Welcome Return for Christmas

I welcome the return of Christmas to the Christmas light switch-on in Dundee. The city's industrial chaplain has instigated a Nativity Play in the city on the evening of the Christmas Lights switch-on.

I warmly welcome this initiative by Rev Allan Webster, the city's
work place chaplain. I was like many people, hugely disappointed that Christmas was initially excluded from the so-called ,'Winter Light Night Celebrations' last year. The people of Dundee understand that the lights are switched on in the run-up to Christmas it was wrong to try to hide the fact. My friend and colleague Councillor Mohammed Asif was absolutely correct last year when he pointed out that if this was meant so as not to cause offence to non-Christians then it did the absolute opposite. Indeed in Westminster Hall last Friday Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the down playing of Christmas in the 'questionable belief' that this will prevent offence. Christmas is an important part of our cultural heritage and should be celebrated. I am glad that the council will be giving Christmas due prominence this year.

Maxwelltown Information Centre - AGM

I was at the AGM of the Maxwelltown Information Centre tonight. I have been visiting the centre on and off for over 10 years and I have always been very impressed by the work that they do. MIC does a great job and provides excellent services for people in the Hilltown area and beyond. There was an excellent presentation on social enterprise at the meeting. I was pleased to see that my friend and colleague Iain Luke joined the board of MIC tonight. You can find out more about the work of MIC by visiting their website. There was a networking event prior to the AGM and this was a very useful opportunity to hear about the work of a variety of organisations.

Dundee Leisure Finance Sub-Committee

This evening I attended a meeting of the Finance sub-committee of Dundee Leisure. This was an interesting meeting which looked at ways of promoting more visits to Dundee Leisure's excellent facilities.

Development Management Committee

Monday evening saw the first meeting of the Development Management Committee which is the new name for Development Quality Committee. This is the committee which deals with planning applications. The main item on the agenda was the planning application for the West End Schools project. I was unable to take part in this debate as my daughter attends one of these schools. The planning application was passed. It is important that the council's education department engages with parents in the West End to deliver great schools for all the children of the West End.


Abertay Debate

On Monday afternoon I was very pleased to take part in a debate for first year students at the University of Abertay Dundee. I was debating with the current Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick the motion that 'It is time for Scotland to become an independent country'.

I made clear my thoughts that if the people of Scotland ever expressed a preference for independence then they should get it. My main point was that I believe that independence is a distraction which stops government's focusing on the real issues of jobs, prosperity, education, health and housing. I pointed out that the SNP-led Scottish Government was not promoting Independence.

This was a welcome opportunity to welcome people to the city and also to university.

I was pleased that my proposition that now is not the time for independence won the day.

Duncan sails again

I was delighted to be at the launch of the Duncan sails again exhibition at the Central Library. This is a very interesting exhibition and is well worth a visit. It is important that the people of Dundee are aware of the history of the city and that we are aware of the contribution of Admiral Duncan to the history of the UK. I was pleased to see that the Royal Navy will continue to mark Duncan's contribution to the history of the UK by naming a new ship HMS Duncan on 11th October.

It is important to mark Duncan's victory at Camperdown. I think that the exhibition just highlights how important it is to find a long-term viable and sustainable use for Camperdown House. The City Council is currently spending money on the building to allow for more offices in the house. I think that there must be some level of access for the general public, it is an important part of the city's heritage. The exhibition continues until 16th October, to find out more about Admiral Duncan and Camperdown House please visit the website of the Friends of Camperdown House.

Fairtrade Forum

This morning I attended a meeting of the Dundee Fairtrade Forum. The meeting considered the work which has been done over the last few weeks especially the fairtrade presence at the Flower and Food Festival. We are currently planning for the forum's AGM which will take place in October. If you are interested in helping promote fairtrade please get in touch with the forum.

McManus Galleries Dundee's finest building

I was very pleased to hear that the Dundee Civic Trust has declared the newly refurbished McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum to be Dundee's building of the year. I was deeply involved in the process which led to the refurbishment of the McManus. I am delighted that all the hard work which was put in was worth it. I totally agree with the Civic Trust the McManus is a very fine building. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the refurbishment on their hard work and the excellent outcome which has been achieved. It is great to see that the hard work of so many people has been recognised. You can read a report on this from the Courier.