Residents of Menzieshill in Dundee should be given a chance to help decide the future of the area as more and more facilities are lost to the community, it has been claimed.
Local councillor Michael Marra says he wants action to help improve life in the area following last year’s closure of Menzieshill High.
He says the loss of the school — and other facilities such as pubs — has had a detrimental impact on residents’ lives.
Mr Marra is now calling for urgent action from the council to tackle these issues and push forward a redevelopment of the area.
Mr Marra, a Labour member, said: “Some change is inevitable and sometimes it is welcome.
“The multis had their time and while facilities need to be updated, many features of the place locals grew up in and where they have raised families have been lost in recent years.
“The loss of the high school has been a dreadful decision by the council. We warned the council administration at the time that the impact would be much wider than kids travelling further to school.
“They removed a focal point and part of the identity of Menzieshill.
“It has led to a reduction in the facilities available to local people.
“Menzieshill was known for swimming and water polo as much as it was for the spectacular views of Invergowrie Bay.
“Local football teams and clubs have been moved on and children have less of a focus to come together in their own community.
“Meanwhile, over recent years, the closure of local pubs has stripped the community of more shared spaces.
“The Jimmy Shand and The Bayview have been closed and the Charlie Bar has been put up for sale.
“This is not just happening in Menzieshill, of course.
“Pubs are closing across the country as people change how they socialise.
“But the fact is that the number of places where local people would mix have been drastically reduced.
“I want to see a real discussion with local people about what they want to see in the area.
“What are they missing? What would make community life better?
“I have been discussing this with local people and there is the possibility of an independent piece of work to help with this in the coming months.”
He also called for “urgent up-to-date news” on plans to redevelop the area, with calls for better parking provision for residents and updated housing stock.
Labour accused of ignoring council’s investment
Responding to Mr Marra’s comments, Councillor Alan Ross, a member of the administration who also represents the Menzieshill area, insisted the school decision was made for “sound educational reasons”.
He accused the Labour group of “completely ignoring the ongoing investment” in the area, such as the new £13 million Tayview Primary School, and the commitment to build a new community centre.
Mr Ross continued: “Councillor Marra wishes to see a real discussion in the area — I have no problem with that and neither does the administration.
“That’s why we recently embarked on the Engage Dundee project. This is a tool used to evaluate the priorities of all local communities across Dundee and the findings from it will directly inform the key priorities in local community plans.
“This is a public document that is easily accessible online. It’s beyond me why any local councillor in the city is unaware of its existence and I would politely suggest that Councillor Marra familiarises himself with it in order to get up to speed.
“Also, since the decision was taken to build the new primary school and community centre we established a project board comprising all stakeholders including the head teachers of the two former schools and nursery but also with pupils whose input has been invaluable and enthusiastic. The management board of the community centre has also been represented on that board and therefore kept up to date with developments.
“Further to this, we established a communication sub group, which I have attended. Through this group we have produced a newsletter, which was circulated via the community centre and by way of a school bag drop with all pupils in the area.”
Mr Ross conceded that the council had little influence over the pubs issue, but said millions of pounds were due to be invested in the area where the old Rock Pub sits.