The hunt for a new Burnley Council chief executive could cost taxpayers a staggering £25,000.
The amount, which was originally set at £40,000, was agreed at a meeting of the council’s Executive on Tuesday. It will go on consultancy fees and advertising.
Unison branch secretary Peter Thorne has slammed the figure saying in the wake of ongoing cuts he could not understand how £25,000 was deemed an appropriate amount.
Even more shocking is the fact it comes a week before the council officially begins the process of looking to outsource its key services to private contractors – a move which could put a number of jobs at risk.
Mr Thorne said: “Even though it has gone down to £25,000, that is still a lot of money. It’s one well paid job. There are obviously advertising costs and you cannot get around those, but the majority of this will be consultancy fees. We have recruited before and done alright so I don’t understand why we need these consultants. Surely there is enough experience already here to help with the process.
“I don’t think people are going to be a particularly happy about this, especially at a time when there have been 10 redundancies this year.”
The report put before the council’s Executive committee stated that a specific budget needed to be established for this project and £40,000 “should be sufficient”.
It read: “As well as the costs of consulting advice, the budget needs to be sufficient to cover the cost of advertising the post.”
Council leader Mark Townsend moved to reduce the proposed budget to £25,000 and said costs would be met from the savings which will be made on the chief executive’s salary during the period the post will be vacant.
A statement from then council said that the “money would used to appoint independent advisors to work with the council to advertise the post nationally and go through a rigorous recruitment process; advertising costs alone are expected to be around £6,000”.
Coun. Townsend said he did not expect all the money to be spent, adding: “This is a very crucial post for Burnley and it is important for the town that we appoint a Chief Executive who can continue the important economic growth and regeneration projects which Steve Rumbelow has initiated whilst in post. The person appointed will also have to work with myself and other councillors to steer the council through the very challenging financial pressures that we face as well as maintain the high standards of service that our community deserves.”
And the challenging times look set to continue with the first part of the council’s Change Programme being rolled out.
Next week an official notice will be published setting out information about which council services could be delivered in a new way in future, and a “pre-qualification questionnaire” for companies who may be interested in tendering for work and meeting the council’s objectives.
Mr Thorne said: “It will be looking at all services and obviously these are very worrying times. Thankfully, it is a long drawn out process. There are conditions in place that should ensure staff move over with the same conditions but what you find is that these private contractors have their own conditions. It really is a time of great upheaval.”