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Cash-strapped Derbyshire council paying out thousands to find new finance boss – and failing

today19 September 2022 1

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A cash-strapped Derbyshire council has spent thousands of pounds trying and failing to appoint a finance chief. Amber Valley Borough Council is on the road to recovery after experiencing extreme financial issues, putting it on the verge of potential Government intervention, but leadership over its coffers has proven hard to find.

The council says there has been a “failure to be able to attract permanent staff”. It has been searching since February to appoint someone to the role of executive director of resources, after long-time holder of the role, Sylvia Delahey, announced her impending resignation in April 2021.

This follows 18 months of severe financial hardship, during which Ms Delahey herself had warned councillors about their ideas for how to balance funds through proposed borrowing. With the council at one point facing a financial deficit of £2.8 million, she had written: “This is an extremely serious position for the council both financially and reputationally.”

Read more: Get the latest stories from Local Democracy Reporter Eddie Bisknell

In a report to be discussed by the council next week, officials write that a hunt to find someone to fill the role of executive director of resources had cost the recovering authority £13,500. It details that an initial hunt in February received a “poor response” and an extended search in March did not find any suitably experienced applicants.

After this it changed the name of the advertised role to finance director, with a reduced salary and the duties of returning officer and head of paid service removed. In response, the council only received applicants who were a “semi match” to the job specifications but nobody was appointed following initial interviews.

As a result, in June, the council agreed to advertise again with the original job specification, without the duty of monitoring officer, but with the assistance of an “executive search company”. The council says it has carried out a procurement process to select a “recruitment partner”, which will be selected “shortly”.

It says the cost of the search for an executive director of resources, along with a financial services manager, is estimated to be £13,500. The new advert will be published throughout September and October with interviews taking place during October and November. An interim appointment will be hired if this latest search is not successful.

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