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Council leaders accused of appointing £20m chairman of board ‘behind closed doors’

01 Jul 2024 4 minute read
Cllr Jason McLellan (inset) Denbighshire County Council Headquarters. Photo Arwel Parry, CC BY-SA3 via Wikimedia Commons.

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

A councillor has questioned the process in the appointment of the chairman of a board responsible for spending £20m of levelling up money.

Denbighshire’s leader Cllr Jason McLellan and corporate director Tony Ward appointed the chairman of the new Rhyl Board this month.

The new board will dictate how a £20m fund for Rhyl will be spent in the town, following Denbighshire successfully being awarded the funds by the UK Government’s levelling-up fund.

The money will be spent as part of a long-term vision for regenerating Rhyl as part of a Long-Term Plan for Towns scheme.

Volunteer director

Rhyl Football Club volunteer director Adam Roche was appointed as chairman earlier this month.

But government guidelines dictated that certain criteria must be met in selecting the chairman.

Whilst the responsibility of appointing the new chair was delegated to the council leader and Mr Ward, one councillor claimed the process lacked transparency.

Rhyl councillor Joan Butterfield grilled leader Cllr McLellan on the selection of the chairman at a cabinet meeting this week.

She said: “How was the chair appointed? Was there a job description? And where are the documents documenting so that members can see how many nominations there were and who conducted the interviews and how (it was) determined that this particular person was the best for Rhyl?

“Because we’ve no idea of how many nominees there were and how that happened, other than we did make two nominations that I believe would have been considered, but I am not sure who interviewed them all.”

Government guidelines

In a complex discussion, Cllr Butterfield listed those who could be considered for the role of chair under government guidelines.

These, she said, included the heads of local charities, college heads, NHS chiefs, philanthropists, or the director of a football club.

Cllr Butterfield then debated whether Mr Roche’s position as ‘a volunteer’ director at the club allowed him to be considered.

“He hasn’t been appointed to this directorship (of the football club),” said Cllr Butterfield.

“He has just volunteered to do it.”

Cllr Jason McLellan answered: “Now if you look back to the decision back in May, based on those really tight timescales, the decision was to delegate to Tony (Ward) and I to implement the requirements of the government and appoint a board.

“We kept you up to date on that process as it was ongoing. The process was open. It was in public, and it was to invite people to apply for the position of chair of the board.

“There was a rigorous process. People were approached. People declined. There was a process whereby people were invited to put an application in. They did. We had a full and proper and rigorous interviewing process, which went well, and from that process, it was quite clear that the named chair Adam Roche was head and shoulders… He presented very, very well, vast experience in the commercial world within the banking sector.”

‘Impressive CV’

Cllr McLellan then said the fact of Mr Roche being a director of the football club was not the box ticked on the government form.

He added: “It was his impressive CV. It was his impressive performance in interview as well that got him the job. In terms of the appointment of the rest of the board, there are guidelines, which are quite prescriptive, but within that there’s a process where we have some freedom to appoint the board.”

But Cllr Butterfield remained unsatisfied.

She said: “I’m not happy with the answers I’ve been given, leader, but I have to accept them. I’m making no criticism of the chair. I’m making criticism of how it has been handled behind closed doors.”

Cllr McLellan then again referenced ‘huge time restraints’ and said private consultants were also hired to help with the selection process, following more questions from Cllr Brian Jones.

The cabinet noted the information on the process in the report.

By 1 November 2024, the board must do the following:

Agree governance
Agree an engagement plan
Undertake a data review
Undertake public engagement
Develop the 10-year vision
Develop the delivery plan for the first three-year period
The long-term (10-year) vision for the town must be based on the priorities of local people and set out the town’s vision and priorities for investment and regeneration.

These must be aligned to the three themes of safety and security, high streets, heritage and regeneration, and transport and connectivity.

These, together with the three-year delivery plan, must be agreed and submitted by 1st November 2024.


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Billy James
Billy James
13 days ago

Its Labour what else can we expect ……..

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