Labour councillor breached government and NHS guidelines in visit to emergency council centre
A controversial councillor allegedly broke government, council and NHS guidance by visiting an emergency-only ‘resilience centre’ to ask how lifts in multi-storey flats were being cleaned.
Lezley Marion Cameron, who resigned from her position as vice convener of finance at Edinburgh City Council last year after it emerged she had expensed £1,500 in personal taxi journeys to the council, travelled to the council resilience centre on Thursday 9 April.
The Labour member said she was on her weekly errand run when she visited the centre to check how staff were faring and to raise constituency issues, however council sources said she ‘barged’ her way into the South East centre on Captain’s Road to speak to council officers.
A formal ‘incident’ was then logged by a council officer at the centre, which was passed to the Labour group leader and deputy leader of the council Cammy Day via senior officers.
Cllr Cameron insists she did not break any social distancing guidelines while she was in the centre, however this was disputed by council sources and council rules state that the centres should only be entered in an emergency.
She said: “My unscheduled and brief call into the Resilience Centre was made with the very best of intentions as a local Councillor seeking to represent the interests, questions and concerns of my constituents and to convey in person and ahead of the Easter holiday weekend, my sincere and grateful thanks to our resilience centre staff for their commitment and hard work during this difficult and challenging time.
“I have received no written notification from any Council officer regarding the logging of an incident, and I remain unaware of the nature and content of any incident which has or may have been reported.”
Councillors have been told to only raise issues through a VIP email address, via phone, or through their group leaders if urgent, and to not attempt to enter the resilience centres.
At 7pm on the same day as the incident, Cllr Cameron tweeted: “Please let’s all abide by the advice, especially over the #EasterWeekend. It’s in all of our interests to do so.
“#StayHomeSaveLives People need to use their common sense’”
Cllr Cameron had also liked a tweet on April 5 which stated the former chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood, had made a “serious error of judgement” by visiting her second home in Fife, a decision that led to her resignation.
A council insider told the Evening News that the incident meant Cllr Cameron had acted in a “self-entitled” manner and that the rules are there for everyone including councillors.
They said: “It beggars belief that an administration councillor would travel to a local office at this time against not only council guidance, but government and health advice and be acting in this self-entitled way without a thought as to risks.
“Frontline staff are under sufficient pressure without this sort of behaviour, even under normal circumstances.
“Rules are there for everyone, councillors included.”
The leader of the Conservative group, Iain Whyte, said councillors should be setting an example.
He said: “We can all make mistakes but it seems like she let her emotions get the better of her when trying to solve an issue for people.
“It is really critical that everyone takes heed of government advice and observes that, and councillors should be setting an example.
“If a councillor has failed by that and it is in council premises, she should be apologising to the staff and making it clear publicly not only that it should not happen again but that they have failed in following the advice that everyone should be following.
“It is a matter for the Labour Party and they have to consider that this is the right kind of representation they want and whether it reflects well on their party as well as the individual.
“Cllr Cameron may want to think about things very carefully but ultimately it is a matter for the public at the next election.”
Councillor Day said that Cllr Cameron accepted that she had made a mistake and that it will not happen again.
He added that Cllr Cameron had been on her weekly shopping trip where she also goes shopping for a few constituents and dropped in to the resilience centre to raise a few issues.
Cllr Day told the Evening News: “I have spoken to Cllr Cameron about the incident and she did attend the local office.
“On a Thursday, Cllr Cameron goes out to do her and other local people’s shopping and she popped in to the council office to ask a couple of constituency questions and commend the staff on their efforts. She stressed to me that she did observe the social distancing rules at all times.
“I have reminded her that she should not be going to the resilience centre at all. Enquiries can go through email, phone, or urgently through me and she should not attend the centres for any reason.
“She accepts that if she has done something wrong it will not happen again and I have reminded her of the rules.”
Edinburgh City Council declined to comment.
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