Monday, October 19, 2009

Degenerate regeneration

Don’t panic!

Stay calm - Whitless has got everything under control!

Even though the departure of Clive Dutton was signaled back in July and even though this is a vital role leading up the regeneration effort in Birmingham and even though we need world-class leadership in that role more than any time during the past decade, there is still no sign of movement on the replacement front. Mike Whitby has had to take personal charge of this – he’s rewriting the recruitment advertisement as we speak.

This raises a number of questions.

Firstly – why hasn’t a proper recruitment firm been engaged to locate a replacement? At this level in the private sector, headhunters would be employed to find the best candidate. Properly handled, the investment in their time and effort would pay dividends further down the line.

Secondly – why do we have a cabinet member for regeneration at all? Poor old Cllr Summerfield can’t have much of a department to run, given that he isn’t allowed anywhere near the big projects, which are closely controlled by Whitby to ensure that the credit goes to the right person. Why isn’t Nev writing the advert?

Thirdly – why has it taken three months to even get to the phase of clearing the advertising copy? Unless the candidate is currently unemployed – which is unlikely – they will have to manage their notice period. Jobs of this calibre typically have a three to six month notice period, so even if an appointment was made today, the new director would not be in post until the end of January at the earliest. If the whole process is not to be hurried, I doubt we’ll see a new director sitting in that office before the start of the new financial year and it might well take a full year to sort out. Of course, that will save some of the generous salary provision, but the regeneration department will be left rudderless until then and the regeneration work in this City – vital at any time, but crucial with the economy as it is, will be affected.

But, I hear you cry, Steven Hughes is looking after it while he runs the council as chief executive. Has he really nothing better to do than run a major department as well?

If this is how they operate the small directorate management team, you can understand why the wheels have fallen off elsewhere.

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