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'Champion of young people' appointed as new chief executive of Highland Council

By Niall Harkiss

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Highland Council has confirmed the appointment of Derek Brown as its new chief executive.

Mr Brown will begin his new role after leaving his post as deputy chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council.

Newly appointed chief executive of Highland Council, Derek Brown.
Newly appointed chief executive of Highland Council, Derek Brown.

Highland Council had appointed Kate Lackie as acting depute chief executive on an interim basis following the departure of Donna Manson in February.

The local authority say that a start date for Mr Brown is still to be confirmed.

A former teacher, Mr Brown started his career in an international school in Madrid, before working as an English teacher in North Lanarkshire and Fife.

He later worked as a depute head teacher in Glasgow and a head teacher for five years with Aberdeen City Council.

He left that post to join Fife Council as Head of Children’s Services in 2014, where he worked on post-16 pathways, improving educational performance and overseeing schools in North East Fife.

In 2018, he was seconded from Fife Council to the Scottish Government as a professional advisor to work on the national improvement framework. He subsequently joined North Lanarkshire Council where, before taking on his current role of deputy chief executive, he held the post of executive director of education, children and families.

More recently, he has also overseen the enterprise and communities directorate, with responsibilities for strategic capital development, economic development, corporate property, housing, procurement, regulatory services, parks and roads.

A frequent visitor to the Highlands, Derek, along with his family, says he loves to explore and absorb himself in the literature, history and heritage of the area. He is also currently learning Gaelic, which he hopes to have opportunities to improve in his new role.

The new chief executive said: “I have always been inspired by the wonderful places and people of the Highlands, which I have had a lifelong interest in exploring and enjoying.

"I am very proud to have the opportunity to serve the public in the Highlands and to devote myself to addressing the challenges the region faces, as well as realising its great potential and future opportunities.

"I am keen to build on the rich culture and heritage and to work with staff, elected members and communities to bring forward a uniting vision for the future of the Highlands.”

Derek was appointed by a senior members’ appointment panel.

Council convener Bill Lobban said: "I am excited to welcome Derek to his new role. He brings with him great experience, especially when it comes to championing young people and overseeing significant economic success in North Lanarkshire.

"In his previous roles he has shown a commitment to delivering high quality public services, with a real understanding of what it means to provide leadership. I look forward very much to working with him to make public services in the Highlands the very best they can be.

"I would also like to express my thanks to acting chief executive, Kate Lackie for the highly professional way she has led the council through a very difficult period and hope that she will continue to make a valuable contribution to the council’s future success."

Council leader Raymond Bremner added: “I am delighted to welcome Derek to his new role, and I very much look forward to working with him to provide improved, quality services to the people of the Highlands.”

Mr Bremner also expressed his thanks to Ms Lackie.

He added: “(Ms Lackie) has successfully steered the council through the budget, publication of the corporate plan and managed a range of strategic issues during this time.”

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