17/12/2015

Pupils at Kingspark School Entertain with Christmas Show

Ticket to Kingspark School 'Snowy Chums' Christmas Show 17 December 2015
Earlier this afternoon, I enjoyed an enthusiastic performance of 'Snowy Chums', the Christmas Show performed by the talented pupils of Kingspark School.

I can't remember any previous school show where the Head Teacher had confidently asserted that every pupil in the school had been involved, one way or another, in the staging of the show and the performance. This was an outstanding example of pupils working together: designing the tickets, preparing the hand written invitations, singing and dancing, taking part in the video about the school, serving refreshments, as well as the enterprise group making and selling Christmas gifts and decorations. 

The performers on stage are to be congratulated for singing their hearts out and mastering and delivering their lines and dance moves.

Head Teacher, Laura Smith, and her staff deserve recognition too for having clearly embedded the 'Getting it Right for Every Child' in their practice. 

15/12/2015

Commenting on Continuing High Levels of Pupil Absence in Dundee Schools

Being at the bottom of a national league table for pupil absence is not where we want to be in our schools and our city. Days lost through absence from school are days lost from learning.

Of course it is important to recognise that average attendances mask the fact that a majority of our pupils have excellent attendance at school. On the other hand, a relatively small proportion of pupils may have a very poor record of attendance which depresses the average attendance in a specific school and across the city. However we interpret them however, there is a job to be done to raise the average citywide attendance.

When we look for solutions, I have misgivings about putting too much reliance on short term projects employing temporary staff. When their project is over, after two or three years, the initiatives they have begun may well be unsustainable by the remaining core staff in a school. 

The reduction in the number of Guidance staff in Secondary Schools and the number of Depute Head Teachers in our Primary Schools will not have helped our schools focus on tackling non attendance. These cuts have reduced the senior staff who would directly follow up these issues with pupils and their teachers as well as parents and carers.

Just now the Council is consulting on a plan to reduce by a third the number of places for pupils in our three small scale Education Centres which offer an alternative to secondary pupils who are disengaged from their secondary schools who often have multiple additional support for learning needs. Currently many of the pupils who transfer to one of these centres experience a dramatic improvement to their attendance and participation in learning. I am concerned that the vague alternative and much cheaper services the Council are discussing will make matters worse not better for these pupils and less effective in promoting their attendance and participation by these pupils.

If we are going to tackle a low average attendance in our schools, relative to other Councils in Scotland, I think we need to stick with what currently works and promote initiatives that have the backing of staff and parents and carers, rather than impose more short term initiatives from the centre.

14/12/2015

Widespread Disapproval by Ferry Residents to Proposals from Local Government Boundary Commission

Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland
Last week it was reported that close to 1000 residents from The Ferry had submitted written objections to the Boundary Commission for Local Government in Scotland (LGBCS). 

Their representations have focused on opposing the proposal for removing that part of West Ferry that lies to the west of Victoria Road and Claypotts Road from Ward 8 The Ferry for elections to the Dundee City Council.

By any measure. this level of public response is a magnificent display of community solidarity, an overwhelming demonstration of disapproval with these proposals and a clear vote for West Ferry staying an integral part of The Ferry ward for city council elections.

We now await the deliberations of the Boundary Commission for Local Government in Scotland. Apparently, any changes they finally recommend to the Scottish Government would be planned to come into force for the next local Government elections in May 2017.

Link to my representation to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland

12/12/2015

Ferry Christmas Carol Service 7pm Monday 14 December 2015 St James's Parish Church

The annual Lifeboat Carol Concert will be held in St James Parish Church (the Lifeboat Church) on Monday 14 December 2015 beginning at 7pm

This is a wonderful opportunity to join in carol singing, remember the work of our brave and dedicated volunteer lifeboat crews and donate to the Lifeboat via the offertory.

St James’ Parish Church, Fort Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, DD5 2AD

11/12/2015

Commenting on Increasing Class Sizes in Dundee Primary Schools

Short term Education cuts - Long term damage
I know parents and carers in Dundee will be concerned by the news that class sizes in Dundee are continuing to increase and the number of teachers we employ has declined significantly. They know that the quality of the education their children receive depends on the expertise and number of teachers in local schools.

The SNP's record of running Education in Dundee is imposing one cut after another in the number of teachers in our schools. In the census in September 2010 there were 1511 teachers in post and in September 2015 this was down to 1409. This loss of over 100 posts represents the equivalent of more than two teachers in each of the primary and secondary school in the city. We can't go on like this cutting the schools' budget year after year and not expect that this will undermine the attainment and achievement of our children.

Strangely when the City Council was provided with the opportunity to bid for extra millions of pounds to help close the attainment gap in our city, they have apparently declined the opportunity to employ more teachers to reduce class sizes, especially in the early years.

For the second year running, the Education Convener, Councillor Stewart Hunter is presiding over the worst record in Scotland for the proportion of pupils who are taught in class sizes of 18 or fewer in P1-3 classes in our Primary Schools.

The plain fact is that the cash the city has received from Scottish Government has been reduced year after year and the Council Tax has been frozen. While George Osborne and the UK Government has imposed significant cuts in the value of their annual block grant to the Scottish Government, the SNP government in Holyrood must also accept responsibility for imposing cuts in our schools by avoiding using the powers they possessed to increase the rate of income tax and failing to bring in a new system of local government funding to replace the Council Tax.

24/11/2015

Final Count Down to Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights Night Thursday 26 November 2015

Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights Night is this Thursday, 26 November 2015. It will be taking place in Brook Street and Gray Street which will be traffic free for the night.

A great turn out from children with their parents and carers, young people and those that are young at heart is anticipated. 

The event kicks off at 6pm on the Radio Tay stage with this running order:


  • 6pm The Eastern Primary School Choir
  • 6.10pm Christmas Poster Competition presentation to the winners
  • 6.20pm Downfield Musical Society
  • 6.35pm Tribute to Frozen
  • 6.50pm Broughty Ferry Traders' Association cheque presentation to local good causes
  • 7pm Lights switch on with the Festive Ferry Minions

Entertainment will also be provided by Radio Tay and family friendly headliners with the whole event ending at 9pm.

There will be street food from local traders including Scott Brothers Butchers, all the fun of the fair with rides for young and old and a stall where people can purchase the new Broughty Shopper Bag and the beautifully illustrated Broughty Ferry 2016 Calendar.

Please note that the middle section of Brook Street between its junction with Fort Street and the junction with Gray Street will be closed from mid afternoon, although all the shops will remain open as usual.

Enjoy!

23/11/2015

Grove Academy Nineteenth in Sunday Times League Table of Top Fifty State Secondary Schools in Scotland

Grove Academy, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, 19th in Sunday Times top 50 State Secondary Schools in Scotland
Yesterday, as part of their Parent Power supplement, the Sunday Times published their list of the Top Fifty State Secondary Schools in Scotland. 

Grove came in joint nineteenth place (17th in 2014).

Congratulations to the pupils and staff at Grove for maintaining the school in the top twenty at a time of profound changes to the curriculum and SQA examinations. Of course the results at Grove also reflect positively on the support of parents and carers and the excellent groundwork provided by the pupils' Nursery and Primary Schools.

The Sunday Times table was calculated with reference to the 2014 National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher examination results with Highers and Advanced Highers double weighted.

A much wider range of measures about the Grove 'results' is available on the Education Scotland website - follow this link. The latest 'Insight' tool provides comparisons between the performance of Grove school leavers with a sample of pupils with similar backgrounds.

16/11/2015

Events in Dundee Today in the Wake of the Paris Terror Attacks

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks on Friday evening a number of events have been arranged in City Square today.

A one minute silence for the victims will take place at 11am in City Square. The event is part of a Europe-wide act of remembrance to those murdered in the atrocitiesThe council is asking anyone wishing to show their respects to be in the City Square by 10.50am.

This morning the Lord Provost Office in the City Council confirmed that a book of Condolences has been opened This will be available in the City Chambers main reception at 20 City Square so that people in Dundee can express their solidarity, write a word or sign the book of condolences.

Dundee Solidarity with Paris, Beirut, Iraq and Syria are holding a vigil in City Square in Dundee beginning at 17:30. They write:
This is not a protest but a solidarity candle light Vigil. There will be speakers and prayers.
Participating organisations: Tayside Action for Refugees, DUSA (Dundee university Student association), UNISON (trade Union), Yusuf Youth Initiative
More details on their Facebook link below
https://www.facebook.com/events/1667672750177417

14/11/2015

Vote for Dawson Park in UK Best Parks Awards 2015

Logo UK Best Parks Awards 2015
Dawson Park has been nominated in the UK Best Parks Awards 2015.

Online voting runs until 5pm on Wednesday 25th November 2015. The winning park will be announced at the Fields in Trust Awards Ceremony on Wednesday 2nd December.

You can find the link to vote for Dawson Park at:
http://www.fieldsintrust.org/bestpark/nominations

Dawson Park was funded by a bequest in 1940 from Mr William Dawson of Broughty Ferry, 'for the purpose of providing playing fields, sports ground and other recreational facilities'. The ground was purchased from the Douglas and Angus Estate in 1949, and the park was opened in the mid 1950's.

As well been a very well used public park, Dawson Park hosts Grove Academy for its outdoor PE; providing a running track for athletics, hockey and football pitches, tennis courts and changing rooms.

09/11/2015

More businesses in Dundee … but fewer workers

Map of Dundee
"Statistics released by the Scottish Government have shown that there are now 310 more businesses in Dundee than five years ago, generating a £586m rise in annual turnover. However, the number of people employed by Dundee businesses has dropped by 680 in those five years. 

The breakdown of figures shows that the two sectors that have lost the most jobs are construction and manufacturing, with 640 and 680 fewer jobs respectively over the five-year period."

Source: Dundee Evening Telegraph

05/11/2015

My Submission to LGBCS About Proposed Boundary Changes for Ward 8 - The Ferry - in Dundee












Dear LGBCS,

I am writing to add my weight to many hundreds of my constituents who attended a public meeting on Tuesday 1st September and the regular October meeting of The Broughty Ferry Community Council as well as those that have already submitted written representations. The former meeting was the largest about a local issue in The Ferry during my eight years as a City Councillor. The latter meeting was the largest public attendance at an ordinary meeting of the Community Council for many years.

Almost without exception residents from West Ferry were hostile to your proposals. Almost without exception residents from other parts of The Ferry were supportive of retaining the entire Ferry ward and not having West Ferry pruned off or any other part of their ward subsumed into another ward. I understand that this has been reflected in the written representations you have already received.

As an opposition Councillor, I regret that I did not take the opportunity to move against what became the LGBCS proposal when the Council discussed this. At that meeting, the tabled proposal from the majority SNP group on the Council was obviously going to be voted through.

The case for retention of the current boundary for Ward 8 does not however wholly depend on the number of objectors but also the following arguments:

Parity.
Using the LGBCS figures, not unreasonable parity, would be achieved by retaining the existing ward boundary.

Community/Local Ties. 
The Ferry Ward is effectively identical with the long established community of Broughty Ferry. The electoral boundary currently adequately defines what is essentially the eastern suburb of Dundee. This arrangement will be disrupted by the proposed boundary change. This moves the western boundary eastwards so that the West Ferry part of Broughty Ferry will, to a great extent, be merged into the adjoining East End Ward. The western boundary of the historic (independent and electorally separate) Police Burgh of Broughty  Ferry is identical to the current western boundary of West Ferry/Broughty Ferry (this has been confirmed to the Community Council by Ian Flett, the City Archivist). After Broughty Ferry was subsumed into Dundee in 1913, this electoral boundary was retained and exists to this day. Not only is the existing Ward 8 boundary historically significant, but the identity of The Ferry is strongly felt not only by residents born and bred in The Ferry but also by those residents like me that have moved to the city and made their home in Broughty Ferry. The strength and prevalence of these ties are also evidenced by the volume of objections you have already received.

Local services. 
There is a complex web of local statutory and voluntary organisations that serve people in the ward; for example the Broughty Ferry Community Council and Grove Academy. Significantly, while much of the current West Ferry lies outside the current catchment area of Grove Academy, through placing requests and the increased capacity of the new Grove Academy, many children from West Ferry attend Grove Academy along with their counterparts from other neighbourhoods in The Ferry ward.

In conclusion
I think there is now overwhelming evidence of a strongly held held consensus amongst my constituents that The Ferry ward should retain its existing boundaries. It is now the responsibility of the Commission, not the electors of The Ferry ward, to decide the potential alternative changes that might be required in adjoining wards to make this aspiration a reality.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Laurie Bidwell

Submitted to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (LGBCS) 22 October 2015

21/10/2015

Commenting on the Report on Staffing Levels in Dundee Schools - Education Committee Monday 26 October 2015

The report from the Director of Children and Families' Service paints a varied picture. It is positive that at a time of shortage of teachers across the country the Council has managed to compete more effectively for potential staff. It also positive that the 1412.5 teachers in post is more than the 1407 teachers counted in 2014. But the fact remains, this is still a significant drop from September 2013 when the Council had 1436 teachers in post.

The report is also selective about what it reveals. On class sizes it does not for example identify the number of classes currently being taught at maximum. In relation to ongoing shortages of supply teachers, neither does the report refer to how secondary schools are having to improvise supply cover nor how primary schools are covering the non contact time of primary teachers which they use towards preparation and marking.

At the meeting on Monday 26 October, we shall want reassurance that strategies are in place for Dundee to recruit the teachers it needs as competition for teachers sharpens between councils. Councils in the Highlands and Islands have recently had a summit with Angela Constance and have agreed to work together on recruitment and promoting alternative routes to teacher qualification. What are our plans for Dundee?

This performance is not what the SNP promised at the May 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament. 
In their Teachers' Manifesto May 2011, they committed to:
'Bring stability to teacher numbers by ensuring councils stick to the agreed minimum number of posts.'

It is significant that here in Dundee, this is the first year since 2011 that a year by year reduction in teacher numbers has been halted. It will take more than one year to be convinced that our SNP led Council now really means business on maintaining teacher numbers in our schools.

08/10/2015

Proposed Temporary Closure of King Street for Carriageway Resurfacing Works from 26 October 2015

Road Closed and Diversion Street Signs
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 2 weeks from 26 October 2015.  Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in King Street from Westfield Road to Lawrence Street (Phase 1) and from Lawrence Street to Fort Street (Phase 2).

Only one phase will be closed at any time.  No work will be carried out at the weekend and therefore the road will be open.

An alternative route will be available via Westfield Road, Brook Street and Brown Street (Phase 1), and via Church Street, Brook Street and Fort Street (Phase 2).

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.

07/10/2015

The Foodbank: Britain's Hidden Hunger - Dundee Featured BBC1 Wed 7 October 11:05pm - 12:05pm

Later today there will be a late night screening of The Foodbank: Britain's Hidden Hunger on BBC1 on Wednesday 7 October 2015 11:05pm - 12:05pm. It features the busiest Foodbank in Scotland, right here in Dundee.


Programme Notes from The Radio Times
Documentary looking at the growing numbers of people requiring emergency food in Britain. The stories of the people who received help from Scotland's busiest foodbank in Dundee are explored, including a man who cannot afford food after being the victim of a robbery, and a single dad who cannot feed his four-year-old son after a long period without work.

Network repeat of programme screened on BBC Scotland last week.

Dundee Food Bank
c/o Full Gospel Church
58 Constitution Street
DUNDEE DD3 6NE
Telephone: 01382 226372
Email: info@dundee.foodbank.org.uk

Website: http://dundee.foodbank.org.uk/

06/10/2015

School Alert for Proposed Temporary Closure of Seafield Road Broughty Ferry from Monday 19 October 2015

Road Closed and Diversion Signs
Earlier this month I alerted readers of my blog to the proposed temporary closure of Seafield Road for the replacement of the gas mains. Work is expected to start on Monday 19 October and last for for eight weeks.

Link to full details of the proposed road Closure

This essential work to renew the gas mains in Seafield Road will begin during the second week of the October school holidays.

Many pupils and their parents may be affected by this 8 week road closure, given the proximity of the road works to three of our Ferry Schools. I have therefore alerted the Head Teachers of Eastern Primary School, Grove Academy and Forthill Primary School. More specifically, I was concerned that the closure of Seafield Road will affect some of their pupils' Safe Routes to School and is likely to disrupt some car journeys to all three of these schools. It will of course unfortunately disrupt the lives of residents of Seafield Road who may well experience temporary access difficulties while their gas main is updated.

05/10/2015

Go Dundee Learning Journey 2015 – City of Design Saturday 7th November 9.30am-4pm

GO DUNDEE have confirmed that the 2015 Learning Journey will take place on Saturday 7th November from 9.30am to around 4pm and that the event will celebrate Dundee’s achievement of UNESCO ‘City of Design’ status. This year participants will be visiting the following venues:

  • Dundee Waterfront – including view of engineering works from RRS Discovery
  • DC Thomson – Kingsway East HQ
  • High Mill gallery – newly opened visitor attraction at Verdant Works
  • Maggie’s Dundee – cancer care centre in building designed by Frank Gehry

Go Dundee is again organising this event in partnership with Dundee Science Centre as part of the Dundee Science Festival 2015.  This year they are making a particular effort to encourage people from all the city’s various communities to take part in this event.  They are delighted that the Whitfield Community Choir has kindly agreed to perform at lunch time.  

Lunch will be provided at Verdant Works.

Many thanks to Xplore Dundee (formally National Express Dundee) for generously agreeing to provide the bus for the Learning Journey.

Booking
This event is free to attend but numbers are limited so booking is essential.
Booking starts on Friday 2nd October at 12.00 – phone the Dundee Science Festival number 01382 228800.

03/10/2015

Commenting on Thefts from NHS Tayside over 5 Years

On the basis of Freedom of Information Requests, it is regrettable to learn that over £400,000 of losses to NHS Tayside over the last five years were attributable to theft.

Whether it is lead stolen from roofs or equipment and furnishings removed from wards and surgeries, every pound spent on replacements is a pound not available for spending on the treatment of patients. 

Those who chose to deliberately or opportunistically steal from the NHS are stealing from us all as we all contribute to the cost of the NHS through our National Insurance contributions and taxes. 

Having said that, the budget of NHS Tayside is in excess of £640 million per year and they are a major owner of buildings in many locations. Seen it that light, the figure of £80,000 attributed to thefts per year (averaging out the reported annual losses from the five year total) suggests good security of NHS Tayside premises and sensible oversight of their movable property which I don't think intrudes on the treatment of patients.

02/10/2015

Proposed Temporary Closure of Seafield Road for Gas Main Renewal Beginning 19 October 2015 for 8 weeks

Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas main renewal works.  The Order is expected to be in force for 8 weeks from 19 October 2015.  Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Seafield Road from Davidson Street to Fintry Place (Phase 1) and Fintry Place to Balgillo Road (Phase 2).

Only one phase will be closed at any time.

An alternative route will be available via Davidson Street, Cedar Road, Forthill Road and Balgillo Road for northbound traffic, and via Balgillo Road, Forthill Road, Fort Street, Queen Street, Church Street and Seafield Road for southbound traffic.

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.

01/10/2015

Council Make Grammatical Error in the Title of New Combined Education and Socal Work Service

At the Education Committee on Monday 28 September,  I asked Michael Wood, the Executive Director of Children and Families' Service, a question about punctuation. As Executive Director I asked why the service he heads apparently had decided to remove an apostrophe after the s in Families in the title of the amalgamated service? 

This omission was apparent in the title and body of the reports that he had brought to Committee. I understand that this will also be used on letter heads and the Council's website.

I had previously raised this matter in private with Michael Wood and had hoped that matter would have been sorted out without having to raise it at the Education Committee.

As the head of the service that is responsible for the teaching of reading and writing in our schools, I think our Executive Director of Children and Families' Service should lead by example. 

Interestingly, the Convener of Education, Councillor Stewart Hunter, avoided revealing whether he and the SNP group of Councillors had been responsible for, or were party to this decision.

I have sent a copy of the committee report to the Apostrophe Protection Society.

30/09/2015

Welcome for Additional Bus Shelter on Balgillo Road

Relocated bus shelter on Balgillo Road, Broughty Ferry
This morning Council staff have advised that: "a bus shelter has been installed on Balgillo Road near to its junction with Forthill Road.

The shelter was previously located on Dundee Road opposite Ralston Road but apparently saw very little usage, therefore the decision was made that its new location was of far greater benefit to bus users. 
Currently there is no power to the shelter but this will follow in the next weeks as part of an electrical installation programme at various bus shelters."

Bus users who contacted me about the need for a bus shelter had complained about the lack of protection from the weather at this well used stop. Hopefully they will be pleased with this relocated shelter.

27/09/2015

WW100 Events in Dundee Saturday 26 September 2015

WW100 Scotland logo
On Saturday I attended two of the events that had been organised in Dundee to mark the centenary of the Battle of Loos in which men from Dundee died. 

Like so many of the battles waged along the Western Front in WW1, only a short distance of territory was gained at the cost of the lives of so many young men from our city.

Commemorative Parade & Service
On Saturday in City Square, in Dundee over 1,000 people attended the service at 12 noon which which has been preceded by a parade of around 250 from the current armed services and 300 veterans.  Members of the public lined the parade route and watched the service on a large screen on the High Street. 


Special guests included Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. The service was particularly poignant for The Prince of Wales – who is Royal Colonel of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, which suffered significant losses at Loos, and his Great Uncle (brother of the late Queen Mother) – Captain the Honourable Fergus Bowes-Lyon – who died on the third day of fighting. 

The Guns of Loos
At 7pm I was at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) for a special screening of ‘The Guns of Loos’, a silent film which hadn’t been shown since the 1930s. The Great War Dundee partnership, in association with DCA, had commissioned a new live musical score for the film by one of the UK’s leading silent film composers and performers, Stephen Horne. I think the performance of the musical score was the world premier.

Link to commemorative booklet about the Battle of Loos

25/09/2015

Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Open Day Sunday 27 Sept 2015

Broughty Ferry Lifeboat
Murray Brown, Coxwain of Broughty Ferry Lifeboat said:

"We invite everyone to come to our open day this Sunday 27 September 2015. 

There will be lots to see and do, including a chance to see round the lifeboat itself if the weather is fair enough for this to be safe. Folk can also meet the crew and enjoy refreshments and a barbecue. 

It is vitally important to us to establish and maintain close links with the local community. Just like Wave 102, we are here to serve the local community and we appreciate the support we get from Dundee’s local radio station, helping us to keep in touch with the people of Dundee. 

It is only through community support that RNLI volunteers can provide the essential service of saving lives at sea."

24/09/2015

SQA Admit That 2015 Higher Maths Exam Was Too Hard

SQA pass mark for May 2015 Higher mathematics exam reduced to 34%
The fairness of the Higher Maths examination, which pupils sat in May 2015, is an issue that won't go away. The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) gave evidence to the Education and Culture Committee meeting at the Scottish Parliament this week.

Dr Janet Brown, Director of the SQA informed the Committee that the Higher Maths paper had been written along the same guidelines as exemplar and specimen papers, and the "structure and nature of questions within it was part of the course and was explained to teachers"But, she added, it became "very obvious" that the exam had been "a standard which was over and above what we had anticipated". She also confirmed that the pass mark had been reduced to 33.8% to compensate.

Scottish Labour’s Opportunity Spokesperson Iain Gray said the statement showed the SQA “still don’t get it” and that parents and students affected will take “no comfort” in the fact the results were adjusted. He called for the Government to review what had gone wrong.

“They now need to face up their responsibility and ensure that people can have confidence in the SQA and its exam system,”
he said.

23/09/2015

Traffic Restrictions Brown Street, (Brook Street to King Street) for Road Resurfacing Work September 2015

Road Closed and Diversion road signs
The City Council has recently notified householders and businesses in Brown Street, Broughty Ferry (Brook Street to King Street) that their street will be closed for Carriageway Resurfacing Work from Saturday 26 September 2015 and will last for approximately 2 weeks. 

The Contractor for the works is Tayside Contracts. 

In the interest of public safety, a road closure will be implemented and through traffic will be diverted via Brook Street, Fort Street, King Street and reverse. 

On-street parking will not be allowed on the section of carriageway being worked on. Vehicular access to properties with driveways and off street parking areas will be maintained although they ask for vehicular traffic movements to be kept to a minimum and advise that delays may be experienced. 

I am advised that weekend working should minimise any restrictions on access to and from the Brown Street Health Centre car park Monday to Fridays during the contract period.

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

If you have any queries regarding this matter please contact Les Grubb, Road Maintenance Partnership, by telephoning 01382 434000.

20/09/2015

Dundee University Scottish University of the Year

On Friday the University of Dundee was named Scottish University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. 

This annual award was based on an in-depth review of higher education in Britain.

Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, wrote:
“The University of Dundee is the epitome of what a good university should be. It provides an outstanding education and university experience for its students, is a key driver in the regional and national economy, and its researchers – particularly in the medical field – are pushing back the boundaries of knowledge and the treatments available to the wider benefit of society.”


Professor Sir Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee said:
"Our success follows a sharp rise in our overall ranking in the Good University Guide’s league table, we have risen eight places to 37th in the UK rankings and to fourth in Scotland. We are now the top university in Scotland under The Times and The Sunday Times analysis of the National Student Survey outcomes for teaching quality, ranking ninth-equal in the UK."

This is a significant and well deserved accolade for the University of Dundee and is another positive indicator of the renaissance of Dundee. Congratulations to the all the academic and support staff on their collective achievement.

17/09/2015

BERA Grant from the Council Approved

BERA Evening Classes at Grove Academy
At a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of the Council on Monday evening 14 September, the Committee agreed a grant of £3000 to Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association (BERA) for 2015/16.

I was pleased to take the opportunity to address the Committee and make a short statement in support of the continuing work of BERA and their contribution to promoting adult learning in Broughty Ferry. I also reminded the Committee that, while most welcome, much if not all of this of grant would return to the Council in rental payments for school premises.

The following extracts from the Committee Report clarify the grant and the valued service that the BERA volunteers contribute to our community:

"This contribution towards the running costs of the organisation (BERA) will enable them to continue to provide a wide ranging evening learning provision in local community areas, which is very well attended.

3.0 FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS 3.1 The grants can be met from the Department’s 2015/16 Revenue Grants Budget (Adult Learning Support Fund). 

4.1 Broughty Ferry Education and Recreation Association is a voluntary Adult Education Association. The volunteers work in partnership with Dundee City Council to provide evening education, recreation and leisure opportunities for the residents of Broughty Ferry and the wider environs. 2014/2015. .... The group are running three evening sessions across two venues, Grove and Forthill Schools, not only does this organisation provide learning opportunities it also promotes community access to Schools."

12/09/2015

Temporary Closure St Vincent's Street between King Street and Beach Crescent Beginning 21 September 2015

Road Closure Street SignsTHE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984 SECTION 14(1)

THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY 
being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of carriageway resurfacing works being carried out HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in St Vincent Street (between King Street and Beach Crescent), Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Monday 21 September 2015 for 5 working days.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.
Alternative routes are available via King Street / Gray Street / Beach Crescent.

For further information contact (01382) 433168.
Mike P Galloway
Director of City Development
Dundee City Council

11/09/2015

Congratulations to Broughty Ferry in Bloom Awarded a Siver Gilt Medal 2015

BroughtyFerry in Bloom Logo
Congratulations to Broughty Ferry in Bloom whose efforts gained external recognition at the Beautiful Scotland award ceremony yesterday. 

These annual awards reward those community organisations whose efforts improve the quality of their local environment with horticulture and the participation of their communities.

Our local group's efforts beautifying Broughty Ferry with flowers in hanging baskets and planters was recognised as very high quality earning a Silver Gilt Medal in the Coastal Towns category of the award ceremony in Perth. 

This is at least the third year in a row that the group have achieved a Silver Gilt award. Next year, I am sure the group will once again be striving for Gold!

The Broughty Ferry in Bloom Group meets on the second Tuesday of the month in Broughty Ferry library at 7.00pm.

Link to Broughty Ferry in Bloom Facebook Page

10/09/2015

Blocks to the Rebuilding of Baldragon Academy Should be Resolved

Baldragon Academy, Dundee.
A year after the Council gave planning permission for the new Baldragon Academy, the contract for the construction is still not signed and the planned entry date in the Summer Term 2017 is presumably no longer feasible.

This is a serious blow to the integrated operation of the planned Baldragon Campus, incorporating the replacement Sidlaw View Primary School and Jessie Porter Nursery that are already under construction on the next door site. Legal details that are delaying the signing of the contract for the building of the new Baldragon should be resolved. 

Unfortunately the latest announcement from John Swinney MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, suggests that no early resolution is in sight for an issue that is holding up numerous public procurement contracts.

With a public announcement today of work starting soon on the dualling of the A9, I hope our school rebuilding programe in Dundee is not being pushed back in the queue to make way for capital projects elsewhere.

I have asked that this item is discussed at the next Education Committee.

09/09/2015

A Day in the Life of Your Local Councillor

Tuesday 8 September 2015 was a day full of meetings and activities.

My working day began at about 09:30 at home reading and writing emails and making phone calls on behalf of constituents. On average I receive more than twenty emails a day about constituency and Council matters as well as letters and reports including papers for Council meetings.

At 11:15, I joined residents from Forthill sheltered housing on their annual estate walkabout with staff representatives from Housing, Environment, Roads, Tenant Participation and Communities. As we walked around the area we noted action points based on our observations and the complaints and comments made by residents who we met us at their gates and doors. At 12:25 I left to go to my next meeting which was in Dundee.

I picked up my post from my Council pigeonhole at my City Square Office and then walked over to Dundee House where i was due at 13:00 to join an interview panel for appointing a Head Teacher for St Joseph's Primary School. The vacancy arose following the death of Marion Myles, the very popular and effective Head Teacher. After a series of interviews, the panel selected a 'preferred candidate' who, following formalities such as references, should be confirmed publicly to Parents, Pupils and Staff in due course.

I arrived back home in time to take my dog Milli for a short walk, before going to Broughty Ferry Library for my weekly surgery. Two constituents came in and reported a recurring parking and road safety issue in their street. We discussed possible solutions and agreed actions I would take. This will need some follow up communications with the Transportation Department.

Back home at about 18:20 with time for a mug of tea and collecting my papers for the next meeting. At 19:00 I arrived at Staff Room in Grove Academy for the AGM and termly meeting of the Grove Academy Parent Council. Penny Lewis was re-elected as Chairperson together with other office bearers. The meeting received a detailed report from Head Teacher, Graham Hutton, which included reference to the very positive but provisional 2015 SQA examination results for Grove pupils, the international sporting achievements of pupils, the school trips under consideration for the 2015/16 session as well as changes in staffing.

Home again at 21:30 and time for a late supper with my wife Rowena.

Not every day contains such a full schedule of 'meetings' and everyday is different; that's what I find so interesting and absorbing about the office of City Councillor.

08/09/2015

Endorsement of the Stick Your Labels Pledges by Dundee City Council

Stick Your Labels Campaign Orgnanisational Pledges 2015
Click on image to read the pledges more clearly
Yesterday lunchtime, I met Peter Kelly, the Director of The Poverty Alliance who was in Dundee to promote involvement in the Alliance's 'Stick your Labels; Challenge the Stigma of Poverty' campaign.

As a Councillor and Fairness Commissioner, I was pleased to join the Leader of the Administration, Councillor Guild and Councillor Sawers in City Square to symbolically sign the organisational pledges (see above) on behalf of Dundee City Council.

I hope that the Fairness Commission that the Council has established will help the Council and partner organisations to set out clearly our practical contributions towards tackling Poverty in Dundee. In addition that the way we respond to poverty in our city does not stigmatise those people living on the lowest incomes. Finally I think we should be more robust in challenging the negative stereotypes applied to people experiencing poverty and which tend to blame those folk for their situation. This campaign is, I believe, much needed.

07/09/2015

50+ mile Glasgow to Edinburgh Pedal for Scotland 2015 Completed

Laurie Bidwell at Glasgow Green prior to the start of the 2015 Glasgow to Edinburgh Pedal for Scotland
I did it! Leaving Glasgow Green at 10:25 on Sunday 6 September, I went over the finish line at Murrayfield Stadium at 16:05. 

The thousands of riders enjoyed favourable weather along the roads and miles and up and down the hills between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The coned off route made it a real pleasure to be cycling along many roads that would otherwise have been busy with cars and other vehicles on a Sunday.

Thanks are due for all the encouraging messages of support I received to help me on my way.

Thanks too are due to my very generous sponsors, they know who they are, who collectively helped me to raise £485 plus £91.25 Gift Aid at the last count.


But it's not too late to donate and help me exceed my target fundraising for the Tushinde Children's Trust; helping vulnerable children thrive in the sprawling Mathare slums in Nairobi, Kenya https://www.justgiving.com/Laurie-Bidwell7/

05/09/2015

Temporary Closure Torridan Road to Facilitate BT duct laying works Beginning Monday 14 September 2015

Road Closure and Diversion Traffic Signs
THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984 SECTION 14(1)

THE DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL AS TRAFFIC AUTHORITY 
being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of BT duct laying works being carried out 
HEREBY PROHIBIT the driving of any vehicle in Torridon Road (west entrance) (northbound between Nursery Road and Morlich Gardens), Dundee.

This notice comes into effect on Monday 14 September 2015 for 5 working days.

Pedestrian thoroughfare will be maintained.
Alternative routes are available via Nursery Road / Torridon Road (east entrance).

For further information contact (01382) 433168.
Mike P Galloway
Director of City Development
Dundee City Council

04/09/2015

West Ferry Residents Have Their Say About Proposed Local Govenmernt Boundary Changes

Proposed new local government ward boundaries in Dundee July 2015
Photo copyright Dundee Courier
On Tuesday evening upwards of three hundred residents attended a public meeting organised by Broughty Ferry Community Council. The meeting had been called to discuss the proposals by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland to exclude West Ferry from 'The Ferry' local government ward.

As part of their review of all local government boundaries in Scotland, the Boundary Commission, have proposed changes to ward boundaries in Dundee which they have issued for a ten week period of public consultation from the end of July 2015. 

At the meeting, it was confirmed that if the Commission's proposals were implemented, the City Council ward eight, 'The Ferry', would shrink in size by transferring that part of West Ferry west of Victoria Road and Claypotts Road to the East End Ward. 

Adjustments to ward boundaries are designed to help reduce differences between the number of electors in each ward area in the city. This is based on the principle that every elector's vote should have the same influence in an election.

The changes proposed for Broughty Ferry would transfer most residents living in West Ferry from The Ferry to the East End ward. This would not however lead to changes in residents' postcodes and addresses nor the boundaries for schools that their children can attend. Neither do I think that this would adversely affect house prices in West Ferry nor increase home insurance premiums.

But I do concede that the proposals, as they stand, cut across the boundaries of Broughty Ferry as a whole and that many, if not most, residents living in West Ferry  have a strongly felt sense of identity as part of Broughty Ferry. 

Find out more about the proposals at http://www.lgbc-scotland.gov.uk/reviews/5th_electoral/dundee_city/ or by visiting the exhibition of the maps and documents in Broughty Ferry Library. 

Paper copies of the proposals are available at the Library.

Comments on the Commission's proposals should be submitted by Thursday 22 October 2015: 

03/09/2015

All Singing and Dancing Performance of Grease by Dundee Schools' Music Theatre

Dundee Schools' Music Theatre perform the finale of Grease: The musical
I am just back home after attending a fun night out at the Whitehall Theatre. I had been tapping my toes to the thoroughly entertaining all singing and dancing performance of "Grease".

This was the third of the summer musicals performed in successive weeks by Dundee Schools' Music Theatre. This time it was the turn of the Back to Back older group of pupils and immediate FPs making their final appearance before heading off to pastures new.

The company maintained a high standard of singing and dancing with the chorus complementing the lead players. There was a strong standout performance from Michael Strachan, ex School Captain at Grove Academy who played Danny and Zoe Heggie who played Sandy.

02/09/2015

Head Teacher Selection Short Leeting and Interviews

Earlier today (Wednesday 2 September 2015), I was involved in a selection panel short listing applicants for a Head Teacher post in the city.

As part of my role as Labour Education spokesperson, I am invited to selection panels along with the Education Convener or his nominee, the Director of Children and Families' Services, a peer Head Teacher and two members of the Parent Council of the school for which a head teacher is being selected. In addition to these six voting members, there are two advisers to the panel; one from HR and the Head of Secondary or Primary Education as appropriate.

I think it is an important responsibility being part of the process of selection of the learning leaders of our schools.

01/09/2015

Public Meeting on Proposed Local Government Boundary Changes in The Ferry TONÍGHT Tuesday 1st September 2015

Broughty Ferry Community Council Special Meeting September 2015
Tonight, Tuesday 1st September 2015, Broughty Ferry Community Council, will be turning over their entire meeting to consider the proposals from the Boundary Commission for Local Government in Scotland. 

The Commission have proposed to remove West Ferry, west of Victoria Road and Claypotts Road, from 'The Ferry' local government ward.  This is in conjunction with other ward boundary changes in Dundee.

More details about these proposals are contained in my earlier post.

NB This public meeting will be held in The Gym Hall of Eastern Primary School with access from Claypotts Road at the back of the School. Please note, due to other events on at the school, parking in the immediate vicinity of the school will be limited and restricted.

Broughty Ferry Community Council meet on the first Tuesday of every month (except July) in Broughty Ferry Library.