Council backtrack on £30k spend for provost portraits

Edinburgh City Council will now commission photographs

A CASH-strapped Scots council has shelved its plans to spend £30k on portraits of provosts after a furious public back-clash.

Edinburgh City Council had planned to splash the cash on a stained glass window of a former Lady Provost and an oil painting of the current Lord Provost, but will instead settle on the cheaper option of commissioned photographs.

In a move, aimed at pleasing the taxpayer, the council backtracked on its plans for the expensive portraits, which would have hung at Edinburgh’s City Chambers.

The new photographs will cost the taxpayer between £300 and £500 each.

The original scheme was suspended in March last year after councillors ordered officials to think again about the costs of the “vanity”

But despite the scale of the £1bn trams fiasco, the council initially insisted it would press ahead with the provost pictures, with a council spokeswoman saying that, “appropriate, cost effective ways of commemorating the periods of office of the Lord Provosts are being pursued”.

Speaking at the time, a spokesman for Taxpayer Scotland said: “Have the council got no shame? Using taxpayers’ money for monuments and works of art like this always takes money away from the least well off in society and uses it for the benefit of the better off.”

The council’s move to commission cheaper photographs has been accepted by the current and former provosts.

Lord Provost George Grubb, who will stand down from the role in May this year, said: “It should be a more modern approach and I think a photograph might start a trend from other Lord Provosts.”


Labour councillor, Lesley Hinds, who was Lord Provost from 2003 to 2007, has also agreed to have a photograph instead of the

£15,000 stained glass window she had been due to be the subject of.

“I decided not to have a portrait and I’m going for a photograph instead. Someone at the council is looking into that now.

He said the photograph should be produced within the next three months. He said: “It depends on what the photographer has in mind.
But I hope (it will cost) £300 to £500. It is good for the council to mark to safeguard tradition.”

Councillor Hind’s original plans for a stained-glass artwork would have made her the second in its history, after Eleanor McLaughlin who was in office from 1988 to 1992.

Councillor Hinds said: “When I set out looking at the Lord Provost portrait, the financial circumstances were very different. Taking on board that, I will be looking at an option that costs nothing or very little and I think that would be in the style of the photograph.”

Lord Provosts are the ceremonial and figurative heads of Scottish cities. Painting and portraits of former Lord Provosts have been held at the City Chambers since the 17th. Since the 19th century formal portraits of Lord Provosts have been commissioned.