One World Centre 25th Anniversary

Tonight I attended a Civic Reception to mark the 25th anniversary of the Dundee One World Centre. As regular readers will know I have a particular interest in international development and I was pleased to be able to support the work of the One World Centre. The centre works with schools to develop international citizenship but unlike other similar centres in Scotland the Dundee one also works with the public. In the modern world we are all neighbours and it is important that we ensure that treat everyone as we would wish to be treated ourselves. Poverty can be a cause of international conflict, if we promote international social and economic justice we are in effect promoting international peace.

Well done to everyone who has been involved with the One World Centre over the last 25 years.

All the best WestFest

I wish WestFest, the community led festival across the West End of Dundee which launches on Sunday, all the very best of luck. It has an exciting programme and has something for everyone. The programme is well worth a look. I am looking forward to a range of interesting events over the next week. I hope that local people will support this festival. I want to thank the WestFest organisers for all their hard and I hope that it will be worthwhile.

For the programme click here.

Progress on Riverside Nature Park

I welcome progress towards the Riverside Nature Park becoming a reality. I met with officers of the council to hear about the latest moves in this process and I am pleased to say that I was informed that a report will be submitted to the council on the Riverside Nature Park soon.

Since I was elected I have been approached by constituents on a regular basis who want to know about progress towards the opening of a nature park at Riverside. The former landfill site is already a haven for wildlife and could become even more so once this project comes to fruition. I met with officers to get an update and I was pleased to hear that they plan to bring forward a report to the City Council on this project in the near future. I have been very impressed with the way in which council officers have engaged with members of the public about these proposals over the last few months. I look forward to examining this forthcoming report in detail when it is produced.

Concerned over high speed car chase

Today I expressed my concerns about a high speed car chase which took place in the West End and elsewhere on Thursday evening, you can read the Evening Telegraph's report here.

I am very concerned that lives seem to have been put in danger by a car travelling at excessive speeds along the Perth Road, through the Sinderins junction and out to Clayhills Drive. At tea-time these areas would be busy with families going about their business. I am pleased that no-one seems to have been injured but this was a very dangerous activity. I would urge anyone who knows anything about this to contact the police or Crimestoppers. This sort of reckless activity should not be tolerated.


Harris Academy Parent Council

Tonight I attended a meeting of the Harris Academy Parent Council which was held at the former Rockwell School. The meeting was at Rockwell because when Harris is being refurbished from 2011 (hopefully) the school will be decanted to the Rockwell site. The move to Rockwell is not without its challenges, I am sure that the staff and pupils will work hard to make sure that this brief move works. As a local councillor I will do all I can to ensure that the move to Rockwell works for everyone concerned. I look forward to a report finally coming forward at the next meeting of the Education Committee at the end of the month telling us how Harris Academy will be refurbished.


Dundee City Council and Committees 14 June 2010

On Monday evening the City Council and its various committees met. Firstly the City Council heard from a delegation of Ali and Khalid El-Awasi regarding the attack on the aid flotilla to Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces. The council passed a motion calling on the UK Government to bring pressure to bear for international efforts to find a lasting and just peace. The Labour Group will also support the Lord Provost if he wants to fly the Palestinian flag over the City Chambers and investigates the links between the City Council and Israeli companies. I am clear that in order for there to be peace in the Middle East then there must be justice.

Education Committee considered reports on the Scottish Government's efforts to reduce class sizes. The SNP Administration does not seem to think that it is important to deliver their manifesto promises. I agree with my colleague Laurie Bidwell on this issue.

Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee was pretty straightforward. There was a report on the Dundee Volunteer Centre and I was happy to support this as volunteers make a real difference to our city. I also supported a report on a grant for the Dundee International Women's Centre. There was also a report on a wide variety of diversionary activities for young people over the summer holidays. There was also a report on a £50,000 programme of works to ensure that water does not now enter the building at the McManus Galleries. The McManus has been a great success since its re-opening and this work is nearly all paid for by Historic Scotland.

The Waste Management Department presented a
report on a new graffiti policy. In the West End there has been a great deal of graffiti and I welcome this report. I think that it may go some way to dealing with this problem. I will be seeking a further briefing from officers about this important policy which can make communities feel better about themselves.

At the
Policy and Resources Committee I spoke about Local Community Planning Partnerships. I think that these partnerships are doing a good job but I think that there needs to be greater efforts made to encourage more local people to engage with these groups. I will be looking to meet with officers to ensure that there are greater efforts made.

The Policy and Resources Committee also heard about the follow up report prepared by Professor Peter Wilson regarding the 'Significant case review and independent review on Brandon Muir.' I am pleased to say that this report suggests that many of the lessons that needed to be learned have been. I have always had real concerns about accountability and scrutiny with regard to child protection. This work is carried out by partnerships and I think that we do not have robust enough scrutiny structures in place to deal with these partnerships. I asked a very specific report about the report, 'I want to draw attention to paragraph 2.3, if we can 'ask' the chief officers group to do things why can't we 'ask' them to attend City Council committees to explain their actions? How will we ensure that our request is actioned

Well done Dundee Rep

As Labour's spokesperson for Leisure, Arts and Communities on Dundee City Council today I congratulated Dundee Rep on winning three awards at the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS). I am a member of the board of Dundee Rep, having been appointed by Dundee City Council to that role.

I would like to congratulate Dundee Rep on its success in the CATS awards. The Rep is consistently excellent and all of us in Dundee should be proud of the excellent work which the Rep does. The Rep brings the best in theatre to a Dundee audience, it is clear that you do not have to travel to Edinburgh, Glasgow or even London to see excellent theatre. This is important in promoting Dundee as a centre for excellence in cultural activity and may go some way to encouraging others such as the V & A to come to Dundee. I like the fact that the Rep does make an effort to be for everyone in the city and beyond and tries to eliminate any barriers which prevent people from visiting the theatre.

Finally I just want to congratulate everyone associated with the success at the Rep, well done!


Dundee and the Reformation

Tonight I attended a meeting at Broughty Ferry New Kirk on 'Dundee and the Reformation' given by Dr Alan MacDonald of the History Department at Dundee University and Rev Dr Janet Foggie of St Andrew's Church in Dundee. This was part of the commemoration of the 450th Anniversary of the Scottish Reformation. This was an excellent talk and gave a very interesting insight into this important part of Scotland's and Dundee's history. I think that you cannot really understand modern Scotland without an understanding of the Reformation, no matter what your religious views are.

Co-operative Party Policy Forum

On Saturday I went to the Scottish Co-operative Party policy forum. There was a very good policy discussion about building co-operative communities. We also received a report of the work of Labour and Co-operative MSPs from Rhona Brankin MSP. The current political and economic situation provides an opportunity for the Co-operative Party, now is the time for an alternative vision of how to organise the economy and society.