Community Spirit Meeting

This evening I attended a meeting of the Community Spirit Action Group which covers the northern part of the West End ward. Tonight's meeting heard from Liz Broumley and Kay MacFarlane of WestFest. WestFest is shaping up to be an exciting event at the end of June and I am looking forward to it.

Tonight's meeting also allowed a number of constituents to raise their concerns about a range of issues. It is always good to hear about the concerns of local people and I am always happy to try and help local residents.

Friends of the Co-operative Ideal

This evening I attended the Scottish launch of the Friends of the Co-operative Ideal. This was a very interesting meeting and Labour leader Iain Gray made an excellent speech. The Friends of the Co-operative Ideal is supported by the Co-operative Party and its policy is set out in the four statements below
  • I believe that the values of social justice, co-operation and mutuality have a crucial role to play in the future of the UK and the World.
  • I support the efforts of those who seek success through co-operative endeavour and the creation of a just society through power being evenly spread throughout society.
  • I believe that we can best achieve a just society through the co-operation of the Co-operative Party and the Labour Party.
  • To this end I will work with the Co-operative Party to pursue mutual solutions to the challenges that our society faces.

I believe that the current troubles in the economy mean that we should be promoting many more co-operative and mutual solutions.

I was pleased to get the chance to discuss co-operatives and many of the issues which face the people of the West End with Labour leader Iain Gray MSP.

Planning Training

On Wednesday afternoon I attended training for elected members on the operation of the new planning act. There are some changes to the operation of the planning process as a result of this act and I welcome the opportunity to be kept up-to-date with these.


West End Community Council

This evening I attended the March meeting of the West End Community Council. This was a very interesting meeting. There were two presentations during the meeting. The first was from Bob Kelly of Discovery Credit Union. I would urge anyone who lives or works in Dundee to consider joining the credit union. I think that Discovery Credit Union do an excellent job and it is important that they get the message across that credit unions are not only for the financially excluded.
My friend Rev Erik Cramb from the Dundee Access Group spoke about their project 'Hannah's Highway'. This is named after a young disabled person from the West End and calls for an exemplar route to be made available from the West End to the city centre which allows wheelchair users (and others) to make this journey without difficulty. Carole Craig who is Hannah's mother also spoke. They made a compelling case and I was happy to support the petition which they intend to submit to the Scottish Parliament. I will be encouraging others to sign this petition and support this campaign. This is an issue of fairness and equality and I think that even in these difficult economic times we need to look at investing in drop kerbs and other measures which would make life easier for disabled people.
There was also some discussion about a range of other issues facing the West End, for example I was able to report that the Chief Constable had stated that Tayside Police intend to have more Police Community Surgeries. The Community Council is always a good opportunity to listen to the concerns of local people, local representatives must listen to local people.

New Olympia

This afternoon I attended a meeting of the project board which is developing the proposals for the new swimming pool and leisure centre which will replace the Olympia Centre. This was a very interesting meeting and this is a challenging issue to develop the best possible facility for the people of Dundee.


Dundee City Council meeting 8 March 2010

This evening Dundee City Council and its committees met. The City Development committee considered a very technical report which will allow for some development work for improvements to the railway station. This is welcome news and I hope that we will soon see progress on this.

Prior to the start of the
Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee the Convener, Cllr Bob Duncan, praised all those involved in the refurbishment of the McManus which reopened last week. I also reflected on the success of the re-opening:

'I have visited the McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum a couple of times since it has been reopened. I have been hugely impressed with the numbers present. It is clear that this is a much loved Dundee institution and that Dundonians have taken it back to their hearts again. I hope that people will visit Dundee to visit this excellent facility.

I want to draw attention to the newly commissioned piece the Walldela Dundee which this committee agreed to commission. I know that there were those who weren't sure about this piece. I stood by it on Saturday and heard many people comment on it. Mostly favourable! I think that it sits particularly well in its setting in the newly created stair well.

I also particularly enjoyed the 'Consider the Lillies' exhibition which demonstrates that the city does have an impressive collection of 20th century Scottish art.

The galleries are bustling and busy and we are all challenged to do what we can to keep it that way.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who supported the refurbishment of the McManus. There are a great many pressures on council finance at this time but as many people have said to me over the last week it has been worth the money and worth the wait. I would like to pay tribute to all the staff of the council who have worked hard to ensure that this project comes to fruition. Well done!'

The committee considered a very interesting report on e-books and e-audio books being made available in the city's libraries. I said, 'I welcome this report. Our libraries are an excellent resource for our city but they must also move with the times. This investment represents a small fraction of the budget for library resources (2.6%). I will be interested to see how popular this service is. I think that whilst supporting this innovation it is important to highlight that reports of the death of the hard-copy book are as the famous author Mark Twain might have said exaggerated. I am happy to support this report. '

The Policy and Resources Committee included reports on Dundee's new Sport and Physical Activity Strategy and a follow-up report on child protection services.

People trafficking

This lunchtime with a number of other councillors and council officers I attended a briefing on people trafficking. These modern forms of slavery are unacceptable. I was concerned to hear that children and women were most likely to be trafficked. I think that the Stop the Traffik campaign's website is well worth a visit. I was pleased to hear that the City Council and its partners in the Dundee Children and Young People's Protection Committee are taking this issue seriously. It is clear that we cannot tolerate this terrible trade.

Titian 'Diana & Acteon'

The Titian masterpiece Diana and Acteon will be displayed in the McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum in August.
I have warmly welcomed this news when it was announced. I am pleased to say that my colleague Marlyn Glen MSP has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament on this issue.
If you click on the picture you can see a video of Marlyn and I talking about the importance of this to the city of Dundee.
I have been to the newly reopened McManus on a couple of occasions now and I think that it is a huge success. Everyone involved in the refurbishment deserves credit.

Gold for Peer Education

I want to congratulate the City Council's Peer Education Project on winning a Gold Award at the CoSLA Excellence Awards in the tackling health inequalities and improving health category.

I would like to congratulate the Peer Education Project on winning this award. I have visited the project and seen the work done by the Peer Education Project and it is most impressive. This is about young people helping other young people and spreading important messages about health issues. The Peer Education Project also gives confidence to young people. This award is recognition of the work of the staff of project and also the work of all the young people who have taken part in the project.

For more information visit this CoSLA website.