Getting things done – Hawkhill and West Port #dundeewestend

Residents recently raised with me the fact that the street lighting in parts of the Hawkhill by-pass (near Blackness Primary School) and West Port was not on in the morning when it was still dark.
 
I am grateful to the Street Lighting Partnership who promptly resolved this – a timeclock issue, now fixed.
 
The Street Lighting Partnership Manager advised me that timeclocks are being phased out to avoid such issues.   She indicates :
 
“We replace the timeclocks with a photoelectric cell which operates on the ambient lighting levels. Currently we are using cells which switch the lights at 35lux in the evening and 18 lux in the morning.
 
Unfortunately it is not a straight swap for these components and often some additional cabling and tracking is required.”

Lighting on paths and steps in Pentland – an update

Further to my article in May following the site visit with the Street Lighting Partnership Manager and also with the Chair of Community Spirit Action Group, the local residents’ group, to look at the new street lighting in Pentland, yesterday I had a useful meeting with the Director of Neighbourhood Services, some of her housing team, the council’s Service Manager – Community Safety and Resilience and the Street Lighting Partnership Manager.
 
This was primarily about the issue that, because the new lighting is that, because it is focussed on the road and pavements, it does not light paths and steps to housing as well as the old lighting.    I am concerned that in the winter, darker months, lighting could potentially be inadequate.
 
We agreed the following approach which makes sense :
 
• Ensure trees that need trimmed (already identified) are attended to – to maximise the effectiveness of existing lighting.
• After the clocks change in October, undertake measurements of lighting levels on these steps and paths to ensure they meet required levels.
• If there are any locations where lighting needs boosted, static security lights will be progressed.
• The Community Wardens service will meantime monitor any concerns about lighting in the area.

Energy saving street lighting

There has recently been news that Stirling Council is set to save £31m over the next 30 years by installing energy saving street lights. 
 
That local authority is borrowing almost £10m from the Green Investment Bank to install LEDs in 12 000 street lights over the next four years.
 
I think that’s a great initiative and asked the City Council its position on doing so.     I have been advised by the Street Lighting Partnership Manager :
 
“We are currently putting together a business case for LED lighting in the city and the source of funding for this will be given due consideration by our finance colleagues I am sure. 
 
Green Investment Bank is only one of a number of financial sources available to local authorities.”

Logie area – street light replacement

A number of constituents in Logie have contacted me expressing their concerns about the replacement street lighting in parts of the local area.
 
I raised the concerns with the City Council’s Street Lighting Partnership Manager, who advises :
 
“I can confirm that we are currently in the process of replacing some of the lighting columns in the Logie area as part of our agreed capital replacement programme. The existing concrete columns in that area are now in the region of 50 years old and are beyond their expected service life and despite appearing to be robust from the outside are no longer serviceable. Their replacement is with our standard residential column and lantern arrangement which provides the best economical and lighting output.
 
Street lighting is not a planning issue so there is no requirement to consult with members of the public when replacing existing lighting schemes and indeed it is not standard practice to do so. I am sure you will appreciate that with 25,000 lights to maintain in the city this would be an enormous strain on resources should we have to consult every time we need to replace a column and is simply not possible.
 
Historically, columns were placed at the front edge of a footpath (in the days of fewer vehicles) but over the years experience has shown that it is advisable to position them at the rear of the footpath in order to afford them some protection from accidental damage due to vehicles whilst at the same time maximising the available footpath width for wheelchairs and buggies which need to pass. Obviously this is dependent on suitable planting depth being available below ground and hence why we sometimes have to deviate from this rule.
 
I appreciate that the result of this is that it does bring the light source closer to properties and that this can be a concern for some (and yet is welcomed by others). I would state however that the new modern optics contained within the street light are far better at controlling the output of light to where it is needed (i.e. onto the footpaths and carriageway) and away from properties than those previously installed. Nonetheless, it can still be an issue for some residents and in those cases we would always seek to find a compromise position (e.g. the installation of a shield if necessary) with the householder. 
 
We are always happy to discuss such issues and assist where we can.”

Lighting issue – steps from Scott Street to Pentland Avenue – an update

I have previously highlighted residents’ requests for proper lighting on the steps from Scott Street to Pentland Avenue – see below:
The steps are well-used and the adjacent street lighting only gives limited coverage.    Providing traditional lighting would be very costly given the layout and slope and so the council’s Street Lighting Partnership agreed to my request to investigate the viability of solar lighting.
 
I recently asked for an update from the Street Lighting Partnership, who now advise :
 
“I have looked at several option for lighting these steps over the past year or so and I cannot find a suitable option for these steps.     Having looked at solar powered light for the steps and subsequent talks with manufacturers, they all come to the same conclusion (that) there is insufficient sun light during the winter months to sustain power for the light at this latitude.
The cost of excavating and powering a light by the normal means on the steps would run into the thousands of pounds, providing I can get a way leave to track in to the adjacent ground. 
Until I can find an alternative means to power a light or a manufacturer develops a more efficient means of using alternative energy I can not see a way forward with this queries (but) I will continue to pursue a solution for lighting for these steps.    Until then if your constituents do not wish to use the steps in the dark there is a lit alternative route via Scott Street to Pentland Avenue.”
 
I will continue to pursue this matter as having better lighting on the steps would greatly assist residents using them at night.

Lighting concern – Riverside Avenue to Perth Road

Residents have expressed concern that lights on the path under the rail line, between Perth Road and Riverside Avenue (that runs to opposite Wright Avenue), are not working.
 
There are six lights on this path of which only three are working.
 
This is a frequently used path and I have contacted the City Council’s Street Lighting Partnership seeking urgent repair.

Street Lighting – Lower Pleasance/Douglas Street/Brewery Lane

Residents have complained to me that some of the street lighting at Lower Pleasance, Douglas Street and Brewery Lane is obscured by foliage from overgrown trees.   I took this up with the Street Lighting Partnership and have been advised :

We have looked at the various streets mentioned. There are some areas where the trees are obscuring the light.   We will get them cut back in the next couple of days.

Lighting issue – steps from Scott Street to Pentland Avenue

Steps – Scott Street-Pentland Avenue
Last year, I raised, on behalf of residents, the need for lighting on the steps from Scott Street to Pentland Avenue.   The steps are well-used and often by elderly people and are quite dark at night, relying on what light reaches the area from the adjacent roads.
 
At the time, the council’s Street Lighting Partnership advised :
 
“… we looked at putting lights on the stairs.   Unfortunately it’s just not technically feasible and the costs would not justify since there is a lit route via the end of Scott Street.”
 
However, as I have continued to receive requests from residents for lighting here, I have again raised the matter with the Street Lighting Partnership, who have updated me as follows :
 
“I have spent some time looking into alternative method of lighting this footpath.    The position on conventional lighting remains the same. 
I have looked at some solar powered lighting by Philips Lighting and was advised that Solar Lighting it not really feasible in the North Hemisphere as there is insufficient sun light to keep the batteries charged for the whole year. possibly as technology moves a more cost effective and easier method of lighting footpath my become available.
I will continue to pursue the lighting industry for a permanent answer to these problems.”
 
With the agreement of the Street Lighting Partnership, I have asked a contact I have at the University of Dundee, who has expertise in solar lighting, to hopefully provide some advice on this matter that could provide a solution.

Street Lighting Partnership

I am pleased to say that, yet again, Dundee has had the best street lighting service in Scotland in terms of fewest number of lights out and speed of repair during 2013.
 
The Street Lighting Partnership does a superb job and has been extremely helpful this year – as always – in terms of lighting repairs in the West End.
 
For information, the following faults/defects are classified as Emergencies and should be reported immediately to the Council by phoning the following telephone number.
 
•0800 232323 (freephone)
•01382 433063 (if using a mobile phone)
 
Faults/Defects which constitute Emergency Attendance:
 
•Street lights or illuminated traffic signage damaged by vehicles.
•Missing column doors / Exposed wires.
•Groups of lights and Single lights out are not normally classed as emergencies and will be passed for repair the next working day.
•Lantern Bowls hanging.
 
The council website has a form for the reporting of non-emergency Street Light Faults Only that you can access here.

Concern over increase in street lighting electricity costs

Over the past few days, I have heard from colleagues on other councils across Scotland that the electricity companies are considering increasing very significantly the cost to councils of street lighting.    Although it has yet to be finalised, I understand that Scottish & Southern Energy is looking at increasing its Distribution Use of System (DUoS) charges by approx 2.5pkWhr from 1.7p to 4.3p for unmetered customers. 
The City Council’s Street Lighting Partnership tells me that this would add approximately £280 000 to Dundee City Council’s Electricity Bill.
I have great concerns about an increase of this magnitude – it is extremely high in relation to real inflation and comes at a time when the City Council like other local authorities is trying to finalise its budget for 2012/13.   Such an increase has not been factored into the budget and I have therefore been in touch with the Director of Finance who advises :
“The latest proposed development which is being challenged has not yet been implemented or included in the Provisional Revenue Budget for 2012/13.
We propose to tackle this in 3 ways:
1. We are looking at possible spend to save initiatives to reduce our electricity burden on street lighting.

2. I am taking the latest proposals up with Procurement specialists to see if there is anything that can be done to secure a contract for this element of street lighting.

3. We do have a provision for increased energy costs of £603k in the Provisional Revenue Budget for 2012/13 along with £650k for general contingencies. At present we do not know what the actual impact of energy price increases will be but this is our best estimate.”
Speaking as the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the City Council, my own comment is that it is very difficult to see any justification for this level of increase in charges coming at a time of great pressure on council budgets.     DUoS is not part of the National Procurement Scotland Contract which only deals with the Raw Energy Element.     

I think there is also an issue for the regulator OFGEM in that Scottish & Southern DUoS charges for unmetered Customers is by far the highest of any of the other 12 UK Distribution Companies thereby penalising local authorities in the North and North East of Scotland. 

Lighting at Balgay Park and Hill – an update

At the latest Balgay Stakeholders’ Group meeting last month, there was a discussion about lighting improvements in the park.   

The upgrade will be completed in January but I was given an update by the City Council towards the end of last week as follows :

“We had a team working on the lighting for the whole day.
We now have the first 2 lighting columns from the Scott Street end illuminated, but underground cable faults means the rest of the equipment is dark on this section of road until you get to the pavilion. Not much more can be done here until January. Good news on the North end.  From Glamis Road, we have managed to illuminate 5 columns from the entrance to just past the pavilion. So you have the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th and 8th street lights illuminated.
The other lighting columns will be replaced with the main street lighting works in January.”

Campaigning to save the Crichton Street collection office

At tonight’s City Council meetings, I raised concerns at the Policy & Resources Committee about the recent decision of Royal Mail Group to close its Crichton Street Enquiry Office and relocate its functions, from 29th August to the Edward Street Delivery Office for customers living in the DD1 postal area, and from 5th September to the Dundee West Delivery Office, Baird Avenue, for customers living in the DD2 and DD3 postal areas.

I highlighted the many concerns raised by customers that, given that the Crichton Street Enquiry Office is a very central facility in the city and the alternative facilities are not located in the city centre, this will have a detrimental impact on customers, particularly those who rely on public transport to visit Royal Mail facilities.

My motion asked the council’s Chief Executive to write to the Director of Scottish Affairs, Royal Mail Group, outlining the City Council’s concerns at the decision to close the Crichton Street Enquiry Office, requesting that Royal Mail Group postpones the Crichton Street Enquiry Office closure pending further discussion with the City Council and invites the Director of Scottish Affairs, Royal Mail Group, to meet with the Chief Executive and City Councillors on the matter. The motion was unanimously agreed, with an addition from the Convener about the consultation process.   I was pleased to mention that DD One, the City Centre’s Business voice, has contacted me, voicing its support for the campaign to save the Crichton Street collection office.

What was important tonight was that the City Council spoke with one voice over the proposed closure of an accessible Royal Mail facility and it was good to see all-party support on the matter.

At the same committee, I asked a question about the sustainability of jobs for Dundee citizens under the Employability Programme.    

At the Housing Committee, I asked about improving tenant satisfaction with the Housing Department’s performance and at City Development Committee, I praised the continuing great performance by the street lighting partnership.

Seafield Road – lighting update

Earlier this week, I advised of the City Council Chief Executive’s positive response to my request that street lighting replacement policy be altered so that streets like Seafield Road – where lamp posts have been removed following damage by motor vehicles – can get their street lights replaced.

On receipt of the Chief Executive’s feedback, I asked the City Engineer how quickly the light at the south end of Seafield Road can be replaced, and I have now been advised as follows :


“Due to the need to liaise and arrange with Scottish & Southern for the power supply and to order the materials and programme the work, the streetlight will be replaced within the next 4 weeks.”

Street lighting policy – and Seafield Road

Further to my previous articles about concerns regarding street lighting policy in the city (see http://tinyurl.com/dundeelights) the City Council’s Chief Executive has now advised me of a change in policy with immediate effect. This will reverse the policy of not replacing street lights damaged by motor vehicles where the cost could not be reclaimed via the driver’s insurance policy.

Having first raised concerns about the impact of not replacing street lights back in May, I was disappointed that it seemed to take an age to address the issue, particularly as the darker nights drew in.

However, I am very pleased that the new Chief Executive has responded to my concerns – and those of other councillors – and we will now see the “missing” street lights replaced.

He has advised me earlier today as follows :

“I have been contacted by a number of elected members regarding the practice in relation to replacement of damaged street lighting, which was introduced as part of the 2009/10 Revenue Budget.

The concerns raised by elected members are that the non-replacement of damaged street lights is having an adverse effect on public safety and is not effective.

I have met with the Directors of City Development and Finance and we have agreed that, with immediate effect, this procedure should cease, and this will mean that forthwith all street lighting lampposts that are damaged or need replacement will be replaced.

The cost of this revised procedure is estimated to be £72,000 in the current financial year, and the Director of Finance has advised me this can be met from the Council’s Renewal & Repairs Fund. The cost in a full financial year, ie 2010/11 onwards, is estimated to be £130,000 and this provision will be included within the draft Capital Estimates, which will be considered at the Policy & Resources Committee in February 2010.”

It is vital that missing street lights are replaced urgently as community safety is paramount. If we take for example the missing street light in Seafield Road in the West End, the area around the missing street light has been plunged into darkness and I cannot stress enough how important it is that it is replaced soon.

I have today written to the City Engineer seeking a timescale for the replacement light for Seafield Road being installed.

 

Street Lighting – potentially good news

Further to my articles from earlier this week, about the policy of not replacement street lights where damaged by motor vehicles and the driver cannot be traced, the City Council Chief Executive called me this afternoon to advise that a report is to come to the City Development Committee on 7th December that will recommend amending the policy.

Although I have yet to see the detail, it is a step in the right direction that the policy is being reviewed.   I will be suggesting that all street lamps that have not been replaced across the city are replaced as a matter of urgency, including the street light in Seafield Road I referred to in my previous articles about this issue.

Street Lighting Concerns

I have called for urgent action by Dundee City Council to address changes to street lighting policy that has resulted in street lights in the city not being replaced after they have been damaged by vehicles.

This is a city wide problem, where it has very clear that the policy of non-replacement of street lighting where a vehicle damages a lamp standard and the cost of repair cannot be recovered from the driver, is simply not working.


Residents at the south end of Seafield Road are very concerned at the non-replacement of a street light, which has plunged the street into total darkness.

It is simply not good enough for the SNP City Development Convener to claim that the policy was adopted during the previous administration because the budget was passed unanimously and all aspects were discussed in an all-party setting.


Of the various changes to street lighting policy, it became clear very early on in the new financial year that, in reality, the policy of non-replacement in these circumstances was a totally false economy and I raised my concerns with the City Development Director and the then Chief Executive back at the start of May of this year.

I have been promised time and time again that my concerns are being looked into and the latest is that the new Chief Executive has promised me an update later this week on a report that is apparently being written to review the policy.

This report has taken an age to come to fruition and for the SNP Convener to say he has only become aware of the issue in the past two months is incredible – the concern had been raised with senior officials months ago. I made clear to the Chief Executive that it was vitally important that this matter was resolved before the clocks changed to GMT as this clock change would exacerbate the problem, but the SNP administration appears to be asleep on the job.

The residents in Seafield Road have been incredibly patient but it is about time the City Council acted to resolve the matter.

City Council News Release today on the street lighting partnership

A Dundee-based street lighting partnership looks set to be extended following a successful initial three-year period.
 
A report to Dundee City Council’s planning and transport committee on Monday (March 9) recommends that the council’s partnership with Perth and Kinross Council and Tayside Contracts be extended for three years.
 
Committee convener Councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “The partnership was set up three years ago and involves an integrated team covering Dundee and Perth and Kinross with many benefits for the councils and Tayside Contracts.
 
“It has proved to be a very successful and cost-effective arrangement, with reduced staff costs, savings through bulk purchase of materials and lower storage costs. There has also been a significant drop in the average repair cost, from almost £40 in 2002-03 to just under £25 last year.
 
“The service that the public have received has also been excellent. For example, street lights in Dundee have fewer faults and are fixed faster than in any other major Scottish city. Dundee has only three lights per 1000 not working compared to 10 times as many in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
 
“The partnership has also gained national recognition, being the only street lighting organisation in the UK to reach the finals of the Association of Public Service Excellence awards.”
 
The report to committee recommends that the partnership be extended to 2012 and that further discussions take place with Angus Council to encourage the local authority to become part of the partnership.

Planning & Transport Committee – news releases

Three City Council news releases just issued, covering issues to be covered at the Planning & Transport Committee that I will chair next Monday, 9th June :

STREET LIGHTING SUCCESS

Street lights in Dundee have fewer faults that are fixed quicker than in any other Scottish city.


The figures, revealed in a new report to go before councillors next week, also show that the carbon footprint from street lighting in Dundee was the lowest of the four other major population centres in Scotland.

Members of the planning and transport committee, which meets on Monday (June 9), will be told that in 2007/08 the average time taken to repair a street light in Dundee was 1.8 days, and that only 20% of street lights developed a fault.

Convener of the planning and transport committee, Fraser Macpherson said: “Street lighting makes an important contribution to road safety, crime prevention and the safety of groups who might feel vulnerable after dark.

“Recognising that, the council moved to a more proactive way of dealing with the street lighting stock throughout the city.

“Rather than just repairing faults when they are reported, groups of lamps are replaced in an area when they are coming to the end of their natural life. In this way we are being greener and brighter.”

The report by director of planning and transportation, Mike Galloway shows that street lights in Dundee are repaired twice as quickly as in Glasgow, the next best performing city; and that in percentage terms Dundee has fewer street lighting faults every year than any other city.

Compared with Dundee, Aberdeen has four times as many lights per 1000 street lights not working as planned on any one evening, while in Glasgow the figure is seven times, and there 11 times as many in Edinburgh.

Dundee City Council has also reduced the energy consumption per street light to 104 watts as a result of the planned replacement regime cutting wasted energy.

This figure compares with 111 watts in Edinburgh, 119 watts in Glasgow and 120 watts in Aberdeen.

GELLATLY STREET

Work on two key elements that will underpin the multi million pound transformation of Dundee’s waterfront will go before councillors next week.

Members of Dundee City Council’s planning and transport committee will be asked to approve £450,000 of works to Gellatly Street and changes to the area’s car park to help patrons of the new hotel at the site.

Planning and transport committee convener, Fraser Macpherson said: “As work on the waterfront goes on and roads are re-aligned and traffic flow changed, Gellatly Street will become much busier.

“With this in mind the road surface needs be improved and carrying out the resurfacing work now will help to avoid the potential of greater disruption in the future.”

The resurfacing work will be done in two parts the first going from the south junction of Dock Street and Commercial Street round to the entrance of the multi-storey car park.

As a result Gellatly Street will temporarily change from being one-way northwards from Commercial Street to Seagate to a no-through road.

While work is going on in the first phase Gellatly Street will become two-way from Seagate to the multi-storey car park, which will remain open throughout the contract.

Heavy goods vehicles which will not have space to turn will be required to park on Seagate and transport deliveries from there to businesses in Gellatly Street.

Residents and traders in the street have been notified of the changes to the traffic flow and arrangements for deliveries while work progresses.

Plans to open the new Holiday Inn Express hotel in Dock Street are well advanced and a link between the building and the adjacent Gellatly Street car park has been agreed.

Councillors will be asked to endorse a recommendation to issue paid for permits to hotel patrons allowing them to park in Gellatly Street car park from 2pm until noon the following day.

Cllr Joe Morrow, who chairs the Waterfront Project Board said: “These two elements of activity in Gellatly Street are fundamental to the early part of the revolutionary makeover of Dundee’s waterfront.

“With considerable work already completed under ground to prepare the waterfront, these two pieces of activity will be tangible evidence of the forthcoming transformation.”

Details of the latest developments in the project and the wider waterfront vision can be found on www.dundeewaterfront.com

The planning and transport committee meets on Monday (June 9).

CYCLING, WALKING AND SAFER STREETS

Almost £250,000 could be spent in Dundee on projects that will improve access to walking and cycling facilities and/or reduce danger to pedestrians and cyclists.

If councillors back the move at a meeting on Monday (June 9), the money will be spent under four broad headings to meet the council’s cycling, walking and safer streets policy.

The planning and transport committee is being asked to back lowered kerb/footway improvements, pedestrian access and safety, outdoor access and cycling measures.

Convener of the planning and transport committee, Fraser Macpherson said: “Projects across the city will be funded by this extra money, which has been allocated by the Scottish Government.

“All of the woks will promote cycling, walking and safer streets with the aim of helping to reduce Dundonians’ dependence on the car, and in turn further improve air quality in the city.”

According to a report to go before the committee, £100,000 has been allocated to lowering kerbs and improving footways to increase accessibility for vulnerable pedestrians including the elderly and children.

Improvements to existing pedestrian crossing facilities and new infrastructure to improve pedestrian access and safety have been given £99,000.

A number of projects to give more access to the outdoors for cyclists and pedestrians have had £30,000 earmarked for them, and £20,000 has been identified to fill in the “missing links” in the city’s cycling network.

Car vandalism, street lighting

Last night’s “Evening Telegraph covered what I described as the “mindless vandalism” of vehicles in Benvie Road, Rosebery Street and surrounding area that occurred on Monday.

Given residents’ concerns about the vandalism to vehicles, I contacted the Police about the possibility of mobile CCTV use in the area and I have been advised that the use of a CCTV van has been discussed following the incidents.



You can read last night’s Tele story by clicking on the headline above.


The Tele also covered the continuing attempts to find a new occupant for the Vision building at Seabraes. The building has been empty since February 2006 and I have maintained a close interest in this matter.


Yesterday, as City Council Planning & Transport Convener, I paid a visit to the Street Lighting Partnership between the City Council and Tayside Contracts. The partnership has an excellent record in terms of street lighting maintenance – one of the best in Scotland – and it was extremely useful to see the operation in action.