FOUR members of staff at Edinburgh City Council have been sacked for their role in the property repair scandal following months of internal investigations.
The employees were dismissed due to the part they played in the city’s unique statutory notice repairs system, which is currently under investigation by Deloitte and Lothian and Borders Police.
Claims of corruption, mismanagement and incompetence have been made against a number of council workers, while certain building contractors have been accused of cranking up the cost for building works, completing substandard work, billing for unnecessary repairs and charging for fictional works.
Over the past year, around 19 council workers across two departments – the property conservation department, which deals with residential property, and the property repair department, which deals with council buildings such as libraries, schools and care homes – have been suspended. It is understood that 14 remain suspended following the recent sackings.
Today a spokesman for the city council confirmed that dismissals had been made.
He said: “The council can confirm that four members of staff have been dismissed following a disciplinary process resulting from the current investigation.”
Previously Mark Turley, services for communities boss, admitted to the Evening News that there were “serious concerns” about those suspended from their posts.
Councillor Ewan Aitken said he believed the latest dismissals could be the first of many.
He said: “It’s important that those who break the rules are punished. My concern is that this is the first of many [dismissals] and that is before the results of any police investigation. I think it could well be.”
After examining a random sample of 33 properties where residents had raised concerns about statutory notice repairs, the council admitted in October that it was extending its investigation to every complaint that had been made. Around 430 separate tenements make up the total 513 complaints.
Bosses are now looking at completely overhauling the statutory notice system.
They are facing a huge financial deficit due to costs including implementing the new service, the £1.5 million Deloitte investigation, recovery costs by homeowners and £300,000 for a dedicated complaints team. It is estimated that the net deficit this year alone will amount to £3m.
It is understood that Lothian and Borders Police have appointed a full-time team to trawl through evidence.