Sistema Scotland and Tinderbox – a performance

St Peter’s Free Church – St Peter Street
Thursday 8th November, 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Revolutionary youth orchestra Tinderbox collaborate with the incredible Sistema Scotland Big Noise Douglas Project – a charity that aims to transform the lives of children through music and strengthen disadvantaged communities. 
Taking inspiration from video games music, Tinderbox and Big Noise Douglas will improvise a new collaborative score.    They will also be treating us to musical performances from their individual repertoires. 
Big Noise Douglas works with over 400 children in Dundee, and around 2,500 children across Scotland every week, towards permanent social change.
A free event – more details here.

Getting things done – St Peter Street

Following complaints from residents and St Peter’s Free Church that the shrubbery at the north end of St Peter Street beside Hawkhill is overgrown and unsightly, I took the matter up with the Environment Department of Dundee City Council who responded positively as follows :
“(We agree) that the shrub bed is overgrown and dated.   We will look to carry out the removal of the shrubs over the next month or so and take it from there.   The likelihood is we will replant but will low level shrubs.”

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Centre opened in Dundee

It is good to see a  new church initiative being launched earlier this month at St Peter’s Free Church Offices, where a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Centre has been opened to serve the whole of the city.
Initially, 4 Churches are combining together to make this happen – St Peter’s Free Church; Grace Church (Menzieshill); Hermon Evangelical Church (Hilltown) and Broughty Ferry Baptist Church.
Acting in a voluntary capacity, the local CAP Team will be available to befriend and offer direct practical support to people with debt problems. The primary service is to assist them to manage and overcome their debt burden using the free expert resources of the CAP Financial Teams in Bradford. 
Full details of the work of CAP can be seen here and more information is available by calling 0800 328 0006.
The new service is a great addition to the other services in Dundee that are offering debt help and will complement and enhance the overall provision of assistance available to Dundee folk.   It will also be providing CAP Money Courses to help anybody with budgeting and personal money management.  

Parking at Ryehill Health Centre

Some years ago, I had a very useful meeting with Dr MacCowan of the Ryehill Health Centre and with the then Head of Environmental Management at NHS Tayside, regarding the health centre’s car park (see below).
The meeting resulted in a helpful arrangement where, although the car park is rightly barriered during health centre opening times to ensure it can only be used by patients and staff, the barriers are left up in the evenings and at weekends – a great help to local residents and parishioners of St Peter’s Free Church in an area of the West End where parking can be a real difficulty.
Following concerns raised with me recently that the NHS may be reviewing this arrangement, I contacted both Dr MacCowan and NHS Management and I am pleased to say that the arrangement will continue.   NHS Tayside’s Support Services Manager has advised that although a new barrier is in place, it will be programmed to be left in the raised position during times the centre is closed.
I am very grateful to Dr MacCowan and NHS Tayside for the very prompt response to my enquiry on this matter.

Fantastic end to the West End Christmas Fortnight!

Yesterday afternoon saw a super finale to West End Christmas Fortnight with the St Peter’s Free Church Christmas Fayre – see right – and, also at the church, the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden held a very interesting, informative – but above all – entertaining Gardeners’ Question Time.
Many thanks to John Stoa, Andrew Child and Alan Ainsworth for giving their expert advice on gardening matters – just like the similar event run as part of our 2010 West End Christmas events, it was thoroughly professional and enjoyable event.
We have had a great fortnight of Christmas events across the West End!     I’d really like to thank everyone who has helped us run all our activities.   
Back in 2001, we ran the then “Perth Road Christmas Week” as a ‘one-off’ and here we are, 12 years of events later bigger and better than ever.   As the Christmas Committee’s Chair, I am so very grateful to everyone – the team who organise the events, the businesses whose sponsorship makes it all possible and all the local residents who attend the activities.    Many thanks to you all – and have a lovely Christmas when it comes!

Thursday activities …

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a representative of Balgay Parish Church and – later – the Minister of St Peter’s Free Church, to discuss church and community issues.

Thereafter, I chaired the latest meeting of the West End Christmas Week committee (yes, Christmas Week planning in June!    It takes a bit of planning to organise the West End Christmas events!)   The big news is that the 12th West End Christmas Week will be the first West End Christmas Fortnight – starting on 17th November and ending on 1st December.

I also met with residents in Thomson Street (see right) – along with Tayside Police and Home Scotland representatives – to discuss parking and road safety issues.

Yesterday evening, I also held my weekly surgery at Blackness Primary School.

Event at St Peter’s Free Church

The Little Things
Naomi Breeze Production
A story about the people who care and how little things make the biggest difference
22nd February 2012, 1.30 pm
St. Peter’s Free Church, St Peter Street
Have you ever heard people say: “Don’t get involved!”
or asked yourself: “Is this my business or is it their private matter?”
or told yourself: “It’s probably nothing, I don’t need to worry about them”.
Come and see what Mary from Dundee does and who to call if you decide to “get involved” after all.
 Age limit 15 years or over. 

Download the full flyer here!

Wednesday …

A very busy day yesterday, including :

* A meeting with Dundee Museum of Transport representatives at the building in Roseangle (see right) that they hope to soon open as the temporary premises for the museum.     Although their long term aim is to locate at a larger site in Maryfield, they are keen to get the museum open meantime in Roseangle and residents will welcome the news that the long-empty building and site in Roseangle will come back into use, particularly for such a worthwhile project.

* Along with my ward colleague Cllr Richard McCready, I took part in a meeting at St Peter’s Free Church to discuss further ways in which this fabulously renovated building can be used as a community resource and for concerts and other activities.    I have also been in touch with Angus and Dundee Tourism officers to see how they can assist with this, given the great historical interest in the church, the church of the Rev Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-43).

* I took part in the Dundee House Project Board’s latest meeting, at a time when the building project is nearing completion.

* I attended a briefing on tenant participation in Dundee, run by the City Council’s Housing Department.

* I met a number of residents in the Polepark area about issues of local concern.

* I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Kaye, Managing Director of National Express’s UK Bus operation.    Dave was taking part in an event in the City Square where the Dundee public could meet senior staff from National Express, including Simon Mathieson, the Acting Director of National Express Dundee.    This was an excellent initiative to let Dundee people highlight their issues about bus services in the city and let local people meet senior representatives of one of the major bus operators in Dundee. 

* I also had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Dundee Youth Council at the City Chambers last night.   Congratulations go to Matthew Landsburgh on being elected Chair and to all the other members of the new Dundee Youth Council.    Listening to the debate last night, there is no doubt that the DYC will become firmly established as a strong voice for young people in the city.

St Peter’s Free Church

Last November, I had the great pleasure of attending the official reopening of St Peter’s Free Church – and the transformation of the church has achieved a tremendous facility – a modern but sympathetic restoration of the building.
It is not only a superb resource for the church community but is also an asset to the wider community – as witnessed at WestFest recently.

I met with Rev David Robertson today to discuss how this resource can be used to best effect, particularly given the church’s history and link with the Rev Robert Murray McCheyne.

John Barnett at Dundee West Hustings

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, today took part in two hustings meetings – one, tonight, at St Peter’s Free Church and the other, this afternoon, at Dundee High School.

The audience at Dundee High School voted after the debate and John was the run-away winner with 54.7% of the poll.

John said tonight, “The latest opinion polls in Scotland show the Liberal Democrats second to Labour with the SNP third and Tories last. If you want real change in Dundee West, vote Liberal Democrat next Thursday.”

John is pictured (above) at St Peter’s Free Church before tonight’s debate.

St Peter’s Free Church – official re-opening

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the official re-opening of St Peter’s Free Church in St Peter Street.

As Rev David Robertson, Minister at St Peter’s, said :

“We have developed the building so that it can be used as a conference and concert facility as well. We gave the architects a particular remit – to retain the historical whilst providing modern contemporary facilities.”

The councillors present at the re-opening today were invited to say a few words – and I made the point that, having last visited the church during the building works when the church was something of a building site, the finished church building is simply phenominal.

Robert Murray McCheyne’s church has been developed sympathically and beautifully, creating a lovely church building as well as a great community resource for the West End.

St Peter’s Free Church redevelopment

Today I had the pleasure of seeing progress on the extensive redevelopment of the church building at St Peter’s Free Church in St Peter’s Street.

I am grateful to Rev David Robertson for showing me round – and giving reassurance regarding the impact of the works on adjacent residents.

This is an exciting project that will not only provide the church with excellent and modern facilities; it will be a real community asset for the West End, and will doubtless be used for community events in the future.

Go to to see photos of the redevelopment (on Flickr).