Editorial: The Old Rock 04.09.09

When new Shetland Islands Council chief executive David Clark breezed into the isles just over three months ago he vowed to try and cultivate a “go-getter” spirit, and pledged to end the years of painful indecision which have dogged the local authority when faced with big judgments.

From the evidence of the past few weeks he has already made some headway in his aim, and there was little evidence of prevarication when councillors unanimously agreed yesterday to build the new Anderson High School at the lower Staney Hill near Clickimin.

Mr Clark’s speedy appointment of consultant Andrew Laidler to conduct an independent review of both the Staney Hill site and the previously-agreed Knab location, despite attracting mild criticism at the time, now appears to have been a sensible decision. It is to be hoped that the many other stages before the project is finally completed can move forward at the same pace.

On the subject of staffing matters, however, Mr Clark may discover that a steamroller approach does not always pay dividends. His decision this week to do away with the post of assistant chief executive, albeit an ill-defined job created on the advice of his predecessor, would have held more credence had it been taken by elected members, with input from the trade union which was up in arms over the move. At least the chief executive later stated that where future reorganisation was required, affected individuals and their unions would be consulted.

Furthermore, to create an entirely new position, that of “head of asset strategy (the title in itself is a monstrosity), will obviously raise more eyebrows. Surely there are plenty of people already employed by the council who are perfecly well equipped to carry out the duties involved.

Doing away with one anomalous job and concocting another does not make much sense. We would remind Mr Clark of the old Scots phrase, to “ca canny”.


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