Statutory repairs scandal: City seeks clarification

Procurator Fiscal to be asked to clarify police findings. Picture: Neil Hanna
Procurator Fiscal to be asked to clarify police findings. Picture: Neil Hanna
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COUNCIL bosses are to seek reassurances from the Procurator Fiscal that no further criminal action is being taken over the statutory repairs scandal.

The council’s governance, risk and best value committee agreed to the move yesterday after being quizzed during a closed meeting over Police Scotland’s handling of the case.

It is understood the committee want clarity on the reasons for the police findings and to guarantee the threat of criminal proceedings is over.

The initial police report into the scandal found no-one liable to face criminal charges from the property conservation department.

The scheme had involved the local authority sending in contractors to carry out communal repairs without the consent of homeowners, who were subsequently billed for the work.

A separate inquiry resulted in 17 people being charged over allegations of criminal conduct at the council’s property care department.

Director of services for communities Mark Turley will carry out the committee order. Committee chair Councillor Jeremy Balfour said: “It’s important that the governance committee is reassured that it has sufficient and up-to-date information on issues facing the council.

“The purpose in asking the director to seek that from the Procurator Fiscal is simply so that the committee can be satisfied as to the stage that matters have reached.

“I’m sure the police have investigated all issues thoroughly in relation to both property conservation and property care.”

A Police Scotland spokesman reiterated that no criminal charges had been laid under the initial investigation.

The need for reassurance has come with council leader Andrew Burns revealing 124 complaints linked to the property repair scandal are yet to be resolved and could still have “financial implications”.

He said a lot of the cases could end up being written off, but refused to estimate a likely bill or deadline for the process.

Cameron Rose, leader of the city’s Conservatives, said: “It has been such a scandal that it is inevitable there will be liability for which the council has to foot the bill.

“I’m concerned that the figure is unknown at the moment. I think there’s still a lot more work to be done and perhaps information to come out.

“I’d be surprised if the bill doesn’t run into the millions.”

A report released last month by auditor Deloitte pointed towards “serious and wide-ranging management failure” that led to the local authority being £30 million in debt. Unbilled work has since been reduced to about £22m.

Corruption allegations included that staff received gifts and hospitality from building contractors and had work done on their own homes for below market value.

As a result of an internal investigation, 11 people were sacked and six suspended.