V&A Museum of Design – Dundee : site visit

This morning, I participated in the latest V&A Museum of Design, Dundee Project Board meeting.
After the meeting, board members had the opportunity of a site visit round the V&A construction site at the waterfront.
You can see all the photos I took here.    
The external walling work and cladding is making real progress in what is a very complex design.   At the site visit, I was left in no doubt that the V&A Museum of Design in Dundee will have its home in a truly iconic building.

V&A construction project – McClelland Report

Earlier today, along with four councillor colleagues, I attended a briefing with the council’s Chief Executive and with John McClelland, author of the independent review of the V&A at Dundee construction project budget and the huge budget overshoot, during which Mr McClelland explained the detail of his findings.
His report is over 30 pages long and he has made eight key recommendations and I will be scrutinising the report in detail before it is discussed at the council’s Policy & Resources Committee on 24th August.
However, what is glaringly obvious from the report is the failure of cost management and technical support at the time of the architectural competition and judging panel decision.   The underprovision in the original budget cost estimates clearly account for the majority of the budget overshoot.   Additionally, there was a lamentable failure to properly report back to and update councillors.
The V&A at Dundee project now has to be completed and it is vital that all recommendations raised in John McClelland’s report are acted upon promptly and efficiently.

Deep concern over V&A budget smokescreen

I am deeply concerned at the revelation made by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop that the Scottish Government had been informed by Dundee City Council as long ago as April 2014 that “the initial estimate of the (V&A) price would not be met” – months before City Councillors were asked in September 2014 to approve BAM Construction Limited as the preferred contractor, without the councillors being told anything about the budget problems.
It is nothing short of downright disgraceful that an agenda note was allowed to go forward to the Policy and Resources Committee on 8th September 2014 asking councillors to appoint the preferred contractor, without any mention whatsoever that the budget was in trouble.
I now call into question the veracity of the decision taken on 8th September because councillors were asked to make the decision on appointing the contractor with no information that the budget was anything other than the £45 million we had been advised, when it turns out the SNP Scottish Government had been told by Dundee City Council months before that the £45 million budget could not be met.     The whole thing stinks.
There now needs to be fast progress with John McClelland’s independent investigation and I have written to David Martin, the City Council’s Chief Executive in the following terms :
From: Fraser Macpherson 
Sent: 06 February 2015 10:21
To: David Martin
Subject: V&A Inquiry & Project Board
Can I please have an update on progress towards the establishment of the project board, timetable of meetings, etc?
Also can I ask what progress John McClelland is making in establishing his inquiry, terms of reference, proposed timescales, etc and who is he proposing to interview?
Many thanks.
Best regards
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Liberal Democrat Councillor for the West End
Dundee City Council

V&A Museum of Design Dundee : bring in independent auditors

I have formally requested that the City Council’s Chief Executive David Martin ask the Auditor General to engage Audit Scotland to independently investigate the full circumstances of the budget problems affecting the V&A project.
As I indicated on Friday, the huge increase in V&A projected costs is a shocking indictment of the poor project management skills of the SNP administration with regard to the V&A project.   When the Chief Executive and Chief Officers met with myself and two other opposition councillors about the situation on Friday morning, I was shocked when we were informed that the costs have shot up to £80.11 million.    The SNP administration has kept opposition councillors completely in the dark about the soaring costs.   
The Chief Executive has promised me a full investigation as to the detailed reasons behind the huge increase in cost.    However, as I have said to David Martin, given the concerned reaction I have received from many constituents, I have no doubt that, if public confidence is to be maintained in the project, any investigation has to be independent of the City Council.   Therefore Audit Scotland must be called in to do that.
If the City Council fails to formally ask the Auditor General to undertake an independent investigation, I will make such a request of the Auditor General myself.
The V&A project is vital to the city’s economic growth and absolutely has to be delivered but the public purse cannot be used as a bottomless pit.

V&A Museum of Design Dundee : budget concerns

The City Council’s Chief Executive and Chief Officers met with myself and two other opposition councillors about V&A budget this morning.   You could have knocked me over with a feather when it was announced the costs have shot up to £80.11 million.    
The SNP administration has kept opposition councillors completely in the dark about the soaring costs and it is a shocking indictment of the poor project management skills of the SNP administration with regard to the V&A project.  
The Chief Executive has promised a full investigation as to the detailed reasons behind the huge increase in cost.   
The V&A project is vital to the city’s economic growth and absolutely has to be delivered.     

I think a more cross-party civic approach to its delivery will now be vital if it is actually to be achieved.

Living Room for the City @VADundee #LivingRoom

Yesterday evening, I was pleased to attend a preview at the University of Abertay of Living Room for the City, the exhibition of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee’s first community engagement programme.
The exhibition features the work of photographer Ross Fraser McLean with communities across the city, along with images contributed by the public, and lighting created at the Living Room Drop In and Design community workshops.
It is really well worth a visit – open from 16th to 29th August 2014 (Mon–Fri 10am–5pm / Sat–Sun 12–4pm) at the Hannah Maclure Centre in the Abertay Student Centre, 1-3 Bell Street.

Drop in and Design with V&A Dundee at Blackness Library

Living Room for the City 
Drop in and Design with V&A Dundee
Monday 21st July 2014 :   12 noon to 4pm at Blackness Library
Want to try out some new skills, make some new friends and find out more about V&A Dundee?   We’re bringing fun activities, designers and materials out to your local community centre.   Come along and make some unique handmade lighting to impress your friends and transform your living space.   All materials are supplied along with refreshments.   These workshops are being delivered in partnership with Skill Share Dundee and local designers. 
Free:   Young people and adults (babies in prams welcome too)
Drop in: We’re the new kid on the block so we want to meet our new neighbours – young and old!    No need to book – feel free to come along for as short or long a time as you’d like.   Or just come in say hello! 

Progress with V&A at Dundee

Yesterday, along with a number of other councillors and council chief officers, I attended a very informative update from Philip Long, Director of V&A at Dundee, and Sarah Saunders, the project’s Head of Learning and Engagement, on the project’s progress and the development of learning and engagement activity.
Dundee’s V&A Museum of Design is making impressive strides forward and it was good to hear of the initiatives to engage with target audiences, including :
•Schools – Onsite and digital programmes and resources for pupils aged 3-18, teachers and trainee teachers – local, national and international; group visits.
•Communities – Onsite and digital programmes and resources aimed at local communities and access and health and well-being groups.
•Outreach – Local and national projects aimed at a variety of audiences.
•Families – Local families with children aged 0-13 and national and international tourists visiting for the weekend or holidays.
•Young People – Peer-led programmes for local young people and digital activity that reaches young people across Scotland.
•Adults – Informal programmes for all levels of ability including group visits, programmes aimed specifically at creative industries and students, professional programmes and Design-led Business Innovation programmes aimed at businesses.
There is no doubt that Dundee’s V&A Museum of Design will be a superb asset to our city and bring many new visitors to Dundee.

Concern over possible impact of Olympia delay

Yesterday’s Courier highlighted my concerns about possible impacts on the timescales for deliver of the V and A at Dundee and the wider Waterfront project of delays in the completion of the Olympia swimming pool project.
The City Council’s Director of City Development has advised me:


The phasing relationships between the Olympia demolition and the Waterfront infrastructure and the V&A at Dundee are complex, we are assessing these at present to establish if a delay will result and to what extent we can mitigate delay (if any) through reprogramming.  At present, therefore, there is no programmed delay in these projects.  
Once we have a better picture we will report to the Waterfront Board and to Design Dundee Ltd as they are the two bodies responsible for the delivery of the two projects concerned.
Mike Galloway
Director of City Development
Dundee City Council”
I have responded :
“Thanks Mike;  noted, but 2 points:
a)There is substantial interest and concern from elected members with regard to these projects, crucial to the city.   I would therefore be grateful if you can update me as soon as you are able as to what is exactly going to happen re the timescale knock-on effect of the Olympia delay.
b)What is the likely timeframe in which there will be an outcome in terms of decisions arising out of this the assessment process to establish if a delay will result and to what extent mitigation of any delay through reprogramming can be determined?”
There is a real need for clarification from Dundee City Council as a matter of urgency on the potential knock-on effects upon the V and A at Dundee and wider Waterfront projects and I will continue to press the matter.
A related matter:
Detailed proposals for the V and A at Dundee project will be on show at the University of Abertay Library on 17th, 18th and 19th January, from 10am to 4pm each day. Plans for the new site plus the latest flythrough and visuals will be on display, and visitors will be encouraged to share their views with staff across the three days. 

V&A at Dundee site changes

The revised site proposal
There has been much comment on the proposal to move the proposed V&A at Dundee building away from the river and north to the waterfront itself. 
As I  indicated in today’s CourierI sought an assurance from the City Council’s Director of City Development that the integrity of the design will remain intact. 

What would concern me would be if the change had been made purely to save money and if the visionary elements of the design had been lost.

Kengo Kuma’s design was an inspired choice and I want to make sure none of the vision is lost.

The Director of City Development has advised me that:

“The budget for the project is £45m and we are absolutely committed to that. Costings for some aspects of the work were proving to be subject to considerable risk. This new option reduces that risk substantially.  We are looking to build an extremely notable building, to good time, and on budget. I am confident we are approaching that task sensibly.
The design of the building itself is completely unchanged by the change in site.
At no stage in this project’s design has it ever been above the £45m budget.” 

Lecture to mark start of Leonardo exhibition in Dundee

Martin Kemp, one of the world’s leading authorities on Leonardo da Vinci, will give a public lecture in Dundee next Saturday (1st September) to mark the arrival in the city of a new exhibition of Leonardo’s drawings.
‘Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration from the Royal Collection’ is at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum, from 31st August to 4th November.    It is the only Scottish venue hosting the exhibition.
Martin Kemp is Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford and one of the world’s leading experts on Leonardo. In his public lecture at the University of Dundee on Saturday 1st September, he will explore the ways in which Leonardo’s art and science can both be understood as a remaking of nature on the basis of deep understanding of cause and effect.
In the light of this, he will demonstrate how connections can be drawn between seemingly unrelated works such as the Mona Lisa and the flying machine.
The public lecture is being hosted by V&A at Dundee in partnership with the University of Dundee and Leisure & Culture Dundee.
It takes place at 6pm on Saturday 1st September in the Dalhousie Building, Old Hawkhill.
Free tickets for this event are available from events@dundee.ac.uk, www.dundee.ac.uk/tickets, Tower Building Reception at the University, or by calling 385564 or385108.
A drinks reception will follow this event. Please note that overflow theatres may be in operation.

Dundee Economic Summit

Yesterday, I took part – along with nearly 300 others from local businesses, the education sector, the Chamber of Commerce, the public sector and many others – in the Dundee Economic Summit.   See right.

Organised by the Dundee Partnership, it was a very positive morning spent discussing the economic future of our city – and all the positive developments in Dundee – including V&A at Dundee and the Waterfront development.

I had the opportunity to seek assurances that Dundee Rail Station will be upgraded and redeveloped before the V&A at Dundee opens and was pleased to receive that assurance.

Wednesday activities

Yesterday, in addition to assisting with a number of constituent queries and problems, I also attended the latest meeting of the City Council’s Local Economy Monitoring Group.

This is a useful regular forum at which the four party group leaders on the council, the City Council Chief Executive, other senior officers and representatives from Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce discuss the local economy, initiatives to improve the employment situation in the city and other economic initiatives.    At yesterday’s meeting, representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses also joined the group – a welcome development.

Yesterday’s discussions included progress with the renewables sector, the waterfront and V&A at Dundee, the rail station planned improvements and economic research.    Although the Dundee economy – like that across the country – has been going through challenging times, there is much positive activity locally and real commitment to drive forward economic growth for our city.

Wednesday activities …

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Celebrate Age Network‘s  Information Fayre in Logie and St John’s (Cross) Church – see right.   

It was a very well attended event, with lots of local residents visiting the many information stalls.   The Celebrate Age Network is taking part in the West End Community Fayre as part of Christmas Week late November to further highlight its activities.

Later yesterday, along with the other City Council political group leaders, representatives from Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce and senior council officers, I participated in the council’s Local Economy Monitoring Group, discussing the current economic and employment situation locally and specific projects such as renewables, the V&A and Dundee Waterfront.

Liberal Democrat support for V&A at Dundee

Earlier this week, my LibDem colleague Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland, met with Graham McKee, the project leader for the V&A at Dundee initiative.

Alison said after the meeting, “I have followed this project with keen interest and it was useful to get an update from Graham McKee on the next steps. We discussed the winning design and viewed the model of the innovative design currently on display in an exhibition at Parliament. The stunning design for the new centre for design innovation has been created by Kengo Kuma and Associates.

“The V&A at Dundee is a welcome addition to the growing arts offered in the city but will also bring significant benefit to the economy of Dundee by creating 900 jobs and an estimated 300,000 visitors per year.

“That is why it is essential that the detailed preparatory work goes ahead promptly now that the winning design has been chosen and I therefore welcome the £5 million of funding committed by the Scottish Government to take forward the V&A project.”

Yesterday, responding to the announcement that up to 170 new jobs could be created in Dundee by Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa, regional MSP Alison added, “The creation of new jobs in the renewables sector is to be welcomed.

“Gamesa’s interest in siting the logistics and manufacturing centre in Dundee is likely to lead to others following suit. Scotland is widely acknowledged as a centre for renewable engineering expertise and Dundee is a good place to invest.

“I would urge the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Dundee City Council to do all they can to clinch the deal.”

And the winner is …

It has just been announced that the winner of the V&A Dundee design contest is the Kengo Kuma design and congratulations go to Kengo Kuma & Associates on their success.

As Lesley Knox, Chair of the V&A at Dundee project and of the jury panel, said,  “Kengo Kuma’s proposal was the unanimous choice of the jury panel and is a worthy winner; a building that will delight visitors and encourage them to revisit it again and again. It demonstrates a clear understanding of the city, offers a new experience of the river, and will be as exciting internally as it will be externally.

“This has the potential to be one of Europe’s most exciting buildings.”

It is now vital that all the funding is secured to ensure this inspiring project for our city becomes a reality.

And then came Tuesday …

Following a very productive meeting with representatives of the Western Cemetery Association and the City Council’s Leisure and Communities Department on-site at the cemetery at lunchtime, I attended an opening exhibition view of the shortlisted designs of the V and A at Dundee project, held at the library of the University of Abertay, Dundee.   I am dreadfully impressed by the imaginative designs and the 3-D Fly Throughs are really helpful. 

I hope there’s a great turnout at the exhibition and that people give their views on the designs.   My personal preference is the Delugan Meissl design – really striking – and my photo of it from the exhibition is pictured above.   Rather better images are available on the V and A at Dundee website!

This evening, I attended an excellent meeting at Blackness Primary School about the possibility of starting a ‘walking bus’ – the video below from Ireland was shown – it really sums up the concept and it would be great to see the project progressed at the school :

Thursday Updates

* ‘V and A at Dundee’ – hopeful of progress : I understand that, next Monday, Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and Mike Russell MSP, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, will make an announcement relating to the ‘V and A at Dundee’ project.
A feasibility study conducted for the project steering group by Whetstone Group and Conran & Partners, launched in February 2009 at the”V and A at Dundee: Making it Happen” conference, concluded that ‘V and A at Dundee’ would have significant economic and cultural benefits for Dundee, Tayside and Scotland.
For the many of us in the city that can see the enormous advantages to Dundee – and its waterfront project in particular – of the “V and A at Dundee” proposal, I am hoping we will hear next Monday a specific commitment to proceed with the project and that Scottish Government is going to make all necessary funding available.
* In response to a letter about the former Homebase site, published in the Evening Telegraph earlier this week, I have a letter in tonight’s edition – see http://tinyurl.com/homebaselttr.

* At lunchtime today, three of my fellow councillors and I had a briefing on progress being made by the Dundee Travel Active project, aiming to encourage residents of, or visitors to, Dundee to walk or cycle a little more to improve people’s health and the environment. Its core target area includes much of the West End. You can read more about Dundee Travel Active by going to http://tinyurl.com/travelactive.