15th October 2018
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Orkney agrees to let Shetland have its chief executive on secondment

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Orkney Islands Council has agreed to let its chief executive Alistair Buchan leave after 13 years to take on the same role in Shetland on an interim basis.

At a special general meeting of the OIC today, councillors approved Mr Buchan’s secondment as chief executive of troubled Shetland Islands Council.

Last week the SIC agreed to offer the position to Mr Buchan after a panel of seven councillors selected him from among four candidates.

It follows the disastrous nine-month tenure of previous SIC chief executive David Clark which came to an end in February with him receiving a payoff of over a quarter of a million pounds.

The current two-day hearing by the Accounts Commission (see separate stories) is dealing with the fallout from that episode and it is hoped the new appointment will at least partly restore some stability to the SIC.

Mr Buchan, who will become Scotland’s longest serving council chief executive later this year, is expected to take up his new post on 9th August. The secondment will be for two years and three months, with an option to extend this to two years and nine months.

Early indications are that he will return to Orkney once the secondment comes to an end. OIC has appointed Albert Tait, director of finance and housing, as stand-in chief executive.

Mr Buchan said: “While sorry to be leaving OIC during the time of my secondment, I relish the task ahead.

“OIC is in good heart with sound political leadership, a staff which is amongst the most dedicated in the country and a dynamic management team. With Albert Tait, the council will have someone who is regarded across Scotland as one of the finest local government officers of his generation.”

He added: “Despite its recent difficulties Shetland is a wonderful community and, as with OIC, the SIC has tremendous opportunities to overcome the challenging times ahead and continue to thrive. I look forward to playing my part in that process.”

Councillor Stephen Hagan, convener of OIC, said: “As well as wishing Alistair all the best I congratulate SIC on their choice of chief executive.

“It is a measure of his reputation that SIC turned to Alistair for what will be a challenging role in the months ahead. I am sure his skills and experience will be greatly appreciated by our neighbouring local authority.

“We see the secondment as something that will benefit OIC as well as SIC. After 13 years as our chief executive, this is an excellent opportunity for Alistair to take on a new challenge. He will bring new ideas and new experiences with him when he returns to OIC.”

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