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Council defends Waterfront development handling

September 7 2016

Dundee City Council has defended its handling of the city's Waterfront development following allegations of secrecy. Coldside councillor Jimmy Black accused the administration of operating under a veil of secrecy after announcing he will stand down as a councillor at next year's elections. Mr Black admitted he was "very disappointed in the level of secrecy at the council, particularly the secrecy there was over the proposals for the V&A." He further claimed city councillors were entirely unaware of the project's £40 million overspend until it was announced. This, he feels, is proof further clarity and transparency is needed between the council and public. He added: "I would like to see council meetings broadcast, either online with video or even if only via audio broadcasting that would make a difference." On Tuesday Dundee City Council said lessons had been learned from last year's McLelland report into spending on the project. A  spokesman for the administration said: "A thorough and rigorous review of the background to the construction project for the V&A Museum of Design Dundee by independent procurement expert John McClelland was commissioned on behalf of the council so that lessons may be learned for future projects. "Recommendations from this review were approved by the policy and resources committee at a public meeting in August 2015."


Fife Council election results — Ward 8: Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty split between SNP and Labour

May 5 2017

It was honours even for Labour and the SNP in Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty as the result largely followed expectations. There was a strong Labour vote in the area before the newly-renamed ward came into force for this election, with the old Lochgelly and Cardenden ward effectively merging with The Lochs. In the end, Mary Lockhart and Linda Erskine both retained their seats for Labour, while the SNP’s two new faces in Lea McLelland and Rosemary Liewald were also elected. Ms McLelland said: “I’ll be honest - I’m a big character in the community and I think the community pulled together, so I can’t thank them enough for that. “It’s great to be elected and I think we’ve got a good balance in the area.” Ms Liewald echoed those sentiments and said she and Ms McLelland had worked tirelessly together to secure their first spots on the council. And she added: “I’ve actually known Linda for quite a while, and Mary is lovely as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to do a lot for the ward because it deserves it.” Ms Erskine was equally as conciliatory to her SNP counterparts. “I expected two strong candidates from Labour and two strong candidates from the SNP, and that’s exactly what we got,” she added. “Lea for instance was a hard working person in the ward before she became a candidate, so I think the ward has got four strong councillors to move forward with.” And on the Tory vote across Fife, Ms Erskine said: “I think the Conservatives might have been a bit surprised with it as well – they put up a number of paper candidates in wards and now they are councillors. “It’s going to be very interesting.”         Result Mary Bain Lockhart (Lab) – 1,257 Scott Campbell (Cons) – 497 Linda Erskine (Lab) – 1,033 James Glen (Ind) – 263 Rosemary Liewald (SNP) – 990 Ronnie Mackie (Greens) – 70 Lea McLelland (SNP) - 994 Turnout: 38.2% Elected:  Mary Lockhart and Linda Erskine for Labour, Rosemary Liewald and Lea McLelland for the SNP.


Dundee V&A: McClelland Report says original budget was never realistic

August 15 2015

The McClelland Inquiry is critical of the handling of the project to bring the V&A to Dundee. John McClelland, the former chairman of Rangers FC, who was tasked with discovering how the cost of the museum ballooned to £80.1 million, has concluded there was a mismatch between the ambition of the plan and the money set aside for it. He argues that there was insufficient oversight and professional advice to those steering the project to fruition. He also casts doubt on when officials knew about the spiralling cost and how they dealt with it. According to the report, it was clear the project was significantly over budget by April 2014 nine months before that fact was made public. He said: “Two months after the initiation of the tender process, in February 2014, the Architect’s Design Team presented a pre-tender cost estimate. “Including inflation and adjusted for other items, this showed a cost of £41m compared to the architectural competition bid and budget of £32.5m and Cost Plan 5 of £34.1m, also including inflation. “On 22 April 2014 only two of the four tenders originally anticipated were submitted as the other two candidate construction companies withdrew.” Despite the ambiguities over when the overspend became apparent, Mr McClelland still believes the V&A at Dundee is being delivered for a reasonable price. He said: “Now at a cost of £7,153 psm of gross inside area the V&A building when completed in 2017 will be, allowing for inflation, consistent with other elite buildings, including Glasgow’s Riverside Museum shown in the original benchmarking as completed in 2011 at £6,700 psm.” Mr McClelland, who finished the report on July 27, also made a series of recommendations to help manage the V&A project and other large-scale capital plans. He said: “Dundee City Council should appoint a full-time in-house project manager for the V&A building with full accountability and responsibility for delivering the project on schedule and within the new budget.” Mr McClelland also called on the local authority to provide detailed cost estimates prior to signing a binding contract with developers. He added: “Given that the budget of £4.8m for furniture, fittings and equipment was developed in 2010 there should be an urgent review to reconfirm that value or take appropriate action.” The findings of the inquiry, which was launched in January, will now be debated by elected members on August 24.Project could have used a McClelland figure from the outsetThere were fears of a whitewash but there need not have been, writes Andrew Liddle. John McClelland hasbeen thorough and clear inboth his reporting and hisrecommendations. It is evident from readinghis report measured thoughit is in tone that he was more than a little taken aback bythe council’s seemingly laissez-faire approach to managing a multi-million-pound project. Simple and basiccontingencies were not putin place managers were notappointed. No one, it seems, reallyknew what they were doing. Of course, it is also clearthat for such an ambitiousproject that will no doubtdeliver huge benefits forDundee, the original budgets were far too low. That in itself is not theidentified sin and nor is the actual cost of the project now at an eye-watering£80.1 million. No, the real failingidentified by Mr McClellandis a total lack of scrutiny, atotal lack of managementand a total lack of leadership from the council. It was apparent fromthe get-go, according toMr McClelland, thatKuma’s ambitious designcould not be completedwithin the original budgets. However, instead ofputting an action plan inplace, the council wrungits hands until they wereraw. It tinkered with thedesign and moved themuseum about, but it tookno action to radically bringthe costs of the buildingdown or, crucially, re-budgetand ask for additional monies. This was the central failing that saw costs spiral as delays hit the project and desperate, behind-the-scenes discussions went on. There seems little doubtthat the council will learnfrom the mistakes it hasmade Mr Martin andMr Guild did not look likemen who were enjoyingthemselves as the report was released on Friday. Yet, despite takingthe recommendationson board, they failed toproperly acknowledge thecouncil’s own culpabilityin the debacle, choosinginstead to try to positionthemselves as the project’s saviours. Until they take on someresponsibility, there willalways be question marksover how serious they areabout taking on MrMcClelland’s importantrecommendations.

Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Dundee City Council unable to reveal date for V&A costs report

August 7 2015

Dundee City Council is unable to confirm when the eagerly-awaited report into the explosion of costs at the V&A will be released. Former Rangers chairman John McClelland is understood to now be in the final stages of discovering how the costs of the project were allowed to spiral to more than £80 million. With the development of the museum well under way, it is hoped the businessman’s report will shed light on how Dundee City Council can avoid repeating the catastrophic mistakes that led to the ballooning budget. But a spokesman for the council refused to say when the McClelland report would be released. He said the council had committed to publishing the findings to the policy and resources committee “as soon as is practically possible”. He would not be drawn on whether the document would be ready for the first meeting of that group after the summer recess on August 24. Local councillor and scrutiny committee member Richard McCready said he hoped the report would be “free and frank” in its recommendations. He said: “We should be able to look at it sooner rather than later. “It is essential that we are able to look at what went wrong, particularly given the project is ongoing. “We need to make sure that what happened previously is not continuing in the project or any other projects.” Mr McCready also called on the council to make Mr McClelland’s findings available to all councillors in good time. Mr McCready added: “I hope that all councillors will receive the report at the same time so we have a chance to properly scrutinise the recommendations. “We all need sight of it at the same time and I really hope there’s no attempt to spin any of it. “We must hope that Mr McClelland will be free and frank in his conclusions.” A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The results of John McClelland’s review will be brought to the council’s policy and resources committee as soon as practically possible.” Mr McClelland, who was chairman of Rangers FC between 2002 and 2004, was appointed when members agreed a monumental new funding package for the troubled museum in January. At that time, councillors were told Mr McClelland’s review would be “independent of council” and that he would be given full freedom to examine why the project’s budget has risen so dramatically.


Community council calls for Audit Scotland investigation into V&A overspend

May 15 2015

West End Community Council has backed a call for Audit Scotland to stage its own probe into the projected £31 million overspend on the V&A. The former Rangers FC chairman John McClelland has already been appointed to investigate the reasons for the spiralling costs and delays. For months, however, the community council’s chairman Andrew McBride has been seeking direct answers and an explanation from Dundee City Council on behalf of the people of Dundee. He has been unimpressed with the response from the local authority’s chief executive restating that Mr McClelland would be investigating. At a meeting of the community council this week, he sought and was granted permission from colleagues to write to Audit Scotland and ask them to intervene. “The community council has decided to refer this matter to Audit Scotland and did so in view of the chief executive’s unacceptable responses,” Mr McBride said. “This is an issue of openness, fairness and accountability.”

Business news

Minimum wage enforcement call by Noelle McLelland of Thorntons Law

January 10 2015

A Tayside employment law specialist has called for tougher enforcement action on businesses that fail in their legal duty to pay the national minimum wage. Noelle McLelland, partner at Thorntons Law in Dundee, said there was a need for stronger sanctions against companies that were exploiting workers and operating at an unfair advantage over legitimate rivals. She was speaking in the wake of a major new TUC report which claimed that some unscrupulous firms were operating scams in order to avoid paying the legal minimum hourly rate in the UK of £6.50. The union said it had found evidence of firms imposing charges on their staff for work uniforms, misusing interns, and clocking-off workers from time cards when a business such as a cafe was empty. The TUC said some rogue employers deliberately under-recorded staff hours, refused to pay for travel between work sites, and some companies even folded in order to avoid fines when being investigated for operating illegally. It called for immediate action to increase compliance. Ms McLelland said regulations protecting workers were being flouted with relative impunity as sanctions failed to hit home. “Although preventative measures are already in place to deter businesses from malpractice, including naming and shaming, and these were tightened up by the Government, the number of employers named and shamed remains extremely low,” she said. “Whilst naming and shaming could be an effective deterrent, particularly in the case of a high-profile employer being reprimanded for not adhering to the law, it will only work if it actually happens. “Although it’s unlikely that fines for not paying will be increased to £75,000, there still does need to be a significant improvement in the enforcement regime, as current fines of £5,000 and naming and shaming don’t seem to have made a huge impact. “Many issues will have also gone undetected, as vulnerable employees such as immigrant workers, young people and those on zero hours contracts may be hesitant to raise any issues for fear of losing their job, as well as the cost of raising tribunal proceedings. “Businesses that do not administer the national minimum wage are not only exploitative of their workers and undermining the law, but they are also taking an unfair advantage of other businesses that adhere to the rules. “Actions must be taken to strengthen the enforcement of the law to ensure that all employees can exercise their right to minimum wage.” The Low Pay Commission is considering what level of rise in the national minimum wage to recommend for this year.


VIDEO: “Tide is turning for Labour Party” after Fife by-election win

August 25 2016

“The tide is turning for the Labour Party”, according to Fife’s newest councillor. Mary Lockhart secured victory for the beleaguered party in The Lochs by-election last night. Following a swing towards the SNP in recent local votes, there was joy amongst the group in red rosettes following the declaration at Fife House in Glenrothes. Speaking just moments after her win, Councillor Lockhart said that the party’s national woes were far removed from the work she and her colleagues were doing at a local level. “We won a by-election recently, in Ayr I think, and now tonight and that shows that our policies and membership are still connecting with people. “We are working for people and they are recognising that. “The tide is turning for Labour.” Yesterday’s election took place following the sudden resignation of veteran councillor Willie Clarke in June. The 81-year-old, known throughout Britain as the country’s last elected communist, stood down due to ill health having given 43 years of public service. Despite a strong challenge, Mrs Lockhart won by 239 votes from the SNP’s Lea McLelland. Meanwhile, Conservative candidate Malcolm MacDonald secured 270 votes, and Thomas Kirby, from the Communist Party of Britain, polled 86 votes. The Scottish Green’s Bradford Oliver came last with just 45 votes. Asked how she felt about her new role, Mrs Lockhart joked: “Absolutely terrified! “There was a low turnout today and that’s because people want to take things forward. “There are communities here that are buzzing with ideas and I will work hard for them.” Turnout, meanwhile, was a miserable 27.83%, down from 30.22% in 2014.   Result: Thomas Kirby (Communist Party of Britain) – 86 Mary Lockhart (Labour) – 1,318 Malcolm McDonald (Conservative) – 270 Lea McLelland (SNP) – 1,079 Bradford Oliver (Greens) - 45


Audit Scotland sees no need for special focus on Dundee V&A project

October 2 2015

Scotland’s public spending watchdog has said it will monitor spending on the V&A at Dundee but only as part of annual review of Dundee City Council accounts. It was revealed earlier this year that the cost of the museum had risen from £45 million to more than £80 million. A review by procurement expert John McClelland into the rising bill concluded the way the costs were estimated was not “sufficiently robust” to address the “unique challenges” of building Kengo Kuma’s museum on the Tay. The independent review also said that more frequent and direct reporting to councillors about the escalating costs “would have been helpful”. Mr McClelland made a number of recommendations to Dundee City Council, including appointing a full-time project manager and reviewing the cost of fixtures and fittings, which are currently estimated at £4.8 million. Dundee-based MSP Jenny Marra told the Scottish Parliament this week that she believes Audit Scotland should look at management of the project, which is the centrepiece of Dundee’s £1 billion waterfront redevelopment, as the project is being managed by a public body. She said: “There are concerns about the spiralling costs of the project; there are also concerns about governance. “The V&A project fits exactly into Audit Scotland’s definition of an arm’s-length external organisation.” Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said that was a decision for Audit Scotland, but added: “On governance, the McClelland report identified a number of areas, particularly in relation to the original budget costs to which the member referred. “The underestimates in the original budget were one of the key aspects of the increase in the overall budget costs. “On reporting and corporate governance arrangements, the McClelland report also concludes that more frequent direct reporting on the V&A to members would have been helpful. “Following adoption, the council has taken forward the project board since 2015 in order to ensure that there is more openness and transparency. An Audit Scotland spokesman said they would monitor expenditure on the V&A as part of the annual review of Dundee City Council accounts. “We have been monitoring the V&A project through our annual audits of Dundee City Council. “The McClelland review examined in detail the cost increases thus far. “At this time, we do not feel there is a need for further audit work in this area. “However, we will continue to keep a close eye on the implementation stage of the project as part of our annual audit of the council.”


Dundee V&A: City council accused of new costs secrecy

August 24 2015

Dundee City Council has already failed to be open about the costs of the V&A despite agreeing to do so just days ago, it has been claimed. Tonight councillors will be asked to approve the recommendations offormer Rangers FC chairman John McClelland, who was hired toinvestigate how the budget for the museum ballooned to £80.1 million. He made a series of criticisms about how the project has been managed to date, as well as a number of enforcement actions designed to avoid the project going off the rails. However, in a public report, the local authority’s chief executive, DavidMartin, has failed to reveal the costs involved in enforcing the recommendations despite publicly claiming he agreed with Mr McClelland that the council needed to be more transparent. One of the conclusions Mr McClelland made was that it would have been“helpful” had councillors been given more information about the project. Now, Labour leader Kevin Keenan has demanded answers as to what the costs are and why they were not included in the report. Mr Keenan said: “I welcome the McClelland Report and its recommendations. However, it is extremelyregrettable that the council’s first report falls at the first hurdle when it comes to openness and transparency.” In the report, which will be debated by councillors tonight, Mr Martin indicates that there will be costs involved inimplementing Mr McClelland’ssuggestions. But he fails to outline how much it will cost the taxpayer, writing only: “The costs of the additional professional resources will be met from existingrevenue budgets and the council’s approved capital plans.” Last night administration head Ken Guild insisted that any costs would be met in the existing budget and would not lead to a rise in cost. He added: “The exact cost of putting this in practice is not certain (at this time) but there will be no additional costs involved.” But Mr Keenan said that was not transparent enough and went against the letter of Mr McClelland’srecommendations. “The McClelland Report will serve as a permanent reminder to Mr Guild and the SNP administration that they also have a role in scrutiny of every aspect of the council’s business and that Dundee council needs to be more open and transparent whilst spending the public purse,” he added. The McClelland Report, which was released on August 14, lists a catalogue of gross mismanagement at the V&A project going back to 2011. He revealed the startling admission that there was no cost or projectmanager employed leaving the hugely ambitious development doomed tospiral out of control. And he slammed planners for picking an “elite” building design despite having budgeted to do the project on the cheap. Mr McClelland said it was clear from the outset Kengo Kuma’s design could not be afforded. He also demanded a total of 15wide-ranging recommendations are enforced to ensure such costly mistakes are never repeated.