Suffolk: County council leader defends appointment of tourism ‘ambassador’

THE leader of Suffolk County Council has defended the selection of a fellow Conservative to act as an “ambassador” to host visits by foreign journalists to the county during the London Olympics.

Tim Passmore, the leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, was appointed to the role – for which he will be paid up to �300 per day, up to a maximum of �10,000 – without a formal selection process being undertaken.

But Mark Bee, the county council leader, who, together with the council’s deputy chief executive, authorised the appointment following discussions at a meeting of local authority leaders last autumn, denied a suggestion it was a case of “jobs for the Tory boys”.

Notes taken during the discussion state: “It was noted that Cllr Passmore’s expertise should be utilised.”

But Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere, the only Labour figure at the meeting, said: “I don’t think anyone at the meeting thought we had agreed to Mr Passmore’s appointment as Olympic ambassador. This sounds to me like jobs for the Tory boys.”

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Mr Bee said, however, that the county was keen to use Mr Passmore’s experience, given his previous role as interim chief executive of the former tourism organisation Choose Suffolk. Costs of the visits would be expected to come from the hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions featured.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman confirmed that the job had not been advertised, but said this was due to it being a time-limited pilot arrangement and a role which needed to be put in place quickly. The appointment had been passed by the authority’s scrutiny officer, he added.

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