Poison pen councillor plans political comeback in East Lothian

A FORMER high-flying councillor who was at the centre of a scandal over poison-pen letters about fellow Labour politicians is bidding to return to local government.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 8:44 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 10:22 am
Brian Weddell

Brian Weddell, who served as Edinburgh’s finance and then housing convener and was once tipped to become council leader, has been chosen as a candidate in East Lothian at next year’s elections.

In 1999, he was found to be the author of an anonymous letter sent to Radio Forth, claiming three senior Labour colleagues – the then-Lord Provost Eric Milligan and fellow councillors Brian Fallon and Elizabeth Maginnis – had used air miles acquired on council business for private trips.

An investigation found no evidence to support the claims, but a copy of the letter found its way to the Lord Provost, who had the handwriting analysed and named Mr Weddell as the author.

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He flatly denied writing the letter, but an internal Labour Party investigation concluded Mr Weddell was responsible and recommended he remain a backbench councillor for at least a year.

Mr Weddell emigrated to Spain to run a bar on the Costa del Sol in 2003, but returned to Scotland four years later and has been living in Prestonpans since 2009.

He began his political career in 1990 when he was elected to Lothian Regional Council and switched to the city council when the region was scrapped five years later.

Now Mr Weddell is director of a social enterprise CPP Seminars Scotland, which runs policy events, and has been a member of Prestonpans community council for the past two years.

He has been selected as one of Labour’s three candidates in the four-member Preston, Seton and Gosford ward at next year’s East Lothian Council elections.

He will be standing alongside council leader Willie Innes and former East Lothian MP Fiona O’Donnell.

Mr Weddell said he did not believe the poison-pen scandal would have any effect on his campaign.

He said: “There was an investigation carried out and I wasn’t disciplined. I made a positive contribution during 13 years as a councillor and was supportive of the administration. I don’t see it as being an issue or detracting from the campaign at all.”

Mr Weddell said he had recently been focused 
particularly on the issues of health and social care.

“There is a huge challenge ahead for health and social care provision in Scotland,” he said.

“The money is not being put in. We are struggling to support young people and our elderly population.

“East Lothian has a double whammy because its elderly population is growing and we’ve also got more young people with all the new houses being built – schools are bursting at the seams.

“I feel I can make a contribution, given my previous experience in local government.”

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