The leader of Dundee City Council has defended his decision to attend a £5,000 VIP dinner in the south of France that was funded by property developers.
John Alexander was among several politicians who attended a Scottish Enterprise dinner at a hotel in Cannes in March.
He was joined by the leaders of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils and Derek Mackay, the cabinet secretary for finance, and sat among property developers and investors from firms such as Robertson – behind several large building projects in Dundee.
In total, about £5,200 was spent on the 25-head meal, sponsored by architects Austin-Smith:Lord – a firm later recruited for a study on the future of Perth Road.
The meal was held during the annual MIPIM property investment conference, which markets itself as “a unique exhibition and networking platform to forge deals”.
Dundee City Council was an exhibitor at the MIPM event – but Mr Alexander, who attended as chairman of the Scottish Cities Alliance, insists he had no discussions with developers, attending to promote Dundee to investors.
He has pledged to include the visit on his register of interests.
He said: “This year was the first time Dundee had attended MIPIM, while many other UK cities are frequent attendees.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t representing the city at events involving investors and job creators.
“On the matter of conversations, I would never be involved in any particular negotiations or discussions about specific proposals as that is the role of council officers, not elected members.”
He added further comments in a lengthy Facebook post last night.
It's always easy to sensationalise a story before you've actually considered the reality. I can't speak for the…
Details of the dinner at the Le Gray d’Albion hotel – described on its website as “a secret refuge for celebrities” – were uncovered by investigative website The Ferret.
The Scottish Cities Alliance said: “We are not aware of any lobbying occurring at the event and are there simply to build contacts and relationships.”