Row erupts over claims Edinburgh Lord Provost ‘cosied up’ to housebuilders

LORD Provost Frank Ross was today at the centre of a row over allegations he plans to use the City Chambers to promote the interests of a commercial company.

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 6:40 pm
Lord Provost Frank Ross. Contributed

It follows an invitation sent out from the Lord Provost’s official e-mail address, asking about a dozen councillors to a presentation by housebuilder Miller Homes on its “vision” for West Edinburgh. The event is scheduled to take place in the Lady Provost’s Room at the Chambers on June 26.

But Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the move was “wholly inappropriate” and warned against “cosying up” to developers.

He said: “It’s deeply inappropriate that the prestige and civic offices of the council should be used to host private companies who have a commercial interest in developing parts of our city.

“Edinburgh needs housing but there has to be a healthy distance between the people making decisions about that housing and the suppliers so that all decisions can be taken without any suggestion of favour or influence.

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“Miller Homes have been quite open for some time about their wish to build potentially thousands of homes in West Edinburgh, particularly around Kirkliston, on land currently designated as green belt and therefore against current council policy for development.

“When the council is green-lighting unwanted housing developments in places like Cammo against the wishes of local communities, to see the city leadership cosying up to developers in this way will leave a bad taste in the mouth of people who have campaigned tirelessly against these developments.

“Outside observers may view this meeting as something of a cosy cabal.”

The invitation was sent to the councillors for Almond ward, Drum Brae/Gyle and Corstorphine/Murrayfield as well as the planning convener and the conveners and vice-conveners of the transport and education committees.

It said: “The Lord Provost would like to invite you to attend a presentation from Miller Homes who will be sharing their vision for Edinburgh West and to discuss different transport link options/other infrastructure challenges.”

Lib Dem councillors Kevin Lang and Louise Young confirmed they would not be going to the event.

Councillor Ross, said: “As a local a councillor I believe it is in the interest of my constituents to keep myself abreast of developer plans, especially in the west. This is something all councillors do and is not an endorsement of anything.

“I was approached some time back as a west of Edinburgh councillor by Millers who wished to present their plans for land they owned in the west. I suggested that this should be expanded to include all west of Edinburgh Councillors in order that the same information is received by other members.

“They agreed and I have contacted these councillors to let them know.

“Should Alex Cole-Hamilton wish to attend and receive the same update, in the interests of the local people he represents, he is welcome.”