Manchester recruitment firm move is defended

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Bosses at the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority have defended the decision to use a recruitment firm from Manchester in their search for a highly-paid transport director.

The combined authority is bringing together councils in Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Bradford, Calderdale and York to oversee £1.4bn of funds for spending on major infrastructure and investment projects.

But even though the authority is being set up to help develop the economy of the White Rose county, Manchester-based Proventure Consulting has been picked for a key role in the hunt for its executive transport director.

Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, said: “It’s disappointing and a little surprising that the firm is not from West Yorkshire, considering the whole purpose of the authority is to have a proper focus on the area’s interests.”

Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the opposition Conservative group on Leeds City Council, said it was in some ways “regrettable” that a West Yorkshire firm had not been found for the job. But Coun Carter, who will sit on the executive board of the combined authority, added: “To be fair, I don’t think council taxpayers would be impressed if decisions of this kind were made on the basis of geography rather than competitiveness.”

The new authority says Proventure was chosen because it was the “most appropriate” firm in the tender process. Rob Vincent, former chief executive of Kirklees and Doncaster councils and the man who is co-ordinating the establishment of the authority, said: “It is best practice to use consultancy firms and advertise widely for director roles, as councillors and members of the public have to be certain that the process is fair and can attract the best people possible.”

The advert for the director’s position says it has a salary package worth up to £150,000. It also says the incumbent will “play a key role in defining, embedding and promoting our culture and ethos”. The new authority will be responsible for the £1bn West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund and a £400m economic investment fund.