It has been a hectic few weeks – here’s a brief overview of matters I have not already fully covered:
Tuesday 5th May : At the request of Friends of Magdalen Green, I chaired their AGM and am now acting chair of the Friends’ group. Alex Coupar gave a very interesting and entertaining presentation on photography – you can read more about the Friends’ 2009 photography competition at http://www.magdalengreen.btik.com/p_Photo_Competition.ikml.
Wednesday 6th May : I attended the Community Spirit AGM at the Mitchell Street Centre. Community Spirit is a very active community group serving the north part of the West End Ward, including the Cleghorn/Benvie/City Road and Pentland areas. An excellent turnout and good discussion of local issues.
Thursday 7th May : A second informal meeting of the West End Festival 2010 team – more on this later – I have put together a website for the group – go to http://www.dundeewestfest.com to view more.
Friday 8th May : I attended the Tay Bridge Joint Board (as a substitute for Cllr Asif from the Labour Group) and was delighted to see my long-standing colleague from Fife Council, Cllr Andrew Arbuckle, elected as the new Chair – Cllr Tom Ferguson from Dundee City Council was proposed by myself as Vice Chair, and was also elected.
Later that day I had a lengthy meeting with the Director of Education about the West End schools building proposal, to be considered at Education Committee on 11th May.
Monday 11th May : A very lengthy night of City Council and committees. I moved changes to the proposed Scrutiny Committee’s remit but narrowly lost the vote 15-14 (SNP plus Lord Provost versus everybody else). The Conservatives had a further sensible amendment but again lost 15-14. It is amazing how the SNP has shifted position on this matter from their view in opposition. The Scrutiny Committee lacks teeth, gives the SNP the largest share of seats (talk about scrutinising yourself!) and its role along with Audit/Risk Management and Best Value/Efficiency committees has significant potential for duplication. Not good.
The most significant issue on 11th May were the schools proposals for Lochee/Charleston and the West End. In respect of the West End, there is no doubt that all welcome the investment in new schools, but parents did raise genuine concerns over various aspects – site size, land contamination, to name just two. I sought and obtained an assurance from the Education Convener that all parents and carers are fully consulted and involved in the project (and I will hold her to that) and I asked questions of the Director of Education. I have thereafter e-mailed him in the following terms :
“Further to committee on Monday evening & a meeting of West End Community Council last night, I would be very grateful if you could, as soon as possible, give me :
a) Written confirmation as to the Department’s calculation as to why the former Logie Secondary site meets the school size regulations (1967 as amended)
b) Some indication as to the timescale in which a project board and implementation groups will be formed, the remit of each and how parents/carers with an interest in participating can indicate their interest in doing so.”
Tuesday 12th May : West End Community Council. A very busy night with speakers on recycling in Dundee, Fibrecity, and on the schools issue in the West End.
Wednesday 13th May : A very useful meeting with Waste Management and residents in Seafield Road about cleansing issues – good outcome.
Thursday 14th May : Attended Development Quality Forum (after my busy surgery) about the changes to planning procedures.