31/08/2011

Continuing Need for Full Time 24x7 Service at Balmossie Fire & Rescue Station


I was interviewed on STV news last night about the fire in Monifieth in the early hours of Sunday morning. 
The full time crew on night shift at Balmossie got to the fire in 4 minutes. The retained crew at Balmossie, who are part time fire fighters on call, could not be mustered so a second crew was summoned to the fire from the Kingsway station.  The Kingsway crew arrived a number of minutes later. 
Residents will remember that when Tayside Fire and Rescue proposed to downgrade Balmossie their proposals would have merely left a retained part-time on call crew to cover the night shift. This would not be much use if they couldn't be mustered. 
Bearing in mind how life, limb and property are best protected by getting to a fire quickly, I think this incident demonstrates the continuing need for full-time fire crews at Balmossie.

Eastern Primary School Parent Council AGM

Last night I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Parent Council of Eastern Primary School. 


A well attended meeting took place in the staff room at the school, which is now in its new location on Camperdown Street. 


After two year as Chairperson, Andy Flack stood down. In his annual report Andy referred to:
  • the value of the Parent Council's decision to gain charitable status in terms of gift aid reclaimed from Revenues and Customs and access to funds to which the Parent Council might now apply;
  • the effectiveness of the Project Board that has been established to oversee the move from Whinny Brae;
  • the success of the fundraisers who had organised enjoyable money spinning events over the year and
  • the hard work of the Teachers unpacking and getting their classrooms ready for the start of the Autumn term in their new buildings.
Andy was replaced by Elaine Smith who has acted as Vice-Chair over the last year.

30/08/2011

Scotland’s Largest Teaching Union to Ballot for Industrial Action over Changes to the Teachers' Pension Scheme

Parents will be concerned to learn that teachers are considering balloting on strike action to protect their pensions.


Commenting, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) General Secretary Ronnie Smith said,
"For hard-pressed teachers, the prospect of paying more of their salary into a pension scheme with the promise of working longer and getting far less at the end just might be the straw that breaks the camel's back."
This shows how seriously teachers view this issue.


I think the SNP government in Holyrood has a very serious obligation to parents and pupils to ensure we do not return to the type of industrial action which closed Scotland's schools during the 1980s. This led to repeated school closures and gaps in teaching and learning for pupils preparing for examinations. In the longer term there was a loss of goodwill which translated into a decline in out of school activities previously voluntarily supported by teachers. It has taken a long time to rebuild trust between employers and their teachers and for goodwill to be evident again. This could easily be thrown away by heavy handed action by the SNP government in Edinburgh.


The changes Labour made to the teaching profession set in place a proper procedure for resolving disputes, and it brought stability to the classroom for a decade. These procedures are being bypassed by the SNP Government in Holyrood which has led to Teachers contemplating strike action.


I hope the SNP's Education Convener in the City will join me in calling on the government in Edinburgh to stop bypassing the existing processes for negotiating with our teachers.

Joseph Fleetwood in Concert St Mary's Queen Street B/ferry Thursday 15 September 7:30pm

Joseph Fleetwood playing popular piano works by Liszt, Debussy, Mozart, Chopin, Schumann and Bach.

Thursday 15th September 7:30pm
St Mary’s Scottish Episcopal Church, Queen Street, Broughty Ferry
(across from Bader Square and up the brae from the Post Office Bar)

Entry £10, Concessions £9 on the door. 

Refreshments Served


"Joseph has built up a reputation as a musician comfortable in many different areas of the repertoire and he regularly performs works by the Classical and Romantic, Modern and Baroque composers."

29/08/2011

Dundee Waterfront Video

In case you missed it, here is the inspirational video about the Waterfront Project in Dundee City Centre. This is the vision which is driving the current alterations to the approaches to the Tay road bridge, the eventual demolition of Tayside House and the relocation of the Swimming Pool. It will also give pride of place to the VandA.

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26/08/2011

Make Sure You Are Registered to Vote

A canvass of all households takes place during the period August to November each year. This is your opportunity to ensure that your name and those persons living in your household are included on the electoral register - providing of course that they are eligible to vote. If your name does not appear on the register you will not be able to vote in the local elections in May next year.


If you live in Dundee, a canvass form will be sent to your home address around the end of August. The form will be addressed to the householder and will list all persons in the household who are currently on the register.
If the details on the form are mostly correct you will save the council money by registering using freephone, internet or text(sms) instead of posting back the paper form.
The phone numbers , security codes etc are listed on the form. Registering by any of the above means is far cheaper than the postage costs and staff time involved in processing a paper form and I would encourage you to use any of the above if at all possible.
If there are changes to the information you should make the changes on the form and send it back in the prepaid envelope.
Please respond as soon as possible as this will reduce the number of reminders we need to issue - again saving the council money.

Contact details for the Electoral Registration Officers in Dundee are as follows:
 website   www.dundeecity.gov.uk/supportservs/electoralrege mail     ero@dundeecity.gov.ukphone     01382 434403

25/08/2011

Enrolment Night for BERA Evening Classes from 7pm on Monday 29 August at Grove Academy


Enrolment night for Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association (BERA) evening classes will be on from 7 pm on Monday 29 August at Grove Academy.
New classes this autumn include:
ZUMBA
'The ZUMBA® program is a Latin-inspired, dance-fitness class that incorporates Latin and international music and dance movements, creating a dynamic, exciting, exhilarating and effective fitness system. It is a class for dancers and non-dancers.
Exploring the Internet
The class will cover some aspects of using internet sites, including some of the following: Shop/trade safely on line – Tesco, etc; plan a holiday; visit price comparison and money saving sites; consult CAB, DVLA, public utilities and your local council; look for jobs; use of Yahoo for email and Google for information. NB This is not a class for complete beginners to computing. 
Art Appreciation
A fun, informal and informative course on artistic styles and movements in the development of western art history. May include a gallery visit.
Stich and Bitch
Give tired textiles a new lease of life - upcycle and refurbish into bags, cushions, accessories, patchwork etc.
Pilates
Pilates is a complete exercise method that builds strength without excess bulk, creating a sleek, toned body, changing the way it looks and feels. Improve your body shape, posture, flexibility; reduce stress; find relief from aches and pains.
Drawing and Painting
Gain basic skills before moving on to draw and paint still life studies, or brush up on prior skills. Use still-life set-ups provided, or bring your own objects/materials to set up.
For full details of their new programme of classes for the Autumn click on this link.
Classes will run during the Autumn Term for ten weeks starting in week beginning Monday 5 September 2011 and concluding in week beginning 24 November 2011. There will be no classes between 10 and 20 October.
For further details, please do NOT telephone the school, consult the BERA website.

24/08/2011

New Members Sought for Dundee City Council's Adoption & Fostering Panels



The Social Work Department is currently seeking new members for Dundee City Council's Adoption & Fostering Panels.

If you have professional or personal experience of fostering or adoption issues, or some involvement in the lives of children who are looked after away from home then they would be interested in hearing from you. 

You will need to be able to commit to attend at least one Panel a month on a Thursday morning from 9am - 1pm

For further details contact:
Gail Aboim, Senior Officer, Adoption & Fostering 

tel 01382 436007 or email gail.aboim@dundeecity.gov.uk

23/08/2011

Wait Nearly Over For Spending A 'Penny'

Work has commenced in the Queen Street car park on the installation of an Automated Public Convenience (APC) which is due to open by the middle of September. 


This single unit will replace the former staffed public toilets which were closed nearly five months ago at the end of March.


Unfortunately the former award winning staffed public toilets in the car park were a victim of the SNP led Council's cuts in local public services.


The opening of this Automated Public Toilet will bring to an end this gap in public convenience provision in central Broughty Ferry. 


I hope users of this new facility will find it an adequate replacement.

The Reads and the Read-Nots - Implications for Dundee?


Yesterday the National Literacy Trust published a study about the reading habits of children and young people in the UK. 
Their research of 18,141 children revealed a polarised nation of young readers with 1 in 6 reporting that they don’t read 
a single book in a month, while 1 in 10 say they read more than 10 books in a month.

This divide between the “reads” and the “read-nots” is concerning because the research shows reading frequency has a 
direct link to attainment, as 8 in 10 children who read over 10 books a month are above average readers compared with just 3 in 10 of those who rarely read.
Fresh approaches are urgently needed to encourage young people to read more. However, the number of children who never 
read a book suggest our schools and libraries have a challenge on their hands.

The research also found that:

  • 77% of children who read for longer than an hour at a time are above average readers, while just 4% who read for over an hour are below the level expected of them.
  • Only 30% of children who read for up to 10 minutes at a time are above average readers, with 20% below the reading expected level for their age.
  • Text messages are the most popular thing for children to read outside of class with 60% saying they read texts outside of class.
  • Children who read text messages but not fiction books are twice as likely to be below average readers compared to those who also read fiction (10% versus 5%). 
National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas, said:
"Our new research shows that 1 in 6 children don't read a book in a month, and we are worried that they will grow up to be the 1 in 6 adults who struggle with literacy to the extent that they read to the level expected of an eleven-year-old, or below."

I have written to Michael Wood, Director of Education, to ask him to put this report on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council's Education Review Group. I think there are some important issues for us to examine in relation to promoting reading amongst children and young people in our city.

Food Waste Trial in Broughty Ferry Update

The Environment Department of the Council has reported to me on their progress with their trial of food waste collections in parts of Broughty Ferry:


Further to the e-mail sent on 27/06/11 to advise you of the forthcoming food waste trial in your area, I am now writing to update you on the progress we have made & the forthcoming deliveries of food waste caddies, liners & kerbside containers.
During early July all households in the trial areas received a visit from a Recycling Advisor or member of the Waste Strategy team, hand-delivering the "Teaser card"  advising residents of the forthcoming scheme and of the possibility of opting-out. This gave us the opportunity to address any concerns & answer any queries householders had at that time.  The last day for Opting-Out was Friday 12th August and the details for your ward area are as follows:
Area 9 - Dawson Park (The Ferry ward): 218 households offered, 22 opt-outs (10%)
Area 10 - Balgillo Park (The Ferry ward): 379 households offered, 17 opt-outs (4.4%)
Overall opt-out rate across the 10 areas is 7.8%
Deliveries of caddies, liners & kerbside containers for all those taking part are due to commence on Wed 31st August. 

First collections will be on Wednesday 14th September and will thereafter be uplifted on a fortnightly basis.
A detailed information leaflet will be distributed with the caddies & this should answer all questions but telephone no's & e-mail addresses are provided should anyone have any queries. A link to our webpage which has a list of FAQ's is also included - http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/environment/foodwaste/ Also, information sessions will be held at libraries within the ward areas after the trial has commenced as follows:

Broughty Ferry library • Friday 7th October, 12pm - 2pm

22/08/2011

Call for Filling of School Crossing Patrol Vacancies at Forthill and Claypotts Castle Primary Schools


I have been informed that there are important gaps in support available from School Crossing Patrol staff at Forthill and Claypotts Castle Primary Schools. I understand that the vacancies have been caused by the retirement of previous Lollipop staff at both schools. 

This is very concerning because both schools are situated near busy roads; Claypotts Castle Primary School close to Balunie Avenue and Forthill Primary School by Forthill Road. This situation is also disappointing because I presume there has been plenty of time to fill these posts over the summer.

I have written to the Director of Education calling for these vacant posts to be filled as a matter of urgency.

20/08/2011

Toe Tapping Performance of 'Our House'

Last night I enjoyed a toe tapping performance of 'Our House' by the the Back-to-Back group of Dundee Schools' Music Theatre. 


'Our House' is a romantic comedy which draws on the songbook of Madness. It proved to be a brilliant vehicle to demonstrate the outstanding dancing and singing of this young ensemble. 


Back-to-Back is the group of young performers who have left our schools in the last year. This was their swansong four night run at the Rep; an apt testament to their multiple-talents.

16/08/2011

Commenting on SQA Examination Results in Dundee


I congratulate our pupils on their attainment, as measured by SQA passes, in the examinations they undertook in May/June this year.  Parents and carers and of course teachers also deserve credit for their contribution to these successes.

In the Director of Education's report to the Education Committee on Monday 22 August, we have the first snapshot of the SQA examination results for this year. This compares passes as a whole in Dundee in 2011 with results in the city in earlier years.  I am sure it is not just Councillors, but parents and carers too, who will want to see the figures for each secondary school and for each subject. We have also yet to see the results in Dundee in a wider context, so we need to know how they compare with those in other Council areas and how they measure up with the national average.

On the basis of the provisional and partial figures available to me, I welcome the cautious tone in this report, especially its warning against complacency. I also endorse the ongoing emphasis on raising attainment in our schools and the reiteration of the route map to further improvement.

At this stage however, I do want to pick out the further rise in the percentage of our pupils who passed a minimum of Mathematics and English at Foundation level in Standard Grade – up from 88% to 90%. This is an important milestone.

12/08/2011

Message from Tayside Police


A message from Tayside Police regarding the ongoing disorder in England.

"You will be aware of the serious public disorder that has been ongoing in England over the last few days. Whilst we do not expect this sort of criminal behaviour in our communities, we need to be ready to respond should we have any instances of similar behaviour.

We all have a very important role to play in this regard.

You need to be alert to signs of anything that is different or which might be an indicator of a change from the norm and report this through appropriate channels. This can be whilst going about your job or in your private life.

Here in Scotland, we have communities that respect each other and work together.  It is a safe place to live and work. However, we are not complacent and we do have contingency plans in place should we need to respond to any disorder.

The below are key messages that I would ask you to remember when going about your business.

Tayside Police will continue to respond appropriately to any incident.
  • We will continue to be active, visible and approachable in our communities
  • If you need an officer to call on you, we will attend.
  • We will investigate all crimes and offences in accordance with our Investigative Standards.
  • We will deal with disorder robustly and proportionately.
Our communities are at the heart of everything we do, and they work closely with us in protecting their community.
  • We respect each other and will not allow mindless thugs to destroy communities.
  • We will work with our communities in bringing criminals to justice and protecting the vulnerable.
  • Our community officers are available for you to discuss any concerns you may have.
We will take all available steps to identify potential threats to Tayside communities   
  • We will act on any information which has the potential to cause alarm and distress in our communities.
  • We will listen to our communities.
  • We will continue to provide means by which you can contact us confidentially."
Contact Tayside Police
Non-emergency number 0300 111 2222 In an emergency call 999

New & Revised National Express Dundee Bus Services for The Ferry from Monday

From Monday 15 August, National Express bus services serving Broughty Ferry will be changing. 


There is a fresh timetable for the number 5 service  Barnhill – City Centre – Ninewells Hospital via Broughty Ferry, Strathern Road and the Technology Park. National Express Dundee say that, "All day frequency to be increased to every 10 minutes between the City and Barnhill and 20 minute frequency between City and Ninewells except at am and pm peak when additional buses will serve the hospital"
Click on this link to read or download the new timetable for the number 5 service.


On Monday the new number 206 service begins running on the Ethiebeaton Park – Broughty Ferry – West Ferry route.
Click on this link to read or download the new timetable for the new number 26 service.

10/08/2011

BERA Announce new Classes for the Autumn

Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association (BERA) have recently announced some new classes to run in their regular programme of evening classes at Grove Academy during the autumn.
These extra classes include:
ZUMBA
'The ZUMBA® program is a Latin-inspired, dance-fitness class that incorporates Latin and international music and dance movements, creating a dynamic, exciting, exhilarating and effective fitness system. It is a class for dancers and non-dancers.
Exploring the Internet
The class will cover some aspects of using internet sites, including some of the following: Shop/trade safely on line – Tesco, etc; plan a holiday; visit price comparison and money saving sites; consult CAB, DVLA, public utilities and your local council; look for jobs; use of Yahoo for email and Google for information. NB This is not a class for complete beginners to computing. 
Art Appreciation
A fun, informal and informative course on artistic styles and movements in the development of western art history. May include a gallery visit.
Stich and Bitch
Give tired textiles a new lease of life - upcycle and refurbish into bags, cushions, accessories, patchwork etc.
Pilates
Pilates is a complete exercise method that builds strength without excess bulk, creating a sleek, toned body, changing the way it looks and feels. Improve your body shape, posture, flexibility; reduce stress; find relief from aches and pains.
Drawing and Painting
Gain basic skills before moving on to draw and paint still life studies, or brush up on prior skills. Use still-life set-ups provided, or bring your own objects/materials to set up.
For full details of their new programme of classes for the Autumn click on this link.
Enrolment for this classes running in the Autumn will be on Mon 29 August from 7pm at Grove Academy.
Classes will run during the Autumn Term for ten weeks starting in week beginning Monday 5 September 2011 and concluding in week beginning 24 November 2011. There will be no classes between 10 and 20 October.
For further details, please do not telephone the school, consult the BERA website.