‘Mair Lochee than Dundee’: Locals feel strong community spirit – but drugs blight area

What does a typical Dundonian look like? What do they do each day and how do they feel about their area? 

In the third of an eight-part series, we aim to paint an up-to-date picture of how the city’s people live, based on the results of a new survey.

Dundee’s most recent citizens’ survey was carried out last year and local area results are now available. Today, Jon Brady and Ciaran Shanks look at Lochee, where locals were asked about their lifestyles.

“Mair Lochee than Dundee” reads the sign above a newsagent in the area that gives this ward its name – and it’s true that each part of Lochee ward has its own identity.

Lochee High Street

However, one thing that unites the north-west of Dundee is community: 46% of Lochee ward residents say “friendly people” are the best thing about the area.

And while a minority say the area’s worst feature is a problem with drugs, nearly three-quarters of locals dislike nothing about home.

Residents – be they from Lochee, Charleston or Menzieshill – are also immensely loyal: two-thirds of them have lived here for more than a decade, some for all of their lives.

There’s an equal split of homeowners and social renters in the Lochee ward, and most people are happy with their homes. They also like how they live – few are dissatisfied with local services, although about four in 10 say the roads and pavements could be better.

Charleston Community Centre

A third of locals rely on public transport at least once a week – but 10% of bus users say services could be cheaper, and better scheduled.

However, the area’s issues with deprivation are evident – 69% say they don’t get involved in community activities because their “health isn’t good enough”, while another 15% say things “cost too much”.

A fifth of Lochee ward residents also smoke and do not plan to give up. A quarter of adults drink to excess, consuming eight or more drinks in one go on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile 23% of ward residents rely on benefits as their single source of income, and all those who are on the new Universal Credit system say it has affected their budget “a lot”.

But people around here are hardy and resilient – only a small number feel they aren’t managing financially. And they feel they are treated fairly, can rely on friends for support and feel safe.

Lochee resident Cliff Robertson, 49, said: “I’ve lived here all my life and people make it out as something that it isn’t.

Cliff Robertson

“The people here are great and there’s a real sense of community here among people.”

Roderick Hunter, 72, who moved to Lochee as a teenager, said: “This area used to be great, all the shops were buzzing.

Roderick Hunter

“But things are quite different now. There’s a lot of things that need to change, there’s a lot of problems here.”

Menzieshill resident Jennifer Smith, 80, added: “I like it around here, everything is very handy. I have good neighbours and there are some good services nearby.

Jennifer Smith

“The only thing that could be better is the bus services. There are not enough of them and you have to walk a little bit to get the ones you want.”