Auckland City staff paid to live in London

This is hard to fathom. ?Auckland ratepayers are forking out $230,000 a year for one of Auckland Council’s employees and his family to live in London so he can work there.

Since when do councils effectively need ambassadors in other countries?

Aucklanders now have their very own man in London, at a cost to ratepayers of more than $230,000.

Auckland Council’s economic development arm has created a special contract in London for one of its senior executives, Grant Jenkins, who has moved his family to England.

His English-born wife, Kate, was homesick and had been longing to return home for several years, according to a former council staffer.

The Jenkins have set up home with their two children outside London in the village of Bourne End in Buckinghamshire.

As well as paying about $196,000 for a 12-month contract, ratepayers are picking up Mr Jenkins’ work expenses and office costs at New Zealand Tourism’s headquarters in New Zealand House near Trafalgar Square.

Ratepayers have paid an administration fee of about $15,000 for his contract and contributed $19,841 to the family’s relocation costs.

That’s very hard to justify when you’re talking about spending public money. ?Mind you, the council tried to save it by not giving any to the Helicopter Rescue Trust. ? At least their priorities are right… ?

Last night, a spokeswoman for Mayor Len Brown said he was unaware of Mr Jenkins’ job in London and had asked Ateed to brief him.

This is the second time this week the mayor has been blindsided by council bodies. He knew nothing about Ports of Auckland plans to begin demolishing Marsden Wharf next week.

The former council employee who contacted the Weekend Herald about Mr Jenkins’ new role said it was a case of a “job for the boys”.

“His wife is English and has been very openly longing to return to live there for several years.

“Ateed’s senior leaders, in their wisdom, have decided that they should concoct a role for him, pay to set him and his family up and live in one of the world’s most expensive cities at the Auckland ratepayers’ cost.

“No one had the opportunity to apply for this role. It was never advertised, just announced and put in place. It is stomach turning.”

Worse, the council nor the Mayor are even aware this is happening on their watch. ?They are increasingly out of the loop, and the organisation they lead is spending money hand over fist without proper oversight.

Councillor Cameron Brewer called the contract a “racket” that needed to be shut down immediately.

“Last year, we agreed to narrow down and more strategically focus our international relationships. London did not even come close.

“The mayor and councillors agreed that Asia and the Pacific would remain the focus, but once again no one’s listening to elected representatives, let along the poor old tortured ratepayers.

“Communities facing project and service cutbacks have been told there’s no wastage in the organisation and the council is a lean machine focused on core business. Here’s one example which blows that spin completely out of the water.”

It’s very clear that if you are the right kind of person, money is no object.

Corruption is going too far, but it is clear that Auckland City?is in need of better governance. ?Headed by a lame duck mayor surrounded by pandering councillors, the organisation itself just does whatever it damn well pleases.

 

– An exclusive by Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald

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