Oldham Borough Council
Oldham Borough Council is one of the ten councils that make up Greater Manchester, and in mid-2021 it was in need of a Head of Planning. The person in the role at that time was Simon Rowberry, who was working on an interim basis until a permanent candidate could be found. Simon had been in the role for 20 months at this point, and had only intended to stay for a year. The council was in need of a replacement, so Simon contacted Vivid and we started helping them to find the best person for the job.
This was a challenging post to fill, in part due to the role itself. Simon was in charge of a team of between 25 and 30 planners, which is relatively small, but the job was political-facing. This meant it would involve dealing with politicians, both internally to the council and externally, as well as a range of other stakeholders. It was a very integrated role, performing an important job within the council, and therefore the right candidate would need a range of different skills and relevant experience.
By the time Vivid was brought in, Simon and his team had attempted to fill the role on several occasions. Each time, no candidates had even been suitable for the interview stage. This was partly due to a number of other challenges involved in the recruitment process. One of these was reputational; Oldham Borough Council had several scandals in recent years, including one involving the previous Head of Planning before Simon being sacked for gross misconduct.
This gave the impression that the council was a difficult place to work and had a toxic culture, which wasn’t the case. In addition, the political nature of the role threw up other challenges. While many of the candidates that had previously been considered for the job had a good range of skills, none had the political experience that would be necessary.
*Simon Rowberry, ex-Oldham Borough Council