Council deputy Alastair Maclean leaves after top job snub

Alastair Maclean. Picture: Neil Hanna
Alastair Maclean. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE high-flying legal expert who is second in command at the city council is quitting after failing to get the top job.

Deputy chief executive Alastair Maclean is leaving his £150,000 a year post to return to the private sector after six years with the authority.

His resignation is the latest in a string of top-level departures from the council.

And it comes at a crucial time as councillors and officials search for massive savings to plug a £126 million black hole in city finances.

Mr Maclean, 42, is moving to be group head of legal at Edinburgh-based financial services firm Baillie Gifford, in the new year.

In a memo to staff, chief executive Andrew Kerr said he was sorry Mr Maclean was going. He said: “I have personally enjoyed working with Alastair since I joined the council earlier this year and I know he has made a significant contribution to the success of the organisation throughout his time here.”

Mr Maclean joined the council in 2009 from city law firm Maclay Murray & Spens and was promoted to director of corporate governance two years later. Earlier this year he added chief operating officer and deputy chief executive to his titles.

Mr Maclean was backed by the SNP group to become chief executive after Dame Sue Bruce retired earlier this year, but he lost out to Mr Kerr, former boss of Cornwall Council, who was the choice of Labour councillors.

A senior council source said: “It often happens at senior level, if someone is not successful at getting the next step up they will start to look to the future.

“There was no animosity or friction between Alastair and the new chief executive.”

Another insider said: “He did always talk about going back to the private sector. He must be disappointed at not getting to the chief executive job and if this opportunity came along it’s not surprising he would seize it.

“But there’s nothing to say he might not come back to the council or some other public sector role in the future.”

Mr Maclean is the fifth senior figure to leave the council in less than 18 months. Mark Turley last year quit his post as director of services for communities. In July, it emerged that Peter Gabbitas, former director of health and social care, would step down after being sent on leave amid reports of huge overspends in his department. Dame Sue retired as chief executive in the summer.

And Greg Ward, executive director of economy and city strategy, the man behind key developments such as the £850 million St James revamp and the £1 billion City Deal is stepping down next month to move to London’s Westminster Council.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com