Council to recruit 3-person Future High Streets Fund project team at cost of £451k

Wednesday, 7th April 2021

MORE than £450,000 is set to be spent by Tamworth Borough Council on employing three people to oversee town centre regeneration work.

A programme manager and two project officers are being sought by the authority after it secured £21.65m from the Government’s Future High Street Fund in December.

The windfall will be used to carry out what has been described by the council as the biggest transformation to Tamworth town centre in a generation. And £727,912 has been budgeted for resourcing the programme, although this does not include the cost of external consultancy teams.

On Tuesday the council’s Appointments and Staffing Committee gave the go-ahead for the three new posts to be created. The programme manager and one project officer role will run for at least three years, while the second project officer contract will be for at least two years, with the potential for extension if needed.

A report to the committee said the total cost of employing two project officers for the minimum proposed time periods would be £225,553.55. The programme manager cost would be £226,000, including a “market supplement” of £7,500 to enable the council to attract a suitable candidate.

Anna Miller, assistant director for growth and regeneration, told Tuesday’s meeting: “The authority needs to attract a suitably qualified, experienced professional. This is a significant project for the authority and attracting the right candidate is critical to the success of being able to deliver on time, to budget and ensuring quality of the product at all times.

“The current pay policy allows the council to justify such a payment where necessary and it is certainly exceptional, not the rule.

“The money for these posts forms part of the Future High Street Fund budget. In total for the minimum duration the cost of all three posts is approximately £451,000, so it’s well within that internally-imposed budget for posts.

“The proposal is to create a stand-alone team, which will create clarity in terms of roles and structures, and it will sit alongside the current regeneration team who will continue with delivering the other corporate priorities that we have got, such as Gungate and Amington Local Centre.

“The programme manager and first project officer will mobilise the project, get procurement under way, start the enabling works and deal with acquisitions, demolitions and legal. The second project officer, proposed in a year’s time, will then be appointed after the enabling work is completed and at the point construction can commence.

“The Future High Streets Fund money needs to be spent by March 2024. Although other funding is not bound by this time scale and delivery it’s important that we can complete projects as quickly as possible. “

Council leader Jeremy Oates said: “The bit that worries me is how long do we leave it before we make that decision and take that next step? The funding is time-limited, so we don’t want to be sitting here in six months’ time having not moved forward.

“I wanted a line in the sand that if we can’t recruit by x-date, that’s when we will review it.”

The meeting heard that if the creation of the posts was approved by the committee the recruitment process would begin immediately.

Ms Miller said: “We are ready to move. We can’t drag our heels with this project on any aspect because of the timelines we are working to.

“We would know within the next month whether we have been successful in attracting candidates we can then take through the recruitment process. We’re not wasting time while this process is going on because we have an interim programme manager in place for a couple more months at least. He is helping us mobilise the project in this very early stage. The recruitment side is going to sit alongside work that is already progressing.

“I’m hopeful that we would have a good pick of the bunch. My fear was that if we weren’t quick enough in this mobilisation phase we would perhaps miss out on the best candidates because they would have been picked up by other authorities, but we are out in front as far as I can see.”

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