SIC convener Sandy Cluness has confirmed that councillors’ deliberations on the future of assistant chief executive Willie Shannon will not take place until next month.
Lerwick South councillor Cecil Smith had called on Mr Cluness to call an emergency meeting of the council this week to restore stability to the council and resolve outstanding issues. Others have appealed for the convener to take control of what increasingly appears to be an intractable situation.
But Mr Cluness told The Shetland Times he felt it was “so close” to the next full council meeting on 9th December and that more information should be forthcoming over the next fortnight, so he did not think it necessary to call councillors together before then.
Mr Shannon has been off work on full pay since late August after SIC chief executive David Clark’s decision to “delete” his post and offer him alternative roles or a redundancy package. Talks with independent mediation service ACAS collapsed after a “fundamental impasse” was reached early in the discussions last Monday.
As part of a restructuring of his executive team, Mr Clark tried to delete the post of assistant chief executive and create a new “head of asset strategy” to take charge of the council’s £100 million capital programme over the next five years. But the manner in which the move was handled sparked widespread criticism from councillors.
Following last week’s talks, Mr Clark said he had been asked to give a commitment to Mr Shannon returning to work “in the long term” and for a “grading review to achieve a higher salary”, adding that he had set no preconditions.
But Unison representative Brian Smith said Mr Clark had said the “most fundamental precondition of all” – that he did not intend for Mr Shannon’s post to continue to exist for more than a few weeks. He also said the suggestion of a salary review had come from ACAS director Frank Blair rather than Mr Shannon himself.