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Swinney says SIC’s on the right track

SCOTTISH finance secretary John Swinney is confident that Shetland Islands Council is taking the right steps to reshape the local authority following damning criticism from the Account Commission.

Mr Swinney was in Shetland on Monday to be briefed by the council leadership on the SIC’s improvement plan. Mr Swinney also hosted an hour long independent budget review meeting with members of a number of local organisations.

Following a two day hearing in June, the Accounts Commission described Scotland’s most northerly local authority as poorly led and badly divided with a haphazard approach to business.

The SIC has been ordered to implement a sweeping improvement plan, the initial outline of which has been prepared by new chief executive Alistair Buchan.

As part of the improvement plan the council will restructure its committees to work more effectively with individual departments and will review its senior management structure.

Mr Swinney said: “The council has been given a very clear message by the Accounts Commission.

“I expected the council to respond positively to that report, and the council has done that by the formulation of its improvement plan and is now taking steps to make sure that that is implemented.

“I welcome the fact that the council is taking that course of action and there has to be, of course, a report back to the Accounts Commission on the success of the council in addressing these concerns.”

After meeting the finance secretary in Lerwick town hall, chief executive Alistair Buchan said: