has now issued his fifth newsletter to adjacent residents and you can download this at

Tuesday activities

Yesterday :

* I attended the latest meeting of the West End Schools’ Project Board, the group overseeing the construction of the new facilities for Park Place Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School and Park Place Nursery School, currently being built on the former Logie Secondary School site.    It was good to hear of progress with the project and the autumn 2012 opening date on course.

* Thereafter, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Sinderins and Pennycook Courts Residents’ Association, taking place at Pennycook Court.  We discussed various issues including progress with the new seating and environment improvements in Pennycook Lane, roads and pavements issues and bin collection.

* Yesterday evening, I took part in the latest West End Sports and Heritage Association (WESHA) committee meeting.   WESHA is making good progress in terms of sporting improvements for the West End including planned improvements to the Riverside sports’ changing rooms.

West End schools’ progress

Back in September, I updated residents about the construction of the new St Joseph’s Primary, Park Place Nursery and Park Place Primary Schools on the former Logie school site and gave links to the first two newsletters issued by the contractor, Robertson Construction, to adjacent householders in the Blackness Road, Abbotsford Street, Glenagnes Road/Logie, Rosefield Street and adjacent areas.

In recent weeks, the school building has moved forward significantly.   You can download the following two newsletters about the project, issued to adjacent householders, here :

Edition 3 – November 2011 :

Edition 4 – December 2011 :

West End schools building project – an update

As residents are aware, the construction of the new St Joseph’s Primary, Park Place Nursery and Park Place Primary Schools is now well-advanced and the building beginning to take shape.    I have raised with the Education Department a constituent concern about construction noise in the early mornings.

The contractor, Robertson Construction, has now issued two newsletters to adjacent householders in the Blackness Road, Abbotsford Street, Glenagnes Road/Logie, Rosefield Street and adjacent areas that you can download as follows :

May 2011 edition : 

Tuesday update

Today, I took part in the Jericho House Support Group latest meeting, at which we discussed and planned events for this very worthwhile project, including a dance during November and also a play Jericho House is planning on the subject of recovery from alcoholism.  It is hoped the play will run during West End Christmas Week.  The recent sponsored walk for Jericho House raised nearly £1000 – an excellent result.

Later on, I attended the West End Schools Project Board – the board set up to oversee the building project on the former Logie Secondary School site on Blackness Road for a new St Joseph’s Primary School and Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools.    I mentioned that the City Council must consider the need for a school crossing patroller on Glenagnes Road when the new schools open in October 2012.

Tonight, I attended a meeting of River Crescent Residents’ Association at which I discussed with residents a number of local matters, including the possibility of a Friends group for Riverside Nature Park and local roads issues.

This morning’s Courier covered my comments about Royal Mail’s decision to close the Crichton Street collection office and tonight’s Evening Telegraph reported on the 4S bus situation to St John’s High School and my concerns at the removal of this school bus.    A meeting of parents about the matter has been arranged for next Wednesday and I have booked Blackness Library for that meeting.

West End nursery and primary schools project

Following the commencement of site works on the former Logie Secondary site – to build the new St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Nursery School and Park Place Primary School – I have had several residents contact me about the building project.

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me at


This morning, along with one of my ward councillor colleagues, I attended a walkabout around the Pentland area with officers from various council departments to look at issues that require action in the area.     A number of issues were noted – eg damaged fencing, bin collections and recycling.

Another issue raised was the road condition of streets in Pentland (see photo of Loganlee Terrace’s roadway – above) and it was good to get feedback later today from the City Engineer as follows :  “Loganlee Terrace, Colinton Place and Pentland Crescent are all to have the proprietary Nimpactocote thin surfacing system applied this year.”

This afternoon, I attended the latest Project Board meeting for the West End schools building project for St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Nursery School and Park Place Primary School.    Thereafter, following my surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy, I attended the City Council’s Development Management Committee this evening.

Tuesday updates …

Today, I had an extremely useful meeting with Terry Small of the Dundee Museum of Transport.    Although the museum has long-term ambitions to open at the former Maryfield Transport Depot, it has secured shorter term use of a long vacant building in Roseangle to allow the museum to open.

This is an excellent project and I will be assisting the museum group in any way I can to make the museum in Roseangle a reality.

Later this afternoon, I attended the latest meeting of the West End Schools Project Board that is overseeing the building of the new St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Primary School and Park Place Nursery School on the site of the former Logie Secondary School in Blackness Road.    I asked questions about the building timetable and parking arrangements at St Joseph’s meantime.

West End Primary/Nursery Schools’ Planning Application

At tonight’s Dundee City Council Development Management Committee, the planning application for the replacement St Joseph’s Primary, Park Place Primary and Park Place Nursery schools was approved.

I asked questions about the traffic assessment and proposed travel plan. You can read the committee papers on this matter at

West End Schools – Planning Pre-Application Exhibition

This afternoon, I called in on the planning pre-application exhibition at Blackness Library – relative to the proposed replacement St Joseph’s Primary and Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools.
Given the Councillor Code of Conduct relative to planning applications, councillors can attend but cannot give an opinion or view on the planning proposals in advance of the finalised planning application coming before the City Council’s Development Quality Committee.
The exhibition continues at the library on Saturday between 10am and 1pm.

Thursday …

Good to see the coverage in today’s Scotsman of the meeting we held earlier this week to progress a memorial to the victims of the 1879 Tay Rail Bridge Disaster. This follows on from yesterday’s coverage in the Courier, and includes quotes from Stuart Morris of Balgonie and myself. You can read the article from the Scotsman at
Today, I attended the latest meeting of the West End Schools Projects Board (relative to the St Joseph’s Primary School and Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools projects) and later tonight I chaired the latest Friends of Magdalen Green meeting.

West End primary and nursery schools’ project

Having received queries from constituents about the change to the capital cost of the St Joseph’s Primary and Park Place Nursery and Primary schools projects, the City Council’s Director of Finance has responded to my enquiries as follows :
“The original costs were a very first estimate. The revised costs are based on detailed designs and ground surveys.    The main reasons why the project has moved from £10.3m to £11.5m are as follows:

1. Programme

The Education Committee report 69-2009 was based on a site start of Q1 2010. The revised site start date of Jan 2011 is a full year later which leads to increased inflationary costs.

2. Floor Area

The area of the building has increased due to the following:

– The circulation space for 2 single stream schools with a flexible classroom arrangement that can be used by either school is higher than a conventional 2 stream school.

– Although a 3 storey design solution offers advantages, for example more outdoor plan area, the internal design requires additional stairwells and lifts to operate effectively as 2 separate schools and comply with current building regulations.

– The nature of this site and the specific requirements of the shared campus mean that it would be very difficult to plan the nursery as an integrated facility within the main building structure. However, a separate nursery is then less efficient in terms of ground area required.”

West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting

I’ve been in Glasgow for the past couple of days with the ‘day job’ but back in Dundee tonight. No surgery at Blackness Primary School as the school was closed today (an in-service day) but tonight saw the West End local community planning partnership meeting take place at the Tartan Coffee House in Perth Road.

The main subject for discussion was a presentation by the Project Director from the City Council on the West End primary/nursery project (St Joseph’s/Park Place) and this attracted attendance from local residents, including members of the West End Parents‘ group.

Other matters discussed included parking, graffiti, and bus issues.

And … Wednesday …

A busy day – including :

* The first ever Board meeting for the West End Primary/Nursery Schools project – St Joseph’s Primary, Park Place Primary and Park Place Nursery Schools – took place. It is envisaged that a pre-planning application process, including an exhibition for parents, carers and the local community generally, will take place between February and April. The exhibition will be on 1st and 3rd April, and there was some discussion about the location of this – the consensus view I support is to hold it at Blackness Library.

* I had a useful meeting with a member of the WestFest committee about progress with this excellent initiative – see

* Tonight’s “Evening Telegraph” covered my concerns about the huge cuts in Fairer Scotland funded (FSF) projects across Dundee that have been supported by the SNP council administration. I have been inundated with messages of support over this issue – people right across Dundee are shocked at the extent of cuts to excellent projects that are aimed at helping the least affulent and most vulnerable citizens in our city.

I had a useful meeting this afternoon with council chief officers – including the Chief Executive, the Director of Finance and key directors – about the council budget. Aside from the smash and grab raid on FSF, the officers’ proposals on departmental budgets are sound.
I have described the SNP administration’s raid on FSF funding as Robin Hood in reverse – taking from those most in need. It is clear from feedback from many constituents that this is a view shared by people right across Dundee.

Update – West End Schools

Further to my article yesterday about the Scottish Government’s to allow the City Council deregulation from the Schools Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967 (as amended), that will allow the St Joseph’s Primary, and Park Place Primary and Nursery Schools Project to go ahead on the former Logie Secondary site in Dundee, I received a very prompt response to my request for an early Board meeting from Director of Education Jim Collins today, that indicated :

“I agree that we should try to organise a project board meeting as soon as possible. I shall be discussing that with the Chief Executive and with Chris Ward (Assistant Chief Executive) who, you may remember, was designated as the chair of the project board.”

It is very important indeed to consult with all stakeholders – particularly parents and carers and the wider local community – throughout the building process and I see the establishment of the Board and the promised project implementation groups as vital to the process of ensuring good quality consultation and making sure that all views, concerns and issues that may arise during the construction of the new schools are adequately addressed.

Parking – Park Place Nursery and Primary Schools

With the new school year about to commence this coming week and following concerns raised with me by parents, I met with the Head of Primary Education of Dundee City Council on Friday past regarding parking and dropping off arrangements at Park Place Primary School and the adjacent Nursery School.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education recently highlighted concerns about traffic and parking in the vicinity of the school and I am concerned to ensure that the City Council looks at all potential options for improving the situation, given the concerns from parents of children at both the nursery and primary schools.
I was pleased to learn that the Education Department is proactively looking at the issues and has indeed established a working group of cross-department senior officers to look at the issues affecting parking/drop off off pupils at schools across the city, as there are clearly issues at many schools in Dundee.    In addition to specific measures at Park Place and at other school locations, the working group is insisting that each school sets up its own Travel Plan to encourage safe and active routes to and from school.
Park Place is a particularly difficult site, given its congested location and very limited drop-off facilities.   A pilot drop-off facility to the rear of the school attempted last year was not well-used and resulted in the loss of play area, so I was anxious to learn what additional steps the Education Department will consider to ensure safe drop-off and collection of children from both the nursery and primary school.
Parents have been concerned about the speed of some vehicles in the vicinity of the school and that any badly parked vehicles made it difficult for parents and children to see to safely cross the road.     I was given an assurance that I’ll be kept updated on any further measures the Council’s Working Group arrives at and will be meeting with the new Head Teacher of Park Place Primary on appointment to discuss how any measures can be specifically applied at Park Place for the benefit of pupils and parents.
Pupil safety at schools is of paramount importance, as highlighted in the recent HMIE report, and I will be keeping a close eye of the situation with the onset of the new term this week.