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Contractors face bribery allegations in Edinburgh council scandal

A BBC Scotland programme is set to reveal evidence of possible fraud and allegations of contractors offering bribes in an investigation of Edinburgh City Council.

The BBC says it has uncovered evidence that the council was employing firms not on their list of framework contractors for works as well as overcharging for work with poor quality results.

It claims the fraud unit at Lothian and Borders Police is currently investigating the council’s property conservation department, which deals with statutory notices.

Over the past year about 15 of its officials - nearly half the department - have been suspended in a move the council described as “precautionary”. The local authority has also called in Deloitte auditors to carry out an investigation, which is still ongoing.

The council has recently been slammed over its decision to row back on the city’s trams project only to announce a reversal of that decision after a public outcry.

Labour councillor Ewan Aitken, former leader of Edinburgh City Council, told the BBC that he had concerns contractors were “lining their own pockets” and adds that cases under the council’s statutory notice system, under which the council can order repairs to private homes, need to be reviewed as far back as 2005.

City of Edinburgh Council director of services for comunities Mark Turley said: “The ongoing independent investigations by Deloitte and the police mean it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to carry out an interview.

“The fact that we commissioned Deloitte to carry out a very thorough investigation is a sign of how seriously we take the complaints and concerns that have been raised and our commitment to addressing them.

“We fully recognise that the public should know the results of these investigations and they will be reported to a meeting of the council once we are in a position to do this.”

BBC Scotland commissioned two experts - quantity surveyor Gordon Murdie and structural engineer John Addison - to examine cases where work was carried out under the statutory notice system.

They concluded that the residents had been over-charged, and that some of the repairs were unnecessary, of poor quality and may actually have made the buildings worse.

Scotland’s Property Scandal will be broadcast on BBC1 Scotland tonight at 10.35pm.


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