SNP council leader in ethics probe for tweet after Edinburgh cyclist was injured by wire strung across a path

The leader of Edinburgh City Council is being probed by an ethics and standards watchdog.

By Joseph Anderson
Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 2:12 pm

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Leith SNP councillor Adam McVey is being investigated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner following a tweet in relation to an apparent attempt to injure cyclists.

On March 19, Councillor McVey shared a report from STV News, detailing an incident where a 47-year-old man was injured by a wire placed across the Newcraighall public park cycle lane in Craigmillar.

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Complaint: Adam McVey

As well as sharing the article, councillor McVey commented: “The is appalling [sic].

“Those spewing a poisonous campaign against children cycling safely & #SpacesForPeople projects need to take responsibility for their behaviour, reflect & change.”

The council’s administration has come under considerable pressure from some residents who oppose its ‘Spaces for People’ scheme, which comprises temporary traffic measures designed to allow more space for walking and cycling during the coronavirus pandemic, and which may become permanent following a public consultation.

'Absolutely outrageous' - Councillor Jason Rust

The council has routinely been accused of being ‘anti-car’, but has also been criticised by some sustainable travel campaigners for not going far enough, and installing safer, more segregated cycling routes.

Councillor McVey’s tweet attracted criticism from several Conservative councillors, including the council’s Conservative group leader, councillor Iain Whyte, who wrote at the time: “If we take his argument to its logical conclusion what are the results?

“Does he think that youths terrorising Lothian Buses staff and passengers are a politically driven guerrilla brigade of anti-public transport activists?

“Is their ‘opposition’ to public transport somehow inspired by ‘Tory Scum’?”

Now, following several complaints made to the Ethical Standards Commissioner, which upholds ‘high ethical standards in public life’, the watchdog has confirmed it is investigating the council leader.

In a letter sent to one of the complainants, who wished to remain anonymous, the Ethical Standards Commissioner’s investigating office wrote: “Your complaint has been accepted for investigation.

“Thank you for the time spent in compiling the complaint material you sent to us.

“Based on the information provided, I will be investigating the following complaint:

“On 19 March 2021, Councillor McVey tweeted a comment which implied that those who campaigned against the spaces for people project and against children cycling safely were responsible for an incident which occurred on a cycle path resulting in injury to a cyclist.

“The complaint is based on the information available at this time and our understanding of that information.

“The complaint may change as the investigation progresses and further information becomes available.

“You have not stated what part(s) of the code you consider have been breached. I am considering the complaint in terms of part 3.2 of the code, which states ‘you must respectyour colleagues and members of the public and treat them with courtesy at all times whenacting as a councillor’.”

In response, councillor McVey said: “Unfortunately I’m not allowed to comment at this stage but I look forward to doing so when this concludes..."

Conservative councillor for Colinton and Fairmilehead, Jason Rust, said, “I am unsurprised that there have been complaints.

“Clearly the SNP and Labour Spaces for People agenda is controversial and their approach has not properly taken local residents’ views into account.

“Sadly, due to their intransigent approach the debate has become somewhat polarised and it is incumbent on us all, especially those in leadership, to ensure our language is measured and actions are reasonable and mature.

“Rather than being inflammatory, comments should be based on evidence.

“It is absolutely outrageous and unbefitting for anyone to equate peaceful democratic opposition to aspects of Spaces for People which is impacting on their daily lives with totally unrelated acts of irresponsible behaviour and criminality.

“It will not stop those of us with legitimate concerns from continuing to question and scrutinise the council’s approach and some reflection is evidently needed.”

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