The much delayed recruitment of a new chairman for regional development agency Advantage West Midlands is expected to be concluded early next year.
A slate of high profile candidates is said to be vying for the £80,000 position, which will be welcome news to the Government after a nine-month search to find a suitable successor to Nick Paul ended in embarrassing failure earlier this year after favourite for the role, West Bromwich Building Society chairman Brian Woods-Scawen pulled out of the race saying he no longer wished to be considered.
His withdrawal prompted a hasty rethink by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Eager to avoid another fiasco, the Ministry appointed recruitment consultants Ray & Berndtson to draft a new shortlist and adverts for the position were listed in the national press.
Candidates for the position need to have an excellent knowledge of the region with considerable experience in business and a track record for delivering for delivering strategic objectives.
Applications for the post close on Friday.
Sources close to the process said: “They are determined to avoid any further embarrassment and the recruitment company has a good slate of candidates.
“Although they won’t say who they are, there is every reason to believe they are the high profile candidates the Government is looking for.”
Speculation linking former Trade Minister Lord Jones of Birmingham to the position has been dismissed.
The former CBI chief has said he would not be interested in the role.
“This is my information as well,” said the source. “But whoever they do get will have a big job on their hands.”
“We think if everything goes to plan then an announcement on the position will be made early in the new year,” they added.
Current chairman Mr Paul, who had planned to retire in December after five years at the helm, will remain in post until a successor can be found.
Mr Woods-Scawen’s decision to stand down left one remaining candidate in the frame - former Jaguar Cars managing director Mike Beasley. It is not known whether he is on the new shortlist.
Whoever is recruited will join the agency at very difficult stage in its development.
Not only is it having to contend with the problems of the economy but MPs are currently questioning the role of RDAs to assess whether they are delivering what they were set up to do.
The House of Commons Business Select Committee on Regional Development Agencies is likely to make a number of recommendations on the reform of RDAs.
These have the potential to significantly change the landscape of public bodies’ involvement in economic development and regeneration issues.