Recent shortcomings of some senior Herefordshire Council staff could have been flagged up before they were appointed by a simple web search, a councillor has claimed.
“When I hear of a new appointment at the council, I Google them,” Councillor Carole Gandy told last Friday’s full council meeting.
“Where staff have gone sooner than anticipated, it would not have been difficult to ascertain before they were appointed that they were totally unsuitable for Herefordshire Council, and that we should have avoided them like the plague.
“I struggle to understand why we appoint senior staff into very important positions who have clearly failed at their previous authority. Is it because we are so desperate that we have to accept them faults and all, or are we just not doing enough research before appointing them?”
The council’s chief executive Paul Walker said: “It would be inappropriate to discuss individual cases, which we can do privately.
“It’s important that we appoint the right people into the roles, and we often do not appoint anyone when we don’t believe we have the right person with the right qualifications, and we have gone out to the market again.”
Lib Dem Cllr Louis Stark (Ross West) said the “recent coming and going” of large number of temporary employees across the council has caused “tremendous disruption”.
He asked council leader David Hitchiner to put in steps to “manage down” the number of such “interims” the council employs.
Cllr Hitchiner said this was “a valid point”, and that employing interim managers “sometimes doesn’t work”.
“But we draw on their experience with other councils, and some do provide an enormous amount of value.”
It would be “too complicated” to compare the cost of their employment with that of not employing them, he added.
Paul Walker added: “Good permanent staff attract good permanent staff.
“But there is a shortage of talent around the country, particularly for top positions.”