Council’s new Executive Director lacks necessary experience

Argyll and Bute Council has appointed a new Executive Director to replace the departed Sandy MacTaggart. The responsibilities of the post are for economic development and infrastructure and include the unmanaged CHORD projects.

Economic development in Argyll and Bute is a matter observed theoretically rather than in practice. There is nothing recognisable as an economic development strategy.


  • There is the Dunoon linkspan fiasco – built speculatively and in the wrong place.
  • There is the Port Askaig development which was wrongly conceived and cost a fortune to address.
  • There have been debates but no action in access to the slate islands of Easdale and Luing.
  • The most unimaginative sink solution was adopted for more housing in Oban – the dread Dunbeg Corridor, which has every possibility of ruining what’s left of the charm of this once glorious bayside west coast town.
  • The plan for Helensburgh;’s CHORD project was to devastate Colquhoun Square with an utterly gross and out of place desert that would have been a skateboard park in a wink.
  • The management of the CHORD projects, to date, has been woeful, with little action and a fortune spent on consultants.

It was obvious that what this council needed was some serious project management experience and what this area needed was muscular economic development capability.

So what have we got?

The successful appointee is from the east coast urban capital, from the council that gave Scotland the most expensive and slow maturing tram service in the world – but is Waste Services Manager, not a senior responsibility and in a major city council.

Moreover, waste services are not an issue here in Argyll – although if someone starts to get to grips with the mystery of what happens to salmon morts, it might become more important.

Sally Milne – who has been appointed surprisingly quickly, is being described as ‘a pal of Sally Louden’s', the council’s CEO.  She has no senior management experience, no project management experience and no economic developemnt experience.

But hey, this is Argyll and Bute. When has the right experience mattered?

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29 Responses to Council’s new Executive Director lacks necessary experience

  1. Many of us are very concerned about Sally appointing Pippa Milne despite her unsuitability but councillors have no say in this.
    Argyll and Bute is still suffering from appointing an inexperienced Chief Executive who calls in Audit Scotland to bail her out.
    No-one with any quality, experience or ambition wanted to work in our management team.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 32 Thumb down 8

      • Robert
        There was an appointments panel of 7 councillors of Dick’s choosing but it was the Chief Executive’s decision. The panel got a lot of “guidance” to the “right” candidate but it seems only Dick Walsh and Ellen Morton knew about the relationship between Sally and Pippa. Audit Scotland may now be taking an interest in this.
        We can expect no beter.
        The selected candidate fell so short of the mark – was there no-one in Argyll or even Helensburgh who could do this job? No-one capable of promotion in the council? No-one from HIE, SE or the private sector who would have the more crtical economic development skills? How are we to keep a skilled population if there is no career paths for our young professionals?
        It is shocking behaviour by Argyll and Bute Council.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

  2. The council’s waste management improvement under Sandy MacTaggart is much better than anything achieved by Edinburgh. You may joke but this is a chaotic council with no effective leadership – political or management. Audit Scotland got that right but things are getting worse by the day.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 27 Thumb down 6

  3. Welcome Ms Milne to the small-minded little world that is FA.

    You’ll appreciate that it doesn’t matter now how good your transferable skills are or how effective you are at your work. All that is meaningless because Newsie has already judged you (yes, yes, I know it’s unfair and I know you haven’t even started yet) but that is of no consequence. See regardless, you have been found wanting, dubbed a failure because you lack the necessary experience.

    You can relax of course as a stranger you just won’t that Newsie is a just tired, bitter, sad ould bat whose OCD with all things negative about the council is matched only by her complete inability to be fair or even-handed.

    You’ll enjoy Argyll Ms Milne, it’s a wonderful place with nice people. And believe me, you’ll enjoy it all the more if you just ignore the said ould bat. :)

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 44

  4. Typical, another appointee that Sally “Puppetmaster” Loudon can control.

    Waste Management? She’ll be shovelling lots of it here in Argyll & Bute. Good luck Ms Milne, I sincerely hope you will prove us all wrong and be an officer of integrity and honesty at the council.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 9

  5. Lynda did her homework this time.
    Read her CV on Linkedin and another lawyer – just what the council needs! What did she do between 1991 and 1996?

    Waste Services Manager – City of Edinburgh Council
    October 2008 – Present (5 years 3 months)
    Refuse Collection, Recycling, Waste Disposal, Street Cleansing, Public Conveniences

    Recycling and Waste Manager – Leeds City Council
    October 2002 – September 2008 (6 years)

    Team Manager – Borough of Poole
    1998 – 2002 (4 years)

    Trading Standards Officer – Telford & Wrekin Council
    1996 – 1998 (2 years)

    University of Aberdeen
    LL.B 1988 – 1991

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

    • I would guess she was being a trainee solicitor and discovering either she didn’t like it or wasn’t good enough at it to progress; it doesn’t pay that well unless/until you become a partner or are lucky and talented enough to join one of the big London law firms.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  6. I would like to offer Pippa Milne my congratulations in getting this post, and wish her every success. Clearly her management skills will stand her in good stead, and I hope she gets full support from the councillors in quickly getting to grips with the current situation.

    It is such a shame that the FA article is so negative towards her, and the usual sycophants creeping out of the woodwork to join in, based on no facts just bitterness.

    If Ms Milne has been appointed, her success is closely linked to ours so surely that’s worthy of support?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 16

  7. I don’t think we should pre-judge the lady.

    However I think we should judge the person she has succeeded.

    I look around Argyll & Bute and just see a complete lack of ambition and coherent plan for transformational change.

    A dead hand at the tiller.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  8. Err.. Graeme she has succeeded Sandy MacTaggart not the Chief Executive…but if you continue to see “a complete lack of ambition and coherent plan for transformational change.” you can blame lay the majority of the blame at the feet of the disastrous SNP administrations..

    And if you still don’t like the way things have been getting done then you will have a chance to influence decisions as A&B Council, because in a departure from the norm, are planning to ask people across A&B for their views on the Council spending plans over the next three years.

    Mind you I’ve not read anything about this novel consultation anywhere on FA – so either it’s not happening (that’s a joke it is happening) or FA know FA about FA and will never allow facts to get in the way of their prejudices.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 13

    • It was one of several announcements sneaked out during the festive period – box ticking without real meaning. Budget consultations have been the norm for years – ask for views then ignore them. The budget decisions have already been delegated to council officers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  9. Judge or be judged
    Give the person a chance. You will find out quick enough how good or bad they are.
    NEWSIE you are back to your old distasteful ways again. Can I ask have you seen the persons full cv ? Were you at the interviews – did you see the other candidates.?
    It would appear you have based your judgement on the council whispers in your ear lope and are being used or are willing to be used for a bit of tittle tattle. So where is your source? Honesty integrity?
    Haven’t used this in weeks
    i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
    ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.
    iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
    iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published
    Ps Happy New Year – any new resolutions?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 11

  10. I would agree the new appointment should be judged on results and not automatically tarnished by the inactivity of the person chiefly responsible for appointing her.

    You have to recognise that A&B will struggle far more to appoint experienced hands than more urban councils will. Moving to A&BC is a lifestyle choice as well. It can limit the pool and create employment problems. My guess is this is why we ended up with the current chief exec instead of someone more experienced and competent. Fingers crossed this isn’t the same situation but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt at the outset.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 6

  11. It’s a shame that the lady is welcomed into her new job with hostility and negativity – season of goodwill? has she continually failed in her past posts?, or does that not matter. I think it only fair that she is given the chance to prove herself before she is condemned. Good luck to her!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

    • We do not intend to be unfair to the appointee,Iain. The criticism is of those responsible for the appointment, putting in place a mismatch with the demands of a very senior post.
      You do not appoint a Waste Services Manager with no experience of economic development and infrastructure brief – effectively as a trainee at the highest level of local authority posts in the specialism.
      It’s the equivalent of appointing a very capable district nurse as a consultant neurosurgeon and hoping they can pick it up as they go along. The district nurse is a consummate and successful professional – but not the right kind of professional for the job in question.
      We may well be oonsidered unkind and rude for what we have said – but tbis job is not a kick-about in the park.
      This is about the survivability of Argyll, with its undeveloped and troubled economy. It could not be more important.
      This is not a serious appointment for this very serious job. The salary is £92,000.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 11

      • Regardless of your thoughts as to the persons ability – what was the budget of the Edinburgh City Councils waste department? compared to what the lady will be responsible for here – is there a big difference – obviously there is the geographical difference, I’m sure the professionalism within Edinburgh city Council will bring some positives for Argyll and Bute. Our sustainability and our eceonomy relies on new methods which very well may be something this lady will bring to Argyll and Bute.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 10

  12. Simon,

    I am well aware that Mr Mactaggart was not CE.

    He was in a position to make real change and inspire councillors.

    While councillors take ultimate decisions they are at best enthusiastic and talented amateurs who depend on high paid professionals to guide and advise.

    I have been involved in a Housing Expo project for Helensburgh with a number of Housing professionals and government advisors.

    We all gave our time freely and willingly with no presumption that we would benefit individually but that our community needed to be transformed for future generations arguably at no cost to the Council

    Once it reached senior management on the
    Council it just stalled. At one meeting I attended I was staggered at the ignorance of officials to various schemes which other councils have employed to grow local economies and housing projects.

    I am sure folk from other parts of A & B can quote other proposals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  13. “The panel got a lot of “guidance” to the “right” candidate but it seems only Dick Walsh and Ellen Morton knew about the relationship between Sally and Pippa. Audit Scotland may now be taking an interest in this.”
    Dick Walsh being secretive and duping his followers is nothing new. Donlad Kelly should know better, the rest were Dick’s.
    Better qualified locals being overlooked to let Sally Louden double her friend’s salary is a disgrace. I hope Audit Scotland investigate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

    • Who are the better qualified locals? Of Sandy MacTaggart’s immediate juniors the Head of Economic Development resigned at Christmas and the Head of Planning didn’t apply which is perhaps a statement in itself. There’s not a lot left.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. I look forward to a prosperous new beginning with the new appointment – I hope a lady with her own mind and not controlled which seems to be the norm. I certainly hope there will be a difference made as we in A&G deserve much much better than we have had dished up in the past. Big problem is that to make a difference will take time – how does one get a benchmark to measure her against as the past almost anyone could make a better difference and for much less salary, and over what period – that is difficult. Should she fail what actions could be taken – none again if the past is anything to go by. I sincerely hope she will be a women with strong character and mind to stand up to the puppeteers and get the job done for the good of Argyll.
    On a slightly better note: I enjoy reading all comments on FA, not all factual, true, somber, sad or indeed my own views but I would take this opportunity to wish every one a Happy and Prosperous New year and whatever your wishes for 2014 be fulfilled.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  15. Happy New Year to FA and all readers and contributors.

    Can we now plan for a huge party at the Rest and Be Thankful Car Park as the sun rises on 19/9/2014 with Newsie picking up the tab?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

    • Graeme, I am delighted that you have now seen the light and been converted to the Better Together campaign.

      A massive success party is being organised for the Rest and Be Thankful on 19 September 2014 which you will be welcome to attend. I am sure that will be much better than the Yes commiseration wake in the phone box at Inveraray.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

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