West End Schools Consult Park Users

I remain concerned about the need for more consultation about the West End Schools proposal especially how these proposals will impact on the future use of Victoria Park. Last week's HMIe Report talked about there being a 'dedicated' part of the park for the schools to use and also a need for a 'firmer indication of what pitches or sports area might be laid out.'

As I have said I am keen for progress to be made on the proposals for new schools in the West End. I want the best educational facilities possible for the young people of the West End. I note the response given in the Courier by a spokesperson however I think that this somewhat contradicts what the Scottish Government said when it gave permission to progress the project. The Scottish Government appear to be looking for a dedicated area marked out as sports pitches, whilst that does not necessarily require a fence to be built around the pitches such changes would clearly change the nature of Victoria Park. I reiterate my plea for the community in the West End to be involved in discussions about these proposals. The park is well used and much loved, the people who use the park should be asked about their views. I understand that in the 1960s the park was used by Lawside Academy but I would imagine that in terms of PE provision things have moved on since then. There are also different approaches to child protection and health and safety in the twenty-first century.

It is clear that progress needs to be made and I am reassured that meetings will take place early in the new year. Clearly though the City Council must listen to the report which it caused to be written by the HMIe which calls for more consultation and for dedicated sports pitches to be laid out in Victoria Park.

Please see below paragraph 6.2 of the report by HMIe,.

'HMIE recommends that the council be asked to clarify its proposals for use of Victoria Park by giving a commitment to how it would dedicate part of the park for use of the two primary schools and a firmer indication of what pitches or sports areas might be laid out for their use at various times of the year. The council should also seek to reassure parents about the levels of contamination of soil at the proposed site and the level of danger from the nearby electricity sub-station. HMIE also recommends that the council shares and discusses the detailed plans for the joint campus with parents.'

A map of Victoria Park produced by Dundee City Council's Leisure & Communities Department which shows a bowling green , tennis courts, play areas and rose garden as the current features of Victoria Park can be found here.

Development Quality Committee 14 December 2009

Monday evening saw the last meeting of the Development Quality Committee for the year. The agenda can be found here, the agenda was pretty brief in comparison to previous meetings. The item on direct action at McCheyne Church was withdrawn because the owners have taken some action, indeed I saw this work going on last week. I think everyone agrees that it would be good to find a long-term sustainable use for the church building (although this is not without its difficulties.).


Concern over Victoria Park

Today I expressed my ongoing concern about proposals to use Victoria Park for physical education classes for the proposed new schools in the West End.

I want to provide young people in the West End with the best educational facilities possible. I look forward to taking part in the discussions to take forward the proposals for a replacement for St Joseph's Primary and Park Place Primary and Nursery schools.'

I am concerned that the Leisure and Communities Department of the City Council know nothing about the plans to use Victoria Park for school use. If these new schools use Victoria Park then this will change the nature of the park. This proposal needs to be examined in great detail before it is brought forward. Victoria Park is popular with local people in the West End and is well used. Using part of it exclusively for educational purposes may impact on local people's use of the park and I want to be sure that their views are taken on board as well as the views of the educational stakeholders.

I have read the report approved by the City Council's Education Committee (274-2009) which sets out how progress will be made on this proposal and at no point is Victoria Park mentioned I would like to know where this proposal came from? If the City Council's Education Committee is not in charge of education policy I would like to know which organisation is?

Report 274-2009 can be read here

When asked in November about these proposals I was informed by the Director of Leisure and Communities that he knew of 'no such plans'.

At the last meeting of the Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee on 7th December the Convener stated that there were no plans to divest the department of any parks.


DCA New Exhibition - Martin Boyce

On Friday evening I attended the opening of the latest exhibition at the DCA. This is called No Reflections and is by the artist Martin Boyce. To find out more about the exhibition click on the picture opposite which shows the exhibition as it was staged at the Venice Biennale earlier this year.
I enjoyed the exhibition and I will try and visit it again during daylight and when it is a bit quieter. It is well worth a visit.
I am a Director of DCA, appointed by the City Council and I am delighted that this show was chosen to represent Scotland in Venice. It is great that the Scottish Arts Council is aware that Scotland is more than Glasgow or Edinburgh and that artistic excellence can be found and appreciated in other parts of Scotland not least of which is Dundee. I am delighted that this exhibition has played its part in ensuring that Dundee's name is known, recognised and promoted far beyond Dundee.
The exhibition is on at DCA until 14th February 2010, click on the picture for more details.