Getting things done – Pentland #dundeewestend

Residents in Pentland Crescent and Pentland Avenue have asked me why they currently do not get offered a brown bin garden waste collection.
 
I raised this with the City Council and received the following positive response from the Service Manager – Waste Management in Neighbourhood Services :
 
” … neither Pentland Avenue or Crescent appear on our current brown bin routes.
 
However, going forward, I can’t see any reason why they would be excluded. 
 
I’ll discuss with the routing team to ensure they are sent appropriate information prior to the permitting scheme going live so they can participate if they so wish. 
 
This would also be the case for flats.”
 
While it is good that a brown bin collection will be offered in the future, this clearly will not be the case until the £35 charge per bin is introduced in March 2020.
 
I reiterate that introducing a charge for recycling garden waste is a retrograde step that will not help the city reach its recycling targets.

Pentland steps replacement – update from Dundee City Council

I have been advised of the following by the City Council :
 
“…we recently carried out work to replace steps at Pentland Avenue/Pentland Crescent. 
 
Work carried out on some of the steps has not been completed to the high standards that were expected and so the contractor, TN Gilmartin, are going back from Monday to carry out remedial works.
 
We are expecting works to last approximately 3 weeks. 
 
Local residents are being notified of the additional work.”

Getting things done – Scott Street and Pentland #dundeewestend

Over a prolonged period, I have received complaints about the lack of maintenance of the slopes at the west end of Scott Street and on Pentland Avenue – see below :
Scott Street – west end
Pentland Avenue
I have raised this on numerous occasions with the City Council and the latest update I have received is from the new area environment manager and I am grateful for his helpful response and trust we will now see improvements to the situation here and also to the general grass maintenance of the Pentland area into the future :
 
“First of all regarding the ground at the top of Scott Street. Due to the steepness of the slope we do not cut the grass as we do not have anything capable that would manage and be legal under Health & Safety regulations. Part of it gets cut with a tractor mounted flail which we hire in, but it can only go so far in from the street, the rest was left to naturalise, but one person’s naturalisation can be another person’s mess. 
 
This could be something that can be looked at over the winter period to see if we can improve the appearance of the area and I will run a few ideas past our projects team.
 
The bankings at Pentland Avenue have a similar problem but approached in a different way. We have one machine that can manage to cut the grass on these bankings but it works City Wide. When I made enquiries I discovered that it was in the workshop and will be unlikely to be back in service this week. Depending where they are on their cycle, once it is repaired they should get to Pentland Avenue in no more than a couple of weeks.
 
I have discovered since taking on the West End that the whole Pentland/Saggar Street area is “challenging” due to the terrain. Our service revisions carried out at this time do not seem to have done us any favours in respect of this area. There is not a great deal we can do now that we are well into the grass cutting season and it would be difficult to change things, but I have already asked our quality and development section look at the grass cutting regimes in this area as I do not want to see the same level of complaints next year as I have had this year.”

Replacement steps at Pentland #dundeewestend

I recently sought an update on behalf of Pentland residents about when the second set of new steps would be completed as was advised last week as follows :
 
“Our contractor on this project, Tayside Contracts, are advising that are awaiting on delivery of the anti slip material they need to finish off the steps. Without this, the steps could cause a slip hazard to members of the public. We would also not be prepared to open the steps for use until they are fully completed according to the design specification. 
 
The material should be delivered next week and as soon as they receive it, they will assign a member of staff to finish the job. Once completed, an inspection will be carried out and assuming everything is satisfactory, the fencing will be removed.
 
You may be interested to know that we are currently working on trying to start the next phase of the steps this financial year. This phase will concentrate on replacing the steps between Pentland Avenue and Pentland Crescent. The same standard of specification will be applied to this phase as was used on the steps between Pentland Crescent and Colinton Place.”
 
I am pleased to say the steps were completed and opened last Friday.

Lighting on paths and steps in Pentland – an update

Further to my article in May following the site visit with the Street Lighting Partnership Manager and also with the Chair of Community Spirit Action Group, the local residents’ group, to look at the new street lighting in Pentland, yesterday I had a useful meeting with the Director of Neighbourhood Services, some of her housing team, the council’s Service Manager – Community Safety and Resilience and the Street Lighting Partnership Manager.
 
This was primarily about the issue that, because the new lighting is that, because it is focussed on the road and pavements, it does not light paths and steps to housing as well as the old lighting.    I am concerned that in the winter, darker months, lighting could potentially be inadequate.
 
We agreed the following approach which makes sense :
 
• Ensure trees that need trimmed (already identified) are attended to – to maximise the effectiveness of existing lighting.
• After the clocks change in October, undertake measurements of lighting levels on these steps and paths to ensure they meet required levels.
• If there are any locations where lighting needs boosted, static security lights will be progressed.
• The Community Wardens service will meantime monitor any concerns about lighting in the area.

New street lighting in Pentland

I recently participated in a site visit with the Street Lighting Partnership Manager and also with the Chair of Community Spirit Action Group, the local residents’ group, to look at the new street lighting in Pentland.
 
The new lighting has been met with mixed reviews and, at the site visit, I asked that the lighting levels be measured to ensure they meet acceptable standards.     The Street Lighting Partnership Manager has now updated me as follows :
 
“I can confirm that we have now verified our lighting levels within the Pentland/Saggar Street area.
 
Measurements were carried out very late at night in order to minimise spill light from properties. 
 
Lighting levels were measured at a number of various locations throughout Saggar Street, Pentland Crescent and Colinton Place and I can confirm that all achieved the required designed levels with only one exception.
 
The single location which failed was at the rear of the footpath outside block number 8 on Saggar Street. This is due to the presence of a large tree at this location which overhangs not only the footpath but extends over the carriageway as well. However some extensive tree pruning will rectify this issue.”
 
The Street Lighting Partnership has supplied me with a map of the estate with details of trees needing trimmed that will improve the effectiveness of the new lighting.     I have given this to environment managers asking that necessary tree trimming work be carried out.
 
Another aspect of the new lighting is that, because it is focussed on the road and pavements, it does not light paths and steps to housing as well as the old lighting.    I contacted housing officers about this indicating that ‘security’ type static lights should be considered for dark paths and stepped areas and the Head of Housing and Communities has advised :
 
“While this raises a number of issues including available resources we are happy to have initial discussions with colleagues in the Street Lighting Partnership.
 
Once we have done so we will have a better idea of all the relevant issues and will come back to you to update on our position.”

Me pictured at the Saggar Street/Loganlee Terrace junction with the new street lights in Loganlee Terrace

 

Solar Cities Scotland event for Pentland and Logie residents

Energy MonitoringFrom Solar Cities Scotland about improving your home insulation :

 

We are having a drop in event from 10am-6pm on Monday 23rd February in Room 17 at the Mitchell Street Centre.

 

We have invited all Pentland residents in order to view their recent thermal images as well as Logie residents to in order to discuss the progress of our internal insulation pilot project in one home in Logie for which we received an award of £2000 from Dundee Partnership.  Full information on the outcomes will be in the final report which will be produced by the end of March 2015.

 

If you happen to be free and in the area please feel free to drop in or to pass this on to anyone who you think may be interested in finding out more about thermal imaging or our Logie pilot project.    We are happy to give advice with any energy efficiency related queries or renewable technologies for anyone as always too. 

 

 

Please note that, as there is no lift to this room, we have offered to visit people in their homes, or email images to people who have accessibility issues or who can’t make it along on Monday.

 

Background to the Logie insulation project

 

Solar Cities Scotland applied to the Dundee Partnership in September 2014 and was successfully awarded £2000 for a Pilot Insulation Project in Logie.

 

We are grateful to the Dundee Partnership for this funding to allow this pilot project to go ahead. We will pass on our findings to Dundee City Council Housing Department as well as to Logie residents, local councillors and other interested parties. We hope that by using this internal insulation product we may be able to offer a viable solution to assist with lowering energy costs and carbon emissions the residents of these solid wall properties in Logie.

 

The Logie properties are nearly 100 years old and are known as ‘hard to heat’ properties due to the fact that they are solid wall properties which are not suitable for cavity wall insulation. As a Conservation Area, no external insulation can be applied to the homes. The houses have large, draughty basements which cannot be insulated due to the presence of asbestos. As a result, the only hard measure that can be done is loft insulation. Our thermal images identified that the majority of these homes already have this to the current standard. The issue remains that the homes are expensive to heat with many of the residents suffering from fuel poverty. There are many older people within these homes.

 

We are supporting the Dundee Partnership’s commitment to tackling deprivation by ‘closing the gap’ between inequalities in terms of housing and fuel poverty across Dundee.

Last couple of days …

On Thursday, I took part in a walkabout with council officers round the Pentland area, similar to the one last Tuesday in Blackness, at which we identified and take action on local issues.
 
In Pentland, the following were taken up – amongst other issues :
Repairs to steps at various locations in Pentland are being undertaken
Overgrown bushes in Pentand Avenue are to be trimmed
and trees requiring trimming also reported
I have reported paint vandalism to a utility box at
Colinton Street/Saggar Street to British Telecom
Later on Thursday, I chaired the latest meeting of the West End Christmas Fortnight committee, at Blackness Library.    

 
We are very pleased with progress with this year’s events and it will be the biggest and best Christmas Fortnight yet!   
 
Christmas Fortnight runs from Saturday 22nd November to Saturday 6th December.

 
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Rev David Gray, new Minister at Logie and St John’s (Cross) Church at the church’s Community Cafe.    
 
I look forward to working with him in the coming years and wish him every success in his new role.

Getting things done – steps in Pentland

I have recently received complaints about the deteriorated state of the steps within the Pentland estate that run between Pentland Avenue to Pentland Crescent and also between Pentland Crescent to Colinton Place.
 
Responsibility for their maintenance now lies with council’s City Development Department and, following my raising the situation with the department, an officer from the department has now updated me as follows :
 
“I have visited the site and whilst I did not see broken slabs, there are, however, areas where the joints in the slabs require some cement pointing and some of the vertical brick risers require some cement facing.    There is a broken slab at the set of steps to the rear of 48 Pentland Ave, the maintenance of this set of steps still lies with Housing Department.
It is our intention to put together a package for minor repair work at the five sets of step areas we are responsible for in the Pentland area :
 
the link from 48 Pentland Avenue to opposite 25 Pentland Crescent
the link from 40 Pentland Avenue to opposite 17 Pentland Crescent
the link from 30 Pentland Avenue to opposite 9 Pentland Crescent
the link from 17 Pentland Crescent to opposite 9 Colinton Place
the link from 9 Pentland Crescent to opposite 1 Colinton Place

Community Spirit Action Group meeting

Earlier tonight,  I attended the February meeting of Community Spirit – the community group for the “north” part of West End Ward, covering Tullideph, Pentland, Ancrum and the Cleghorn area.   The meeting took place in the Mitchell Street Centre.
 
There was firstly a presentation by George Gammack of Living Streets, on the advantages of 20 mph zones in highly residential areas, an issue I have long campaigned for, particularly in parts of the West End that have very narrow roads, like Logie, the Perth Road lanes, Pentland and Ancrum Drive.
 
Thereafter, at my request on behalf of residents and with the kind agreement of the Chair of Community Spirit, a representative of the Environment Department spoke to update everyone about the communal ‘eurobin’ trial in Saggar Street and the intention, in due course, to review the bin collection arrangements in other parts of Pentland, such as Loganlee Terrace.
 
I am very grateful to the residents who attended (particularly as it has been a miserable, rainy evening!) to give their feedback on the trial.   Loss of parking through placing the bins on the road edge is a clear issue and I have asked that the council look at the viability of placing the bins off the road and, meantime, the department has agreed to ensure the siting of the bins minimises parking loss.   It will also look at changing the bin lids, which are rather heavy, particularly for older residents to use.

Pentland walkabout

Earlier today, along with the council’s Housing Officer for the area, representatives from Community Spirit Action Group, the City Development Department and the Environment Department, I took part in a walkabout around Pentland, to look at local issues, similar to the walkabouts last week at Logie and Blackness.
 
We looked at many issues – poor conditioned steps, dumped rubbish, grass maintenance – to name just three – and action will be taken to address all the issues we looked at.

Pentland Avenue embankment

I have had complaints from residents that the embankment at Pentland Avenue looks very poor, with burned/dead weeds across it.

I have taken up the matter with the Environment Department and have now been advised:

“The burned dead weeds are where we have applied herbicide in an effort to keep the vegetation at bay. At this time of year we really have no option if we are to keep on top of the vegetation in this area. If finances allow we will plant up more shrubs in this area as ground cover over the winter period.

The front of the embankment where we planted trees and shrubs as part of our environmental improvements is still clean and looks ok from my perspective.”

Pentland Avenue wall – latest update

Back in March, I firstly raised with the City Engineer concerns about a significant amount of water seepage from the retaining wall along Pentland Avenue, towards the Balgay Road end of the wall.   This had been raised with me by local residents and by representatives of Community Spirit Action Group.

The council has been undertaking tests to get to the bottom of the issue and I have had another update from the Team Leader (Infrastructure) in the City Development Department as follows:

“To update you on the seepage issue, as you know we dye tested the drains to determine that these were not leaking.   
 
I had intended to get Scottish Water to test the water for chlorine to see if it was a leaking service pipe.   However, the seepage has (at least for the time being dried up such that there is no water to test.
 
This leads me to conclude that my initial assumption that the seepage is ground water due to raised water table after last year’s persistent rainfall is probably correct.
 
I will monitor the situation and should the seepage re-occur I will get the water tested then and consider what further action may be required.”

Update regarding the leaks in the wall in Pentland Avenue

Further to my article last month about the water leaks in Pentland Avenue along the wall that runs alongside the pavement towards the Balgay Road end, I asked the City Council for an update on the findings from the monitoring exercise the council agreed to at my request.  
 
The Team Leader (Infrastructure) in the City Development Department has advised that :
 
“We carried out dye testing of the drain in the footway to Pentland Avenue on Monday 15th April.
This was witnessed by a Pentland Avenue resident.
The dye did not appear in the seepage from the embankment even after a considerable time period.
The dye did pass from one manhole to the next and all manholes were clear.
We lifted the lid of the buchan trap you have photographed*. At the time it was full to the lid of earth. The earth was removed and we discovered that the trap has been sealed over below the level of earth.
I have requested that Scottish Water test the seepage water to determine whether or not it is mains water.
I will advise you when I have the results of the testing.
You will have noticed that the volume of seepage is considerably less leading me to believe my original assessment that this is ground water may prove to be correct.”
 
*see right.

Pentland ‘walkabout’

This morning, along with members of Community Spirit Action Group, council officers from the Environment and Housing Department and community wardens, and my ward colleague Cllr Richard McCready, I took part in the latest walkabout around the Pentland area to look at a variety of local issues.
 
Here’s some photographs outlining some of the local matters looked at today:
Damage to stairs that has been reported for repair
New planting on the embankment at Pentland Avenue – further improvement here is planned
Damaged fencing at the Scott Street entrance to Balgay Park – the Environment Department is planning improvements
After requesting pavement improvements in Pentland, it was pleasing to see the works are making good progress

Wall in Pentland Avenue

Last month, I mentioned that the City Engineer had indicated to me that his department was monitoring the area of the wall in Pentland Avenue that runs alongside the main pavement.   On behalf of local residents and the Community Spirit Action Group, I had reported to him considerable water seepage in the area of the wall.
 
I have now had the following update from the Team Leader (Infrastructure) at the City Council:
 
“I have met with local residents and I am arranging for Tayside Contracts to carry out dye testing of the sewer in the remote footpath fronting the houses to see if this indicates a possible source.
 
The testing will be done after Tayside Contracts Easter holiday break.”

Pentland Avenue wall – an update

I have recently been in touch with the City Engineer regarding concerns about a significant amount of water seepage from the retaining wall along Pentland Avenue, towards the Balgay Road end of the wall.   This has been raised with me by local residents and by representatives of Community Spirit Action Group.
 
The City Engineer has updated me as follows:
 
“As you will be aware weather-wise,  we have had higher than normal levels of rainfall.
 
This has led to ground saturation and less natural absorption and attenuation of rainfall. This has resulted in elevated ground water tables.
 
Our feeling is that it is these circumstances which has led to the seepage through the wall at Pentland Avenue.
 
We are not aware of this being a historical problem and this seepage could well cease during an extended period of dry weather.
 
As we will soon see warmer temperatures, there will be less risk of icing of the footway leading to safety concerns.
 
Therefore, I propose to monitor the site over the next few months before deciding whether or not any action is necessary.”

Lighting issues – Scott Street and Logie

Steps between Pentland Avenue and Scott Street
On behalf of residents, I recently raised the need for lighting improvements in the Scott Street and Logie areas – particularly replacing the old ‘orange’ lighting in Scott Street and lighting the steps down from Pentland Avenue to Scott Street.
 
The City Council’s Street Lighting Partnership has now advised me as follows:
 
“Re Logie – most is converted to white light but we did discuss converting Scott Street to white light … and hope to do this either before the end of March or early in the new financial year.
 
Re the Path/steps – we looked at putting lights on the stairs.   Unfortunately it’s just not technically feasible and the costs would not justify since there is a lit route via the end of Scott Street.”
 
The upgrading of the lighting in Scott Street is to be welcomed.

Getting things done … Ancrum Drive and Pentland

Yesterday, I also took part in a site visit I had organised with Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, to the Pentland and Ancrum Drive areas.
 
Two representatives from Sustrans, along with a good-sized group of local residents, representatives from Community Spirit Action Group and myself met up to look at possible ways of tackling some of the issues in Ancrum Drive and Pentland – road safety, parking, traffic calming, etc.
 
Sustrans in Scotland has done some really good work as pilot projects on this type of issue in both Kirkcaldy and Elgin, so their input and advice is really helpful in terms of tackling residents’ concerns about parking and traffic/safety issues in Ancrum Drive and the Pentland area.     I’m most grateful to the Sustrans representatives for attending yesterday and to the many residents who came along and gave their views.

Recent meetings …

On Wednesday, I had a very useful meeting with the City Council’s Head of Planning, the council’s Conservation Officer and a senior Buildings Standards Surveyor about my concerns regarding the state of the Queen Victoria Works site and we also had a detailed discussion regarding derelict or dilapidated buildings in other parts of the West End and across the city and how the City Council will seek to attempt to work with owners to bring these back into productive use.

In a positive sense, the officers confirmed a willingness to open a dialogue with the owners of Queen Victoria Works about the site’s future.   Clearly the economic downturn after 2008 has made the sale and development of the site more difficult, particularly given the particularly challenging situation for the construction industry, but City Council officers are willing to proactively engage in discussions with the owner over site options and one possible way of assisting is through the development of a Site Planning Brief for the works – this has been a way of encouraging development and future planning applications at other challenging sites across the city.

On the wider issue of derelict and dilapidated buildings in other parts of the West End and across Dundee as a whole, the City Council’s Chief Executive has agreed to my request to re-establish a Derelict Land Working Group to identify such properties and look at ways of bringing specific sites back into use and having them improved.

Also on Wednesday, I had a very useful meeting with two senior members of the Education Department about the new staffing structure within the department.

Last night, along with our local police sergeant, I met with residents from Ancrum Drive at the Ancrum Outdoor Education Centre in Ancrum Road, to discuss progress with parking and related issues in the street.

It was a very positive and productive evening and I am grateful for the Tayside Police input into the meeting. Next month, a representative of the leading transport charity SUSTRANS has kindly agreed at my request to visit Dundee to look at traffic-related issues in particular parts of the West End where there are issues – such as Ancrum Drive and also in the Pentland estate.   SUSTRANS has undertaken an excellent safer streets project in part of Kirkcaldy and the lessons from that project will assist in terms of trying to improve the traffic and parking issues in streets like Ancrum Drive.

“Keep Clear” markings at Pentland

I was pleased to note that, at my request and following the recent road resurfacing on Colinton Place and Pentland Crescent, the “Keep Clear” signs on the bend in the road have been re-painted.    See below:
Immediately after the surfacing work, the bin collection could not take place in Colinton Place due to cars parked on the bend and the markings are a helpful reminder to drivers.

Busy Friday …

Yesterday, following my raising concerns that the latest City Council new recycling kerbside collection pilot excluded the West End Ward (and two of the other seven wards in Dundee), I met with the City Council’s Environment Director and the Head of Environmental Protection regarding the matter.

We had a useful discussion and I did obtain assurances that the department aims to swiftly roll out the facility to as many ‘viable’ houses as possible, hopefully this financial year.   It is expected that a report will go to the council’s Environment Committee later in the year regarding the roll-out programme and I will expect to see West End households benefiting from the extension of recycling facilities at that time.     I also raised the need to offer plastics recycling at Tesco Riverside and aluminium cans recycling at the Roseangle Car Park recycling facility and was promised that this would be considered.

Also yesterday, I had a site meeting with local residents and a City Council officer about improving security at the Lochee Park Bowling Green and thereafter met with representatives of the Community Spirit Action Group and a representative from Dundee City Council about the quality of grass maintenance in Pentland.    We viewed the remote controlled grass cutting machine in action (see right) and sought assurances about the way the grass is cut across Pentland to ensure a good quality result.

I had a superb lunch at the Dundee West Church Healthy Eating Lunches and the chance for a chat with Rev Andrew Greaves about local issues.   The Healthy Eating Lunches remain a hugely well-attended community resource.   Next Friday’s are the last before the summer break but they will be back later in the year!

Late yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a reception (see right) to launch the University of Abertay Dundee Digital Graduate Show, showcasing work by students in areas such as computer arts, creative sound production, game design, visual communications and media design.   A fantastic event and great to hear students talk about their work and ambitions.    See more below …

Issues at Pentland

Yesterday, along with council officers, local residents and two of my ward colleagues, I attended a walkabout round the Pentland area.   We undertake these walkabouts round Pentland (also Logie and the Corso/Abbotsford/Blackness area) twice a year to look at any local issues that need attention.

Yesterday there were a number of issues highlighted including :

* The poor condition of some of the steps in the internal paths of the estate and going up to some houses – see above right.   

* The variable quality of grass maintenance in the open plan areas of Pentland.    I have written to the Environment Department asking for action to improve the situation.

Getting things done … Steps from Pentland Avenue to Scott Street

Residents have complained to me about damage to the steps (see right) leading down from Pentland Avenue to Scott Street.

I contacted the council’s Roads Maintenance Partnership who have now advised me that:

“An order has been raised by the Road Maintenance Partnership inspector for the repair of a hole at the top of the steps on Pentland Avenue with a timescale for completion of three days.”

Pentland walkabout

Pentland, viewed from City Road
Yesterday, along with council officers and a ward colleague, I took part in a “walkabout” around the Pentland area to look at issues in the estate.

The substantive issue discussed was about improving grass maintenance in the area, and we also looked at a number of other issues including parking and road condition.   On the latter matter, it is good that streets in the area will be resurfaced early next year, as I reported last month.

Pentland road resurfacing

Having taken up a number of concerns from residents about the state of the road surfaces on the roads in Pentland, I was pleased to be advised recently by the City Engineer of a proposed surfacing programme planned for early next year :

“It is proposed to apply a proprietary thin surfacing treatment to Pentland Crescent, Loganlee Terrace and Colinton Place in March of 2012.  For your information it usually takes less than a day per street to apply this treatment with road marking works to follow.”