Cornwall Council's Kevin Lavery confirms New Zealand job offer

Chief executive Kevin Lavery Chief executive Kevin Lavery said he had not yet reached a decision

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Kevin Lavery, Cornwall council's chief executive, has confirmed he has been offered the job of chief officer at Wellington City Council in New Zealand.

In an email to councillors, Mr Lavery said had "not yet made a decision" and would make an announcement next week.

Analysis

Kevin Lavery was taken on at a time of huge change in local Government in Cornwall.

One of the best-paid chief executives in the country, he was brought in to manage the transition of the council to unitary status and the massive reorganisation this involved.

He's overseen a difficult period of budget cuts and staff losses and championed the idea of outsourcing key council services. But a row over a privatisation deal with BT led to political chaos and the ousting of council leader Alec Robertson back in October, and some councillors feel the subsequent watering down of this plan is partly behind his search for another job.

It's not a big surprise that he's likely to be on his way, as rumours have circulated for a while that his ambition would take him somewhere else sooner rather than later.

Whether it's New Zealand or closer to home, it seems clear Mr Lavery's days in Cornwall are numbered, and he'll leave with a general consensus across the political spectrum that most of the time he's done a good job in difficult circumstances.

However, he added: "I have enjoyed my time... and will be sorry to leave the authority and Cornwall."

Mr Lavery has been in charge at Cornwall Council since 2008, before it became a unitary authority.

Newspaper reports about the chief executive of the Conservative-Independent controlled council began to circulate in the New Zealand press late on Thursday.

Wellington City Council refused to deny Mr Lavery was their preferred candidate for the role.

It was not until 09:00 GMT that Mr Lavery sent his email to all councillors.

In that email, Mr Lavery said: "I can confirm that I have been offered this post but I have not yet made a decision.

"I now need to consider the terms of the offer very carefully and discuss this with my family before making a final decision."

Jude Robinson, Cornwall council's only Labour member, said: "We've got other very good senior officers.

"I think it's really important the administration keeps a grip on things, and makes sure that service delivery remains the top priority."

Alex Folkes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, said: "It has come a surprise. I think Kevin has done a huge amount for the people for Cornwall.

"It's a job that's half done, there is still so much to do when the council is facing so many challenges."

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