Edinburgh former Lord Provost Frank Ross resigns from licensing board over hotel interest

Former Lord Provost Frank Ross has had to resign from Edinburgh's licensing board just a few weeks into the appointment after it was discovered he had business interests which disqualified him.

By Ian Swanson
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 1:50 pm

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It comes five years after he was censured by the Standards Commission for failing to declare his 82 per cent shareholding in a Highland hotel in his council register of interests.

Councillor Ross, who was Lord Provost for five years up until last month's elections, was appointed to the licensing board at the first full council meeting of the new session on May 26.

But an item at Thursday’s (June 30) council meeting notes he has resigned, as has fellow SNP councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, and councillors are asked to appoint members in their place.

One source said: "The SNP nominated Frank Ross to the licensing board and he went through his training and everything, but he has had to resign because of his business interests.

"Last time he got in trouble he told us he had forgotten about his hotel, now it seems he didn’t realise being involved in the hotel means he couldn’t be on the board. If you're involved in the trade you cannot sit on the licensing board, so he has had to resign."

The report to the council says newly-appointed members cannot take their place on the board until they have completed an external training course and passed an examination.

Frank Ross was Lord Provost for five years up until the May local elections.

And it goes on: "A councillor who is a premises licence holder, or the employee of a premises licence holder and works as such in licensed premises, whether alone or in partnership with another person engaged in the business of producing or selling alcohol, or a director or other officer of a company so engaged or an employee of any person so engaged and working as such in that business, shall not act as a member of a Licensing Board for any purpose under the Act."

In 2017, a complaint was made against Councillor Ross after it emerged his register of interests did not include his stake in the ownership of the Silverfjord Hotel in Kingussie.

Public records showed Cllr Ross and his family set up Silverfjord Kingussie Ltd in February 2015 and the company paid £160,000 for the 11-bedroom hotel in October 2016.

Cllr Ross, his wife and their son and daughter were the company's directors, with Mr Ross owning 82 per cent of the shares and the other family members owning six per cent each.

Cllr Ross accepted he should have registered his shareholding and claimed he had completed a handwritten document declaring it and placed it in the council's internal mail system. However, the council found no record of it and the hearing panel noted he had not checked to confirm whether his register of interests had been updated. The Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life carried out an investigation and concluded he had breached the councillors' code of conduct. He was censured by the Standards Commission.

The council said Cllr Ross could not serve on the licensing board because he is a director of a company that holds a premises licence.

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