Dundee City Council has pledged more than £1 million of investment in jobs, community wellbeing, tackling climate change and helping progress The Eden Project, it can be revealed.
In what are being described as “hugely ambitious proposals” by administration leader John Alexander, a further £1.1m of funding will be earmarked after councils received a funding boost from the Scottish Government.
Local authorities received the payment after £40m of one-off funding was provided, following Kate Forbes’ successful budget.
In an exclusive interview, the Strathmartine councillor has set out how his administration plans to spend the money, which include £150,000 to be spent on securing more modern apprenticeships in the city.
There will also be two new posts created within the council; a community environment officer who will be focused on community engagement on climate change, and an urban sustainable transport officer, who will be focused on supporting increased cycling and walking.
Additional modern apprenticeships
Mr Alexander said: “We were delighted to receive an extra £1.1m and we can now set out how this money will benefit the people of Dundee. Our hugely ambitious proposals will deliver important benefits for Dundonians.
“Our focus on young people, education, communities, employment and the climate emergency is clear for all to see and this funding will allow us to accelerate progress in key areas, particularly climate change.
“Our plans include creating additional modern apprenticeships, supporting young people to gain new employment. We will also work with Leisure and Culture Dundee to ensure that activities and venues are accessible to our communities as we move through Covid-19 recovery.”
Mr Alexander previously said the public will be “blown away” by the Eden Project, and has allocated £80,000 to take the feasibility study to the next stage.
The education and environment charity has a “global garden” in tropical biomes across a space the size of 30 football pitches at its site in Cornwall – and in 2017 revealed plans to create Edens across the globe.
Dundee Transport Museum bosses are eagerly awaiting reopening their doors next week in Market Mews, having refurbished its shop and cafe area.
Further plans for expansion and a move to Maryfield Tram Depot are also in the pipeline, with £20,000 allocated by the council to support this.
Mr Alexander said: “Funding for Eden and the Dundee Transport Museum will allow both of these projects planning and delivery to move forward. Both projects are hugely ambitious and will deliver environmental, societal and economic benefits for the wider city.
“More specifically, in relation to the climate emergency, 50% of this funding will go towards measures to mitigate climate change. This follows positive discussions and dialogue between myself and environmental and community groups in Dundee.
“A new £250,000 Community Climate Change Fund will use participatory budgeting to engage with and empower communities and deliver projects which could relate to biodiversity, community growing, sustainable transport or other measures which mitigate our impact on the climate.
‘A significant investment’
“Coupled with funding for cycling, walking and new posts to support this work, it is a significant investment.”
Peter Webber, the chairman of Dundee Museum of Transport said: “The museum is very grateful to Dundee City Council for its continuing support of our plans for the renovation of the Maryfield Tram Depot, to become our new home and another first-class tourist destination for Dundee.
“This award will enable us to further progress the project and its associated fundraising programme.”
‘A critical cause’
The Dundee Climate Action Network (DCAN) was created in 2018, to share information and to help connect groups and individuals who want to live a greener, more sustainable life in and around Dundee.
DCAN’s Martha Smart welcomed the news that additional funding was being created, saying: “The Dundee Climate Action Network (DCAN) has been working hard to bring groups across the city together to coordinate action and share information on the climate and ecological emergency, our members ecstatically welcome the news that more resources are being put towards this critical cause.
“Our network has been working closely with the council on progressing their climate and biodiversity action plans, we pushed for a just and green recovery as we transition out of lockdown, one that made the links between these two crises and one that made sure we do everything possible to mitigate and protect against the very real possibility of future disasters.
“Lockdown has given people across the city a renewed appreciation for our cherished green spaces and the wonderful variety of colourful critters who depend on them. Most of all though this crisis has highlighted our fundamental interdependence with each other and the natural world. We see now more than ever – we depend on each other.”
‘City-wide active travel network’
Russell Pepper, a member of the Dundee Cycling Forum also welcomed the news that £100,000 had been earmarked for further sustainable transport improvements, which could see additional cycling storage and a segregated cycle route created.
He said: “We are delighted with the council’s proposals to use 50% of the £1.1m in mitigating climate change; the proposed measures show that the council is taking this problem seriously and are willing to tackle it head-on.
“From our point of view, we are especially pleased that £100k is being proposed to create a new senior active travel position at the council.
“Much like has been seen in Edinburgh, such a post will be instrumental in driving forward and supporting meaningful progress in developing a cohesive, city-wide active travel network, enabling thousands of Dundonians to get around their city safely.
‘An active travel revolution’
“Dundee is a city with low car ownership and a high percentage of short journeys; this combination means that we are ready for an active travel revolution – if high-quality, convenient, and safe infrastructure is implemented.
“This would help make our city an even more attractive place to live, work and visit for everyone, whilst addressing climate change, improving people’s health, the local economy and air quality.
“The additional £100k for cycling infrastructure, plus £250k for community-driven climate change projects will only help to complement this by providing much-needed cycle storage, for instance. We look forward to what the future has in store.”
Friends of the Earth Tayside
Andy Llanwarne, the coordinator of Friends of the Earth Tayside, said: “After the cuts of recent years, the announcement of new funding to tackle the urgent climate and biodiversity crises is very welcome.
“The council declared a State of Climate Emergency over 18 months ago, and we have been pressing – with other groups in the Dundee Climate Action Network – for effective action to reflect this. The latest announcement indicates that the council has listened to our concerns and it marks a significant shift in the right direction.
“We particularly welcome the support for awareness-raising and action among local communities, whilst the promotion of active travel will benefit our health as well as the environment.”
Other funding includes £100,000 to support care-experienced young people.
The money will help progress the council’s ‘Our Promise’ pledge, and provide extracurricular activities for children in or who have been in the care system.
There will be £100,000 spent working with Leisure and Culture Dundee to develop activities, targeted at deprived areas but including all communities. This will include piloting different concessionary schemes.
Community wealth building strategy
A further £30,000 will be used to commission comprehensive work to assist with the creation of Dundee’s community wealth building strategy.
A report will now be presented to the Policy and Resources Committee of Dundee City Council on Monday April 26.