HOLLYWOOD actor Brian Cox says the answer to Dundee’s social problems is to tear down outlying housing schemes.
Cox, star of Braveheart and the Bourne trilogy, said the city’s drug and unemployment issues could solved by moving people out of high-rise “squalor” and back into the city centre.
The 66-year-old, who was born in Dundee, is rector of the city’s university.
He said he witnessed first-hand the devastation life in the “schemes” could bring.
He said: “The whole despicable scheme thing started in the 1950s when I was growing up in Dundee.
“We are now on our fourth generation of people that have had to live in these places.
“Many of Dundee’s drug and unemployment problems are caused by packing people out of sight and away from any amenities or sense of belonging.
“I grew up in the city and there was a certain amount of banditry but it was all out in the open and could be tackled.
“A lot of my pals were moved out into the schemes and mayhem followed. Subsequent councils have continued to make people live in this kind of squalor.”
The actor said the council should move people back into the city centre again and look at shutting some of the schemes down
He added: “Doing that would go a long way towards improving the city’s terrible problem with heroin addiction and long-term unemployment.
“With the V & A and the waterfront development Dundee is now going through a period where it is rethinking itself.
“This regeneration would be an ideal time for the city to look at how to address some of its deeper problems.”
In a separate interview, to promote a forthcoming BBC Scotland documentary, Addicted to Pleasure, Cox tackled Scotland’s wider health issues.
The actor, who himself suffers from type 2 diabetes, said: “Our diet in Scotland has been deadly. The idea that we eat fish and chips at 11pm. We are sensible then have our tea at 5pm – but then we should really stop eating.
“I did an interview someone who was addicted to soft drinks. That was mind blowing. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg because you realise a lot of people are addicted and aren’t even aware of it.
“When you think of the Government health campaigns for cigarettes, they clearly say: ‘This will kill you.’ Well I’m afraid the same is true of too much sugar.”
A recent study, by the Dundee Partnership, found half the people living in Dundee feel their city has changed “for the worst” in the past five years – a considerable increase on the 22% recorded in 2009.
A quarter of residents felt that drug problems had worsened in the since 2007.
In 2008, Dundee toddler Brandon Muir was only 23-years-old when he died as a result of a heavy blow to the stomach.
The toddler’s mother’s boyfriend, Robert Cunningham, was found guilty of culpable homicide.
Veronica Boyd, the grandmother of Brandon, blamed Dundee social workers at the time – claiming the council could have done more to save the child.
Cox also hit the news this week after he revealed he experimented with opium during a trip to India in the 1980s.
The actor, who was in the Asian country to perform Shakespeare on stage, said: “The opium gave me a beatific sense of the world. I was able to be calm. It gave me a feeling of well-being. I can understand why a whole nation can get addicted to it.”