Edinburgh council leader turned away from Canada flight over ‘embarrassing’ paperwork error

EDINBURGH’s council leader and a top finance official were turned away from a flight after an “embarrassing” paperwork mix-up led to a trip to Canada being cancelled at the airport.

Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 8:25 pm
The pair were due to fly to Montreal

Adam McVey and the authority’s executive director of resources, Stephen Moir, were unable to attend a Smart Cities conference in Montreal and a meeting with Canadian-based IT contractors CGI, the company in charge of the troubled revamp of the council’s 
technology systems, after the gaffe.

A travel company was responsible for the mistake and will foot the bill.

Last week, Cllr McVey was set to speak on behalf of the Lord Provost, who had been invited to address the Smart Cities event – while Mr Moir was due to meet with IT bosses from CGI.

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Although the duo had an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for Canada, they did not have the United States version, which was required for their change of flight in the US.

Cllr McVey said he was pleased the mistake gave him more time to deal with local issues.

He said: “The irony is a three-day trip, of which an entire day would be on an aeroplane, to speak at a wellbeing conference wouldn’t have been great for my own personal sense of wellbeing.

“While I had a packed itinerary, I’m a little relieved that the travel agent made the mistake they did, meaning I had three extra days last week working for my constituents.”

But opposition councillors have blasted the mix-up.

Conservative Cllr Callum Laidlaw, said: “It’s clearly very embarrassing for the council leader and the executive director of resources.

“While the travel company may reimburse the flight cost, the wasted time will not be recouped. And some may question why our cash-strapped council is sending its leader and senior officers jetting off to a conference in Canada, especially after the council’s declaration of a climate emergency.”

Mr Moir had permission from the chief executive to take part in the meeting with CGI, while Cllr McVey had approval by both the SNP and Labour groups to attend on behalf of the Lord Provost.

But Cllr McVey’s permission from councillors was set to be agreed retrospectively after the invitation fell between two meetings of the authority’s corporate policy and strategy committee.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang, said: “It’s pretty embarrassing to have the leader of the council and one of our most senior officials refused travel to another country, especially one as friendly as Canada. A council spokesperson said: “The error regarding the travel visa for the United States was made by the travel booking firm who are paying for any costs incurred. There is no cost to the council taxpayer.”