Council CEO defends $61 million consultant spend

by Peter Newport - Jun 12, 2020

The following statement has been received from QLDC's comms team,, attributed to Mike Theelen. From our story yesterday reporting on a $61 million consultant spend over a 5 month period.

“QLDC has a billion-dollar capital programme as part of its current Long Term Plan. Our level of expenditure on consultants is appropriate given the scale and speed of the investment QLDC needs to make across its programme.

“Council has always balanced the use of consultants with staff. We use consultants who have specialist skills and in areas where we find it difficult to recruit; similarly, we don’t want to over-staff the organisation during peaks, and so endeavour to use our consultant spend wisely to balance the load. However, as part of our employment strategy we will reduce the use of consultants as demand changes, and focus on our in-house resources.

“As for the use of former staff members: the level of activity in the district has resulted in a number of staff being snapped up by consultancies or leaving to seek independent practise. We do support the use of local companies where we can; naturally, there is a benefit in using contractors who understand (for example) the District Plan and the local context. However, we do also draw from across the country where necessary.

“Regarding landscaping, we are in the midst of a District Plan review where 90% of our district is counted as an Outstanding Natural Landscape. There is a balance between protecting that landscape, which the community values, and making an allowance for landowners and developers who seek to develop it, and this is a well contested area of the plan. This has led to a heavy reliance on expert landscape professionals through the review.

“As well as District Plan work, landscape architects have also been used for resource consent consideration. This cost is recoverable. This reflects the high levels of activity and the need for landscape expert assessment into many of those applications.”

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