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Dedicated mental health crisis centre for Dundee should be in council budget, opposition says

Labour group leader councillor Kevin Keenan.
Labour group leader councillor Kevin Keenan.

Dundee health chiefs would be expected to “honour the commitment” to a 24-hour mental health centre under Labour spending plans.

Dundee City Council’s Labour group leader Kevin Keenan accused the SNP administration of “raiding” Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) finances.

He said the administration is planning to cut its budget by £778,000 and his party wants to restore this funding and enable officials to deliver the called-for crisis centre.

The ruling SNP group has hit back, suggesting the Labour group are more focused on “listening devices” and dog fouling than anti-poverty and mental health work.

The debate comes ahead of a meeting on Thursday afternoon to confirm the city council’s budget.

No more ‘handwringing’

Mr Keenan said: “Instead of raiding the budget for the Health and Social Care Partnership we propose to leave £778,000, which the SNP would cut from this budget.

“We believe that this would allow the Health and Social Care Partnership to begin the investment to honour the commitment to deliver a 24/7 crisis centre.

“This would help address one of the other public health crises that Dundee faces around mental health and drugs issues.

“We have had enough of reports, of summits and of handwringing now is the time to deliver and make a difference.”

‘Why not in Dundee?’: ‘Concerns’ over much-anticipated 24-hour mental health crisis centre

Similar centres operate in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Mental health campaigners believe a centre – where anyone experiencing mental health crisis could attend with no notice – would save lives among the most vulnerable.

Social care bosses dashed hopes of quick progress on the plans last month. They revealed scoping work had only just begun at a HSCP meeting.

Digital devices for young people

The Health and Social Care Partnership funding proposal is one of several key spending commitments among Labour’s alternative spending plans.

The group says its “Covid-19 recovery” package will invest in mental health, young people’s education, leisure activities for young people and “quality of life for Dundonians”.

It includes investment in 6150 digital devices for young people in the city.

It also includes a freeze on school dinner costs and a £150 scheme for school pupils to spend accessing Leisure and Culture Dundee facilities.

Investment is also promised in “recording equipment” to help Dundonians struggling with noisy neighbours.

They join the Liberal Democrat group in backing calls for an additional officer to tackle dog fouling. They also support two new countryside ranger posts to repair nesting boxes and work with young people.

Mr Keenan said: “Our budget is a genuine attempt to deliver a Covid-19 recovery budget.

“We hope other parties will look at what we are saying and agree with us in the best interests of the people of Dundee.”

Dog fouling and ‘listening devices’

John Alexander, council leader and head of the SNP group, said Dundonians should “look to the detail” before taking proposals on face value.

John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council.

“There is no direct funding in Labour’s budget to support the work of the Fairness Commission or Drugs Commission but there is for dog fouling and listening devices,” he said.

“The fact remains that the budget for health and social care and education have increased under the SNP.

“We are committed to doing more in these areas.”

He said Labour planned to spend £12,000 on recording equipment, while cutting £25,000 from supporting a police analyst role.

“They talk of valuing the workforce at the same time as cutting £169,000 from staff training,” he added.

“I think it’s important that the public are aware of these.”

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