THE ARGUS can reveal £100,000 was spent on corporate headhunters at Brighton and Hove City Council in the past four years – sparking calls for the practice to stop.

GMB union branch secretary Mark Turner said the council should stop “wasting” taxpayers’ money to recruit executive managers and leave it to the “very capable” in house HR department.

The authority spent £42,400 in the last financial year filling vacancies for a strategic director of children’s services, a head of human resources and a head of Cityclean.

Figures obtained by The Argus also show the number of highly paid management posts being advertised is on the increase despite local authorities making millions of pounds in cuts.

East Sussex County Council has spent more than £115,000 in the past two financial years on external recruiter fees compared to just £9,000 in the two previous years.

Even smaller borough and district authorities are increasingly turning to headhunting firms, including Horsham District Council which spent more than £10,000 in 2013/14 recruiting for ten new posts. Worthing and Adur councils spent £50,000 in 2013/14 to find candidates for their £103,000-a-year chief executive and three £95,000-a-year director positions.

Not all authorities have turned to external help to fill key posts with Arun, Mid Sussex, Hastings, Chichester, Crawley and Rother all finding staff at no additional cost.

Brighton and Hove City Council have also advertised for 16 posts with a basic salary of more than £50,000 in 2013/14 and 14 the year before compared to just seven in 2011/12 and four in 2010/11.

East Sussex County Council has also seen a rise after advertising for 31 posts with salaries of £50,000 or higher in 2013/14 – the same number of roles as in 2012/13 and 2011/12 combined.

GMB branch secretary Mr Turner said: “It is a terrible waste of public money.

“In Brighton and Hove we have a perfectly adequate HR department that can do this work, they don’t need to spend £100,000 to get someone else to do the work.”

Sue Moorman, head of HR and organisational development at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “All advertisements are placed on our internal job board to ensure our employees can apply for new opportunities and we also have a council jobs page on our website.

“We commission recruitment agencies for key appointments to ensure we get the best field of applicants and ensuring value for money for our recruitment budget.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said it was not possible to attract the right calibre of candidate for senior level posts by just advertising on the council’s website alone.

A spokesman for Eastbourne Borough Council, which spent £24,000 on external recruiters to find a new £60,000 a year executive director for the Towner gallery in 2012/13, said: “Occasionally, when we are recruiting to a specialist senior role, it is necessary to use a recruitment consultant with a greater depth of knowledge of the specific sector. “In regard to the executive director of Towner, it was essential to appoint someone who possessed the key skills, acumen and experience to manage the transition of Towner to independent charitable trust.”