Simp­son looks to life af­ter coun­cil

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Gary Simp­son be­lieves no one is ir­re­place­able.

The Porirua City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive an­nounced on Fe­bru­ary 20 he would be stand­ing down in Oc­to­ber. He has held the po­si­tion since 2010.

Although Porirua only of­fers five-year con­tracts for its chief, he was asked to stay two more years.

His de­ci­sion to leave, how­ever, was made when he took up the reins.

‘‘When I came in five years ago I spoke at a meet­ing of coun­cil staff,’’ he said. ‘‘I spoke for an hour about where the coun­cil should go. [Pre­vi­ous chief ex­ec­u­tives] John Sed­don was in the role 20 years, Roger Blake­ley 10 and I said I would be here five.’’

Simp­son, who will be 63 when he leaves, said it was not a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion. He re­gret­ted not hav­ing the chance to be in the job as a younger man.

He said though there was a per­cep­tion that chief ex­ec­u­tives loved the role be­cause of the hefty pay packets, that was not the case.

‘‘ This job goes way be­yond em­ploy­ment for me,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve loved my time here – this coun­cil has been a big part of my life, but I de­cided 63 would be a good time to re­tire.

‘‘I’m go­ing to take some time and see what’s next.

‘‘Iron­i­cally, for some­one whose job is about short, medium and long-term goals, I don’t have any for my­self.’’

Simp­son said his golf game and his first grand­child, due in June, would get much at­ten­tion, but he has not ruled out a role, on a part­time or con­tract ba­sis, some­where in lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

He hoped his ex­pe­ri­ence and par­tic­u­lar strength in gov­er­nance would hold him in good stead.

He is adamant he will have no say in the ap­point­ment of a new chief ex­ec­u­tive, but modestly said his de­par­ture would be a ‘‘blip’’ and the coun­cil was on a good track.

No-one was ir­re­place­able, he said.

He said his two stints at Porirua City Coun­cil were starkly dif­fer­ent.

When he was gen­eral manager of leisure as­sets, he over­saw spend­ing on Porirua Park and the con­struc­tion of Te Rau­paraha Arena, but lost his job in a re­struc­ture.

How­ever, af­ter the Christchurch earth­quakes and the global credit crunch, his sec­ond stint was more about ef­fi­cien­cies in ser­vices and rein­ing in costs.

Simp­son said Trans­mis­sion Gully, amal­ga­ma­tion and the im­mi­nent coun­cil 10- year plan were huge chal­lenges he was proud to be a part of.

‘‘This coun­cil is dif­fer­ent to the first I worked with [from 2010 till 2013] and they have a clear di­rec­tion,’’ he said. ‘‘Things are as good as they can be and there is a solid fi­nan­cial base to work off.’’

Work­ing with mayor Nick Leggett was an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence, Simp­son said. Leggett re­turned the com­pli­ment.

‘‘ When you lose some­one of Gary’s cal­i­bre and ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s sad,’’ Leggett said.

‘‘He’s been part of this coun­cil for a long time — I’ve worked with him since 1998 — and he can be proud of the many things that have been achieved in the city. He’s a true pro­fes­sional.’’

Leggett said there was more dis­ap­point­ment than shock at the news, but Simp­son would have a lot of work be­fore Oc­to­ber.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

On the move: Porirua City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Simp­son, who is leav­ing his job in Oc­to­ber.

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