Humphrey defends new role after 'jobs for the boys' claim - The Rugby Observer
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Humphrey defends new role after 'jobs for the boys' claim

Rugby Editorial 13th Aug, 2014 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

BOROUGH council leader Craig Humphrey is to leave the town hall at the end of the month for a new £70,000-a-year job at an organisation his and neighbouring councils helped to form.

Coun Humphrey has been appointed managing director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Clearing House, an off shoot of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) that will help businesses expand through advice, support and finance.

He was part of the LEP team that clinched a City Deal from government last December, which gave councils new powers to stimulate the local economy and enabled the formation of the Clearing House.

But his appointment to the role has been questioned with one of his political rivals describing it as a “jobs for the boys culture”.

The LEP has insisted the appointment was made following an extensive search and selection process.

And speaking to The Observer this week, the Conservative councillor rejected scepticism surrounding his appointment to the new role, which pays almost £50,000-a-year more than he currently earns as a Bilton councillor and the council leader.

“The unparalleled success Rugby has had over the last four years has gained wider recognition, and some of the talents that I’ve had at my disposal – in having a lean and efficient organisation that’s been able to attract inward investment – was one of the motivations for trying my hand at this role, because that’s exactly what this role entails,” he told us.

“It’s about encouraging inward investment into a wider sub-region that benefits the whole economy. They are transferable skills from running a local authority to running a private limited company.”

Independent borough and county councillor Howard Roberts said he would be asking some searching questions of the LEP and attacked the outgoing leader’s legacy, saying he has left the council with “years of projected future budget deficits and a fractured senior leadership team”.

Coun Humphrey said: “If he means me leaving will leave a fractured senior management team, well he must be missing me already.

“The senior management team is as strong as ever. Rugby council is as lean and efficient as it’s ever been. I inherited a fishing vessel and I’m leaving a cruise liner. My record stands up to be counted in terms of the level of investment that Rugby has seen.”

Coun Humphrey has been leader of Rugby council since 2002. In 2010 he took on a controversial enhanced role when the council decided not to replace its chief executive – a role which has since been praised in government and peer reviews. He will resign as both leader of the council and as Bilton councillor on August 31.

The position of leader of the council is appointed by the full council which will meet next on September 23 unless a special meeting is called. Until then the job deputy leader Coun Poole will assume the leader’s responsibilities.

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“During his time as leader, the council and the borough of Rugby as a whole have undergone significant change. The council is now lean and efficient, and has been recognised in external reviews as being a well-run authority.”

Rugby Borough Council spokesman

“Craig has shown an ability to understand how businesses work and what they need to help them to grow, expand and invest. These are skills he will use in his new role.”

Deputy council leader Derek Poole

“Craig was always someone I could do business with in regard to what was best for Rugby and, though we do not see eye-to-eye on a number of things, it was always clear to me he held what he thought was best for Rugby at heart.”

Rugby Liberal Democrat leader Jerry Roodhouse

“Coun Humphrey’s impending resignation does have implications and I have strong concerns about where this leaves the council and our executive management arrangements.”

Rugby Labour leader Claire Edwards

“Craig and I have worked collaboratively on a number of issues for some time so I recognise his dedication to local enterprise as a means of achieving prosperity for all. He remains very much in the public area, supporting the growth and business development in the locality where he will continue to work with local authorities and council leaders.”

Stratford District Council leader Chris Saint

“He’s been a force for good and has helped to forge relationships in the Coventry and Warwickshire area. Anyone who criticises his background as a plumber is just a snob.”

Unnamed regional senior Labour source

“Craig Humphrey has been a controversial leader of the borough council. His colourful personal life and abrasive style have created more column inches than his policies.”

Independent borough and county councillor Howard Roberts

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