Complaint Number: LA/E/1907

Date case started: 30 May 2016

Decision issued: 16 May 2017

Allegation against: Councillor Steve Cardownie

Complaint Categories: 3.5, 5.12


Nature of allegation

Breach of the provisions in the Councillors’ Code of Conduct set out in section 3 (General Conduct), Section 5 (Declaration of Interests) and Annex C (Protocol for Relations between Councillors and Employees) of the Code.


Decision by Commissioner

Decision that Councillor Steve Cardownie had not contravened the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.


Details

Complaint no. LA/E/1907 concerning an alleged contravention of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct by Councillor Steve Cardownie of the City of Edinburgh Council

 

1. Complaint number LA/E/1907 alleged a contravention of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct (“the Code”) by Councillor Cardownie (“the respondent”).

 

2. It was alleged that the respondent hadcontravened the Code, in particular, paragraph 3.5 of the Code and paragraph 20 of Annex C to the Code, and paragraph 5.12 of the Code.

 

3. The complaint asoriginally submitted alleged a number of failures by the respondent to declare non-financial interests arising from a close friendship or association with a named individual.  The underlying allegations were later retracted by the complainer and the absence of substantive evidence of a relationship such as would have required declaration led me to conclude that this aspect of the complaint should not be pursued.

 

4. The remainder of the complaint related to public comment made by the respondent to the press, which the complainer alleged amounted to comment on the conduct or performance of Council officers.

 

5. The First Allegation: On 3 May 2013 an article published in the Edinburgh Evening News noting the poor condition of Princes Street Gardens included quoted remarks attributed to the respondent. The respondent did not address his comment to specific officers and no complaint had been made by staff who might have had responsibility for rectifying the problem.  The criticism was of a general nature and confined to the press comment rather than expressed in the course of direct interaction with individual officers.  The respondent had expressed a personal opinion and a desire that a solution be found to rectify a persistent problem within the Gardens.  His use of the term ‘unacceptable’ related to the condition of the ground rather than the conduct of those responsible for its maintenance. I did not consider that the respondent’s remarks amounted to comment on the conduct or capability of officers and found accordingly that the respondent had not breached the terms of paragraph 20 of Annex C to the Code.

 

6. The Second Allegation:  On 18 June 2013 the Edinburgh Evening News published an article which quoted the respondent as commenting on the handling by officers of an application to use Leith Links by the organisers of the Moon Walk event.  The term ‘unacceptable’ was again attributed to the respondent.  While this implied criticism of the process and urged officials to act promptly, the comment was not directed at individuals and no complaint had been received from the officers involved.  The context was a comment on an unsatisfactory process rather than of the conduct or capability of specific officers.  I found accordingly that the respondent had not breached the terms of paragraph 20 of Annex C to the Code.

 

7. The Third Allegation:  On 6June 2014 the respondent was quoted in the Scotsman on the condition of Princes Street Gardens.  He expressed concern that the gardens could be put out of commission if the problem of flooding persisted and urged that a solution be found.  There was an implied criticism of the Parks Department in their attribution of bad weather as the cause of the flooding, and an assertion that the issue resulted from poor drainage.  No criticism was made of specified officers and again no complaint had been made from those officers with responsibility for the maintenance of the Gardens.  The respondent’s comments did not refer to the conduct or capability of specific officers and I found therefore that the respondent had not breached the terms of paragraph 20 of Annex C to the Code.

 

8. Having considered the information that arose from my investigation, I concluded that Councillor Steve Cardownie had not contravened the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.

 

Bill Thomson

Commissioner

 

Thistle House

91 Haymarket Terrace

Edinburgh

EH12 5HE

 

16 May 2017


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