Queenstown council boss calls it quits

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Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Debra Lawson has announced she’s quitting after weeks of speculation over her departure.

In a just-released statement, Lawson says she won’t seek re-appointment for a second term after her current contract ends.

Last month Mountain Scene reported Lawson saying that she hadn’t resigned - but she wouldn’t say whether she expected to be in her job in a year’s time.

At the time, Lawson, who has held the council’s top job for two-and-a-half years, was undergoing a regular annual performance review. Her contract is meant to expire in September.

Community speculation was rife about her tenure coming to an end – but Lawson brushed off rumours in Mountain Scene’s : “A couple of people I had heard were fishing for stuff, but nothing really that gave me any cause for concern because it’s no secret my contract ends in September.”

In today’s statement, Lawson says: “When I started this job it was with a clear objective to deliver greater accountability, transparency and value for money. I wanted to ensure this council’s plans were affordable in the long term.”

Performance has improved in all areas, she says.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of the role over the last two-and-a-half years and I feel proud to be a part of an amazing community.”

British national Lawson says she feels good about the decision and has no immediate plans other than to enjoy the winter season in Queenstown.

“I have reached a point where I want to pursue a future career that is more aligned with my previous experience in the United Kingdom, particularly around private, public partnership. Having come to this decision it was important the council had ample notice of my intentions.”

Ms Lawson’s commitment to strengthen the long term financial position of the council with a focus on value for money and greater accountability was acknowledged by Queenstown Lakes district mayor Vanessa van Uden.

“On behalf of the council I wish to thank Debra for her service to elected members, the organisation and our community and we wish her well for the future,” she says.

The timing of Lawson’s departure would be discussed and confirmed at next week’s full council meeting and a recruitment process would be considered thereafter.