SCANDAL-HIT MP Michelle Thomson finally opened her constituency office today – nine months after she was elected.
The MP for Edinburgh West resigned as the SNP business spokeswoman and was suspended by the party amid controversy about her property investments.
She claimed it took nine months to open her office because of the problem of finding a “suitable space”.
Her critics claim there numerous empty shop premises in her constituency and claim the politician has become a visible absence in the area.
Thomson’s new campaign office is at 125 St John’s Road, in the Corstorphine area of the city.
But few locals were impressed with the idea that it was better late than never.
Eilieen Walker, 71, said: “She’s not too keen, obviously. I think it’s shocking – I don’t think she should be down in London at all.”
Ross Stampler, a 35-year old events management student, voted for Thomson, but seemed unenthusiastic about her new location for open surgeries, saying: “I’ll not be going in to see her. I only voted for her because she’s SNP.”
James Badstevener, 85, said that the Thomson should be able to remain an MP at least until the investigation into the property matter is concluded.
But, he added: “Other than that I would like her out of the constituency as soon as possible. She’s obviously – and you could say this about most people – just out for herself.”
Others found it hard to believe that it had taken Thomson nine months to find an appropriate space for the office.
Margaret Neilson, 61, runs a children’s dancewear shop across the street.
She said: “There are a fair amount of offices up for lease just now. I would say there’s been about six in the last year.”
Tom Utting – a member of campaign staff for Liberal Democrat MSP-hopeful Alex Cole-Hamilton – said that property was not in short supply in the area.
Their offices are just one street away from Thomson’s new address. He said: “I wouldn’t say it was particularly difficult for us to find suitable premises.
“If you look down St John’s road, there are quite a few empty offices.”
He also took the opportunity to hit out at Thomson for a lack of attention to those who voted her into office.
He said: “We were knocking on doors recently and one thing people were missing was a visible presence of an MP in their community.
“They’ve always had it and now they haven’t for nine months.”
Alison Balharry – a spokeswoman for Mrs Thomson – said: “Finding a suitable space to rent took time.
“In realistic terms, I don’t think it is that long. I don’t know how long.
“It takes time to find premises. It takes time to get a change of use. It takes time to fit them out. She’s been very active in surgeries throughout her constituency.”
Last year Thomson’s former lawyer Christopher Hales was struck off by the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) after acting for her in multiple property deals before she was elected.
The tribunal’s ruling said: “there was a possibility that (Mr Hales) was facilitating mortgage fraud, whether or not this actually occurred.”
His case has since been referred to the Crown Office and is being investigated by police