Queenstown Lakes staff learn of job losses

Staff are shaken at Queenstown Lakes District Council, Lakes Environmental and Lakes Leisure after redundancies were confirmed by council chief executive officer Adam Feeley yesterday.

Mr Feeley made it clear jobs would be lost as he spoke to gathered employees of each organisation in Queenstown and Wanaka yesterday.

About 250 staff were later given access to the 300-page draft organisational review outlining dramatic changes within each organisation.

The council declined to release the report to The Southland Times but one council staffer confirmed the bottom line of Mr Feeley's general announcement yesterday morning was that jobs would be lost.

The announcement was unfortunate, but ultimately came "as no surprise", the staffer said.

Word from Lakes Leisure spread around mid afternoon, with several staffers saying chief executive officer Ruth Stokes had announced her job was being "dis-established", but that she could apply for another position.

Ms Stokes could not be reached for comment.

Mr Feeley declined to elaborate on the matter.

"Ruth's employment status is a matter between her and Lakes Leisure. She is perfectly entitled to make a comment on it, but we would not do so without her agreement," he said.

"Obviously the same applies for Hamish (Dobbie, Lakes Environmental chief executive)."

On social media a Lakes Environmental staffer intimated their current position would no longer exist by the end of April.

It is understood other employees have been told they will have to reapply for jobs.

While Mr Feeley acknowledged the process would inevitably be emotional for those involved, initial reactions were stoic, he said.

"There were constructive questions which were asked, and most staff simply wanted the opportunity to review the draft report before reacting."

The redundancies are a result of the council's operational review seeking to streamline council operations and budgets, which was announced late last year.

Lakes Environmental and Lakes Leisure, which respectively handled regulatory, planning and enforcement matters for the council, and leisure activities and community venues, would be disbanded and brought in-house, it was announced last month.

Yesterday was always the date staff of the three organisations would be given the draft report by the six-person review team, which was bolstered by an employment law adviser, and legal adviser.

Late in the afternoon it was announced that Mr Feeley and Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden had been temporarily added to the Lakes Environmental board of directors.

The Southland Times