The annual Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Carol Concert took place at St James Church earlier tonight. A large congregation packed the church to sing carols and to hear the Christmas message through a series of well chosen readings.
The programme was enhanced by beautiful singing from the Choir of Eastern Primary School. The photograph caught some of the actions and movements from the children during their lively and spirited performance of 'Must be Santa' which received the heartiest round of applause.
Undoubtedly, the congregation also gave generously to the funding of the lifeboat which tonight was not called out to a rescue but tied up on its moorings just beyond The Lifeboat Church.
By Geraldine McKelvie
"OVER 700 people braved the wintry conditions on Saturday to sign a petition against proposed changes to full-time night cover at Balmossie fire station."
This morning Katrina Murray, (Prospective Labour Candidate for Dundee East Westminster Constituency), Councillor Brian Gordon and I joined members of the Fire Brigades' Union at Campfield Square shopping Centre in Barnhill where we helped to collect 350 public responses to the Tayside Fire and Rescue Board's consultation.
In a press release:
Katrina Murray said:
"The reasons why its wrong to downgrade Balmossie Fire Station are just as valid this year as they were last year. These proposed cuts will affect the day to day safety of not just the people served by this fire station but all of the folk in Dundee and Carnoustie whose fire and rescue crews will need to cover this loss. I can't think why the four SNP councillors from Dundee, who attended the Fire and Rescue Board on 16 November, voted in favour of reducing fire crews at Balmossie. I encourage voters in the area served by Balmossie fire station to make their voices heard through the consultation. I shall work hard to reverse this ill conceived and dangerous proposal."
Laurie Bidwell said:
“Withdrawing the full time crew on night shift from Balmossie will mean that there may be unacceptable delays in getting a fire crew and fire engine to a night time fire. Waiting for retained crew members to get up from their beds at home and make their way to Balmossie will delay this vital emergency service getting to the scene of a fire, road traffic accident or inland flood. I think most constituents in The Ferry find it reassuring that there is a 24 x 7 full time crew at their fire station ready to turn out in an instant to protect their lives and property.”
The school has many additional facilities not contained in their previous building including an assembly hall, dance studio, fitness suite and swimming pool. These outstanding facilities are contained in a wing next to the school's main entrance on Claypotts Road carefully designed for dual use by the community. From March/April 2010, Dundee Leisure will take over managing these facilities out of school hours. After six pm week nights, over weekends and during school holidays members of the public will be able to use the gyms and swimming pool. Interestingly, the opening of the swimming pool will fulfill one of the long outstanding conditions contained in the agreement for the annexation of Broughty Ferry into Dundee in 1913. Well done Dundee City Council!
Brian Boyd, emeritus professor of education at Strathclyde University, quoted in The Herald today said:
“Once again, we have the annual ritual of trying to give parents information which helps them choose a school, but what we end up with is often very misleading because what league tables tend to show you is the affluence of the catchment area, rather than the input of the schools or the effort of the teachers. Exam results give you no indication of how much value is added. If you were trying to measure what a school does you need to measure what level a young person is when they enter the school and compare that to where they are when they leave, and exams do not do that – they give no indication of the contribution the school has made.”
For that reason, when I was Education Convener of the City Council (May 2007 - April 2009, I encouraged the Directorate to work with our schools to collect the data to also publish 'valued added' tables that can measure the difference between a pupil's starting points on entry into primary one and secondary year one and their exit level of attainment on leaving secondary school. Jim Collins, Director of Education, should clarify whether the Council has now collected the data to be able to publish value added tables for our schools. The new Education Convener, Liz Fordyce (SNP), should clarify whether she is willing to publish these results.
View or Download Towards a Safer Tayside 2010/11 Consultation November 2009
Fill in the Response Questionnaire online
Request a printed copy of the "Towards a Safer Tayside 2010/11 Consultation November 2009", a comments/response sheet and a reply paid envelope from:
Tayside Fire and Rescue
Fire and Rescue Headquarters
Tel: 01382 322222
Fax: 01382 200791
I attended Dundee Choral Union's Christmas Concert, earlier this evening in the Caird Hall. The programme comprised:
- Serenade For Strings by Elgar
- Gloria by Rutter
- Choral Fantasy by Beethoven and
- Mass Of The Children by Rutter.
The performers included:
- Dundee Choral Union - comprising 34 sopranos, 38 contraltos, 11 tenors and 23 basses
- National Youth Choir of Scotland
- Chloe Marger, Pianist
- Soprano and Baritone Guest Soloists and the
- Orchestra of Scottish Opera.
The Choral Union, established in 1858, 'to practise and execute chiefly sacred music' is, I think, one of our most enduring and outstanding cultural organisations in the city.
Our Council is being asked to respond by Christmas to these new Concordat proposals which will, if endorsed, mean that class size reductions are focused in a minority of city council schools. But which schools will benefit and which ones will miss out? Free school meals for P1-3 primary classes will only be provided in some Primary Schools. But which children will benefit and which children will miss out? What will be the effect of the combination of class size reductions in some P1-3 classes, some additional free school meals and the planned £3 million budget cuts? Does this mean that some schools will not only lose out on the smaller class sizes and free school meals as well as taking the brunt of the planned cuts? Will some primary schools who receive extras teachers to reduce class sizes perversely lose access to specialist support for learning teachers, classroom assistants and visiting specialist teachers of physical education and music?
Parents and carers in Dundee will expect that this magnitude of chopping and changing should not be dreamed up behind closed doors and quietly put in place in the next school session. They would expect that important issues like this are carefully scrutinised by the Education Committee. I call on Education Convener Liz Fordyce and Leader of the Council Ken Guild to agree to hold an emergency meeting of the Education Committee before Christmas to debate these issues before signing up to a new concordat that commits the Council to actions that may have a perverse effect on primary schooling throughout our city.
I am pleased that Ministers in the Scottish Government have now made their decision about the West End Schools' site, which has been conveyed in a letter from the Schools Directorate in Edinburgh. The letter contains qualified approval for the site for the planned twin campus primary schools for the West End to replace the existing Park Place and St Joseph's Primary Schools. I note that the letter finishes by politely but firmly urging the Council to consult with and reassure the community on a number of contentious issues:
'I would ask that the Council acts on the three recommendations of HMIe (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education) by sharing and discussing its detailed plans for the joint campus with parents, by reassuring them regarding the two specific matters mentioned and by making clearer its plans and commitment for dedicated use of part of Victoria Park as playing fields by the two schools.'
It is clear from the government letter that there are now detailed plans not previously shared with elected members nor with parents and teachers. Parents, teachers and the Education Committee should be consulted and involved without delay.
Labour West End Councillor Richard McCready said:
"I welcome a decision being made, now it is time for the council to work with local people to deliver a solution which suits everyone. Clearly the report by the HMIe leaves a number of issues unresolved and makes the case that parents need to be engaged in the process. I hope that the Education Department set out a clear time scale which engages parents and the local community in bringing forward these proposals. I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Leisure and Communities Department to discuss the impact of the proposals on Victoria Park. Victoria Park is a popular local park and if PE lessons are held there regularly this will change the nature of the park. Recently I asked the Director of Leisure and Communities about plans to use Victoria Park in this way and he stated that he knew of 'no such plans.' There is a need for joined up thinking if this proposal is to be brought forward. Overall the message is clear. If the Education Department want to bring this project to fruition, it must engage much more effectively with parents at all the schools in the West End and demonstrate that their concerns have been addressed.”
I think the following proposals will be of interest to many of my constituents:
- Windfall tax on excessive city bonuses.
- Bingo duty to be cut from 22% to 20% for next year's Budget.
- Basic state pension will rise by 2.5% in April, a real-terms increase of nearly 4%.
- Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme for bank loans to small businesses to be extended for a further 12 months, guaranteeing a further £500m of loans.
- The Time To Pay scheme allowing firms to spread tax payments will be extended for as long as needed.
- Empty property relief threshold to be extended so that 70% of all empty properties will be exempt.
- Support for mortgage interest payments for the unemployed to be extended for a further six months.
- Minimum number of hours those over 65 need to work to receive Working Tax Credit to be reduced.
- Government to guarantee that anyone in work will always be better off than they were on benefits, with extra cash help from the Government if needed.
- Benefits linked to inflation, such as Child Benefit, will rise by 1.5%% in April.
- Government to double its commitment and finance four carbon capture and storage demonstration projects.
- New scrappage scheme to help up to 125,000 homes replace inefficient boilers, and changes to be made to the Climate Change Levy, company car tax and fuel benefit charge.
- From April, people with a home wind turbine or solar panels who send power back to the National Grid to receive an average tax-free payment of £900 a year.
- Electric cars to be exempted from company car tax for five years, with a 100% first year capital allowance for electric vans.
Remember December of fifty-nine
The howling wind and driving rain
Remember the gallant men who drowned
On the lifeboat, Mona was her name
The wind did blow and the sea rose up
Beat the land with mighty waves
At Saint Andrew's Bay the light ship fought
The sea until her moorings gave
The captain signalled to the shore
"We must have help or we'll go down"
From (Broughty) Ferry at two a.m.
They sent the lifeboat Mona
Eight men formed that gallant crew
They set their boat against the main
The wind's so hard and the sea's so rough
We'll never see land or home again
Three hours went by and the Mona called
The wind blows hard and the sea runs high
In the morning on (Carnoustie) Beach
The Mona and her crew did lie
Five lay drowned in the (Chalon) there
Two were washed up on the shore
Eight men died when the boat capsized
And the (eighth) is lost forever more
Remember December of fifty-nine
The howling wind and the driving rain
The men who leave the land behind
And the men who never see land again
Home Scotland & Sanctuary Housing Associations to Benefit from new Lending Facility from the Euopean Investment Bank
Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
"I hope that some of this additional investment will come to Dundee providing a boost to building affordable homes and through this creating and sustaining skilled jobs in the construction industry."
- Replacement Kingspark School for pupils who have learning difficulties (nearing completion on a new site on Clepington Road);
- Replacement school for Whitfield (detailed design work underway);
- Replacement twin campus schools for Dundee West End and
- Replacement twin campus schools (2) for Lochee Charleston.
(Note: both sets of twin campus schools were progressed by the Labour led Administration of the Council; they are now on pause awaiting Government decisions about the sites selected prior to consideration of planning applications and detailed design work)
Earlier today, First Minister Alex Salmond admitted, "education needed a fresh look" when he announced a mini reshuffle of his ministerial team. Fiona Hyslop, the under pressure Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning was demoted. She is to be replaced by Mike Russell, previously the Culture and External Affairs Minister. Fiona Hyslop takes over the role Mike Russell is giving up.
Laurie Bidwell, Labour's Education Spokeperson in Dundee said:
"Today's move follows a dificult time for Ms Hyslop, who has been under fire for months over not delivering on the SNP's manifesto commitments. More particularly, not reducing primary school class sizes in years 1-3 ; not cancelling higher education student debt and not matching Labour's PPP school building programme 'brick for brick'. It will however take much more than a reshuffle of his pack to make some impact on the issues where Fiona Hyslop was not making much headway. The reason why local authorities were finding it difficult to follow her tune was down to tightly restricted resources. If her successor is more persuasive in Cabinet and commands more cash for schools some progress can be made reducing class sizes and building more schools. Ironically, to achieve that, Mike Russell will need to squeeze wasteful public spending such as the National Conversation, Scotland's most expensive blether, which until today he was promoting in his former role."
“Earlier today, I was privileged to attend the official opening of Rowantree Primary School. Today was principally about celebrating the emerging identity of this new school which is the result of the merger of Mossgiel and Mid-Criagie Primary schools sixteen months ago.
The children entertained us with recitations of poetry, singing, dancing and music making. The thoughtful programme featured a fine blend of tradition and modernity, interweaving the songs and poems of Robert Burns with songs by the Proclaimers and Dougie MacLean. The opening celebrations also included playing by the staff band who demonstrated that, like their pupils, they were a very talented team.
The new school is built to barrier free design with outstanding facilities for teaching and learning that will help staff deliver the new curriculum for excellence. I am sure that this school will serve the communities of Linlathen and Mid-Craigie as a place for children to enjoy learning and celebrate their achievement and attainment. In addition, its provision of a Community Room, Sports Hall and external all weather pitch will mean that this school has the potential to develop into a resource for parents, carers and other adults to engage in community learning and recreation."
One Day Road Closure Brook Street (between Church Street and Westfield Road), Monday 7 December 2009
"I am disappointed that no Dundee primary schools have benefited from the SNP Government announcement on Primary Schools this morning. Unfortunately, this confirms my view that their three phase programme of school building will only part fund one school project in Dundee and that is the refurbishment of Harris Academy. Welcome as that decision was in September, it falls far short of the SNP manifesto commitment of May 2007 to match Labour's school building programme brick for brick. One Secondary school refurbishment falls far short of the Labour led administration's PPP programme which has delivered two new secondary Schools (St Paul's and Grove) and six new Primary Schools (Claypotts Castle, St Andrew's, Craigowl, Downfield, Rowantree and Fintry). Not only does this SNP school building programme fall far short in the number of new schools to be built in Dundee, but also its speed of working will not set the heather alight. Two months on from the fanfare of publicity on 28 September, when the refurbishment of Harris Academy was announced, the Director of Education, is still unable to confirm the amount of government cash to be committed to this project. The longer this takes to be confirmed the less likely it is that any work can begin on Harris Academy before 2012/13."
"It has been reported to me that pupils from St Paul's Academy have been misbehaving on a school bus service. On two nights this week, pupils have apparently been put off their school bus by their driver. Furthermore, it is alleged that these pupils put off the school bus were then sent home in taxis organised by the school, perhaps at the expense of Education funds. Disruptive behaviour by any of our school pupils in the city is unacceptable. I hope the pupils involved are ashamed of their behaviour and the way they have undermined the good name of their school."
Importantly, the christian season of Advent begins on Sunday 29 November not Friday 27 November.
Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
"I sought to defer this decision to give more time for a fuller options appraisal. I did this because I do not think that replacing faulty storage heaters in the school with new storage heaters is the answer. The Council should take decisions that represent best value. As part of considering what is best value, we need to consider the running costs of a heating system over time and its environmental impact as well as the initial cost of installation. In this case, I do not think this tender represents best value in its wider sense. Firstly, I question whether doing half the job, by replacing 40 faulty heaters now is good value for money. It is usually cheaper to do a job like this in its entirety rather than in a series of stages that prolongs the completion of the work and usually costs more in the end. Secondly, I think a decision to stick to storage heaters will saddle the Education Department and School with a heating system which will be more expensive to use and less adjustable and comfortable than a pumped hot water system with radiators complete with individual thermostatic valves. I do not think storage heaters will be such a cheap option when considered over the lifetime of the system. Thirdly, when the Director of Education was questioned about the environmental impact of his proposal or the potential cost savings no costs or figures were available. He could, I think, only speculate that a gas central heating system would cost more than £1 million but had no technical member of staff present to offer any real detail.
By introducing the spectra of pupils and staff potentially left in the cold, the Education Convener, persuaded enough councillors to support her proposal. Had there been any real prospect of a heating crisis as Baldragon Academy, no one, least of all me, would have been critical of a smaller number of heaters not working being replaced immediately while more time was given to preparing and justifying to the Education Committee the best value option.
I am pleased, in the light of the debate that I instigated, that Councillor Borthwick persuaded the Convener to now bring forward a report on long-term heating solutions for the school."
Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
"Councillor Roberts is being rather selective in what she reveals in her letter. It is true in the introduction to Towards a Safer Tayside 2010/2011 the Fire and Rescue Board Convener, expresses similar sentiments to those contained in Councillor Roberts's letter. But reading on, in the section about downgrading Balmossie, it is clearly stated that 'This proposal will cost no more money and importantly no less money," (page 149 of Board Papers) since the money saved in Dundee will be earmarked for spending in Forfar.
Councillor Roberts also does not comment on why she thought that a similar proposal, which was turned down emphatically in the public consultation and by the Fire and Rescue Board in March, should be worthy of being re-examined now.
Finally, Councillor Roberts fails to mention how her constituents often rely on fire crews from Balmossie when they are moved to Kingsway East fire station to back up the Kingsway crews."
While Balmossie Fire Station does primarily serve Broughty Ferry, Monifieth and their landward areas, it frequently back up crews in other fire stations, particularly but not exclusively Kingsway East in Dundee..
Broughty Ferry Local History Group meet in Broughty Ferry Library on alternate Thursdays to reminisce and to research and record aspects of everyday life in 'the village' down the years.
They are currently engaged in a substantial project to create a community archive relating to life in the 1940s and 1950s. As part of this longer term project, they have recently created a small collection of artifacts which are currently on display in Broughty Library to mark the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. This display consists of a montage of items designed to present a 'snapshot' of Broughty as it was in 1939, the last year before the outbreak of the conflict. It consists of shop adverts relating to businesses which once operated in the area, researched items from local newspapers and Dundee City Council minutes relating to events in Broughty at the time, together with personal items and recollections submitted by group members. It is designed as a prelude to a further display which they hope to mount in the New Year relating to the war itself and the years immediately after.
Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
"This relatively new group have got off to a really positive start with the helpful support of Community Learning & Development staff from the Leisure and Communities Department. I have enjoyed looking at their display in the Library today. I am delighted that they have been able to share their artifacts and reminiscences with pupils from Eastern Primary School. I look forward to the sharing of their longer term project to record life in Broughty Ferry during the 1930s and 1940s. I hope many residents will take advantage of the opportunity to see the display in the library."
I am very disappointed that the Tayside Fire and Rescue Board, meeting on Monday, voted to go ahead with a consultation on the downgrading of Balmossie Fire Station. I wonder why Dundee SNP Councillors on the board did not support the exclusion of Balmossie from the consultation on 'Towards a Safer Tayside 2010/11'? Many politicians, including Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie (SNP) thought like me that it was premature to return to a matter that had been exhaustively consulted on between November 2008 and March 2009 and about which the communities served by the fire station were emphatic in their rejection. Regretably, we are where we are. I want to reassure constituents that I will do my utmost to ensure that there are plenty of public opportunities for them to put forward their views when the official consultation on "Towards a Safer Tayside 2010/11" is launched. I am confident that residents in Broughty Ferry will want to come forward to support the fulltime retention of their local Fire and Rescue Service.
I want to urge all road users in the vicinity of the new Grove Academy to take extra care next week while we all become familiar with the changed layout. Pupils crossing the road by the new school main entrance need to be wary of restricted sight lines because of the bend in Claypotts Road. Buses stopping adjacent to the school gates may also restrict their view. I think, many manoeuvres by drivers in and out of the new Grove school car park, especially right turns, will be potentially hazardous for pedestrians and other road users. These changes will also affect adults attending Grove for evening classes organised by BERA. From Monday night, they will need to use the new entrance to the school on Claypotts Road to access all of their classes.
In addition, road users should also note that on Monday 16 November there will be temporary closure of the end of Claypotts Road south of West Queen Street while the road over the railway bridge is resurfaced.
David Cameron - a former Director of Children's Services at Stirling Council - will take forward an in-depth review of the various class size control mechanisms, which include regulations, circulars, and teachers' terms and conditions, announced Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop today.
Mr Cameron's review will have a remit to bring forward recommendations before next summer on the best approach for coherent and effective class size control mechanisms in Scottish schools.
This follows the announcement in September 2009 of plans for a legal maximum of 25 for all primary one classes from August next year.
Laurie Bidwell, Labour Education Spokesperson in Dundee said:
"While the current measures and controls to determine class sizes are confusing and need to be rationalised, this review is really a fig leaf to cover the embarrassment of the Education Secretary that she is unable to adequately fund reducing Primary 1-3 class sizes to 18 as her party promised in the May 2007 elections to the Scottish Parliament. To fulfill this SNP manifesto commitment would require a substantial increase in the budget for teachers in Dundee and money for extra classrooms at schools that are currently fully subscribed such as Barnhill Primary School in Broughty Ferry."
Existing arrangements for regulation of class sizes are as follows:
* Primary one - maximum of 25 set by circular
* Primary one to three - maximum of 30 set by regulations
* Primary four to seven - maximum of 33 set by teachers' terms and conditions
* Composite classes - maximum of 25 set by teachers' terms and conditions
* Secondary one to two - maximum of 33 set by teachers' terms and conditions
* Secondary one and two maths and English - maximum of 20 set by circular
* Secondary three to six - maximum of 30 set by teachers' terms and conditions
* Practical classes - maximum of 20 set by teachers' terms and conditions.
On Monday 9 November a team of Home Energy Assessors will start knocking on front doors in Broughty Ferry to help householders stop wasting energy and save money in their home as part of the Home Insulation Scheme funded by the Scottish Government. The Home Insulation Scheme – which is Scottish Government-funded and endorsed by Dundee City Council – will include a free home energy audit and will offer suitable properties in the area loft and cavity wall insulation – or a top-up to existing loft insulation – at a specially negotiated price or free of charge depending on the measure and household circumstances. Delivered by the Energy Saving Trust, the energy and money saving programme will offer householders in Broughty Ferry free home energy audits, advice on making their homes more energy efficient, and direction to other advice and services available from the Energy Saving Trust.
Councillor Laurie Bidwell said: I think this will be a potentially helpful service to many residents in Broughty Ferry. I hope that it will help reduce energy bills in homes and the 'carbon footprint' from Broughty Ferry. Residents who are out when the Advisers call will not lose out as the Advisers will not only call back but also post through their letter box details of how to make an appointment with Energy Advisers. Finally, residents should remember that Energy Advisers that call at their front doors will carry an official photo identification which they may ask to see.