Today in the Scottish Parliament, a debate took place on the UK City of Culture and Dundee's bid and it was great to see the support for our city across the political spectrum. Below, I reproduce the comments made in the chamber today by my Liberal Democrat colleague Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland, who made the point that Dundee would make an outstanding City of Culture. Alison is pictured below (front, third from the right) in a picture of parliamentarians showing that cross-party support at the parliament today:
"As a regional member for the north east it is a privilege to represent the city. The journey the city is on has been quite remarkable to witness.
The vibrancy of the city and sense of determination amongst its people to bring about change is admirable.
I remember many years ago, while I was an Aberdeenshire councillor, visiting the city on a planning study tour to look at the importance of public open space and public art in town centre re-generation. What the city council was doing then was small scale compared to the regeneration we are witnessing today, but it carried the hallmarks of creativity, imagination and determination that has propelled Dundee forward to this important tipping point.
And what regeneration there has been!
The city‘s distinctive approach- firstly recognising that a cultural renaissance could be a powerful catalyst for change, and then successfully harnessing that cultural energy makes Dundee a special place.
And the UK City of culture team has recognised that by shortleeting the city.
Feedback at the time said the bid was particularly strong in the way in which it talked about the journey of the city over the last 10 years, using culture to regenerate the city with DCA, the McManus, the Rep and now the V&A.
The judges were positive about the consultation, and they were particularly impressed on the way the team engaged with people through the WeDundee website, as well as the number of people involved. Council members, universities, community groups, young and old, cultural groups, businesses and local media have all pulled together to make the best possible case for Dundee.
My Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Fraser Macpherson told me that “The all-party, cross-party, working together positively to support Dundee’s bid has been the best example of co-operation between politicians of all political hues in many a year.”
I am delighted to be able to join in tonight’s debate to underline the wholehearted support there is across all the political parties for this bid to succeed.
Dundee would be an outstanding choice for the accolade of UK City of Culture and I fervently hope that it is successful.
There is nothing superficial about the bid. It addresses the real needs of Dundee , not shying away from the stark facts such as
• A third of the city’s population live in the areas which make up the poorest 15% in Scotland.
• Dundee’s educational outcomes are poorer than the Scottish average.
• The current level of participation in cultural activity in Dundee is divided between the poorer and better off areas.
Dundee’s bid is about social regeneration through culture. The step change will be to use culture and creativity to evolve a more confident community and through this to address inequality.
Dundee will use the year of culture to connect parts of the city more effectively, ensuring those who live in its deprived communities are able to fully enjoy the benefits of its creative and cultural resources.
That would be a lasting legacy.
Let me turn now to the wider impact. I believe that there will be significant benefits for the whole region.
At the core of the economic impact is the increased visitor spend and the uplift in economic activity related to cultural led tourism.
VisitScotland recognise that the north east underperforms and that Dundee has a key role as the city at the centre of a region of great natural beauty.
The visitor impact on Dundee would be to increase by 50% the total number of visitors in the Year of Culture and to have a sustained level of higher visitors beyond that.
The combination of completing the V&A, developing new hotel opportunities and improving transport links places Dundee in a great position to attract cruise ships as well as UK based tourists.
Dundee: one city many discoveries.
All of us here tonight can sing the praises of this vibrant city, but truth be told there are still too few scots who have visited Dundee to find out for themselves what’s to be discovered. I hope that winning city of culture will encourage a great many more people to come on a visit of discovery.
I’d like to congratulate the Evening Telegraph campaign. Reading some of the online comments about what people love about their city was uplifting.
One comment summed it up for me:
“Dundee people are proud of a city which has seen hard times but is reinventing itself as a modern city which embraces change and new opportunities.”
I have no doubt that this should be Dundee’s moment."