THE leader of Glasgow City Council is under fire after allegedly taking a taxi on the council’s official account to campaign for the SNP in a by-election and attend a Paul Simon gig at the Hydro.

Susan Aitken, who is also the leader of the Glasgow SNP group, billed the taxpayer in 2017 for a trip from the Hilton Garden Inn to Cardonald Library, arriving just 15 minutes before an SNP canvassing session kicked off – but her deputy has said it is all justified.

Posters for the event on August 3, 2017, offer directions for supporters and constituents on how to get to there. Ms Aitken was pictured later the same day by Greater Pollok and Cardonald’s SNP ward standing outside the venue alongside supporters in a Facebook post.

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It reads: “Fantastic results on the doors in ward four Cardonald tonight. Well done everyone.”

Opposition leaders have demanded an investigation into this and other trips revealed in the logs, claiming that Ms Aitken’s use of the taxi account was “shocking” and “scandalous”.

One journey, seen by the Glasgow Times, shows a £18.70 fee from Ms Aitken’s pick-up point of Glasgow Airport to the Hydro Arena on August 7, 2018, at 6.28pm and back to her home address at 11.17pm – costing the taxpayer an additional £12.60. Paul Simon was playing a gig at the venue on the same evening.

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Meanwhile, the council’s taxi account was again used at midnight on September 9, 2018, with a pick-up location of the Glad Cafe in Shawlands. No contact was made for this journey – meaning Ms Aitken did not cancel or turn up for the taxi, costing the taxpayer £4.40.

Glasgow City Council’s official code of conduct outlines that employees should ensure public funds are used as “value for money to the local community”.

The code reads: “Employees must ensure that public funds entrusted to them are used in a responsible and lawful manner. They must strive to ensure value for money to the local community and to avoid legal challenge to the Council.”

Opposition Conservative leader Thomas Kerr has dubbed Ms Aitken’s alleged use of the authority’s taxi account as “shocking” and “scandalous”.

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He said: “Taxpayer funded taxi journeys for any councillor are only permitted for official council business. They are categorically not to be used for party political purposes.

“It appears that the council leader has used taxpayer’s money to finance campaigning for the SNP in a local by-election as well as some very questionable visits to bars, hotels and a Paul Simon concert. This is a shocking misuse of public funds and she must immediately come clean to the people of Glasgow.

“After their Lord Provost was forced to resign over her own expenses scandal and the deputy leader of the council having questions over his jet-setting lifestyle, this city has no trust in SNP politicians when it comes to their use of public money for personal gain.

“I’m calling on this matter to be properly investigated and for Susan Aitken to be held accountable for her actions.

“As we come out of this global crisis our city needs leadership we can trust and have confidence in.

“Councillor Aitken has shown time and again she is incapable of providing that leadership and Glasgow is paying the price for her failure. This is just the latest scandal to hit Glasgow SNP after two of their councillors resigned in recent weeks, again citing bullying from the leader’s office.

“The public is sick and tired of Susan Aitken’s scandals and it’s time she stepped aside for the sake of the city.”

Labour councillor Martin McElroy said: “The Glasgow public expect councillors to use public money properly, that is why we need a full and proper explanation.

“People will be legitimately asking what other council-funded taxis have been misused by elected members so I am calling for a full investigation to be carried out. Only then will the public be able to have confidence that councillors aren’t misusing taxpayers’ money.”

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Previously, Ms Aitken was “strongly” advised by Glasgow City Council’s chief executive to travel by taxi before a 46-year-old woman was convicted of a stalking campaign against the council leader between the months of January and March in 2018.

Ms Aitken was not available when contacted, however, her Glasgow City Council deputy, councillor David McDonald, has spoken on her behalf.

He said: “If any member doesn’t understand that representing an organisation like the council requires you to spend many, many hours attending an extraordinary range of events supporting the economic, cultural and social life of the city at all sorts of venues at every time of the day or night, then they should perhaps take some advice from colleagues with a bit more experience of leadership.

“The fact that councillor Kerr can’t imagine a legitimate reason for a city leader to attend an event at a hotel and thinks getting home safe at night is ‘personal gain’ says it all.

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“Councillor McElroy has had these records since last year and all we have seen since are smears, innuendo and a campaign of harassment from online trolls.

“If either he or Councillor Kerr genuinely think there is a problem, they know who to speak to. If they don’t, it’s time to shut up.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “Investigating the conduct of members is not within the council’s remit.”