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READERS’ LETTERS: Dundee council should lead bid to give King’s Theatre refurb it deserves

The King's Theatre on the Cowgate.
The King's Theatre on the Cowgate.

Sir, – Dundee is positioning itself as a tourist destination and news of an Eden Project for the city is to be warmly welcomed (Dundee’s new Eden, Courier, May 27) .

That said, it would still be a daytime attraction.

When is the idea of a nighttime tourist economy going to be addressed?

The Eden Project will add to the excellent cultural offerings to interest tourists during the day. Unfortunately, Dundee remains a city whose evening cultural life is rather sparse and leaves something to be desired.

Pubs, nightclubs and a casino are fine for people who wish to drink and gamble.

The Rep, Caird Hall and Whitehall’s irregular presentations do not add up to the cultural tourist destination of Dundee’s aspirations.

Council leader John Alexander says “opportunities will not land in our lap” but there is one opportunity that has been sitting ignored for a very long time.

Dundee has a potential evening venue for larger events right in the heart of the city with a potential seating capacity of over 1,000.

It is The King’s Theatre with its rich social history, theatrical culture and architectural heritage. Dundee’s Tourism Action Plan of 2013 notes that the city lacks “a venue for larger events”. A sizeable receiving theatre could bring major musical theatre, plays, opera and ballet to Dundee.

It also focuses on attracting a target market of people with a bit of money in their pockets looking for short city breaks.

So far so good, but that puts Dundee in direct competition with Scotland’s other main cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen – all of which have at least one “venue for larger events”, eg a theatre with a seating capacity of over 800, giving potential short break tourists something to do in the evening.

Most notably for Dundee, Hull brought their council owned New Theatre back to life.

It would be difficult not to conclude that this was a factor in Hull winning UK City of Culture and Dundee losing it.

Is Dundee willing to do what it takes to compete?

When it comes to the King’s as a project, Dundee City Council has always cited the lack of money.

This is a red herring.

No one expects Dundee City Council to foot the bill in its entirety.

The Heritage Lottery was designed for such places as the King’s Theatre.

Over the years, DCA has been built, McManus refurbished and the V&A developed.

None has been paid for by Dundee City Council.

Crucially though, they took a lead in these joint projects with other partners to bring them to fruition.

Most of the monies came from a cocktail of various grants and donations. The Eden Project will be the same.

There is no reason to think the same grants and donations would not be forthcoming to refurbish the King’s.

The Heritage Lottery alone has grants up to £5 million available.

But it does need Dundee City Council to take the lead in putting it forward.

Any investment would be repaid in time by a flourishing of the seriously dilapidated area that surrounds the King’s.

This effect is well documented.

Restaurants and cafes would open to cater for theatre-goers and this unkempt and embarrassing corner of the city centre would again be lively and productive.

Tourism doesn’t stop at 6pm.

If we do not address this structural fault at the heart of Dundee’s ambitions, we may find tourists make their visit simply a day trip to the V&A or the Eden Project, which would not have the desired benefits to the wider economy of the city.

Anya Lawrence.

Gray Street,

Broughty Ferry.


Virus messaging confidence hit

Sir, – I saw the recent letters pleading for an end to the publicity of “Cummingsgate”.

However this is a most serious matter.

Most of the country knows Cummings broke lockdown and then failed to own up.

While he was at it he was then less than open about his previous work on pandemics, having been caught updating a previous blog.

And none if it would have come to light except he was seen, reported and exposed by the press.

He is not sorry and is so self obsessed he does not even begin to doubt that his multiple breaches of lockdown were wrong, let alone have the humility to apologise to the country for undermining our efforts to deal with the virus.

His excuse for spreading the virus when he knew he was ill is pitiful.

His excuse for driving his virus-hit wife more than halfway up England is just ridiculous, when many thousands of others with kids had to manage and stay home as he had told them to via his protégé Johnson and the hapless Hancock.

His driving his wife and child to Castle Barnard to “test his eyesight” is such a transparent Pinocchio that I am honestly baffled as to why anyone would believe a single word.

The government’s messages of how we should manage virus spread has been trashed.

K Heath.




Two wrongs in Cummings case

Sir, – The UK and Scottish governments can be considered culpable in allowing Covid-19 into care homes.

This should not exculpate Dominic Cummings from his, admittedly less serious, breach of government lockdown rules (Less faux outrage, focus on real problems, 29 May).

It’s a well known and cheap debating tactic to point to greater evils.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, Tonto!” said the Lone Ranger.

Dominic Cummings surely has a nanny to help with childcare when in Islington. His government message was “Stay at Home”.

Cummings and Johnson do not sit on the moral high ground, if they ever did; they obviously do not care about morals anyway.

The electorate will not forget.

Alban Houghton.

18 Albert Rd,

Broughty Ferry.


Extraordinary foresight

Sir, – During this lockdown period we don’t always want to watch what’s on the TV and frequently resort to getting out boxsets.

One favourite is Yes Minister where Jim Hacker has his indispensable political advisor, Frank Weisel.

Humphrey and Bernard frequently refer to him as Frank Weasel.

Did Anthony Jay and Jonathon Lynn who wrote the series have an inspirational foresight I wonder?

Katherine and Ronald Goodfellow.

Elmgrove Park,