Council executives face chop

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014

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Top-tier managers will lose their jobs in a major council shake-up.

Five of the six roles in the executive leadership team at the New Plymouth District Council will be axed and three new positions will be created.

Barbara McKerrow, the council's chief executive, announced the restructuring yesterday.

Despite past pressure from councillors to cut operating costs, McKerrow said the structural shakeup was for efficiency alone.

"The credibility of this would be lost if people saw it only as a way to cut costs," she said.

She agreed that the changes would eventually lead to savings from the multi-million dollar operating budget, but that was not the objective.

She could not say how much would be saved from council coffers in the long term as the pay packets for the new managers were yet to be negotiated.

Once the managers were in place staff would be shifted and realigned under their leaders, McKerrow said.

"I aim to achieve more effective management of our activities by grouping them in a way that is more closely aligned and integrated than at present," she said.

"We are already an organisation performing well but this refocusing can help us become more efficient and smarter in how we deliver our services."

The restructure was an initiative that McKerrow had imagined and worked hard on, and was not a directive from councillors, she said.

Andrea Smith, the council's manager of organisation development, will be the only high level manager whose job will not be affected by the shake-up.

The restructure will affect Jim Willson, manager of infrastructure, Cathy Thurston, manager of community services, Steve Taylor, manager of business services, and Simon Pickford, manager of executive services.

The four of them will be able to apply for the two new positions of chief operating officer and chief financial officer, which are also being advertised externally.

Liam Hodgetts, currently the manager of environment and regulatory services, will take up the new role of group strategy manager.

Mayor Andrew Judd said elected members and council staff had a desire to deliver the best possible outcomes for the community.

"I believe this refocusing will be of great help in achieving this," he said.

"As councillors we are fully supportive of the changes being put in place by the chief executive," he said.

McKerrow said staff at the council had also been supportive of the significant change and had worked with her to determine the best structure for the organisation's future.

She signalled there could be further changes to come as this was the "first phase" of a process aimed at strengthening the council.

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She hoped the new managers would be in place well before the end of the year.

- Taranaki Daily News

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