Former Kennet boss lands top job in Shetlands

This Is Wiltshire: Mark Boden Mark Boden

Former Kennet District Council chief executive Mark Boden has landed a similar job with the Shetland Islands Council less than a year after being made redundant from Wiltshire Council.

His £130,000 a year job as corporate director of operations with Wiltshire Council was made redundant along with the county’s chief executive Andrew Kerr last December as Wiltshire councillors decided to lose jobs at the top to help it reduce its budget.

On Tuesday the Shetland Islands Council confirmed that Mr Boden, formerly a Territorial Army officer during his ten years at Kennet, had beaten five other candidates to take charge of Scotland’s wealthiest per capita local authority which is currently going through traumatic change as it strives to slash spending by around 25 per cent.

The 54-year-old who was born and brought up in South Wales is a trained lawyer whose local government career began in 1980 at Oxford County Council and subsequently included both rural and urban authorities.

He rose to become chief executive for ten years at Kennet District Council which won the accolade of being one the lowest-cost councils in England.

In 2009 Mr Boden became heavily involved in creating the new single unitary authority which has replaced all five of the predecessor district councils in Wiltshire with Swindon remaining an independent unitary council.

Shetland Islands Council convenor Malcolm Bell said: “He is an experienced chief executive who has experienced successful change management, and someone who frankly had done his homework and was able to convince us that he would do the job required of him.”

The cuts forced on Wiltshire were similar to those faced by the SIC, with more than ten per cent of its budget being slashed in a single year. Mr Boden lost his job in Wiltshire when the senior management was reduced from five to three.

Over the last ten months Mr Boden has undertaken some voluntary work and helped set up a charity for apprenticeships before deciding to look for a new opening in local government.

He said: “I restricted my search to things that appealed and to be honest the job in Shetland appealed more than anything. Most jobs tick a few boxes, but Shetland ticks loads.

“It’s a fabulous place with lovely people and there’s lots of opportunities for the islands in terms of gas, renewable energy, decommissioning, superfast broadband…all sorts of interesting things where you could make a real difference.

“I wanted to get this right. I did my research and the more I read the more I liked. I don’t want to be a fly by night, this is a long term commitment for me.”

Mr Boden is married with a grown up son and expects to start his new £97,000 a year job in early October.

He replaces interim chief executive Alistair Buchan who returns to lead Orkney Islands Council after spending the past two years implementing an improvement programme in Shetland following a damning report by local government watchdog The Accounts Commission in 2010.

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