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Council chiefs attacked over thousands spent on Tattoo trip

It ranks alongside the Royal Boxes at Ascot, Wimbledon and Covent Garden as one of those places you go to as much to be seen as to see.

Marketed at the having the "best seats in the house", the Queen's Gallery at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is usually populated by bankers paying at least £300 a head to get the best view of swirling kilts and droning pipes.

However, the elite perch on the Castle Esplanade is now at the centre of a row as the SNP accused Glasgow's Labour councillors of wasting thousands of pounds on an annual trip to the capital.

Figures obtained under ­Freedom of Information laws show that successive lord provosts have chalked up an annual bill of around £1500 on transport and fine dining as they carry out their "duty" representing the monarch at the event with dozens of guests.

Glasgow SNP councillor Graeme Hendry yesterday attacked the practice, which dates back at least a generation. Mr Hendry said: "Twenty years after Pat Lally mentioned this freebie in his autobiography it looks like nothing has changed in Glasgow.

"While I am all for building strong relationships with Edinburgh, it is hard to justify spending £1500 a year taking the usual suspects for a salute in the Royal Box then dinner when there are no obvious benefits to Glasgow.

"If this practice is to continue, we should be taking front line staff and Glaswegians who deserve recognition for the hard work they have done for the city instead of the so called great and good."

Last year Lord Provost Sadie Docherty and her husband, Willie Docherty, the former head of controversial council spin-off firm City Building, hosted a £1200 dinner for invited Tattoo guests at the Norton House Hotel, just outside Edinburgh.

Those attending included the deputy leader of Glasgow City Council, Archie Graham, husband of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, and an unspecified guest. Two other senior Labour councillors, James Scanlon and Jonathan Findlay also attended with guests, as did senior council executives Annemarie O'Donnell and Brian Devlin. Two members of staff were also in attendance, although council sources said they were 'working'. Eight others were at the dinner and event. They were described as "invited guests". A total of 22 people were at the dinner at a cost of about £55 per head. They travelled in two minibuses hired from the council's own Land and Environmental Services department at a cost of £367.

About the same sum was spent in 2012 when Mrs Docherty and her husband were joined by Glasgow Council leader Gordon Matheson and a guest, two senior Labour councillors, Green member Nina Baker, and finance director Lynn Brown, all with partners. Again there were just eight invited guests.

The number of such non-council invitees has fallen in recent years. Former Lord Provost Bob Winter was joined by 17 such individuals in 2011 and 12 in 2010. Sources suggest these included dignitaries from Glasgow's historic Trades House.

A spokesman for the City Council stressed that attending the Royal Gallery was part of the Lord Provost's work as the Queen's representative in Glasgow and was a mark of the local authority's respect for the British military.

A spokesman said: "It is one of the duties of the Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow to take the salute from the royal box on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

"The city values its relationship with the armed forces and is proud to have been given the opportunity to show Glasgow's appreciation and respect for serving personnel and veterans."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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