Why executive role at Harrogate Convention Centre has been vacant for 18 months

A new push will be made to find a head of operations of Harrogate Convention Centre.
A new push will be made to find a head of operations of Harrogate Convention Centre.

An executive role at Harrogate Convention Centre paying £60,000 a year has been vacant for 18 months due to a lack of suitable candidates.

A renewed effort to fill the centre's head of operations position will be made following a decision of Harrogate Borough Council's human resources committee earlier this month.

Convention Centre boss Paula Lorimer said the role was a "vital" one for the establishment, but a lack of candidates "of the calibre required" had led to it being vacant for more than a year.

She added that while senior staff at the centre had covered for the role in the meantime, they would now double-down on efforts to have the position filled.

New council role created for former Harrogate Convention Centre director
"For a major events venue such as Harrogate Convention Centre, the head of operations plays a vital part in ensuring the successful running of our facilities," she said.

“However, since the position became vacant around 18 months ago, we have been unable to find a suitable candidate for the role.

"Our head of operations position is a demanding one which not only requires specialist experience and knowledge, but also the ability to lead a number of very different teams.

"And while some of our senior management team have done an incredible job of filling in, we are now redoubling our efforts to find a candidate of the calibre required be our full-time head of operations.

Harrogate Convention Centre performance remains a "key" concern, councillors told
“The Convention Centre is a large employer in the area but also creates jobs though its economic impact in the Harrogate Borough District.”

An advert for the position subsequently posted online said the role would pay a per annum salary of £58,778 to £61,882.

The job description states the head of operations will be responsible for setting departmental and individual budgets, as well as controlling expenditure across the centre and Royal Hall.

The role will also oversee the procurement of "critical tenders" at the establishment.

At an overview and scrutiny meeting earlier this month, councillors were told that the underperformance of the centre remained a "key concern" of the council.

However, Coun Pat Marsh told the meeting it was important that new centre director Ms Lorimer was given "breathing space" to improve the centre's performance, following her appointment in January.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter