Getting things done – Seabraes bridge lift #dundeewestend

Since the Seabraes bridge opened in 2015, I have had to report numerous lift breakdowns to the City Council and there have again been problems recently.
 
I have now been updated by the Team Leader in Dundee City Council’s City Development Department Infrastructure Team, as follows :
 
“Following discussion with our internal property colleagues, the recent fault with the lift has been with the landing call buttons ‘which when pressed’ have not called the lift as highlighted by your constituents. 
 
I have been advised that the buttons were recently replaced, however this has not completely resolved the problem. 
 
Lift engineers attended site last week and gave (remote) access to the lifts software which allowed the control board manufacturer to look at what was going on with the programming. 
 
They have presented a couple of ideas which they are currently trying at the moment.  If all else fails, then the control panel may need to be replaced.”
 
I am keen to ensure there is a robust solution as the number of breakdowns over approaching five years has been significant.

Seabraes Bridge – lift

Residents pointed out to me that there is still no signage at the Seabraes Bridge to let people know who to call if the bridge is out of order.
 
I contacted the engineer responsible for the bridge maintenance and he has updated me as follows :
 
“At present there is no signage on the bridge to advise users of the phone number to call in order to report a fault with the lift.  
I have been advised that the call out telephone number is likely to change at the end of February, therefore I will arrange for a temporary sign with the current number to be displayed at the bridge by the end of this week.
Once the new number is confirmed late February, I will arrange for a more permanent sign to be installed.”

Environmental improvements – Seabraes

Further to my article earlier this week about environmental improvements in the Hawkhill area, I am pleased to say that the City Council is also to be undertaking similar improvements to the area of the Seabraes steps, just down from the high quality plants and grass seating area at the top of Seabraes.
 
An indication of the proposals is given below and you can see the detailed plans here and here :

Seabraes Bridge – lift breakdowns

The bridge at Seabraes officially opened only last June but there’s unfortunately already been a number of lift breakdowns.
 
Unfortunately another – the third – occurred last week and, in addition to seeking repair, I asked the Senior Engineer in the council’s Structures & Bridges Team – who is in charge of the project – for assurances that the lift is fit for purpose and we won’t see further regular breakdowns.
 
I have now had feedback from him as follows :
 
“We are satisfied that the lift meets the performance specification required for an external lift and has been installed and maintained/serviced by a recognised and reputable lift company, Stannah.
However, we have requested that the contractor carries out a thorough inspection of the installation and provides us with a full summary of the number and cause of breakdowns to date.”

Seabraes Bridge – lift reassurance

Last month, I raised residents’ concerns with the City Council that, after just weeks of operation, the lift at the new Seabraes Bridge had broken down.
 
In advance of this week’s official opening of the bridge, I paste below the reassurances about the (now repaired) lift – from the City Engineer :
 
“The lift was brought back into operation that same week that you raised it with the lift manufacturer carrying out a full service and inspection of the lift and all its components. The lift will be serviced by the manufacturer every month during the defects period, when teething problems/bedding-in issues are most likely to occur. 
I understand that the fault was due to excess grit surplus from the bridge surfacing finding its way into the door carrier mechanism rather than a lift “over-use” issue. Vacuum cleaning the deck to remove the excess grit should have solved the operational issues. 
A full breakdown service is in place and members of the public should contact the emergency call out number 0141 882 9946 (this number is staffed 24/7, 365 days/year) to report a fault. Signage will be installed on-site to highlight this to ensure that if any breakdown occurs the lift is quickly repaired and back in operation as soon as possible.
The lift has been designed and manufactured by Stannah, a recognised leading lift supplier and is considered appropriate for its environment and frequency of usage.”

Tuesday activities

Yesterday, I was able to attend part of the Dundee Economic Summit at the Apex Hotel, with some superb speakers and a very positive narrative about the city’s economic development.
 
Thereafter, I was interviewed by STV News about the opening of the new Seabraes Bridge (see right).   The bridge looks fantastic and is of real benefit to the West End, greatly improving links between Riverside and Seabraes/Perth Road.

In the afternoon, I look part in a very positive and productive Dundee Airport Consultative Committee meeting at the Invercarse Hotel. 

Last night, it was a great pleasure to be a guest at the Dundee West Church Sheila Tennant Awards – in the spirit of Mary Slessor.    Sheila (pictured below left) was a very old friend of mine, who passed away in 2013.   
 
It was typical of Sheila’s generosity that she left a substantial legacy to Dundee West Church, her own parish church, and the church is using a generous part of the legacy for the awards to benefit local good causes and projects.   I was delighted to be part of the judging panel of the Community Endeavour Award, won by St Salvador’s Episcopal Church for their excellent Food Cupboard initiative.
 
The Awards night was absolutely superb, with excellent musical entertainment from Harris Academy pupils and pupils from Victoria Park Primary School and eight awards were presented by Mary, Countess of Strathmore.    It was very well-attended and congratulations go to Rev Andrew Greaves, Vicky Greaves and all at Dundee West Church for such a superb community event.    See photo from last night – below:

 

Progress with the pedestrian bridge at Seabraes

Further to my previous updates about the new pedestrian bridge at Seabraes, across the rail line to Riverside, I recently asked the City Engineer for an update on progress with the bridge’s construction.
 
He has responded positively as follows :
 
“The project is progressing well and is on programme. 
 
You may have seen that the bridge steelwork has been delivered to site and is in the process of being fabricated for a single lift into place mid-April. 
 
The works‎ are programmed for completion and opening mid May 2015.”
 
See photo below of the bridge steelwork :

Proposed pedestrian bridge at Seabraes

Artist’s impression of the bridge
Back in 2011, I welcomed use of the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund to create the long-awaited pedestrian bridge from Seabraes to Riverside – something I have long campaigned for.
 
The bridge project is now progressing and has been generally welcomed as improving the link between Seabraes, Perth Road and the wider West End with Riverside and a number of constituents have asked what it is likely to be named.    They have mentioned some suggestions – Seabraes Bridge, West End Bridge, Michael Marra Way, Riverside Bridge and one even mentioned William Topaz McGonagall Bridge.
 
I asked the City Council’s Director of City Development about this and he has responded :
 
“Over the past few years, the development of the concept and design has had a working title of Seabraes Bridge and the intention is to formally recognise this and name it Seabraes Bridge upon its completion next year.  The area of the former rail yards now has an established name of Seabraes Yard as part of the wider Dundee Waterfront development, the name ‘Seabraes Bridge’ will help ensure that there is a psychological linkage from Perth Road through Seabraes Yard and on to the Waterfront at Riverside Drive.”
 
Clearly, the finalised agreed name will require council committee approval in due course but it is useful to know the officers’ recommendation and allow residents to give their views.

West End Christmas Fortnight photocall launch!

With just days to go before the start of West End Christmas Fortnight, at lunchtime today, I took part in a photocall at the West End Christmas Tree at Seabraes, with a number of colleagues, to highlight our forthcoming events!
 
Ably assisted by four pupils from Victoria Park Primary School, I am pictured alongside (from left) Gavin Baird of Ross & Liddell (one of our principal sponsors), Rev Andrew Greaves and Ann Prescott of the Christmas Fortnight Committee:
 

A great Christmas night in the West End!

We have had a superb Christmas night in the West End this evening, with a packed-out Christmas Concert in Dundee West Church, Christmas Tree Lights Switch On, fireworks and carnival ride.
 
The turnout this year was the best ever of the 12 years we have organised these events and I am indebted to my colleagues on the West End Christmas Committee and many others including – Rev Andrew Greaves and Dundee West Church, Robin Carstairs our fireworks supremo, Nisa Extra and the Kilted Kitchen who organised a great selection of food and drinks, Horne’s Carnivals, the University of Dundee for use of their car park – and the large number of West End residents who took part tonight.
 
Here’s a few photos from tonight’s events:
Concert in Dundee West Church
Mother Goose, Priscilla – and yours truly!
With the snowman!
With our local police!
Santa!
Carnival Ride on Duncan of Jordanstone Car Park
Kilted Kitchen was busy!
Tree Lights on!

And a couple of videos!

Monday activities

Following my weekly ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and at Harris Academy, I attended tonight’s meeting of the City Council’s Development Management Committee at which a planning application for office accommodation at the digital media park in Greenmarket – aimed at the digital media/creative industries sector – was considered.

The application was rightly strongly backed – by 21 votes to 2 – but I did seek – and obtained – assurances about visual appearance and the quality of design.    

Supporting our digital media sector is vital if we are to secure economic growth for our city and it is good to see the future of the digital media park at Greenmarket and Seabraes being secured. 

A great night in the West End!

Following a packed Christmas Concert in Dundee West Church tonight, the West End Christmas Lights were switched on at Seabraes, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.    A great night was had by all and my many thanks to all who made tonight such a success!
PC Bob and me, trying out the glo-specs and ears!
Santa visits the Fire Engine at Seabraes!
Image projected onto the tenement adjacent to Seabraes.   We are very grateful to Elan Audio Visual Solutions for their superb lighting and audio tonight!
The West End Christmas Tree!

Tonight at 6pm – West End Christmas Concert, Christmas Lights Switch On and spectacular fireworks extravaganza!

This year’s West End Christmas Concert takes place at Dundee West Church at 6pm. All local residents are very welcome to attend. There will be musical contributions from local primary and secondary schools and we are also delighted to welcome leading Scottish traditional singer Sheena Wellington and the children of the Russian School that takes place at Harris Academy at weekends.
At 7pm, the West End Christmas Lights will be switched on at Seabraes by Sheena Wellington’s grandson Liam Wellington aged two and a half, accompanied by characters from the Downfield Musical Society Panto Aladdin.     There will be carol singers from the University of Dundee group DARE round the tree and a spectacular fireworks display after the lights switch-on.    Santa and sleigh will be present too.
It’ll be a fantastic night for the West End and all local residents are welcome to attend.   We are very grateful to all local businesses, schools, residents and others who have made this year’s West End Christmas Week such a success.

City Council meetings tonight

At a lengthy session of Dundee City Council committees tonight:

* At Education Committee, I asked questions about the proposal to move to a standardised 33 period week across the city’s secondary schools.   Specifically, I asked about the provision of physical education should such a proposal be implemented and I also sought assurances relative to the proposed Harris Academy decant – due from 2013-16 – to enable the Harris rebuilding project.

* At City Development Committee, I sought assurances that the Hunter Street car parking improvement project – that would create additional parking facilities near to the University of Dundee campus – thus relieving car parking problems across the West End – will go ahead.   I also welcomed use of the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund to create the long-awaited pedestrian bridge from Seabraes to Riverside – something I have long campaigned for.     I also asked questions about improved gully cleaning operations across Dundee and had a question about improving winter maintenance operations.

* At Policy & Resources Committee, I presented the following motion :

“Dundee City Council notes, with concern, the request made last week to the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee, by the Scottish Funding Council, that the two universities commence talks to consider the possible merger of the City’s two universities.
The City Council recognises that it would be highly detrimental to the City of Dundee if the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee, were forced to merge.  
The City Council further recognises that both our universities are dynamic institutions but their focus is rightly different and they complement one another.   That would be lost by a forced merger, with a detrimental impact on the availability and diversity of course provision.   
The City Council also notes, with concern, the potential for job losses caused by such a merger.
Dundee City Council makes clear its outright and unequivocal opposition to the merger of the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee.   
It therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Mike Russell MSP, and to the Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, Mark Batho, making clear the City Council’s outright opposition to a merger of the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee.”
An excellent deputation representing students at the University of Abertay made an excellent case against the merger proposals.   They made the point that councillors should put party politics aside in the interests of higher education in Dundee.   

In that spirit, the Labour Group motion and mine were combined and we were also grateful for the support of the Conservatives and the Lord Provost.    The SNP ignored the request to put party politics aside and moved a motion critical of the Westminster Government – an unfortunate approach as the moves to merge Dundee’s two universities is entirely driven by Scottish Ministers, Alex Salmond down.    

But the SNP City Council Group motion did say they strongly support the continued status of both universities as independent and autonomous institutions.   They will be held to that and perhaps they might like to let Mike Russell, SNP Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, know that they support the independence of our two Dundee universities as his actions last week suggested that he does not.

Seabraes cycle path – lighting concern addressed

Earlier this week, a resident contacted me to highlight his concern about the lack of adequate lighting on the cycle path through the former goods yard area from Roseangle through Seabraes to Greenmarket :

“I have just had cause to walk the pedestrian/cycle path at the bottom of Seabraes along the side of the railway line on my way home from the railway station to Patons Lane. Between the two chicane barriers at either end of the pathway I counted no fewer than ten street lights out of action. The lighting on this pathway is not the brightest at the best of times but with ten lights not working the gloom is seriously exacerbated.”

Although the pathway falls within Scottish Enterprise’s digital media park, the lighting is adopted by the council’s Street Lighting Partnership.    I have raised the concern with the partnership who have replied positively as follows :

“I will organise a bulk lamp change to be carried out on the footway/cycleway between Seabraes and the car park at Roseangle and the steps between Perth Road leading to the Digital Media Park.”

Former Dundee Goods Yard – hoardings and graffiti

As reported in today’s Courier, West End residents have been querying with me the large hoardings that have appeared in recent months round the western end of the former Rail Goods Yard area (behind Roseangle, west of Seabraes). The site is owned by Scottish Enterprise and I have been in touch with them about this and the complaints about graffiti on the hoardings. See photo (above).

Scottish Enterprise tells me that the work is decontamination work to make the land useable in the future. It intends to eventually sell off the ground for possible residential use, although this would be some time off and any possible development sometime in the future would require planning approval, and give assurances about access and no loss of local amenities.

Scottish Enterprise has advised me :

“This is a project which will take a couple of years which means the hoardings will be there for a considerable time. It is actually a contractor who is now responsible for that site, however we have asked them to paint over any particularly explicit graffiti. It is a bit of a losing battle with graffiti but we will do our best to keep on top of it.”

I certainly hope that Scottish Enterprise’s contractor removes the graffiti, particularly any that is offensive.

Graduation week : Seabraes

With this being graduation week at the University of Dundee, I was concerned that Scotland Gas Networks are undertaking pipe laying works at the Seabraes viewing point in Nethergate/Perth Road. The Seabraes viewing point is well-used by graduates and their families for photographs after graduation ceremonies.

I contacted the City Council to see if SGN would refrain from undertaking unsightly work during the week and am pleased to say that the City Development Department has advised :

“SGN will stay away from the Seabraes gardens for the whole of this week.”

Weekend West End Updates

A few Saturday West End updates :

* Seabraes : Following residents’ requests, I asked for litter bins both at the steps and along the path from Greenmarket to Roseangle. I am pleased to say that Scottish Enterprise Tayside has agreed to pay for bins around the steps area (in a style to fit in with the seating) and will attempt to secure necessary funds for further litter bins along the path.

There are dog bins at each end of the pathway, but none along it. Residents also requests some more along the pathway given its length, but the Animal Control team in the City Council advise that “the location requested isn’t going to be possible as the vans could not get close enough to the location to empty other bins.”

* Bankmill Road recycling : Yesterday, the Recycling Projects Officer in the Waste Management Department of the City Council advised councillors –

“I am writing to keep you up-to-date on the latest developments with the burnt out paper bin within the Neighbourhood Recycling Point on Bankmill Road.

As you may already be aware in such cases it is our standard policy to replace the burnt out unit for a second time, however, any further incidents would result in the removal of the paper bin from the NRP unit. The incident occurred on the 9/10/2009, and we thought it was wise to delay the installation of a replacement unit until some time after Guy Fawkes night.

We now have a replacement unit in stock and we will be looking to reinstate the paper bin over the course of next week. We will monitor the site closely in the forthcoming period and hopefully there will be no repeat of the previous vandalism.”

* Benvie Road : I have previously raised concerns about safety surrounding the derelict garage towards the top end of Benvie Road – see right. The City Council has made attempts to contact the owner and in September, he applied for a building warrant to demolish the remainder of the building. This was granted on 6th October and the Council was advised by the agent that demolition would start 7th December, but this has not happened yet. I am very concerned about the state of the site and the fact that the boundary is not secure. I have asked the Council’s Head of Planning to make urgent contact with the agent on this matter. It is very important that the demolition takes place as soon as possible.

* Safe parking near schools : I recently updated residents about the council committee report on improving arrangements for the drop-off of pupils and parking around schools (the report to the Education Committee can be read at http://tinyurl.com/schoolsparking).

I have now received the proposed “roll out” timetable across the city and am disappointed to be advised that it is not envisaged to undertake improvements at the Harris cluster until January to March 2011. Given the large number of concerns I get about the situation at Blackness Primary School, this timescale is disappointing.
I have written to the Head of Primary Education expressing my concern about timescales. It would have made more sense to prioritise the schools with most parking safety concerns raised by parents, carers and local residents.

STV briefing

Last night I attended an evening reception at the STV studios at Seabraes, Greenmarket, at which Rob Woodward, the company’s Chief Executive, gave a very interesting presentation on the future of Scottish broadcasting and STV’s broadcasting plans.
 
The company’s proposals in the area of news broadcasting are innovative.   However, I asked about what steps STV is taking to ensure that STV viewers on Sky get the correct local version of the STV news as STV viewers via Sky currently get the ‘Aberdeen/North version’ of the local news as opposed to the ‘Dundee/Tayside’ local news on STV news at 6pm.
Mr Woodward assured me that STV was in talks with BSkyB to hopefully resolve this.

Greenmarket

 
A local business has contacted me expressing concern about the state of the roadway in Greenmarket. See photos below.

It appears that a track was excavated some time ago on the public roadway, adjacent to the Seabraes car park.


Although a temporary repair was undertaken, the promised permanent reinstatement has yet to be undertaken and the excavation here is becoming very deep, presenting a road safety hazard.

I have raised the matter with the City Council requesting that permanent repair takes place before the road deteriorates further.

 

www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk

As part of this year’s West End Christmas Week (taking place between 21st and 28th November and called West End Xmas Factor this year) there will again be a fireworks display (on Tuesday 24th November) at Seabraes, the night of the Christmas Concert at Dundee West Church. There will also be a children’s carnival, kindly provided by Horne’s Carnivals.
Our pyrotechnician, Robin Carstairs, has also set up a website at www.seabraesfireworks.co.uk – to promote the fireworks display and Christmas Week generally.
He has recently updated it and it is well worth a visit. It will be regularly updated as Christmas Week approaches.

West End Christmas Week Update

At City Council committees last night, Christmas lights displays across the City this festive season were agreed.    I’m pleased to say that the Christmas trees and lights for the West End – at both Seabraes and West Port – are again included.
 
At last week’s Christmas Week meeting, the committee agreed that this year’s West End Christmas Week will run from Saturday 22nd November to Saturday 29th November.    The week will start with a Community Safety Event, with the Annual Christmas Lights Switch On and Fireworks on Wednesday 26th November.    There will be numerous other events, culminating with the Christmas Fayre at Blackness Primary School on Saturday 29th November.
 
It will be a great week – if you are interested in helping, please e-mail christmas2008@frasermacpherson.org.uk – many thanks!