Wellington Scoop

“I was head-hunted,” says city council’s new chief executive

The new chief executive of the Wellington City Council has revealed that he was headhunted for his new post in New Zealand.

Kevin Lavery told the This is Cornwall website that he was offered the opportunity just after a key Cornwall Council vote to remove the Conservative leader of the council in a row over plans to form a partnership with a private company to provide council services.

“I wasn’t really looking to leave, I wasn’t exploring opportunities at the time, it kind of came out of the blue. If I’m honest about it I got an approach from a headhunter the day after Alec Robertson was ousted so probably they caught me at a time that I was feeling a bit unsettled…. But, obviously, with all the turmoil with the leadership and getting an approach it was just fortuitous.

“Once I looked into it I had a couple of interviews on Skype etc and just became more excited, went out to Wellington and thought yes, this is a fantastic opportunity for me and it’s worth taking advantage. It was all about the timing.”

The newspaper comments:

From reading comments posted on blogs and social media sites, an outsider might be led to believe that Mr Lavery, 52, was responsible for all the Duchy’s ills. Yet while he has overseen some high profile projects which have not proved successful he has equally provided a firm leadership for the council as it faced some of the most difficult financial cuts ever seen in local government.

When he arrived in 2008 Mr Lavery was immediately thrown into the deep end having to manage to creation of a new unitary authority which replaced the former Cornwall County Council and six district councils.

He has since had to steer the council through choppy waters thanks to funding cuts introduced by the Government as well as having to bring some key services up to scratch. Asked whether these successes had been forgotten and were under appreciated by the public he said: “Definitely, definitely. I don’t think people really have the perspective, they don’t realise that we have lost £170m a year that we have had over a 30% reduction in our grant and the tax has only increased by 2.9% over the last three years so that’s just 1% a year.

He strongly denied that he was a strong supporter of privatisation and said that he had an open minded approach with an aim of getting value for money and good services.

Read the full interview here.


  1. Phil C, 9. January 2013, 2:51

    Mr Lavery is well-known as an exponent of privatisation and outsourcing. Thus, the unelected bureaucrats of Wellington have “headhunted” an ideologue of their ilk who will practice the same failed philosophy that has royally stuffed New Zealand and screwed New Zealanders. Given the insipid and toadying nature of Wellington’s media, I imagine that the good ratepayers of Wellington have not been informed that Mr Lavery’s plan to privatise 70% of Cornwall’s services was thrown out by the elected chamber of Cornwall, an affair that saw the end of the Tory leader of the council, too. With no sponsor, Mr Lavery’s position became untenable.

    Be afraid, ratepayers of Wellington. More “screw you, pay”, er “user pays” on the way.

  2. Phil C, 9. January 2013, 3:04

    Excellent analysis of the issues surrounding Lavery’s proposals in Cornwall. Beware pegging your contracts to one main supplier.