Council names new chief executive

Paul Orders
Paul Orders
The Dunedin City Council has a new chief executive - and he already has an eye on the Forsyth Barr Stadium and the need to cut council costs and mounting debt levels.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday announced Welshman Paul Orders - the corporate director (place) at the Cardiff Council - had beaten 46 other candidates to secure the role as the Dunedin City Council's chief executive.

Mr Orders, who is married with three young children, has been appointed for a five-year term, and is due in Dunedin to begin work in September or early October.

He will replace former chief executive Jim Harland, who resigned late last year and left in January.

Mr Orders would also begin work with a total remuneration package worth between $340,000 and $360,000 per annum, putting him in the same range as Mr Harland's pay of $346,725 per annum after 11 years' service, council staff confirmed.

Speaking from Cardiff yesterday, Mr Orders told the Otago Daily Times he had been lured to Dunedin by the city's "hugely attractive" mix of natural and heritage assets, as well as the city's university and developments.

He had a desire to work abroad and saw an exciting challenge in Dunedin and the chance for a change of lifestyle for his family, he said.

"All in all, it just added up to a city that I felt I could make a contribution to, and a city that I think can afford to be ambitious and move things forward.

"Everything about the place ... just underscores the fact that this is going to be a great move for us."

Mr Cull said Mr Order was an experienced, energetic and highly intelligent man, and had been the outstanding candidate to emerge from the recruitment process.

"He was well and truly the best person on offer. We're very fortunate."

However, Mr Cull was also clear Mr Order's appointment should herald a change of culture within the council, as well as in the relationship between it and the wider community.

He would be given clear directions about the need to look for efficiencies to control council costs and help reduce debt, days after councillors signed off on a 7.7% overall rates increase for 2011-12, Mr Cull said.

"We didn't employ him for business as usual. We employed him because we want some things to change."

Mr Orders said he had spoken to Mr Cull and councillors about the financial pressures Dunedin faced, and was well-versed in issues arising from fiscal consolidation under way across the United Kingdom.

Making sure Dunedin's stadium was profitable and capable of helping transform the city, while finding other ways to save money, would "absolutely" be key parts of his new role, he said.

Mr Orders was was a graduate of Cardiff, London and Cambridge Universities, an honorary research fellow at Cardiff University, and boasted 13 years' experience in local government at the Cardiff Council.

His work began in 1998 with corporate policy, community planning, consultation and engagement and policy work, before moving into policy and economic development and, from 2008, regeneration, transportation, sustainability and environmental services and the role of corporate director.

That included progressing projects that helped promote city transformation, skills he said he would seek to apply in Dunedin.

Savings within the council structure could be found by incremental or "transformational" change, and he would work with staff, councillors, Mr Cull and others to identify "the precise formula" for Dunedin.

Mr Orders said he decided to apply for the Dunedin role after spotting an advertisement on a UK local government website, and was first interviewed over Skype before being flown to Dunedin for an interview earlier this month.

He was one of four candidates - the others all from New Zealand - to meet Mr Cull and councillors at a non-public meeting last Saturday, with votes held to narrow the field to two.

Some councillors had supported other candidates earlier in the voting process, but the "overwhelming" majority voted for Mr Orders when the field was reduced to two, Mr Cull said.

The final vote to offer the job to Mr Orders had also been "unanimous".

Mr Cull could not yet say how much the recruitment and relocation process cost, but expected it would be similar to the $87,000 spent recruiting and relocating another high-profile Welsh appointment, Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive David Davies.

Mr Davies said when contacted he did not know Mr Orders, but had heard "good things" about him.

"I look forward to working with him and helping move Dunedin forward in the future."

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

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