Council defends £243,000 spent recruiting 20 top officers

West Sussex County Council SUS-160531-124255001

West Sussex County Council SUS-160531-124255001

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The county council has defended £243,000 spent on 20 recruitment campaigns for top officers in the last two years.

The decision by West Sussex County Council to pay £27,000 to specialist recruitment consultants when it hired new chief executive Nathan Elvery earlier this year was described as ‘quite shocking at a time of austerity’ by opposition members.

Now it has been revealed that since February 2014 a total of 20 recruitment campaigns have cost the authority a total of £243,000.

Robin Rogers (LDem, Northbrook), who posed the question at a recent full council meeting, asked if it was considered a good use of public funds, and questioned why they had spent money recruiting for an executive director for residents’ services only to abolish the post, as well as three posts that needed filling twice since 2014.

Mr Rogers added: “This is either very careless or not a good use of funds.”

But Bob Lanzer (Con Maidenbower), WSCC’s cabinet member for corporate relations, explained that if you compared their budget for top posts since 2014 an ‘efficient recruiting process’ had led to savings of around £5.5m for taxpayers.

He added: “The use of a recruitment agency was instrumental in securing a very strong top team which we have today.”

He explained that one of the posts Mr Rogers had mentioned had seen a retirement, with another post-holder had left the county council to work elsewhere.

Given several of the director level posts are interim appointments and will need to be advertised again, Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) asked if the county council had considered running a senior staff recruitment agency on behalf of other local authorities.

Mr Lanzer replied: “Of course we like to cooperate with other local authorities and if anyone wants to put a question to me about how we do that I’m happy to cooperate with that.”

On interim staff, Mr Lanzer said they would always prefer to have permanent staff in place and as well as delivering value for money for the council.

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