South Lanarkshire COALcil » Uncategorized » Councillor’s Expenses under Review as Scandal Just Won’t go Away

Councillor’s Expenses under Review as Scandal Just Won’t go Away

Hamilton Advertiser article here.

COUNCIL chief executive Archie Strang called in the auditors to check councillors’ expenses after a bitter row that was inevitably dubbed ‘Torbaygate’.

It erupted in early October and followed the incident in which finance department staff lost £102,000 to African conmen in a bank details scam.

There were fears the staff responsible might face disciplinary action.

Corporate committee chairman Hugh Dunsmuir subsequently sent an e-mail to Mr Strang, copying in 4000 council staff.

It asked why finance staff faced disciplinary action when it was “widely known” that SNP Group leader Anne Maggs had claimed expenses illegitimately in 2005 for attendance at a conference on waste in Torbay, south of England.

Mr Strang said at the time that no one had been “disadvantaged or disciplined” over the conman incident.

However, he asked external auditors PricewaterhouseCooper to review arrangements for processing, approving and paying expenses to councillors from April 2005, to August this year.

As the probe got underway more details came to light about the Torbay conference, plus a series of allegations and counter allegations.

Community resources chairman Gerry Convery, a senior Labour Group member, said councillor Maggs claimed £249 first class rail fare for the trip to Torbay even though he drove her there and back.

Councillor Maggs said a year later councillor Convery claimed first class rail fare for the same journey but travelled there and back in a council official’s car.

The SNP Group leader said five years ago fiddling expenses among South Lanarkshire councillors was rife, and added: “At the time I am accused of fraud, every councillor attending a conference outwith Scotland would be handed the cost of first class rail fare, plus the standard accommodation allowance.

“Councillors were not required to produce tickets, receipts, etc.”

Councillor Convery insisted he went by train to the 2006 conference and accused councillor Maggs of gutter politics.

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