Sunday 14 November 2010

Assurances sought over future of Mills Observatory

Today's "Scotland on Sunday" newspaper reports my concerns - and those of Professor John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland - over the future of Mills Observatory in the West End Ward, the only full-time public observatory in the UK.

Following concerns expressed to me about the future of the observatory, I contacted the City Council's Chief Executive, who advised :

“… the officers are examining a variety of options. I can give you an assurance that within the options being considered the ownership of the Mills Observatory remains with the City Council, and in my opinion will be beneficial in securing the long term future of the facility.”

Whilst the assurance that the observatory remains in the City Council’s ownership gives a measure of reassurance, it is high time that the council SNP administration is a whole lot more open and transparent about any proposals for the future of Mills Observatory.   The “secret cabal” of SNP councillors meeting at the so-called Changing for the Future Board and deciding possible changes to council services is exactly the wrong way to approach the council’s budget challenges – secretive and wholly lacking in transparency.

It is about time that the council administration brought any proposals to the City Council’s Policy & Resources Committee where these can be discussed openly and publicly. Secretive boards are simply not the right way forward and simply lead to speculation and concern. I think the people of Dundee are entitled to know exactly what the council administration is planning in relation to the future of Mills Observatory – and other facilities and services. It is time for all this ‘cloak and dagger’ stuff to come to an end and the matter being publicly discussed at the Policy and Resources Committee.