30/11/2010

Schools Closed Wednesday and Council Update




All Dundee City Council schools will remain closed tomorrow (Wednesday December 1) because of the continuing severe weather conditions.

The following social work services will also be closed to service users on Wednesday: family support centres, learning disability centres and the Oaklands Day Centre for Older People.

The city council will be unable to make any bin collections tomorrow.

The Mitchell Street adult learning centre will be closed on Wednesday.

Gritting and snow-clearing will continue overnight. Additional employees will be redeployed during tomorrow to support the snow-clearing operations.

A total of 260 employees from waste management, Dundee Contract Services and leisure and communities will augment the clear-up.

Further updates will be posted on the Council's website http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk and through the council's Twitter feed http://twitter.com/dundeecouncil

Future of PE in Our Primary Schools

According to figures published today by the Scottish Government, Dundee is one of only three out of Scotland's 32 councils (along with East Renfrewshire and Perth and Kinross) delivering two hours of PE in all its primary schools. But how long will this position be maintained in Dundee when the future of the visiting (mobile) PE specialists who work with groups of Primary Schools is in doubt?

These additional teachers, with specialist PE qualifications, work alongside the generalist class teachers in the Primary schools. It is rumored that just like the art and drama specialists, whose jobs disappeared in the Education cuts for this financial year, the team of visiting PE specialists are likely to be next in line. I think this would be a big mistake. This would not only diminish opportunities for our primary pupils to engage in 'quality physical education' as part of their school curriculum but also diminish opportunities to foster healthy and less sedentary life styles. Unfortunately for our primary school pupils, this looks likely to another target missed and another broken SNP promise on education.

29/11/2010

School Closures and Disruption to Sevices Tuesday 30 November


All Dundee City Council schools will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday November 30) because of the continuing severe weather conditions.

The following social work services will be closed on Tuesday: Family Support Centres, Learning Disability Centres and the Oaklands Day Centre for Older People.

There will be no bin collections on Tuesday.

Further updates will be posted on the council's website www.dundeecity.gov.uk
and through the council's Twitter feed http://twitter.com/dundeecouncil

Press Release Date: Tuesday 30 November 2010

Dundee One of UK Areas Most Vulnerable to Spending Cuts

Research released today by the Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club shows that Dundee City is one of the top five* local authority areas in Scotland most likely to be adversely affected by the cuts in public expenditure.

The report ranks local authority areas based on the risks posed to each by cuts in public spending, combined with the ability of each local economy to mount a positive response.


I hope that the SNP administration running the City Council are thinking hard about this as they bring forward their programme of cuts in local services in Dundee.

*The other four local authority areas are: Midlothian, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Clackmannanshire.

28/11/2010

Severe Weather - Dundee School Closures Monday

Following a period of severe weather conditions and the forecast of continuing snowfalls, a decision has been taken to close all Dundee schools on Monday 29 November.

Dundee City Council Press Release Date: Sunday 28 November 2010

Further information on the status of school closures will be updated as decisions are taken.

26/11/2010

Walkabout Inspection with Forthill Tenants' Group

On Wednesday morning, I accompanied members of the Forthill Tenants' Group and Council staff from the Housing and Roads Departments on a walkabout around the Forthill area. This provided an opportunity to locate any issues that needed attention and to track what had happened to previously reported matters The Forthill Drive flats (see picture) are 'four in a block' with the distinctive black iron railings and gates. The general condition of the external public and private environment is very good. I noticed many very well tended gardens as we walked round. Some of the concerns expressed by residents, such as parked cars on pavements, are partly because the narrow estate roads are having to cope with a volume of car ownership not envisaged when the estate was built.

Having a regular walkabout seems like a good idea which I think should be tried in other parts of Broughty Ferry. I will raise this at the next meeting of the Broughty Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership.

22/11/2010

Eastern Primary School Relocation - Decision Time


After a long tussle at the Education Committee earlier tonight (Monday evening), the proposal to relocate Eastern Primary School to the former Grove Academy buildings was approved. But the Education Convener, Liz Fordyce, did not have it all her own way and had to offer a major concession to Opposition Councillors from the Ferry. This took the form of establishing a Project Management Board with parent and resident involvement.

I am convinced that this concession was extracted by dint of the visible and vocal objections from parents/carers and residents with an interest in the relocation of Eastern Primary School, whose concerns I was also able to represent a the Education Committee.

The outstanding concerns that had stirred residents and parents/carers to contact me and other Councillors in The Ferry were principally about child safety, traffic management and securing the educational benefit of the relocation. As Eastern Primary School will effectively become part of an education campus with Grove Academy, it seemed important that Grove staff and parents were also included on the Project Board. After all, the Grove and Eastern staff and pupils will be using the same footpaths and roads to access their school.

The Project Board will be Chaired by the Chief Executive, David Dorward and will comprise:
  • elected members (Convener of Education and four Ferry Councillors),
  • Director of Education,
  • the Head Teachers of Eastern Primary School and Grove Academy,
  • 2 Parent Council members from each of Eastern Primary School and Grove Academy,
  • I Teacher Union representative,
  • I Community Council representative,
  • a representative of Tayside Police and
  • any other relevant Council officer as the Director the Director of Education and the Chief Executive deems appropriate.

The first meeting of the Project Board will be held in December and the Board will stay in place until after Eastern Primary School has relocated and until the members are satisfied that measures to secure pupil safety and mitigate traffic management issues were effective.

While this is a victory for common sense in Broughty Ferry, it is also an important precedent. Previously it was only the new build schools projects in the city that have had this level of project management with input from parents and community.

Half Measures Won't Do for Eastern Primary School Move


Since the papers for tonight's Education committee were released last Monday, I have been contacted by a stream of constituents who are very concerned about the half measures in the report about the Proposed Relocation of Eastern Primary School to the Old Grove buildings. Their concerns are not only about road safety in the vicinity of the Grove Academy campus but also about the enduring educational benefits of the proposed move.

Parents and community objectors are disappointed that many of the concerns they expressed, during the public consultation, about pupil safety have been ignored in the Report to the Education Committee tonight. There were already strong concerns expressed at the meetings of the Grove Academy Parent Council well before the Eastern Primary School proposal arose in June. Two of the Grove Parent Council members produced an Audit of Traffic and Pedestrian Safety in the vicinity of Grove Academy. Both of these members are very well informed with one working as a Senior Police Officer in the Traffic Division of Tayside Police and the other working in the Transport Division of Perth & Kinross Council. Recommendations in their report about modifications to the narrow section of Seafield Road between its junction with Davidson Street and the service entrance of Grove were missing from the final report about the Eastern move. Of course this same area would be shared by many parents dropping off and collecting children from Eastern Primary School, its after School Club and its Nursery.

The education benefits of the move of Eastern Primary School are largely based on the superior quantity of indoor classroom space in the old Grove building such as the provision of a dedicated Art Room and a Computer Suite. But the benefits to the Eastern Primary pupils would be short lived, if the school expands. The option mentioned in the report, of moving from two form to three form entry could only be accommodated by using these specialist rooms as mainstream classrooms. The Director of Education writes in his report there are no plans for introducing three form entry at the relocated Eastern Primary School. But the Education Convener let the cat out of the bag on Friday. Commenting on the pressure on primary school places in the The Ferry arising from proposed new housing developments north of the Arbroath Road, Councillor Fordyce said:

"Of course the schools will be able to cope. If the council agrees on Monday night and Eastern Primary goes into the old Grove, there will be more room."
(quoted in the Courier on Friday 19 November)


Since the roll of Eastern Primary School has not been under pressure in the last few years, it would need a change of its catchment area with Forthill and Barnhill Primary Schools to draw in more pupils zoned to Eastern. But this was brushed aside by the Education Convener who

“... rejected the suggestion school catchment areas may need to be adjusted to accommodate more children.”
(quoted in the Courier on Friday 19 November)

If Councillor Fordyce looks at the map of the catchment large scale private housing developments, that will generate growth in pupil numbers, are north of the Arbroath Road and the schools currently zoned for these areas are Forthill and Barnhill Primary Schools and not Eastern Primary School.

If the Education Convener wants to avoid the conclusion that SNP Councillors in the city are prepared to dole out half measures for the Ferry Schools, she will need to think again about how this project will be progressed.

21/11/2010

Brook Street and Gray Street Temporary Closure Thursday 25 November 3-9 pm

Public Notice

The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 - Section 62

The Dundee City Council as Traffic Authority being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of the Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights switching on event hereby prohibit the driving of any vehicle in:

  1. Brook Street (between Fort Street and St Vincent Street), Broughty Ferry.
  2. Gray Street (between Brook Street and King Street), Broughty Ferry.
This notice comes into effect on Thursday 25 November 2010 between the hours of 3.00pm and 9.00pm.

Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Fort Street/ Queen Street/St Vincent Street.

Access will be maintained where possible.

For further information contact (01382) 433168.

19/11/2010

Meeting of The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership,


Last night (Thursday 18 November), I attended the quarterly meeting of The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP). This is always a useful meeting to attend, to hear about the plans and proposals of City Council services and other agencies such as Tayside Police, Tayside Fire & Rescue, Broughty Ferry Community Council, Broughty Churches and voluntary groups.

This time our meeting was held in the modern Church Hall in Pamurefield. At the meeting, we were able to hear about arrangements for a public consultation meeting run by Broughty Ferry Development Trust. At their next meeting, on Wednesday 8th December beginning at 7 pm at Castle Green, a feasibility study will be presented on providing facilities at the sandy beach in line with the wishes of the community and to replace the derelict bathing shelter. There will be a presentation of the Feasibility Study by Nicoll Russell and time for questions from the floor.

18/11/2010

Tayside Deaf Association 116th AGM

On Wednesday evening I attended a very attended Annual General Meeting of the Tayside Deaf Association (TDA). During the last year, I had been nominated by the City Council to sit on the Board of TDA, so this was my first AGM. Tayside Deaf Association has been providing services for over 100 years to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people and their families in Tayside. In fact this was their 116th AGM.

I was very impressed with the organisation of the annual general meeting with a parallel BSL signer and a verbatim record of contributions typed up and projected onto a display screen to ensure inclusivity.

It was reported to the AGM that Tayside Deaf Association is currently exploring a merger with Deaf Action. Before that is finalised, a Special General Meeting will be convened, possibly as soon as Spring 2011.

17/11/2010

Broughty Ferry 2010 Christmas Lights Switching On Thursday 25 November 6:15 - 9:00pm


Broughty Ferry Traders' Association have announced that the traditional switching on of the Christmas Lights in the Ferry will take place on Thursday 25th November 2010 from 6.15pm-7.30pm.


Festivities will include:
  • the light switching-on event,
  • Christmas carol singing from the children of Eastern Primary School,
  • Horne's Carnival,
  • Radio Tay and
  • a Lady Ga Ga Tribute.

16/11/2010

Brook Street, Fort Street & Gray Street Temporary Closure Sun 21 - Wed 24 November 6-10 pm


Public Notice


The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 - Section 62


The Dundee City Council as Traffic Authority being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of the erection of the Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights being carried out hereby prohibit the driving of any vehicle in:

  1. Brook Street (between Fort Street and Gray Street), Broughty Ferry.

  1. Gray Street (between Long Lane and King Street), Broughty Ferry.

  1. Fort Street (between Long Lane and King Street), Broughty Ferry.

This notice comes into effect on Sunday 21 November 2010 for 4 evenings between the hours of 6.00pm and 10.00pm.

Only one section of road will be closed at any one time.

Local diversion routes will be available for each closure.

Access will be maintained where possible.

For further information contact (01382) 433168

15/11/2010

Grove Move Up League Table of Top 50 Scottish State Secondary Schools



Congratulations to staff and pupils at Grove Academy for their eminent position in The Sunday Times Definitive Guide to Britain's Top Schools published yesterday. Grove was placed in 24th place in the table of Top 50 Scottish State Secondary Schools, up four places from 2009. The 2010 league tables have been calculated by comparing results of pupils who sat their SQA highers and standard grades 2007-9. The tables are further proof of the consistent improvement of pupils at Grove Academy in SQA examinations in S4-6.

14/11/2010

Remembrance Day and Sunday in Broughty Ferry

At 11am on Thursday 11th November, I attended the Armistice Day service around the war memorial cross just outside Grove Academy's main entrance on Claypotts Road.

Of particular significance this year was the re-siting of the two metal memorial plaques listing the Grove pupils who had died in the First and Second world wars.

The picture shows the wreaths of poppies laid at the memorial cross, just after the service of remembrance had been concluded. The two additional plaques have been installed on plinths which have been set into the bank down Grove's pedestrian access path running from the main entrance of the school down to Claypotts Road.

Earlier today, I attended the Remembrance Sunday service at St Mary's Episcopal Church in Broughty Ferry.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For The Fallen Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

13/11/2010

Barnardos Fundraiser at The Friary

Yesterday evening I attended a most enjoyable fundraising event at The Friary in aid of Barnardos Scotland. The evening was organised by teachers and pupils at Baldragon Academy who raised over £2000 for the charity. It was good to see school staff, pupils and their families turn out to support the charity. Baldragon pupils and former pupils provided a good part of the entertainment. which included sets from the Baldragon Soul Band and the Baldragon Big Band.

12/11/2010

Signing Shelter's Declaration to Make Housing Matter

Earlier to today, I was in City Square to meet Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland. Graeme was here to invite politicians in Dundee to support Shelter Scotland's campaign to make housing matter in the Scottish budget and make building more homes for affordable rent a national priority.

I have completed my postcard calling on the SNP's Finance Minster, John Swinney, to prioritise and protect funding in his Scottish budget next week. This would not only be good for folk on long waiting lists for affordable homes but also help to create and maintain jobs in the building industry in Dundee.

11/11/2010

Draft Air Quality Action Plan out for Public Consultation


The City Council has published its Draft Air Quality Action Plan for Dundee. In its introduction to the consultation on the Council's website it has made the following arresting statement:

"Assessment of local air quality in Dundee has established that levels of two pollutants, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (PM10), are exceeding the health-based objectives set out by the Government.

Road traffic emissions have been identified as the main source of air pollution. Dundee City Council has declared the entire City as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). The Council has prepared a Draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). The AQAP outlines actions and measures to improve the air quality."

Your feedback will help the Council to take into account your views to refine the measures in the Air Quality Action Plan.

Read/download the Draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) Leaflet (2 pages)

Read/download the Draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) Full Report (71 pages)

Link to Online Questionnaire for your feedback

End date for consultation Tuesday 7 December 2010

10/11/2010

Changes to Tax Credits and Council Staff

At the Policy & Resources Committee on Monday 8 November 2010 I made the following speech in support of my motion on Changes to Tax Credits and Council Staff:

"Convener, I have placed this item on the agenda tonight because it is anticipated that a significant proportion of our staff will be effected by changes in Tax Credits introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in his budget in June 2010 and the subsequent Comprehensive Spending Review last month.

While the post Spending Review public debate has focused predominately on changes to Housing Benefit, especially in high rental areas of the UK, especially London, the effects of changes to Tax Credits has hitherto received less attention. This is surprising because the accumulated cuts in Tax Credits are much larger in cash value than the reductions in Housing Benefit. Perhaps this is because many of the Tax Credit changes are complex measures which the think tank, The Resolution Trust has referred to recently as “stealthy changes”.


Now I think we all know that Tax Credits, introduced in 1999 are a form of means tested cash benefit that is paid through the payroll by employers to their employees in households living on low to modest incomes – defined as between £12,000 and £30,000 per year. The award in calculated by Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs on an annual basis. For single parents and couples with children there are childcare allowances,currently up to 80% of allowable costs.


Changes in Tax Credits include:
  • uprating tax credits in line with the consumer price index rather than the retail price index, which has been historically higher;
  • reducing the opportunity to backdate claims from three months to one month;
  • reducing tax credits faster as incomes rise and
  • increasing the minimum working hours for couples with children from 16 to 24 and the minimum number of hours worked by one partner in the couple from 16 to 18.
So this group of our staff like other citizens in a similar position face a quadruple whammy:
  • living with job insecurity;
  • stagnation in the their earnings;
  • significant price inflation, especially on food and heating and
  • reduction and withdrawal of key benefits such as tax credits introduced over a period of time.
Most starkly, some of our part time and job sharing staff may find they no longer work the necessary hours to continue receiving tax credits in their pay packets. As soon as they lose entitlement to tax credits their entitlement to a proportion of their child care costs will also go. It is for this reason that I have brought forward this item to request that the Council explore what we can practically, do as a major employer, for members of our workforce who may be effected by these changes."

The motion (see below) was adopted by the Committee unanimously.


Motion for Policy & Resources Committee Meeting


Changes to Tax Credit and Council Staff


This Committee instructs the chief Executive to undertake a review to ascertain the number of Council employees potentially affected by changes in Tax Credits, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his June 2010 Budget and the October 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review. This review should focus particularly, but not exclusively, on the increase in the minimum hours threshold for qualifying for Working Families Tax Credits.
Furthermore, the Council, explores ways it might mitigate the negative effect of these changes on its employees to be disqualified from Tax Credits when the qualifying conditions change. Finally, that the Chief Executive reports back to the Policy & Resources Committee.

09/11/2010

West Ferry Conservation Area Appraisal - Out for Consultation

The Planning section of the City Development Department has issued for public consultation the updated West Ferry Conservation Area Appraisal.

The purpose of the consultation process is to raise awareness of the proposal and to address the public’s views prior to a finalised decision reported to Dundee City Council’s City Development Committee.

Copies of the Conservation Area Appraisal document can be viewed at:

Broughty Ferry Community Library - Queen Street,
Central Library - The Wellgate Shopping Centre and
Floor 2 Tayside House - Crichton Street.

Alternatively the document (24 pages) can be viewed or downloaded using the following web link
http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/dundeecity/uploaded_publications/publication_1831.pdf

Consultation responses shall be required to be submitted prior to the close of business on Friday the 10th of December 2010. Responses can be submitted in writing to the address below marked “Consultation Response”. Alternatively responses can be e-mailed to conservationareas@dundeecity.gov.uk

If you have any queries, comments or suggestions feel free to contact the
City Development Department, Development Management, Dundee City Council,Floor 15 Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee DDI 3RB
Telephone 01382 433105 Fax 01382 433013
e-mail conservationareas@dundeecity.gov.uk

08/11/2010

New Olympia Swimming Pool Construction Starting Soon

Earlier this evening, at the Policy & Resources Committee, we approved the acceptance of a tender for the construction of a new city centre swimming pool. The new pool complex will be constructed on the Allan Street car park site. Work on the £24 million pound contract will begin in January 2011. The contract includes provision for competitive and leisure swimming as well as a multi-storey car park. After the new swimming centre opens, towards the end of 2012, the old Olympia can be demolished as part of the redevelopment plans for the city centre waterfront.

03/11/2010

Winning Design for the V&A Museum in Dundee


This morning, the winning design for the V&A Museum in Dundee, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, was announced.

Lesley Knox, Chair of the V&A at Dundee project and of the jury panel said:

"We were delighted by the quality of all the designs which were submitted to the competition and I think this is reflected in the huge public interest which our exhibition of models has generated,

Kengo Kuma's proposal was the unanimous choice of the jury panel and is a worthy winner; a building that will delight visitors and encourage them to revisit it again and again. It demonstrates a clear understanding of the city, offers a new experience of the river, and will be as exciting internally as it will be externally.

This has the potential to be one of Europe's most exciting buildings."

The winning architectural practice will now engage with the partners in the V&A at Dundee project to further develop the proposal. Detailed design work will continue throughout 2011 and work is projected to start on site in autumn 2012.

I hope that the development of the V&A in Dundee will not only bring an iconic building and world class museum and gallery to the north bank of he Tay but also attract other investors to engage with the completion the City Council's waterfront redevelopment and thereby bring more employment to the city.

Eastern Primary School Consultation Report Published

In a press release dated Friday 29 October 2010, the City Council announced that the 'Consultation Report on Proposed Relocation of Eastern Primary School' had been published.

This report summarises the consultation process and contains the response of HMIe to the proposal.

The report is available to read or download at http://bit.ly/9aMEJT

It has been published as part the consultation process under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

Printed copies are available from the reception at floor 2 of Tayside House, and also Eastern Primary School and Grove Academy.

Comments on this report should be forwarded to the Jim Collins, Director of Education jim.collins@dundeecity.gov.uk

Dundee City Council's education committee is expected to consider the proposed move of Eastern Primary into the former Grove Academy building at its meeting on Monday 22 November 2010.

01/11/2010

Next Meeting The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership 18 November

The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership
Next Meeting
Thursday 18 November 2010
Panmurefield Village Church beginning at 6.00 pm

A g e n d a


1. Welcome and Apologies
2. Previous minute and matters arising

3. Community engagement/events diary 2011
4. Local Community Plan Update

- Community facilities and open spaces
- Community safety/youth issues
- Mental Wellbeing

- Beach Management Group
- Friends of the the Sandy Park, Balgillo
- Broughty Ferry Development Trust
- Shanwell Wildlife Rescue proposal for rugby terrace
5. Department/agency/organisation update

6. Open forum on community issues

7. Date, time and venue for 2011 meetings


Further information available from:

Angie Hastie, Communities Officer
tel 438594 (Mon-Wed only) email angie.hastie@dundeecity.gov.uk