FORMER Lord Provost Eric Milligan has been reported to the standards watchdog amid claims he adopted a “bullying” attitude at a meeting with campaigners who want a change in licensing policy.
Councillor Milligan, convener of the city’s licensing board, rejected the allegation and said he was surprised at the complaint.
The meeting at the City Chambers was about the board’s policy on “over-provision” following its controversial decision earlier this year to approve two off-sales licences in the same street despite objections from police and NHS Lothian.
David Griffiths, chief executive of disability group ECAS, and Iain Stewart, general secretary of Edinburgh Interfaith Association, told Cllr Milligan they believed increased availability of alcohol was helping to fuel hate crime.
Cllr Milligan has taken a firm stance on over-provision, insisting there is “no direct connection” between the growth of licensed outlets and levels of antisocial behaviour.
After the meeting, Mr Griffiths and Mr Stewart lodged a complaint with the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland about Cllr Milligan’s conduct towards them.
A source said: “They claim he had a bullying attitude. They felt the language he used and the attitude he took was not in keeping with the code of conduct for councillors.”
But Cllr Milligan said: “I thought it was a very good meeting. There was a difference of view on the issue of new licences, but we shook hands when they left.
“I was rather surprised they subsequently put a complaint to the commissioner on the basis they think I was discourteous. I don’t think that’s true in the least.
“They were maybe a little bit disappointed I spoke out so strongly and so clearly to them, but that tends to be my way. I don’t think I was bullying anyone.”
He said he had been contacted by the commissioner to say a complaint had been received and he had answered some of the points made.
“There is no investigation at the moment,” he added. “It’s a case of whether they choose to investigate the matter.
“If this results in some investigation I’m more than happy to explain my point of view of what took place. I’m just sorry people who have come to meet me have gone away disappointed.”
Mr Griffiths and Mr Stewart declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for the commissioner’s office said: “We can confirm we have received a complaint against Councillor Eric Milligan from Edinburgh City Council.
“It is not our practice to comment further until the commissioner concludes any enquiries/investigation.”