Cornwall Council chief exec Kevin Lavery off to New Zealand?
Speculation is mounting that Cornwall Council supremo Kevin Lavery is about to head to New Zealand to take up the post of chief executive for the city of Wellington.
The unexpected journey was widely reported on the internet and social networking websites last night as the news broke from the other side of the world.
Last night Cornwall Council press office said they were unable to track down Mr Lavery and therefore could "neither confirm nor deny" the story.
Despite this, Jeremy Rowe, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on Cornwall Council, issued a statement praising the "immense" amount Mr Lavery had done.
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"He has overseen the transition from seven councils into one and ensured that the savings were made to protect front line services.
"It is therefore disappointing that he should be leaving before the job is finished and at a time when the council is facing its biggest challenges yet," said Mr Rowe.
The Lib Dem leader said the group would expect the chief executive to work his full notice period and not be offered a "golden goodbye". "We will also be looking to continue to cut the overall Cornwall Council wage bill and will be asking for Kevin Lavery's successor to be appointed on a lower salary than is the case at the moment," Mr Rowe added.
According to New Zealand newspaper The Dominion Post – but not confirmed by Wellington City Council – Mr Lavery was picked from a shortlist of four on Wednesday for the job of chief executive.
The reported salary of NZ$420,000 – just over £215,000 is some way short of his current remuneration at County Hall in Truro where his pay and benefits package is £245,000, making him the highest paid chief executive in the country.
However the scope of the job in New Zealand is dwarfed by the Cornish role, where he oversees the biggest unitary authority in the country serving the needs of a population of more than 500,000, which increases by half again in peak season.
In contrast, Wellington City Council is in charge of services for just over 200,000 people in New Zealand's growing and vibrant capital city.