Monday 18 November 2013

Dossier On Municipal Corruption Released by the 100 Promises Campaign

This dossier outlines a variety of cases of malfeasance in public office.  Some of the allegations may indeed be criminal.  Many are within the letter of the law but certainly outside of the standards we might expect of public officials.  Some of the stories were already - at least in part - in the public domain, but have never been collated together before.  Several are entirely new allegations, which we have come by either by means of eyewitness testimony, or by our own investigations.  Where we rely solely on witness testimony we have made this clear.  It is not our intention to defame or besmirch the reputations of any individuals, and we are more than willing to recognise that witness testimony may be partial or insincere, so throughout this dossier where we are relying on witness testimony we make this clear.  Some of the allegations however we believe to be watertight evidence of malfeasance.

All of the stories have come to light after the re-election of Glasgow Labour last May.  Were we to have included the Purcell revelations, historic payouts, and the widely acknowledged criminal actions of the previous Labour administration not only would this dossier have become unwieldy, it would have been unfair.  We understand that the present Labour administration should be judged only upon its merits, and we are fully aware that the honour of speaking at the Labour conference earlier this year demonstrates the faith that Johann Lamont has placed in Gordon Matheson in particular, as a man to lead a change at Glasgow City Council.

It is in that spirit, the desire to deal decisively with malpractice and malfeasance that threatens to derail Labour's 100 Promises, and mire the City in apolitical sleaze, that we have produced this document.  As a campaign based on promoting political accountability we did not know who would win the last election when we formed.  We accept that Labour has a mandate for action on its - in places excellent - manifesto, and seeing it enact its progressive promises is now our raison d'etre.  It was with great sadness that we felt we had to compile it.  We were challenging the Council to enact its policy on combined heat and power, while the OSCR report into the £500,000 Ronnie Saez payout was released and more or less ignored by the Council. Despite the report describing the payout as "misconduct," neither Councillor George Redmond, nor Councillor Jim Coleman were ever dealt with, and the Council did not ask for the money to be returned.  We felt we had a duty to investigate.  What we uncovered showed a web of business links in the East End concerning Redmond, Saez, the former Council leader and former MSP Frank McAveety, and other Councillors and business and family associates.  Then the cancellation of the City's chief combined heat and power project over what can only be described as malfeasance demonstrated to us that real accountability could only happen when these issues were being discussed constructively in the public domain.  Following the Council refusing to meet with the campaign to discuss these revelations we have come to the conclusion that these matters merit a public inquiry.  As our investigations grew we began to see a pattern of malfeasance across the City Council.  We have collated this dossier to enable a real debate about the true extent of this problem.  We commend to you this dossier.

Executive Summary

* Mismanagement and Corruption involving Intermediate Labour Project (ILM); an eye witness claims he saw the Head of Employability Services at Glasgow East Regeneration Agency of the council, Gary Hay abuse the GERA administered ILM fund and project to provide work for individuals he had friendly relations with. Our witness says he saw ILM funds used to provide a cheap workforce on behalf of a construction company with links to Labour.

* A charity linked to the Council in the East End of Glasgow is under investigation by Audit Scotland.  The complaint alleges it is managed by Gary Hay.  Board members include relatives of Councillor George Redmond, Councillor Frank McAveety and Councillor Yvonne Kucuk.  The Audit Scotland complaint alleges fake board members and fraudulent payouts to board members.

* Councillor George Redmond, Councillor Yvonne Kucuk, Councillor Frank McAveety, Ronnie Saez, and a range of business and family associates are all business associates.  Most of these commercial relationships substantially predate the GERA £500,000 payout to Saez and have continued years after.

* Despite very unfavourable public impressions, which include the perception that David Crawford acted inappropriately during the closure of the Accord Centre, the 54 year old outgoing social work boss David Crawford retired on a £600,000 severance package.  This adds to the perception of malpractice, and at a time of stringent budget cuts affecting users of the social work department's services it seems particularly inappropriate.

* A clear case of malfeasance: Council department boss Robert Booth has apparently engaged in insider trading with his brother's firm Viridor (derailing ‘combined heat and power’ greener, more affordable energy across the city by years) and retired on a bumper severance package immediately afterwards.

* The Council systematically tells homeless people it has a statutory duty to house that there is ‘no accommodation available’ A Freedom of Information Act response from the council shows that this occurs 23.8% of the time, in clear breach of Scottish Government rules.

* SEC Ltd, which runs the SECC has a debilitating high payouts culture.  SEC is a private company whose majority shareholder is Glasgow City Council.  According to a number of Councillors the firm is loss making.  Nonetheless the firm paid the highest salary of *any* public official this year.  It also made significant payouts to Councillors who were on the Board of the firm for less than 12 months.  In two payments Councillor Redmond was able to charge over £10,000 for his leadership services to the loss making Council controlled company.

* Margaret Jaconelli who was evicted from her bought house in 2011, whose home was compulsorily purchased to make way for the Commonwealth Games has never been paid any CPO money.  Mrs Jaconelli's home was valued at over £90,000.  The Council told her she had to accept a £30,000 payout by way of compensation.  Years later she has not received any compensation at all, but was forcibly evicted from her home by police, acting on behalf of the Council.  The campaign has been told that others in Mrs Jaconelli's position have not come forward to claim compensation because they fear reprisals from East End Councillors.  We cannot verify if this is true, but if so it is an indictment of the relationship between the local authority and its Citizens.

* George Square revisited: The affair led to a police investigation, and other legal action against the Council, and according to recent press it may return to the Courts. The failed consultation process cost Glasgow taxpayers almost £100,000.

* In the past few days two officials have been suspended following financial irregularities.

* We highlight the profiles of two Glasgow Councillors: George Redmond and Sohan Singh whose commercial and public affairs we believe merit much greater scrutiny.

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