22 Dec 2012

Cost-cutting executive to head Wellington council

7:44 am on 22 December 2012

A council official from the UK who has overseen outsourcing of services and cost-cutting has been chosen as Wellington City Council's new chief executive.

The council voted on Wednesday to appoint Kevin Lavery, chief executive of Cornwall Council in south-west England, to the role.

He replaces Gary Poole who has been chief executive since 1997.

At a closed-door council meeting on Wednesday night, councillors voted 9 - 6 not to reappoint him to the $420,000 a year job. Mr Poole's contract finishes in March.

UK correspondent Olly Barratt told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme Dr Lavery has pushed to outsource council services like libraries, payroll services, benefit payments and IT services.

He said some of the proposals proved so controversial that the leader of the council was forced to resign.

One critic, Liberal Democrat councillor Robert Nolan, told Morning Report outsourcing is a particular pet project of Dr Lavery's.

"He doesn't give up on things," Mr Nolan said.

Mr Nolan said Cornwall Council rejected an outsourcing plan two months ago and Dr Lavery came back at the last full council meeting with a slimmed down plan to outsource several services . The council passed the measure by a narrow 50 votes to 46.

The Telegraph newspaper reported last year that Dr Lavery's total pay package in 2010/11 was £245,342.