Edinburgh Council workers suspended over fraud inquiry

Edinburgh City Council Five members of staff have been suspended from Edinburgh City Council

Five members of staff at Edinburgh City Council have been suspended amid a police probe into an alleged housing repair fraud investigation.

The employees are from the property conservation team that deals with the issue of statutory repair notices.

Edinburgh City Council said the complaints were "potentially of a very serious nature" and led to staff being placed under precautionary suspension.

The suspensions were not an indication of guilt, a spokesman added.

It follows the suspension of a worker in the same department in November.

He was suspended over claims he received money from a firm for awarding them contracts without putting the work out to tender.

'Properly investigated'

Mark Turley, Edinburgh City Council's director of services for communities, said: "The complaints being looked at are potentially of a very serious nature.

"We're determined to ensure that they are investigated independently as a matter of urgency to allow the service to move forward."

An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: "Five members of staff in the council's property conservation section have on Wednesday been placed under precautionary suspension.

"Under the council's code of conduct, precautionary suspensions are not an indication of guilt but rather a measure to ensure that matters can be properly investigated.

"An external expert has been appointed to undertake these investigations and will work closely with the council's internal audit team and Lothian and Borders Police.

"The investigation will cover possible breaches of codes of practice as well as a number of other matters including more general, operational concerns about the service."

Edinburgh City Council issues about 3,000 notices a year affecting 37,000 residents of private properties.

One group of residents in the Piershill area received an initial estimate of £130,000 only to find the bill rise to almost £500,000.

In Edinburgh there is currently an estimated £1.4bn worth of outstanding repairs to tenement buildings.

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