Campaigning for Dundee to be UK City of Culture 2017

Good Morning Scotland 1 March 2013 from West End Labour on Vimeo.
I am continuing to campaign for Dundee to be named as UK City of Culture in 2017.  Dundee has a strong case and I will be making that case strongly.  Dundee has a great cultural offer and we need to ensure that our bid to become UK City of Culture is a bid that includes something for everyone in the city.

This morning I was interviewed on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland about Dundee's bid along with my Labour colleague George Adam, the Lord Provost of Aberdeen.  We had a very good natured debate about the merits of our city's bid.  You can hear our discussion by clicking above.


Buried Report on Ninewells Published

Today my colleague Jenny Marra MSP published the report which was written about care of the older patients in Ninewells Hospital but which has been hidden.  It is important that people can have confidence in the services they receive from Ninewells and that management take very seriously concerns when they are raised.  As I have said previously in all my dealings with Ninewells Hospital I have been very impressed with their work.

The report may well have had flaws as NHS Tayside claim but I have to say that you never hear of organisations complaining about the standards of a report if the report is positive.  I want to ensure that people in Dundee and right across Tayside can have confidence in the NHS services they or their families receive.  A robust inspection scheme should be in the interests of staff, patients and management.  Such a scheme should deliver an improved service for the people of Tayside.

Jenny Marra has done the people of Tayside a service by trying to shed some light on this area of the health service.  We need to be certain that there are not problems in services for older people at Ninewells, trying to hide a report does not give us that certainty.  NHS Tayside and the Scottish Government need transparency and openness in their dealings public.

Car Parking for Gate Church

I was a little disappointed to hear that people attending the Gate Church on the Perth Road have received parking fines from the University of Dundee for using the university's car park across the road from the church.

I will be contacting the University of Dundee about this matter.  I understand why the university wants to protect its car parking spaces but I think that it is important that the university interacts with the local community.  The University of Dundee is, on the whole, a good neighbour I hope that they might look at some way of making car parking spaces available on a Sunday which might help those attending services at the Gate Church as well as some other churches on the Perth Road.
I am very glad that Dundee University is making some movement on this issue and I hope that there might be a chance of a solution which suits everyone concerned.  You can read more about this here.

Perth Road Traders Association

Over the past few months along with others I have been supporting traders in the Perth Road district shopping area in their plans to promote a traders association.  Areas like Broughty Ferry have a traders association and this gives the traders in the area a voice to make known their concerns.  I think that it would be good if the Perth Road traders had a united voice speaking up for their concerns.

Shopping areas like the Perth Road are under threat, as just about all of us use supermarkets and other out of town shops or shop online.  All of these recent developments have their plus and minus points.  I am clear that having a diverse ranges of local shops in the West End is something that we should be fighting to protect.  That's why I support the new Perth Road Traders' Association and I wish them every success in the future.  I also urge local people in the West End to support their local shops and would urge anyone who hasn't been shopping on the Perth Road recently to have a look at what's available.

Kemback Resource Centre - Council Should Apologise

On Monday evening the SNP-led Administration brought forward a report which attempted to deal with the failings of their handling of the future of the Kemback Resource Centre for people with learning difficulties.  The council has been criticised by a Care Commission report and families from Kemback Resource Centre have been given legal aid to seek a Judicial Review.

The Labour Group are very very clear that if the SNP Administration had listened to service users and carers from the Kemback Resource Centre then we would not have got into this situation.  Labour attempted to get the council to apologise for these failings and also to leave service-users alone for at least one year.  Unfortunately, the SNP were joined by the Con Dems on the council voting for a new consultation on the future of the Kemback Resource Centre.  It is unclear whether or not the council has actually rescinded the decision to close the centre; so we could be in the bizarre situation where the council is going for a new consultation but where it has already made its mind up to close the centre.  What is clear is that there has been no attempt to say that the council has an open mind on the issue.

Bailie Helen Wright moved Labour’s amendment, she said, ‘It is important that the Council gets this right for some of Dundee’s most vulnerable people who can’t always speak for themselves.’

‘I am concerned that the Care commission have up-held a complaint against the council and that there is the prospect of legal action also.’

‘I am ashamed to say this is not where we should be and I apologise to the service users for this.’

‘We should be listening and consulting much more to service users and their families.  It would be easy to say we told you so but this is a much more important issue than that.’

‘We have the opportunity tonight to put right a wrong and give service users and families from Kemback Street Justice.’

I seconded my colleague Bailie Wright and I said, ‘It is hugely disappointing that we have got to this point.  If the Administration had listened to opposition councillors or more importantly service-users and their families then this problem would have been solved in October, or even earlier.  I hope that the council will now use the opportunity to put right a wrong inflicted upon the service-users from the Kemback Resource Centre.  The Council must ensure that it listens to the views of service-users and rebuilds the trust that has been lost with service-users.’

‘First, and foremost we must have in our thoughts the service users at the Kemback Resource Centre.  Their representatives came here in October in good faith and collectively the council did not listen to them.  They told us that the consultation had not been handled properly and the majority decision was to ignore that.  For that this council should apologise.’

‘We have messed about with the service-users, their families and their carers.  We should have a moratorium on further action, that is why we are saying that no consultation should take place for at least a year.’

‘If there is to be a further consultation then it must work hard to overcome many of the flaws of the previous consultation.  That’s why we think that such a consultation should be overseen by the Chief Executive or a suitably qualified independent person.’

‘We have an important opportunity this evening to make right something that was wrong.  We can show that we are able to listen to the views of some of the most vulnerable people in our city, or we can ride roughshod over their views yet again.’

‘This process has already cost the council money; I do hope that we will not throw good money after bad.  But we also need to balance that by saying that we cannot put a price on justice.  We need to listen to the voice of service-users and carers from Kemback Street.  We need to be their voice and I think tonight in order to give them justice we should support the amendment in Bailie Wright’s name which I am happy to second.’


Tayside Fire and Rescue Board

This morning I attended the second-last meeting of Tayside Fire & Rescue Board.  This meeting looked at transferring all property, rights and liabilities from Tayside Fire & Rescue Board to the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.  It is important that the new service has access to the resources needed to deliver an effective fire and rescue service for Scotland.  I am clear that Tayside Fire & Rescue is transferring a good range of fire stations across the region and that I expect the new Scottish Fire & Rescue Service to put them to good use protecting local people.


Concern over Ninewells Cover-up

Ninewells Hospital is in my ward, in all my dealings with the hospital and its staff I have been really impressed with the dedication of the staff.  I am concerned that an inspection report from Health Improvement Scotland has been buried.  It is important that inspection reports are used to develop  best  practice.  The report concerned the treatment of older patients and suggested that as many as 35 patients were waiting on trolleys and wheelchairs for a bed.  People across Tayside need to have confidence in services at Ninewells and systemic failings need to identified and dealt with.  I'm not sure that covering up a report is a way to give people confidence in the service.

My colleague Jenny Marra MSP has been searching for answers on this matter.  I hope that she is successful.  The health service needs to be open and transparent and accountable.  If there are problems then these need to be faced head on, covering up problems does not mean that they have been dealt with.  There are important lessons to be learnt on openness, transparency and accountability for the health service here.

You can read a report on this from the Sunday Herald.