27/06/2009

Corso Street Sheltered Housing Strawberry Fayre

This morning I attended the summer strawberry fayre at Corso Street Sheltered Housing Complex. It was an excellent event, it was good to meet a number of residents there. Well done to everyone involved, those who were serving and those who had baked. I enjoyed my morning coffee and my strawberry tart.

Child Protection in Dundee

As I said earlier in the week every councillor and everyone associated with Dundee City Council has to take the report by HMI(e) on Child Protection very seriously indeed. It is important that we listen to what everyone has to say on Wednesday evening and then look for a way to improve Child Protection in the city. My colleague Kevin Keenan has issued a statement which sets out our group's approach to this report. Kevin Keenan's statement is copied below.

Statement by Councillor Kevin Keenan, Leader of the Labour Group Dundee City Council
Action Plan in relation to the HMI(e) Report on Children’s Services


This is one of the most serious issues that Dundee City Council has had to face and we all must take our roles and responsibilities very seriously and support an Action Plan that will move the delivery of service forward.


We are all responsible as corporate parents, therefore it is ultimately important that Dundee City Council and its Partners take immediate and decisive action to address the failed service.
As corporate parents, we must not lose sight of the needs of any child in Dundee and most importantly the 630 children currently looked after in our care. We must also ensure that there is no other child out there requiring care and protection.


Numbers of these children have parents who lead chaotic lifestyles and these children don’t receive the care and nurture that they require. Whilst we recognise that no system is ever foolproof we must endeavour to get as close as possible.


The Labour Group on Dundee City Council will support immediate action:-


1 We would like more detail so as to be able to fully understand the 30 point Action Plan and the impact that each point will have to address the short falls in this Report. The Partners, the public and Councillors must fully understand this plan and how it will improve the delivery of service to young people in our city.


2 We support a Best Value and Scrutiny Review of the Action Plan but to keep focus would insist that these meetings take place in public with the press invited to attend.


3 Progress of the Action Plan should be reported monthly to the City Council with a full progress Report being submitted to the City Council prior to its submission to the HMI(e) within 4 months.


4 We would support the call for a National Inquiry on Child Protection. We need to devise a new Child Protection system in Scotland. We must aim for a Scotland where no child is left at risk.


It is vital for the Council and all its Partners to clearly demonstrate transparency and openness and give assurances to the general public that each child will receive the best possible care to avoid the repetition of any tragedy.

This is not the time for party politics; it's time to move forward. I hope these proposals will be supported by every councillor, in the best interests of Dundee's children because these are our bairns.

Dundee University Graduation

I was lucky enough to get an invite to attend one of the celebrations around Dundee University's graduation last week. It was great to get the chance to hear about what is happening at the University. I was delighted to have a chat about history with some historians from the university. I want to say 'well done' to everyone who graduated this week. I hope that many will stay in the West End and that others will take good memories of Dundee West End with them wherever they go now.

24/06/2009

Child Protection Services in Dundee

Her Majesty's Inspector of Education (HMIe) published a report on Child Protection Services in Dundee. This report was very critical. This should concern everyone associated with the council. If the Council has failed one child that is one child too many. The City Council will consider this report and how to respond to it on Wednesday 1st July, I want to listen to everything which is said at that meeting. I agree with my colleagues Kevin Keenan and Helen Wright about their concerns. I also think that Ian Borthwick has made an important contribution to the debate. If you want to read the report please click here.

Labour in the Scottish Parliament has said that this report reflects wider problems and that there should be a national child protection inquiry I think that this is true and I support this. Labour in the Scottish Parliament's news release is to be found below.



LABOUR DEMAND NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION INQUIRY
DUNDEE REPORT SHOW NEEDS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION

Scottish Labour have called for a national child protection inquiry after a third damning report into children’s protection services in a matter of months.
Dundee’s child protection services were found to be failing to take action to protect vulnerable youngsters until their circumstances reached "crisis levels".
The report follows similar investigations into children’s services in Moray and Aberdeen.
This is the first report into Dundee since the death of Dundee toddler Brandon Muir last March.
HM Inspectorate of Education officials said they had "no confidence" that all children at risk of harm, abuse and neglect are protected.
Labour leader Iain Gray said:
"There is a crisis at the heart of child protection services in parts of Scotland. This damning report in Dundee quickly follows similar reports in both Aberdeen and Moray.
"We were told after the death of
Brandon Muir that changes would be made. I have no confidence that that is happening. "This is not a localised issue but a national one. Doing nothing cannot be an option.
"It is for ministers to take action and do it quickly. Alex Salmond and Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop must lead this process. It needs firm and immediate action at full cabinet level.
Labour Shadow Children’s Minister Karen Whitefield said:
"There needs to be a national inquiry into child protection service across the country and I will be demanding this directly with ministers and will write to Fiona Hyslop this morning.
"This is a process that is failing vulnerable Scottish children in parts of Scotland and the public will not accept any delays."

Bus Services in the West End

I recently met with representatives of Stagecoach Strathtay and highlighted my concerns about changes to bus services in the West End. Please find below a press release on the issue which is covered in this morning's Courier.



West End Bus Services

Richard McCready, Councillor for Dundee's West End, has met with representatives of Stagecoach Strathtay to raise his concerns about changes to bus services in the West End. Councillor McCready is unhappy that the service 72 has already been withdrawn and that the 74 service will also be withdrawn. He is particularly concerned that this will have an impact on the elderly and less mobile in the West End. Councillor McCready has written to the council asking for an update on progress towards implementing a demand responsive transport service for the elderly and disabled in the city.

Councillor Richard McCready said, 'I was very happy that representatives of Stagecoach Strathtay took the time to come and speak to me about the changes they have proposed. I raised my concerns that the changes proposed have a detrimental impact on the elderly and those with mobility problems in the West End. The number 72 service which has already been withdrawn and which served Magdalen Yard Road was popular with the elderly who struggle to walk up hill to the Perth Road to access the services available there. Likewise the service 74 serves an area where there are a number of elderly people, in the Logie estate for example, who would struggle to access the bus services available on Blackness Road. I made the point to the company that I think they would be respected in the community if they maintained some services which were not making a lot of money in order to provide a service for everyone in the city.'

'There was one piece of good news from our meeting in that from August there will be a bus service serving Ninewells Avenue. A number of constituents who live nearby have raised concerns with me that there were no services on Ninewells Avenue anymore. I welcome the decision of Stagecoach Strathtay to route a service on Ninewells Avenue from August.'

'My discussion with Stagecoach Strathtay and earlier discussions which I have had with National Express Dundee highlight to me the need for Dundee to have a Demand Responsive Transport service. Bus companies find it difficult to run profitable routes on every socially necessary route. They do not see the benefits they might gain from operating some services as a part social obligation rather than an obligation to make profit. Demand Responsive Transport would operate an accessible service which would allow people without easy access to transport to travel in the city. I know that work has been done towards this and I hope that more work will now take place. I have contacted the City Development department to reiterate my support for Demand Responsive Transport and to seek an update on progress.'

22/06/2009

Fairtrade Forum

This morning I attended a meeting of the Dundee Fairtrade Forum. This is an excellent organisation which does great work in the city. As a result of the meeting I will continue to campaign to for more action to promote Fairtrade by Dundee City Council.

For information about the Fairtrade Forum click here.