Council top official is latest chief to quit

ANOTHER top official at the city council is to quit his post at the end of the month, sparking claims of a “leadership vacuum”.
The council's East Market Street HQ. Picture: Scott LoudenThe council's East Market Street HQ. Picture: Scott Louden
The council's East Market Street HQ. Picture: Scott Louden

Peter Gabbitas, director of health and social care, went on leave last month amid concern of overspending in his department.

Now he has asked for voluntary severance and had his request accepted.

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Mr Gabbitas, who is believed to earn around £120,000 a year, was in charge of integrating NHS and council health and social care services in the Capital. He was said to have come under increasing pressure after the integration scheme ran millions of pounds over budget. The decision that he should take annual leave was agreed after talks between council chief executive Sue Bruce and NHS Lothian boss Tim Davison, who jointly oversaw his role.

His departure is the latest in a series which has seen senior officials leaving the council.

Dave Anderson resigned in November 2012 after being suspended from his post over the statutory repairs saga.

In July last year, Mark 
Turley quit his post as director of services for communities after being suspended eight weeks earlier.

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And chief executive Sue Bruce is due to go at the end of the month after announcing in February that she was retiring.

Tory councillor Dominic Heslop said: “This is yet another departure of a senior official who has enjoyed a nice little period of gardening leave and now can voluntarily apply for what no doubt will be some form of generous package.

“This is the latest in a long list of top officials leaving. Consequently we have had various individuals placed in temporary positions for some time – something which I raised in the chamber last year with the council leader who said these ‘acting-up’ positions would be resolved by last Christmas. Nothing has happened.

“With the chief executive now departing and the number of chiefs of departments leaving, it is clear we have a vacuum in leadership at the council.”

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In a briefing note to councillors, officials said Mr Gabbitas had applied for voluntary severance under NHS Lothian’s normal voluntary severance arrangements and the application had been approved.

The note continued: “Peter will leave his post on Friday, July 31 and will remain on leave until that date. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter for his considerable efforts to improve health and social care in Edinburgh over the last decade and we wish him well for his future.”

It said the new post of Chief Officer for the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board would be advertised shortly and it was hoped an appointment could be made in the next three months.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “There has been a significant turnover in senior posts but they have all been filled promptly. Andrew Kerr, the new chief executive starts on July 27 and I have no doubt he will bring a new sense of energy and freshness that will be very positive.”