Centenary of Opening of Eastern Primary School

The former building of
Eastern Primary School on Whinny Brae
Eastern Primary School has been in the news recently. 

On Monday 19 August 2013, the Council's City Development Committee approved the sale of the Whinny Brae school buildings and site to a developer (identity not yet disclosed) for conversion into housing. 

In August 2011 it moved from it's original building on Whinny Brae to its new location at the refurbished former Grove Academy buildings on Camperdown Street. The formal opening of the 'new' building took place in March 2012

But a hundred years ago today, on Saturday 29 August 1913, Broughty Ferry School Board, arranged the 'Formal Opening of Eastern School' by George Andrew, Esq, from her Majesty's
Programme and admission card for the opening of Eastern Primary School on Saturday 30 August 1913
Click on image to enlarge
Inspectors of Schools.  According to the programme, the opening ceremony includedp, speeches, musical recitals of works by Chopin and Elgar and an elaborate vote of thanks by five separate individuals, led by Provost Lindsay from the Broughty Ferry Burgh Council.

  I notice that the School opened to pupils on Monday 1st September immediately after the opening on the Saturday. According to the first entry in School's log book, 'Work was started with an enrolment of 834 children and a staff of Robert Cameron, Headmaster' and twenty other teachers and instructors who were all listed by name. Excluding the Headmaster and three specialist teachers, some of the infant classes must have been huge by today's standards with as many as 50 pupils.

Undated Postcard of the New School, Broughty Ferry
Click on image to enlarge
Perhaps the anticipated end of the Broughty Ferry Burgh Council in November 1913 may have encouraged the School Board to bring forward their opening ceremony, rather than wait a few months until the school was in session and comfortably settled in. 

On Monday 8 September, a week after the opening day for pupils, the Headmaster wrote in the logbook, 'The organisation is gradually coming into shape.'  His next entry on 15 September records that, 'Mrs Kidd (the Domestic Science Teacher) is absent to-day with a sore foot.'

On 7 October , the Headmaster records, 'The Autumn Holiday was observed yesterday'. We may infer from these log book entries that in 1913 the Autumn term started in early September and the Autumn holiday was a single day rather than a fortnight.

Eastern Primary School LogWhile the pattern of holidays, the pupil teacher ratio and the body responsible for organising schooling has changed over the last hundred years, interestingly one constant is the office of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools which still has a vital role in the external quality assurance of our schools.

To find out more about life at Eastern Primary School in 2013, visit their website:  Eastern Primary School


Eastern Primary School Parent Council AGM

On Tuesday evening, the Annual General Meeting of Eastern Primary School took place in the staff room of the school. A group of well motivated and interested parents and carers with children across the school gathered to find out more about the potential work of the Parent Council and to join in where they could.

Claire Leslie was elected as Chairperson. Claire replaced Elaine Smith, the Chairperson for the last two years, who was no longer eligible to remain a member of the Parent Council as her son had moved up to Grove. After a discussion about the responsibilities of the Vice Chairperson, Secretary, Minutes Secretary and Treasurer, volunteers were forthcoming.

In her report, Head Teacher, Gillian Knox confirmed that all the new Primary One children were settling in well and the school was full staffed. She also reported on a number of organisational changes such as the relocation of the resource base and staff room to more central locations within the school thereby freeing up more space for alternative school uses. She also responded to a number of questions from new parents about school photographs, Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) assessments, science in the curriculum, and the potential for developing a school exchange.

The Parent Council also agreed to develop a link with Broughty Ferry in Bloom.


Commenting on Audit Scotland Report on Colleges of Further Education

Short term cuts in further education, long term damage.
The report, from Audit Scotland on Further Education Colleges, reveals the damaging effects of the SNP’s swingeing cuts in the budgets of our local Colleges. In fact, the Colleges of Further Education have been on the receiving end of particularly harsh and unrelenting cuts, year after year. There are now fewer adults going to college, more folk on waiting lists, reduced numbers of teaching staff and a decimation of part-time courses.

Audit Scotland have confirmed that the reorganisation of this sector through forced college mergers' and budget cuts; has come at the expense of at least 1200 jobs. It’s a reorganisation built on cuts in lecturers; no wonder staff morale in this sector is low. 

Because of SNP choices, 48,000 fewer people are walking through the doors of our colleges. What’s more, part-time places have been slashed, dropping by 40%. These are not just staggering numbers, they subsume countless lost opportunities for many aspiring individuals who have found their way ahead blocked. If you been made redundant or want to go back to work after raising your family, there is now a more limited range and fewer number of places for second chances to learn in order to earn. 

It seems the Scottish Government just don't get it; that is understanding the link between investing in learning and growing our economy. Nor do they seem to appreciate the link between informal adult learning and award bearing vocational courses.  Ideally the informal community learning provision works as the vehicle for boosting confidence and re-engaging the adult learner. With growing confidence, these learners then need the articulated vocational courses to be running in their  local college.

The SNP need to show more leadership here and support colleges to deliver high quality vocational qualifications with articulated links with the informal as part of a long-term integrated employment strategy.

Bob Servant Returns for a Christmas Special 13 December 2013

Bob Servant
Gardyne Theatre presents - Bob Servant Returns
Friday 13th December 2013 @ 7.30pm Gardyne Theatre
A special one-off homecoming show celebrating the world of local hero Bob Servant. Jonathan Watson (Bob Servant Independent’s Frank) and special guest will be bringing to life the unique world of the Bob Servant Emails.
Followed by a live Q and A with Bob Servant creator Neil Forsyth and Jonathan Watson.

There will also be a book and DVD signing after the event.
Tickets Full Price £10 Concession £8


Temporary Traffic Restrictions in Gray Street from 23 Sept 2013

Road Ahead Closed

Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating carriageway resurfacing works. The Order is expected to be in force for six weeks from 23 September 2013. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all northbound vehicular traffic in Gray Street, Broughty Ferry from King Street to Brook Street.
Pedestrians will be diverted to the east footway. No parking will be available on the west side of Gray Street for the duration of the works.
An alternative route will be available via King Street, St Vincent Street and Brook Street.
Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to Mark Cobb, Network Management Team, City Development Department, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee DD1 1LS, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date. If you have any queries please contact Mr Cobb on 01382 433082.


Rusted Sign Post on Grassy Beach Needs Replacement

Costal pathway at Grassy Beach, BroughtyFerry
Out dog walking last week, I spotted this sign post on Grassy Beach beside the coastal pathway. 

The post carries a road safety notice warning cyclists and pedestrians that they are sharing the same route and urging 'Cyclists Show Respect (for) Other Users'. It also carries a dog poo bin. 

As you can see from the two pictures, the post, for these signs and the bin, is badly corroded and needs replacement.

As the post carries items for the Transportation and the Environment Departments, this may need some collaborative interdepartmental working to get it replaced.

Corroded sign post at Grassy Beach in Broughty Ferry
I have written to both departments and the Roads Maintenance Partnership and asked them to arrange for a replacement. In the meanwhile, I recommend you don't walk too close to this pole.


Evening Class Enrolment Night Monday 26 August 2013 at Grove Academy Beginning at 6:30pm

Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association Logo
If you want to sign up for an evening class in The Ferry this autumn, you need to get along to the enrolment night on Monday evening 26 August 2013 at Grove Academy starting at 6:30pm.

A printed list of the programme of classes organised by Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association (BERA) can be obtained from a number of outlets in Broughty Ferry including the Library. In addition, the programme is available online to read or download.

All classes run from week beginning Monday 9 September.

Potential adult students can also book their place in a class by sending off a postal application.

Link to BERA website    Find them on Facebook


Public Support for Improved Control of Sea Gulls

Earlier today, I was campaigning in the City Square, with Jim McGovern MP, Councillor Richard McCready, Jenny Marra MSP and Councillor Norma McGovern. We were inviting members of the public to sign a petition calling for improved control by Dundee City Council over the seagull population.

We found many folk who felt strongly about this issue and were keen to sign the petition.

Baldovie and Riverside Recycling Centres Back to Normal on Monday

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle Logo
On Monday morning 26 August 2013, Baldovie and Riverside Recycling Centres will be 'back to normal' accepting all kinds of waste for recycling. This follows a climb down by the SNP administration of the City Council who eventually bowed to public pressure on Monday past and reversed an unpopular and impractical decision.

In February the SNP administration reorganised the three major recycling centres at Riverside, Marchbanks and Baldovie as part of their budget cuts. Marchbanks was closed completely and garden waste was only to be accepted at the Riverside recycling depot and general waste was only to be accepted at Baldovie. This meant that many householders in The Ferry found they had a much longer drive to a recycling depot involving a cross city drive to Riverside Drive if dumping garden waste. Worse still was the prospect of having very lengthy round trips to deposit say garden waste at Riverside and then certain items of general waste at Baldovie. For householders this was an expensive and inconvenient decision and to be construed as "green", as the Council claimed, stretched credibility.

I was pleased to support the proposed change of heart on Monday night. I know many residents in Broughty Ferry will be relieved they can revert to depositing all their recycling, including garden waste, at Baldovie.

But what is convenient for constituents in The Ferry and folk in the West End does not address the issue of the complete closure of the Marchbanks Recycling Centre for those that live closer to that site. I am pleased that, after further pressure from opposition Councillors, a review of this decision is also to be undertaken.


Broughty Ferry Restaurants and Cafes Winning Awards and Accolades

Ten of our restaurants and cafes in Broughty Ferry have been awarded the prestigious TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2013.

Now in its third year, the award celebrates hospitality excellence and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor. Winners of the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website, with only the top 10 percent receiving the prestigious award.based on assessments by customers that are posted on the TripAdvisor website. 

The TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2013 winners in Broughty Ferry are listed below with links to their TripAdvisor reviews:
The Bell Tree, Bombay Joe's, Bruach, Goa Restaurant, Gracie's Tapas Bar, Indos, Jessie's Kitchen, The Ship Inn and Waterfront Restaurant, The Tapas Bar and Visocchi's Cafe

Last week, the Evening Telegraph reported the results of inspections undertaken by the Food Standards Agency throughout Dundee. Their inspections revealed that  food hygiene standards in Dundee were highest in the DD5 postal zone. This was measured by Ferry eateries having the fewest improvements to carry out to meet the standards.

I want to congratulate the proprietors and staff of restaurants, cafes and takeaway establishments in The Ferry who have won these awards and have meet the exacting food standards.


Grove Senior Pupil Becomes Member of the Education Committee for 2013-14

At the Education Committee on Monday night, Lorna Allan, a senior pupil at Grove Academy joined the Committee for the first time. Lorna was nominated by the City Wide Pupil Representative Council to be to be the pupil member of the Education Committee for Session 2013/2014. 

Lorna is the second pupil representative on the Education Committee following a decision of the City Council held on 20th August, 2012 where it was agreed to seek nominations for parent and pupil representatives to join the Education Committee.

As the Pupil representative for 2012/2013 had left school, a new nominee was sought and Lorna was chosen by her peers.

Pupil and parent representation on the Education Committee was one of the Dundee Labour Party commitments in our manifesto for the local government elections in May 2012. I am therefore pleased to see this in practice and delighted that a Grove senior pupil will be a part of the Education Committee for 2013/14.


Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association Awarded Grant by the Policy and Resources Committee

Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association Logo
At the Policy and Resources Committee last night, the Committee approved a well deserved grant of £3000 to Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association (BERA) towards the costs of running their lively programme of evening classes at Grove Academy. 

BERA is a charity registered in Scotland and for over thirty years it has organised evening classes in The Ferry. It is run by a committee of volunteers. No other area of Dundee has had such an enduring Adult Education Association; I think we are lucky to have such a dedicated local organisation with helpful support from the Council's Community Learning and Development staff.

Link to BERA's programme of evening classes for September - November 2013

Settlement of Damaging Dispute with Staff who Were Reliant on Using Their Cars for Work

Empty Tank Dashboard Symbol
Last night the Council reversed another decision which also had caused inconvenience and disruption to valued public services. As part of their budget proposals in February 2013, the SNP administration included a cut in the 'Casual Car User Allowance' for all staff from 45p a mile to 25p a mile.

At the time, Labour Councillors warned the Council of unilaterally abandoning what was part of staff terms and conditions of work. 

Not surprisingly, many staff affected were unhappy that the reduced mileage rate hardly covered the cost of their petrol. Once it was implemented, the Council also found that many of our staff really needed their cars to do their job efficiently. How could these staff be deemed to be 'casual car users', when they needed to use a car every working day. For example, schools no longer have a single janitor to themselves but operate in clusters. In the Grove cluster, one Facilities Coordinator opens up all three Primary Schools. To get round quickly in the morning to open our schools, it's not practical to use public transport or walk between, Eastern, Forthill and Barnhill primary schools. 

When negotiations broke down, the Janitors, amongst other staff, worked to rule in protest. Not surprisingly breakfast clubs opened late because the Breakfast Club staff couldn't get in to their school until the Facilities Coordinator arrived using transport other than their own cars. The dispute was not helped when it was revealed that teachers in the schools were not subject to the same mileage rate cut as other Council staff. Care workers, delivering care services to vulnerable people in their homes were also affected and some clients apparently found that the time care workers could spend in their homes was squeezed by their care worker spending more time travelling between clients because they were not using their own cars.

Those members of the public who were inconvenienced by this ill conceived policy change will be glad that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Staff who really need their cars to do their jobs effectively will be relived that the Council has seen sense and recognised their across the board cut in the mileage rate was unfair and counter productive.


Unpopular Recycling Decision to be Reversed

Baldove Recycling Centre road sign
On Monday night the Council will be asked to reverse an unpopular and impractical decision. In February the SNP administration reorganised the three major recycling centres at Riverside, Marchbanks and Baldovie as part of their budget cuts. Marchbanks was closed completely and garden waste was only to be accepted at the Riverside recycling depot and certain items of general waste were only to be accepted at Baldovie. This meant that many householders found they had a much longer drive to a recycling depot; for example, in the Ferry this meant a cross city drive to Riverside Drive if dumping garden waste. Worse still was the prospect of having very lengthy round trips to deposit say garden waste at Riverside and then certain items of general waste at Badovie. For householders this was an expensive and inconvenient decision and to be construed as "green", as the Council claimed, stretched credibility with the public. 

I shall be pleased to support the proposed change of heart on Monday night as far as it goes; reversing the limitations on Riverside and Baldovie. I know many constituents in The Ferry will be relieved they can revert to depositing all their recycling, including garden waste, at Baldovie.

New Website for Eastern Primary School

Gate on Church Street to Eastern Primary School in Broughty Ferry Eastern Primary School have recently relaunced and updated their website.
Click on this link


Councillor Laurie Bidwell Launching New Pattern of Surgeries for the Coming Year

Councillor Laurie BidwellThe Dates and times of my Surgeries for Consituents with effect from Monday 12 August 2013 are as follows:

Forthill Sheltered Housing Complex
(discontinued from August 2015)
3a Forthill Drive
3.15pm - 3.45pm
(except school holidays)

Barnhill Community Centre
(discontinued from August 2015)
Campfield Square
5.00pm - 5.20pm

(except school holidays)

Broughty Ferry Library
Queen Street
5.30pm - 6.00pm 
(except school holidays)

Or Request a Home Visit
Council Office 01382 434110 Home 01382 738566



BERA Launch their Programme of Evening Classes for the Autumn Term 2013

Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association (BERA) have just launched their programme of Evening Classes for September to November 2013.

Once again BERA's autumn programme includes some firm favourites such as Zumba and Spanish and some entirely new classes such as the Great Broughty Bake Off. 

A printed copy of BERA's programme of classes can be obtained from a number of outlets in Broughty Ferry including the Library. In addition, the programme is available online to read or download.

All classes run from week beginning Monday 9 September.

Potential adult students can either book their place in a class by sending off a postal application or by attending the Enrolment night at Grove Academy on Monday 26 August 2013 beginning at 6:30 pm.

Link to BERA website    Find them on Facebook

Carry on learning.


Public Agenda for Next Meeting of The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership, Thurs 15 August 5:30 pm

THURSDAY 15 AUGUST 2013 AT 5.30 P.M.
3A Forthill Drive, 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 would like further information about the meeting or the Community Planning Partnership, please use the contact details shown below.

3.1​ 2013 project
3.2​ Welfare Reform
3.3 ​Road Safety – Grove / Eastern
3.4 ​Tourism sub group
​ 14th November 2013 at 5.30 pm, Panmurefield Village. (TBC)

Carole Jenkins, Communities Officer
Tel: 01382 436929


Official Statistics Show 187 Unemployed in Broughty Ferry are in Receipt of Job Seeker's Allowance

Yesterday, the July 2013 UK Government statistics for unemployment were released. 

Based on the numbers in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance the figures for The Ferry are as follows:

A total of 187 people in The Ferry ward were claiming Job Seekers Allowance out of work benefit in the latest month (July) , according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

When the September count is released we should unfortunately expect to see a rise as unemployed graduates and school leavers are eligible to claim Job Seeker's Allowance.

The real number of unemployed people is likely to be higher than this as the more  accurate model-based figures from the ONS put the latest available unemployment rate for Dundee as a whole at just over 10 per cent (for the period April 2012- March 2013) which is in excess of the percentage measured by claimants of Job Seekers' Allowance. .

Unemployment inflicts misery on families and households as it usually leads to a drastic reduction in household income and thereby narrows the social contacts that are necessary to maintain a decent family life.

Each person who is unemployed is 100 per cent unemployed and the older that he or she is, the less likely they are to find further employment, which merely adds to the demoralization that unemployment produces.

The unused skills and abilities of the unemployed also represent a waste of potential economic activity that could benefit both the national and the local economy. 

Commenting On the Approval of the V and A at Dundee Planning Application

Proposed V and A at Dundee Site Map from planning committee report
At the Development Management meeting on Monday night, the Committee approved the planning application for the V and A at Dundee.

The Committee papers described the application as follows:

1.1 The proposal under consideration seeks full planning permission for the construction of the V and A at Dundee museum building and extension to Riverside Walk. As part of the enabling works for the proposed V and A at Dundee site the existing Craig Harbour is to be infilled.

1.2 V and A at Dundee is a proposal for an international centre of design for Scotland. It will celebrate Scotland’s historic importance in design and host major exhibitions of international design that will appeal to the widest public and help develop understanding of our own and others’ cultural heritage. V and A at Dundee project will provide dedicated exhibition space, interpretation and a range of activities that will allow diverse audiences to see, explore, understand and be inspired by creative evolution and their design heritage, in a way that makes it physically and intellectually accessible.
1.3 The proposal is part of the Dundee Waterfront Development Masterplan which has been developed and is being implemented by the Dundee Waterfront Project (a public sector partnership between Dundee City Council and Scottish Enterprise). The master plan includes the redevelopment of the Railway Station, demolition of the Olympia Leisure Centre and Tayside House along with the reshaping of the current traffic road layout to enhance the relationship between Dundee City Centre and the River Tay.

1.4 The application site measures approximately 1.2774 hectares and will involve the provision of a 3 storey structure with a total foot area of 8,445m2 and overall approximate height of 18.3m (see figures 1 and 2). The Kengo Kuma proposal incorporates a building of international design significance. The internal and external walling is to be constructed in reconstituted stone and concrete to compliment the traditional construction materials used in Dundee.

This approval is clearly an important milestone in the redevelopment of the waterfront in Dundee with immense significance for the city and wider region. 

In the period running up to the opening of the V and A at Dundee, there is an enormous amount of enabling work to be undertaken so that Dundee and Broughty Ferry can provide a positive experience for the many tens of thousands of additional visitors that will be attracted to the V and A in our city.

Following My Complaints, Scottish Water Respond to Leaks from the Sewers on Broughty Ferry Stony Beach

Leaking sewer on Broughty Ferry stony beach at Douglas Terrace
Leaking foul water on the Stony Beach
beneath Douglas Terrace
Click on image to enlarge
On Wednesday last week, I contacted Scottish Water to complain again about the persistent leaks from sewers onto Broughty Ferry stony beach close to Douglas Terrace.

I had observed and photographed foul water leaking onto the beach at multiple locations in the space of two hundred metres. 

I also let Scottish Water know that, on a day without much wind to disperse the odour, the smell was lingering and very unpleasant. I had received complaints about this from constituents.

I think this is a health hazard, it's certainly unpleasant for residents and visitors and completely unacceptable. 

Furthermore, the resultant water pollution also threatens to undermine the work to help Broughty Ferry sandy beach regain it's Blue Flag.

Over more than two years I have been writing to Scottish Water about these issues. Scottish Water responding by sending out more squads of work people that pour concrete onto the beach is clearly not working.

While I appealed for these multiple sources of pollution to be contained and the leaks repaired, I also appealed to Scottish Water to bring forward their overdue plans to upgrade the sewerage system at this point.  Last October their engineers predicted they would bring forward a scheme in 6-8 months. Nine months later I know many of my constituents think it's time for delivery.

Scottish Water Engineer inspecting work to stem leaks adjacent to Douglas Terrace, Broughty Ferry
Scottish Water Engineer inspecting the leaks
Click on image to enlarge
On Thursday 8 and Friday 9 August Scottish Water came out to fix the leaks. They also hand delivered a letter to all the local residents in the vicinity to explain what they are doing. In this letter they wrote:
'The main issue at present is at West Ferry Pumping Station, resulting in two intermittent leaks of waste water onto the foreshore. These two weak points in the system are shown in the plan overleaf and were inspected by Scottish Water and SEPA today. To overcome this problem, are working through the following actions:

Temporary additional pump at Douglas Terrace, Broughty Ferry
Temporary additional pump in action
Click on image to enlarge
Installation of additional temporary pumping at West Ferry Pumping Station to draw down the level in the sewerage system. This was implemented today and has relieved the pressure on the system and stopped the leaks to the foreshore. Unfortunately, this action requires the 24hr use of a generator for a period of time. Veolia Water have sourced the quietest generator on the market to try and avoid any noise disruption and we hope this is effective.

Following the success of the additional pumping, a new seal will be installed at the Douglas Terrace leak location. Veolia Water will continue to work over this weekend to complete the work.

Also, once the level in the system has been drawn down, Veolia Water will need to take access to he Pumping Station to inspect all below ground assets and ensure optimum operation going forward. The station has worked effectively for a number of years and we will restore this level of performance.

Major works will be required at the walkway leak location, entailing demolition and reconstruction of an underground chamber. This will remove the leak risk and reinstate the beach to its former condition. Veolia Water have been instructed to undertake these works but a contractor has yet to be appointed. We will provide a further update in advance of these works.'

I am glad that Scottish Water admit that they have two linked problems; the leaking underground vessel on the beach beneath the walkway and pumps that are not working properly at the West Ferry Pumping Station. I am sure residents will be relieved when these long term repairs are in place. They will look forward to a return to the peace and quiet and fresh air they deserve. I think members of the Beach Management Group will be pleased when these persistent leaks are fixed and are not undermining their efforts for Broughty Ferry to regain the Blue Flag for our sandy beach.


Contractor Urged to Remove Construction Debris from Grassy Beach

Building Materials Left on Grassy Beach in Broughty Ferry
In July the slipways on Grassy Beach were resurfaced. Unfortunately the contractors seem to have forgotten to remove all their building materials and equipment. This heap of planks, ladders and a metal fencing panel has been left on the beach.
I have emailed The contractors to ask them to remove what I assume is their residual 'stuff' inadvertently left on site after they removed most of their equipment a few weeks ago.


New Website for Eastern Primary School

Eastern Primary School Broughty Ferry Gate on Church StreetEastern Primary School have updated their website.You can find them by clicking on this link.

New Road Signs at Forthill Primary School Now in the Right Location

New road signs in wrong location outside Forthill Primary School
Road signs in wrong location
Click on image to enlarge
On Thursday I cycled round to Forthill Primary School to check that the new 'No Entry' signs had been erected outside the school to block access to the Eastern end of Fintry Place that runs past the school up to the entrance to Forthill Sports Club.

This road safety measure was introduced to help improve the safety for children outside the school in the mornings and and afternoons.

On Thursday, I saw that the signs had indeed been erected but disappointed that they were in the wrong location - see above. I took a photograph and emailed it to the Transportation Department. Give them their due, they reacted very promptly and instructed the contractor to go out again, as a matter of urgency, and put up the signs in the right place.

New road signs on Fintry Place outside Forthill Primary School
New road signs now relocated
Click on image to enlarge
Two days later, when I passed the school, the signs had been relocated. 

I trust that parents and carers will respect the new traffic restrictions when they are dropping off and picking up their children when new school term starts on Tuesday.


Overhanging Shrubs Obstructing Pavement in Nursery Road

Nursery Road Broughty Ferry
Residents living in the sheltered housing in Forthill Drive complained earlier this week about the shrubs overhanging the Nursery Road pavements which many of them walk along on their way to the shops at Campfield Square. Since the residents' meeting on Monday, I have been out with my camera and sent a photograph to staff at the Environment Department.

It is clearly a seasonal issue as screening shrubs put on growth which extends over boundary walls and fences. On the north side of Nursery Road, I have noticed that many of the properties with overhanging shrubs have their entrances on Morlich Gardens and Lochalsh Street that run in parallel with Nursery Road. In these circumstances the householders may easily miss noticing that their shrubs are obstructing the pavement beyond the boundaries of the properties.

I have reported this to the Environment Department and asked them to contact the householders concerned to ask them to cut back the offending shrubs.


Dundee Rep Performance at Broughty Castle Sunday 4 August 2013

Dundee Rep Actors Take a Bow At the End of Performance at Broughty Ferry Castle
As part of the Blue Skies Dundee Festival, Dundee Rep came to Broughty Ferry on Sunday night and performed within the Castle walls.

They entertained an appreciative audience with a rehearsed reading of Little Eagles by Rona Munro. The play celebrates the work of the pioneer head of the Soviet Space Programme, Sergei Pavlovich Korolyov. Before his death he was often referred to only as "Chief Designer", because his name and his pivotal role in the Soviet space program was a state secret. Only after his death was he publicly acknowledged as the lead man behind the early Soviet successes in space.

For those of us who can remember news about the launching of the first Sputnik in 1957 and the first man in space, Yuri Gargarin, this play provided a fascinating set of insights. But as the the play's author admitted, she had to use her imagination to fill in some of the blanks in Korolyov's history which has been shrouded by secrecy.

The Company all played well with a stand out performance from Lewis Howden as Korolyov. The sound engineers also deserve a special mention because they ensured that extraneous noise from the wind did not drown out the dialog.

The Castle was an inspired choice for such a performance; with the Tower as a backdrop silhouetted against the night sky, one could easily be dramatically transported to the launch site of the Sputnik. Thanks to Blue Skies for an entertaining night out on our doorstep.

It was truly some Blue Sky thinking that led to the unique opportunity to attend a performance by Dundee Rep at Broughty Ferry Castle; most probably the first ever performance by Dundee Rep in The Ferry and the first professional outdoor performance of a play at Broughty Castle. I hope it won't be too long before Ferry folk can experience the like of this again.


Call for Building Work at Barnhill Primary School to be Complete Before Pupils Return Next Week

Site Under Construction for Relocated Nursery Unit at Barnhill Primary School
Click on image to enlarge
When I visited Barnhill Primary School on Monday evening, building work by the Council appeared to be seriously behind schedule for the new term beginning next Tuesday. 

Over the six week summer holiday, the temporary classroom that houses the Nursery Class was supposed to have been moved from its site close to the front entrance to a new location at the other side of the school. When I visited on Monday evening, I had expected to see the job done or merely the finishing touches to be completed. Unfortunately the site preparation for the relocated hut was still being undertaken and the Nursery Hut hadn't budged from its original location. The school looked like a building site with the playground on the Abercromby Street side of the school fenced off - see photograph.

Apart from the temporary classroom being moved to its new location, services will need to be connected, there are access ramps to fit, external play equipment to be moved, secured and fenced off all before the Care Inspectorate are called in to inspect and approve the relocated nursery unit."

I contacted the Director of Education to pass on my observations and seeking a reassurance that the re-located Nursery will be ready to welcome its young pupils next week and the school site ready for its staff and pupils.

On Tuesday morning, I was relieved to hear from the Director that the Nursery Unit move had been rescheduled. It will now be moved to its new location during the October holiday. It still looks like it will be a challenge to get the playgrounds and the external areas around the school tidied up before the beginning of term.

When members of the Parent Council were briefed about the extension of their School earlier this year, they were assured that the work would be carefully scheduled and monitored to ensure that disruption to the teaching and learning would be minimised. This does not appear to be the start that they were promised.


Road Safety Improvements in Claypotts Road Outside Grove Academy

Bus at new bus stop for Grove Academy on Claypotts Road
The new bus stop for Grove Academy
Click on image to enlarge
Claypotts Road reopened last Friday after a period of closure for road works. 

The road works comprised a complete resurfacing of Claypotts Road from the junction with Ferndale Drive, past the main front entrance of Grove Academy right down to the junction with Queen Street and West Queen Street at the Occidental traffic lights. 

In addition, a number of road safety measures have been introduced including:
  • Moving the bus stops from a position close to the main entrance to Grove and its vehicular entrance to new positions close to the pedestrian only entrance further down Claypotts Road;
  • Introduction of a traffic island in Claypotts Road close to the new bus stops to prevent vehicles overtaking the buses dropping off and picking up passengers and
  • Revised and redrawn traffic restrictions including yellow lines.
The Grove Academy and Eastern Primary School Parent Councils, the Broughty Ferry Community Council were all consulted about these proposals as were the four Councillors for Broughty Ferry.

When I had a site visit before the road re-opened, I voiced some concerns to Traffic Engineers that the new traffic island, which seemed to have been erected in the wrong location. I was concerned that it was located adjacent to the kerbside fence outside the pedestrian access to Grove Academy.  The Traffic Engineers confirmed that this traffic island was being constructed in the location they had planned. It was positioned to stop overtaking of stationery buses (see picture above) but not positioned to facilitate pedestrians crossing at that point.

I first raised concerns about the traffic arrangements in Claypotts Road in 2009 before the opening of New Grove Academy

I trust that these new arrangements will be used appropriately by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and thereby contribute to enhanced road safety in the vicinity of Grove Academy and Eastern Primary School.


Commenting on SQA Exam Results Tues 6 August 2013

SQA Your Results
This morning there will have been mixed emotions among the many hundreds of pupils and students in our city who will have been receiving their SQA exam results. Whether reading their results in a text, email or in the contents of their SQA envelope received through the post, this will truly be a moment to remember.

For many candidates there will be tears of joy and sighs of relief that hard work has been rewarded with passes and grades that will open doors to continuing studies at School or new opportunities and challenges at College, University and in the world of work. For some there will inevitably be disappointment with the results achieved and the necessity for a rethink.

I warmly congratulate pupils and students on all their successes in their various SQA examinations and assessments. Like Andy Murray's  success at Wimbledon this summer, this will not be a flash in the pan but based on hard work over a sustained period of time. And of course I should not forget to credit  the support of the equivalent of the coaches and supporters. In this case, the inspiration and encouragement of the teachers and parents and carers as well as the wider network of friends and family will also have been part of the story behind these successes.

For those that are disappointed with their results, I would encourage taking to heart the proverb that my late Father used to repeat on those occasions when I hadn't excelled: 'if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.' 

For those who have missed their grades to meet a provisional offer for a place at University, this will be anxious time to see whether their grades are still acceptable or whether an alternative place or course might be available through clearing. UCAS Clearing 2013 opens today
for applicants in Scotland.

Later this week or next, analyses will be available from the Director of Education about how the results of our school pupils add up across the city and how these city wide results compare with previous years and with other areas in Scotland. I shall particularly want to find out about the Higher Maths results as there were worrying claims earlier this year that the standard had been reduced. But for today, the focus should be on celebrating the positive results of our pupils who deserve their day enjoying their successes; their equivalent of a victory in a Wimbledon final. 

Well done!


Broughty Ferry Artist and Musician Have Their Film Short Listed at International Dance Film Festival in San Francisco

Scene from a Touch of Red and details of the creative team Emile Shemilt and Genevieve Murphy from The Ferry had important roles in a dance film, A Touch of Red, which has just been shortlisted for an award at a prestigious international festival.
Emile is the Director of the film and Genevieve wrote the music. They made the film with a team of young artists who were based in the city. They are both thrilled, along with their collaborators, that their film has been shortlisted at the
dance screen 2013 with San Francisco Dance Film Festival 12-15 September in San Francisco.
They are now channelling their creative talents into raising the money to attend the festival and awards ceremony.
They want to fly the flag for Dundee and and be there to receive any award should their film be selected by the jurors. Whatever the result in San Francisco, it is clearly an accolade to be short listed for an award and they hope this will help reinforce Dundee’s bid for UK City of Culture 2017.

Emile can be contacted at the Visual Research Centre at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)
mobile 07773 203699 and email 


Public Protection From Falling Masonry on Victoria Road

Over last weekend the high retaining wall at the top of Victoria Road close tot its junction with Claypotts Road, began to bulge and some stones fell out. 

One of my constituents drew this to my attention. He had initially contacted the Council directly but was concerned that in response they had only taped off the area.

He told me that he had expected something more substantial e.g. barriers to be done to [protect pedestrians and other road users from falling masonry.

I followed this up, contacted the City Engineers and requested a risk assessment on the state of the wall and better protective measures which rapidly followed.