Council to create three new jobs to support its Luton Airport company
Three new jobs are being created to offer financial guidance and support to Luton Borough Council's beleaguered airport company.
A restructuring process was agreed at a meeting of the council's administration and regulation committee.
The changes will affect the local authority's support services to Luton Airport Limited, according to a report to councillors.
"The aim is to increase robustness, as well as operational and cost efficiency, and enable the company to be developed for a future beyond the current concession agreement ending in 2031," said the report.
"LBC receives both a dividend payment as shareholder and further income from LLAL in the form of rent, debenture interest and payments for the provision of management and support services.
"London Luton Airport is suffering from the impact of Covid-19, but there's no reason to believe this will be other than a temporary phenomenon.
"Growth of the airport is a key corporate priority for LBC, while LLAL has developed a business strategy designed to achieve that objective and with the aim of increasing both revenue and asset value."
LLAL service director Mark Turner told the meeting: "The purpose of this restructuring is to make the best use of the resources the council has made available to the company.
"This affects the corporate affairs part of LLAL, which covers finance, governance and corporate social responsibility.
"The company needs full-time finance and governance support," he explained.
"Only one person was at risk of redundancy, who has now become a slot in for one of the new posts through the process.
"The restructuring involves the transfer of a member of the LLAL corporate affairs team. That post will report into the central finance team.
"We propose creating three new posts. These include finance business partner to provide the financial expertise the company needs, and a governance manager to ensure that it's properly managed and run.
"The other is a financial controller post to work on the corporate social responsibility area to highlight the various forms of value we create."
Liberal Democrat Sundon Park councillor Clive Mead asked: "Is there anything to bring more control to LLAL's capital projects?
"The company's record on managing capital programmes isn't very good.
"The Luton direct air-rail transit (DART) was £225m, is now £281m and can go higher.
"The development consent order (DCO) was £50m. It's now running at £65m and could go higher.
"Are we going to get budget control over these contracts with this new structure, or is it still liable to be a free-for-all for the contractor?"
Mr Turner replied: "I'm not sure I agree with those comments, but having a full-time finance officer should introduce that initial level of control which will help to manage those projects."
Conservative Bramingham councillor John Young also disagreed with councillor Mead's comments, referring to the "increased complexity of LLAL" since joining the board six years ago.
"It's a very complex business now. My real concern is that we've produced all these new positions.
"Are we confident that we've enough senior staff now to move forward in a positive way?"
Mr Turner said: "I think this report contributes to ensuring there's a robust team in place to deal with the issues councillor Young referred to.
"The company has become increasingly complex in its business affairs and in its organisation.
"The resourcing of that has perhaps not kept pace with that increasing complexity."
The airport is operated by a private company, entirely separate to LLAL, under a concession agreement.