The Capital’s vice finance chief at the centre of a taxis expenses scandal has resigned – as it emerged she was previously sent a letter from her own authority asking to pay up council tax that she owed.
Labour Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron was set to be sacked by her party colleagues next week after her group leader, Cllr Cammy Day, urged her to consider her position after losing the support of her political group. It is thought Cllr Cameron will take on a different role in the administration – but it is not yet know what that could be.
Cllr Cameron was under pressure to quit after the Evening News revealed she tallied up almost £1,500 on taxis in the last two years – including two trips to the cinema, the Vue at the Onmi Centre and Cineworld at Fountainbridge. She also charged taxpayers for a round trip to the Barrellhouse Bar and Grill on London Road and to a political Labour meeting. It has now also emerged that Cllr Cameron was one of four city councillors who owed the authority council tax.
It is not know how much Cllr Cameron owed herself, but the four councillors from across the political spectrum owed the authority £1,605 between them - with letters sent out.
Last night, Cllr Cameron insisted she has not broken any rules over council tax and stressed it happened long before she was vice convener of finance and resources. She has spent part of this week on a business trip to Stockholm as her role as a director of the EICC, along with officials and SNP Cllr George Gordon – but returned in time for Thursday’s finance and resources committee, her last as vice convener.
A Labour insider said she had “doubled down” on the taxi issue and had lost the support of the group over the issue.
The source added: “It’s really not been helpful. We live in different times now. The public expect certain standards and we must be ever so careful what we do, especially when public money is involved.”
Conservative Cllr Susan Webber, who first asked questions of all councillors’ taxi use, said that Cllr Cameron should no longer be in a position of leadership.
She said: “I’m almost relieved that Cllr Cameron has at long last resigned her position as vice convenor of the finance and resources committee
“When we get elected we ask people to trust us with good stewardship of the public purse. If members, including Cllr Cameron in this particular instance, are blind to this and cannot recognise their wrong doing, then they cannot and should not be in leadership positions such as this.”
It is not know yet, which new role Cllr Cameron will take on or who is being lined up to replace her as vice convener of finances.
Cllr Day said the calls for his colleague to resign had been “politically-driven”.
He added: “Earlier today I received a letter from Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron, asking that I, together with Labour group colleagues, consider her request that she move from the role of vice convener of finance and resources to another role befitting of her experience, skills, knowledge and abilities.
“Knowing that Cllr Cameron lives with chronic health issues and being mindful of the impact of recent press and social media coverage on these conditions and Cllr Cameron’s overall mental and physical wellbeing, I have agreed to accept Cllr Cameron’s request which will now be considered by the Labour group.
“Some recent coverage has been purely political, and we cannot allow this to detract us from dealing with the real issues of addressing poverty, sustainability and wellbeing of our city.”
Cllr Cameron's health issues are personal and Cllr Day confirmed she did not want to speak to the media about the situation. She insists that the council tax arrears was paid back "immediately".