Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick today welcomed the announcement that Dundee rail station is to benefit from the introduction of Wi-Fi for passengers.
Joe FitzPatrick said: “The SNP Government promised to ensure Wi-Fi facilities was made available on trains and stations across Scotland’s rail network by 2019 and work is already under way to install these services with 59 ScotRail trains expected to be equipped with Wi-Fi by the end of 2013.
“This is great news — with the new £14 million rail station concourse which the city is to get as part of the waterfront development by 2015 — and will be welcomed by commuters and passengers who use Dundee station on a regular basis.
Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick today welcomed the announcement by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill that Scottish courts are to be given new powers to crack down on fine dodgers.
The Justice Secretary had requested that Scottish courts be provided access to the same UK government databases that are used by courts in England and Wales to help track offenders and ensure they pay their fines.
The UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has now agreed that the Scottish Court Service (SCS) should have access to the Department for Work and Pensions’ databases.
Having access to DWP databases will help SCS enforcement staff in their efforts to pursue fine dodgers, which can include deduction of payments from benefits, arresting of wages, as well as freezing of bank accounts.
Commenting on the news, Joe FitzPatrick, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Dundee City West where Dundee Sheriff Court is located, said:
“It was clearly unfair that courts in England and Wales were able to access UK Government databases to track fine dodgers whilst courts here in Scotland were not.
“I’m glad that the Secretary of State has accepted this disparity and has agreed to rectify it by allowing the Scottish Court Service to access his department’s data.
“There must be no escape from paying court fines.
“This move will help to ensure that those who have been found guilty of breaking the law and have had fines imposed on them are tracked down and forced to pay.”
Mr MacAskill said:
“The collection of fines and penalties is crucial to ensuring fair and effective justice, upholding the law and deterring crime.
“While collection rates have improved since the Scottish Courts Service (SCS) took on responsibility for this and are now at consistently high levels, these figures could be improved further if we had access to key information held about offenders by the Department for Work and Pensions and other Whitehall Departments.
“That’s why I wrote to Iain Duncan Smith earlier in the year, asking him to ensure that as a matter of urgency, SCS staff are able to access the same kind of information which is available to fine enforcement teams in England and Wales.
“I welcome the fact that he has agreed with me, that is not acceptable for DWP to provide a lesser service to enforcement officers in Scotland, than elsewhere and has stated his determination to work with other Whitehall Departments and the Scottish government to address this.”
Dundee’s constituency MSPs Joe FitzPatrick and Shona Robison today visited Dundee’s Kingspark School the only dedicated school in the city for pupils aged 5 to 18 years who have a range of severe and complex additional support needs.
The school was opened in August 2010 and was recently extended by the local council to ensure more spaces for pupils. The MSPs were given a briefing and a tour led by the head teacher Laura Smith to look at the recent extension to the school and all the facilities that are in place for the pupils.
Speaking during the visit, Joe FitzPatrick said: “Kingspark School provides state-of-the-art care and education for pupils with complex needs and we were very impressed with the tremendous work and dedication shown by staff.
and has specialist subject teachers of Art, Music, Physical Education, Home Economics and Craft who work closely with class teachers to provide a total learning experience for pupils which is broad, balanced, progressive and relevant.”
Dundee City East MSP Shona Robison added “We were impressed by the close collaboration with NHS Tayside and departments of Dundee City Council.
“We saw first-hand the difference this is making to the lives of the children.”
“The recent £1 million investment by Dundee City Council to extend Kingspark and create more classrooms to allow more pupils to attend has been successful in creating a modern and welcoming school.”
Picture: Cllr Gregor Murray (Depute Convenor Education), Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Shona Robison MSP, Cllr Stewart Hunter, Education Convenor, Dundee City Council, at Kingspark School before their visit.
Commenting on news that Dundee City Council’s bid for the National Performance Centre has been shortlisted, Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick expressed his delight.
Mr FitzPatrick, in whose constituency the Centre would be based if the bid is ultimately successful, said: “I’m delighted that Dundee’s first-stage bid for the National Performance Centre has been shortlisted.
“This is the result of many months of hard work and preparation by many people at Dundee City Council and its partners — Dundee and Abertay Universities, Dundee College, Dundee United, Dundee FC, NHS Tayside and Leisure and Culture Dundee.
“Everybody in the city got behind the City Council’s bid and congratulations are due to Ken Guild and the Dundee Council team who worked hard to get our bid shortlisted.
“The ambitious plans which Dundee City Council have put forward will give us some of the best sports facilities in Scotland. Dundee can be a centre of excellence and encourage participation by people of all ages across the city in healthy activity and sport.
“It would be a tremendous boost for the city to bring the National Performance Centre for Sport here and now we must all work hard to achieve that and back Dundee City Council’s bid.”
The European Commission has (today, Tuesday) launched an investigation into the UK’s proposed help for the video games industry, saying it might distort competition and questioning whether it is necessary to help stimulate the industry.
Now MSPs Joe FitzPatrick and Mark McDonald are urging Scots to respond to the Commission and help protect a growing industry.
Speaking after the move was announced by the Commission, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, who represents Dundee City West where a substantial number of Scotland’s Video Games companies are located said: “I have been campaigning for this tax relief for the video games industry because it is absolutely essential to give the games developers a level playing field to compete internationally.
“Tax relief is necessary to support existing jobs and help create new ones, as well as make sure that Scottish companies get a share of the expected growth in the global industry.
“I campaigned alongside TIGA for a long time and was delighted that the UK Government agreed to introduce it. The computer Games industry is important for Dundee and for Scotland.
“We must do all we can to protect it. It would be a bitter blow if this was to be scrapped after the UK Government took so long before dangling this opportunity in front of developers.”
North East MSP Mark McDonald, the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Video Games Technology, said: “France has a tax relief for its games industry and other cultural enterprises have had tax relief approved by the Commission, I can’t see why they thought they needed to investigate this one.
“I’ll be talking to the games companies and their representatives and encouraging them to get their voice heard. I see that TIGA has already started the process and I’ll be speaking to Dr Richard Wilson to see what help I can give.
“I’ll be writing to Brussels myself and putting across the case for the Scottish games industry and I’m encouraging everyone else with an interest in Scotland’s video games to do the same.”
Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said: “Our concern is for the May Gurney workers facing redundancy through the loss of the Scotia Gas Networks contract last year.
“Although the numbers of redundancies announced today is lower than was initially feared, we contacted the company’s senior management last year to find out if there was some scope for redeployment of workers into other contract work, and that seems to have been the case.
“We also got assurances that they will be working hard with employee representatives and with their other major clients to find opportunities for staff and to keep job losses to a minimum.”
“May Gurney will still be employing 300 in Scotland and as a relatively large support services company, providing essential services right across the UK, their staff have certain transferable skills which will — we hope — make them sought-after employees for similar work with other service companies.”
Shona Robison, MSP for Dundee City East said: “We were previously assured that the Scottish Government’s Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) local response team will be liaising with May Gurney during the 30 day consultation period and actively supporting all of those affected by this announcement, offering advice and assistance on retraining opportunities where needed.
“In terms of investment in Dundee, the Scottish Government is contributing a massive investment towards the Waterfront development, which in 2013 will see delivery of over £100m worth of capital projects, as part of a wider £1bn project.
“This makes it the second largest regeneration project in Scotland and it is estimated that more than 9000 new jobs will be created as a result of this investment.
“The people of Dundee will contrast this action from the Scottish Government which is very real and visible to Dundonians with the senseless sniping from the sidelines from the Labour Party.”
Dundee’s constituency MSPs Shona Robison and Joe FitzPatrick were today given a briefing and tour of work progressing at the new £1.7 million District 10 building in Seabraes that will offer flexible office accommodation to the expanding creative industries sector.
The briefing and tour was led by Stuart Wilson and Isla Robb of Scottish Enterprise, John Aitchison, Managing Director and Barry Simpson, Construction Director, of Maxi Construction Limited, with Architect Ged Young of Aim Design.
Speaking during the visit, Joe FitzPatrick said: “Dundee is at the forefront of the Computer Games Industry. Both the city’s Universities are turning out many highly-qualified graduates, who want to stay where the best designers and best ideas are – in Dundee.
“This project will help to solve that problem by proving flexible accommodation for start-up computer games companies that will enable more local graduates to stay here after graduation and it is expected to be completed in a matter of months.
“It will create another focus for idea-sharing among new companies and new designers that will produce a synergy and creative spark for success.
“The Scottish Government is very keen to keep the momentum going and facilitate new ideas being nurtured in Dundee.”
Dundee City East MSP Shona Robison said: “Congratulations to Scottish Enterprise for gestating this potentially attractive new computer games hub.
“The new offices, imaginatively constructed from re-used containers, will offer low-cost facilities and short-time contracts for start-up companies – the best possible way to allow creativity and foster that all-important step for people wanting to take forward ideas.
“The Computer games sector is one of the fastest-moving industries in the world and this will allow Dundee’s fledgling companies to keep at the centre of new creativity and success.”
Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick has welcomed an award of over half a million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund to the city’s Claverhouse Training group to provide long-term one-to-one support for lone parents seeking employment.
Claverhouse Training, at Staffa Place, were successful in applying for the award under the ‘Investing in Communities, Life Transitions’ funding stream and their ‘SMART Lone Parent Programme will benefit unemployed lone parents of children under school age and others who are not presently engaged with job-seeking services.
Joe FitzPatrick said: “I’m very pleased that Claverhouse Training have obtained this substantial award which will enable them to support more than 200 unemployed lone-parents on a one-to-one basis, helping them to overcome the multiple barriers which they face in securing employment.
“The support could take many forms, including developing life-skills such as IT skills and money-management.
“The project workers will take on a befriender and life-coaching role and give practical and emotional support and encouragement where needed to build-up confidence and self-esteem and help their progress back towards employment.
“Unemployed lone-parents are often an invisible and hard-to-reach group and may face issues to do with isolation, lack of confidence and low self-esteem, whether they have previously been in employment or whether they have no previous experience of employment.
“Congratulations to Leanne Godfrey and the team at Claverhouse on successfully obtaining this award which will enable them to carry out this transformational work with unemployed lone parents in Dundee.”
Commenting ahead of a weekend of protest against the renewal of Trident weapons of mass destruction by the UK Government, Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said:
“The SNP is resolutely opposed to these indiscriminate nuclear weapons and is leading the fight against the replacement of Trident.
“A recent poll showed that 80% of the people of Scotland want to get rid of Trident.”
“Renewing the Trident system will cost the Tory-led Westminster Government up to £100 billion at the same time as they are cutting jobs and welfare for the most vulnerable in our society.
“Independence offers a huge opportunity for the people of Scotland to make clear that these costly weapons of mass destruction are not welcome here.”
Dundee’s three senior SNP politicians have today signed up to show their support for ‘We Dundee’ the grassroots campaign supporting Dundee’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2017 organised by the local cultural organisation, Fleet Collective.
The three politicians added personal statements to the online ‘wall’ at We Dundee and called for everyone in the city to join in and promote the ‘surprising’ qualities of Dundee. The campaign is seeking thousands of statements from people about the qualities of the city that surprise, excite and astonish them.
Stewart Hosie said: “I’m often astonished by extraordinary architecture in our city centre streets, especially if you look upwards at the rooflines. Dundee has some magnificent buildings evoking earlier periods in our city’s long and famous history.”
Shona Robison said: “The sheer number of creative, enterprising people now living here, many of whom have come from across the world to be passionate about Dundee’s future – is always a surprise. Dundee is vibrant!”
Joe FitzPatrick said: “Dundee’s thriving cultural scene, for far too long, Scotland’s best-kept secret, is now bursting out all over! Dundee is pulsating with creative ideas and regeneration!”