27/04/2012

At Least One Voter Delighted to Receive my Letter about their Postal Ballot

My student daughter, Imogen Bidwell, has just emailed me this photo of her holding a letter from her Father and Labour Candidate about her postal vote in the local government elections next Thursday. 
I trust many more of the postal voters in The Ferry were pleased, if not so delighted, to receive their letters from me too.

26/04/2012

Royal Mail Blocks Customers Stocking Up on Postage Stamps Ahead of Massive Price Rises Next Monday

From next Monday the cost of sending a letter will dramatically increase by nearly 40 per cent. A first class stamp will go up from 46p to 60p and a second class stamp from 36p to 50p.
A constituent rang me today to complain she had apparently found it hard to buy a book of second class stamps this week. She had been told that there would not be any more books of second class stamps available at the Campfield Square and Gray Street Post Offices until next week when the price will of course be appreciably higher.
She was full of praise for the helpful Post Office staff in the Ferry; but they can't sell what Royal Mail will not supply.
This seems as though Royal Mail is deliberately holding back supplies of stamps at existing prices before they zoom up next week.
In ordinary circumstances, I am sure they would be quick to replenish vanishing stocks in Post Offices and other retailers that sell stamps.  
This steep level of increase is hardly likely to nudge us into sending more items through the letter post. I am therefore worried that the scale of the increases will hinder rather than help efforts to make our Royal Mail profitable. Unfortunately it seems that these increases will merely hit the pockets again of hard pressed families and local businesses.

25/04/2012

Eastern Primary School Parent Council Meeting Tuesday 24 April Beginning at 19:15

On Tuesday evening after my surgery at the Broughty Ferry Library, I attended the meeting of the the Eastern Primary School Parent Council. The new Head Teacher, Gillian Knox, attended her first parent council meeting after taking up her new role at the start of the Summer Term. She acknowledged the warm welcome she had received from pupils, parents and carers  and staff and looked forward to working closely with the Parent Council.
In the course of the meeting a number of issues were raised about child safety at the point children are dropped off at and picked up from school.  I was able to brief the parents about the work of the School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group.
There was also surprise that the use of the Games Hall as a polling station on Thursday 3 May would preclude the school from staying open open on that day. We were told that this was because the games hall could not be sealed off from the reminder of the school. This surprised me because I had assumed that the Games Hall could be locked off so that it could be used as a sports hub out of school hours while securely keeping these users out of the school and council offices. To be investigated!

24/04/2012

Litter Pickers Needed on Broughty Ferry Beach this Saturday Morning


Broughty Ferry in Bloom group have appealed for volunteers to join them for a litter pick on Broughty Ferry beach/esplanade this Saturday - 28 April - starting at 10.00am.  
Anyone interested in volunteering please meet at the car park opposite the toilets at Barnhill Rock Garden.

Council Meetings Monday Evening 23 April 2012

Last night at a series of Council Meetings I made the following contributions:


Education Committee 
Item 1 - Additional Funding to Support the Delivery of Two Hours of Physical Education Monday 23 April 2012
"Convener, I don't think that you will be surprised to know that I have mixed feelings about this report. While this report includes some projects that are to be welcomed, none will lead to the immediate replacement of the 6.9 qualified PE teachers that were withdrawn before the Easter break. For example, installing artificial grass sports pitches at ten more Primary Schools is a worthy improvement to facilities. Of course I welcome the pitches planned for Barnhill and Forthill Primary Schools in my ward.  But new pitches won't make any impact on the supply of qualified PE teachers (removed in the SNP's budget in February this year - Labour had an alternative plan to fund retaining these important posts) to coach the children during the school day on those pitches. And remember that the quality minimum standard your party set was for each pupil to receive 2 hours of quality PE with a qualified specialist teacher."


Social Work Committee
Item 3 3 Social Care (Self-Directed Support)
"Convener the Director of Social Work was quoted in the local press as saying that he was concerned that the budget for this change was insufficient given that the would be potentially high transitional costs for the Council as services users become service commissioners in their own right and as a consequence there may be times when the Council is under an obligation to continue to fund an existing service with lower levels of occupancy or take up.


If the transformation is quicker than anticipated the transitional costs might peak earlier conversely as the Director observes, they may take longer than three years. If the changeover takes longer than three years, can unspent money in the specific change funds (only available for three years) be carried forward?"


I was assured that unused funds to cover the transitional costs for the Council would be carried forward if they were unspent in any year hopefully protecting Council Tax payers from the effects of an overspend.


City Development Committee

Item 3 - Seafield Road Broughty Ferry One Way  Order 2012

"Convener can we be reassured when planning the timescale for the introduction of this one way order, consideration is given to doing so during the summer vacation so that residents are familiar with the new road layout before the start of the new school year in the middle of August?"


The Convener agreed that this should be taken into account.



Item 1 - Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets (CWSS) Projects Commencing 2012-13
I asked that in relation to paragraph 4.3.a on 
Lowered Kerbs/Footway Improvements, new lowered kerbs should avoid creating places where water collects in a pool creating a hazard for pedestrians to avoid rather than take advantage of. I also pointed out that some of the existing dropped kerbs in Broughty Ferry were in poor condition and should be repaired before new ones were created. I agreed to send in a list of those that needed repairs.

I was reassured that consideration in the design of new new dropped kerbs would avoid water pooling.

21/04/2012

School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group visit Forthill Primary School

On Thursday afternoon I visited Forthill Primary School with members of the School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group. This included officers from Tayside Police, council staff from Transportation, Education and Travel Active and Councillors like me.  
For about 25 minutes there was a lot of comings and goings including several hundred vehicle movements. There was also a significant number of parents and carers on foot rather than driving right up to the door in their cars. The potentially most dangerous manoeuvres I observed involved cars reversing close to where children were also crossing the school road.
While the issues associated with dropping off and collecting children at Forthill Primary School are well known to me, it was important that all the other members of  this group observe the potential dangers to children from the traffic congestion in the vicinity of the school at the end of the school day. It was I think significant that this was the first visit of the working group, which demonstrates the priority being given to systematically investigating and improving  arrangements for picking and and dropping off children at Forthill. The working group have four further visits to Primary Schools in other parts of Dundee next week before we move onto devising some solutions.
The School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group was set up by the Education Committee on Monday 27 February and the group is chaired by the Chief Executive. 

20/04/2012

Whinny Brae School Site More Difficult to Sell After Budget Changes to VAT

Unfortunately, the sale and the redevelopment of the former Eastern Primary School site looks more unlikely. This gloomy prediction comes about because of a proposal obscured in the small print of the budget from the UK coalition government in March. This proposal will add VAT at the standard rate of 20% to the cost of the conversion and renovation of listed buildings.  The former Eastern Primary School is a grade A listed building and as such its conversion and renovation would, in the past, have been zero rated for VAT. The former school was built in 1911, and its listed status means the exterior cannot be changed and only minor alterations would be permitted inside. Last year the Council produced a planning brief that envisaged the old school buildings being converted into housing. It was hoped to find a developer willing to redevelop the site without major changes to the existing school building; but no suitable bids have been received. 


This is very disappointing news. Its disappointing because adding VAT will make the cost of conversion more expensive and therefore in a time when the local housing market is flat, the sale and redevelopment of the school seems a more remote possibility. I know residents will be concerned that long delays may mean these empty buildings deteriorate and become a target for vandals. It's disappointing for the Council too because a substantial sum was anticipated from the sale of the site when the school moved out and this will affect other projects in the capital plan.
Unfortunately, this same VAT hike would make similar listed building conversions more expensive, which might tip the balance more in favour of demolition of listed buildings rather than conversion. In a place like Broughty Ferry that would make finding alternative uses for historic buildings such as redundant churches more difficult. 
This budget change, detailed in VAT Addressing borderline anomalies, is subject to a formal period of consultation closing on Friday 4 May. I was keen to ensure that the Council was going to respond to the government. I am relieved to learn from the City Development Department that the Council will be supporting joint responses from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and Historic Scotland about the negative effects of this proposal. 
But I am wondering whether this is enough to turn the tide of public opinion? Apart from encouraging churches and other custodians of listed buildings to make representations, I wonder whether we should emulate Pamela Greener, the wife of the Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, who posted her protest song on YouTube as her way of transmitting her message to George Osborne over his plans for VAT. She performed and recorded her message in the style of a musical hall style ditty in the midst of the building works at the Cathedral.
If that's what it takes, perhaps Mike Marra might oblige and write and perform a distinctly Dundonian message to send to the coalition government at Westminster?

19/04/2012

First Day at Magnificent new Ballumbie Primary School


I feel privileged to have to have joined parents carers, teachers and of course the pupils of Ballumbie Primary School on Wednesday morning to join the procession from their two former school sites to their brand new school building.

During my time as Education Convener (May 2007-April 2009), Labour brought forward plans for a Council funded programme of school building which comprised another six new schools. This included a replacement Primary School in Whitfield. It was therefore great to see what had started with a proposal described in a committee paper progress to this magnificent new school building on the new Lothian Crescent spine road.

I had three outstanding impressions from my morning visit, apart from the quality of the new facilities for the pupils and the community.
Firstly the very impressive level of support from parents and carers who had turned out to join their children in the processions from the former Newfields and Whitfield Primary School sites to the new school. This support was warmly acknowledged by the Head Teacher, Kim Flynn, in her formal welcome in the new school hall. 
Secondly, the careful thought and time that had gone into the process of merging the two schools and bringing them together on one site with the Community Nursery. Successful transitions like this don't just happen. 
Thirdly, a determination as a Councillor to continue our efforts to renew our school buildings in Dundee so that all our pupils can be in classrooms fit for the 21st century.

18/04/2012

Dundee Labour Offers Alternative Vision for Education in the City That Includes Bringing Back the Visiting Primary PE and Music Teachers


Despite receiving an extra £97,000 from the Scottish Government towards providing two hours of quality PE for all our primary and secondary school pupils, the Director of Education has announced that he will be recommending in the report to the Education Committee on Monday 23 April, that the Council should not re-employ the 6.9 PE specialists who worked in our Primary Schools. That team of qualified specialist visiting PE teachers, was axed by our SNP led Council as part of the Council budget for 2012/13. Those PE teachers, who worked in every Primary Schools in the City, took their last classes at the end of last term before the Easter break.

This is confusing news for parents carers and pupils. It's confusing news because additional money, if only £48,500 per year for two years, to be spent on PE developments in our schools is to be welcomed. But the mark of quality set by the SNP in their own manifesto for the Holyrood Elections was the provision of two hours of quality PE with a 
qualified specialist. While the report to the Education Committee includes some projects that are to be welcomed, none will lead to the immediate replacement of the 6.9 qualified PE teachers that were withdrawn. For example, installing artificial grass sports pitches at ten more Primary Schools is a worthy improvement to facilities but new pitches won't make any impact on the supply of qualified PE teachers to coach the children during the school day.

But it's not altogether surprising that the SNP led Council should be backing such a move because they went out of their way to reject Labour's alternative budget proposals on 9 February 2012 that would have secured the retention of the visiting teachers to our Primary Schools. Amongst our reasonable and costed proposals then was a reduction in the number of chauffeur driven civic cars from two to one. Dundee Labour Councillors were firmly of the view that it would be better to transfer expenditure like this to provide the specialist PE teachers in our Primary Schools and get our young pupils more fit and active.


While the Education Committee won't be in a position to re-employ the qualified PE teachers next week, the Education Convener won't have the last word this time.  It will be Dundee voters who can make the decision in the local government elections ten days later.

Labour in Dundee is launching it's manifesto proposals for Education in our schools and nurseries today. This can be read in full at http://www.dundeelabour.org.uk/2012manifesto/ . We believe our proposals will enhance the education of children and young people in our nursery, primary and secondary schools.

We are happy for voters to examine our proposals and make up their minds. What they will find is that we are proposing to halt the slide in teacher numbers in our schools and bring back the team of visiting specialist PE and Music teachers to support all of our Primary Schools. 

Let the voters decide!

17/04/2012

Open Day Success at Age Concern Broughty Ferry

This morning I attended the Open Day at the Age Concern Centre in Central Broughty Ferry at  343 Brook Street. I received a very warm welcome from Centre staff, committee members and volunteers. 
This was also a great opportunity to meet representatives from a variety of other public and voluntary organisations that provide services for older people in Dundee including The Ferry.  
It was a particular pleasure to meet the Chairperson of the Dundee branch of Contact the Elderly, Ferry resident and retired GP, Dr Shirley McEwan. She explained to me that she organises regular Sunday afternoon tea parties which are held in private homes for people over 75, who live with little or no social support. The afternoons are full of fun and laughter and make a real difference to the lives of their guests who are picked up and dropped off by volunteer drivers. 
What a simple yet wonderful service to provide!
Further details and local contacts can be had from:
Morna O'May
East of Scotland Development Officer Contact the Elderly in Scotland
telephone 01786 871264 email morna.omay@contact-the-elderly.org.uk

Entente Cordiale - Developing Election Twinning Links With Orléans


Next Sunday is the day when voters in France go to the polls in the first round of their Presidential Elections. The Scottish Labour Party in Dundee has taken the opportunity to link its website with site of the French Socialist Party in Orléans, to give interested Dundonians the opportunity to follow online the election on the ground in Dundee’s twin city in France.
The link on the Dundee Labour site is at :
The French Socialists have reciprocated with a link to the Dundee Labour site . This appears on the Orléans site as Liens (Links) Labour de Dundee http://orleans-socialiste.fr/

Since the link went live , there have been some 200 visitors to our linked Dundee page.
Twinning encourages a better understanding of the what we share in common with citizens abroad for the benefit of us all.
This Dundee- Orléans political twinning for the French election and Council Elections provides an opportunity to see how the issues and values that dominate politics here are also being contested in France.
I wonder how the turnout in our elections will compare? In the last Presidential election in France in 2007, the turn-out in the first round of voting was 84 per cent. This compares with 50 per cent in the 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament.

16/04/2012

Parkinson's UK Awareness Week and Coffee Morning in the YMCA

This week is Parkinson's Awareness Week throughout the UK. They invite us to support them to find a cure for this progressive neurological condition. One person in every 500 has Parkinson's; that's about 127,000 people in the UK. Most people who get Parkinson's are aged 50 or over but younger people can get it too. One in 20 is under the age of 40.
The Dundee and Angus Parkinson's Group held their annual Coffee Morning on Saturday in the YMCA in Broughty Ferry. As well as coffee and scones, there were stalls selling home baking and children's toys. I took advantage and stocked up on fruit cakes for the freezer!
The local group not only raises money and awareness of Parkinson's, it also acts as a support group. It meets at Meadowside St Paul's Church in Dundee on the last Tuesday of the month at 2pm.
More information from Branch Chair, Roy Paterson.
Tel 01382 522803 Email roypaterson1@virginmedia.com

14/04/2012

Gray Street Temporary Closure Begins Monday 16 April 2012 for Gas Connection Works



THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984
SECTION 14(1)

THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of gas connection works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in Gray Street (from Queen Street to Brook Street), Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Monday 16 April 2012 for 5 working days.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.

Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Queen Street/Claypotts Road/Westfield Road/King Street/Gray Street.

For further information contact (01382) 433168

Mike P Galloway
Director of City Development

13/04/2012

Could You Be a Mentor to an S3/4 Pupil?

The Education Department, in partnership with colleagues from the wider business community, operate a mentor programme within our secondary schools.
The key aims of the mentor programme are: - 
to build confidence and assist the pupil to discover their strengths, skills and talents;
- to broaden the pupil's aspirations and ambitions in life;
- to develop the pupil's life and employability skills and
- to help the pupil make a successful move into the next stage of education or employment.
Colleagues from the wider community have proven to be ideal mentors, as you bring fresh perspective, enthusiasm and a wide range of skills and experience, all of which support and encourage pupils to explore their own capabilities and aspirations.

Process
Our schools will identify pupils who are perhaps lacking in confidence or self-esteem, and have the potential to do well with the correct approaches and guidance.
Pupils, who would like to receive 1-2-1 mentoring, commence the programme at the start of S3 and continue into S4.
This means the commitment from both parties is across two years, excluding school holidays and examinations.
In total the Mentors and 'Mentees' meet for approximately 10 sessions each year on average once a month during a class period, which is approximately 55 minutes. 

The Council request that all Mentors are willing to undertake a full PVG Scheme (Disclosure Scotland) check, the cost of which is met by the Education Department.
Full training and ongoing support is provided to all mentors.

If you are interested in becoming involved, the Education Department would be delighted to hear from you.
For further information please contact:
Shona McKnight, Employer Engagement Officer
Dundee City Council Education Department

Predictions of Downgrading or Closure of Balmossie Fire Station Unwelcome


Campaigning with Firefighters to Save Balmossie
Fire Station in December 2009
Councillor Fairweather's statement on Monday predicting a bleak future for Balmossie Fire Station is most unwelcome here in Broughty Ferry.
It is not altogether surprising that an Angus Councillor representing a constituency in Arbroath should argue for the reallocation of resources to places in Angus. Conversely, it is understandable why Dundee based Councillors like me should have campaigned to retain the benefit of a full time Fire and Rescue Station in Balmossie that is effectively also a crucial part of maintaining public safety in greater Dundee.
It has long been recognised that Balmossie not only responds to fires and road accidents in its own area but also acts as a super sub frequently providing cover and back up when there are major incidents in Dundee and Carnoustie. It is a mystery to me why fire crews and their fire engines backing up at another station are not credited with this in the published statistics. This gives the public a misleading impression of station workload. In the case of Balmossie, in close proximity to Dundee, back up and cover is a significant part of their work as well as undertaking numerous fire safety visits.
Many thousands of residents in Broughty Ferry supported the retention of their fire station when its future was threatened in 2009 and 2010. I am sure they will have not changed their minds if their local fire and rescue service is threatened in the future when it is managed by the Single Fire and Rescue Service for Scotland. 
For my part, I am committed to campaign against any future proposal to downgrade or close our Fire Station in The Ferry.

12/04/2012

Discover Learning in the Community - But Not in Broughty Ferry

The latest newsletter from the Council's Adult Learning Team is called discover learning in the community but unfortunately there's not any Adult Learning in this newsletter to be discovered in Broughty Ferry. While every other electoral area in Dundee gets a mention and a sprinkling of classes, the Ferry has been left out.
This seems unfair on adults in Broughty Ferry who may also be interested in classes in local history, psychology, computing for beginners, a Jobshop and help your 
children learn which all run in other areas of Dundee.
While I appreciate that the same department does provide some financial support for the evening class programme run by Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association (BERA), the Discover Learning programme from the council is mainly daytime classes and it's here that there are some gaps in The Ferry.
I have written to the head of Community Learning in the City Council to ask whether this can be addressed for the next programme starting in the Autumn. Additionally, I think classes that are organised in The Ferry should be publicised in the Council's quarterly newsletter.

Scottish Labour Election Broadcast - Putting You First


Scottish Labour’s election broadcast for the local government elections aired last night on BBC1, BBC2 and STV. Called Putting You First, it focused on the issues that matter to local people across Scotland.

In case you missed it, here is your chance to view it. 
The film is narrated by actor David Tennant.

09/04/2012

Broughty Ferry Interest in Water Taxi Link to VandA


Interest in establishing a Tay link between the VandA and Broughty Ferry was raised at the 2011 AGM of Broughty Ferry Development Trust. So the potential water taxi link between Perth and the VandA in Dundee is not the only such proposal that should be considered. 
Roddy Isles from the VandA - Making It Happen Project Team was the external speaker at the Development Trust's AGM back in September. He stimulated a discussion with the thirty odd members present about the potential opportunities and benefits for Broughty Ferry from the VandA development. It was from this discussion that a number of propositions arose. 
I think the idea for river trips to and from the Broughty pilot pier and linking this with the VandA at its waterfront site was the most sparky idea to arise and definitely worth exploring. Several folk present mentioned their enjoyment from the summer season river cruises that had been run by a variety of operators over the years. The Taymara Trust currently run passenger carrying trips from the Broughty Ferry to Perth including their dolphin watching trips. I have contacted the Taymara Trust to see whether they are interested, and have the capacity, to develop such a service.
It's important that Broughty Ferry makes its case for developments that will mean that our local businesses and residents share in the benefits of having an international tourist attraction just a few miles away in Dundee. In my opinion, what better additional way to get folk to and from the centre of Broughty Ferry than to develop a river taxi along the Tay? 

07/04/2012

Running Costs Soar for Home Owners in Scotland


A recent study from the Bank of Scotland has found that the cost of owning and running a home in Scotland has risen to the highest level in a decade.


The study found that in in January 2012 the average annual amount spent on house costs was £8,523 and this represented a jump of 50% over the last ten years.


Average mortgage repayments have actually fallen by almost a quarter over the past four years, from £3,775 in January 2008 to £2,910 in January 2012. We must therefore look elsewhere for the causation of these worrying increases. In fact gas and electricity price increases accounted for 92% of the ten year doubling of home owners' costs.


Apparently, home owners' running costs have risen in all the UK regions over the past 12 months, with Scotland recording the third highest increase.


This is further evidence of why so many households are feeling the pinch as their living costs rise and the value of their income from work is reduced; all symptoms of folk surviving in the squeezed middle. 


The soaring cost of home energy highlights why Labour's commitment to develop ways in Dundee for the bulk buying of energy at a discount could make a significant difference.

05/04/2012

2400 Dundee Families Set to Lose Their Tax Credits from 6 April 2012

Click on table to enlarge
On 6th April, 2400 households in Dundee are set to lose their Tax Credits along with 82,000 others the length and breadth of Scotland.

Families with children will lose an average of £511 a year from changes to tax, benefits and tax credits being introduced from tomorrow (Friday), according to new figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. 

The analysis follows last month's Budget and is on top of tax rises already introduced, like last year's VAT rise which is costing a family with children an average of £450 per year.  

New government figures obtained by Scottish Labour also show that 84,670 Scottish families are set to lose all of their Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit from tomorrow; 2400 of them in Dundee.
  • Over 73,000 families on modest and middle incomes will lose all of their Child Tax Credit – worth around £545 per year.
  • And up to 11,000 working couples earning less than around £17,000 per year will lose all of their Working Tax Credit – worth up to £3,870 per year – if they cannot increase their working hours. 
Figures also uncovered by Labour reveal that, following tomorrow's changes to working tax credit, a couple with two children on the minimum wage will be better off quitting their jobs if they cannot work at least 19 hours per week.

The IFS figures also show that government policies mean pensioners will be an average of £316 a year worse off from April 2014 once cuts to their allowances announced in last month’s Budget – what has been dubbed the 'granny tax' – have kicked in. 

Councillor Laurie Bidwell, said:

"Life is tough for households and families, and from tomorrow it is going to get a whole lot tougher for 2400 of them in Dundee.

These cuts to benefits will put a further strain on 2400 households incomes in Dundee. The citizens affected will no doubt feel that they are swimming against the tide as they try to put food on the table and keep debts from mounting.

After the optimism of the Economic Summit in Dundee last week, we are being brought right back down to earth. The negative economic effect of these cuts to benefits will be felt in our shops and businesses and of course in the lives of the claimants living on reduced incomes.

I think this means that the services provided by our Welfare Rights agencies in the city will be even more in demand. I hope these agencies have the capacity to help the rising tide of people in our city living on lower incomes and trying to keep their debts from spiralling out of control. That is why I recently insisted that the Council undertake an analysis of the capacity of these agencies to cope.

It tells you everything you need to know about David Cameron and George Osborne that while millionaires are getting a tax cut, they are making life even harder for many low income households

Gone is the talk of 'we're all in this together'. This empty slogan has been exposed by the reality of the coalition's policies.

Scotland cannot afford to be stuck between a Tory government whose policies aren’t working, and an SNP government whose policies are making unemployment rise faster in Scotland than the rest of the UK."

Notes
Figures by constituency boundaries for Scotland can be found here, from p 26 onwards.
In addition, 11,350 families in Scotland will lose all their Working Tax Credit if they cannot increase their working hours to the new minimum of 24 hours per week. Figures by constituency, obtained by Cathy Jamieson MP, can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/deposits/depositedpapers/2012/DEP2012-0031.doc 

Flawed Independence Question will Skew Referendum Result


Click on image to enlarge

There is more bad news for Alex Salmond’s proposed question for the Referendum. The style of the question, which asks “Do you agree….?”, has already been branded by a BBC online Maths course for adults as “ a leading question”.


Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
“This is more bad news for Alex Salmond coming from the BBC, which is an independent broadcaster recognised world-wide for its impartiality."


“Alex Salmond’s proposed question on the Referendum is:
‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?'"



“However, the BBC Maths course for adults teaches that a question which begins ‘Do you agree’ is a leading question which it defines as ‘one that leads the person answering it towards a particular answer.’"


“Leading questions are intentionally worded to influence a person’s answer."


“The Referendum question needs to be a single direct question that is unbiased.”


Background
Scottish independence: Alex Salmond’s proposed question
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-16702392

04/04/2012

Broughty Ferry Community Council Meeting 3 April 2012

At the meeting of the Broughty Ferry Community Council, I provided the following Councillor's Report:
1) On Friday 30 March the Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison MSP, announced £5.8 million more cash for Councils. This was so that they might make faster progress towards meeting a target of a guaranteed weekly minimum of quality Physical Education (PE) for all primary and secondary school pupils. I am looking to see whether the visiting PE teachers posts in our Primary Schools can be restored using the new money.
2) I have been trying to get action on a committed frequency for street cleaning in Broughty Ferry as it's not clear what service standards should be expected.
3) Broughty Ferry traders have been examining the Portas Report on High Street Shopping. David Hewick (the Planning Secretary of the Community Council) may be interested in Mike Galloway's (Director of City Development Dundee City Council) observations on the report which was provided for the Traders' Group.
4) There has been no progress on concluding a sale of old Eastern Primary School site.
5) At Broughty Ferry station, I have received reassurance that the awkward slope from the Gray Street to the new platform entry is temporary and a more wheelchair accessible slope will be installed. I have written to Tactran pointing out the the new electronic passenger information screens have not yet been installed as previously committed.
6) At the Council's Licensing Committee last Thursday, the committee decided to retain the current position about not requiring a licence for free community and arts events. Following the local government elections, at the June meeting of the Committee there will be a suggested nine month period of consultation about any changes proposed about additional local events to which a license might be required. This should mean that events such as the Broughty Ferry Gala, and the Broughty Ferry Art Society Exhibition should not need to pay a license for their events.
Meetings of the Broughty Ferry Community Council are held in Broughty Ferry Library on the first Tuesday of every month beginning at 7pm. More about the Community Council at http://www.broughtyferrycommunitycouncil.org/

03/04/2012

Broughty Weather

Looking West over Grassy Beach this morning.
Click on image to enlarge.
Well the overnight snowfall in The Ferry may not last long underfoot and the snow may not remain until Good Friday but I think its safe to assume that it will be a chilly Easter weekend ahead. 
While we are used to changeable weather, this last few days takes the biscuit.
On Sunday (1st April) our family joined many folk on the beach at Lunan Bay enjoying the sun. My younger daughter, a veteran of the Broughty dook on New Year's Day, even took a short swim.
Two days later we have the central heating back on full blast. 
In retrospect the weather on Sunday was playing us a kind of April fool.

02/04/2012

Bring Back Visiting PE Teachers to our Primary Schools


On Friday the Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison MSP, announced £5.8 million more cash for Councils. This was so that they might make faster progress towards meeting a target of a guaranteed weekly minimum of quality Physical Education (PE) for all primary and secondary school pupils. This was an SNP election manifesto commitment made over five years ago at the May 2007 Holyrood elections. 
The bitter irony of Shona Robison's announcement will not be lost on our team of visiting PE teachers. Along with their colleagues in the Music team, they taught their last lessons in Dundee Primary schools on Friday. They were axed by our SNP led council as part of their latest round of cuts in Education in Dundee. 
The visiting teachers of PE worked in every primary school in Dundee using their specialist skills and qualifications to help provide the 'quality PE' which the government wants delivered. I know that in The Ferry our visiting PE Teacher not only contributed to the PE teaching in our three Primary Schools but also voluntarily took an after school club or activity in each of the primary schools she supported. For example, in Barnhill Primary School she took the Gymnastics after school club. 
Parents, carers and teachers will find it difficult to fathom why the same Scottish Government that cut the Council's block grant just a few months ago which led to a further reduction in teachers in our schools has so soon afterwards found another pot of money to spend. This is not the way to get best value from tax payers' money.
I have written to the Convener of Education and the Director of Education to request that the Council use these additional resources to restore the budget for the visiting teachers of PE. I have also applied to place this on the agenda of the next meeting of the Education Committee. 
Whatever the SNP decide in the next few weeks, Labour in Dundee commits, that if it returns to leading the Council after the May elections, it will put Dundee First by bringing back the visiting PE teachers into our Dundee schools.

01/04/2012

The Scottish Colourist FCB Cadell - Exhibition at the McManus Galleries Friday 6 April to Saturday 17 June 2012

The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum will be exhibiting 40 paintings by the Scottish Colourist FCB Cadell from this Friday.These works have been selected from the highly acclaimed exhibition in Edinburgh at the National Galleries of Scotland which opened last October.The exhibition features paintings that illustrate all of Cadell's major themes: he is renowned for his stylish portrayals of Edinburgh New Town interiors and the sophisticated society that occupied them; equally celebrated are his vibrantly coloured, daringly simplified still-lives of the 1920s, and his evocative landscapes of the island of Iona. Exhibition Dates Friday 6 April to Saturday 17 June 2012. Venue The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum
Admission Free