In the months following May’s election, Dundee SNP has been hard at work delivering on our manifesto commitments and working towards improving the lives of our near 150,000 constituents.
In a very short period of time, our SNP administration has set out a very clear, ambitious and bold statement of intent about how we propose to take forward the administration and what we seek to deliver.
During my numerous meetings with key business leaders, academia, third sector partners and Scottish Government ministers, it has been abundantly clear that there is a real willingness to engage and work towards our shared ambitions for this city.
A sneak preview of some external lighting trials at V&A Dundee! pic.twitter.com/MiuNzTCeyw— DundeeCouncilCE (@DundeeCouncilCE) September 6, 2017
Our SNP administration can point to significant developments and investment in areas such as the waterfront regeneration project – with the £80 million V&A as its centrepiece. In addition to the V&A, the waterfront will be a hive of activity with a new multi-million pound railway station set to open in 2018; major office developments; new shopping offerings; centres of innovation and entrepreneurial start-up spaces; a new civic space at Slessor Gardens that has already hosted three major music events with Olly Murs, Little Mix and UB40; and the creation of a cycling hub, urban beach and expanded public space next to the V&A. All being delivered by the SNP administration.
However, there is much more to the city than the waterfront regeneration.
Work on the new £13 million Tayview Primary School has just been completed and pupils have spent their first month enjoying their new, vibrant and modern surroundings. A huge improvement on the existing school facilities. Our administration is continuing to upgrade school facilities, a manifesto commitment but also a clear statement of intent. New schools are under construction in almost every corner of the city, thanks to the SNP.
Housing is also a key priority and we have set out ambitious plans to expand the range of council and social properties in the city. Focussing on four priority areas – Hilltown, Whitfield, Mill of Mains and Lochee – we are putting the heart back into some of our most deprived communities. Previous Labour administrations didn’t build a single council house in a 10 year period, we are not only reversing that but making great strides into creating real communities.
Earlier this month, we approved plans to invest £26 million in the Hilltown, creating 163 homes for social rent, including much needed wheelchair accessible homes. This is of course, in addition to the 81 council or housing association properties being developed on Alexander Street, the new primary school with community facilities and the proposed NHS and social work facility. We are not just building houses, we are creating communities.
Creating new opportunities in developing industries has been an area of focus in the previous and current SNP administrations. In our budget in February, we invested a six-figure sum in supporting the work of Dundee's decommissioning strategy (Deecom). In the last month, I was delighted to be part of the announcement that Dundee had been selected by AF Decom, a European sector leader, as their focal point for UK decommissioning work. Whilst this is an early agreement on a joint working arrangement, it sends a clear signal that Dundee can be to decommissioning, what Aberdeen is to the oil and gas sector.
Dundee is also at the forefront of new technologies and our ambitious rollout of electric vehicle charging points and the council's own uptake of these types of vehicles have brought with it many accolades - we have the highest proportion of carbon-neutral vehicles in our fleet of any local authority in the UK. Our city is now seen as a leader in this field and with the support of Scottish Government, we have been expanding the number and range of charging locations in the city.
As an administration, we were also keen to ensure that we were not just providing warm words and as well as significant infrastructure and vehicle investment, we have introduced policies to support owners of electrical vehicles. We do not charge for the use of our charging points and we introduced a policy whereby the owners of zero emission electric vehicles can park within our multi-story car parks absolutely no charge - providing a clear incentive.
We are at the early stages of this new administration but the ambition, the drive, the energy and the commitment is clear. We have the team, we have the record and we are realising the vision. In administration, we have already delivered tangible results which benefit the people of this city.
We are looking forward to continuing that ambitious journey, in partnership with our colleagues in the Scottish Government. Dundee is a City on the up and that upward trajectory will continue under the SNP.
Councillor John Alexander is Leader of Dundee City Council