International Year of Co-operatives

Today I took part in an event to mark the beginning of the International Year of Co-operatives organised by the Scottish Government's co-operative agency Co-operative Development Scotland. The event took place at the the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative. There was a really interesting presentation from Mike Sweatman the Finance Director of the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative. They have been operating since 1977 and they believe that being a co-operative makes a real difference to their business.

The credit crunch demonstrates that the current dominant model of shareholder owned companies is at the very least not the only model which should be promoted. Indeed, it could be argued that trying to chase profits for shareholder gain is one of the reasons why the credit crunch happened in the first place.

There is scope for an expansion in the co-operative sector right across the economy. I think that empowering either employees or consumers is an important thing to do.

The video below gives an outline of the work and scope of co-operatives across the world.


West End Community Council

I attended the first meeting of the West End Community Council for 2012 on Tuesday evening. There was a very interesting presentation on the work of the soon to be launched Food Train in Dundee. Food Train is a charity with local volunteers, providing a vital grocery delivery service to older people living in the Dundee city area. I think that this is a great idea and I hope that it is really successful. For more information please visit the Food Train website, or phone 459202 or email dundee@thefoodtrain.co.uk.

Alan Young the former chair of the Community Council brought everyone's attention to the Think Jessica campaign. This is a campaign against scam mail, which is a crime and which brings a great deal of distress to victims, who are often elderly. The video here gives a little bit of background to the campaign and its Scottish launch. It includes Tayside's Assistant Chief Constable Angela Wilson talking about how angry she got when she saw the impact scam mail has on victims.

City Council Meeting

Monday evening saw the first meeting of the year of the City Council and its committees. My colleague Kevin Keenan raised the widespread concern amongst councillors that the report to the last education committee was riddled with flaws and that it should have been corrected and brought back to committee rather than railroaded through the committee. The report to the council made no mention of plans to extend Kingspark School, yet since this report was accepted the council has submitted a planning application for an extension to that very school. The Chief Executive did have the good grace to admit that this was not how this should have happened and that the planning application should not have been submitted without council approval at least in principle that the work should take place. That's fine and we can assume that it won't happen again but it does rather beg the question; who is in charge?

At the Environment Committee I spoke on a number of items. Firstly, I spoke on the issue of Camperdown Park. I welcomed the plans to update the Camperdown Park Development Plan. I am proud of the work which went on under previous administrations which resulted in the Development Plan and in the development of things such as the new Visitor Centre at the Wildlife Centre. The picture shows me outside the new Visitor Centre.

I think that it is essential that a long-term sustainable use is found for Camperdown House. I was delighted to join the crowds visiting the house during this year's Flower and Food Festival and I called for a way of opening up the house to the public to be found. I think that this could be the final piece in the jigsaw which allows Camperdown Park to remain a really attractive place to visit.

I am delighted that works are to go ahead on the sensory garden and the inclusive play area. The inclusive play area is a great place for children to enjoy a great day out and I think it is fabulous that it is inclusive and that children of all abilities can play together at this excellent facility.

On the issue of recycling I welcomed the moves to improve recycling and I hope that it will be successful. Dundee has previously been at the forefront of recycling, particularly thanks to the efforts of the late Julie Sturrock, it is important that we continue to aim high with our ambition, and aim towards zero waste for Scotland and for Dundee.

I welcome the plans to extend the number of properties covered by recycling collections and the expansion in the number of Neighbourhood Recycling Points. It is important that the council facilitates easy recycling for every resident in Dundee and I will be looking for the council to continue to find ways of increasing the reach of its recycling efforts.

I think, if it's not too late, that everyone in Dundee could make a New Year's resolution to increase the amount which they recycle.

On the issue of security fencing at Law Allotments I welcome the spending but think that it is disgraceful that it is needed. It is a shame that we need to approve this spending this evening but I recognise that it is necessary. It is disgraceful that allotments need this level of security and those involved in criminal activity should be caught and dealt with.

Allotments are becoming more and more popular and it is right that the council gives support where and when it can.


Belated Happy New Year!

Belatedly I would like to wish all my constituents a very happy new year and hope that it brings everyone peace, health and happiness.

2012 is an important year. I am looking forward to the Olympics and hope that the GB team does well. I am looking forward to attending Olympic football at Hampden. It is great to see that this great international event being brought to Scotland.

In 2012 Scotland is moving towards being a Fairtrade Nation and I certainly support that important goal. We should be concerned about the way people who produce goods or services are treated and that is why fairtrade is important.

The UN has declared 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives. I think that co-operatives can make a real difference to the economy. The economic problems which we are facing just now are in large part due to the reckless behaviour of companies who recklessly sought profit for shareholders without too much thought for the consequences. I think that co-operartive options should be looked at across all policy areas.