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Roofing Firm Named In NLC Corruption Allegations
A Roofing firm which was working on a primary school which burned down is part of sweeping corruption investigations at North Lanarkshire council, it has emerged.
Ranley Contracts, which worked for North Lanarkshire for a decade and a half, denies any wrongdoing and insists all of its council business was “legal”.
The firm was named in a whistleblowing report at the heart of an investigation launched by North Lanarkshire with police support last week, nearly a year after a devastating fire at St Dominic’s primary school in Airdrie.
Whistleblowers allege irregularities in procurement processes.
Ranley Contracts owner John Buckley – whose cousin, councillor Jim Smith, was deputy leader of the council until earlier this year – said he was unaware of the allegations.
Mr Buckley said: “This is news to me. This is ridiculous. We’ve done everything the way we should do it, legally through the procurement procedures. And now I am being labelled because my cousin is a councillor? I don’t understand where this allegation is coming from at all. I am totally, totally gobsmacked.”
Mr Buckley said that his company had stopped working for the council in October when its contract ended. He also stressed that this was unconnected with the blaze at St Dominic’s.
He added: “There is no evidence regarding the fire, which is still under investigation. We are innocent in this matter. I can’t comment any further.”
Ranley Contracts, based in Cleland, near Motherwell, specialises in roofing, drainage and other building trades.
Sources at the Labour-run council have stressed that the investigation is at an early stage. An administration insider said: “The Labour group is delighted that an investigation is now taking place.” An official council spokesman said: “The investigation is ongoing.”
The ruling Labour group dramatically changed leadership earlier this year, with leader Jim McCabe and his deputy Jim Smith stepping down. His opponents describe this as an ousting.
Mr McCabe, says that he left of his own accord. Mr McCabe and Mr Smith’s replacements – leader Jim Logue and deputy Paul Kelly – have sent out an unprecedented signal that they are open to information from whistleblowers.
They announced a “corruption” investigation last week into allegations in respect of several officials, councillors and companies, of which Ranley Contracts is only one. Mr Logue said: “These allegations, which are detailed, concern some of the council’s procurement processes. If true, they are extremely serious.”
The allegations were made anonymously in a letter to Mr Logue.