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READERS’ LETTERS: Dundee, city of office block culture

Dundee waterfront
Dundee waterfront

Sir, – I notice all has gone quiet regarding the £15m office block to be built just north of the V&A Museum in Dundee. This is an ominous sign from our City Council, usually meaning: “Our will be done”.

What better time to bury objections than the run up to Christmas? And then announcing the development will go ahead despite objections, further compounded by a refusal to make any further comments on the issue, is a sure-fire way of suppressing public opinion.

It would be interesting to know if there are any prospective tenants for this office block, which, in the city planner’s view, deserves prominence on our waterfront, just metres from the almost-empty Caledonian House office block and the Nethergate Centre office block – neither of which actually reached their potential.

Only in Dundee could a car park, a supermarket and an unlimited number of hotels be seen as an improvement to a wonderful, natural waterfront site.

We have already seen how unsuccessful an office block in this vicinity is, with the demise of Tayside House, an office block costing several millions to demolish just recently, and which the city council eventually had to occupy to save embarrassment.

Add to this the decision reported just before Christmas (The Courier, December 15 2017) to demolish the City House office block above the Overgate mall.

As has been mentioned many times on The Courier Letters pages, the average Dundee resident can offer several examples of suitable office space which, despite being purpose-built, lies empty. Yet, blindly, the city planners see fit to despoil even more the natural beauty of our waterfront.

Yes, I can just hear a tourist in the High St. or Nethergate asking the way to the world-renowned V&A. Museum, and the Dundonian answering, “You go down this street, be very careful when you reach the gridlocked roads, then walk towards the river, past that empty office block and you will find the V&A there.”

Arthur Gall.

Pitalpin Court,



Why a costly Scotland Office?

Sir, – I note the Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s hospitality budget has increased from £8,987 in 2015-16 to a whopping £61,641 in 2016-17.

In addition, his propaganda – sorry media office – bill has gone from £108,439 in 2010 to an eye-watering £686,166 last year.

The last Labour Scotland Office had just five staff, but under the Tories it has risen to 71, at a cost of £9 million. This, of course, is financed by the taxpayer.

Now call me cynical but, as the Conservatives like to tell us, we have the most powerful devolved government in the world.

Is there any need for Westminster to appoint the equivalent of the Scottish Secretary in any of the ‘equal’ other nations in this union?

Surely any discussion on Scottish matters should be between the government or representatives of the nations?

If we must have a Scotland Office then is it right that it costs so much and achieves so little? Surely on matters that affect Scotland at home or abroad the Scottish Government should be involved?

Bryan Auchterlonie.

Bluebell Cottage,



Passing on a kindness

Sir, – On Saturday December 30 my husband and I were shopping for the New Year in Morrisons, Perth. I suddenly realised that my handbag had gone from the shopping trolley and, as you’d imagine, I was filled with sheer panic. I ran to the customer services and in my panic mode told the assistant my bag had gone from my trolley.

She asked my name then she smiled and told me to calm down as my bag had been handed in by a female shopper who hadn’t left her name.

I cannot tell you the relief I felt.

The assistant was wonderful and she hugged me and calmed me down, but how wonderful that an amazing shopper took my bag to safety.

There are so very many decent folk in our world and the shopper who found my bag is one of them.

I would like to thank her with all my heart and hope that 2018 brings her luck, happiness and good health. If I knew her name, I’d love to give a donation to a charity of her choosing.

If I don’t hear by the end of January, I’ll make a donation to the Perth Food Bank.

Ann McCartney.

The Swallows,



Continuing a Scots legacy

Sir, – The Courier’s informative item regarding the Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project (The Courier, January 2), now backed by a £300,000 cash injection from the Scottish Government, is good news in that it reinforces our country’s interest and commitment to lightening the burden of chronic healthcare experienced by possibly the poorest country on the planet.

Malawi still holds strong historic ties with Scotland. The second city, Blantyre, founded by Scottish settlers in 1876, was named in remembrance of the death, a few years earlier, of explorer and missionary David Livingston, who hailed from South Lanarkshire.

As a poverty-stricken nation, healthcare in Malawi is virtually non-existent in most areas.

There are only 500 doctors in an entire country of 15 million people, and just one healthcare worker for every 8,000 Malawians.

One Scottish charity, Mary’s Meals, founded in the little village of Dalmally in Ayrshire, now feeds several hundred thousand children every school day, in over a third of all Malawian schools.

David Livingston’s life and work still bears great fruit in Scotland’s psyche, evident in the nurturing and educating in Malawi of those least able to help themselves.

Andrew Lothian.

69 Dundee Rd,

Broughty Ferry.


Is a new party the solution?

Sir, – The whole Scottish political class, Tories included, seem accepting of the received wisdom that our problems can only be fixed with more devolved power and money, the only question being how much to centralise in Holyrood.

The most recent example is Kenny MacAskill and Tom Harris agreeing railways should be devolved to Holyrood – nationalised, even – but it’s pointless with no more money.

If the Tories, or the sensible wings of Labour and the Lib Dems, won’t challenge this perhaps a new party is needed which has no left/right-wing agenda, only a focus on getting value for money out of Holyrood.

They could start by analysing how much the decline of education and health since 1999 is due to the quality of elected and employed Scottish public servants, and how much our own diet, lifestyle and parenting has contributed. And how about a forensic evalution of upcoming transfers such as the new benefits agency, examining the business case (if there is one) on how the extra £400 million in set-up cost will deliver at least £400m of improvements?

Also useful would be an objective view of how devolving 111 Brexit powers would actually enhance Scotland and the UK’s economic and societal performance. So would some hard-nosed analysis to resolve the ridiculous reliance on supply teachers, at a cost of £81 million.

To succeed such a party should hold the balance of power. That’s not too difficult, you only need to copy the Greens and win 13,172 votes and six seats.

Allan Sutherland.

1 Willow Row,



Not a good start to the year

Sir, – The individuals who detonated loud fireworks in the usually peaceful village of Braco, just after midnight on Hogmanay, clearly didn’t concern themselves with the small children and pets of their neighbours. These fireworks were still loud to us, two miles from the centre of the village. Let us hope they don’t elevate this irresponsibility to a tradition.

Sandy Henderson.

Faulds Farm,