THE entrance to the City Chambers is being used as a “private car park” by two of the city’s most senior councillors, critics claimed today.
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie and economic development leader Tom Buchanan are said to breach council rules regularly by pulling up on the City Chambers quadrangle despite having spaces at nearby Waverley Court.
Council sources claim that Councillor Buchanan’s silver BMW and Councillor Cardownie’s silver Mercedes are regularly parked within the quadrangle, which should only be used for the Lord Provost’s official car or visitors with disabilities.
Today Cllr Buchanan insisted he was unaware he was doing anything wrong and was unrepentant. He said: “I do occasionally park in the quad for a number of reasons. I was in there this morning because I was late coming in from my constituency for the policy and strategy meeting.
“I’ve never asked, I always just get let in. I do not have control over the user mechanism that lets you in I just press the button, say ‘it’s Cllr Buchanan’ and it lets me in.
“I park there when I need to park there; if I’m running late and need to go to another meeting and have not got time to go to Waverley Court. It’s a method of saving time and money but if people are getting anxious about it they should write to me, not you.”
But the two SNP councillors have been accused of damaging the appearance of the front of the building – a regular stop-off point for city tours which features the handprints of local figures such as Ian Rankin, JK Rowling and Sir Chris Hoy and a statue of Alexander and Bucephalus that dates back to 1884.
One council source said: “The quadrangle is like an SNP car park. Why do they feel they have the right to constantly park there when they are equally constantly always asking others to use public transport?”
Another senior councillor said: “I don’t know if either has a reason to go in there but both Tom and Steve’s cars are always in the quadrangle and it’s not just for half an hour or so, it’s the whole day.
“I don’t know why they think they can do it. There’s 58 of us and what about the staff? There’s hundreds of people that work here and what would happen if everybody parked there?
Access to the quadrangle is managed by the facilities manager at the City Chambers but there is no reserved parking and nobody has a right to park there without advance permission for a legitimate reason, apart from the Lord Provost. It is understood that some other councillors also occasionally park there.
Former council leader Andrew Burns, leader of the Labour group in the City Chambers, said: “Councillors are forever urging Edinburgh residents to minimise car use and to maximise public transport use whenever possible, and I do believe elected members have therefore got a responsibility to lead by example.
“Constantly parking your car without good reason in the City Chambers quadrangle, as several councillors do, is clearly not leading by example but asking voters to ‘do what I say, and not what I do’.”
A city council spokeswoman said: “Parking in the quadrangle is permitted by prior arrangement with the facilities manager in the City Chambers.”
Cllr Cardownie was not available to comment.