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28/02/2013

Reserved Places for Barnhill and Forthill Primary Schools and Grove Academy

At the Education Committee on Monday 25 February, the Committee considered a report on 'Retaining Reserved Places In Schools 2013/2014'. Councils can reserve places in schools in anticipation of children who may move into the catchment area of the school in-year. They must consider the overall demand for places at the school, and can only keep empty the number of places that they consider are reasonably required for pupils likely to move into the catchment area in the period up to and including the forthcoming school year.

The Committee papers contained the following list of proposed reserved places in school session August 2013 - June 2014. Addressing the Committee, I said:                                                                        
Click on table to enlarge
"I welcome this report. It addresses some of of the pinch points in demand for schooling in the city and tries to ensure that children whose families move into the school catchment area during the school year have a small number of reserved places potentially available at the Primary and 
Secondary schools in their area. On the basis of the criteria in this report, I believe that Forthill Primary School should also have 2 reserved places at P1 stage. At the Parent Council meeting last week, which the Director of Education attended, concerns were expressed about rising roll of the school. For people moving into the Forthill catchment area, the potential constraint would be in P1 where there the legal maximum is 25 whereas it is higher in P2 and above.

Forthill catchment area contains some new housing and with some recently built major new housing development such as the Ferryfields. It is a catchment area with a continuing reasonable level of turnover of homes as people move in and out.

Accordingly, I ask the Committee to approve this change to the list of reserved places for the next school year."

The Convener of the Committee, after consultation with the Director, accepted my proposal.

27/02/2013

Long Lane Potholes Reported But Would Resurfacing be More Cost Effective?

Click on image to enlarge
Following a complaint from a resident, I have reported this pothole to the Roads' Maintenance Partnership.  

It's located in the western end of Long Lane between Westfield Road and Church Street. 

The depth and sharp edge would make this an uncomfortable pothole to encounter while passing parked cars on the southern side of the street.

While this pothole is certainly worth reporting and patching, the picture also indicates that at several adjacent points, the edge of this road is breaking up and has either been recently patched or will also require repair shortly as small fissures become enlarged. In the long term, a complete resurfacing of Long Lane would probably be more cost effective.

26/02/2013

Older Ferry Folk Have Your Say! Communities in Action Event Wed 13 March 2013 2-4pm YMCA Broughty Ferry


Older people living in Broughty Ferry have been invited to have their say about their area over a cup of tea. 

On Wednesday 13 March, 2013 2-4pm they will be welcome to come along to the YMCA in Brook Street. They will be asked about what they would like to see improved in their community and most importantly, how they could help to achieve this?

A new team of Community Engagement Workers for Dundee are based at The Volunteer Centre in Dundee. This new team have been funded through the Reshaping Care for Older People Fund. They will be working closely with older people in the city to help to develop the capacity of communities to better support older people to remain in their own homes for longer. They are organising this event and look forward to meeting older Ferry folk on that afternoon. 

The target audience is older people, however, they are not excluding any age groups as it’s a public involvement event and they believe it would be good to hear an intergenerational perspective.

There is no charge for this event. 

Further details please contact
Email GillBain@number10.org
Email PatGreenhough@number10.org
Email Philippa@number10.org
Tel     01382 305758

Forthill Primary School Gets a Double Boost

At the City Development Committee Meeting last night two decisions supported improvements at Forthill Primary School.


Firstly, the Committee approved a Traffic Order for the Part-Time Prohibition of Driving in Fintry Place east of the turning circle at the front of the school. This traffic order would restrict access to this section of Fintry Place to pedestrians only during School Days Monday - Friday 8:30-9:15 am and 3:00-3:30 pm. This traffic order will now be subject to a period of consultation. If confirmed and implemented, this should improve road safety at the school.

When this item was discussed, I asked for and received reassurance that there would be opportunities for further consultation about the location of the rise and fall barrier barring access to the eastern end of Fintry Place when the implementation of the traffic order was reconsidered.

Secondly, the Committee approved a tender of £28,124.51 to pay for site works for the new dual classroom temporary building ('hut') to be erected at Forthill Primary School for use by the expanding and highly successful Forthill Out of School Care Club

25/02/2013

Progress with Forthill Primary School Road Safety Measures


On Monday night 25 February 2013, the City Development Committee will take an important step towards resolving a road safety issue at Forthill Primary School that was identified in April 2012. The Committee will be asked to approve a Traffic Order for the Part-Time Prohibition of Driving in Fintry Place east of the turning circle at the front of the school. This traffic order would restrict access to this section of Fintry Place to pedestrians only during School Days Monday - Friday 8:30-9:15 am and 3:00-3:30 pm.

The background to this traffic order is that on Thursday 19 April 2012, 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.  

Section of Finrty Place which will be subject
to part-time prohibition of driving
This is what I observed on our visit:
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 2012 and the group is chaired by the Chief Executive. 

I am sure parent and carers, with children at Forthill Primary School, will be relieved that that one more of the practical solutions we identified last year is about to be implemented.

24/02/2013

Dog Poo Issues at Grassy Beach

Click on image to enlarge
Dog walkers on Grassy Beach have drawn my attention to a damaged lid on a dog poo bin located beside the coastal pathway between Douglas Terrace and Grassy Beach.  This particular bin is close to the foot of the steps up to the footbridge over the railway which connects with the pathway that leads to Beach Lane.

It looks as though the lid has been eaten away by rust. Whatever the cause, the gaping lid does not do its job.

While I have drawn this to the attention of the Environment Department, I also want to appeal to all dog owners to clean up after their dogs and use the bins. Within three metres of this bin, there are six dog poos left on the grass and one filled dog poo bag carelessly dumped on the ground.

23/02/2013

Residents in Albany Road Complain About Pavements

Residents who live on the stretch of Albany Road between Ralston Road and  Fairfield Road are fed up with their muddy pavements. On both sides of the street the pavements are unadopted. Slowly this road is rising up the list of priorities for bringing up to standard and then adoption by the City Council. But that can't be fast enough for residents who walk along this street.

My picture above shows, a stretch of footway on the south side of the road close to a construction site for a new build house with a portacabin site office on the road and a muddy section of pavement in between.

On the same stretch of the road, but on the north side, the second photo shows the tyre tracks of a heavy vehicle which has churned up the surface of the footway. Also in shot is the overhanging foliage from a resident's garden that is obstructing the footway.

I have written to the Transportation Department to request that they inspect the footway and re-prioritise it on the list of unadopted pavements.

22/02/2013

All in a Productive Day's Work

Beach Lane Path resurfaced
right to the end
Yesterday was a long but productive day.

I started my day early by reading some candidates' reports for the Head Teacher interviews taking place from 10:00 in Dundee House. On the way into the city centre, I dropped into Beach Lane to check that the work on the resurfacing of the muddy path had been completed. Good news that it was looking good and a jogger was out putting the path to the test.

After taking a couple of pictures, I drove along to Albany Road to follow up a constituent's complaint about the state of the unadopted pavements in his end of the street. After gathering some photographic evidence, I drove into town and parked and then walked over to Dundee House.

After three interviews (following two the previous day) and some thoughtful deliberation, we selected our 'preferred candidate' for the post.

I drove back home and took my dog Milli for a walk to Grassy Beach. This also gave me an opportunity to have a look at the progress with rebuilding the coastal pathway near Douglas Terrace and check the temporary signage as the coastal path had been closed, apparently only until the weekend.
Returning home, I had a mug of tea with my wife who had just got back from her work. I then wrote and emailed a short report for a meeting I was missing because it clashed with the quarterly meeting of the Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP). After remembering to download agendas and papers for the two meetings ahead, I left the house and went round the corner to Grove Academy.

The members of the LCPP, with Evening Telegraph Reporter Michael Owen, convened in the Grove Academy Library. We had a very useful briefing about Welfare Reform and its implications for residents. In the light of the switch to online only applications for new claims for Universal Credit, we discussed where in Broughty Ferry one might gain advice and practical help making an online claim. When libraries were mentioned, I queried whether there would be sufficient numbers of computers in Broughty Ferry Library to cope with the  additional influx of claimants who needed help to make their claims. I also commented on the lack of spaces in our library for interviews with some degree of privacy.


I left this meeting and headed off to attend the Parent Council at Forthill Primary School arriving at 7:15 pm just after it had begun. This was a lively meeting with an extended dialogue between parents/carers and Michael Wood, Director of Education who was asked to respond to a list of twenty written questions that the parent Council had gathered in preparation for the meeting. The most pointed questions from parents were about the rising number of children in the school (current roll 561 pupils) and teh physical capacity of the school to cope; the catchment area of the school; recent budget cuts in Education and their impact on Forthill Primary and Grove Academy and the appointment of a replacement Head Teacher. There was also a discussion about road safety issues outside the school.

After the school bell rang the meeting was concluded but the discussion with parents and carers migrated into the car park. I eventually arrived home for my tea just before 10pm.

21/02/2013

Resurfacing Beach Lane Path Almost Complete

Click on image to enlarge
Yesterday morning I visited Beach Lane in Broughty Ferry to examine the condition of the path that connects Grassy Beach and Dundee Road. 

The Courier and Evening Telegraph both reported on Tuesday that the resurfacing of the muddy section of this path had been undertaken by the Environment Department in preparation of the temporary closure of the coastal pathway between Douglas Terrace and Grassy Beach and the diversion along this pathway.

The picture shows that, the resurfacing that I had called for in August last year and at the beginning of this month was well underway. It looked as though, with the laying of another load of grit, the resurfacing of the muddy section of the Beach Lane path would be complete

I trust folk using the Beach Lane pathway find this resurfacing work by the Environment Department an appreciable improvement to underfoot conditions.

20/02/2013

Agenda for Next Meeting of The Ferry Community Planning Partnership Thursday 21 Feb at 5.30pm

The next meeting of The Ferry Community Planning Partnership will be held tomorrow, Thursday 21st February 2013, at 5.30 pm
in Grove Academy, Claypotts Road, Broughty Ferry.

This meeting is 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.

Agenda

1. Welcome and Apologies

2. ​Welfare Reform Presentation - Update from A.D.A.P.T. – Rosemarie  

3.​ Previous Minute and Matters Arising

4.​ Community Plan 2012-2017 Update
​(This will be by written report and will feature in updates by individual partners
​And agencies)

5. ​Department/Agency/Organisation Update

  • Grove Academy – Vision and Values
  • Transport around School

6.​ Community Issues Raised by Members of the Public

7.​ Date of Next Meeting
​Thursday 31st May 2013 – Barnhill Community Centre 5.30 pm

Carole Jenkins
Communities Officer

Tel  436929 (Tues, Wed, Thurs only)
Email carole.jenkins@dundeecity.gov.uk


Deepdale Place Care Home Gets Planning Permission Despite Objections from Residents & Ferry Councillors

Click on image to enlarge
On Monday evening 18 February, the Development Management Committee of the City Council considered the planning application for:
11 DEEPDALE PLACE, BROUGHTY FERRY - CHANGE OF USE FROM PRIVATE
DWELLINGHOUSE TO RESIDENCE FOR DEPENDENT YOUNG PEOPLE

Link to Committee Report 


After hearing two deputations from objectors and the developer, I proposed that planning permission be refused.


This is a copy of the statement I read out to the Committee:


'Convener, I shall be moving that permission for this development is refused. This proposal is the wrong development for this site.


Firstly, I think the applicants and the planners have seriously underestimated the amount of traffic that would be generated by the managers, visitors including the relatives of residents, the two shifts of staff, suppliers and the transport toing and froing to take residents to other services. This would clearly be more than the equivalent traffic movements from a multi car owning ordinary household. They have also underestimated the parking pressure in the street from the Coop convenience store in Claypotts Road less than 100 metres away.

Secondly, this development is bound to generate more noise than the ambient noise generated by the neighbours because this is a quiet street where many of the residents moved in when the estate was new. One of the objectors comments that 80% of the residents living close to the development are over 65 years old.  I think the residents deserve a continuing quiet life.

Thirdly, The garden ground fails to provide adequate amounts of amenity space for the client group selected. The site is sloping with a significant drop in levels from the front entrance to the end of the back garden ground. This would be challenging for the client group some of whom are likely to have mobility challenges.

Additionally residents are also mindful that the 'use category' would give permission for successor operators at these premises to change the client group of  the residents to other types of client groups. While the applicants claim they would create a family atmosphere, the staffing suggests otherwise. This amounts to a mini care home business.

This then is the wrong development for this site which is NOT in accord with planning policies.

Accordingly, I move refusal.'

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Committee voted 13 for and 8 against and this development was granted planning permission.

19/02/2013

SNOWDROP-IN Saturday 23 February 2013 1-3 pm Barnhill Community Centre Campfield Square

Click on poster to enlarge
On Saturday afternoon 23rd February 2013, 1-3pm, Broughty Ferry in Bloom are holding their SNOWDROP-IN at Barnhill Community Centre in Campfield Square. 

They challenge us to bring along a snowdrop from our gardens and have a cup of tea or coffee for £1:50. This will help establish how many different types of Snowdrops are growing in The Ferry.

Also Cake and Candy and a Plant Stall

Uplifting Holocaust Memorial Event at Grove Academy

Holocaust Survivor Ziggy Shipper with Grove
Pupil Holocaust Ambassadors
Last night I had the privilege of attending the Holocaust Memorial Event at Grove Academy. This combined a series of presentations by pupils and former pupils who had volunteered over the last three years to be Holocaust Ambassadors. As such they had visited the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Subsequently, they shared their experience with groups of pupils at Grove. 

The evening combined presentations by these ambassadors about their experience of making the visit, what they had learned and how they had shared this with their fellow pupils. The presenters were confident and insightful about their life changing experience of making their visit to the death camp at Auschwitz. 


The evening ended with an inspiring testament from holocaust survivor, Ziggy Shipper from London. Now in his eighties, Ziggy, shared his vivid memories of his time, as a young boy in the Nazi concentrations camps. He finished with an impassioned plea to all the pupils to never feel hate in their own lives. He warned that if they did feel hate then they would be the one that suffers.


This was a very impressive night for the Grove pupils who performed, for the audience of parents and carers who appreciated the pupils' performances and also witnessed the riveting talk by Ziggy Shipper. It was also a night to celebrate the creativity of Grove teachers who had so ably facilitated their senior pupils involved.

18/02/2013

Call for Network Rail to Better Maintain Broughty Bridges

Last autumn, I highlighted the loose heavy stone at the Brook Street end of the parapet of the Fort Street humpback bridge over the railway. It still remains loose and swivels round and I continue to be concerned that it might fall and injure an unsuspecting passer by. Unfortunately, the City Engineer did not agree with my judgement and decided it did not present a danger to the public.

Yesterday in the bright spring like sunshine, I noticed how shabby the parapet of the Church Street bridge has become. It's rusty and badly in need of some corrosion treatment and a lick of paint.


Whle neither of these issues is an emergency, I think it's important to keep on top of the cyclical maintenance of these bridges and thereby protect the routes into and out of central Broughty Ferry. A neater finish should also support The Ferry as it competes for a higher level of award from Keep Scotland Beautiful this year. 

Come on Network Rail, you surely can do better than this?

17/02/2013

Demolition of Tayside House - Slowly Does It!

A number of constituents have asked me why Tayside House is taking so long to demolish. It seems ironic that the most unloved building in the city centre is having such a lingering last stand!

When Dundee House opened and Tayside House emptied, I had hoped that the City Council would have organised a public raffle with the winner given the honour of operating the demolition switch. I certainly would have bought a ticket for such an exciting prize.

Council staff advised that the proximity of Taysdie House to the Caird Hall and the railway tunnel running under Dock Street meant that a dramatic demolition was out of the question.

As a result, the method of demolition adopted has been slower and less dramatic and Safedem, the demolition contractor, is demonstrably living up to its name.

Later this year the Hilton, the Casino and the 'original' Olympia Swimming Pool will follow Tayside House. Once the are all demolished, the central Waterfront will be substantially cleared and ready for the VandA to rise like phoenix from the ashes. For the time being, roadworks will occasionally disrupt journeys to and from the city centre. In the end however, I trust constituents will accept that any delays and disruption will be worthwhile.

16/02/2013

Missing Double Yellow Lines Near Forthill School Need Repainting

Click on image to enlarge
Parents, with children at Forthill School, have complained to me about the missing stretch of yellow lines on Forthill Road between the bus stop and the corner of Fintry Place.

This has created a 'legal' parking spot just handy for dropping off children near the school which some parents and carers have been tempted to use. But this creates a road safety hazard by blocking the view of drivers turning into or out of Fintry Drive. The parents who contacted me thought this opportunistic parking should be stopped by the Council repainting  the yellow lines. In the meanwhile, they appealed to other parents and carers not to use this 'parking spot' when dropping off or picking up their children from Forthill School.

I have written to the Head of Transportation at the Council to ask for the reinstatement of these yellow lines as a matter of priority.

15/02/2013

Education Department Got Their Maths Wrong Counting up 30 Consultation Days

Earlier this week the Director of Education advised Councillors that the official date for the end of the formal consultation on the proposals for new schools in Menzieshill and Coldside had been extended. 

It is clear that the original date that had been notified in letters last month had been miscalculated. Apparently staff had not taken account of the closure days for the half term holiday and Continuous Professional Development days when calculating the exact minimum period for the legally defined period of consultation. Getting the maths wrong on a simple calculation is an embarrassing mistake for the Education Department to make.




"The Director of Education's separate letter for each of the three clusters of schools very formally reads:

'Addendum

Please note that the closing date for the consultation period is Thursday 14 March 2013.

This will ensure full compliance with the 30 day term period in line with the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.' 


This is also an expensive mistake. To comply with government regulations, I understand that every parent and carer in each of the schools affected will have had to have been written to again by letter. As a second class tamp costs 50p this will cost hundreds of pounds. This is a most unwelcome waste of cash from the budget for schools which should have been avoided. 


Finally, given that the letter had to be sent out, I think the space left on the page could have been usefully used to remind parents and carers and others consulted that they had more time to send in their views to the Education Department and how to do this. Clarity in communication should be the hallmark of letters and reports from the Education Department and these letters are not a good example.

Clearly the Education Department's Report Card should read, 'must do better'.

14/02/2013

Labour Seeking to Keep Smaller Classes for S1 and S2 Maths and English Classes in all our Secondary Schools


Later today Labour Councillors will be proposing our alternative proposals at the Council's annual budget meeting. In Education, we are proposing to reinstate classes of twenty for English and Maths in the first two years in five secondary schools in the City where the SNP administration are proposing to withdraw these. They propose to introduce larger classes for Maths and English - up to a maximum of 33 - in Harris Academy, Menzieshill High School, St John's RC High School, Morgan Academy and Grove Academy.

It seems common sense that English and Maths are central to success in examinations at school and beyond. In Secondary school, competence in Maths and English is required in order to engage with the rest of the curriculum. So smaller class sizes in these subjects makes sense in S1 and S2. In fact the SNP ruling group of Councillors agree with this assessment because they are retaining smaller claszses for Maths and English in St Paul's RC Academy, Baldragon Academy, Craigie High School and Braeview Academy. If it's good for the pupils in those four Secondary schools, surely it will make a negative difference in the five secondary schools where it is being withdrawn.

In recent years Dundee pupils have performed much better in Maths and English in SQA examinations. Six years ago a quarter of pupils were ending their schools days without English and Maths at Foundation Level in Standard Grade. Steadily this figure has improved in all of our secondary schools and our overall performance is now above the national average and on a par with our comparator councils. If our amendment to the budget is not accepted, we run the risk, that improvements in the overall examination results in our schools are halted and start to slide backwards. I don't think parents and carers with children in the five secondary schools that will lose out will think this is wise. Why are their children subject to cutting corners in Maths and English lessons?

I think parents and carers and teachers will be very disappointed if the ruling group of SNP Councillors won't accept our amendment to their revenue budget. We have uncovered a pot of cash which they had overlooked. Money set aside for paying DEROL (the operators of the incinerator at Baldovie)  for ash from the incinerator when none has been produced since the major fire shut it down in May 2012. Furthermore, there is no definite date for the DEROL reopening in the new financial year. So there must be up to £600,000 available. 

Out of the ashes, let's put some of that money to work paying for smaller class sizes in English and Mathematics in all our secondary schools.

13/02/2013

Safety Work on Anton Drive Retaining Wall Starting Soon

Click on image to enlarge
Yesterday, the City Council confirmed that the contract for the safety work on the Anton Drive retaining wall has been finally agreed and a company called Phi Group will carry out the work. The contract is currently scheduled to start in week commencing 11 March. The Housing Department have committed to notifying residents with the definite start date by the beginning of March.

I think that residents in Anton Drive and the vicinity will be relieved when the current retaining wall has been made safe although I know there will be lingering concerns about the safety of the trees on the private land on the steeply rising bank above the retaining wall. 

Residents will however be pleased that there has been a slight amendment to how the work is to be undertaken. Initially it was thought that Anton Drive would need to be closed for at least 2 weeks while the work was carried out, but this is not now the case. The road will be kept open, but there will be parking restrictions during the day, when the work people are on site.

12/02/2013

Commenting on Dundee School Leavers' Destinations

Click on image to enlarge
On Friday the Scottish Government published a snap shot of statistics about the 'destination' of school leavers from the last complete school year: August 2011-June 2012. Based on information available in September 2012, these figures provide some insight to how our school leavers are doing. More specifically they let us know how many and what proportion of our school leavers in Dundee went from school into 'a positive destination'; a job, a place at University or College or work based training such as an apprenticeship.

While more detailed figures will be published in June this year, the picture emerging from the provisional figures shows that Dundee has the third lowest proportion of school leavers going directly to University. At the same time, it has the highest proportion of young people leaving school and going on directly to Further Education College. From previous experience we know that a proportion of those young people who leave school and go to College will later gain the qualifications and the confidence to progress to University. 

Overall nine out of ten of our school leavers in Dundee are going into work, training or education upon leaving school. This is very marginally above the Scottish average of 89.9 per cent.

There is clearly no room for complacency in our schools. It would be good to see more of our school leavers having gained university entrance qualifications right first time.

If you want to read the full national picture you can read or download the two published tables using the following link
Initial School Leaver Destinations 2011-12

11/02/2013

Call for More Frequent Visits to Broughty Ferry Level Crossing by British Transport Police Camera Enforcement Van

Network Rail and British Transport Police have recently increased their number of mobile vans with CCTV. I hope this means that we an expect more of their visits to the Gray Street level crossing in Broughty Ferry. This should be good for our community in two ways.

Primarily, I am very concerned to hear continuing reports of drivers and pedestrians ignoring the flashing warning lights and dodging the barriers at the Level Crossing. This is reckless and endangers life and limb. I therefore hope that more visits by the mobile monitoring units will ensure more compliance with the Highway Code and safety first.

Secondly, I am concerned that if there is a serious incident at the crossing, Network Rail might use that tragedy as a pretext to close the level crossing. But what might solve their safety problems would have serious consequences for the future of central Broughty Ferry. Bearing in mind that all the other entry points to our central area are over bridges or under the railway at St Vincent Street, if the level crossing were closed it would be more difficult to drive into and out of our shopping centre. As a result, trading conditions for shops and services might become even more challenging.

So I hope that reckless drivers and pedestrians should take heed of the warnings from British Transport Police about the dangers of trying to beat the barrier. This is not only for the sake of their own safety but also for retaining the historic public access over the railway at the level crossing.

I have written to British Transport Police to invite them to make more unannounced visits to Gray Street.

09/02/2013

Lawrence Street Potholes Need Fixed

Earlier this week I reported a group of deep potholes on the section of Lawrence Street that runs beside the Marks and Spencer car park. 

They look as though they have been repaired before but what with attrition from recent frost and rain, the holes are now quite deep and the edges soft and crumbling. I have asked the Roads Maintenance Partnership to fill them in.

08/02/2013

Forthill Out of School Club is Judged Excellent All Round

Earlier this week the Care Inspectorate released their inspection report on Forthill Out of School Care Club.

Manager Margot Bruce and her staff team at the Club are to be warmly congratulated for earning such a positive report which is reflected in the straight 6's/Excellent grades awarded for each category of the inspection (see diagram). The inspectors' positivity is also evident in their commentary.

The Inspectors wrote:
"Forthill Out of School care club provides a very high standard of care for primary school aged children before and after school, and during the holidays.
The service is well managed and organised by a qualified and experienced staff team and an active management committee. Children who use the service benefit from an excellent range of well-planned activities and high quality input from an enthusiastic staff team. All of the children and parents we had contact with during the inspection told us that they were very happy with the quality of the service."

The Inspectors concluded:

"Forthill Out of School Club is a very high quality service which is well managed and well run. It provides flexible support to busy families, and it provides children with a wide range of fun experiences in a safe environment. The service continually evaluates its own practice taking into account the views of
children and families and uses the National Care Standards and other relevant good practice guidance to develop and improve the quality of care and support it delivers."

Read/download the full Inspection Report

Link to Forthill Out of School Club Website 

07/02/2013

End of Broughty Ferry Lecture 1pm Thursday 7 February Glasite Halls King Street Dundee

Broughty Ferry, general view, showing Brook St
and Broughty Castle. 26th September 1932
Later today, at 1pm, Ferry resident and historian Chris Davey will be delivering the Friends of the Dundee Archive lecture. His lecture will focus on the events leading up to the end of Broughty Ferry as an independent Burgh in 1913 drawing on his research and publication, 'The end of Broughty Ferry: the Dundee Boundaries Act 1913'

The lecture will be held in the Glasite Hall in King Street Dundee beginning at 1pm. 

This seems like a great way to begin the series of events to mark this significant centenary in the life of Broughty Ferry leading up to Annexation Day in November.

Glasite Hall address: St. Andrew's Church King Street Dundee DD1 2JB

06/02/2013

Broughty Ferry Community Council Meeting February 2013

Last night I attended the regular monthly meeting of Broughty Ferry Community Council. Each month there is an opportunity for elected members to report to the Community Council. 

Here is a summary of my report which covers some of the issues I have worked on since the last meeting in early December.

Coastal walkway
The work on the contract to upgrade the last section of the coastal pathway has been progressing more slowly than anticipated because of extreme weather restricting access to the beach. From later this week, the contractor is expecting to be working from both the Douglas Terrace and Grassy Beach ends pouring concrete. The contractors have been maintaining a narrowed pathway for pedestrians while the work is ongoing. Last week, because of the very high tides, the coastal pathway was temporarily closed. During this period of closure, pedestrians were using the connecting path between Grassy Beach and Beach Lane using the the railway footbridge and a connecting pathway. The surface of this pathway was extremely muddy and slippery. After complaints from residents, I contacted the Transport and Environment Departments. This week work has started on the section of muddy path to scrape off the surface and lay some grit to improve the underfoot conditions.

Council Budget
On Thursday afternoon 14 February, the Policy and Resources Committee will convene for the City Council's annual budget meeting. In relation to 'savings' or 'cuts' identified in the budget and affecting residents in Broughty Ferry, I draw attention to the following:
  • Grove Academy - Larger Classes for S1/2 English and MathsAt Grove Academy and four other Secondary Schools in the city, Maths and English S1 and S2 classes with an average of 20 pupils will be cut and replaced by standard class sizes with up to a maximum of 33 pupils. According to a report Grove Parent Council last week, Grove will lose 2.4 Maths and English teachers. Over the last 8 years, when these smaller classes have been in place. pupils' examination grades in core examination subjects like Maths and English has markedly improved;
  • 5% across the board cut in funding for non council social welfare organisations and services and
  • Shoppers 'friendly bus' for sheltered housing residents is to be withdrawn. 
I also reported that the Labour group on the Council are currently finalising their alternative proposals for the budget meeting.

Anton Drive Retaining Wall
Work will be starting soon on rebuilding the retaining wall in Anton Drive.

05/02/2013

Safer Internet Day Tuesday 5 February 2013


Today is Safer Internet Day.
Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by Insafe in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.
The theme for the day is 'Online rights and responsibilities', when they are encouraging users to 'Connect with respect'.


Watch the video prepared for Safer Internet Day2013
http://youtu.be/GBxB2HZJ1Sw

Consultation on New Schools in Strathmartine, Menzieshill and Coldside - Have Your Say


At its meeting on 26 November 2012, Dundee City Education Committee made and agreed to publish and consult on proposals for new schools in three areas in Dundee:

Strahmartine,
Menzieshill and
Coldside.

These three proposals include:


  1. the permanent relocation of Sidlaw View Primary School and Jessie Porter Nursery School to a new shared campus site;
  2. to discontinue Hillside and Gowriehill Primary Schools and build a new 3 stream primary school incorporating a nursery provision to replace Menzieshill Nursery School;
  3. the permanent relocation of Our Lady's RC Primary School, Rosebank Primary School and Frances Wright Pre-School Centre to a new shared campus site.

Read or download the proposals:



Written representations on the proposals may be submitted to Mr Michael Wood, Director of Education, Floor 2, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee, DD1 1NL Email michael.wood@dundeecity.gov.uk


The last day of the consultation period is Monday 11 March 2013. This is the last day by which representations must be received for the Council to take them into account.

04/02/2013

Pilot Pier in The Ferry Left Unchained

Residents who live near the Pilot Pier have contacted me about the chain barrier that keeps vehicles from driving onto the pier which has been left unattached. The chain is currently trailing on the ground and the pier appears to being used as an unofficial parking spot.

It's not initially clear who is the the key holder nor who should sort this out. I have written to the resourceful staff at the Environment Department to see whether they can secure the pier.

03/02/2013

Issues Raised at Education Committee on Monday 28 January 2013

I made two comments and posed two questions at the Education Committee last Monday (28 January 2013) in the context of commenting on the sole agenda item: Education Department Standards and Quality:

Firstly, I said:
This report is an important report which I welcome. I am pleased that we have an opportunity to talk at the Education Committee about core issues such as the attainment of our pupils in examinations in S4-6.

There are some promising trends. I particularly appreciate the hard work of teachers and pupils to improve the proportion of pupils gaining a minimum of Standard Grade in English and Maths. The increase in passes from a level that was beneath the national average to level that is above the national average and our comparator authorities is a real achievement.

I think that we all appreciate that improvements like this are unlikely to come from a wee sprint in S3 and S4 but build on incremental changes in Nursery, Primary and Secondary schools over a number of years. After all, the results referred to in this report come after a pupil will have spent up to two years full or part time in a Nursery School, seven years in Primary School and between four and six years in one of our secondary schools.

Convener I would therefore like to recommend to you that we ask the Director in subsequent reports to include facts and figures we already collect about the performance of our pupils at earlier points than the end of secondary school. For example, for more than five years our primary pupils have been linked to the Durham University's Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPs) tests on reading and writing in early, middle and upper primary.

Now I note that in the equivalent reports in other authorities in North East Scotland for example, Perth and Kinross and Angus, there are references to these wider measures which I would argue are milestones on the route to attainment at the end of our pupils' school days.

Convener, I have a motion on this but would hope you would agree that this is a constructive suggestion and one that we shouldn't need to divide about?

So shall we agree to take this forward for the Standards and Quality Report in 2014?"

The Convener accepted my proposal.

Secondly, I asked:
"Convener in the SNP manifesto you campaigned on in the local government elections last May your party wrote:
'Under the SNP, Dundee City Council will continue to deliver new schools, smaller class sizes, breakfast clubs in every school and after school clubs in every area of Dundee.' ....
'As every parent knows, smaller class sizes means more teacher time and better learning.' (Extracted from Re-Elect an SNP Council, Moving Dundee Forward)

Convener, will the improvements in attainment, that the Standards and Quality Report promises be helped or hindered by increases in class sizes in S1 and S2 Maths and English in five of the nine secondary schools in Dundee?"

The Convener did not address his answer to my question.

02/02/2013

V&A at Dundee Architect Kengo Kuma to give Public Lecture in the City Monday February 18th


Kengo Kuma, architect of the new V&A at Dundee, will discuss his approach to architecture and how a new relationship is being formed between people and place at a public lecture in Dundee later this month.

Kengo Kuma will talk about his projects around the world as well as updating progress on his thoughts and designs for the V&A at Dundee

The `Power of Place' lecture will take place at the Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee, at 6pm on Monday February 18th.

Kengo Kuma previously gave public lectures in Dundee in May 2011, when the initial event was so heavily oversubscribed that an extra session had to be added to accommodate over 1400 interested people.

Tickets for this lecture are free but advance booking is recommended. They can be reserved from the University of Dundee Events office, online at www.dundee.ac.uk/tickets, by emailing events@dundee.ac.uk, or by calling  01382 385564 or  01382 385108.

01/02/2013

Coastal Pathway Temporary Closure on Safety Grounds

On Wednesday morning on my daily dog walk along the coastal pathway, I found my way blocked at the Douglas Terrace end with a hand painted sign indicating that the path had been closed because of the danger of high tides. To access the beach further long at Grassy Beach, I walked round to Beach Lane and the connecting pathway from there to the footbridge over the railway. The footpath was very muddy and slippery. Looking from the vantage point of the footbridge, it was able to see that part of the pathway surface adjacent to site works by Kilmac (the Contractor) was missing. 

By the time I had got home and washed off the the mud off my shoes, I had been contacted by a constituent who complained  about the awful state of the path from Beach Lane which he had little option but to use.

I contacted the Council and enquired, on behalf of pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers about how long the coastal pathway was to be closed? In the light of the closure, I also indicated that I wanted to know what the Council was going to do to improve signage while this stretch of the busy coastal pathway was closed. I thought that diversionary routes should be clearly indicated for those that don't know their way around. Furthermore, I wanted to know what the Council was going to do to improve the surface of the Beach Lane pathway which is one of the Broughty Ferry 'core' paths? It's disappointing that I called for the upgrading of the surface of the Beach Lane pathway last summer but this was ignored apart from cutting back the brambles. 

Later on Wednesday, the coastal pathway was re-opened.

I think it's time for speedy and effective action by the Council so that this pathway can mare adequately provide a safe and convenient diversionary route when the coastal pathway is closed again on safety grounds.