Council faces delays to major projects, members told

Council faces delays to major projects, members told

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Tunbridge Wells Town Hall

A lack of skilled staff at the council’s property and estates services mean the council faces delays to major projects unless it is prepared to pay £500,000 per year filling vacancies and creating new roles.

The warning came during a meeting of the finance and governance advisory board earlier this month.

Members of the committee were told by David Candlin, the officer in charge of economic development and regeneration, that the money was needed to meet the council’s ‘five year plan’.

He said: “Regarding the work we have delivered to date you could argue we have delivered it with what could be regarded as quite a skeleton staff framework.

“Although we have a range of posts in the structure we actually only have five permanent members of staff and we have had to use temporary agency staff to fill some of the roles.”

Council documents presented at the meeting revealed a further six jobs will be created within the planning and estate services as part of its restructuring.

But this does not include five roles which are currently vacant and need filling, meaning the council will have to hire a total of 11 permanent new staff, for which the council plan to use the recruitment consultancy Hays.

New posts being created include an estates surveyor, urban designer, building services engineer, civic development manager, business manager, architectural surveyor and admin support.

But the document warns that the £500,000 cost could be exceeded: “It is no guarantee we will be able to get these people for these exact fi gures and in some cases we may have to pay a higher salary for some candidates.”

Labour councillor Graham Munn said: “My concern is what will happen if they cannot fill these posts as some projects may end up not being completed on time or in a satisfactory manner.

“It may not be that quick and simple to recruit new staff and the council is playing with large amounts of money in planning these developments.”