Council under scrutiny over Sue Bruce’s second job

Council chief executive Sue Bruce. Picture: Julie Bull

Council chief executive Sue Bruce. Picture: Julie Bull

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A PLUM role taken on by the council’s top official is set to come under the microscope as city leaders face a grilling over her second job.

Senior councillors and officials will be quizzed at the next full council meeting on August 22 over what talks took place ahead of chief 
executive Sue Bruce taking on a £50,000-a-year position on the board of energy giant SSE.

Edinburgh Conservatives have demanded that officials should only be allowed to accept extra jobs if the role is deemed in the best interests of taxpayers. They now want answers over exactly how much time Ms Bruce will spend away from the council and whether she sought approval from officials. The Evening News revealed earlier this month that Ms Bruce would pocket £32,000 worth of shares in the non-executive director role she is set to begin in September. She is required to snap up 2000 SSE shares to join the board.

She has pledged to donate a chunk of her salary to charitable causes, but her decision to work for SSE one day a month has come under fire from union chiefs who want her to concentrate on her £158,553-a-year job leading the city.

Her second job will take her away from two weeks of council business every year.

Colinton/Fairmilehead Ward councillor Jason Rust, who will table questions over Ms Bruce’s decision, said it was “vital” that taxpayers had answers.

He said: “It is only right that we should be fully aware of work commitments of our senior officers outwith their council remit.

“The council has responsibility for a budget in excess of £1 billion a year and employs 15,000 people.

“It is therefore especially vital that the processes here are transparent and that we know exactly what discussions took place within the council in the lead-up to this 
appointment.

“It is also legitimate in terms of governance for us to have a thorough understanding of the procedures in place where highly paid officials assume other roles.”

The grilling looms as a potential embarrassment for Ms Bruce, who will be present at the August full council meeting.

She has previously said it was a “privilege” to have been offered the chance to join the SSE board.

Outrage over her appointment comes just months after the energy giant was fined £10.5 million for ripping off a million customers in a major mis-selling scandal.

John Stevenson, branch president of the city council’s largest union, Unison, said a more transparent system for declaring financial interests should exist for both politicians and council officials.

He said: “We’d like to see some criteria set so everyone knew where they stood. I’m pretty sure that a middle manager in the council who said ‘I’m going to work for another organisation and get paid for it a day or so a month in 
council time’ would be given pretty short shrift by their managers.”

A city council spokeswoman said the authority had yet to receive the Tories’ questions, but she added: “If we do, will deal with them in the normal fashion.”