Barely a month away from the launch of the revamped Business Link in the West Midlands, the organisation charged with delivering better advice to business has filled hardly any of its top posts, it has been claimed.
Already reeling from the departure of chief executive David Draycott earlier this month, recruitment of the senior management team is still in its infancy, it is alleged.
It is believed that the closing date for applications for skills director, human resources director and finance director was yesterday and the hunt for a replacement for Mr Draycott and the jobs of client services director and business development director have scarcely begun.
Yet the new West Midlands Brokerage service is supposed to be up and running on April 2.
As previously revealed in The Birmingham Post, Lorraine Holmes, director of enterprise and business support at regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, has been parachuted in "on a consultancy basis".
She is being helped out by Louise Bennett, chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, and Jennifer Carley, chief executive at Staffordshire Business Link.
It is understood the Brokerage now aims to employ some 177 people, bolstered by around #5 million of European regional development funding. But staff will now be split between Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Waterfront offices at Brierley Hill.
The Waterfront is also the location of the Gateway operation, the second element of the massive reorganistion of Business Link activity ordered by AWM.
The Gateway service has been set up as a first point of call for business support, with the Brokerage to deliver the advice to companies.
Yesterday one source close to the situation said: "They are still recruiting for the top jobs even though the launch of the new service is targeted at April 2.
"None of the top jobs have been taken and although there are people sitting in them they only have temporary contracts.
"There is a feeling of complete disarray. Even many of those who have been offered jobs are unhappy. All sorts of rumours and suggestions are flying around. It seems that AWM is making a complete mess of it."
A spokeswoman for the Brokerage admitted that Mr Draycott's departure had hardly been "ideal".But she emphasised that Ms Holmes and Ms Beard were ensuring that the service was "on target".
She insisted: "The service is going ahead as planned, it is business as usual and everything is full steam ahead."
Mr Draycott resigned his #90,000-a-year job last week. The service is due to be relaunched on a regional basis and is designed to deliver #57 million of support to firms over the next three years.
Earlier this year, the shake-up came under fire after revealing plans to axe up to 150 back office staff and advisers as part of the reshaping of Business Link, which was previously organised through chambers of commerce across the region.
The intention of the reorganisation is to raise the number of firms which receive in-depth business support from 6,000 a year to 16,000.