Accept Lavery or leave

Eagle's warning to malcontents

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 09:36 07/02/2013
Paul Eagle
Paul Eagle: A vote for Kevin Lavery was a vote for change.
Kevin Lavery
New Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery.

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The Wellingtonian

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It is time for councillors to accept Englishman Kevin Lavery as chief executive of Wellington City Council or get out of office, says councillor Paul Eagle.

In December councillors voted 9-6 in favour of Mr Lavery after three hours' of debate on four candidates, including the incumbent, Garry Poole.

Mr Lavery, currently the chief executive of Cornwall Council, will begin the job in April, on a five-year-contract. He will have a $400,000 salary package.

Mr Eagle, who voted for Mr Lavery, said he was voting for change.

"We need change and it's up to the whole council to make this work for Wellington," he said.

"This is also about the change of guard on council. The right have been dominant the last decade, the so-called good years.

"But times aren't good at the moment, and to be blunt, the right have run out of ideas and think that just rolling out the same old stuff will deliver. It hasn't and it won't."

Mr Eagle said the council had made its decision and now needed to get behind the new chief executive.

"Most decisions made by council are not unanimous," he said.

"Garry has done some great things for the city, but it is time for someone new.

"My right-leaning colleagues, the six who voted for the incumbent, simply can't accept change. I believe it's based on many still not accepting the change in mayoral leadership. If they don't like it, then get out."

Councillor John Morrison, who voted for Mr Poole, said the council's uncertain future meant voting in a new chief executive was the wrong move.

"I'm proud of how I voted," he said.

"There's such a turmoil at the moment with the talk of amalgamation.

"The council had the option of rolling over Garry's contract for two years, without going out and advertising the position.

"That would have got us over all the current regional governance hurdles.

"I also don't believe we got a range of good candidates from New Zealand because of this."

He said that he was not anti-change.

"However, change doesn't mean you accept just anybody for the job.

What staggered me is that a swag of lefties voted for a guy who organised privatisation and cost cutting in his last job."

Mr Eagle said cost cutting was already happening in Wellington and it was up to the elected councillors to make it clear to Mr Lavery what would and would not be tolerated.

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The three-hour debate centred on whether Mr Poole or Mr Lavery was the best person for the job.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown moved a motion to offer Mr Lavery the job.

This was countered by her deputy, Ian McKinnon, who moved an amendment to replace Mr Lavery's name on the motion with Mr Poole's.

Mr McKinnon's amendment failed 9-6.

The substantive vote was then put and passed 9-6.

The council paid for Mr Lavery's trip to Wellington for the job interview on December 17.

It has also agreed to provide a relocation package to move his family, wife Catherine, and sons Daniel, 12, and Jack, 10, to Wellington.

WHO THEY VOTED FOR

For Kevin Lavery (9): Celia Wade-Brown, Iona Pannett, Justin Lester, Paul Eagle, Stephanie Cook, Bryan Pepperell, Ngaire Best, Andy Foster and Helene Ritchie.

For Garry Poole (6): Ian McKinnon, John Morrison, Jo Coughlan, Ray Ahipene- Mercer, Simon Marsh and Leonie Gill.

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- The Wellingtonian

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