COUNCILLORS in Shetland will get their first chance to discuss a replacement for former chief executive David Clark when they meet in private tomorrow (Tuesday).
Local authority umbrella group COSLA has proposed Shetland Islands Council consider taking on a temporary chief executive until the next election in two years.
The suggestion is to appoint an experienced official quickly rather than advertise for someone permanent to lead the council while it is investigated by local government watchdog Audit Scotland.
Some councillors have expressed disquiet that no steps appear to have been made to replace Mr Clark since he left office on 24 February with a tax free settlement of £250,000.
However convener Sandy Cluness said: “We are looking at all options at the present time in the hope of getting an experienced chief executive in position as soon as possible.”
Two names under consideration are Alan Campbell, who retired from Aberdeenshire Council in 2008 after 17 years as head of their paid service, and Arthur McCourt, who left the top job with Highland Council in 2007 after 12 years.
An experienced chief officer could provide stability while Audit Scotland starts its investigation this month into what went wrong when Mr Clark was at the helm at Lerwick Town Hall.
COSLA’s Improvement Service have also been invited to assist the council in the long term to get back on an even keel.
There are concerns in some quarters that a temporary chief executive might be employed part time, basing themselves on the mainland and only travelling to the islands for a few days each week.
The SIC has been left somewhat rudderless since Mr Clark left, saying his position had become “virtually impossible” following national media reports about his private life and the impact these may have had on his career prospects.
However the former business consultant has wasted no time getting back to work. Five days after signing the settlement with the SIC he re-launched the private company he ran prior to his move north.
In a statement on the Dalzell Projects website dated 2 March, Mr Clark states: “Having ended my venture into permanent public sector employment as Chief Executive of Shetland Islands Council, I am pleased to announce that as of 1st March 2010, dalzell projects is again actively trading.
“The 'phone has already been ringing and my first assignment back in the world of consultancy takes me back to London next week.
“I would like to thank Shetland Isalnds (sic) Council for the opportunity of being their Chief Executive. I consider it a priviledge (sic), and look forward to seeing the initiatives we began together bear fruit in the years to come. I wish SIC and the community my best wishes for the future.”
The company has slimmed down since he started working with the SIC on 1 June, when it listed as its partners his father Ian Clark, himself a former SIC chief executive; Andrew Laidler, a consultant he employed to carry out the planning review of Anderson High School; Paul Gatrill, a retired businessman; and mechanical engineer Simon Rae.
Now the only team member alongside him is his father, who staunchly defended his son in the local press, saying that he had been the victim of a concerted campaign.