Calls for Edinburgh Council's vice finance chief to quit over cinema and pub trips taxi bill

The city council’s deputy finance chief is facing calls to quit after claiming almost £1,500 of taxpayers’ money for taxis and then telling officials to “be watching every penny spent wisely”.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 07:00 am

Labour Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron tallied up £1,450 in the space of two years on taxis – including trips to the pub, the cinema and to a Labour party political meeting. The vice finance convener also has a bus pass worth £665, paid for by the public and a free parking space in the city centre.

At Thursday’s finance and resources committee meeting, Cllr Cameron told officers to make sure the authority was getting value for money from contractors who are drafted in her certain projects.

Conservative Cllr Susan Webber, who initially tabled a question to council about how much was being spent on taxis, has now called for Cllr Cameron to consider her position.

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Cllr Cameron claims that two cinema screenings she used free taxis for were as her council role in connection with Film Edinburgh. But Cllr Webber attended the same showing of Outlaw King on behalf of Film Edinburgh – but travelled there and back on the number 44 bus.

Cllr Webber said: “It is undoubtedly a concern that a small number of councillors seem to have significantly higher taxi use than others. This is despite our own policy clearly stating that they should only be used when ‘public transport is not be readily available’.

She added: “Given the remarks made by Cllr Cameron regarding watching every penny spent wisely, I am further saddened by such direct blatant and open hypocrisy.

“Our citizens have every right to be angry and to call for Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron to resign her position.”

The party’s finance spokesperson, Cllr Neil Ross, said: “Given the current financial difficulties of the council, it is even more important that residents have faith in their elected representatives.

“This is especially true of the vice convener of finance and resources. Given everything, I think now is the time for her to consider her position.”

Cllr Cameron, who said she will repay the private journeys, could not be reached for comment on her future.

Labour group leader, Cllr Cammy Day, will be telling his councillors to ensure mistakes are not repeated.

He said: “I will be reminding the Labour group next week that taxis should only be used as a last resort. No-one should be using taxis for personal reasons.

“Going forward, I will be getting a monthly update for taxi usage from the Labour group.”