Staff at a Dundee function hall earmarked for demolition have reassured customers that their bookings will be honoured. The team at Baxter's Function suite have insisted they are very much open for business and will be continuing to trade as normal for at least the next two years. The pledge comes after councillors voted through plans to tear down the building in Raglan Street and erect 12 new flats in its place. Nicola Curran, who has been the manager at Baxter's for three years, said developer JF Kegs Scotland had promised there was no rush to vacate the premises. She said: "We are really gutted, but we have been assured that no work will be done for at least two years so we will honour all bookings and take on new ones. "Some people thought the demolition was going to happen immediately when the decision was made, but that's not the case. "We have already lost one booking because of that so if we lose more then it could potentially put 12 people out of work earlier than expected." When asked about noise issues cited by planners, Ms Curran said the team had not received any complaints. In its planning statement to Dundee City Council, JF Kegs said the building’s poor-quality construction and layout meant it made more sense to start from scratch than try to redesignit. The developer said: “The nature of the surrounding area has evolved in recent years with the revitalisation of many of the historic commercial and industrial sites within the immediate area. “The resultant redundant and vacant land and buildings have been redeveloped for residential use. “As a result, this large function suite and social club has caused conflict in terms of noise and anti-social behaviour within what is now a predominantly residential area. “The existing building offers little scope for reuse; as such a new block of twelve flats with associated parking and amenity space is proposed.” The venue was built between 1922 and 1926 and was first used as the Craigie Works Welfare Club. It continued as a working men’s club until around 1989 when the building was split in two to form separate clubhouses - the Elm and Birch suites.
An Angus man who killed a taxi driver in a high-speed crash eight years ago is facing a return to jail after admitting driving while disqualified and failing to provide a breath sample. Halim Cholmeley, 43, of Broomhill, Glen Prosen, appeared from custody before Sheriff Jillian Martin-Brown at Forfar Sheriff Court on Friday. He admitted driving while disqualified at Medecinewell, Montrose, the access road from Wester Lednathie Farm to Glenuig and various roads in between on March 5. He further admitted failing to submit a sample of his breath when requested. Cholmeley pleaded guilty to the two charges during a brief hearing and sentence was deferred. He was remanded in custody and will appear at Forfar Sheriff Court in connection with the case again next week. Cholmeley was previously jailed for six years in 2010 at the High Court in Edinburgh for killing a Perth taxi driver on Dundee’s Kingsway on March 15 2009. He had been consuming alcohol in the company of his now ex-partner and friends in the afternoon and evening before the fatal collision. Around midnight he returned by taxi to his ex-partner’s flat before going out again to a nightclub. Sometime before 2.30am he returned to the flat and removed the keys to his ex-partner’s BMW without her permission or knowledge and drove off. He then sped down the Kingsway and smashed into a taxi. The impact at the Myrekirk Roundabout spun 41-year-old Gavin McCabe’s cab around and catapulted him out on to the road. Mr McCabe was so seriously injured he died in intensive care at Ninewells Hospital a week later. Investigating officers calculated Cholmeley was travelling at a minimum speed of 77mph shortly before the collision and at around 67mph at the point of impact with the Skoda taxi. Cholmeley’s alcohol level after the collision was 106 mgs against a legal limit of 80 mgs. Several witnesses — civilian, emergency services and medical staff — stated Cholmeley said it had been his intention to commit suicide.
A local MSP has called on the Scottish Government to guarantee that Dundee will be a consideration as stronger trade deals with China are secured. Conservative MSP Bill Bowman has written to Nicola Sturgeon, who toured the Asian country last month to increase trade links, imploring her to not overlook the City of Discovery as fresh opportunities arise. The MSP for North East Scotland said: "There are vast opportunities in China to showcase the unique and market leading products that Scottish companies have to offer. "And no city is better placed to get involved than Dundee. "Its capacity as a natural port, industrial potential and nearby workforce could not be more attractive to investment from China. "I am calling on the First Minister to give the city some hope it won’t just be ‘Central Belt and road’ when it comes to us." Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, recently invited Scottish business to “roll up its sleeves and get down to business” to profit from his country’s transformation from “high-speed” to “high-quality” growth. Mr Bowman added: "Mr Liu outlined China’s advances in areas including trade liberalisation and green energy development. The ‘belt and road’ programme is leading to massive change in the country. "Dundee is attractive for decommissioning right now but there is capacity to develop its renewables servicing portfolio with the likes of the NNG North Sea development nearby." A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We want to increase trade opportunities for all Scottish businesses in China – only last month the First Minister undertook an official visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, where she repeatedly highlighted the immense opportunities for investment in Dundee. "During her visit the First Minister met with China Ocean Engineering in Shanghai, and was able to confirm their plans to set up a new office in Dundee. "In addition, the University of Dundee and Central South University signed an agreement to broaden their research collaboration in Life Sciences. "The Tay Cities Region Deal will bring investment for the entire region, creating jobs and opportunities helping the area to grow and flourish." The spokesman added that a revised strategy for Scotland's relationship with China will be published "shortly".
Dundee Decides: Reaction as £1.2m of funding handed to communities in one of biggest projects of its kind
The voice of Dundonians has been heard, the votes counted and the winners of Dundee Decides have been announced. More than 11,000 responses were received for the council initiative, with the public electing where £1.2 million will be split up and spent on various projects across the city. Each of the council’s eight electoral wards – Strathmartine, Lochee, West End, Coldside, Maryfield, North East, East End and The Ferry – has been allocated up to £150,000 to spend on infrastructure improvements. The results were announced at a presentation at the Steeple Church earlier today, attended by local politicians and representatives of some of the projects. Dundee City Council leader and SNP councillor John Alexander said: "Dundee has got a long history of involving its community in its decision-making processes through different means. "We are the first to top-slice an element of our mainstream budget. So we're giving a significant amount of our budget, £1.2 million, directly into the hands of the public to decide upon how that is spent. "That is the first of its kind of that scale, of that nature, in the whole of Scotland. So we are every much a frontrunner." And the winners are: Strathmartine Play equipment at Downfield pavilion – 911 votes, £30,000 Refurbish Clatto Park toilets – 742 votes, £65,000 Improve Beauly Avenue pavements – 609 votes £35,000 Improve Haldane Crescent pavements – 403 votes, £20,000 Lochee Street lighting for South Road and Menzieshill play parks – 986 votes, £35,000 Pedestrian crossing on South Road – 841 votes, £45,000 Charleston Community Centre improvement – 597 votes £60,000 West End Improvements in Perth Road district shopping area – 779 votes, £30,000 River line walkway feasibility study – 663 votes £20,000 Blackness Primary School playground improvements – 606 votes £60,000 Safer pedestrian routes across West End Ward – 584 votes £40,000 Coldside Pedestrian crossing on Clepington Rd – 742 votes, £40,000 Dudhope Park lighting – 722 votes £55,000 Alexander Street playpark – 606 votes £40,000 Maryfield Improve footpaths in Baxter Park – 673 votes £40,000 Pavement improvements on Albert Street – 621 votes £50,000 Install bollards in Baffin Street and Watson Street – 483 votes £20,000 More dropped kerbs across Maryfield ward – 413 votes £40,000 North East Dighty, Fithie and Whitfield burns clean up – 776 votes £20,000 Reduce traffic congestion around Fintry PS – 692 votes £25,000 Improve skating/BMX area at Whitfield Green – 627 votes £40,000 Outdoor exercise equipment at Fintry Park and along the Dighty – 570 votes £35,000 Plant new trees/shrubs at Mill O’Mains Park and Middleton Wood – 517 votes £25,000 East End Create a pedestrian crossing on Arbroath Road – 636 votes £45,000 Create a play area at St Vincent’s – 508 votes £40,000 Improve cycle paths at Claypotts, Dighty and Green Circular – 485 votes £55,000 The Ferry Reres Hill and Grassy Beach install nature trails – 1341 votes £25,000 Orchar Park, Dawson Park and Grassy Beach install outdoor exercise equipment – 1254 £25,000 Gillies Park provide lighting to paths – 883 votes £25,000 Improve facilities in local playparks for children with disabilities – 802 votes £50,000.
Budding broadcasters in Dundee have been given tips on how to carve out a career in the media industry. Around 100 people attended sessions led by Channel 4 and My Kinda Future at the Space in Dundee and Angus College's Kingsway Campus yesterday. The event — part of a series of gatherings being held across the UK — was aimed at people who do not have a degree and are looking for their first step into the industry. Participants were given lessons in video production then handed microphones, tablets and other equipment and challenged to create their own short documentary films on the themes of inclusiveness and equality. At the end of the day, 15 of the participants were granted "rising star" status, which means they will be alerted when vacancies arise and taken down to Channel 4 HQ in London for a day. The event was hosted by Channel 4 presenter Jodie McCallum, who got her big break at a similar event. She said: "It gets quite emotional when we see the films because they work hard to make them in quite a short time. The day can have an impact on their lives like it did to mine. "A lot of people think they can't get into the industry but it is not like that any more." The broadcaster's industry talent specialist Laura Boswell and coordinator Yasmin Mehment joined Miriam Kidane, campaign manager for My Kinda Future, to help out on the day. Ms Boswell managed the Rio Production Training Scheme which helped 24 disabled people get their first roles in television production and 18 trainees join the production team that covered the 2016 Paralympic Games for Channel 4. TayScreen, the screen office for Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross, and Fife councils, praised the initiative. Julie Craik, TayScreen project manager, said: "It's vitally important for people from the region to get involved with media production and tell not only their own stories but all kinds of stories on all kinds of platforms." Courier Country has produced its share of broadcasting talent, including Oscar-nominated director David Mackenzie, Bafta-winning camera specialist Keith Partridge and BBC diving camera expert Lindsay Brown.
Great-great-granddaughter of “Scotland’s worst poet” travels to Dundee to see play charting his life
The great-great-granddaughter of "Scotland's worst poet" travelled from Spain to see a show about her famous relative. Helen Stewart was at Dundee Rep Theatre on Saturday evening to see the McGonagall Chronicles — a new play charting the life of the city's legendary wordsmith William McGonagall. Her sister Ann Ross, who still lives in the city, was also in the audience for the dramatic re-telling of the life of the man who penned The Tay Bridge Disaster, among 200 other published poems. Helen's son, Steve McMurdo, even arranged for his mother and aunt to meet the cast after the show. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/lifestyle/619254/why-mcgonagalls-chronicles-will-be-remembered-at-dundee-rep-for-a-very-long-time/ "I do like surprises," she said. "It was the first time in my life that I've felt famous. My son organised it without me knowing." Originally from Dundee, Helen moved to Spain six years ago and came home specifically to see the show. She said it was a moving tribute to her famous forefather and his "unique" way with words. "It was fantastic," she added. "It was also quite sad. Especially when he was getting spat on in the street. "As I get older I have become more interested in McGonagall's work. "When I was younger people used to ridicule him and say he's Scotland's worst poet, but I am proud of having him in the family tree. "A lot of people can be quite ignorant about him." Helen's interest in her great great grandfather's life has led her to become a collector of menentos, including an edition of the McGonogall Library Omnibus dating to at least the 1960s. It still has the price label for 17 shillings and sixpence - around 18p in today's money. And the family heritage has led her into some unusual situations. "When I was in labour about to give birth to my son, a doctor walked into the room, looked at my name (before her surname was changed to Stewart) and asked if I was related to the poet," Helen added. "That was a strange thing to happen at that time." She also recalled being pulled up onto a stage in Fife in 1971 and given one line in a play about the poet. The McGonagall Chronicles tells the story of the poet's life written in "almost rhyming verse". Born in Edinburgh in 1825, McGonagall moved to Dundee to be apprenticed as a handloom weaver. Among his most famous works are the Tay Bridge Disaster and the Famous Tay Whale.
A pupil from the High School of Dundee got top marks at the SQA Star Awards. Elle Wyatt was awarded the Academic Excellence award, one of the highest accolades a pupil can receive in Scotland. She was lauded for her exceptional results in the 2017 SQA exams. As well as gaining A1 band passes in each Advanced Higher subject she took - Maths, Physics, Chemistry, and Maths of Mechanics - at an average of 97%, Elle's performance in Physics earned her the joint top mark in Scotland, while in Maths she was also joint top in the country, with a perfect 100%. Elle Wyatt was named as the winner of the SQA’s Academic Excellence award at the qualification authority’s 2017 Star Awards ceremony which took place in Edinburgh on Friday evening. Elle, who left the High School at the end S6 and is now studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, said: “It’s an enormous privilege to have received this award. “I couldn’t make it to the awards ceremony, but my parents attended and Head of Physics Mr Darby collected the prize on my behalf. I found out that I had won when my mum texted me from the event so that was quite surreal really.” The 17-year-old from Guildtown, in Perthshire, said she felt the key to her success had been working hard and doing subjects that she enjoyed. She added: “Some of my teachers have been fabulous. I think I owe a lot to them - I couldn’t have achieved as much without them. “It’s quite nice to have my work for Advanced Highers recognised and hopefully this will have provided me with a good springboard for university.” Dr John Halliday, rector of the High School of Dundee, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. We encourage all our pupils to be the best they can be and for Elle this has meant coming out on top in the whole country. Encouraged by her teachers, she has worked so hard for this success, showing flair and imagination as well as grit. “She was pushed all the way by a number of other very talented pupils in the year. I’m seriously chuffed." Later in the evening, Grant Ritchie, principal of Dundee and Angus College, was presented with SQA’s highest award, the SQA Fellowship in recognition of his dedication to providing great learning and teaching over the course of his career. Before becoming principal, Grant developed creative industries in the college and worked with SQA on developing the Higher National Certificate and Diploma courses in the Creative Industries. There was further success for the college as lecturer and course leader Sarah Ramminger was Highly Commended in the SQA Champion category.
An Angus and Mearns politician is urging all sides of the debate to come together in 2018 to help a bird-of-prey flourish. SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon spoke out after Police Scotland launched a probe when a hen harrier was found dead with “unexplained injuries” near Dunoon in Argyll and Bute. The death of the satellite-tagged bird, named Kathy, is one of a number of high profile cases involving hen harriers this year. One was shot in Leadhills earlier this year, while satellite-tagged raptor Calluna went missing near Braemar, Aberdeenshire, and a four-year court case over the alleged shooting of a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate in Moray was dismissed. A recent survey also showed a decline in the hen harrier population down to just 460 pairs — a drop of 27% since 2004 — with illegal persecution of the bird considered a major factor in its decline. But with 21 of Scotland’s estates signed up for the Heads Up for Harriers project — which reported 37 successfully fledged young hen harriers in 2017 — Mrs Gougeon is keen to bridge the gap between estates and conservationists next year. The Angus North and Mearns MSP said: “I’m under no illusions how contentious this issue is. I know it won’t be resolved overnight but I take my role as a species champion very seriously. “One of the main reasons why the hen harrier population hasn’t flourished is the fact there has been illegal persecution of this species over a long period. “Across Scotland we have the habitat for the species to exist. Almost half of Scotland is capable of supporting a hen harrier population. “There are a number of ongoing projects — including Heads Up for Harriers — geared toward trying to sustain and grow the hen harrier population in the future. “Heads Up for Harriers is not without its critics and may not be the immediate panacea but it is a promising step in the right direction. “More estates need to sign up to that project before we can assess whether or not it is successful. We also need to look at other potential solutions such as diversionary feeding proposed by the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. “We need to take every available measure to crack down on the serious crime that is committed against raptors and to tackle the illegal persecution that takes place. “Only then we will have a hope of protecting and encouraging growth in the numbers of this magnificent species.”
Angus volunteers will be on Santa’s good list again this year by helping the lonely and homeless. Community Christmas Day meals will take place in Arbroath and Montrose to serve up turkey with all the trimmings for the less fortunate. This will be the fifth consecutive year Kerry Hastie and Kelly Bennet have organised a Christmas dinner at the Café Project in Arbroath. It will take place from midday until 2pm. Around 50 to 60 people are expected to turn up, with about eight volunteers helping out. Kerry said: “It’s a really great day. It’s a great feeling watching them all and knowing we have helped them out. We want people to feel comfortable. "We’re going to keep on going. We can’t really stop now – there’s so many people using it.” The meal is aimed at people who may not be able to afford Christmas dinner or are on their own and gives them the chance to spend some time with others. The organisers still hope to receive donations of food or “anything” that would be appreciated on the day, which can be delivered to Flat 3, 81 Guthrie Port, DD11 1RY, or call 07713929761. Meanwhile, Katie Baxter has organised the Montrose feast at the Old and St Andrew’s Church hall. Around 20 generous volunteers will be giving up their time to lend a helping hand. Last year around 70 people turned up for food. Katie said: “There’s a real variety of people who come for some company and to enjoy some good food. The whole of Montrose really comes together. I’ve never seen a community come together like this before. “It’s a lot of work but it is so worthwhile.” Food and drink donations will come from local businesses Green Park, Roos Leap, Stirfresh, The Burn House, Roadrunners, The Pavillion, Barclays Butcher and more. Like the Arbroath meal, there will be live music and toys. Families are invited to bring their own toys if they wish. There will a visit from a Santa and a “good as new” table for people to get presents ranging from clothes, toys, books and more. This will be the third year Katie has been involved in a Christmas meal in Montrose. The doors will be open to everyone from 11.30am until 1.30pm. Donations can still be made at the church hall on Saturday at 10am to 2pm. In Brechin, preparations are also well advanced for the town's first community Christmas lunch, organised by mother and son Kenny and Jess Christie to take place in the city hall. They said they have also been overwhelmed by the generosity of locals to help make the day special for local folk who would otherwise be spending it alone.
A tree has fallen on a road to Dundee. Police Scotland received reports at 9.05am of a tree falling on the northbound carriageway on the A914 between St Michaels and Pickletillum, near the Drumoig Golf Course. Stagecoach's 99 service was diverted due to the incident. https://twitter.com/StagecoachEScot/status/914754018810920960 The tree was cleared from the road by 10.15am and traffic has returned to normal. High winds have also disrupted traffic on the Tay Road Bridge, which has been closed to all traffic other than cars. https://twitter.com/tay_road_bridge/status/914731459986026496