Search begins for a new head of council finance

SIC head of finance Steve Whyte's contract is ending.
SIC head of finance Steve Whyte’s contract is ending.

The council is seeking to appoint a new £70,000-plus head of finance to replace its current incumbent Steve Whyte.

Mr Whyte, who was appointed following a deal with Aberdeen City Council allowing staff from its finance office to be seconded to the isles, has reached the end of his year-long contract.

The agreement between the two authorities has allowed Mr Whyte to serve both councils, while fellow finance man, Jonathan Belford, has been keeping an eye on day to day affairs from the North Ness offices, and addressing elected members at council meetings.

Now the SIC is advertising for a permanent successor to Mr Whyte. The yearly salary is banded at between £71,169 and £74,738.

Mr Whyte replaced the previous head of finance, James Gray, who was widely credited for sorting out the council’s finances after it was handed a series of warnings from Audit Scotland about its books.

Whoever succeeds Mr Whyte as head of finance will have to hit the ground running, following last year’s news that £3 million of spending cuts would be required within the SIC in light of the Scottish government’s diminished funding allocation.

Head of the council’s corporate affairs, Christine Ferguson, said the deal between Shetland and Aberdeen authorities had worked well, and could be repeated again in the future.

She said: “For just over a year we’ve had an arrangement with Aberdeen City Council. We’ve bought in services for the executive manager of finance from Aberdeen City Council.

“That arrangement has come to an end, so we’re now looking to both recruit and fill the post on a permanent basis. In the meantime we’ve ex­tended the arrangement with Aberdeen City.

“I think it [the partnership] has been very helpful, and very useful. It has benefited both councils in providing the sharing of expertise and knowledge.

“I think it has been very useful in terms of the sharing. We were able to have no gap at the time that our previous permanent appointment left.

“With the pressures on public-sector finance, it was very important that we didn’t have a gap. I think the sharing arrangement across local authorities is something we’ll definitely look at again for key posts.”

Ms Ferguson cited similar arrangements within the NHS which had served the board well.

In October, the chairman of the board of NHS Shetland, Ian Kinniburgh, took on another four-year role – as chairman of the board of NHS Orkney.

“I’m aware the NHS has done this in the past, and it’s certainly something we would consider again. It has benefited both authorities,” Mrs Ferguson said.

She added that Mr Whyte’s role within the isles was being extended for initially three months to ensure there was no gap in provision before the post is permanently filled.


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