Internal trawl for new council posts

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Derry city councillors have voted down a proposal to seek external candidates to manage the restructured local authority, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

Sinn Fein had called for the three newly created senior management posts at Derry City Council to be immediately advertised externally in an effort to widen the talent pool of candidates.

However, the SDLP and unionists councillors rejected the move, deciding that an internal trawl of employees prior to external advertisement would be the “safer” option.

The ‘Journal’ has learned that the vote was taken during confidential business in the council chamber.

It’s also believed that an assessment process of internal candidates for the new roles of Director of Environment and Infrastructure, Director of Corporate Services and Director of Culture, Business, Commercial Services was underway at Derry City Council headquarters yesterday.

A source close to Sinn Fein said that the party made the call in an effort to get “the right people for the posts”. The source added that it was of the utmost importance that the city council “is fit for purpose”.

“Of course employees should be entitled to apply for the posts but so also should skilled people from outside the council. The jobs are changing dramatically from the previous roles and for that reason the trawl should have been external.”

An SDLP source said the decision to reject Sinn Fein’s proposals was made on “the basis of legal advice” from the Local Government Staff Commission of Northern Ireland.

“The SDLP acted on legal guidance from a solicitor who advised that an internal trawl should be carried out before advertising externally. We were advised that going directly to an external trawl could leave the council open to legal action from current employees.”

Derry City Council says it is committed to adopting the proposals despite the departure yesterday of their architect, outgoing CEO Valerie Watts, who is to take the reins at Aberdeen City Council this month. The trade union NIPSA opposes the restructuring which it claims will lead to up to 30 job losses.