30/06/2010

Greengrocer Opens in Broughty Ferry Friday 2nd July


Clementine of Broughty Ferry will very soon be our newest shop. It’s a green grocery business established by two local mums: Jan McTaggart and Carole Sommerville.

Their shop will open its doors on Friday morning 2nd July - drop in for fresh fruit, veg and other delicious ingredients.

Clementine
of Broughty Ferry

103 Gray Street
Broughty Ferry DD5 2DN
01382 738 939
email tasty@clementineofbroughtyferry.com

website www.clementineofbroughtyferry.com

29/06/2010

Eastern Primary School Move – Questions Remaining to be Clarified

At last night's Education Committee, when we discussed the potential move of Eastern Primary School to the buildings formerly used by Grove Academy, I was not allowed to speak in support of my amendment where I was requesting a deferral of this report until the next meeting of the Education Committee in August.

Here is what I would have said had I been given the democratic opportunity by the Chair of the meeting. Education Convener, SNP Councillor Liz Fordyce.

This proposal is hurried and the report before us is incomplete. It does not contain key details that are required by the people to be consulted and it is skimpy on the detail which we require to make a judgement as to whether or not to approve such a proposal. It is not that I am necessarily against this proposal but I need to be convinced that what we have before us is robust and well thought through and will be of benefit for current and future pupils of Eastern Primary School. Given the history of chopping and changing on the future use of the former Grove Academy buildings and the rush to bring this to the Education committee late, I think I am right to be cautious. In my experience in life and on the council, rushed decisions are often ones we live to regret.

More specifically, here are as yet the unresolved matters I think are significant for us as a Committee.

Firstly, moving Eastern Primary School to the Grove site will mean that it would sit at the western extremity of its catchment area. Will this mean that the catchment area will need to be changed?

Secondly, the report offers the future option of providing classroom space for expansion making Eastern Primary School, three rather than two form entry. The bottle neck in primary classes however is in the north eastern part of the Ferry at Barnhill Primary school whose catchment area includes current and future house building developments. It's a long distance from expansion areas such as Balmossie Brae to Camperdown Street. If primary school places were to be expanded in the relocated Eastern Primary School, I think the catchment areas of at least two primary schools would need to be altered.

Thirdly, this proposal is skimpy about the standard to which the old Grove buildings are being improved apparently at less cost than the office conversion proposed. If so little work is required, by comparison with other school moves, why is the schedule of accommodation that will be available for the school not specified?

I understand that the number of office staff going in to share this building has yet to be tied down. Furthermore, I understand from the Director of Education that the portion of the building where these office staff are to be accommodated has yet to be identified. These are crucial details.

Fourthly, if space is abundant inside the old Grove Academy, space is certainly very constrained outside. I presume that the tarmac old playground and staff car park on the south side of the old Grove buildings is the only outside space for play, sports and games? Because of these constraints, I very much doubt that this area of ground will comply with the requirements of the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967. If, as I suspect, the new site will not meet those requirements, will the Director of Education need to apply to Scottish Ministers for dispensation from the regulations, which was the case with the West End and Lochee schools proposals?

Fifthly, the previous plans for the Grove House offices for council staff were controversial because of road safety concerns in the vicinity of Grove Academy and because of increased pressure on parking in the streets surrounding the school. This proposal does not solve those issues. If, as we are led to presume, the tarmac area of land to the south of the old Grove buildings will be the new playground for Eastern Primary School then where, but the surrounding streets, will the near to a hundred staff from the school and the offices park? This proposal will make for a net increase in parking by the office and school staff. Dropping off and picking up will also generate more road traffic and pedestrian movements in the streets surrounding the adjacent Grove Academy and Eastern Primary School.

Sixthly, this is the first time that the Education Department have undertaken a consultation with the wider range of stakeholders required by the provisions of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. In addition to teachers and parents, the community and pupils are to be consulted as well. How is this to be accomplished? As we embark on a new process of consultation, should we not expect more detail to be laid before us before offering our approval?

In conclusion, this is a rushed proposal and one that lacks key details. I suggest that it is premature to give our approval tonight. I ask you to support a deferral until the next meeting of the Education Committee scheduled on 23rd August.

28/06/2010

Eastern Primary School Move - More Information


Many parents and residents have contacted me about the 'Review of Grove Office and Eastern Primary School' (Item 4.b) concurrently on the Agendas of tonight's Education and Policy & Resources Committees. This seeks approval to consult parents, teachers, children and the community on permanently relocating Eastern Primary School from its current site on Whinnybrae to the old Grove Academy site in Camperdown Street.


This was a late addition to the Agendas of both of tonight's Education and Policy & Resources Committees and was issued, apparently on the grounds of urgency, on lunch time on Wednesday 23rd June.

To help parents and residents engage with this issue I have assembled links to the relevant papers and reports:

4(b) REVIEW OF GROVE OFFICE AND EASTERN PRIMARY SCHOOL
The paper issued to the Education & Policy & Resources Committees


The process of closing or relocating a school is covered by new legal protections contained in the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 which came into force in April.

There is a leaflet that you may find helpful which explains these provisions:
Proposed Changes to your Child's School: Guide to the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010

The Act of the Scottish Parliament
The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010

The Explanatory Notes that accompany the Act (not legally binding)

Statutory Guidance to Local Councils on the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010



The ‘Changes to School Estate’ page on the Scottish Government
website



Information on individual consultations and opportunities for public involvement should be sought from the relevant local authority - in this case:
Dundee City Council
Director of Education, Jim Collins
Email

jim.collins@dundeecity.gov.uk

To request Scottish Ministers to call in a flawed school closure
decision e-mail
schoolestates@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

or write to
James Newman, School Estates Team, Scottish Government,
2-D (S) Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

22/06/2010

Budget Withdaws Support for Dundee Computer Games Industry


In his first budget, earlier today, George Osborne, in one throwaway line, dashed the hopes of our vibrant computer games and interactive media industries in Dundee by withdrawing from honouring the previous Labour Government's commitment to introduce tax relief for the UK games industry which had been strongly advocated by Jim McGovern MP Dundee West.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative/Liberal Democrat UK government said,
"So, Mr Deputy Speaker, we will not go ahead with the poorly-targeted tax relief for the video games industry." (Budget Speech Tuesday 22 June 2010)

Earlier this year, Professor Lachlan MacKinnon, in an open lecture in the city, argued that computer games and interactive media were serious business in Dundee. In fact our city is currently home to 12 of Scotland’s biggest games developers and the University of Abertay, Dundee, is a recognised world-leader in the field of computer games and interactive media. Dundee is potentially well positioned to play a leading global role in this booming industry but only if the right conditions can be maintained in the context of international competition. Tax breaks offered in countries elsewhere, such as Ireland, may lure successful companies away from Dundee, which currently employs 3,000 people in this sector.

Road Works & Diversions in Dundee Road during School Holidays


Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating carriageway reconstruction works. The Order is expected to be in force for ten days from 12 July 2010. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Dundee Road from Ellislea Road to Bayfield Road.

Access for residents will be maintained. The junctions of Dundee Road with Douglas Terrace, Bayfield Road, Victoria Road, Grove Road, Balmyle Road and Ellislea Road will be closed for the duration of the works.

An alternative route will be available via Claypotts Road, Strathern Road, Craigie Drive and Craigie Place.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to Mark Cobb, Network Management Team, City Development Department, Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date. If you have any queries please contact Mr Cobb on 433082.


21/06/2010

LEPRA Edinburgh to St Andrews Charity Cycle Ride


As part of Bike Week, I joined the 30th annual cycle ride from Edinburgh to St Andrews organised by, and in aid of, Leprosy in Action (LEPRA). I cycled along with my friend Geoffrey. My younger son Clem and his chums up from Cumbria also took part but were too fast for the veterans! The 67 mile bike ride, not a race, began at Inverleith Park's West Gate in Edinburgh at 08:45. Riders followed a well-posted route to the Forth Road Bridge. Subsequently, we skirted round the west of Dunfermline and then climbed over the Cleish Hills. After a lunch break in Kinross, we travelled through some of the glorious rolling Fife countryside, all the way to St Andrews. It was a really refreshing experience to be cycling alongside about 1500 other riders in this 30th anniversary run. On the way riders were expertly supported by repair vans from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative if they picked up a puncture or their derailleur gears starting misbehaving on the hills. Apart from the headwind, the weather conditions were ideal all day. I managed to raise £50 for the charity. Next year, I must get more organised at inviting sponsors to sign my form.

14/06/2010

SNP Primary School Class Size in Dundee - Limited Ambitions & Difficulties Ahead

Item two on the agenda of the Education Committee on Monday, is a report from the Director of Education, setting out the Council's response to a Scottish Government's Consultation on draft regulations to reduce the class size maximum of all P1 classes to 25.

Despite their electoral promise in May 2007 to reduce primary school class sizes in years one to three (P1-3) to 18, the SNP government in Holyrood is proposing to only legislate for a class size reduction to 25 in P1. They have however asked in their consultation whether the same limit should apply to P2 and P3 classes.


In Jim Collins's report to the Education Committee, (para 5.2.1) he suggests that, '... in practice, and in the current financial climate, such an extension is likely to cause considerable financial difficulty. and .... (para 5.3.1) 'the Council urges caution, and continuing dialogue with local authorities around the financial implications.'

I think parents in Dundee will be disappointed that this appears to be limit of the ambitions for our city wide primary schools by the SNP administration of the City Council. I wonder whether Councillor Liz Fordyce (SNP), Convenor of the Education Committee, has merely been caught napping approving this report for the Agenda of the Education Committee? I hope she will be coming forward with her own amendment on Monday evening which will give fuller effect to her party's commitment to class size reductions to 18.

In addition, parents with pre-school aged children will want more answers from the Convener about how their children might be excluded from their local primary school if the proposed legal limits on class sizes were introduced.
For example, Barnhill Primary School is almost bursting at the seams. In Broughty Ferry, on the basis of figures recently supplied to me by the Education Department, the August 2010 school roll for Primary One intakes to Eastern, Forthill, Barnhill and Craigiebarns Primary are all currently full with waiting lists. Will some parents with rising fives in the catchment areas of Barnhill Primary School have to seek places outwith these other three schools if class size legal limits are reduced?

11/06/2010

Torridon Road - Temporary Traffic Restrictions


Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas mains replacement works. The Order is expected to be in force for five weeks from 5 July 2010. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.


The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Torridon Road from Nursery Road to Leven Street .

Pedestrian access will be maintained and vehicular access to properties will be maintained where possible.


An alternative route will be available via Nursery Road and West Torridon Road .

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to Mark Cobb, Network Management Team, City Development Department, Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date. If you have any queries please contact Mr Cobb on 433082.

10/06/2010

STRIDE>> Sustainable Travel in Dundee East


Broughty Ferry welcomes a new community project
STRIDE
Sustainable Travel in Dundee East


Sustainable Travel in Dundee East
aims to reduce the number of car journeys that people make, especially local trips where they could walk or cycle, get the bus, or share a car with a friend instead. They will be working with individuals and community organisations to encourage and assist people to take up more active ways of travel to work, school, shops and for leisure.

The benefits
A healthier lifestyle for you and your family
Fitting more regular exercise into your daily routine – and saving money as well

A healthier community

  • People working together to improve their quality of life
A healthier planet
  • Quieter and safer streets
  • Less pollution, and lower CO2 emissions which contribute to climate change
  • Saving money, burning calories

STRIDE to fitness – at your own pace By walking or cycling in place of some short car journeys, you will feel fitter and healthier without dramatic changes to your daily routine.

  • 30 minutes walk at a moderate pace will cover approx 1.5 miles and burn around 110 calories
  • 30 minutes cycling at a moderate pace will take you about 6 miles and burn around 240 calories
  • A reduction of 15 miles’ driving a week can save you £13 in a month in fuel and 21kg in CO2

STRIDE; can help to keep you on track to your personal goals with a Weekly Travel Log. Bring out the bike! If it needs maintenance, or if you want to build up confidence to start cycling again – STRIDE can help!

NHS Recommended activity levels


  • Adults: 30 mins of moderate-intensity physical activity at least 5 days a week
  • Children: 60 mins of moderate-intensity physical activity each day
  • Targets can be achieved in 10-minute bursts.

Contact for more information Judith Clark Project Co-ordinator STRIDE
Douglas Community Centre Balmoral Avenue Dundee DD4 8SD
Mobile 07521 976584 Email stridedundee@yahoo.co.uk

Website http://www.stridedundee.com/

STRIDE;
is supported by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund until March 2011. They are working with organisations including Dundee TravelActive, NHS Tayside, Sustrans, CTC, Forestry Commission, Claverhouse, SNH, Dundee City Council, Angus Council, and Paths for All.

02/06/2010

Re-announcement of Harris Academy Refurbishment


Today's news from the Scottish Government, is essentially a re-announcement of the SNP government's future school building programme from which they will part fund the refurbishment of Harris Academy in Dundee. I am concerned to see that my earlier predictions about the delay in making this programme a reality are unfortunately correct and a start on site is disappearing into the future. Unfortunately, it would appear that a pupil entering Harris Academy in S1 in August will probably need to wait until they are in S5 before they enjoy the new facilities promised. Right now MSP for Dundee West, Joe Fitzpatrick, must be feeling rather silly since last September he was insisting on Newsnight Scotland that a start on Harris Academy would be made before May 2011. With my colleagues in the Labour Group, I remain committed to trying to find a way of beginning the rebuilding of Harris Academy sooner rather than later. Later this month the Director of Education has committed to bring forward his delayed review of the school building programme in the city. Perhaps that will have more detail and some options for us to examine?

West End Labour Councillor, Richard McCready, said,
"I want to see real progress on the refurbishment of Harris Academy, I know that people in the West End and beyond want action rather than re-announcements. The Labour Group has made a clear offer to assist the Administration to deliver the refurbished Harris Academy but we have yet to have our offer taken up. I look forward to seeing real progress. We need to see detail and ensure that we work together to deliver the best school possible for young people and teachers in Dundee. The former Labour-led Administration in Dundee had a proud record of investment in education, this needs to be matched by the SNP."