|Saltire Card would operate
similarly to the London
I have called on Dundee City Council to be at the forefront in progressing the Scottish Government’s “Saltire Card” by offering to be a pilot site for the proposed Scottish equivalent of the Oyster Travel Card that has been a huge success for public transport in London.
- progress on improving rail services through Tay Estuary Rail Study (TERS) work;
- approval of the Tayside and Central Scotland Health and Transport Framework;
- progress on Travel Planning support for public and private sector employers;
- development of plans for a Freight Consolidation Centre in Perth;
- progress on the delivery of TACTRAN’s revenue and capital projects
This morning, following the meeting about pedestrian safety at the Tullideph Road/City Road junction that local residents’ group Community Spirit and I had with City Council officers on 2nd February, we had a follow-up meeting at the junction.
It was a useful discussion about safety at the junction and City Council road safety officers have offered to attend a future Community Spirit meeting to discuss concerns with local residents.
I then attended a meeting with Education officers about the building programme for the replacement Park Place Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School and Park Place Nursery School.
Thereafter, I attended the Dundee House Project Board, where I raised a number of questions and concerns about that project. I then attended the City Council’s Scrutiny Committee, at which I raised questions about numerous matters on the agenda.
I am disappointed to learn about the lack of progress on the time it takes Dundee City Council to let vacant council houses. The SNP administration has gone on at length about its so-called ‘enhanced relets’ policy. This has cost council tenants a fortune and the net result appears that – thus far – the time taken to let houses has actually and incredibly worsened.
The Housing Department has given a commitment to improve on the 98.7 days it took to let houses (on average) last September (it was lower at 74.5 days in September 2009) and it has now set itself a target of 65 days – although it is not clear when they expect to achieve this. The SNP’s flagship housing policy is not delivering.
I also asked questions about ensuring that new tenants get Housing Benefit from the start of their tenancies, committee reports on revenue expenditure having better financial appraisals, customer excellence and on other matters.
Conservative councillor Derek Scott asked a very pertinent question about the lack of progress on Demand Responsive Transport (DRT). As the previous Chair of TACTRAN, the regional transport partnership, I ensured that funding was available for pilot DRT projects for Dundee and a rural pilot in Perthshire/Stirling. It is disappointing that the Dundee pilot has not moved forward under the SNP, as DRT would help elderly people, people with mobility difficulties and people not living near main bus routes get access to public transport. At my request, an update report will go to City Development Committee. This is to be welcomed.
During my period as TACTRAN Chair, I met with the Regional Director of Network Rail in Scotland and – in raising the need for Dundee station refurbishment – it struck me that intense negotiation was going to be required with Network Rail, and with other partner organisations such as First ScotRail, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Government. What is clear, however, is that Dundee has not had a fair share of rail capital funding improvements. My entry on www.dundeewestend.com back in April of this year (see http://tinyurl.com/dundeerail) pointed out :
“Network Rail announced plans for a new roof for Waverley Station in Edinburgh as part of a £130 million overhaul of the station. It comes on top of some £190 million announced last May for Edinburgh Haymarket.”
Only yesterday, the Glasgow Evening Times reported in relation to Dalmarnock Station :
Last week, the media highlighted the City Council’s latest proposals to improve the station. Go to http://tinyurl.com/stvedundee to read a report and see the TV news item from STV – “£10 million Dundee rail station plan revealed.”
As a former member of the Dundee Waterfront Board, I was surprised to see the figure of £10 million being bandied about. I reproduce below an e-mail I have since sent to Mike Galloway, the City Council’s City Development Director. I think we need transarency and answers to the points I have made :
Subject : Rail Station Refurbishment
I refer to media reports regarding the “Plans for £10m railway station revamp” (The Courier; 24th September – the Press and Journal and STV reported the same cost figure).
Given that your presentation to the Waterfront Board in Q4 2008 on the station study referred to 2 comparative estimated costs of :
OPTION 1 : £33m
OPTION 2 : £34.5m
I am extremely surprised at the £10m figure now being quoted. Even if the cost of commercial office and hotel building was removed from the 2008 figures, the total cost is very substantially in excess of £10 million.
Can you please give me an indication as to what revised proposals consist of, reassurance that the revised much lower intended cost will actually deliver the sort of quality improvement to the station that everyone in the city wishes to see and that the revised proposals are financially robust?
Can you also indicate to me when a report will be given to all elected members through either the City Development or Policy & Resources Committee?
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the West End
Liberal Democrat Group Leader – Dundee City Council
It has been a busy first week back following the festive period, including meetings involving TACTRAN (the regional transport partnership), the Dundee Health Central project and various meetings with constituents, including a site visit about traffic safety matters at Miller’s Wynd/Hawkhill.
Today, a useful meeting of LibDem activists in Perth, which a Dundee LibDem colleague and I attended. I’m pictured above with George Lyon, the leading Scottish Liberal Democrat for next June’s European Election, who delivered the keynote address today. You can read more about George and his campaign by going to http://georgelyon.org.uk/.
And … an equally busy week ahead – council committees start again tomorrow and I also have the Tay Rope Works Planning Inquiry to appear at on Tuesday, together with a residents’ association meeting, a meeting at Dundee Airport, a West End Christmas Week de-brief meeting and various visits to constituents during next week.
TACTRAN Chair, Councillor Fraser Macpherson commented “The publication of our Regional Transport Strategy is the culmination of a huge amount of work by the Partnership over the past two years. Along with our partner Councils, and through extensive consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders, we have developed a Strategy that aims to support economic prosperity, improve access for our citizens and communities, and protect and enhance the environment. Improving quality of life, health and wellbeing, and opportunity in our cities, towns and deepest rural areas lies at the heart of this Strategy. Our priorities over the next 10 – 15 years include pressing for improvements to our strategic road and rail links, encouraging a shift towards more sustainable forms of transport, in particular walking, cycling and public transport, and working with the freight sector to encourage more sustainable movement of goods. Improving integration between transport modes and with other policy areas, particularly land use and health, are also key objectives of our Strategy.”
Referring to the Scottish Government’s recent announcement on the Strategic Transport Projects Review, Councillor Macpherson added “Many of the priorities our Strategy identifies have been acknowledged by Government in the recent Strategic Transport Projects Review. We are keen to work closely with Scottish Government, our Councils, the transport industry and other key stakeholders on bringing forward much needed efficiency, capacity and safety improvements on our strategic road and rail networks. Over the next 15 years we will undoubtedly face many challenges in seeking to ensure that our transport system supports a vibrant economy, whilst at the same time protecting our environment and contributing to Government targets on climate change. We believe this strategy offers an integrated and balanced approach to meeting these challenges and addressing the future transport and accessibility needs of our region and its citizens.”
He continued “We have recently completed work on developing sub-Strategies and Action Plans for taking forward the Buses, Walking & Cycling, Travel Information and Park & Ride elements of the Strategy, and these will be published early in 2009. We are also currently developing our RTS Delivery Plan, in consultation with partner Councils. This will set out the Partnership’s delivery priorities for the next 3 years, from 2009/10 – 2011/12, along with an indicative programme for the years beyond 2012. This is the subject of ongoing consultation with our partner Councils, with a view to publication of the finalised Delivery Plan in spring next year.”
The TACTRAN Regional Transport Strategy can be viewed and downloaded free of charge from the Partnership’s website atwww.tactran.gov.uk. Printed copies of the strategy are also available to purchase at a cost of £10 plus postage and packing. Contact TACTRAN on 01738 475775.
TACTRAN is the statutory Regional Transport Partnership covering the Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling Council areas. TACTRAN has produced a Regional Transport Strategy (RTS), which sets out a vision for improving the region’s transport infrastructure, services and facilities over the 15 years to 2023.
The RTS has been shaped and informed by analysis of the trends and issues facing the region, and by widespread consultation with key stakeholders. The strategy was originally submitted for Ministerial approval in late March 2007, in line with statutory requirements. In early 2008 Scottish Government Ministers invited all 7 Regional Transport Partnerships to review and re-submit their strategies, in light of the new Scottish Government and Local Government Concordat. At the same time Partnerships were asked to remove specified schemes and interventions and place these in a separate RTS Delivery Plan. These revisions were duly completed during the spring of 2008 and a revised Strategy was submitted for approval in early May 2008. The core vision and general thrust of the Strategy was unchanged from that submitted for approval in March 2007. In late June 2008 the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change confirmed Ministerial approval of the Strategy and the finalised Strategy for publication was approved by the Partnership at its recent meeting on 28 October 2008.
TACTRAN is currently developing the RTS Delivery Plan, which will set out the Partnership’s delivery priorities for the 3 years from 2009/10 – 2011/12, with an indicative programme for the 10 – 12 year period beyond that.
Further information on TACTRAN and the Regional Transport Strategy can be viewed or downloaded free of charge from the Partnership’s website atwww.tactran.gov.uk or by calling 01738 475775. Copies of the published RTS are available to purchase at a cost of £10, plus postage and packing, or can be inspected free of charge at the Partnership’s Headquarters, Bordeaux House, 31 Kinnoull Street, Perth and will soon be available at all Public Libraries and Council public offices in the Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling Council areas.
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.
TACTRAN Chair, Councillor Fraser Macpherson, commented, “TACTRAN welcomes this statement on Scottish Government’s priorities for investing in improving Scotland’s transport infrastructure for the period beyond 2012. We are keen to work with Government and Transport Scotland to ensure that improvements to our transport systems are delivered as soon as practically possible.
He added, “We look forward to having further discussions with the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change on the priorities to be taken forward under the STPR in the New Year, and how TACTRAN can play a positive role in assisting this.
TACTRAN Director, Eric Guthrie added “Earlier in the STPR process we indicated to Transport Scotland a range of improvements we feel should be addressed as national priorities. These included removing existing bottlenecks on the A90 at Dundee, and on other parts of the trunk road network such as at Keir Roundabout on A9/M9 south of Dunblane; safety improvements on the A9 west and north of Perth; improving road and rail access to our ports at Dundee, Montrose and Perth to encourage more sustainable movement of freight; delivering further improvements to our internal and external rail connections; and modernising and expanding the strategic transport hubs at Dundee, Perth and Stirling.
A busy day today starting with my chairing the TACTRAN (regional transport partnership) meeting at the Angus Council Chamber in Forfar.
Later on, I also chaired a meeting regarding Travel Dundee’s bus service changes, at which a representative of the bus company met with City Councillors to explain the company’s rationale for the changes and listen to our concerns about some of the changes, which commence on 2nd November. You can download a copy of the new bus route guide by going to : http://td.casionwide.com/news/archived/downloads/routemap_download.pdf
Tonight, I attended the monthly meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association at the Corso Street Sheltered Lounge.
Developed with a Scottish Government grant, tactranliftshare.com is a regional website which includes the four partner local authority liftsharing schemes: Angusliftshare.com, Dundeelilftshare.com, PerthandKinrossliftshare.com and Stirlingliftshare.com.
Thehttp://www.tactranliftshare.com/ website was launched in June 2007 to encourage sustainable travel and highlight the benefits of sharing journeys with others. The site helps people who work and live in the region to find lifts through a database which matches journeys and times of travel.
The site is free and available to both the general public and private groups. You don’t even need a car to register a match for liftsharing – and any journey mode registered can be regular or one-off. The current regional liftshare membership of 1,500 has collectively saved 1.4 million road miles and 415 tonnes of Co2 so far!
Members simply register and enter their journeys on the site and when suitable matches are identified, they’re emailed basic contact information such as first names and postcode area. The whole process is handled through tactranliftshare and security advice on contacting and meeting potential sharers is fully provided on the website.
TACTRAN Chair, Councillor Fraser Macpherson said :-
“Promoting more sustainable travel is a key part of tactran’s Regional Transport Strategy. Our increasingly popular liftshare scheme aims to cut congestion and reduce the impact transport has on our local and global environment. The introduction of a “buddy scheme” incorporating other travel modes offers existing and potential users further alternatives to drive-alone commuting, which we hope will lead to more sustainable use of the private motor car and provide people with greater travel choice.”
With the extensive movement of commuters across the region for work, study and leisure, the introduction of the Buddy Scheme on tactranliftshare offers new benefits for residents of Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross and Stirling as well as people travelling from outside the region.
Other major employers are also supporting the initiative by forming private groups within the scheme. In addition to the partner Councils’ own sites, NHS Tayside, The University of Dundee and Stirling University also operate liftshare schemes. By encouraging employees to car share, a considerable reduction in drive-alone journeys can be achieved. This in turn will help in cutting congestion, which is good for the local economy as well as the environment.
A busy few days have passed – including the following!
The signs provide information about the number of available spaces in 12 car parks around the city’s inner ring road and is the result of funding from the Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN).
The up-dated signage gives “live” information of major car park occupancy which will help reduce unnecessary traffic going round looking for a parking space.
City council planning and transport convener and Chair of TACTRAN, Councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “There were 12 information signs installed about a decade ago and they have now been replaced by 23 new signs at strategic points along the inner ring road.
“They will help motorists by providing them with information about the availability of spaces in the major car parks around the city centre and there is also improved directional signage to ensure direct links between the inner ring road and adjacent main car parks.”
“As well as helping motorists find a parking space more easily, the new information system will contribute to TACTRAN’s Regional Transport Strategy objectives, by helping to reduce City Centre traffic congestion, improving air quality, and assisting public transport operation, through more efficient management of traffic using the City’s transport network”.
The sign legends have been improved with LED displays of the number of available spaces at the nearest car park as well as the cumulative number of spaces should a motorist continue along the ring road.
The system works by detecting vehicular movement at car park entrances and exits, with the information relayed by radio signal from the car park to a control centre at Tayside House. The information is then relayed to the information signs.
This afternoon, a useful and productive meeting with one of the local Head Teachers on the West End youth football team initiative, and tonight a meeting with Blackness Area Residents’ Association.
Lastly, a positive response from Dundee City Council following complaints raised by both myself and the Friends of Magdalen Green about inadequate litter bin provision on Magdalen Green.
I’m pleased with the prompt response by the City Council’s Leisure & Communities Department to recent complaints about litter on the Green and, in particular overflowing litter bins and a toilet roll wrapped round the bandstand. I was a bit surprised by the comment of a Council spokeswoman who told the Courier “the bin supply is adequate.”
Although the department empties bins very regularly, it is patently obvious that the existing provision of bins is inadequate. Bins were overflowing yesterday.
I am therefore pleased to have received confirmation today that the department is to “consider an extra few bins strategically placed to accept the overflow” something which I think will be welcomed.
“I am well aware, as a ward councillor in the west end, of the significant problems caused by vehicles parking in residential areas and a number of local employers, particularly Ninewells Hospital and the University of Dundee, have a lot of staff coming over from Fife.
“Clearly, having a park-and-ride system is something we would greatly welcome.”
On return to Dundee on Wednesday, I chaired the regional transport partnership board (TACTRAN) meeting in Perth and later attended the City Council’s Development Quality Forum at which the Depute Director of the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (what we used to call the Reporters’ Unit!) spoke. It was extremely informative.
Yesterday, I attended a Digital UK update at Dundee City Chambers on the digital television switch-over, aimed primarily at housing providers. Most of my “digital TV issues” really lie with Ofcom (as previously covered on this blog) but as the organisation responsible for publicising the analogue switch off, I was keen to raise the concerns I have about the assistance vulnerable people (particularly the elderly and disabled).
Although there is assistance in terms of the cost of digital terrestrial equipment and aerial compatibility for elderly and disabled people, the latter aspect does not apply to people in flats, and given the very large number of people in flats and tenements in parts of the West End, this exception is of concern. Many people in tenements have complex communal aerial set-ups (often installed many years ago) and I consider it vital that elderly and disabled citizens get the help they need to ensure they get continuation of their TV services after 2010.
I am pleased to say that Digital UK confirmed that a flexible approach will be taken to ensure all necessary assistance is given to vulnerable people.