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.
I have been contacted by constituents, who are very concerned by press reports that the future of Balmossie Fire Station is under question again.
I want to ask the Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Stephen Hunter,
'will he give residents in the Ferry and me an assurance that the fire and rescue services at the Balmossie Fire Station will be continued in the form agreed at the Fire Board meeting on 30 March 2009?'
I hope that Fire & Rescue Chief will not need any reminding that the decision taken by the Fire & Rescue Board at the end of March followed a lengthy and thorough consultation about the Towards a Safer Tayside strategy. More than 660 residents in The Ferry area responded with the overwhelming majority objecting to the downgrading of their local fire station. Recent additional planning permissions and serious flooding incidents represent increased local risk factors which reinforce the need for the full time round the clock fire and rescue crews at Balmossie. Of course Balmossie is not just a station that responds to emergency calls and conducts fire safety visits in Broughty Ferry and Monifieth and area. It also has an important role backing up Blackness Fire Station in Dundee, when its crews are called out to fires, floods and road traffic accidents. These include incidents in parts of Tayside outside Dundee.
I also want the Chief to explain why he might appear to be ignoring the emphatic twelve vote to five decision of Conservative, SNP, Liberal Democrat and Labour Councillors on the Fire & Rescue Board who combined to modify his March 2009 proposals in the light of overwhelming public opposition?
'Does he think that these politicians would be so fickle as to have changed their minds so soon after their vote in March?'
When the Fire & Rescue Board decision to retain the 24 hour 7 days a week full time fire service at Balmossie was announced, the 'good sense' of decision makers was welcomed by Stewart Hosie MP and Shona Robison MSP.
'Does Fire & Rescue Chief Stephen Hunter think our Dundee East MP and MSP would be minded to withdraw their support so soon after declaring it?'