Disappointment at another Quango for Edinburgh

As Labour's Leisure, Arts and Communities spokesperson on Dundee City Council I have expressed my disappointment that Creative Scotland will be based in Edinburgh. I feel that given the burgeoning cultural community in Dundee that the city would have been an excellent base for Creative Scotland.

I am disappointed that yet another quango will be based in Edinburgh. When I was Convener of Leisure, Arts and Communities I had expressed my opinion to the Scottish Arts Council and to the previous culture minister, Linda Fabiani, that I thought that Dundee would be an excellent location for the new cultural body which replaces the Arts Council and Scottish Screen. This is a missed opportunity. I feel that Dundee would have been an excellent venue for Creative Scotland, we have the universities, the college, the DCA, the Rep, the newly refurbished McManus and hopefully before too long the V & A. Basing Creative Scotland outside of Edinburgh (or indeed Glasgow) would have been a powerful way of telling the world that there is more to Scottish cultural life than Glasgow or Edinburgh, unfortunately that opportunity has been missed.

My colleague Marlyn Glen MSP has also made some comment on this please find her comments below:

Marlyn Glen, the Dundee-based MSP, criticised the decision by the Scottish Government that the headquarters of the new arts agency , Creative Scotland, would be in Edinburgh, rather than being located in Dundee.

Ms. Glen accused the Scottish Government of “simply ignoring Dundee once again.”

She said,

“ The transfer of the home of Creative Scotland to Dundee would have been an important boost to the local community and to the local economy.

“ It would have sent an important signal from the Scottish Government that Dundee is a good place to work and to live in.

“Instead, the sound of another broken promise from the SNP on jobs for Dundee resounds across the city.”


Climbdown on online council advertising

I am pleased to see that the Scottish Government has seen sense and decided not to continue with these proposals to allow councils to post public notices only online. I was very concerned that these proposals would have been undemocratic. It is important that council's are transparent in their dealings with the people that they serve. Public notices are designed to inform citizens about the work of the council, councils should do everything in their power to ensure that these notices reach the widest audience possible. More and more people have access to the internet but not everyone does, therefore it would be unsatisfactory to rely only on the internet. I was disappointed that Dundee City Council did not take a view on this important issue but I am glad that these proposals will not come forward now. It is important that the council does all that it can to ensure that the people of Dundee are as well informed as possible.

Graffiti Meeting

The West End Local Community Planning Partnership set up a working group which is dealing with the scourge of graffiti in the West End. There was a meeting of this group on Wednesday evening. The meeting discussed how local people can take action which will deal with graffiti. I look forward to this group taking further action in due course to deal with graffiti in the West End. If you have any concerns about graffiti in your area please get in touch with me.

Scrutiny Committee 17 March 2010

On Wednesday there was a meeting of the City Council's Scrutiny Committee. This was an interesting meeting which considered three reports, on Newfields Primary School, St John's High School and Woodlea Children's Centre. I sought reassurance from the Education Department that the council is fully prepared for the Curriculum for Excellence which will be implemented from August.


Development Quality Committee

This evening saw the March meeting of the Development Quality Committee. This was an interesting meeting. I supported a motion which would have rejected planning permission for new council offices at Grove Academy in Broughty Ferry. I want this development to go ahead but I did not believe that all the issues, such as car parking, had been dealt with. This motion was defeated and the development will go ahead. There was also an application for a new school in Whitfield which was passed by the committee.

Tories scupper plans to stop 'Vulture Funds'

One of my main political interests is International Development, I was disappointed to see that attempts to deal with 'Vulture Funds' which exploit the poorest countries and make money from their misery failed in the House of Commons on Friday. You can read a report from the Guardian here. Tory MPs used House of Commons rules to prevent the bill from becoming law. There had been strong indications of cross-party support for this bill and I am disappointed that this was not the case. I have added my name to a letter which has been sent by Labour's International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, to the leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron.

It is important that bankers and international speculators are brought into some form of control and I think that this modest bill would have made a difference. It is a shame that it was not supported.


The Connoisseurs - DCA

On Friday I attended the opening of the Connoisseurs a new exhibition by Alex Frost at the DCA. This is a very interesting exhibition and well worth a visit. To find out more about the exhibition and the DCA visit the DCA's website.
The picture shows one of the exhibits in its original location at the Glenfiddoch Distillery.
The DCA is a great legacy of the previous Labour-led councils in Dundee. While the exhibits are not always everyone's cup of tea (to some extent that's the point) there can be no doubt that DCA has played a major role in changing people's perception of our city.