Busy Saturday!

Yesterday, I was delighted to attend the Summer Meeting of the Friends of Balgay that took place at the Mills Observatory.
Robert Law of the observatory gave a very interesting presentation on the history of the observatory, followed by a tour.
The photo (right) is from the presentation and shows Robert at the telescope.
I was also delighted yesterday to attend the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Sheltered Housing Coffee Morning at Pennycook Court – and, despite a little rain, was very well attended with excellent stalls – see photo below :

Wednesday meetings …

A very busy day yesterday with numerous meetings, including :
* Attending two tenants’ meetings organised by Home Scotland at Blackness Court and Sinderins Court for the residents there and at Pennycook Court,   The meetings were to review the revised warden/support arrangements that were introduced last year and get tenants’ feedback.    The meetings were a good opportunity for all the tenants who attended to raise any issues or concerns, not just about support issues but also on other matters, such as repairs.
* A meeting with two senior Police Scotland officers to discuss the proposed loss of the 999 and 101 calls Dundee response centre, with the resultant loss of local knowledge in call handling, which I view as a detrimental step.    We had a useful exchange of views and information on the matter and I will be raising the issue at the council’s Policy & Resources Committee next Monday.
* A meeting of the Harris Academy Parent Council, which took place at Menzieshill High School.   This was followed by a joint meeting with the Menzieshill High School Parent Council – an excellent initiative, given that that the two school communities come together later this year.     It was a very positive meeting and planning for the future is well in hand and very reassuring.
* The formal opening of the High Mill at Verdant Works took place.  It was a very well-attended event and the restoration of the High Mill is simply superb – I would thoroughly recommend a visit.    Sir Neil Cossons, the eminent historian and leading authority on the industrial heritage, performed the official opening.    I had the opportunity to speak with Sir Neil, who is very pleasant and interesting.     A few photos from the opening of the High Mill :
Large turnout for the High Mill formal opening
Part of the High Mill restoration
Sir Neil Cossons performs the official opening
The beautifully restored Boulton and Watt steam engine

Meeting with sheltered housing tenants

Sinderins Court
Yesterday morning, I met with the residents’ association that represents the tenants at Sinderins and Pennycook Courts.
We had a good discussion about various local issues, primarily around the changes to the warden arrangements implemented last year.
I am in discussions with Home Scotland about a review meeting with the tenants regarding the revised arrangements.

Thursday West End meetings

Yesterday, I took part in tenant consultation meetings at Blackness Court and at Sinderins/Pennycook Courts with Home Scotland representatives, about future scheme manager/support staff posts.   

This was the latest in a series of meetings with tenants I have attended with the tenants since last November and it was agreed yesterday that there will be further consultation meetings towards the end of the year to ensure that the changes to support arrangements are working fine and resolve any issues.
After my ward surgery at Blackness Primary School last night, I attended the West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting at Blackness Library.
The LCPP meeting is a good opportunity for representatives from different council departments, councillors and representatives from other organisations like police, fire and rescue and the NHS to discuss local issues and matters of concern and also let local residents raise issues, ask questions and have their say.
There was an interesting and informative update from the Partnership Manager at Tayside Contracts/Dundee City Council Roads Maintenance Partnership on the work undertaken to improve and maintain Dundee’s roads and pavements.
I also took the opportunity to highlight an enterprise initiative by the P6 pupils at Blackness Primary School, who are selling West End “Bag Buddy” shopping bags.   Costing only £5 each, they have various West End designs (see below) and can be purchased from the school office, the Rosebud, Nisa, Spar, Fraser’s Fruit & Veg, Indigo House, West End Gallery, Urban Print and Roseangle Arts Cafe. 

Tuesday West End meetings

A busy day with activity across the West End included :
+ A meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents’ Association, at which we discussed a number of matters including issues around the new recycling and bins arrangements and problems needing resolved.
+ A meeting of the Jericho House Support Group, at which we discussed the continuing success of the house’s “Drink the Musical!” (soon to be performed in Blairgowrie, with over 160 tickets already sold) and also outreach work and Jericho House’s participation in Dundee Open Doors 2015 this September.
+ The Annual General Meeting of Friends of Magdalen Green.   Taking place at Dundee West Church, the guest speaker was Eddie Small, author of ‘Forgotten Visionary of Dundee’ – the excellent book about the life and work of Mary Lily Walker.    Eddie is a superb speaker – informative and entertaining.    
It was an excellent AGM coming at the end of a very successful year for the Friends.   A couple of photos from the AGM tonight :
Catherine Fairweather, Chair of the Friends, addresses the AGM
Eddie Small giving his talk about Mary Lily Walker
The Friends’ Vice Chair Angela Mehlert asked everyone to pause to remember West End resident Ed Thompson, who sadly passed away earlier today.   Ed, a greatly talented writer, whose wife Christine is former Treasurer of the Friends, will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with Christine and family at this very sad time.

Many thanks Sarah!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the farewell party for Sarah Lewis, Scheme Manager at Pennycook Court and Sinderins Court for the past seven years.
It was a lovely event, although emotional given that all the tenants will miss Sarah greatly.   She has been a fabulous scheme manager, absolutely dedicated and hugely professional.
I wish Sarah every success in her new role with Caledonia Housing Association in Perth.
A few photos from yesterday :
A great turnout of the tenants for the farewell party
Marion Adams, Chair of the Residents’ Association, thanking Sarah on behalf of everyone
With Sarah yesterday

Today’s meetings …

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the AGM of the Sinderins and Pennycook Courts Residents’ Association, covering both sheltered housing complexes.
It was a well attended and productive meeting.   I updated residents on a number of matters including the new bin/recycling arrangements for much of the West End, changes to the Friendly Bus sheltered shopping service from July and liaison with Home Scotland who own the housing.
Tonight, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Bonnie Dundee group, at the City Chambers. 
This really positive group encourages improvements to the Dundee environment and helps local groups who keep Dundee’s parks, open areas, streets and gardens in good shape, and it was a really positive meeting with lots of good initiatives taking place.

Tuesday meetings

Yesterday, I attended the latest meeting of the Sinderins and Pennycook Courts’ Residents Association – on this occasion, an open meeting of all tenants.    We had a discussion about a number of issues – including garden maintenance, scheme management support, noise issues and I updated everyone about the forthcoming West End Christmas Fortnight events. 
We were also advised that the independence debate event at Sinderins Court I participated in back in August features in the latest edition of Home Group’s national homelife magazine.
Later yesterday, I also attended the latest West End Community Council meeting.   
This included a useful update from PC Bob Forrester, one of our local community police officers about local policing issues.   Bob highlighted several bicycle thefts in the West End recently and mentioned the importance of chaining your bike and keeping it secure.  
Bob has been a community officer in the West End for some nine years and is soon to move to a new role in Police Scotland.   He has been an excellent, approachable police officer in our local area and he’ll be missed – I wish him every success in his new role.

Meeting with sheltered housing tenants

Sinderins Court
Yesterday morning, I met with the residents’ association that represents the tenants at Sinderins and Pennycook Courts.
We had a good discussion about various local issues including trees, an unsightly gap site, service charges and other issues.
The residents’ group works hard for all the people at Pennycook Court and Sinderins Court and it was a useful and positive meeting.

Busy Tuesday …

A busy day today on local issues, including :
* A morning site visit to speak with residents in Mitchell Street/Polepark Road/Benvie Road about the recent external cyclical works to their properties.   Council officers from housing and architects also attended.
* A meeting with the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts’ Residents Association, at which we discussed a number of local issues.
* A meeting of the Jericho House Support Group.  The support group is a regular meeting at which a number of us discuss fundraising and other projects to support this important facility in the West End Ward, that assists those recovering from alcoholism.   We had a good discussion about funding initiatives to support the House, participation in Doors Open Day 2014 and the new production of a play that the House service users and staff will be participating in.
* Tonight at the West End Community Council, there was a lengthy presentation on bin collection and recycling proposed changes and we also discussed the roads proposals relative to Riverside Drive.

Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court Residents’ Meeting

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the latest meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents’ Association.
We had a good discussion about local issues and ate some rather lovely scones – a trial run of scones production for the forthcoming residents’ coffee morning.   Details of the coffee morning below – don’t miss it!

UPDATE 25th October :   Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the coffee morning on 16th November has had to be postponed and will be rescheduled for into the New Year.

Pennycook and Sinderins Courts – Residents’ AGM

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being speaker at the AGM of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents’ Association AGM, taking place at Sinderins Court in Hawkhill.
Despite a very snowy morning, there was an excellent turnout of residents and I updated them on current West End matters.
We had a very positive report from Marion Adams, Association Chair, about activities over the past year, and a new committee with continuing and new members was elected.

Pennycook and Sinderins Courts – Residents’ meeting

Yesterday, I attended the latest meeting of the residents’ association for the sheltered housing at Pennycook and Sinderins Courts that took place in Pennycook Court – see right.
There were a number of issues discussed including garden maintenance, cleaning and the excellent financial outcome from the coffee morning held in November.   I also updated the committee on action to tackle two areas of overgrown foliage the group had highlighted.
Marion Adams, the Association Chair, reported the sad news that Grace Haskett, a long-standing committee member has sadly passed away.   Grace was a lovely, cheerful lady and will be sadly missed.

Barney’s Fund helps sheltered tenants enjoy Christmas

Yesterday, along with other representatives from local charity Barney’s Fund, established by Barnetts Motor Group, we presented a cheque for £250 to assist the sheltered housing residents of Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court enjoy a Christmas Party to remember.
Pictured above are Andy McBride (Chair, West End Community Council), Sarah Lewis (Home Scotland Scheme Manager), Louise McKenzie (Barnetts Motor Group) and myself as Chair of Barney’s Fund at the cheque presentation.
It was great to see all the residents having a super Christmas Party and we are pleased that Barney’s Fund was able to help with the festivities – see below:

Tuesday in the West End …

Yesterday, in addition to visits to constituents, I took part in a walkabout round the Logie Estate with council officers from various departments and a ward colleague to look at issues in the area.   An example is damaged fencing (see right).    It was good to welcome the Director of Housing to the walkabout on this occasion.
Thereafter, I enjoyed a very well-attended general meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents’ Association at which we discussed numerous local issues including parking, noise and the Association’s forthcoming Christmas Coffee Morning, taking place on Saturday 24th November, as part of the West End Christmas Fortnight activities.
I also attended a committee meeting of the Jericho House Support Group and am pleased that Jericho House will be taking part in our Christmas Fortnight Community Fayre Launch on Saturday 17th November.   Over 20 community groups, charities and other organisations are taking part in the Community Fayre at Dundee West Church (10am to 12 noon) and it will feature other activities including face painting for the children.
Later on, I had a very useful site visit in Ancrum Drive to look further at possible parking improvements there and in the evening I attended the Blackness Primary School Parent Council meeting.    At the Parent Council, there was a very interesting update from Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, on school building improvements that have recently taken place and a number of school initiatives planned for the new term, including science workshops and co-operative learning for staff.   There’s also a new P5-P7 athletics club which is a really good new initiative for Blackness Primary School.

Tuesday activities …

This morning, I had the pleasure of touring the very impressive new entrance to the Matthew Building at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, on Perth Road, and at the invitation of the University of Dundee.    
The new entrance (pictured below) is nearing completion just as the new academic year is about to commence and it greatly enhances the Duncan of Jordanstone entrance.    The next phase of improvements at Duncan of Jordanstone will see the upgrading of the plumbing system and the fire alarm system in the adjacent Crawford Building.
Thereafter, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court Residents’ Association, at which a number of local issues were discussed, including noise issues and garden maintenance.
Later today, I had a very useful meeting with Solar Cities Scotland about their Dundee Green Challenge project.   The West End Ward will feature in this (along with the North East Ward) to work with residents on a variety of projects that will encourage 2 600 households to take up low carbon living. 
In addition, there will be a household renewable energy and insulation advice service giving advice on how to improve residents’ homes through the installation of energy saving measures and renewable energy technologies.   It is a really exciting project and I had a very useful discussion with the Solar Cities Scotland representative about it.
This evening, along with four other city councillors, I took part in a visit to the Dundee Botanic Garden, kindly hosted by the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden.   It was a very interesting tour and good to see the work at the Botanic Garden.  As a member of the Friends, I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the splendour that is the Dundee Botanic Garden.   Here’s a couple of photos I took tonight:

Pennycook Lane photocall!

As I have previously indicated, the sheltered tenants of Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court have, over past months, been working to improve a seating area in Pennycook Lane that had fallen into disrepair and was very unsightly.    

Their efforts came to fruition yesterday with the unveiling of the new seating area, complete with planters and an array of flowers, greatly brightening up the area and turning an eyesore into a pleasant area to sit at and admire the flowers.

The project would not have succeeded had it not been for the generosity of local charities, the Scottish Community Foundation, Al Maktoum Community Services and Sustain Dundee, and local businessman Jonathan Stewart – with the work to restore the seating carried out by the Dighty Group and the sourcing the purchase of planters by the City Council’s Environment Department.     The pupils of Blackness Primary School will henceforth be looking after the plants – they already have their own community garden over the road in the school grounds.

What was a drab-looking area has been transformed by the efforts of the sheltered tenants and they deserve great praise for turning the idea of improving Pennycook Lane’s old drab seating area into a really nice place to sit.    The old seating was originally constructed under an employment scheme in the 1980s and had long fallen into disrepair with the seats rotten and the area overgrown and graffitied.

Thanks to the efforts of the sheltered tenants, the area is now a real asset and our thanks also go to the local charities and business who gave the funding to make this possible, the Dighty Group and the council’s Environment Department for their help and Blackness Primary School who will be looking after the plants in the future.

Here’s some photographs from yesterday’s event :
All of us at the unveiling of the new seating and planters area yesterday
I had the pleasure of presenting the prizes to Blackness Primary School pupils who won the Residents’ Association competition
Rev Erik Cramb of Al Maktoum Community Services and Marion Adams, Chair of the Residents’ Association
I was on Wave 102 news yesterday speaking about this enjoyable event – click ‘play’ below to listen:

Tuesday in the West End …

I had a very busy Tuesday with West End Ward activities yesterday including :

* A meeting with the sheltered tenants in Tullideph at the sheltered lounge in Tullideph Place, where we discussed a number of local issues, including the punctuality of local bus services.

* Attending the latest meeting of the Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court Residents’ Association, at which one of the local community policemen for the area also attended and we discussed local issues around the sheltered housing area.

* I thereafter attended the latest meeting of the Jericho House Support Group at the base in Artillery Lane.   I have recently been assisting the group, who assist men with alcohol-related problems, over funding and benefits related issues and, after discussion yesterday, will be discussing these further with the Social Work and Finance Departments of Dundee City Council.   The staff and service users at Jericho House recently took part in the large West End litter and graffiti clean-up I assisted with the organisation of, and we were most grateful for their help.

* I also held a meeting with the sheltered tenants at the Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace and we had a good discussion about many local issues including lighting in the sheltered housing complex and overgrown trees.   As with all the other meetings I attended yesterday, I am taking forward all issues raised by residents with the appropriate organisation or council department.

* Last night, I attended the final meeting of West End Community Council of its present session, before its summer break.   There was a detailed and highly informative presentation by the Dundee Airport Manager as well as an update on local policing matters by the community police officer covering the western part of the West End ward.   I was able to update the Community Council about a road safety matter at Sinderins and on local litter issues and forthcoming events as part of WestFest were also mentioned.    The Community Council next meets after its summer break on the second Tuesday of September.

More West End Celebrations!

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending another West End Diamond Jubilee Party – this time at the Pennycook Lane Sheltered Housing Complex off Perth Road and involving the sheltered tenants at both Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court.

It was a lovely, friendly and enjoyable afternoon – here’s a few photos:
And – later on – I attended the superb Community BBQ at the Friary on Tullideph Road, organised by City Church.   Well over 600 local folk attended and a great time was had by all – again a few photos:
This evening, I had a really useful meeting with many of the residents of Ancrum Drive to discuss the parking issues in the street.   The meeting should have been in Ancrum Road Primary School, but the council failed to open up (despite a permit they had given me!) so we were all a wee bit cold by 7.30pm, standing talking in Gibb’s Lane.  But – the positive aspect is that we had a good discussion and I am really grateful to residents for their ideas and input to improve the parking situation for residents in the area.

Tuesday activities …

Today :

* I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Sinderins Court and Pennycook Court Sheltered Residents’ Association.  It was very well-attended and good to see progress on a number of issues including the proposed planters at the seating area in Pennycook Lane.   I was able to update residents about bin collection matters.  There was thereafter a really entertaining and interesting talk by Ann Thomson on ‘Local Witches and Vampires.’

* I also attended the latest committee meeting of the Jericho House Support Group at which a number of us discuss fundraising and other projects to support this extremely worthwhile facility in the West End Ward, that assists those recovering from alcoholism.    

* This evening, I firstly attended the Blackness Primary School Parent Council meeting at which concern at the loss of PE and music specialists in primary schools was discussed.   The Director of Education attended and there was a useful question and answer session.   I have strongly opposed  the loss of these vital teaching posts and attempted to reverse the cut during the City Council budget meeting.

* Lastly, I had the great pleasure of attending a very well-attended Civic Reception in honour of the Whitehall Theatre and to officially launch its very impressive new web pages and social networking presence.   The Whitehall Theatre has faced great challenges of late but a bright future lies ahead.  The theatre is an iconic part of the West End and it was good to see such strong support for it at tonight’s event.

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.

Friday activities …

Yesterday morning, in addition to meeting various constituents, I had a meeting with sheltered housing tenants at Sinderins Court, a City Council Environment official and Home Scotland staff about the waste and recycling bins at the complex – see right.   The current bins are overly large with heavy lids that some of the tenants find difficult to use.   During a very amicable meeting, agreement was reached on smaller communal bins and a more frequent collection.

Early yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of the Cherry Blossom Nursery School in Seafield Road.   The nursery is beautifully build and provides excellent facilities for the local children who attend the nursery.   It transforms the site of a long-derelict property and previously badly overgrown grounds.   The welcoming lighting outside last night (see above right) was very impressive too!

Dundee Partnership Awards Dinner
Later yesterday evening, I attended the Dundee Partnership Awards Dinner at the City Chambers.    It was great to see a diverse group of awards winners, all of whom do a huge amount of good for communities across Dundee.   It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and hear more about the achievements of the winning groups.

Busy Tuesday …

Sinderins Court
In addition to a number of visits to constituents earlier today, I have :

* Attended an open meeting of the Pennycook and Sinderins Courts Residents’ Association, where I discussed a number of local matters at a good gathering of the sheltered tenants.   These included an update on progress with the Pennycook Lane seating and planting project, bin collection issues, noise concerns and the damaged (missing) bus stop on Perth Road near Step Row (I have reported this to the City Council).

* Taken part in the latest Jericho House Support Group meeting at which good progress on the dance event and the play planned by Jericho House was discussed – both will run during West End Christmas Week.   We also had a useful update on Jericho House’s work in the local community.

* Chaired a well-attended meeting of tenants from the Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing, at which a member of the City Council’s Environment Department was present to discuss grass maintenance and related issues (and we had a useful walkabout round the grass areas after the meeting to look at maintenance issues).   At the meeting, we also discussed a number of other local concerns – fencing, guttering repairs, heating/bathroom/kitchen replacements and overgrown hedging to name a few.

* … and this evening I chaired the latest West End Christmas Week committee meeting.    Good progress is being made on the 2011 planned celebrations that run from 26th November to 3rd December.

Monday update …

Today, I attended the latest meeting of the Pennycook Court and Sinderins Court Residents’ Association at which we discussed a number of local issues including refuse collection, local pavements condition, noise issues and sheltered housing TV concessionary licences.

Later on, along with colleagues from Friends of Magdalen Green, I met with a City Council representative at the Roseangle playpark, regarding repainting the swings to a more appropriate colour, in keeping with the rest of the playpark.   It was agreed that a re-paint in nice, primary colours will improve the playpark’s look.

And here’s a photo (posted with her permission I hasten to add!), of my colleague Angela Melhert, Chair of Friends of Magdalen Green, testing the swings!

Community project taking shape

Last month, I congratulated the Pennycook and Sinderins Court sheltered housing Residents’ Association who have secured over £1000 of funding to get new seating in Pennycook Lane and have some environmental improvements too.

With thanks to the Dighty Group who did the work, the new seating is now in place (see right).   I have been in touch with the Head Teacher at Blackness Primary School, who has kindly agreed to the school maintaining some planters like the ones in the school grounds and the City Council has agreed to remove graffiti in the adjacent area.

The Residents’ Association’s project for a pleasant seating area is taking good shape and will hopefully be completed early in the new school term with the planters in place.