DCLG catches flak for North East regen job based in London
Backlash over advert for Tees Valley-focused role that “can require occasional trips” up north
The SSI steelworks, which closed in 2015 with the loss of 3,000 jobs. Credit: PA
The Department for Communities and Local Government has drawn fire from Labour MPs for looking to appoint a London-based regeneration specialist to oversee the creation of a development corporation in the Tees Valley city region.
An advert for the grade-seven role, which centres around the regeneration of the former SSI steelworks site in Redcar, comes with a salary of up to £58,806 for the right candidate.
But the job specification for the new project leader contains the inflammatory description: “The majority of the role is London based (minimum three days a week). The role can include occasional trips to Tees Valley, in close co-ordination with our BEIS local office.”
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Redcar MP Anna Turley asked DCLG if it had considered whether there may be people in the Tees Valley who could do the job.
“Seriously, this drives me absolutely mad,” she said on Twitter.
“There are so few jobs like this in the region. Why on earth is this a London-based job? Sick joke.”
Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow communities secretary, said the recruitment drive was an “insult to people in the north east from a staggeringly out of touch government”.
A DCLG spokesperson said the government’s devolution agreement with Tees Valley included a long-term investment fund of £15m a year to support economic growth, along with the transfer of powers over employment, skills and transport.
"This government is committed to delivering economic regeneration in the Tees Valley and we've been working closely with local partners on plans for the former SSI site,” he said.
“Our new project lead for the Mayoral Development Corporation will be a crucial link between Whitehall and our existing team in the region who are working closely with the new mayor of Tees Valley Ben Houchen and his office.”
Houchen, who is a Conservative, has defended DCLG’s conduct.
“We have a fantastic local team in Redcar and regeneration is all driven from here,” he said. “Government are simply recruiting their own team to support us.”
According to the job advertisement, the successful candidate will be “at the cutting edge of policies to rebalance the economy and implement the devolution agenda” in the Tees Valley, and the role will have high interest among ministers and senior officials across DCLG, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, HM Treasury and 10 Downing Street.
The role will also involve setting the direction of work streams on commercial negotiations and finance, particularly bringing together agencies such as the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, the Homes and Communities Agency and UK Government Investments.
The deadline for submitting applications is August 20.
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