24/08/2012

West End Residents Should Make Voice Heard on Parking Scheme

I welcome progress on the proposals for a Residents' Parking Scheme in the West End. The City Council is to consult on proposals in the autumn after some years of inactivity on the issue. I'm calling on local residents to make sure that their voices are heard on this issue. It is important also that the council listens to local businesses and also to people who live just outside the area where the scheme is likely to operate.  Last year I called for clarity on the issue and I hope that we will now get it.




At long last I welcome some movement by Dundee City Council on this issue. It is crucial that people in the West End make their voice heard on the issue of the residents' parking scheme. I have spoken to council officers and I believe that they wish to have an effective consultation and to hear from as many people as possible. However, the council can only listen to representations which are made to them.



This idea was developed by my ward-colleague Councillor Macpherson when he was the Convener of Planning and Transportation which is over three years ago, I hope that progress will now be made on this matter. People need to consider whether they think that there is a problem with parking in their area and whether a residents' parking scheme is the way to solve the problem and whether paying something in the region of £80 per year is worth it.



I am clear that I want a full, open and transparent consultation process where all the issues are considered and nothing is hidden from the people of the West End. Then I want to listen to the voice of the people of the West End. If they want a residents' parking scheme I want to see swift progress towards it and no more foot-dragging. If the people of the West End do not want the residents' parking scheme then we need to move forward and look at other solutions for some of the parking issues in the West End.



I will be keeping a close eye on the process.



Above all when the time comes it is important that the people of the West End make their views known and that the council listens to the views of the people.

West End Local Community Planning Partnership

On Thursday evening I also attended a meeting of the West End Local Community Planning Partnership.  This was a very good meeting in which a lot of interesting points were covered, it was a shame that no members of the public were present at the meeting.  This is something that collectively the partnership needs to look at.

The meeting heard that the council's City Development Department are to look at consulting on the Residents' Parking Scheme in the autumn.  I welcome this because I think that it is important that local residents have their say on the proposals.  I look forward to seeing the detail of the proposals in due course.  It is important that there is certainty over the issue if the people of the West End want a residents' parking scheme let's get on with it, if not then let's look at what other policy options there are to look at parking issues in the West End.  It is important that the consultation is as full as possible and includes residents, businesses and people from the fringes of the proposed scheme.  I will be keeping an eye on this and encouraging everyone to make their views known.

It was also really good to hear from Mark Crush, the Station Manager at Blackness Road Fire Station, about Tayside Fire and Rescue's Dundee West District Plan 2012/2013.  I recently had a briefing meeting with Mark Crush and was delighted to see that Tayside Fire and Rescue take their responsibility to local communities seriously, I hope that the new national Fire and Rescue service also take local communities seriously and continue to have a focus on service delivery at a very local level.  Once the plan is published I will put a copy on this website.

The report from the police highlighted concerns about graffiti in the West End.  The local police want to operate a zero tolerance approach to graffiti.  I fully support them in this and if anyone sees graffiti please report it to the police and /or the council.  I am happy for local residents to report graffiti to me and I will pass on their concerns.  Graffiti damages communities and I sometimes think that there is a misplaced idea that it is a victimless crime but it has an impact on everyone who lives and works in an area and should not be tolerated.  As a West End resident I want the West End to be a graffiti-free area.

Dundee Ice Arena

On Thursday evening I attended a meeting of the board of Dundee Ice Arena.  It is always good to hear about what is going on at the ice arena.  The ice arena is always worth a visit and with the new ice hockey season on the way it is well worth a visit, although all ice sports are catered for.

22/08/2012

Scrutiny Committee

Today I attended a meeting of the City Council's Scrutiny Committee.  There was a focus at the meeting on a report on the misappropriation of funds from Baldragon Academy, for this crime one individual has already been given a custodial sentence.  I felt that the report should have had a look at a broader picture rather than focus on one instance of wrong doing.  I felt that a look at the policy at a strategic level across the Education Department and indeed the council was required.  I thought that the papers presented to us did not go far enough.  I was pleased to hear that this area will receive attention from the council's internal auditors and that the council was duty bound to inform its external auditors of this fraud.  I look forward to seeing the results of work which was included in the Internal Audit Plan for 2012/13 but I still felt that there is a need for more and a need for a fuller review.  I was surprised that there was a reluctance to look at Councillor Black's eminently sensible suggestion of looking at how we could use the National Entitlement Card to reduce the need for cash handling in schools.  This seemed to me to be an eminently sensible idea.


I also asked about a couple of other reports, I welcomed Dundee still having the most popular libraries in Scotland per head of population even if there was a small decrease in attendance.  I also commented on a report which states that the number of people using library PCs was down.  This is in large part due to more and more people having access to portable devices and using wireless connections.  I said that the council should look for new ways of measuring statistics in this area but that it was essential to bear in mind that as more and more people have computer equipment in their homes and portable devices outside the home that there are people who are excluded from this.  The council must bear this in mind as having access to a computer is becoming an essential facet of daily life.  The council needs to continue to work with Leisure and Culture Dundee and others to ensure that there is no social , economic or digital divide built up.  We need to make sure that computing facilities are there for those who need them and in actual fact the offer in Dundee's libraries is excellent value for money.

I also asked about reports which highlighted that as a result of the recent fire at DERL that the council was performing badly in terms of the increase in landfill and a reduction in recycling.  It is unfortunate that this is the case and I know that officers will be working very hard to ensure that new ways of improving recycling are found while the DERL plant remains out of commission.

New Surgery Details - Starting Today

I have changed the time of two of my surgeries due to a regular clash with council committee meetings.  You can read details of my new surgeries here.

I believe that it is important that I am available to my constituents on a regular basis.  It is also important in a large ward like the West End that I am available to constituents right across the ward and I have tried to do this in the locations where I have my surgeries.

I am also very happy to hear from constituents by phone, letter or email.  It is important to me as a councillor to hear about the work of the council and the views of people in the West End.  If you think that I can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

During school term I have a surgery at 5pm on Wednesdays in Blackness Library.

On the first and third Monday of the month I am at Corso Street Sheltered Housing at 1.30pm and then at Morven Terrace Sheltered Housing at 2.15pm.

On the second and fourth Wednesday of the month I am at Lime Street Sheltered Housing at 10.30am and at the Mitchell Street Centre at  12.45pm.

Preview of new MSc in Public Service Innovation

Tonight I visited a preview of a new M.Sc. course in Public Service Innovation which is being developed by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and Social Work within the School of Education, Social Work and Community Education in the University of Dundee.  This also gave me an opportunity to look at some of the work from the current Master of Design programme.

I think that these proposals offer a very interesting way of developing public policy.  It aims to bring a new perspective to public service delivery with a focus on design and on social justice.  There is still work to be done on this but it was really good to hear about news ways of working which were designed to support and promote the public sector.

I hope that this work comes to fruition and that it is successful and leads to new and better ways of delivering public sector services.  One of the people leading this project is Prof Mike Press of Duncan of Jordanstone, he has blogged on some of these issues recently.

21/08/2012

Frigate Unicorn

Today I had a really interesting visit to the Frigate Unicorn.  It was great to have the chance to visit the ship again.  It has a long and fascinating history and is well worth a visit.  I am keen to try to get the Unicorn as much support as it can get.  I was interested to hear about the proposals which the Unicorn Preservation Trust have the future of the ship.  These are clearly very interesting and deserve to be considered.  I am clear that everyone in Dundee should be looking at ways of finding  a long-term and sustainable future for the Unicorn.

20/08/2012

City Council and Committee Meetings

Tonight there was a meeting of the City Council and also a meeting of the council's service committees.  The main item under discussion at the City Council was a proposal to expand the membership of the Education Committee to include two parents, one from secondary schools and one primary schools along with one pupil representative.  This proposal was very like a proposal which was included in Dundee Labour's manifesto for the council elections in May.  My colleague Laurie Bidwell did propose an amendment which would have allowed these additional members of the Education Committee to have been full members of the committee with full voting rights. 

I spoke in favour of the amendment and I highlighted how much the teacher representatives added to our discussions when they were allowed to have a say.  I also pointed to the valuable contribution of the religious representatives on the committee.  I think that it is good to have the voices of parents and young people heard in this chamber.  The Education Committee is a committee of the council not a talking shop and therefore I think that every member of the committee should have a vote.  I also think that we should look at how we bring the voice of service users and employees to other committees of the council.  I was disappointed when the SNP members joined with the Conservative councillor to vote out the proposal to allow these new members a vote.

At the Environment Committee I was happy to support a report which sought to improve the long-term viability of Dovetail Enterprises in Dundee.  I think that we should be supporting people into mainstream workplaces, we also have to recognise that this will not be appropriate for everyone.  For those who cannot work in mainstream workplaces we should ensure that there is an assisted workplace for them.  In the city of Dundee we have another assisted workplace at Remploy.  The future sustainability of Remploy is under threat from the current UK Government.  I asked whether the council is seeking to make every effort to secure the future of Remploy.  I was reassured that the council was doing what it can and I will be keeping an eye on this in the future.
 
At the Policy and Resources Committee I spoke on a report Outdoor Learning.  This is a very interesting report and I welcomed it.  I asked about how council departments were working together to promote this policy.  I was told that this was the case and I hope that it is.

Eid Mubarak

As the councillor for the West End I am lucky enough to live in and represent a ward which includes a great deal of diversity.  I always try to keep in touch with the various faith communities in the West End.  That is why I am very happy to say 'Eid Mubark' to the committee, members and worshippers at Brown Street Mosque in the West End and to everyone celebrating Eid across the world.