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Eight managers to leave

EIGHT managers are to leave Shetland Islands Council over the next few months enabling the local authority to save around £500,000 a year on wages.

The announcement, made on Friday morning, came as interviews to appoint five senior directors from internal candidates continued for a second day.

The SIC is in the middle of a major restructuring process which will see a much slimmer council management tier with 15 fewer managers by September this year.

The most senior manager who has come forward for voluntary redundancy is depute chief executive and executive director for education and social care Hazel Sutherland. Ms Sutherland has also stepped in to head the finance department after Graham Johnston left that post earlier in the year.

On Friday, Ms Sutherland declined to give any reasons for her decision to leave the local authority. She was also not prepared to discuss her plans for the future.

Chief executive Alistair Buchan said she would remain with the local authority for several more months to cover the head of finance post and to “help the council address the very substantial budget challenges it faces”.

The other seven managers who have decided to leave employment with the SIC are: head of roads, Ian Halcrow; building services manager, David Williamson; emergency planning and resilience manager, John Taylor; community work manager, Bill Crook; community care resources manager, Wolfgang Weis; library and information services manager, Silvija Crook; and transport planning & support manager, Billy Thompson.

Mr Buchan said: “As part of the restructuring process, we offered everyone affected the chance to volunteer for early retirement or voluntary redundancy.  The same policies were applied to that process as for any member of staff wanting to leave.  We always knew that some folk would take up the opportunity to move on.

“The standard notice period for senior managers is three months, so I would expect most of the staff will have left by the end of September.

“That obviously ties in with the timing of the new management structure, which we’re working hard to have in place by September as well.  I admit that it’s a very demanding timetable, but, as I have said before, I want this to be completed with the least disruption possible.”

The council has also received enquiries from other members of staff on their options for leaving and these will be considered shortly.

“The principal drivers for the unions and the council in all of this is to protect the existing workforce and avoid the need for compulsory redundancies if at all possible,” he added.

An announcement on the appointment of the five new senior directors is expected for Monday.