Queenstown’s council shakes up bosses

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Three top Queenstown council managers have lost their jobs following an organisational review.

Queenstown Lakes District Council corporate services and regulatory boss Roger Taylor, community services boss Paul Wilson and policy & planning boss Philip Pannett are the most high-profile victims of the wide-ranging shake-up, launched late last year.

Aimed at saving money and improving service levels across council, the review follows an independent report chock full of recommended changes. It will result in the loss of about 36 fulltime-equivalent jobs, saving possibly $2 million or more.

The savings mainly arise from merging various activities. That includes bringing council-controlled organisations Lakes Environmental – the regulatory department – and recreation and venues operator Lakes Leisure in-house.

Council boss Adam Feeley announced seven of his eight new executive management team this week.

Five roles have been filled by existing managers and three, including one still to be confirmed, are being filled by outsiders.

Feeley says he won’t comment on whether Taylor, Wilson or Pannett applied for any of these positions or any others.

However Taylor, who’s had five years in his job and finishes on July 31, confirms he didn’t.

Asked how he feels, Taylor – who’ll reactivate his business consultancy – replies: “Organisations need to be refreshed periodically so that new ideas and ways of doing things can be explored – it was time for this organisation to go through that process.”

Pannett, who’s finishing in the next month or two after six years, won’t say whether he applied for a new position.
Asked his plans, he says he’ll sort out world peace, run for the mayoralty or join the seniors golf tour.
Wilson says he “won’t be making any comment”.

Ruth Stokes, the chief executive of disestablished Lakes Leisure has been appointed operations boss, council communications supremo Meaghan Miller fills a new position as Feeley’s office director and finance boss Stewart Burns effectively retains his role but is now chief financial officer.

Other changes see infrastructure services boss Erik Barnes appointed infrastructure & assets general manager while Infinity Investment Group’s Marc Bretherton is the new planning and development boss.

Waitemata District Health Board’s Beth Bundy is running human resources.

Feeley believes the employment decisions he’s taken have been tough but fair, adding he’s adamant he’s not picked clones in his management team: “My approach to management is actually the worst thing you can do is have clones – you need a balance of personalities and skills.”

Feeley confirms the new managers will all be on permanent contracts but warns: “Permanent in this day and age is the foreseeable future – because I’ve made it quite clear to everyone that the structure can and quite possibly will change in the next year or two because if something doesn’t work, you fix it.

“I don’t think that anyone is under any illusions that they’ve got a job for life.”