GMB Political Forum

Today I attended GMB Scotland's Political Forum. I am a member of the GMB trade union and I am pleased to say that they supported my election campaign in 2007. This was an excellent opportunity to discuss the political concerns of GMB members and the way forward for Labour. The meeting was addressed by Jim Murphy MP, Anne McGuire MP, Michael McMahon MSP and Bill Butler MSP. There was a collective agreement that we must work for the return of Labour in Holyrood and Westminster and in local government.


Marlyn Glen seeks answers over NHS job cuts

My friend and colleague Marlyn Glen MSP is going to seek answers from Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon about job cuts in NHS Tayside. Ninewells Hospital the biggest facility run by NHS Tayside is in the West End ward and I am concerned about job losses. Like Marlyn I want to be reassured that this will not impact adversely on front line care.

West End Community Planning Partnership

On Thursday evening there was a meeting of the West End Local Community Planning Partnership. The meeting was scheduled to take place in the excellent Tartan Coffee Shop but we found ourselves locked out of that venue, so we ended up holding the meeting in Lochee Police Station, thanks to the local inspector. This situation makes an eloquent case for the need for the council to look at having better community facilities in the West End.

We had a very interesting presentation on social work services in the West End and on parking problems and access problems for emergency services and bins lorries in the Pentland area.

You can read about what the West End Community Planning Partnership is meant to be doing in the local community plan, if you would like a hard copy of this document please get in touch with me.


Scrutiny Committee

Wednesday afternoon saw a meeting of the council's Scrutiny Committee. In general I think that the Scrutiny Committee requires more teeth however today's meeting saw real action after concerns were raised at a previous meeting about the McKinnon Centre in Broughty Ferry and now £1.5 million will be spent on upgrading the facility. This is not all down to the Scrutiny Committee but it did play a part.

I asked questions about whether the council should have a corporate policy on Disclosure Check procedures for staff. Currently the main departments which this affects Education and Social Work have separate policies, the Chief Executive is going to look at this policy.

The committee considered a number of reports on education and social work facilities, these were generally positive reports.

Sport Dundee AGM

This evening I attended the Annual General Meeting of Sport Dundee (Dundee City Sports Council). Sport Dundee performs an important role in promoting sport in the city, it also provides support for individual athletes, coaches and clubs. It is always good to get the opportunity to hear about the concerns of local athletes and clubs.

Caird Hall Excellent Venue for BBC Proms Event

As Labour Spokesperson for Leisure, Arts and Communities on Dundee City Council I welcome the news that the finale of BBC Proms in the Park will be held in Caird Hall Dundee this year.

I am very pleased that the BBC Proms in the Park Scottish finale will take place in the Caird Hall this year. The Caird Hall is an excellent venue for classical music, and indeed for other styles of music, and has a loyal following for RSNO Concerts. Hopefully this concert will give people who have never been to this type of concert the opportunity to attend and see what it's like. I am pleased that the BBC are joining the growing band of people who recognise that cultural excellence is not only to be found in Glasgow, Edinburgh or even London but can be found right across the UK and that Dundee is an excellent venue for an event such as this.

You can read more about this here. Click on the picture for more information about the excellent Caird Hall.

Welcome for Newspaper Digitisation

I welcome the news that Dundee company Brightsolid is to work in partnership with the British Library to digitise 40 million pages from the national newspaper collection. I have a doctorate in history and spent many weeks at the British Newspaper Library in Colindale, London whilst researching for for my doctorate, ironically most the material I was looking at in London had been published in Dundee but was only available to researchers in London.

I think that this is great news for Dundee and great news for history researchers. It is great that Dundee is at the forefront of this modern technology. Dundee has always been at the forefront of the newspaper industry and it is fitting that the modern storage of newspaper archives is being pioneered in Dundee. Whilst studying for my PhD I spent many weeks at the British Newspaper Library in north London. It is good to know that in the future researchers will be able to consult these resources from wherever they are. I hope that this scheme will open up access to everyone and that people with an interest in history will be able to consult these resources. It is great that this resource will not just be for professional historians and academics but will be open to anyone. I look forward to this project being brought to fruition and wish it every success.

You can read more about this and see a video about this excellent news here.



Concern about job at risk in NHS Tayside

I have been concerned over the past few days about reports which speculate on possible job losses at NHS Tayside. My Labour colleague Jackie Baillie has expressed her shock at the news that 500 jobs are to go. There is a need for transparency in this situation and we need some idea about what the Scottish Government is planning to do.

Dundee Leisure Finance Sub Committee

This evening I attended the Finance sub-committee of Dundee Leisure. This was an important meeting which looked at how the company delivers excellent facilities for the people of Dundee.

Sports Day - St Joseph's Primary

This afternoon I enjoyed the wonderful sunshine in the West End at Harris Academy's Elliot Road sports ground where St Joseph's Primary held their sports day. The weather was fabulous and the young people certainly enjoyed themselves and did themselves proud.

Best Value 2 Report

This morning along with other councillors and officers of the council I attended a briefing on the Best Value 2 Report for Dundee City Council. The Audit Scotland press release from March can be found here.

The report sets out a number of areas for improvement by Dundee City Council especially in the field of scrutiny. I am clear that work is required to improve scrutiny. This is very important at this time as the council faces many challenges in the current climate.


Development Quality Committee

The City Council's Development Quality Committee met on Monday evening. I asked questions about the proposals regarding the stopping up of Hillside Terrace at the former Wimberley Buildings. I supported proposals not to allow a change to the previous planning permission, mostly on the basis that there is a Public Inquiry into the Stopping Up Order for Hillside Terrace which should happen in the near future. I thought that we should wait until the Public Inquiry has made it decision. Unfortunately the committee decided to allow the changes to the planning permission.


Congratulations to Dundee United

I want to congratulate Dundee United on their victory in the Scottish Cup Final. As I have said before I don't support United but I think that their victory is excellent news for the city of Dundee. United certainly deserved their victory, especially in the second half. You can read about the victory here. You can also read about the celebrations in the city on Sunday.