DURING his nine years as the top official with Scottish Borders Council, David Hume learned that “organisations flourish when there is a culture of honesty, integrity and openness”.
Mr Hume gave that assessment of his tenure as chief executive in an address to councillors and former colleagues who had gathered at Eildon Mill, Tweedbank, last Friday to wish him well in his retirement.
The event, hosted by convener Councillor Alasdair Hutton, acknowleged Mr Hume’s service at the helm.
His retirement from the £119,000-a-year job was announced at the beginning of July and attributed to “a change in his personal circumstances”.
After a period of sick leave, Mr Hume, 58, officially retired on August 15 and, following an exhaustive recruitment process, his successor was confirmed a month ago as 45-year-old Tracey Logan, erstwhile director of resources at Newtown.
At last week’s farewell event, Mr Hutton said: “When David Hume joined the council its reputation had slipped, but under his leadership, people began to believe in themselves and prove how good they were by going out and winning national and international awards.
“SBC began to be talked about as a dynamic, innovative place which led Scottish local government in important areas of public service.
“David was tireless in the time and effort he gave to this council. He turned up everywhere and was an indefatigable ambassador in his efforts to make sure people understood how much progress the council had made. We owe David a far greater debt than most people realise and I have absolutely no doubt that SBC would not occupy the place it holds today if it had not been for his vision and energy.”
After presenting Mr Hume with a statuette of a mounted Border Reiver – the symbol of SBC – Mr Hutton told him: “This can only be a meagre token of our thanks, but it comes with our eternal gratitude for making SBC the strong and respected council it is today.”
In his response, Mr Hume said: “The last 30 years have shown me that local government can transform peoples’ lives, communities and places.
“During my time at SBC, I have worked with fantastic colleagues. This has taught me that organisations flourish when there is a culture of honesty, integrity and openness.
“Local government will continue to flourish if it holds to these principles, and stays firmly in the control of local people and communities.”
Andrew Lowe, director of social work, referred to Mr Hume’s “huge contribution to the Borders”, adding: “He inspired many managers to be the best they could be and to represent the best of the Borders whenever they travelled. Social work will always appreciate the contribution he made to the restoration of our good name.”
This is a reference to Mr Hume’s handling, shortly after his appointment in March 2002, of the notorious Miss X abuse case which ended with a massively damaging report about SBC social work services going to the Scottish Parliament.
Current council leader David Parker recalled recently: “It was David Hume who demanded inquiries and eventually convinced the minister for education and young people [Peter Peacock] not to take social work services away from his council altogether. For that alone, we should all be immensely grateful to him.”