Boundary Commissioners Report on The Ferry Ward Ignores Public Opinion - Onus Now on Scottish Government Ministers

Proposed New Boundary for Ward 8 The Ferry May 2016
Click on map to enlarge
Last week the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland published their report on changes to the number of Councillors and revised boundaries to the local government wards in Dundee.

I am very disappointed that the Commission has ignored the considerable weight of public opinion and written objections they received from residents in The Ferry during their consultation. This is particularly hard to palate since the Commission received more almost a thousand written objections from Broughty Ferry electors than from the whole of the remainder of Scotland combined. 
Even more disappointing are the comments that the Commissioners made in their report:
"we do not feel residents concern about the impact of changes to ward boundaries were supported by the evidence."
This is particularly galling since the commission have a duty to take into consideration, 'local ties'.

Furthermore, their point that the lack of objections to the changes to the boundaries of Ward 8 The Ferry from residents living in other parts of the city where ward boundaries remained largely unaltered provided some kind of evidence of support for the Council's proposals is clearly nonsense. I think folk in the West End were just relieved that the focus of the proposed local changes was at the other side of the city.

This matter, however, is not closed because the Boundary Commissioner's report is a merely a set of recommendations to Scottish Government Ministers.  One of these Ministers is the Dundee East MSP Shona Robison.

I now call upon on her to show her support for her constituents and reject the proposals for Dundee and support the status quo in relation to the number of Councillors and the existing ward boundaries in the City.

I also urge my constituents affected by this proposal to Shona Robison MSP to pass on their viewpoints.

Read or download the Report form the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland about their proposals for Dundee City including Ward 8 The Ferry 


A Fair Way to Go: Report of the Dundee Fairness Commission Published May 2016

The Dundee Fairness Commission's report "A Fair Way To Go" was launched on the 20th May 2016. 

It brings together the work of the Fairness Commission during the past year and sets out a series of 56 recommendations to help tackle poverty and deprivation across Dundee.

I think that the Fairness Commission has helped to uncover and highlight uncovered the extent to which the experience of day to day life in Dundee
is profoundly unfair for too many of our citizens. 

The challenge ahead, as the Council and other partner orgnisations repond to our report, will be to carry on the conversations with individuals with personal experiences of struggling with inequalities. Not only will this ensure that our recommendations are not just shelved but also that, we can respect the principle of “nothing about us
without us”. I believe, these processes should help to turn the Commission’s recommendations into meaningful changes in policy and practice that will genuinely help to enhance fairness in our city.

Link to "A Fair Way to Go: Report of the Dundee Fairness Commission" May 2016

Link to my posting about my appointment to the Dundee Fairness Commission in May 201


New 33 Period Week Timetable for Dundee Secondary Schools Beginning Tuesday 31 May 2016

33 Period Week Timetable for Dundee Secondary School Effective Tuesday 31 May 2016
Parents, carers and pupils are reminded that the new 33 period weekly timetable begins with effect from Tuesday 31 May 2016 in the following Dundee Secondary Schools:St John's RC High School, Baldragon Academy, Morgan Academy, Braeview Academy, Craigie High School and Grove Academy. 

I am informed that Menzieshill High School and Harris Academy will not be running a 33 period week until August and that St Paul's Academy will be running with one or two small modifications to the new timetable (see above) between now and August for transport purposes.

If in doubt, I recommend that parents and carers check with these schools for the details of the specific arrangements that will apply.

The new School Day for the six secondary schools making the change immediately begins Monday to Friday at 08:45. 

School ends at 15:40 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

On Thursday and Friday school ends at 14:50

Lunch times are also staggered.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday lunch will run 13:10-14:00. 

On Thursday and Friday the lunch break will be 12:20-13:10.


Consultation on Stannergate to Broughty Ferry Harbour Coastal Protection Measures Wed 1st June 10:00 - 20:00

Click on map to enlarge
A drop-in consultation about the proposed coastal protection measures between the Stannergate and Broughty Ferry harbour has been scheduled between 10am and 8pm on Wednesday 1st June 2016 at Broughty Castle Bowling Club, 439 King Street, Broughty Ferry DD5 2HA 

You and your friends and neighbours may want to take advantage of the opportunity to see the proposals at the drop-in exhibition and make up your minds how you wish to respond to the Council's enhanced sea defences.

The need for raised coastal defences follow the publication by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) of  enhanced definition maps of flood risks in Scotland.

These maps show that both banks of the Tay estuary are rated as 'high risk' for potential coastal flooding as is the Dighty as it flows through the Ferry Ward.

Residents who live in Fisher Street and Beach Crescent have already had water lapping almost to the top of the rows of sandbags last year. The residents of Balmossie Mill in Panmurefield know to their cost the threat that the Dighty in spate can pose to their homes.

Click on this link to go to the online flood maps.


Council Recommends 44% Cut in the Places and £370,000 Savings in Support to Young People Disengaged from Full-Time Secondary School

Castle Park Education Centre in Dundee Threatened with Closure
Castlepark Centre in Dundee
Identified for Closure
On Monday the council published their report following their consultation on the proposed merger and downsizing of the Balerno, Connect Five and Castle Park Education Centres in Dundee. 

These three centres work with S1-4 pupils with complex 'social, emotional and behavioural' needs who have disengaged from full-time mainstream education. One of the main aims of the service is to provide support to maintain these young people within the city.

This report concludes that the Council should merge these three centres into one and places reduced by 44%. £510,000 savings should be taken from the work of these pupils and only £140,000 of the 'savings' reinvested in our secondary schools.

I have never been against the idea of finding better premises for these Education Centres two of which are based in buildings previously identified for closure. It is also clearly constructive to review how support for these troubled young people might be improved. Despite all the warm words in the Council's Report, it is difficult to believe that support for these pupils and their schools will be improved if overall resources are so drastically reduced. Most of the saving is coming from reductions in the highly skilled staff who currently work in these three Education Centres. Putting the job of working with these pupils back with our secondary schools is hardly a recipe for success. I am worried that if the resources of our existing secondary school staff are reprioritised for those disengaged from school, other secondary pupils will miss out on their entitlement to support for learning and guidance.

While the Executive Director of Children and Families' Service has provided more elaboration of how he thinks this will work, there are still many questions to be answered.

The Education Convener, Councillor Stewart Hunter, needs to tell us why he supports the reduction in cash for some of the most vulnerable young people in our city?

This is another example of how services for children's services in Dundee are being reduced by cuts passed on by the Holyrood Government; another short term cut which will cause long term damage.

Read or Download the Consultation Report


Education | Kezia Dugdale

Ahead of the elections to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 5 May, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Kezia Dugdale, responds to the question: 

"What would you do to improve education?". 

In 30 seconds Kezia provides an overview of Scottish Labour's priorities for education and the public funding to support these.

Read Scottish Labour's Manifesto for Education 2016


Rowena Arshad Challenges Audience to Focus on Workplace Issues for Young People

Chic Lidstone and Rowena Arshad, Workplace Memorial Lecture in Dundee April 2016
Chic Lidstone and Rowena Arshad
On Friday lunch time 27 May, Rowena Arshad, Head of Moray House School of Education,University of Edinburgh, delivered the Workers' Memorial Day Lecture at The Steeple Church in Dundee.

The purpose behind International Workers' Memorial Day has always been to "remember the dead: fight for the living" focusing on remembering all those killed through work but at the same time ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated.

This was especially poignant on the day following the death of a construction worker in an incident on the Queensferry Crossing, the new £1.4bn bridge being built across the Firth of Forth. Before the lecture, Industrial Chaplain Chic Lidstone led a one minute silence to remember those that had died at work or whose lives had been foreshortened by occupational disease.

Dr Arshad's lecture was entitled, "Taking Control for Life and Work:
Young People Need to be Part of the Policies and Spaces that Shape Their Tomorrow".

She certainly challenged us to think critically about young people and their preparation for entering the world of work work. I was particularly struck by two of the issues she raised. The first was the current trend, following the Wood Report, to enhance the "workplace readiness" of young people in our schools. She suggested that this was predominantly an employers' agenda. She wondered whether, in our schools, there was any awareness raising about health and safety and trade unions. The second was the age discrimination inherent in the minimum wage for young workers whose minimum hourly wage rate is governed by their age and not by what they can do.

I shall certainly be following the issues Dr Arshad raised with Michael Wood, Dundee's Executive Director of Children and Families' Service (not the Wood of the Wood Reports by the way.)

Dr Rowena Arshad is Head of Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh and Co-Director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland. She has a particular interest in equity and anti-discrimination issues and how these issues are taken forward in education. She was the Equal Opportunities Commissioner for Scotland from 2001 to 2008 and was awarded the OBE for services to race equality in Scotland.