It hasn’t even been six months since I came into post as Keeper of the Registers of Scotland. I already feel like so much has happened and I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year has in store for us.
Since joining RoS at the beginning of April, I’ve divided my time between getting to meet as many members of staff as possible, gaining a thorough understanding of exactly how the business works, and meeting some of our external partners and stakeholders who form an important part of the RoS extended family. I have also been undertaking some of the more official and public aspects of my role here.
One of my first official duties as Keeper was the signing of Royal Commissions. That wasn’t a typical day at the office. The Commissions are hand-calligraphed documents that form the final element of Crown appointments such as Queen’s Counsel, Lords-Lieutenant and High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In many respects, the signing of the Commissions feels like a world away from the increasingly digital landscape we are working within, but it was a privilege to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors and add my signature to these important documents in this time-honoured tradition.
I also delivered a keynote speech at the Law Society Scotland conveyancing conference in June. Openness, transparency, and accountability are just three of the values that sit at the heart of what I want to achieve as Keeper so I was delighted to be able to talk directly to a key stakeholder group about some of the challenges facing RoS. I was able to outline some of the actions I will oversee in order to address concerns that they had, as well as talk about what lies ahead for us. It felt positive to talk to our customers about the future of RoS as I see it beginning to unfold.
We are focussed on the objectives in our published corporate plan. We aim to make ScotLIS – the platform of choice for land and property information by the end of 2018, which will help us take an important step towards realising our goal of becoming a fully digital business by 2020. We also intend to have made significant progress towards completion of the Land Register by 2021, in order to meet our 2024 Land Register completion target. A completed land register will be a national asset for Scotland, making property transactions easier, faster and cheaper. It will provide a single, comprehensive, publically searchable, map-based record of exactly who owns what across the country. Scotland can be proud to be home to the world’s oldest national land register – the General Register of Sasines was 400 years old last year – and a completed Land Register will be a significant milestone for us, and keeps us at the forefront of land and property registration.
While those objectives are important and provide us with a focus, I want RoS to be known as an organisation that delivers outstanding customer service for all of our customers. I’ve been impressed by the way that we are leading the way with the introduction of digital services, and the ongoing work to ensure that we continue to find new ways of delivering the kind of services that our customers want. I also want us to demonstrate that we are a great employer that values its staff. Our smart working environment, flexibility, and our commitment to equality across the business are just some of the ways that we nurture our team, and foster a healthy work-life balance. RoS is an outstanding example of an arms-length body in the Scottish Government that delivers efficiently on its core role and strategic objectives, while supporting wider Scottish Government objectives and I’m proud to be playing my part in that.
Maintaining the momentum will certainly keep us busy, but I’ve no doubt that we have the right team to deliver the exceptional services that meet the needs of all of our customers.