Happy St Andrew's Day

I would like to wish everyone who is celebrating a very Happy St Andrew's Day.  Today it is somewhat overshadowed by the tragic helicopter crash in Glasgow. 

The picture here is the stained-glass window from St Andrew's Cathedral in the West End.  I would like to see St Andrew's Day celebrated a little more in Scotland.  I also think that we should look a little more at the life of St Andrew (or at least the little we know about his life).  For example St Andrew was the person who found the boy with the loaves and the fishes at the feeding of the five thousand, perhaps we should take action to deal with hunger at home and abroad to mark St Andrew's Day.


Action needed on Pay day lenders and the cost of living crisis

Along with my colleague Lesley Brennan I have called for more action on pay day lenders and the cost of living crisis.  In part we were responding to a report published this week entitled Scotland in the Red.
The findings in the report for Dundee City East show the average pay day loan debt was £817; and in Dundee City West the average pay day loan debt was £1,218.

I think that this report is a stark reminder of the cost of living crisis which faces many people in Dundee in the run-up to Christmas. 
I welcome the fact that the Scottish Government has listened to my colleague Kezia Dugdale MSP and that the UK Government is listening to my colleague Stella Creasy MP and taking some action against Pay Day lenders. 
I believe that pay day lenders should have to produce a wealth warning which states the cost of the loan. 
The wealth warning would be similar to the health warnings on alcohol and cigarettes and is designed to make sure that people understand what they are doing when they sign up to a pay day loan.  I want effective action against Pay Day lenders who trade on the misery of others and I will be keeping a close eye on the changes being made by the Scottish and UK Governments.

The council can and should do more to combat debt in the city.  We need to do all that we can to promote Discovery Credit Union for example.  The council should also look at doing more to promote the Living Wage in the city and also bring more jobs to the city. We need to see jobs delivered rather than talks about jobs.'
The UK Government, the Scottish Government and the City Council need to work together to tackle the problems of debt and deal with the cost of living crisis. We need coordinated action to tackle these problems.

My colleague Councillor Lesley Brennan said, “These figures tragically reveal the despair that traps families who need to take out high-cost loans to pay for essentials such as food and heating."

“These people who are caught in the cost of living crisis need support to manage their debts.  The case for taking action to cap the cost of borrowing has proven to be indisputable, with action now promised."

“We need to go further and support credit unions who can provide loans that cost much less than those from legal loan sharks."



Feast of Christ the King

On Sunday along with colleagues from the council, the Scottish Parliament, the House of Commons, Dundee's universities and many others I attended a special Mass at St Andrew's Cathedral in the Nethergate for the Feast of Christ the King.

Bishop Vincent Logan, the recently-retired Bishop of Dunkeld, thanked those of us who serve in public office for our service.  This is not something I look for, but it is welcome.  The sermon reminded us that we are elected to serve and that we should serve those most in need in society.  It is important that we work hard to be a voice for the voiceless in society.

As ever there was a really warm welcome from the parishioners of St Andrew's Cathedral and the music during the Mass was of the usual high standard.

I was disappointed that on Sunday evening I was unable to attend an event organised by Dundee Evangelical Christian Alliance at St Peter's Free Church.  I hope to meet with them at some point in the near future.


West End Christmas Fortnight

On Saturday I was delighted to attend the Christmas Fayre at Dundee West Church to launch the West End Christmas Fortnight.  It was great to see stalls from a wide range of local community organisations.  I spoke to representatives of organisations such as  Timebank, Solar Cities, Abertay Historical Society, Friends of Riverside Nature Park, Friends of Balgay Park, Jericho House, the Food Train and representatives from the Russian School and the Polish School among others.  The picture here shows some of the young people from the Polish School singing some Polish songs.  It was also good to get the chance to visit the  coffee morning at Dundee West Church as well.

There are a range of events over the next couple of weeks celebrating the forthcoming Christmas season in the West End.  Not least of which is the Christmas Light Switch-on on Tuesday evening starting with a concert at Dundee West Church at 6.15pm.