Steve Cardownie: Is Ashley sitting comfortably?

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When the full council meets tomorrow councillors will be craning their necks to see where the latest defector will sit.

Ashley Graczyk, the former Conservative councillor for Sighthill/ Gorgie has left the Tory Group on the council and, according to the city council website, now sits as an Independent. This prompted several senior Conservatives to vent their spleen by writing to this paper decrying her actions amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

However it turned out to be a lot more complicated than a simple parting of ways as Cllr Graczyk, having sounded out fellow Independents about the prospect of forming a loose-knit group which would allow them some representation on major committees, decided that that was not for her and made a bee-line for Adam McVey’s door seeking admission into the SNP Group. Although agreed in principle by the Group, one or two formalities have to be gone through before the formal welcome can be extended.

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Rather like the football transfer deadline, council members are speculating as to whether these formalities will be completed in time for Ashley to take her place within the ranks of her new-found colleagues at the meeting or whether she will have to sit by her “almost” colleagues of Independents.

I expect Cllr Jason Rust may well be delegated to lead the charge when questions are asked of Adam McVey under the item of Leader’s Report. However, it may be that Cllr Iain Whyte as group leader will step into the breach as “hell hath no fury like a Tory scorned”.

Bumpy road ahead for parking tax

I was interested to read that the council is contemplating introducing a “parking tax” where firms who provide more than ten parking spaces for employees may be subjected to an annual charge. Such a tax is levied in Nottingham and amounts to £402 per year per space.

There is a distinct possibility that employers will simply pass on such a tax to their employees, which begs the question: “What about council staff who park in council car parks?” If this tax comes into force then surely the council will also have to comply and as they are hardly likely to pay the money to themselves then logically it would appear that the charge would be passed on to council employees.

If not, then council taxpayers will be directly subsidising council employees for their car park space while the rest of Edinburgh’s workforce who similarly have a space at their place of employment may be forced to stump up. Perhaps the consultation exercise will provide us with answers.

What a Sly jest

I was meeting my friend Peter in The Halfway House (halfway down Fleshmarket Close or halfway up, depending on your starting point) and I apologised for being late. I tod him that I had been watching a film starring Sylvester . . . em . . . em “Stallone?” he interjected. “Naw it finished at 11 o’clock,” came my reply!