High Council Fees Will Prevent Many Dundee Residents from Using High Hedges New Powers

I was very disappointed when Dundee City Council fixed a £400 fee for submitting an application under the provisions of the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013, which has just come into effect. 

I think the potential of this new measure has been surely blunted by the City Council imposing this level of fee. I believe this will be a real barrier to many folk involving the Council in resolving a prolonged neighbour dispute about overly high hedges.

I know that some of my long suffering constituents had been looking forward to this Act coming into force. For these folk, a high hedge on their boundary really intrudes into their lives by cutting out direct sunlight in their homes and gardens. I am sure these constituents will feel the Council has been unsympathetic setting their fee so high. I am concerned that will be an insurmountable hurdle for constituents pursuing a dispute which typically they have had to suffer for many years. 

If Angus Council can fix their fee at £275, I am mystified why Dundee has imposed such a relatively high charge.


The Courier Referendum Roadshow Visits The Ferry Tuesday 29 April 2-4pm

The Courier Referendum Roadshow Visits Broughty Ferry on Tuesday 29 April 2014 2-4pm
On Tuesday afternoon, 29 April, The Courier Referendum Roadshow will be coming to Broughty Ferry. 

Their distinctive van and Reporter will be pulling up in Beach Crescent between 2-4pm. NB This event was previously scheduled to take place at the Car Park in Fort Street. Due to the road works on Queen Street, the Courier Referendum Roadshow has been moved to Beach Crescent.


Changes to Domestic Waste Collections - One Size Fits All Will Not Work in Broughty Ferry

Abercromby Street, Broughty Ferry, domestic waste collection
At the Environment Committee on Monday night the Committee agreed, after a vote, to go ahead with a scheme to enhance recycling of domestic waste. While my Labour colleagues and I support the need to dramatically improve the proportion of recycling, we thought there was a crucial step that had been missed out. We believe that a consultation with the public, which the Council had agreed to undertake over a year ago, should have happened first. Using their majority, SNP Councillors voted through their scheme.

In the discussion at the Council and at a prior briefing for Councillors we did impress on the Director of Environment, Ken Laing and the Convener of Environment, Craig Melville (SNP) the importance of recognising that a 'one size fits all' approach will not work. While many homes in Broughty Ferry can cope with multiple bins into which to separate their rubbish, this is not realistic for folk who live in properties with limited or no off street storage space. This is clear in the picture I took last week in Abercromby Street where there are only general waste bins supplied in the bin stores for the blocks of low rise walk up flats.

The Director and Convener agreed that they would need to engage with the public and they would introduce a variety of measures according to household and neighbourhood circumstances. If they don't commit to consultation with residents now, I think there will be many folk who will be more than disappointed when the weekly general (grey bin) waste collection becomes fortnightly. 

I encourage all community groups in The Ferry to contact the Environment Department to ask for a meeting about how recycling can be improved in their streets before the weekly general waste collections are phased out.


Grove Academy Spring Fayre for World Challenge Saturday 26th April 2014 from 10:30am – 2:30pm

Grove Academy, Broughty Ferry.
Grove Academy’s Spring Fayre will be held on Saturday 26th April 2014 from 10:30am – 2:30pm. 

Stalls will include: Cake and Candy, Beat the Goalie; Bouncy Castle and Soak the Teacher. A fun day out for all the family.

Tickets cost £3.00 for adults, £1.50 for children and concessions and under-fives go free! 

Proceeds form the Fayre will go towards Grove's World Challenge Teams and their expedition to Kenya in June, where they will be undertaking projects with Grove's exchange partner school in Meru.


Need for Additional Report Before Approving Nearly £0.5m on Nursery Places for Under 3s

Extract from City Development Committe Report 20.04.2014 about spending on school building projects
Click on image to enlarge
On Monday night at the City Development Committee, on the basis of a flimsy report, Councillors are being asked to approve borrowing of £464,659.00 to pay for:
13-6033 – Various Primary SchoolsProvision for Under 3 year olds
The works comprise alteration works to provide provision for under 3 year olds at Ardler, Ballumbie, Dens Road, Longhaugh, Mill O’Mains, Park Place and St Ninians Primary Schools.

There are no background papers just the contract costs.

Significantly there is no mention of this project on the agenda of the Education Committee which meets before the City Development Committee on Monday night. Apparently it will be on the agenda of the next Education Committee in May. This will be locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

I appreciate that the pace of change is dictated by the Scottish Parliament's requirement that the Council make provision for 600 hours of nursery provision for 2 year old children where both parents are unemployed in August 2014. But this decision is being presented with inadequate information for Councillors to make up their minds and that can't be right. I have already been advised that the inclusion of Park Place Primary School in the list is wrong; it closed it as a Primary School in 2012. 

Here is my list of the things I think Councillors reasonably need to know now:
  1. How many children are we planning to provide places for?
  2. How robust are these numbers of 'qualifying' two year old children?
  3. Why have the named schools been chosen for these developments?
  4. Are there any other schools not needing major building alterations that will be involved in providing places for this additional group of younger children?
  5. What is the basis for calculating that qualifying children will live closest to the schools that have been identified?
  6. What pattern of nursery hours will be offered to help unemployed parents and carers back to work? What job can you do if your child's nursery place runs for just over three hours a day five days a week? Has any other configuration of hours been considered?
  7. What steps are we taking to recruit additional Early Years Practitioners to provide the extra places?
  8. Will there be time to do all the building work before mid August as well as obtain the Care Commission approvals?
  9. What consultation has taken place with parents and carers?
  10. Has an Equality Impact Assessment been completed?
It's still not too late to put his right and introduce a late item at the Education Committee on Monday night. I have written to the Education Convener and Director of Education to propose that.


Help at Hand in Broughty Ferry for Folk Trying to Cope with Changes to Their Social Security Benefits

Connect Dundee Team Logo
Are you or anyone you know affected by the Welfare Reforms including the Benefits' Cap and Bedroom Tax?

Finding it hard to make ends meet?

Do you know about the upcoming changes in benefits and how they will affect you?

Do you or someone you know claim any of these benefits?
  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Employment Support Allowance (income based)
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Disability living allowance (DLA)
These benefits are changing – find out more from your local CONNECT officer for Broughty Ferry, Gail Watson. Gail is at the Ferry Library in Queen Street every Wednesday 2pm 4:30pm

For a full list of regular surgery times across the City including the Wellgate Library read/download the list or to speak directly to an Adviser ring 01382 431205 and ask to be put through to a member of the CONNECT team.

The CONNECT team is a new initiative which is funded from the Big Lottery until March 2015 with the aim of addressing  the key issues people face as a result of the Welfare Reforms in Dundee. The project has created a Task Force of 8 officers, a Team Leader and 7 frontline multi-skilled staff which cover all eight Local Community Planning Partnerships. 


Queen Street (Fort Street to St Vincent Street) - Carriageway Resurfacing work

Work is programmed to commence at Queen Street (Fort Street to St Vincent Street) on Friday, 25 April 2014 and will last approximately 15 days.

The Contractor for the works is Tayside Contracts.

In the interest of public safety, road closures will be implemented between Fort Street and St Vincent Street.

The works will be carried out in three phases to minimise disruption to traffic.

Phase 1
Queen Street/Fort Street junction will be closed for 3 days from Friday 25 April to 
Sunday 27 April .

Phase 2
Queen Street from East of Fort Street junction to St Vincent Street will be closed 
for a further 5 days from Monday 28 April. Note, Fort Street junction will be open.

Phase 3
Queen Street from East of Fort Street junction to St Vincent Street will be closed for another 5 days from Tuesday 6 May, again the Fort Street junction will be open during this phase of the works.

It is proposed to have no road closures in place from Saturday 3 May to Monday 5 May.

During Phase 1 vehicular traffic will be diverted via Victoria Road, Ballinard Road, Balgillo Road, Forthill Road, Nursery Road, Abertay Street and reverse.

During Phases 2 and 3 vehicular traffic will be diverted via Fort Street, Nursery Road, Abertay Street and reverse.

Phase 2 and 3 closures will not be implemented until Phase 1 has been completed.

Please note that pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained throughout the works.

If you have any queries regarding this matter, please contact Mr L Grubb, Senior Engineer, Road Maintenance by telephoning 01382 834126.


Pupils from Ballumbie Primary School Unveil New Street Sign for Harvest Field Crescent

Unveiling of Street Sign for Harvest Field Crescent in Whitfield 16 April 2014
Pupils Jamie Cassidy & Jessica Winter, Councillor
Brian Gordon & Class Teacher Pauline McConnachie
Yesterday afternoon, pupils from class P5/6 at Ballumbie Primary School unveiled the new street sign for Harvest Field Crescent.

I was delighted to join North East Councillor Brian Gordon and East End Councillor Lesley Brennan along with staff and pupils from Ballumbie Primary School for the unveiling ceremony.

This brought to a conclusion the pupils' involvement in suggesting a name for the new road that has been constructed just opposite the gates of their school.

It was an inspired collaboration between Councillor Gordon and the School which led to class P5/6 nominating 'Harvest Field Crescent' to the Council. I hope it will become routine now for the Council to include our schools when inviting the public and local organisations to suggest names for new streets. 

This example has demonstrated the value of involving our young citizens in the work of local government and making a difference in their own community. 


Appeal for Contractors to Remove Building Waste Dumped on the Pilot Pier in The Ferry

Two weeks ago two large bags of builders' rubble were dumped at the Pilot Pier in Broughty Ferry. 
A constituent contacted me to complain that:
"there was an incident at the weekend which involved some bags of rubble that have been left at the entrance to the pilot pier in Fisher Street. On Saturday evening one of the bags was dragged along Fisher Street and left on the pavement outside the house. A neighbour saw it and rang the police." 

I passed this on to the Environment Department who reported back that the containers were two large "Dewson" bags which are typically used as containers for the supply and delivery of building materials like sand. These one tonne capacity bags were too heavy for their staff to uplift. They had however contacted the City Development Department in an effort to locate the contractors and get them to remove their trade waste.

Two weeks on and the rubbish sacks are still sitting on the pier. 

I appeal to the contractors to remove these two containers of building rubble that they have carelessly left behind on our waterfront. 

I also appeal to constituents in the area who had building work undertaken or who may have seen a marked builder's vehicle in the area to notify me the details so that the Council can pursue the contractors.


Broughty Ferry Beach Recommended Again by the Marine Conservation Society

Broughty Ferry Beach entry in Good Beach Guide April 2014
Yesterday the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) published their annual survey results on UK beaches.

Broughty Ferry beach came out well on the Society's survey of water quality throughout last year achieving consistently good results.

This has led to our beach receiving a 'MCS Recommended' status.

Link to Marine Conservation Society web page on Broughty Ferry beach.


Making Space for Cycling - Backing the Campaign

I received this email letter from a constituent earlier today

Dear Councillor Bidwell,

I am writing as a resident in your ward who is concerned about the quality of our streets for cycling.

Better designed streets that encourage people to cycle can improve our health and air quality, reduce casualties and create safer, more pleasant neighbourhoods.

Yet, 67% of people say they aren't confident cycling on busy roads.

More and more people want to cycle and the government has called for a ‘cycling revolution’.  Now’s the time to build on this momentum to create safer space for cycling.

Jon Snow, President of the Cyclists' Touring Club explains, Space for Cycling in this short (2 minute) video

I want to see our Council make protected space on our main roads, remove through traffic from residential streets, lower speeds limits and making our town centres cycle-friendly.

Please back the call for Space for Cycling

I am delighted to back this campaign to help improve the conditions for cycling in Dundee and thereby increase the number of short journeys taken by bike for work and leisure. Increasing the proportion of journeys by bike will also help to decrease emissions from car exhausts and through this enhance air quality.


Possibility of Hourly Train Services From Broughty Ferry in New Rail Frachise

Broughty Ferry Station
I am pleased to hear that regional transport body TACTRAN has recently urged the companies bidding for the new SCOTRAIL franchise for an hourly train service to Glasgow that serves Broughty Ferry. This is supported by TACTRAN's Tay Valley Transport Study of a few years ago and the uplift in passenger numbers since First ScotRail began offering a limited stopping service at our station.

I have called for this stopping service to be one of the conditions in the specification for the new franchise but it seems that it will still be down to the special pleading of our regional transport body if this is to be achieved.

While not directly a franchise issue, there is a remaining important equality issue at the station which Network Rail need to address. Put simply the platforms are set too low for modern trains and it's a very significant step up to board the train and a big drop down when you are alighting. To their credit FirstScotrail have tried to address this with sets of wooden steps placed on the platforms but this was always a bit improvised and doesn't work when trains are not of a consistent length. There were also concerns about the the back draft from the East Coast Mainline trains going through the station at speeds close to 100mph and the steps being blown onto the track. I understand that this issue has been resolved in other stations by constructing a raised section of platform.


Health and Safety of Dundee School Buildings

On Tuesday 1st April, regrettably, a twelve year old pupil at Liberton High School in Edinburgh died from her injuries when a partition wall in the school's PE changing rooms collapsed.

I am pleased to learn that Dundee City Council has already instructed technical staff to inspect equivalent 'modesty walls ' in school changing rooms in our schools.

The last annual report to to the Education Committee on the school buildings in Dundee focused on sufficiency of school places and the overall condition of each school building. It reported a generally improving position as new schools were replacing old. But the tragic death of pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett in Edinburgh shows how we can't afford to be complacent.

I have written to the Convener and Director of Education requesting that the council do a wider health and safety double check of school buildings in Dundee especially in those education premises due for replacement.

It has been reported that the partition wall that collapsed at Liberton High School had been previously noticed and commented on by pupils.

In addition, I have asked for reassurance that staff and pupil observations of health and safety hazards in our schools are properly reported, logged, inspected and acted on.
When the schools go back after the Spring holidays on Monday 14 April, parents and carers have a right to expect that their children will be returning to a school environment that is not hazardous nor potentially injurious.


Broughty a Ferry the Jewel in Dundee Crown - Now Official

While many Ferry folk confidently claim that Broughty Ferry is the jewel in Dundee's crown, this assertion is now the official view of Visit Scotland who are promoting Dundee and environs as a destination.

In their latest advertising feature, which was distributed as a supplement in Scotland on Sunday, Visit Scotland include the paragraph reproduced (left) which finishes with "it's the jewel in Dundee's crown!"

Link to Visit Scotland website section on Broughty Ferry


RNLI Coffee Morning in The Ferry Saturday 12 April 2014 10:00-12:00

Broughty Ferry Lifeboat
On Saturday 12 April
the Dundee Fundraising of RNLI are holding a
Coffee Morning

at St James's Parish Church Hall (close to the Lifeboat Shed) Fort Street
Broughty Ferry 

Stalls will include:
Cake and Candy, Lifeboat Souvenirs, Bric-a-Brac and Books

Admission: Adults £2 Children £1

Picture acknowledgement - Dundee Evening Telegraph


Remedy for Misery from High Hedges Becomes Available from Today

The High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 comes into force today April 1st 2014.

This provides a possible remedy for householders who have suffered a significant loss of light due to the presence of a high hedge on neighbouring ground and have been unable to resolve matters with their neighbours.

Here is a link to the Council's updated webpage on High Hedges