Author: Larry Lee

Jim McGovern to attend Black Watch Corner Memorial Unveiling

Dundee West MP Jim McGovern is to attend the unveiling of a statue to remember the 8,960 Black Watch officers and soldiers who died, and over 20,000 who were injured, during the First World War.

Mr McGovern has been invited by The Black Watch Association to attend in his capacity as Member of Parliament for Dundee West. The statue will be unveiled at Black Watch Corner in Ypres, Belgium, on Saturday 3rd May.

Jim McGovern said;

I feel truly honoured to have been asked to attend this important event by The Black Watch Association. The centenary of the start of the First World War is the ideal time for us to reflect upon and commemorate the sacrifice of the young men of The Black Watch who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their nation.

I have strong family connections with The Black Watch; my grandfather died while serving in the regiment during the Second World War when he was fighting against the rise of fascism. That connection makes this invitation all the more poignant for me.

The Black Watch have been a vital part of our communities in Tayside and Fife for centuries, this was especially so during the First World War. It is a welcome development that at the scene of one of the bloodiest episodes in the regiment’s history a reminder of The Black Watch will be in place for all to see.

Whether the First or Second World Wars, or the conflicts that followed, I keenly believe that the sacrifice of our soldiers should never be forgotten. The permanent presence of this memorial in Ypres will serve as a reminder to everyone who visits of the costs paid by our young people in the past for our present. I am honoured to have the opportunity to be able to do so in person and to represent my constituents at this important event.

Jim McGovern’s 120 foot abseil for Dundee Carers Centre

Dundee West MP Jim McGovern is to take part in a sponsored abseil to raise money for Dundee Carers Centre.

The event, which will take place on Saturday 7th June, will see the MP abseil down the 120 foot University of Dundee Tower.

Dundee Carers Centre is celebrating 25 years of serving carers in Dundee and the surrounding area. Opened in 1989 the centre supports unpaid carers and disabled people of all ages through a wide range of services including 1:1 support, welfare rights advice, counselling, activities, befriending, training, information and Direct Payments.

Jim McGovern said;

I was delighted to be asked to take part in this great event. I have seen the fantastic work done by the centre for many years and I know how important their services are for Dundee’s carers and their families.

Carers are the unsung heroes of our communities. They look after the most vulnerable in our society and too often their hard work isn’t recognised. Dundee Carers Centre offers them vital support in what can be a difficult job.

I am hoping to raise a good amount of money that will go to helping the centre continue supporting our city’s carers. I hope as many people as possible are able to put in just a small amount towards this excellent cause.

I also hope people will keep their fingers crossed for me as I make my way down the university tower!

Jim McGovern criticises “disappointing” Queen’s Speech

Today (Wednesday 4th June) the Queen delivered her annual speech outlining the government’s legislative plan for the coming year. The speech takes place during the state opening of parliament at which the parliamentary year commences. This will be the last Queen’s speech before the general election in 2015.

The speech outlined plans to introduce charges for plastic bags in England, confirmed pension reforms which were announced in the last budget, reforms to childcare payments, new laws to protect service personnel who face discrimination and legislation to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery, among other measures.

Jim McGovern said;

“Today’s Queen’s speech was disappointing. The people of Dundee are looking for leadership and for a change in direction to help them cope with the cost of living crisis and to make work pay. The Coalition Government have revealed that they are unable to provide that. This speech was more notable for what was absent rather than for what it contained.”

“There were however some welcome announcements; the Modern Slavery Bill, increased payments for working parents to help them afford childcare and legal protection for service personnel who face discrimination are all things I am keen to support. Sadly however these announcements alone are insufficient to tackle the many great problems the nation is facing.”

“The scale of the challenges Britain faces requires an ambitious plan in order to confront them. I am firmly behind Labour’s plan to tackle zero-hour contracts, to freeze energy bills and fundamentally reform the energy market as well as making work pay more through the living wage. Alongside Labour’s plan to drastically increase house building and plans to increase powers for Scotland as part of the union, I believe these bread and butter reforms will have a significant and positive impact for the people of Dundee.”

“It is clear that this Tory-led government do not have the ambition or the willingness to tackle all of these challenges, and the SNP are too distracted by the referendum to use the powers they already have to address the issues which are devolved to their responsibility.”

“The only solution is a Labour government in Westminster, backed by a Labour administration in Holyrood. The people of Dundee will have the opportunity to achieve these improvements in under a year if they vote for the union and vote Labour next May. Today’s Queen’s speech made that choice all the more necessary.”

Jim McGovern calls on Dundee City Council to commemorate Black Watch sacrifice

Dundee West MP Jim McGovern has called on Dundee City Council to commemorate the sacrifice of The Black Watch during the First World War by purchasing a model of a recently unveiled statue.

The model is a small scale prototype of the statue unveiled in Belgium in May. The full-sized statue was placed in Black Watch corner near to Ypres, marking the location where in 1914 the regiment was involved in heavy fighting against the German army.

Mr McGovern was invited as a guest of The Black Watch Veterans Association to be present at the unveiling.

Jim McGovern said;

The importance of The Black Watch to the communities of Dundee, Tayside, Fife and Perth over the past three centuries is difficult to overstate. I can think of no better moment to commemorate that than the centenary of the start of the First World War.

“The ceremony and unveiling of The Black Watch statue near to Ypres in Belgium was a moving experience, and I believe a fitting memorial. It is important that this should be reflected by a gesture at home.”

To do so I think Dundee City Council should purchase the original miniature model on which the full-size statue was based. That way it can be displayed in the city chambers for the public to see. Dundonians will then be able to appreciate the memorial without necessarily having to travel to Belgium.

I have written to David Dorward about this, but he was unfortunately unconvinced by this idea. I hope that the public will let the council know their feelings and hopefully his mind will be changed.

Jim McGovern questions Prime Minister over Dundee HMRC closure

Dundee West MP Jim McGovern has raised the planned closure of the HMRC enquiry office, based in Caledonian House in the Greenmarket in Dundee, during Prime Minister’s Questions.

On Monday 23rd June Mr McGovern joined the PCS trade union, who represent the HMRC staff, on the picket lines as they staged a one day strike in protest of the government’s plans. The Dundee office will be closed as part of a UK-wide plan to close all 281 of the HMRC’s enquiry offices. The staff provide face to face advice to members of the public regarding HMRC services.

The closure may lead to redundancies for some, and pay cuts as well as reductions in terms and conditions to those deployed elsewhere within the HMRC.

Mr McGovern asked the Prime Minister if he could allay the fears of PCS members that these reforms were a prelude to privatisation of these HMRC services. In reply the Prime Minister said his aim was to make the HMRC ‘more efficient’ but refused to deny that privatisation may occur in the future.

Jim McGovern said:

It is extremely worrying that the Prime Minister refused to categorically deny that some HMRC services may be privatised. The fears I heard from PCS members on the picket lines in Dundee seem to be justified.

The staff at the Dundee office work hard to provide essential advice to members of the public. It was bad enough that these cuts will mean redundancies, pay cuts and reductions to terms and conditions, but now we may see the whole service sold to the private sector. That is a terrible betrayal of the staff.

These services are vital and are popular with the public. The loss or privatisation of these offices will leave ordinary people worse of. I will continue to support the PCS in their fight against these poorly judged reforms and I will keep pressing the government to think again.

Call for Greater House Building in Dundee

UPDATE – In the 2021 Budget the government will now be guaranteeing 95% mortgages and extending the stamp duty holiday. More information available here

Dundee West MP, Jim McGovern has today visited a flagship NHBC insured development in his constituency built and marketed by a local SME builder, Discovery Homes.

Mr McGovern MP, who was elected to represent Dundee West in 2005, was given a tour of the houses being built at Corbie Woods, and met with NHBC representatives and homeowners.

The event was organised by NHBC, the leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK, and Discovery Homes to show the Labour MP a development of 48 homes set within a private cul-de-sac, Convenient for the city centre, universities and an excellent range of city amenities.

Malcolm MacLeod, NHBC Scotland Director, said: “We are delighted to have been able to show Mr McGovern this great development, built by a leading local SME which will deliver a number of much-needed new homes for his constituents. As the UK’s leading insurance and warranty provider of new homes, NHBC works closely with housebuilders to support the delivery of high quality homes. We also work with Parliamentarians to develop and promote good housing policy.

The Corbie Woods homes off Graham Street in Dundee, are equipped with the latest in kitchen and bathroom fittings and offer spacious and comfortable accommodation throughout. All share the same attention to detail and maintain the recognised high standards of Discovery Homes. Specifications will include gas central heating and hot water provided by combination boiler controlled by thermostat control. A choice of kitchen finishes available with a choice of ceramic tiling in kitchens from worktop to underside of wall unit included as standard.

Founder of Discovery Homes, Grant White, said: “We are very proud of our developments in this city in which we have our roots.

We work closely with the NHBC, local authorities and communities to ensure the homes we deliver are designed and constructed to suit the needs of local people.

Jim McGovern MP said: “I would like to thank NHBC and Discovery Homes for giving me the opportunity to view this development of much needed homes at Corbie Woods. It is particularly good to view these new energy efficient homes and see first-hand how they can provide welcome relief for families as they struggle with the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Housebuilding plays a vital role in boosting the local economy and I am delighted to meet a local and hugely successful SME in Dundee who is providing these fantastic new homes for local Dundee families.

For too long house building in Dundee has fallen behind the UK and Scottish average. Last year only 19 homes where build in Dundee compared to a UK average of over 183. More needs to be done by Government to ensure that enough housing is being built for the future. An increased programme of house building would also bring a much needed jobs boost to the local area bringing apprentices and training for young people in Dundee. These opportunities are badly needed for the many in our City who have been thus far let down by SNP and Tory led Governments to fully address the housing and jobs crises we face.”

Opening of New Lochee Post Office

To celebrate the launch of the new-look Lochee Post Office, Dundee West MP Jim McGovern cut the ribbon at an official opening ceremony last Friday.

Lochee Post Office underwent refurbishment works in August and Mr McGovern paid tribute to all involved for their efforts

He added:

“It is a pleasure to be here today to officially open the modernised Lochee Post Office with Alex and Scott.

“The branch is bright and welcoming. I am sure customers will be very happy with the changes.

Since I was elected in 2005, I have always been a strong believer in retaining Post Offices as vital services for the local community, that is why I campaigned so strongly for the retention of Lochee Post Office and those across Dundee.

“I am delighted that as a result of the community’s efforts, I am in a position to open Lochee’s new and improved Post Office.

“The new-look Lochee Post Office is one of the new main-style Post Office branches which are being introduced as part of the Transformation Programme.

“The aim of the main model is designed to give greater flexibility and access to customers, with Post Office services available in brighter, more open environments and during longer opening hours.

Store Manager Alex Walker said: “There is still a little work to do but it’s looking fantastic.

“ It’s much more open and brighter.

“Access to the store is also much easier now with the new automatic doors.

“We’ve had great feedback from the customers so far.

”They feel the new look makes the shop look bigger.

“The biggest bonus is that the Post Office services are available during the times that the shop itself is open.

“That’s over 100 hours a week, which makes us really flexible.”

Post Office Regional Network Manager Suzanne Richardson said:

“We understand how important having a Post Office is to residents and we are confident that this new branch is meeting the needs of the local community.

“This is an exciting time for the Post Office.

“This move is part of a three-year investment programme, the largest in the history of the Post Office that will see over half of the 11,700 Post Office branches converting to the new models.”

“The Post Office, now independent of Royal Mail, is the largest retail network in the UK.

“It is also one of the UK’s fastest growing financial services companies and is developing its online and telephone services.”