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Ex NorthLink boss joins SIC

SIC interim general manager of ports and harbours Bill Davidson - Photo: Shetland News

FORMER NorthLink Ferries supremo Bill Davidson has joined Shetland Islands Council for a few months to help run its harbour operations.

The former management consultant was chief executive of the state-run ferry service that lost the northern isles lifeline contract to Serco last summer.

Davidson continued working for NorthLink’s parent company David MacBrayne Ltd until January.

This month he was head hunted by SIC infrastructure director Phil Crossland to take over the post of general manager of ports and harbours, filling a post left vacant last year when Stephen Cooper departed for Moray Council.

Previously the council had split the post of harbour master and general manager when Captain Roger Moore left the combined role to move across to BP at Sullom Voe oil terminal in May.

Crossland said he had been personally handling the general manager’s duties since Cooper’s departure, but now the council has agreed to implement major budget cuts he needs a full time manager to handle the workload.

“This is an £18 million business and finding the right person was going to be difficult,” Crossland said.

“Bill has a pair of fresh eyes with some senior level management experience who can bring in some good ideas and do some much needed business development work that will allow our ports to be vibrant for the future.”

Davidson has been appointed on a three month contract with an option to stay for six months, but has no intention of moving to Shetland permanently as his family lives in central Scotland.

However he will not be short of work implementing a review that must see the cost of the council’s £10 million a year inter island ferry service being reduced by £3 million.

Another challenge is attracting new business to the council’s major ports at Sullom Voe and Scalloway from the west of Shetland oil and gas industry.

Davidson said: “I was looking for new opportunities. Someone in Shetland heard that I had left David MacBrayne, and I got a phone call asking if I might be interested in taking up this post.

“I was a known quantity and I have a feel for the islands having been involved for 10 years with NorthLink, so I knew what I was coming to.

“The challenge will be to get ports and harbours on to a long term footing. There is a whole host of ongoing issues and projects to face as interim manager and I shall also offer my views on potential opportunities for the future.”