TRADE union leaders have hit out over a decision to recruit Kirklees Council's new £110,000-a-year chief executive from internal candidates.
A nationwide hunt to find the best candidate had been expected since Tony Elson's September departure was announced.
But senior councillors have agreed to restrict the search to present staff.
Local government union Unison claimed the move floutedprocedures.
Paul Holmes, the union's Kirklees branch secretary, said: "There are clear agreements that all jobs should be externally advertised.
"It's quite wrong that the jobs of school dinner ladies have to be advertised but not one with a £110,000 salary.
"I've never know a chief position like this to be treated in this way."
Mr Elson, 56, is leaving after six-and-a-half years in the top job.
He said it was the right time for someone else to take on the challenge.
A council spokesman said: "Discussions on planning for replacing Mr Elson go back to 2001 when he was set the task of developing and bringing on senior directors so they could be in a position to compete for the post.
"That succession planning has, in the view of councillors, been very effective."
He added: "A clear message from the last employee survey demonstrated that many staff want to see more opportunities for career progression.
"We have taken that message on board and are developing processes that will bring more flexibility."