Council chief exec Sue Bruce defends second job

Sue Bruce has defended her role on the board of SSE. Picture: Jayne Emsley
Sue Bruce has defended her role on the board of SSE. Picture: Jayne Emsley
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CITY chief executive Sue Bruce has issued an unprecedented explanation of her decision to take up a second job with power giants SSE – in an attempt to deflect criticism from the growing controversy.

The £160k-a-year official wrote to each of the city’s elected politicians late yesterday, issuing a multi-pointed rebuttal of criticism levelled at her following the shock decision to take up a role on the board of SSE.

She was criticised by unions last month, who said she should focus on her job at the helm of the Capital’s local authority.

And this week we revealed how the plum role is set to be placed under the microscope at this month’s full council meeting, where Tories will demand second jobs can only be accepted if they are in the best interests of taxpayers.

But in a rebuke, Ms Bruce has defended taking the £50,000 role,insisting her commitment to the council “remains undiminished”.

In the astonishing missive – leaked to the Evening News – she stresses no employment rules have been broken.

And she goes on to say that in taking up the role she has acted with the full backing of council leader, Andrew Burns.

But rather than dampen the jeers, her unprecedented actions have further fanned the flames of those who believe the authority’s leader should be concentrating on her main job.

One councillor, who did not want to be named, said it had simply “added to the unrest”.

“It has gone down like a tonne of bricks. Everybody is furious. She is clearly trying to justify her actions but people don’t buy it.

“We don’t think she will be in a position to offer the council role her full attention because there is clearly a potential for conflict of interest.

“A group e-mail is not going to change that.”

Ms Bruce, who is set to take up the non-executive director role in September, had already pledged to donate a slice of her salary to charitable causes in Edinburgh.

In the correspondence she announced her proceeds will “go to charities in Edinburgh or benefitting Edinburgh”.

She wrote: “This is 100 per cent my choice and sits consistently with other charitable contributions I have made whilst in this post (which to date are valued at around £16,000.)”

She added the “learning opportunity” of interacting with a FTSE top 30 company will benefit the council, saying she will be able to bring relevant transferable skill back.

However these pledges have been rejected by council sources who believe the role is “entirely self-serving.”

One said: “I think it is possible to do both jobs but something doesn’t sit right that she’ll be doing this while on leave. She’s entitled to leave, like anyone else, but it seems wrong to then work in the second job while obviously getting paid by the council.”

The council was contacted but no-one was available to comment.