Orkney Islands Council chief executive Alistair Buchan is being offered the position of interim SIC chief, in a move that councillors hope will finally banish memories of the authority’s recent poor performance and dwindling public image.
The decision to offer Mr Buchan the post of Shetland’s top council official came after a private meeting at Lerwick Town Hall on Thursday afternoon.However, council officials will now have to make a formal approach to Orkney Islands Council to release Mr Buchan on secondment. Orkney’s 21 councillors are due to meet in private on Monday to consider the request.
Should Mr Buchan take up the post he will work for Shetland Islands Council for the next two and a half years until after the next council elections take place.
The decision to recommend Mr Buchan for the job came after a panel of seven councillors met on Tuesday to agree which of the four candidates they would most like to put forward.
The panel consisted of council convener Sandy Cluness, Robert Henderson, Florence Grains, Cecil Smith, Bill Manson, Allan Wishart and Gary Robinson.
Mr Buchan’s likely appointment has been a poorly-kept secret in recent weeks. His affinity with island communities and experience working for an independent authority always made him a front-runner for the post in Shetland, as did his apparent willingness to move north.
Achieving a best value report from Audit Scotland will not have gone unnoticed among elected members either, even if local government umbrella group Cosla has helped seek him out for the role.
However, the appointment could cause a stir in Orkney. Some councillors there are known to be uncomfortable over what impact the secondment for Mr Buchan would have over their area. It is understood his post in Orkney would be filled internally on an interim basis.
The recommendation for Mr Buchan comes four months after former chief executive David Clark left the SIC with a £285,000 tax-free package after just nine months in the job.