24/02/2012

Ferry Greengrocers Runners Up at Prestigious London Awards Ceremony

Clementine owners, Jan McTaggart and Carole Sommerville went to London this week to attend The Telegraph’s Best Small Shops in Britain Award Ceremony. Mary Queen of Shops, Mary Portas, presented them with their award as 2nd equal in the ‘Best in Food’ category.
The pair met up with other finalists and had an opportunity to talk to Mary Portas about Broughty Ferry’s thriving shopping centre, in the light of her recent Government report on the state of retail in Britain.
Clementine owners Jan McTaggart and Carole Sommerville were pleased with their achievement:
"We’re delighted that our wee local shop has received this national recognition. It’s great that all our hard work has paid off, but most of all we’re so proud that our customers took the time to vote for us.
Getting to talk to Mary Portas was an unexpected surprise. She seemed impressed by our description of Broughty Ferry’s thriving shopping centre and said that our ‘Soup in a Bag’ concept was fabulous."
Clementine’s customers voted for the shop in an online poll in October 2011, ensuring that the small, local greengrocer made it on to the shortlist in the Best in Food category.
I think it's great to see this national recognition for Jan and Carole's shop which has brought back a green grocers to Broughty Ferry with panache, creativity and retail flair.
Clementine of Broughty Ferry 103 Gray St, DD5 2DN
tel 01382 738 939
www.clementineofbroughtyferry.com
Opening hours Mon – Sat 9.30am to 5.30pm

22/02/2012

Next Meeting of The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership Thursday 23 February 2012

THE FERRY LOCAL COMMUNITY PLANNING PARTNERSHIP MEETING


THURSDAY 23rd FEBRUARY 2012 – 6.00 PM


GROVE ACADEMY, CLAYPOTTS ROAD, 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.             PRESENTATIONS:

·         THE FOOD TRAIN - Grant Simmons

·         TACKLING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN DUNDEE
Kathryn Sharp Co-ordinator VAW Partnership

·         LOCAL HOUSING STRATEGY
Robin Shields - Strategy Officer Quality and Performance Unit  

3.         PREVIOUS MINUTE AND MATTERS ARISING 

4.         COMMUNITY PLAN 2012-2015 UPDATE

5.         DEPARTMENT/AGENCY/ORGANISATION UPDATE

6.         COMMUNITY ISSUES RAISED BY MEMBERS OF PUBLIC

7.         DATE OF NEXT MEETING (Thursday 17th May Forthill Sheltered Housing Complex)
          

Carole Jenkins, Communities Officer The Ferry
Tel:  438594 (Tues, Wed only)

21/02/2012

Introduction of the New Secondary School Exams - Call for Clarity in Dundee


A poll by the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has revealed that 45% of secondary schools in Scotland are still allowing pupils to choose exam subjects at the end of second year.
The SSTA survey was reported in The Herald on Saturday 18 February.

The move runs counter to official guidance from the Scottish Government on the new Curriculum for Excellence which seeks to give pupils a broad-based education up until the end of S3.

It is only at that point pupils are supposed to choose which subjects they will sit under the new National 4 and National 5 exams – which replace Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education has previously spoken out on the issue after East Renfrewshire Council's decision to allow S2 pupils to choose subjects.

However, it is clear from the SSTA survey that such delays are far more widespread. 

The SSTA survey shows very clearly that, many schools are ignoring the Cabinet Secretary's advice and retaining subject choice in S2 rather than S3.

It is not clear from the reporting of the SSTA survey whether any of our nine Dundee Secondary Schools are part of the 45% of secondary schools taking their own decisions about moving towards the new examinations.

Members of the Education Committee has been kept in the dark about what is planned in Dundee by the Education Directorate. Under protest, I have received an assurance from the Director of Education that a detailed report on Curriculum for Excellence will be coming up at an early meeting of the Education Committee. I hope we will have an opportunity to postpone Dundee pupils taking the new examinations if there is any doubt that not to do so would disadvantage these pupils who would otherwise act as guinea pigs for the new examinations.

One anxiety often reported to me by parents with children in S2 is that their children will be restricted to taking six subjects in the new National 4 and National 5 examinations examined at the end of S4. This is a 25% reduction from the current eight subjects at standard grade. The new curriculum for excellence is meant to broaden the education of pupils, but this restriction on courses in S4 appears to prematurely and abruptly close off career and educational options for senior pupils. It is disappointing if all the upheaval of a new curriculum and new examinations is leading to a backward step rather than some tangible improvements.

I think the case for delaying the transition to the new exams gets stronger by the day.

Dundee pupils, parents and teachers deserve better.

20/02/2012

Broughty Station Improvements - New Access to Down Platform Open

The new access to the 'down' Platform (for trains to Dundee) at Broughty Ferry Station was opened recently. This replaces the previous historic access, which will now form part of the restaurant premises under conversion adjacent to the station platform.


While this development is welcomed, I hope the link between the pavement on the roadside and the new pathway to the platform will be improved. The new tarmac infill (see picture) and the differences in levels are a bit like a hole on a crazy golf course. I hope this is a temporary job and a more elegant design solution will be engineered. This should meet the new access standards for people with mobility difficulties as well as look more pleasing.

I have written to the City Engineer to demand a better solution to the connection between the pavement (City Council's responsibility) and the Platform (Scotrail's responsibility).

19/02/2012

It's your vote, don't lose it!


You must be registered if you intend to vote in May's Local Government elections in Dundee. REGISTER NOW! Check the Register and obtain details of how to ensure your name is included.
Find Out More Here...

18/02/2012

How far will you go for Fairtrade in 2012?

Fairtrade Fortnight runs from 27 February - 11 March. 2012 is the year that they are asking everyone to Take a Step for Fairtrade! It can be a simple step, like swapping your tea to Fairtrade, or a bigger step, like asking everyone in your office to do it too. You’ll be joining thousands of others all over the UK when you take a step for Fairtrade. Make it as inventive, daring, funny or messy as you like.
Every step counts for millions of farmers, workers and their communities in developing countries who urgently need a better deal from trade. 

Watch the Step This Way Campaign Video


Visit Fairtrade's website to register your step for 2012.

Attend the Fairtrade Talk in Dundee and hear Guest Speaker Masauko Khembo of Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited in Malawi. Wednesday 29 February 7-9pm at the McManus Galleries No entry fee. Fairtrade wine, juice and nibbles will be served.


16/02/2012

Scottish Government and Dundee City Council Out of Step on Exercise


On Monday 13 February the Scottish Government launched the the Take Life On initiative to promote the benefits of children participating in 60 minutes of exercise each day.


The most recent Scottish Health Survey found that only seven out of ten children meet the minimum physical activity recommendations.

Dr Andrew Murray, the Scottish Government’s Physical Activity Champion said:

“As a day to day GP, I know that Take Life On is a fantastic investment in Scotland’s health. Getting your children active and keeping them active has huge and lasting benefits and can be great fun.
“Being physically active improves achievement and concentration at school, and also prevents heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer in later life. It is the single best present you can give your children. Just 60 minutes of physical activity per day will help your children become healthier, happier adults. I’d urge everybody to take life on today.”


Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, said:
“One of the most fundamental health challenges facing our nation is convincing young people to spend more time taking part in physical activity. The Scottish Health Survey shows more needs to be done to increase the number of children getting enough exercise."


“This year’s Take Life On campaign highlights to parents simple changes they can make to their children’s life to get them increasingly active and reduce the likelihood of illness later in life.
“But we recognise there is more we as a Government can do. That’s why we are investing in opportunities for young people to become more physically active in and around Scotland’s schools, such as the Active Schools Network, the delivery of 150 Community Sport Hubs across all local authorities by 2016, and action to help people make healthy life choices." 


While the package of measures announced is welcomed and the campaign is laudable, it was a pity that Shona Robison was not talking to her SNP colleagues running the City Council. On Thursday 9 February they bulldozed through their budget savings that will come into effect in April. They insisted on cutting the team of visiting PE teachers that currently work in each one of our Primary Schools. These teachers, with specialist qualifications, will be sorely missed.   It's surprising that the SNP group on the city council insisted on going through with this cut to the Primary PE teachers as Labour offered them a carefully costed alternative budget that found other savings to keep these teachers in the gym hall. This required economies that are in some cases overdue such as reducing the number of chauffeur driven civic cars from two to one.


Apparently, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Another short term cut with the potential to do long term damage to the education and health of our children. 


10/02/2012

Statement Supporting Labour's Amendment to the Council's Revenue Budget 2012/2023 - More Nats Fewer Teachers

Statement by Councillor Laurie Bidwell supporting Labour's Amendment to the Council's Revenue Budget 2012/2023 at the Budget Meeting on Thursday 9 February 2012


Convener, I wish to speak to support our Revenue Budget Amendment.

As Labour’s Education spokesperson, I want to focus on the impact of your SNP Administration’s proposals for further cuts in the number of teachers in our Primary Schools.

The visiting teachers of Music and PE enrich the teaching and learning of Music and PE in our Primary Schools so this is a universal service for every child in every primary school in Dundee. These teachers use their specialist skills and specialist qualifications to enhance the learning of these two important subjects. I know in my own area that the visiting PE Teacher not only contributes to the PE teaching in our three Primary Schools but also voluntarily takes an after school club or activity in each of the primary schools she supports. For example, in Barnhill Primary School she takes the Gymnastics Club. Now you can’t tell me that this is something that will be taken on by a class teacher with no specialist training or qualifications. This is particularly sad because the Council is converting the McTaggart Sports Centre in Old Glamis Road into a national centre for Gymnastics. It’s a pity we won’t be encouraging many gymnasts in our Primary Schools to get started on a route towards outstanding achievement in gymnastics.  In relation to Music at another Primary School Parent Council meeting in the last fortnight, there was an appeal for volunteers to play the piano for the school show.The school's current pianist is their visiting music specialist who works at rehearsals and performances undertaking a variety of roles including pianist and the singing coach.

Talking of Excellence, two of the eight curriculum areas for the Curriculum for Excellence are:
  • Health and Wellbeing and
  • Expressive Arts
Related to the first is the national standard of two hours of quality PE for each pupil each week. You have to ask whether this cut will enhance the quality of PE in our primary schools? In relation to Music, if we want our primary children to appreciate music and aspire to playing more than air guitar, we should not be making this cut.

These targets and aspirations are empty promises if the resources are not available to support them in our schools.

Now if I turn to our budget measures to keep these teachers in our Primary Schools, they are measured and affordable. I will focus on the two chauffeur driven Civic Cars and our proposals to reduce these from two to one. Now at the outset we want to make it clear that we respect the Civic Offices of Lord Provost and Depute Lord Provost, that is why we have proposed to retain one Civic Car. But I think every family and household  in Dundee has been making decisions to cut down on their journeys because their household budgets are being squeezed. It’s amazing to me that for the second year running we have suggested that we should reduce the number of civic chauffeur driven cars in the city from two to one and you Convener and all your SNP councillor colleagues resist this. I think the Dundee public will expect us to use buses, cars, taxis, bikes and shanks’s pony like them.  Walking and cycling would also be good for our fitness and help reduce carbon emissions in our city. Will the Councillors who need to be chauffeur drive round the city please stand up now and be counted? Surely this is less important than our Primary school children and their visiting specialists teachers?

You can’t be proud of the fact that you have reduced the number of teachers in Dundee by 99 in the last year and this budget proposal will lead to a further reduction.

Even at this stage. I urge you and your SNP colleagues to change your mind and support our amendment and thereby protect the health and wellbeing and expressive arts teaching and learning of our Primary School Children in every one of our Primary Schools.

09/02/2012

Statement by Councillor Laurie Bidwell moving the Labour Amendment to the Capital Plan 2012/16


Statement by Councillor Laurie Bidwell moving Labour's Amendment to the Council's Capital Plan 2012/2016 at the Budget Meeting on Thursday 9 February 2012

I wish to move our amendment to the Capital Plan.

Make no mistake we support the planned investment in two new Primary Schools, in Menzieshill and Coldside, and £1 million for the extension of Barnhill Primary School and a fund of £1.75 million for the refurbishment of seven primary schools; about £250,000 per school. What we propose is more investment in our schools.

We justify our amendment for the following reasons. Firstly, if we look at the underlying trend in capital spending, investment in refurbishing and building new schools is reduced over the period of this plan. This must be disappointing news for electors who believed SNP Councillors who promised to match Labour's school building programme brick for brick. 

Secondly the budget for refurbishment and extensions and is too small. Most significant is the absence of spending earmarked for our four older secondary schools. Baldragon Academy opened over fifty years ago as Kirkton High School in 1960 and Craigie High School, Menzieshill High School and Braeview Academy all built forty years ago in the early 1970's. Speaking recently to the Press, the Leader of the Administration, Councillor Ken Guild, referred to Our Ladies RC Primary School and Rosebank Primary School in the Hilltown as past their sell by date. If that is true, and I agree with his judgement, that makes our older Secondary Schools deserving of refurbishment funding too. We have therefore re-profiled the capital spend so that there is an additionally £1.4 million as a fund to be allocated to priority refurbishment and building projects in secondary and primary schools with priorities decided at the Education Committee.

I think pupils and teachers studying and teaching in our four older Secondary Schools will wonder why they have been abandoned for the next five years and don't even manage an entry in the Later Years column of the plan. There is a gulf between our shiny new two PPP secondary schools St Paul's RC Academy and Grove Academy, the rebuilt Morgan Academy, the substantially refurbished St John's RC High School the eventually to be rebuilt Harris Academy and the remaining four older secondary schools. No other political group on the Council has identified this issue. We think the provision of this fund boosted by the additional cash coming for Education of the Scottish government's budget yesterday will provide some pockets of hope to schools left off the list by the Administration's Capital Plan.

Our re-profiling of the capital plan delays by a year the spending on New or Refurbished Centralised offices and other facilities for the new Environment Department. Having received a briefing about this from the Director of Environmental Services, a one year delay will allow more time to rethink the rationale for this development and the appearance of more robust options and plans to be brought forward for committee approval. We can't prioritise spending on Council Offices on the basis of back of the envelope plans at the expense of cheese paring investment in our older schools.

So the choice is clear today, go with this plan and cut out spending on any of our older schools such as the four older Secondary schools.  If you vote against this, I think voters in the catchment areas of our older schools will wonder why you blundered today. 

Support our amendment and prioritise more investment in school building instead of more new staff offices.

I so move.

08/02/2012

Curriculum for Excellence in Dundee - Urgent Local and National Changes Required


Now that the 33 period week has been abandoned in Dundee, parents and carers and members of the Education Committee need to know how our nine secondary schools will progress the new S3 which will run for the first time from August 2012. We also need to know how the senior phase, S4-S6, will be structured. The first students undertaking the new S4 on Curriculum for Excellence will begin their studies in August 2013. This year of study will lead up to the examinations, National 4 and 5, in May 2013. 

Although the new S4  was not strictly part of the consultation about the 33 period week, it was inquired about by parents at both of the consultation events I attended at Grove Academy and Morgan Academy. The biggest bone of contention is the narrowed number of subjects that each pupil will apparently be able take in S4. Pupils will only be able to take a maximum of six subjects at National 4 or 5, the new exams, compared with a maximum of eight subjects at Standard Grade, which are being phased out.  While a model of the the new 'senior phase' (S3-S6) has been sent to the Head Teachers in our nine secondary schools, there has not been a cheep to the Education Committee. This should be remedied at the next Education Committee. I have written to the Council requesting that this is added to the agenda of the next meeting of the Education Committee.

This narrowing of subject choice in S4 seems at odds with the stated aspirations of the Curriculum for Excellence which was supposed to provide a more comprehensive broad general education. It seems we may have had all this upheaval to make S3 a general year with a wider number of subjects while postponing exams until S4 when there would be 25% fewer subject choices.

But not all these issues can be fixed on the spot in Dundee; some need attention at the national level by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell. 

For example, the slow pace of details being released by the Scottish Qualifications Authority about the new National Four and Five examinations is reducing the long term planning time in secondary schools. This could be remedied by a one year postponement of implementing the introduction of the new examinations and continuing with Standard Grades for another year. In similar circumstances in England, the government have been prepared to allow twelve months more for preparing for an important educational change. Last week we learned that in East Renfrewshire, a Labour/SNP led council has decided to postpone putting its pupils in for the new exams by one year.
  
If we don't take this decision to postpone in the next few weeks, timetables will be written for next year and we will be saddled with a change that is being rushed in without the confidence of teachers, parents and carers that this is neither the right change nor the right timescale for the new exams.

If I met Michael Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, these are the four key questions I should want to ask him about making a success of the Curriculum for Excellence in Dundee schools:
  • Why, while advocating a broader general education via curriculum for excellence, is choice actually going to be decreased by a quarter in S4? What has he got to say to the parents who have already complained about the effects of this reduced number of choices in S4 on the options for their child in meeting entrance requirements for some University courses?
  • Why has the Cabinet Secretary gone out of his way to antagonise teachers by cutting their conditions of work and their pensions at a time when he needs their undivided professional attention to make a success of implementing the Curriculum for Excellence and the new examinations?
  • Why has be allowed the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to get so far behind providing the documentation for schools and teachers so that they can adequately prepare themselves and their senior pupils for the new exams to be sat for the first time in May 2014? Many parent are worried that their children are the unfortunate guinea pigs for all these changes.
  • Many secondary teachers feel they are under prepared and the changes in the Senior Phase (S4-S6) of Secondary Schools are being rushed. Many parents have reservations too. Will he now provide another year of preparation time for the new examinations and review the limits on subject choices in S3/4?

06/02/2012

HM Queen Elizabeth 60th Anniversary of her Accession to the Throne


First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne.


The First Minister said:
"I congratulate Her Majesty on the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne, during which she has served her country with the utmost grace and distinction. 
Her dedication and commitment has inspired countless people across the country and around the world. And of course, Her Majesty’s affection for Scotland is reciprocated by Scots of all generations. I am looking forward to the official celebrations of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in June. The Scottish Government is working closely with Lord Lieutenants across Scotland in relation to the many events which are being organised by communities to celebrate this wonderful occasion.”
I agree with Alex.
Her Majesty the Queen came to the throne on February 6, 1952 and her Coronation took place on June 2, 1953. The main Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking 60 years of HM the Queen's reign will take place will centre around an extended weekend from June 2 to June 5 2012. Communities across Scotland will take part in the Big Jubilee Lunch and beacons will be lit across Scotland as part of the 2,012 beacons being lit across the UK.  Beacons will be lit at Balmoral Castle, The Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle amongst other venues.

05/02/2012

Safer Internet Day 2012 and Internet Safety Competition


Tuesday 7 February, is Safer Internet Day in the UK. Safer Internet Day 2012 is celebrated worldwide and this year is an opportunity to encourage users young and old to "discover the digital world together safely".


An inspirational array of activity is taking place nationwide, coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre (www.saferinternet.org.uk), with all activities focusing attention on empowering all generations to safely benefit from the opportunities that the internet offers.


To coincide with Safer Internet Day 2012 the Scottish Government is running an Internet Safety competition for children at school. parents and adults.
Please click on the link below for:


04/02/2012

Should we Delay the Introduction of the New National Exams in Dundee Secondary Schools?

Now that the 33 period week has been abandoned in Dundee, parents and carers and members of the Education Committee need to know how our nine secondary schools are planning the new S3, which will run for the first time from August 2012. We also need to know how the senior phase, S4-S6, will be structured. The first students undertaking the new S4 on Curriculum for Excellence will begin their studies in August 2013. This year of study will lead up to the examinations, National 4 and 5, in May 2014.
Earlier this week, East Refrewshire Council announced that they had decided to delay by a year putting their secondary pupils in for the new National 4 and 5 Examinations. Current S2 pupils in Dundee will be amongst the first to sit these in June 2014. Teachers' leaders have also voiced concerns that many secondary teachers do not feel adequately prepared for the next phase of implementing the Curriculum for Excellence. This is not a vote of confidence in the Scottish Government’s plans for the Curriculum for Excellence which frankly seem to be unravelling.
In Dundee we need to know whether the Education Convener, Liz Fordyce has a Plan B for our secondary schools? More specifically, will she give an absolute guarantee that the resources are in place and that teachers in all our nine secondary schools will be ready for the next phase of the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence and preparing their pupils for the new examinations? If not, will she stand by her pupils and give their teachers an additional year to prepare for the new examinations while continuing with Standard Grades? This would allow one more year of preparation for our secondary teachers. 
While I appreciate that she is standing down as a Councillor in May, I hope, for the sake of the pupils involved, she is looking further ahead. It's not Liz Fordyce's education which is at risk, nor mine. We can’t afford to gamble with the education of our children.

03/02/2012

Scottish Snowdrop Festival, 4 February to 18 March 2012


Refresh your senses at a surprising variety of locations during the Scottish Snowdrop Festival, 4 Feb to 18 Mar 2012.
Taking place at over 50 gardens across Scotland’s mainland, the festival is a great chance to get out in the fresh air and explore your local area, visit gardens and parks - some of which are open especially for the festival - and enjoy around 300 types of this delicate white flower which appears to defeat the cold winter by bursting into life each year.
The closest location to Dundee to see the snowdrops is at
It features a semi-wild pond garden and 1 mile woodland walk in a secluded dell along a burn.
Picnic table. Do-it-yourself tearoom.
Open 4 February - 18 March, 10am - 5pm (entry £4)
Address: Gagie House, Duntrune, Dundee, DD4 0PR
Telephone: 01382 380 207

02/02/2012

Council Contractors Repair Damage to Fort Street Bridge Panels and Hole in the Sea Wall


Just before Christmas I noticed that some of the panels on the parapet of the Fort Street bridge had been damaged. Unfortunately, the shape of the holes suggested that the panels had been kicked in. I alerted the Council about this. I was therefore delighted to see that work people were on the bridge on Thursday replacing the broken panels and then repainting the side of the bridge.

It was also good to see that work had also been been completed last week on the repairs to the sea wall between Douglas Terrace and the Broughty Lifeboat shed. Just after new year, I had noticed a significant breach in the sea wall while out on a walk to the paper shop to buy my copy of the the Evening Telegraph and so I contacted the City Engineer.

Congratulations are due to the Council for acting promptly to inspect both the bridge and the sea wall and then instructing contractors to carry out repairs promptly. 

While no one can begrudge having to pay for repairing the sea wall and protecting the road and homes close to the beach, it is regrettable that we are having to use council tax to repair public property like the bridge panels that were damaged by mindless acts of vandalism.

01/02/2012

Labour's Alternative Budget Proposals for Dundee

Yesterday afternoon the Labour Group met to develop our alternative proposals to the Council's revenue and capital budgets.


We are particularly unhappy about the SNP's proposed cuts to the visiting PE and Music teachers who help to enrich the curriculum in our primary schools. We think this is an especially short sighted saving. Right now we should trying to encourage our young people to be more actively involved in sports and leisure activities including music making. This should be happening in all our primary schools.

We have also been examining the Capital Budget 2012/16 and identifying scope for investing more money on refurbishing our older schools. We have been interested in the case for investment in Blackness Primary School being raised in the Courier earlier this week. We think there are other schools in the city that need to be upgraded as well as Blackness. It's important that we avoid having a two tier set of school buildings with unacceptable differences between all the new Primary and Secondary schools Labour commissioned and the existing schools that are not currently being considered for replacement.


We will bring forward proposals next week that will improve this budget for the people of Dundee.