Secret Edinburgh Council report that finds 'illegality' and 'injustice' within care services for vulnerable young people vindicates ex-SNP councillor Alison Dickie's concerns – John McLellan

With all that’s happening in Ukraine and the world, it’s easy to dismiss town hall politics as trivial.

Thursday, 17th March 2022, 4:55 am
Alison Dickie was vice-convener for education, children and families at Edinburgh City Council
Alison Dickie was vice-convener for education, children and families at Edinburgh City Council

I sympathise with the view that it doesn’t matter if your bins are emptied late when people’s homes are being smashed by cruise missiles.

There are indeed bigger things to worry about, but it doesn’t mean standards of accountability and responsibility can slip because of an international crisis. Roles must still be fulfilled and rules followed or it ultimately leads to anarchy. Trust always matters.

Last week I explained how it appeared Edinburgh councillors had been misled into believing whistle-blowers who had given evidence about serious malpractice allegations to the Tanner Review could still meet with Susanne Tanner QC to discuss their ongoing concerns. I explained that an email in December indicated this was not true.

Now there is indeed to be a retraction at today’s full council meeting, but it begs the question why chief executive Andrew Kerr, council leader Adam McVey and Lord Provost Frank Ross all said the same thing when they should have known it wasn’t correct.

It transpires there was another inaccuracy at a committee meeting last month when the chief executive said that no complainers had asked him for a meeting when he had received such a request in February. Again, a public explanation is needed.

Today councillors are being presented with a report from the council’s monitoring officer Nick Smith who has found “illegality, maladministration and injustice” within Edinburgh Secure Services, a department of the Education and Children’s Services directorate responsible for the care of some of the most vulnerable and disturbed young people.

Read More

Read More
Alison Dickie: Edinburgh council must be more open about its investigations into...

This is the same directorate which was at the heart of the investigation into the abusive behaviour of late senior social worker Sean Bell, and the subsequent review of the council’s management culture. The latest report refers to management failures at all levels.

The investigation’s details are confidential because of an ongoing disciplinary hearing and other legal concerns, but the findings are truly shocking, and only came to light in late 2020 after a staff member raised concerns.

The problem is that with three reports all telling of serious shortcomings with appalling consequences at the highest levels in Edinburgh Council, we still have a situation in which people who have raised concerns are being misled and only dogged determination brings out the truth.

The public deserves to know what is going on and at the forefront of the fight for openness have been ex-SNP councillor Alison Dickie and Conservative Cameron Rose. The Sean Bell case apart, were it not for them the public might have had little inkling about what has been happening in the council’s name.

Every line of Cllr Dickie’s Evening News article last year, for which she was told to apologise, has been vindicated by the confidential report. Her reward for writing the truth was to be misled, insulted, ostracised, and forced out of her group by people who wear their bleeding-heart pleas for fairness like a disposable lapel badge until it comes to their self-preservation.

The reality is their first consideration is the reputation of an authority which the report shows has failed damaged people for whom it has a legal and moral duty to care. Whatever happens at the May election, Edinburgh deserves better than this.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.