Edinburgh's housing chief kicked off council's scrutiny committee

A senior SNP politician has been kicked off the city council’s scrutiny committee after opposition councillors forced a change of the rules.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 3:21 pm
SNP housing convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, Picture: Neil Hanna Photography

A senior SNP politician has been kicked off the city council’s scrutiny committee after opposition councillors forced a change of the rules.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang won support from Green and Conservative councillors in agreeing a new rule – meaning conveners and vice-conveners can no longer sit on the authority’s governance, risk and best value (GRBV) committee. The move means SNP housing convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, has been barred from the committee, which she has sat on since May.

Cllr Lang said: “GRBV has a leading role in scrutinising the administration. I think the committee does a lot of really great work and scrutiny.

“It was my understanding that there was an unwritten rule that senior members of the administration didn’t serve on GRBV. You can argue that it is somewhat wrong to sit on the main committee that is leading the scrutiny of you and your work. I think it’s a simple point of principle.”

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Cllr Campbell said she has been told by Cllr Lang that it was “nothing personal”.

She added: “This amendment means the committee in charge of challenging the administration won’t be challenged back by policy leads with detailed knowledge of policy areas.

“It would prevent the committee in charge of scrutiny from having its own processes scrutinised.”

Bit GRBV convener, Conservative Cllr Joanna Mowat, labelled the accusation “a trumped up charge and it’s unworthy”.

SNP Cllr Ian Campbell told opponents that he was allowed to serve on GRBV without any resistance when he was the council’s culture vice-convener.

Council leader Cllr Adam McVey accused opposition councillors of being “terrified of Cllr Kate Campbell” and says there are “enormous double standards at play” and “it could look like “a personal attack.

He added: “This is the second time that certain members of the opposition have discovered a very serious governance issue only when it affects one of the adminstration’s most effective members.

“It does seem a little bit like opposition are trying to push that effective member out of decision making.”