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OMBUDSMAN RULES AGAINST EDINBURGH IN TENANCY CASE AMID ALLEGATIONS OF BREACH OF COUNCILLOR CODE OF CONDUCT

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Edinburgh City Council has been ordered to pay compensation to a woman who was denied a council house after a Labou...
Edinburgh City Council has been ordered to pay compensation to a woman who was denied a council house after a Labour councillor allegedly abused his position.

The Scotsman (p3) reports that in a finding to be published soon, Frederick Marks, the commissioner for local administration, has concluded that the council's handling of the housing application was maladminisration.

He has found in favour of Christina Farquhar, who failed to obtain a ground-floor pensioner's cottage despite being top of a particular area's council house waiting list.

It is alleged that David Brown, a councillor, had successfully intervened at a private meeting of the council's house lettings committee to ask that another applicant, the mother of a friend, be given the tenancy.

Mr Brown has been suspended from the ruling Labour group and told to resign. An internal inquiry by senior council officials accused him of 'clear and serious' breaches of the local government code of conduct because he did not declare a personal interest in representing the woman, who was not his constituent.

The council comes in for criticism in the ombudsman's report for failing to follow proper procedures in its handling of the application. Mr Marks will recommend that the council pays£250 to Mrs Farquhar.

Mr Brown, who refused to resign, has denied acting unlawfully or improperly, claiming that he had merely followed the practice of the house lettings committee. The council has since scrapped the committee.

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