17/12/2011

Morven Terrace Sheltered Housing Complex Christmas Fayre



I had a great time on Saturday morning at the Morven Terrace Sheltered Housing Complex's Christmas Fayre. It was good to see so many of the residents there. It was great to see the hard-working wardens helping the residents to organise such a good event.

DCA AGM




I am one of the directors at the DCA who is appointed by Dundee City Council. DCA held its AGM last week I was pleased to be re-elected to the board of directors. I was pleased to hear about Martin Boyce winning the Turner Prize, he exhibited at the DCA and at the Venice Biennale in a show curated by the DCA.








The DCA is worth a visit for the galleries and the cinema as well as the restaurant and bar (other bars and restaurants are available in the West End.) These are interesting times for the cultural sector in Dundee and it will be interesting to see how this develops with the addition of the V & A at Dundee.

Dundee Ice Arena Board



On Thursday I attended a board meeting of Dundee Ice Arena. It was an interesting meeting which looked at the work of the arena. The Ice Arena is well worth a visit and there is lots to do there. Ice skating, ice hockey and curling are well worth trying out at the Ice Arena.

16/12/2011

Scrutiny Committee

Wednesday saw a meeting of the council's Scrutiny Committee. There were a variety of interesting reports I asked about how the council organised refunds on debit and credit cards at a variety of council locations. I was pleased to be told that the council is a compassionate council and that if weddings at Dundee Registrars are cancelled then a refund is available.

On the important issue of governance of the Tayside Superannuation Funds I asked about how key stakeholders from outwith the City Council can get involved in the governance of the fund.

With regard to the running of the council's Voluntary Early Retirement and Redundancy Schemes. I asked about the apparent lack of an audit trail in the administration of the teacher's scheme. Teacher early retirement seems to have been focused more on the age of the employee rather than good of the service. It is important that the council offers the best education service it can and that it should not compromise this by losing too many experienced teachers.

15/12/2011

City Council and Committees

Last Monday evening saw meetings of the City Council and a number of its committees. The Education Committee received a disgracefully poorly prepared report on a Review of the School Estate. The first three members who asked questions about specific schools received answers which told them that the report was mistaken or poorly written. We were told we should accept that this was three isolated cases of errors in the report and that the rest of the report was accurate. If this is correct it is a remarkable coincidence.

I was very concerned to read that the new West End nursery school was not to be a stand alone nursery. I was told that this was 'poorly written' but I have to say that what was written could hardly have been clearer. But what was written was 'There are currently 9 Nursery Schools in Dundee. This number will reduce to 7 when Park Place Nursery moves into the new West End campus and Whitfield Community Early Years' Centre moves into the new Ballumbie building.' I sought a reassurance that this was not a precursor of the budget process when we may be faced with cuts to nursery school headteachers. I was told that this was not the case. I was disappointed that this report was pushed through, it was so poorly prepared that it should have been deferred and a revised report should have been brought back.

The Administration must take responsibility for presenting such a bad report to the committee.

In the City Development Committee I supported moves to reduce the speed limit on Riverside Drive to 40 mph. I am clear that Dundee does not use its situation on the Tay to its best advantage. We need to reconnect the city with the river, this is what is being done with the whole Waterfront Development. I asked questions about the enforcement of this speed limit as the report said that the police said that this might be a problem.

At the Policy and Resources Committee I welcomed moves by the council to involve young people in decision making. The council needs to listen to the voice of all the people of Dundee including young people. I was really pleased that this was a move away from the secretive Changing for the Future Board way of developing policy.

My colleague Laurie Bidwell raised concerns about cuts to Dundee College. I used to work at Dundee College and I am aware of the excellent work that goes on there and how it makes a difference to the lives of young people in Dundee. I am pleased that next Monday the council will consider a report on our response to the Scottish Government's plans for the further and higher education sector.