The post has not been filled by a permanent replacement since Giles Roca vacated it last July, to join Westminster City Council as head of government affairs. Sue Appleby worked as Essex interim head of comms on a three-month contract, which started in January.
Pickles is Tory MP for the Essex constituency of Brentwood, as well as Local Government Secretary. In his initial comment to the Colchester Daily Gazette, Pickles said: 'Essex is such a good authority it really does not need a spin doctor. This is a post it should leave vacant.'
But Roca said: 'Good comms directors should help run an organisation. This happened in Essex. Unless these positions become strategic advisers to the leadership of the organisation, they are little more than expensive appendages.
'It is incumbent on an organisation to understand how to use these positions, but also on the individuals concerned to step up to the mark.'
The role pays up to £85,000 and an advert says the ideal candidate will be an 'expert leader to defend, maintain and enhance everything we do - because our reputation is always on the line'.