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COSLA to help SIC remove Clark

SCOTLAND’S top local government official is in Shetland today (Thursday) to help the council part company with its chief executive.

Rory Mair, chief executive with local authority umbrella group COSLA, will advise members about how to deal with Mr Clark during a private session of Shetland Islands Council.

Mr Clark left his office last week less than eight months after he took up the £100,000 a year post following a series of high profile fall outs with elected members.

Councillors received a report last night outlining four possible options for getting rid of Mr Clark – disciplinary action, voluntary severance, resignation or a negotiated settlement.

Mr Clark’s lawyers Morton Fraser, the Edinburgh-based firm that also acts on behalf of local knitwear firm Judane, have already been in touch with the council to hold talks.

SIC convener Sandy Cluness said: “The meeting will discuss the situation in relation to the chief executive and I would expect Rory Mair to give us some advice.”

However several councillors are concerned that an outstanding complaint against Mr Clark signed by six members, almost one third of the council, is still unresolved after seven weeks.

Services committee chairman Gussie Angus said on Wednesday he would wish to see the complaint, of which he was one of the signatories, dealt with before any offers were made to the chief executive.

“If by negotiations there is any question of massive pay offs then I would have to say that I would require to see the outcome of the complaint before I even begin to contemplate any such package that might be proposed,” he said.

The complaints surround the treatment of assistant chief executive Willie Shannon when his job was “deleted”, a drinking session with consultant Andrew Laidler and the way Mr Laidler was appointed.

COSLA and its Improvement Service are sending officers to Shetland to help the council deal with an investigation by local government watchdog Audit Scotland into “governance issues” at the SIC after the Accounts Commission raised concerns about what was going on at Lerwick Town Hall.

The scope of the investigation has been approved, but initial plans to visit Shetland within the next few weeks have been put on hold until the current situation has been resolved.

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