Dook Day Approaching Fast - New Year's Day 2013 Start Time 2:30pm Broughty Ferry Harbour

The 2013 Broughty Ferry Dook will take place at 2:30pm on New Year's Day at Broughty Ferry Harbour.

The Ferry Dook is well organised by Broughty Ferry's 'Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association'; the Phibbies. 

This event attracts hundreds of dookers and three thousand or more spectators, so if you want a good view you need to turn up early.

There is still time to enter the 2013 Dook

Entry fee £15 which includes a Dook T-shirt and Certificate of Achievement . 

To enter either fill in the entry form in the printed Dook 2013 Official Programme available throughout the Ferry in shops or apply online at YeABBA Dook 2013 Entry

You can also enter on the day but you must turn up well in advance.


Council's Dog Poop Bags in Short Supply in Broughty Ferry

A  number of constituents have approached me to complain about the short supply of the Council's Dog Poop bags. Earlier this month these constituents tried the Library and their vets and they were both out of stock. When they returned a few days later to the Library on Queen Street, they were limited to one bundle of poop bags even though they own more than one dog.

I have written to the Director of Environmental Services, Ken Laing, and the Convener of the Environment Committee, Councillor Craig Melville, to enquire why Broughty Ferry residents are losing out and for reassurance that these shortages will be sorted out without further delay. I have also asked for reassurance that  they will not contemplate phasing out supplying these bags in their next round of budget cuts.  When this latter issue was raised with Ken Laing, about a years ago, he was quoted as saying:
'As a department we are looking at all opportunities for future savings and I am aware that this possible option (of phasing out the provision of free dog poop bags) has been discussed internally. I can confirm that we have no plans to remove this provision at present.'

I think that the supply of these bags, along with the provision of more than 1300 dog waste bins throughout the city, contributes to much cleaner streets. It would be a step in the wrong direction to remove the supply of the bags, which clearly many Ferry dog owners have come to rely on.


Lawrence Street Water Cover Reported Missing

Click on image to enlarge
Residents in Lawrence Street in Broughty Ferry have complained to me that they have reported a missing cast iron water stop cock cover to Scottish Water several weeks ago but it remains without a replacement cover. 

They are concerned that this is a hazard for walkers in their street. Someone inadvertently stepping into this hole might end up with a serious sprain or broken bone in their foot or leg.

Visiting the site earlier this week, I observed that among this group of five utility covers close together, it would be easy to not notice that one had its cover missing.

I have reported this to Scottish Water and sent them a copy of my photograph too.

Scottish Water Customer Contact Centre
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Call their Customer Helpline on  0845 601 8855
Write to them at Scottish Water, PO Box 8855, Edinburgh, EH10 6YQ


Kellas Road Pothole Reported

Click on image to enlarge
Earlier today, I was alerted to a really deep pothole on the west side of the beginning of Kellas Road close to its junction with Baldovie Road.

This pothole is relatively deep and has sharp sides of exposed tarmac.

I have reported this to the City Engineer and the Roads Maintenance Partnership as well as ringing the Dundee City Council Customer Care Line on 01382 433063 (24/7). I have suggested that this area of the road is at least coned off until a repair can be arranged. I was informed that this pothole had already been reported to the Council by a member of the public and Tayside Police.

My picture shows a car turning left into Kellas Road with its front wheel about to encounter the pot hole.


Rapid Rethink Required Over Planned Pavement Upgrading in Broughty Ferry

Click on map to enlarge
When I read a traffic notice issued by the Council on Thursday morning proposing partially closing Gray Street in Broughty Ferry "for the purpose of facilitating kerbing and footway works" I was both surprised and hopeful. I was hopeful that there would be some repairs or improvement to the pavements. I have represented many constituents and traders who have complained about the unevenness of the pavements so it seemed good to know that work might begin in the early new year. My relief rapidly turned to disappointment when I was advised that the upgrading work was going to be a second rate job. It seems that instead of matching the materials used in 2005 to upgrade the pavements in Brook Street between Fort Street and Gray Street, cheaper materials would be used which wouldn't match the texture or colour of the first phase of the upgrading work round the corner.

This all seems at odds with Gray Street being clearly designated in the new Draft Dundee Local Development Plan as a part of the District Shopping Centre with a policy commitment to 'improve their (the District Shopping Areas) attractiveness for businesses and residents'

I notice in the City Centre, that improvements to pavements and street furniture have gradually spread to neighbouring streets. For example, Union Street has recently being brought up to the city centre standard. So in the Ferry we want a similar commitment not second rate and patchy pavements.

I was surprised because I had not been properly briefed about this forthcoming work at a point when this was a proposal and disappointed to have been kept out of the loop. Why was this not brought up at the last meeting of the The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership in November when all Council Services are represented round the table with all Four Ferry Councillors and members of the Community Council and other voluntary projects and groups?

I have written to my fellow Broughty Ferry Councillor and Leader of the Council Ken Guild and the Director of City Development to ask that an immediate pause is put on this. I hope he will tell me that this all a bad dream and the Council's Jacob Marley has come to his senses and determines he won't be cutting any more corners on our new pavements for The Ferry.


Dead Seal On Beach Efficiently Removed by Council

On Friday morning I noticed a dead seal washed up on the stony beach beside Douglas Terrace. I immediately notified the Environment Department, who arranged to collect and dispose of the carcass.

I am sure constituents would join me in acknowledging the power of work undertaken for our community by the Environment Department.


Dighty Burn in Spate in Broughty Ferry

Balmossie Mill on a fine day
On Friday, I was very concerned to learn that the Dighty Burn was in spate in Broughty Ferry. After another period of sustained torrential rain, rising water levels had been threatening to flood some of my constituents at Balmossie Mill. 

There isn't a good time to be flooded but clearly this must be a particularly difficult time. Being on flood watch in your own home just how probably means that elaborate Christmas holiday plans are disrupted and some services, you need to contact, may be slower to respond than usual as personnel are away from their desks on extended leave for Christmas and New Year. 

As well as dealing with any immediate requests for help, I shall be trying to see what the Council and Scottish Water can do to help ensure that rising water levels are better managed and homes are better protected in the future.


Visit to Dundee Foodbank

I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Dundee Foodbank on Monday morning along with MSPs Jenny Marra and Claire BakerBased at the Full Gospel Church on Constitution Street, Dundee Foodbank is a registered Scottish charity committed to providing emergency food relief to individuals and families experiencing financial hardship. 

It was good to see at first hand the inspirational work they are doing to help folk in Dundee who are struggling to put food on the table. They provide a minimum of 3 days emergency food and support to local people in crisis who have been referred for help. 

It's an unfortunate fact of life that such a project should be necessary, but out of the misfortunes they address, there are many pockets of hope including the generosity of our fellow citizens donating food and many volunteers freely giving their time to collect, sort and distribute food parcels. For example, earlier this month generous customers at Tesco in Dundee donated 2.27 tonnes of food with an estimated value of £3800.

During the visit I was pleased to advise Foodbank Staff that the Council had approved a £25,000 grant for the Foodbank from the Common Good Fund. Labour Leader Kevin Keenan had brought this forward to the Policy and Resources Committee on Monday 12 December and this had been unanimously supported and approved without a vote. I hope this will mean that the Foodbank's planned development of a distribution point in the East of the city can come on stream a bit sooner than might otherwise have happened.

Contact the Dundee Foodbank


Dundee Examination Results - Some Observations

Click on table to enlarge
Once again Grove Academy is the top-performing school in the area, according to Education Scotland figures published on Tuesday. 

These statistics are based on passes in the SQA examinations in 2001/12. 

The figures in the table shows that 27% of Grove pupils attained a grade C or above in at least five Highers, the best performance of a state school in Dundee, Angus and Fife.

Across all Dundee Secondary Schools, 9% of pupils achieved 5 or more passes in Highers at grades A-C. This was below the national average of 13% and the 11% achieved in Fife.

Exam results are useful indicators but they only tell part of the story. They tell us where our pupils have reached at their end of their schooling but not how far they have progressed since their starting level of attainment in S1 when they entered the school. So these tables don't reveal the added value of the teaching and learning at each secondary school over the years. 

I have argued for many years that the Council should collate all the statistics they hold and calculate and publish 'added value' results alongside the 'traditional' league tables. I am convinced that these results would paint a different story. 

The so called good and bad exam results correlate with income levels. School's with pupils with a low proportion of parents living in poverty, as indicated by the proportion of pupils receiving free school meals, have more pupils passing SQA exams. Conversely, school's that have a high proportion of their pupils entitled to free school meals record fewer passes at Higher level.

I think it is time the Council examined their For Fairness in Dundee strategy and came forward with measures that will help break the link between the level of income and the level of school performance.

Link to Dundee City School's Higher Examination Results
Link to the Scottish Schools Online website to read the full results for each local authority school in Scotland.


Baldragon Academy Christmas Concert

Click on image to enlarge
On Thursday I attended the Baldragon Academy Christmas Concert. This was an entertaining showcase for the outstanding quality and range of musical talent in the school.

The fifteen items included a wide variety of musical styles. Amongst the singing, I particularly enjoyed the Vocal Ensemble's rendition of the carol, 'By Candlelight'; the Soul Band performing 'All I want for Christmas is You' and Erin Clancy solo singing of a classical Italian aria, 'Se tu m'ami'. The string playing was also varied and impressive from a Ukelele band to a String Ensemble. There were also creditable performances from the School Orchestra, the Percussion Ensemble, a Percussion soloist, a piano duet and a solo Saxophonist.

The Music Department in Baldragon Academy and the visiting instrumental teachers are to be congratulated for nurturing and coaching so many young musicians.


Free Tickets for Preview of Bob Servant Independent BBC TV Comedy Series Thurs 10 Jan 2012 Gardyne Theatre

Broughty Ferry’s infamous son, Bob Servant, has made it onto TV screens and to celebrate there will be an exclusive preview screening on January 10th 2013 at The Gardyne Theatre.

Be amongst the first to see Brian Cox bring Bob to life in the first two episodes of Bob Servant Independent, BBC Scotland’s new series for BBC Four. The evening will be hosted by broadcaster Janice Forsyth and will include a Q&A session with actor Jonathan Watson, who plays Bob’s long suffering campaign manager, author Neil Forsyth and producer Owen Bell.

Tickets are free and are available from the Dundee City Box Office from Thursday December 20th. Either in person (City Square or Gardyne Theatre Box Office) or online at

Terms & Conditions: Over 18’s. Maximum 2 tickets per application. 
Doors open 6.15pm. Screening begins 7.00pm

RNLI Carol Concert 2012 St James Church Broughty Ferry

Last night I attended the annual Lifeboat Carol Service at St James Church. I arrived a few minutes late after coming directly from attending the Development Quality meeting in the Council Committee Rooms. 

The Church was packed with every seat taken, so I stood at the back and enjoyed the communal singing and the Christmas songs sung by children from the Forthill Primary School Choir.

As well as celebrating Christmas, it's a time to remember our brave and selfless Broughty Ferry lifeboat crew who go out in all weathers to rescue those in peril on the seas. We finished with a rousing singing of 'Eternal Father, Strong to Save'.

The tea and mince pies in the Church Hall afterwards were much appreciated.

Call for Action to Secure a Sale of the Former Eastern Primary School on Whinny Brae

The former Eastern Primary School Site is still unsold 18 months after it was vacated. The old school building has been marketed as as suitable for conversion into luxury flats with a short row of new build terraced houses fronting onto Rowanbank Gardens. Apart from a flashy sales brochure, there is apparently no progress to report about a sale. This is giving rise to concern among residents that the building will deteriorate and the site will become an eyesore. This would be a poor outcome because the buildings are listed and nationally important for their construction and architectural appearance. 

The lack of a sale is partly a matter of the depressed state of the housing market and partly about the asking price. If the Council want to secure a sale, they will need to be more realistic and, like many property owners are having to do, they should consider cutting the price. 

If they keep hanging out for the original cash amount they thought the sale would raise, they risk wasting council tax payers money on site security and interest payments on loans for other developments that would have otherwise been paid for by the capital receipt from the sale of the former Eastern Primary School buildings. If the site were worth £1 million, the cost of borrowing that amount might be as much as £50,000 per year. 

I have contacted the Director and Convener of City Development to ask that they review the Council strategy on the sale of this site.


Sunday Rail Services Calling at Broughty Ferry Begin with the 10:34 Train to Glasgow

Last Sunday rail services resumed at Broughty Ferry station after a gap of more than twenty years. 

As part to the new timetable effective from 9 December 2012, there are seven trains running every Sunday, four via Dundee and three heading north to Aberdeen. 

The first train of every Sunday is the 10:34 train via Dundee to Glasgow. As the visual display screen spells out, this is the train calls at Dundee, Perth, Gleneagles, Dunblane, Stirling and Glasgow Queen Street.

The Sunday timetable is as follows:

Down Platform - trains via Dundee

  • 10:34 to Glasgow calling at Dundee, Perth, Gleneagles, Dunblane, Stirling and Glasgow Queen Street
  • 14:00 to Edinburgh calling at Dundee, Leuchars, Kirkcaldy, Inverkeithing Haymarket and Edinburgh Waverley
  • 20:13 to Edinburgh calling at Dundee, Leuchars, Kirkcaldy, Inverkeithing Haymarket and Edinburgh Waverley
  • 23:28 to Perth calling at Dundee, Invergowrie and Perth

Up Platform - trains towards Aberdeen

  • 11:18 to Aberdeen calling atdd Cdarnoustie, Arbroath, Montrose, Laurencekirk, Stonehaven and Aberdeen
  • 17:28 to Aberdeen calling at Carnoustie, Arbroath, Montrose, Stonehaven and Aberdeen
  • 22:28 to Aberdeen, Calling at Arbroath, Montrose, Stonehaven, Portlethan and Aberdeen

Read or download the new timetable for trains to and from the Ferry


Very Positive Inspection Report for School's Out After School Care Club at Eastern Primary School

The School's Out After School Care Club at Eastern Primary School have recently received a very positive Care Service Inspection Report following an unannounced inspection in November.

The Inspector's report rated the Club as 'Good' across the board:

  • Quality of Care and Support - Grade 4 - Good
  • Quality of Environment - Grade 4 - Good
  • Quality of Staffing - Grade 4 - Good
  • Quality of Management and Leadership - Grade 4 - Good
The report summarises the strengths and areas for improvement in the School's Out After School Care Club as follows:

What the service does well
This is a well run, we resourced club which gives children a variety of activities to choose form and lets them play in a safe and caring environment.

What the service could do better
Records on children need to be kept fully up-to-date and the club would benefit from more attention to fire drills.

In the course of the inspection, this is what children and parents/carers had to say about the service:

Six young people were spoken with in a group on the day of inspection. They were all positive about the club and commented the following:-
  • The snack was good and they always got fruit.
  • They enjoyed and could choose the activities they got involved in.
  • The staff were friendly and did not shout at them.
Three Care service questionnaires were returned to the Inspectorate but parents of children using the service and one parent was interviewed on the day of inspection. Views expressed were overwhelmingly positive.
Here are some of the written comments:-
  • I appreciated the time staff have taken to resolve an issue my daughter was having at the club.
  • Staff are friendly and helpful.
  • My children enjoy attending schools out.
This is a very positive and reassuring report for parents and carers who use this service for their children.

Read the full School's Out most recent Inspection Report


Replacement of Anton Drive Retaining Wall Approved

On Monday night 10 December, at the Housing Committee, the Committee approved a £94,144 tender for the replacement of the retaining wall in Anton Drive.

This is what I said at Committee in support of this investment:

"Convener, I welcome this tender for £94,144 for the replacement of the retaining wall at Anton Drive in The Ferry. Residents will be able to rest easier in their beds when they know that the retaining wall on the other side of their Street has been made safe. Since the City Engineer declared that the wall was in danger of collapse in early July, following a period of sustained heavy rainfall, residents have been nervous about living close to the wall and the steeply rising land behind it.

I hope they can look forward to a speedy build period and an end to a section of their road partitioned off by security fencing that was erected as a precautionary measure."

I was advised that the work would be started before the end of January and should be completed in three weeks. The Director of Housing agreed to keep residents informed about the definite start date for the building work and the required street closure during the contract period. As the new wall would partly use space previously available for informal car parking, the Director also agreed to explore alternative locations for replacement car parking spaces in the vicinity.


SNP Councillors Vote to Keep Two Chauffeur Driven Council Cars and Hide the Costs from Their Expenses

Jaguar Car Model Selected for Replacement
TS1 vehicle for the Lord Provost 
At the Policy and Resources Committee on Monday evening, SNP Councillors forced through the leasing of two expensive new vehicles. These were referred to in the Committee Paper as Civic Cars which means they are chauffeur driven cars. Opposition Councillors were convinced that the Council could manage with one Civic Car principally for the Lord Provost and his Deputes on their official business. We argued that just as staff are now encourgaed to use public transport and walk short journeys, Councillors should do the same. If groups of Councillors need to attend the same event, we argued that under utilised Council minibuses should be used. The SNP Councillors defeated the combined opposition Councillors on this proposal. It seems that the SNP Councillors now in senior positions think they are too important to take the bus or train and need to be ferried round by a chauffeur. 

Once this decision has been made, I proposed that:

Effective from the use of the replacement Civic Cars, the usage of each of these vehicles will be recorded. A mileage equivalent rate will be added to the published expenses of elected members who have been passengers. This will not however apply to the use of these vehicles by the Lord Provost and her/his Deputes undertaking official Council duties.

I argued that, while Labour Councillors accept that the use of the chauffeur driven civic cars by The Lord Provost and his deputes is a matter of priority and historic significance we think that any other use of these cars to transport Councillors to meetings and beyond should be properly recorded so that in the future we are in a better position to judge our transport requirements. Additionally, we believe that it is fair that a mileage equivalent rate should be added to the expenses of Councillors who have travelled in the Civic Cars with the exception of journeys undertaken by the Lord Provost and his deputes undertaking their specific civic roles. It is also fair and transparent if  these costs are not hidden under a block of expenditure in the Annual Accounts but should be recorded like any other form of transport against the legitimate expenses of elected members. The current arrangement is an anomaly, because the other transport costs that are claimed such as private car mileage and bus and train fares are recorded against the expenses of an individual Councillor. When Councillors call on the use of a chauffeur driven car, it should be reflected in their annual expenses. We believe that there is no such thing as a free chauffeur driven car ride.

Unfortunately for our hard pressed Council Tax payers, the SNP Councillors, the Conservative Councillor and the Liberal Democrat Councillor combined to defeat our proposal. I wonder why they want this wasteful expenditure to be disguised?


Santa Claus Visits Broughty Ferry Library on Saturday Morning 15 December 2012

Santa Claus is taking time out from his busy schedule for a flying visit to Broughty Ferry Library between 10am and 12noon on Saturday 15 December 2012.

Children of all ages are welcome.
Entry is free. 

There will also be festive crafts.

Broughty Ferry Library
Queen Street Broughty Ferry DD5 2HN
tele    01382 636919 

Education Statistics Reveal SNP Broken Promises and Sleight of Hand

The publication yesterday of the Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland 2012 reveal a number of broken promises by the SNP Government and City Council.

The pupil-teacher ratio in Dundee Primary Schools has increased in the past year and is now the highest it has been since 2007. Each year under the SNP this has been inching up from 11.7 in 2007 up to 12.3 in  2012. I think parents and teachers can see which direction this is going and where the cuts are biting.

With regard to the statistics for P1 classes of 18 or under, the progress apparently made in the past year is probably illusory in Dundee. This year these statistics have included in these figures some of the largest classes in the city with up to 36 pupils in one classroom but with two teachers. This arrangement is being used in some of our Primary schools where there have been rising numbers of pre-fives entering P1 classes and this has been the only way of accommodating them. This is hardly the small class that parents imagined. It's worth recalling that the figures for the percentage of pupils in P1-P3 (not just P1) in classes in 18 or less was supposed to be 100 per cent by 2011 - this is one of the SNP's manifesto promises for the May 2007 Holyrood Elections.

Finally the expected information on absences and exclusions from our schools are not included this year. In the small print we find out that these figures will now only be collected and published every two years, thus reducing the information available about trends in pupils not attending school and those that are excluded. This is a backward step which I can only assume is to keep the figures out of the public eye.


Dundee Choral Union Christmas Concert Sunday 16 December 7:30pm Caird Hall Dundee - Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle

Christmas Concert 2012
Caird Hall, City Square, Dundee 
16 December 2012 7:30pm


Rossini - Petite Messe Solennelle

Rachel Hynes - Soprano

Louise Collett - Mezzo Soprano
Ross McInroy - Bass
Mark Wilde - Tenor
Morley Whitehead - Harmonium
Val Maynes - Piano 1
Derek Clark - Conductor

Tickets from Choral members when available and also 

from the City Square Box Office £15.00
Concessions for Students and Unemployed £5.00. 
Accompanied School Pupils FREE 

Dundee Choral Union 
Further information contact Mrs Kay A S Simpson, telephone 01334 870277

Consultation on Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2013

The Scottish Government has recently published the draft Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2013. This consultation seeks our views on the strategic priorities for the single Fire and Rescue Service for Scotland. On 1st April 2013, this national service will take over responsibility for fire and rescue from the eight current regionally organised services, such as our own Tayside Fire and Rescue.

The documentation includes the following:

The main purpose of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is to work in partnership with communities, and with others in the public, private and third sectors, on prevention, protection and response, to improve the safety and well being of people throughout Scotland.

I wonder if it's only me but I find this statement rather bland and vague. Amazingly the statement misses out what I think most folk believe is the primary purpose of the Fire and Rescue Service; fire fighting! If the name of the service hadn't been included in the statement, I defy folk to guess this is meant to guide the work of this particular emergency service. While I wouldn't argue with the need to also work on fire prevention and operate in partnership, I think what most folk value is the confidence that this emergency service provides that it is on call 24x7 to attend fire and rescue emergencies and protect people and property.

Comments on the consultation need to be submitted by 18 February 2013. Read download the Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2013


Church Street Road Restrictions Drag On and Restrict Residents' Parking

Click on image to enlarge
Some residents in Church Street have approached me to complain about the length of time their road and pavement has been restricted by the building of the infill property in their street. 

Building materials have spilt out over the pavement and into the street. The picture shows that more than half the width of Church Street has been fenced off by the site works. The effect of this is to restrict the number of parking places in a street where residents already compete with shoppers for a parking spot.

I have written to the City Development Department to ask them to get the builders to tidy up their site and minimise their inconvenience to their neighbours in the street.


Sunday Trains Return to Broughty Ferry After More Than a 20 Year Gap

At precisely 10:34 on Sunday 9 December 2012, the Aberdeen to Glasgow train will stop at Broughty Ferry and make a bit of local history. It will be the first Sunday train service in more than twenty years. 

This train service is part of the the new ScotRail timetable which begins on Sunday. The new timetable features four Sunday trains going west via Dundee (one to Glasgow, two to Edinburgh and one to Perth) and three trains going north to Aberdeen on Sundays. On weekdays there will be seven trains going via Dundee towards Glasgow or Edinburgh and eight trains going North to Aberdeen.

Click on this link to read and download the new timetable.

In the early 1990s the then British Rail suspended most of its services stopping at Broughty Ferry. In fact they reduced their service to just a handful of trains a week. 

Over the last couple of years and after sustained local pressure, train services have been gradually increased; not enough but sufficient to stimulate increasing passenger numbers and a hope that we might get The Ferry properly reconnected to the rail network. 

While I acknowledge the recent improvements to the rail timetable, I shall continue to make the case for an increased hourly service from Broughty Ferry and the introduction of fair ticketing prices from Broughty Ferry. I hope the Scottish government will build these reasonable requirements into the conditions of the new franchise for rail services in Scotland due to come into effect in 2014.


Licensing Committee Meeting Thursday 5 December 2012

Yesterday morning I  attended a  meeting of the Licensing Committee. This Committee deals with licenses granted by the Council including those for taxi drivers, taxi operators, window cleaners, tattooists, street traders and houses in multiple occupation; in fact just about every sort of license apart from licences for the sale of alcohol and licensed premises which are dealt with by the separate Licensing Board.

The Licensing Committee meets on a Thursday morning in the City Chambers for its regular monthly meeting at which its proceedings are considered quasi judicial. The first part of the business on the agenda is open to the press and public and deals with licenses applied for such as grant of a licence for a house in multiple occupation. In arriving at a decision, committee members, hear reports from the Council Officer who deals with the inspection of these properties to ensure they meet stringent government standards and hear any objections raised by members of the public in adjoining properties. Committee members can also question the applicant or their agent when their application comes up for decision.

The second part of the agenda includes items such as an application for a taxi driver's licence where Tayside Police have a made observations that an applicant may not be a fit and proper person to be a taxi driver. This part of the agenda is taken in private and in many instances the applicant is legally represented or has a colleague, trade union representative or family member to support them.

I find this a particularly interesting Committee to serve on.

For further information and application forms about Licensing matters please contact
Support Services Department
General Services Section
20 City Square
Dundee DD1 3BY
Tel: 434468


City of Dundee Educational Trust Quarterly Meeting

Yesterday morning I attended the quarterly meeting of the City of Dundee Educational Trust. In my capacity as a City Councillor I am one of the Trustees. 

The trust awards one off grants, usually up to £300, to applicants from the charitable funds available. The awards go to students in further or higher education who have a strong connection with Dundee. 

Application forms and further details are available from:

Jeffrey Hope, Solicitor, Miller Hendry, 13 Ward Road, Dundee, DD1 1LU
Telephone: 01382 200000 Email


Broughty Community Council December Meeting

Last night I attended the regular monthly meeting of Broughty Ferry Community Council. Each month there is an opportunity for elected members to report to the Community Council. Here is a summary of my report which covers October and November as there was no time for these reports at the November meeting.

Permanent Repair to Sewage Pipe Under the Beach
In early November I had a meeting with Scottish Water and Violia about their making a permanent repair to the  leaking sewage pipe under the beach now that their temporary repair appears to be effective. They have committed to a comprehensive repair following an options appraisal and gaining the necessary permissions. The likely timescale for the permanent repair is 6-8 months.

Coastal Flood Risk and Protection
In November Councillors have had a briefing from staff from the City Development Department, SEPA and consultants who had undertaken a study on rising sea levels and coastal flooding. This will be going to Committee in February or March. Over the next few year there will be a process of selecting priority works to enhance coastal protection with some potential funding from the Scottish Government.

Coastal Walkway
On Monday, preparations on site have begun on the contract to upgrade the last section of the raised walkway between Grassy Beach and Douglas Terrace.

Biomass Plant
The Environment Department have recently confirmed that they are having a meeting later this month with Forth Energy (Scottish Power and Forth Ports Partnership) to hear an update about the air quality assessment in connection with the Biomass Planning Application. This assessment is be published by the section of the Scottish Government dealing with the assessment of the proposed biomass power plants in due course.

Anton Drive Retaining Wall
On Monday the contract for the building of the replacement retaining wall in Anton Drive is coming up for approval at a cost just exceeding £94,144. The proposed new wall will be built beside the current wall using modular timber crib blocks by PHI Group. 

Broughty Ferry Community Council meet in the Library on Queen Street on the first Tuesday of each month except August. Its meetings begin at 7pm and conclude by 8:45pm. As Tuesday 1st January is a public holiday, the next meeting of the Community Council will be held on Tuesday 5 February 2013.


Work Begins on Coastal Pathway Improvements

Earlier yesterday members of staff from Tayside Contracts were making a start to the work to upgrade the last unimproved section of the coastal pathway between the Stannergate and Douglas Terrace. I was pleased to see the work beginning, which will focus on strengthening and widening the section of the raised coastal pathway between Grassy Beach and Douglas Terrace.

While I have previously expressed my concerns about the process to approve this contract, I am now satisfied that the formalities have been properly undertaken and of course Councillors unanimously approved the contract on Monday 26 November. 

While the building work is being undertaken there will inevitably be some disruption for those who travel along the coastal pathway on foot or bicycle. I have received assurances that every effort will be made to maintain access along the pathway as the building works progress. I can however reassure constituents that, as this is part of my regular dog walk, I shall be paying particular attention as I walk past very day.

Weather permitting, I think we should be able to look forward to a completed coastal pathway by the early Spring.


Broughty Ferry Train Times from 9th December 2012

Click on right hand icon above to view timetable in full screen

Why I Was Justified in Questioning Council's Lapse in Contract Procedures

Last Monday night (26 November 2012) I tried to assist Dundee City Council by questioning why the works that were starting at Douglas Terrace Walkway had not been properly authorised. This could have led to the situation where a £887,579 contract was begun with no prospect of the bill being paid. This would have been bad for Dundee City Council, bad for Tayside Contracts and bad for the people of Dundee. I think my actions have saved the City Council from possible censure from Audit Scotland and from possible legal action.
Of course I wholeheartedly welcome this major improvement of the coastal pathway at Douglas Terrace. I made this clear on Monday night and in August when the planning permission for this work was granted. But it's important that contractual procedures are carefully followed or the Council might end up with a local version of the West Coast Mainline Trains fiasco on its hands.
At the City Development Committee meeting on Monday night, I questioned why it was that a contract worth more than £850,000 for rebuilding a section of the coastal pathway had been publicly advertised to begin on the morning on Monday 26 November, before it was brought to Committee that night. While I received a full apology for this oversight, it is still not clear who would have noticed this if I had not raised it on Thursday and Friday last week by telephone and email?  

I was very disappointed that not every Councillor saw this as an important issue and some sought to close down my questions. I presume that they would rather that the Council acted illegally than have proper scrutiny of the Council's spending of public money.


Consultation in Broughty Ferry on Monday 3 December About the Proposed Council Rent Increases 2013/14

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Tenants in The Ferry can have their say about about their future rent levels and service charges at a local consultation meeting that is taking place on Monday afternoon 3 December 2012 at Forthil Sheltered Housing Lounge on Forthill Drive. The consultation will begin at 2:30pm.

Now is the time to take the opportunity to respond to the consultation on the proposed increases in rent and service charges from April 2013.

Every year the Housing Department looks at the rent and other charges that they need to collect so that they can continue to deliver the services that tenants have told them they want. They have looked at their budgets from 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2014 and have developed three different options for rent and service charge increases which they want to gather opinions and feedback on. The three rent options range from an increase in 5% to 5.5%.

More details on the options for rent increases and what you would get for your money.

More details on the options for increases in service charges especially for tenants in sheltered housing. 

If you can't make the meeting on Monday afternoon, there are lots of ways to give your views and feedback on the Council's proposals. All they ask is that you tell them by Monday 31st December 2012

How to give the Council your opinions and feedback

Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Annual Carol Service Monday 17 December Beginning at 7:30pm in St James's Parish Church

The annual Lifeboat Carol Concert, featuring Forthill Primary School Choir, will be held in St James's Parish Church (the Lifeboat Church) on Monday 17 December beginning at 7:30pm.
This is a wonderful opportunity to join in the carol singing, remember the work of our brave and dedicated volunteer lifeboat crews and donate to support their continuing work in the offertory. 

Refreshments in the hall afterwards.

St James’s Parish Church, Fort Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, DD5 2AD


World AIDS Day 1 December 2012

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
In an email letter, Dr. Patricia Nkansah-Asamoah at the Tema Clinic in Ghana has written:

"I used to feel helpless when I told my patients in Ghana that they had HIV. There was very little we could do for them. We had no drugs for treating HIV. Many didn’t make it to the next week. It was a period of hopelessness and despair.
When we finally got access to medicine because of money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and other partners, I felt so empowered. I knew my patients would finally live to see the next day, and 10 years down the line most of them are still living. 
It’s time to make sure every mother, every child, every person gets a chance to see tomorrow.To mark World Aids Day today, please join me in signing ONE’s petition with just one click."

The petition reads:
Dear World Leaders,
Step up your fight against AIDS. Scale up your commitments to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and help make the beginning of the end of AIDS a reality by 2015.
Right now we are at a critical moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The world has made incredible progress in its efforts to understand, prevent and treat this disease. But we need to do more. If enough of us take action we can ensure we bring about the beginning of the end of AIDS.
Please sign the petition

"We have all the tools. Now we need the passion to fight for what’s right.
It starts with you.

Thank you,

Dr. Patricia Nkansah-Asamoah
Tema Clinic, Ghana and ONE member"

Two Constructive Meetings

On Friday morning, I attended two meetings which both had constructive outcomes. 

At 09:30, I attended the quarterly meeting of the Education Review Group in one of the Council's Committee Rooms off City Square. This group has a diverse and inclusive membership including Head Teachers, Parents/Carers and Pupils representing their their respective city wide Councils, Education Directorate, Trade Union Representatives and Councillors and is chaired by The Chief Executive, David Dorward. We explored a number of  current issues in our Schools, especially the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence. I can't write anymore about this as I am bound by a restriction on publicising the content of the meeting.

At 12 noon I caught up with a meeting at the Castle Green Leisure Centre in The Ferry which had started at 11:00. This was the first meeting of a group interested in being involved in planning a series of events to mark the centenary of Broughty Ferry becoming part of Dundee in October 1913. This meeting had been convened by Carole Jenkins our Communities Officer. This group identified a long list of possible activities which might be brought together into a year long programme. It sounds as though we might have a diverse range of activities to look forward to in 2013. The only restriction seems to be that we can't call this a celebration as opinion is apparently divided about the wisdom of the Ferry throwing in its lot with Dundee. Further information about this group from:


Selling Dreams: a century of image making - VandA Public Lecture Thursday 6 December 2012 at 6pm

On Thursday 6 December 2012, Susanna Brown will give a lecture called "Selling Dreams: A Century of Image Making" beginning at 7pm at the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee. Susanna is the Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London and has curated the exhibition of fashion photography which is currently on show at the McManus Galleries:

Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography

Free tickets available from: and
in person from Tower Building Reception at the University, or 
by calling 01382 385564 / 385108.

A free drinks reception will follow the event.

Citizenship Ceremony at City Council on Wednesday

On Wednesday afternoon, I was honoured to be invited to attend the citizenship ceremony of a friend and Broughty Ferry resident who was acquiring her British Citizenship.

The ceremony took place in the ornate setting of Committee Room One in the Council Offices in City Square. The ceremony was directed by a Registrar from the City Council who took the applicants through their oaths of allegiance and pledges to the United Kingdom (see below). Former Leader of the Council, Jill Shimi, was there in her new role as a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the City.  In her role as Her Majesty the Queen's representative, she welcomed the applicants and individually presented them with their certificates and a commemorative medal from Dundee City Council.

The ceremony was concluded with the National Anthem.

It was truly a suitable occasion for individuals, their families and friends, to properly mark the acquisition of British Citizenship.

The oath is - I, [name], [swear by Almighty God] [do solemnly and truly declare and affirm] that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.

The pledge is - I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.


10.5% Fall in University Applications from Scottish Applicants

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UCAS, the organisation responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK, has just reported their latest application figures for courses starting in Autumn 2013. 

Up to mid-November there were were 145,000 applications, compared with 158,000 at the same point in 2011 and 182,000 in 2010. That works out at 13,000 fewer applications in the UK, which is a fall of 8% compared with the same point last year and these are apparently the lowest figures for at least six years.

Many commentators had anticipated a reduction in applications to Universities from students living in England because of the introduction of much higher Tuition Fees with many Universities charging the maximum of £9000 per year. While this is the case, this doesn't explain why the reduction in applications in Scotland, where the Scottish Government pays the student's tuition fees, is larger than in England.

Percentage Fall in Applications to UCAS #
Scotland  - 10.5%
UK           -  8.0%

Behind these statistics there are clearly many individual applicants in Scotland who are holding back from applying to University. This is a disturbing trend. It means that there are other factors, most probably economic which are putting off well qualified potential applicants from taking the next step to improve their qualifications. This trend is also likely to reduce the demand for places at our two Universities in the City and might lead to empty places and a loss of income to the Universities.

I think the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell MSP needs to tell us what he is proposing to do to help reverse this trend?

# Note the final figures for University applications will be known after the main deadline on 15 January 2013.