Still concerned about 'Winter' Light Night

Many churches in Dundee have expressed their concern at the lack of acknowledgement of Christmas in the forthcoming 'Winter Light Night' event. When the proposal for Winter Light Night was discussed in the City Council I and a number of my colleagues raised our concern, you can read my speech here.

People in Dundee celebrate Christmas whatever their religious views. I think that it is wrong to downgrade the role of Christmas. I hope that the City Council will listen to the churches and to the other voices making their views known asking for a rethink.

Great victory in Glasgow

Well done to Willie Bain on his election as the new MP for Glasgow North East. This was a great victory for Labour against the odds. This victory demonstrates how important it is to listen to the voters and deal with the issues which concern them. To read more about this excellent victory click here.


Concern over C. Diff outbreak at Ninewells

Like many other people I have been concerned to hear about the outbreak of C.difficile at Ninewells Hospital. It is important that this is taken seriously and that it is investigated and any lessons which need to be learned are learned. Clearly there is a need for greater transparency which would allow the issues to be dealt with. Marlyn Glen MSP has made her views known, and you can read them here. There was extensive coverage of this issue in tonight's Evening Telegraph. Below is a statement from Labour Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie.


Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie has criticised Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon for failing to grasp the scale of the “staggering rate” of mortality from C. difficile at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee which is a higher rate than Scotland’s previous worst outbreak at Vale of Leven.

Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie: “The rate of mortality at Ninewells is staggering and Nicola Sturgeon seems not to have grasped the scale of the problem.
The mortality rate at Vale of Leven, which was the single biggest outbreak in Scotland, was 33 per cent on six wards over a number of months.

“At Ninewells the rate is a staggering 62 per cent – five deaths out of eight wards over a three week period. The Health Secretary has failed to confront the scale of the problem and how serious it is . We need to get answers on why the rate is so high as soon as possible. (1)

“The Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has also known about this outbreak for some three weeks now but chose not to inform the public. There is no possible justification for this lack of transparency.

“Deaths from C. difficile are preventable and these patients may not have contracted the infection if lessons had been properly learned from the Vale of Leven. Now it seems that complacency has been compounded by cover up.”

Changes to Number 2 Bus Service

National Express Dundee, formerly Travel Dundee, have announced changes to bus services commencing on 22nd November. The main change for the West End is a change to the Number 2 service, the details can be found on their website.

Today I met with Lawrence Davie, the Director of National Express Dundee to discuss bus services in the West End. I was particularly keen to discuss the changes to the Number 2 service.

This was a productive meeting. I know that the Number 2 bus service is very popular with many people in the West End, particularly the elderly. I sought some reassurance over the future of this service and I am glad to say that I got some reassurance. The service will now be a the same time every hour and I have been told that changes have been made to improve the reliability of the service. Improvements have been made to the 2S service which should make it easier for pupils from the West End to get to St John's High School. A number of parents have raised that issue with me and hopefully this will solve some of the problems which have been raised.

Obviously as with all such changes the proof of the pudding will be in the eating and it will be interesting to see if these changes do live up to the claims made for them. I was happy to meet with the bus company and discuss their work in the West End. If local residents have any problems with these services once the changes have been made I would be happy to go back to the bus company to raise their concerns.


Nablus Firefighters

This evening I attended a civic reception in honour of a group of firefighters from Dundee's twin town of Nablus in Palestine. A visit has been arranged by the Fire Brigades Union and the STUC to allow the firefighters to look at the work of firefighters in Scotland and to offer some training. The firefighters have undergone training at the Scottish Fire Service College in Gullane (the picture here shows one of the training sessions). They have also undergone some training at Tayside Fire and Rescue's urban rescue centre at Perth. This is a good opportunity for these firefighters to learn about how firefighters in the UK work. Hopefully they will be able to pass on some useful lessons on their return to Nablus. The FBU's website has interesting information on this visit. The FBU, the STUC and the fire authorities which have made this visit happen should be congratulated.

Two Minute Silence

This morning along with colleagues on the council and a large number of Dundonians and many of the women who were attending the STUC Women's Conference I was in the City Square to observe the two-minute silence to mark Armistice Day. It is important that we remember the sacrifices which have been made by our armed forces. A video of the short service is available on the internet. To support the poppy appeal click here.


West End Community Council

Tonight I attended the November meeting of the West End Community Council I look forward to these meetings which provide an opportunity for me, as an elected local councillor to listen to the concerns of local people. The main part of the business was a presentation on the work of TACTRAN , the Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership. This presentation focused on interesting policy issues such as demand responsive transport, a local train service from Arbroath to Perth and a variety of proposals for park and ride schemes.

STUC Women's Conference

Today I attended, as a visitor, some sessions of the STUC Women's Conference which took place in the Caird Hall. It was good to hear the conference chair Pauline Rourke, from Dundee, open the conference. I also heard a passionate speech on equality delivered by Johann Lamont.

Later on I attended the civic reception held for the conference. It was good to meet a number of the delegates and to discuss the issues which concern them.


Dundee City Council Meetings 9 November 2009

Tonight saw the latest meeting of the City Council and its various committees. To read the reports and see the agendas click here. There were a number of interesting and important reports discussed. As a Director of Dundee Leisure, appointed by Dundee City Council, and a huge fan of our library network I was delighted to see a report which will result in the refurbishment of the roof at Lochee Leisure Centre and Neighbourhood Library. I hope that this will be an excellent base for the regeneration of Lochee. I know that Lochee Leisure Centre and Lochee Library are really popular both in Lochee and indeed across the city. I am delighted to see this investment coming forward.

Action on Queen Victoria Works Dundee

I have raised my concerns about the future of the former Tay Spinners site or Queen Victoria Works in Brook Street in the West End. This was one of the last jute mills working in Dundee. The picture here shows the mill from Brook Street or the Scouringburn and is from the Scran website. The site has been derelict for nearly twenty years. There has been a lot of regeneration in the area and a number of former mills have been used in very interesting ways to bring them into modern use.

As a historian of nineteenth century Dundee I think that it is important that we preserve links with Dundee's fascinating heritage in the jute and textile industry. It is also important to ensure that we find a sustainable and long-term use for this site. The Evening Telegraph tonight published my thoughts on this together with other local councillors.

In the meantime this site is still on the buildings at risk register of the Scottish Civic Trust, click here for more details.


Remembrance Sunday

This morning I attended the short service of remembrance at the War Memorial outside St Joseph's Church in Wilkie's Lane. It is sobering to look at the long list of names on that memorial and think that those men all came from the West End of Dundee. It was also sobering to think that their sacrifice is being remembered over 90 years on from World War I. It is important to remember that sacrifice and it is is important to work for a world where no more young men, or women, are giving their lives.
To support the poppy appeal click here.