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New council finance chief after taxi expenses scandal

Councillor Lezley Marion Cameron claimed back money for trips to the pub and cinema.

Edinburgh: Councillor Joan Griffiths, top right, will replace councillor Lezley Marion Cameron.
Edinburgh: Councillor Joan Griffiths, top right, will replace councillor Lezley Marion Cameron.

Edinburgh's deputy Lord Provost has been appointed as the new vice-convener of finance and resources after councillor Lezley Marion Cameron quit amid a taxi expenses scandal.

Councillor Cameron was found to have claimed back money for trips to the pub and cinema.

Her bill of nearly £1500 since May 2017 made up 23% of the total amount of taxi fares put on expenses by councillors in the capital.

The Labour councillor charged for 80 separate trips in the space of a year, including more than 50 from or to her home.

Cllr Cameron said the two cinema trips to see Outlaw King and Avengers: Infinity War were on behalf of Film Edinburgh, connected to her council role.

She resigned ahead of being sacked by her party colleagues after losing the support of her political group.

Councillor Joan Griffiths will now take on the new position - the third Labour member to hold the title this year, after Marion Donaldson resigned as a councillor in January amid allegations she was being bullied.

Councillor Griffiths will work alongside SNP finance and resources councillor Alasdair Rankin.

Councillor Griffiths said: "I really enjoy being deputy Lord Provost, which I still am, but it's really good to get my teeth into a policy area.

"With finances for local government the way they are and the dire straights it is in, I am looking forward to the challenges it will bring and I do hope we can work together to get a balanced budget for the city of Edinburgh.

"We lurch from year to year and it's very difficult to manage services with a one-year budget. The fact we are going to a three-year budget is really good for the city."

Labour group leader, councillor Cammy Day, welcomed councillor Griffiths taking on the role.

He said: "Joan is an experienced member of the Labour group so I look forward to her leading the change for us as we go through the next budget process as well as continuing her role as deputy Lord Provost.

"Joan will be working with Alasdair to make sure we can balance the books and I'm sure she will keep challenging the Scottish Government's continued lack of funding for local government."

Councillor Cameron will not be taking on a new role at this time.

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