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30/11/2011

Welcome Delay to Temporary Closure of Pedestrian Underpass on Gray Street


Pedestrian Underpass Temporary Closure Delayed
Late this afternoon, I was informed that Network Rail have agreed to delay the building works that require the pedestrian underpass on Gray Street to be closed for eighteen days from Monday 6 December. 


I welcome the postponement of this work until 9 January 2012. In the meantime Network Rail will carry out building works within the station buildings.


Broughty Traders will I think be relieved that the temporary closure of the underpass has been postponed until after Christmas and New Year trading. 


Network Rail are to be congratulated in responding positively to representations about this issue. 

29/11/2011

Harris Academy - Education Committee Monday 28 November 2011

At the Education Committee last night Harris Academy was indirectly on the agenda.



The first item, The East Central Territory Hub, was about the arrangements for the continuing work to establish this organisation to procure capital projects such as new schools. Our immediate interest at the Education Committee in Dundee is the comprehensive refurbishment or replacement of Harris Academy. 


The East Central Territory Hub covers the huge area bounded by the former Tayside and Central regional areas and within that territory it will procure all major building projects for the 6 local councils, Police, Fire and NHS. This new set up is the Scottish Government's imposed way of purchasing capital projects like new buildings.


I hope something positive can come out of The East Central Territory Hub but I fear its been a giant smoke screen to disguise a lack of building projects from the SNP led government in Edinburgh. I am also concerned that it will lead to larger scale building contracts that will tend to exclude smaller local sub contractors based in the city.


Now a preferred Private sector Development Partner has been appointed, I had hoped that the rebuild of Harris Academy would be picking up from a snail's pace. 


The work on Harris Academy was begun by a feasibility study instructed in the time I was Education Convener May 2007 - March 2009. The SNP led Scottish Government announced their first tranche of school building in late September 2009 over two years after coming into office and Harris Academy was our one and only city school on their list. Two years later, and a start on site before 2013 seems unlikely. 


This is of course means that the SNP is millions of bricks short of meeting their manifesto pledge in the May 2007 Holyrood elections to match Labour's PPP school building 'brick for brick'. In Dundee, Labour's PPP programme built two new secondary schools and six new primary schools. In four years at Holyrood the SNP Government 2007/11 did not directly fund any new school building in Dundee.

28/11/2011

Dundee Local Development Plan - Last Week to Have Your Say


In October the City Council issued their Dundee Local Development Plan: Main Issues Report and Environmental Report for a period of six weeks consultation. 


The new local Development Plan for Dundee will set out a strategy for development in the City for a period of five years and provide broad indications of growth for up to 10 years in the future.

If you want to have your say, the Consultation period ends at 12:00 noon on Friday 2nd December 2011.

This report identifies the Main Issues which are to b.e considered during the production of a Proposed Local Development Plan and sets out Dundee City Council's currently preferred option.  It is vital that communities and individuals make their views known at this stage of the process.

The Consultation for the Main Issues Report is being undertaken and representations are sought via an online questionnaire.

The Environmental report has identified, described and evaluated the likely significant effect on the environment of implementing the Dundee Local Development Plan Main Issues report and its reasonable alternatives.

The Consultation for the Environmental Report is being undertaken and representations are sought via an online questionnaire on the Council's website.

Copies of the Main Issues Report and Environmental Report, together with supporting documents can be accessed at www.dundeecity.gov.uk/localdevplan or via all local libraries throughout Dundee and during office hours at Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee, DD1 1EQ.

27/11/2011

Broughty's Big Pre-Christmas Party

On Thursday night about 3000 Ferry folk took the streets in central Broughty Ferry. They were there to celebrate the start of the long build up to Christmas which begins with the ceremony of switching on the Christmas Lights.


Despite the cold wind, they seemed to thoroughly enjoy the street party atmosphere; especially the fairground rides and the performers who appeared on the Radio Tay stage. 


At the appointed hour, the Lord Provost, John Letford threw the switch to activate the illuminations.


Thanks are due to Broughty Ferry Traders Association for organising another very successful night.  

26/11/2011

Online Map of Road Casualties in Broughty Ferry 2000-2010

Click on the map to see a larger version
Earlier this week, public access to an online map of road casualties for 2000-2010 was published on a website. The map displayed here focuses on Broughty Ferry.


From my reading, the map indicates that over a ten year period there have been four people killed on our roads in the Ferry area. Two of these were pedestrians, both older people, and two were occupants in vehicles (drivers and passengers are not distinguished). The map also indicates a much larger number of serious and slight injuries sustained by pedestrians, cyclists and occupants in vehicles.

It all points to the need to be more road safety conscious as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or car drivers and passengers.



The map was released by the charity RoadPeace. The casualty data is based on Stats19 data collected by the police and made available through the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) and the UK Data Archive.
The map is available online at http://map.itoworld.com/road-casualties-uk

25/11/2011

Dundee Christmas Light Night Tonight From 6pm City Centre Friday 25 November 2011

Tonight it's Christmas Light Night in Dundee with a wide variety of free events at numerous locations throughout the City Centre.


It will all kicks off at 6pm.


Fun for all the family. Enjoy!


The programme (free to download and printout) contains details of all the events throughout the evening. It also includes maps to help you find the venues and car parks.

24/11/2011

Developments at Broughty Ferry Station

I am pleased to see that work has started at our station in Broughty Ferry to convert the station house and platform buildings into a restaurant. It's good to see that there is now confidence by Scotrail to go ahead and undertake the conversion work which was granted planning permission some while ago. I hope this will help Scotrail find a restaurateur willing to take on the lease.

From Monday 5 December the pedestrian underpass will be closed until Christmas while work is undertaken near the level crossing to create a new access point to the down platform (trains to Dundee). 


This is very poor timing for traders in The Ferry. It's also a pity that while all this improvement work is going on that the smelly and grubby underpass is not being updated. I have written to the  Council's Head of Transportation to see whether a deep clean can be done before the underpass is reopened.  I would also hope we improve the 'walk the plank' experience along the suspended walkway just above the bottom of the tunnel which is prone to flooding. It's a bit of a Heath Robinson and would hardly pass current standards of health and safety. I think it would be much better if the suspended walkway covered the full width of the tunnel bottom.

While the the pedestrian underpass is closed, I hope pedestrians will be patient while they wait at the level crossing gates and no one ignores the warming lights flashing and the barriers beginning to fall. Most non stopping rains race through the Ferry at 80 mph.

Earlier in the Autumn, I wrote to the Scotrail Managing Director, Scott Montgomery, to request improvements to the information available about trains and the timetable to be on both the platforms. I can report some good and bad news. Firstly, the good news is that he has confirmed that: 
"we will arrange for a timetable to be displayed on both platforms at Broughty Ferry (this has been taken up with the local Manager at Dundee)" 
At the moment there is no train timetable displayed on the Up platform for trains towards Aberdeen. The bad news is that he also says that: 
"regrettably we have no plans at the present to install Customer Information Screens at this station. .... Although it is recognised that the station would benefit from these Screens, funding for station improvements is limited and we have to prioritise the stations."
I have also written to Steve Mongomery to find out where Broughty Ferry is on the Scotrail waiting list and to TACTRAN to urge they support this improvement.

Switching On Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights - Join in the Fun and Celebrations Tonight 24 November 2011 from 6:00 pm

Come down tonight into the Ferry to join in the fun and celebrations as the Christmas Lights in Broughty Ferry are switched on.

Assemble at 6pm for live music, carol singing, Radio Tay, street artists and children's entertainment. 


Broughty Ferry traders will be supplying mulled wine and mince pies and burghers will also be available from Scott Brothers  

The switching on of the lights ceremony will be performed by Lord Provost John Letford at 7pm.

23/11/2011

East Coast Train Journey From Dundee - Let's Hang on To What We've Got


On Monday I took the 09:06 East Coast London train from Dundee station. On the train, I was delighted to meet my Labour colleague Marlyn Glen, the former MSP for North East Scotland. I was going  to Edinburgh but, like many of the folk who got on the train with their cases, Marlyn was travelling down to London.


When I am travelling by rail to a destination beyond Edinburgh, I always look to see whether there is a long distance through train to save me changing trains on the way. I also value the East Coast 125 express services as they usually have shorter journey times to Edinburgh. Additionally, I prefer the layout in their carriages with plenty of tables to sit and read my paper at or to plug in my notebook computer.


These through trains are also a boon to folk struggling with their holiday luggage or parents and carers with children and push chairs. 

I am sure many residents in Dundee value East CoastCross Country and Caledonian Sleeper long distance train services that run to and from Dundee. If the SNP government's proposal for the future of rail services in Scotland goes ahead, we would be left stranded in Dundee with just slower shuttle train services south and a compulsory change of train at Edinburgh. 


If like me you think we should "hang on the what we've got" join the campaign for a rethink on these issues and register your support with the Scottish Labour campaign.  

22/11/2011

Shocking Overview of Gross Inequality Revealed in High Pay Commission Report

Earlier today the High Pay Commission published their report: Cheques With Balances: why tackling high pay is in the national interest


It confirmed what many of us have suspected, that executive pay has got out of control and we are certainly not 'all in this together'.

Barclays Bank has disgraced themselves by employing the executives with the most stratospheric remuneration increases since 1980. Their top executive's earnings have increased by a mammoth 4899.4% since 1980, whilst wages for the average worker have only seen a three fold increase.


The High Pay Commission’s programme of reforms include:

  • A radical simplification of executive pay
  • Putting employee reps on remuneration committees
  • Publishing the top ten executive pay packages outside the boardroom
  • Forcing companies to publish a pay ratio between the highest paid executive and the company median
  • Companies to reveal total pay figure earned by the executive
  • Establishing a new national body to monitor high pay.
I say aye to tackling excessive pay and perks in the public, not for profit and private sectors.

Temporary Road Closure Central Broughty Ferry for Switching On of Christmas Lights 3-9 pm Thursday 24 November 2011


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 switch on event 

HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in:
  • Brook Street (between Fort Street and St Vincent Street), Broughty Ferry. 
  • Gray Street (between Brook Street and King Street), Broughty Ferry

This notice comes into effect on Thursday 24 November 2011 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.

20/11/2011

Lunchtime Piano Recital Saturday 26 November 1pm at St Paul's Episcopal Cathedral Dundee

Dundee based concert pianist Joseph Fleetwood will be giving the lunchtime concert in St Paul's cathedral on Saturday 26 November beginning at 1pm.

He will be playing:
Mozart's Sonata in A minor
and
Liszt's Sonata in B minor


19/11/2011

Criminal Offences in and in the Vicinity of Dundee Schools 2010/11

Statistics about criminal offences in, and in the vicinity of, Dundee schools have been published by Tayside Police following a Freedom of Information request.

Tayside Police's crime recording system indicate:
203 offences committed in 2010 and 
118 offences during 2011 (up to and including 14 October). 

This is an alarming picture. 

Any crime committed in or around our our schools is something to be concerned about. And some of the offences committed are indeed very serious and very concerning. These include: fire raising, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of drugs and indecent assault. 

Tayside Police warned however that: 
'In relation to the above figures, the following factors should be taken into consideration:
  1. Some incidents may well have occurred outwith normal school hours or during weekends or holidays when the premises are empty.
  2. Some incidents may be described and therefore reported as taking place at a school when they may in fact be completely unrelated to the organisation - for example a disturbance outside the premises.'
Taken together with the refusal of Tayside Police to break down the crime statistics to each of the 46 primary and secondary schools in the city (excluding Kingspark School and Nursery Schools), it is difficult to know whether there any potential hot spots in terms of neighbourhoods where schools are located or any particular schools to be concerned about.

Where offences have been committed in our schools during school hours, I commend our Head Teachers who have summoned Tayside Police to intervene in response to these.

There is however no room for complacency. The safety of our pupils and staff in our schools must be our priority.

I have written to the Director of Education to ask him to add this report to the agenda of the Education Review Group who will be meeting next week. I want to know whether there is anything the Director believes would help make our schools safer places to learn and work.

18/11/2011

Temporary Road Closures Central Broughty Ferry - Evenings Monday 21 - Wednesday 23 November 2011


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
  • Brook Street (between Fort Street and Gray Street), Broughty Ferry.
  • Gray Street (between Long Lane and King Street), Broughty Ferry.
  • Fort Street (between Long Lane and King Street), Broughty Ferry.

This notice comes into effect on Monday 21 November 2011 for 3 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.

17/11/2011

Issues Arising From the Consultation About The Proposed 33 Period Week In Dundee Secondary Schools


The series of consultation meetings about the proposed thirty three period week kicked off at Grove Academy on Monday evening. 

About eighty parents and carers gathered to hear from Acting Head Teacher, Lesley Elder and Acting Head of Secondary Education in the City, Paul Clancy. The new Head Teacher of Grove Academy, Graham Hutton, (prior to taking up his new post at the end of the month) was also on the platform.

While many issues were satisfactorily clarified and the exchanges between parents and carers and senior teachers and school managers remained polite, a number of reservations remained at the end of the evening. These were particularly about the implementation of the proposed thirty three period week as it would affect Grove Academy.

Firstly, strong concerns were raised about the proposed closing time of 15:15 on the four shorter days - Tuesday to Friday. If left as it appeared on the template projected onto the screen, it would clash with the main closing time for pupils at Eastern Primary School. While alternatives were discussed, there appeared to be insufficient acknowledgement that a clash with the finish time at Eastern Primary School was not an option. It was mentioned that a differential start and finish time for the school day in Grove Academy and Eastern Primary School had been guaranteed at the Project Board meetings that David Dorward, the Council's Chief Executive, had chaired in advance of the move by Eastern Primary School to the 'old Grove' site.

Secondly, it became clear that no provision had been made to gather the opinions of parents who were not able to attend the formal consultation event. Is the opinion of Grove parents in this consultation restricted to the less than 10% that were able to attend the meeting on Monday night?

Thirdly, it was clear that some parents were shocked and disappointed at the related news that when the proposed new timetable begins in August 2012, pupils in Dundee Schools will apparently take 6 school subjects from S4 leading to the new national examinations in S4. This is a reduction from the eight choices currently available in our nine Secondary Schools at Standard Grade starting in S3 and examined at the end of S4. This was a matter of regret for some parents who pointed out that Grove had very recently been rated as the twentieth most successful state Secondary School in Scotland by the Sunday Times. 


Incidentally, this apparent reduction in subject choices has not yet been brought to the Education Committee.

Music from Nablus - Concert Tuesday 22 November Steps Theatre 7pm


Four musicians from An Najah National University in Nablus playing the oud, Arabic flute and keyboards will enchant you with traditional songs and music

Tuesday 22nd November at 7pm 
(Doors open 6:40pm)


Steps Theatre  Wellgate, Dundee DD1 1DB  (Victoria Road entrance)

Refreshments

Arranged by Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association

Tickets £8  (Concessions £6,  under 16 free)
  • phone Catherine Rice  07757 356 930 or 
  • email  catherinemrice@yahoo.co.uk

16/11/2011

Stop The Great SNP Train Robbery Including the End of Sleeper and Direct Cross Border Trains From Dundee

The SNP government has just published a plan for the future of Scotland’s railways. 


But instead of getting a better deal for the public, the ideas they have put forward include:


  • cancelling the sleeper service
  • stopping cross border trains that go to beyond Edinburgh, so there are no direct trains from Dundee, Motherwell, Perth, Inverness, Aberdeen to London or anywhere south of the border
  • splitting off the more profitable parts of the ScotRail network
  • increasing the cost of peak time tickets
  • longer journey times to “improve” punctuality – but with fewer trains
  • changes on capacity which could result in overcrowding, being told to wait for the next train, or standing the whole journey

This isn't a serious plan for the future of Scotland's railways. It would have a negative effect in Dundee by removing our direct rail and sleeper services to London. This would not only be inconvenient to rail travelers having to make more changes on their long distance journeys but also have a negative effect on the local economy.


That is why today Scottish Labour has launched a campaign to save Scotland’s railways. We have launched an online petition with a target to get 50,000 signatures opposing these plans.

Last time the SNP floated such crazy transport ideas – charging cyclists for using the pavements – they were thrown out by sheer weight of public opinion.

Labour will be campaigning on the side of Scottish passengers, not on the side of the big train companies.



To register your opposition to this plan and to demand the government in Holyrood think again add your support to our online petition. 

Council Avoid Answering the Questions I Have Been Asking About Teacher Numbers


Late on Monday afternoon, I was notified that the item from the Agenda of the Meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee - 'Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme for Teaching Staff and Associated Professionals' had been withdrawn. 


I think this is because the Administration are very reluctant to provide public answers to the questions I have been asking about maintaining teacher numbers in Dundee Schools and the financial penalties if teacher numbers are not maintained.


Councillor Guild (Leader of the Administration of the Council) has been attending Leaders' Meetings at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). As part of the budgetary settlement, Councillor Guild has agreed to accept the imposition of economic sanctions from the Scottish Government if teacher numbers are not maintained in return for some additional cash from the government.  But what sanctions are these and in what circumstances will they be applied?


If Councillor Guild can't declare what these will be, we would have been in danger of making a decision last night which would later not have been honoured. This would have disappointed teachers who had been encouraged to apply for something that might not really be available.


Councillor Guild needs to give the Council the full facts before we can be confident that we have a viable early retirement scheme for teachers to approve. 


His Education Convener, Councillor Fordyce also needs to be clear about what level of pupil teacher ratio she wants to protect in Dundee Schools.

Clearly they were both not prepared to provide any answers on Monday night.


Dundee parents and carers as well as Councillors deserve straight answers to these questions that will affect the schools and nurseries that their children are attending.

15/11/2011

YAABA-Dabba Dook! New Year's Day 2012

Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association (the Phibbies) have just published their handsome official programme for the New Year's Day Dook 2012. 


It contains the programme of events before and after the dook at 10:00 am. 


It also contains the entry form to complete and submit prior to the event. Alternatively apply online.

14/11/2011

A Gamble with the Future of our Children?

At the Policy and Resources Committee tonight, Councillors are being asked to approve a new round of enhanced early retirement for Teachers in Dundee schools. 


Judging by the interest in previous rounds of early retirements, there may well be be many inquiries from serving teachers about taking up this new offer. 


But can we afford to reduce our number of serving teachers any further?


Since this time last year we know that there are 99 fewer teachers working in our schools. The Director of Education's comments in the Courier last week indicate that he thinks there is scope for a further reduction in teacher numbers as we have a favourable pupil teacher ratio compared with other councils in urban areas.


Additionally, the Scottish Government have threatened financial penalties if teacher numbers were not maintained year by year by local authorities.


So how much lower does Councillor Ken Guild (Leader of the Council and Convener of the Finance and General Purposes Committee) think teacher numbers can fall without incurring financial penalties?


And how much lower does Councillor Liz Fordyce (Convener of the Education Committee) think teacher numbers can fall without damaging attainment and achievement in our schools?


I think we need reassuring answers to these questions before we can take a decision to approve this new round of early retirement of teachers. Anything less would I think be a gamble with the future of our children.

13/11/2011

Grove Academy Top State School in Tayside - 20th in Sunday Times Ranking

Congratulations to staff and pupils of Grove Academy for achieving their top twenty place in the Sunday Times list of Top 50 Scottish State Secondary School published today. 


Their ranking of 20th place in Scotland was up 4 places from 2010. 


The top 50 table also shows that Grove is not only the top performing school in Dundee but also within Tayside.

11/11/2011

Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership Meeting Next Week



THE FERRY LOCAL COMMUNITY PLANNING PARTNERSHIP 
MEETING
THURSDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2011 – 6.00 PM
PANMUREFIELD CHURCH 
BROUGHTY FERRY

Local Community Planning Partnerships have been established in each Dundee City Council Ward since 2008. 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.

The meetings are open to members of the public where issues of community concern can be raised 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

2.         PREVIOUS MINUTE AND MATTERS ARISING 

3.         COMMUNITY PLAN 2012-2015

4.         DUNDEE LOCAL PLAN - MAINS ISSUES (ANDY MULLHOLLAND, CITY DEVELOPMENT)

5.         DEPARTMENT/AGENCY/ORGANISATION UPDATE

6.         COMMUNITY ISSUES RAISED BY MEMBERS OF PUBLIC

7.         DATES AND TIMES OF 2012 MEETINGS
           
Carole Jenkins 
Communities Officer The Ferry
Tel  438594 (Tues, Wed only) 
Email carole.jenkins@dundeecity.gov.uk


Remembrance Day 11 November 2011

Ninety three years ago at 11 am on 11 November 1918 the Armistice, which brought the end to hostilities in the First World War, came into effect. 


Our two minutes silence at 11:00 today 
"commemorates the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts"

10/11/2011

Countdown to 2011 Switching On Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights Thursday 24 November 2011 from 6:00 pm

Its just two weeks to go before the switching on of the Christmas Lights in Broughty Ferry on Thursday 24 November 2011.


Assemble at 6pm for live music, carol singing, Radio Tay, street artists and children's entertainment. Mulled wine and Scott Brothers burghers will also be available. 


The switching on of the lights ceremony will be performed by Lord Provost John Letford at 7pm.

09/11/2011

Free Weekend Pass for Historic Scotland Attractions 26/27 November 2011

What better way to celebrate St Andrew's Day than free passes to some of Scotland's most stunning attractions?

Click here to register for a free weekend pass that grants two adults and up to three children free entry to 42 fascinating Historic Scotland sites for 26/27 of November 2011.

Could 'Trixi' Mirrors Save Lives in Dundee Streets?

Trixi mirrors are the latest road safety development to help keep cyclists safe on our roads. They can give drivers of large vehicles a view of their blind spot - the corridor down their left where cyclists become invisible.


They are named after Beatrix Willburger, a Swiss young woman who was killed by a lorry turning left. Her father has since promoted the use of the mirrors at junctions.


They are relatively low costs improvements requiring no wiring or digging up the highway to install. 


Right now Trixi mirrors are being trialled in London. I have written to Neil Gellatly, Head of Transportation in the City Council to ask him to keep an eye on the trial down south and consider installing these at busy junctions in the city.

2400 Incapacity Benefit Claimants in Dundee to be Removed From Benefit Entirely


A study published yesterday by independent academic researchers from Sheffield Hallam University will make for grim reading for many of the 9880 claimants of incapacity benefit in Dundee. 

In the light of benefit reforms introduced by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government in Westminster, the researchers have estimated the effect of these changes place by place. 

They estimate that 2400 folk, nearly a quarter of the total, will be removed from social security benefits entirely and will need to rely more on family, friends and charity. 1400 will be transferred to claiming time limited Job Seekers Allowance as they search for work. They add that, 
"Although some incapacity claimants will re-engage with the labour market, there is little reason to suppose that the big fall in claimant numbers will lead to significant increases in employment.  Incapacity claimants often face multiple obstacles to working again and their concentration in the weakest local economies and most disadvantaged communities means they usually have little chance of finding work." 

Not only will this have a negative effect on the individual claimants and their families directly involved but it will also reduce the money that is available in the Dundee economy to buy goods and services.

This is bad news for claimants of Incapacity Benefit and bad news for our city.

Estimated impact of incapacity benefit reforms by district, county and region, 2011-2014



Place
Incapacity claimants
February 2011
Estimated impact of benefit reforms
2011-2014
number
as % of working age
Reduction in incapacity claimants
Removed from benefits entirely
Increase in JSA claims
Additional compulsory labour market engagement
Scotland
277,410
8.1%
115,000
65,000
36,000
100,000
Dundee
9,880
10.4%
4,300
2,400
1,400
3,500



Source Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill, November 2011, "Incapacity Benefit ReformThe local, regional and national impact"Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research Sheffield Hallam University

08/11/2011

Some Questions on Teacher Posts in Dundee for Councillor Fordyce


Returning to the issue of 99 fewer teachers in Dundee, I challenge SNP Education Convener Liz Fordyce to answer a series of related questions.


While she pretends that the number of teachers we employ in our city doesn't make a difference to the quality of education we provide, her own SNP government in Holyrood has been urging and funding councils to maintain teacher numbers.
In October 2010 the Government's Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell said:
 "To avoid further shrinkage of our teacher workforce, we need local authorities to do what they can not to allow further drops in teacher numbers.  […]  We need local authorities not to look on each retiring teacher as an opportunity to save money, but to recruit recently qualified teachers." 
(Scottish Parliament Education, Lifelong Learning & Culture Committee 2010 b)

Does Councillor Fordyce think that Mike Russell is misguided in encouraging and financing the maintenance of our teacher workforce?

"In November 2010 the Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) agreed to:
  • ensure that are enough vacancies as there are teachers completing their probationary year in June 2011
  • to reduce teacher unemployment
  • to provide an extra £15m in the local government settlement for teacher employment (Swinney 2010)

Does Councillor Fordyce think that the Council will be financially penalised by the Scottish Government for reducing the number of its teachers despite receiving more grant to stabilise teacher numbers?

On the agenda of the Policy and Resources Committee of the Council meeting next Monday is a proposal to renew the Council's scheme to provide financial incentives to encourage the early retirement of more of our teachers. 

Is the Education Convener prepared to commit to filling the posts of retiring teachers in Dundee with a recently qualified teacher?

If not, it seems likely that this  new scheme will have the effect of further reducing the number of teachers in our schools in Dundee.