Hawick councillor suspended over breach of code

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A Hawick councillor has been suspended for three months after admitting “an error of judgement” and breaching the councillors’ code of conduct.

SNP member Alastair Cranston debated and voted on an issue when he should have declared a business interest.

His suspension was confirmed following a hearing of the Standards Commission for Scotland at Scottish Borders Council’s headquarters in Newtown St Boswells on Friday morning.

The panel said the businessman should have declared an interest and withdrawn from the room until the debate about rural recycling and renewable energy had concluded on December 12, 2013.

It found the 64-year-old former Scottish rugby international – who has represented the Hawick and Denholm ward since 2012 – had been involved in discussions about anaerobic biogas digestion, a gas-generating process in which his two companies specialise.

Councillor Cranston accepted he had breached the councillors’ code of conduct.

The hearing panel suspended Councillor Cranston’s entitlement to attend all council, committee and sub-committee meetings of Scottish Borders Council, effective from next Thursday, October 16, for a period of three months.

Following the verdict, councillor Cranston said: “I now fully recognise that I should have declared an interest and not been present at a particular discussion in the meeting of the full council on 12 December, 2013.

“I accept I have breached the Code of Conduct as a result of an error in judgement.

“There was no intention in any of my actions to make a financial gain for myself personally or for my business.”

Hawick-born Cranston was capped 19 times for Scotland at rugby.