Citizens Advice Scotland elects Rory Mair as new chair

The organisation has also elected a new board of trustees after making changes to the governance structure recommended by an independent review

Rory Mair
Rory Mair

Citizens Advice Scotland has elected a new chair and a new board of trustees, with only two members of the board retaining their seats.

The charity, which is the umbrella body for Citizens Advice bureaux in Scotland, ratified the overhaul of its board at its annual general meeting in Edinburgh yesterday.

This included the appointment of new chair Rory Mair, former chief executive of the umbrella body the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, plus six trustees from the organisations’ member bureaux and six external trustees.

The board previously had nine members, seven of which were drawn from member bureaux.

The only trustees to remain on the board will be Karen McGhee, from the West Lothian bureau, and Flora Martin, an external trustee.

The change of board comes after a difficult 18 months for the charity, which began when its chief executive, Margaret Lynch, was suspended in August 2015, then dismissed in February 2016 after an investigation.

Weeks later, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which provided 70 per cent of the charity’s funding in 2015, withheld half of its annual funding and ordered the charity to carry out an independent governance review, according to reports.

The review, carried out by the accountancy firm Deloitte, found that the charity was "not fit for purpose", revealed "dysfunctional" and "unprofessional" dynamics among trustees and made 32 recommendations for improving the board’s structure.

These included a call for more trustees to be external rather than drawn from the charity’s member bureaux, the introduction of a six-year tenure limit for trustees and a new five-year strategic plan for the charity.

The charity’s former chair, Dominic Notarangelo, quit just before the review was published after discovering it contained criticisms of his leadership.

The reforms were accepted by a vote in January, after being postponed from November when four member bureaux took last-minute legal action to prevent the vote going ahead.

The changes to the board’s membership will take place with immediate effect.

Mair said: "I am delighted to be elected to this position. Throughout my career I have always been aware of the enormous contribution the Citizens Advice network makes to Scotland, both in supporting individuals and campaigning for positive change.

"As chair of Citizens Advice Scotland, I will use my skills and experience to support that valuable process and to ensure the voice of citizens continues to be heard by policy and decision-makers."

Agnes Robson, the charity’s acting chair, said: "We are very pleased that Rory Mair will be the chair of Citizens Advice Scotland. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of the public sector, and his record is one of energy, action and delivery.

"He is the ideal person to take forward Citizens Advice in Scotland at a time when people, more than ever, need the impartial advice and advocacy provided by the service."

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