Forced landing for the flying councillors

We are delighted to report that in these days of councillor junketing and abuse of local taxpayers the leadership of Scotland's education authorities is taking a stand and has decided against sending its education forum to the Western Isles for its May meeting.

The education committee of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities had been invited by the Western Isles Council to test out the delights of the Uists, in line with Cosla's policy of going to the people and holding meetings outside Edinburgh.

To date this commitment has taken councillors to such exotic locations as Ayr, Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee and Kilmarnock. But Benbecula was clearly a trip too far. The Edinburgh Evening News, in its unceasing efforts to uncover as much muck about the city fathers as possible, had done its homework: "Pounds 375 flying Uist a joke", its headline had punnily declared.

It is to the great good fortune of the News that the forum's education spokesperson is Elizabeth Maginnis, one of Edinburgh's city mothers. Hence the unusually close, indeed unprecedented, attention being paid by the newspaper to Cosla's deliberations.

Maginnis's trip to Paris along with an Edinburgh school rugby team - "Liz loves Paris in the spring" - had already been given the special News treatment. A follow-up piece on how "Liz loves Benbecula in the spring", while scarcely believable, would have been too much.

And so it was that she put on her gentlest face and told Roddy Macdonald, the Western Isles education chairman, that his invitation would have to suffer. "It is not intended as a snub to the Western Isles," she added. More of a snub to the News perhaps.

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