Delay over decision on Cranston probe

Hawick Rugby Trust's Alastair Cranston
Hawick Rugby Trust's Alastair Cranston

The investigation into a councillor’s expenses has been completed but no action will be taken for at least two weeks due to the absence of a council official.

Hawick and Denholm member Alastair Cranston hit the headlines in December after the Hawick News revealed he’d claimed £6.45 to travel to the funeral of the late Councillor Zandra Elliot.

Mr Cranston also made several claims for rugby and
Common-Riding-related trips as well as journeys to St Boswells to hand in expenses claims.

The Hawick News lodged a media request in early February asking when the investigations would be completed. Initially, we were told it would be wrapped up by the end of the month.

However, it appears any decision on whether Councillor Cranston faces sanctions or if he will be forced to pay back any of the cash will be delayed until the end of March.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said a decision would not be made for at least another two weeks due to the absence of a council officer and added: “We cannot comment further on the findings of the internal investigation into Councillor Cranston’s alleged inappropriate expenses claims until a decision has been made on whether action is required, which we expect to be made shortly.

SBC’s website displays up-to-date expenses claims for many of the 34 Borders councillors but claims by several members, dating back many months, are not available.

Mr Cranston’s claims for the past seven months are not open to public scrutiny despite the fact they may have been paid.

The council spokesperson added: “Several councillors, including Councillor Cranston, have not submitted claims for expenses for a number of months but are being encouraged to do so by our democratic services team who are working to get all claims they receive onto the council website.”

An SBC insider told the Hawick News yesterday (Thursday): “The council have handled this in the worst way possible and the longer it takes the less confidence the public have in the councillors, the council and the current administration.”