In an article in Newsroom David Williams wrote about the CE of CCC, Dawn Baxendale resigning from her position. Here’s the article A new dawn for Christchurch’s council after mystery and mayhem (newsroom.co.nz). I recommend that you read it if you have not already. I found the article useful because it brought together many of the issues which have been bugging Christchurch ratepayers for some time. These included:
- Massive staff exodus – 1142 permanent staff, out of a total workforce of about 2500, over the first three years of her tenure. Good staff are essential for any workplace and high turnover isn’t good. It can cost the equivalent of a year’s salary to replace them.
- 7 General Managers have left since her appointment, with one more on “sick leave”. If there’s instability at the top this destabilises an organisation.
- The annual residents’ survey hit a 15-year low of 42 percent last year. This year it was steady at 43 percent, as ratepayers complained of many things, but especially poor roads, footpaths, and stormwater drainage. This survey has been undertaken for decades and has been heading downwards for years. In my final year as mayor the percentage was 79% and we were trying to work out how we had lost 21% support!
- The staff satisfaction surveys continued to drop.
I applaud the mayor and councillors for making what must have been a very difficult decision. I had a phone call from a professional friend who rang me on the day that the decision was announced. He reported that it was like the lights had been turned on again at CCC. I also received a text message from an ex-staff member saying he might go back.
One thing which has troubled me for some time has been that I think the Local Government Act has, on reflection, some big flaws. One is that the councillors and mayor only appoint one staff member, the CE. The CE then appoints all their immediate staff such as the Executive Leadership team. Dawn exited 7 senior staff, some she had personally employed. Two key functions of local government are planning and engineering. In the last ELT there were no people with these skills. I think that was a mistake.