Why are knives out for Edinburgh’s admirable SNP Lord Provost? – John McLellan

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Frank Ross was accused of being unprofessional, but he was just doing his duty, writes John McLellan.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 5:00 pm
Frank Ross is widely considered to have done a good job as Lord Provost. Picture: Greg Macvean

By common consent, Lord Provost Frank Ross has done an admirable job over the past 30 months, a fitting figurehead for the city who brings the sense of decorum and continuity expected of the city’s civic leader.

But unlike recent chain wearers, Councillor Ross continues to be embroiled in an internal political battle going back to his ousting as SNP leader on the day of the 2017 election, with the Provostship a consolation.

Now an unnamed senior administration figure has accused him and the other councillors on Marketing Edinburgh’s board of being obstructive and unprofessional, so Councillor Ross resigned from the directorships he was appointed to by the SNP.

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Ostracised by the party’s controlling faction, he is now said to be considering quitting the party to become the fourth member of the council’s new group of independents, while remaining Lord Provost.

The embarrassment of the SNP losing the Lord Provost would be acute, but as Councillor Ross is doing a good job there is no reason for him to step down if it came to it.

For us in the Conservative opposition, who chairs full council meetings is neither here nor there and nor do we care who is the local SNP’s big cheese, but this is a battle for control with implications far beyond the current bunch of councillors. It also appears to be driven by an agenda which has never been explained and is not in any policy.

Councillor Ross was accused of being unprofessional, but by defending Marketing Edinburgh’s interests he was executing his duty as a director. It is his accuser who was unprofessional and that person might wish to explain.

The music stopped, the rides halted, the crowds applauded

I can’t remember the last time carnations were thrown at a hearse going along Princes Street, but it was an appropriate way for people to express their affection and gratitude for Sick Kids charity collector and war veteran Tom Gilzean, who died aged 99 a fortnight ago.

The music stopped and the rides halted at Edinburgh’s Christmas and the crowds applauded as the funeral cortege stopped outside Marks & Spencer, one of his favourite collecting spots, on the way from St Mary’s Cathedral to Mount Vernon cemetery. It’s hard to imagine the scenes being repeated any time soon.

Galleries not joining in Christsmas fun?

Looking at Edinburgh’s Christmas, it’s remarkable how little encouragement there is to take in the many wonders that the National Galleries and Royal Scottish Academy have to offer.

Admittedly, the ongoing building work which has caused Underbelly so many headaches does get in the way, but then wouldn’t that be a good reason to entice some of the large number of visitors, some of whom might not know what’s behind the grand columns, to venture past the gypsy fortune teller’s caravan.

The Galleries’ Contini café looks as busy as ever, but anyone would think the National Galleries wants nothing to do with Edinburgh’s Christmas.

Surely not – Underbelly apparently has a very good relationship with the National Gallery on London’s Trafalgar Square where they run the two-day London Live theatre promotion event right on its front door.

Edinburgh’s Blitz Spirit

Spirit of the Blitz and all that… first it was autumn leaves blocking drains and gutters and now it’s the snow and ice – we’re all being urged to help keep the city’s streets clear.

Like lots of people I usually clear the pavement outside my house, but it seems the more council tax we pay the more we have to do ourselves. Thank goodness those LED streetlights are long-lasting or we might have to shin up lamp-posts to change the bulbs.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston ward