FOUR former council employees and 11 contractors have been charged by police investigating corruption claims at a Scottish local authority.

The arrests were made by officers from Lothian and Borders police looking into alleged illegal activity at the City of Edinburgh Council's property services.

The former council workers are all men, aged between 42 and 62, who worked at the Property Care Department. The other nine men and two women are aged between 30 and 64. All have been charged in connection with corruption, fraud and money laundering offences.

All 15 arrests were made in connection with a wider police inquiry into the council's property services department, but are not linked to the Statutory Repair Notice investigation.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "Our investigation into alleged corruption and fraud involving former employees of City of Edinburgh Council's Property Care Department has resulted in a number of individuals being charged.

"The four former employees have been charged with alleged corruption and fraud with regard to repairs carried out at council buildings in Edinburgh. As part of the same enquiry, nine men and two women have been charged with alleged fraud, corruption and money laundering offences."

Edinburgh councillor Ewan Aitken said: "I believe this is the first of many arrests. Anyone who has conducted fraud against the people of Edinburgh should be brought to justice."

A police report has also been submitted to the procurator-fiscal following an investigation into the operation of the Statutory Repair Notice Scheme, but no charges have been brought.

The department has been accused of overcharging for repairs. At least four employees have left their posts.

More than 500 complaints have been received and it has been reported the council could face a bill of £13.5 million to correct matters.

The allegations stem from the fact the property conservation department often issues statutory notices for buildings that need work done to make them safe, arranges the job through contractors, then recoups the cash from owners .

The council charges homeowners 15% on top of the repair bill to cover surveys and administrative expenses – but many have claimed their bills have been vastly inflated.