Archive | Governance

Council by-election dates set

Auckland Council will conduct 2 by-elections after Cllr Denise Lee & local board member Simeon Brown were elected to Parliament last month. Both have now resigned from their council roles.

Ms Lee has resigned as Maungakiekie-Tamaki ward councillor to become MP for Maungakiekie.

Mr Brown has resigned from the Manurewa Local Board to become MP for Pakuranga.

Both represent National. Their resignations are effective from 12 October and the by-elections will be held in early 2018. Nominations will open on Friday 24 November and close at noon on Friday 22 December. Voting packs will be delivered from Friday 26 January and voting will close at noon on Saturday 17 February.

Attribution: Council release.

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Goff off to Europe to look for urban answers

Auckland mayor Phil Goff left yesterday on an extensive 16-day working visit to Europe which includes talks & conferences on urban regeneration, affordable housing & homelessness.

The itinerary itself is mind-boggling in its extent.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff.

Mr Goff starts his visit today with a wreath-laying & presentation of a bronze statue of 1905 All Black captain Dave Gallaher to the people of Flanders on behalf of Auckland.

He’ll also attend a high level CityLab mayoral conference in Paris, invited by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose foundation & other sponsors are meeting the cost of travel & accommodation there.

The mayor’s visit to Belgium is with the official New Zealand delegation participating in the centenary commemorations of the World War I Battle of Passchendaele. Dave Gallaher was one of 492 Aucklanders who died in the Battle of Broodseinde in the lead-up to the Battle of Passchendaele. The statue, sculpted by Malcolm Evans, is a smaller replica of the statue of Dave Gallaher that stands outside Eden Park.

Mr Goff said: “Every New Zealand family is touched by World War I in some way and my family is no different, having lost a great uncle on the Western Front whose grave I will visit.”

From Belgium, he goes to London to meet the incoming lord mayor of the City of London, William Russell, senior leaders & Greater London Authority officials from investment, urban planning & transport organisations. The lord mayor is elected for a year, whereas the more widely known mayor of London is elected for a 4-year term. Current mayor is Sadiq Khan.

Mr Goff will also discuss affordable housing & urban regeneration at the Prince of Wales Foundation. Topics will include congestion charging & value uplift created by public transport infrastructure.

From London, Mr Goff will travel to Paris for the CityLab conference: Urban solutions to global challenges, hosted by the Bloomberg Foundation, The Atlantic & the Aspen Institute and bringing together mayors from around the world to discuss innovation & urban governance.

Mr Goff said on his departure: “London is an incredibly diverse city that faces similar challenges of housing unaffordability, congestion & environmental harm brought about by huge population growth. There is much Auckland can learn from how London has funded investment in infrastructure & public transport, and managed growth.

“Citylab brings together mayors from around the world to discuss innovative ways to tackle growth, environmental protection & urban planning.”

Link:
CityLab agenda

Attribution: Mayoral release.

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Council looks at way forward from 2010 transition setup

Sprinkled through a huge document on governance, to go to Auckland Council’s governing body on Thursday, are a few points which are highly pertinent to the way the council’s various arms will work with one another over the next few years.

The governance framework issue arose largely because the local boards, established under the 2010 reform of local government in the Auckland region, didn’t have a clear role.

They could propose budgets to the governing body, but the governing body determined the eventual sums doled out.

The working relationship between local boards & council-controlled organisations (CCOs) was also unclear. Could boards tell the CCOs what should happen in their domain? Or should Auckland Transport, for example – whose domain includes roads & footpaths throughout the region – treat such places as its domain, so it’s not subservient to any board?

Early last year, the council commissioned an independent consultant, Gareth Stiven, to carry out a review which looked at the policies, processes, protocols & organisational support structures that had been put in place since 2010.

Since 2003, Mr Stiven has been business advisory manager at Auckland City Council for 5 years, the old council’s economic development group manager for the next 2½ years, a director in PricewaterhouseCooper’s finance & economics team for over 5 years, self-employed from the start of 2016 (the period when he conducted Auckland Council’s research) and, since the start of this year, strategy general manager for Housing NZ Corp.

Ward & local rate changes

Outside his scope for the Auckland Council review were fundamental changes to the governance structure or the structure of council-controlled organisations. Nevertheless, some changes are mooted in the eventual report, such as reducing the number of wards & boards (the region has 13 wards, 20 ward councillors, 21 local boards), and the possibility of local (distinct from regional) rates.

Mr Stiven’s work was followed by months of workshopping for local board members & councillors. The boards received the report last month so they could provide comment for the governing body meeting this week.

The political working group for the framework project, set up after Mr Stiven presented his report last December, was unusual in itself – membership of 7 councillors & 7 local board members.

This week’s report contains 36 recommendations for change, under 4 themes:

Organisational structures & culture have not adapted to the complexity of the model: The review found that the organisation had struggled to adapt to the unique & complex governance arrangements in Auckland, and that this had impacted on the quality of advice & support for elected members
Complementary decision-making, but key aspects of overlap: The review touched on a number of decision-making functions where there is overlap between the governing body & local boards, or a lack of clarity about roles
Lack of alignment of accountabilities with responsibilities: The review found that the system of decision-making creates incentives for elected members to act locally despite regional benefits
Local boards are not sufficiently empowered: The review identified that there are some practices that are constraining local boards from carrying out their role, including the inflexibility of funding arrangements and the difficulties in feeding local input into regional decision-making. It also noted some local frustrations in relation to transport decision-making.

3 workstreams

The political working party has traversed a wide range of issues under 3 workstreams: policy, finance & funding and governance.

It’s also established a fourth workstream on organisational support, to respond to the changes coming out of the review, and will look at how the council organisation supports local boards as well as implementation of improvements required with current support provision. This workstream will be reported back internally to the project’s executive steering group in November.

The political working party noted that “there needs to be more recognition, support & empowerment of local boards as governors of a discrete set of local services & activities.

It also noted that the council’s focus “has tended to be on the regional ahead of the local for the first 6 years. While this is understandable for the purposes of developing & harmonising a wide range of policies, plans & bylaws, it is not sustainable in the long term and is not consistent with the policy intent of the governance reforms.

“For example, one of the key issues that the working party has been grappling with is the funding & financial model that is currently in place, and how that constrains local decision-making & local flexibility. In effect, the Auckland Transition Agency put in place a model that locked in legacy funding arrangements & service delivery models that are now 7 years out of date.”

Input from one governance tier to another

The initial 2016 review identified a number of issues about the way regional policy is developed, including low local board awareness of regional work programmes, the time & resource required to seek local board input and variable advice to local boards. The political working party has recommended that a framework for local input into regional policies should be developed, including prioritisation & agreed mechanisms for seeking local board input.

The review concluded that there are limited incentives for local boards to consider local assets in a regional context, and that this can lead to conflict between the governing body & local boards. It recommended a ‘call-in’ right was considered: “The working party doesn’t consider a call-in right is desirable, but instead has recommended that staff provide explicit regional impact advice where local decisions may have regional or sub-regional impacts. “

In response to frustration among some local board members about transport decision-making & their ability to carry out their place-shaping roles, the political working party considered local boards had a critical role in local place-shaping and has recommended that:

  • Auckland Transport should be more responsive to local boards in their place-shaping role
  • there should be increased use of the existing accountability mechanisms available to the council to ensure that Auckland Transport complies with expectations on local board engagement
  • there should be a significant increase to the local transport capital fund (currently set at $10.8 million) and the exact amount & allocation across local boards should be decided in the 2018-28 long-term plan, and
  • the review of accountability mechanisms for council-controlled organisations should consider the use of section 92(2) of the Local Government Auckland Council Act for local board plans, which allows the governing body to direct council-controlled organisations to act consistently with plans & strategies of the council.

The political working party has recommended that a 3-year pilot project with the Waiheke Local Board be established to enable more local leadership and the development of policy for specific local issues. The pilot would be actively monitored and the findings considered for wider application.

The 2016 governance framework review report identified some issues related to funding & financing, in particular:

  • local boards do not have to balance the trade-offs of financial decisions in the same way that the governing body needs to e.g. local boards can advocate for both additional investment in their own area and lower rates
  • inflexibility of the current funding policies to empower local board decision-making. In particular local boards feel they have little or no control over the 90 per cent of their budget that is for ‘Asset Based Services’, and
  • inflexibility of the current procurement processes and definition of when local boards or groups of local boards can undertake procurement of major contracts.

The report to the council this week says the working party members working on the funding & finance workstream went through a number of options to address these issues: “The majority of local boards & the political working party didn’t support or recommend a model of local rates for local activities, applied generally, but 4 local boards asked to participate in a pilot of the local rates model of decision-making.”

  • The report to the governing body was produced by Linda Taylor, programme manager for the governance framework review.

Links to items on Thursday’s governing body agenda:
10, Governance framework review: Recommendations of the political working party
7.1, Local board input: Waiheke Local Board
7.2, Local board input: Rodney Local Board
10, Recommendations of the political working party
Policy issues    
Funding & finance    
Governance & representation    
Delegations test for Reserves Act decisions    
Waiheke Local Board pilot project proposal    
Summary of local board feedback    
Complete feedback & resolutions of local boards    

Attribution: Council governing body agenda.

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Governance framework review a leading topic for local boards

In this round of local board meetings, all boards will consider the governance framework review (links taken from the Orakei Local Board agenda for its meeting on Thursday):

12, Governance framework review recommendations  
Attachments
Summary table of report recommendations    
Regional decision-making and policy processes    
Allocations and delegations    
Reserve Act land exchanges    
Local boards and Auckland Transport    
Confirmation of draft transport recommendations    
Waiheke Local Board pilot project cover paper    
Waiheke pilot project outline    
Funding and finance workstream paper 1    
Funding and finance cover paper July    
Funding finance description of 2 models    
Number of local boards    
Representation options    
Naming conventions

Who gets the name Wesley?

The Puketapapa Local Board will return this week to the topic of where in Auckland the suburb name Wesley should be used:

12, Notice of motion, official naming of Wesley suburb
Recommendation
Attachments
Notice of motion, official naming of Wesley suburb    
Wesley boundary map 

Airport access

The Puketapapa board also has airport access – light or heavy rail, and the route – on its agenda this week:

17, Airport access
Recommendation 
Attachments
Benefits of LRT and heavy rail to Aucklanders    
Auckland Transport board resolution    
Progression pathway

Three Kings plan change

And the Puketapapa board has a request for its view on whether a plan change request from Fletcher Residential Ltd to amend the Three Kings precinct, and to rezone some land within the precinct, should be accepted as a private plan change or adopted as a council plan change.

The council’s planning committee will make the council decision on how the plan change request will be treated.

21, Plan change proposal for Three Kings precinct 

Sediment discharge

After a submission from the Friends of Okura Group, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board has received a report on sediment discharges from the Envirofill cleanfill site at 1627 East Coast Rd at Redvale, and the Weiti village development nearby, which has concluded the developments meet their consent conditions.

12, Envirofill & Weiti developments, sediment discharge inquiry

Attribution: Local board agendas.

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Council to choose Auckland Plan refresh option

Auckland Council’s planning committee will decide tomorrow on which of 5 options to follow to refresh the region’s overarching planning document, the Auckland Plan.

The plan was approved in 2012, in the first term of the super-city council, and was followed by a series of related plans for the central area, the waterfront, local board plans and, the biggest of them all, the unitary plan combining regional policy statements & the district plan.

The council’s strategic advice manager, Denise O’Shaughnessy, said in her report to the committee that, while the Auckland Plan had proven to be an important & useful document, “it has shortcomings which have become evident during implementation. These shortcomings include outdated data, limited integration, a complex structure, too much low-level content, limited prioritisation and a weak monitoring & reporting framework. In addition, the plan is in hard-copy form and therefore cannot be easily updated or accessed.”

Staff have recommended option 4 – “a streamlined spatial approach” – to replace the existing plan “on the basis that it provides appropriate focus on spatial components while ensuring these are strongly connected to the achievement of high-level social, economic, environmental & cultural objectives. The option structures the plan around a small number of interlinked themes that address Auckland’s biggest challenges.”

The other options were a light update, a full update, updating only the development strategy, and a streamlined version that would include detailed non-spatial initiatives & narrative.

The recommended option 4’s update cost is estimated at $2.69-3.53 million, in the mid-range of estimates for the 5 options.

Option 4 would:

  • update & add new general facts & figures
  • use a small number of organising & interlinked themes around Auckland’s key challenges
  • set high level objectives, both spatial & non-spatial, in these theme areas with a brief narrative
  • focus on development strategy to reflect unitary plan decisions; infrastructure strategy; strategic work on urban, rural & future urban development areas; national policy statement on urban development capacity requirements; and create a new growth model
  • exclude any further non-spatial initiatives, narrative or detail and remove more detailed operational directives
  • creates a limited number of high level indicators to track progress and measures to guide the work programme
  • removes all other material in the existing plan, and
  • create a digital plan.

Staff have recommended targeted early public engagement through channels such as online feedback/polling & workshops with community group representatives from May-July. That would be followed next year by a special consultative procedure on the draft refreshed Auckland Plan, at the same time as the council consults on its draft long-term plan.

Link:
Committee agenda item: Options for refreshing the Auckland Plan

Attribution: Committee agenda.

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Next Takapuna Beach reserve decision – how to run a camping ground

The Takapuna Beach camping ground is back on the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board’s agenda on Tuesday, not for another round in the battle between camping & a sailing centre, but for a report on evaluating whether it should be run by the council or leased out.

Pro-campers won decisively in December 2015, though the board allowed 600m² to be carved off. Last November, the newly elected local board resolved to re-establish the full footprint of the camping ground site.

Yachting NZ, through the Harbour Access Trust, had campaigned to get a sailing centre built on the reserve. When that failed, the question for the local board was how to run the camping ground.

The council community facilities department has been developing an in-house model and will formally seek a decision from the board in April on whether to continue down that track or to opt for an external lease. Council organisation Panuku Development Auckland had developed 2 external options.

It’s not a straightforward choice. To run it in-house or lease it short-term, the council would have to spend $1-2 million renewing infrastructure & facilities, but that money’s not in the budget.

The council has taken steps, however, to make an in-house operation a practical proposition. It recently established a specialist unit in the new community facilities department to manage the holiday accommodation portfolio that’s under the direct management of council staff. This includes holiday park operations at Orewa, Whangateau & Martin’s Bay, the Waiheke backpackers hostel and numerous baches, lodges & tented campgrounds in the council-owned regional parks.

Earlier story:
14 December 2015: Takapuna Beach campground up for debate again

Attribution: Local board agenda.

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Uptown BID expansion scheme moves to final stages

The Uptown Business Association – straddling the start of New North Rd on the south-western fringe of downtown Auckland – is working on a programme to expand its business improvement district just over the railway line to take in the first blocks of Mt Eden.

Image above: Map shows the existing Uptown business improvement district hached in blue and the proposed extension hached in red.

The expansion area would run a short way down Dominion & Mt Eden Rds, cutting across at Brentwood & Sylvan Avenues. It would extend down Mt Eden Rd to Normanby Rd on the eastern side, taking in the block between Esplanade Rd & Puka St on the western side.

The business improvement district would incorporate the business & apartment precinct developed on the former Robert Holt timber yard & neighbouring streets on the city side of Maungawhau/Mt Eden, and also include Mt Eden Prison on the run across to the Southern Motorway.

The existing business improvement district boundary runs around Boston Rd, bordering the prison, follows the railway line to Park Rd then heads back west along Carlton Gore Rd to Grafton Rd.

The Uptown Business Association requires local board support before balloting businesses in the proposed extension area. This extension sits in the Albert-Eden and Waitemata local board areas. Approval from both boards and from target businesses will increase association membership from 1800 to 2100 members, and its target rate from $180,000 to $250,000 as of 1 July 2017. The Albert-Eden board approved it in December. The ballot requires a 25% return of votes, with 51% of those votes supporting the boundary expansion, to succeed. Voting will take place from 6-31 March.

Link:
18, Proposed Uptown Business Association, business improvement district expansion boundary map

Earlier story:
11 April 2016: Uptown project, name change & paid parking zone on local board agenda

Attribution: Council agenda.

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Youth leader replaces MP’s wife on Howick Local Board

Mike Turinsky.

Mike Turinsky (Practical Not Political Party) has won the by-election in the Botany subdivision of Auckland Council’s Howick ward with 3510 votes – 40.2% of the 8739 total (excluding 32 informal or blank).

Mark Johnson (Labour) was well back on 1045 votes, with 5 independents making up the rest of the field.

The by-election was called after the successful candidate in the October 2010 election, Lucy Schwaner, quit immediately after being sworn in.

She’d stood for the chair to unseat incumbent David Collings, but lost the vote 5-4, walked out and issued a statement half an hour later saying she resigned because she had no confidence in the chairmanship of Mr Collings.

Ms Schwaner is the wife of the National Party MP for Botany, Jami-Lee Ross, who was campaign manager for the unofficial National Party team, Vision & Voice. Only one of the 9 board members wasn’t a member of that team, now joined by Mr Turinsky, who’s chief executive of the Young Life New Zealand Trust, a charitable trust based in East Auckland which helps provide youth workers to 3 local schools – Botany Downs Secondary College, Pakuranga College & Edgewater College.

He said on his website he valued fiscal responsibility and staying under budget.

Attribution: Council, Schwaner statement, Turinsky website.

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Council to tighten reins on CCOs

Auckland Council will tighten the reins on its council-controlled organisations, made all the more certain after woeful presentations by the organisations’ heads to the council in December.

The common theme for the boards when they gave their presentations to the council’s finance & performance committee on council letters of expectation on 13 December was that they were autonomous, with their own boards.

Those boards, initially appointed by a transition authority, are now appointed by the council governing body.

The relationship between these organisations and the governing body over the first 6 years of the super-city has ranged from fractious to, at best, awkwardly & reluctantly accepting submission before getting on with their own thing again.

When Rodney Hide, the Act Party’s leader & Local Government Minister, decided on the super-city scheme put in place in 2010, it was clear that he & the Government wanted a separation of powers, which would also have more easily enabled sale of some of these divisions, such as the water & transport operations.

Despite the preferred separation, however, these commercial parts of council business remained under the council umbrella.

The super-city’s first mayor, Len Brown, tried to work with the council-controlled organisations, but continuing efforts by Ports of Auckland Ltd (owned via Auckland Council Investments Ltd) to reclaim more of the Waitemata Harbour for port facilities, and disputes on the business cases of Auckland Transport & Watercare Services Ltd emphasised the resistance to subsidiary status.

New mayor Phil Goff was less inclined to allow the organisations a long leash when he put his views to the December meeting, and that’s been followed up with a proposal for this afternoon’s appointments & performance review committee on improving accountability mechanisms and activating unused mechanisms.

Principal advisor Rose Leonard said in her report for today’s meeting the governing body had 20 mechanisms available to control the CCOs, and some were already programmed for review this year while others were continuously improved at every cycle of direction-setting & reporting.

Her report offers the council 3 options “for a work programme to enhance the transparency, alignment & responsiveness of CCOs, and to improve the recognition of ratepayer funding for CCO activity”.

The choices:

Option 1 (status quo): existing programme of 12 mechanisms for review which would be completed in line with the finalisation of the long-term plan. This ‘default’ programme will proceed even if the council doesn’t agree to the enhanced programme in options 2 or 3
Option 2 (recommended option): adds 5 mechanisms into the existing work programme within the same timeline (including operating rules for Auckland Transport). “This option is recommended because it best meets the governing body’s new expectations and can be met within existing budgets
Option 3 (expanded scope or some elements delivered sooner): envisages that the council might want to bring the timing of some mechanisms forward, or expand the scope of option 2.  “Option 3 would likely have costs which have not been budgeted for. More work would need to be done to see which elements could be fast-tracked, or what the cost would be.”

The staff recommendation to the committee is to approve option 2, and send that recommendation to the governing body at its 23 February meeting.

Link:
Today’s committee agenda

Attribution: Council agenda, December meetings.

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A messy start to forward-aiming governance at Auckland Council

Auckland Council’s governing body supported new mayor Phil Goff 19 votes to 2 yesterday on a resolution to enable closer scrutiny of the supposedly council-controlled commercial organisations, particularly Auckland Transport.

One of those opposing was Cllr Mike Lee, one of 2 councillors who’d been on the Auckland Transport board for the first 6 years of the super-city. The other, Cllr Christine Fletcher, said she’d intended to stand down anyway, but was upset that it looked like she was being shunted out.

If Cllr Lee had paid closer attention to the governance guide – which recommended councillors take a board seat for a maximum 2 terms – he’d have been aware his term had come to an end. And if the mayor had wanted more effusive support, he’d have mentioned this before launching on a campaign which included pitting any future councillors wanting to be board directors against non-councillor applicants on a merit basis, and looked like he was sacking the 2 councillor directors.

The automatic reaction from some councillors – notably Cllr Cathy Casey, who supported Cllr Lee in opposing the mayor’s resolution – was that they’d lose against corporate candidates if they didn’t have some kind of corporate governance experience & skills.

That in itself is an encouraging sign: Being elected for their passion to a cause is one part of politics; having the skill to perform once elected is quite another. Upskilling would go a long way to improving councillor understanding and ought to reduce the interminable debates which are standard practice on the road to an agreed point (or, too often, the road to somewhere else).

Yesterday’s debate mixed 2 topics – one, scrutiny, the other how Cllrs Lee & Fletcher were dealt with.

Although the 2 councillors’ input at the Auckland Transport board table might have been valuable, and although Cllr Lee maintained he’d ensured reports on Auckland Transport business were regularly tabled at the 2 council committees he chaired (first transport, which became infrastructure in the second term), there was nothing incisive about council consideration of how Auckland Transport was dealing with council policies & strategies.

After several councillors were critical of the way Cllrs Lee & Fletcher were treated, in the end the vote was about the way forward.

  • I dropped into yesterday’s governing body meeting 3 times over its 6½ hours, need to pick up on some elements of it and will write further about governance at the council over the weekend. On one element Mr Goff undoubtedly scored well: he insisted that questions (asked of submitters or information providers preceding debate) be questions, not statements dressed up as questions. Some found it hard to adapt.

Governance stories, 9 November 2016:
Goff to employ CCO-scrutiny tools old council wouldn’t use
Fletcher suggests Goff take her Auckland Transport board seat
Lee takes potshots at Goff, ‘independent’ directors, ‘systemic inefficiencies’

Attribution: Governing body meeting.

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