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Questions raised over mystery appointment of city manager

06 Oct 2023 3 minute read
Newport City Council Civic Centre.

Emily Price

Questions have been raised in the Senedd this week over the mystery surrounding the appointment of a city manager.

Speaking in the chamber on Wednesday (October 4) Natasha Asghar, MS for South East Wales said there is a “huge cloud of mystery” regarding the identity of Newport Council’s new city manager.

Ms Asghar said the main aim of the role is to be the first point of contact for businesses in Newport, but nobody “has a clue” who it is.

She said: “A common question from constituents who’ve approached me is: how on earth are businesses supposed to contact their city manager when they don’t know who he or she is?

“Despite repeated attempts to reveal the city manager’s identity, the powers that be at the local authority have remained tight-lipped about the role.”

Responding to the Tory MS, Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans MS said: “I would suggest, in the first instance, writing to the leader or the chief executive, who can hopefully provide you with the contact details.”

Ms Asghar suggested the “cushy” role could have been handed to the former deputy leader of the council, Roger Jeavons who lost his seat in the previous election.

Nation.Cymru made contact with Newport City Council to ask if Mr Jeavons had indeed been given the role of city manager.

Newport City Council refused to confirm whether the former deputy council leader had been given the position which is paid between £37,000 and £41,000 a year, using taxpayers’ cash.

Comment

A spokesperson said: “Newport City Council does not make announcements about appointments below the most senior positions, such as the chief executive officer, directors or heads of service, and it would not be appropriate to comment on individual members of staff.

“The city centre manager is part of a team which is dedicated to the regeneration and
economic development of Newport. All members of the team are working to fulfil the council’s aims and ambitions for the city.

“This particular role will make an important contribution to the council’s vision for the city centre by working with colleagues and other partners to make the most of opportunities for, and tackle issues in, the city centre.

“It is not a “high profile” role and, as a middle tier position, the post holder is managed by senior managers within the team. The council has rigorous application and interview processes in place, and interviews for positions below those of head of service are conducted by officers following strict guidelines.

“Councillors are not involved in any part of the selection process of new recruits below head of service level.”

Nation.Cymru also made contact with several Newport City Councillors all who said they had no idea who has been given the management role.

Natasha Asghar, MS for South East Wales, said: “All this secrecy and mystery at Newport City Council is extremely alarming. Their reluctance to answer legitimate questions makes me wonder what on earth they are hiding.

“With the council spending up to £41,000 of taxpayer cash every year on this city centre manager role, it is outrageous that residents and businesses are being kept in the dark.

“Rumours are flying around that the cushy job has been given to the council’s former deputy leader who lost his seat at the last election.

“Newport City Council needs to drop the cloak-and-dagger operation and come clean urgently as many will no doubt start fearing this is nothing more than ‘jobs for the boys.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
8 months ago

Natasha Asghar is asking a fair and legitimate question that a member of the opposition may be expected to, demanding to know who has been appointed to this role so that people and businesses know who to contact. Nothing wrong in that I believe but then the wheels come off. She enters the field of grand hypocrisy, a place she should not go as she was doing so well but has now fallen down. ‘Cushy’ job and ‘Jobs for the boys’ are age old Tory preserves so are phrases Tories cannot use yet, hypocritically, still do.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
8 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Maybe Ms Ashgar herself is the city manager and is trying to cover her tracks 😉 It wouldn’t surprise me one bit!

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
8 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Ooh, I hadn’t even thought of that.

Phil
Phil
8 months ago

Surely a Freedom of Information request should provide the information? I thought local authorities had to comply with such requests?

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