AN EDINBURGH City Council officer has been sacked as part of a £30 million local government corruption probe.

The senior member of staff was caught asking a council repairs contractor for a holiday loan.

The local authority's Property Conservation division, responsible for repairs to domestic and commercial properties, is in meltdown amid a raft of allegations about its staff.

Police and external auditors have been investigating claims that council employees diverted building repair jobs to favoured contractors and accepted bribes.

The external companies that carried out the repairs have faced accusations of grossly overcharging homeowners and charging over the odds for bogus or sloppy work.

Seven staff have so far been sacked, while around 14 are currently suspended.

It has been estimated that nearly £30m has been paid out to firms for repair work in the last five years.

This newspaper has learned that a council officer lost his job earlier this year after making an inappropriate request to one of the local authority's contractors.

The staff member, who was coming up for retirement, asked the unnamed firm for a four-figure sum after the corruption probe began.

He is believed to have requested the loan after being short of funds for a holiday.

The company, which did not hand over the money, raised the alarm with the council.

An investigation into the allegation was followed by the employee being removed from his post.

Last year, the BBC also reported claims that a council officer had gone on holidays paid for by a contractor.

Edinburgh has a unique statutory notice system in which the council can intervene to organise repairs for private properties.

The local authority adds a 15% levy to any fee charged by the companies that carry out the work.

All non-urgent repairs have been put on hold in the city while investigations remain ongoing.

A report by auditors Deloitte has been completed, but is not available for public consumption.

Ewan Aitken, a former Labour leader of the council who has raised concerns on behalf of constituents, said: "While I am grateful that this case has been resolved, I believe other activities have gone on that are even more serious. The people of Edinburgh continue to pay a high price while this uncertainty continues."

Stefan Tymkewycz, who is standing for re-election as an SNP councillor in the city, said: "I have had many people contact me over the statutory notice system, some of whom have approached me in tears. As the councillor who first raised concerns about the system, we can look forward to the police inquiry being concluded at the earliest opportunity."

Mark Turley, the council's director of services for communities, said: "Since Property Conservation transferred to me last year I have been determined to eliminate all unacceptable practices.

"This is one example and illustrates how seriously we are taking this matter. I am grateful for the public's continued patience while we make every effort to resolve this issue and deal with the concerns that have been raised. Ultimately, our aim is to restore confidence in an important system for ensuring the quality of our housing and built heritage."

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said the investigation was ongoing but would be finished imminently.