South Ayrshire Council opens investigation into senior officials over land valuation issues


The heads of the councils have launched a major investigation into some of their most senior officials – amid allegations of improper practices.

South Ayrshire called on Glasgow City Council auditors to conduct an outside investigation, the Ayrshire Post revealed.

This follows the alarm raised by the council’s own appraisal of land used for real estate development at Mainholm in Ayr.

the Ayrshire Post understands that the concerned advisers reported what they saw as “issues” with the final value attached to the plot.

A total of 160 social housing units are to be built on the site next to Ayr Racecourse after planners gave the green light in September.

But investigators have been called amid claims that South Ayrshire officers falsely inflated the site’s value by over £ 1million.

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The appraisal process is done when estimating what the council might receive for selling the land on the private market.

Instead, a range of municipal bungalows, two-story houses and three-story apartments will now be built on the former Mainholm Academy.

the Ayrshire Post learned how concerns about the land valuation were compounded by advisers to Executive Director Eileen Howat.

And following an internal audit which confirmed there was a case to be answered, the South Ayrshire chief brought in an outside team to investigate the case.

The management of Council Square, headed by Donald Gillies, is now the subject of the investigation.

the Ayrshire Post understands that Mr. Gillies and a series of senior officers have been interviewed in connection with the ongoing investigation.

A council source familiar with the matter said: “Concerns were brought to the attention of Eileen who then acted on it and found there was a specific case to respond to.

“Glasgow auditors regularly perform routine work for us, but this investigation is anything but routine.

“These allegations are very serious and the council naturally tries to keep a lid on it.”

A council spokesperson said: ‘Glasgow City Council is carrying out an investigative audit on a number of processes for South Ayrshire Council. This work is still in progress.

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