Suspended councillor cashing in

Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.

Councillor Alastair Cranston has been suspended for three months – but he’ll still collect his salary of more than £300 per week.

In a move which is sure to be unpopular with council tax payers, the Hawick and Denholm member will still be paid approximately £310 per week, despite being barred from all council, committee and sub-committee meetings from yesterday (Thursday) until mid-January. He will be able to carry out constituency work and the Hawick News understands that Mr Cranston is considering handing back some of his allowance when the suspension is up.

On Friday he was judged by the Standards Commission for Scotland to have breached the councillors’ code of conduct in relation to the non-declaration of interests during a vote on green waste collection in December.

The Hawick News tried to contact Mr Cranston, but we were unable to reach him by telephone. In an email yesterday morning, he told us: “My apologies for being unavailable when you called yesterday.

“Maxine, Bob (the Cocker Spaniel) and I are heading up to Arisaig, returning on Saturday, October 25. Need the break, been a bit traumatic for the family. My fault.”

A statement released by Scottish Borders Council a few hours after Friday’s hearing read: “This matter has been fully investigated through the appropriate channels and we note the decision of the Standards Commission for Scotland.

Following last Friday’s verdict, Mr 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 December 12, 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.”

One Scottish Borders councillor told the Hawick News: “A fully-paid, three-month suspension gives out the wrong message to hard-working and hard-pressed members of the public.”