Jobs on line as council looks to raise efficiency

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013

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Savings of $500,000 per year are predicted under plans to revamp council-controlled organisations in Wellington - though it could mean some jobs are at risk.

The Wellington City Council has proposed a merger of Positively Wellington Tourism and Positively Wellington Venues. Two other council-controlled organisations - Wellington Waterfront and Wellington Cable Car - would be brought in-house.

The proposal, which will be discussed by councillors next week as part of deliberations over the draft 2014-15 Annual Plan, was about "streamlining and simplification", Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said.

"The economy is a big focus for us at the moment. While we acknowledge that Positively Wellington Tourism and Positively Wellington Venues do a great job, we think they would be more efficient if they were working in one organisation."

The organisations' two boards would be disestablished under the plan, making up most of the predicted savings.

It was too early to discuss details about the structure of new organisation, Ms Wade-Brown said. However, frontline staff would not lose jobs with the revamp of the four organisations.

Other staff might be affected, but those issues were yet to be worked through, she said. "I think the significance could be more in terms of payroll systems, IT, and web development."

Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said he did not expect job losses, as the two groups performed different roles.

Overall he supported the merger. "We're a relatively small city, and in terms of making our resources go further, it does make sense."

Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Raewyn Bleakley said the merger was "a bold but sensible step".

Ms Wade-Brown said bringing Wellington Waterfront into the main council would simplify design and consent. "The work on the waterfront can now be handled from within the main council . . . at less cost. Staff expertise can also be used in other council urban development projects."

Waterfront Watch president Pauline Swann welcomed the move. "We've always been concerned that we were not able to go to Wellington Waterfront meetings," she said. "By the time things got to council, they were a done deal."

Wellington Cable Car controls the cable car and overhead trolley-bus wire network.

Ms Wade-Brown said the council was already managing traffic and road infrastructure.

Ticketing, overhead network planning and cable car promotion could be handled internally.

WHO DOES WHAT . . .

Positively Wellington Tourism: Formed in 1997 and responsible for marketing Wellington as a destination.

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Positively Wellington Venues: Manages six council-owned venues: the Wellington Town Hall, Michael Fowler Centre, TSB Bank Arena and Shed 6, St James Theatre and the Opera House.

Wellington Waterfront: Created in 2000 as the council's implementation agent for the waterfront development.

Wellington Cable Car: Established in 1989. At the time, councils were prevented by law from owning public transport systems. Runs the cable car and overhead trolley-bus wire network.

- The Dominion Post

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