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31 March - Hammond's Last Day!

I cannot say that I have admired David Hammond's work since he arrived from Ruapehu in 2011. He came with baggage, was clearly recruited as Leach's 'hatchet-man' to implement everything that Leach wanted, and has furfilled that role to perfection. He followed a good man who had severe managerial limitations, but who knew how hold a diverse organisation together, and generally achieve desirable outcomes. 

Hammond on the other hand came with a raft of letters after his name from an obscure Australian university, but no clue on HR, or how to stand his ground with a determined and overbearing Mayor. His tenure was in many ways a disaster with constant staff turnover and petty-minded strictures. He was friendly enough, but totally lacking in charisma or the leadership qualities required to run a ship like TCDC.

He, together with Leach made the disastrous decision to bring in Ben Day and then promote him well beyond his ability. Do not for a minute imagine that this was simply a case of a personal vendetta on my part - I have been around for long enough to be able to assess people in these positions, and he simply did not measure up. The sooner he goes the better, but I suspect he has dug in for the long haul.

On the plus side, there is no doubt that there have been massive improvements in a number of operational areas, but I suspect more by good luck than good management. There is now an excess of people who don't appear to have any visible means of support - merely there to bolster Leach's ego in the view of many. There is a perception than the level of services has improved, and although the jury remains out on the so-called transfer of powers to the boards, the overall cost of these services remains out of control. And Hammond has clearly been complicit in the capital works and maintenance/renewals  delays complained of by the Auditor General, but instigated by Leach. 

I apologised over the staff numbers issue last year, but have been reliably informed that my figures were indeed close to the mark, and that staff numbers heve been allowed to escalate on Hammond's watch. It certainly remains a mystery as to why he has decided to depart at this time, though he was probably apprehensive as to how he would be accepted by Leach's successor - he has not been around long enough to cement his position, and there is substantial disquiet both at Council and upper staff levels for him to have had serious concerns in regard to his future. 

It is now imperative that his position be filled by a competent and experienced operator who can restore the confidence of staff, and provide the level of advice that this Council requires in order to carry out its task economically and efficiently. It is time in other words to stop dreaming about grand tourism and fishing projects, and get on with ensuring our basic services are provided in the best possible manner. Getting rid of the Economic Development Committee (yes, two items on their last agenda!) would be a good start, but whoever it is will have to wait until October. 

For all that, I wish David all the best for the future in a different, possibly less demanding role. 




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