SBC in Cranston expenses probe

Councillor Alastair Cranston
Councillor Alastair Cranston

An internal probe has been launched into SNP councillor Alastair Cranston’s expenses claims following last week’s Hawick News story.

The Hawick and Denholm councillor has had almost 50 expenses claims disallowed since he was elected in May 2012.

The investigation was this week prompted by Mr Cranston’s own political group leader and Tweeddale East councillor, Stuart Bell, who has asked SBCs monitoring officer Brian Frater to re-examine the Hawick member’s claims.

In a statement this week, Mr Bell said councillors were responsible for ensuring that all claims were legitimate and that they follow the council’s guidelines. He added: “We have a procedure and it is up to individual councillors to see that they follow it. I do not know the details of Councillor Cranston’s expenses claims, but I am led to believe that there has been a misunderstanding, on his part, as to how the system operates.”

He added: “Any failure, or misunderstanding, on Councillor Cranston’s part is an issue which he needs to sort out with the council’s monitoring officer and I have asked the monitoring officer, Mr Brian Frater, to investigate all aspects of Councillor Cranston’s expenses.

“If Councillor Cranston needs some help with or clarification of the proper procedure, or if he is at fault, it is up to the monitoring officer to take appropriate action.”

Mr Cranston was suspended from the council for three months in October at a Standards Commission hearing after he failed to declare an interest during a renewable energy debate a year ago.

Kelso Tory councillor Tom Weatherston had submitted a written question which he hoped would be raised at yesterday’s full council meeting but it was disallowed as a result of Mr Frater’s investigation. The question asked council leader David Parker: “Do you share our group’s 
disgust at an elected member claiming expenses to attend Councillor Elliot’s funeral.”

In a short statement to the Hawick News this week, a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “We are looking into all the issues which have been brought up on this matter.”