Feb 17 2010 by Gordon Robertson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
A COUNCIL planning official has been sacked following allegations that he accepted gifts from an Airdrie businessman.
Daniel Welsh (43), had an appeal against his dismissal for gross misconduct thrown out on Monday.
He had lost his job with North Lanarkshire Council’s planning department following an investigation which concluded he had breached gifts and hospitality procedures.
It is alleged that he accepted various gifts and hospitality from businessman and boxing promoter Mario Rea, who had received planning permission to develop a four-and-half acre site in Plains in 2006.
Mr Welsh had worked on the application.
The land at 50 Main Street – which once housed a dairy business – was intended for residential use and has since been sold on but has not yet been developed. It is thought to be worth around £1 million.
The council were alerted to the alleged breach of their procedures following a criminal investigation into Mr Rea’s affairs.
The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency passed on information allegedly gathered from a computer to the council and arrested Mr Welsh under the Public Bodies and Corrupt Practices Act.
It was claimed that Mr Welsh had accepted free tickets to Celtic matches and free use of Mr Rea’s holiday apartment and was a friend of the businessman.
As a planning assistant he would have had access to information that could aid anyone seeking planning approval from North Lanarkshire Council.
Mr Welsh denies he has done anything wrong and can now, if he wished, take the council to an industrial tribunal.
The SNP group have called for the Scottish Parliament to launch an investigation into the matter.
The minority group on the Labour-controlled council want to establish whether any other council officers or council members are involved.
Paul Delaney, the SNP group media officer, said: “We want to see a full, thorough and impartial investigation by the parliament to ascertain whether any council official or councillor is involved in allegedly corrupt practices.”
North Lanarkshire Council were largely remaining tight-lipped on an issue that has the potential to cause them huge embarrassment.
A spokesman said: “I can confirm that, following a hearing, a former employee’s appeal against dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct was rejected by the policy and resources (human resources appeals) sub-committee.”
The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency would not comment on their investigation when we contacted them yesterday.
A Crown Office spokesman confirmed that they had received a report in relation to two men aged 31 and 43 and said the “matter remains under investigation”.