Papal Mass

I was at the Papal Mass in Bellahouston Park on Thursday. I met a number of people from Dundee when I was there and it seemed to me that everyone I spoke to thought that it was a good day.
I spoke to a number of representatives from other churches and other faiths and it was good to see that they were invited to be there.
I will certainly be studying the Pope's sermon. Whatever your religious views I think that the event was a success and I was very pleased to have been there and to have been invited by the Bishops' Conference of Scotland.


Illegal Adverts

I am calling for action to be taken against illegal adverts which are often fly-posted or tied to railings of properties without the owners permission. I am currently complaining about an advert for Pizza Hut which is tied to railing at a pedestrian crossing on the Hawkhill near to the Westport. I had cause to complain about what I think was the same banner last year when it was on council railings at the Sinderins junction.

I frequently ask the council to remove adverts which are often placed on railings which the council own. I know that businesses are struggling just now but if every business just put up advertising banners in an unregulated manner the city would look terrible. Other businesses also lose out as they pay for advertising yet competitors merely tie a banner to a nearby railing and hope for the best. The City Council is moving towards a zero tolerance approach towards graffiti I think that a similar approach should be developed towards illegal adverts.

I am disappointed to say that the advert I am complaining about is for Pizza Hut and that I have had cause to complain about a similar banner last year. A large company with a commitment to corporate social responsibility like Pizza Hut should not be illegally displaying adverts. What would the West End look like if every restaurant displayed its adverts like this. This is unsightly and should be stopped.


First Pope in Scotland

I was pleased to see the programme the First Pope in Scotland on BBC1 on Sunday. It was good to see members of the congregation at St Joseph's in the West End take part in the programme and to see their films about Pope John Paul II's visit to Bellahouston Park in 1982. The programme can be found on the BBC's iPlayer here. I was in Bellahouston in 1982 and it certainly brought back some memories for me. Pupils from St Ninian's Primary in Menzieshill will take part in the St Ninian's Day parade in Edinburgh in honour of Pope Benedict's visit. Many of St Ninian's pupils live in the West End ward and I would like to wish them all the very best for tomorrow I am sure that they will be a credit to themselves, their families and their school.

Anti-Social Behaviour

As a result of a number of local residents raising issues with me I sought a briefing on the council's response to anti-social behaviour. This morning council officers outlined to me the work that they and their staff do to deal with these problems. No one should suffer from anti-social neighbours. There is an effective partnership between various council departments, the police and the fire service which promotes community safety. I thanked the staff present for their work and would thank everyone who works in this field for the work that they do. I hope that this area will continue to receive resources even in these difficult financial times. I did make the point that constituents often feel that it takes too long to effectively deal with these sorts of problems.

To find out more about what you can do about anti-social behaviour please visit the website here. You should report anti-social behaviour when you encounter it. There should be no toleration of anti-social behaviour and I hope that various partners working together will deal with this issue.

West End Community Council

On Tuesday evening I attended a meeting of the West End Community Council. The main item on the agenda was a review of how WestFest had gone back in July. As I have said before I think that WestFest was a great success and the events which I attended were very good. Plans are beginning for next year, the committee are looking for more people to take a share of the planning for the event, if you're interested please contact WestFest via their website. Well done to everyone involved in WestFest.

There was also some discussion about the future of the Community Council with new structures and elections coming up before the end of the year. The community council is also looking for new members it would be good if people would give some thought to taking on this role.

Olympia Project Board

On Tuesday afternoon I attended a meeting of the Olympia Project Board. This board is working to deliver a new state of the art swimming pool for the city. It is getting closer and closer to the point where work starts on this project. I look forward to seeing this new pool built.
The picture here gives some idea of what the new pool will look like.


Dundee City Council Meetings 13 September 2010

On Monday evening there was a meeting of the City Council and a number of its committees. At the City Council I was pleased that my friend and colleague Councillor Mohammed Asif was appointed to serve on the Tayside Police board.

I spoke on a number of issues at the Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee. I welcomed the report of the Community Safety Partnership. This partnership is doing a lot of good work, it is important that community safety is given a priority.

The Conservative Group moved against the funding of a scoping exercise for youth work with black and minority ethnic groups. I actually seconded the Convener, the SNP's Bob Duncan in approving this report. This work is to be carried out by the Yusef Youth Initiative, I have seen their work and I think it should be encouraged. We need to ensure that the council promotes equality and that the services provided by the council are appropriate for all the young people in the city. I want to promote equality. I was happy to put the interests of the city before my political party allegiance. I thought that what the Administration was doing in this instance was correct and therefore I thought it was important to support him. It would be good if such cross-party co-operation was more widespread in the council chamber.

I was also pleased to support a report on the legacy of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games in Dundee. I hope that Dundee athletes will take part in both events and I hope that the games will encourage people to take an active part in sport. I also hope that there will visitors to the city as a result of this policy.

At the Policy and Resources Committee I was worried that the Administration was unconcerned about overspends in this year's budget. Given that there are going to massive pressures on the budget in the future it is important to stick to the budget when it has been agreed.

I was also appalled that the Administration bulldozed changes to the council's Standing Orders in order to stifle debate. It is unfortunate that Administration does not take openness and transparency seriously.

Youth Services Bus

On Monday evening I took the opportunity to visit the mobile youth bus which has recently been purchased by the Dundee Partnership. The bus was parked in the city centre. This bus will be used by the Leisure and Communities Department in conjunction with other agencies to provide youth work around the city.
I was very impressed with this resource I am sure that it will be a valuable resource for work with young people in the city. This project was first discussed when I was Convener of Leisure, Arts and Communities and I was pleased to a tangible result of these policy discussions.

Ice Arena Health and Safety Committee

On Monday afternoon I attended a meeting of the Health and Safety Committee of Dundee Ice Arena. Obviously running an ice arena is not without its safety issues but it is important that the Ice Arena does all it can to make the Ice Arena as safe as possible.

Tayside Fire and Rescue Meetings

On Monday morning I attended a meeting of Tayside Fire and Rescue Board's Service Delivery Forum and then a joint fora meeting in Perth. This was a very interesting meeting which looked at how the Fire and Rescue service will respond to the financial pressures which the Scottish Government are passing on to the board. The Fire and Rescue Board will be consulting on the these issues from November.


Welcome for Council response to Games Industry Inquiry

I welcome the response from Dundee City Council to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into the Video Games Industry. I requested that the City Council respond to this inquiry and I was pleased when the Chief Executive of the City Council agreed to my request.

I am pleased that the City Council has responded to this inquiry. The response highlights the importance of the games industry to Dundee and the need to work together to promote the industry. I agree with the report when it points out that the growth of the games industry has added to Dundee's reputation. I also agree with the report when it points out that tax incentives are required to secure a level playing field. I hope that the MPs who are on the committee will seriously consider the issues which face this industry across the country and in Dundee in particular.

MPs will be visiting Dundee this week to gather evidence and I hope that they will all study the response from Dundee City Council. I am sure that my colleague Jim McGovern MP will be pressing other members of the committee to do just that.

The video games industry is important to the economic development of the city of Dundee and I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that promoting jobs and the economy of Dundee is given a top priority. Jobs has to be a priority right now. Dundee needs to be promoted and I will certainly be doing all I can promote our city and bring jobs and prosperity to the city.

You can read the response of Dundee City Council here.