Hinds given ultimatum over position on bus board

Lesley Hinds has been on the Lothian Buses board ever since a row over Ian Craig's management style. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Lesley Hinds has been on the Lothian Buses board ever since a row over Ian Craig's management style. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Workers at Lothian Buses have threatened to withdraw their support from Councillor Lesley Hinds’ Scottish Parliament election bid over her handling of a boardroom row at the firm.

The Lothian Buses branch of union Unite has called on the city transport leader to leave the position on the board of the company that she was parachuted into just three weeks ago. It is understood staff at the company also want Unite support for Cllr Hinds’ bid for a seat in the Scottish Parliament to be withdrawn, potentially dealing her a serious blow in a marginal constituency and delivering a “huge coup” to the SNP, according to an insider.

Being dropped by the union could mean Cllr Hinds’ campaign is shorn of financial aid and volunteers at a time when a surge in SNP support is putting even safe Labour seats under pressure.

Cllr Hinds is standing in Edinburgh North and Leith at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, where current MSP Malcolm Chisholm is standing down. Mr Chisholm only beat his SNP challenger by 595 votes in 2011, making it the seventh most marginal seat in the 129-member Scottish Parliament.

An insider with knowledge of the Labour Party said: “It would be a financial dent to her, although the politics of it would be far bigger than the financial implications.

“For Unite to withdraw their endorsement from such a high-profile candidate, in one of the few seats that Labour can realistically look to hold on to at the next Holyrood elections is a huge coup for the SNP. It could potentially swing things.”

This week Unite’s Glasgow HQ issued a statement criticising the handling of the dispute between executives at Lothian Buses, which saw chairwoman Ann Faulds deposed after she recommended the dismissal of chief executive Ian Craig following a grievance procedure against him.

However, a statement issued by the Joint Trade Union Committee (JTUC) at Lothian Buses went further, calling for Cllr Hinds to be removed from her role on the board of Lothian Buses.

The union leadership said “questions remained unanswered” following a meeting on Wednesday with council leader Andrew Burns, deputy transport convener Adam McVey, Cllr Jason Rust and Cllr Hinds.

In its statement, the JTUC said it is “deeply concerned” at the dismissal of “a solicitor of the stature and unquestioned reputation of Ann Faulds, the most highly regarded chairman of Lothian Buses for many years.”

It concludes: “The JTUC unanimously agree that the council should have accepted the recommendation by Ann Faulds and the non-exec directors. The JTUC unanimously agree that Lesley Hinds should not hold any position on Lothian Buses’ board, advisory or otherwise.”

A spokesman for Unite in Glasgow said it had not yet received any request to withdraw support from Cllr Hinds’ election campaign.

Cllr Hinds did not comment when she was approached by the Evening News.