Steven Purcell’s elaborate system of political patronage is today revealed by The Herald, showing how friends, allies and even opposition councillors were paid tens of thousands of pounds to run the network of hived-off companies established by the disgraced former leader of Glasgow City Council.
The wages bill for the dozen or so arm’s-length bodies (Aleos) set up by Mr Purcell during his time as leader ran to almost £400,000 over what it would have cost to pay councillors had the services remained in-house.
It also reveals how some Labour “backwoodsmen” – councillors receiving no special responsibility allowances – were given positions on outside bodies and commanded five-figure sums on top of their basic salaries, while SNP councillors who have fiercely criticised the Aleos recently, have pocketed tens of thousands of pounds from the companies.
Many members of the authority now receive more from directorship fees each year than they do from their basic salaries of £16,234.
The Herald’s investigation comes as ministers order a Scotland-wide review of council spin-off companies amid concerns they are being used to bypass limits on payments to councillors and reward political cronies.
Finance Secretary John Swinney has asked the independent body that recommends councillor pay to investigate how spin-offs such as leisure trusts and arm’s-length companies are boosting salary levels.
Even members of the Labour administration have said that Aleos evolved into a secretive web of political patronage under Mr Purcell, who resigned last month citing “stress and exhaustion”, and has since admitted cocaine use.
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