Groundhog Day for council investigations - John McLellan

Another fine mess or, to paraphrase the late and unlamented Robert Maxwell, is it just another gnat on Edinburgh Council’s backside?

The Scotsman has revealed another investigation into alleged malpractice by senior officers, this time into the bungled attempt to replace Underbelly as the organiser of Edinburgh’s Christmas events, and once again chief executive Andrew Kerr has called on go-to law firm, Pinsent Masons to investigate.

The company must dread the day a genuinely competent administration takes over because all that lucrative detective work they attract might dry up.

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Wherever the truth lies, it’s still astonishing that when three bids are submitted, two promising profits of just under £1.5m and a third a whopping £5.5m, that councillors could not be told on what the estimate was based before the biggest bid was accepted.

And you didn’t need to be a Hollywood stunt expert to know that stringing a 300-yard zip wire down George Street would literally run into problems.

As usual, it takes drawn-out FoI requests for something of the truth to emerge, by which time the events might seem historic. And in the game of local authority reputation management, that’s the aim.

But it’s not historic, because the companies who lost money will still be feeling the effect, like The Union advertising and creative agency, whose boss, the experienced and respected Ian McAteer, found his demand for answers snubbed. “I found the attitude and lack of support from our own council representatives totally despicable,” he said.

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