An extraordinary meeting takes place next week as Barrow council decides whether to spend £78,000 on two new members of staff.

Council bosses are seeking permission from the full council to recruit its first-ever director of people and place, and a policy and engagement officer.

The proposal has already won support from the executive committee and been backed by council leader Ann Thomson.

Councillor Thomson, the Labour leader, said the roles would fill a gap at the town hall as the council expects millions of pounds of new grants for the borough.

But the decision to extend the management team has faced questions from Conservative opposition councillors who claim the roles are not needed.

At a full meeting on Tuesday, November 12, the Labour-run authority looks set to use its majority in the chamber to agree to the appointments.

Coun Hazel Edwards, who leads the Conservative opposition, said it would be a free vote for her party but she expected the blue corner to vote against.

Coun Edwards said: “The general feeling of the Conservatives is where is the money coming from for these roles and whether it is necessary to spend that amount of money when there are other officers duplicating some of those roles.”

The decision to create a new director of people and place follows the departure in summer of Steve Solsby, assistant director of regeneration.

That post will be ‘deleted’ and his responsibilities absorbed into the new directorship. Cllr Edwards said: “We had a very good officer in Steve Solsby who might have stayed with the council if his job had been enhanced.”

In a statement, Coun Thomson responded: “We have always been committed to delivering the best services possible for all residents of the borough.

“These roles are closely aligned to the council’s priorities for delivery. They will also help to make sure Barrow Borough Council is in the strongest position – with the right people and skills – to take advantage of every opportunity available to our communities in the future.”

Previously, Coun Thomson said a decade of Conservative austerity and budget cuts had created ‘gaps’ at the town hall.

The council wants its policy and engagement officer to support council boss Sam Plum in the delivery of a new council plan.

Interviews for the two new posts are expected next month.