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Former Lord Provost to repay quarter of expense claims

Eva Bolander intends to return £2053.71 after she claimed for clothes, shoes and makeovers.

Expenses: Eva Bolander (right)
Expenses: Eva Bolander (right) Glasgow City Council

The former Lord Provost of Glasgow is planning to repay a quarter of the £8000 in expense claims that led to her resignation - covering the cost of "personal" items.

Councillor Eva Bolander intends to return £2053.71 after she claimed for clothes, shoes and makeovers to perform her civic duties.

The figure was released following a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Ms Bolander will repay the money under an agreement with Glasgow City Council, starting from December 17 and it will be returned to the council's budget.

She said: "During my term as Lord Provost and Lord Lieutenant I represented the city at around 800 occasions. The spending I incurred to fulfil my position was within the rules of the Civic Allowance, following guidelines and advice at all times.

"However, as I stated at the time, there were items which I should have chosen not to reclaim and I gave a public commitment to repay some of the allowance claimed.

"Following discussions with the Executive Compliance Unit, I have agreed to repay a proportion, which covers any item that could be considered personal in nature, alongside a contribution to cover the costs of some of the other items I was reimbursed for." ​

Councillor Bolander apologised for her actions and resigned at a full council meeting last month.

She was entitled to claim up to £5000 a year for items in her role as Lord Provost, a title she held from 2017.

Labour criticised Councillor Bolander saying it wasn't "appropriate to charge the taxpayer for kitting herself out with a new wardrobe" when services are being cut.

They dubbed her the Imelda Marcos of Scottish politics after the shoe-obsessed former First Lady of the Philippines.

Labour's Councillor Martin McElroy has since said: "I think most people would agree that Councillor Bolander claimed for items that she shouldn't have so it is right that she is paying money back."

Her claims included £1150 for 23 pairs of shoes, £665 for five coats, £751 for ten haircuts, £240 on hats and £479 on nail treatments.

In a letter to councillors before her resignation, she said: "In submitting claims, I have always tried to ask myself the question, 'would I require this if I were not Lord Provost?' Each has been made in good faith and scrupulously accounted for, within the rules.

"Although the spending incurred was within the rules, on reflection there are items which I should not have chosen to reclaim.

"I am sorry about that and I am in discussion with financial services to come to an arrangement to repay the relevant expenditure."

Despite the controversy, Nicola Sturgeon described Ms Bolander as an "excellent Lord Provost for the City of Glasgow". However, she also said it was "the right decision" to apologise and repay some of the money.

Story by local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

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