Clearly some graffiti has artistic merit but - and this is big but - graffiti spoils areas. It has a major impact on the community and causes a lot of heartache. I have spoken to a number of people in the West End over the last few weeks when their house or properties near by have been attacked by graffiti, these people have been genuinely upset by the problems which this causes them. I have spoken to the Director of the DCA and he has reassured me that this competition has been stopped and that he hopes that their will be no re-occurrence of this.
I am continuing to work closely with council colleagues, local people and council officers to work against the scourge of graffiti.
I will be supporting Earth Hour a campaign by WWF to highlight the issue of climate change. This is also being supported by the City Council who will turn off the lights at the McManus Galleries. The idea is to switch off lights for one hour on Saturday 27th March at 8.30 pm to show that you care about climate change. To find out more about WWF Scotland's work click here.
I think that the Budget sets out the clear choice which will face the British people at the General Election. Alistair Darling set out the case today; it is also clear that the UK General Election will be a two-horse race between Labour and the Tories, between help for the many and help for the few.
Please find below the statement issued by Laurie Bidwell and myself:
Labour's Education and Leisure, Arts and Communities spokespeople on Dundee City Council, Councillor Laurie Bidwell and Councillor Richard McCready today raised their concerns that there will be budget cuts to an award winning scheme. The Peer Education Project recently won a Gold Award in the tackling health inequalities and improving health category at the COSLA Excellence Awards. Funding changes pushed through by the SNP-led Administration will result in a budget gap of £37,000.
Councillor Richard McCready said, 'I have been fortunate enough to visit the Peer Education Project on a number of occasions and I have always been very impressed by the work that it carries out. I was delighted when I heard that the project had won a Gold Award from COSLA recently. This is a very impressive project and it provides excellent value for money for the City Council. I know that it makes a real difference to the lives of young people. I am concerned that there have been cuts which result in a budget gap of £37,000. Along with my colleague Laurie Bidwell, I will be writing to the Director of Leisure and Communities seeking reassurance about the ability of this project to maintain its current high standards.'
Councillor Laurie Bidwell said, 'I have also seen at first hand the excellent work of the Peer Education Project in the city's Primary and Secondary Schools. For example, peer educators from Craigie High School, have been working with pupils in P7 in their former primary schools to help make the transfer to Secondary School more positive. The beauty of peer education is that it not only benefits the young people who receive the peer education but the peer educators gain in confidence and self esteem as well. This is a win-win. Unfortunately the capacity of this project to maintain its current levels of activity will be undermined by the cuts imposed by the SNP Administration. This will be disheartening to the staff of the programme whose work has deservedly just received external recognition. These cuts will obviously put on hold plans to involve more schools in the Peer Education programme."
Background on Peer Education's Funding
The funding position for the Peer Education project is that a sum of £108,000 has been mainstreamed into the Leisure and Communities budget from the Quality of Life funding. The Fairer Scotland Fund allocation to the project was cut by £20,000 for the financial year 2010/11 and this combined with the effect of having a fixed budget allocation with rising staff costs, means that the project will have to find a way of addressing a gap of £37,000 for the next financial year.
I also welcome investment in repairing the roof at Campderdown House. It is important that we look at ways of developing Camperdown House. Council offices are to be relocated there but it is important that everyone works together to find a long term viable public use for parts of Camperdown House.
I was pleased to see that the Housing Committee agreed to invest in a refurbishment of the Lime Street Shletered Housing Complex. This is something that residents have raised with me and I have been campaigning for this refurbishment.
The Policy and Resources Committee heard a couple of important reports. My colleague Kevin Keenan had requested a report on the impact of the Misuse of Drugs and Alcohol in the city. This is a very interesting report, the misuse of drugs and alcohol has a major impact on the council's provision of services. However, I do not think that this report went far enough, we require a report which highlights what we are going to do about this. The scourge of drugs and alcohol impacts upon the most vulnerable people in the city. We need to find effective means of dealing with drug and alchol abuse.
The Policy and Resources Committee awarded funding to DEAP to run Job Brokerage for the Dundee Partnership. I am very pleased for everyone connected with DEAP, I hope that this is the end of this period of uncertainty. This report was issued late and officers were unable to help the Labour Group to formulate a motion which would have allowed extra scrutiny of these decisions. The debacle of the SNP Administration's attempts to push through its budget leaves a number of questions unanswered. This whole process lacked transparency and openness. The council must do better in the future and elected members should be given much, much more information than has been the case until now.
For the West End I am glad that there is a secure letter box in Blackness Library and for the northern part of the ward there is a letter box in Lochee Library. If this scheme is a success I would like to see more of these secure letter box and one place I would like to see one would be the Mitchell Street Centre.