Thursday, 20 December 2012

"Slash and burn" Lavery off to New Zealand?

It came like a shot out of the blue. The news broke at about 4.00pm, when it became public knowledge that Kevin Lavery had been offered the post of Chief Execuive for Wellington City Council in New Zealand.

Featured in the Dominion Post, under the heading “Council chooses slash and burn CEO,” the New Zealand newspaper stated the following:

“An Englishman with a reputation for cost-cutting has been picked as chief executive of Wellington City Council, ousting long-term incumbent Garry Poole.

“In a closed-door meeting on Wednesday night, councillors spent three hours debating the appointment of Kevin Lavery, who will receive a salary of $420,000. Councillors interviewed four people for the position on Monday, after deciding in August to advertise the position.
Mr Poole applied for the job but The Dominion Post understand he lost out in a 9-6 vote to Dr Lavery, chief executive of Cornwall Council in southwest England.

“In that role, which he has held for four years, Dr Lavery has been responsible for a £1 billion (NZ$1.94b) budget, and has driven a controversial proposal to outsource shared council services, including information technology, call centres and procurement in an effort to cut costs. In 2010, his pay package was worth £245,342 (NZ$476,732), and a newspaper investigation found that Cornwall Council had the highest staff credit card bill in Britain.

“Mr Poole announced the decision in a statement to staff yesterday: ‘As you can appreciate, it is a decision that for me is a significant disappointment. I am enormously proud of Wellington and what we have done to help it build an international reputation as a remarkable place to live, work, visit and play.’

“The council would be announcing the new appointment in ‘due course’ and he would work with the executive leadership team on the transition. ‘I have great confidence that we all will ensure this change does nothing to disrupt the quality and consistency of our work.’

“Mr Poole declined to be interviewed yesterday.

“At Monday's interviews, the short-listed candidates gave presentations to the full council before being questioned by councillors. Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon oversaw the process. All staff and the public were ejected from the floor of the town hall when debate began on Wednesday.

“Ms Wade-Brown had previously said the council was aiming to reach a decision before Christmas.

“She also declined to comment yesterday but in a statement thanked Mr Poole for his work over the past 15 years and said the council would work closely with him to ensure a smooth transition.

“She did not name the successful candidate, saying that would be published once negotiations were complete.”

As a Cornwall Councillor, it comes as no surprise to find out such news via the media – it is almost the norm at County Hall – and I assume we will not know until tomorrow whether Kevin Lavery has accepted the appointment.

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