Ex-Lord Provosts ditch £30k portrait plans to save cash

Lord Provost George Grubb
Lord Provost George Grubb
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FOR hundreds of years their commitment to Edinburgh has been marked with expensive portraits which now adorn the City Chambers.

But the Capital’s most recent Lord Provosts are having to settle for a humble photograph instead – in a bid to please the taxpayer.

Lesley Hinds

Lesley Hinds

The Evening News last year revealed council plans to spend £30,000 on paintings of the city’s last two Lord Provosts.

But following a public backlash, plans have been changed and the authority has agreed to commission cheaper photographs instead, expected to cost between £300 and £500 each.

Current Lord Provost George Grubb, who is due to stand down from his role in May, said: “It should be a more modern approach and I think a photograph might start a trend for other Lord Provosts.”

Labour councillor Lesley Hinds, who was Lord Provost from 2003 to 2007, was originally to be the subject of a stained glass window to commemorate her time in office, costing up to £15,000.

She has now also agreed to a photograph to save money.

Cllr Hinds said: “When I set out on looking at the Lord Provost portrait, the financial circumstances were very different.

“Taking on board that, I will be looking at an option that costs nothing or very little and I think that would be in the style of a photograph.”

The City Chambers holds a series of paintings and portrait busts of former Lord Provosts, dating back as far as the 17th century. The practice of commissioning formal portraits dates back to the 19th century.

In 2006, it was agreed that Dame Elizabeth Blackadder would paint a portrait of former Lord Provost Eric Milligan for around £15,000.

Cllr Hinds would have been the second former Lord Provost to opt for a stained glass artwork, following Eleanor McLaughlin, who was in office from 1988 until 1992.

Cllr Grubb said: “I decided not to have a portrait and I’m going for a photograph instead. Someone at the council is looking into that now.”

He said he expected the photograph to be produced within the next three months. “It depends on what the photographer has in mind,” he added. “But I hope [it will cost] £300 to £500. It is good for the council to mark [the term of the Lord Provost] to safeguard tradition.”

The council still invests £4000 a year in its Lord Provost Portrait Fund, which now contains £41,000.

Chief executive Sue Bruce said: “At the moment, we are progressing a couple of suitable cost-effective options for commemorating the tenure of the present and former Lord Provosts.”