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Politicians’ expense bills revealed

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Politicians’ expense bills revealed

MSPs representing the south of Scotland claimed a combined total of £287,779.30 in expenses during the 2018/19 tax year.

The south of Scotland region is represented by nine MSPs, of which two are directly elected constituency members and seven are list MSPs.

Tory Oliver Mundell represents Dumfriesshire and over the last financial period he claimed £39,221.52 in expenses, £1238 more than the previous year.

His bill included monthly rent of £937.50 for Edinburgh accomodation and £606 a month in rent for his local office, in Lockerbie.

Other costs included rail and fuel fees, hotel stays and village hall/town hall rental fees.

The only noteworthy purchase in the 12 month period was £59.99 for an Argos phone.

Finlay Carson, who covers Galloway and West Dumfries, had a lower bill, claiming a total of £33,988.84.

Mr Carson’s city flat costs £875 a month and his Castle Douglas office rental fee was £2250, paid quarterly.

As well as the usual travel fees, surgery rental and office utilities, Mr Carson also spent £46.50 on office cleaning supplies and a further £69 on cleaners/window cleaners.

South of Scotland list MSPs Joan McAlpine, Emma Harper and Colin Smyth are all based in Dumfries.

Last year, Ms McAlpine (SNP) claimed £36,159.69, of which £895 a month went on city rent, as well as £264.54 on water cooler expenses and £554 on cleaning/window cleaning for her office in Dumfries,

She also claimed back £230.28 for business meetings expenses, as well as fees for travel and other sundries.

She shares an office in Dumfries with fellow SNP politician Emma Harper and their total annual rent is £14,603.20, including service charges.

Meanwhile, Ms Harper’s overall expenses bill last year totalled £36,773.80, this included £850 monthly rent for her capital accommodation.

She also claimed for over 120 taxi rides and spent £189.91 on water cooler expenses.

Labour’s Mr Smyth claimed more in expenses than any of the area’s MSP, with a final bill of £39,238.76 in the last financial year.

His city rental initially cost £795 a month before increasing to £825 and office rent was £1875, paid quarterly with a one off £339.71 service charge.

However, the bulk of his 279 claims were travel related.

Fellow south of Scotland MSPs Brian Whittle, Claudia Beamish, Michelle Ballantyne and Paul Wheelhouse are based elsewhere in the constituency.

Brian Whittle (Con) claimed a total of £33,201.81; Labour’s Ms Beamish claimed £31,945.22; for Tory Ms Ballantyne’s expenses it was £20,092.21; and the SNP’s Mr Wheelhouse was the lowest locally, totalling just £17,157.45.


Expenses at a glance

Colin Smyth – £39,238.76

Oliver Mundell – £39,221.52

Emma Harper – £36,773.80

Joan McAlpine – £36,159.69

Finlay Carson – £33,988.84

Brian Whittle – £33,201.81

Claudia Beamish – £31,945.22

Michelle Ballantyne – £20,092.21

Paul Wheelhouse – £17,157.45


14th Jul

Top team!

By Christie Breen | DNG24