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Buchan’s got the job

SHETLAND Islands Council’s new interim chief executive is Alistair Buchan who has been head hunted from the local authority of neighbouring Orkney.

Forty six year old Mr Buchan will be in Shetland on Tuesday to meet with councillors and senior officials, but will start his new job officially only on 9 August.

A special meeting of Orkney Islands Council on Monday afternoon agreed to Mr Buchan’s secondment for two years and three months with the option of extending it by a further six months.

It is understood Mr Buchan will earn £135,000 a year, 25 per cent more than the going rate for chief executives of small island authorities. He will also be supplied with a house and car by Shetland Islands Council.

SIC convener Sandy Cluness said on Monday he was delighted that his colleagues in Orkney had allowed Mr Buchan to come north to help Shetland overcome its governance and budget setting problems.

Mr Buchan’s appointment came on the first day of the Accounts Commission’s public hearing into the running of the SIC looking into concerns about finance, governance and events surrounding the former chief executive David Clark.

Mr Cluness said: “I am delighted that Orkney Islands Council is assisting us in this way. This is an interesting pilot which hopefully will lead to closer relationships between both islands in the future.”

OIC convener Stephen Hagan added: “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.”

Stromness born Mr Buchan had been approached for the job by Ken Dalgleish of Munro Consulting after Shetland Islands Council asked local government  umbrella body CoSLA to help find a replacement for Mr Clark who left the SIC in February this year with a tax free £285,000 pay off.

At the age of 33, Mr Buchan was Scotland’s youngest local government chief executive when appointed by OIC in 1997. Later this year he will become the longest serving council chief executive in Scotland.

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.

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.”

Orkney Islands Council meanwhile appointed its finance director Albert Tait as interim chief executive.

Mr Hagan said: “We are fortunate to have a director of Albert’s calibre who can take on this new role as our chief executive.

“Albert is highly respected at national and local government level throughout Scotland. His financial acumen will be of enormous benefit at a time when OIC is preparing to make difficult decisions in the tough economic conditions we all face.”

Mr Buchan added that Mr Tait was regarded across Scotland as one of the finest local government officers of his generation.