30/10/2009

Getting Dundee Road B/Ferry On the Map

Residents living at the end of Dundee Road in the Ferry have been having difficulties with deliveries and using their Sat Navs. While many folk in the city wrongly assume that Brook Street extends west beyond its junction with Westfield Road and Saint Stephen's & West Church, this popular misconception has been compounded by Google Maps and many Satellite Navigation systems that show Brook Street extending west up to the railway bridge. Councillor Laurie Bidwell who lives on this stretch of Dundee Road, said:
"I have received residents' complaints about this issue. When I looked up my home address on Google Maps via my post code DD5 1DW, up came a map with Brook Street apparently extending past my front door. No wonder folk seeking directions or making deliveries are confused. To try to sort this out I have contacted Map Insight who produce maps for Google Maps and many Sat Nav sytems to put them right. I trust this correction will soon appear online."

Lloyds TSB Foundation in Scotland Under Threat

Hundreds of Scottish charities, including many in Dundee, are set to lose at least £6m a year in funding with the announcement that the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland is closing its door to new applications for grants for the foreseeable future.

Since it was established in 1985, over 12,000 awards have been made to charities, working with disadvantaged communities and people across Scotland, that have benefited from almost £85m disbursed by the Foundation. Recent grants to local charities in Dundee include:

St John's Boomerang Club, Maryfield
£7,000 towards the salary of the IT Tutor for the extended opening hours and

The Brae - Dundee Riding Ability Centre, Broughty Ferry
£6,047 towards the cost of 11 days of strategic planning, fundraising strategy, governance consultancy and on-costs together with organisational review.


Mary Craig, Chief Executive of the Foundation, explains:
“At this time of year, many Scottish charities are waiting to hear what the deadline is for the next round of applications to the Foundation for grants. Unfortunately, as we remain uncertain as to when we will next receive sufficient money under the terms of our covenant to enable us to continue our grant making activities, we felt we couldn’t leave it any longer to alert charities to what is happening as this is as much about their future as it is ours."
“Lloyds Banking Group has put money on the table to get the Foundation through the next few years until the Group returns to profit. That is to be welcomed but, unfortunately, that has come with a significant condition attached that would seek to alter the covenant immediately, leading to future funds reducing from a share of 1% of profits to a share of 0.5% of profits. There are also conditions that we believe would lead to the end of the Foundation’s independent status, such as the Group choosing where the money would go in future.

A petition calling on the prime minister to step in to save the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland has already received over 1,000 signatures.
Sign the petition now.

28/10/2009

Network Rail Begin Work to Repair Bridge Safety Barrier

Sparks fly in the early hours of Wednesday morning 28 October as contractors for Network Rail begin to repair the damaged steel safety barrier on the west side of the Dundee Road bridge over the Edinburgh - Aberdeen railway. The work will extend over four nights when trains are not running beneath the bridge and will involve using generators, welding plant, grinders and temporary lighting in order that a substantial section of the safety barrier can be replaced. Temporary traffic lights are in place to manage the single file traffic over the bridge while the work is undertaken. The damage to the safety barrier would appear to have been the result of a heavy impact, most likely from a vehicle. These comprehensive repairs follow joint publicity with Councillor Derek Scott on 3rd October which was published in the Evening Telegraph. Constituents that had identified this safety issue with Derek Scott and me will be relieved that the work is now being carried out. I am pleased that our persistence has paid off. Thank you to the Evening Telegraph for helping us to publicise this issue.

16/10/2009

Ferry Pupils and Teachers Outstanding Achievements Recognised at Dundee Education Oscars

On Thursday evening 2nd October, the annual Focus of Achievement awards ceremony, the Education Oscars for Dundee City, took place in the Caird Hall. The outstanding achievements by pupils and staff at Ferry Schools were very well represented amongst the winners.

Grove Academy won the 'Al-Maktoum Institute Award for Multi Cultural Education' based on The Grove Menu partnership led by an RME Teacher at the school.

Barnhill, Eastern and Forthill Primary Schools, working together as the Grove cluster of feeder primary schools, won the award for 'Innovation Through Curriculum for Excellence Early Years/Primary and Secondary' based on joint work developing a thematic project about World War Two which culminated with a Tea Dance.

Five Grove pupils received awards for their remarkably high performance in SQA examinations (five from fourteen in the City):
In S5
* Caroline Hope,
* Sarah McLuckie,
* Claire Pollington and
* Catriona Goldman.
In S6
* Jason Leong.

13/10/2009

Caffe Nero 209 Brook Street, B/Ferry - Planning Appeal Granted

Coffee chain Nero Holdings, owners of Caffe Nero, in Broughty Ferry, have been granted planning permission, on appeal, for the use of a paved outdoor seated area to the rear of the cafe. In a letter dated 8 October to the Dundee City Council, Scott M Ferrie, a Reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers, who adjudicated the appeal, granted the company planning permission, but with conditions. While he agreed with the Council that the use of the outdoor seated area would change the character of the rear courtyard, he did not consider that residents above commercial premises in such locations could reasonably expect to benefit from the the same level of residential amenity as residents in more suburban settings. He imposed a condition that the outside seated area should not be used between the hours of 18:00 and 09:00.

Lydia Catto retiral

On Friday 02 October 2009, pupils and staff at Forthill Primary School said farewell to their long-serving head teacher, Lydia Catto at a special assembly to mark her retiral. Mrs Catto, who was head teacher at Forthill from 1993, served as a teacher at various schools in the city for more than 40 years. Her career started at Hawkhill Primary School in 1967 before she moved on to teach at Rosebank, Ardler and Barnhill primary schools. In 1981 she was appointed head teacher at Ancrum Road Primary, where she spent 12 years. Pupils made presentations from around the globe as part of the assembly.

03/10/2009

Come on Network Rail, you should do better than this!


A joint press statement with Councillor Derek Scott

Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
"A constituent alerted me to the potential dangers to children of the flapping wire mesh attached to bridge railings on the Dundee Road bridge over the Railway. This has a low set of metal railings, with large gaps that are covered by mesh wiring. I have raised this with Planning & Transport in the City Council to no avail. On Thursday 1st October a large unsightly concrete, block was dumped on the bridge presumably to block access to the hole in the mesh fence. Unfortunately, as well as being unsightly, I think is itself a potential hazard making it easier for children to scramble up and fall onto the railway."

Councillor Derek Scott said
“I first contacted Network Rail about this issue on 20 July and I have sent a few reminders since then. After all these weeks on I’m disapointed to discover that the apparent solution has actually makes things much worse.

Not only is the fence still damaged but now the already narrow pavement on the busiest route into central Broughty Ferry has been made narrower and there is an unsightly lump of concrete detracting from the general appearance of the area.

Network Rail would have had to have used a heavy vehicle and a crane to lower the concrete into place, how much simpler and cheaper would it have been to have sent a repair man round with a new sheet of mesh fencing to cover the hole in the existing one?

01/10/2009

Refurbishment of Harris Academy - Some Lingering Concerns

In the Dundee Evening Telegraph on Wednesday 30 September, the Leader the the Administration, Councillor Guild, suggested that he is baffled that I should not heartedly welcome the government announcement of funding support towards the cost of refurbishing Harris Academy. He also has questioned my commitment to Harris Academy.
Harris has a long and distinguished history as a leading school in Dundee and certainly needs and deserves comprehensive upgrading. While I welcome the announcement and wish the development well, I have some lingering well founded reservations about the government announcement and the Council's expression of interest.

I have continuing concerns about the price tag that the council attached to the scheme they forwarded to the government. This feasibility study does not contain any allowance for professional fees for Architects etc. It does not include any provision for contingencies, which may be significant in a set of buildings that dates back to the 1930s. I have continuing concerns about the Goverment's silence about their percentage contribution to the project. If this was favourable I think they would have mentioned it in their press release. If the government's proportion of funding is lower and if the Council's costings are unrealistically low either the Administration's ambitions for the rehabilitation of Harris Academy might be trimmed and/or more money will need to be raided from another budget. I think that parents and carers in the West End, Whitfield and Lochee-Charleston who are waiting for their planned new Primary schools will notice that Councillor Guild only protected the new Council Offices and city Centre Swimming Pool, when the capital plan for big projects is reviewed in February. Does this mean that the new five new Primary Schools and three nurseries, the Labour led Administration brought forward for West End, Whitfield and Lochee-Charleston, might be delayed or deleted?

During my period as Education Convener, the Harris Academy feasibility study was instructed and undertaken. The study was concluded and dated March 2009 which precedes the SNP taking the Administration in early April 2009. Harris Academy would have been tackled earlier had the search for an alternative site for a new build replacement been successful. The feasibility study recognised that the search for another site within the Harris Academy catchment area should be abandoned and onsite alternative approaches should be explored and adopted. Following the announcement from the Scottish Government, on Wednesday 17 June, of a school building programme supported by £800 million of Scottish Government funding to be shared by all 32 local authorities in Scotland, I have consistently asked the new Education Convener, Councillor Liz Fordyce, to endorse Harris Academy as her first next priority for investment for school building in the city. She declined to do this until last week and did not feel able to confirm that an expression of interest had been forwarded to the government. I raised this in both at an Education Committee before the summer recess and in a press release that was reported. It was also published on my website in June 2009.
Harris Academy Should be Number One School Building Priority in Dundee
"Will SNP Education Convener Liz Fordyce now confirm that Harris Academy will be her number one priority on the Council's shopping list?"

I hope the public, if not Councillor Guild, will appreciate that, I am campaigning for a really comprehensive refurbishment of Harris Academy, because the pupils and teachers deserve 21st century facilities that are on a par with those that are evident in the Academies and High Schools that have already been rebuilt or refurbished in Dundee."