Three Tory councillors reported to standards watchdog

The controversial Cameron House community centre. Picture: Toby Williams
The controversial Cameron House community centre. Picture: Toby Williams
24
Have your say

ONE of the city’s top civil servants has made a dramatic complaint to the public standards watchdog about three of its leading politicians.

Mike Rosendale – former head of schools and now responsible for achieving reforms across the city council – has taken the unprecedented step by a senior official of lodging a formal complaint against serving councillors to the standards commissioner.

His complaint has sparked an investigation into the actions of the city’s Conservative leader, Cameron Rose, former Conservative leader Jeremy Balfour and city centre member Joanna Mowat.

If the complaint is upheld, the commissioner has the power to censure, suspend or even, in
extreme cases, disqualify councillors. The complaint centres on the naming of five council officers who were involved in the management of a troubled project to rebuild Cameron House Community Centre, Prestonfield.

The five were named by Cllr Rose during a council meeting chaired by Cllr Balfour.

The meeting earlier heard that unnamed city officials were being investigated amid a six-year wrangle over construction of the centre, which has been plagued by “an appalling catalogue of building defects” since completion in 2009.

It is believed Mr Rosendale feels that his name being publicly mentioned in connection with the controversy is potentially libellous.

One City Chamber source said: “It is unheard of for a senior official to make a complaint against senior councillors in this way.

“As you can imagine, it’s the talk of the steamie here.”

Sources close to the three Conservative councillors said the action was taken to highlight the fact that individuals involved in the project were still council employees and would be able to provide further information rather than accusing them of any wrongdoing.

It is understood Cllr Mowat has been named in a complaint over comments made about the matter to this newspaper.

It is also thought Mr Rosendale’s complaint marks the first time an officer of his seniority has taken official action against a group of serving councillors.

Cameron House – originally opened in 1931 – was one of four venues chosen to be rebuilt between 2004 and 2007.

However, more than £146,000 has been wasted on the centre, which has been left with ongoing problems including leaking gutters and front doors which were built too low.

An independent review into the project by consultants Turner & Townsend discovered failures of communication between officials and the council-run centre, as well as a lack of documentation.

Moira O’Neill, chairperson of the Cameron House management committee, also told the March meeting that she received doctored e-mails to cover officials’ tracks after she complained about exclusion from the development process.

Mr Rosendale and Cllrs Rose, Balfour and Mowat all declined to comment when contacted by the Evening News. Council officials also said they could not comment.

Staff at the office of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards confirmed they had received a complaint in relation to comments allegedly made at a committee meeting in March.