ALMOST £60,000 has been spent by Borough of Poole on not hiring a new chief executive.

The council has revealed spending tens of thousands, including £14,000 on external consultants and advisers, through two rounds of recruitment – but it has still failed to hire anyone for the £135k role.

A breakdown reveals costs include £6,000 on consultants, £8,625 on external advisers, £3,473 on psychometric testing, £443 on refreshments for three working lunches, £326 on accommodation and £3,173 on interviewee expenses. Advertising was £20,930 and internal HR costs amounted to £10,400.

Opposition councillor Phil Eades, who put the question of recruitment spending to the council, said it seemed to have been a process of “enormous length” and some of the sums of money were “quite incredible.”

He added that he felt there had been some good candidates, but the panel had had failed to agree. “We are offering a substantial salary to work in one of the most beautiful parts of the country,” he added. “But that the ruling group felt there were no candidates of a high enough calibre is quite disappointing.

“I’m amazed the panel couldn’t make a decision and quite honestly I don’t know where that leaves us. We’ve wasted £60,000 of tax payers’ money in the process – that’s the frustrating part of it.”

Borough of Poole leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson says it is “frustrating” not to have made an appointment, but added: “I am sure the time and resource we have invested so far will pay dividends when we seek to resume the recruitment process.”

The borough has decided to defer recruitment for nearly 18 months. It will continue the interim arrangement adopted when previous chief executive John McBride retired at the end of March.

Strategic director Andrew Flockhart will remain interim chief executive and head of paid service and Jan Thurgood will act as deputy and assume chief executive responsibilities for adult social care, children’s services, housing and community safety until November 30 2015 – well after the May election which may resolve the hung parliament.

Cllr Atkinson said: “Councillors are firmly committed to recruiting a chief executive who can take forward the council’s ambitious programme for Poole.

“The costs associated with recruiting to a post of this strategic importance are not inconsiderable. However, it is vital that councillors make the right decision as the costs of appointing the wrong person are potentially far-reaching for the long-term future of the council and Poole.”