Welcome for V & A funding

As Labour's Leisure, Arts and Communities spokesperson in Dundee today I welcomed the announcement of some government funding for the V & A at Dundee project. I've been a long-time supporter of the project, since it was first discussed in 2007. I am committed to working with the Scottish Government, the City Council, the Universities, Scottish Enterprise and the V & A to ensure that this project is delivered.

I welcome news of support for this important project for the city of Dundee. It is crucial to the city that this project gets going and I think that it will make a real difference to city. It is great that this great British institution wants to set up a museum in Dundee. Labour in Dundee is committed to delivering this project for the good of everyone in the city.

I will be meeting with the Director of City Development in the near future to discuss progress on the V & A at Dundee. I will be asking about what else is required to secure progress. There is a fabulous vision of an iconic building in Dundee it is important that there is a a hardheaded approach to securing the funding required to bring this vision into a reality.

My colleague Pauline McNeill MSP, Labour's Culture spokesperson has also commented on this; “The V&A in Dundee has had our support from the very beginning and we hope this funding will allow the project team to make progress.

“The design of the building promises to transform the city's waterfront and put Dundee at the forefront of Scotland’s creative sector.

“This is an innovative project which is not only crucial for Dundee’s economy but for Scotland as whole.”


West End Community Council

Tonight I was at the January meeting of the West End Community Council. This was an interesting meeting. A number of important issues were raised. The state of the pavements in the West End was raised as a major concern for everyone present. The council's Chief Executive intends to hold a meeting in February to look at how the snow and ice has been dealt with. I intend to raise the many concerns raised with me by constituents at this meeting. If you have any comments on this please do hesitate to get in touch with me. Concerns were also raised about bogus workmen operating in the West End and elsewhere. I support the work that the council has done to See off Scams. If you are in any doubt about any workers who offer to work for you please check them out and don't hesitate to contact the numbers in the See off Scams post.

Dundee Fairtrade Forum

This morning I was at a meeting of the Dundee Fairtrade Forum. The main item on the agenda was our preparations for Fairtrade Fortnight. Fairtrade Fortnight takes place between 28th February and 13th March. We hope to have a number of events in Dundee to promote the fortnight.
Please look out for details of how you can help promote fairness and justice in international trade.

V & A at Dundee update sought

As Labour's Leisure, Arts and Communities spokesperson in Dundee today I sought a briefing to get an update on progress on the V & A at Dundee project. I am a long-standing champion of the project and I addressed the Scottish Labour Party Conference on the project when the Scottish Labour Party decided that support for the project will be part of Labour's policies going into this year's election.

I am looking for an update on progress of this important project. I was very pleased when the design was chosen last year and I now think that it is time to move forward and start making the steps necessary to bring the vision into a reality. I hope that all the partners including the City Council, the Universities, Scottish Enterprise and the V & A will be able to secure funding for this iconic building. Obviously, these are difficult economic times but I think that this project could be a major boost to the Dundee economy in the building phase and certainly once it is complete. I am totally supportive of securing this project and I will work with anyone make it happen.

Power Supply in the West End

I have raised my concerns with Scottish and Southern Energy (Hydro-Electric) regarding ongoing power problems for parts of the West End around Seymour Street.

I was approached by a number of constituents about ongoing intermittent power cuts in the area. I was aware of these myself as a local resident. I have contacted Scottish and Southern Energy and they have said that they are carrying out works and should restore the energy later today. I will be keeping a close eye on this and I hope that the works are completed and that power is restored.


Dundee City Council Meetings

On Monday evening there were meetings of the City Council, the Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee, the Housing, DCS & Environment Services Committee and the Policy and Resources Committee.

The Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee looked at some interesting reports, including one on Tayside and Fife sporting partnership. I welcome this and hope that this small investment will have a major impact on Dundee. I also welcomed a report on investment on the reduction of on-street prostitution, I am concerned that this programme will loose funding at the end of March. I was somewhat relieved to hear that alternative sources of funding are being looked at but I will be seeking a briefing from officers to ensure that effective programmes continue.

The Housing, DCS & Environment Services Committee considered a range of reports. I was sorry to see the SNP-John Letford Administration push through proposals to send two councillors the Chartered Institute of Housing's Annual Scottish Conference in Glasgow in March at a cost of £689 per delegate. I am not completely opposed to councillors attending conferences but the costs are often ridiculous as in this case. I also think at a time when the council is facing cuts it is difficult to justify spending such money.

At the Policy and Resources Committee I seconded my colleague Kevin Keenan's amendment that would have seen the Administration's proposals to set up a Charitable Organisation to Manage Leisure and Cultural Facilities dealt with properly. Instead we have a piecemeal approach which sets out a partial view of the way forward. Councillor Guild and Councillor Duncan who moved the report as well as the officers who tried to justify tendering for legal services all relied on discussing the pros and cons of setting up a mega-trust to look after leisure and culture services. The point was that this was not up for discussion. Without formally presenting the proposals the Administration put the cart before the horse. The Administration seemed to take exception to my suggestion that this could cost around £50,000. Where did I get this figure from? From a draft report (see page 2, paragraph 3.3) produced by the secretive Changing for the Future Board and which the Administration had put on the council's website which is open for any member of the public or anyone who wishes to tender for this work to see. It is, of course, farcical that this situation should arise that the Administration holds secret meetings and then places in the public domain commercially sensitive information. This is not the way to run a multi-million pound organisation.

Dundee Ice Arena Health & Safety Committee

This afternoon I attended a meeting of the Health and Safety Committee of Dundee Ice Arena. It is important to take health and safety seriously but the Ice Arena is a great place to visit. Please check out the website and think about visiting.