PLANS to employ Wirral Council’s new chief executive on a permanent basis have been opposed by the Conservative group.

A report before the all-Labour cabinet on Thursday night asked councillors to vote for a recommendation that Graham Burgess – currently employed on a short-term agreement - should now be given a permanent contract.

The minute was approved - but during a subsequent meeting of the employment committee immediately following cabinet, Tory group leader Cllr Jeff Green, his deputy Cllr Leslie Rennie and Cllr Peter Kearney opposed the move.

Councillor Green said he felt it was “too early” for such an appointment.

“My own view is Graham is doing a good job. However, I think it’s too early to make a permanent appointment now,” he said.

“I think this is an issue about openness, honesty and transparency.

“As it is a matter for all members of the council, I would have liked for all of us to have had an opportunity to see how Graham Burgess works.

“I cannot support this recommendation.”

Councillor Rennie said: “The public would see that somebody has been shoe-horned into the chief executive’s job.

“We have council staff facing redundancy and yet we’re appointing a chief executive without proper scrutiny.”

Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said: “I think it’s bizarre we have appointed two strategic directors on permanent contracts, but the chief executive is on a short-term contract.

“I think we would be mad not to secure Graham’s services full-time - I think we are getting a really good deal here.

“I believe Graham has demonstrated he is moving this council forward on a number of fronts. I think it’s important we have a chief executive who’s here full-term.”

The authority appointed its third and final strategic director last week. Former Warrington Council senior officer Joe Blott will take up the transformation and resources portfolio.

Kevin Adderley, Wirral’s former director of regeneration, housing and planning, was promoted in November to the post of interim strategic director of regeneration and environment.

Clare Fish was appointed families and wellbeing super-director in November. Ms Fish was chief of staff at Oldham Council.

Mr Burgess was taken on under a two-year fixed term contract last July. The move to make his position permanent will have to be agreed by a meeting of the full council on Monday.