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Mayor’s Announcement at Council Meeting 5 October 2006, 9:30am

5 October 2006

Last Thursday when I announced that I would not be seeking a fourth term as Mayor, I said that one of the main achievements of my period as Mayor was the reform of the Council organisation itself. 
As a Council, we had come to the realisation that if we were to lift standards and turn Christchurch into a progressive city we needed an organisation that could implement our vision.  And the Council organisation we had in 2002 was not going to be able to do that.  This realisation was driven by the changes imposed on us by the 2002 Local Government Act.
I said last week “We had allowed ourselves to become unwieldy and cumbersome.”
It was clear to me that to keep true to our traditions the Council needed to go through some major changes.
We needed to face the reality that to provide a truly community responsive and a high performing Council required big changes, starting at the top.
This has been a sometimes difficult journey for us all…..we want to be a world-class city.
The appointment of Dr Lesley McTurk as CEO was a pivotal point in our trip toward successful reform.
Lesley was given our clear mandate to transform the Council and has done so by a programme of organisational and cultural change.
To the public perhaps one of the simplest examples of what this means is that between 2004 and 2005, visits to the Council operated leisure facilities increased from 2.9 million to 4.1 million.  This trend is set to take another quantum leap over the next few years as a result of the Council’s aquatics plan.  Under this fantastic visionary plan we will see new state of the art leisure centres built at Jellie Park and Papanui.  This will be great for our community.
For us the evidence of success is starting to pile up.
We were the only local government applicant to get a New Zealand Performance Excellence Study Award this year.
Over the past 10 years, 60 local bodies have participated, but there have only ever been 9 winners, and for us, we won it the first time we entered.  PESA is a key indicator that we are now again a high performing organisation.
There are so many other indicators of success I could talk about.
When residents ring Council offices, the average call waiting time is 11 seconds this month, and the lost call rate is under 3%.  In 2004 the average wait was three quarters of a minute and the lost call rate was 19%; almost one call in five was not answered.  That is a tremendous turn-around and is a best practice performance – our residents’ needs are paramount.
The research shows that Christchurch residents’ satisfaction with Council has risen from 40% - below half – to now be 70% - nearly three out of four residents are satisfied with the levels of service.
To put this achievement in context, we know that in Auckland only 44% of residents think that their Council provide a lot of services that are important to them and their families.  In Christchurch that figure is 65%.
This has been achieved with a top notch executive and leadership group. They are young – the average age is 46.  There are 50 of them.  They have brought relevant leadership experience and credentials to the Council.
Further, the latest staff engagement survey shows that there has been a major improvement in engagement across 200 line managers. This is a precondition to achieving better satisfaction levels across the whole organisation.  It takes time to fully bed in change of the magnitude we have been undertaking.
Councillors will still remember the crisp, coherent and compelling papers they provided us to work with in developing our recent Long Term Council Community Plan.
They were the best papers I have ever seen.
And while these reforms were not primarily driven to save costs, savings to ratepayers of the reforms were reported to us in July as being in the order of $4 million per annum…those are on-going savings year on year.
Dr Lesley McTurk deserves a large slice of the credit for this transformation.  She is in her fourth year of her five year appointment and has led the restructuring of the organisation to be the high performing body it is today.
When you have a highly accomplished leader it is hard to keep them for long.  It was reported a while ago that a central government organisation had been talking to her.  It didn’t proceed.
However, this time Housing New Zealand has been successful in headhunting Dr McTurk.  It is with profound regret that I announce to you today that Dr Lesley McTurk has tendered her resignation.  Lesley has accepted the position of CEO of Housing New Zealand.
We have been privileged to have one of the best chief executives in local government in New Zealand and one who has been particularly effective in fulfilling the mandate that this Council gave her.
I know that councillors will join me in thanking Lesley for her contribution to this city, to building the 50 strong executive and leadership group which has re-structured the organisation to make it a community responsive and efficient body.  It is what I envisioned and always hoped for.  I will get the CEO Sub committee together to put a transition plan before the Council meeting next week.
Thank you Lesley.  We will be sorry to see you go, and we thank you for what you have brought to our city.  We wish you well.

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