I mentioned that I had written to a major national retailer about an ATM at one of their stores in the West End Ward to see if the company nationally was willing to consider contributing to the costs of this particular ATM so it could offer free cash withdrawals in the future.
I am pleased to advise that this retailer – the Co-operative Group – has reacted positively and has converted the AGM in question (at their store at the junction of Polepark Road/Edward Street/Brook Street) to free to use – see new machine now installed – right.
|Polepark Road – damaged wall|
|Larch Street – road damage|
I reported last November that the City Council intended using legislation under the Tenement (Scotland) Act 2004 to ballot owners in blocks of flats where there is a mix of owner occupiers and council tenants to see if a majority will agree to the installation of controlled entry systems.
This is to ensure that the previous problem of just one unco-operative owner in, say, a block of eight flats stopping the majority wish for a controlled entry system that greatly helps home security.
I’m pleased, therefore, to be advised by the City Council that the first of these ballots took place recently and the outcome was a positive vote in favour of secure entry in all the West End Ward properties that were in the first phase of balloting. This will mean new controlled entry systems in various blocks in Blackness Road, Polepark Road and a block in Saggar Street, which is good news.
I have welcomed news that the City Council has, after an options appraisal, finally decided to renovate a badly damaged council house in Polepark Road and bring it back into the tenancy pool.
The property has sat empty since it was abandoned in August 2008 and I have been in contact with the Housing Department to query why it had been left empty so long.
The City Housing Manager has now updated me as follows :
“As promised here is the outcome of the Options Appraisal exercise.
We explored two options and determined that the optimal approach was to refurbish the property – combining specialist timber treatment and solum works with planned capital investment (kitchen/bathroom/heating) and normal relet repairs – with a view to offering it to mainstream waiting list clients.
The other option was to carry out essential specialist remedial works only, secure the property and remove it from the Housing Revenue Account on the grounds that the investment in refurbishing doesn’t represent value for money.”
I am pleased that the Housing Department has finally decided to do the necessary work to get this property back into use as this will help house someone on the waiting list, but the question remains as to why it was left such a long time sitting empty.
At the last Scrutiny Committee of the City Council, I expressed concern that the time taken for reletting houses under the SNP administration is getting worse. In the 6 months to 30th September 2009, the average time to relet a council house was 74.5 days; it had worsened by the 6 months to 30th September 2010 to 98.7 days.
I was assured that effort was being made to improve matters and get average relet time down to 65 days – but the Housing Department seemed not to know when this target will be met. I have asked for an update on progress on this as getting empty houses re-let quicker must be a priority for the Housing Department.
“This property was extensively damaged – provisional estimated cost £20 K.+ – when recovered as an abandonment in August 2008. At that time an operational decision was taken to not commit this level of resources on a property with little or no demand (ground floor bedsit).
What should have happened is what we are now doing and an options appraisal exercise is being undertaken to determine how best to resolve the issues around this particular vacant property.”
I have replied stating :
“I must confess considerable concern that an options appraisal exercise has not been carried out sooner at (this property in) Polepark Road and that the property has been left in this situation for such a lengthy period. Can I please be given an assurance over the timeframe for the options appraisal and can I have sight of it when complete and detail of any decisions taken as a result of it?”
I also asked about another property that is lying empty in Polepark Road and was advised :
” … this property was fire damaged a few weeks ago and we are in the process of arranging the appropriate repairs to allow the decanted tenant to return a.s.a.p.”
I have responded as follows :
” … could you give me some clarity on dates? When did the fire take place and if the department is now “in the process of arranging the appropriate repairs” what he been happening with this property in the meantime? When will it be available for the decanted tenant to return?”
There’s an important issue here. At the last Scrutiny Committee, I expressed concern that the time taken for reletting houses under the SNP administration is getting worse.
In the 6 months to 30th September 2009, the average time to relet a council house was 74.5 days; it had worsened by the 6 months to 30th September 2010 to 98.7 days, despite the SNP administration’s “enhanced relets policy” that has cost council tenants a small fortune.
At the Scrutiny Committee, I was assured that effort was being made to improve matters and get average relet time down to 65 days – but the Housing Department seemed not to know when this target will be met. I have therefore also sought clarity on this from the Director of Housing.
Received today from the City Council :
Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas main replacement works. The Order is expected to be in force for five weeks from 8 March 2010. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.
The effect of the Order is to prohibit all vehicular traffic in (a) Smellies Lane from Lochee Road to Ash Street, (b) Ash Street from Smellies Lane to Douglas Street and (c) West Hendersons Wynd from Douglas Street to Brook Street.
Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises will be maintained where possible.
An alternative route will be available via Lochee Road, Polepark Road and Brook Street.
Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to the Network Management Team, City Development Department, Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date. If you have any queries please contact the team on 433082.
I am advised that this is because of telecommunications ducting works and the alternative route is via West Marketgait/Hawkhill/Horsewater Wynd/Guthrie Street/Brook Street/Polepark Road.
Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained throughout.
For further information, contact the Planning & Transportation Department on 433168.
Lastly, thanks to the Waste Management Department for swiftly responding to a number of complaints about dumped rubbish in the Perth Road area that I had raised following residents’ complaints – e.g. near Springfield and near the former Valentine’s site.
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.