Changes to National Express Buses Serving Broughty Ferry from 4 May 2014

National Express Dundee No 5 Bus in Broughty Ferry
National Express Dundee have advised that they intend to introduce citywide service changes on 4 May 2014. These changes are driven by commercial considerations and have not been requested by Dundee City Council.

These are the changes to their routes that serve Broughty Ferry:
Service 5 will be combined with a new X5 service operating directly to Ninewells every 15 minutes. Along with the Outer Circle, there will be eight departures each hour from Barnhill/Broughty Ferry toward Dundee city centre. The X5 will operate non-stop from Dalgleish Road to Seagate.

Service 9/10/11/12 (outer circle) will have its route slightly revised to offer a more direct service between Dundee city centre and Broughty Ferry. The direct connection from Barnhill to Stobswell will be removed as the bus will use Broughty Ferry Road/Blackscroft rather than Arbroath Road/Victoria Street.

Service 5N will be cancelled. The night bus service was introduced in 2012 but has not managed to attract sufficient numbers of users to make it sustainable.

I know that many older residents living on, or close to, Dundee Road in The Ferry will be disappointed that these modifications will not improve the poor frequency of buses that run along their road to and from Dundee. These residents will continue to have to hike up to Strathern Road to get on the outer circle and the X5 services.


Commenting on Ministerial Visit to New Harris Academy Building Site Thursday 27 March 2014

Alasdair Allan MSP visiting Harris Academy for a photo opportunity
I am disappointed to learn that Alasdair Allan the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages only scheduled hinself for a half hour visit to a Dundee secondary school yesterday. Clearly he was not likely to meet many pupils and teachers going to visit the building site of the new Harris Academy for what appeared to be little more than a photo opportunity. 

Far from patting himself on the back for eventually allocating funding towards the much delayed rebuilding of Harris Academy, I think he should have been taking more time in Dundee to meet teachers from our Secondary Schools and parents and carers whose children in S4 classes are soon to sit their examinations. I think they would want to know how he and his government is responding to the mounting concerns about the flawed introduction of the new National 4 and 5 examinations. 

In addition, many parents and carers remain opposed to the extension of the Broad General Education to S3 and through this leaving only one year for preparation for the new examinations. This narrows the curriculum in S4 by limiting pupils' choices to six subjects.

Dundee expects more than this from a Government Education Minister.


Nine Ferry Footpaths to be Upgraded and Adopted in 2014-15

Pavement Upgrading in Broughty Ferry 2013
Pavement upgrading work in progess
 in Campfield Road during 2013
I have just been informed by the City Engineer about the priority list of unadopted footways and list of schemes to be carried out throughout Dundee in the next financial year 2014-15 at an overall cost of £500k.

The following streets in Broughty Ferry will benefit from their footpaths being upgraded and then adopted by the Council during the April 2014 - March 2015 financial year:

  • Boyd Place
  • Hutton Place
  • Kerrington Crescent - north footway
  • Margaret Crescent - east footway only
  • Oakley Place 
  • Ramsay Street
  • South Balmossie Street - west footway only
  • Stewart Street
  • Strathmore Street- east end section near the Campfield Square Shops
While the residents in these streets will no doubt be dleighted when their pavements are finally upgraded and adopted, there are still miles of pavements in Broughty Ferry to be brought up to standard in subsequent years.


Education Committee Endorses Council Developing a Proposal to Bring Sistema to Dundee

Gallery of Photographs of The Big Noise Orchestra in Rpaloch Stirling
Pictures from Sistema Scotland Project
in Raploch in Stirling
Last night the Education Committee unanimously agreed to instruct senior Council Officers to meet with representatives of Sistema Scotland and Optimistic Sound in Dundee to jointly prepare a detailed proposal for Sistema to establish one of their music programmes in Dundee.

Here is a copy of my contribution to the debate:

"Convener, I am pleased that you have signalled your support for Councillor Keegan's motion tonight and the opportunity his motion provides.

I hope now that we all believe that the potential benefit of bringing El Sistema to Dundee shouldn't be ignored. If Sistema Scotland and Optimistic Sound based in Dundee can bring in external funding to enhance what we already do to nurture musical talent in our city then that  must be worthwhile. Young people who would be engaged in the El Sistema immersive programme of music tuition and performance will bring a reward for themselves, their families and for their communities. 

And this viewpoint was emphasised not only in Clare Brennan's deputation to us tonight but also at the launch of the second Big Noise Orchestra in Govanhill in Glasgow in 2012 at which Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
'Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise Orchestra (in Stirling) is already transforming lives through music, and has the potential to improve confidence, wellbeing, health, education and community safety. The Scottish Government is committed to investing in programmes that can help to prevent health and social problems, which is why Sistema Scotland has our full support with funding coming from several different portfolios.'

Big Noise Govanhill is expected to make a real and positive difference to the community and the people who live there.

The Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop hailed Sistema Scotland’s work in Raploch as 'a fantastic example of how cultural activity can deliver real benefits to individuals, communities and wider society.'

She went on: 'It has improved the personal and social development of children in Raploch as well as their confidence, self-esteem, social skills and ability to concentrate, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of the programme in Govanhill.'

So Convener, as you acknowledged, we are not being asked to try something that has not been tried before but something which has a proven track record over six years in Raploch in Stirling and now over two years in Govanhill. In Aberdeen their council are engaged in negotiations to bring El Sistema to their city.

I urge our senior officials and representatives of Optimistic Sound and Sistema Scotland to get on with their negotiations and secure Dundee a place in the queue.

Finally, since this is predominantly an educational programme, albeit with many other benefits, I hope the Education Committee will not be bypassed when the forthcoming report comes back to Council."

Links to Sistema Scotland and Optimistic Sound


Dundee Musician of the Year 2014 - Ian Christie of Menzieshill High School

Ian Christie Menziehill High School Dundee Musician of the Year 2014
Ian Christie Dundee Musician of the Year 2014
Click on image to enlarge
I was delighted to attend the Dundee Musician of the Year Competition at the Bell Street Music Centre on Wednesday evening.

Eight senior pupils from Dundee Secondary Schools had been shortlisted to play in front of an invited audience and an independent Adjudicator, Mr Jim Park Head of the North Lanarkshire Schools' Music Service.

Each of the performers displayed an impressive mastery of their instrument and the two pieces that they played for us. 

The adjudicator chose Ian Christie from Menzieshill High School as the winner of this year's award for his outstanding performances playing the Marimba. 

I was also particularly impressed by the assured performances of Paul Yuile of Grove Academy on trombone.

Collectively the performances of the eight young musicians demonstrated the pinnacle of musicianship that is nurtured in our schools.

Well done to the performers, their Music Teachers, the Dundee School's Music Service and the parents and carers that have encouraged their children over the years.


Camphill Road Post Box is Reopened by Royal Mail

Post Box at the junction of Camphill Road with Bughties Road Broughty Ferry
Damaged Wall and 'closed' post box December 2013
Royal Mail have recently reversed their decision to permanently suspend collections from a Broughty Ferry post box. The post box in question is built into the stone wall at the junction of Camphill and Bughties Roads.

This week a constituent has written to let me know they are now able to use this post box again. My constituent wrote:
"I am writing to thank you all (all Four Ferry Councillors) for the help you have given in recovering the post box. I shall test it out today by sending a letter to friends and relatives in England. it was really good to see the Royal Mail responding to local pressure. Neighbours are delighted."

In December, I publicised residents' concerns about delays to the restoration of the stone wall in which the the post box was mounted and the temporary suspension of collections from this post box. The photograph, shows the wall damaged by a car colliding with it and the safety fencing preventing collections from the post box set in the wall. This accident, I think, provided the pretext for Royal Mail trying to permanently withdraw collections from the box.

I am pleased to have played my part in restoring the postal service by corresponding with Managment at a Royal Mail and submitting Freedom of Information requests to uncover whom they had consulted in the City Council and with what response. It seems in retrospect that the case to justify permanent closure of this postal box was flimsy. I am pleased that decision has been overturned.


Meeting with Scottish Water

Scottish Water logo
On Tuesday morning, I took advantage of Scottish Water running a surgery for Councillors in the City Chambers. I met Steve Scott, the Regional Community Manager, who is based at the Invergowrie Offices of Scottish Water.

I reviewed with Steve Scott, the two major issues which have been raised by constituents; namely the recurrent flooding at Cedar Road and the periodic leaking of the sewerage pipes under the stony beach close to the Western end of Douglas Terrace.

It was good to meet Steve face-to-face and the discuss these two issues and what potential there was to resolve them with the support of Scottish Water, SEPA and City Council. Steve will be sending me further documentation when he returns to the office.


Free Dundee App for Tourists and Residents - Simply Indispensable

Dundee App launched February 2014 - Screenshots
Dundee App Screenshots from iPhone 5
Click on image to enlarge
Last week the City Council launched a new app to help boost tourism in the city. 

It has been developed by Waracle one of Dundee's cutting edge technology companies.

While the App was developed for tourists, residents with smart phones will also find it indispensable as it provides the most comprehensive, on the move, listings guide to the city. The app allows users to search activities by category. 

This app channels listings from the What's On Dundee website, which is staffed by a full-time team meaning the app is continually updated with up-to-the-minute events and activities. It is also the only app to include complete listings for films screening in the city at Cineworld, Odeon and Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre Cinema.

The Dundee App also has an innovative ‘shoogle' function. With a quick shake of the handset, the app generates a completely random event happening that day making it a unique and exciting way to try different activities and ‘shoogle' your way around the city.

The app is free to download on Apple or Android now.


Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont MSP Expresses Concern that Council is Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont  issues call over early years staffing in primary schools
© Dundee Courier Tuesday 4 March 2014
Click on image to enlarge

Yesterday, I accompanied Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont MSP and Jenny Marra MSP to two meetings about the plight of the Early Years Practitioners that currently work in twenty two Primary Schools in Dundee. In the Council's budget meeting last month, SNP Councillors bulldozed through proposals to move these staff from working in P1-3 classes so that they could make up the numbers of staff required in nursery schools. This was despite Dundee Labour Councillors proposing a budget amendment which would have kept the Early Years Practitioners in their Primary School posts.

The first meeting was at St Andrew's RC Primary School where Johann met Michael Wood, Director of Education; David Dorward, Chief Executive, Lina Waghorn, Head of Primary Education and Avril Barnett the Acting Head Teacher at St Andrew's. Following that meeting, Johann's response to the Courier is detailed in the article above. 

In the early evening, Johann Lamont, Jenny Marra and I attended a meeting with the Early Years Practitioners at a meeting convened by UNISON. What struck me was how highly motivated and dedicated these Early Years Practitioners are. Unlike many disputes, this group of trade unionists are not campaigning for their jobs, rather they are campaigning for the continuation of their roles in Primary School classrooms. While they have been promised continuing employment working in nursery classes from August this year, their concern is for the children with whom they currently work who will miss out when they are withdrawn from their primary schools at the end of June. Their removal will represent a cut in the front line staff working directly with children in primary school classrooms. 

I am sure that pupils, parents and carers and class teachers will notice the difference when their Early Years Practitioner is withdrawn. Link to the list of twenty two Primary Schools that will lose their Early Years Practitioner in June 2014. The last word should go to Johann, "I don't think this kind of 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' is the way to address our education provision."


Increase in Reserved Places in Ferry Schools for 2014-15

Allocation of reserved places in Dundee Schools for session 2014-15
Click on table to enlarge
At the Education Committee on Monday 24 February 2014, the Committee approved proposals from the Director of Education to increase reserved places in eleven schools in Dundee including Grove Academy, Barnhill, Eastern and Forthill Primary Schools in The Ferry.

The table shows that the allocation of reserved places for Barnhill, Eastern and Forthill Primary Schools for school year 2014-15 will be five places at P1 and one place in each year group P2-7. The allocation of reserved places for Grove Academy will be four places at S1 and two at S2.

Reserved places are defined as those which are reasonably required to accommodate pupils likely to become resident in the catchment area of the school in the school year to which the placing request relates.

This allocation of reserved places for Ferry schools will help to ensure that while parental choice is maintained wherever possible, that will not unduly restrict parents moving into the catchment area of a school from sending their child or children to their local primary or secondary school.

The following points should be noted concerning the deployment of reserved places:
  • Reserved places are only created where space permits. Where sufficient Priority 1 pupils enrol to fill a class a reserved place cannot be created;
  • No Priority 1 pupil will be refused a place while a reserved place exists and 
  • When all reserved places have been used for Priority 1 pupils moving into the catchment area no more places can be granted. If a pupil then leaves the school roll that place will again be reserved for Priority 1 pupils moving into the catchment area and will be allocated to such pupils as required.
Link to the full paper presented to and approved by the Education Committee on Monday 24 February 2014 to read and/or download.


Two Wheel Challenge in King Street

King Street Broughty Ferry
Is the stretch of King Street, just west of the junction with New Road and bordering Castle Green, the bumpiest section of adopted road in Broughty Ferry?

If you have cycled along this end of King Street you will have doubtless noticed that it's a bone shaker and a real challenge for all road users on two wheels.

I assume it's the poor sub-structure of the road which accounts for the extensiveness of the indentations and the rippled surface from kerb to kerb.

I have asked the Roads' Maintenance Partnership to investigate and respond with a comprehensive treatment.