Suffolk: County council to avoid using recruitment firm to find Andrea Hill’s successor

SUFFOLK: The county is hoping to avoid employing an expensive specialist recruitment agency when it seeks a successor for Andrea Hill, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Council leader Mark Bee has already made it clear that whoever is appointed to succeed �218,592-a-year Mrs Hill will earn considerably less.

The authority is hoping to use its own staff in the search rather than employing an agency and will be anxious to ensure it attracts candidates from the widest possible area.

New government rules mean that any council appointments at a greater salary than the Prime Minister – �142,000 a year – have to be approved by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

That gives MPs the chance to have a say on how high the salary should be.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said: “I see no reason why the chief executive of a county like Suffolk should earn more than the Prime Minister, and if it was proposed then I would make that point when the government was considering the salary.

“But having spoken to Mark Bee I know he is aware of the concerns about this and is looking to make an appointment at a much more realistic salary.”

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Figures published by Incomes Data Services earlier this year showed that the average salary of county council chief executives across England was about �190,000 a year.

However Dr Poulter said that the atmosphere had changed over recent months and new appointments could expect to receive considerably less than this.

He said: “I think people recognise that times have changed and they are changing their expectations – the prime minister’s salary is still a sizeable sum.”

The county council has not yet started the search for a full-time successor to Mrs Hill.

The selection is likely to take months – and the council is understood to be considering whether to appoint an interim chief executive, as next year’s budget-setting process is due to start in September.

Meanwhile county councillors have been advised by the authority’s interim monitoring officer to take care in comments they make about the departure of the chief executive.

A spokesman for the authority denied that the note from Tim Ryder, the council’s interim monitoring officer, amounted to a gag.

He said the note pointed out there were still legal issues to be sewn up and that they should be cautious when making comments about Mrs Hill’s departure.

n How much should Suffolk’s next chief executive earn? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail