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Council chief aims to see closure-threatened Dundee attractions saved and ‘come back stronger’

Leisure and Culture Dundee are looking to cease operating three city services in a bid to save around £500,000 each year.

Dundee City Council leader John Alexander
Council leader John Alexander. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

Dundee City Council leader John Alexander says he wants to see closure-threatened public attractions come back stronger despite a bid to shutter them.

Leisure and Culture Dundee (LACD) are looking to cease operating three city services in a bid to save around £500,000 each year.

A public consultation has been launched seeking people’s views on the proposals that will run till the end of the month.

The venues at risk are Broughty Castle Museum, Mills Observatory and Caird Park Golf Course.

But council leader Mr Alexander isn’t aiming to just save the three Dundee institutions, but hopes to also see them come back better than before.

“We need to be thinking about how we make them better,” said the council chief.

Head of Dundee Council, John Alexander at Dundee Waterfront. Image: Steve Brown / DC Thomson

“Because if what we are offering people isn’t getting people through the door then we need to reflect on that.

“The outcome I’m hoping for is the doors stay open, we have a better offering, the footfall goes up through the roof and actually they are safeguarded for the longer term.

“It would be the bare minimum for me to just keep the doors open because that’s not good enough.”

Why are the venues at risk?

Dundee City Council say falling visitor numbers and rising costs are among the reasons behind the closure proposals.

LACD are looking to cease operating the venues to save around £500,000 each year.

Mills Observatory.

But the council dipped into reserves to keep the venues open for the next year, which was slammed by other councillors as merely a stay of execution.

However, the council leader hopes the venues can be used in new ways as a means of both generating more income for the sites as well as attracting more visitors.

Speaking about Broughty Ferry Castle he said: “Obviously, it’s a free-to-access museum within the castle but could you hire out the grounds for events or could it be used occasionally as a wedding venue.

Broughty Ferry Castle. Image: Paul Reid.

“Could we think differently about how we use them and use that resource to enhance what we have got on display.”

He added: “My hope is that we get all of the right people pushing and rallying behind us.

“I want to work with charities, I want to work with businesses, I want to work with people with good ideas to say let’s think about these slightly differently than what we’ve got at the moment.”

Olympia

The council leader also dismissed claims the ongoing problems at the Olympia – which has seen the local authority shell out £6m in repairs – have led to the money-saving proposal.

The Olympia. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

He said: “Budgets are complicated without sounding patronising in any way shape or form, but despite what’s happened at Olympia, that hasn’t affected LACD’s budget.

“So these proposals are related to LACD which has no connection to the Olympia. The cost of repairing Olympia has come from the council budget, not the LACD budget.

“So the LACD budget has been increased to ensure that these places stayed open, so I put more money into LACD in the budget in order to prevent the closures.”

The three consultations over the future of the venues are being run by Dundee City Council in partnership with LACD.

People can take part by filling out online surveys, completing paper copies or taking part in drop-in sessions.

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