Congratulations to Michael D Higgins

I am really pleased that the Labour candidate in the Irish Presidential Election, Michael D Higgins has been successful. Michael D is a really interesting character, who has already achieved much in his time in politics. I think that his election is interesting for those of us in Scottish Labour. Michael D has won in a political culture where constitutional issues have traditionally dominated the political discourse. It is interesting that promoting social justice in this context has allowed Michael D to win this election. I am sure that whilst this election is clearly in a very different context to Scotland there are still some interesting lessons which could be learned. I am sure that Michael D Higgins will be a President who will do Ireland proud. I would like to wish him well for his time in Áras an Uachtaráin.

Fairtrade Forum AGM

I was pleased to be re-elected to the Management Committee of the Dundee Fairtrade Forum at the forum's AGM. The forum was addressed by the Director of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum Martin Rhodes. Martin spoke about the work to make Scotland a fairtrade nation. There is real possibility that Scotland will become a Fair Trade nation in 2012 but there is still more to do. I am the Convener of Dundee's Fairtrade Forum and I will be working to make sure that Dundee does it's bit. I would also like to pay tribute to my predecessor as Convener, Ann Gammack, who has been a powerful voice for fair trade in the city of Dundee and beyond and who is a real hard act to follow.


Scrutiny Committee

Wednesday saw a meeting of the City Council's Scrutiny Committee. I spoke on a number of issues, such as how the council will promote information about its winter maintenance work. I pointed out that if the council is to use social media it must think about what users of social media think it is for. For example, can people use social media to report problems or not?

I also asked about procedures which are in place to ensure that fraud is prevented in the council's payroll.

I made the point in relation to the report on Scotland's public finances that any scheme which is designed to create joint working or shared services must have effective governance structures. Scrutiny and transparency are essential when dealing with public money.


Harris Academy Parent Council

I attended a meeting of the Harris Academy Parent Council on Tuesday evening. It is always good to hear about the work of the school. It was great to hear about the recent successes such as the production of Grease and the Macmillan Cancer Research Coffee Morning. There was also a very interesting discussion about the plans to change the school day. I believe that the City Council is writing to parents about this issue now but it is important that all parents look into this issue and respond to the council.


WestFest Guinness World Record Recognised

I was delighted to take part in a ceremony today which marked the official recognition from Guinness World Records that those of us who took part in the WestFest world-record attempt for the world's biggest piggy-back race were successful. I am now, with my daughter Marianne, officially a record-breaker as they used to say on the telly! There were over 300 others taking part.

WestFest deserve huge credit for organising this really great event. I had a great laugh taking part as did the many many people I met on the day. Well done to Dominic and Lola who went a wee bit faster than Marianne and I!

Click on the picture or here to view the STV report of today's event. You can also see a report from Daybreak's news for Northern Scotland here.

Development Management Committee

Monday evening saw the October meeting of the City Council's Development Management Committee. There was an item which asked for planning permission for a retrospective application where the work had already started. I sought a reassurance from officers that there were not buildings all over the city that had not been built to plans agreed with the city council. I was happy to hear that the council is confident that they would catch anyone who either built without the appropriate permissions or did not build to the plans which were approved. It is also worth noting that there could be significant costs involved in being caught building something without the appropriate approvals.