Senior Edinburgh councillor axed from housing role as coalition feud finally ends

The city’s vice convener of housing, who is not on speaking terms with her coalition partner, has been axed from her job.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 7:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 7:50 pm
Lezley Cameron, Labour councillor

Labour Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron is set to be moved from her current role and will instead become the vice convener of finance and resources, following the resignation in January of Labour Cllr Marion Donaldson.

Cllr Mandy Watt will replace Cllr Cameron as the Labour lead for housing.

An insider said the relationship between Cllr Cameron and Cllr Campbell “has not worked, full stop” and added that “Lezley’s behaviour has been difficult”.

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Cllr Kate Campbell. Pic: Neil Hanna Photography

In November 2018, it was revealed that Cllr Cameron and the SNP housing and economy convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, were “no longer on speaking terms” following a bust-up between the duo. This followed another incident earlier last year when Cllr Cameron “stormed out” of a meeting with community representatives and developers.

It is believed the economy brief could be moved from housing to the council’s corporate police and strategy committee in a proposal to be agreed next month. The Labour group has also formally selected Cllr Cameron as their candidate to take over as the new chair of the EICC.

Cllr Cameron said: “It’s a new opportunity to work hard for Edinburgh. I will absolutely make the case for the capital city being resourced properly to manage economic growth.

“I’m keen and looking forward to it. It’s a huge areas of the council, given the pressures on our budget. I’m still going to be instrumental in driving forward the economic strategy.

“I will still want to make sure we have the resources available and be innovative and be more income-generating by working more in partnership with the private sector.”

The new finance and resources convener wouldn’t be drawn on the breakdown of her relationship with Cllr Campbell. She added: “It’s not my style to talk about that. I look forward to working with fellow councillors right across the board.”

Cllr Watt is looking forward to becoming the housing vice convener and help fight for rent pressure zones, curbing Airbnb-style short term lets and continuing the pledge to build 20,00 affordable homes.

She said: “The council has a really good housebuilding project in the pipeline and it needs to be really well thought-out.

“Housing is something I feel really strongly about. We have to work together for the good of the city. I will be trying to build the strongest possible relationships with like-minded people who want to achieve the best housing prospects for everybody.”

Cllr Campbell welcomed her new deputy to the role.

She said: “Mandy is a principled politician and a fighter for social justice.

“I’m very much looking forward to working with her to deliver the coalition commitments for the people of Edinburgh.”