Cranston’s cash claim for Elliot’s funeral

Councillor Alastair Cranston.
Councillor Alastair Cranston.

SNP Councillor Alastair Cranston charged council taxpayers £6.45 in mileage to attend Zandra Elliot’s funeral and has had almost 50 expenses claims rejected.

And two days before Councillor Elliot’s funeral, the Hawick and Denholm member tried to claim the same amount for travelling from his Lilliesleaf home to sign her condolence book in the town hall.

Mr Cranston, who was elected to Scottish Borders Council in 2012 and is currently serving a three-month suspension following a standards investigation, has also tried to claim mileage for attending lunch and a pre-rugby sevens function at Mansfield Park.

Further disallowed claims include numerous meetings of Hawick Community Rugby Trust and Common-Riding-related functions and ride-outs, as well as meetings with nationalist MSP Paul Wheelhouse. And despite assurances that this April’s twinning trip to Bailleul in France was to be self-funded, Mr Cranston claimed £45 for the journey to and from the airport.

One SBC insider said: “Mr Cranston’s expenses claims have certainly raised a few eybrows across here. Some of the things he has claimed for are ridiculous and some of the things he has been paid for are totally unacceptable.”

And despite being barred from claiming mileage within his ward, the former Greens and Scotland centre had numerous claims both paid and dismissed by SBC. Mr Cranston has also claimed, and been paid for, mileage expenses from Lilliesleaf to St Boswells to hand in his expenses claim forms.

When the Hawick News spoke to Mr Cranston on Thursday, he said: “I just have to stop putting daft things in like I have been doing.

“I have always been slow at putting in my expenses. I live outside my ward and it is one of the largest rural wards in the region. I just have to be reminded what I can and can’t claim for.”

Asked about his claims linked to Mrs Elliot, the rugby trust, functions at Mansfield, the Common-Riding and the French trip, Mr Cranston, who was keen to point out there had been no attempt at dishonesty, added: “I am now going to have to be very careful in future and I can’t put in anything inappropriate.”

Asked why he has made no expenses claims since July, he said: “I am just not good at getting this thing done.”