January 2009 Update to West End Community Council

I have today published my January 2009 update to West End Community Council.

Subjects covered include :

* Graffiti – Magdalen Green and surrounding area
* Speed Limit – western end of Perth Road
* Network Rail Mast
* West End Christmas Week De-Brief Meeting
* Ground at High Mill
* Paint on road and pavements in Thomson Street
* Former Homebase site
* Handrail Seafield Road
* Fencing at rail line
* Hawkhill by-pass at Hunter Street junction
* Tay Rope Works Planning Inquiry

The Community Council meeting takes place this Tuesday at 7pm at Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall.

You can download a copy of my update by going to http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/82.165.40.25-4354cb46e84541.81564487/West%20End%20Ward%20-%20Various%20Resources%20Directory/West%20End%20Community%20Council%20Updates/West+End+Community+Council+Update+-+January+2009.pdf.

Phone Box Removal – lack of consultation

Yesterday, I issued a news release regarding the fact that British Telecom has decided to remove two telephone boxes in the West End without actually bothering to consult anyone first – something I consider bad practice – whatever the merits or demerits of removing the boxes. I print the news release below.

In response, BT has said to the Courier that it wrote to the City Council about removing boxes back in April. A case of spin over substance, I’m afraid, because the City Council’s Head of Planning had advised “… we were consulted on the removal of kiosks at the beginning of April and neither the kiosk at City Road or the one at Seafield Road were on the list supplied and therefore not passed to Cllr Macpherson for comment.”
It is simply good practice to consult with the community before taking action to remove phone boxes. It is clear, from what I have been advised that BT did not, contrary to the spin, consult on the removal of these particular boxes.

Personally I don’t think it is acceptable that there are any circumstances under which BT can simply avoid bothering to consult on phone box removal and I have therefore asked Ofcom to review BT’s practice of only consulting on the removal of some phone boxes and not others.

NEWS RELEASE : City Councillor’s concern over removal of phone boxes without any consultation

Dundee City Council’s Convener of Planning & Transport and councillor for the West End, Fraser Macpherson, tonight expressed concern about a practice by British Telecom of deciding to remove Dundee phone boxes without any public consultation whatsoever, calling it “extremely bad practice.”

Cllr Macpherson said that the situation had come to light in the case of two phone boxes in the West End Ward – at City Road and Seafield Road – where BT is removing two phone kiosks without recourse to the City Council, locally elected councillors or the public.

Cllr Macpherson said, “The removal of a phone box in City Road came to light only when I contacted BT recently about repairs required to the phone here, and in the case of the phone box in Seafield Road, the removal came to light only when BT wrote to Dundee City Council and West End Community Council saying the red telephone kiosk could be considered for the “Adopt a Kiosk” scheme after it is decommissioned by BT.

“I think everyone accepts that phone box usage is lower than before, given the number of households with phones nowadays and the advent of the mobile phone, and indeed some phone boxes have been subject to vandalism. However, it is extremely bad practice for BT to undertake removal of phone boxes without any public consultation.

“Where there is a proper consultation, it at least allows the local authority and local councillors to speak with local people about their views on phone box retention or otherwise – unfortunately in this case the BT approach is a “done deal” – no public consultation whatsoever.”

Cllr Macpherson, having complained to BT about the matter, has now written to Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. In his letter, Cllr Macpherson writes:

“My complaint is that – whatever the merits or otherwise for their retention or removal – BT has failed to undertake any consultation with locally elected representatives, the local authority and the community about these proposals.

“The proposed removal of the City Road phone box only came to light when I reported a repair required to BT. In the case of the Seafield Road box, it only came to light when BT mentioned it to the City Council in relation to the “Adopt a Kiosk” scheme.

“I am deeply concerned that BT is removing these boxes without any consultation whatsoever. I would ask that you request BT immediately review this bad practice and I look forward to your response.”

Couple of updates

A couple of updates on issues from earlier today :
  • The bin collection for part of Seafield Lane finally got done this morning – a day late – thanks to badly parked cars causing an obstruction. What residents find really annoying is the vehicles don’t belong to local residents. I’m pleased that, through the residents’ parking consultation exercise – now underway – and proactive action by Home Scotland at this particular location (Home Scotland own the residents’ car park here), there are steps in hand to resolve this sort of problem. Anyway, many thanks to the Waste Management Department for its perseverance.
  • Further problems for the Friendly Bus sheltered housing service today because of the roadworks on Perth Road – but this time for Muirlands Sheltered Housing off Seafield Road. The bus did eventually manage to get access, but the good news is that the excavation at the top of Seafield Road is almost finished, so hopefully plain sailing next week!

Perth Road latest – a few issues

Following the start of the gas main replacement works in Perth Road yesterday, there’s been three issues raised with me by local residents and businesses.

Firstly, when the road closure at the Paton’s Lane area was put in place, the lanes to the south at Paton’s Lane, Thomson Street, Seafield Road and Lane and Westfield Place were all closed at the Perth Road junction (and the one-way situation in Paton’s and Westfield altered accordingly).

Given that the actual works by Turriff won’t reach Seafield Road/Lane and Westfield Place for some time yet, both residents and I thought there was no need for the closures there and following contact with the City Council and their speaking with Scotland Gas Networks, this has now been resolved and the status quo returned. To quote the feedback from the Council :

“The City Council met SGN on site this morning and after further review, decided to re-open Westfield Place and Seafield Road to run as normal until it is absolutely necessary to close them due to works.

In other words, Westfield Place is open as normal ie one-way (North to South), therefore access is via Perth Road (from city centre side) and through the signs which say Road Ahead Closed/Road Closed/Access Maintained, etc.

Seafield Road is two way, therefore access is now from either Perth Road or Roseangle/Magdalen Yard Road.

Some signs have been taken down to allow the above change and other signs are on order to give more information for other closed side roads that access is maintained for residents at junctions with Perth Road.”

A satisfactory outcome.

The second issue is there is a clear need for additional bus stops on Hawkhill (one outbound, one inbound) between the stop near Urquhart Street and the one near the Health Centre. Having spoken to residents, I think one around Millers Wynd’s northern end makes sense. I spoke to the Sustainable Transport Team Leader in the City Council about this today and agreement has been made to provide this.

Lastly, there was a problem getting the Friendly Bus (sheltered shopping service) into Paton’s Lane today but I have been in touch with SGN, Turriff (the gas contractors) and Stagecoach Strathtay, and I’m hopeful that future journeys will be alright.

Latest West End Issues …

Yesterday, met with a local resident and Waste Management/Environmental Health & Trading Standards Department staff about a refuse problem in the Seafield Road area; both departments have been really helpful in attempting to resolve the issues.
Today, a deluge of complaints from residents in Roseangle and Bellefield Avenue about the extent of noise coming from the rail yards/rail bridge area – as one resident put it – “The noise – a dull ringing sound and ongoing vibration – is incredibly irritating for those of us who work from home. “
I have spoken today to the Rail Bridge Manager and he has promised swift and effective action.
Pleased to say that the promised handrail at Pennycook Lane should now be provided before this winter is over; this will be a boon for residents walking down the slope next to Pennycook Court just north of Perth Road.
Residents have complained about missing street signs at Almond Place and Glamis Drive – I have brought this to the attention of the Planning & Transportation Department.
A grid on the footway on Perth Road (near Ryehill Lane) is missing, a resident advised me. The City Council has promptly confirmed that a temporary repair has been undertaken and an Order has been made for a new grid. Nearby, the Waste Management Department has promised to progress my complaint that the litter bin at the Ryehill Lane/Perth Road corner is missing.
Many thanks to everyone who has contacted me following the delivery of the latest West End FOCUS; I’m grateful for all feedback. Many residents have commented about the operation of the “revised road arrangements” at the Riverside Drive/Perth Road junction (just up from the Botanic Gardens). I have been in correspondence with the City Council about this issue.