CEO: Bad press may be putting people off ORC

Sarah Gardner. Photo: supplied
Sarah Gardner. Photo: supplied
Undesirable media coverage of the Otago Regional Council could be hampering its ability to attract staff and contractors, the chief executive says.

Chief executive Sarah Gardner said the council was facing challenges in filling vacancies and some engineering jobs at the council had not attracted a single bidder.

As a result the council’s work programme and financial results could take a hit, Mrs Gardner said in a report to councillors this month.

Vacant positions at the council were becoming more difficult to fill and some vacant jobs had been advertised for at least two rounds, she said.

"In addition, we are seeing a decline in the interest we might usually get for our tender processes, with some engineering work tenders receiving no response at all.

"This may impact work programmes and end of year financial results if this trend continues."

She singled out media reports about the council when she was questioned about her report by deputy chairman Cr Michael Laws last week.

At least one applicant for a job vacancy had pulled out due to media reports about the organisation, Mrs Gardner said.

And she said the same could be the case for attracting construction companies to work on council projects too.

"I think there might be a number of factors why we are not seeing a whole lot of people apply for tenders, not just related to how much work there is out there," Mrs Gardner said.

"There are times when perhaps the coverage is not as desirable as it might be and that does cause people concern.

"We’re all human after all."

Council turbulence has made headlines recently.

Councillors have launched an investigation into staff actions during last year’s Clutha dumping scandal.

A code of conduct review is under way after Mrs Gardner’s failed bid to pull up Cr Laws for comments he made in the media.

A general manager rubbished a resolution and accused councillors of piling on the work.

A video review was required to see whether a protocol from Mrs Gardner on staff-councillor engagement should be part of the code of conduct review.

And a mediator has been called in to sort out the turmoil.



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