SCOTTISH Borders Council is on the lookout for a new top official following the shock retirement, announced at the weekend, of David Hume, chief executive for the past nine years.
The 58-year-old will officially give up his £116,000-a-year job on August 15 – but is currently on sick leave and TheSouthern understands he is unexpected to return by that date.
A press release from the council attributes the departure of Mr Hume, who moved to live in Peebles earlier this year, to “a change in his personal circumstances”, but an SBC spokesperson confirmed that he is declining to be interviewed.
However, the release contains the following statement from Mr Hume: “In the last nine years we have implemented a programme of change and improvement which has transformed the council and improved the quality of life in the Scottish Borders.
“As chief executive, it has been a privilege to lead and direct these changes. However, the greatest privilege of all has been to work with council colleagues, colleagues from other agencies, and the people of Borders communities who never fail to demonstrate their remarkable characteristics of commitment, integrity and intelligence.
“I thank them all and reserve special thanks for employees of Scottish Borders Council who, in my opinion, are simply the best.”
SBC leader David Parker confirmed that a special meeting of the local authority to discuss the process of recruiting a replacement would take place on July 31.
“We will definitely be appointing a new chief executive who we hope will be in place by October,” said Mr Parker, revealing there would be a rota of acting chief executives in the interim.
The three are director of resources Tracey Logan, who also lives in Peebles, director of social work Andrew Lowe from Innerleithen and director of education and lifelong learning Glenn Rodger, who resides in East Lothian.
A council insider claimed all three were possible contenders for the top job and the rota system had been designed to give each “a level playing field” during the recruitment process.
Mr Parker this week paid tribute to Mr Hume, describing his contribution to the council as “enormous” since he took over in March, 2002.
“David knew the massive challenges we faced, not least because the education department was on its knees in the aftermath of the infamous £3.9million overspend,” recalled Mr Parker.
He added: “At David’s first meeting, the chamber was surrounded by noisy demonstrators and, just weeks later, the then leader Drew Tullie resigned, with John Ross Scott taking over, with me as his deputy.
“Then came the start of one of the most damaging episodes in the history of local government in the Borders: the so-called Miss X abuse case which ended with a massively damaging report about our social work services going to the Scottish Parliament.
“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 this council altogether. For that alone, we should all be immensely grateful to him.
“He departs with the best wishes of all elected members and staff. He leaves a council in good heart, transformed under his leadership.”
Mr Hume studied geography at St Andrews University and graduated with a BSc (Hons) in 1976. He gained an MSc in town planning from the University of Wales in 1980 and, in 1992, obtained a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Edinburgh.
He was employed from 1980 to 1986 with Strathclyde Regional Council before joining Lothian Regional Council, securing the post of depute director of corporate service in 1992. On the reorganisation of local government in 1996, he became deputy director of strategic policy with Edinburgh City Council, being appointed director of strategic policy in 1998.
z The revelation that Mr Hume is on sick leave coincides with the release of statistics on illness absence at the council for the last four financial years, revealed in a response to a Freedom of Information request.
A total of 194,170 hours were lost through sickness at a financial cost to the council of £15.437million.
The year-by-year breakdown is as follows: 2007-8 – 47,247 hours, £3,589,751; 2008/09 – 51,957 hours, £3,935,571; 2009/10 – 49,880 hours, £3,961,437; 2010/11 – 45,086 hours, £3,952,614.