Shetland Islands Council is fully confident that there was nothing untoward about an “honorarium” payment its new chief executive received from his former employer in Wiltshire.
Mark Boden was unveiled yesterday as the local authority’s replacement for the soon-to-depart Alistair Buchan, and it is hoped he will be able to take up the post in early October.
There has been some speculation on Facebook and elsewhere regarding a payment of £10,360 which Mr Boden received for taking on extra work and responsibilities when Kennet District Council was being wound up in 2008.
But SIC convener Malcolm Bell said the matter had been known about and “fully investigated” by its recruitment consultants and they were “fully satisfied that there is no reason for us to be concerned”.
Mr Boden told The Shetland Times that Kennet District Council had faced a difficult challenge to keep public services running while simultaneously winding down the district council in an orderly manner and working to set up a new, larger authority. That led to a number of people “working very long hours” and doing “all sorts of extra work beyond their normal job”.
“The councillors at Kennet decided to pay them an honorarium, partly because they were taking on responsibility, and partly as a retention measure to encourage people to stay to the end of the council,” he said.
Mr Boden said the matter was later picked up by the auditors of the newly-constituted Wiltshire Council. The auditors identified a “technical problem” in the way they payments were accounted for, he said.
“But they said there was no dishonesty and they didn’t recommend any sort of action, nothing flowed from it, nobody was disciplined, nobody was prosecuted, nobody sought to retrieve money,” he stressed.
The 54-year-old then became corporate director of Wiltshire Council before being made redundant as part of a senior management restructure in late 2011.
Speaking about the appointment, Mr Bell said Mr Boden had vast experience of local government and had a great track record in redesigning how key services are delivered. He had been particularly impressed by the extent to which Mr Boden had “done his homework” on Shetland.