24/10/2013

Harris Academy Parent Council

Tonight I attended a meeting of the Harris Academy Parent Council at the temporary home of the school at Rockwell.  It was a good opportunity to hear about how the school is settling into its temporary home.  There are still on-going problems with regard to transport to the school.  Issues in Dundee seem to be being sorted but there are still issues in Perth & Kinross. 

I am clear that we need to work to ensure that those young people who are being educated in the Rockwell building receive the best education possible.  That means that the council will have to work to deal with the issues which are popping up from time to time.  If you are at the Harris or the parent or carer of a pupil at Harris Academy and you have any issues please get in touch.

I am looking forward to the meeting next week of the Harris Academy Project Board which will look at the progress being made towards the new school building.

22/10/2013

Development Management Committee

Tonight I attended a meeting of the City Council's Development Management Committee.  There were a number of important reports tabled tonight.  One was the proposals for the Park and Ride facility at Wright Avenue.  I was prepared to move against this proposal.  The Convener was unable to even find a seconder for the report which had been tabled so in actual fact the proposal fell.  I spoke against the proposal because I was not convinced that this was the best location for a park and ride facility. 

I am not fundamentally opposed to park and ride facilities and I am generally supportive of anything which would reduce traffic in the West End or City Centre.  Riverside Nature Park is a growing gem in the West End.  Council officers and importantly local people have done a great job campaigning for the nature park which has turned an ugly landfill site into a beautiful nature park.  I was very concerned that it appeared that one of the main reasons why the site had been chosen was financial.  I think that other site should have been looked at.  I think that the committee made the correct decision not to allow this proposal to go forward. 

There was another important report before us when Next were looking to change the planning conditions which limit what can be sold at the Kingsway West Retail Park.  I supported the report put forward by the Director of City Development which argued in favour of protecting the shopping areas of the city centre.  I was also concerned that there were attempts by big business to pressurise the council into taking away restrictions on the actions of businesses which might have a detrimental impact on shops and other businesses across the city.   It is difficult to stand up against big business when they are promising investment to the city.  I was worried though that council officers felt unable to verify the claims that Next would create 85 new jobs.  I want Next to invest in Dundee but I was concerned that their proposals would set precedents and have a detrimental impact on shopping in the city centre.  I hope that they will look for other ways to invest in Dundee.

Dundee should be open for business and we should be looking to attract and encourage investment in the city but this cannot be at any cost.  We should look to protect the wider interests of businesses in Dundee and protect the interests of the people of Dundee. I think that the committee made the correct decision to refuse to change the planning restrictions which would have undermined the city centre.