New council CEO up for challenge

By ILONA HANNE

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Sven Hanne has been appointed as CEO of Stratford District Council.
Sven Hanne has been appointed as CEO of Stratford District Council.

Nearly five-and-a-half years ago, Sven Hanne moved to Stratford to take on the role of director of assets at Stratford District Council.

Next week he takes on a new role - as the newly-appointed chief executive officer of the same council.

Mayor Neil Volzke says the appointment was made after a robust and contestable process. He and his fellow councillors were pleased with the calibre and range of candidates who applied for the role.

"Sven will bring his professional skills and already broad knowledge of the community to the position. We are confident we will benefit from his enthusiasm and desire to move the Stratford community forward."

Sven, who has been the acting CEO since the departure of the previous CEO, Matt O'Mara, in December, says he is looking forward to the challenges the new role will offer.

"Stratford 2035, the documents and plans that together lay out Council's vision for the future, are going to be a key direction for Council over the next few years.

We are already seeing plenty of positive signs in terms of commercial activity throughout the district, and we need to capitalise on the numerous opportunities arising to grow job prospects as well as develop the overall wellbeing of the district.

"Things like the revitalisation of Broadway and Prospero Place are some of the projects already underway that will make a positive impact on our district."

Sven says he was attracted to Stratford for the same reasons that have led to him deciding to stay long-term.

"Job wise, when I applied for the role of director, I was keen on coming to work in a small council. In a small council, you get a lot more variety in the work you do and often have to trust your instincts a bit more. I had only briefly visited Stratford before, but had heard positive things about the council and the community. On a personal level, living in a smaller community offered our children the childhood we wanted them to have. There is a bit more freedom in living in a small town when it comes to being able to play safely, and my wife and I love the fact they attend a local school just minutes away from either of their parents' workplaces."

The best asset Stratford has isn't one building or facility, but the quality and commitment of the council staff, as well as the elected councillors and mayor that make up the organisation.
Sven Hanne

In his role as director, Sven has overseen several large projects on behalf of Council, the largest of which was the replacement of the three water treatment plants (Stratford, Midhirst and Toko) and the refurbishment of the Stratford library.

However, he says when it comes to talking about assets the council and its residents can be proud of, those aren't top of the list.

"The best asset Stratford has isn't one building or facility, but the quality and commitment of the council staff, as well as the elected councillors and mayor that make up the organisation.

"A clear example of this was in the immediate aftermath of the storm event in June 2015. Staff and elected members worked hard to get help to where it was needed, co-ordinating efforts as well as physically going out to inspect damage. Just as important are the efforts made by council staff daily to ensure essential services such as water and roading are provided 24/7, every day of the year."


Living and working in Stratford, Sven says he is confident he understands what the district needs, now and in the future.

"We need to make sure Stratford doesn't follow the trend of other small towns which are progressively losing residents to bigger cities. To sustain the facilities we have, and to develop new ones, requires enough ratepayers to share the costs. I would hate to see Stratford lose its unique small town charm, but we need to encourage a modest population growth to ensure we stay relevant and able to continue to attract people to live, work and invest in the district."

Disclosure: Sven Hanne is the husband of managing editor Ilona Hanne. Please see this week's editorial

- Stratford Press

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