Glasgow's SNP Lord Provost should resign and pay back the expenses she has claimed, opposition politicians have demanded, after it was revealed today the city's ceremonial leader had spent £8000 on clothing and beauty products.
Eva Bolander's spending over two years, detailed in today's Daily Record, showed the Provost had splashed out on 23 pairs of shoes, six jackets, five coats, underwear, haircuts and nail treatments.
She also reportedly spent £500 in one shopping trip to John Lewis, a spree which was denounced as being "far more than a worker on national minimum wage earns in a week".
The revelations come as Glasgow City Council, of which Ms Bolander is the civic head, is cutting £2.6m from its homelessness services, as its struggles to make cuts totalling £40m across all services. It has raised council tax, reduced bin collections and made hundreds of council staff redundant in recent years. It is also facing legal action after being accused of illegally denying temporary accommodation to the homeless.
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Between May 2017 and August 2019, it is reported Ms Bolander claimed £1150 for 23 pairs of shoes, £665 for five coats, up to £374 for six jackets and nearly £415 for eight pairs of trousers.
The taxpayer was also charged £389 for two sets of Harris Tweed fabric and £992 for 14 dresses, £435 for seven blazers, £143 for four skirts and unidentifiable items cost £824.
Her predecessor, Sadie Docherty, made no charge on the public purse between May 2015 and May 2017 but she has claimed for more than 150 items totally £8224.
Today, Scottish Labour MSP James Kelly, who represents Glasgow on the regional list, said: “While services for homeless people across Glasgow are being cut, the SNP Lord Provost has been touring the city in a grotesque spending spree at the taxpayers’ expense.
“In just one trip to John Lewis she spent far more on herself than what a worker being paid the national minimum wage earns in a whole week.
“Eva Bolander should pay back the money and resign.”
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The National Minimum Wage for workers over the age of 25 is £8.21 per hour, so an average week of 35.5 hours work would equate to a pay packet of £291.50 before tax.
Mr Kelly's Labour colleague, Monica Lennon MSP, tweeted: "Aside from the and designer gear, Lord Provost Eva Bolander charged the taxpayer for her underwear, tights, make-up and trips to the nail bar. Her £8,000 fashion spending spree would have funded 72 school clothing grants. She should resign."
And Glasgow North East Labout MP Paul Sweeney, said: "My constituents will be appalled that the civic head of our city has been indulging in such excess when critical services are at breaking point. People are dying homeless on our streets because the Council won't fund beds for them. The Lord Provost must now consider her position."
Tory MSP Annie Wells, who also represents Glasgow on the regional list, said: “For any politician to think they can claim something like this on expenses is a joke.
“It’s not even one or two misdemeanours – these revelations show a pattern of behaviour which will be completely unacceptable to council tax payers in Glasgow.
“She must now do the right thing and stand down – there’s simply no way she can continue in this senior role after these reports. She also owes the people of Glasgow an almighty apology.”
And Scottish Conservative group leader in Glasgow City Council, Thomas Kerr, added: “Everyone understands that there are some costs associated with conducting civic functions on behalf of the city
“But the revelations today show that the choices made by the Lord Provost are beyond excessive. It is self-evidently not necessary to dress in designer clothes and shoes or receive nail treatments funded from the public purse in order to be an effective representative for Glasgow.
“At a time when the SNP are slashing funding to local government and services in our communities are under so much pressure, it is an obscene waste of taxpayers’ money and grossly unfair for the Provost to be spending more in one day than most workers earn in a week on a spending spree at John Lewis.
“The SNP came to power in Glasgow two years ago promising to end the excesses of Labour rule in the city and bring transparency, openness and accessibility to the running of the council. It’s clear now more than ever that the rhetoric has failed to match the reality and that SNP hypocrisy is equalled only by their extravagance when someone else is footing the bill.
“The Provost needs to consider if her position is tenable as Glasgow's civic head as the people of the city will inevitably have lost faith in her ability to conduct her duties in an appropriate manner.
Ms Bolander represents a Glasgow council ward that includes Anderston and Yorkhill.
Last year Ms Bolander was criticised for accepting the donation of a Rolls Royce Ghost from businessman Boyd Tunnock for the use of city representatives for appropriate civic duties as well as VIPs requiring transportation.
And in March this year the council came under fire for spending more than £2.5million on receptions in the past five years. Details revealed Ms Bolander spent £2,389 on alcohol since taking office in 2017.
Today a council spokesman said: “The national committee that oversees councillors’ pay recognises that the requirement to represent their city at hundreds of events means Lord Provosts often incur personal expenses.
“For that reason, the Scottish Government allocates a civic allowance to each council. For Glasgow City Council, this is subject to a yearly maximum of £5000.”