Edinburgh SNP councillors get through vetting to be approved candidates for May council elections

Two senior SNP councillors have been given the go-ahead to stand for re-election in May despite being made to go through extra vetting.

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Lord Provost Frank Ross and planning convener Neil Gardiner were both called back for second interviews by an SNP vetting panel before being added to the party's list of approved candidates.

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Many other sitting SNP councillors got through to the approved list without being interviewed at all.

Lord Provost Frank Ross got through the SNP vetting process

Sources said the vetting process had now been completed and all the party's existing councillors in Edinburgh had been approved as candidates.

It is now up to all candidates to apply to local branches for selection to stand in particular wards for the council elections on May 5.

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An SNP insider said the process was likely to get under way this week and it was hoped it would be known by the end of the month who was standing where.

The Evening News revealed last month that three senior sitting councillors who had clashed with the leadership of the SNP group on the council had been required to go through an interview while colleagues were approved without being quizzed.

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Cllr Neil Gardiner has been approved to stand again at the May elections.

As well as councillors Ross and Gardiner, Southside/Newington councillor Alison Dickie had to face questions from the vetting panel.

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She later resigned from the SNP group and stood down as education vice-convener. She now sits as an independent.

It is understood the vetting procedure includes the panel receiving reports on would-be candidates from their branch and, in the case of existing councillors, the group leader.

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But group leader Adam McVey denied any suggestion he had sought to block the three councillors from standing again.

Councillor Ross, who represents Corstorphine/Murrayfield, was leader of the SNP group before being ousted by Councillor McVey after the 2017 local elections. He resigned as a director of Marketing Edinburgh, along with the rest of the board, in 2019 after the council axed its funding. And he angered SNP colleagues when he abstained on the council’s budget in 2020 because it failed to include a commitment of cash for a community centre in his ward.

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Councillor Gardiner, whose ward is Pentland Hills, is said to challenge the leadership regularly behind closed doors in group meetings. And he stood up for Councillor Dickie at a full council meeting last year when she was branded "Miss Marple" in a jibe by Labour group leader Cammy Day over her persistent questioning over the council's response to a whistleblowing case.

Councillor Dickie has been outspoken in her comments over whistleblowing at the council and found herself at the centre of tensions in the SNP group over a forthright piece she wrote for the Evening News in September last year, expressing concern about the handling of whistleblowing allegations and calling for "full accountability for any wrongdoing".

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She has not gone into detail about the reasons for her resignation from the group, saying only she had "an increasing number of significant concerns".

The SNP is the last of the main parties to select their candidates for the May elections. Most of the Labour, Conservative, Green and Lib Dem candidates are already in place.

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