Hunt goes on to hire new tourism chief to promote Kirklees

Council bosses in Kirklees are on the hunt for a new tourism chief to help boost the borough’s appeal to visitors and residents.

The role, for which recruitment is set to begin in the next few weeks, comes with a salary of between £85,000 and £104,999.

The new job forms part of the council’s recovery plan for the district’s cultural sector following years of under investment.

It has developed three strategies – culture, heritage, tourism – to encourage residents to value what is on their doorstep and to spend leisure time exploring local culture and heritage activities.

Dewsbury town centre

A recent report revealed that Kirklees has not had a tourism strategy “for many years” and when it did the focus was on business tourism rather than leisure tourism.

The authority has also formally agreed to split one of its biggest directorates in two.

Acknowledging that the sheer weight of responsibility was too great to be shouldered by one individual, it has opted to “disestablish” the role of strategic director for economy and infrastructure.

The job was previously held by Karl Battersby, who has since left Kirklees for a new role at North Yorkshire County Council.

Mr Battersby’s remit was vast.

He had responsibility for all front-line environmental services, planning, regeneration and development functions, the capital programme and all council land and property assets.

That included managing tens of thousands of refuse collections in the borough.

He was at the heart of negotiations with union officials to prevent potentially crippling bin strikes and was a key figure in the presentation of the so-called Huddersfield Blueprint, the £250 plan to revitalise the town centre.

In addition he was a spokesman for the council on issues as varied as the restructure of the borough’s museums and the furore over Kirklees schools serving halal meat from non-stunned animals.

In re-aligning the role council chief executive Jacqui Gedman said it was “too big for any one individual no matter how brilliant they were”.

The council has hired two new senior managers to take on Mr Battersby’s former responsibilities.

Colin Parr, formerly of City of Wolverhampton Council, is the strategic director for environment and climate change.

David Shepherd joins Kirklees after six years with Barnsley Council, where he was credited with helping reshape the town centre.

As strategic director for growth and regeneration his portfolio will include visitor economy, culture and tourism services, museums, galleries and markets.

The post has been created with an “overtly commercial focus” in mind that includes the development of Huddersfield’s “Cultural Heart” town centre regeneration programme, which is part of the blueprint vision.

Both men have been in post since September last year. The jobs each come with a salary range of £120,000 to £139,999.

And as the authority prepares to resume control of council housing after almost 20 years it has made changes to management at Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH).

Moving to an in-house model means more than 21,000 properties will be managed and maintained by the council itself from April 1.

That means the end of KNH, the arms-length management organisation (ALMO) that has run the council’s properties since 2002.

Ms Gedman said the the position of chief executive at KNH has been redesigned and re-designated as service director for homes and

neighbourhoods.

The role will have full responsibility for the council’s housing functions that were previously managed by KNH. It has been filled by an existing service director from within the council’s growth and regeneration directorate.

The salary is £85,000 to £104,999.