Call for probe into running of scandal-hit council

The trams debacle did little to increase public confidence in the council. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The trams debacle did little to increase public confidence in the council. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A petition is calling for a public inquiry into the running of Edinburgh City council in the light of several high-profile controversies, including the Mortonhall ashes scandal, the £776 million tram project and statutory repairs debacle.

The petition on 38 Degrees, a website which gauges public reaction and helps to lobby politicians, has already attracted 2459 signatures since it was set up just a fortnight ago.

And while it might not have any direct effect, the volume of support suggests the petition has struck a chord with residents and campaigners from across the Capital – and a senior councillor said today that the authority had nothing to fear from heightened scrutiny.

Surveyor Gordon Murdie, who represents more than 200 clients affected by the statutory repairs scandal, is among the people who has signed the petition.

“I think it’s something that the Scottish Government can no longer avoid,” he said. “Time and patience is running out for the people of Edinburgh who have been affected by this. I’d encourage everyone to sign it.”

And Diana Cairns – an outspoken opponent to plans to build a replacement Portobello High in Portobello Park – has also put her name to it, particularly on the grounds of the local authority’s handling of planning applications.

Ms Cairns said: “I hope it will make some difference. I don’t know what it will take to get the council to listen. Maybe thousands of signatures on a petition will make them sit up and listen to the concerns that people in Edinburgh have got about how they are conducting their affairs on some high profile projects.” She added: “With all these different projects like the plans to build on the park, and Caltongate and Craighouse, thousands of people have written and objected to these applications and yet the council won’t heed the concerns.”

But SNP councillor Steve Cardownie, deputy leader of the city council, said: “I’m satisfied that elected members have done everything that’s been expected of them. Councillors can only act on information that is provided to them.

“A public inquiry sounds a bit strange. An inquiry normally takes shape when it comes to the next council, when people go to the ballot box. I am not aware of anything that the council or elected members could fear from more intense public scrutiny.”

• The petition is here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/petition-for-a-public-inquiry-into-the-running-of-city-of-edinburgh-council