Mayor’s hubby won’t rule out big job

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The husband of Queenstown’s mayor isn’t ruling himself out of a heavyweight new council job – despite council’s boss seeming to. 

Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden’s hubby Peter Laurenson may apply for a new planning and development general manager position proposed under a council restructure. 

It would oversee all planning and district plan management plus Lakes Environmental building and resource consent duties. LE is being disestablished and its functions brought in-house. 

In the wake of LE chief executive Hamish Dobbie’s sudden resignation last week, Laurenson – LE’s building manager – has been appointed acting chief executive. 

Asked yesterday if he’s considering going for the new planning and development general manager job, Laurenson says: “Not directly. I haven’t ruled it out but I haven’t ruled it in either.” 

Laurenson says he’s fortunate his building manager job still exists under the proposal and “that’s plan A” but he can’t make a final call till the restructure is finalised. 

Council chief executive Adam Feeley, expected to finalise it by April 30, appears to rule Lauren­son out of the planning gig. 

Feeley: “As currently drafted, this position requires a senior planning practitioner which Mr Laurenson is not.” 

Told that, Laurenson says: “Yeah, that’s the way I read it – but I don’t think there’s anything that stops anyone applying for any of those jobs. It’s a good indication of what the council is looking for but people might have a different view based on their skills.” 

Feeley this week began considering staff submissions on the restructure, which recommends axing 80 roles – almost 42 fulltime equivalent positions – out of 334, contributing to annual savings of at least $2 million. 

Feeley says more than 50 submissions show overwhelming support for the direction of the council review: “That’s not to say there was unanimity on everything – some valid points for different approaches have been put forward and there are some re­commendations which individuals strongly disagree with. 

“I’ve no doubt staff want this change to work as much as the council and mayor … the level of support for change far exceeds what I’ve seen in previous restructurings,” Feeley says.