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STEVE FINAN: Dundee’s Olympia finally open but decisions and actions must be explained

'One of the puzzling things about the sorry saga is the way city councillors seem to have tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.'

The Olympia is under the spotlight again. Image: DC Thomson
The Olympia is under the spotlight again. Image: DC Thomson

On Monday Dundee’s Olympia is to reopen after its closure for, initially, a faulty light fitting.

Repairs have cost £6 million and taken nearly 28 months.

It is one of the biggest news stories in Dundee this decade.

One of the puzzling things about the sorry saga is the way city councillors seem to have tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.

I’d like to remind councillors of their code of conduct, set out by the Standards Commission For Scotland.

The code (I quote) “plays a vital role in setting out, openly and clearly, the standards councillors must apply when undertaking council duties.”

It also says: “The code of conduct applies to all 1,227 councillors elected to the 32 local authority areas within Scotland.”

Councillors should be accountable over Olympia

In the code there are “key principles” for councillors.

Under the heading “accountability and stewardship” it says: “I am accountable to the public for my decisions and actions.”

Under the heading “openness”, it says: “I have a duty to be as open as possible about my decisions and actions, giving reasons for my decisions”.

Dundee city councillors, I struggle to find evidence of you being accountable and open about the Olympia.

Club swimming resumes at Olympia
Dundee swimming clubs can once more start training at Olympia. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

I remind you the code applies to every councillor, not just the council leader John Alexander, who at least acknowledged in March “multiple points of failure” surrounding the Olympia situation.

So I ask every councillor to publicly explain their “decisions and actions, giving reasons for my decisions” in relation to the Olympia’s lengthy closure.

Councillors, do you abide by the Standards Commission’s code of conduct? Or not?

Tell us whether you think a public inquiry into spending £6 million of Dundee’s money is required?

There is good reason to hold an inquiry. With a £100m community campus, £125m Eden Project, and the “promised” Western Gateway school to build, an inquiry would provide lessons to prevent these projects failing.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Eden Project Dundee. Image: The Eden Project

Or, councillors, explain why you think a public inquiry is not needed.

Because councillors are (I again quote from the code of conduct) “accountable for their decisions and actions”.

Mr Gregory Colgan, chief executive of Dundee City Council, isn’t it part of your job to ensure the council functions correctly and to advise councillors of the duties required of them?

Have you done that, Gregory? You respect the principles of the Standards Commission For Scotland, don’t you?

Gregory Colgan.

The code is approved by the Scottish Parliament. It says of itself: “It is paramount that the code continues to give assurance to the public that their elected members are acting in accordance with high ethical standards.”

Even an apologist for the council would want to hear reasoning for its actions, wouldn’t they?

Let’s be clear on exactly what I’m asking for, with references to the code:

I’d like every elected member to be “as open as possible” and “giving reasons for decisions” reveal their opinion on whether a public inquiry should – or should not – be held into the closure of the Olympia, because they are “accountable to the public for their decisions and actions”.

Dundee is waiting.

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