THE appointment of Cumberland Council’s chief executive at a meeting last week prompted concern that councillors were not fully involved in the selection process.

Cumberland Council is set to take over in Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland in 2023 as the only authority.

The unitary authority is serving alongside existing councils for a brief period, carrying out preparations for their take-over.

And last week councillors appointed Andrew Seekings as chief executive.

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But leader of the outgoing Carlisle City Council, John Mallinson, raised concerns about the engagement councillors were given in his selection.

Councillor Mallinson, of Cumberland’s Conservative opposition said: “I’m rather disquieted that a name should be bounced upon us in this manner.

“I’ve been on senior appointment panels for many years now, on more than one council and I’ve never known it done like this before.

“I think councillors should have had the opportunity to give more fuller consideration of this and in light of that, I would be minded to vote against this appointment.”

Cllr Mallinson supported the appointment out of respect for the successful candidate but said: “I would like my dissent recorded.”

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Cllr Mike Hawkins pointed out that Labour are in control of the new authority.

Cllr Mallinson said: “I have known it done, in control and opposition. I am aware that council members from other councils have always been informed and I think that is the way it should be.

“You're quite right Mike, you’ve got the numbers, you’ll do as you please - but I reserve the right to say I think you’re wrong.”

Leader of Cumberland Council Mark Fryer said: “John thanks for that and it is noted. The issue around the way it’s come here was because of the significant issue with Westmorland & Furness’ position where it leaked out, was out in the public domain long before any references were cleared.

“Your member on the senior appointments panel, we worked together to make sure that the process was clean, open, and transparent.

“There isn’t anything underhand or skulduggery, I understand what you’re saying and maybe the system will be a bit smarter going forward but it was under the advice of the officers of the council that it must come to full council and I’m quite proud that it’s got here without being bandied around and in the public domain.”

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