Anger at Sheffield agency executive recruitment

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RECRUITMENT of a new executive to work with business and Sheffield Council officials has caused controversy – as further harsh cuts hit public services.

Development agency Sheffield City Region local enterprise partnership is advertising for a Skills City Deal director, to be paid between £45,000 and £49,500 for a nine-month contract – the equivalent of up to £66,000 a year.

The role, which would be paid using public money, is to ‘lead private sector engagement, influence and initial leadership’ of the £72 million Skills City Deal, which is set to create 4,000 apprenticeships and workplace training for 2,000 more people.

The deal will be funded with £44.4 million of local public and private sector investment, and £27.8m from the Government.

But the decision to create the role – when the City Deal was created by existing council and business officials without the need for extra staff – has been criticised.

Paul Scriven, former Sheffield Council leader, who was instrumental in creating the LEP to replace regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, said: “When the LEP was set up there was a commitment they would not establish a large executive that spends extra money.

“Before anyone is recruited it would seem wise for the major councils to look at merging their existing economic development units to work together and cover roles such as this.”

Officials at the LEP stress the role is temporary.

Ben Still, LEP chief executive, said: “The role is seen as critical to ensuring we deliver on the deal. The decision was not taken lightly and only after exploring whether the specific skills needed were not already available from our existing shared resources.”