Past Times: WANTED – A town clerk with “suitable qualifications”

From The Shetland Times, Friday 15th January, 1960

Lerwick Town Council are to advertise for a “town clerk with suitable qualifications” to succeed Mr Thomas Johnston who retires at the end of March.

On Tuesday night, Mr J.A. Daniel moved that they advertise the post in terms that they wanted a qualified solicitor with local government experience, and he was seconded by Mr Harry Gray.

The town clerk pointed out that there was no statutory obligation even to advertise the post, although it was customary.

Dean of Guild Morrison said there was a lot of talk about Mr Johnston not being a solicitor, and that that cost the town money. What were the fees paid to a law agent last year?

Chamberlain: Practically nil.

Mr R.A. Anderson agreed with Mr Daniel that the post should be advertised, but he did not feel they need ask for the qualifications laid down by Mr Daniel. The Council had been very well served by town clerks who did not have that qualification. If they were not required by statute to have a solicitor, he did not see why they should not pick the market and get the best they could. He moved they advertise for a clerk “with suitable qualifications.”

Dean of Guild Morrison seconded, but Bailie Ollason wanted Mr Anderson to define “suitable qualifications.”

Mr Anderson: That is for the applicant and the Town Council to consider.
Mr Anderson’s amendment was approved by a majority vote, and it was agreed the salary should be according to the appropriate scale, with grading according to experience, at the council’s discretion. If necessary, housing accommodation will be provided. Closing date for application will be 15th February.


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