Mar 18 2005
City Editor Larry Neild looks at the top 10 names to take Liverpool up to Capital of Culture year
INTERNATIONAL headhunters were paid £75,000 to search for a new captain to steer Liverpool out of troubled waters in 1999.
However, their search stopped at nearby Knowsley Council whose then chief executive left to take up the top job in Merseyside's largest local authority.
Now the hunt is back on to find a new steward for the city, someone who will lead it into Capital of Culture Year in 2008.
The outgoing Sir David Henshaw has been credited as one of the key architects in the transformation of Liverpool.
However, his intention to leave his Dale Street office sooner rather than later opens up the prospect of a key job in local government being up for offers. And, with a salary worth at least £180,000, it offers the successful applicant the chance to shine as Liverpool focuses on becoming one of Euope's major city destinations.
Undoubtedly, this will lead to a number of high-quality candidates jockeying for the number one position in the forthcoming months.
Top 10 names in the frame are:
* John Flamson, head of Merseyside Objective 1 Programme. His current task is ensuring the £2bn European-backed programme is wisely managed. He is seen as a tough talking civil servant with the gentle touch.
* Carole Hudson, chief executive of St Helens council. The glass town has seen its profile raised dramatically thanks to Ms Hudson who has put it firmly on the regeneration map.
* Jim Gill, chief executive of Liverpool Vision. Seen as a nononsense talker who heads the public-private company charged with regenerating the city centre. Some say releasing Gill from the 'shackles' of a second tier body overseen by the council executive will show an unseen executive capable of high delivery.
* Frances Done, former Rochdale council chief executive who headed the Manchester Commonwealth Games company. Now a high flyer with the Audit Commission.
* Steve Broomhead, one time Warrington council chief and now chief executive of the North West Development Agency. His job is to delicately balance the interests of a massive area stretching from Cheshire to the Lake District while making sure rivals big city Liverpool and Manchester get their fair shares.
* Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester city council. Veteran local government go-getter who has over-seen the transformation of Manchester.
* Tom O'Brien, chief executive of The Mersey Partnership. A local boy, "done good", who reached the dizzy heights of the World Bank in Washington before being 'loaned' to Merseyside.
* Phil Halsall, Liverpool's executive director for resources. Former chief executive of South Ribble who is credited with transforming Liverpool's financial situation.
* Colin Hilton, executive director for Lifelong Learning at Liverpool. Like Halsall, was one of the five super-directors hired under the Henshaw regime. Education in Liverpool has been transformed.
* Brenda Smith, former MD of Granada and now managing director of another media empire. Former Merchant Taylors girl Ms Smith is also on the board of the NWDA, and, in 2003, was named North West Businesswoman of the Year.
Whatever the choice, though, the man, or woman, picked as chief executive will be at the helm during the 800th birthday celebrations in 2007 and, perhaps more importantly, in 2008.
Hunt is on for outstanding ambassador
LIVERPOOL needs a chief executive who can act as an ambassador to the city during a crucial period in its history.
The Merseyside area has been undergoing something of a renaissance in recent years and this will no doubt intensify as Capital of Culture Year, in 2008, comes closer. So one of the main criteria when considering who to choose for the post will be a person's ability to shine as Liverpool looms larger on the European stage.
The chief executive will receive a salary of £180,000.
Another role will be meeting VIP visitors as well as Royalty, and to be involved in complex talks about key projects.
The person must also be a mover and shaker, as well as the most senior paid ambassador for the city around the country and abroad.
The chief executive is also the chief advisor to the council cabinet, or executive board.