23/02/2010

Opening of Grove Academy will Fulfil 1913 Pledge

Next Tuesday we will be formally celebrating the opening of the new Grove Academy; the last of eight primary and secondary schools built by the Labour led administration's PPP building programme in the city.




Grove's new buildings incorporate
outstanding facilities for teaching and learning that will help staff deliver the new curriculum for excellence.


The Grove campus has many admirable facilities including an assembly hall, sports hall, gym hall, dance studio, fitness suite and 25 metre six lane swimming pool. These recreational 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 Saturday 3 April 2010, Dundee Leisure will take over managing these recreational 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. Dundee Leisure are already taking bookings for swimming lessons tel 01382 432332. The new Grove is already the base for BERAs continuing programme of evening classes. I am sure that the renewed Grove Academy will continue to serve Broughty Ferry as an outstanding school promoting the attainment and achievement of our young people. In addition, we can look forward to it providing a hub for our community learning and recreation.

20/02/2010

Scottish Evening at Eastern Primary School

Yesterday evening, (Friday 19 February) I attended the Scottish Evening at Eastern Primary School. This was an enjoyable fund raising event organised by the Parent Council in conjunction with the School. Rachel Tierney and Erin Nicoll from P7 very ably and confidently acted as joint presenters of the evening. They introduced expressive recitations of poems delivered by pupils from every class in the school, Leng Medal singers, the BB Pipe Band and the Scottish Young Fiddlers. Interspersing the recitations and musical contributions there were five dances. It was good to see the generations of grand parents, parents and carers and pupils dancing together enthusiastically. This was not only an effective way of raising cash towards the Parent Council's target of £10,000 for the year, but more importantly it was an enjoyable community event celebrating Scottish culture. Parents, carers and teachers can be proud of the accomplishments of Eastern's talented pupils.

17/02/2010

No Smaller Class Sizes for Broughty Ferry Primary Schools

In the documentation for the Dundee City Council budget meeting, on Thursday 11 February, there were no plans for smaller Primary years one to three (P1-3) class sizes in Broughty Ferry's three primary schools. Classes of 18 or under are being introduced in thirteen Dundee primary schools in August this year but none of these are in Broughty Ferry. In fact, since Barnhill, Eastern and Forthill primary schools are operating at or near to capacity, they would each need additional classrooms built in order to retain their current volume of pupils and accommodate P1-3 pupils in classes of 18 or under. As no money is budgeted for building permanent or temporary classrooms in the Education Department's capital plan for 2009/2012, its difficult to see how any progress on class size reduction in primary schools in The Ferry, can be achieved. I think Councillor Ken Guild, also a Ferry Councillor and leader of the Administration of the City Council, should apologize to parents in Broughty Ferry for excluding their children from the Council's plans for smaller class sizes.

10/02/2010

Education Cuts in Dundee Revealed

As I predicted, in the first SNP budget in Dundee, Education has not escaped unscathed from cuts. The headlines from the SNP's damaging cuts in Education in our city include:
  • removal of 11 visiting specialist art, design and drama teachers supporting primary schools across the city;
  • 6% reduction in the per pupil allocations for books and supplies for all nursery, primary and secondary schools - taking into account the rate of inflation for text books and consumables such as replacement toner cartridges for laser printers this is nearer a 10% cut in spending power or a reduction of about £5000 for each of the larger Secondary schools in the city;
  • early retirement scheme for experienced teachers aged 58 or over to save £0.5m;
  • end of funding for language assistants in secondary schools;
  • reduction in IT staff tutors working with schools and teachers;
  • removal of, or reduction in, funding to Fairer Scotland funded programmes that support pupils who are troubled or troublesome and
  • most parents in the city will find that by some postcode lottery, there are no planned reduction in the P1-3 class sizes at their children's school. Only the thirteen smallest primary schools in the city have been selected for this programme. For example, Broughty Ferry's three primary schools will not experience any class size reductions this year. In fact, since Barnhill, Eastern and Forthill primary schools are operating at or near to capacity, they would each need additional classrooms built in order to retain their current volume of pupils and accommodate P1-3 pupils in classes of 18 or under. As no money is budgeted for building permanent or temporary classrooms in the Council's capital plans for Education 2009/2012, its difficult to see how any progress on class size reduction in any Broughty Ferry primary school might be achieved. Of course all primary schools in the city will miss the impact and artistic support from the mobile Art, Design and Drama teachers. This seems particularly perverse given the additional demands of the curriculum for excellence and the provision of drama rooms in each of the six new PPP primary schools.
The capital budget also shows that the major refurbishment of Harris Academy is unlikely to start on site until late in 2011 and will not be complete until the latter quarter of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014. This timescale is also dependent on the Grove Centenary wing office conversion getting planning permission. This would then facilitate Council staff currently accommodated in the Rockwell building being relocated to the old Grove Office Conversion. Once Rockwell is empty, it would in turn provide the accommodation for the decant of Harris Academy while their school refurbishment takes place."

09/02/2010

Next Meeting of The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership Wed 17 February 17:30

The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership

Next Meeting Wednesday 17 February 2010

Venue Grove Academy beginning at 5.30 pm


Local Community Planning Partnerships have recently been established in each Dundee City Council Ward. The main purpose of these bodies is to ensure that Community Plans are devised and implemented in response to the locally identified needs in each Ward and to improve the co-ordination of Dundee City Council services with those of our other public and voluntary sector partners.

Members of the public are invited to attend these meetings and to raise questions in relation to items on the agenda through the chair of meeting.

If you wish to attend and would like further information about the meeting or the Community Planning Partnership, please use the contact details shown below.

A G E N D A

1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES and Presentation by Grove S1 pupils

2. PREVIOUS MINUTE AND MATTERS ARISING

3. NEW DEVELOPMENTS

    Sandy Park - Councillor Rod Wallace

    Grove Office Redevelopment - Update

    St. Aiden's Church - Redevelopment Plans

4. LOCAL COMMUNITY PLAN UPDATE

    1. Castle Green Master Plan Review
    2. Development Trust Event
    3. Working groups - Mental Wellbeing/Community Safety
    4. Community Plan Monitoring 2009-2010

5. DEPARTMENT/AGENCY/ORGANISATION UPDATE

6. OPEN FORUM ON COMMUNITY ISSUES

7. A.O.C.B.

(a) East Dundee, Dichty Walking/Cycling Group - Councillor Bidwell

(b) Forthill Walkabout - Forthill Tenants

8. DATE, TIME AND VENUE FOR NEXT MEETING

Angie Hastie, Communities Officer

Tel 435894 (Mon-Wed only)

Email angie.hastie@dundeecity.gov.uk

PPP Schools Update - Statement to the Education Committee Monday 8 February

Convener, I am pleased to be invited to speak about the PPP school building programme. This indeed is a success story for pupils and their teachers in the two new secondary schools, six new primary schools and their associated nursery schools as well as the outstanding sports and recreational facilities for schools and their communities. Congratulations are, I think, deserved for the PPP Schools team under the leadership of Gillian Ross-Pond and David Dorward for his work on the board of Discovery Education, and of course our contractors, Robertson Construction.

The PPP schools could not have been built without the foresight and commitment of the Labour led administration of Dundee City Council. The form of funding available from the Scottish Government was to finance school building through a Public, Private Partnership (PPP). Had we listened to the carping of the then Opposition SNP Councillors in Dundee, no progress would have been made and these nursery, primary and secondary schools and fine new sports and recreational facilities would not have been built. If you live in a community in Dundee not benefiting from this programme, you may well be wondering what plans are in place for your local schools and what lies beyond the Labour led Administration's plans for five new Primary schools in Whitfield, Lochee-Charleston and the West End as well as the new Kingspark School.

So while celebrating success of one programme and our Administration's legacy of new school building and school refurbishment in the city, its difficult to identify the SNP school building legacy apart from Harris Academy. I hope for the sake of children in our city being educated in unimproved schools that your administration will indeed conjure up a school building programme, 'to match Labour's PPP programme brick for brick'.

05/02/2010

Commenting on Violent Incidents Against Dundee Teachers

The following figures for violent incidents against teachers in Dundee Schools have been supplied by Dundee City Council in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Courier:
2009 - 276
2008 - 245
2007 - 345
2006 - 353
The figures show that there has not been a dramatic change in 2009 compared with 2008. Right now it's too early to say whether the increase of 31 incidents is the beginning of an upward trend or a blip on an otherwise downward trend from 2006. That these incidents have been managed over a four year period without resorting to the permanent exclusion of any pupils from our schools is, I hope, positive news. Were a more detailed breakdown of these statistics available, it would be possible to distinguish between verbal and physical acts of violence. In either case of course I don't condone any violent incidents against our teachers. If this upward trend were continued in the future I should be concerned.

04/02/2010

Education Committee Denied Report On School Building Programme

The SNP Administration on the City Council has failed to bring back to the Education Committee a timely report on its 'plans for the next phase of school building and refurbishment in the City, including any projects to be funded by the Scottish Futures Trust'.

At the meeting of the Education Committee, on Monday 28 September 2009, I had requested:
'the Committee to agree that the Director of Education should be requested to bring forward a Report about plans for the improvement of the School Estate in Dundee, more particularly by giving an overview of plans for the next phase of school building and refurbishment in the City, including any projects to be funded by the Scottish Futures Trust, to the next meeting of the Committee.'

At the meeting, I was persuaded that a more realistic time-scale should be imposed. With the verbal reassurance from Education Convener that a report would be presented before the Budget meeting in February 2010, I agreed to withdraw my motion and not go to a vote. This agreement was not minuted.

The lack of a report on the agenda of the Education Committee on Monday, reveals a contempt for the Education Committee who will be denied an opportunity to scrutinise progress with each of the schools in the capital programme before the capital plan for the Council as a whole comes up for approval at the budget meeting on Thursday next. I am concerned about what the SNP administration have to hide from parents and members of the Education Committee.

03/02/2010

Balmossie Brae Residents in Catch 22

In the recent extended period of cold weather, residents of Balmossie Brae found their steeply rising access road virtually impassable. It was dangerous driving down the hill with cars slithering out of control onto the main A92 Dundee - Arbroath Road and it was at times impossible to drive up the hill. This was because their access road was not cleared, nor gritted, and neither were their estate grit bins refilled. As their estate roads have not yet been adopted by the City Council this remains the responsibility of the estate's developer, Stewart Milne Homes of Aberdeen.
The latest twist to their woes came earlier this week when resident Wendy Butter phoned Stewart Milne to request that the grit bins were refilled as the weather looked as though it might deteriorate. She was apparently advised, that the Scottish Government had placed a ban on selling of grit to anyone but local councils so private contractors had to source it through local councils. Stewart Milne were reportedly unable to source grit from Dundee City Council as Tayside Contracts will not supply it to outside suppliers.

Resident Wendy Butters said,
"I think we are going round in circles here!"

Ferry Councillor Laurie Bidwell said,
"Over Christmas and New Year the developer was apparently not contactable when residents needed to summon help with winter road maintenance on their estate. This does not seem like an exemplary standard of aftercare. Right now the Council have access to grit but they are not responsible for this unadopted road. Stewart Milne Homes, who are responsible for the road at Balmossie Brae, reportedly can't access grit to fill the bins so that at least the residents can grit their own road and pavements. The residents seem to be in a catch 22."

"I contacted the City Development department of the City Council earlier today and have asked that consideration is given to making house developers' responsibility for winter road maintenance more explicit in conditions applied to future planning permissions. This of course won't help the residents of Balmossie Brae. They need more thorough aftercare from Stewart Milne Homes and less buck passing until their roads are adopted, hopefully in 2011."

01/02/2010

Broughty Ferry lifeboat busiest in Scotland in 2009


Broughty Ferry RNLI who were the busiest lifeboat station in Scotland in 2009 launching 103 times and rescuing 44 people. Congratulations to our lifeboat crew and their supporters for such an effective year. The recently available statistics also reveal RNLI lifeboats in Scotland had their busiest year on record in 2009. They launched a total of 1,121 times, an increase of 22% on the  2000 figure. It was a busy year for the whole of the charity across the UK and Ireland with RNLI lifeboat launches exceeding 9,000 for the first time in the charity’s 186-year history.