A DECISION taken in secret by district councillors to spend £40,000 to head hunt a chief officer has been branded obscene' by the leader of the opposition Labour group Cllr Peter McDonald.

He said the figure, agreed by the full council on July 18 with press and public removed, for the post at a salary of over £60,000 a year was more than double the annual wage of many of his ward residents.

"It is an obscene amount of money just to recruit one person in the name of restructuring." he exclaimed.

But the decision was defended by Tory leader Cllr Roger Hollingworth (Alvechurch). He said £40,000 was an outside figure, it may be cheaper.

"It is important to use a consultant to get the right person for the job," he said adding: "The council has been in a bad way for several years, caused by cost-cutting like this. Unless done properly you get what you pay for as past performance under Labour and ex-councilor Psirides showed."

The row followed the decision to create two new director posts.

Councillors agreed recommendations to delete the existing corporate director (services) and the post of corporate director (resources).

The latter has been unfilled since May 2006 when Kevin Dicks took on the role of acting chief executive. He was appointed permanent chief executive in March.

Under the new structure an executive director - services will be created to take responsibility for five existing services including finance.

A second post executive director - partnerships and projects will be responsible for key partnerships and projects such as Longbridge and town centre development.

Mr Dicks said: "This is an exciting time for Bromsgrove as the district council moves forward and is set to embrace and deliver a host of major projects.

"The restructure is in direct response to the council's Comprehensive Performance Assessment which recommended extra capacity was needed at the top of the organisation.

"It is vital the senior management team works closer than ever and these two new posts will see a co-ordinated approach at the top.

"The two new posts replace two existing ones so will not see any extra costs to the council but the focus of these posts has changed significantly to reflect the new direction of the council," he added.

It is expected one of the posts will be filled internally so no redundancies are anticipated.