Shetland Islands Council has had 29 applicants for its chief executive’s post, comprising candidates from within and outwith the islands.
A shortlist is being drawn up to put before a panel of nine councillors on Tuesday for “confirmation” before arrangements for the interviews are agreed. The council has decided this time to get away from the old system of allowing most of the 22 elected members to have a say on the appointment of top officials.
The council’s political leader, Gary Robinson, who will chair the panel, said: “It’s fair to say we’re pleased, both with the number of applicants and the quality of applicants.”
He said the field was “a good mixture” of local and non-local candidates.
“I think it’s encouraging because discussions I had at an early stage with Cosla indicated that in recruitments at this level you can struggle to get much of a field. We appear to have done okay.”
Few names have been linked with the top job thus far and several officials who would have been likely candidates are no longer around, having taken the opportunity to leave with enhanced severance packages during the recent management shake-up.
Those include former executive directors Hazel Sutherland and Gordon Greenhill along with former head of finance Graham Johnston and soon-to-retire former assistant chief executive Willie Shannon, who is currently seconded to Shetland Recreational Trust.
The quest for a suitable chief executive to take the council through the next stage of improvements and tackle the overspending crisis began in June. For the past two years the post has been held by Alistair Buchan on loan from Orkney Islands Council until 4th October. He was drafted in to assist following the dramatic departure of David Clark after less than nine months in the job and to start turning the council around after damning reports from the Accounts Commission regarding many aspects of its operations.
Previous council chief executives since 1975 were Morgan Goodlad, Nick Reiter, Malcolm Green, Mike Gerrard, Ernest Urquhart and Ian Clark.