Councillor in Legoland trip row urged to refer himself to watchdog

The chief of Aberdeenshire Council Martin Kitt-Hayes is embroiled in a row over a trip to Legoland. Picture: AP
The chief of Aberdeenshire Council Martin Kitt-Hayes is embroiled in a row over a trip to Legoland. Picture: AP
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A Scottish council co-leader who ditched his Legoland chalet in disgust during a trade trip to Denmark has faced calls to refer himself to a public standards watchdog.

Martin Kitt-Hayes, who heads up Aberdeenshire Council with Richard Thomson, was due to attend a North Sea networking event at the brick-themed amusement park in the town of Billund along with two colleagues earlier this month.

But the councillor walked out of their ‘wild west’ themed log cabins just two hours after checking in, branding the facilities “basically sheds”.

The delegation, made up of SNP councillor David Aitchison and the council’s European policy and programme manager Martin Brebner, then flew back to Scotland after claiming they were unable to find other suitable accommodation nearby.

The opposition group at the local authority yesterday filed a motion calling for chief executive Jim Savage, who has already agreed to investigate the group’s absence from the North Sea Commission, to also look at any damage done to the council’s reputation.

Opposition group leader Jim Gifford said other elected members and the public would have been “shocked” to hear about the “non-trip”.

And he said limiting the chief executive’s subsequent inquiry to just establishing the facts about their sudden departure would be like something out of an episode of political comedy Yes Minister.

Addressing the council chamber, Mr Gifford said: “It has been reported that an alternative was offered ten miles away but that wasn’t going to work because of the distance.”

A subsequent amendment was made to the notice calling for Mr Kitts-Hayes to also refer himself to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland over his conduct.

The chief executive’s investigation is expected to be completed by the end of July.

Mr Kitts-Hayes has since claimed “full responsibility” for the decision to return, and said that he would be writing to the organisers of the North Sea Commission to apologise for their absence.

A spokesman for Legoland said that no official complaints about the standard of accommodation had been made to staff by the party.