Mayors change their tune

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What a difference a decade makes for Queenstown mayors.

Last week current mayor Clive Geddes dished out a tongue-lashing to the Chamber of Commerce – the business lobby group he led almost 10 years ago, and an appointment some say launched his successful mayoralty bid in 2001.

The same Clive Geddes now lambasts the Chamber for its “repugnant, offensive, laughable” statement telling QLDC to replace its chief executive.

But cheering the Chamber on for speaking out is former mayor Warren Cooper – who in a stinging dismissal labelled the business body as the “Chamber of Comics” about a decade ago.

Then there’s the common denominator – QLDC boss Duncan Field, appointed by Cooper, inherited by Geddes.
The Chamber’s call for change at the top of QLDC comes after Field has spent nearly 12 years at the helm. He’s now a candidate for reappointment for another term at $280,000 a year.

Cooper purrs at the Chamber’s “time for a change” call to QLDC.

“[The chamber] should have an opinion on these matters because the biggest business in the whole community is QLDC.”

Geddes’s and Cooper’s current stances sharply contrast with their views back when their roles were virtually reversed. Then-mayor Cooper on hiring Field in 1997: “I’m very, very confident about the type of person we’ve got.”

And as Chamber executive officer, Geddes was a trenchant QLDC critic.

Geddes, April 2000: “Let’s not have the area turning into a rubbish dump, which is what’s happening,” he says about QLDC’s new rubbish-collection regime.

Geddes, June 2000: “QLDC just shouldn’t be in competition in businesses which compete with its ratepayers,” he says of QLDC’s Motor Park redevelopment plans.

Geddes, September 2000: “I can’t believe [QLDC is] even entertaining the idea of getting into the marina development business. That is not their job. This is yet another ‘We know best’ council project.”

Geddes, January 2001: “I don’t believe there’s a mandate within the community for the contract in the form proposed,” he says about QLDC’s proposal to award untendered a $120 million 30-year water and sewerage maintenance contract.

Geddes, May 2001: “I’m really surprised [QLDC] has sprung this on everyone,” he says about the William Gilbert Rees statue commissioned in the final months of Cooper’s council. 

 

Chamber call hits spot

The local business community has rallied behind the Chamber of Commerce in its call for a change in Queenstown Lakes District Council management.

Last week, Mountain Scene revealed the Chamber board wants QLDC to replace incumbent chief executive Duncan Field – instead of again renewing his $280,000-a-year contract.

Field, known to be reapplying for his job, has headed QLDC for almost 12 years.

Chamber boss Ann Lockhart says she’s received plenty of feedback from members of the business group supporting the board’s sentiment.

“They’ve said they are pleased that we have expressed this collective view.”

Meanwhile, a selection panel of mayor Clive Geddes, deputy mayor John S. Wilson, councillors John Mann, Gillian Macleod, Leigh Overton and Wanaka Community Board chair Lyal Cocks are working with recruitment agency Brannigans.

From a “long list” of applicants from both the public and private sectors, the panel has narrowed the field down to “at least 10”, Wilson says.

They’ll cull that further to a shortlist of “three or four”, he adds, and each final applicant will then make individual presentations to the full council ahead of a final decision about the end of November.

Celia Willaims