Council ‘not held to account over dirty tricks’

Cameron House. Picture: Scott Taylor

Cameron House. Picture: Scott Taylor

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COMMUNITY centre bosses say council employees involved in a “dirty tricks” campaign are not being held to account, despite official apologies.

A redacted report published recently of an investigation into the council’s handling of issues at Cameron House community centre in Prestonfield found poor judgment, mismanagement, poor communication and apparent 
cover-up by the council,

And at a meeting with the management committee earlier this month, Gillian Tee, director of communities and families, gave an official apology for past failings and 
deputy chief executive Alastair Maclean acknowledged council officials had told lies.

But the chair of the management committee has complained that no-one is being held to account.

The centre underwent a botched £2.5 million redevelopment in 2009, which sparked a catalogue of building problems.

The redacted report admitted an e-mail about the appointment of a project architect was doctored to make it look as if someone had been sent the e-mail when they had not. It also admitted that builders involved in the flawed construction of the centre were later sent as “independent” contractors to look at problems with the building.

And it could give no explanation for a council employee allegedly posing as a member of the public to visit the centre and produce an “independent” surveyor’s report.

The Evening News revealed yesterday that hardcore porn sent to staff at Cameron House with links to a whistleblower had come from a council IP address.

The whistleblower alleged in 2002 that up to £400,000 had been misspent at an arms-length council company, Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Project, but he was never interviewed about the claims. The investigation into the allegations has now been reopened.

But associates of his based at Cameron House claimed they were bombarded with porn as part of a campaign of intimidation. Moira O’Neill, chairwoman of the Cameron House management committee, said: “Despite senior officials apologising for the wrongdoing and lies being told to the management committee and centre staff, there is no indication that these staff will be held to account. Hundred of thousands of pounds have been used from the public finances to pay for the appalling catalogue of repairs and remedial works.”

A council spokesman said: “We have now had a further two meetings with the chair of the committee and discussed an action plan which includes following up on various matters, taking action where appropriate and improving the relationship going forwards. We are awaiting confirmation that the plan sets out an agreed way forward and expect to hear back from them later this week.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com