Council spends £25k to find top officer

A WEST Suffolk council's decision to pay a private firm £25,000 to help find a new top officer has sparked an angry response.

Laurence Cawley

A WEST Suffolk council's decision to pay a private firm £25,000 to help find a new top officer has sparked an angry response.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council began its hunt for a new chief executive after Deborah Cadman announced she was leaving to head the East of England Development Agency.

The borough's new top officer will be paid up to £130,000 - compared with the £95,000 to £110,000 salary band of Mrs Cadman, who has now left.


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It comes at a time when the future is unclear for councils in Suffolk, with a decision due on July 7 on a major local Government shake-up.

St Edmundsbury has defended its £25,000 payment to AS Associates to oversee the recruitment process as standard practice when appointing senior officers.

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The £25,000 has covered the costs of the recruitment process as well as advertising the vacancy at a national level.

Reg Hartles, of campaign group Protest Against Council Tax in Suffolk, said the £25,000 paid was “an amazing amount of money” and voiced his concerns about the use of private firms by local authorities.

“You do end up paying through the noise of these types of service and the bill is always footed by the taxpayer,” he said.

But a spokeswoman for the council said: “As is normal with appointments at this level, a recruitment consultant has been engaged through a competitive process.

“The consultant has helped us to attract the widest range of applicants both through search and national advertising.

“The cost of this is £25,000 which is seen as an appropriate investment for this level of post.”

A shortlist of 19 candidates was drawn up and that number has been whittled down to six. They are being interviewed this week.

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