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Calls for greater transparency over combined authority's recruitment process

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Cambridgeshire & Peterborough CA’s recruitment processes have been called into question.

This comes after the appointment of Conservative county councillor Paul Raynes to the strategy and planning director’s role at the authority, despite the fact he was not considered suitable for the job during one part of the appointment process.

Cambridge city councillor Kevin Price (Lab) said the selection committee, which he sat on, had reached a “unanimous conclusion” against Cllr Raynes’ suitability for the role. The combined authority has since said that was only one part of the recruitment process before Cllr Raynes, who previously worked as head of programmes at the Local Government Association for nine years up to January 2015, was appointed. 

LGC understands that the final decision to appoint Cllr Raynes was made by the authority’s employment sub-committee on 26 July, comprised of only three Conservative members, including mayor James Palmer (Con) who chaired the meeting. Mr Palmer told the Cambs Times that this was due to the fact that the Labour group had not put forward a representative to attend the sub committee.

Cllr Raynes, who is also deputy chair of South East Cambs Conservative Association, will have to step down from the role he was elected to in May 2017 before he can start in his new job.

Cambridge leader Lewis Herbert (Lab) said there was a need for the authority to provide a better field of applicants for senior roles. 

He said: “I want to see far more transparent recruitment including effective, open job advertising rather than over-dependence on head hunting. The CA needs to attract stronger fields of applicants to fill remaining key jobs that are also extremely well rewarded.

“All involved, not least job applicants, need also to see that the best possible candidates are being appointed with the right professional qualifications and expertise to lead on transport, planning, housing and finance.”

A spokesperson for the CA said its recruitment remained “rigorous”, while senior roles were advertised widely on the Telegraph, the Times and Guardian news websites, as well as the professional networking website LinkedIn.

“The CA conducted an open and competitive recruitment process for a new permanent position of director of strategy and planning during June and July 2018 which reviewed all candidates on merit,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“As a result, the new director was appointed following a rigorous process, in accordance with the requirements of both our constitution and our employment committee. All applications were made to an independent, national, recruitment advisor; no direct applications were considered. The recruitment advisor provided a list of applicants for this position to the employment panel, as approved by the employment committee.”

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