The scam run by council employees on the owners of Edinburgh tenement flats is still spiralling. (Part I, January.) A fifth council employee was sacked at the end of March and the Scotsman quoted an anonymous “inside source” a few days ago claiming that people aren’t paying their statutory notice bills because they didn’t know if they’d been scammed by them.
Gordon Murdie appeared as the Quantity Surveyor expert on a BBC programme in September last year, “Scotland’s Property Scandal”. (Quantity surveyors manage all costs relating to building and civil engineering projects, from the initial calculations to the final figures.) He also gave a presentation on statutory notices at the Minto Hotel, which is available online here. Murdie is the managing director of Quantus QS, a quantity surveying firm in Edinburgh. He is standing for election in Southside/Newington as an Independent, specifically on the statutory notice scandal.
The very cynical side of me says about Gordon Murdie standing is that it’s a good advert for his firm – and wonders if he’s realised that if he wins, the firm of which he is managing director will have to stop doing council business. Gordon Murdie can’t sit on Edinburgh Council and have a firm which is so closely connected with him involved with council actions. Whether lawful or not, it would not fit with the platform he’s standing on.
In February, Gordon Murdie called on the Scottish Government to
initiate a full public enquiry into the statutory notice scandal, which left hundreds of city property owners concerned that they may have overpaid for repairs to their homes.
Gordon Murdie writes in the Scotsman (last Saturday)
The council is in an unholy mess of its own making, and thousands of affected owners have suffered immeasurable emotional and financial stress – and their only mistake was to trust the council.
In a private meeting last December, I was assured the council’s position was one of “transparency” and they had no option other than to hold up their hands, apologise and work openly with all involved to sort the mess out. New computers were apparently on order and a “complaints team” was being formed.
The enormity of the task is clear, but its implementation is very disappointing. It has become an investigation by the council into the council for the council – and not one single project has been “resolved”.
“Transparent” has moved through translucent, then opaque, to totally obscure.
Whether Gordon Murdie really stands a chance as an Independent in Newington/Southside pretty much depends on him. The results in 2007 were thoroughly mixed – the Labour councillor got in at round 7 and the Conservative, LibDem, and Scottish Greens all three got in at Round 9 of the count. He’s got a Faceboook page and a newsletter and he’s on Twitter as @GordonMurdie – but what would win it for him if anything does is being able to make his case in person.
I will say that after the trams and the tenements and the traffic jams and the privatisation plans which the council spent four million on, it would be worthwhile having someone on the council who had some experience in looking at a project’s costs and implications and saying “No, that’s not going to work.” Whether Gordon Murdie can do that, I have no idea and this is not my ward: I don’t know if I would vote for him if I could: if it was my ward, I’d want to ask him where he stands on issues that matter to me – in the privatisation fight, every councillor mattered.
No one party expects to gain control of Edinburgh Council after 3rd May. There will be need for cross-party cooperation whoever wins. But I think Gordon Murdie has the possibility of being an interesting candidate, and if I lived in the Newington/Southside ward, I’d definitely want to find out.
(If you don’t know if you’re registered to vote, check on AboutMyVote by 18th April.)