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."