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SNP council cuts betray the children of Dundee

You would hope that the SNP leaders of Dundee City council would have the integrity to turn up in the city chambers when they made £18 million of cuts to our city this week and pulled out of a proven anti-poverty programme for children in Douglas.

But they didn't. They sat at home and voted for the most regressive list of cuts in their baffies.

The only other council in Scotland to still be meeting online has just completed building work in their town hall.

Our chamber sits empty, echoing with the sound of protestors outside. While

you go to work, ruling administration councillors are still using Covid-19 as an excuse to hide from the mothers of Douglas and the people of Dundee as they force through massive cuts.




The pleas of last week to save Big Noise Douglas have been ignored, so 500 children are betrayed and thousands more who would have followed them will live lives less full and without the same chances of success. SNP members of Dundee City Council - and they alone - chose to cut this proven programme of change.

The community of Douglas has every right to be very, very angry. A promise made to their children has been broken.

I was one of the leaders of the campaign to bring Sistema to Dundee, persuading them establish a Big Noise orchestra in Douglas.

Eleven years ago, we started a local community campaign of family and friends called Optimistic Sound.

I was one of the signatories in 2016 to the legal partnership agreement with Dundee City Council that they would continue to fund and support Big Noise Douglas after the initial five years. It binds the city council together in a commitment with Sistema and the charity we established to deliver Big Noise Douglas.

This week, with no discussion, no negotiation, no crisis talks and without a trace of common decency that document was torn up by the SNP administration. Why would any organisation wish to come to Dundee to work with us if this is the way our council behaves? How can anyone trust a word they say or any contract they sign?

The agreement committed my fellow volunteers and I to fund the first five years of the project. We set about raising £1m. At the start of every meeting with the group I felt physically sick at the scale or the challenge, an amount of money that seemed ludicrous, beyond reality. Bit by bit, over years we got there and raised everything asked of us.

Folk ran pub quizzes, sponsored walks, made things and sold them, organised concerts and shook buckets in the streets.

A few of us sat in front of trusts, foundations, generous individuals who love the people of Dundee and we showed then the agreement we had made with the council. They trusted us. The SNP administration has made liars of us all this week.

Why would any of these people give again?

For years we sat with the leader of the council and senior officers in "strategy group" meetings. We agreed to commission independent research and we all welcomed it when reports came back, telling us the difference the programme was making and that we were on the path to the successes achieved in the original Big Noise in Stirling.

The delivery of the project was claimed in council anti-poverty reports as one of their few achievements. Photo calls were arranged. Grins were cracked by SNP

councillors.

Who would stand next to them again?

If you cannot look the people in the eyes, hear their pleas and justify your decisions you should not lead. There is no decency or integrity here.

It is cowardice - plain and simple.

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