There are a range of complaints in the Accounts Commission portfolio that will be addressed in the forthcoming public meeting, with a variety of possible outcomes for certain officials and elected members.
But many folk in Shetland have ongoing concerns relating specifically to the terms and conditions in the contract of employment given to David Clark, which resulted in such a swift legal and full council decision to award such a high severance payment.
Mr Clark was a council employee even if he was the chief executive and should have had a contract of employment substantially the same as other council employees. He should have been employed under similar terms and conditions as other council employees and subject to similar criteria, be they pay rises, performance, conduct and disciplinary procedures etc.
Mr Clark seems to have had a very special working arrangement with SIC convener Sandy Cluness, who was his line manager as chairman of the board so to speak. It seems he was allowed several workplace indiscretions of which one particular incident would have been an instant dismissible offence for any other council worker.
However, the main point of my submission to the Accounts Commission is the most definitely unacceptable terms and conditions of Mr Clark’s contract of employment.
While I fully appreciate it may not be possible to discuss publicly the specific terms and conditions of someones contract of employment etc, equally it is not acceptable for a public funded body such as a local authority to:
1. Issue contracts of employment with terms and conditions that offer indemnity from actions deemed unacceptable by other staff members.
2. Offer exclusive cash deals, tax paid or otherwise – to terminate contracts when the local authority have done nothing wrong and the employee is deemed unsatisfactory for whatever reason.
I would like the commission to rule or comment on the specific issue of the contracts terms and conditions, that must have been so clearly set out that legal opinion swiftly advised on a payment in excess of a quarter of a million pounds of public finances, that represents an up front payment of almost three years of tax free full pay.
This is an exclusive employment arrangement that seems on the increase and surely encourages this kind of crass and greedy behaviour in highly paid senior local authority officials but flies in the face of best practice, the public pound, fair employment practices and the need to demonstrate good local governance. This has to stop and Shetland Islands Council has to be held to account for gross misuse of public funds.
I believe all the officials and elected members who didn’t oppose or vote against this should either lose their jobs and or reimburse the local purse for this particular financial outrage.
Mr Cluness should face criminal proceedings for allowing Mr Clark to continue in his post as long as he did without the probationary period most employees have to serve, covering up for the alleged drinking of alcohol while at work and aiding and abetting the loss of over £250,000 of Shetland public funds.