I’ll trim the fat

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An outspoken councillor standing for the mayoralty pledges to look at cutting Queenstown Lakes District Council staff numbers. 

First-term councillor Vanessa van Uden – the first person to officially announce their candidacy – says council is bloated with 120 employees on the payroll. 

“I remain unconvinced we need that number of staff to deliver services. In three years, the question’s never been asked, do we need all these people?” 

That’s one reason why she says she voted against the council’s proposed 7.95 per cent rates increase. 

And it’s not just the number of council staff facing criticism – Van Uden also has a serve for third-term mayor Clive Geddes, who is yet to announce whether he’ll stand again. 

“He lacks an inclusive style of leadership,” she says, claiming she and about six or seven other councillors have been “sidelined”. 

Van Uden says her first term has been “three years of frustration trying to improve how we deliver services and I’m not signing up for it again. But I think I can make a difference if I’m in charge. 

“The number one thing we haven’t done as a group of elected representatives is ever sit down and discuss where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. 

“We need to be working with the little people in our community, the little businesses and so on, to deliver services and keep us growing,” van Uden says. 

“We can’t make growth happen but we can enable it – having the infrastructure in place that needs to be there but in such a way we get the best bang for our buck.” 

Van Uden also promises to review the efficiency of council controlled organisations like Lakes Environ-mental, simplify the district plan and make the resource consent process cheaper and simpler. 

“We have promised transparency and talked about consultation but failed to deliver – I’m going to change that,” she adds. 

Van Uden’s often been a minority of one but claims she’s still a team player. 

Her husband Peter Laurenson is Lakes Environmental’s building manager but van Uden says there’s not a conflict of interest because he’s an employee, not a shareholder.