Local TV no more?

This week’s launch of STV’s new television service STV2 is, I feel, a disappointing missed opportunity.
STV2 has been created by STV by weaving together several local TV franchises it successfully bid for covering Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Ayr into one single output.    The idea behind the local franchises had been separate, local TV output at each one and that STV has undermined the spirit of the local TV franchise deals by creating just one TV service spread across all 5 areas.
Katie Martin of STV’s public relations and communications team advised me :
“STV2 will deliver a single schedule across Scotland that includes local material from all five local licence areas in line with individual licence commitments; all programming will air across the channel with no local opt-outs.  Content will come from all areas with production bases and staff in all five licence areas and will be clearly marked as such, covering Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Ayr.” 
This is not the local TV output that STV originally promised.   Whilst some additional local output from Dundee on STV2 is a step forward, the station will be, as is usually the case with both STV and the BBC, dominated by Glasgow and Edinburgh.    STV has fallen well short of what it originally promised and I am doubtful that what it is proposing truly meets the local and regional commitments of the Ofcom franchises covering Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Ayr that it won.
STV has attempted to create a second STV national service by the back door.     I am sure that there will be some good content on STV2 and I wish STV well with its venture, but for the many people who thought that, in winning in separate local franchises, we would see truly local and regional services in different parts of Scotland, STV has fallen short.
Bobby Hain, director of channels at STV, had confirmed “STV2 is the new channel for Scotland.”   
A new national channel has been created at the expense of local television and it is surprising that Ofcom, the regulator, has allowed this to happen.

On STV News at Six and on Wave 102 News – rejection of the West End Park and Ride proposal

Further to my update last night about the rejection of the West End Park and Ride proposal, I spoke on STV News at Six tonight and on Wave 102 News this afternoon about the issue.   You can hear the Wave 102 interview by clicking ‘play’ below:

West End Community Clean-Up!

This afternoon, along with my councillor ward colleague Cllr Richard McCready, Environment Convener Cllr Craig Melville, Trudy Cunningham, Environment and Sustainability Officer at the University of Dundee, community representatives, members of the Bonnie Dundee group and others, we took part in a clean-up of the area around Greenmarket and collected bags (and bags!) of rubbish.    A couple of photos below!
Part of the litter pick team in action!
Alistair Gibb of Community Spirit Action Group and me at Greenmarket
Leaving aside the “keeping our environment clean” message that Trudy got across on tonight’s STV news, it was really good to see the community spirit that is such a feature of the West End coming to the fore again today.
I was interviewed about the clean-up on Wave 102 news earlier today – click ‘play’  below to listen:

Parking consultation : Council must act on residents’ views

As the consultation period on the proposed West End parking proposals ended, I spoke on the STV news last Friday evening about the issue.
It is vital that Dundee City Council actually listens to the views of the hundred of residents and businesses who have responded to the parking consultation.    I’ll eat my hat if the council’s proposal for a £80 parking permit finds favour in the responses the council has received.   I have spoken with dozens of residents who were critical of the council’s flawed proposal but absolutely nobody who thought the council got the parking scheme proposal right.    However, the parking problems for many residents will remain and it is therefore vital that the council looks carefully at the ideas put forward by residents.
The detail of the scheme proposed by the council wasn’t properly thought through and was a dead duck the day it was announced because it failed in three key aspects:
a)    Charging West End residents 16 times as much for their permits as Menzieshill residents – totally inequitable and unfair.
b)    Charging West End residents for their visitors’ parking when the Menzieshill scheme allows free visitor parking, albeit for a limited period.
c)    Failure to provide new car parking provision at the University of Dundee campus to ease parking congestion on West End streets – as I have previously highlighted.
I have heard some very sensible suggestions from residents that could be taken forward in the areas of parking difficulty even in the council’s flawed £80 permit parking scheme is rejected – these include addition parking provision near the university campus and a review of waiting restrictions at several locations.    
The vitally important thing now is that Dundee City Council actually listens to the views expressed in consultation responses.

Grampian Television’s 50th!

Had it not been ‘rebranded’ as STV North, Grampian Television, the regional TV service for the north and north-east of Scotland, would have been celebrating its 50th anniversary today.

Some of us campaigned against the removal of the Grampian brand back in 2006 and regret the passing of a great regional television service – immortalised by TV greats such as Ron Thomson, Jimmy Spankie and Alan Saunders.

STV North has, to its credit, produced an excellent Dundee and Tayside segment in the STV News at Six each evening, but I regret the passing of Grampian, a genuine regional and much-loved television station :

Bring back Grampian!

On STV news – campaigning against graffiti vandalism

I took part tonight in the STV news, highlighting the concerns of West End residents about graffiti vandalism.

I have reported the graffiti highlighted to the City Council, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Water for action to get it removed.

There’s another community initiative to tackle the graffiti issue in the West End this June, following the super effort by residents and others last year.   If you wish more details, please contact me at fraser@frasermacpherson.org.uk

Wednesday activities

This afternoon, I was interviewed for tonight’s STV news about my concerns regarding the City Council’s SNP Administration education ‘savings’ proposals that propose a so-called “City Campus” for senior pupils that would see pupils having to travel between schools for classes.   I have called for a proper explanation of how this would actually work but judging by comments made by the SNP Education Convener in tonight’s Evening Telegraph, she has “yet to fully consider transport for the plan.”   Announced, but not thought through.   Astonishing.

Thereafter I had the pleasure of attending the launch in the City Square of Stagecoach Strathtay’s fleet of brand new vehicles for the “Tayway” 73 service (Arbroath to Ninewells Hospital, including the West End).

The buses are brand new Enviro 400 buses, which benefit from state of the art technology, including the latest “green” Euro 5 engines, CCTV, free wi-fi and low floor entrances, making them easily accessible for wheelchair and buggy users. New branding has also been fitted to the vehicles, allowing the public to easily identify the 73 service.

I’m pictured (below) at the new buses at City Square after the launch.


Dundee West LibDem campaign gathers pace

As the Liberal Democrats soar in the polls and Labour and Tory fall back, John Barnett’s LibDem campaign in Dundee West is galloping ahead throughout the constituency.
Here’s John with some of the LibDem team (Munwar, Bill & Chris – with John on the right of the photo above) pictured in Nethergate near to DCA this morning, where John was interviewed by STV News.

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.

Busy week thus far!

A very busy week thus far, starting with a day job meeting at Glasgow City Council on Monday, followed by council committees that evening.

Apart from the Planning & Transport Committee I chair, there were a number of committee meetings that night. At the Education Committee, the SNP group came under fire for the failure of the Scottish Futures Trust to deliver capital projects (actually, anything really). Both the Education Convener and I reminded the SNP that Alex Salmond promised to match the previous administration’s building programme “brick for brick” – I pointed out that the SNP Futures Trust has not actually delivered a single brick – Ministers are about to run out of new schools (the projects of the last administration) to open. We in Dundee are anxious to progress further new school projects but we need Scottish Government to get the act together.

On Tuesday morning, I chaired the TACTRAN (regional transport partnership) Board in Perth. This included a presentation by the Director of Network Rail. Later I attended a planning appeal site visit by the Scottish Government Reporter to Balgay Bowling Club. I previously successfully moved refusal of an application for a mobile phone mast here, given the adverse impact on residential amenity. On Tuesday evening, I attended an enjoyable and interesting West End Community Council meeting.

Yesterday was spent on “day job” activity in Edinburgh – at the Scottish Parliament and the Valuation Joint Board.

Today, dealt with numerous constituents’ issues and appeared on STV “North Tonight” on the proposed A90 improvements around Dundee, as proposed by the Strategic Transport Project Review.

Busy Monday!

A busy day Monday and apart from an awful lot of day job work starting very early morning – I have a large conference to organise coming up fast! – it included the following :

* Interview with Wave 102 about moves towards local television in Dundee and Tayside/Fife as a whole.    You can hear this by following this link : http://www.dundeewestend.com/2008/08/busy-monday.html

*Meetings with the Council Leader and the Director of Planning & Transportation about a number of issues.   I also spoke at the City Council’s Recess Sub-Committee, backing the report to allow the continuation of a bus service for users of the 72 in the West End and 69 in Broughty Ferry.    I am pleased to say the report was unanimously agreed.

* I am to be on STV news at 6pm tonight to speak about the latest situation on Post Office closures and my request that City Council legal officers investigate the viability of a legal challenge to the four Dundee Post Office closures.



A couple of further updates …

* BALGAY HILL : Following residents’ concernas about the speed of some vehicles along the narrow roadways at the Hill and leading up to the Mills Observatory (right), I asked the Leisure & Communities Department of the City Council if it would consider some speed humps in appropriate places to emphasise the low speed limit at Balgay Hill. The Department has agreed to look at this in terms of cost and viability.
* STV “NORTH TONIGHT” : Although I wasn’t a fan of the dropping of the “Grampian TV” brand, which had served the north of Scotland well for over 40 years, and the creation of “STV” (which was always the central Scotland’s station, not ours – click on headline to view story from March 2006 on this), one very positive thing both STV North and STV Central have done is the creation of a ‘local’ 5 minutes or so ‘opt out’ in North Tonight (for the North East, Highlands and Islands, hosted from Aberdeen, and for Tayside and NE Fife, hosted from Dundee) and in Scotland Today (for East Central Scotland, hosted from Edinburgh, and from West Central Scotland, hosted from Glasgow).

However, if you watch Grampian (err…sorry…STV North) on Sky, even if you live in Dundee, you get the Aberdeen opt out rather than the Dundee one that is broadcast on local analogue transmitters and Freeview.

I contacted STV about this, following complaints from some West End residents, and I have had the following feedback from STV – hopefully this will be resolved soon:

“The reason your constituents watching stv via Sky receive the North opt as opposed to the Tayside opt is because the Tayside opt is not yet available on the Sky platform. We hope this will be changed in the near future; however we do not yet have a date.”