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Cinema trips among council chief’s £1500 taxi expenses bill

Edinburgh finance vice-convener Lezley Marion Cameron said she would repay personal trips.

Lezley Marion Cameron claimed her taxi fare to see Avengers: Infinity War.

A leading councillor has been criticised for claiming nearly £1500 of taxi fares on expenses.

Lezley Marion Cameron, vice-convener of finance and resources at Edinburgh City Council, claimed back money for trips to the pub and cinema.

Her bill since May 2017 makes up 23 per cent of the total amount of taxi fares put on expenses by councillors in the capital.

The Labour councillor charged for 80 separate trips in the space of a year, including more than 50 from or to her home.

Cllr Cameron said the two cinema trips to see Outlaw King and Avengers: Infinity War were on behalf of Film Edinburgh, connected to her council role.

She said: “I’ll repay the personal trips. I will use a taxi if I’m running late or if I’m asked at short notice to sub for a colleague. I don’t know how personal ones have ended up on there.

“I’m one of the busiest councillors and I have a lot of meetings across the city both for constituents and my role in the administration.

“On a strictly personal note, I have also used black cabs in the course of fulfilling my council duties when, for health reasons, when driving or going by bus isn’t an option and, given the variable and extensive hours of working. Sometimes for reasons of personal safety, I take a taxi.”

Labour group leader, Cllr Cammy Day, added: “Anybody who uses taxis for personal reasons should not be charging the taxpayer for it. She has a responsible position within the administration and I’m sure she will do the right thing.”

Opposition parties called for Cllr Cameron to apologise.

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said: “This money could have been put to much better use to help a variety of causes – opposed Cllr Cameron using it for her own personal life. I hope Cllr Cameron will apologise and the money which has been wrongly claimed must be paid back to the council.”

Lib Dem finance spokesperson, Cllr Neil Ross added: “I think councillors have a duty to act responsibly and remember that every penny spent on travel is money not being allocated to core public services.”

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