Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chief Executive of £262M in-debt Scottish Borders Council ‘absent for months’ as calls grow for inquiry into payoff for ex-Council boss David Hume

Tracey Logan, the absent ‘current’ Chief Executive Scottish Borders Council INFORMATION published under Freedom of Information laws has revealed the heavily indebted Scottish Borders Council (SBC), which has recently seen control of the council pass from a Toy-Libdem coalition to that of SNP-Libdem & independent, has been operating FOR MONTHS without a full time Chief Executive after the Council was forced to admit it’s ‘current’ Chief Executive, Tracey Logan, who took on the position after the controversial ‘retirement’ of former Chief Executive David Hume, has been ‘signed off work since February 14th 2012 in an ‘ongoing’ situation.

The absence of a full time Chief Executive at Scottish Borders Council comes at a critical time for the embattled south of Scotland local authority which has been heavily criticised for multiple scandals including millions of pounds lost in bankrupt Icelandic Banks and alarmingly poor control over how it spends taxpayers cash.

A statement released from Scottish Borders Council in response to a Freedom of Information request said : “I can advise that Tracey Logan was signed off on 14/02/12 and is ongoing. I cannot provide you with the reason why she has been signed off as this is personal information. The Council therefore relies on the exemption under Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA. The person who is Acting Chief Executive is Glenn Rodger. The Acting Chief Executive would receive an acting allowance if the situation continues for more than four weeks and would receive this until the return of Tracey Logan, Chief Executive.”

The campaigner who made the FOI request and has today distributed SBC’s response to media outlets, has pointed out Ms Logan’s absence from the top post at SBC began coincidentally only a matter of days before headlines broke in local Borders newspapers of a scandal surrounding the departure late last summer of Scottish Borders Council’s former Chief Executive, David Hume, a subject which has also been reported by Scottish Law Reporter HERE and more recently HERE.

An announcement made by the leader of Scottish Borders Council, David Parker, last August, claimed Mr Hume had “retired” from his post as Chief Executive, ironically just a few days after a scandal of huge credit card expenses claims made by Mr Hume was reported in national newspapers and featured by Scottish Law Reporter, HERE. However, documents obtained from Audit Scotland who looked at the Council’s finances told a different story of the departure of the SBC Chief Executive, referring to a “voluntary redundancy” application made by Mr Hume.

Meanwhile, a member of the public who continues to investigate the deeply suspicious circumstances of Mr Hume’s departure told journalists he believes “Mr Hume was pushed out of the top job and forced to take voluntary redundancy”.

The member of the public has also revealed he has evidence there were protracted negotiations between lawyers acting for Mr Hume and Scottish Borders Council over the terms & amount of Mr Hume’s so far secret publicly funded payoff.

It has also emerged there may be more than one angle to the scandal of Mr Hume’s departure after it was revealed by insiders that Council officials have refused to answer questions put by a member of the public who asked “..If Scottish Borders Council are or have been made aware by either David Hume or Tracey Logan of any business or personal relationships or conflicts of interest between either party occurring prior to Tracey Logan's appointment as Chief Executive and during the time Mr Hume was Chief Executive..”

The member of the public who asked the question relating to “relationships” between the former & current Chief Executives has indicated he is discussing the matter with journalists.

He said : “If anyone is off sick these days and tries to claim benefits they are put through torturous checks to make sure they are not playing the system. I therefore believe these same rules must apply to public employees especially those who hold critical positions in Councils which are known to treat their citizens & taxpayers very poorly. We clearly have a right to know if the current Chief Executive is coming back at this critical time for the Scottish Borders.”

Today, a Council insider confirmed the ongoing absence of SBC’s ‘current’ Chief Executive Ms Logan. He also indicated there was “considerable fear within certain quarters the truth about Mr Hume’s departure and events connected to it may eventually become public.”

Asked if Ms Logan was expected to return to her post as Chief Executive, the insider said he had no information either way.


While the Council fights to maintain the secrecy over Mr Hume’s departure and a rumoured significant financial payoff, Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney heaped more pressure on SBC by revealing to Holyrood the true extent of Scottish Borders Council’s debt situation, now standing at a staggering TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY TWO MILLION POUNDS,

Figures revealed by Mr Swinney in a written answer to Tory MSP, Margaret Scanlon revealed the debt situation at Scottish Borders Council had nearly DOUBLED in the past five years of Conservative-LibDem control, from a figure of £166,489 million in 2007 to a whopping £262,551m as of last year.

Mr Swinney also revealed Scottish Borders Council are forking out over TWELVE MILLION POUNDS A YEAR for interest on debts such as assets acquired under Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) or similar arrangements, a figure which has leapt from £9,090 million in 2007 to £12,273 million as of 2011.

Local campaigners in the Scottish Borders have criticised the scale of the problems at Scottish Borders Council and the apparent lack of any leadership or desire by the former Tory-Libdem coalition to stop the ever rising mountain of debt at Scottish Borders Council, which now equates to a sum of £2,403 & rising for every person living in the Scottish Borders as of this date.


Nosey Parker said...

The "relationship" is well known to SBC members of staff.The reasons why anyone would wish to hide this may link back to Mr Hume and that awful forced exit.

Anonymous said...

Excellent report - what is going on, and has been going on at the Scottish Borders Council for some time it seems, stinks to high heaven.

No-one in their right mind would allow any of these chancers within a mile of a budget, far less one of consisting of taxpayers funds and Public money.

Anonymous said...

Off since romantic considering the background story to this absence.

Time for the tabloids to get oot & aboot in Peebles!

Anonymous said...

I had a letter signed by Tracy Logan this month.

Anonymous said...

Story seems to be accurate if you pay attention to the SBC FOI archive

Freedom of information requests : Chief Executive
Title or Description Chief Executive
FOI Number 4550
Date Received 11/04/2012
Type of Request FOI
Request or Question I want to make a freedom of information request to find out when SBC Chief Executive xxxxxxx was signed off her duties as Chief Executive, the reason she has been signed off, who has taken over her role as Chief Executive, also if the person taking over the role is going to be paid extra, and how long Scottish Borders Council can operate with an acting Chief Executive until the position must be filled permanently.
Response I can advise that xxxxx was signed off on 14/02/12 and is ongoing. I cannot provide you with the reason why she has been signed off as this is personal information. The Council therefore relies on the exemption under Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA. The person who is Acting Chief Executive is xxxxx. The Acting Chief Executive would receive an acting allowance if the situation continues for more than four weeks and would receive this until the return of xxxxx, Chief Executive.

Anonymous said...

I have been told by SBC today that Mr Glenn Rodger is no longer the Acting Chief Executive, but SBC gives no indication that Ms Tracey Logan has returned.

That's two Acting CEOs they have lost in the last 3 months! SBC also seems to have a number of other senior posts unfilled - for example, there is currently no Director of Resources. One way of saving some money perhaps, so as to help fund the interest on the mounting debt - but not if they are all on long-term sick leave!

There appear many questions regarding competence and performance to be answered by the current SBC management team. Unfortunately, they display an arrogance regarding their own performance and an unwillingness to listen to alternative views. This is illustrated in many statements coming from the Newton St Boswells HQ. For example, prior to her absence, Ms Logan wrote that "we continue to excel in many areas" and that "we have been preparing and making changes to the way we work for many years in anticipation of the difficult times that we currently face." Really, SBC foresaw the global financial crisis? Shame it left its money with an Icelandic bank then!

Costs clearly need to be brought under control and performance improved. Time for a new broom to sweep away the existing management? Maybe that is something that the new administration should prioritise, before focusing on such SNP policies as removing free meals for councillors!