‘Cabal’ battle councillor to stand as Labour candidate

A FORMER community councillor who had to stand down from his post after a lengthy legal battle with the city council is mounting a comeback – as a Labour candidate for the City Chambers.

Craigmillar community activist David Walker will fight the Portobello/Craigmillar ward at the elections in May.

His selection has proved controversial locally, as he was previously stripped of his role as secretary and returning officer of Craigmillar Community Council in 2008 following a lengthy legal battle about the way he and two other officials were elected.

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The case ended up in the Court of Session and cost the taxpayer around £60,000.

He was also involved in a separate legal dispute with the council in his capacity as secretary of the Capacity Building Project (CBP), which ran the Craigmillar Settlement community centre and had unsuccessfully fought against council plans to turn it into offices.

The CBP lost the dispute after the Court of Session ruled in the council’s favour last year – but the wrangle cost the taxpayer £75,000.

It was a Labour-run council that launched the first legal battle with Mr Walker, as well as fellow Craigmillar Community Council officials Paul Nolan and Patsy King, branded locally as “the Craigmillar cabal”, in 2006.

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The council instigated the judicial review following concerns that their appointments had broken community council rules. Mr Nolan was appointed unelected as a nominated representative of the Jack Kane Centre and was said to have had his selection ratified when many of his opponents were on holiday.

The stand-off on the Craigmillar Settlement building ran for two years following the CBP’s lease expiring in 2009. Lord Malcolm did not back the CBP’s call to quash the council’s decision to terminate the CBP lease but did say he was sympathetic to concerns about the loss of a community facility and the lack of consultation.

SNP councillor Mike Bridgman, who has represented the Portobello/Craigmillar ward since 2007 and is standing for reselection in May, said: “It is up to the Labour Party who they feel is a reasonable person to represent them.”

Councillor Andrew Burns, leader of the Labour group on the council, said: “Edinburgh Labour has a very robust selection process. All candidates went through that and several were not selected.”

Mr Walker, who will stand alongside fellow Labour councillor Maureen Child for the ward, was not available to comment.